MLB Waiver Trade Deadline

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Defending The Nation Against Barroom Evil

My friend Rhonda sent me a great email today that I thought I had to share with you all. Rhonda is one of the most loyal and dedicated Red Sox fans I know, and she wrote the email like it was a post on a blog. It is her experience with two sets of Yankee fans earlier this week. One of them your typical group of muttonheads, but the other very different. It shows just how cool Red Sox Nation truly is.

The story is a bit long, but well worth the time to read.

My thanks to Rhonda for letting me put it here, and for always Keeping the Faith.

August 29, 2006
Girl enters a New York bar that is not named Professor Thom’s, her first mistake. She’s wearing “work clothes”, including a pair of those high heel shoes in every woman’s closet: the kind in which she knows that if the shit ever really went down (getting chased on the streets of NYC at 2am; having to escape an emergency situation in a jiffy), quick escape would not just be improbable, it would be impossible. Atop her head is a Red Sox cap. Not a pink one, but an old, raggedy, tired, sun-bleached Sox cap. The cap is the one she wears when mowing the lawn for her parents, babysitting, on the subway almost daily, when just watching the game.

Inside the New York bar, she walks past a circle of men who are leaning on the bar sloppily. They remind her of ragged sailors hovering about the leeward rail, ready to heave ho their Dark and Stormies into the swirling Atlantic below.

The men appear over 40ish. They are not all from New York. One has a noticeable Louisiana drawl. One is bald, muscular, loud, and quite unattractive. The other two she can’t see; she only spies their pudgy backs as she glances at the bartender so that he’ll hopefully make his way over. As she approaches the bar for a beverage, the bald, unattractive man notices the girl’s tattered Red Sox cap. He notices she is alone, for now. He notices she is an easy target. He recalls the A.L. East standings, slowly. He decides to make her pay for the mistake that he considers her accessory to be.

“Eh…Hey you! You can’t wear dat cap in here! Boston fan, hah? So where you think you are, honey? Go back to Boston! Take dat off! GO BACK TO BOSTON!”

She knows she shouldn’t go there. That he’s not worth her addressing him. But this week, somehow, she just can’t help herself.

“I can’t,” the woman answers clearly, calmly, loudly. She’s glaring now, directly into his glazed-over, beady eyes.

“Oh yeah?” the man asks, “Why not!?” He is exasperated she’s not flirting with him. He is surprised she is not rattled. Her reaction genuinely surprises the simple, ugly man.

“Because I live here,” she answers, pausing for effect, “And I’ve probably lived here longer than half of you jackasses have.”

The man is not pleased. The men surrounding him, however, are. Because who the hell are we kidding? Half of them think the other half are jackasses too.

The man with the Louisiana accent speaks up.

“Hey,” (he whispers to his friends), “I bet she duzzen’t even know...I bet she duzzen’t even know. Hey blondie, hey—who won the World Series LAST year?”

She is surprised at the question.

“Excuse me?” she asks him.

“Who…won…the…World…Series…last…year?” he repeats ever so slowly for condescending effect, actually thinking he’s got something here.

“Sir,” she answers, “I will not dignify such a question with an answer.”

A young blonde man sitting at the bar to her right speaks up on the woman’s behalf.

“It wasn’t the New York Yankees, I’ll tell you that!” he shouts. Met fan, the woman assumes. God bless ‘em.

She really should just let it all go. She knows she should just let it go, but somehow, this just isn’t the kind of week when she wants to let it all go. Especially when she needs a cocktail.

“You—“ she orders, pointing to the unattractive bald man. Again he looks surprised. “What is it?” she asks him, “Not enough that your team is in first place? Not enough? So much so that you have to pick on girls half your age? Half your size? Who are alone in a bar, waiting for a friend to show up? Just so you can feel like a tough guy for a fleeting moment? Like a winner?

Gentlemen, which, incidentally, is the overstatement of the year…I hope you all thoroughly enjoy the Yankees getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs next month. Because I know I will!”

The men, after some additional douchebaggery commentary, are ready to leave the bar anyway. “Screw her!” they shout to one another. Soon thereafter, they depart.

Then, in classic New York fashion, which is why she loves the City as much as she does, one of the bartenders comes to her rescue.

He engages her in a discussion about his trip to Fenway this season, a few weeks ago. He took the trip with his girlfriend just to show her the ballpark (nice guy) when the Sox played the Orioles. He said they started talking with some Sox fans at the Cask & Flagon, and the Sox fans (season ticket holders) told the Yankee fans they were unable stay for the entirety of the night’s game—that the Sox fans had to get back to the office later. And so if the couple wanted, the Sox fans could call the Yankee fans on their cell phones, and the Yankee fans could sit in their season ticket holder seats, so the seats wouldn’t “go to waste”.

He never expects them to call. Why should they, he figures?

The Sox fans remember to call. The Yankee fans moved to their seats. The seats were right behind home plate.

The Sox beat the Orioles that night, but despite that, the bartender said, smiling, they really loved their night at Fenway. He said how everyone they met while they were up there in Boston “were so nice.” He gave an example of a guy going over to a couple of tourists looking at a map with bewildered expressions on Comm. Ave, and how he offered to give them directions. He complimented how beautiful and clean the city was, compared to New York. Of how much his girlfriend loved it there…even though, of course, he’s a born and bred New Yorker and he loves it here, as if he even had to explain that to the girl.

Then, to the girl’s surprise, the bartender adds this little tidbit:

“I really hope the Sox get healthy soon, and that that finally turns the tide for them. Cuz…it just ain’t the same. You know? If the rivalry doesn’t have that intensity this time of year, it just ain’t the same. You know?”

“I know,” the girl answered.

And she really did know. It was a question she dignified with an answer, even though it bothered her more than the other one ever, ever could.

Papi Returns Saturday

The Red Sox got some good news today, as David Ortiz was cleared by doctors after a battery of tests at the hospital proved that his heart is fine. He will rest today, practice tomorrow, and be in the lineup Saturday night against the Blue Jays.

It will be good to have you back Big Papi.

Still no word on a David Wells trade. As I write this he is still the scheduled starting pitcher for the Red Sox tonight against Toronto. If Wells is dealt, and the rumor is he's heading for San Diego, Lenny DiNardo will supposedly get the start, as his latest start at Pawtucket was scratched yesterday. I guess we'll know by 7 PM.

Unfortunately, some more bad news. Jon Lester is currently being tested at Massachusetts General Hospital for cancer, as his lymph nodes are said to be enlarged. This doesn't necessarily mean cancer, as it could be just an infection. Our good wishes and prayers are with you, Jon.

And on a very sad note, Charlie Wagner, the Red Sox oldest living player at 93, died last night after attending a Reading Phillies game from an apparent heart attack. He was a beloved man who pitched for the Red Sox in the late 30s and early 40s, and was a member of the 1946 AL championship team that was honored at Fenway on Opening Day. Mr. Wagner worked in the Red Sox organization for nearly 70 years, and was assistant farm director, major and minor league pitching coach and special assignment scout, among his many positions with the club.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

The Alex Minasian Trio

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my buddy and bigtime Red Sox fan, Alex Minasian, at the Kitano Hotel on Park Avenue, as he and his trio did his first headlining gig in New York. Alex is a terrific jazz pianist, and he was there with bassist Ron McClure and drummer Yoron Israel, both longtime jazz veterans with impressive credentials. I also had the pleasure meeting both gentlemen before the show, along with Alex, who was understandably nervous before the gig, as we knew there would be a jazz reviewer in attendance.

I got to know Alex from Trivia Night at Professor Thom's many months ago. He won one week, and then I won the next. We then got to talking one night and decided to combine forces, we were an unstoppable team on Trivia Night! Alex told me about his love of jazz music, and I told him I was a fan as well. He invited me to his first gig at Columbus Circle. I was blown away by his playing.

The Trio went on just after 8, and they did a great six-song set that lasted just over 70 minutes. I was there with his parents and a few other friends, and the Kitano Hotel has a very intimate jazz room. Alex and the group did jazz standards in their set, from legends like Jimmy Van Heusen, James Williams and Bobby Timmons. This is the third time I've seen Alex play live, and once again I was really impressed with his talent. And I must admit, rather envious, as growing up, I always dreamed of being a musician (and a drummer in particular), but I never had the talent.

The Trio did two sets, but I could only stay for the first. I'll have to check with Alex to see how the second one went. I'm sure he and The Trio knocked them dead in that one as well.

I look forward to reading a great review of Alex' show soon (I saw the critic taking notes at the show last night). And if you like jazz and see the name "Alex Minasian" on the marquee, you should definitely check him out. Alex is definitely one of those young jazz musicians whose "keeping the flame" of classic jazz alive and well.

And I expect to see him back at Trivia Night once again this Monday night!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Painful

Watching the Red Sox lately continues to be a rather painful experience, especially staying up until the wee hours of the morning to do it. When they fell behind 2-0 last night, I was thinking to myself, "this game is over." And sure enough, they lost 2-1, despite another terrific start from Josh Beckett. The Sox are playing hard, and have definitely not "quit," but they are simply undermanned and overwhelmed right now.

I'll be watching, this afternoon at Professor Thom's, the finale of the road trip, as Curt Schilling goes for his 3000th strikeout. (He's one away.)

Thank God these late night games are done.

David Ortiz is undergoing a battery of tests today at Massachusetts General Hospital, and our thoughts and good wishes go with him. Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena also returned to Boston, and they are listed as day-to-day.

Alex Gonzalez, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon all begin rehab stints at Pawtucket tomorrow, and all hope to be back at Fenway by Sunday. But, as my dad always says, it maybe a case of "a day late and a dollar short." But it will be good to have them all back.

And what may appear to be a "white flag" move, it looks like David Wells is about to be traded to an NL team, either the Padres, Dodgers or Cardinals. It makes sense, as whichever team offers the best prospect the Red Sox should take. Wells insists he'll retire after the season, so getting a good prospect for him makes all the sense in the world. But the deal has to be done by midnight tomorrow night, as that's when the playoff rosters have to be set.

You should definitely check out my friend Jere's blog today, "A Red Sox Fan In Pinstripe Territory." He's got a great discussion of the July 1, 2004 game between the Red Sox and Yankees, the game that featured a sensational catch that Pokey Reese made. And, oh yeah, one that Derek Jeter made, too.

Jere has video from YouTube of both plays, and why Pokey's was better, as I have insisted for two years. You can go to Jere's blog through this link: http://letsgosox.blogspot.com.

Good job, Jere.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Sad Anniversary

It was one year ago today that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. My thoughts and prayers are with those who were lost, those who were displaced and who are still struggling to get the lives back into some kind of order.

As the disaster was unfolding, my thoughts were of those good Cajun folks I met on my two trips to New Orleans in August 2001 and August 2002, where my former company held its annual convention. I enjoyed my time down there very much and spent most of it in the French Quarter.

I hope that New Orleans will rise again, despite the nitwit, clueless mayor they have there. I'm sure that in time it will be back and be better, and I look forward to once again visiting The Crescent City.

Please say a prayer for all those lost one year ago. They'll never be forgotten.

Memories Of Better Times


These are dark times for all of us in Red Sox Nation. The 2006 season is literally unravelling before our eyes. More and more it looks like we're going to have to look forward to the 2007 season. But before we do that, I thought it was time to bring out a special memory from November 12, 2004.

I was at the Yale Club with the BLOHARDS that day, as being a member of the group, I heard they were sponsoring a World Series Championship Trophy viewing at the Yale Club in Manhattan, across from Grand Central Station.

It was absolutely brilliant. The trophy was absolutely gorgeous. Fans applauded as two men brought in the The Holy Grail wearing gloves. Red Sox fans lined up to have pictures taken with it. Myself and my friends waited over 30 minutes, but we finally got pictures with it, both solo and together. It was one of the most special memories of my life.

My buddies and I were also photographed by a NY Post photographer, and our picture appeared along with a story about the NY viewing two days later.

I have decided that on the day I die, I want the above photo to be enlarged, placed on an easel and put right next to my casket. As my loved ones and friends are paying their last respects to me, I want them to see me at absolutely one of the finest moments of my life.

That goes double for all the Yankee fans I've known and loved.

I know I will be smiling someplace when that happens.

Going From Bad To Really Worse

The Red Sox put an absolutely patchwork lineup on the field in Oakland last night, and sure enough, got their heads handed to them yet again, 9-0. For those of you scoring at home, or even if you're by yourself (sorry, an old Keith Olbermann reference), the Sox have now lost 4 straight, 10 of 12, and 19 in the month of August. The last time they dropped that many in a month was 10 years ago.

It's painful to watch this team struggle like this. Once again, there was no Manny, no Wily Mo (but a new Pena, Carlos, was brought up when Jon Lester went on the DL yesterday) and no David Ortiz. It was originally said that Big Papi was left out last night due to flu symptoms, which have affected a number of team members.

But now it is reported that Papi was kept out due to the irregular heartbeat that affected him back in Boston earlier this month. The Red Sox are taking no chances with him, as he is flying back to Boston today to meet with team doctors and get it checked out.

We all pray for Papi's good health, above and beyond anything to do with baseball. The Sox need him badly, but are right to take no chances with him. Let's hope we all see his wide, shining smile back at Fenway on Friday night.

Godspeed, Big Man.

Monday, August 28, 2006

At Least Tonight Is Trivia Night

Another awful weekend.
Swept by a last-place club going nowhere.
The injuries mount, as Jon Lester may be done for the season.
This is the first time the Red Sox have lost 18 games in a month since 2000.
And this month isn't over yet.

On the other hand:
The Mets are up by 14 1/2 games, and are winning today.
Football season starts in two weeks.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Irish Night At Shea

I spent an enjoyable evening at Shea Stadium last night. It was Irish Night, with a celebration of Irish culture. There were Irish dances and Irish music on the field to entertain the fans before the game. It is an annual event, and I was there for it a couple of years ago, too. I was also there with my aunt, a few cousins and friends.

The beginning of the game was centered around the Mets lead, courtesy of a Carlos Beltran homer, and the game that newly-recalled pitcher Oliver Perez was pitching. He did not allow a hit for the first four innings, but walked four. It all came apart on him in the fifth as he allowed a grand slam to Ryan Howard. He's having some amazing year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him win NL MVP. The question now is will he hit more home runs than David Ortiz. As I write this, they both lead their respective leagues with 46 home runs each.

The Mets rallied for two runs in the sixth and seven more in the seventh, and they coasted into an 11-5 win. In the section over from us, there was a group of Phillies fans that had most of the section to themselves. They were feeling pretty good about themselves after Howard's slam, one of them even mocking the Mets fans in the area. But once the Mets bats got going, the Mets fans around them let the Phillies rooters have it good.

Chants of "14 Up" (the Mets NL East lead), and "Playoffs" filled the air. But then it got more personal as the Mets lead grew larger: "Philly Sucks" and then a really vicious one got going, "Cheesesteaks Suck!"

I just watched a great Mets comeback, and saw the Yankees lose in Anaheim from the scoreboard updates. Then I headed to Professor Thom's to watch the Red Sox game from Seattle. I was feeling good, but the hat trick was just not meant to be.

It was a good night to be a Mets fan, and to be of Irish descent (I think it is every day). But if you like the Phillies and/or Philly cheesesteaks, you've certainly had better nights in your life than at Shea Stadium on Saturday.

Infuriating

The Red Sox let another win get away, a really infuriating 4-3 loss to the lowly Seattle Mariners last night. Once again, David Wells pitched another gem over seven innings, and came away without a win. The bullpen continues to be the ruination of this team. Mike Timlin gave up 2 runs in the eighth, blowing a 3-2 lead, and now the Seattle Mariners have won the series. The Sox will attempt to avoid the sweep this afternoon, with Kyle Snyder going for the Sox.

The anger is just compounded by the fact the Yankees have dropped four of five so far on their West Coast trip. A golden opportunity to make up for last weekend is being totally wasted. This was a trip that the Red Sox needed to win at least 6 of the 9 games they are playing out there. Now they need to win today, and sweep the first-place Oakland A's this week to do that.

As bad as the sweep at the hands of the Yankees was last weekend, it doesn't bother me as much as the series losses over the last month to Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Seattle twice (remember they lost two of three in Seattle in late July). You have to beat up on the AL bottom feeders, and the Red Sox have not done that. The press will harp over the Yankees series, but the lousy losses against the crappy teams hurt worse.

And it now appears that Mike Timlin's great career may be at an end. Since he came off the DL in June, he's been nearly useless. In the last nine days, Timlin’s gone 4.1 innings, given up 7 earned runs, blown 2 saves, and picked up 2 losses. It's more sad than anything to watch Timlin fail so miserably. I have a lot of great respect for him and the way he plays the game. He's earned the nickname "Sarge" from the Red Sox faithful for his gung-ho approach to pitching.

Timlin will have my everlasting respect for his vital role on the 2004 World Champions. I will also never forget his almost flawless 2003 postseason, and the way he stepped into the closer role and did an admirable job helping the Red Sox get to the 2005 postseason. He proved to be a money reliever, but now it appears to be over for him. I would hope he would announce his retirement by season's end so he can go out with some respect and dignity, and not try to hang on too long, like so many have done.

Used To Be A Red Sox Fan?

As many of you know, I love reading those "letter to the editor" columns in the New York newspapers. It gives you a true handle on how silly and stupid some people can be. On Sundays, the New York Post has a column in their sports section called "Sound Off," which is weekly take of New York sports fans opinions. I came across this interesting letter this morning:

Daring the Bosox

I used to be a Red Sox fan (I go back to Ted Williams's day) but after they lost five straight games to the Yankees, I hereby challenge them to a game of fast-pitch softball. We play Sundays at 8 a.m. at Utopia Parkway/Jewel Avenue in Queens. We have a 71-year-old guy (me) pitching for us. I like our chances.

JACK COHEN
Bayside

The part about the fast-pitch softball is just silly, but what I want to know is: when did this guy give up being a Red Sox fan, before or after they won the 2004 World Series, or did he stop being a fan after the Red Sox got swept last weekend?

Of all the people I have ever known who've been Red Sox fans, NOT ONE has ever stopped being a fan, despite threats from a few to do so. Makes me wonder, if he gave up being a Red Sox fan, what is he now, a Yankee fan? I wonder where this guy's loyalties are.

They sure do print some absolutely bizarre letters in the New York papers these days.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Last Night Wasn't A Total Loss

Found this little gem on Seth Mnookin's "Feeding The Monster" blog today:

“Alex Rodriguez struck out four times in a 6-5 loss to the Angels, and in the sixth inning he stranded a runner at third base with one out. That was the 25th runner that A-Rod has stranded at third base with less than two outs this season, the highest total in the majors.”

Mr. Clutch indeed.

Friday Night Sleepwalk

It was just one of those bad nights for the Red Sox at Safeco Field last night. They didn't hit, didn't pitch, made some bad plays in the field. Very much a "garbage can" game, a 6-0 listless loss to the last-place Mariners. (Take it, throw it in the garbage, come out slugging tomorrow.)

The hitters made the Mariners' Jake Woods look like Sandy Koufax. They had him on the ropes three times, having runners at first and second with one out. All three times they couldn't get anyone in. Both Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis sat out, and hopefully both will be back on Saturday. Curt Schilling was fine for the first four innings, but the Mariners hit him hard in the fifth, scoring three runs, which included the Sox making two errors on one play.

I was watching the game on FSN Northwest, the Mariners' outlet, with Dave Niehaus and Dave Henderson calling the game. The most interesting part of the night was when Niehaus asked Henderson about playing for the Red Sox, and was it the best place to play in his career.

Hendu said Oakland was. He said that in his time in Boston (1986-87), the organization played favorites and that the media was way to brutal on the Red Sox players (he sighted Jim Rice and Bill Buckner as examples). He also thought that Boston was too much of a fishbowl, and the passion of the fans was a little too much for him, as he's always been known as a pretty mellow guy."You'd better not go o-for-4," he said.

Niehaus then brought up the dubious racial history of the Red Sox, bringing up the fact that they were the last of the pre-expansion teams to integrate and passed on having a chance to sign Jackie Robinson in 1945. Hendu wouldn't bite on that, and the subject changed.

I always find it interesting when that subject of the Red Sox not integrating until 1959 comes up. It is true they were not at the forefront of racial integration and the Tom Yawkey ownership deserved to be criticized for it, and it damaged the franchise for years for being too slow to bring in minority players. However, the New York Yankees, the next-to-last team in the AL to bring in a black player (in 1955), get a pass on this subject. They weren't at the racial forefront of baseball either, but since they were winning championships in the 1950s, nobody seems to remember it. I guess like many other things in life, winning makes everything else all right.

However, another thing that is rarely talked about is the inroads the current Red Sox owners have made to Boston's minority communities to try to heal the old wounds of the past. It doesn't excuse what happened years ago, but it always for the best to move forward and not dwell too much on the past.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Off To Seattle

Well, put a hold on the funeral arrangements. The Red Sox had a great three days in Anaheim, winning two of three, and most importantly, pitched very well, from both the starters and relievers.

Hope, once again, springs eternal.

Manny Ramirez appears to be legitimately injured, with knee and hamstring woes. I've been hearing the usual conspiracy-talk nonsense from the usual suspects about how Manny's not really hurt and has given up on the season. Good Lord.

Hopefully Manny's back in the lineup by the end of this weekend.

Mark Loretta missed two games due to a sore quad, but should be in the lineup tonight. I was impressed with the debut of Dustin Pedroia in the Anaheim series. (Or should I say "L.A. of Anaheim?" God, is that ever stupid.) He hit the ball hard, and mostly into bad luck, right at people. But he looks like a seasoned veteran turning the double play at second. He'll be around for the rest of the season, and he should be a starter in 2007. It's just a matter of at which position: 2B or SS.

Josh Beckett had his second best start of the year (after his eight shutout innings against Kansas City back at Fenway in June), pitching six solid innings before leaving with a cut middle finger on his throwing hand. (Naturally the conspiracy theorists were going on about a possible blister.) If the Sox can get THIS Beckett for the rest of the year, their chances will be extremely better for a playoff slot in October.

The Mariners did the Sox a favor by beating the Yankees two of three this week. The favors end tonight, as the Red Sox go to Safeco. The Sox are now 5 1/2 back in the East, 4 in the WC.

Don't write the eulogies just yet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Need Your Vote!

No, I'm not running for elective office, but today I signed up my blog with TopBlogging.com, one of those toplist blogging sites. I've joined a couple recently, to get The Mighty Quinn Media Machine more exposure.

TopBlogging has a link at the bottom left side of my main page that says, "Vote Here."(It's just below the clock.) If you press that link, it will take you to a page where you can press another link to vote for my site.

I'll be honest in saying that I have no idea what it means for sure, but I know it would make me feel good knowing that my fans out there are giving me their support.

And of course, it would be un-American not to vote!!

Repeat Viewings of "On Native Soil"

Found out today that "On Native Soil" is being repeated by Court TV three times before the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. As I have written in a couple of previous posts, it is definitely worth the time to sit down and watch.

The next three showings will be on August 27th at 2 PM, September 1st at 9 PM, and September 10th at 6 PM.

Click here for more info: http://www.courttv.com/onair/shows/on_native_soil/

Restoring Order

The Red Sox got a well-earned victory last night, 5-4, against the Angels to put a stop to their longest losing streak in five years. Jon Lester once again pitched just five innings, giving up three runs, but the bullpen did a fine job, allowing only one run the rest of the way.

David Ortiz and Wily Mo Pena both hit two-run homers, but Manny Ramirez again left last night's game, and will have an MRI on his hamstring and knee. He will surely miss a couple of games. How long he will miss in total remains to be seen.

It was another very late night for me, as the game ended around 1:30 AM. I was at Professor Thom's, and it was good to see a number of my friends in attendance, rooting the Red Sox on. But last night also saw the presence of some loud-mouthed Yankee fan (who I've never seen at PT's before) who wouldn't shut his big mouth, and he got into it pretty good with a few of the Sox fans there, including myself.

I honestly don't mind if Yankee fans are in a bar like PT's, rooting for their team. My friend John was there last night, and he is one of the better Yankee fans I know. He roots for his club and is not loud or obnoxious about it. He knows his team well and talks intelligently about them and baseball in general. I've known some Yankee fans like him in my life and I enjoy talking about baseball and the rivalry with them.

But The Loud Mouth last night got me a bit steamed. He was deliberately trying to get under the skin of the Red Sox fans there. Those types I can absolutely live without. The presence of him and alcohol in the same place can make for a volitile combination. I'll never understand the motivation of people like The Loud Mouth. (He reminded me of the obnoxious Yankee fan that riled up Carla Tortelli on that classic episode of "Cheers.")

If I'm in a bar with a majority of fans from the Yankees or any other team, the last thing I'm going to be doing is shooting my mouth off, looking for a fight. That's just me.

I guess he's just an idiot in general and is the classic example of the reason why Yankee fans as a group have the reputation that they do.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another Tough Night At KeySpan

I went to my fourth Brooklyn Cyclones game last night at KeySpan Park, and the Cyclones starter was none other than Alay Soler, the young Cuban who defected to the US a few years back. Soler (pictured) has shown flashes of brillance with the Mets this season, pitching a two-hit shutout in Arizona earlier this season. Soler was on an injury rehab start for the Cyclones, and figures to be back with the Mets very soon.

Soler pitched extremely well last night. I was sitting about six rows off the field just off of home plate. Soler was mixing his pitches very well, and his fastball was popping. He struck out nine Hudson Valley Renegades in 4 2/3 innings, but gave up three runs on three hits including one home run.

Hudson Valley (Tampa Bay's team in the NYPL) went on to win, 6-0, as it was a bad night for the Cyclones. They had just two hits and made four errors. They are currently in second place in their division with a good shot at a wild card berth in the New York-Penn League playoffs.

The Cyclones are 0-4 in games I've seen this year. In 2004, I saw them play 11 times, and they went 11-0. Funny the way things work sometimes.

I listened on the radio to the Mets game as the Cyclones were going down. Great comeback last night, as they came from 7-1 to win 8-7, on Carlos Beltran's ninth inning shot off Jason Isringhausen. My dad had just said to me, "I hope the Mets pull this one out in the ninth on a two-run homer." And a minute later, there it was. His reaction to that was, "The Mets are going to win the World Series!!"

I watched the latest Red Sox loss on the MLB package last night. Once again, the clutch hitting escaped them. Coco Crisp led off the game with a double and was left at third. Bases loaded with none out in the second and they came up with nothing.

Well, at least the Yankees, Twins and White Sox all lost.

I'll be at Professor Thom's for tonight's late-night Red Sox game, and it's also Bingo Night. Gotta support the boys and my favorite watering hole, no matter what the American League standings might look like.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Words For Red Sox Nation

"The greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."

--- President Richard M. Nixon, in his speech to his staff on the day of his resignation, August 9, 1974

"On Native Soil"

I got home from Trivia Night early this morning and I watched what is a really special documentary called "On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report" on Court TV. The program went on at 2 AM, and I was up until 3:30, but it was well worth staying up for.

"On Native Soil" is about the efforts of a group of people who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 to find out the truth of what happened that terrible morning. I've had the pleasure of meeting Mary Fetchet, who is the founder of Voices of September 11, and one of the key figures in the film. Her extraordinary efforts, as well as that of many other victims' family members, led to the creation of the 9/11 Commission, something that the Bush administration tried their best to avoid happening.

The film traces the events of September 11, 2001, and tells the stories of people who survived, as well as interviews with people who lost loved ones. There are some disturbing images in the film, but they were of course necessary to tell the complete story. For me of course, it is an emotional experience seeing this documentary, as it brings back the worst day of my life back so vividly. Thoughts and memories of my friend who died that day are with me from start to finish.

"On Native Soil" was narrated by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank. It goes into detail about many of the failures that day, from the military to the FAA. The film also points out those who testified before the commission, and intimates that many may have just outright lied to cover their backsides.

The film is a straight forward telling of the worst tragedy in American history. It tells of heroism, courage and sacrifice. It's not loaded with loony, conspiracy-theory nonsense. It points to the failures of not just the Bush administration, but the Clinton administration as well, to protect the American people. Washington D.C. was a city of "turf wars," and it ended up costing America dearly.

"On Native Soil" is without question one of the most important films to come out about the worst day in American history. It's a documentary every American should see. The movie is being released today on DVD, with thirty minutes of bonus footage not seen in the television presentation.

A Lost Weekend = A Lost Season?

I walked into Professor Thom's bar earlier tonight for Trivia Night and I ran into a few of my Red Sox fan friends. They all seemed to have that dazed look on their faces, and most just didn't know what to say. I'm still rather numb over what transpired this past weekend.

A promising season seems to be heading for oblivion right now. This entire month of August has been one monumental disaster. The Red Sox are now 6-14 for August. The injury to Jason Varitek will widely be accepted for the Sox decline, but it is much more than that.

The Red Sox pitching, especially the bullpen, has gotten lit up the last few weeks in no uncertain terms, and even before Tek's injury. Josh Beckett has been a miserable failure, and may need to learn how to become a pitcher again. The good young pitchers they have (Lester, Delcarmen, Hansen) just aren't ready yet, and were rushed to the majors too soon.

And the offense just wastes too many opportunities. Today the Red Sox left 10 men on base and could only score on Wily Mo Pena's homer in the eighth. I would bet the Red Sox are at the top of the AL in men left on base.

The hardest part about this past weekend was that four of the five games played could have been won by the Red Sox. (Only the first game was a total washout.) It is vastly different from what happened in 1978, when the Sox got their heads handed to them by the Yankees that September. But that club (one of the best in Red Sox history) found a way to bounce back and put up one of the greatest comebacks in the final two weeks of the season, and forced the playoff.

Can this team do it? I'm fearful they won't, as they are staring at a nine-game western swing. They must take at least seven of those games to hang close to the White Sox and Twins in the Wild Card race. The pitching must be far better, especially from guys not named Schilling or Wells. I said weeks ago, and I'll say it again: pitching will tell the tale of this season.

The tale right now looks like something out of a Stephen King novel.

But I will now, and always will support the Boston Red Sox. I have been a fan since 1977, and have seen some dark moments. But I have also been to the top of the highest mountain with them as well, just less than two years ago.

I won't abandon them now. Even if it appears the end is coming on rapidly.

I'll be at Professor Thom's with my other friends rooting them on later this week. We are all bonded by our love of this incredible club, in good times and in bad. We are like a family, a brotherhood. We're going through a tough time now, but we'll always be there for each other.

In the immortal words of the late Jim Valvano:

"Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thoughts For The Day

I think I need to relax today. I've been in what I call "media shutdown" the past few days, as I don't want to read or hear anything from the events of the past weekend. I don't need anyone "piling on," especially from the imbecilic New York media. When the Red Sox go through a really horrific stretch like this (and involving the Yankees), I simply turn away from those moronic nitwits who call themselves "sportswriters", so I can try to keep my mental health. I'm not watching today's afternoon game, as I don't want to hear the gloating from those YES assholes. (I'll watch Tuesday night's game from Anaheim on the MLB package tomorrow.)

The comparison to the September 1978 disaster is not really a very good one. What happened 28 years ago was very different, and in many ways worse. The Sox didn't even show up for that series. They were outscored, 42-9, didn't pitch at all well and were a disaster in the field (12 errors). This time around, they could EASILY have won two, or even three, of the games. They've scored 25 runs and made just two errors in the field. But the pitching this time around has been even more horrific than in 1978. I've rarely seen in a Sox team, in my 29 years as a fan, pitch this badly over this long a stretch (one month plus), even in the down years.

So in some ways, these losses are harder to take because the Sox could easily be in first place right now. But they are not. A clutch hit here, and one last out there would have made a huge difference.

The Red Sox go out west for a nine-game trip to Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland after the game today. I'm not looking forward to it.

I'm spending the afternoon writing trivia questions for tonight's Trivia Night at Professor Thom's. And I'm leaving my TV off.

An Important Film

On Monday night, an important documentary airs on Court TV: "On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report" takes a hard, compelling look at the events of September 11, 2001, as narrated by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank.

I will be watching.

The following are selected parts of the email I was sent about the film:

"On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 911 Commission Report" will premier on Court TV Monday night at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT. Court TV is airing a 90 minute version of the film, commercial free. The full two hour version of the film plus additional interviews and a photo montage is being distributed by Lionsgate on DVD. The DVD will hit stores on Tuesday.

The film has received extraordinary reviews. It also made the short list for an Oscar nomination last March. Thanks to Producer Lenny O'Donnell, Christopher Meindl and an extremely talented group of editors--led by Allison MacEwan-- there exists a documentary that takes an historically important and emotionally compelling look at the events surrounding 9/11.

As the NY Post reviewer wrote: "If you see only one documentary about 9/11, make it this one. You may not get all the answers you want, but for sure you'll start asking questions about the answers we were already given.
"

Directed by award-winning news and film producer Linda Ellman, the film faithfully captures the events of that day and our civilian and government response, whose strengths and weaknesses are outlined in The 9/11 Commission Report. "On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report" has powerful narration from Costner and Swank and includes sit-down interviews with U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and former U.S. Senator and past 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland.

While presenting provocative new details and exclusive interviews, the film focuses on the human side of the largest terrorist assault ever to take place in the United States by examining the treatment of the events that led up to the 9/11 attacks and revealing the efforts by a group of citizens who worked together to ensure that the 9/11 Commission would be convened and information disseminated to the public.

“I was in lower Manhattan that horrible day,” said Hilary Swank, “I was drawn to the project by the amazing stories of the 9/11 families and survivors featured in the film, and I am proud that by contributing my voice to the project, I can help their voices be heard.”

“I saw this film in a rough cut and wanted to become involved,” said Kevin Costner. “It’s honest, it’s serious and it’s not political. This film tells stories every American will and should want to know.”

The Embarrassment Continues

Curt Schilling deserved a win tonight, as he pitched his ass off.

But yet again, this team simply cannot win close, tight games.

With the exception of David Ortiz, no one else seems to get a clutch hit when it really matters.

They had the bases loaded in the seventh, and again in the ninth, both with one out, and came away with nothing.

The Red Sox are a mess, and are on their way to oblivion.

The players should take a good, long look in the mirror.

That's where the blame lies.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tim McCarver Is A Big Fat Idiot

OK, McCarver's not fat, but he is an idiot.

Watching Fox baseball coverage on Saturday afternoons can be especially trying, especially when the formerly entertaining and informative Tim McCarver is in the broadcast booth.

He continues to give out just plain wrong information, as well as unsubstantiated innuendo, during these games. When Johnny Damon came up early in today's game, he started talking about the Yankees signing Judas over the winter. He said that the Red Sox had offered him the same amount of money, but only for three years.

Absolutely wrong. The Sox front office never offered Damon $13 million a year. At first their offer was a lowball, three -year, $27 million deal. They eventually upped it to a four year, $40 million contract. As we all know, the Yankees went to $13 million a year deal for four years, which Judas and that bastard of an agent, Scott Boras, took without giving the Red Sox brass a chance to match. (Not that they would have, but they could have had the class and courtesy to let them try.) Of course, McCarver NEVER mentions this.

Then later in the game as he was filling time as the game got out of hand, McCarver once again brought up that urban myth that Jon Lieber once mentioned on The Tim McCarver Show back in 2005. Lieber claims that a "number of Red Sox players," before the start of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, went up to a few Yankee players and "congratulated" them and wished them well on their presumed trip to the World Series. McCarver brings this subject up EVERY time there is an extended conversation about the 2004 Red Sox and their championship.

Of course, Lieber did not mention any names in that interview, and never has to ANYONE else. As far as I'm concerned, Lieber is a gutless coward for not doing so, and is totally full of BS in my opinion. And McCarver is equally to blame for not pursuing this from any other source, so he should keep his damned mouth shut about it.

I have NEVER heard this nonsense from anyone else connected with either those Yankees or Red Sox teams, and I have never seen a newspaper article about this, or mentioned in any book on the Red Sox or that legendary postseason.

Let's be honest here. Don't you think a shitstirrer like Dan Shaughnessy would love to write an extended article about this if it were true? I'll bet there's probably no truth whatsoever here, so even a blowhard like CHB won't touch it.

But it bothers me when I hear McCarver shooting off his big mouth all the time about this urban legend. Until Lieber or someone else names names here, it's complete BS in my opinion. I was at my friend Ruth's house in the Bronx today listening to this palaver, and it sent me off on an extended rant to my friends. (Sorry about that guys.)

No wonder why Tim McCarver is maybe the second most hated man in the media by Red Sox Nation. That is, after Dan Shaughnessy.

Can't Anyone On This Team Pitch Anymore?

The Red Sox and their dubious pitching staff further embarrassed not only their loyal fans but themselves with another piss-poor effort from Josh Beckett. Today they set another record they'd like to forget by allowing the third consecutive game of 12+ runs to an opponent at Fenway Park.

Think about all those lousy teams that they've had in their history, and that is something they have never done before.

Beckett is the worst 13-game winner in the majors, and issued an unbelievable nine walks today. The Sox desperately needed a bigtime effort from him today, and he gave them diddly-squat. The pitchers who followed him were equally inept.

The Yankees are clearly clicking on all cylinders in this series offensively. But they came into this series slumping, as they had lost four of six. They dropped two of three to Baltimore at home, and the Orioles had allowed only 13 runs in that whole series. The Yankees are AVERAGING 13 runs in this series so far.

And there are still two games remaining in this series.

But if I were a Yankee fan, I wouldn't be jumping up and down over these wins. Their starting pitching has not been good at all either, as two of three games so far have been lousy performances by their starters. Randy Johnson's linescore was horrible: 7 innings, 5 runs, 6 walks, 3 strikeouts. Once again, the Yankee offense bailed his ass out against the Red Sox. (During yesterday's game, Fox announcers made a big deal over the fact he beat the Red Sox 5 times last year. Most of those starts were mediocre, with his team's offense saving him.)

You win it all by pitching. I spoke to a Yankee fan yesterday, and we both agreed that neither of these teams, with the state of their pitching, will go far in the playoffs, even if they both make it to October.

These three games have left my head spinning. I don't think it's so much the Yankees offense, but the Red Sox pitching is just simply god-awful right now. The Yankees pitching hasn't been sharp this weekend either, but the Sox are throwing grapefruits up there right now.

The Red Sox have thoroughly embarrassed their fans the last three games. I wonder if they have any pride left and can bounce back and salvage some dignity with the remainder of this series, as well as this season.

They'll have to prove it to me that they do.

Torture

I watched both games of yesterday's double Fenway disaster at Professor Thom's, with a break in-between to do other things. The second game was a benefit for my friend Kim and the National Down's Syndrome Society, with cool raffles in between innings, with such goodies as autographed baseballs and books. That was the fun part of the night.

The second game was nothing short of Chinese water torture. Watching the Red Sox pitching staff absolutely implode all day long was extremely painful to watch. The only pitchers who gave a decent effort in either game were Julian Tavarez, Keith Foulke and ironically enough, Jason Johnson (who was designated for assignment after the first game to activate Foulke).

By the sixth inning, my eyes started to hurt and I started getting a headache. I wanted this game over in the worst way. But it just went on, and on, and on. It eventually became the longest nine-inning game in baseball history.

I'm not going to go over the gory details, as most of you know them. The Red Sox pitching is absolutely absymal right now, and I don't see any postseason berth the way it's going right now. The heat is now clearly on the shoulders of Josh Beckett today to give the Red Sox a much needed lift. Once this series ends, the Sox head for a nine-game West Coast swing. Right now, I dread the idea of where they might be on August 30, when that trip concludes.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: pitching will tell the story as to whether the Red Sox go to the postseason. The blown leads, especially from the last road trip, have come back to haunt this team in the worst way.

The season is on the line over the next two weeks. We'll see if they have anything left to make any kind of a serious run.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

States I Have Visited

I found a really cool website the other day, courtesy of my friend Jim "Suldog" Sullivan. Suldog had a post about a site called "World 66," where you can create maps of the countries of the world you've visited, states you've visited, Canadian provinces you've been to, things like that.

I haven't been to many foreign countries, just two actually (UK and Canada). So I thought the US states one would be more interesting to put together. In my life I've been to 22 US states and the District of Columbia. The map puts the states you've been to in red, so here is my visited states map:

I tried my best to get the map directly on to the blog page, but without success. But it is still a cool map to check out, even through the above link.

One of these days I hope to have visited every state in the Union, and have a completely red map. I don't know if I'll ever be able to achieve that, but I'm nearly halfway there.

The web site to check out is: www.world66.com/myworld66.

My thanks to Suldog, and he's got a cool blog site as well: http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two Years Ago Today: The Turnaround Begins

On August 16, 2004, the Red Sox were in second place in the AL East, 10 games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox had just dropped two out of three at Fenway Park to the Chicago White Sox, and three months of mediocre baseball they had been playing just seemed to be continuing.
I was in San Diego at this time, having attended the wedding of my good friends Peggy and Ken. (Happy anniversary guys!!) On this night we went to Petco Park to see the Padres play the Atlanta Braves. (Braves won 5-4 that night.) It was my last night in San Diego, as well as for my friends, as they were leaving the next morning for their honeymoon. My friends gave me the tour of the ballpark, and it is simply gorgeous. As I walked around the ballpark, I kept noticing the Red Sox-Blue Jays score on the scoreboard. I got there and the game at Fenway was in the seventh inning with the Sox leading 5-1. But then the lead started shrinking, down to 5-4, and finally it stopped. But then the Sox added three in the eighth to lock up an 8-4 win. Derek Lowe and Keith Foulke combined for the win. The game was also the night that Doug Mientkiewicz played second base, and had that minor dustup on the bases with Carlos Delgado.

I also remember that night because later in the game, I was sitting in my seat down the left field line when a guy wearing a Red Sox shirt saw me wearing my Red Sox road jersey and came up to me and we shook hands. I said to him, "Keep the faith!" He looked at me and just smiled.

So why is this game important to remember? It was the beginning of The Turnaround. Three months of stagnant baseball was finally ending. The Sox would go on to sweep Toronto, win six straight games, then lose in Toronto, and then win ten more games in a row. By September 11, they had won 22 of 25 and cut the Yankees lead to 2 1/2 games. But this was just as importantly the time they seized control of the Wild Card race. They now had a five-game lead in that race, and would never look back. And of course, we all know what happened over a month later.

(It is generally assumed that July 24th, the day the Sox beat the Yankees on Bill Mueller's ninth inning homer and Jason Varitek showed Alex Rodriguez who's boss, is the day the Sox fortunes began to improve dramatically. Actually, they continued to struggle for another three weeks, playing .500 ball until August 16. July 24th's win is more a symbolic turnabout than a factual one.)

August 16th maybe better known for being the day that both Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley died, but it will live in Red Sox history as the start of the most memorable time in Red Sox history.

It's time for the boys from Boston to get their act together and make another run to a pennant. It's still not too late, but the clock is ticking.

P.S. In a strangely ghoulish note, The Babe (1948) and Elvis (1977) died 29 years apart, and today marks 29 years since Elvis' death. Does that mean another legendary icon will die today? We'll see....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beckett's Hideous, Again

The Red Sox gave him a nice extension to his contract a few weeks ago, but Josh Beckett sure hasn't rewarded the Sox. Last night he put the team in a 3-0 hole after one inning, and then a 5-0 one after three. The Sox couldn't get out of the hole and lost to Detroit, 7-4.

I turned to a friend of mine I was watching last night's game with, and after the Tigers scored the two in the third and said, "Beckett's gone."

Gone off one of my fantasy teams, that is. I had enough last night of seeing Beckett destroy my ERA and WHIP categories, so I dropped him last night.

I can only hope that he will make me regret my decision.

Back in the real world, he's now 13-7 with an ERA back over 5.00. His ERA is an absolutely dreadful 12.00 in his seven losses.

This guy's a future ace? He consistently does not give the Red Sox innings, as he's only gone past the sixth inning once since the All-Star Game. I still believe that Beckett is one of the keys to the Red Sox having any shot at playing in October. He must step up his game, and be more of a pitcher. Whereas Jon Lester is still a rookie having made only 13 major league starts, Beckett was counted on to be the number 2 man in the Red Sox rotation. He continues to be a major disappointment this season.

Third base coach DeMarlo Hale was in involved in his first controversal play this season, as he sent Manny Ramirez in on a single last night and he was thrown out at the plate. At first it appeared to be an ill-advised move on Hale's part, but seeing the replay, Curtis Granderson threw the ball towards third, and Hale assumed the ball wasn't coming home. But Carlos Guillen made a terrific play to turn and throw the ball home and Manny was a dead duck, and it short-circuited a big eighth inning for the Sox. Hale has done a fine job as third base coach this season, as like umpires, the best coaches at third are the ones you never notice. He sure hasn't been a lightning rod for controversy the way Dale Sveum was the past two years.

And just when you wanted to like Rudy Seanez...

He pitches a perfect seventh in relief of Beckett, then implodes after getting the first out of the eighth. I saw my friend Michael blessing himself when Seanez came in, and I turned to him and said, "It's time to break out the rosary beads." I don't think even that would have helped. Seanez turns a 5-3 deficit into a 7-3 one. Seanez had been good at home over his previous seven innings, allowing just 4 hits and no runs. But last night he loads the bases and then gives up an RBI single to Vance Wilson. Not one of Theo's more inspired free agent signings.

Pedro Martinez got hammered for six runs in one inning in Philadelphia last night, and later it was announced that Pedro suffered a calf injury he felt while warming up in the bullpen. The Mets can ill-afford to lose Pedro for any extended period of time, although the Mets big NL East lead won't disappear without him. Who knows, maybe if the Mets shut him down for a few weeks it will rejuvenate him for the postseason.

More and more it appears to me that the Red Sox did the right thing by letting Pedro sign with the Mets. He's been a great addition to the team, as he put fannies in the seats at Shea and helped get the Mets to where they are today, to make the Mets relevant in New York again.

I just hope this is just a little bump in the road for him.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On The DL

I missed playing softball yesterday, due to the recurring hamstring problems I've been having since I started playing again this past July. I never had this problem in the years I played before, so I guess my age is finally catching up with me.

A few weeks ago, I was running out a ground ball out of the batter's box when I felt a sharp pain in my right hamstring. I was hobbled the rest of the game, but I did gut it out. I went home and put an ice pack on it, and a few days later I was back to 100%, and didn't think too much about it again.

I did a little more stretching to guard against another relapse last Sunday, but as I was running under a fly ball in left field, I felt it go again, in the same spot. Again, I played through it and finished the game. It used the ice pack again and it was a little slower to recover this time. During the week, I discovered a huge bruise on the back of my right leg, and my decision about this past weekend was made for me. (I probably wouldn't have played anyway, as the pull isn't completely gone. The hamstring is about 90% right now.) It feels a lot better, but the bruise looked really nasty.

I don't know if I'll play again this summer, as I have to let this injury heal. I now have a better appreciation of players who have hamstring problems and what they go through.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Remember, Remember

This past Wednesday, I received an email from WhereToTurn.org, and in it there was a request from a reporter from a newspaper in the United Kingdom called The Observer. The reporter, Paul Harris, was writing an article for his newspaper about the film World Trade Center, and wanted to interview someone who had previously seen the film. I decided to drop him an email to tell him I'd love to tell him what I thought of it.

He emailed me back, and called me later that day. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Mr. Harris, and he was a nice man, and The Observer's reporter in New York. He asked me a whole bunch of questions about the film and about my 9/11 experience and my late friend Joyce. I enjoyed talking to him and he told me that the article would run in Sunday's paper.

I alerted two friends of mine in the England about the article on Saturday, and they were going to be on the lookout for it. On Saturday night around midnight, I went on the Observer's web site and I found it in their Review section. And I was shocked what I found: the article was all about me and the film. I thought I would be just a little part of a bigger article. I was very moved by Mr. Harris' piece, which he called: "Remember, Remember...One Bereaved New Yorker Hails Oliver Stone's New Film About 11 September."

I called my friend Tarnia in Lincolnshire and she indeed found the article and really enjoyed reading it. This afternoon I went to a Universal News store in Manhattan and found a copy of the newspaper and saw the article in print. It was on page 3 of the paper's Review section, included with a picture of Nicolas Cage from the film.

Here is the complete article from today's Observer:

Remember, remember ...

One bereaved New Yorker hails Oliver Stone's new film about 11 September
by Paul Harris

For John Quinn there was a moment in Oliver Stone's new film, World Trade Center, when he had to cry. It was not, as he expected, when the first of the twin towers fell. It was later in the movie, when the rescuers are sifting through the rubble a day later. One looks up and asks: 'Where is everybody?'

That was when Quinn most felt the loss of his close friend Joyce Carpeneto. She was in the World Trade Centre and nothing has ever been found of her remains. 'That hit me the hardest. It was the fact that nothing of Joyce had ever been found. She was just vaporised. She disappeared,' he says.

Tens of thousands of Americans have seen Stone's film since it opened in cinemas nationwide last Wednesday to strong reviews. It was a shared experience for all Americans, like the death of JFK. But it's people like Quinn, who knew and loved the victims, for whom the film has a particular resonance.

Quinn had worked with Carpeneto for many years at a record shop in New York's Greenwich Village. They became close friends and she had later got a job at a firm inside the World Trade Centre's North Tower. She was at work the day the planes hit. Neither she, nor any of her colleagues, survived.

For Quinn watching the movie was to relive a horrible experience but also a chance to remember a loved one. Quinn has written a poem about Carpeneto, called 'There's an Angel Watching Over Us', that has become one of the best-known pieces of popular writing to come out the tragedy. It has been published in books and on internet sites worldwide. Quinn travelled into Manhattan from his home in Brooklyn with another friend of Carpeneto's, Deborah Burton, to see the film. They came to the Loews cinema at 68th Street and Broadway and settled in for a 6.10pm showing. 'We had talked a lot about it. Joyce was our friend and we felt we had to do this. There has been a lot of talk about when a film like this should be made. Five years? Ten years? There is never a "good" time,' he says.

As the credits roll, the film opens on the mundane aspects of a working day. People are commuting into the city. Somewhere Joyce was among them. Then the planes hit and the action begins. Stone's film follows the terrible experience of two policemen, played by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena, caught in the rubble of the falling towers. But as Quinn watched the pair struggle and strive, he knew in the background was the death of his friend. 'When the movie shows the South Tower coming down that is the scariest part. It really shook me up when I saw that. That was probably the time that Joyce died,' he says.

But, unlike real life, the movie ends on a happy note. It is two years later and the survivors are with their families. Emerging from the cinema, Quinn felt pleased that Stone made the decision to end on a kind of high note. 'It's tough to find a happy ending in that, but he did and so I had a smile as well as tears. That was a movie that had to be made. It was respectful and it will mean no one will ever forget the people who died that day,' he says.

Afterwards, Quinn went for dinner and said goodbye to his friend. Then, not wanting to go home, he headed to a favourite watering hole. He knows the regular crowd. 'I just really needed a drink,' he laughed. His friends bought him one.


My thanks to Paul Harris for writing such a beautiful article.
It's amazing the way things work out sometimes.


Taking Years Off My Life

For a long time I have always kiddingly said that being a Red Sox fan has probably taken about five years off my life. I think that those five years may have all been from today's game.

Jon Lester once again struggled to give the Red Sox five innings, and he gave up four runs in the first two innings. I know he's a rookie pitcher, and I love his poise. But he has to learn better control, and not go to so many full counts. He's still one of the crown jewels of the Red Sox system and has a very bright future ahead of him. But watching him pitch these drives my blood pressure up ever so slightly.

The game appeared to be a laugher by the seventh, as Kevin Youkilis' three run-shot put the Sox up, 10-6. But Manny Delcarmen struggled, as well as Craig Hansen, trying to finish the game. And the slide of Jonathan Papelbon continues. No one figured he'd be so spectacular all season, but he had lots of trouble with his command in the ninth, walking two, including one with the bases loaded to make it 11-9. This was a game the Red Sox absolutely could not let get away, especially after all the problems they had late in games on the previous road trip. Mike Lowell, once again Man of the Hour, made a terrific play on Melvin Mora's grounder to end the game. (And I never saw Papelbon so happy after a save!) Lowell also got it all going in the first with a grand slam to put the Red Sox ahead.

That was some weekend for a guy who was just an afterthought and a throw-in in the Josh Beckett trade. Spectacular fielding, a grand slam and a konk on the head. Bet he won't forget this series for a while.

The Yankees went down to defeat in the Bronx, so the Sox are now 1 game back in the AL East. It was another roller-coaster ride with the Sox on Sunday. I can't take too many more ninth innings like the one we went through today.

Games like this also reminded me what the late Ray Goulding, of the legendary comedy team Bob and Ray and a big Sox fan, once said that he wanted to have put on his tombstone: "Cause of death: Boston Red Sox." I'm not sure if that is actually on Mr. Goulding's headstone, as he died in 1990.

But one of these days, they're going to get me. Or send me packing a few years too early.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Man Among Men

It was quite a night last night for the Red Sox. It was a game they desperately needed: a laugher victory. And they got it, courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles. The Sox have now beaten Baltimore 14 out of 15 times, and David Wells pitched seven strong innings, and the Sox won easily, 9-2.

But the night last night belonged to Mike Lowell. In the first inning, he was hit square in the batting helmet with a fastball by Adam Loewen. Lowell was left sprawled on the ground, but appeared to be fine and was quickly on his feet. It brought back Tony Conigliaro to my mind (Lowell even wears the same number Tony C wore: 25) and the infamous beaning he took in 1967.

But the next inning, Lowell made an absolutely sensational catch off the bat of Nick Markakis (see photo above). Lowell caught the ball as he was falling into the stands, and held on to it to show the third base umpire, who made the out call.

After Lowell's fantastic grab, NESN then showed the catch the Derek Jeter made in July 2004 against Trot Nixon at Yankee Stadium, the one that he caught on the dead run and then he flew into the stands. While it was a great catch, Pokey Reese made an even better one earlier in the game that rarely ever gets talked about. He physically went into the stands, among many Yankee fans, to make an absolutely sensational catch. How come NESN didn't show that? Jeter's catch was in the field of play, and he couldn't slow down and went into the stands. Pokey's was much more difficult, but of course, he didn't fly into the stands, nor was he known as "Captain Intangibles," so it is basically an afterthought. A shame really.

And to top off Mike Lowell's night, he even stole third base.

The Red Sox scored seven runs in the third to put the game away. After the disasterous road trip and a five-game losing streak, the Red Sox needed an easy victory very badly. And a Yankee loss to the Angels put the Sox two back in the AL East.

Good start to an important 11-game homestand. Keep the Faith, folks. There's still a lot of baseball left to be played.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Opinion, In Yesterday's New York Post

This afternoon, I got a call on my cell from my friend Greg, who lives in New Jersey. He called to tell me that he was looking at the New York Post's Letters to the Editor section in Thursday's paper, and he saw a familiar name with one of the letters, and lo and behold, it was me!

I usually get both the Post and Daily News every day, but yesterday I went to Shea Stadium early, and didn't get a chance to see the papers. I wrote a letter last Friday to the Post about a column that their gossip columnist, Cindy Adams, had written about the new Oliver Stone film, "World Trade Center." She basically tore the movie apart, and seemed to dwell on silly background parts of the movie (like pointing out the time the polls opened on the morning of September 11). I thought it wasn't a fair assessment of the film, so I wrote a letter to the editor to voice my opinion. (Of course, she is entitled to her opinion. I just thought her column was way off base, and she seemed to entirely miss the point of making the film.)

The Post printed four letters, and mine was the final one. I had checked the paper since Sunday, but I had pretty much given up that they would print it. Wouldn't you know it, they printed it on Thursday, when I didn't get the edition.

I found it online today, so for those of you who'd like to read it, here it is:

As someone who lost a dear friend on 9/11, I thought Oliver Stone did a magnificent job with his new film.

Seeing the movie was a very emotional experience. Stone has honored both the victims and the rescuers with an emotionally draining but, more importantly, uplifting film about those who risked their lives to save others on the worst day in American history.

Adams is entitled to her opinion, but she seems to be in the minority in terms of those who have seen the movie.

I've never been a big Stone fan, but he is to be commended for making such a powerful film.

He took a huge risk, but he has done the 9/11 heroes proud.
John Brian Quinn
Brooklyn

My letter was edited very slightly, but the Post printed the heart of my letter. My thanks to Greg for letting me know about my letter.

And thanks so much to the Post for letting me voice my opinion in their paper.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Can't Think Of A Worse Indignity Right Now

In that ninth inning tonight, as the Red Sox went meekly 1-2-3, I was actually seeing Kansas City Royals fans waving brooms at the Red Sox and their fans in Kauffman Stadium.

It's worth remembering that:
The Royals are 41-73, the worst team in all of baseball.
The only other teams KC swept this season are the Pirates and Indians. Very dubious company.
They started a pitcher who was 2-7 this season tonight.

Their fans were waving brooms at us when it ended.

It's time to pull out the 2004 World Series video and get a stiff drink.

I need them both right now.

A Fine Day At Shea

After last night's meltdown by the Red Sox in Kansas City, I made a decision not to come home and rant about it on my blog, and to give all of you a break. The Sox picked a really bad time to go into a funk, with important series with Detroit and New York looming on the horizon. Let's just hope the ship can get righted by Curt Schilling and the boys tonight, the end of this miserable road trip.

I did spend a rather enjoyable day out at Shea Stadium today, and it was my first time out there this season. It was "Nun's Day" out at Shea, and my Aunt Kitty is a nun and teacher at a Catholic School in Queens, and is a big-time Mets fan. Last month she invited me to go, as she had a number of tickets courtesy of the Mets. And after last night's debacle, the Mets-San Diego Padres game could not have come at a better time.

I got there just as the first pitch was thrown. I was sitting with my aunt, some of her friends, my brother-in-law, my nephew and some of his friends in the mezzanine section out in right field. There was a good crowd at Shea today, at least 30,000. I did see a few Red Sox hats and a few Red Sox shirts in the crowd, and I even saw a couple of Mike Piazza Padres shirts as well.

The Padres jumped out early on a two-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez off Orlando Hernandez in the first. But the Mets got the lead in the second, aided by a two-run triple by Jose Reyes. He is simply something to behold on the base paths. He's the fastest player the Mets have had since Mookie Wilson. The Padres tied it on a pair of doubles in the seventh, but the Mets scored four in the bottom of the inning to put the game on ice, 7-3, and complete a sweep over the Padres.

Mike Piazza was rested by Bruce Bochy, as he had played the two previous nights. The Mets fans warmly greeted him both nights, and when he hit a solo homer (and then another) off Pedro Martinez, the Shea faithful gave him a standing ovation as he rounded the bases. Piazza said later he was very touched by all the affection the Mets fans showed him. It's shame he didn't get into today's game, not even as a pinch-hitter. In the seventh inning, Piazza was shown on the big scoreboard in the Padres dugout and got a nice ovation. When he realized it, he tipped his cap to the crowd. In the ninth inning of today's game, the crowd was calling for him to bat, with chants of "We Want Mike," and "Pi-az-za!" When Josh Bard, and then Geoff Blum, came up to hit, they were both roundly booed.

I was really proud of the fans the way they showed so much affection for Mike Piazza. He really deserved all of it.

I was also glad to see some old friends in the game for the Padres today. Dave Roberts was in the starting lineup, Mark Bellhorn pinched hit, and Alan Embree came in to relieve in the seventh. Three of the 25 were in the house today, along with former Sox players Josh Bard, Scott Williamson and Todd Walker (Bard and Walker both started and Williamson came in in the seventh inning to pitch). The Padres even recently brought Cla Meredith up, but he saw no action today.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We Got Trouble, Right Here In Kansas City

I can only think of one word to describe last night's loss by the Red Sox to the Kansas City Royals: embarrassing.

These are the teams you are supposed to pounce on and fatten up on in the standings. As I write this, the Kansas City Royals are 39-73, and 36 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

We had another enjoyable night of "kayreoke" at Professor Thom's last night. I announced the bottom of the fourth and sixth innings. But it would have been nice to have called a better game.

Jon Lester pitched another lackluster game, going only five innings. The Red Sox offense looked lethargic until the fourth, when they scored three runs. But it wasn't enough.

Craig Hansen struggled again. Rudy Seanez joined the Bullpen Arson Squad by allowing a home run to Emil Brown. Ugh.

Losses to rotten teams like this hurt. There's still a long way to go, and the Sox lucked out by the Yankees losing in Chicago in extra innings.

When I looked at the schedule a few weeks ago and I saw a road trip to Tampa Bay and Kansas City for six games, I figured 4 wins would be just right. Now they will be lucky to get three, if they win the last two games.

The ship has to get turned around, and now. No white flags are going up.

Just win baby.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Return Of Mike Piazza

Tonight at Shea Stadium, Mike Piazza returns to Shea Stadium for the first time since he left the Mets and went to the San Diego Padres as a free agent last winter.

I hope the Mets fans will give Piazza the long ovation he deserves. For 7 1/2 years, he was an All-Star for the Mets, and without question is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

He also was responsible for one of the favorite baseball memories of my life.

September 21, 2001. The Mets were playing their first game back at Shea Stadium since the terrorist attacks of ten days earlier. That night, I was in Manhattan, going to a rock show for the record company I worked for. I stopped off at the ESPNZone as the Mets-Braves game was beginning, and I watched the opening ceremonies honoring those heroes who risked their lives at the World Trade Center, and those who were lost. It was a very moving thing to see. People at the ESPNZone were applauding and some were even in tears. Piazza was shown in tears himself as it all unfolded.

I spent most of the evening at the show in Greenwich Village, but I followed the game on my walkman from time to time. By the eighth inning, the Mets were down 2-1, with a man on and two outs when, having just put the walkman back on, Piazza came up. I had a feeling about this at-bat, and stayed with it. Piazza belted a long drive to deep left-center that hit the camera well beyond the wall for a two-run homer and sent Shea into a frenzy. I remember putting my arms up in the air in triumph, and a friend asked me what was going on. I explained what happened, and what a magical moment was taking place. I saw it all on the replays after I got home.

The Mets went on to win, 3-2, and gave it a good ride in the NL East race before ultimately finishing out of the playoffs. But Piazza's blast was still one of the most emotional moments on one of the most emotional nights in New York City baseball history. SportsnetNY recently replayed that game on their "Mets Classics" show, and it brought back a lot of emotions for me.

Thanks for the memories Mike.

Weird Logic

I'm trying figure this one out. The Red Sox wanted to send Adam Stern as the player-to-be-named-later to Baltimore to complete the Javy Lopez deal. Stern had to clear waivers to complete the deal, but the Tampa Bay Devil Rays put in a claim on him, so the Sox pulled him back. Apparently, according to published reports, Tampa Bay did this to screw the Red Sox, who they claim approached Julio Lugo's agent about a contract extension if they traded for him back before July 31. (Lugo was eventually traded to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers.)

What Tampa Bay says happened is considered tampering, and illegal by MLB rules. But if they believe Red Sox management did tamper with Lugo (Sox say they didn't), then why haven't the boys from Tampa put in a tampering claim with MLB's office?

And by blocking the Stern-to-Baltimore deal (they could because they have a worse record than the Orioles), they aren't screwing with the Red Sox, they are hurting the Orioles. The Red Sox and Orioles have now agreed to make the deal after the season ends.

Very strange. Makes me wonder what these guys in Florida are using for brains.

I bet for Adam Stern it must seem really strange, playing at Pawtucket knowing he'll be going to the Orioles organization once the season concludes.

And it's time for the Sox to drop that hammer down on these Tampa Bay upstarts. If this wasn't strange enough, I read where they played a part of "Sweet Caroline" after Greg Norton hit the game-winning homer on Sunday to beat the Red Sox at Tropicana Dome.

The two teams play again in late September. Pull out the whoopin' sticks then and show these muttonheads who's boss.

And not to mess with our song as well!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sunday Night Softball


For the past few Sunday nights, I have once gotten back into one of my favorite all-time past times: softball. I've never been a great player, but it's something I've always enjoyed doing. I haven't played on a regular basis in over six years, so when my friend Adam told me about the games he plays in on Sunday nights in the West Village, I decided to come and check it out.

One of the guys I played with last night suggested I write something about the games from a "newbie" standpoint, so I thought this would be a good time to write something about it.

The softball games are played over on Hudson Street, between Clarkson and Leroy Streets, on a field I played on over 20 years ago with some friends of mine from Tower Records. The first night I played brought back a lot of memories. The guys I play with are generally a good bunch and many have been friends for a long time. Since Adam brought me in back in July, I am a "newbie." The games are generally either 9-on-9 or 10-on-10, depending on how many guys show up by 7 PM. Steve, the guy who runs the games, has a permit for the field from 7-9 PM, then this group of soccer players take over the field, as they have the permit for after 9.

If more than 20 guys show, then me, as a newbie, doesn't get to play. (It's a good rule and I have no problem with that.) Fortunately, that has not happened yet. The last couple of Sundays, I've been watching the clock and counting the number of guys on the field and praying that guy number 21 doesn't show. I've lucked out both weeks. (In the above picture, taken last Sunday, that is me wearing wearing my "Born Into It" t-shirt and jeans. Apparently wearing jeans is rather frowned upon here.)

Two captains divide up the players, and we play either two games, or one long one. Players on the teams I played on rotate positions every one or two innings. The field is not very large, so there is one special rule: if you hit a fair ball out of the field of play, not only are you out, but the half-inning is also over. However, you can call your shot once a game and if it goes out, it's a homer. The ball, however, is not conducive to long hits, as they are rather "mushy" to prevent such long bombs.

I've had a good time in the Sundays I've played, but I'm getting old, as I've had hamstring problems the last three Sundays I've played. I did some stretching just before the games yesterday, but I felt it go again as I was running after a fly ball. (And I'm still feeling it as I write this.)

Last night I played every position except pitcher. I had a decent night in the field, and I made two running catches in the same inning in left field to cut down an opposition rally, and threw out a runner from third base on a slow grounder. But at the plate, it was rough. I went o-for-8, but the last two outs were long, hard outs to the outfield. The last couple of weeks I got 3 and 4 hits a piece, but everything I hit last night was right at someone.

The soccer players showed up rather early last night. There's a soccer goalpost on both the left and right field foul area, and they were practicing in right. The balls they were practicing with came into our field of play a number of times, pissing off a few of the softball players. They don't get the field until 9, or when the last out is made of our game.

In the final inning of our game, my team was down 13-11 with one out and runners on second and third when one of my teammates blasted a shot way out and onto Leroy Street, and I thought we had won. But he didn't call his shot, so we ended up losing instead. Tough way to drop a game.

Steve has his own blog about the softball games, which is entertaining, and he breaks down every one of us who played last night, including myself. (I am "Red Sox John." I like that.) It is called "Soft Balls, Called Shots and Hot Boxes," and you can read it at: www.softballcentral.blogspot.com.

OK, I'll wear sweat pants or shorts next week, and I'll swing at more first pitches as well.

But I'll never be "ashamed" to be a Red Sox fan. Ever.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Absolutely Inexcusable

It's time for a major league venting.

This is the game the Red Sox and their fans will look back on after this season is over if the Sox don't go to the postseason and say, "Here's where it all got away." A 6-2 lead over Tampa Bay goes up in flames and becomes a 7-6 loss in ten innings because the bullpen gave up three home runs. To who? Travis Lee? Dioner Navarro? Greg Norton?

Good grief.

Jerry Remy said late in the game on NESN the bullpen had allowed seven home runs in the last 14 games. Well, make it eight now. Absolutely putrid.

How in God's name do you drop ANOTHER series to the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays? They went 3-7 in St. Petersburg against this team this season. Those last two series there will come back to haunt this team. Mark my words.

How do you blow a four-run lead against this team with nine outs to get? The bullpen has looked like total crap lately, Delcarmen and Timlin especially. Craig Hansen belongs back in Pawtucket right now. The moment I saw Tavarez come into the game in the 10th, I was all set to turn my TV set off and call this game a loss. I wasn't disappointed. Today it was a COMPLETE bullpen breakdown, on a day when Jason Johnson, who's struggled mightily since coming to Boston, gave the Red Sox six solid innings. He deserved a win today and didn't get it.

Today there were too many wasted opportunities on the bases as well. The Sox easily could have had at least ten runs today.

I'm really, seriously, having my doubts about this team. If the starting pitching and bullpen continues its fade into the West like this, this team will be nowhere near the Yankees by the end of September. Josh Beckett has got stop playing home run derby with the opposition, and David Wells has to get his act together and give this team some innings. But right now the bullpen is a mess and an even bigger worry. NOBODY out there looks good right now.

This was simply a totally inexcusable loss. Spread the blame all around on this one.

I've said it all along, and I'll say it again. Pitching will tell the story for this season. If the Red Sox don't pitch, they will not go to the postseason. Period.

It's time to step up, guys. Prove the naysayers wrong. Or you'll be home playing golf in the first week in October.

The venting is now over. Now I need a drink to wash the bad taste out of my mouth from this afternoon.

Those Classy Yankee Fans

Right after last night's Red Sox loss at Tampa Bay, I got to talking to my friend Chris at Professor Thom's. (Chris is a popular name in that bar, and I have at least four friends with that name.) He told me a story about being at a Yankee game the other night that was rather disturbing for what happened between two groups of fans that were sitting near him.

It was during the seventh inning stretch of the Tuesday night game between the Yankees and Blue Jays. Chris told me he was sitting in the upper deck, but eventually moved downstairs and was sitting behind the Blue Jays dugout by the seventh. After the top of the inning, "God Bless America" is always played at Yankee Stadium, with the thoughts of the troops overseas. (I'll never take issue with them doing that or continuing to do it, as it was started by the Yankees in memory of the September 11 victims in 2001.)

On this night, about four Orthodox Jewish men were standing for the song, but they still had their yarmulkes on. Apparently, some Yankee fans took exception with that, and told them to take their yarmulkes off. They thought by them wearing them during the song it was show of disrespect. (But they WERE standing.) They didn't, and it further irritated those fans, and some pushing and shoving took place between the groups of fans. Chris said that none of them appeared drunk or slight bit intoxicated. No one was hurt in the scuffle. My friend was just a short distance away, and heard someone in the group of Yankee fans call the Jewish men, "kike" and "jewboy." Yankee Stadium security then showed up and separated the groups, and exited everyone from both groups off the stadium premises.

You hate hearing stories like this, but what surprised both myself and Chris was that a bigger deal wasn't made out of this incident. We both agreed that this sounded like something that would have been in the New York Post the next day. I can only guess that the Jewish men didn't decide to pursue any legal action against the Yankees for being led out of the park, even though according to my friend Chris, they did nothing to provoke this incident. (Or maybe they have, but didn't go the papers about it.)

This isn't to say that this kind of thing happens at Yankee Stadium all the time, or doesn't happen anywhere else. Most Yankee fans I believe are right thinking people and would deplore such incidents that lead to ugly name calling. This sort of reminds me of the first time I was at Yankee Stadium in 1980 for a Red Sox-Yankees game. A friend and I were sitting in the box seats down the right field line. Just after the start of the game, there was a loud mouth Yankee fan who wouldn't stop giving Reggie Jackson, who was playing right field at the time, verbal abuse. He was shouting "Uncle Tom" at him over and over again. The irony of it was that he was a white guy who was holding a black child in his arms. The Yankee fans around him were telling him to shut up. By the end of the inning, I noticed that Jackson was looking past us and right at the abusive fan. He actually started to walk toward us when the inning ended, but he turned and went back to the dugout. A few moments later, I noticed the fan was gone, and wasn't seen in the area again.

Yankee Stadium has never been my favorite place on earth to hang out in. Incidents like this make me think twice about going there, especially if the Red Sox happen to be in town.

I'd rather be at Professor Thom's anyway.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Michael Kay Is A Big Fat Idiot

Al Franken may have used a similar title in a book about Rush Limbaugh, but it certainly applies to YES network shill and complete asshole Michael Kay, who made an absolute gem of a statement yesterday on his daily radio show on ESPN Radio. He opened it with this:

"On this day, August 4th, 2006, I declare the Red Sox officially dead."

Where do I start with the complete lunacy of this statement? The Yankees are currently 1 game up in the AL East, and the Red Sox lead the Wild Card by a half-game. But in Kay's world, the Sox are finished because of their injuries. The Sox and Yankees still have nine head-to-head meetings before this season is done, and there are still just under two months to go in the 2006 season. So much can happen, especially between these two clubs.

Kay is a complete and utter buffoon. But of course, that's not a news flash.

If that wasn't enough, a number of Yankee fans called his show to complain and say that Kay was jinxing their team with making such a rash statement about the Red Sox. (And another fan set him off about "baseball etiquette" in not mentioning on the air that a perfect game or no-hitter was going on.) Kay in response had a complete meltdown on the air, and started ranting about "slaves" and "the Nazis." Extraordinarily weird stuff, even for a jackass like Kay.

The great blog site Fire Joe Morgan, has a great article about it. Follow this link: www.firejoemorgan.blogspot.com, where you can read, and even hear, more about it.

Thanks to my friend Chris for alerting me to just another reason to despise Michael Kay, one of the worst sports broadcasters currently employed today.

The Memorial Goes Forward

A contractor has finally been hired to build the foundation for the World Trade Center memorial, and it will begin construction at the site later this month.

The Port Authority and the Memorial Foundation awarded a $17 million contract to E.E. Cruz of Holmdel, N.J. earlier this week to construct the foundation and footings for the six acre memorial and museum.

Well, it looks like it's finally going forward. The plans are still for the memorial and the museum to open on September 11, 2009.

I wouldn't bet on it being open by then, but we'll see.

Sox Lead The League In Guys Named Javier Lopez

I held my breath last night in the first inning as Carl Crawford slammed into Doug Mirabelli at home plate. Dougie tagged him out but had to be helped off the field. But the next inning he was back in the ondeck circle, so it looked like nothing serious. But unfortunately, he couldn't continue, so newly acquired catcher Javier Lopez came in and did a fine job behind the plate (even if he went hitless for the game).

Just what the Sox need. More injuries.

Mike Lowell couldn't play either last night, as he still felt pain from the ball he fouled off his foot on Wednesday night. He's been icing it down and hopes to play before the weekend's over. That combined with Mirabelli's injury (he's day-to-day with a sprained ankle) has left the Sox bench dangerously thin. They may have to send down or DFA a pitcher to get their bench back to some normalcy (they are currently carrying 13 pitchers).

Curt Schilling pitched seven solid innings, and David Ortiz hit two mammoth home runs to put the Red Sox back in the "W" column, 3-2, in St. Pete last night. It was "Cowbell Night" at the Trop last night, as all fans were given cowbells. I watched the game on NESN, and I love Jerry Remy's take on it.

"They are annoying," said The RemDawg of the bells, not pulling any punches.

I also had an interesting thought about the acquisition of Javier Lopez from the Orioles last night. If the Sox recall lefty specialist Javier Lopez later this season (and they probably will), how will we tell the two apart? Javier the Catcher, and Javier the Pitcher? I know the catcher is called Javy, so that might be the difference.

I bet the Red Sox are the first team in major league history to acquire two guys with the same name in two separate trades during a season. Are there any other guys out there named Javier Lopez can trade for so they can go for the hat trick?

Friday, August 04, 2006

"World Trade Center"

I spent an emotional night at the Loews Theater in Lincoln Center watching Oliver Stone's new film, "World Trade Center" last night. It was simply an incredible experience.

When I first heard last year that Stone was making a movie about the terrible events of September 11, 2001, the first thing I thought was that it was going to be one those "government conspiracy" movies that he's known to be a big fan of. Many people were upset and outraged that he was making a big screen movie about 9/11.

But then it was revealed that the film was centered around the amazing rescue of two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who were trapped in the rubble for nearly 24 hours and were two of the last people pulled out alive. I also heard that Nicolas Cage would star in it, and I've always liked his work, and that made me more interested. I debated for a while whether I would see it or not, but a dear friend of mine, who was also very good friends with my late friend Joyce, wanted to see it. So when I heard that a special screening was being done for 9/11 families and friends, we both decided to attend.

Ironically, it was in the same exact theater that I saw "United 93" in last May.

My friend and I were geared up to see the film. We both knew it was going to be a very emotional night (and we had plenty of tissues on hand), but we both knew this was something we had to see.

The movie theater was crowded, and shortly after 6 PM, Oliver Stone was introduced by the movie's producer and he said a few short and kind words about the film, the 9/11 victims and their families.

The movie is simply a triumph for Stone. It is centered around the lives of McLoughlin and Jimeno, showing them as two hard-working men with families, and what starts out as an ordinary day finds them trapped in the middle of the worst disaster in American history. Stone has brought that day back with an amazing amount of vividness. The South Tower's collapse, which trapped the officers, is nothing short of scary. There are also the constant "bangs" in the background, which were the bodies of jumpers hitting the ground.

The men are trapped more than 20 feet below the rubble, and do their best to stay alive and hope rescuers will find them. They talk about their families and flashbacks with them are seen, as well as the families awaiting word of their fates. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena play the officers, and are terrific in their roles, as well as the supporting cast that includes Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhall.

The movie has an uplifting ending, and I was in tears, along with my friend, as the movie was concluding. There are many moments that brought back many memories of Joyce to me, some of which were very painful. Throughout the film, I could hear people around me sniffling and crying, and when the film ended, the audience warmly applauded.

I know this will be a difficult movie for people to see, but I definitely found it worth checking out. The movie opens nationwide next Wednesday, August 9. Oliver Stone has brought a story of heroism to the screen, and he is to be congratulated for it. No politics, no loony 9/11 conspiracy theories, just a tale of courage and survival.

I'm glad I saw it, and Oliver Stone has really done the Heroes of 9/11 proud.