Monday, April 30, 2007

Smile. The Red Sox are in First Place

On a day with no Red Sox baseball, I look for my laughs wherever I can get them.

Tiz and Mini Tiz qualify. With the Red Sox sitting atop the AL East at 16-8, a picture of Papi and Wily Mo looking positively giddy can be labeled as "put a smile on your face unless you are a Yankee fan."

And that's good enough for me.

Real baseball tomorrow, with Schilling going up against Joe Blanton: for tonight, this is more that enough.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Loveable Kookiness of Julian Tavarez

* Picture from the Boston Globe*
If a picture tells a thousand words what does this one say? Eyechart hits a slow roller down the first base line, Julian grabs it, and instead of stepping on first, he stops. Mientkiewicz looks shocked, Youk looks peeved, and Tavarez looks like a phsycopath.

Thankfully, Julian's knee did not collapse and Youk didn't deck Minky, which from his words and eyecharts reaction, was a very real possibility.

Bottom line? Red Sox win 7-4, led by home runs from Papi, Manny, and lil' Alex Cora, who added a triple for good measure. Tito has a real dilemma on playing Cora or Pedroia: obviously Munchkin is the future and the only way he'll get better is by playing everyday. But Cora has been great at the plate this year and is a heady, steady glove in the field.

As for Tavarez, he is now 1-2 for the year, and the way he pitched today has probably given him at least one more start and a little more time for Jon Lester to get back to full strength.

Pitching box score for the Sox today:
Tavarez: 5IP, 3H, 3ER, 2BB, 2K
Okajima: 2IP, 1H, 0ER, 0BB, 4K
Timlin: 1IP, 2H, 1ER, 0BB, 1K
Paps: 1IP, 1H, 0ER, 0BB, 1K

Plus, Papelbon gets his 8th save in as many chances. He's getting close to Rivera territory, where you pretty much can take it to the bank: last one out hit the lights please. If the Red Sox continue to get pitching like this, they are going to be very tough to beat.

AL East Standings as of today:
Boston 16-8
Toronto 12-12 4GB
Baltimore 12-13 4.5 GB
Tampa Bay 10-14 6.0 GB
NY Yankees 9-14 6.5 GB

I know, I know: it won't stay that way I'm sure.

But isn't it pretty to look at.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

First Place

My little girl won her first trophy today, and I could not have been more proud if she'd of hit a walk off home run off Mariano Rivera.

Ciera and her friend Anna entered our church's conference-wide talent competition and did an interprative dance. Now, you ask me about how many errors Mike Lowell had last year (6) or who was pitching when Dave Henderson hit that home run in the ALCS in '86 (Donnie Moore) I usually know what I'm talking about.

Dancing? As a proud member of the "2 left feet" society, I don't know the waltz from a hole in the ground. All I can tell you is she was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen dancing, and she danced like she'd been doing it for years. She did every move better than ANY of them women on "Dancing With the Stars".

Getting up in front of a huge crowd in a huge building is not easy for most adults: I told her she reminded me of Manny today: they could have landed the Goodyear blimp in the back of that room, and I really don't think she'd have noticed.

Watching her grow up is not the easiest thing to do: I'd like to stop time right now and keep her just like she is. Barring that, I'll just remember days like this one day when she's off living her own life and leaving me with my memories and my watery eyes.

Finally, Timmeh pitched great again, but the dreaded "lets just not score when Wake pitches" syndrome took over and the boys fell to the Yankees 3-1. Maybe Julian can channel Pedro circa 1999 and pull one out of his rear in most likely his last start.

Jon Lester's line in his rehab start last night: 5IP, 3H, 0R, 6K's, and 0BB. Looks like the kid will be anchoring the back end of the rotation in the very near future.

Think Fenway's gonna be electric THAT first start back?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Yankees are in last place? You are kidding me.

*Photo from the Boston Globe*


That's right, 11-4. Julio Lugo got his first Home Run as a Red Sox, Daisuke goes to 3-2 as a starter, and Francona get's vindicated as a manager.

Torre brings Rivera in the late innings and gets lit up: Tito keeps Pap on the bench to have available tomorrow and Sunday if needed.

But Tito is "Francoma" and Torre is the best manager of his generation.

Screw that. Boston EMBARRASSES the Yankees tonight and it will only get better.

The Sox are 15-7. The Yankees are 8-13.

Life is good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why could Wily Mo not have been a Red Sox in 2003?

*Picture from*

5-2, Sox win, courtesy of Wily Mo Pena. Never met a fast ball or hanging slider he didn't like, and breaking balls are his worst enemy. Tonight, he got a fast ball and the Sox got the win.

A 8th inning Grand Slam for WMP changed the score from 2-1 to 5-2 and allowed Josh Beckett to go to 5-0.

Beckett went 8 innings, scattering 8 hits, with 2R, 0BB, and 3K's in what was I think his best outing so far this year. If you saw him pitch last year, you'd swear this was a different guy: throwing not only his 96 mph fastball, he is effectively mixing in his curve and changeup, the latter getting the last man he faced out on strikes.

But Wily Mo was the story: 2 for 4 with a double and the granny for the night. After starting the season looking like Rudy from the Bad News Bears, WMP showed everyone tonight why Theo traded a innings eating pitcher to the Red's for him: you leave one over the plate, and he sends it a long, long, way away.

Angie told me not long ago that she was very thankful that Wily Mo was not a Red Sox player when we were deciding on a name for our youngest child, Trot. I have not given up my dream of having 4 children yet, so we may re-visit this later.

However, the next dog we get will either be named Beckett or Wily Mo.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Unsung Hero's

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

Sure, Schilling went 7 innings, giving up 1 run, struck out 3, and uncharacteristically, walked 2. He gave up 5 hits and probably could have gone more.

Tito felt like Okajima would be a better option, and who am I to argue with success: solid 8th for Oki and a scoreless 9th for Donnelly = a 6-1 Red Sox victory.

The first run of the game was plated by Alex Cora, the utility infielder for the Sox who has been lights out so far this year: he took a hanging breaking ball from Daniel Cabrera and deposited it somewhere below "Boog's BBQ" in RF tonight.

Cora is the type of player every team wants: does whatever is asked of him, never gripes about lack of playing time, and plays heads up ball whenever he gets in the game. Tonight he started at 2B based on his record vs. Cabrera and did not disappoint. Plus, he played a good, steady game in the field and just did his job.

Guy's like Cora mean the difference in 2nd place and WS champion: I'm just glad he's on our side.

VERY nice win tonight, and with the Yankee rain out, it ensures one more day of the Red Sox in 1st place and the MFY's in last.

That can only be looked at as a VERY. GOOD. THING.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Phenom: Part 2

The Red Sox are in the process of getting waxed by Doc Halladay and the Blue Jays, the Yankees are tied with the Devil Rays as I type this, and my wife and her dislocated rib have got me stressed to my limit as I take care of the kids.

So I'm not gonna write about the Sox tonight: I figure that they leave for Baltimore and New York after tonight, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of good material. Just wanted to spread a little sunshine and give an update on one of my favorite posts I've done since I started this train wreck of a blog.

A little while back I did a post on Josh Hamilton, a North Carolina boy whose career was seemingly over after a long battle with some personal demons: I'm happy to say he has started off the year as the guy getting my vote for comeback player of the year.

.289AVG, 5HR, 11RBI, 8BB, 2 2B, and 1SB all in 14 games. Finally, after all the Bonds B.S., the BALCO scandal, and another year of TV cameras catching Joe Torre with his finger farther up his nose than I EVER thought possible, a feel-good story.

I didn't say ending, because as we've all found out by now, sometimes the happy endings never come. See Gooden, D and Strawberry, D for no further proof. Still, it is SO good to see this guy seemingly get his career, and more important, his LIFE, back on track.

So on a night when the boys are seemingly heading for a loss and the Yankees a win, I wanted to write about something a little positive.

I think a young man whose life had gone horribly off course yet seems to have turned it around qualifies as that.

Monday, April 23, 2007


*Photo from the Boston Globe*

I had this post all figured out in my head, and dang if Tex don't beat me to it. 'Course, I've got 3 kids and a wife with a dislocated rib who can't lift anything heavier than a glass, so she wins in the "more free time" category. Great job as usual Tex, and you stayed in the kiddie pool for me, so a tip of the cap to you!

The rib comment? For those few of you not my family members who don't know, Angie dislocated a rib giving birth to our son Trot, unknown to us until about 6 months later. It picked 6:35 a.m. yesterday to decide to say hello again.

Spent 3 hours in the ER (much thanks to Mom and Stacy for the middle relief help in getting the hooligans to church for us) and I have spent the past 40 hours or so in full-on Mr. Mom mode. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER will I think my wife has it easy as a stay at home Mom again: I. AM. SPENT.

What a GREAT 3 games: coming back from a deficit in all three, with the 3 biggest bullets in the Red Sox gun going, this thing looked like a laugh riot on paper. Too bad they gotta actually play. Each time, though, the boys answered the bell and came roaring back, none more exciting than last night. Manny, Drew, Mikey, and Tek going back to back to back to back: unreal.

Yeah, it's April. And I know, we started out like gangbusters last year, only to limp to the finish line. I still remember "The Massacre" of 2006 when Satan's team came to Boston and effectively ended our season. I remember them yucking it up while our ER ward of a team tried to plug the hole in the dam with their thumb. For all you people who say "it's just 3 games" I say go take a whizz in front of a rotating fan: I remember that sick feeling I had last year as I watched the season slip away while Slappy and Jeter slapped each others rear ends and laughed it up. I read all the articles and columns and blogs about how the Yankees EMBARRASSED us last year.

You think Joe Torre didn't think it was important when he ran the starter from Game 1 out in relief? Or pitched Rivera in the 8th Friday night when he spent all of Spring Training telling anyone who would listen that he was NOT going to do that, no matter what, this year?

3 wins is 3 wins. Period. In 2005, if we don't get swept by the Royals, the Sox win the AL East, and instead of playing the eventual World Champion White Sox, WE could have played the Angels instead of the Yankees. So I'm gonna do my "Snoopy Dance" every chance I get, thank you very much.

So today, right now, I'm exhausted and cranky, but happy. I'm sure I'll be ranting about tonight's game or some other nit picky thing, but for right now, all is well.

The Red Sox just swept the Yankees.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You don't mess with Texas

*Photo from the Boston Globe*

Go ahead and tip your cap, Josh: you deserve it. On a day when it was obvious he didn't have his best stuff and the cold realization set in that the Red Sox weren't playing the Royals or the Mariners anymore, Josh Beckett proved that he is now, finally, a PITCHER.

Not just a hard thrower anymore, Beckett showed everyone today that he's figured out that it takes more than blowing a 98 mph heater by a guy to get the job done.

6.2 IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 7K. That's Beckett's line for today. Not as pretty as his first 3 games, but it was enough: he's 4-0 for the year, and they are getting the brooms out just in case in Boston. After giving up 2 runs in each of the first two innings, Beckett settled down and retired 10 of the next 12 Yankees he faced.

So far this year, the Sox seem to be the kind of team that's not gonna roll over and die when the chips are down: today they answered the Yankee punches with their own, plating 2 runs in the 1st and 2 more in the second. Papi hit his 6th dinger of the year for 2 of the 3 runs they scored after that, and Okajima and Timlin each pitched 2/3 of an inning worth of hit less, scoreless work.

9th inning? Who else: The Papelbot. Came in, got Damon to ground out and then walked Cabrera. I think he does this on purpose, much like a cat toying with a mouse: gives 'em a sense of false hope. He promptly struck out Jeter on a 98 mph heater, then got Abreu to fly out to win the game.

I had to stuff cotton balls in my ears due to McCarver and Buck rambling on and on about Arod, and at one point was close to asking Ciera to jab my ear with a steak knife because it would have hurt less, but made it through somehow. Thinking about Joe Morgan tomorrow night, wearing his pinstriped suit, has got me feeling a bit queasy as well. It's all good though: we beat the Yankees again today.

Sun was shining, birds were singing, and Beckett is 4-0.

Life is good.

PS: The title today is dedicated to Tex, who finally got to see her boy pitch today: You brought him some good luck Texas.


*Photo from the Boston Globe*

Will the haters finally get off the Captain's back? 3 for 4 with 2 singles and a 2 run dinger for the night, not to mention a great game behind the plate for Schilling, Romero, Snyder, and Okajima.

What a freaking game: 6-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, and Torre, who has admitted himself that when he puts Rivera in, is out of options, gacks the game away.

5 runs in the bottom of the 8th. Off Mariano "The Great One" Rivera. Forget Slappy's 2 HR's, forget the cocky way the Yankees acted in the 6th, 7th, and 8th. We are IN THEIR HEAD. No way they lose a game like tonight and just shrug it off. The Sox came back against the BEST in the game: the shot of Arod throwing his towel in total frustration was worth the years I lost off my life span.

THE YANKEES lose, the Yankees lose.

Choke on THAT John Sterling. You and your idiotic rantings need to go away.


Man, it's great to be a Red Sox fan tonight.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Man Child

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

Manny was back to being Manny, hitting a game tying 2 run bomb in the 8th inning vs. the Blue Jays today. After he, uh, admired his work for a couple of hours, he made his way around the bases. Upon reaching home plate, he greets Coco Crisp, who had been on base when he homered, with a hug.

That's Manny in a nutshell: selfish enough to show up the poor guy who left one on the fat part of the plate, but child like enough to hug another man in front of 32,000 thousand people.

From everything you hear from his teammates, no one works harder than Manny: early to the park, extra hitting, watching video of the pitcher, lifting in the weight room, etc. The goofy stuff overshadows all that and that's a shame. Is he selfish? You bet. All great players are. Is he a cancer? Nope: just goofy. What about a bad teammate? Not according to David Ortiz, Julio Lugo, and the Captain, Jason Varitek.

Now, does Manny drive Francona, Schilling, and his fellow players up a tree? Without a doubt. At times, I'm sure they want to strangle him. However, you ask any of them if they would be a better team WITHOUT Ramirez, I'd bet the farm that to a man you would get a big fat NO.

Besides, without Manny, you would not get pictures like the one I threw up here today: Manny, almost like a child, hugging Tito, while the look on Francona's face is priceless.

Here's to many more years of Manny being Manny in a Red Sox uniform.

Tip of the cap to Julian today: 5.1 IP, 6H, 3ER, 0BB, and 4K, and he did the job of a 5th starter: he kept them in the game. Solid work from Piniero, Romero, and Timlin, and the Papelbot closed it out again.

First place boys: here's to hoping we don't leave that spot all year.

Dougie goes deep.

*picture from the Boston Globe*

Now it works. Stupid blogger. Could not get a picture to load to save my life last night: NOW it decides to come through.

Oh well. Timmeh pitched a heck of a game last night, going 7 innings with 1R, 4H, 4K's, and 3BB. Plus Papi and Mike Lowell each went yard.

Best part: I got to holler out to nobody in particular "Dougie goes Deep!"

'Cause nothings better than when you expect Doug to whiff at a ball 3 feet outside, or ground out to the pitcher, and he takes it deep.

Today: Doc Halladay vs. Julian. The Maalox won't be to far away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

6IP 2ER 10K 3BB = Win. Right?

*Photo from the Boston Globe*

When your starting pitcher goes 6 innings, gives up 2 runs, walks 3, and strikes out 10, you figure you are gonna win the game, no? Not tonight. After 3 smooth innings, the Daisuke train sort of went off the tracks in the 4th.

After getting the first out, he seemingly struck out Vernon Wells on a wicked breaking ball, but it was not called a strike. Wells then hits a slow roller to Mikey, who bare handed the ball and seemed to throw Wells out at first, but the ump ruled safe. After that the wheels came off, as Daisuke walked 3 men and somehow, with the bases loaded, managed to give up only 2 runs.

While WMP did his part with an absolute BOMB off the restaurant you ate at Corn Muffin, the boys scattered 7 hits but could only manage the one run. Seems our new guy has inherited Wake's role as "starter who pitches lights out but gets no run support".

Wake and his knuckleball get the nod tomorrow vs. Thoma Ohka.

I like our chances.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dad's girl.

See that little girl sitting between me and the little demon? She's gonna break my heart one day. I know this. As much as I want to deny it, one day in the not to distant future, she'll make me cry.

She's already starting to act like a teenager: still the politest little thing you'll ever meet, the sass is starting to creep into her voice. Not with me, with Mom. The wanting to argue back, the fights about clothes, and the talk about BOYS has me having flashbacks to when I was a kid and my three older sisters were ruling the roost. Still makes me shiver.

Up until now, she's always been MY little girl: I'm her best friend, the one she always wants when she's scared or hurt. I get the 2 hour version of the stories while Mom gets the Readers Digest version. Dad puts her to bed, helps her do her book reports, and plays catch, or kickball, or tickle monster. Soon, I'll be the nuisance, the annoying guy wanting to know who she's talking to, where she's going, and when will she be home. And that makes me more than a little sad. WARNING: If you are one of them boys that'll come calling one day, let me serve notice. You have SERIOUS expectations to live up to. I've been teaching this girl how a man treats a woman since she was old enough to understand me. Good luck with that all you young bucks.

As far as the game today, it went about as well as you could expect: 7-2 Red Sox, with 6 runs coming in the first and the 7th off the bat of the baddest man on the planet, David Americo Ortiz. Beckett went 6 innings, 1R, 6H, 1BB, and 5 K, lowering his ERA to 1.50. Which is really good. REALLY good.

So the boys head to the Great White North at 7-4 and in first place of the AL East. George's stormtroopers just put Mussina and Pavano on the DL to give Wang company, and BJ Ryan hit the disabled list with the possibility of having Tommy John surgery in his future. Maybe a little karma has reached the Sox after last years injury filled last 2 months.

We'll see. I just know that for tonight, I can go to bed a happy man.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Walkoff. And God bless you Mr. Robinson.

I find it appropriate that on the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in MLB, that the last player wearing #42 played such an important role in the outcome of his team's game today.

Mariano Rivera, the "GREAT" Mariano Rivera has had the number 42 his entire career with the Yankees. When MLB retired the number in 1997, it allowed anyone wearing that number to continue to do so until they retired. Rivera is the last of the bunch, and today, well, today was a GOOD day.

Leading 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th, Rivera took the ball and prepared to send the lowly A's home in shame. A hit, a walk, and a walk off home run by Marco Scutaro put an end to that nonsense. First time this year I have yelled during a game not involving the Red Sox. I made it to April 15, which sets a personal record for me.

As my friend Kelly said, he took so long to get to first, you hoped he remembered how to get around the other 2 to reach home plate: he's probably getting one between the numbers the next time the two team's play, but like my Pop said, it's worth it.

If anything can soothe the fact the Sox got rained out, it's Rivera gacking up the game in the bottom of the 9th. Add on the fact the Yankees put Mussina AND Pavano on the DL today and you have the makings of a REALLY good day.

In all seriousness, today marks a special day: the day a man of color stepped onto a major league field for the first time. Like the MLB special said, without Mr. Robinson, we don't get Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Willy Mays, Willie McCovey, and Ken Griffey Jr. Not to mention Rickey Henderson, Kirby Puckett, Barry Bonds, and Reggie Jackson. The courage it took for this man to do what he did is something not many of us could fathom.

So, hats off to you Jackie. And thanks.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

This could be the leader of your country one day. Or not.

I read books with Rakes at bedtime last night and marveled at the fact he can count to 10, knows his shapes and colors, and his A,B,C's. Smart as a whip, I thought "he could be the President some day."

As I watched him climb his Pawpaw's 12 step ladder all the way to the top step today and say "If a pushed you off dis top dep, I bould DILL you" I realized he could also be a master criminal when he grows up.

Out in the front yard, in shorts pulled up to his armpits, shirt tucked in the front and out in the back, with knee high white socks and brown sandals, dancing in place shouting "nank you Ms Nonnie, dey are nandals" as our neighbor Connie complimented him on his shoes, I thought "there goes the next Johnny Knoxville."

So, you have President, crook, or the successor to "Jackass". Unless he becomes the future 2B for the Red Sox, all three are possible scenarios.

Miracle of miracles, my local FOX affiliate showed the Sox/Angels game today. Per a FOX broadcast, there were some classic FOX moments. Such as McCarver calling Vicente Padilla of the Rangers "Jose Padilla", Dick Stockton calling Darrin Oliver "Darrell", and Julio Lugo morphed into "Cabrera" somehow.

Schilling took the bump and well, looked like Curt Freaking Schilling for the 2nd game in a row. 8IP, 0R, 4H, 4K, 1BB, and numerous stomps, curses, and glares at the umpire. Vintage Schill, and it was a lot of fun to watch. The 8-0 score also shows the bats may be waking up from the long winter hibernation. Papi hit a 3 run bomb in the 8th, Tek hit the ball HARD twice, and Lowell continues to hit. After a hard RBI single by Manny which put Ortiz at 3rd, we also got the first "point our fingers at each other across the diamond" moment of the year.

I'm not holding out a lot of hope for the next 2 days as far as getting to see the boys play: a pretty wicked hahd storm system is more than likely gonna rain out Sunday and Monday. Daisuke is scheduled to pitch Tuesday in Toronto, which also sets him up to pitch next Sunday nights game vs. the Yankees. Yep: the Evil Empire visits New England for the first time in '07 next weekend.

Gotta pull out my handy "Words that you can substitute for curse words because you have impressionable ears in the room" book and give my self a refresher course.

Let the acid indigestion commence.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The monkees visit the zoo

After seeing this pre-historic turtle at the zoo today, Rakes promptly turns to me and say's "Me wanna dide him Dad". Explaining to a 3 year old why he can't ride the Gimongous turtle who could bite his arm in half is not the easiest thing in the world. Trust me.

Rakes also wanted to, in no particular order, climb into the Lion exhibit, hold the miniature alligator, and chase the ducks that wander around the Africa part of our zoo.

Highlight of the day was a tie between the polar bears and the gorilla exhibit. Any other day, the polar bears win hands down: they are always really playful and will swim right up to the glass and push off with their feet. Reason for the gorilla finishing so strong? He was joyfully sitting on the grass, right in front of the window, munching away on his own, well, feces. Of course, the next 20 minutes were filled by Rakes shouting "Look Daddy: dat dorilla eat his own POOP."

Well, Sox win 10-1. Wake was lights out again, and DOUGIE went deep, adding a RBI single to go along with the long ball. Pap came in and got Vladdy and Garrett Anderson in the top of the 8th, throwing 6 pitches and heading to the clubhouse without throwing any more. Timlin came in the 9th, and went 1/2/3.

Beating a quality team like the Angels that bad is a confidence booster: the fact Wake had such a good game is the icing on top of the cake.

Schilling tomorrow, and it looks like the weather will hold. Sunday and Monday are a different story, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I hope my FOX affiliate knows what it's doing: otherwise, if you hear about a "technical difficulty" around the Greensboro, NC area tomorrow, you know who to blame.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The sun will come out tomorrow. I hope.

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

This picture concerns me on several different levels: Crazy Julian mauling poor little Daisuke is bad enough, but Wily Mo's thousand yard stare makes me wonder if a serial killer lurks below.

Erik Hinske has a very strange look on his face, much like a man getting ready to snap someones arm off. I have no idea what Dougie is clapping for. Maybe the man love going on next to him?

What bothers me the most, however, is Matsuzaka seemingly copping a feel of Julian's rear end. What does it mean? Is this a show of affection in Japan, or is he just so shocked another man is hugging him in this way that he reacts the way he would if that were his wife? Does Julian realize there are over 36,000 people watching him deflower our newest star pitcher? If so, do you really think he cares?

I love this team. From the serious guys like Drew, Lowell, and Tek, to the semi-odd balls like Daisuke, Papi, and Crisp, to the outright nut jobs like Manny and Julian. They are gonna make 162 games go by in a wink of the eye.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate rain-induced "postponed games"?

Bad enough to deal with a 1 hit loss, now I've gotta wait until tomorrow to get my fix.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There was a game tonight?

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

With all the buildup leading into tonight's game, you'd think it was the ALDS and not just another game in April. Of course I planned my day around 7:05 tonight, but I'm nuts so it's OK.

Apparently, the entire nation of Japan was watching, causing millions of Japanese folks to wonder why the little guy with the mustache called him "Matsuzaker"? Seems like Daisuke facing Ichiro is the Japanese equivalent of Ali vs. Fazier.

Well, 7IP, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, and 4K's usually will buy you a win: unless the other pitcher suddenly channels Nolan Ryan and flirts with a no-no through 7 innings. JD Drew finally ended that nonsense with a seeing eye single in the 8th, but Felix indeed was King tonight. 9IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, and 6K's. Not a whole awful lot you can do with that but tip your cap to a great game and move on to tomorrow.

Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has decided that tomorrow would be a nice time to dump a Nor'easter on New England. Doesn't she know Wakefield is scheduled to pitch tomorrow? If all these day games weren't enough, now I've gotta worry if they are even gonna get to play them.

Hopefully the game gets played. Hopefully Wakefield is spot on like he was last week. Hopefully the bats hit like Tuesday and not tonight.

Just for Corn Meal, I'm resisting the urge to reference "Shawshank Redemption" right now.

You have no idea how difficult that is for me to do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Opening Day

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

Now THAT'S what you call Opening Day: lights out pitching from your starter, thunder from the bats, and a near "incident" in the 8th inning with the score at the time 14-1.

First: Josh Beckett. If you read here, you'll know I've been a BIG fan of his since 2003 and was beyond thrilled when the team traded for him and signed him to an extension. All of a sudden at $10 million per year, he seems like a bargain. His line read as follows: 7IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, and 8K's.

That is about as dominating as you can be without throwing a no no. His fastball was on, changeup was working, and the breaking stuff looked as good as anytime since he's been in Boston. Yeah, he'll have his nights where he'll get knocked around some. But today should prove to the naysayers that when he's on, he's as good as they come.

Hopefully, all the folks who were wringing their hands over the lack of hitting the first week of the season will now all take a collective breath: this team is gonna score runs. In bunches. Today showed that from top to bottom, they can rake. Bunch of doubles, walks, and JD hit his first HR at Fenway. The fact that Jeff Weaver was the starting pitcher didn't hurt, but he was only in for the first 7 runs: they scored 7 more after he left.

Finally, leading off the 8th, Brendan Donnelly strikes out Jose Guillen. Guillen glares, Donnelly "checks himself", and all of a sudden the benches empty and the two of them have to be restrained from whacking each other. Apparently, this goes back to when they both played for the Angels, and Guillen felt like his pitchers weren't protecting the hitters, in particular him. Then, in 2005 when Guillen was playing for the Nationals, Donnelly was suspended for 8 games for having pine tar in his glove. The fact it was discovered while he was pitching against Guillen's Nationals at the time, I guess, was not lost on Donnelly. Very next batter, Donnelly plunks Kenji Johjima on the leg, promptly earning himself an ejection.

I love baseball: in no other sport are grudges held longer, with receipts sometimes taking years to deliver. Should be interesting the next 2 games and when they meet later in Anehiem.

Tomorrow night: the Fenway debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka. If you can be near a TV at 7:00 EST, you need to check this out: Matsuzaka vs. Felix Hernandez, a 21 year old flamethrower who struck out 12 A's in his debut.

Is it wrong to be this jacked up on April the 10th?

Monday, April 9, 2007


He's had a lot of firsts: first tooth, first word, first birthday, and even his first roll down the stairs. The other day, after Angie got tired of him looking like Doc Brown from "Back to the Future", he got his first haircut.

Normally, I only get emotional at really moving things: Papi hugging Johnny Pesky, Manny launching a moon shot over the Monster, and Mike Lowell robbing a double from some poor soul. As I get older however, things tend to get to me more than they used to. I guess the cold realization that I'm not some punk kid anymore is finally sinking in.

I look at Ciera and I don't see my little baby girl anymore: I see a young lady on the verge of breaking her Dad's heart with that first boyfriend. It seems like yesterday I was rocking Rakes to sleep, and he'll turn 4 this year. The only positive about Rakes getting older is I can get him T Ball where he can burn off some of his endless energy: you should have seen the shadow boxing he was doing with the neighbors Dalmatian today. Funniest Home Video's could run a whole hour on his antics alone.

Finally, Baby Trot: 1 year old and the life of the party. A more loving, sweet natured little ruffian you'd have a hard time finding. I want to make time stop and speed it up all at once, if that makes any sense. My brother in law, after we all ate Easter dinner yesterday, told Angie that he was going to go home and take a 3 hour nap.( Obviously, they don't have any kid's of their own yet). I told Angie last night I felt envious of him and sorry for him at the same time. Envious for the freedom, but sorry for what he's missing out on.

Last but not least, I've got to give a BIG thank you to the beautiful lady holding my boy: she is a stay at home Mom who for the last month or so has had to live with a husband teetering between insanity and a nervous breakdown, a daughter who seemingly is already 15 mentally, a 1 year old with an oral fixation, and a 3 year old who is apparently going to be in the terrible two's for the rest of his life. And she has handled it with grace and dignity, only calling me a tool 3 times. I figure she's doing pretty good.

A man can say some really stupid things to his wife, and I have to believe I'm leading the pack: how this woman puts up with me I'll never know.

Oh yeah: after attempting to give me a heart attack last night, the boys pulled it out in Arlington. Pap came in for 1 2/3 innings and slammed the door, and they head home at 3-3 with Ichiro and the Mariners waiting. Beckett goes tomorrow, and Matsuzaka and Ichiro meet for the first time in MLB on Wednesday night.

Wonder if THAT will get any play back in the land of the rising sun?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Back to Ranting

*Picture from the Boston Globe*

Forget the three errors in one game against Kansas City this past week. Remember, this was the "throw in" the Red Sox had to take in order to complete the Josh Beckett trade: the guy with the dead bat and rumors of steroid use flying all around him. Trust me, Mike Lowell is the best 3B in the American League. Not A Rod, not Joe Crede, not Melvin Mora, and not, contrary to popular opinion, Eric Chavez.

I know what you're thinking: "There goes that Red Sox homer doing it again", but let's look at some numbers, then you can call me an idiot if you want.

Here are Slappy's Fielding Stats from 2003-2006:

2003 8E .989 FP (Playing SS for the Texas Rangers)
2004 13E .965 FP
2005 12E .971 FP
2006 24E .937 FP

Batting Stats for 2006: .290 BA, 166H, 26 2B, 1 3B, 35HR, 121 RBI

Now Chavez from '03-'06

2003 14E .971FP
2004 13E .964FP
2005 15E .966FP
2006 5E .987FP

Batting Stats for 2006: .241 BA, 117 H, 24 2B, 2 3B, 22HR, 72 RBI

Now, let's take a look at Mikey's numbers, shall we?:

2003 9E .973FP
2004 7E .982FP
2005 7E .983FP
2006 6E .987FP

Batting stats for 2006: .284 BA, 163 H, 47 2B, 1 3B, 20HR, 80 RBI

Now, take a guess who has won the Gold Glove Award for 3B in the American League every year since 2001: Chavez. Good ol' Slappy has 2 Gold Gloves, both for SS in 2002 and 2003. Mikey? One. That's right, one. In 2005, he won the National League Gold Glove for 3B.

I included the batting numbers for last year just in case you could make the comparison that offense plays a part. A Rod was head and shoulders above the other 2 in that, but his 24 errors gave him no chance. If you look at the numbers, other than home runs, Mikey beat Chavez in every category. Even the fielding numbers are better for Lowell: Chavez had one less error, but the same FP, which means Lowell had more chances than Chavez.

It's a joke Lowell did not win it last year. Just proves that the voters for these things don't pay any attention: For Pete's sake, Raffy Palmiero won it one year, and he only played like 36 games at first and the rest as DH.

Hopefully, the voters pay attention this year, and maybe Theo will step up with a contract extension.

A guy can hope, right?

Holy Day

Luke Chapter24: Vs 7

"The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again."

Have a blessed Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Crazy like a fox

*picture from the Boston Globe*

Answer: He covers his body in baby oil and Bengay, then drinks 1 cup of coffee and takes 2 aspirin.

The question? What does Julian Tavarez do to get his body warm when he pitches in cold weather.

My man is nuttier than a grove of chestnut trees: are you kidding me? Baby oil and Bengay? Why only 1 cup of coffee? Doesn't aspirin thin the blood, therefore making you COLDER, rather than warmer?

Pointing at the bases, diving at guys during stops in play, and puncher of dugout phones and Joey Gathright. Every time you turn around, he's doing something that either makes you scratch your head or laugh out loud. Giving someone a back rub, or a shoulder rub, or in one strange instance, standing on Craig Hansen's back while he's lying down. Go over to for proof: he is certifiable.

Which is exactly why it is so much fun to watch him pitch: you never know what he's gonna do next. During Spring Training, NESN camera's caught this on camera: Julian standing right in the middle of Matsuzaka and Okajima in the dugout with his arms around them, talking 90 miles a minute and laughing his head off. The 2 of them kept nodding and smiling, all the while probably thinking "This was not how I expected to die".

In years past, especially the 2004 Band of Idiots, he'd have fit right in: now, on a team of consummate professionals, he and Manny seem to be in a contest on who can be the biggest goofball. Maybe that's why I like him so much: every team needs that crazy guy the other team always looks for in a scrum. Julian's the type to go after the pitcher while carrying a bat, hoping to make a human Popsicle out of him.

I can picture him right now, screaming out to no one in particular, in his best Kurt Russell imitation:

"You tell the Rangers I'm coming. You hear me? You tell 'em I'm coming, and Hell's coming with me!"

8:00 p.m. tomorrow can't come fast enough.

Pass the Rolaids please

*picture from the Boston Globe*

Woke up this morning with knots in my stomach and feeling really uneasy for some reason. Then it hit me: Wake is pitching today.

Don't get me wrong: I love me some knuckleball. It's just I start every game he pitches with a smile on my face and seeing batters wave helplessly at a ball going 65 mph, and end up at the end of the game with my head between my knees and praying.

Nothing works my nerves more during a Red Sox game than Wakefield heaving that thing like a medicine ball while Mirabelli stabs at it like someone trying to catch a butterfly. He can go 3 hitless innings and strike out 5, then, for some unexplained reason, can't hit the broadside of a barn for the next 3.

Thankfully, no drama this year on who'll be catching him: the brass made sure they re-signed Dougie during the off season. As good as Josh Bard has looked since being traded to San Diego, if you're gonna have Wake on the staff, you'd better have his wing man with him. Just like Forrest and Jenny, they go together like peas and carrots.

Game on at 2:10 est. Keep an eye out for Tex: she's roaming the Ballpark in Arlington as we speak, probably talking up some native in a cowboy hat.

I've got my Tum's and Maalox lined up like toy soldiers.

Let's get it on.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Future is Now

*picture from the Boston Globe*

Um, yeah. I think he might be the real deal. Matsuzaka's line from today's 4-1 win:

D Matsuzaka (W, 1-0)
7.0 Innings
6 Hits
1 Earned Run
1 Walk
10 Strike outs
108 Pitches
1.29 ERA
.240 Batting Average against

I TIVO'd the game and listened to it on the XM: and yes, I realize how sick I am. There was no way I was missing his first start. He is as advertised and more: he made major league hitters look downright silly at times. Gave up a home run and some hard hit balls, but the fact he was blowing on his hands, wiping his nose with his sleeve, and probably wishing for the Dome's back home he pitched in because of the sub zero temperature in KC, I'll give him a pass. He is gonna be REALLY fun to watch, especially at Fenway.

On a sad note, I went to the funeral today of a really good man: he was a member of our church, and he and his wife were close friends of my Mom and Pop. Now you have to understand: I attend funerals about as often as I compliment a Yankee player, but this man was so good to my family, especially Ciera, I wanted to pay my respects. He graduated from Annapolis, served his country in WWII, and worked as an engineer for Dupont for 30 years. You know what they talked about at his funeral? How much he loved his wife, children, and grand children.

Married to the love of his life for 57 years, he had 4 children and 13 grand children. From the minister all the way down to his sons who spoke, to a man they talked of his life long love of his wife and kids. As my pastor said, he lived it: he was a living example of what a Husband and a Dad should be.

As I sat there, I thought to myself: God willing, if I live to be 80 years old, and at my funeral they say I was half the husband and father my friend was, I'd consider myself a lucky man. I could care less if what I earned, or how big a house I had, or what kind of car I drove was ever mentioned. Hopefully, they will say he loved and adored his wife, and was a great dad to his children. I hope I can earn that honor over the years.

God speed Mr. Powell.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thanks. And good luck.

We all know the season is officially over, what with the Opening Day loss to the Royals on Monday, but still, baseball will be played.

Lost in the wake of the Sox season imploding before our very eyes since we currently are 0-1, which means we have NO CHANCE of making the playoffs, is the play of one Christopher Trotman Nixon.

Now patrolling RF for the trendy pick for 2007, the Cleveland Indians, Trot has started off the year 5 for 9 with three doubles, 2 runs scored, and 1 filthy Chief Wahoo hat.

I could not be happier: I hope he has a monster year for the Indians and proves not only to Red Sox management, but to the fans as well that he still has plenty of fight left in him. Nobody plays harder or with more passion, and his professionalism and heart will be missed in Boston this year.

May 28th: Indians visit Boston.

Can you imagine the scene for THAT standing ovation?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Reminder to Red Sox Nation

See that guy over there? The one the other 24 guys have on their shoulders? That's Josh Beckett. You know, the number 2 starter on the 2007 World Series Champions: that Texas kid with the 95 mph heat and attitude to burn.

I know there is a lot of folks who are worried about this boy this year: I gotta admit, watching his head do a 360 as he watched gopher ball after gopher ball leave the yard last year was not a pretty picture. Think about it though: new league, his starting catcher missed a chunk of time, and his pitching coach had hip replacement surgery. And while I like Al Nipper as much as the next guy, let's face it: he ain't no Leo Mazzone. Well, neither is Leo these days for that matter, but we'll let that slide for now.

Three years ago this man went into Yankee Stadium, on three days rest, and COMPLETE GAMED the Yankees in Game 6 to win the World Series: At 23 years old. You think he was intimidated? Yeah: me neither.

This is the guy, who last year in SPRING FREAKING TRAINING started woofing at the much larger, much taller, and much scarier Ryan Howard for pimping after hitting a home run. He's not short in the confidence department.

I mention all this because it seems like people may be ready to hit the panic button: Schill looked, well, like he was 40 last night. I think it's just an aberration, but you never know: now the thought of Beckett being the stopper has got some feeling a little tense, to say the least.

16 wins: career high. Over 200 innings: career high. Made EVERY start: only Sox pitcher to do so last year. Pitched much better from August 1st on, and looked strong in ST. Also, he has seemingly grasped the concept of Tek = Good, Josh on his own = BAD.

Tomorrow night, Beckett gets the chance to right the ship: I think he's up to it. After all, he walked into hallowed ground 3 years ago and put his cleat right on the Bambino's throat.

I think he can handle the Kansas City Royals.

Monday, April 2, 2007

What do you mean they won't go 162-0?

Well, to coin a phrase, that was bowling shoe ugly. 7-1 Kansas City, and Schilling didn't make it to the 5th inning. Wanna take a guess on how many times that has happened before? Once: and it was because of a power failure.

What kind of voodoo power do the Royals have over the Red Sox anyway? I think that is the 8th straight loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. If I'm not correct, hopefully someone can tell me.

Give it up to Gil Meche: he looked every bit a $55 million dollar man today, and he made the boys look pretty silly. The fact that Youkilis and Pedroia ran the bases like some beer league softball player didn't help. Manny and Tek went O-fer, and unless your name is Donnelly, Lopez, or Romero, the bullpen looked shaky.

It's only one game though: one out of 162. It won't be long though before we see something like in the picture: Ortiz gleefully rounding first while the rest of the team goes to meet up with him at home plate. And we'll forget about days like today.

Besides, Rakes got to see Papi and Manny bat, and it made HIM happy.

So the day wasn't a total loss.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Kansas City here we come

*picture from*

It's here. After 6 long months, Opening Day is HERE. We've spent $100 million to sign a guy who's never thrown an inning in MLB, spent $70 million on a RF with a sketchy injury history but a huge upside, and $36 on an all hit/shaky glove SS who seems to have become the third amigo to Manny and Papi.

Trot's gone, Dougies back. Looks like Coco may be ready to be the guy we all thought we were getting last year, Youk and Lowell are manning the corners once more, and there is much stomach churning in RSN over the Captain. Is he in a decline, or do you chalk up the poor season last year to injury?

One thing I do know is this: Schilling is gonna be ready to go. Man has a chip on his shoulder over his perception that the FO is insulting him by not extending his deal: I've said it before that a ticked off Schilling can only be a good thing. I like the fact he feels like he has something to prove. Who would you pick if you had to select a guy to give you one start for all the marbles? Gil Meche? Or Curt Schilling?

I thought so. The lead horse takes the hill tomorrow to kick us off, and I for one am a happy man. Rakes and I will be in the tv watching position tomorrow, sitting in the big boy chair.

2007 World Series, here we come.