Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One of those days

You ever have one of those days, or week, or month, where it seems like NOTHING can go right? When you are wanting to go right, but the rest of the world is pretending they are NASCAR drivers and making one long, endless left hand turn? My last week, week and a half has been like that. From work being a pain in the neck, to coming home to "Kid's Gone Wild, Volume 12", it has just been that kind of a week.
So, I needed a laugh. Which is why I posted that picture of Manny coming out of the Monster. If anyone doesn't know, Manny caught a little flak in 2005 for disappearing into the Green Monster one night, presumably to relieve himself. This being Manny, he could have gone in to ask the guy operating the scoreboard what his recipe for Baked Alaska was, so who knows. Soon after that, he started the annual "I'd like to be traded" request a week before the trade deadline. You can imagine the hubbub this started, culminating with Manny not playing the night before the deadline, or starting the next game. Late in the game that day, after the trading deadline had passed, Manny emerges from the dugout to pinch hit, and promptly drives in the winning run. Trust me: his interview right after the game was high comedy. The next night, he comes out of the Monster at the start of the first, holding that sign. Classic Manny, and it still makes me laugh.
While I watched my 2 boys roll around on the floor like Bo and Luke Duke tonight, wrasslin' and laughing their little heads off, it reminded me of me and my brother and sisters growing up together. And while it doesn't take away the crappy week I've had, thinking back has definitely took the edge off.
We had a lot of fun growing up in Oklahoma. We had a pool, and that thing was always full of kids: us, the neighbors, people from church. I had one buddy who jumped off the roof, over roughly 7 feet of concrete, into the deep end. One year while all of us still living at home were back east on vacation, my brother in law Scott rode a bicycle off the deep end, all the way across the pool. We get home, and my Pop, who was with ME the whole time back east, wants to know when I did that! Then there was the time that Mom and Dad were gone all day, and left my sister Sheri in charge. For the whole day. Sheri, being a teenager with all the wisdom of a bag of peat moss, leaves me and my brother Matt outside for 10 HOURS. You ever been to Oklahoma in the dead of summer? It's like being 2 ft away from the center of the sun. Let's just say Mom was not happy Matt and I looked like Mr. Crabs from Spongebob for the next 3 days.
The pool fun basically ended after Matt and I discovered it was great fun to jump in the pool from the top of the slide. At least it was fun until Matt slipped, fell straight down to the concrete, then proceeded to BOUNCE into the pool. I never would have guessed you could bounce on concrete, but Matt made a believer out of me. Actually his 2 broken wrists were what made me a believer.
I thought about all kind of stuff tonight: Matt pouring a whole bottle of baby oil into his bath one night and coming into the living room, and the rest of us needing sunglasses to look at him. I swear the light from the lamp bounced off him like sunlight off a tin can. Or the time my sister Sonya was riding our neighbors horse, comes inside while we are eating, and offers up the most understated line of the century: Seems Sonj had gotten just a tad close to the barb wire, and with her shoe filled with blood, she utters this: "I think I need a band aid". Uh, no Sonya, you need some stitches. A LOT of stitches. Speaking of horses, one night, again at dinner, all of us were amazed when my sister Stacy went flying by the kitchen window, galloping for all she was worth on our horse, Misty. Little did any of us realize, Misty had gone bonkers and that look on Stacy's face, which we thought to be sheer joy, was in fact, utter panic.
So thanks, Sonj, Stacy, Sheri, and Matt. You helped your brother come out of the mullygrubs a little bit tonight.
And you didn't even know it.
I love you guys.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another one bites the dust?

It looks like another one of my favorite players may be on his way out of Boston. The Red Sox and the Rockies are having "serious upper level" discussions about a trade. The guy in the picture, Mike Lowell, along with Crazy Julian and maybe prospects, to the Rockies for Todd Helton. Seems like the only hitch in the giddyap is what prospects and how much of Heltons roughly $90 million he is still owed the Rockies will pony up for.

I know Mikey has only been here one year, but man, do I love to watch him play. Just like the guy he replaced, Billy Mueller, Lowell brought his lunch pail to work every day. He played a mean 3B, and the time he DOVE flat out for a pop up bunt early in a game was one of the best defensive plays I saw all year. He turned the Green Monster into a landing zone for doubles, doing exactly what Epstein thought he would: became a doubles machine.

I may not be qualified to talk about how I don't like change. I drive my wife nuts when she moves the furniture around, or we have to get a new car, or she moves my socks to a different drawer. In fact, to say I don't like change is the equivalent of Reagan did not really care for the USSR: a BIG understatement. It's just when there are 7 guys by my count left from the 25 who won it all just 3 years ago, that seems like A LOT of change. Think about this, from last years starting 9, Loretta, Gonzalez, and Trot are already gone. Wells, Foulke, and Jason Johnson are gone from the staff. (OK, I should not have said that. Jason Johnson pitching for the Red Sox NEVER happened, you hear? It NEVER happened.) You get my point.

When I was a kid, guys stayed with teams their entire career. In football, you had L.T. and the Giants, Staubauch and the Cowboys, and Bradshaw and the Steelers. In baseball, 2 guys going into the Hall of Fame next year, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn spent their entire career with the organization that drafted them. Even the Yankees (And I HATE writing this) have consistently signed their own guys to extensions, even when they maybe did not deserve it. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Rivera, etc... Meanwhile, the Red Sox ran Pudge Fisk out of town, "forgetting" to forward his contract to him on time. So this is nothing new for them.

I'm a grown up (well, I am 36 years old and we'll leave it at that), so I can see the business side of all this. The Red Sox do not make decisions based on warm feelings or what the fans want. See Nixon, T. and Damon, J. as examples of this. As long as they put a good team on the field each year, with a shot at making the show, I'm ok with that. Who I feel sorry for are the kids, especially my own. Ciera had the hardest time figuring out why they traded Nomie, or why Pedro and Damon did not re-sign. I buy all these things with Papi and Manny on them for Rakes and Trot, and know that one day it'll break their heart when they go.

I'll support any man wearing the Red Sox jersey. And while I'll tell myself not to do it, I'll be teaching Rakes how each one stands in the batters box by May 1st. And come next winter, I'll be disappointed when we don't resign this guy, or trade that guy. I'll get to try to explain to Ciera and Rakes why this has to happen. And I don't really know how I'll do that. How do you tell a child that real life sucks, as opposed to what you wish it was?

I guess all I can do is try to teach them what I tell myself: It's not about the name on the back of uniform. It's about the name on the front.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Remember When

{Lyrics by Alan Jackson}

Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

I had a world class migraine yesterday afternoon and all night long. One of those that it takes all your effort to just hold your head still to keep from getting sick. If you have never experienced these particular joys of life, imagine someone hitting you repeatedly about the head with a ball peen hammer. Then times that by 50, and you get the idea. Back before I had any of the rug rats, and it was just Angie and I, when these headaches would come on, the solution was easy. Go to a dark room, lay perfectly still, and a pray to God they would go away, or that someone would just shoot me, whichever came first. This was from 1992-1998. During that same time, the Boston Red Sox were mediocre at best, finishing in 7th, 5th, 4th, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 2nd place during those years, with one division title and one wild card berth.

Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give up
Remember when

Ciera came along, and immediately wrapped her Dad around her little finger. I spoiled her rotten, and still do, with the firm belief (Prayer?) that if I treat her so well, and baby her so much, that no man will ever be good enough for her. I know this is HIGHLY unlikely, but if she does get married, I'm at least making sure the little weasel who is the lucky fella is going to have to WORK at it. He's got a lot to live up too. Whenever the headaches came during this time period of 1999-2002, I pretty much could do what I did before Ciera came along. Being that she was a girl, and close to perfect, I could just go lay down and wait for relief or death, it didn't really matter which. Things, coincidentally, started looking up for the Red Sox. For the next 4 seasons, they finished in 2nd place each year, with one wild card berth.

Remember when thirty something seemed so old
Now looking' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are,
where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

In 2003, Rakes was born, seemingly with a built-in megaphone. This boy even sleeps loud. He yells everything, laughs like a drunk hyena, and runs everywhere. Then, last March, baby Trot came along. And while he's a good baby, he has developed his brothers in your face way of communication. Just recently he's figured out how to scream when he's hungry, rather than his old method of just crying hysterically until he got his food. Trust me, the new way is NOT better. Last night when I got the migraine, I could not lay down. The boys are like Tommy Lee Jones character in "The Fugitive". There is not a bathhouse, gas house, or out house you can hide in. So, I just sat in the chair doing my best not to throw up for 3 hours, while the 3 of them ran around whooping it up at a volume I can only describe as being close to the sound a jet makes at Mach 3.

For the Red Sox during these last 4 years, unless you've been living in lower Mongolia, you know things have been good, great at times. 2003 they win the wild card, have the epic ALCS with the Yankees, and Aaron Boone becomes a figure in history. 2004, same finish, same ALCS, only this time the baseball God's were smiling, and after the greatest comeback in sports history, the World Championship came home to Boston. For the first time in 86 years.

Do I think my children coming along had anything to do with this? Nah. I just know that them entering this world has brought me more happiness and more joy than at any time in the 28 years before. The Red Sox winning the World Series? Just icing on the cake.

Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
Remember what we had
Remember when

Think I'll still be sad when that happens. And there are a lot of baseball seasons left ahead.

I've got at least 18 more years where at least one of my children will still live at home, and I'll be 54 years old then.

Anybody know how old you can be and still adopt?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Rich get Richer

It hasn't been confirmed yet, but word on the street is that MLB and DirecTV are close to announcing a 7 year, $700 million dollar agreement where the ONLY way a fan can purchase the MLB Extra Innings package is through DirecTV.

I understand baseball is a business. And the objective of any business is to make a profit. But, according to everything you read, that objective is already being met. Last year, most teams posted record revenues, attendance was up, ratings, etc... Just take a look at some of the money being tossed around this off season: Soriano gets $136 from the Cubs, Zito and the Giants, Gary Freaking Matthews getting $50 million from the Angels. Even the Red Sox hopped on board the insanity bus, giving Daisuke Matsuzaka, a man who has thrown exactly 0 pitches in MLB, over $50 million dollars. That does not even take into account the $40 plus million they forked over just for the right to TALK to him about playing for Boston.

I'm not some guy who gripes about how much athletes and owners make: Somebody offered me $100 million dollars to do something, sign me up. And I'm all for the owners putting a little in their pockets. But for MLB to basically say "Screw You" to every fan that buys the package through something other than DirecTV is asinine. I LOVE baseball. And anyone else who spends $150 dollars to watch the games does too. And MLB could care less.

I'll give you an analogy: My daughter Ciera, is the most precious thing I have in this world. From the day she was born, she has been Daddy's girl. I read the stories at night, I say the prayers and tuck her in at bedtime, and I'm always the one she comes to when she falls and skins her knee. I walk her into school every day, all the way to class, and she kisses me good bye on the cheek in front of all her class. Yeah, I know it'll change one day, but I hope we can always be close.

I love her more than I can put into words, and I'm sure any Dad would feel the same way. So lets say one day, when she is ready to get married (when she is 40 preferably) she calls me up and tells me: "Dad, I appreciate all you've done for me over the years, how loyal and protective of me you were, how you always told me you loved me when you left the house, but if you want to come to the wedding, you have to suddenly become really rich and be a member of the "I'm a Rich Knob Country Club" and buy a Bentley."

MLB is essentially telling all the loyal fans who buy the extra innings package (you think the band wagon jumpers are gonna shell out $150 bucks a year?) Thanks. We appreciate you devoting so much time and effort to watching our games. Now go take a flying leap. You spend $150 dollars, we just got $700 million. Who cares if you are upset?

They don't care about the fact my daughter is mad at me for 6 months because I'm monopolizing the main TV while she wants to watch "The Suite Life of Zac and Cody" for the one millionth time. Or that I've kept us from going out to eat for over an hour because the dad gum Sunday day game has gone into extra innings. Or that during the west coast trips I wake up for 10 days strait looking like Rocky the Raccoon because I'm working on 3 1/2 hours of sleep. They could give a flip that my wife has me sleeping on the couch and going to marriage counseling because, her words, "You are OBSESSED with the Red Sox, and our marriage is falling apart."

OK, the last one I made up, but you get the point. Once again, the everyday fan is getting squeezed, while the Man just lines his pockets. And I'm disgusted with the whole thing.

By the way, I went and talked to the DirecTV folks today about when they can come hook me up.

I'm disgusted, but I'm also obsessed, remember?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


This picture makes me smile every time I see it. Wily Mo and Papi, arms around each other, heading off the field after a win. It's gotta be a win, cause' the big man don't untuck his shirt unless they have laid the wood to someone. I love the fact that here are two men, two professional athletes who make obscene amounts of money playing a kid's game, and they are acting like they are heading off to the playground to play on the monkey bars. If Manny was in the picture, I'd think that's EXACTLY where they were going.
My Dad lost his brother this year. They had been close for 71 years, which is exactly how long my Pop has walked this earth. And I've got a younger brother Matt, who after my wife, is the person I'm the closest in this world. Kinda like that picture of Papi and WMP, Matt is Felix Unger to my Oscar Madison. He's tall, quiet, and smart while I am short, loud, and well..., lets just leave it at that. Matty is a deep thinker who loves sitting outside hugging trees, where I start getting antsy if I'm more than 50 feet away from the television. Matt is a hockey fanatic who became a Red Sox fan because I am, while I don't know a blue line from a hole in the ground. Point is, for all those differences, we are as close as 2 brothers can be.
Now I have 2 boys. Rakes is my mini-me, from his loud voice, short body, and boundless energy. Or obnoxiousness whichever one you wanna pick. Trot is already close to weighing the same as Rakes and will probably catch him in the height category sometime this year. As I watch them every day, I sit and wonder if they will be close. If they'll love to play with each other, and if they will tag-team together to send their big sister over the edge. One thing I hope is this: push comes to shove, you're gonna have to go through one if you want to get to the other.
I may be stupid, and many have supported that statement over the years, but I like to think of the Red Sox as 25 brothers. You have got some vastly different men when it comes to personality that you know they all can't like each other. From Manny's flakiness to Tek's stoic nature. From Papi's larger than life personality, to Mike Lowell and his quiet, business-like approach. Schilling and his tendency to talk to anyone, anytime, about anything, to Terry Francona and his get to the point and get it over with attitude.
With all these differences, I still like to think, that if it comes down to it, they are gonna have each others back.
Just like Matt and I do.
And just like I hope Rakes and Trot will too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baby Steps

My little boy Trot took his first two steps on his own today, and of course, I was at work and did not get to see it. He's almost 10 months old now, so he's been pulling up and holding onto things while walking for a little while now. But today, he took the first 2 steps of his life today. I'm just mad I did not get to see them.
Like any baby learning to walk, he's got his battle scars. I don't think at any time in the last 3 months or so he has not had at least 2 bruises or knots on his head. We've had busted lips, scars, knots, and even a fall down the stairs, so I know it's toughened him up. It is really something to watch unfold before your eyes: starts off with sitting up, then pulling up, then sorta balancing like some extra large bobble head for awhile, then what happened today: his first step on his own.
It won't be long now, and he'll be cruising all over the place. Which is great: the downside? He and his brother are going to be hell on wheels. Rakes is a BIT of a handful and just imagining the havoc the two of them will wreak makes me weak in the knees.
Watching the season last year was a lot like watching a baby go through that progression of learning to walk. The Red Sox started the year with a lot of young players: Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, and Jonathon Papelbon. Like my boy, they had their falls, bumps, and bruises. And like any time you put several babies together, some will get the hang of the walking faster than others. I'd say Papelbon picked it up quick, along with Lester, while Hansen and the others had a few more scrapes and bloody lips. I guarantee it toughened them up though.
This year, the plan is to start the season with Dustin Pedroia starting at second base. He came up late last year, and had his struggles. He showed enough to management that they seem confident he'll be OK. Sure he'll have his moments where he looks like he's gonna careen off into the wall, but he'll straighten himself out.
It's gonna be fun watching my boy get better at walking every day.
Gonna be fun watching the younger Sox players do the same.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Best Friend

Since I started this whole blogging thing, I have mostly wrote about two things: Red Sox baseball and my children. I realized today that I have not said a whole lot about my wife, who in my humble opinion, is the most kind, warm hearted, loving, most beautiful woman in the world.
We met at 18 when my family moved to North Carolina, but she headed off the our Church College, and I headed off to basically the opposite of where she was going. At 21, my sister I was living with in OK got married, I lost my place to stay, and moved back home to finish school. We had our first date in August of 2001. I came to pick her up in my Dad's Cadillac and with a dozen roses in hand. Smooth, right? I asked her to marry me the next Valentine's Day, and we were married in December, 2002.
14 years later, I'm in love with her more now than I was then. We've got 3 children, who if you read here I adore, and they are GREAT kids: her doing, not mine. She is a great Mom, and for putting up with her idiot of a husband, gets my vote for wife of the century.
This is a woman who puts up with my office at home being basically a Red Sox shrine, my framed picture of Fenway Park in the living room, and my constant wearing of a Sox hat. She acts interested when I tell her about the new pitcher we got from Japan, even though I know that is about as exciting to her as grass growing, and reluctantly gives up the TV for 6 months a year for me to watch the Sox games. Though about every other day, the phrase "There is ANOTHER game on tonight?" gets muttered.
Put it this way: my third child is named Trot. I know Red Sox fans understand this, but believe me, people give you some real funny looks when you tell them you named your son Trot. She just lets it roll off her back, a lot like she lets all the stupid stuff that comes out of my mouth at times. I have said some of the most IDIOTIC things to her over the years, a lesser woman would have back handed me with a frying pan a long time ago.
Don't believe me? How's this: Before we had children, she was teaching school. One Saturday doing housework, I uttered this phrase: "Since I make 5 times as much money as you, I shouldn't have to help clean the house". Brilliant, huh? Thankfully, she has a very forgiving heart. I'm sure over time I'll work in more of the stories in which all of you will wonder: "Why has she not punched him out yet?" Just not today.
Today is my first and probably only post not about the Red Sox.
It was about my best friend.
I love you babe.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Big Boy Bed

My 3 year old, Rakes, got his "big boy bed" the other day. He just turned 3 not long ago, and we figured it was time to get him out of the crib finally. Reluctantly. See, the boy is crazy: makes Dennis the Menace seem like a little angel. From lipstick hand prints on the wall, to magic marker on the hardwood floor, this child is ALL BOY. He loves pinching his little brothers cheeks, throwing toys at random things, and yelling at the top of his lungs. His favorite thing to do? Torture his big sister by dropping trou, sneaking up on her naked, and saying "look dissy!" Then, while she squeals at the top of her lungs and runs away, he will gleefully chase her, pants around his ankles and giggling like some deranged lunatic. Yep, that's my boy.
So, you can see why we wanted him in a crib: for 3 years he had never tried to climb out. Not once. That ended this week when his Mom put him in it for time out, and shut the door. About 5 minutes later, he came strutting down the stairs, much like Bonds after one of his monster home runs, looked at my wife and said: "Me dit out of my dib, Mommy". So, instead of dealing with him breaking a limb climbing out of the crib, we got the "big boy bed".
I kind of look at the start of every baseball season like Rakes big boy bed. He likes it OK, but it's been an adjustment. He can sleep in it, but it feels different to him right now, and he is a little unsure of getting in it every time. Last night, he begged me to let him sleep in his crib, but I said no, he needed to get used to it.
To me, the start of every Red Sox season is kind of like that big boy bed: it's new, the players have changed, and you kinda wish for some familiarity. Take this year: Trot is gone, as well as Gonzo and Loretta from the starting 9. Plus, Gabe retired, some coaches left, and only Timlin, Tavarez, Delcarmen, and Hansen are still in the pen'. That is not necessarily a bad thing, just different.
We've added Matsuzaka and Papelbon to the starting rotation, and Foulke has gone off to Cleveland to give THEIR fans ulcers. Point is, I am excited about the coming year, but I will miss the things from last year I got used to, but are no longer here. But, come late May or early June, I won't miss those things and will just be excited about the team the Sox have now.
Kinda like Rakes will feel in a few months. He won't miss that crib at all.
Cause' he has his big boy bed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jack Bauer played for the Red Sox

I love the television show 24. Seen every episode since Day 1, including this seasons first 5 hours, and for my money, it's the best show on t.v. Period. 24 is the name of the show, but it's really Jack Bauer who is the draw: a patriot and soldier, Jack is unflinching in his regard to protect this country.
Jack Bauer has done the following over the course of the first 5 seasons to various people, foe and friend alike, to do his job: cut the head off a pedophile to go undercover (it'd take WAY to long to explain: trust me, the guy deserved it.), chopped his own partners arm off, killed his ex-lover, got hooked on heroin, invaded the Chinese Embassy, shot a woman in the knee to get her husband to talk, spent 2 years being tortured in a Chinese prison (because they obviously did not take kindly to the fact their Embassy was broken into. Something about sovereign territory.), and to top it off, went Dracula on a guy already this year.
All this does not even cover the countless bodies that have met their demise due to Jack shooting, stabbing, choking, and breaking their necks. Yep: Jack Bauer is one bad S.O.B. Yeah, I know it's totally unrealistic that one man could do all that, and that the scenarios played out on the show are ridiculous, and that there is no way a person could talk ALL DAY on a cellphone and it's battery NEVER dies. I still love the show, and it's protagonist, Jack.
Sports has guys like Jack Bauer. Guys who play hurt, do their job without asking why, follow the orders of their superiors, and will go to any length necessary to come out victorious. In football, you have guys like Brett Farve and his consecutive game streak, Emmit Smith playing with the seperated shoulder against the Giants, and Jack Youngblood with the broken leg in the Super Bowl.
Baseball has em' too: Lou Gherig, Cal Ripken, and Jeff Bagwell come to mind. So does Brad Radke, who pitched last year for the Twins with a shoulder that was basically shredded lettuce. The Red Sox have a few Jack Bauer's on the team: Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell come to mind.
But the one guy I always felt had the Jack Bauer vibe? Trot. Played hurt, hustled his tail off, did what was asked, and would have ran through the wall to get that ball. Yeah, he wasn't always pretty, had the filthiest cap and batting helmet in the game, and could be, to put it mildly, a surly cuss when he wanted to. Trot broke down a little as he got older, but shoot, don't we all?
Just like Jack, with Trot you always knew what you were gonna get: a loyal soldier who would give you 100% dedication to the job at hand.
Whether that job is saving the world, or just playing a mean RF.
Good luck Christopher Trot Nixon. We're gonna miss you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Would You?

Word came out today that the Texas Rangers will most likely offer Slammin' Sammy Sosa a minor league contract for next year, with the chance to make the ML roster. At first, I thought it was some kind of joke, but it seems like it will happen.

I'm torn on the "Steroid era" guys. Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, etc.. I gotta admit, when Sosa and Big Mac were bashing home runs in 1998, I was glued to the set. It was awesome: here were 2 bigger than life superstars hitting home runs as fast as the pitchers would throw the ball. Are they saviors of the game, or are they nothing more than a garden variety cheater?

How are Sosa and Mcgwire any different than someone like Gaylord Perry, who would laugh about how he cheated? Perry is in the Hall of Fame: I have my doubts whether Sosa or McGwire will ever get in. Perry won over 300 games by mainly throwing a spitter, an illegal pitch by MLB rules, yet no one cares. Sosa, McGwire, and Palmiero are either accused of, or guilty of, using steriods, and everyone is ready to get a rope and find the nearest tree. Yet everyone kinda laughs at Gaylord, and looks the other way.

I asked myself this question: If someone told me that if I took a pill, or got a shot, and it would make me a better salesman, would I take it? The chance to greatly increase my income, give my children a better future, insure they would never want for anything, would I take it? If I could take care of my children, and my children's children for the rest of their lives, would I take it?

What if that pill would make me sick, or cause acne, or impotence? What if that pill or shot take years off my life, making sure that my time with my family was cut short?

If I could ensure that my wife, and my 3 children would never want for anything. That my children could have the education they deserve, the life I want for them. And my wife would never have to worry again about a bill, insurance, or money ever again? If I had the chance to make more money than I had ever dreamed of, and take care of my family for the rest of their lives, would I do it?

What would YOU do?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Pumpsie Green played for the Boston Red Sox from 1959-1962, during which time he hit .244, with 12HR, and 69 RBI's. Basically, he was an earlier version of Alex Cora.

Why am I writing about him? Because he was the first African-American to ever play for Boston. He made his debut 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color barrier. The Red Sox were the last team to integrate in baseball, and after former owner Tom Yawkey passed away, stories began to leak out about Yawkey's racism, not only toward black players, but Jewish ones as well.

In 1945, Jackie Robinson was given a tryout at Fenway Park. Obviously, he did not sign with Boston. The Red Sox also had a chance to sign Frank Robinson a while later, and chose not too. I'm not naive enough to think that racism was not on every team back then, but Yawkey's idiotic policy probably set the team back at least 5 years behind the teams that were integrating when he wasn't.

Monday, we celebrate as a country, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. My daughter Ciera, 8, brought home a book on Dr. King, as well as one on Rosa Parks this week from school. She was shocked to read about white-only resteraunts, schools, and water fountains. Could not get her mind around the fact that a person could not sit anywhere they wanted to on a bus, but had to instead sit all the way in the back. These are kid friendly books, so it'll be a few years before she sees the really dark history of racism and integration.

Dr. King had a vision of racial equality, and over the years, America has made huge strides toward that goal. It ain't perfect yet, but it's progress. And 48 years after Pumpsie made his Red Sox debut, the team looks nothing like the one he joined. Led by Big Papi and Manny, the 2007 Red Sox are about as ethnically mixed as you'll find. Dominicans, Japanese, Black, and White players fill the roster of the team. As a parent, you try to teach your children to not see color, just character, and I'm trying to do that with my 3. When they see the Red Sox, they see the color of the jersey, not the color of the man. Yeah, I'm bragging, but I'm proud of them.

I can't imagine what Pumpsie Green had to endure during his short career, but given the team and the city's history, I know it was not pretty. We have all heard and read about the vile crap that was shouted at Jackie Robinson, not only by fans, but players as well. Pumpsie more than likely heard the same song, different verse.

So, as you remember Dr. King tomorrow, remember Pumpsie, Jackie, and all the other players who paved the road for guys like Mays, Aaron, and Pops Stargell. Who paved it for guys like Ortiz, Pujols, and Bonds. And remember the men who never made it, but should have: Josh Gibson, Buck O'Neil, and Satchel Page, who made it, but too late.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born: 1-15-29

Died: 4-4-68

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Judas? Or just Johnny?

Over the years, I have been buying my little boy Rakes all the Seth McFarland Red Sox figures I can find. After the 2004 World Series year, the next Sox player he released was Johhny Freaking Damon. I bought it, put it on his shelf, and immediately started teaching Rakes Johnny's name. He was already my daughter's favorite player, so she helped me tutor Rakes: eventually, we got him saying " Onny Amon".
2005 was no problem, with the Captain of the Idiot's batting lead off, doing naked pull ups in the locker room, and patrolling CF at Fenway.
Then came the off season of 2005: And the unthinkable became a reality.
Johnny Damon was going to the New York Yankees. The same Yankees he had helped humiliate with the greatest comeback in sports history. The same Yankees he had said he would NEVER play for. The Red Sox offered him a contract, the Yankees offered more, and he left.
I have not let Rakes play with that figure ever since. It's still up on the shelf, but I can't bring myself to get it down. When it first came out that Damon went to the Dark Side, I was furious. And when he came back to Fenway and got booed out of the park, I smiled. As the season went on, I started thinking about it, and what I came up with was this.
Damon was a key part of the 2004 team. He played hard, and played well. But he had only been in Boston since 2002. He had been in Oakland before that, and Kansas City before that. He wasn't some life long Sox player, like Trot Nixon, or even like Jason Varitek, who has never played a Major League game in a uniform other than the Red Sox. He is just another mercenary in a long line of them who have come and gone through Red Sox Nation over the years.
He IS, however, a little different. He was the lead off hitter and offensive catalyst of the team that FINALLY won it all. And for that, he will always be different. I don't know if they win it all without Damon. In fact, I'm pretty sure they don't. He was the identity of that team, the guy willing to talk to some idiot Globe reporter after a tough loss, the guy willing to step up and deflect attention away from some struggling teammate. And after his playing days are over, is Johnny Damon going to be remembered as a New York Yankee? Or as the long haired wild man who led the motley crew that was the 2004 Boston Red Sox to the top of the mountain?
I don't know how other people will remember him.
I just know how I will. And while I will despise him every game he plays for the Yankees, after his playing days are done, I'm going to do one thing.
I'm going to let Rakes finally play with his Johnny Damon action figure.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fight Game

I will never get tired of this picture. EVER. In the year they won it all, one of the biggest donnybrooks I've seen in baseball broke out. All because A-Rod got bent that Bronson Arroyo plunked him. Tek didn't like the way Rodriguez was talking to his pitcher, and off they went.

What followed over the next 10 minutes or so was watched by me with unmitigated joy: Tek trying to bodyslam Rodriguez, Gabe Kapler and Tanyon Stuertz going at it, and general mayhem. I don't remember where Manny was in all this: probably heading out to the Monster for a bathroom break. Anyway, point is it was a AWESOME fight.

Best part is this: later, much later ( And why is it that when these 2 teams play, they have to last no fewer than 4 hours, most stretching toward 5? Just curious.) Billy Mueller sent Fenway home happy with a walk off, 2 run dinger of Rivera. Not immediately after this game, but soon, the Sox went on an absolute tear, clinched the wild card, and the rest is history.

I remember a lot about the day that game was played. I remember I watched it in my bedroom, because my wife and daughter were watching some all day "Ann of Green Gables" marathon, or something equally as exciting in the living room. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, alternately going from extreme joy, to feeling like I was gonna throw up as the game went back and forth.

And I also remember this: that was the first game I ever watched with my son, Rakes. He was not quite 8 months old, so I doubt he remembers much. But he spent the whole game in that room with me. Laid on my chest for nap time, ate a bottle, and watched his first Sox game. Poor little fella cried for 4 minutes after it was over: coulda been from joy, although I think the fact I screamed like some demented Bo Duke when Billy hit the home run seems more likely.

He's 3 now, and this past year watched a lot of the games with me. His attention wanders, but he loves to watch Papi and Manny hit, and will run around in circles, sliding into imaginary bases, and flipping his bat, because, "Dat de way Big Papi doed it, Dad". He loves baseball and the Red Sox, and I could not be happier about it.

I'm sure he and I have a long list of baseball memories ahead of us, and I look forward to all of them.

But that picture at the top of this page?

I will NEVER get tired of it.

It was the day my son and I watched our first Sox game together.

Monday, January 8, 2007

You gotta touch the stove to see if it's hot

My Uncle Henry used to say that. Sadly, he passed this past year. What a character: he was my families version of Bill Lee. A maverick without Lee's tendency to tick off anyone else, he went about his business in a way all his own. He also would say he was "going clock 55" when he was driving, ignoring the fact the only time he hit 55 was on his way to 75. Another favorite of his was when someone would see something beautiful or out of the ordinary and did not have a camera, he'd say "take a picture with your mind". I also remember when I was 11 and my brother was 6, we went out to eat with Henry. We went in the bathroom, and there was only one toilet. As we looked at each other, Henry said, "Go ahead: there's room enough in there for both your fire hoses." As you can imagine, at 11 that was High Comedy.

I see alot of Henry in my son Rakes: he marches to the beat of his own drummer, always in trouble with a glint in his eye and a crooked grin, kinda like he's winking at you. About 2 months ago he found his sisters lipstick. Faster than the 06 Sox bullpen could blow a lead, he had made the prettiest lipstick hand mural on the wall, and had even found time to grind a 2 ft patch into the carpet, as well as paint his torso. When my wife found him, he looked up at her, grinning, and said: "You not whip me hard, Otay Mommy?" You just can't stay mad at him. (Although we were able to stay mad longer at this little art project than usual).

The Red Sox front office has developed some sort of obsession with JD Drew over the past couple of years. I see a guy who refused to play in Philadelphia when they drafted him, went to St. Louis, and while a good player, never reached his potential. Then he went to Atlanta, where he had a career year. After one year, signed a $55 million dollar deal, and opted out when he could. The Red Sox then sign him to a $70 million dollar deal, but have yet to finalize it over health concerns. Drew has missed significant time over his career due to injuries, and has the reputation of a guy who won't play hurt and plays without any kind of passion toward the game.

Contrast that to the guy he'd be replacing: Trot Nixon, a first round draft pick, who while battling his own injury problems, played hurt, dove for anything in the NE part of the country, never complained, and was the ultimate teammate. An added plus, the man has the filthiest cap and batting helmet ever seen in MLB. I named my son Trot, so that should tell you what I think about the man.

But I'm just a fan. And I believe in Theo and the front office: they know baseball. And I hope, once the legal crap is worked out, that JD Drew plays a great RF for the Red Sox. I'm just worried that, in the end, they'll only be doing one thing.

Touching the stove to see if it's hot.

For their sake, and mine, I hope that stove is as cool as David Ortiz.

And Uncle Henry: We all miss you.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Manager and the Dad

I love being a Dad. Best job in the world, bar none, and I would not trade anything for it. It can be the most frustrating thing as well. I have 3 children, each of them as different as David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and Curt Schilling.

I don't know Terry Francona, but I'll bet you one thing: He is a good Father. My theory is, to be a good manager, you are also a good Dad. Because what a manager does is just what a Dad has to do. You have to get to know several different personalities and recognize what kind of action to take.

My son Rakes is a headstrong, 3 year old bundle of energy. 5th gear and stubborn as a mule,all day long. You can talk to him until you are blue in the face, and he just goes on like the Energizer bunny. Only at a VERY high volume. The only way to get him to slow down is MAKE him slow down. Francona has to do the same thing with his players at various times during the year: whether is Jason Varitek wanting to play the day game after a night game, or maybe Mike Lowell is a little slow with the bat speed, and Francona will give him a couple of days off, knowing Lowell won't ask for it himself.

Now my daughter, Ciera? Totally different ball game. Sensitive, caring, and has her head in the clouds half the time. I have to treat her very gently, because if I don't, I lose her. She starts getting upset at the way I got her attention, rather than the reason. Ciera is like Manny: Francona can't talk to Manny about jogging to first or pimping at the plate after a Home Run the way he could to Varitek or Kevin Youkilis. Manny would shut down, and then you have lost him. He's gotta handle him with kid gloves.

And it's not just the game: he has to manage egos, agents, and reporters. He has got to keep up with their lives away from the game as well: wives, kids, the new house, and the worry about the new contract. Groupies, drugs, and late night partying as well. (Thank God I'm not there yet).

I've only have 3 children, and my other son Trot is only 9 months old. And I am constantly EXHAUSTED. I have no idea how Francona can deal with 25 different human beings at one time. How he knows what to say to this player, what not to say to that player. My children will always be my children: His change on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Injuries, poor performance, trades, etc. change the clubhouse constantly. So not only must he keep managing the players he knows, he has to learn the new ones on the fly. It'd be like my wife and I adopting a new child each month, with no idea what they like, do, and how they react to certain things.

If a man can do that for 6 months a year, day in and day out for 162 games, and keep both the 25 players, coaches, trainers, and his sanity together, he can handle a few kids.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Where we doin' Dad?

My little boy asks me "where we doin' Dad?" several times a day. He means going. The little guy has a hard time with his G's, as well as his S's and B's, so my wife and I have learned how to translate 3 year old.

Anyway, "where we doin" is usually followed up with "we doin' outside and play bat and ball Dad?" The boy LOVES baseball: playing it, watching it, just loves it. Today he asked me that, and while we were outside, I got to thinking.

I wonder where the Red Sox are going this year? After finishing in 3rd place in the A.L. East last year, a lot of moves have been made by the front office: Signing Matsuzaka, Lugo, Donnelly, and eventually JD Drew. Stocking up in the bullpen with some quality arms to go along with the young guns. Letting Loretta, Gonzalez, and Trot leave. And, Thank God, not trading Manny.

Are they better than last year? On paper, yes. And if the team can stay relatively healthy, they are gonna be right in the thick of things all year. A lineup of Lugo, Youk, Papi, Manny, Drew, Lowell, Tek, Crisp, and Pedroia is pretty dadgum impressive. And a rotation of Schill, Beckett, the Papelbot, Dice K, and Wakefield, with a bullpen of Timlin, Delcarmen, Donnelly and Pineiro is as deep as it's been since 2004.

So, where are they going? Division Champs? Playoffs? World Series?

I hope I get to say this come October:

Son, the Sox are doin' to the dance.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mr. Pesky

There is nothing more in baseball that brings me to tears than Manny, Papi, or anyone else giving Johnny Pesky a hug in the dugout. Pesky, who has spent more time in a Red Sox uniform than anyone else, alive or dead, is an icon in Red Sox history. And if you did not shed a tear when Wake or Schill poured a beer over his head and kissed him after the Sox won the World Series in 2004, you do not have a heart.
Shoot, he even has a foul pole named after him. He is an ambassador for Red Sox baseball the likes of which we will never see again.
Tonights post is short and sweet. John Henry, do the right thing. Erect a statue of Johnny outside Fenway, forthwith. Don't do it after he is gone, do it NOW. So the man can see it, touch it, feel it. He is the last link of a bygone era, and deserves his place in Red Sox history.
For the man who has seen Williams, Yaz, Rice, Lynn, Manny, and Papi come and go: Do the right thing. Honor the man before he passes.
He deserves that much.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


As I watched my 3 year old run, bounce, jump, fall, and generally act like some demented tree monkey on acid for the last three hours, I found myself thinking, man, what a character. And as I typically do, I started thinking about baseball. Do you remember when the sport was FILLED with characters? Back in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's, they were everywhere.

Guys like Sparky Lyle, who for some reason liked to jump buck naked onto cakes. (He played for the Yankees, so that may explain his fetish for icing.)Or Steve Lyons, who once, in the middle of a game, dropped trou in front of the paying customers. Guys like Oil Can Boyd, Mark Fydrich, and Rick Dempsey.

Turk Wendell was a character: He used to eat black licorice and brush his teeth between every inning. Bill "Spaceman" Lee, after Don Zimmer accused him of smoking marijuana told Zim "I just sprinkle it on my cereal every morning". These guys, and many others, were CHARACTERS.

In the 90's, baseball lost the characters, little by little. As the money grew baseball became more "corporate". The owners did not want to pay a guy millions of dollars a year and have him act like a idiot. Piece by piece, baseball lost a little of the wackiness that had always been woven into the fabric of the game.

Now, in 2007, there are a few characters left but not many. The Boston Red Sox have led MLB in characters the last few years, culminating with the "Idiots" of 2004. Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, O.C., and Johnny Damon among them. But the biggest character of all, who is still with the team? Manny Ramirez.

When you do the following, you are THE character in today's game:

Take the field wearing an IPOD and you have a water bottle in your back pocket. Or if you eat pudding in the dugout, mug like Paris Hilton for the camera, and point like someone with Tourette's syndrome at everyone and everything in sight.

Characters go into the Green Monster to take a leak in the middle of the game. Characters go into said Green Monster and retrieve signs that say "Manny being Manny". Characters, upon dropping a lazy pop fly, return to the dugout and say "There goes my Gold Glove"

With Manny, you get the yearly trade request, lollygagging down to first on a ground ball, and defense that makes Charlie Brown look like Ken Griffey Jr. You also get 40 HR's, 130 RBI's, a .300 avg, and about 50 laugh out loud moments a year.

Character matters.

And Manny's proof.