Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Egg Hunters

Our church's annual Easter Egg hunt was today, and even though I was at the "Excitement filled event known as the International Home Furnishings Market", I forced myself to sneak away for a few hours. See, today was Trots first ever Easter Egg hunt, and there was no way I was gonna miss it if I could help it.

He seemed to enjoy himself, though he was only interested in holding 1 egg in each hand at a time: the concept of putting them in the basket as he went is not something he's quite grasped yet. They do the hunt in stages by age, so I got to see Rakes and Ciera do theirs as well.

I know an Easter Egg hunt does not seem like a big deal to most people: they just grow up so fast now I don't want to miss anything. Won't be too long and Ciera will have outgrown this kind of thing. Rakes will probably want to be doing it when he's 20: he had a blast. Though he wanted to stop picking them up to eat the candy before it was over. Note to self: teach Rakes about the killer instinct.

Ciera was mad she did not get more that 12: she has got the killer instinct down pat. All the better for when them young punks come calling. Between my gun and her attitude, maybe I can keep 'em at bay.

Felt kind of good sneaking away to see my kids today: just my way of giving the man the middle finger whenever I can. Baseball tomorrow, Cards vs. Mets, then finally, thankfully, mercifully, the REAL season starts in KC on Monday.

Schilling vs. Meche.

Thank God.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mr. Pesky

*photo from*

57 years. For most of his adult life, Johnny Pesky has worn the uniform of the Boston Red Sox. He's been a player, a coach, and a manager, and a prouder Red Sox member has never been found.

Banished from the dugout by previous ownership in 1997, he was back where he belonged, in the dugout, when the current ownership group took over in 2002. Except for brief periods, including late in 2004 (Yes: MLB in all it's infinite wisdom did not allow this proud man in the dugout when they finally won it all) that's where he's been.

There is no better sight than Mr. Pesky congratulating Big Papi with a hug after another monster bomb, or when Ortiz sits down next to him in the dugout and throws an arm over his shoulder. The respect and love these players have for this man is obvious to anyone who sees it happen. Who can forget Pesky, with tears streaming down his face while Schilling poured a beer over his head on the field after they beat the Cardinals in Game 4? Schilling kept saying "You deserve this. This is for you." My wife can tell you the times I've cried in front of her on one hand and have fingers left over: I'll admit, it was a mite dusty in the house that night.

Once again, Uncle Bud and his stormtroopers have screwed up big time. These keystone cops could not find water if they fell out of the boat, and now they are going to enforce some antiquated rule about only having 6 coaches in the dugout, even though it's apparently been OK the last 5 years, give or take a few weeks a season. These are the same morons who took their game package away from 250,000 potential customers, cancelled a World Series, and let an all star game end in a tie. They let performance-enhancing drugs change history while turning a blind eye, yet get emphatic that an 87 year old man can't sit in the dugout during a game.

He is an old man. How many more years does he have left on this earth? For all we know, being around the game so much is what has helped him get to 87. Selig and MLB thrive despite themselves: a more callous, heartless, selfish bunch of morons you'll never find.

Here's to hoping someone with an IQ higher than a 6 year old sees the stupidity in all this, and Johnny is in the dugout the first game in Boston. Or, as Matt suggested to me today, Papi gets the players to pitch in and pay whatever the fine for him being in the dugout will cost.

Better yet, how about John Henry just goes to Selig's office, gives him a blank check, and tells him to fill in how much it's gonna cost, and then tell Uncle Bud to go pound sand where the sun don't shine.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Party Time

Well, the birthday party is over: at least I think it was a birthday party. If my relatives were not all present, I woulda sworn it was a riot in Bangladesh. It had all the elements of a full scale "international incident": there was screaming, crying, sudden loud noises, and breaking glass.

If you can't tell from the picture, Baby Trot was feeling a bit poorly, but enjoyed mashing cake all over himself all the same. If the rest of us had not been relatively healthy the last few months, I'd swear we were part of some Hazmat project gone array. As soon as the poor little fella gets over one thing, he picks up another. Boy is just like me instead: just plows ahead like a pack mule even though it's probably not the smart thing to do.

Toss in Rakes trying to outdo his little brother when it comes to scarfing down cake, as well as attacking the ice cream container with nothing more than a spoon and unbridled glee, and you get the makings of a Jackass movie gone horribly wrong.

Furniture Market + stressed to the gills + 17 people in my house + Trot's first birthday party + Rakes the Impaler = Ted twitching for the next 5 hours like some tweaker in search of his first hit of crank.

I need a nap. Or a drink. Or a lobotomy.

I'm just keeping my eyes on the prize: Curt Schilling, Kansas City, Monday at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The little Dirt Dog.

Happy 1st Birthday Trot Matthew Dalton. Named after the toughest Dirt Dog and your tree hugging Uncle Matt, it's hard to believe you are a year old. Seems like yesterday I brought you home from the hospital.

Sleeping through the night at 3 months and walking at 9, time has just flown by. One day I'll tell you about the dirt dobber I named you after, and then I'll tell you about your Uncle Matt. Trot Nixon is one of my favorite players, a balls out RF who would run through a wall to catch a fly ball, and who wears the filthiest hat in MLB. It's a shame he could not finish his career wearing the scarlett B. Your middle name is your Uncle's name, and he's my closest friend and my role model. The older brother is not supposed to look at the younger one as a role model. Though you may be in the same role Matt is: after all, Rakes is YOUR older brother.

We got plenty of time for that: just know that your Dad loves you very much. Know that you WILL be a Red Sox fan for life. And be thankful Wily Mo Pena was not playing for the Sox when we picked your name.

I love you buddy: here's to 99 more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Making the Show

*Picture courtesy of*

Well, the tallest man on the team made the show: Kyle Snyder, a former number 1 pick of the Royals whose career has been derailed because of injuries, was told by Terry Francona he was starting the year with the big boy club.

Of course, it could only be temporary with Mike Timlin, Jon Lester, and Matt Clement starting out on the DL, but it's gotta be a thrill for the kid to have battled back from all the arm trouble he has had and make the club as a long reliever/spot starter. If you have not seen him pitch, he has got one of the NASTIEST 12/6 curve balls I've ever seen. Carries himself like a gunslinger from the Old West with a slow stride like the Duke and a gamer mentality. Good for you Kyle: now go out and show 'em what you can do.

No other real surprises: Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen were sent to Pawtucket, where they shoulda been last year. Pitchers on the 25 man roster are: Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, Wake, Crazy Julian, Papelbon, Donnelly, Okajima, Piniero, Lopez, Romero, and Snyder.

Position players are Tek, Dougie, Papi, Youkilis, The Munchkin, Lugo, Lowell, Cora, Manny, Hinske, Drew, Crisp, and WMP. Pretty much the usual suspects, with Tito hoping to get Wily Mo around 400 AB's at the 3 OF slots and DH.

Well, we know who will be up on Opening Day: could we not just go ahead and start?

6 more days.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Sky is Falling

I guess 5 no hit innings just don't buy what it used to. Daisuke Matsuzaka went 5 innings, 6 K's, and no hits. The fact he walked 5 guys has apparently made every sports writer and columnist into Chicken Little.

It's Spring Training guys. He pitched NO HIT BALL for 5 innings. So he walked a few guys: big freaking deal. Did they score? No. Did it cause him to lose focus? No. Do the 5 walks mean he will turn into Rick Ankiel at Yankee Stadium come July? The answer, I guess, is yes if you read the Boston sports people.

I swear, if I were a Red Sox player, I would boycott these morons all year. I don't think they can function unless they are stirring up the pot and causing trouble. From Manny to Theo to Tito to Drew to Dice-K. I'm done with the lot of them: they can write their fertilizer all they want, and from here on out I refuse to read it. Hacks, all of them, and I'm not giving their ego the satisfaction of reading their babble anymore. I'll read and Schill's blog to get my info, and watch NESN to keep up. I'm tired of all the negative B.S.

Come October, I firmly believe the Sox will be in the post season, and Matsuzaka will have won a minimum of 16 games. CHB and the rest can all go ask Slappy how his therapy is playing out.

For Pete's sake, can the season start already?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Um yeah...We've got a problem"

Today in North Carolina it was a picture perfect Sunday: Carolina blue sky, low 80's temps, and the Sox were playing the Marlins on NESN. So where was I? Stuck in some windowless building, listening to a bunch of knobs go on and on and on and on about the furniture business, buyers and consumers, finishes and styles, and how they need to figure out "new ways to drive my business."

I wanted to take one of Papi's bats and make a Popsicle out of 'em. I enjoy my job usually: drive around, listen to XM radio, and go see your friends all day. The fact you actually make money by selling them product is the main thing, but put it this way: an 8th grade dropout who can drive a car and lay on the fertilizer could do it. Brain surgery it's not.

Market is another animal. Boring, stuck in one place, you leave before the kids get up and get home just in time to put them to bed. Plus you are stuck in a showroom with guys you normally would'nt walk across the street to throw a cup of water on if they were on fire. Positives to the job? I don't punch a clock, I don't have to get to work at x time and leave at y: Ciera has a dance recital, I can knock off early. Don't make any money when I do that, but I still can if I want. It gives me a lot of time with my kids, and no weekend work except during market, so it's really a good job.

Even market time has it's plusses: mainly, I realize I never want a 8-5 job in my life if I can help it.

However, if you read about a short man with a goatee chasing some bald headed guy in a 3 piece suit down the street in High Point, NC while screaming "I TOLD you to stop talking about margins, profit, and tariffs you stupid, stupid little man!" you'll know it was me.

A week from today, it's over. A week from tomorrow, honest to God real baseball.

I hope I can make it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thinking Good Thoughts

Think Wake and Dice-K are having a chuckle over the recent medical misfortunes of the Yankees?

Word out today is Chien-Ming Wang pulled a hammy, and is out at least a month. Plus, Andy Pettite just returned to throwing after experiencing back spasms. This, combined with Giambi's back, Posadas knees, Matsui's recovery from his hand injury, and A Rod's permanent case of P.M.S. has me filled with glee.

After last years injury run for the Red Sox, it's about time the Yankees had to scramble a little. I know they lost Sheffield and Matsui for an extended period last year, but I'm avoiding that topic for the sake of this post.

Here's to a HEALTHY year for the boys this year.

Lord knows they've earned it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

There are 2 sides to the coin

Every night when I turn onto my street and see my house, I imagine it is like a giant Cracker Jack box: I'm gonna get a surprise, I just don't know what kind it'll be. Will it be a good one like a pack of the washable tattoos, or one of those crappy plastic magnifying glasses?

My kids will either be playing and watching tv, or I could open the door into Dante's Inferno: it's really sort of a crapshoot. I can usually tell what kind of day everyone has had by the look Angie gives me when she sees me: if she looks like like that guy did right before he turned into the Incredible Hulk, that's pretty much my signal to go into Lee Ermey in "Full Metal Jacket" mode.

I love the little monsters though, with everything I've got. I told Angie once that there was no way I could love anyone or anything more than I loved her: then they come along and I realized I really AM an idiot. The love a Dad feels for his kids is indescribable: just never knew God could make your heart big enough to love that way.

Yeah, when they are yelling at each other at Mach 10 at the dinner table, or Rakes has dropped trou and is chasing Ciera around the house, giggling like a mental patient while she screams at the top of her lungs, it's frustrating. When Baby Trot is screaming because he's hungry, or tired, of just for the heck of it, I want to stick my head in the oven for awhile. And yes, I'll admit going into the bathroom, turning on the fan, and sitting in the dark for 5 or 10 minutes to calm down because if I don't, I may just go medevil on one of them. At the end of the day I thank the Good Lord for everyone of them.

I've already told Ang: when I die, I want this on my tombstone and nothing else:

He was a Dad. A Husband. A Red Sox fan.

If I can leave this earth with those 3 things being true, I'll die a happy man.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Stopper

Well, Red Sox Nation can now take one giant collective breath: Jonathon Papelbon is back where he belongs.

With all the doom and gloom being written and said, you would have thought the boys were destined to finish in last place with the candidates that Theo brought in to try to win the closer's job. Personally, I kinda thought we'd be OK, and that if Piniero or Hansen could not step it up, then Theo would just swing a deal. I knew Pap being put back in was an option: just did not think it would happen this quick.

All that being said, am I glad he's back at the back end of the pen? You betcha: we could be looking at OUR Mariano Rivera for the next 12-15 years. He's got the makeup, the stuff, and attitude to burn: one of my favorite things about last year was Pap coming in and when he'd go into his stretch, that real slow turn of the head, then the Eastwood-esque squint, followed usually by some poor soul flailing away like a blindfolded kid at a pinata. He makes the Red Sox a better team as the closer right now. Maybe one day down the road they find the next Gagne, K-Rod, Rivera, or Papelbon, and he can give starting a whirl.

What I find hilarious is the gnashing of teeth that has gone on for a month now about who the closer would be. Do people not stop and think before going off? Take away the Yankees, the Angels, the Mets, and now the Red Sox. Can you name one team who does not have some type of doubt or question who their closer will be? The White Sox won in 2005 with a rookie named Bobby Jenks as the closer? Take last year: the Cardinals won with their regular closer off getting hip surgery. Play hard, get into the dance, get hot at the right time, and it's anybodies ball game.

All that said, I'm happy The Papelbot is back making like John Wayne at high noon. I'm also thrilled beyond words that Crazy Julian gets the 5th starter role. Number one, I think he'll do just fine. Number two, the entertainment index of a Sox game when he pitches just shot through the roof. You never know when he will punch someone, punch the dugout phone, start pointing at everyone like Manny on crack, and the random biting off of a finger cannot be dismissed entirely. Good times, good times.

On a personal note, me, Matty, and my brother-in-law Keith start the glamorous event known as "The International Home Furnishings Market" in High Point, NC tomorrow. Trust me, it sounds way more exciting than it is: it's basically a trade show where you have to wear a coat and tie and wait for bored buyers to come around and look at your stuff. Plus, High Point, except for the Market area's, is a hell hole waiting to be eaten up by the drug dealers that surround it. Matty is bringing his lap top, and something called "Wi-Fi". All I know is it means I can post without being plugged into everything. So I'll be checking in during the day more than usual, and the "Diary of the Furniture Market" is not beyond the realm of possibility. Down side is I get home late and with the Axis of Evil known as Ciera, Rakes, and Trot, I may not post as much as I'd like.

I'll do my best, but I'm just giving fair warning. Or cause for celebration. Whatever it is, I'll be back in the saddle by Opening Day.

Play Ball!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Don, this Wily Mo Pener is one strong hitter"

*Photo from*

One of my favorite things about the baseball season is getting to hear Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy call the Red Sox home games. As you can tell from the picture, they obviously take themselves and their job very serious. Hands down the funniest broadcast team around today. Remy, with his New England accent, is forever putting an "er" on the end of the guys names. Loretta was Loretter, Pena is Pener, Pedroia is Pedroier, and I'm sure Lugo will be Luger. I can only pray he calls Matsuzaka Matsuzaker at some point.

At least 5 times a game I will laugh out loud at something they say or are doing, and there has been many a time Angie has asked me what I'm laughing about at a ball game. When Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke took over the booth last year and just went OFF, I thought Remy and Orsillo may not make it. Classic TV.

Since I get the MLB Xtra Innings, I get to see a lot of different announce teams because MLB uses the home teams feed, and trust me: the folks who get to hear these 2 on a regular basis are extremely lucky. Because there are some truly HORRIBLE broadcast teams in some local markets. So with Opening Day now 12 days away, here are my best and worse.

1. Orsillo and Remy hands down. You can't beat the Red Sox along side hysterical giggling for minutes on end.

2. Vin Scully is still doing Dodger games. By himself with no color man. A more relaxing sound than him calling a Dodger game I have not found.

3. Jon Miller and Mike Krukow doing the SF Giants games. Strangely, Jon makes both the best and the worst on my list. See below.

4. Joe Buck and Al "The Mad Hungarian" Harbosky on the St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts. Buck, when he's not trying to be the smartest guy in the room, calls a good game and provides some good insights. An added bonus is the feeling Harbosky will suddenly go crazy and try to throw Buck out the window at any given time.

5. Dave O'Brien and Rick Sutcliffe on ESPN games. O'Brein is as smooth as silk, and Sut knows his stuff. Also, he has been known to show up in the booth after consuming some "adult beverages" so there is always the chance of a random "Non FCC approved word" appearance.

1. Ken "The Hawk" Harrellson and "DJ" Darrin Jackson. 2 of the biggest hacks I have ever heard, not to mention the most blatant homers in the history of broadcast television. I know as the teams official announcers, you are supposed to be fans of the team. These 2 yahoos complain about umpire calls for petes sake. Harrellson's moronic catch phrases like "He gone!" after a strikeout by the opposing team and "You can put it on the board-YES!" after every White Sox home run is the equivalent of hearing the sound a cat makes when a kid throws it in the pool. Just for 3 SOLID HOURS. To call them broadcast journalists is an insult to broadcast journalists everywhere.

2. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Miller makes the best list. Wonder why he's on the worst.

3. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Dewayne Statts and Joe Magrane. They actually aren't too bad: it's just ex wrestler "Nasty Boy" Brian Knobbs is a season ticket holder, and because the place is half empty every night, you hear every word this moron screams out during the game. Plus, he drinks steadily during the game, as the camera shows him about every 2.3 seconds and he's always pounding a beer. He's stupid when he's sober: you can imagine how he is after a 9 inning game.

4. Dave Niehaus and Dave Henderson on the Seattle Mariners. Yes, that Dave "Hendu" Henderson who hit the huge HR for the Red Sox in the '86 playoff game against the Angels. Niehaus seems like he forgets where he is half the time, and Henderson constantly trips over his words and can't seem to organize a thought to save his life. It's not a pleasant experience.

5. Tim McCarver. By himself. How this man has the premier color job in national broadcast baseball I'll never be able to figure out. Calls guys the wrong name, will argue a point even when the replay says otherwise, and will drop a line he thinks is funny and afterword you can hear crickets chirp. I'll never understand his appeal.

Well, that's my list. And if the season does not start soon, I'm gonna run out of stuff to write about. 'Cause this might be scraping the bottom of the creative well.


I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Man

David Americo Ortiz Arias.

Big Papi.
Born 11-18-1975, this gentle giant has turned into, if not the most feared hitter in baseball, most certainly the scariest cat east of the Mississippi not named Albert Pujols.

A man who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners shortly after his 17th birthday in 1992, traded to the Twins for Dave Hollins in 1996 (That has got to go down in history as one of the all time looking back bone headed moves ever), then out right released by the Twins in the winter of 2002. PASSED OVER by King George and the Evil Empire, Theo Epstein signed him for $1.25 million for the 2003 season.

Even though he shared time with Jeremy Giambi (yes: that Jeremy Giambi. Looking back, it seems surreal huh?) at first, the big man made his presence known in the clubhouse first, not the field. Early on in 2003, the Sox were not the lovable "Cowboy Up" crew, but an angry mess of egos and attitude. Big Papi helped change the culture with his laugh that lights up a room, his customized hand shakes for every player, and his strange preference for man-hugs over high fives.

Fast forward to October 2004. Down 3 games to none, he hits a walk off bomb to win Game 4 against the Yankees in the ALCS. Game 5? He hits a walk off single to win that game. The rest is history. Oh yeah, his HR totals from 2000-2006 are as follows:
2000 10
2001 18
2002 20
2003 31
2004 41
2005 47
2006 54

2006 is the year he broke the 50 plus year record of Jimmie Foxx and his all time Red Sox HR record of 50 HR's. The man is like my wife Angie: he keeps looking better with time. But it's not just his baseball numbers that make him the larger than life superstar he is. It's the universal respect from other MLB players. It's the awe he inspires in kids and adults alike. He goes to the Children's Hospitals and talks with these dying kids and gives them a little bit of happiness in their final days. He takes the time and effort to give back to his native Dominican Republic, both in money and effort.

I'm trying to be a hero to my kids, and not let the athletes and stars fill that role for me. Because more often than not, they fail. Miserably. I am more than happy, however, to let Ciera and Rakes look up to the baddest man on the planet.

Guys like Big Papi come along once in a lifetime. Yeah, he ain't perfect. Neither am I. For an athlete, he's close enough.

Here's to the much deserved, late in coming, MVP season in 2007 for David Americo Ortiz Arias.

Here's to Big Papi.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Red Sox Nation has a new member

Just another reason to love Jack Bauer: not only does he defeat multiple terrorist's in 24 hours, he's a Sox fan to boot. Jack, I hear there may be a few "people of interest" you may need to "talk" with over at Yankee Stadium.

Sorry for the quick post: Baby Trot is sick as a dog with some nasty stomach thing, and he ain't sleeping. And if he ain't sleeping, Mom ain't either. Mom not sleeping means I can't "waste my time" on the computer tonight until everyone of the little monsters is in bed and sound asleep.

Whoever said being a Dad wasn't a glamorous job?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Five Easy Pieces

Found this picture while over at The Remy Report, and once I got past how cool it looked, this popped into my head: Are you telling me that Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Kei Igawe, and Carl Freaking Pavano are better than these 5 guys?

Come to think of it, after Mariano Rivera, does the Yankee bullpen have anything on the Red Sox 'pen? New York has Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor, some cat named Colter Bean, and Luis Vizcaino to fill the void between the starter and Rivera. Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez (this could be reaching: see me in June), Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen, and Brendan Donnelly are just as good, if not better.

I know I'm biased, but come on: you have 2 genuine World Series heros in Beckett (2003 Marlins vs. the Yankees) and Schilling (2001 Diamondbacks vs. the Yankees, 2004 Red Sox, 'nuff said.) Two young stars in the making in Papelbon and Matsuzaka, and the wily veteran in Wakefield. If I'm a manager, I'd take my chances with those 5 in a heartbeat.

Prediction for the records of the Red Sox starting pitchers next year:

Schilling 20-9

Beckett 21-11

Papelbon 16-10

Matsuzaka 15-7

Wakefield 14-12

Yeah, I'm riding the Beckett train until it derails, but I honest to God think he has it in him. Pap and Daisuke may be a stretch, but that's OK: it's still Spring. A guy can hope, right? As for Schilling, you don't think a man with the pride he has, with the will and desire to prove EVERYONE wrong, would love nothing better than to win 20 games and say "Screw you. I told you so". I'm not betting against him.

2 weeks from tomorrow he gets the first chance to prove 'em all wrong. I ain't gonna miss it for the world.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Phenom

He's 25 years old with 5 tool potential. Hitting over .500 for the Cincinnati Reds this spring and trying to win the 4th OF job. A married father of 2 daughters and a build meant to play the game of baseball. With a classic swing that reminds you of Will Clark in his prime, this former first pick overall in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Ray's name is Josh Hamilton. Oh yeah, he's also a drug addict.

I've sort of kept up with him since he came on the scene since he was born and raised around Raleigh, NC, about an hour from where I live. When he signed with the D-Rays, he got a $3.96 million dollar bonus, of which he has $85,000 left in the bank. The drug dealers got the rest.

His wife, Katie, left him in May 2005 because after being sober for 8 months, he decided to get plastered on his birthday. Not a wise decision, as he ended the night being arrested by the Cary, NC police department. According to Hamilton, when he drank, it eventually would always lead to drugs, with his first choice being crack. Before finally getting help, he was smoking crack like someone would smoke cigarettes: lighting one right off another.

When he hit rock bottom, he sought rehab and redemption: the redemption came in the form of a man named Ron Silver. Silver owns a baseball academy in Clearwater, FL, where Hamilton went to dry out. Silver welcomed him with open arms, with one caveat. Rent ain't free: Hamilton would need to work in order to stay. So the former multi-million dollar bonus baby mowed the grass, cleaned the john, and chalked the basepaths in order to hit off the tee, shag fly's, and run wind sprints. Apparently, it took. He rejoined the Devil Rays late last year, and in the last Rule V draft, the Reds took a chance on the former can't miss prospect.

Katie, seeing the real change, has since taken him back. He lives the life of an addict, day to day, but then again, don't we all. Baseball is his last refuge, and I just hope the game does not take him in just to spit him back out.

I was reminded of his story today, when I watched the Red Sox play the Reds. You could not draw up a ball player and it not come out looking like Josh Hamilton. Fluid, athletic, graceful, and confident: he has it all. It's like God struck his arm with a lightning bolt and said "Play ball kid: it was what you were born to do."

So far, it seems to be paying off: Hamilton has been the teams best hitter for all of Spring Training, manger Jerry Narron seems to love him, and hopefully he'll be the local boy who made good. I hope he can make it. I can't imagine living your life holding onto the edge with just your fingernails. I look at my 3 children, and I pray that they make the right decisions in life. I pray they never have to go through what this young man has went, and is still going through. While part of me hopes he is the rookie of the year, part of me is scared to death he makes it. How will he react with all the money and all the free time afforded to a Major League ball player?

Only God knows. I just know this: for the 2007 season, my main priority will be hoping the Boston Red Sox win it all again. A close second will be hoping the Carolina boy can pull it off.

Good luck Josh.

And God Bless.

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Madness

Not the kind you think: I HATE this time of the year with a passion. Every sports radio station has 24/7 coverage of college basketball and it's annual "Road to the Final Four" marathon. I've got a brother in-law, Keith, who pours over bracketts like he's trying to decipher some ancient egyptian text while I call him everyday asking "How's your bracket look now" just to mess with him.

No, my March Madness is that time seems to come to a stop while I wait for the first of April and Opening Day. I don't want to hear the percentage's on when the 12th seed plays the 5th seed, or see 55 minutes of NCAA basketball on a 60 minute episode of Sports Center. I ABSOLUTELY do not need to see Dick Vitale and his bug eyes screaming about "PT Players" and "Diaper Dandies": Seriously, WHO TALKS like that? Listening to that man talk is about as enjoyable as listening to those idiots on CNN, or MSNBC, or wherever sit around and yell at each other for an hour.

What I want is a warm Spring night, with Orsillo and RemDawg in the booth laughing it up. I want Daisuke Matsuzaka on the hill mowing the hitters down, while Schilling and Beckett assume their position on the top step of the dugout. If you've never seen this, it's quite the scene: Schilling talks non-stop, while Beckett gets into a rythm of nod, lean, spit, nod, never saying a word back. Is he even listening? Or is he just hoping Schill will wear himself out, only to realize much to late that's impossible?

You can have the Final Four: I want the last inning, 1 man on and the Sox down by 1 when Papi comes stomping to the plate, followed 3 minutes later by the faint sound of "Dirty Water" being played while the big man circles the bases and Fenway goes wild. Give me Manny hitting them off the coke bottle, Lowell making like a Hoover vaccuum at third, sucking up everything that comes his way, and JD Drew roping doubles in the gap.

Most of all, give me that hour every night, before my kids head to bed, for Rakes to hop up in my lap and watch the first few innings with me. I love to watch his face when Manny or Papi come to bat, or when the ball is hit to the outfield, and when it's caught to hear him shout "He did it Dad; He DID it!"

16 Days, 18 hours, and 43 minutes until Opening Day.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ode to Dougie

Decided to throw a little blog love toward a key guy on the Red Sox who toils most of the time in anonymity, back up catcher Doug Mirabelli. Every 5th day, Dougie comes blinking out of the dugout, much like a mole, to be the personal catcher for Tim Wakefield and the dancing knuckleball, which also goes by " I'm just chucking it up there and have no idea where it's going".

Apparently, catching this thing is like trying to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks, which I guess explains why the only 2 people who could catch Wakefield are Dougie and Mr. Miyagi. Watching Varitek, or God bless him, Josh Bard early last year, is like watching one of those YouTube videos where some skateboarder is gonna ride the rail all the way down: you know it's gonna end up bad, but you can't help but watch anyway.

Catching Wake is not his only job: I'm sure he helps Tek in the pitchers meetings, catches in the pen, and provides wise veteran advice to his younger teammates. I hear though, that Mirabelli is a world class cut-up, giving guys hotfoots, taping rookies to a pole, and just generally causing mayhem. Can't you see him and Papi, huddled in a corner giggling like a couple of school girls, while Schilling is cussing and screaming and wanting to know "Who cut the sleeves out of my brand new suit!?"

Dougie certainly looks the part: he rocks a wicked looking soul patch, is probably 25 lbs overweight, and can most likely drink anyone not named Big Papi under the table. He's good for about a .230 avg, 8-10 dingers, and 25-35 starts a year catching Wake, with another 20 or so giving Tek a breather. You need guys like Dougie on a team if you want to win: a selfless guy who does his job, carries his lunch pail, and can come through when it counts. His home runs always seem to come out of nowhere: he comes up with guys on 2nd and 3rd, one out, and you tell yourself "go ahead and hit the head now: this is a DP waiting to happen". Next thing you know, Dougie's launched a 3 run bomb onto Landsdowne Street.

If you don't think Mirabelli should be the backup catcher, ask Tim Wakefield what he thinks: I swear, before they brought him back in May last year with a police escort to Fenway, I thought Timmy was gonna have a nervous breakdown on the mound. As long as Wakefield is pitching for the Red Sox, I got a feeling Dougie will be catching that knuckleball.

Or at least trying to.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A letter to Theo.

Dear Theo Epstein,

Just wanted to tell you how great of a job I think you've done since coming to Beantown in 2003 to be the Sox G.M. You had the foresight to pick David Ortiz up off the scrap heap, and he's turned into the baddest man on the planet. You had Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling in November 2003, and convinced him to come lead the team to the promised land, and he did. You also hired the follicle challenged gentleman sitting next to you, and he was the ONLY man, in my opinion, who could have kept that band of idiots together in 2004. Which he did.

You've made some moves I'd question, sure. Trading Bronson Arroyo away last year, letting Trot Nixon go, though the fact I named my son after him my color my feelings on that one JUST a little. All in all, considering the insanity level of the fans of your particular team, you do an outstanding job. Plus, with the rock band and all, you are quite the hipster when compared to your contemporary, young Mr. Cashman in New York. You ever ask yourself why he puts up with Big Stein? I think the boy has a martyr complex myself.

I gotta ask you this one thing though. If it's not to much trouble, could you try a little harder to find us a closer for this year? I read where Tito says if the season started today, Julian Tavarez would close. Theo, I got kids man: I wanna see them grow up and all. You let Tavarez be the closer, you are gonna take YEARS off my life expectancy. Seriously.

We have a potentially dominating starting rotation of Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon, and Wake. Papi, Manny, and Drew, if healthy, are the best 3/4/5 hitters in the league. High on base guys hitting in front of them in Lugo and Youk, and solid hitters behind them in Tek, Lowell, and Crisp. Only the Munchkin Pedroia is the question mark, but his solid fielding may make up the difference.

You really gonna let all that be left to the arm and mind of Julian in the 9th? C'mon Theo, the guy is one step away from taking his uniform off while he's on the field and doing the macarena, followed by running into the Green Monster and refusing to come out until they bring him a pack of M&M's, only with all the green ones taken out.

I believe in you brother. I know you have some devious plan coming together in that Ivy League educated brain of yours. Could you execute the plan post haste? Please?

"Cause I think I'm developing an ulcer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Should this man be in the Hall of Fame?

For anyone who doesn't know, this is Pete Rose pretending to be a fullback on catcher Ray Fosse. In the freaking ALL STAR GAME. Most guys treat the All-Star game like a paid vacation, and are more than happy just to be there. The game? An afterthought.

Not to Charlie Hustle. Pete was a guy who ran to first after drawing a walk. A guy who dove headfirst into every base he went. A guy who, if his uniform was not absolutely filthy after a game, probably went and rolled around the infield for 10 minutes before he headed to the locker room. In basketball, they call guy's like Pete a gym rat: I guess Pete was a ballpark rat. He is also a guy, who by his own admission, bet on baseball.

In the eyes of the muckity mucks who run MLB, Rose committed the ultimate sin: he gambled on the game.While I believe Rose when he says he never placed a bet for the Reds to lose while he played/managed for them, I DO think he bet on his team to win. See, a guy like Rose would NEVER want to lose: not for any amount of money in the world. He was too much of a gamer to do that.

Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman were talking about Pete today on the radio: seems like Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is holding some type of Pete Rose exhibition this week. Now, this seems to violate the deal Rose struck when he agreed that he would not appear at any MLB park in an official capacity. I'm not a lawyer, but I think Rose would have to have Uncle Bud's seal of approval for this to happen. Question is, is this leading to Pete Rose being re-instated by MLB in some capacity, possibly leading to his induction into the Hall of Fame down the road? I don't know, but consider the following.

Rose is the all time hits leader with 4,256, had 3 batting titles, 3 World Series rings, and was the World Series MVP in 1975. (This just proves God has a sense of humor: it shoulda been Pudge for his Home Run, but the Good Lord decided RSN needed to wait another 19 years. I think it has something to do with Boston's sketchy racial history, but that's just a guess).

In addition, Rose won 2 Gold Gloves, had 10 seasons of 200+ hits, played 500 or more games at 5 DIFFERENT POSITIONS, and was a 17 time all star. Not to mention the 44 game hitting streak, second only to Joltin' Joe DiMaggio.
Does that sound like the career statistics of a guy NOT in the Hall of Fame? No, it doesn't. It's ridiculous Pete Rose does not have a plaque in Cooperstown. There are racists, wife beaters, and drug addicts in the Hall as I type this. For the next 20 years, there will be men inducted into the Hall who cheated to reach the level they attained, yet MLB continues to keep a man who loves the game, who played his heart out, and who deserves the honor, out of it's hallowed halls.

Pete Rose should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. And his plaque should read, after listing all his accomplishments, "Was banned from the game for life after being convicted of betting on baseball." Bottom line.

More Red Sox blather, or stories about my younguns tomorrow. I just felt the need to vent.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Round One

First game of 2007 in the battle of attrition between the Red Sox and the Yankees is tonight, 7:00 p.m. from Florida.
Yeah, it's Spring Training, and several of the Yankees starters are sitting this one out, including Jeter, Slappy, and Damon.
And yeah, I was hoping Tito would send Crazy Julian in for the express purpose of putting a fastball in Damon's earhole, and that dream is gone.
It's still the Yankees, and I'm already jacked up at 5:00, so I might tell Angie and the kids to take a walk for awhile.
Gotta get my "cleaned up language while watching the Yankees" book out and do a quick review.
For one Monday, Jack Bauer gets DVR'd.
THATS how torked I am.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

He's an angel and a devil all wrapped in one

After playing ball this morning, I took Rakes and Ciera to the library, Rakes for the first time. Have to admit, I never thought such a simple thing would leave me feeling like I needed to take 3 valium, followed by a 2 hour nap.

Rakes does not yet grasp the concept of the "inside voice", and while that is OK at home, the librarian kept shooting me looks that can best be described as not pleasant. Meanwhile he's zipping from aisle to aisle, randomly pulling books off the shelves and at the same time hollering 'Where dissy at Dad?" While I chase him around like security personnel do at a game when some drunk yahoo thinks it's HILARIOUS to run out on the field (you know: a lot of zigging and zagging while the guy they are chasing looks back over his shoulder laughing at them), I'm trying to keep an eye on Ciera. Our library seems to be a real hotspot for the local homeless folks, and while I feel sorry for them, I don't particularly want Ciera where I can't see her.

Finally, after what seems like hours but is only 15 minutes or so, we leave with him sitting on my shoulders happily singing "boomba boomba", whatever that means. He kisses me on top of my cap and says "love u Dad". Just like that, all the frustration from the last little bit left.

I've got a feeling that my relationship with Rakes is gonna be like Tito's and Manny's. Nerves worn to a frazzle, stomach in knots, and a lot of rocking back and forth like some Tourettes sufferer. Just with a lot of hugs and love in between. Ciera is an angel 99% of the time, and I'm praying that Trot will be my "well behaved" son. Somehow, I don't see it happening . More than likely, in a few more years, videos of Rakes and Trot firing bottle rockets out of their rear ends while some goofball buddy of theirs video tapes it will appear on YouTube.

The next 15 years outa be a fun ride.

I just hope I make it to the end.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Manny being Manny

This picture cracks me up on about 50 different levels.

I know he's flaky. I know many think he quit on his team last year. I know he sometimes plays LF much the same way Charlie Brown does. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Manny will NEVER, EVER, win a Gold Glove.

Don't care. Like Ciera say's, "Manny makes me laugh". He makes me laugh too princess. The .300 AVG, 35HR, and 135RBI make me smile also.

Most of all, I just love the fact a multi-millionaire athlete acts like he's from Mars. He could be surly like Bonds, a phony like Sosa, a head case like Slappy, or a hermit like McGwire.

Instead, he's just a goofball.

Here's to 2007 being another year of "Manny being Manny".

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Kid

*photo courtesy of*

I'm starting to think that Jonathan Papelbon is going to be the story of 2007 for the Red Sox. Matsuzaka is getting all the hype right now, and deservedly so. He's come in, pitched well, and has seemingly fit right in with his new team, not to mention a whole new country. Schilling is raising a ruckus with his extension talk, Manny and his rockin' new dreads have raised some eyebrows, and Red Sox Nation is FREAKING OUT about the lack of a closer at this point. Pap, along with Josh Beckett, is just kind of flying under the radar.

Pap is looking, right now, as good as he did as the closer last year. I know, I know, it's Spring Training and I'm not getting ahead of myself. His pitching line for ST so far: 5IP, 8K,1BB,1H,0R. It's not just the stats though: it's that swagger that all great pitchers have. The just bordering on cockiness that guys have when they KNOW how good they are. Schilling, Clemens, The Unit back in the day: they have that "it" factor about 'em that Papelbot has. In his press conference the other day, he was asked if he felt he could be as dominant as a starter as he was as a closer. Without hesitating he answered yes. THAT'S what I'm talking about. We could be looking at the beginning of greatness.

Just to let everyone who reads here know, Baby Trot is doing 100 times better. After I found out he had roseola (Thanks New Jersey) I kinda relaxed a little. Today he was more like himself than he's been in over 10 days. Eating, running, laughing, and thankfully, SLEEPING. Poor little dude has been through the ringer the last 5 months with ear infections, surgery for tubes, and just generally feeling like crap. So I'm really glad he seems to be getting better.

My son is getting better. Spring Training is here. And Opening Day is less than a month away.

Life is good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

It's coming around

Signs keep pointing that Daisuke is the real deal as he went 3 scoreless innings today in a Red Sox win. The fact a minor league ballpark prevented a run from scoring is not doing anything to harsh my mellow. The gun from the land of the rising sun looks like he is legit.
After snagging a line drive back to the mound, Dice-K turned and bowed to his short stop. I can't imagine how hilarious this will be come June when he and Manny are alternately bowing/double finger pointing at each other after Manny makes some out of his rear catch in LF in a key game.
In his last start, Josh Beckett looked like, well, Josh Beckett. Sox fans not familiar with him before last year are in for a pleasant surprise: this kid is gonna be an ace for another 10 years. Fastball, change, curve, and a serious case of the marbles, he will be out to show that last year was just the getting used to a new league syndrome. 20 wins is NOT out of the question. If you want a feel good story, Jon Lester pitched an inning yesterday. Yeah, it was an inning: you get cancer and see how well you do. Keep it up Jon: you got a lot of people pulling for you.
Finally, a big shout out goes to my sister Sonya and her husband Scott: 25 years ago, Scotty found the good fortune to marry my sister, and join our certifiable family. They have raised 4 great kids, been an example to me on how to be married and be a parent, and have made me laugh until I cried.
Congratulations you two. Here's to 25 more.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Where is Kelly Leak when you need him?

Apparently, these were the guys wearing the Red Sox jersey's today in Florida versus the Minnestoa Twins. 3 different times the boys ran themselves into outs, sounding a lot like it looks when I'm playing baseball with Ciera and Rakes: running to third instead of first, or skipping second altogether and running a straight line across the pitchers mound to third base.

Tek, of all people, got caught napping off second, and Julio Lugo, who I want to embrace but is making me long for the days of the OC, gets caught stealing third AND over running first on an RBI single. It's spring training, and I'm not gonna get my knickers in a bunch, but c'mon guys: this is baseball 101. It's not like this is your first ride around the block or anything.

It sounds like Schilling looked like Schilling, and I expect nothing less. He's feeling "disrespected" over the team brass and their line in the sand over the contract extension, and I'm fine with that. Curt Schilling pitching with a chip on his shoulder has me smiling inside: he's got something to prove, and by the end of June, I think he'll have his extension in his hip pocket. Theo and his posse just want to see if the big man still has it before forking over the money, and while I'd have given it to him 2 months ago, I've got no problem with them wanting to test drive the car before they buy it.

Saw where Coco Crisp had a good day, and I expect a good year is coming for the man with the name that belongs on a cereal box. His finger never healed all the way last year, and if he don't hit 20 dingers and steal at least 20 bases, I'll go out back and hug a tree for my little brother Matt. Dude is just too good and has too much upside to not rebound and have a monster year. If you did not see that balls out catch he made last year, going horizontal with Fenway's center field grass, you missed the catch of the year.

On the home front, Trots's fever has broken, but he's picked up some freaky rash as a result of this virus that makes him look like he's got the chicken pox. He's been imitating A-Rod the last few days: whiny, crying, and wanting to be held at all times. Rakes, Ciera, and I are having a kickball tournament for the championship of the world in the playroom/foyer/dining room and so far the 2 of them are tied, 1 to 1. Angies miniature Christmas tree in the foyer is the only casualty so far: Ciera kicked an AWESOME shot that unfortunately took out Trot's Christmas ornament with his name on it. A small price to pay for athletic dominance.

Finally, this goes out to Tex. I've had Western Union on standby all weekend in case you needed bail money, and now that it is Sunday night, I'm gonna issue the stand down order. I was here if you needed me Texas, but it seems like you've made it through. I expect pictures and stories post-haste at your blog, so don't let me down.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Rebel Yell

While I still wish he was the closer, having Pap in the starting rotation may not be so bad. Pitched 2 innings today and struck out the side in the 3rd inning. All in all, 4 K's, no hits, and the nappiest looking haircut since Billy Idol ruled the Top 100.

Wake looked, well, like Wake today: the knuckle ball was dancing and if not for an error by the Munchkin, probably woulda had 2 scoreless innings. Did anyone else catch Wakefield just slump his shoulders when Howard hit the 2 run double after the error? If Big Papi was not roaming the earth like some pre-historic dinosaur, Ryan Howard would be the scariest man alive. He is about to enter Bond's territory: DO NOT pitch to him. Ever.

Mikey went yard today, which was good to see. It bothered me when his name came up in the Helton trade rumors this off season. Every team needs a Mike Lowell: a guy who brings his lunch pail to work every day, who runs out grounders, and who will run through a wall for his team. With Trot leaving, Lowell, in my opinion, becomes that much more valuable.

All in all, it was a good day. Even though the Sox lost, the regulars looked good, Pap impressed, and for the second weekend in a row, I got to get outside with my young uns and have a catch. Ciera, in particular, was Papiesque in her hitting today. Even Baby Trot is feeling better and raising havoc.

Tex, if you read this while at ST, drop a line and let us know how Pap looked in person today. Hopefully you ain't in jail or something, and can give us a live update!

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Diceman cometh

After months of reading, hearing, and seeing Daisuke Matsuzaka, after endless articles about the mysterious gyroball, he finally pitched today. I saw and heard way too much about Scott Boras over the winter, and wasted way too much time watching YouTube videos of Dice K than a married father of 3 should ever be allowed. It was all worth it to see what I saw tonight.
Calm. Poised. Unfazed by the circus of photographers, writers, and fans, Dice K went out and pitched 2 scoreless innings. Sure he gave up a lead off double, but he never rattled and struck out 3 over the next 2 innings. After seeing Schilling throw nothing but fastballs in his start, and reading where Beckett basically did the same thing, I was expecting that tonight. Guy threw at least 5 DIFFERENT pitches in his first Spring Training start!
Before the hour was over, my daughter, Ciera, was asking me to show her how to spell his name, Rakes was pretending to throw like him with that dramatic pause at the top of his windup, and I was on line looking for a Dice K t shirt. Yeah, yeah, I know: It's his first start, and it's Spring Training, and yeah, it was Boston College.
Don't matter. He may not ever be the superman he's being made out to be, but he is already better than a lot of veteran MLB pitchers. He's 26, and we've got him wrapped up for the foreseeable future, and he wears the B on his cap.
Can't wait until the first time he pitches to Slappy McBluelips.
"Are you crying? Crying? There's no CRYING in baseball Slappy. Check yourself!"

Thursday, March 1, 2007

First Game

Since 2 more Spring Training games were played today, this can be filed under "yesterday's news", but since night time is the only time I can write, I'm doing it anyway.

The good news from the first game of 2007?

Julio Lugo got his first hit and RBI as a Red Sox.

After spending his time with the big club looking like a chipmunk on 'roids in 2006, Dustin Pedroia is slimmed down and swinging the bat like his minor league numbers reflect.

Schill went 2 innings, gave up 2 hits, and of his 19 pitches, 15 were strikes. Forget the fact he is starting to resemble a clean shaven David Wells: my man pitches well when he feels disrespected.

Papi is still Papi: drew the biggest cheers each time up, and with the shift on, STILL laced a RBI single into right.

In his first appearance of the year, Crazy Julian threw a ball BEHIND a guys head. It was accidental (at least I think it was, with him you never know) so I'm not really worried. I just love the fact that every time he takes the mound, I get that feeling in my stomach that I got every time Tyson has fought since he ate Holyfields ear: you NEVER know what is gonna happen.

Now for the bad news from the first game.

We kissed our sister and tied the Twins. I know it's only Spring Training, but a tie? C'mon now.

Julio Lugo made the first, of what I sadly feel, will be many errors this year. Yeah, dude can rake, but I think I'm REALLY gonna miss Gonzo. If ever there was a magician playing SS, Gonzo was it.

Crazy Julian, with the Sox up 4-1, gives up a 3 run dinger to Joe Mauer, eerily reminding me of the many times last season I spent with my head in my hands while he pitched, much like Schilling used to do as a member of the Phillies whenever Wild Thing Mitch Williams would come in.

Best part of last night for me? I watched my first game with my little boy Trot. He is sick and running a fever, which is the only time he will sit still in your lap. He and I sat on the floor for the first hour of the game, him in my lap, as I pointed out Papi, Mikey, Tek, and Schill to him. Yeah, I know he had no clue what I was talking about: It doesn't matter.

Me and my little boy watched his first game together.