2015 MLB Season Mercifully Ends

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Great Night Out at Citi Field

It was a good weekend for the Red Sox in New York this one just past.

The one they spent in Queens.

I went to Friday night's game with approximately 200 members of the BLOHARDS, the New York-based Red Sox fan group. We sat in the left field stands, in section 134. We had a great few of the field (see above). I was pleasantly surprised to be sitting next to the actor Peter Riegert, best known as the character of Boon in the classic comedy "Animal House." I enjoyed talking baseball with him most of the night, and he is a knowledgeable Mets fan. (He's been to a BLOHARDS meeting a few years back, and has affection for the Sox.) I also had the pleasure of hanging with DJ Jim Monaghan, who I have known for many years and is a huge Sox fan. (Jim's best known for his days at WNEW-FM back in the 1980s, and today does a morning show on WDHA in New Jersey.) Many years ago, I wrote to him when he had two of the BLOHARDS on his radio show, the first time I had ever heard of the group.

It was basically a good-natured crowd at Citi Field on Friday. Lots of banter between the groups of both teams fans, but I didn't see any fights or threats of violence. (No, this wasn't the Bronx.) Some Red Sox fan tried to get a chant of "1986" going, but that went nowhere.

On the field, the Sox ran into a hot Mets team, who had just won 7 straight on the road, and were expanding their lead in the NL East. The Mets are my favorite NL team, so this was going to be a "conflicting" weekend. ( I just didn't want to see either team get swept.)

The Sox got a bit a of a shaky performance from Henry Owens, but got home runs from David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley and an odd inside-the-park job from Blake Swihart. (Replays looked like the ball cleared the line in the center field, but no replay necessary.) One thing we learned from Friday's game: Junichi Tazawa is NOT a closer. With a three-run lead in the 10th and two outs and nobody on, he promptly walked four in a row, and Torey Lovullo was forced to bring in Craig Breslow, which scared the delights out of all of us. But he got Yoenis Cespedes on a deep fly to center to wrap up the 6-4 Red Sox win.

Well, I've seen the Sox live twice this year: two wins. (The other being the Opening Day win against the Nationals.)

The Sox got another well-pitched game from Joe Kelly on Saturday (did I just write that?) in a 3-1 Red Sox win. Kelly won six games in August, in six starts. He's the first Sox pitcher to do that since Pedro Martinez turned the trick in 1999. Kelly has clearly turned his season around. But no, he's still not going to win the Cy Young Award.

The Mets won a back-and-forth affair on Sunday, which included Big Papi's 494th career home run. The Sox came back from behind twice, but the Mets pulled it out in the 8th to salvage the series.

The Sox continue to play well under the interim boss. They are 10-6 under Lovullo, and have won 4 of the 5 series they have played, with the other being a four-game split with Kansas City. Granted, the pressure to win is long gone, but they are certainly not tanking the season. They have suddenly become an exciting team to watch, as Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts are all red hot and leading the offense.

Getting back to .500 may not be realistic, as the Sox would have to go 21-11 in the remaining 32 games to reach that. But, they have nothing to lose, so you never know how the last month may turn out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Still Searching For a New Trivia Home

Hi again, Trivia players! It's your friendly neighborhood Trivia Master, John Quinn. It's been a while since I posted anything here about Trivia. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer. I am still looking for a new venue for my next Trivia Night. I talked to a couple of bars over the last few months, but nothing became of it. And last week, I thought I might have some good news to tell you all, but no luck.

I am anxious to get back in the Trivia business again, so I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any establishment that might be looking for a Trivia host. I prefer Manhattan, but I wouldn't mind hosting in my home borough of Brooklyn as well. So, if anyone has any ideas, please do let me know and send me an email at: jbq1462@hotmail.com. I miss all of you guys, with all the great support you have given me over the years. I hope we can all meet up again soon for another Trivia night. Be well, everyone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

O'Brien Replaces Orsillo & The Fans Aren't Happy

NESN moved quickly last night and named a replacement for the departing Don Orsillo: Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer Dave O'Brien.

Orsillo was at the end of his five-year contract with NESN, and the network chose not to bring him back. The fan reaction to his dismissal has been swift and ugly. Petitions have popped up on line, including this one from Change.org, which is at 12,000 and counting as I write this.

It's no reflection on O'Brien, who is generally well-liked by the fans. It's a condemnation of a decision that has left Red Sox fans stunned and shocked. It sounds like Orsillo did not have a good relationship with NESN programming head Joseph Marr, who made the move to let Orsillo walk.

Jerry Remy was visibly upset after last night's game about losing his broadcast partner, with tears in his eyes as he talked with reporters after the Red Sox' 5-4 loss in Chicago.

It sounds like the deal is done, and Don is gone. He gave the Sox fans 15 terrific years behind the mike. I will always appreciate his class and professionalism. And he won't be a free agent long.

Gordon Edes has a terrific take today on Don's Red Sox career here. Take the time and read it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don Orsillo's Leaving NESN

2015 is looking more and more like a changing of the guard for the Red Sox.

Larry Lucchino is leaving, Ben Cherington is departing, and John Farrell has temporarily left due to illness. And now, another long time Red Sox staple is going.

NESN and Don Orsillo are parting ways after this baseball season. The Dennis and Callahan Show reported this news early this morning. So far, no specific reason has been given for the move, as to whether this was NESN or Orsillo's doing.

Orsillo spent 15 years in the NESN booth, after doing Pawtucket Red Sox games. His first game in 2001 after replacing Sean McDonough was Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in Baltimore.

He and Jerry Remy still made watching the Red Sox games worth tuning in, despite the season turning into an utter crapfest early on. I'm betting that Don's next gig maybe a national baseball job, as he did playoff games on TBS over the last few years.

I wish Don well, and will remember one of his finer moments with NESN here, in April 2007:


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dombrowski Will Run the Show Now


I guess you might say the Red Sox won twice on Tuesday night.

During their 9-1 win over the Indians, Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo made a startling announcement as the 8th inning was underway, that the Red Sox had hired former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski as the new president of baseball operations, beginning immediately.

Current GM Ben Cherington was asked to stay on, but he declined, as Dombrowski will have the last word on all baseball decisions. Cherington will stay on with the transition until the end of the season.

Dombrowski has been the general manager of the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Tigers. His high point was winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997. He had been the GM in Detroit from 2002 until a couple of weeks ago, when the Tigers allowed him to move on. He rebuilt a Detroit club that lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003, and won the pennant in 2006.

Last night's announcement was a real surprise, as the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski figured to be either Toronto or the LA Angels. He will now be calling the shots, and has a huge job ahead of him turning the Red Sox fortunes around.

Cherington leaves with winning a World Series in 2013, but also what appears to be a third last-place finish. It was most likely he would fall on the sword for the moves the club made that badly backfired over the past year.

What this means for John Farrell is not clear, but you have to figure that if he is healthy enough to resume his managerial duties in 2016, he will be back. Letting him go during this offseason would be a disasterous PR move for the Sox. But Farrell will be under the microscope once the season begins.

Dombrowski also figures to bring in some of the people who worked for him in his other MLB positions. The new GM could be the recently hired Jerry DiPoto, who was LA Angels GM until he resigned earlier this year. Former Braves GM Frank Wren, who worked with Dombrowski for many years, has also been prominently mentioned for the job.

Dombrowski will be formerly introduced by the Red Sox this afternoon.

Let the 2016 season begin.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Historic Day For Bradley

I sure haven't written a lot of positive stuff about the Red Sox in what has been a lost year of 2015.

But the offense has put up some historic numbers the last two days against the Seattle Mariners. If I had told you before Saturday's game that the Red Sox would give up 10 runs in a game that was started by Felix Hernandez, what would you figure, a 10-1 or 10-2 loss, right?

The Sox absolutely pummeled Hernandez, who gave up 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

After getting 15 runs on Friday, the Sox topped that on Saturday and more. And Jackie Bradley Jr. made a clear statement that he is finally an MLB hitter, going 5-for-6, with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI, and scored five times. Bradley became the first Red Sox hitter ever to get five extra base hits in one game. (Nope, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice nor Jimmie Foxx ever did that.)

Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts both had four hits, and Bogaerts became the first MLB player this year to get four hits in a game six times. Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Brock Holt each had three hits. The Sox in total had 26 hits, first time they reached that number in a game since 2005.

The combined 37 runs in two games is the most the Sox collected in back-to-back games since they set the unbreakable record of 49 runs in two games against the St. Louis Browns in 1950. (They scored 20 in the first game, and then game back the next day to set the record of 29 in a game that stood until the Texas Rangers scored 30 a few years ago in Baltimore.)

The 22 runs the Sox scored was the most since that memorable night against the Florida Marlins when the Sox scored 25 runs, including 14 in the first inning.

The best part of yesterday as been the continued smoking hot hitting of Bradley. Since his huge day last Sunday in Detroit, he has gone 13-for-22 with 3 HR, 13 RBI and 9 extra base hits.

Wade Miley was terrific in going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs. But even in garbage time, the bullpen pitched like garbage, allowing eight runs even up by 17 runs. Priority One next season will be putting together a reliable pen.

And by the way, is it a coincidence that the Red Sox have come alive with two incredible games from the offense and starting staff after the news of John Farrell's lymphoma? Just asking...

I'll wrap this up by pointing out that yesterday's win was the Red Sox first on August 15th since 1997. You may have heard about the so-called "Ben Affleck Curse," the fact the Sox have not won on that day since his film "Good Will Hunting" came out, and August 15th is the actor's birthday.

Good, another made-up "curse" bites the dust. CHB will have to hang his hat on another "curse" he'll undoubtably make up to sell more books.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prayers For The Skipper


How many times have you and I as Red Sox fans thought, "Boy, it just can't get any worse?"

I thought that on Wednesday afternoon, after the Red Sox were swept by the worst team in MLB, the Miami Marlins, and gave up a 10-run inning to them in the process.

But nothing could compare to the news that came out on Friday afternoon.

John Farrell announced during his daily press conference that he has been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma, which was caught while he was having hernia surgery last weekend in Detroit. The hernia may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the lymphoma was caught in the curable stage.

Farrell has stepped away from the Red Sox for the rest of the season, and will begin chemotherapy on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. Bench coach Torey Lovullo will take over the team as interim manager for the balance of 2015.

Farrell is just 53 years old (7 months younger than I am). The news hit the Red Sox team hard, and David Ortiz later said that Hanley Ramirez was in tears when he broke the news to him.

We can only offer the Red Sox skipper our thoughts and prayers, and he gets through chemoptherapy with good health. Hope to see him back on the field in 2016.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Happy Trails to Mike Napoli & His Badass Beard

The Red Sox continued their dismantling yesterday, sending 2013 champion Mike Napoli back to Texas for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We thank him for what Dave O'Brien once called "the unexpected gift of a season" that the 2013 year and championship was.

Nap and his badass beard will never be forgotten.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Lucchino Departs at Season's End


Love him or hate him, Larry Lucchino left his mark on the Red Sox.

Lucchino is stepping away from his role as president and CEO of the Red Sox when this season ends. He'll be replaced by current vice-president and COO Sam Kennedy, who was brought to the Red Sox as a intern by Lucchino in 2002.

Lucchino leaves a mixed legacy in Boston, but far more on the positive side. After stints in Baltimore and San Diego, where he helped develop both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Petco Park, he joined the Red Sox with John Henry and Tom Werner when the club was sold in 2001.

When I hear his name, I'll always think of the way he turned up the rivalry with the Yankees by calling them "The Evil Empire" in 2003. He was instrumental in bringing in Theo Epstein as GM for the Red Sox in 2002, and was also responsible for Theo leaving Fenway in a gorilla suit and his temporary resignation in 2005. Lucchino could rub people the wrong way, and come off as meddlesome and a bit of a tyrant at times.

And also don't forget, he was the one who wanted Bobby Valentine as manager in 2012.

But the shining stars on his Red Sox resume are the three championships the Sox won in 2004, 2007 and 2013. And the renovation of Fenway Park was also on his watch, making the park a far more livable and watchable place to watch a game.

Larry also showed up many years ago at a BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club, and actually came off as a rather friendly individual.

I can remember years ago Red Sox fans who were totally disgusted with Lucchino's meddling and wondering when he'd be gone as team president. Conspiracy theorists are already speculating as to whether Lucchino is taking the fall for the Red Sox' awful last couple of seasons. According to Gordon Edes at ESPN, it sounds like Lucchino was phasing his role down for the last couple of seasons, and the team did not want to lose Sam Kennedy to another organization. (He had been wooed by the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs about a president position.)

Changes within the Red Sox continue, and I didn't see this one coming. I wish Larry Lucchino well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shane Exits With Class

The dismantling of the Red Sox began in earnest on Monday, as Shane Victorino was traded to the LA Angels for utility infielder Josh Rutledge.

The Flyin' Hawaiian stamped his name into Red Sox legend with two enormous hits that will forever be remembered: the 2013 Game 6 ALCS home run that put the Red Sox ahead to stay against Detroit, and the triple that cleared the bases against St. Louis in Game 6 of the World Series.

Injuries have derailed the last two seasons for Victorino, and now he moves to a contender in Anaheim.

And Shane leaves the Red Sox with class:


All the best Shane, and I'll never hear this song again without thinking of you:


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thanks For The Memories, Pedro

We all know this has been a lost season for the Red Sox, and the less said and written about this on-going travesty, the better.

Today, before many thousands of fans at Cooperstown, NY, Pedro Martinez will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz. All four men are indeed worthy of induction.

The festivities will be broadcast on MLB Network at 1:30 PM today. I will be watching, and listening to what should be an entertaining speech Pedro is sure to give.

Pedro will also have his number 45 retired by the Red Sox this coming Tuesday night before the game at Fenway with the White Sox. That is sure to be fun as well.

Fans have been posting their favorite Pedro moments and games on Facebook over the course of the last few days. I had the pleasure to be at Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS at Fenway, where Pedro beat the Yankees and Roger Clemens, 12-1. He was simply dominant that night, and it being a postseason game, meant so much more. That is my favorite memory of him with me being in the building.

But my favorite of all is what I call the best pitched game I have ever seen.

On September 10, 1999, Pedro and the Sox faces New York at Yankee Stadium. The Sox were still in the race for the AL east title, trailing the Yankees by 6 1/2 games with 21 to go. Pedro hit Chuck Knoblauch, the first batter, and he was caught stealing. In the second inning, Chili Davis hit a shot into the right field bleachers to make it 1-0 New York.

Little did anyone realize that Davis would be the last Yankee to reach base.

Mike Stanley hit a two-run homer in the 6th, and Jose Offerman had an RBI single in the ninth to give Pedro all the offensive support he'd need.

In the bottom of the fourth, Bernie Williams grounded out to third. Of the remaining 15 batters Pedro faced, 12 would strike out, 2 would foul out, and Scott Brosius will lead off the sixth by flying out to left. That was the last fair ball the Yankees would hit in that game.

It was sheer dominance. Seeing the Dominican fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers putting up Ks and rooting Pedro and the Sox home to victory was simply surreal. Pedro was knocking down the Yankees like bowling pins, and they had their "A" team out there that night. (And would win the World Series the following month.)

It still is the best game I have ever seen (and I saw it on TV; wish I could have been there live).

Congratulations to Pedro on the well-earned trip to immortality today.

Here are the edited highlights from that night. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Say Goodbye To Hollywood & The 2015 Season

I had a bad feeling about the Red Sox after that last game against the Yankees before the All-Star break.

The Sox had been playing going into that final game, and needed to win it to take the series. New York won, 8-6. And it left me with the feeling that they were going to come out flat in Anaheim. I just didn't think it was going to be THIS bad.

I looked at the schedule and saw the first ten games after the break with three contenders: LA Angels, Houston and Detroit. It was 10 games, and figured the Red Sox needed to go at least 7-3 if they had any hope of getting back in the race, and 4-3 on the opening 7-game road trip.

Both are impossible now. The first ever four game sweep in Anaheim by the Angels over the Sox put that to rest, and pretty much any hope the Red Sox had given their fans after a decent three-week stretch in late June and early July.

The numbers are simply putrid.

The Sox scored just 4 runs in 36 innings in the four games, the first time since 1965 they scored as few as four runs in a four-game series. They never had the lead in any of the four, and the last three runs were scored in garbage time of the final game. Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez went a combined 0-for-44. With the exception of Wade Miley's brilliant 7 innings on Friday, the starters were awful. LA outscored them 22-4. They ran into a hot Angels team, who are now in first place in the AL West, having won 15 of 18. Take nothing away from their starters, who were brilliant in the four game sweep.

The Sox bats were still in the All-Star break. What does that say about the motivation on this team? Not very much. They are now 42-51, 9 games behind New York in the AL East, and are tied with Seattle for the worst record in the American League.

I was waiting until the White Sox series next week to see whether the Red Sox were buyers or sellers for the July 31st trade deadline. Now, it's pretty clear. They are absolutely sellers. I think even the most cockeyed optimist of fans realizes that now.

Time to put together a plan for 2016.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Take a Break. Then Improve the Pitching.

Back in early April, if I had said to you that between the Red Sox and Yankees, one team would be 48-40 in first place, and the other 42-47 in fifth place, who would you have put where?

Yep, me too.

That the first half of the 2015 season has been a major disappointment for the Red Sox is not any startling news. The front office rolled the dice with the pitching staff and it has mostly come up lemons. Justin Masterson has been a complete flop, Joe Kelly is starting in AAA (maybe he should be relieving in Boston?), and Wade Miley has been too wildly inconsistent. Clay Buchholz has returned yet again to the DL, but Eduardo Rodriguez has shown real promise. And we'll see stud rookie lefthander Brian Johnson for the first time shortly after the break.

The bullpen? Yikes. No one trustworthy other than Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.

If New York wins 88 games (the pace they are on right now), the Sox would have to go 47-26 in order to pass them. A tall order to say the least.

It's pretty clear that if the Red Sox are still withing shouting distance of first place by July 31, the pitching needs major improvement. Who to go after? That is still to be determined, and the bidding wars for those available will get going soon. Buchholz' loss makes getting a quality starter even more important than ever.

The offense got it cranking in June and early July. They have played more like they were advertised, and the fact the Sox went 15-9 to conclude the first half is testament to that. And it appears Dustin Pedroia will return to the lineup this weekend in Anaheim.

Losing the last series to New York this past weekend hurts, as 4 1/2 back and winning a series from your first-place rivals sounds a whole lot better than being 6 1/2 back. I can't say my optimism is overflowing for the second half beginning, as the Sox start it off with seven games against the two-best teams in AL West, the LA Angels and Houston Astros, both on the road.

I would recommend most fans take a break from this frustrating season for a few days. While the math doesn't say the Red Sox are done by any stretch, there's little room for error as the second half begins. A bad road trip could make the Sox sellers by July 31st. We'll just have to see.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Race Gets Tighter

It's starting to get interesting for the Red Sox in the AL East.

The Red Sox swept two games from the Miami Marlins, and have now won four games in a row for the first time in 2015. The 6-3 win last night means the Sox have won nine of their last twelve, and thirteen of their last twenty. On June 20th, they were 10 games back. Today, they sit just 5 games behind New York, and 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in fourth. No one in front of them has played better than .500 ball over the last 10 days, and the Sox have taken advantage of that.

Last night's win was important mainly for Rick Porcello, who has been absolutely awful. Of all the pitchers who qualify for the ERA title race in the AL, Porcello was dead last at 6.08 going into last night's game.

Porcello was very good, going six innings and allowing just two earned runs. His ERA with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate is noticeably lower, and this was his his first start since Hanigan returned from his injury.

And very quietly, Koji Uehara seems to have regained his 2013 form. He was once again 1-2-3 in the ninth, and he has now allowed just one base runner in the last 29 he has faced, compiling 21 saves.

Now, the Evil Empire returns to Boston this weekend, in the first important series with New York in quite some time. It is the last series before the All-Star break, so the Sox can end the first half on a high note by taking this three-game set.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Is That Light I See Ahead In This Tunnel?

Well, all of a sudden, guess who the hottest team in the AL East is?

Yes, your Boston Red Sox.

The Sox took 2 of 3 from the AL West-leading Houston Astros at Fenway this past weekend. (Easily could have been a sweep if not for some bad base running and some questionable bullpen moves.) They've won three consecutive series, and 12 of their last 19 games. They are averaging 5.5 runs per game over that 19-game stretch, best in MLB.

Granted, the division is not strong at all. I wouldn't get too overly excited just yet. The Red Sox still trail New York by 6 games, and fourth place Toronto by four games. But no one ahead of them is hot right now, and no one appears ready to pull away from the pack.

But the signs are pointing in the right direction. The Sox have just five games left before the All-Star break: 2 with Miami and three with New York, all at Fenway.

BTW, a really odd thing happened yesterday. As David Ortiz played first base in an AL game for the first time since 2006 (Mike Napoli is THAT bad at the plate right now), not one putout was recorded at first base, the first time ever in team history that has happened.

And on the subject of Papi at first base, I don't think it's a bad thing to see him at first base a little more often. It allows Hanley Ramirez to DH, as he is no stellar outfielder. But Ortiz is not the butcher at first base he's made out to be. The last time he made an error at first was in 2009. (Granted that is only 28 regular season games since 2010, and doesn't include the World Series games he's played in, which he actually played flawless defense.) Sure, he's no Gold Glover by any stretch of the imagination, but putting him there once in a while might help. He would be exposed if he played first regularly. But Hanley Ramirez in left scares me a lot more.

Yes, put Papi on first base, and no one wants to throw the ball to him. Very odd.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Halfway There

They're teasing us again.

The Red Sox hit the halfway point of the 2015 season last night, with a 12-6 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto. They had the biggest first inning of the season, scoring 8 runs off a rookie named Matt Boyd, who faced seven hitters, and they all scored. (And how many of you were like me, thinking Wade Miley was going to give away that big lead in the 2nd?) David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez hit back-to-back home runs in that inning. It was a glimpse of a Red Sox team we thought we'd be seeing a lot more of 2015.

Last night was Game 81 of the 2015 season. The Sox conclude the first half at 37-44, six games out of first place, five games out of second. They ended it winning 5 of 7 on the road trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Once again, the Red Sox are fortunate that there is no strong team in the AL East. Right now, the top four teams are separated by just one game in the standings. The Red Sox are the only fifth-place team that is not double-digits out of first place.

So, is there hope? The math may say yes, but this team still has to play consistently well, especially inside their division, to have a chance. And the month of July is no cakewalk. They play six games with Houston, three with New York, four with the LA Angels, three with Detroit, and one with Tampa Bay (to end the month), all teams with playoff aspirations. The Sox went 14-14 in June. Nothing to shout about, but it was much better than the awful May they had, where they finished a putrid 10-19.

The trading deadline is four weeks away, so are the Red Sox buyers or sellers? I would have to say now it maybe too early to tell. It will really depend on where they stand the morning of July 31st. There are really only seven teams right now who appear to be completely out of it right now (PHI, CIN, MIL, SEA, OAK, CHW and COL).

This holiday weekend's series at Fenway with the surprising AL West-leading Houston Astros will tell us a lot about where the Red Sox are heading right now, and if they can carry some of that newly built momentum home against a playoff contender. I'm not loaded with optimism, but things look a lot better than they did after losing 2 of 3 to Baltimore last week. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Look To The Future Now

It's time to look at the future. Time to play the kids.

I wasn't jumping for joy with the week the Red Sox had last week. They split four games with the Atlanta Braves, and then went to Kansas City and took two of three from the defending AL champion Royals, with the last game being a convincing 13-2 win. The Sox had also been awoken at the plate, having a team .294 batting average for the month of June, best in MLB.

But my fears were confirmed when they returned to Fenway and dropped two of three to division rival Baltimore. The Sox are now an abysmal 11-22 against the AL East (and they have a winning record outside the division), and 4-9 against the Orioles.

On May 31st, the Sox stood at 22-29, 4 games back in the AL East. I took a look at the schedule for June, and it appeared to be favorable to the Sox, with most of their opponents at or below .500. They had 28 games this month, and I figured they needed to go at least 16-12 in order to get back to some respectability and try to get back in the AL East race.

That now officially won't happen with yesterday's loss, as they are now 10-13 with five games remaining in June. I think even the most cockeyed of Red Sox optimists realize it just isn't happening in 2015, and Dustin Pedroia heading for the DL just adds to the misery.

Time for the Sox to turn the page on 2015 and look to next year. Jackie Bradley Jr. returned from Pawtucket yesterday, where he was having a terrific year and went 2-for-4 at the plate and threw out a runner at home in the ninth inning. Time to put Bradley in right field and leave him there. For the player's own well-being, they should see what he can do the rest of the way, and make a decision on him: keep him or trade him.

Eduardo Rodriguez got rapped around the second time through the Baltimore order yesterday, after retiring the first 10 hitters he faced. But the kid is still the goods, and will be a top-notch starter in year's to come. He is someone you can build a future rotation around. He's taking his lumps, but that is expected. He'll be an All-Star sooner rather than later. And we should be seeing the much-heralded Brian Johnson called up for a start shortly. He is 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA at Pawtucket.

Joe Kelly, who in March predicted he'd win the Cy Young Award this year, was sent down to AAA yesterday after yet another rocky start. He still has terrific stuff at times, and I can see him being the future closer of the Red Sox. He maybe one of those guys who is better suited to a one or two inning role in 2016.

The Sox will obviously be sellers on July 31. They have a few pieces they can move, like Mike Napoli for instance (although they won't get much for him). Quite frankly, they are stuck with guys like Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello. The future is with guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley. They'll be worth coming out to see when the standings say the Red Sox as a group aren't worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hideous

No, I'm not talking about the latest Red Sox loss. (And the less said and written on that subject, the better.)

I'm talking about those new hats that MLB will debut for this year's All-Star Game. My first question about them is: why a new hat?

One of the special parts about baseball's All-Star Game (there aren't many left to be honest) is that each player wears his complete regular-season uniform, where as in other sports all-star games they all have to wear the same uniform, due to the nature of the sport. (And they usually are nothing to write home about anyway.)

I can only think of one reason: money. Something else for MLB to promote and make money off of. They could at least put together something a little more pleasing to the eye, and almost classic, like the hats the Pittsburgh Pirates wore on occasion in the 1970s (see above). I always thought they were pretty cool.

I know, I'm a traditionalist, and I'm guessing in the world today that is not looked upon as a good thing. But MLB could have come up with something far better than what they debuted yesterday. And of course, why do the players need to wear something special at the All-Star Game anyway? The "special" rapidly disappeared a long time ago.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bad Times Don't Diminish 2013

Times are bad, folks.

No use in recapping a truly awful weekend, as most of you either saw it or heard about it.

The AL East is now a four-team race, as the others are either playing well or in a position to make a run. (Remember how everyone was calling the division the worst in MLB? It is now the only division with four teams at .500 or better.) The Red Sox are the lone exception, now five games out of fourth place, and they are the second-worst team in the AL. And falling fast.

And now the question must be asked: will the Red Sox lose 100 games this year? Not out of the question, after the recent putrid displays of baseball I've recently seen.

I'm no longer angry. All my anger is used up. I'm just numb.

Bad trades, bad free agent signings, bad contract extensions. An unholy mess. Will John Farrell and/or Ben Cherington survive the season? It's looking more doubtful by the day.

And to conclude. I love these so-called "fans" (and so-called "pundits") who now want to practically disregard the 2013 World Series championship as either a "fluke" or an "aberration." It was neither. You DO NOT win 108 games and a title on just luck. And certainly not on a "fluke." A lot of things went very right in 2013. And the Sox earned their 2013 championship. That is forever. That cannot be changed. EVER.

It has been sandwiched around some bad teams. That's a fact, too. It seems to me a lot of these "critics" seem to forget the really "bad old days" of the early 1990s, when a championship seemed like an elusive dream that we might never see in our lifetimes, as the Sox were mired in mediocrity. But we did. Three times in this century. That should never, ever be lost in what is a team that has gone completely off the tracks.

Yeah, times are bad. Very bad. But remember there have been some very good times in the recent past. Nothing changes that, even if some want to harp on the negatives since 2011.

The Sox won it all in 2013, just two years ago. Deal with it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

As The Season Circles The Drain

So much for getting the season back on the right track.

The Red Sox sweep over the Oakland A's last week proved to be an aberration, as they promptly got swept in Baltimore. And it wasn't pretty.

Eduardo Rodriguez is the best thing I can say about this team right now. He was stellar in his third MLB start on Tuesday night, going six innings and allowing no runs, while striking out seven. He deserved a win, but naturally the offense couldn't be bothered to make an appearance, and the Orioles won, 1-0, and on a wild pitch that scored the only run.

And the next night was no better, as Baltimore won again, 5-2. Rick Porcello, who is being paid like an ace but sure isn't pitching like one, and allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The offense was gone by the sixth inning, as the last nine men went down feebly in order to end the game.

Last night completed Baltimore's sweep, 6-5. Wade Miley had absolutely nothing, giving up five runs, including three home runs, in four innings. And then had the nerve to question John Farrell over being removed at that point. The offense showed some life in the top of the fourth, getting three runs, which included a two-run double by Pablo Sandoval. it was 4-3 and Miley proceeded to give up a bomb of a HR to Manny Machado. Miley didn't have a clean inning. Farrell had no choice.

Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons had plenty to say about this mess afterwards:



It now leaves the Red Sox back in last place, at 27-34, seven games behind New York. And now, one of MLB's hottest teams, the Toronto Blue Jays, come to Fenway on an eight-game winning streak.

So, when do NFL training camps open again?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Best Win of the Year So Far

Well, if this comeback doesn't jump start the Red Sox season, nothing will.

The Sox took the first two games from the Oakland A's this past weekend, but by the fourth inning of Sunday's game, it appeared a sweep over the worst team in the AL wasn't in the cards. Clay Buchholz was struggling, and had given up four runs after the fourth. The Sox could do little with Kendall Graveman, who allowed only six hits and one run after seven plus innings.

But the A's went to the pen in the eighth, and they exploded for seven runs, right after Rusney Castillo's first home run of 2015. Xander Bogaerts had the big blow, a two-run double to put the Sox up to stay at 5-4. (Castillo also drove in the last run on an RBI single.) Tommy Layne pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save and preserved a 7-4 Red Sox victory.

It was the first time all year that the Red Sox came from four runs down to win. It was also the first time they won three straight since the second week of April.

The Red Sox pulled themselves out of last place with the win, and sit at 27-31, 5 1/2 games behind New York.

The Sox have a favorable schedule for June. They are 5-2 since June 1, with 21 more games to play for the month. The only opponents they play that have winning records are Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

I know, I know. They are suckering us in again. But they really need to go at least 16-12 this month to get the ship in the right direction and show they are serious about getting back in the AL East race.

We'll see.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

A Lifeless Loss Against a Nobody

Last night's lifeless 2-0 Red Sox loss in the second game of a doubleheader opened my eyes.

After beating a decent Twins pitcher in Game 1, Phil Hughes, 6-1, they were facing somebody named Trevor May. I never heard of him, so I had to look up his stats. And they were nothing to write home about.

He was 3-3, with an ERA over 5.00. He is 6-9 over two seasons, with a career ERA of 6.42. This is the kind of pitcher the Sox would (and should) beat up on, if they are serious about getting into the AL East race.

They looked absolutely impotent against this guy. May allowed only two base runners, both on hits in the third inning. He went seven innings, striking out nine, and retired the final 13 hitters he faced. The Twins pen then retired the final six batters for the shutout win. I don't take anything away from May, but he's not Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale. If you're serious about being a contender, you have to feast against a pitcher like this, not make him look like Bob Gibson. And especially in front of your home fans. Last night was simply an embarrassment in the middle of an embarrassing season.

After a convincing 6-1 win in the opener, where Eduardo Rodriguez looked superb in seven innings in his second MLB start, the momentum died as Game 2 began. Rick Porcello was terrific, going eight innings, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits, with no walks. He allowed two runs in the second, his only trouble the entire game.

If I had quoted those stats to you before the game, and said some guy with a career ERA over 6.00 was going for Minnesota, you'd figure an easy win for the Sox, right?

Guess again. Yet again, the Red Sox offense showed absolutely nothing, and at home, which is no longer a Red Sox fortress. No fire, no spark. And with that no guts and no heart. My eyes are seeing things more clearly: that this team has no business being near a pennant race. Outside of players like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, they seem comfortable, and content with losing. And that makes me really angry as a fan. Did you also notice the empty seats in both games of the doubleheader yesterday? And with Hanley Ramirez feebly striking out to end Game 2, the boos from the crowd could be heard on TV.

I'd really like this team to prove me wrong. But I'm betting they won't. I'll predict they will not see .500 again in 2015, not with half-assed offensive efforts like yesterday's Game 2.

I'm not one to yell for firings, as that isn't the answer to this team's problems. But if they crash and burn again into a fourth or fifth place finish this year, some major changes need to be made when it all ends.

I'm getting tired of this act, and I know many other Sox fans feel like I do.I've seen enough lifeless baseball from this team already. And it isn't even summer yet.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Don't Look At Me, I Don't Have Any Answers

So which loss was worse in the two games that ended the Red Sox 1-6 road trip: Saturday or Sunday?

Saturday was a lifeless 8-0 drubbing by Texas, in a game the Red Sox weren't in from the get-go. The Rangers scored a run in the first, and the Sox didn't get their first hit against Chi Chi Gonzalez (wasn't he a golfer?), who was making his MLB debut, until the 6th inning. It was yet another embarrassing loss in season where they have been piling up in 2015. No hit, no pitch, no field (three errors). A lethal combination.

Sunday was a game where the Red Sox scored a run in the first, but Joe Kelly gave it back in the bottom of the inning (this trend of giving up runs to start the game must stop), but the Sox got the lead at 3-2 by the sixth. Kelly went the first five, and the bullpen was terrific until the ninth.

Pablo Sandoval made his second error of the game (he has been less than stellar at third so far), and that opened the gates for Texas. With a man on third and two outs, John Farrell had Koji Uehara walk the red-hot Prince Fielder, and took his chances with the just-returned Josh Hamilton, who came up as a pinch hitter and promptly doubled in both runs to give Texas a 4-3 win and they took three out of four in the series.

So, to answer the above question: Sunday was far worse. One out from victory, and the Rangers never led in the game until the final pitch. Beyond brutal. Social media is hammering Farrell for walking Fielder, but that was a pick-your-poison moment. What if Fielder had driven in the tying run, or worse, blasted a game-winning home run? "You should have walked Fielder!" the armchair managers would have been screaming in unison.

May ends a truly awful month for the Red Sox. They went 10-19, and had one of the worst month of May in their history. They averaged just 2.83 runs per game in the 29 contests, which is the third lowest rate in club history, behind just the 1906 and 1907 teams. (Thanks to Joy of Sox for the stats.) Once again, everyone knows they are in a very weak AL East, as they are just 4 games behind New York and Tampa Bay, who lead with paltry 26-25 records.

Simply stated, the Sox are a complete mess. Don't be fooled by the number of games back they are. I'm not going to sit back and offer any solutions as to what's going on. I have none. This is a team that has just not clicked since they started the year at 7-3. They are 13-26 since. That's .333 ball, folks. I don't know if firing John Farrell is any answer, who continues to remain calm through this never-ending storm.

I'd like to remain optimistic, but my optimism took a direct hit yesterday. It was one of those bad losses that can sink a season. Yeah, the math says 2015 isn't over, but really, what does your heart say?

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Glimpse of the Future in Arlington Last Night


The Red Sox gave Eduardo Rodriguez his first start in Texas last night, and the much-hyped pitching prospect sure didn't disappoint.

The lefty went 7 2/3 innings, allowed just three hits and two walks, no runs to a hot Texas Rangers lineup. He struck out five, and was never really in any serious trouble throughout the game. He showed lots of poise, and never seemed overwhelmed or intimidated.

It was the best MLB debut by a Red Sox starter since Billy Rohr's legendary near-no-hitter against the Yankees in 1967, when he pitched a shutout.

Even before Rodriguez' start last night, manager John Farrell said that no matter how it went that he would be returning to Pawtucket after it was over. But really, how do you send him back now?

Granted this is just one start, and he hasn't won any Cy Young Awards yet. But for a much-maligned starting rotation that has been much better of late, I don't see how you send back just yet. Rodriguez has earned a second look at the MLB level. He will probably be sent back at some point. But give him that first start at Fenway next week.

The moribund offense also came alive last night, especially Hanley Ramirez, who hit a bomb of a home run off Nick Martinez last night for the second Sox run. It was also nice to see the struggling Blake Swihart get two hits and drive in two runs that put the game on ice in the 8th inning.

It's been a slog of a season so far, but Eduardo Rodriguez sure gave Red Sox fans something to hope for last night. There's a long way to go, but the future may have been on display in Arlington, Texas last night.

And I hope NO ONE calls him "E-Rod."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Squandering Good Pitching Again and Again

This is getting monotonous, don't you think?

Another night of the Red Sox pitchers throwing well, and the hitters not showing up.

They dropped the series to the lowly Texas Rangers, who were struggling coming into the series. They were befuddled by two Texas lefties who aren't exactly household names.

The Red Sox offensive numbers over the last eight games are simply butt ugly. They are averaging less than 2 runs a game over the course of those games, while they have gotten a quality start from their starters in every game. They are 4-4 in those games, and with some decent support, could be 8-0.

The Sox fell behind 2-0 in the first inning last night with Clay Buchholz on the mound, and it was 3-1 by the fourth. Didn't it feel like they were 10-1 instead? That's what the pitiful lack of production has made it feel like, even when the opposition lead isn't insurmountable.

They left 12 men on base on Wednesday night, and could manage just one run. They are a staggering 0-for-12 with the bases loaded for the month of May.

OK, I'll stop there, as I could roll out many more depressingly pitiful offensive numbers, from a team that was suppose to be one of the dominant offensive forces in baseball.

Some good news: they are only three back in the rather weak AL East at 19-22. And rumors are flying that Rusney Castillo is about to be called up. He won't be a "savior" for this offense, but he could provide a spark the team desperately needs.

And sure beats watching Daniel Nava and his .172 average in right field.

Monday, May 18, 2015

An Even Split On The Road

That was one bizarre road trip the Red Sox just came off of.

They lost the first two games in Toronto by wide margins, right after firing pitching coach Juan Nieves. I was hoping they could split the ten games and not fall into last place to stay in the AL East. I thought after the first resounding defeats we'd see a 2-8 or 1-9 road trip.

Carl Willis took over as pitching coach on the last game in Toronto, and all of a sudden the pitching turned around in a hurry. (Coincidence? Perhaps.)

They beat the Blue Jays that Sunday, then went to Oakland and won the series there, and split four games in Seattle this past weekend, including beating Felix Hernandez on Saturday. They came out of the ten-game road trip 5-5.

The Sox had only one badly pitched game out west, losing the second game in Oakland, 9-2. Rick Porcello pitched two very good games and beat Hernandez. Wade Miley pitched well in Oakland and got a win, pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings. Clay Buchholz was terrific last Friday night, allowing just a run in eight innings in Seattle while striking out 11. Rookie reliever Matt Barnes got two wins out of the pen this past week, and the bullpen overall was excellent.

But what also was on display out west was the Red Sox offense struggling mightily. They were shutout on Sunday, scored just one run on Friday in a loss, and two in wins on Wednesday and Thursday.

Now, you can thank goodness for the excellent pitching this past week, or this would really have been a disasterous trip out west.

The Sox are averaging 3.97 runs per game overall, which ranks them 12th overall in the AL, and have scored two or fewer runs 15 out of 38 games so far in 2015. Pretty feeble.

Once again, they are fortunate the AL East is not a strong division. They sit right now in third place, 3 1/2 games behind New York, at 18-20.

Time to get the bats heated up again. The Sox start a six-game homestand tomorrow with the Rangers and Angels.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Time To Go West

When I looked at the Red Sox schedule last Friday and saw a 10-game trip to Toronto, Oakland and Seattle, I figured they'd have to split the trip in order to get back on track.

It sure didn't start out encouraging.

Two lifeless defeats to the Blue Jays, 7-0, and 7-1. More games where the Sox didn't hit or pitch well at all. And changes began happening.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves was fired and replaced by former Indians and Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis. Edward Mujica was DFA'd and traded to the A's. Allen Craig and Robbie Ross were both sent down to Pawtucket, replaced by Jackie Bradley and Steven Wright.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia held a players-only meeting after Saturday's loss. In the short run, it seems to have helped.

Clay Buchholz went to the mound in yesterday's finale, and was given a 4-0 lead in the first, capped by a Mike Napoli three-run blast. Buchholz walked three in that inning, but a double play helped him out. It looked like another one of those games, but Clay settled down, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara slammed the down to the get the Sox a much needed win, 6-3.

At this point, the Red Sox can really only look internally for help. Any pitching quality that teams might want to trade will not go until the July 31st deadline. At this point, their appear to be no changes to the rotation, but that could change if the next seven games prove to be a continuing misery.

BTW, how bad was Craig? Alex Speier had this incredible tidbit.

Of the 591 non-pitchers who've made at least 100 plate appearances in a Sox uniform, he has the all-time lowest BA, at .130 in 53 games. Talk about historically awful. This was from the same guy who led MLB in batting average with runners in scoring position in 2013. With Joe Kelly's struggles, it is making the John Lackey trade of last July 31 look like the worst move Ben Cherington has yet done. The Sox are stuck with Craig for two more years at $25 million. Maybe the Cardinals knew something. Yikes.

So, can the Sox take 4 of 7 from the A's and Mariners? The west coast has always been hard historically for the Red Sox, but neither team is doing well right now. (Nobody but Houston is over .500 in their division.) Right now, the Sox sit at 14-17, 5 1/2 games back.

Granted, nobody wins a pennant in May. But you can fall hopelessly out in May. It's an important week for the boys, make no mistake about that. Rick Porcello, who has been good the last two times out, begins the series in Oakland tonight.

Friday, May 08, 2015

The First Heads Roll At Fenway

As the Red Sox pitching struggles continued through Wednesday night, they took action on their Thursday off day on two fronts.


They fired pitching coach Juan Nieves. The Sox are ranked dead last in ERA in the AL, and next-to-last in MLB. Somebody as to take the fall for this slow start, and as the old saying goes "you can't fire the players," so Nieves is out. He was the pitching coach since 2013, and the Sox won it all in his first season. So, I guess he's gone from genius to dummy.

Will this have any long term positive effect on the pitching staff? Hard to say, as they have not named a replacement for him. Many people in the media are painting Nieves as a scapegoat for the Red Sox pitching troubles, and they maybe right. He didn't put together this underwhelming starting staff. I believe that is Ben Cherington's call.

Cherington said this yesterday:
"John and I simply got to the point where we felt that, in order to continue to push forward and make improvements, we needed to make a change and have a different voice in that particular position."

Make of that what you will.

Actually, the Red Sox did "fire" a player on Thursday, as the long national Edward Mujica nightmare has come to an end, as he was designated for assignment. He was a disaster of a free agent signing before the 2014 season, and this season he got off to a lousy start, with a 4.61 ERA in 13 innings. He blew the save in Yankee Stadium in early April that led to the 19 inning marathon the Sox eventually won.

It may be time to flush out more dead wood like Mujica, and the Sox brought up young reliever Matt Barnes to take his place. More moves are sure to follow.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Hangin' With Pedro

I had the distinct of pleasure of going to the book signing in Manhattan yesterday that featured one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, Pedro Martinez, autographing his new biography, "Pedro."

It was at the Barnes & Noble store on East 54th Street and 3rd Avenue. I got there just before noon, and there was a long line snaking its way around the second floor. Pedro showed up at exactly 12:30, the scheduled time, to much fanfare. He was warmly applauded, and he waved to the crowd, and got going signing his book.

I figured it would take about one hour to reach him, and literally when the clock struck 1: 30, there I was. Pedro was chatting with the fans as he was autographing. Oddly, he wasn't personalizing any copies, but he was taking selfies with the fans.

When I reached him, there was just one thing I wanted to tell him.

"Thanks Pedro, for making my life in New York City so much more bearable."

He let out a big laugh as he handed me the book.


I said the same thing to John Henry and Tom Werner (when I met them in a bar in 2007), Johnny Damon (at the signing of his book in 2005), and Terry Francona (when signing his book in 2013). And I got the same response each time. Smiles and laughter.

I couldn't hang too long, as there was a huge turnout and the Barnes & Noble people wanted to keep the line moving. But I enjoyed my brief time with one of the Red Sox all-time greats on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Take The High Road, Willie

Apparently, somebody hit home run number 660 last night.

The device has yet to be invented that can measure my indifference to the previous sentence.

I'm mostly pissed because it was the difference in the Red Sox' 3-2 loss to New York. And at that dumbass fan who reached out and may have taken an RBI away from Ryan Hanigan last night.

My sympathies to Willie Mays. But I'm sure he'll take the high road in all this, just as Hank Aaron did eight years ago when confronted with a similar situation.

And that's all I'll say on that subject.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

So That's What a Well-Pitched Game Looks Like

In case you missed it last night, the Red Sox actually had a pitcher go seven innings and get a win.

Rick Porcello allowed just one run on three hits. He was superb in shutting down the Blue Jays as the Sox took two of three from Toronto, 4-1.

All the news was good on Wednesday. Hanley Ramirez hit his 10th home run of 2015, tied for the MLB lead with Nelson Cruz. He tied the team record for most home runs hit prior to May 1st.

Mookie Betts made another highlight-reel catch in center field, and the late inning bullpen team of Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara shut down Toronto in the last two innings. Koji looked vintage as he struck out the side in the ninth.

Yeah, it's been a rough last week pitching-wise for the Red Sox. I don't listen to sports radio any more, as it is a haven for knuckleheads. But I'll bet the cry on Boston radio has been for a shake up of the starting staff. Everyone wants to trade Wade Miley or Clay Buchholz. It just isn't happening right now. The Sox will go with the five they have now, and not rush any of their blue chip prospects up right now, like Brian Johnson or Eduardo Rodriguez.

And forget any deal for Cole Hamels right now. Prices are way too high, and the Phillies are content to wait until the deadline on July 31st. They clearly aren't going anywhere, so they can sit back and wait it out. Someone will blink and make them the best offer then. And there will be many teams going after Hamels, especially if he puts up good numbers this season.

And now, the Evil Empire makes its first trip to Fenway this weekend, with Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly taking the hill. The Sox have allowed 119 runs in 22 games this year, the most in MLB. They need more games like last night to stem that tide. The Sox are not in a strong division, but averaging nearly 5 1/2 runs given up a game is not the recipe for any long term success.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Keep Calm. The Sox Will Pitch Better.

I got an interesting email from my friend Adam yesterday, who I have quoted from time to time on this blog. He is a dedicated Red Sox fan like I am, and this was from him about the struggles of the Sox' starting staff after Sunday's loss in Baltimore.

19 games is way too early to panic. All five members of the rotation have major-league track records that say they are solid. A stat like ERA are generally non-predictive because it doesn't really reflect individual performance. Right now, the Sox' rotation sits 8th of 15 AL teams by FIP; they're 6th best by xFIP and 5th by SIERA. Their results haven't matched their performance. In other words, they've been unlucky. While Miley's BB- and K-rates are a bit of a worry, we're only talking about 4 starts. Porcello has been pretty unlucky. 

 He sports a ridiculous 20.7% HR/FB, almost twice his career number. Remember when people like Buster Olney were talking about "red flags" and Clay Buchholz in the same sentence? If you take the MFY game away, Buchholz has thrown 19 inning in 3 starts, allowing 3 ER, and has struck out 26, while walking only 5 hitters. 

 I'm not saying Buchholz has "turned the corner." It's impossible to evaluate players based on a 19-game sample, and it's even harder to determine how good pitchers are based on 4 starts. Look, right now Jon Lester is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA. Is he a bust? Nope. He has a proven track record and FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all like him so far this year. The point is, Buchholz, Porcello, Miley, Kelly, and Masterson are solid veteran starters. One, two, or three bad starts are not predictive of a bad season. 

The Sox' IF defense is fine, assuming Bogaerts can play SS. Panda, Pedey, and Napoli are good defenders. Boston is also pretty solid behind the plate. In the OF, Betts is decent in CF and Victorino, when healthy, is good in RF. Hanley and Craig are awful, and Nava is average at best. 

 BTW, for those of you wondering, "FIP" is Fielding Independent Pitching, and it measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing. "xFIP" is Expected Fielding Independent Pitching and it is calculated in the same way as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s home run total with an estimate of how many home runs they should have allowed given the number of fly balls they surrendered while assuming a league average home run to fly ball percentage. And "SIERA" is Skill Interactive Earned Run Average, and it estimates ERA through walk rate, strikeout rate and ground ball rate, eliminating the effects of defense, park and luck.

Friday, April 24, 2015

"The League of Outsider Baseball"


I just read a fascinating new book about some of the lesser known heroes of baseball throughtout the years, called "The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes."

It was put together by a professional artist and illustrator named Gary Cieradkowski. He searched the four corners of the baseball world for some of the most obscure baseball stories, and each subject has an illustration in the form of a portrait, almost like an old time baseball card.

There are plenty of the game's famous names included, like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Lefty Grove and Ted Williams. But the book's main focus is on stories of the lesser known names from the game, and it spans all different places, like the Negro Leagues, Japanese and Latin American players, female players, and plenty of "barnstormers, journeymen, rogues and odd balls." (The latter in the words of the author.)

I was fascinated with his section on The Black Sox, the White Sox players who were banned after throwing the infamous 1919 World Series, and what they did following their expulsion for MLB. The book also includes plenty of tragic figures, like Reds' catcher Willard Hershberger, who committed suicide during the 1940 season, Eddie Gaedel, the midget who batted once for the St. Louis Browns in 1951, and plenty of others whose names may not sound familiar but whose baseball dreams never amounted to much.

I was also interested in reading the baseball careers that some famous people from other areas once had, like Frank Sinatra, George H. W. Bush, Fidel Castro and Jack Kerouac.

There are also plenty of "I didn't know that" moments in the book, like the career of the real-life Moonlight Graham, whose one game MLB career was the basis of the movie "Field of Dreams." And that there was a baseball league of expatriate Americans in Russia after World War I. (That can ultimately be filed under "baseball tragedies".)

I did find a mistake or two in the book, but it well worth getting not just for the research but the excellent artwork that Cieradkowski has done. The book will be released on May 5th. I highly recommend to any baseball fan who enjoys reading about those players who were a little "out there."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

15 Games: A Mixed Bag So Far

The first 15 Red Sox games of 2015 have been interesting to say the least.

The Sox are 9-6 and in first in the AL East. The division is very tight, as there is just two games separating top from bottom. They let one get away last night in St. Pete, as Joe Kelly blew a 5-1 lead in the 6th inning. He looked solid for the first five innings, but gave up four straight hits and a walk, and the game was tied at 5. In the next inning, John Farrell brought in Edward Mujica for some unknown reason, and he promptly gave up two runs, including a solo home run, and Tampa Bay went on to a 7-5 victory.

But once again, the Red Sox starters are NOT going deep in the game, and that is a concern. Starters have pitched at least 6 innings only 6 times so far this season, and that is clearly taxing the bullpen. The pen did a terrific job on Tuesday night in the 1-0 win over Tampa Bay, but couldn't get the job done last night.

Last night's game was also the 5th time the Sox have allowed 7 runs or more in a game. They are near the bottom in ERA in the AL right now.

The Sox will sink of swim with the five starters they have now. It's been mixed results so far, especially from Justin Masterson and Wade Miley. They were both solid this week, but both got lit up in their starts last week. Joe Kelly is averaging a strikeout an inning, and shows the stuff he can be a top-of-the-rotation guy. Rick Porcello has been bitten by the home run ball too much in the early going. And who knows which Clay Buchholz will show up on a given night.

I've been impressed with the Red Sox ability to make the opposition pay for their mistakes on defense so far. They lead MLB with 19 runs scored on unearned runs, and the opposition has made 22 errors against them so far. (The Sox won the 1-0 game on Tuesday after Mookie Betts slid hard into second and a DP throw was thrown away allowing Ryan Hanigan to score.) They are an opportunistic team so far.

And they haven't had a runner thrown out stealing yet this season, having gone 10-for-10 on the bases so far, the first time they have ever accomplished that feat.

In the 1-0 win on Tuesday, it was the first time since April 2005 the Sox won a 1-0 game on an unearned run. I remember the last time well, as I saw it live. It was the only time I have seen at a game a Camden Yards in Baltimore. And Matt Clement pitched eight scoreless innings that night for the win. Remember him? (My thanks to Allan at The Joy of Sox for the last two Red Sox factoids.)

There's a lot to like so far in this Red Sox season, and some things to be concerned about. It's a long year, so sit back and enjoy it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius"

As you all know, I am not a fan of the New York Yankees. But I was recently offered the chance to read a new book about the legendary manager Billy Martin, and I decided to give it a chance. It's called "Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius" by sportswriter Bill Pennington.

I'm glad I did.

It's the story of a complex man, who was best known for taking baseball teams and improving them and his legendary dustups with umpires. But he was far more than that. He led quite the colorful life, both on and off the field.

The book takes the reader back to Martin's days growing up in West Berkeley, California, and his eventual forays into organized baseball, and his relationship with Oakland Oaks and future Yankees manager Casey Stengel. Baseball was clearly Billy Martin's most important thing in life, even more than his family life.

But the book also highlights Martin away from the bright lights, delving into his religious faith. Billy was a devout Catholic. When he won the award for the 1953 World Series MVP, he was awarded a new car, a Cadillac. He very quietly gave the car to his local parish priest in West Berkeley, Father Dennis Moore, who had helped his family when they were struggling financially when he was growing up. He also spent many hours in church, looking above for guidance.

Pennington also portrays a man who was fascinated by history, and talked for hours on end with writers about subjects like the Civil War. But he also shows a man who had his demons, and alcoholism plays a very heavy role in the life of Billy Martin.

He also goes into great detail about some of the legendary incidents that Martin will forever be known for, such as the legendary fight at Copacabana in 1957 that eventually got him traded, his dugout confrontation with Reggie Jackson at Fenway Park in 1977, the fight in Baltimore with pitcher Ed Whitson in 1985 (that was especially interesting with all the minute details Pennington gives the reader), and many others.

No book about Billy Martin would be complete without a detailed description of his complex relationship with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. I thought Steinbrenner came off more sympathetic than anything else in this book. He hired/fired Billy 5 times, and had genuine affection for him. Steinbrenner was, of course, a paranoid blowhard, treated many employees like crap, but he is presented here more of a friend who cared for Billy. I suppose you could write a whole book just on their relationship alone, but that's for someone else to do.

Billy Martin clearly loved the limelight, and being a celebrity. He is also shown to be generous with people, such as giving outrageously high tips to regular people. But towards the end of his life, he is portrayed as a man looking for peace in his life. He had been through four marriages, and had settled outside of Binghamton, New York. But the old devil drink came back, after he had given it up for a while. And it would play a prominent role in the accident that caused his death on Christmas Day of 1989.

Martin was indeed a complex individual, and this new book takes us on a journey with this man, who 25 years after his sudden passing has been overlooked by many in the subject of MLB's best managers. "Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius" is definitely worth your time to read, whether he played for or managed your favorite team or not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Glove, Speed, Power. Mookie Does It All.


It was The Mookie Betts Show for the 104th Opening Day in the history of  Fenway Park yesterday.

And I am so glad I was there to witness it live and in person with The BLOHARDS.

Mookie made his presence known right away, as he robbed Bryce Harper of a two-run home run in the first inning, as he leaped high above the bullpen to snatch it. And in the bottom of the first, with David Ortiz batting and a shift on, Mookie, on first base, stole second, and then immediately high-tailed it over to third, as no one was covering the bag, and just made it ahead of pitcher Jordan Zimmermann's tag. It was just the 11th time in the last 100 years a player stole two bases on one play. (The last being Dustin Pedroia last August.) He scored on Papi's single for the first Red Sox run.

With the score 4-0, Mookie came up with two on in the second, and hit a line shot into the Monster seats for his second home run and it gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.

It was a really bad day all around for the Nationals, as two outfield misplays were centered around a four-run Red Sox third, and it was 8-0. They knocked out Zimmermann, who was charged with 7 earned runs. David Ortiz added a home run into the Monster seats in center in the sixth that made it 9-2.

Rick Porcello went eight solid innings, giving up four runs. The bullpen needed the rest after being stretched out twice in New York. Junichi Tazawa pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the 9-4 Opening Day win.

The Sox are now 10-1 in their last 11 openers at Fenway. But this day will be remembered for the heroics of one Markus Lynn Betts. We may have seen the emergence of a star yesterday.

And I'm so glad I was there to see it in real time.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Long Night's Journey Into Morning

I detest Edward Mujica.

I thought he was an awful free agent signing by the Red Sox after the 2013 World Series win. He was the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, and was so awful down the stretch, he was barely used by them in their run to the World Series. So for what ever unfathomable reason, the Sox signed him to a two-year deal. And with Koji Uehara's hamstring injury (thank God he returns on Monday), John Farrell made him the temporary closer. Yikes.

And he gave it up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, allowing a game-tying home run to a struggling Chase Headley. The game goes to extra-innings. 10 extra-innings.

It was the longest game by time in Red Sox history: 6 hours and 49 minutes. It included a 16-minute power outage delay in the 12th inning, and the Sox scoring runs in the 16th (David Ortiz' first HR of 2015) and 18th innings, only for New York to tie it both times.

The Sox scored the game winner in the 19th on Mookie Betts' sacrifice fly in the top of the 19th. They turned a sparkling DP started by Xander Bogaerts to conclude matters at 2:13 AM. The Red Sox used up the entire bullpen, with Steven Wright pitching the last four innings for his first win.

I think Steven Wright can put this gritty performance into his collection of his "Very Best Of":


The only longer game between the two rivals was in 1967, with New York winning the second game of a doubleheader (remember those?) in 20 innings.

The teams play their second game of the weekend series at 1 PM today. Barely 11 hours after the final pitch of Friday night/Saturday morning's game ended.

And everyone has a stiff named Edward Mujica to thank for it.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Once Again, I'm a Free Agent

I'm sad to have to say that Trivia at Foley's will no longer be happening. Unfortunately, we weren't able to bring out enough of a crowd on Sunday nights to continue it, and yesterday it was mutually agreed to bring it to a close. I want to thank Shaun and everyone else at Foley's for the opportunity to try a Trivia Night there, and he and his staff were terrific to me. It's a great bar where all kinds of sports is the top priority and should be. Trivia just didn't fit in. But if you are ever in midtown Manhattan, I would encourage you to go there and check it out, especially if you are a baseball fan.

And now I will again attempt to find a new home for my Trivia Night. If any of you know of an establishment looking to start a Trivia Night, please do let me know. (You can drop me a line at: jbq1462@hotmail.com.) I will keep everyone updated with my progress in achieving that goal. Thanks to all of you for your continuing support of my Trivia Night. You are all the best!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I'd Say That Was a Good Start


Well, the Red Sox wasted no time on Monday to put 2014 far into the rear view mirror, as they blasted 5 home runs and got a near-flawless performance from Clay Buchholz in routing the Phillies on Opening Day, 8-0.

Dustin Pedroia blasted two dingers, Mookie Betts had a solo shot, and Hanley Ramirez went deep twice, including banging a grand slam off the left field foul pole late to put the win on ice.

But what was most encouraging was the start by Buchholz, who was superb for seven innings, striking out 9 and walking just one. He was in complete command all game, and only ran into any trouble in the 7th, when the Phillies got back-to-back hits off him. Buchholz clearly seemed comfortable with new starting catcher Ryan Hanigan, and seemed to be on the same page all day.

Both David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval took the collar, but the rest of the cast picked up the slack.

Pedroia became just the second second baseman in history to hit two home runs on Opening Day, and Ramirez' grand slam was the first on Opening Day by a Sox player since Jack Clark in 1991.

The Sox hit the first four home runs, all solo shots, off former future Sox hurler and current Phillie ace Cole Hamels. (I have a feeling the call to trade for Hamels, especially if it involves Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, has abated for now.)

And on this same day, future Tommy John surgical patient Masahiro Tanaka was lit up by the Toronto Blue Jays in New York, and the Yankees went quietly in a 6-1 loss. The Mets won a gritty 3-1 game in Washington, as they never seem to lose on Opening Day.

Yes, Opening Day. One of my favorite days. Why can't results be like this more often?

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Now We Play For Real

The Spring Training schedule officially came to an end on Saturday. The Red Sox ended the spring at 17-12. (Not that that matters now, as everyone is 0-0 as I write this.)

The opener is Monday afternoon in Philadelphia. Clay Buchholz takes the mound in his first ever Opening Day start, and there is plenty of pressure on him. Few people think of him as an ace, and he sure hasn't pitched like on the last few seasons. He got off to that great start in 2013, going 10-1 before injuries curtailed his season. You have to figure that if injuries and /or ineffectiveness ruin another season, he'll be pitching somewhere else in 2016.

They will miss Christian Vazquez badly, as he had Tommy John surgery on Thursday and will miss the season. He is an adept handler of pitchers, and will be replaced by Ryan Hanigan. And we will see rookie Blake Swihart at some point this year. When is the big question.

Koji Uehara and Joe Kelly will begin the year on the DL. Sounds like neither will miss much time. John Farrell has said he may go by closer-by-committee, but Edward Muijica will get most of the opportunities.

The outfield will be Hanley Ramirez in left, Mookie Betts in center and Shane Victorino. Ramirez had a good spring, both at the plate and in the field, having made just one error. Betts was terrific in all phases of the game, and he looks like a superstar on the rise. Victorino is coming off back surgery, and the job is his. We'll see how long he lasts.

The infield is Mike Napoli at first, Dustin Pedroia at second, Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Pablo Sandoval at third. Napoli was blasting away this spring, Bogaerts looked better at short, and Pedroia was again Pedroia after having surgery this past winter on his wrist. Sandoval should be an interesting case study this season. His weight will become an issue if he's not pulling his weight (forgive me, I couldn't resist) at the plate.

David Ortiz will be the DH, with Ryan Hanigan doing most of the catching with Sandy Leon backing him up.

The rotation has been much discussed, as the Sox rebuilt it over the winter with the trades for Wade Miley and Rick Porcello, and the signing of old friend Justin Masterson as a free agent. Both Porcello and Buchholz were the most consistent starters in the spring, and Porcello figures to be the number two man. They made no big trade for a "legitimate" ace, but that could still happen if the need arises during the season.

Where will the Sox finish in 2015? I think this is a playoff team, as the AL East is not a strong division. I'll leave the predictions to the so-called "experts."

Off we go with another baseball season tomorrow. I'll be at Fenway next Monday for the home opener with the BLOHARDS. Here's to a "worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first" season!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Buchholz To Start The Opener In Philly

Opening Day is exactly one week away for the Red Sox, and members of the battery made news this week.

Clay Buchholz was named the Opening Day starter for next Monday in Philadelphia. He's "the old man" of the revamped starting staff, and his numbers this spring aren't bad, despite giving up 12 hits and 4 runs over 5 innings last Friday. (And you obviously take Spring Training numbers with a grain of salt.)

2015 is a make it or break it year for Buchholz. He has to prove he is a top-of-the-rotation starter, and stay healthy at the same time. Most Red Sox fans don't believe he is a number one starter, and I don't either. But he's had the most experience of any of the starting pitchers the Sox have, so he almost gets it by default.

Rick Porcello will pitch the second game in Philadelphia, and either Wade Miley or Justin Masterson will complete the opening series.

In far more troubling news, the Sox placed Christian Vazquez on the 60-day disabled list today, and acquired catcher Sandy Leon from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations. Vazquez has been having right elbow discomfort, and is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday for a second opinion. Unfortunately, this has "Tommy John surgery" written all over it.

Leon is strictly catching depth for the Sox, who will go with Ryan Hanigan as their number one catcher with Vazquez out. Blake Swihart has had a good spring, but figures to play everyday at Pawtucket, as he is not ready. And all of a sudden, that Hanigan for Will Middlebrooks deal the Sox made this past winter is looking more and more crucial.

And in more injury news, it sounds like Koji Uehara will not be on the roster for Opening Day, as his hamstring injury will not be settled by then, and John Farrell said yesterday that Edward Mujica (God help us) will be the primary closer, but he did not rule out going to a closer-by-committee until Koji is ready to return.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

So Pete Rose Wants Back In


I haven't written much on baseball so far in this new year of 2015, but with 13 days to go until the season gets under way, and the cold weather finally abating, let's do it!

Earlier this month, Pete Rose made his intentions known that he is applying for reinstatement, after being banned since 1989 for betting on baseball. With a new commissioner at the helm in Rob Manfred, he figures to try and strike while the iron is hot and hopes that the new commissioner will be sympathetic to his case.

Manfred announced he will give Rose's case a look, but has not hinted in which direction he will go.

We all know the facts of Rose's banishment. He was basically caught red-handed having placed bets on baseball while manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and screamed for years that he never actually did it. He says he accepted the lifetime ban with the idea that after one year he would file for reinstatement. He also figured that he was still eligible for the Hall of Fame at the time, so that wouldn't be affected. (The Hall of Fame then banned all players on the Permanently Ineligible List shortly thereafter.) But Bart Giamatti, who rightly gave Rose the boot, died one week after the whole sordid matter ended, and the two commissioners that followed him, Fay Vincent and Bud Selig, kept the ban in place.

Rose lied in his deposition in 1989, and smeared the reputations of the men who brought the evidence against him 26 years ago, and has never offered any kind of apology to them.

Everyone in baseball knows that betting on the game is the sport's mortal sin. Every locker room in MLB has signs posted about that. The Black Sox scandal of 1919 came close to sinking the sport.

And have you noticed there has not been one case of illegal betting on baseball by anyone in MLB since Rose was banned?

I was in Rose's camp in early 2000s that he had served a long enough sentence for this case, and maybe it was finally time to reconsider his ban. But then in 2004, simply to sell yet another autobiography he'd written, Rose decided to come clean and admit, "yeah, I bet on baseball." For 15 years, he insisted to all his loyal fans and supporters that he hadn't bet on the game, and it was all trumped up by MLB.

And to make more money, Charlie Hustle admitted he hustled the fans. Treated us all like chumps.

So as far as I am concerned, Pete Rose can stay banned from MLB.

Listen, the Hall of Fame has plenty of members of rather dubious character, and the PED scandals have really played havoc with the election process. But that's a whole different story. I'm sure Rob Manfred will give Rose a shot here, but I bet he is in no rush to make any kind of ruling.

Rose doesn't have my support. And many Hall of Famers feel the same way. Everyone knows the rules. YOU DON'T BET ON MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. He knew that, did it anyway because he was (and probably still is) a degenerate gambler. He of course merits induction for what he did as an MLB player.

But he ruined his career after he became a manager. I have always felt that somewhere down the road he will be reinstated and will enter the Hall of Fame by way of the Veterans Committee. But let it happen after he dies, so he's not there to enjoy it.

Sorry, Pete. No sympathy from me. You treated us like fools for years. Don't bet (pun intended) on getting back in MLB's good graces. Let your cries for reinstatement fall on deaf ears.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Trivia Will Return On April 12

Due to the continuing NCAA Tournament basketball playoffs on March 29th, and the opening of the baseball season on April 5th (and it also being Easter Sunday), Trivia Night at Foley's will be taking off the next two weeks.


We'll be back with another edition of Trivia on Sunday night, April 12th at 7 PM.

Hope to see you then!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Trivia Q&A: March 15

On the cusp of St. Patrick's Day, we did Ireland Trivia as one of two Special Categories for Trivia Night at Foley's on Sunday night. The numbers for that round were generally on the higher side. The bar had all different folks in watching hockey and soccer, and few in playing Trivia. The team of Green Eyed Monsters got the win, getting 38 points, winning each round except the final round. Nice job by Cato and Bob taking the night again.

Second place went to Dink Dink, Dink Dink, Dink Dink, Dink Dink with 23 points, and third place went to The K Family with 22 points.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Trivia Night will take next week off at Foley's, due to the NCAA Tournament games and few other events going on at the bar. We will return in two weeks, on Sunday night, March 29th at 7 PM. See you then!

Current Events
1. What western US state's lawmakers voted this past week to bring back the firing squad as a form of capital punishment, the only state to have it?
2. A jury awarded $7.4 million to the children of what R&B singer after determining that singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied his music in their 2013 number one hit song?
3. What news organization was recently named the most trusted, as well as the least trusted network in news in a recent Quinnipiac University poll?
4. "American Sniper" last week became the highest grossing war film of all-time, reaching $500 million in worldwide gross. What 1998 war film had the previous record?
5. What longtime network crime drama was recently acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the largest-ever TV drama, simulcast in 171 countries on March 4th?
6. What English rock star was named an "honorary Texan" by the Texas legislature this past week after donating hundreds of his Alamo artifacts to the state?
7. What world leader was not seen in public for nearly seven days last week, and reports surfaced he was in Switzerland for the birth of his "secret" daughter?

Ireland Trivia
1. What is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin in population? a. Cork; b. Galway; c. Limerick; d. Waterford.
2. Which Irish saint is said to have visited America 1000 years before Columbus? a. Patrick; b. Finbar; c. Brendan; d. Thomas.
3. Which one of the following entertainers was not born in Ireland? a. Bono; b. Bob Geldof; c. Elvis Costello; d. Pierce Brosnan.
4. Which is the most popular sport in Ireland? a. soccer; b. rugby; c. cricket; d. Gaelic football.
5. In which year did Ireland achieve Home Rule and their independence from the UK? a. 1905; b. 1922; c. 1929; d. 1935.
6. What Irish rock band had hits with such songs as "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back In Town?" a. U2; b. The Pogues; c. Black 47; d. Thin Lizzy.
7. In which century did Ireland's potato famine take place? a. 17; b. 18; c. 19; d. 20.

Green Trivia
1. "Green River" was a hit single for what 1960s rock band?
2. What is the name of the main character in the book "Green Eggs and Ham?"
3. What US city's river is dyed green every St. Patrick's Day?
4. Martin Balsam portrayed Mr. Green in what 1974 NYC-based film that was remade in 2009?
5. What North African country's flag is completely green?
6. What is the name of the pigment in green plants that gives them their color?
7. What Nickelodeon TV show was known for dropping green slime on its characters?

General Knowledge
1. The world's largest desert is found on what continent? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the name of the doomed boat from the classic TV sitcom "Gilligan's Island?" ( 1 pt)
3. Which of the Great Lakes is the largest in area? ( 1 pt)
4. The Galapagos Islands belong to what South American country? ( 2 pt)
5. Nicosia is the capital of what European country? ( 2 pt)
6. In 1775, the Continental Congress named what Founding Father the first postmaster general? ( 2 pt)
7. Byzantium was an ancient city that today is known by what name? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Mt. Kosciusko, at 7,310 feet, is the highest mountain in what country? ( 5 points)
2. What 19th century US president was the only president who was once held as a prisoner of war? ( 4 points)
3. What current best-selling author was once a Democratic state legislator from Mississippi? ( 4 points)
4. The Treaty of Ghent ended what 19th century war? ( 3 points)
5. In 2014, who did Forbes magazine name "The World's Richest Athlete", having earned $105 million that year? ( 4 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Utah; 2. Marvin Gaye; 3. Fox News; 4. "Saving Private Ryan;" 5. "CSI"; 6. Phil Collins; 7. Vladimir Putin.

Ireland Trivia
1. a; 2. c; 3. c; 4. d; 5. b; 6. d; 7. c.

Green Trivia
1. CCR; 2. Sam; 3. Chicago; 4. "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three;" 5. Libya; 6. chlorophyll; 7. "You Can't Do That On Television."

General Knowledge
1. Africa; 2. SS Minnow; 3. Lake Superior; 4. Ecuador; 5. Cyprus; 6. Ben Franklin; 7. Istanbul.

IQ Trivia
1. Australia; 2. Andrew Jackson; 3. John Grisham; 4. The War of 1812; 5. Floyd Mayweather.