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Friday, February 29, 2008

All Is Right With The World.

JD Drew is smiling.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were on my tv tonight.

Youk and Tek went back to back.

Daisuke was dealing, Lowell was rocking the facial hair, and Manny was being Manny.

Julian Tavarez was pointing like some cracked out air traffic controller.

And all of a sudden, life makes sense again. Baseball is here. It's still Spring Training, so no hiding behind the couch or underneath the table yet.

Just the soothing sounds of Remy and DO having a gigglefest in the booth, Tito rocking back and forth in the dugout, and man hugs any which way you look.

Lucy?

I'm home.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rakes Being Pele. Part Two.

Tonight was Rakes' first Spring soccer practice, and Ang and I couldn't be more happy. Do you know what it's like to have a child, with the energy level usually reserved for Terminators sent from the future, cooped up in the house during winter?

Let's just say the imaginary "Chaos Meter" in my head has been pinging for the last 4 months.

Soccer practice couldn't have come sooner; Rakes was at his full throttle, balls to the wall best tonight. Kicking soccer balls, elbowing other kids out of his way, and when Coach Wendell asked who could score a goal? Rakes was the first, and loudest, to raise his hand.

He ran, laughed, kicked, and showboated for 45 minutes straight. And while his antics would earn him a Red Card (I'll defer to my resident soccer expert Horshamscouse on the final ruling), just seeing him running around like a maniac did my heart good. Once soccer is done, T-Ball starts about 10 days later. Which reminds me, I have GOT to have that talk with him about no pimping at the plate when he get's hold of one like Manny, don't taunt the 2nd baseman when he runs by, and don't ever, and Dad means EVER, run the bases backward.

No matter how much you want to.

As the final exercise for practice tonight, Coach went about 50 yards away, knelt down, and had the kids race to be the first one to give him a high five.

Guess who won?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Mad As Hell. And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore.

Did you ever have one of those Howard Beale days? A character from the movie "Network", he's the one reponsible for ushering the title of my post into the American venacular. Today, I was Howard Beale.

Fighting some stupid head cold for the last week or so, I'm not in the best of spirits to begin with. Throw in spending yesterday on a cold, damp loading dock moving market samples, combined with Trot deciding to wake up every day for the past 10 days before dawn, I'm not exactly in the best of moods.

Now, throw in a 2 1/2 hour appointment where I sold my tail off and left with a hearty "Maybe we'll come see you at market" and a trip to Hobby Lobby where I had to buy "light pink tool" for the wife (who knew netting was also called a tool?), my mood upon arriving home made sour sound pretty good.

45 minutes later, after finding the house looking like a toy factory exploded in it, Trot getting in the knife drawer, and Ciera and Rakes fighting over who got to be the giraffe while they played "Madogascar" on the PS2, I lost it.

Mind you, I'm not proud. I like to consider myself a pretty good Dad. I'm fully aware that they won't be little for long and I need to enjoy this time while I can; and most of the time, I do.

Every now and then though, I lose it. And tonight was one of those nights. It wasn't one specific thing, just a Supernova of a whole bunch of different stuff happening at once.

I can't be positive, but I'm pretty sure I uttered Military School, you're killing me, and "look at me while I'm talking to you" in the same sentence. I KNOW at least once I clicked my heels together three times and shouted "I want to go home".

Raising my children is the greatest job I've ever had. It's also the hardest, and I have no idea how Angie does this all day, every day, without mainlining Meth. She is without a doubt my biggest hero. And when they got home from church tonight, I made sure I hugged each one of them and told them I loved them more than they'd ever know.

All night, I kept thinking about my trip to Boston and how great it'll be to get a break.

I also wondered if they'll miss me as much as I'll miss them.

Being a Dad is harder than it looks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yep. He's Still Big.

After reading how the Red Sox had signed former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal, I was hoping against hope he'd spent the winter like Manny; working out like a maniac.

Today, he arrived at Spring Training. I think he may have eaten Shrek.

Now, being in top shape is not a requirement for a pitcher: see Schilling, Curt and Wells, David for further proof. But you'd like to see a guy who, even though he won the Cy Young and went 21-5 in 2005, coming off 2 injury plagued, frustrating years, at LEAST show up looking better than the guy you just saw leaving the grocery store with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an extra large bag of pork rinds.

Don't get me wrong; I think this is a great move by Theo. Knowing Schilling is out until at least the All-Star break and not completely sure how far they can push Buchholz, Colon is an insurance policy. If he can pitch, great. If not? No harm, no foul.

It's sort of like which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the extra weight cause the injuries, or did the injuries cause the extra weight? Personally? The guy can look like he just left the all you can eat buffet at Golden Corral if he can still get guys out. To quote Al Davis, Just Win, Baby.

Besides, the Red Sox could use another El Guapo.

Something tells me if he makes the team, Rakes has a new favorite player.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Princess Bride. Redux.

You honestly haven't lived until you've heard Rakes utter the following:

Inigo Montoya: [Rugen swings his sword but Inigo blocks it and then begins advancing] Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die.

Inigo Montoya: [Louder] Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die. Count Rugen: Stop saying that!

It's the current video being viewed in the Griswold family truckster, and he's been running around all evening shouting it out. Except with his speech impediment, it comes out as "Hello. My name is Inio Movino, you tilled my fater, prepare to die. TOP saying dat!"

As much as I try not to laugh when he gets his words wrong, tonight was tough. I'll go as far and admit I didn't make it much past him screaming "HELLO!"

Although this news broke a few days ago, I'm just now getting around to posting it here. Christopher Trot Nixon and his Major League career aren't dead just yet. Trot signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks late last week, with a chance to make the big club when camp breaks in a month or so.

I hope he makes it. I'm praying he'll still be playing when I can show my Trot who he was named after. Of course if he keeps it up, Big Trot may not take it as a compliment.

On second thought, Big Trot is known as the Ultimate Dirt Dog.

He'll love the little fella.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Photo Day

You think Big Papi is ready?

He's already got his bottom of the 9th inning game face on, and it's only Photo Day. Now, if that look was accompanied by 36,000+ screaming maniacs at Fenway Park? I'd be one happy goober.

Also coming out of camp today was news that the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona had agreed to a 3 year extension, which means that at least in theory, he'll be managing the team through the year 2011. Most of the time, long term contracts for managers are just that; theory.

Except I'm pretty sure Tito may be the exception to the rule. All he's done in his first 4 years is lead the team to 2 World Series championships and to the playoffs in another year. I'd ALMOST go as far and say that without his personality and leadership skills, they never could have come back against the Yankees in '04. I say almost because that does a disservice to the character of the players.

I can say THIS with confidence; there aren't too many Managers who could have pushed the right buttons and kept that team loose and confident enough to where they BELIEVED they could come back.

Plus, without going through '04, they probably don't get past Cleveland this past October. Being down 3 games to 1 and having to win out in order to get to the World Series, you have to think Francona drew on the 2004 experience to keep the ship upright. So, good for Tito. He's got another 4 years in Boston and will finally be paid like what he is.

One of the best skippers in the game today.

It looks like we picked up another potential starting pitcher today as well, as Bartolo Colon agreed to a minor league deal with Boston after an ineffective 2007 with the Angels. It's another low risk, high reward move Theo is known for, like picking Papi off the scrap heap in Minnesota or signing Kevin Millar right before he went to Japan. Colon is 2 years removed from the Cy Young award, and although the last time I saw him he looked like he had just ate Shrek, I like the move.

2006 proved you can't have enough healthy arms, and 2007 showed what happens when you do.

Finally, another video shot by my niece Libby the other night. At first glance, I didn't really like it. However, going back and watching it again, it's got a few gems here and there. One is about halfway through, when Rakes tells Lib who he saw at his Nanny's house.

You also get to see Trot in full-bore pitch a fit mode, which always makes me reach for the Advil.


video

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Mayor Holds Court

So far, every picture of Sean Casey I've seen coming out of Spring Training, the guy is doing one of two things; smiling or talking. On a team full of guys who lead the league in man hugs, handshakes, and characters, the more I see of Casey, the more I think Theo is a genius.

Here you've got a guy who fits in seamlessly with the rest of the oddballs that make up the Red Sox, and I can GUARANTEE you won't hear one word about him complaining about a lack of playing time.

Imagining him sitting next to The Large Father on the bench and yukking it up, I've gotta think Remy and Orsillo are gonna have an inordinate amount of gigglefests this coming year.

On another note, carrying Rakes upstairs to bed every night has turned into some sort of stand up routine; one night he's telling me about what bodily function he just had, the next he's rambling on about lightsabers, gunships, and what Alex did at play school that day.

Tonight was a first. As I held him in my arms and headed toward his room, he blurts out this:

SAVE THE WIENERS, DAD!

And yes, I have NO idea what he meant.

Frankly, I'm not too sure I wanna know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Video to Help You Understand.

I have no idea if this will work.

My Mom and Pop took Ang and I out to dinner tonight so we could have a break.

I asked my niece Libby, who helped my sister Stacy babysit, to video some stuff. I saved 5 different ones, and this was the best of the bunch. You get Trot hamming it up, Ciera being her prissy self, and Rakes being Rakes for a brief instant.

As a bonus, you also get him telling his cousin Jared about the difference between Darth Vader's Red light saber and a blue light saber. Trust me, this is important stuff.

At least to a 4 year old with a Star Wars obsession.

Hope you enjoy a little insight into a day in the life of the RSD.

More to come.

Thanks, Tex. I couldn't have done it without you.

video

A Picture To Calm My Nerves

After spending the better part of the last 2 hours trying to download a video of my band of hooligans onto Blogger, I was about ready to go buy a gun, put on a rhinestone jumpsuit, and go Elvis on my monitor.

I followed all the directions; the video downloaded, then spent the next hour and 45 minutes processing, whatever that means. In fact, I think it's still doing it; I had to move on before my head exploded. I'll figure it out eventually I guess. But just when I was ready to commit to buying a new computer, I stumbled across this picture.

Two of the biggest nutjobs you'll ever see wearing a baseball uniform, hugging like they hadn't seen each other in years.

Lucy and Ricky. Bobby and Pam. Archie and Edith. And Julian and Manny.

Have you ever seen a grown man look as giddy hugging another man as Manny does in that picture? If that doesn't bring a smile to your face I've got to wonder if you have a soul at all.

Images of man-hugs are coming out of Florida.

Spring is finally here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manny Gives Me Hope. For Rakes.

Manny Ramirez arrived at Spring Training yesterday.

On time.

Manny, who for the past several seasons has made Eddie Murray look like a blabbermouth, is talking to the media.

Seemingly enjoying it.

All the cynics will say this is Manny trying to convince management to exercise his $20 million dollar option for next season early. And that very well could be true. I know if it was ME who was playing for that kind of money, I'd be bringing John Henry breakfast in bed if that's what it took.

That's Manny, though. I believe him when he say's if he's here next year, great. If not, he'll be somewhere else.

Besides Manny has seemingly grown up just a little. And I quote; "You start growing up and mature," the 35-year-old Ramirez said.

Manny being Mature?

All of a sudden, I have a renewed sense of hope for Rakes. Before seeing this new, improved version of Manny, I'd resigned myself to Rakes being a miniature version of Bluto from Animal House for the rest of his life. Unlimited potential, yet never able to get past stuffing packets of mayonaise in his mouth and pretending to be a zit for the rest of his life.

After seeing Manny actually being responsible, accountable, and proclaiming he wants to come back and won't ask for an extension? I realize anything is possible.

Of course, according to my Mom, Rakes came out of playschool today with his sticker for good behavior plastered across his forehead while he rambled on and on about blowing up the rebel base, which doesn't exactly fill my heart with hope.

But it's a start.

Is it too early to start saying "That's just Rakes being Rakes"?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tito's Gonna Need Ear Plugs

While I love the signing of Sean Casey, aka The Mayor, to be the back up First Baseman and left handed bat off the bench, I think Theo neglected to consider one critical point.

Casey NEVER stops talking; how else do you think he got a nickname like The Mayor? Put him on the same bench as Papi, you've got issues. Throw in a 2nd baseman who stands all of 5ft 6, yet acts like he's 6 ft 5, Manny and Tavarez doing a 2008 version of Lucy and Ethel in the background, and a closer who gives himself nicknames and has a motor like the Energizer Bunny? And we wonder why Francona has such a hard time kicking his chewing tobacco habit.

With all that going on behind him during a game, while he's trying to figure out when to lift the starter, who to bring in to pitch, and when to pinch hit, it's a small miracle he's not mainlining meth off the brim of bench coach Brad Mills' hat. No wonder the guy rocks back and forth like some mental patient on work leave.

Speaking of Manny, guess who showed up to camp on time today? Driving a white Cadilac Escalade, he pulled up, dropped off some gear, and was gone within 30 minutes.

Of course he did. He's Manny.

Meanwhile on the home front, completely out of the blue tonight Rakes asked if we were going to the zoo tomorrow.

All I can figure is he's feeling the call toward home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

OK. We Can Start Now

With the first appearance of The Large Father to Spring Training, it's official; Baseball season can begin.

Sporting a 'do that is eerily reminiscent of one Manny Ramirez, Big Papi is sort of like Phil the Gopher on Groundhog Day; once he pops up, the day is in the books. Joining Ortiz a few days early were Mikey Lowell, JD Drew, The Munchkin, Youk, and Jacoby Ellsbury. It's nice to see the fellas are as ready to get this thing started as all of us nutjob fans are.

Still to come? The arrival of Planet Manny to camp; why is it I imagine him rolling into Ft. Myers in the Batmobile with bright orange hair and a pet alligator? C'mon. I CAN'T be the only one.

On a personal front, the miracle of miracles happened today; my accountant called and I actually OVERPAID on my estimated taxes last year, so I'm getting an honest to God refund.

I'm not letting the fact I made less money, paid more insurance, and had higher medical bills harsh my mellow.

I fought the law.

And I won.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sometimes You Need A Little Reminder

I hate Mondays with a passion, and today was no different. Up too early, with too little sleep, and too much on my mind, I drove Ciera to school. Complaining about the stupid college kids getting in my way, aggravated about how windy it was, and God Help Me, groaning inside about walking her into school.

Getting to the office, I had about 12 work related problems to take care of while I called the insurance company about switching policies and tried to get my taxes together for the accountant by 5 tonight. Throw in the usual work crap, grumpiness about it still being 3 months to Tedapalooza, and my still irrational anger at the Hollywood writers for taking 24 away from me, I had worked myself into a snit by noon.

Which just so happened to be the time I walked out of a convenience store after buying my mid-day Mt. Dew. As I walked to my car, a guy about 19 or so, sitting in his car, yelled out "Excuse me, Sir?"

Contrary to public opinion, I DO read the news, and immediately went into self defense mode; after answering "Yes?", he asked me if I could pump his gas for him. Still unsure of what in the world was going on, I walked a little closer and asked "Why?"

"I'm paralyzed" was the answer. To say I was shocked is an understatement, and still a little bit wary I walked to his door. When I got there, I could see the wheelchair folded up in the back and when I looked at him, I realized he had prosthetic legs from the knee down on both legs. Handing me $30 bucks and a look of thanks, I went back inside, paid for his gas, and upon getting back to his car, began to fill his tank.

I asked him if he was in the military; turns out he was a professional motorcross racer who had a wreck 9 months ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Like a dink, not sure what to say, I blurted out "How do you drive your car?". He patiently showed me the lever attached to his steering wheel that let him operate his car. I imagine he was thinking to himself "of all the gas stations in NC, I've got to pick THIS one".

After pumping his gas, he shook my hand, thanked me, and headed off to who knows where.

Right then it hit me. If that had been me, I'd still be feeling sorry for myself and asking God why it was me who this had to happen to. This guy? Nine months after the fact he'd gotten prosthetic legs and learned a new way to drive a car, he was out LIVING his life.

So, to the handicapped young man whose gas I pumped today, I've gotta say thanks. For reminding me that I have a great wife, 3 wonderful kids, and a pretty good life. Thanks for making me realize that for all the stupid stuff I get upset about, be it tax time or the smug looks of Arod and Jeter, that I'm healthy (physically, anyway), happy, and grateful for the family I was somehow blessed enough to end up with.

Good luck, man.

And God Bless.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

King of the Hill. In more ways than one.

There is 4/5 of th Red Sox starting rotation getting some work in down at Ft. Myers, led by Josh Beckett, of course. Seems like The Commander is wanting to start 2008 the way he finished 2007.

Flat out dominating the rest of the league.

Personally, I'm not gonna doubt him. I think Beckett wants to finish his career being thought of along the lines of a Gibson, Koufax, and Ryan. If last year is any indication, he's well on his way.

After getting Rakes to stop repeatedly kneeing me in the marbles, he actually settled down and fell asleep for 2 hours while I watched the movie Friday Night Lights. Made for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Well, except for the fact the boy can't even SLEEP still; he kicked, twitched, and jerked the entire time. But at least he was quiet.

We finished the day with me, Ciera, and Rakes lying on the sofa and watching King of the Hill. It's a little rough for them, but Angie's cousin married a guy who talks JUST like Boomhower, which kills me everytime I hear him. So I sort of HAVE to watch it when I can.

I know a day like today won't land me on the "100 Most Fascinating People List".

It will, however, go a long way in allowing me to reach the point in my life where I can order a "Senior soft drink" at the local eating establishment and reap the reward of all this Social Security tax I'm paying now.

Or not.

Doesn't matter. I had a relaxing day off, the Red Sox are weeks away from Opening Day, and another day passed where I avoided the offices of a shrink.

I'd consider that a good day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tek Money?

Tek Money is usally a phrase used to describe Jason Varitek as coming up clutch in a key situation. Need the right pitch called at the right time? See Tek. Need a key hit to drive home that tying run? See Tek. Need to smack around a diva superstar who dates East German strippers and forgets where he is? See Tek.

In this case, it refers to the fact Jorge Posada, age 36, got a 4 year, $52.4 million dollar deal from the Yankees this offseason. While he had a great offensive year last season, that contract is really more of a "thank you" for what he's done over the years, rather than believing he'll be having that type of season 4 years from now.

While I don't think the Red Sox will, nor SHOULD, make Tek, who is also 36, that type of offer, I'm really hoping they step up and reward him for being the best catcher in baseball the past several years. He's not the best hitter, best fielder, or best guy when it comes to throwing guys out at second.

He IS, when you combine his skills in all those areas with the way he handles a staff, at the top of the heap. Throw in the fact that if you ask ANYBODY on that team who the leader is, to a man they'll tell you it's Tek. At the very least, they owe him the respect of an offer for an extension before they break camp and head to the Land of the Rising Sun.

He don't wear that C for nothing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Take It. Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart.

Ciera came home with a hand-made Valentine card and two paper roses from some young punk in her 4th grade class today. The fact I like this kid, he's in Honor Classes, and looks like some smaller version of that kid in Sling Blade is beside the point.

As I've repeatedly informed her, her DAD is her only Valentine and it will remain that way until she reaches the age of 30 or I kick the bucket. Whichever comes first.

Thankfully, she doesn't actually like this little home wrecker and I'm really hoping her and the Red Sox fanatic who wears at LEAST one piece of Red Sox clothing each day make a Love Connection. Only like I said, when she's older and I've, you know, expired.

Every day it seems like a little bit of my baby girl leaves and a small part of the young lady she's turning into takes it's place. Seems like yesterday I was rocking her to sleep and today she's whispering on the phone to her friends, going to Valentine dances at school, and turning her Dad into a blubbering mess.

Funny: none of the parenting books Ang made me read ever said anything about how to deal with my little Princess breaking my heart. Miss Joplin may have been singing about something else, but this Dad can empathize with those lyrics.

At least there is one thing that can take some of the sting away when I get slapped in the face with the reality my baby girl is growing up, and there isn't a freaking thing I can do about it.

Like some 4th dimension of 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, it all comes back to baseball.

It's the circle of life.

Sort of.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Ted, I NEED Your Help"

Those 5 words, when spoken by Angie, usually mean there has been some bodily function gone horribly awry; tonight was no exception.

Trot has been fighting some kind of infection and one of the side effects has been an upset stomach; he picked RIGHT when she put him in the bath water to let loose. As I grabbed the 409 and headed upstairs, you'll be happy to know I managed to not pass out. My vision got a little blurry and I temporarily lost the ability to hear out of my left ear, but stayed on my feet.

Only barely, as Rakes almost knocked me down coming up the stairs to get to the bathroom. He was like one of those guys chasing Lindsey Lohan around L.A. The boy thinks poop is the highest form of entertainment.

As you can tell from the picture, we had a freak little snow shower come through last night, dumping about 3 inches of the white stuff in my yard. Typical of North Carolina, everything shut down for 12 hours, school was cancelled, and I didn't leave until around noon. Plenty of time to take the hooligans out in the yard to have a snowball fight, Ciera to wipe out on the neighbors driveway and mess up her wrist, and build a snowman.

Except our snowman had to have a touch of Boston and baseball to go along with it:

Sorry to Tex, Beckperson, and anyone else who read the post from a little while ago; had a case of premature posting and hit something I shouldn't have. I was watching LOST so at least I have an explanation.

Finally, a shot of Trot lying under my bed where I found him at bedtime; let's just say he wasn't quite ready to lay his weary head down yet.

I need a Valium.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rakes Trumps Roger

After considering a post on "Rocket goes to Washington" I decided against it. I mean, what more can be said? One of these two morons is lying through their teeth and the other is a scuzzbag of the highest order.

Clemens threw, in no particular order, his dead Mom, wife, trainer, agent, Pettitte, and I'm pretty sure his middle school baseball coach under the proverbial bus today. All the while MacNamee comes across as a combination of Joe Pesci's character in "Casino" and every deadbeat dink who's ever wore a wifebeater and smacked his kids around. They could both be on the losing end of a southbound bus for all I care. Josh Beckett is in Florida, Daisuke is sporting a mullet, and Manny apparently is intent on arriving at Spring Training doing his best impression of Rambo.

That bandage on Rakes' head is a result of him meeting the business end of a solid wood table in our living room; yes, the table won. But only briefly, as he cried for about 2 minutes, then wanted to know when he could play Star Wars.

As I carried him up the stairs to bed tonight, he politely informed me he'd burped; 5 seconds later he whispered "Me tooted, Dad. You smell it yet?"

After an afternoon of listening to frustrated nerds grill an overpaid gasbag and a wannabe fitness trainer, somehow Rakes knew the exact words that would make me laugh like Beavis and Butthead watching a Winger video.

Almost like a miracle, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow.

Finally, I can get on with my life.

Such as it is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's almost here

Almost 4 months ago, the Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in 4 years.

Right at that very instant, Jonathan Papelbon grabbed his catcher's rear end.

Why? Who knows? I've decided that trying to figure out Pap does about as much good as trying to determine why Rakes can't go to the bathroom without taking his shirt off. I'm honestly concerned he'll be the only High School Jr. who has to go to the bathroom topless.

My team won the World Series; Pap could pants Tito at home plate for all I care.

Thursday the 14th, pitchers and catchers officially report. However, I've already heard reports that Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke, Craig Hansen, and Jon Lester are already in camp and ready to go. Which tells me one thing; they are ready to get started on defending the championship they earned last year.

So this post will be the last one I use a picture on from 2007; from here on out, any Red Sox pictures I put up will be from 2008. 'Cause if they're ready to move forward, then by God, so am I.

Unless I find a REALLY good one over at Kelly's that I haven't used yet.

Here's to 2008.

The Year Of The Beckett.

Monday, February 11, 2008

YOOOOOOUK

*Picture courtesy of Kelly*

$3 million dollars a year for a Gold Glove owning, no error having First Baseman coming off a year when hit .288 with 16 homers, 83 RBIs and 35 doubles to go along with a .390 on-base percentage. Throw in the fact he looks like an extra from Deliverance, grinds out each at bat like it's the last one he'll ever have, and causes opposing pitchers such aggravation they apparently can't help but throw at his head, and you're making a case for him being grossly underpaid.

Every team has a guy like Youk; somebody so intense and focused you either love him or hate him. Ask any self respecting Yankee fan and they'd tell you if Paul O'Neil had played on another team while they were winning championships in the late 90's, they'd have hated the guys guts. Instead, he's considered one of the key players that helped them dominate the rest of baseball.

Think about it: the Yankees had O'Neil, the Mets had, well, everyone of those scuzzbags caused feelings of intense hatred, and the Dalton Family has Rakes.

One of those obnoxious, never give in and never, EVER, give up guys who shake their head at called strike one, mutter an expletive at called strike two, and bounce their helmet off of home plate while loudly protesting called strike three. Youk is THAT guy for the Red Sox; and while there are times I want to tell him to just shut up and get back to the dugout, part of me loves his fire.

One big reason I admire his psycho mannerisms so much is I'm raising two miniature Youk's myself. One thinks playing Star Wars on the PS2 is a matter of life or death, while the other one only shows his "Youkness" when he wants food.

I realize it'll only get worse, but for now, whenever they get a case of "showingmytailitis", I just tell myself they are channeling their inner Youkilis and all is well.

By the way, THAT particular thought process?

It's really not working.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Night Ramblings

In the rarified class of "Movies that make Ted cry like a girl" is the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, followed closely by Saving Private Ryan, The Bucket List, and Miami Vice.

The last one only because I grew up watching the show, think Colin Farrell and Jamie Fox were perfect for the roles, and it ended up stinking worse than Ishtar.

Back to Band of Brothers, it's a 10 episode miniseries that centers on the experiences of E Company ("Easy Company") of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, U.S. 101st Airborne Division and one of its officers, Richard Winters. This same company landed at Normandy on D Day, fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and captured Hitler's Eagles Nest.

For the most part, it's a fantastic story about these normal, everyday men who helped liberate Europe from Hitler and the Germans. If you like WWII stuff, in my opinion this is at the top of the list.

As I was channel surfing this afternoon while all the inmates were asleep, I came across a replay on the History Channel; Episode 9, titled "Why We Fight", was just coming on. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you. But I've seen this series 4 times all the way through, and it still get's REALLY dusty everytime I see this particular episode.

Bad thing is it's right before the last one, "Points", that wraps up the whole series as the war ends. You get a voice over telling you what happened to each one of the company who survived, and then some interviews with some men who are still alive today. Including Major Richard Winters, who closes the series with this:

He tells a story about his grand daughter asking him if he was a hero in the war; he replies by saying no, GrandDad wasn't a hero. He did, however, serve in a Company filled with hero's. Get's me everytime. If you haven't seen this yet and WWII is just stuff you've read about in a History Book, you owe it to yourselves and men like Richard Winters to check it out.

You won't be dissapointed.

After church ended this morning, Ang stopped to speak to someone and I went to get the kids. 15 minutes later, after I had gone upstairs to get Ciera, picked up Rakes from his class, and gotten Trot out of the nursery, I found her. Still talking to her friend. So I sent Ciera to get the car keys for me to load them up to go home.

Apparently distracted by butterflies in the sanctuary, I found her 5 minutes later, but without any keys to give me. Under implicit threats of permanent groundings, I told her to watch Heckle and Jeckle, found Ang and got the keys. As I turned to leave, there was Rakes, on the platform where the pulpit is, microphone in hand.

Before I could get to him he was bellowing some song about "Soldja Boy", which I later found out Ciera had taught him.

I think I'll sleep in next Sunday; after all, it's SUPPOSED to be a day of rest.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Munchkins in Wigs and Truck Day.



Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, circa 1991 have NOTHING on these two whackjobs.

Ciera bought a Hannah Montana wig at the store tonight and as soon as she get's home with the thing, Heckle and Jeckle just HAD to try it on. Rakes looks like some demented Paris Hilton while Trot looks like Cousin It from "The Addams Family". Only if Cousin It had a pacifier and wore Toy Story pajamas.

Today was Truck Day, which I posted about on Tuesday this past week. What was great about today was two of my friends, Cyn and Kelly, were interviewed by the local media in Boston and ended up making the 6 o'clock news!

Everything the Sox need to kick off Spring Training got loaded on a 18 wheeler and took off for Florida today, and all across the country lunatics just like me celebrated like we all just won the lottery. 'Cause in some weird way, we did.

Next week, Tek and Dougie will start working with the pitching staff; unlike last season it doesn't look like they'll have to break in any newbie, though with Schilling going down for the forseeable future, I imagine that will change.

Not long after that the rest of the team will sort of filter into camp, and sooner or later, Planet Manny will arrive. There'll be games on NESN, updates every half hour, and seemingly normal people like me will watch like it's Game 7 of the World Series.

Why? Because we're all just a tad nuts? Well, yeah. But it's not JUST that. It's what all of it actually means.

We watch because it means there are only 59 days or so and counting until Opening Day and another season begins.

6 months of happiness, anger, sadness, elation, stomach ulcers, and pure unadulterated joy.

Red Sox baseball is coming.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Future. And the Past?

*Picture courtesy of Kelly*

I've held off writing about this because I was hoping the story would change; well, it has. Unfortunately it keeps getting worse.

It looks like Curt Schilling's shoulder has turned into spaghetti and the odds of him pitching this coming season, or ever again, don't look good.

We all know about 2004 and the bloody sock; how Father Curt sacked up through the pain, and gutted his way through the ALCS must win game with the Yankees and in the World Series. Well, that same bloody sock may have cost him in the long run. After 3 substandard seasons with momentary flashes of brilliance (his ALMOST no hitter in Oakland last year, his ALDS win), the end of the line looks like it might have finally arrived.

I don't want to imagine the Sox without Curt, at least not yet. I was looking forward to the " 2008 Curt Schilling Farewell Tour", complete with videos from his past, endless quotes from the Mouth that Roared, and hundreds of games with Schilling and Beckett on the top step of the dugout, with Schilling yammering on and on while Beckett just nodded right along. Sadly, that might not happen.

Which makes Kelly's picture much more poignant; the new ace pouring champagne all over the guy who turned a whole culture around. A guy who came to Boston to win the World Series; nothing else was acceptable. A guy who once said that he could think of nothing better than making 50,000 people in Yankee Stadium shut up. A guy who, whether you liked what he said or not, always spoke his mind.

He's also Rakes' favorite player NOT named Manny or Big Papi, which of course makes me like him even more than I already did. So if this IS it, and we've seen the last of Schilling in Boston, I've only got one thing to say.

Thanks.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Some Days It Doesn't Pay To Get Out Of Bed

I feel like that Woody doll lying on the bar; I'd like nothing more than to just curl up in the fetal position and pretend I was somewhere else.

Most days, God smiles down on Ang and I and only allows one of the the Unholy Trinity to cause us to melt down. Every now and then though, it's a rare triple feature and all three cause me to imagine I'm moving to Greenland. Alone.

Trot has a little cold, so the day started with him coming out of his room at 4:50 a.m. and jabbering on about something at the top of the stairs. Ang, half asleep herself, puts him in between us where he spends the next hour and 40 minutes doing the following; snoring, coughing, and kicking me in the marbles. All within seconds of the other, sometimes all three at once.

As I get out of the shower, there is Rakes, sitting on the bathroom floor; as he wipes sleep out of his eyes at the unGodly hour of 6:55, he looks up and utters "I wanna play Tar Wars, Dad." So it was that I left to take Ciera to school with Rakes merrily annihalating Storm Troopers, Trot mauling a Pop Tart, and Ang on the verge of a panic attack. At 7:45 in the morning.

When we get to school, I come around the car and see Ciera's water mug laying on it's side, with half of my sales pictures soaking wet; she swears she had her hand on it the whole time, and no amount of reasoning from me that IF she had her hand on it there is NO way it would have dumped water all over my backseat changes her story in any way.

About noon, I get a call from Angie; see, today was Rakes' first ever visit to the dentist. Last night, he seemed excited. So Angies nerves were calm and all was well. Until they went inside.

Apparently he screamed for 30 minutes. In between screaming, he cried; loudly. I failed to mention we don't have dental insurance, so this cleaning was done at the local Denistry college, where they only charge $5 for a cleaning with about 20 other patients in the same room. I'm guessing all those other people getting work done asked the staff before leaving to NOT schedule their next appointment when the midget with the built in megaphone was due back. I've also got a sinking feeling that price just went up after today; I just hope the poor dental student who cleaned the muppet with teeth today doesn't decide on a career in botany after meeting Rakes.

Not to be outdone, this afternoon Ang found Trot sitting in the living room floor, a box of baby wipes at his feet, cheerfully sticking his hand down his pants and wiping his bottom. Did I mention he'd gone, well, number 2? After using a wipe, he thoughtfully put it back in the box and grabbed a new one. Thankfully I wasn't home for the cleaning of the floor, the pantry door, Trot, and the ottoman. 'Cause if I had been, I'd currently be screaming hysterically and running down the highway in the general direction of Boston, MA.

Right now, my trip to Boston is the only thing keeping me from wandering the streets telling anyone who'll listen that I like turtles and my greatest hope is to live in a van down by the river.

Is it April yet?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Old School meets New School

For the first time I can recall, the dink who owns the Texas Rangers, Tom Hicks, made a smart move; he hired Nolan Freaking Ryan to be the team President.

Before today, Hicks was the genius who gave Slappy a $250 million dollar contract when the next best offer was only about $100 million less. He also gave Chan Ho Park about $66 million and Darren Dreifort roughly the gross annual revenue of Peru. Who's Darren Dreifort you ask? Exactly my point.

Hiring Ryan won't make a huge difference; He''s under the GM Jon Daniels, and they both have to report to Hicks, who has about as much of a clue as Col. Clink, so I don't expect any big changes.

Although when you bring in a Hall of Famer with 7 no hitters, 12 one hitters, 18 two hitters 5,714 strikeouts, pitched 27 years, and won 324 games, you're sending a message. A message that says the culture of losing is GONE.

Besides, as I inch toward 40 I've developed a newfound respect for the older guys who've played the game. How can you not love a guy who welcomed a fight with a guy half his age?

Robin Ventura learned the hard way; you don't tug on Supermans cape, you don't spit into the wind, and you absolutely don't mess with Nolan Freaking Ryan. Besides, if it gets too bad, he could probably suit up at the age of 61 and still be better than 2/3rds of the Rangers staff.

In other news, Ciera left her glitter make up out, Trot found it, and redecorated the comforter in our bedroom. Plus Ciera flipped over riding her skateboard and has a huge cut on her head, Rakes peed in his pants 4 times today, and Trot dumped an entire bowl of Fruit Loops on the kitchen floor tonight.

I have no clue how my wife isn't living in a padded room somewhere by now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

With it being 100 days or so remaining until Tedapalooza and the last Red Sox game played on October the 28th, I've reached some sort of baseball purgatory. All I've got to tide me over is my World Series DVD, my commemorative books, and memories.

Tonight after I got home, we took the kids outside to play; today was one of those North Carolina winter days where the temperature was around 65 with no humidity and the sky is what I imagine Dean Smith sees in his dreams. Pure Carolina blue.

As I watched Ciera ride her bicycle into the neighbors wet yard leaving tire tracks you could row a canoe in, Trot stand on the swinging door of his eggcar while he tried to climb onto the roof, and Rakes position his bike at the PERFECT place where the road meets the driveway (This prime spot allows him to peddle like Lance Armstrong, tires spinning merrily along while, thanks to his training wheels, he goes... nowhere), I was struck by the fact that I REALLY miss baseball.


A little while later I found out that Truck Day is this Saturday, and suddenly my mood lifted. Truck Day, if you don't already know, is when the team packs up all the crap in Boston on 18 wheelers and drives it down to Ft. Myers in preparation for Spring Training.

Which means the yearly "When will Manny show up?" stories will start to make the rounds. You'll see Jerry Remy, dressed in some hideous floral shirt pontificating about the strength of the bullpen, and at least one random interview with some pale refugee from New England ranting about the Yankees and that "SOB Steinbrenner".

All of which basically means one thing; baseball is coming.

Soon.

It won't be that much longer until Opening Day, Remy and Orsillo in the broadcast booth, and Manny pimping a majestic shot that JUST hits the top of the Monster, turning a potential triple into a REALLY long single that ends with him maniacally pointing at the dugout.

Mike Lowell making the impossible play look routine at 3rd, Jacoby turning a single into a double, and Big Papi sending us all to bed smiling. Or Youk grinding out a walk in the bottom of the 9th, The Munchkin making a game saving stop his 5 foot body has no business making, and Josh Beckett picking a fight with Prince Fielder because he looked at him funny.

In other words, honest to God real life Red Sox baseball.

I.

Can't.

Wait.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Pele? Or Papi?

I found out yesterday that Rakes is now old enough to play T-Ball this Spring; even though I've been waiting for this time since he was born, I'm sort of torn about what to do.

He started playing soccer in the fall, and to say he liked it would be an understatement. He LOVED it; going to practice, wearing the uniform, and I almost started to get jealous over how much he talked about Coach Bendell (Wendell). He could technically play both, but the twin combination of money/sanity make that option sort of difficult.

Playing baseball in the front yard is one of his favorite things to do, and we actually got to go outside and hit some balls yesterday for the first time in months. I'm a little worried about him in a team environment though. For several reasons.

One, after watching so many games with me, he wants to "hit dat ball in de air like Big Papi do, Dad", after which he flips his bat and does his best Barry Bonds impression. I'm pretty sure that sort of pimpage is frowned upon by the T-Ball league.

Second, part of the fact he loves soccer so much is he NEVER STOPS RUNNING. I'm scared all the standing around in the field and waiting for his turn at bat playing baseball will result in bodily harm to other players, his coach, and the umpires.

Third, he absolutely LOVED Coach Wendell, and he'd have him again this Spring. Plus Wendell is used to his "personality" and actually understands "Rakes speak" pretty well. Also, I'm not sure it'd be fair to put a new person through all that; despite what you hear, I do have feelings for my fellow man.

Right now, I'm leaning toward keeping him in soccer and starting baseball in the fall. He can already hit his Dad's best fastball, so he's used to hitting balls that don't move. And he's actually still shorter than the tee, so he'd probably develop some bad habits swinging UP at a stationary ball just to make contact.

Mostly though, I think he's still too much like a dog; he needs a big open space to run in, butterflies to chase, and territory to mark. His future T-Ball coach will thank me one day.

Lastly, he's pretty fond of that trophy he got playing soccer; sleeps with it on his nightstand every night.

I think I'll let him do what makes HIM happy, not what would make his Dad happy.

So, soccer it is.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Trot was ready at lunchtime today.

Although I'm not quite sure why he HAD to have his Red Sox hat on, but the boy wasn't about to eat without his "Ha"; we're still having a time with our T's.

After that nirvana known as naptime, I figured a good way to kill some time was to take the monkeys outside to play while Ang ran some errands with Trot. And it WAS a good idea until Ang called, asking me to go inside and read her the grocery list.

As I reach the door to go back outside, Ciera bursts in hollering something about Rakes throwing stuff at her and the neighbor kid Josh; turns out it was half the pine straw in our front yard and it now rested on my driveway. Why would he throw pine straw? It doesn't hurt, you can't throw it far, and, well, it's PINE STRAW. I guess I should be grateful he ignored the 2 skateboards and the air pump lying nearby; although it would have been a whole lot easier to pick those up than sweep the stupid pine straw back into the yard.

I missed the Opening Kickoff, the house sounded like Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday afternoon for most of the night, and Rakes went down about 5 minutes ago; it's not even 9 p.m. yet.

Never thought I'd say this, but it makes me miss West Coast baseball games starting at 10 p.m. and playoff baseball that doesn't begin until 8:30.

That way I get to have the best of both worlds; I can put my kids to bed without my blood pressure reaching stroke levels AND see all of the game.

I'm all about the simple things in life.

The poll for what color the RSD blog should be is now closed, and blue won with a resounding 50% of the vote. Of course, there were only 22 votes, so resounding may be pushing it. Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote; I appreciate the input.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Peace and Quiet at The Olive Garden

Thanks to Sales Manager Bob, Ang and I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, and since Ciera had been invited to a birthday party for our next door neighbor Alexia, we called my Mom to see if Thing One and Thing Two could stay with her for a few hours.

Here you see Albino Boy and The Human Air Raid Siren cheering on the little kid who lives next door to my folks as he shoots baskets. Seriously, Trot is so fair skinned that if you breathe on him he looks like he just finished an expedition to the North Pole, while Rakes just gets louder and louder the older he gets. At this point, he could be living in WW2 era London, warning the citizenry there about the next bombing run from Germany. I'm actually thinking of investing in an ear plug company, just to offset the cost of visiting the Ear, Nose, and Throat Doc over the next 15 years.

So off to The Olive Garden we went; when I tell you this is my idea of fine eating, I'm not exaggerating in the least. I'm used to the local Mexican place, or if I want to get REALLY fancy, Cracker Barrell. Ang even got out a laugh when I ordered the pizza; what can I say? It was $10.50, a bargain in anybody's book.

I've got to admit it was really nice to sit down and eat a meal without uttering the phrase "Get back in your seat or I'm taking Star Wars away" or "Finish your dinner or you can forget about getting an Ice Pop for dessert". We actually got to talk about adult themed things and we didn't have to sweep the floor when we were done. Even though I wanted to.

Having the hooligans around all the time causes you to forget about the simple things in life. Like sitting down to eat dinner and actually being able to talk. Or being able to sit in a comfortable silence while you look at the woman you fell in love with 17 years ago. Or, God help me, laughing at the poor slob whose spending over $50 on a dinner he's spent the majority of the time trying to keep his kids from setting the table cloth on fire.

Take out, my man; take out.

Super Bowl tomorrow, and I say Patriots 42, Giants 17. Then it's just a week until pitchers and catchers report, 3 weeks until Spring Training games, and 6 weeks or so until Opening Day.

I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Mayor Comes To Boston

He may not get a lot of playing time behind Youk, but word came down today that Sean Casey has signed on to back up Kevin Youkilis at first and come off the bench.

As much as I loved Eric Hinske, his balls out play, and his serial killer smile, hitting around the Mendoza line just wasn't getting it done. Casey, a career .301 hitter, is a big upgrade offensively and is another in a line of quality guys Epstein has built the current team with.

Ortiz, Varitek, Lowell, Wakefield, and Schilling. I gotta think a guy who volunteers at homeless shelters when his team is on the road, was voted friendliest guy in baseball by his peers, and whose nickname is The Mayor, mainly because of his habit of yakking it up with anyone who reaches first base, is gonna fit right in with the Sox clubhouse.

Hal McCoy, a beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds for 35 years, had this to say about Casey:

"There's no debate, and there never will be a debate. Sean Casey is the nicest guy in professional baseball. Ever."

Welcome to Boston, Sean. Enjoy the ride.

Ciera invited her friend Taylor over to spend the night tonight. You know how I said I'd be willing to have a 4th child if you could guarantee me it'd be a girl?

I take it all back. The dynamic of having a 4th child in the house is a bit more than I can handle; between the drama of 2 females, the excessive showing off by Heckle and Jeckle, and the noise level reaching the point where loss of hearing is the next step, I think I'll keep things just the way they are.

In a state of semi-controlled chaos.