Thursday, April 29, 2010

That’s more like it

This past series is probably as close as the Sox have come to the team everyone envisioned before the season began. There were, naturally, an exception or two. But, it was a very encouraging series for the local nine.

Monday night the Sox were able to score some runs. Against weaker pitching, the Sox certainly should continue to do that. Putting 13 runs on the board certainly shows that there are some bats in the line-up. They won’t be there every game. But, they’re capable of making an appearance once in a while. Now, I’ll admit. All those runs against bad pitching are supposed to be accompanied by the Sox starters shutting the other team down. But, Josh Beckett pitched more like John Smoltz than I’d have liked. I’m not stressing over that at the moment. He’ll come around. If not, Dice-K is on his way! (Yeah. That didn’t sound all that great to me either.)

Tuesday night, it was more of the pitching and defense ruling the day. The Sox couldn’t score many runs. But, they didn’t need to. The Red Sox pitching held the other team to even fewer. I’m amazed as anyone that the “pitching” part of the equation involved Clay Buchholz. If I’m Theo, I have ol’ Jed on the phone right now. Get him out while he can. It was quite encouraging to see the bullpen hold its own. Even without Papelbon to lock up the ninth inning, the Sox were able to get the save. That’s quite encouraging.

Wednesday night was even better. The real Jon Lester finally showed up. He dominated just like he was supposed to. One game does not a turnaround make. But, I’m more confident that Lester has turned the corner than I am that Clay did. Once again, the offense took the night off. But, once again the run prevention was the key. As long as you score more runs than the other guy, the number doesn’t matter. A win is a win.

So, Theo might finally be feeling better about himself. He finally saw what we thought he’d see from the team. They got runs when they needed them, and got pitching when they needed it. They swept a division foe, on the road. I know. One series didn’t mean the Sox were a bad team, and one series doesn’t mean they’re a good team.

But, it’s nicer to sweep than be swept.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I’ll Take the Fifth?

Once again, the Sox are faced with the decision on fifth starter. This was quite a debate during spring training, even though I thought it was a pretty easy call. The Sox avoided the whole issue by starting Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL. Still, some people were surprised to see Wakefield in the 4th spot, with Buchholz in the final slot. That would seem to imply that the Sox had Clay on the hot seat, primed for bullpen duty once Dice came back. That’s why I was surprised to see comments and stories lately saying how Wake was destined to the bullpen. I didn’t think
that the Sox would have changed their mind so quickly. Last night I finally heard that the Sox hadn’t actually made that announcement officially. So, I’m left wondering what level of “official” it is. (Of course, by the time you read this, they’ve probable held a press conference making me look like an idiot.) If it’s the way it will be, I’m also left wondering when Sox management decided they were morons. There are really two questions to look over. Which pitcher, Wake or Buchh, is the better starter, and which pitcher is the better reliever. Let’s tackle the first question first.

Each pitcher pitched very well in their last start, after being less impressive previously. I did see one thing, though, that showed me yet again that Clay not quite ready for the rotation, while Wake is. Clay has a bit too much Derek Lowe in him. Lowe was the master of the unearned runs. Derek was great at getting two outs, and having an error committed behind him. He would then proceed to give up 36 straight hits, with 15 home runs. None of those runs would be earned, though, so his numbers looked great at the end of the day. Looking back, he’d go 5 innings, giving up one run, and you’d think he had a decent day. And, it would be mostly true. It wasn’t his fault that the Sox didn’t get that third out. But, at some point, doesn’t he need to be accountable for the mountain of hits he did allow? The same thing just happened to Clay. The Sox made an error in the field behind him, extending the inning. But, he didn’t stop it there. He buckled, and gave up a slew of unearned runs. Those runs still count. Contrast that with Wake’s game Sunday. The first two batters reach on an error. (Yes, one was later reversed, but you get the point) Right off the bat, runners are at first and second with nobody out, through no fault of his own. Did Wake collapse? Nope. He just went ahead and got the next three guys. I imagine two things would have happened had Clay been on the mound Sunday afternoon. First, the inning would have been an hour longer because of the throws to first base. Second, at least one of those runners would have come home. Wakefield looks more capable of being a starting pitcher to me.

The question of who belongs in the pen is also an easy one. The Sox bullpen needs help. They don’t need a long guy. They need someone who can come into the game in the eighth inning and get outs. I’m sure both pitchers would be able to do that. But, as Wake has often pointed out, the knuckleball sometimes doesn’t knuckle. Sometimes it goes in straight, and leaves the park. If that happens in the second inning, I’m fine with that. If it happens with a one-run lead in the eighth, that’s a problem. I don’t want Wake’s flutterball coming into a close game late. I’d much rather have a guy like Buchholz in that situation. With a guy on third and a small lead, at least I think Clay can concentrate on getting the ball down. He can bear down to keep the run from scoring. Wake just hopes his ball moves. Looks to me like Clay is better suited for the pen.

Frankly, Wakefield has simply earned the right to start. And, no, there isn’t a player who should have a spot he’s not good enough to have. But, this isn’t the case. Wakefield was an all-star last year for cripes sake. For all he’s done for the team, he deserves that shot at 200 wins with the Sox. If Clay wants that fifth slot, he needs to pitch so well that it’s not a question. I don’t care that he’s the starter of the future. He’s not there yet. I’m not about to say that it’s fair to Clay. But, that’s the way it goes sometimes. He’ll be in the ‘pen until another starter gets hurt, or he gets traded. Which, by the way, is the only reason having Clay in the fifth spot makes any sense. If they told Wake, look, we need to trade the kid. He has no value until he can pitch. So, we’re going to have him start the next three weeks. Once San Diego sees him consistently in the rotation, we can trade him away. Then, the spot is yours again.

Provided the kid pitches well this month.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

List of 36: Best Red Sox First Basemen of the Past 36 years

1. Carl Yastrzemski
2. Mo Vaughn
3. Kevin Youkilis
4. Tony Perez
5. Cecil Cooper
6. Bill Buckner
7. George Scott
8. Jack Clark
9. David Ortiz
10. Victor Martinez
11. Carlos Pena
12. Tony Clark
13. Rico Brogna
14. Mike Easler
15. Nick Esasky
16. Kevin Millar
17. John Olerud
18. Carlos Quintana
19. Dave Stapleton
20. Jose Offerman
21. Doug Meintkiewicz
22. Todd Benzinger
23. Brian Daubach
24. Sean Casey
25. Reggie Jefferson
26. Sam Horn
27. David McCarty
28. Rick Lancellotti

29. Larry Parrish
30. Bily Jo Robidoux
31. Andy Abad
32. Jeff Bailey
33. Morgan Burkhart
34. Jack Baker
35. Juan Diaz
36. Danny Cater

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Red Sox A-Z: P is for…

Papelbon, as in Jonathan

Jonathan Papelbon is in his fifth season as Red Sox closer. As closers go, he’s been everything you could ask for. He gets the job done much more often than he doesn’t. He does it with ease, and generally doesn’t scare you when he’s on the hill. He also has just enough Pedro in him to make things enjoyable.

No, nobody’s Pedro. Papelbon’s not even close. But, he does run his mouth like Pedro did. He has the attitude and confidence that Pedro had, and that’s a great thing for a fan. I love when a pitcher comes into a game and just knows that the batter is overmatched. I can imagine Papelbon asking a reporter to wake up the Bambino so he can drill him in the butt. Swagger is a wonderful thing. Papelbon celebrates too much for my liking, but that’s a small complaint. I always like Pedro’s reaction to a big strikeout…simply walking off the mound looking annoyed that he had to waste his time throwing the guy three strikes. Contempt is an even better thing.

As a Red Sox fan, one thing that concerns me about Papelbon is his apparent me-first attitude. The Red Sox wanted him to be a starter. Every good pitcher should be a starter, not wasted in the bullpen. Papelbon, apparently, asked to stay in the closer’s role. He wanted to feel the rush of coming into the game. Of course, he probably also likes amassing those easy to get saves. That artificially boosts his value at contract time. It’s also, probably, the reason he balked when the Sox wanted to bring in Eric Gagne. The Sox needed bullpen help, and wanted Gagne. They, apparently, asked Pap to take the set-up role for half a season. Again, Papelbon balked at losing the saves. (Apparently the rush of coming out of the bullpen wasn’t enough anymore.) Gagne agreed to take the set-up role, and it failed miserably. He couldn’t handle the change to having a closer looking over his shoulder every time he pitched. But, at least he gave it a try.

Papelbon has said again and again that he wants a big contract. That’s why he keeps gobbling up saves at the team’s expense. I can only assume that he’s figured out a couple things. He’ll be free agent eligible in not too long, and Mariano Rivera isn’t getting any younger. I bet he knows what New York can do with all the money they’re using to overpay Rivera. So, Sox fans will have to enjoy him while he’s here. Theo’s smart enough not to overpay for him. Until then, the swagger will be on display for all to see.

P is for Papelbon, Jonathan.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Umm… What in the name of John Henry is going on here?

The Red Sox got the memo, right? They know the season started more than two weeks ago? Right?

The popular refrain is to blame Theo and his “Run Prevention” mantra. I was unfortunate enough to be at yesterday’s game, and even heard a “Pitching and Defense” chant break out when the Sox were down 8-0. That’s not really fair. Basically, the team has just been playing like dog poop for a couple weeks. Even if the focus of the team weren’t pitching, you’d imagine that the starting pitchers should go more than four innings without self-destructing. Even if defense weren’t a priority, you’d imagine that a team would have more hits than errors in a game. It’s just been an all around pathetic performance by a good team.

Some of it is the injury bug. I mentioned before the season that the team as constructed was pretty good, there was just less margin for error. If you want to win a game 3-2, you need to score 3. If your team is made up to get exactly 3, it’s trouble when something goes wrong. If the line-up were able to put up 8 runs a game, losing Ellsbury wouldn’t be so bad. At this point, the Sox are down two of their starting outfielders. That’s a big hit. It’s even bigger since neither one was worthy of a DL trip. It’s one thing if you can call up a regular centerfielder from the minors. It’s another thing to have Bill Hall starting in center. So, that’s an issue. You also have two starters struggling mightily. David Ortiz and JD Drew are having a little trouble getting out of their own way right now. Both have shown the ability to shake off slumps like this, but at the moment it’s pretty painful. So, of the 9 starters, the Sox are down to five. You can’t win many games like that. Once they get all nine going, it should be just fine.

Same goes for the pitching. Lester always struggles in April. Lots of pitchers struggle in April. He should pull it together at some point. Lackey had actually been pitching well until yesterday’s implosion. Beckett pitched quite well Friday. Things just weren’t clicking for the team enough to take advantage. Dice-K should be back soon, and that will help. With Clay in the ‘pen, everyone else should settle down. One extra quality are can really make a difference.

Really, the team is right. It’s a 162-game season. Things are in the pits right now. But, water will find it own level. At some point, the Sox are going to put a 10-game run together, and all will be well again.

God, I hope so.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Collecting the Sox: Food

I’m not going to lie to you. Food might not be the easiest Red Sox thing to collect. It has one major difference from, say, a baseball. Food can spoil. Food could be eaten instead. It brings along a few challenges to the table. How do you keep a Wade Boggs candy bar? A carton of Dice-cream? You just need to be able to be flexible.

For things that spoil, you’ll need to stick with simply the packaging. I suppose you could invest in a freezer with glass doors like they have at the supermarket. That way, food could be kept fresh, and still be displayed. But, practicality becomes an issue there. So, you’ll have to stick with the box or wrapper. A nice side benefit of saving the package is that you still get to eat the food. If you buy a box of Wheaties, and only keep the box, you still get to eat the cereal. This is great for the collecting budget. It’s literally simply saving trash. Pretty cool. And, the options are pretty much endless. There are cereal boxes, soda cans, soda bottles, cracker boxes, ice cream cartons, candy bar wrappers, salsa jars, and more. If they’re clean, they can make for a nice display in any Red Sox room.

To go all out, though, you need the full containers. It’s a little extra push if the carton still has the food inside. Plus, in the case of a nuclear attack, your Red Sox room doubles as a bomb shelter with a food supply. It’s a little more striking to see the complete, intact item sitting on the shelf. Obviously, by going this route you’ve eliminated ice cream bars and chocolate from you collection. Plus, you now need to buy extra food, just to put away. Lots of foods won’t spoil on you if you hang onto them. Cereal may attract animals, but in a sealed bag you should be ok. Soda cans and bottle should be fine as long as they’re sealed. I wouldn’t drink them after ten years, but they’ll look nice. Wine, and salsa will keep quite nicely. Really, the options are everywhere.

The nice thing about food collectibles is that they’re easy to get. You’re at the grocery store anyway; just pick up a few extra items. Naturally, it helps if you live in the Boston region. The supply of “Reverse the Curse” ice cream was probably limited in Arizona. But, there are ways around those limitations too. Cereal boxes are pretty easy to find on eBay. I bet it wouldn’t take long to find a complete set of unopened Pedro Martinez salsa (hot-medium-mild) if that was what you really wanted.

Who has a favorite food collectable?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Team Sets: 1990 Donruss

Players Included: Marty Barrett, Wade Boggs, Mike Boddicker, Oil Can Boyd, Ellis Burks, Rick Cerone, Roger Clemens, John Dopson, Nick Esasky, Dwight Evans, Wes Gardner, Rich Gedman, Mike Greenwell, Greg Harris, Danny Heep, Eric Hetzel, Dennis Lamp, Rob Murphy, Carlos Quintana, Jody Reed, Luis Rivera, Kevin Romine, Lee Smith, Mike Smithson

Best Picture: Nick Esasky. This picture is dripping with anticipation. Esasky’s in his crouch, ready to pounce at anything that is hit his way. It’s exactly the way it’s supposed to look before every pitch.
Hall of Famers: Wade Boggs
Future Hall of Famers: Roger Clemens
Reason the buy the set: I haven’t got a lot for you here. The set has the stars in Boggs and Clemens. Dwight Evans and Mike Greenwell were always favorites of mine. But, it’s not a key year, and there isn’t a key rookie to be found.
Overall Reaction: I appreciate that during the 80’s and 90’s the card companies were at least trying some creative designs. The white border with player name in a banner gets stale. Like the 1991 Fleer set, this is a love or hate design. The red (or is it orange?) border can’t be missed. I’m probably closer to the “hate” side of things, but at least they tried.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Can I Quote You on That?

Guys who can field you can shake out of any old tree. Find me guys who can hit. – Rogers Hornsby

Hmmm. Maybe Rogers Hornsby needs to have a short chat with Theo Epstein.

Although, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Hornsby was one of the great hitter of his, or any, era. Of course he’d think that what he excelled in should be more important than other areas. But, the man has a point.

What he didn’t say was that guys who could field exceptionally you can shake out of any tree. Adequate fielders are all over the place. Most any guy playing Major League Baseball can get to most any ball hit towards his position. Even David Ortiz can snag most balls hit in the first base area. Think of your average infielder. How many times does he really need to run 10 steps to get to a ball? Not very often. How about the outfield? Think of Jacoby in left. Then think of Manny in left. Now, think of a Red Sox game. How many balls during a game does Jacoby’s defense make a difference? Is it even 1? Don’t get me wrong…every out counts. But, you can see Hornsby’s point. “Fielders” are everywhere. “Great fielders” might not be. Although, the same is probably true with hitters. “Hitters” abound, in the ranks of MLB at least. “Great hitters” are rare. I always thought, though, that I could be an adequate major league fielder. I can move well enough that I could get to most balls at, say, second base. I could probably cover enough ground to get to quite a few balls in left field. I have no hope, however, of making contact with a major league pitch. Maybe that’s what Rogers had in mind. Every neighborhood in America probably has people who could play defensively in the majors. It’s harder to find guys who can hit.

Which is why guys who can do both are so valuable.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Scored! July 29, 2001

Once again, the most important thing about this scorecard appears in the “Game Notes” section in the lower right. I excitedly exclaimed “Welcome Back Nomar!” Yup, this was Nomar’s first game back after having wrist surgery on Opening Day. At the time, the thought was that with Manny Ramirez in the line-up, if the team could just stay close until Nomar was back, he could carry them the rest of the way. The Sox were finally at that point. Nomar was here to save the day. How’d he do? Looks like he did just fine. he went 3-4, with 3 RBI. Yup, he was here to save the day.

David Cone looks to have gotten the start that day. His line looks pretty good. A quality start, giving up only 2 runs in six innings of work. But, as had been the case all too often, the Red Sox were having trouble scoring runs. The Sox were training 2-1 when Nomar came to the plate in the sixth. He tied the game with a homerun (to centerfield). Just like he was supposed to do. The very next inning, he came to the plate with the Sox trailing again. His single, however, drove in the go ahead runs for the Sox. So, that’s two straight innings with clutch RBI. The hit in the seventh inning came with two out. It saved an inning in which it looked like the Sox could squander three lead-off baserunners. Nomar to the rescue.

Who else had a hand in the victory? Shea Hillenbrand scored two runs, and had a homer of his own. Other than those two, the only other members of the team with hits were Chris Stynes and Scott Hatteberg. They each had singles. No wonder fans were so excited to get Nomar back in the line-up

The 2001 Red Sox were supposed to be studs. The trio of Manny, Pedro and Nomar should have led them to the promised land. But, they ended up finishing second in the division, and missed the playoffs. But, for one bright day, everything was rosy in Fenway Park. The Sox won the game. Nomar had arrived on his white horse to save the season. All was right in the world again.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

TTM Success!

Red Sox opening weekend got another boost at Section 36 headquarters when Sunday’s mail brought the beloved self-addressed envelope. The postmark from Fort Myers Florida confirmed that goodness lay within.

Without being able to wait, I ripped open the envelope to find this beauty of a card signed by Sox star Kevin Youkilis. I found it interesting that one the very same day that Marie names him her most hated Red Sox; I would get this gift from him. That must be Sox karma of some kind.

The card makes a great canvas for an autograph. The solid background and old-fashioned painting really make the signature stand out. It was especially fortunate since this was not the card I sent to have signed. Frankly, I wasn’t pleased with the card I sent…a 2009 Topps Heritage. It contained a large headshot of Youkilis that I was afraid would obstruct a potential signature. Thankfully, that issue was avoided with the gem that Youkilis sent my way.

It made me wonder, though. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten something back that I didn’t send in the first place. I understand when players send back pre-printed cards, or fan club information. They just have those made up ahead of time, and have them placed in the return envelope. But, what happens in this case? Does Youkilis, or one of his assistants, open up a whole stack of letters, and lose track of which cards went with which? It would make sense that they would just open the one letter at a time though. Do they do it on purpose? Do they just open everything, save the SASE’s and set the cards in a stack. Once Youkilis gets a minute, he signs the stack, and someone sticks the cards into whichever envelope comes up next. I guess that would make sense. Sort of an assembly line mentality. What about the times I’ve gotten more than I asked for? Juan Gonzalez once sent me two cards, neither of which was the one I sent. Former NE Patriot Chris Slade once returned the card I sent, along with six others. Is someone randomly stuffing however many cards they feel like into envelopes? Did Slade buy a stack of his own cards at some point, and pre-sign them? Then, he just added some to everything he sent out? Once again, the life of a professional athlete is a mystery to me, which shouldn’t be too surprising. No matter the reason, I’m pleased to have the newest addition to my collection.

A big thanks to Kevin Youkilis.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The New Media Guide’s Here! The New Media Guide’s Here!

And I’m not in it!

Opening weekend started out in a grand fashion here at Section 36 headquarters. Friday brought the arrival of the 2010 Red Sox Media Guide! This book always marks the arrival of the baseball season. It’s a chance to connect with every member of the team. It’s a chance to learn about the new guys, and remember things about the old favorites. As always, there are some great pieces of information to be found. Some of my favorites from this year’s edition include:

Adrian Beltre leads all active third basemen in putouts.

Mike Cameron has four children: T’aja, Lillo, Dazmon, and Mekhi.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is 6-0 lifetime, with a 1.95 ERA in the WBC.

Ramon Ramirez is 6’-0”, 190 lbs. Ramon A Ramirez, is 5’-11”, 190 lbs.

Marco Scutaro’s last name is pronounced scoot-UH-row

Tim Wakefield attended the unveiling of Red Sox memorabilia at the Smithsonian

Jorge Sosa wore #36 as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training in 2010.

This year’s edition of the media guide is about 100 pages thinner than last year’s version. I have to wonder which information they decided to eliminate.

Jason Bay’s entry wasn’t that long.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So Let it Be Done

Casey Kelly has some work to do. There may not be a spot open in the Red Sox rotation for quite some time. The Red Sox announced that they locked up ace Josh Beckett with a four-year extension yesterday that pretty much sets up the rotation for the near future. They now have Josh Beckett signed through 2014. Jon Lester is under contract until 2013, with a club option for 2014. John Lackey is locked up through 2014. Daisuke is still under his mammoth contract in 2012. Heck, even Tim Wakefield is here another year. That leaves the likes of Buchholz, Bowden, and Kelly playing the waiting game. All five current starters will be under contract next year. Amazing. The first opening doesn’t come until 2012 when Wakefield will ride off gracefully. (Although, what if he’s only a win or two short of the Red Sox record at that point?) That spot looks to be Buchholz’s to lose, provided he doesn’t rip it away from Wake before then. It’s another year after that, in 2013, when Dice-K’s spot become available. At that point it’ll be a full out battle for that one spot, since it will be two more years before there’s another opportunity.

I could argue, that it was pretty poor planning on Theo’s part. As it stands, his three aces will all come of the books the same year. That doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for transition. In 2014, they’ll have a big three. In 2015, they need three more starters. Would have been nice to stagger those a little bit more. Oh well.

But, if you’re a young pitcher in the Red Sox organization, how do you feel now? Are you crushed that yet another door has been closed in your face? I’ve said before that the only thing I ever liked about Curt Schilling was his confidence. Most other players say they want to go to a team so that they can win a ring. Curt was the only player I’ve ever heard of have the attitude that wherever he went, he would help win a ring. Apparently, for all their egos, other baseball players are a bit unsure of their abilities. It would be great if Casey Kelly looked at the rotation and said, “That’s OK. I’ll just show them that I’m better than Beckett. They’ll have to free up a spot for me.” But, that attitude doesn’t come around very much. Is he now showcasing himself to other teams? Is he trying to get himself included in that deal for Adrian Gonzalez? Does he resign himself to the fact that he’ll be a minor league pitcher for the next five years? Is he disgruntled? Is he unhappy? Disappointed?

Or does he think, “That’s OK. I only need one spot”?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pitching and Defense

I know it’s only one game, but does Theo get to say, “I told you so”? All winter he’s been hearing from the EEIdiots that his offense won’t score enough runs to be competitive. He’s been steadfastly saying that run prevention is just as good as run scoring. As long as you score more runs than the other team, you win the game. Which is exactly what happened last night. The Sox had just enough firepower to outscore the defending champions. Of course, the score wasn’t supposed to be 9-7.

Anyone with half a brain knew the Sox would score some runs. I’ve said before that I myself, keep forgetting just how good Youkilis and Martinez are. They’ll score runs. They scored runs last night off the Yankees ace. They came back from a big deficit late. They did everything thing they were supposed to do, and some things they weren’t supposed to do. The balanced attack was getting people on base, and driving them home. They were scoring on sac flies, and past balls, and singles, and even homers. There was no break for the pitcher. Everybody was just as likely to do damage as the next guy. Well, everybody except Jacoby. It was a perfect example of what could happen with this team.

The defense was also just as advertised. Players were getting to balls in the gap, and in the holes. Youkilis was saving errors with great scoops at first. The Yankees didn’t get any extra outs that I saw.

The pitching? Well, that was another story. Beckett struggled a bit. I’m not really worried about that. I have no doubt that he’ll be the ace we expect him to be. Facing the Yankees with an umpire with a tight strike zone doesn’t always work out so well. Sabathia found that the same holds true when facing the Sox. When you have to groove it to be a strike against a patient team, bad things happen to pitchers. I wouldn’t think either starter would make a habit of last night’s results.

So, what did last night’s game mean? Not a flippin’ thing. Well, one thing. The Sox only need to win 99 more games to get to 100. Other than that? A win is better than a loss, but it’s not setting any tones. It doesn’t mean the division. It doesn’t mean the offense is set, or that the pitching needs help. It means that the Sox had a good game, and there’s hope for the rest of the season.

I’ve been to enough games now, that I rarely see things happen that I really wish I was in the park for. Last night, though, I wish I had been there to welcome back Pedro. That must have been amazing.

Maybe after his Hall of Fame induction I’ll get another chance.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Put Me in Coach. I’m Ready to Play!

Enough with the exhibitions. Enough with the practice. Enough with the injuries that aren’t injuries. Enough with the batting slumps that don’t matter. Enough with starters leaving the games much too early. It’s time to play ball!

The field is fresh. The uniforms are white. There’s nothing like the start of the season. Unlike the start of Spring Training, this is more than an honorary event. It’s not just a symbol of good things on the way. Oh, no. It’s Opening Day. This time, it counts. No more wondering. No more hoping. No more guessing. It’s time to play, and see what we have in our hometown team.

Yes, it’s annoying that the opener is at night. Yes, it’s too soon to be playing the Yankees. Yes, the Easter conflict is too bad. But, none of it really matters. The season is starting, and it’s about time.

So, bring on the Yanks. Bring on Sabathia. Bring on the rest of the American League.

This is going to be fun.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Visitor's Views

I thought it would be a fun twist to inject some opposing viewpoints into this blog. As such, I have reached out to the blogging community. Since the New York Yankees will be visiting Friendly Fenway this weekend, I thought we should know what their fans think. I asked Marie of A Cardboard Problem to answer a couple questions for me since she was the best Yankees fan I knew. She, thankfully, agreed. Here’s what she had to say:

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging in 2007 with Sooz. We decided that it would be fun to show our collections and talk about baseball cards to people other than each other.

What is the theme/goal of your blog?
The theme of our blog is just baseball and baseball cards, we don't collect anything else so it wouldn't be fair to write about other markets in terms of cards. There are cases where Sooz will post something about another sport or athlete because she covers sports for a living and has a broad range of knowledge of all sports as well as more access to stuff. The goal of our blog.... hmm.... to perhaps take over the world (like Stewie in Family Guy). Just kidding (sort of). I think if I had to pick a goal it would be to be able to talk about baseball and baseball cards in a manner that would eliminate the stereotype of girls knowing nothing about sports, and that we can be knowledgeable and collect cards as well as (better than) most men.

Which member/group of the Yankees are you most confident in?
Derek Jeter. No doubt about it, if there is a situation where a rally needs to get started or a run needs to be driven in for the win, he is the player I want at the plate. In the play-offs last season I was also fine with A-Rod coming up to the plate because he seemed to have found his swing in time to smash the ball in October this year.

Which member/group of the Yankees concerns you the most?
I don't think any one player concerns me too much, there are players that I could personally do without on the team but that wasn't the question ;)

Which member of the Red Sox scares you the most? (Yes, you have to pick one)
Scares me? LOL, ok I will try to take this seriously. I guess Pedroia or Ellsbury (for his speed). Really I am just naming people here because I can't think of someone that worries me since Papi is now a weenie.

Which member of the Red Sox do you like the least?
Kevin Youkilis. I couldn't despise any member of that team more than him. I am 99% sure I speak for Sooz as well here.

What’s your prediction for the upcoming series?
I don't see either team sweeping the first series, I will go with 2-1 Yankees, of course. (I also don't understand why they had the Yankees as their opening series when it will sell out if they play the Royals.)

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the number “36”?
My high school softball number. (Followed by David Cone)

Thanks for the answers Marie. The Youkilis thing surprises me. I know I find him to be annoying. But, don't know what he's done to instill hate among other fanbases. Oh Well.

Since I am far from a professional interviewer, I hope these questions offer some insight into the Visitor’s Section. If you have a question you wish I had asked, let me know. If I do this again with another visiting team, maybe I’ll use it.

Go Sox!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yup. It’s that time of year again. April Fools Day. Kids all over the world will be playing tricks. Blogs all over the world will be writing fake posts trying to trick you into believing that the Red Sox traded Jed Lowrie for Derek Jeter, or that Alex Rodriguez revealed he’s decided to call himself Alexi as he begins the sex change process. (Ok, that one could be true.) But you won’t see any of that here. There’s no room in Section 36 for silly gags. (Your shoe’s untied) But, there are a few interesting Sox tidbits that deserve comment. (Admit it. You checked to see if your shoe was tied or not)

David Ortiz announced on his blog that he will be a late season addition to the cast of Dancing With The Stars. Apparently, once the number of contestants gets down to five, they’ll add on Big Papi as a new twist. By adding in fresh contestants mid-season, the judges will have to adapt their scores to a varying degree of ability. It adds a new dimension to both the judging, and the call-in voting. I really like the idea of this. For one thing, while Papi is training it opens up the DH spot. This will give Mike Lowell the needed at-bats to showcase himself to other teams. Plus once Ortiz returns to the team he should, once again, are in the best shape of his life.
Sticking with the TV shows. It was announced that Dustin Pedroia would be the new judge on American Idol, once Simon steps down at the end of the season. Apparently Pedroia was “pumped” at the chance to be on TV every week. The only real complaints came from the producers of the show. They don’t like the idea of needing to buy a new judges desk. At the tryout, Pedroia was unable to see over the top of the current desk. There hasn’t been an announcement yet as to whether the new desk would also have an additional spot for Dustin’s ego. But, Pedroia has promised not to hold back during the show. His comments will be swinging from the heels, directing laser shots at the poor contestants. I think this is a great idea. The Idol gig will have limited impact on the baseball season, since it is less of a time commitment than DWTS. Having the Red Sox become more of a media empire is always a good thing. Go Dustin!
JD Drew was with the Red Sox team yesterday. Apparently he had been missing for several days, but nobody noticed. I know I didn’t.
As part of his new “open communication” with Red Sox team officials, Daisuke Matsuzaka revealed that he had a couple new nagging injuries. He obtained a slight sunburn on his ear during workouts last week. He also received a bad haircut last weekend. He assured management that neither injury will affect his performance. The larger news, however, was that his left foot was amputated this off-season in order to prepare himself for the next WBC. This is causing him to alter his throwing motion, putting additional strain on his shoulder. He had planned on stoically working through the condition, but decided it would be best to let the Red Sox in on the news. I think this is great news. After so many years of Daisuke keeping everything to himself and pretending it’s all-OK, he’s finally adapted. I think this will lead to a fantastic relationship between him and the Sox.
Theo Epstein announced that he had finally listened to all the talk show callers. He doesn’t know what he was thinking with all the “pitching and defense” talk he had been spewing. As such, he has traded both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to the Tigers for Miguel Cabrera. To free up a place for Cabrera, he has waived Adrian Beltre, and traded Mike Lowell to the Twins for a player to be named later. He said that despite that the rotation is now one of the worst in the league, the addition of Cabrera to the line-up should offset that when he drives in 114 runs this season. It really is all about the RBI. I’m once again with Theo on this one. Who needs run prevention if you can win every game 8-7? Surely a rotation of Lackey-Wake-Buchh-Bowden-Dice will be plenty.
Other than that, things around camp have been eerily quit as the Sox prepare to open the season Sunday night. Feel free to now check out other blogs for corny April Fools Day posts.
Really. Your shoes are untied.

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