Ellsbury Returns To Fenway

Friday, August 31, 2007

An Imaginative Prank



Today I discovered on YouTube one of the more imaginative pranks you'll ever see. Thanks to a link from my friend Jere over at A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory, a student from a high school in Ohio pulled off something truly amazing on a rival school during an inaugural football game for 2007.

Kyle Garchar of Davidson High School in Hilliard spent 20 hours setting it up, and put black and white construction paper on seats, with instructions, for Darby High School supporters to hold up during the third quarter during a game against Davidson, thinking they were spelling out, "GO DARBY." Instead it said, "WE SUCK."

Kyle was suspended by his school for his efforts.

The video's a little vulgar, but very funny. It runs about one minute. Here's an article about the prank:

http://www.11alive.com/news/article_news.aspx?storyid=102478

Do you suppose someone could pull off a similar prank on the muttonheads who inhabit the bleachers in Yankee Stadium? Just a thought...

A Special Freedom Walk

I got this email this morning:

The Scout troops 442 of St Brendan’s RC Church located on Avenue O and East 12th Street, Brooklyn NY will be having a Freedom Walk on Sunday, September 9th 2007 at 10AM in Honor of the victims of 9/11 and Our military for their efforts in keeping us free. This walk is being done to keep alive the memory of what happened on 9/11 and to honor our fighting men. The walk will begin in front of St. Brendan’s Church on Avenue O and will continue through Ocean Parkway to the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach then down the Boardwalk to KeySpan Park’s Memorial Wall where a small service will take place.

I post this on my blog today because 35 years ago I was a scout at St. Brendan's Church. (35 years ago? Did I really just write that?) It was really nice to hear that they will be doing something special to honor the 9/11 victims and our military on September 9th, so I thought I would give them a special mention on my blog today.

Good luck to all of you taking part in the walk that day. It's a very nice way to remember Our Heroes.

From the Newest Yankee Headhunter

From today's Boston Globe:

"I have all the respect in the world for that team," Joba Chamberlain said. "There's no way I'm trying to do that. I'm not trying to send that kind of message. That's not what I'm about. I was just trying to let a couple loose. We're trying to pound the zone and hopefully sneak one by him. A couple slipped and that's that. It probably will never happen again."

Chamberlain insisted, "First time I've been ejected. There was nothing behind it. I wasn't trying to do anything."

Yeah, right pal. He sounded very much like that "I've got some swamp land in Florida and a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, and the dog ate my homework" nonsense you hear from someone trying to skirt around the truth.

Actually, Chamberlain's lame explanations sound like something directly out of The Roger Clemens School of Bullshit Excuses for Throwing at Opponents' Heads. And, Chamberlain's locker in the clubhouse is right next to Clemens' too.

Wow, what a coincidence.

We'll see you at Fenway in two weeks, rookie.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Put The Gun Down!

It was a terrible three-game series for the Red Sox that just concluded this afternoon in the Bronx. The three wins put the Yankees in a tie with the Seattle Mariners for the Wild Card lead, and it brought them to within 5 games of the Red Sox. Manny Ramirez also suffered an oblique strain and will miss some games (it's anyone's guess how long).

None of that is good news for the Red Sox and their fans. However, please keep these facts in mind.

The Red Sox are about to enter the month of September, and have a relatively easy schedule in front of them. They have 28 games to play, 18 at home and 10 on the road. They have just two road trips left, a four-game trip to Baltimore and a six-game one to Toronto and Tampa Bay. They have just one series left with any playoff contender, and that's the Yankees from September 14-16. Here's the breakdown from here on:

BAL 3 home (Aug. 31-Sept. 2), 4 road (Sept. 6-9)
NY 3 home (Sept. 14-16)
TB 3 home (Sept. 10-12), 3 road (Sept. 21-23)
TOR 3 home (Sept. 3-5), 3 road (Sept. 17-19)
OAK 2 home (Sept. 25-26)
MIN 4 home (Sept. 27-30)

The Red Sox are home the final six games of the season aginst Oakland and Minnesota. The Red Sox don't leave the Eastern time zone again in the regular season, and also have three off days. (Very important to have both in September.) It's there for the Red Sox to win.

Keep the Faith everyone. (Thanks to my friend Adam in Maine for the pic of Christopher Walken from "The Deer Hunter.")

They Left Their Bats in Chicago

It was simply a terrible effort by the Red Sox offense today. They had the look of a tired, worn-out team the last two games. It was simply a bad effort today as they lost 5-0. Chien-Ming Wang pitched a good game for the Yankees, and didn't give up a hit until the 7th inning. For the second straight game the Sox struggled mightily not just to get on the scoreboard (they didn't today) but just get in the hit column. They were just completing a 10-game road trip and are returning to Fenway tomorrow. But it had the look like they were mailing it in today.

Curt Schilling gave the Sox seven good innings, allowing just two solo homers by Robinson Cano. He deserved a win, but the offense was again AWOL. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett weren't great, but they deserved better.

After bashing the living hell out of an awful Chicago White Sox pitching staff, it looks like the offense couldn't wait to get home and just skipped New York. (They scored 46 in 4 games last weekend, but just 6 in this series.) This series just had a weird feel to it. My buddy Chris pointed out that this is like the polar opposite of 1999, when the Red Sox were trying to catch the Yankees, and swept them in a September series. (You may remember that 17-strikeout game pitched by Pedro Martinez, which was simply one of the best games I've ever witnessed.) The Red Sox couldn't catch them in the end, and settled for the Wild Card.

Before the 10-game road trip started, I hoped that the Red Sox could go 6-4. They did exactly that, and gained one game on the Yankees. (They were 4 up when it began, and are now 5 up.) They got off to that great 6-1 start, but the bats just went to sleep in New York. And, for crying out loud, when is J. D. Drew going to get a hit that matters? The guy looks totally lost at the plate now. He came up in a few big situations this series and did absolutely nothing. He killed the rally in the seventh when he hit into the controversial DP at third. He's looking more and more like the worst free agent signing in Red Sox history.

Thankfully, September 1 is just two days away and the Sox can call up reinforcements from Pawtucket. I would expect to see Jacoby Ellsbury, Brandon Moss and Clay Buchholz very shortly, to pump some much need life into this club. The last few days were really so painful to watch (and I saw it all). No clutch hitting, too many swings at pitches outside of the zone. Simply brutal.

I can only hope that this sweep is a wakeup call for the Red Sox. It will wake them up to the fact that they can't simply coast into the playoffs. They have to catch fire and enter the postseason with some momentum. Staggering into the playoffs or coasting in could set them up for a first-round loss. So perhaps this sweep has a bright side to it. We'll soon see.

Today's game will be remembered for one reason. Joba Chamberlain, the Yankee wunderkind pitcher, suddenly got a bout of "wildness" in the ninth inning with Kevin Youkilis at the plate. He threw a 98 MPH fastball that was heading for his head, but he ducked out of the way and pitch sailed to the backstop. OK, that happens. But then he did the same thing on the very next pitch, in the very same place. Home plate ump Angel Hernandez tossed him out (pictured), as he believed he was throwing at him (and it cost him a shot at his first MLB save). The Yankees screamed in protest, and Chamberlain said after the game that he was just trying to get "a swinging strike." Whatever.

If he wasn't throwing at Youk, you have to wonder is there isn't something wrong with him. In the games I've seen him pitch, I've never seen Chamberlain do that, and on two straight pitches. (I also wonder if this may have had something to do with Youk reaching on Jeter's error in the 7th, avoiding Jason Giambi's tag, and then the fact he tried to avoid Rodriguez' tag later in the inning, and went out of the baseline.) Terry Francona after the game said “If that young man is trying to get our attention, he did a good job.”

He'd better be careful when his team gets to Fenway on September 14. He got the Red Sox' attention in the ninth, and I don't think they are going to forget it.

Especially Kevin Youkilis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BLOHARDS, Spaceman With Joey Reynolds

On Monday night, Bill Lee (pictured) and number of the BLOHARDS were invited to go on The Joey Reynolds Show on WOR Radio in New York, and it was a very entertaining show. They talked about being Red Sox fans and upcoming series. My pal Chris from Professor Thom's went on and gave the bar a nice plug, and I was also asked to go on, but my duties as the Monday Night Trivia Maven prevented that from happening.

Bill was his usual quiet self. (When will he ever come out of his shell?) He was actually quite entertaining as you'd expect, like when I was chatting with him about baseball before he left to do the show. The podcast of the show is now available on Joey Reynolds' page on the WOR Radio web site, and scroll down the page until you reach "Podcasts" and then you can download the broadcast.

Here is the link:
http://wor710.com/pages/46370.php

Traitor

ESPN's Jim Caple, who I've never been a fan of and once was allegedly a Red Sox fan, wrote this piece of dreck on the ESPN web site today.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple/070829&sportCat=mlb

As a proud Red Sox fan who has supported the team through thick and thin, I say this on behalf of the entire Nation:
Blow it out your ass, Caple.

With the Good Doctor


Here's a photo of Yours Truly from yesterday's BLOHARDS meeting with Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox Vice President of Public Affairs, who attends every meeting, and is "The Closer," in that he gets up for about 45 minutes or so and talks about the team and answers the fans questions to close out the luncheon.

Dr. Charles was gracious enought to take a picture with me after the meeting ended. My thanks to Joe Cosgriff for taking it and sending it along to me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hangin' With The BLOHARDS

I spent this afternoon with the BLOHARDS, the group of loyal Red Sox followers here in New York that I am a member of. I was asked by Joe Cosgriff, one of the group's leaders, to do some Red Sox trivia, and the winners would get some prizes. The meetings are held twice a year, when the Red Sox are in town for a series. And as you might guess, everyone was in great spirits today (an 8-game lead will do that).

There were also some special guests there, like Eric Hinske and Red Sox broadcaster Glenn Geffner. He conducted an interview with Eric, who came across as a rather personable guy. Dr. Charles Steinberg, who handles media relations for the Sox, was there to chat for about 45 minutes, taking questions from the members. Ed Randall, who hosts a Sunday morning radio show on WFAN, also made an appearance. He had a clip of a show he recently taped with some pitchers, but unfortunately the computer had problems and we couldn't see it. There was also a slideshow of many of the highlights of the season, featuring Red Sox players but also included clips of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, which were very funny.

My friends Chris and Rhonda were there along with me. Chris got up and talked about Professor Thom's, and promoted the upcoming "Clamapalooza," that's happening there next month. Rhonda has written a book about being a Red Sox fan, and read a very nice passage about her first trip to Fenway with her family many years ago.

I got up and read five Red Sox trivia questions, and prizes were given away to those who got the questions right. Here are the five, with the answers below.

1. Who holds the Red Sox record for the most grand slams in a single season?
2. What was the last season the Red Sox had two 20-game winners?
3. Who was the Opening Day second baseman for the Red Sox in 1967?
4. Who owned the Red Sox before Tom Yawkey?
5. Carroll Hardy is the only man to pinch-hit for Ted Williams, but what did he do in that at-bat
?

Answers: 1. Babe Ruth (4 in 1919); 2. 2002 (Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe); 3. Reggie Smith; 4. J. Robert Quinn (no relation to me); 5. Bunted into a double play.

Surprisingly, it took many guesses before anyone guessed Babe Ruth. The Carroll Hardy question was another toughie, and it seemed like every possibility was yelled out before someone finally said, "hit into a double play." Close enough. The other three were gotten almost immediately. I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman named Dave afterwards, and he told me he was talking to his dad about the 1967 team, and mentioned that Reggie Smith was the Opening Day second baseman, and not Mike Andrews. He was kicking himself because someone got the answer out before he did.

It was a really fun meeting, and the BLOHARDS are really nice people. It was great to get together with fellow Red Sox fans here in New York as this series with the Yankees is about to begin.

The New Magic Number

The Red Sox now have an eight game lead in the American League East, thanks to the Detroit Tigers thrashing of the Yankees at Comerica Park on Monday night, 16-0. (Thanks to my friend Adam for the picture.)

Trivia Q&A: August 27

We had 11 teams for Trivia on a beautiful Monday night. When I got to the bar, who should be there but Bill (The Spaceman) Lee, the Red Sox great lefty from the 1970s. He was with the BLOHARDS and Brett Rapkin, who made the great documentary about Bill's life and journey to Cuba to play baseball. Bill was holding court, and I had a drink with him and watched the slaughter going on in Detroit. I had met him once before at the birthday bash we had for him at Thom's last December. He's a great guy and cool to hang with and talk baseball.

Trivia went really well, and the scores were pretty high for the first few rounds. (I think I made it easier than I should have.) Name The Author went well again, and I promised one team we wouldn't do it again. The last round saw six teams separated by four points, but a team called I Wish This Microphone... ended up winning, as they were the only team to get as many as 4 of the 5 IQ Trivia questions correct. (It was a rather tough round.)

Congratulations to them on their four-point victory. Next week will be the last Trivia Night on a Monday and the following week it will move over to Tuesday nights as the NFL season begins.

Current Events
1. A team from this US state defeated a team from Tokyo, Japan to win the Little League World Series yesterday.
2. Wildfires raging in this European country have claimed the lives of over 60 people the last four days.
3. Rumors are swirling that this Hollywood actor, who was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night, may have attempted suicide by taking pills and slitting his left wrist.
4. This controversial member of the Bush cabinet resigned on Monday, and gave no reason for his departure.
5. This famous athlete and reality TV star's son was seriously hurt in a car crash in Florida on Sunday.
6. This three-time US Open Men's champion is the number one seed in the tournament, which started today.
7. This legendary rock band ended their two-year tour on Sunday in London, and many believe it might have been their last show ever.
8. There was one winner in last Saturday's Powerball lottery drawing. Within $10 million, how much was the winning ticket worth?
9. For the fifth straight year, this name was again the most popular for both cats and dogs in the US, a recent survey said.
10. A bridge over the Mississippi River in this southern city was closed today because of a connecting pier had sunk a few inches overnight.

Answers: 1. Georgia; 2. Greece; 3. Owen Wilson; 4. Alberto Gonzales; 5. Hulk Hogan; 6. Roger Federer; 7. Rolling Stones; 8. $314 million; 9. Max; 10. Memphis.

Name The Author
1. "The Chamber"
2. "2001: A Space Odyssey"
3. "The Great Gatsby"
4. "The Hunt for Red October"
5. "Murder on the Orient Express"
6. "Waiting to Exhale"
7. "Presumed Innocent"
8. "A Tale of Two Cities"
9. "To Kill a Mockingbird"
10. "The DaVinci Code"

Answers: 1. John Grisham; 2. Arthur C. Clarke; 3. F. Scott Fitzgerald; 4. Tom Clancy; 5. Agatha Christie; 6. Terry McMillan; 7. Scott Turow; 8. Charles Dickens; 9. Harper Lee; 10. Dan Brown.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. The date is entered on a standard bank check on the top right hand corner.
2. Hindi is the official language of Cambodia.
3. A plane flying at Mach 3 is moving at three times the speed of light.
4. A bird has a body part called a "crop."
5. In 1936, Hush Puppies introduced the first classic penny loafer.
6. A female zebra is called a mare.
7. In math, the longest side of a right-angle triangle is called vertex.
8. Vera Wang is most noted for designing shoes.
9. The Rh factor in human blood takes its name from monkeys.
10. Richard Nixon was the last US president who was born in California.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, it is India; 3. false, speed of sound; 4. true; 5. false, it was the G.H. Bass & Co; 6. true; 7. false, it's the hypotenuse; 8. false, she designs wedding dresses; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. When cooking, how does a person truss a turkey?
2. The White House was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire during what war?
3. Since 1970, the official Earth Day has been celebrated during which month?
4. According to legend, Lady Godiva rode naked through the town of Coventry to protest what?
5. What do animal behaviorists call the dominant leader in a group?
6. In her 1998 hit song, what performer sings about "that thing, that thing?"
7. What US president appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first black US Supreme Court justice?
8. What is a hurricane called in Japan?
9. The book, "Gulliver's Travels" first coined which term, referring to a brutish person?
10. During the American Revolution, colonists who still supported the King of England were called what?

Answers: 1. Tie up the legs and wings; 2. War of 1812; 3. April; 4. high taxes; 5. alpha; 6. Lauryn Hill; 7. Lyndon Johnson; 8. typhoon; 9. yahoo; 10. Tories.

IQ Trivia
1. The Spice Islands are part of what country? (5 points)
2. In Delacroix's painting, "Liberty Leading the People," what two items does Liberty hold? (6 points)
3. In 1922, DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace founded which monthly magazine? (5 points)
4. What is a Foley Artist's job on a motion picture? (5 points)
5. What is the term for a student who ranks second academically in their graduating class? (4 points)

Answers: 1. Indonesia; 2. a flag and a rifle; 3. "Reader's Digest;" 4. sound effects; 5. salutatorian.

Monday, August 27, 2007

He Looks Younger Without The Goatee

My friend Adam in Maine sent me a great photo this morning, one of Red Sox captain Jason Varitek back in 1984, when he played in the Little League World Series championship game for Altamonte Springs, Florida against Seoul, South Korea.

Unfortunately, Tek and his Florida pals came up a little short that day, losing to Seoul, 6-2. Tek played shortstop, third base and catcher in three Little League World Series games that year. He went 0 for 7 in the tournament.

I wonder what Young Tek was saying into the microphone that day to ABC. I could just imagine it could have been something like, "I want to be captain of the team that pulls off the greatest postseason comeback on the most arrogant sports franchise in the history of American sports."

If so, Tek got his wish.

It's Time to Start Counting Down

I was watching the conclusion of the Red Sox massacre of the White Sox yesterday at Professor Thom's, when my friends came up with an interesting idea for my blog: count down each of the Red Sox' magic numbers with a photo that pertains to that number.

So, their magic number to win the East stands at 25 this morning, we will begin the countdown with the immortal Tony Conigliaro.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Chicago Massacre

It was a quite a weekend for the Red Sox, as they took the Chicago White Sox out to the woodshed and gave them a beatdown of historic proportions. (The White Sox pitching staff, or what's left of it, is shown in the picture above after today's loss.)

The Red Sox completed a four-game wipeout of the White Sox, 11-1, today at US Cellular Field. They beat Chicago in every facet of the game, and served notice to all the AL contenders, and especially to the team chasing them in the American League East, that they are the premier team in Major League baseball right now.

David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Bobby Kielty all hit home runs, and Julian Tavarez pitched six solid innings in completing the sweep. The Red Sox won their 80th game, and are now 6-1 on the current 10-game road trip they are on, and with New York's loss to the Tigers in Detroit, now have a 7 1/2 game lead in the American League East.

The Red Sox outscored the White Sox, 46-7, and it was worse then the beating the Red Sox took at Fenway in September 1978 against You-Know-Who. The Red Sox scored ten or more runs in each of the four games, and it's the first time they've done that since June of 1950, when the Red Sox scored over 1,000 runs and were the last MLB team to hit over .300 in a season (.302 to be exact). It was just the fourth time in MLB history that a team scored ten runs in each game of a four-game series. It was also the most runs the Sox had scored in a four-game series since 1949 against the St. Louis Browns.

It was simply a glorious weekend for the boys from Boston. They got four quality starts from their starters. Josh Beckett allowed three runs in the first 5 2/3 innings in Game 1, and in the final 30 1/3 innings, they allowed just four runs, and they all came on three home runs.

The Sox scored an amazing 21 runs in the series from the 7th inning on. Three of the four games were actually close at the sixth inning, but the Red Sox turned it on near the end and just pummeled Chicago. They beat their two best pitchers, Javier Vazquez and Mark Buehrle, after both had gotten off to good starts in their respective starts.

My friend Adam also sent me an email tonight with some interesting facts about the Red Sox and Yankees right now. The Sox now have a better record than New York in the month of August (Sox are 16-9, Yankees are 15-9), and the Red Sox now have a better record in the second half than they did in the first half (.614 winning percentage in the second half, .609 in the first). Not bad for a team that was supposed to be "slumping," eh?

They are putting it all together at exactly the right time. This weekend was very much one of "kicking ass and taking names." New York plays the Tigers at Comerica Park tomorrow night to complete their four-game series. The Red Sox lead will either be 7 or 8 games when the first pitch is thrown at Yankee Stadium between the Sox and Yankees Tuesday night.

The Yankees are on notice. The Red Sox are on the way.

Authors Trivia Again

Monday Night Trivia this week will once again feature "Name The Author," which we did last week. It was well-received, and I decided to bring it back for another go round. (It is not coming back next week, as we will have a brand new category then.) Like last week, I will give you the title of a classic or contemporary book, and you have to tell me the author's name.

The other usual categories will be back, including The Q Train lightning round. Trivia will begin shortly after 9 PM, as there is no Red Sox game on Monday night.

Here is the Sneak Peek question:

Since 1970, the official Earth Day has been celebrated during which month?

I caution my readers out there to please not give any guesses to the answer here. Thanks.

See you Monday night!

Rolling at Just the Right Time

It was another rout in Chi Town yesterday as the Red Sox beat up on the White Sox again, this time to the tune of 14-2. Tim Wakefield pitched another gem, allowing just three hits in seven solid innings to join Josh Beckett as MLB's only 16-game winners.

The Red Sox surge is coming at just the right time, with the Yankees series looming on the horizon. They have outscored Chicago in this series, 35-6, and are clicking in every facet of the game: timely hitting (and lots of it), great starting pitching, a rested bullpen and good defense. Before the ten-game road trip started in Tampa on Monday, I looked at the upcoming ten games and thought, "6-4." Well, as I write this, the Red Sox have gone 5-1 so far, so it looks good that they will reach that figure, and perhaps a lot better than that.

It was the first time since July 2000 in Minnesota that the Red Sox have scored ten runs or more in three straight games. Bobby Kielty had three hits and four RBI, and deserves more playing time in right field. Mike Lowell had four hits and two RBI to pace the attack. (I couldn't see any of it, as I had to follow the game from updates on TV and my cell phone. As my friend Steve says, "Fox ruins baseball.")

But the story continues to be the amazing renaissance of Wakefield. His knucklers have been dancing more and more and absolutely befuddling hitters. Kevin Cash has done a nice job handling it in the last two games he caught Wake, in place of Doug Mirabelli.

Julian Tavarez goes for the Red Sox today, as they go for a sweep. They will be a minimum of 5 games up as the series in the Bronx starts on Tuesday night, and a maximum of 8, depending upon the results of the next two days. Should be fun this week.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Good Sox 21, Rotten Sox 4

The Red Sox pulled off a doubleheader sweep yesterday in Chicago, whipping the White Sox 11-3 and 10-1. It was a big doubleheader for David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis. Josh Beckett won his MLB-leading 16th game, and Curt Schilling picked up a win in the nightcap. They further gained a game and a half as the Yankees lost to the Tigers, 9-6, at 3:30 AM this morning.

I caught the first game of the twinbill on the MLB package. I was subjected to the White Sox broadcasting duo of Ken Harrelson and Darrin Jackson. By the bottom of the first, I had the sound on mute. Their unabashed homerism makes me want to vomit big time. I simply don't enjoy any broadcast where the announcers are so biased and openly rooting for the home team. Granted, every home announcing team is with the team they are employed by, but these clowns go so far overboard. It is simply shameless, and the first time Harrelson called the White Sox, "the Sox," "us" and "the good guys,"I hit the mute button. (Note to Hawk: when two teams are both called The Sox, it's time to differentiate between the two. It's like calling them "Chicago" when they are playing the Cubs.)

It was a long afternoon for their team, and when I did put on the sound when the Red Sox were scoring runs, they sounded positively funereal. I was in a room on my computer without a TV during the late innings yesterday, so I had to rely on the sound of the game. During certain hits, they said almost nothing, and from the crowd cheering (the Red Sox fans, that is), I knew the Red Sox had done something good.

Thank goodness for the fans of America, the nightcap was broadcast by NESN, as will be the series finale on Sunday.

I went to KeySpan Park last night, and saw the Brooklyn Cyclones lose a doubleheader to the Oneonta Tigers. (I also got a chance to meet Kyle Petersen, the vendor who does an amazing juggling act in the park. Nice guy too. Kyle also did some juggling with his right hand as he held a case of beer on his head that he was selling with his left. That's real talent!) The Cyclones are still in first, but they played lousy in all facets of the game yesterday. The fans got a treat as Paul LoDuca, on rehab, played in both games, and homered in Game 2. I listened to both the Mets and Red Sox games on the radio, and at least that made me feel a lot better.

I actually stayed up late and saw the finale of the Yankees-Tigers game early this morning. They actually waited four hours to start, and the contest went to 11 innings before Carlos Guillen hit a three-run homer to win it, 9-6. It was amazing the number of fans who waited out the rain, and a huge number were there for the finish. (But it was borderline criminal to make the fans wait that long.) Joe Torre wanted this win badly, as he emptied out his pen after Clemens, "The Yankee Savior," got pummeled again for 6 runs in 5 innings. Once he brought Sean Henn in for the 11th I knew the game was going to end there. It completed a great night, and I turned in knowing the Red Sox lead was back up to 6 1/2 games.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Impossible To Forget" Last Night

Last night at Professor Thom's, we had the viewing of the "Impossible To Forget: The Story of the 1967 Red Sox." The crowd wasn't huge, but we all had a good time watching. And when Yours Truly popped up, I heard some scattered applause among my friends. I thought it was a really well-made documentary, and director Brett Rapkin was among the patrons. Brett did a great job with the interviews and mixing in great old footage from the mid-1960s. It's narrated by Mike O'Malley and it also featured interviews with people like Bob Ryan, Dan Shaughnessy, Ted Kennedy and Theo Epstein.

And me, too. (I was identified as "Red Sox Trivia Maven." Nice touch.)

I had to "beat back" the autograph hounds afterwards. ("Go talk to my agent," I told them.) A few of my friends were giving me some good-natured razing afterwards. Still, I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and I was proud to take part in it.

As we waited for the Red Sox-White Sox to begin as they were in a rain delay, my friend Chris put on an extra added feature of the DVD: the next-to-last game of the 1967 season between the Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. It was broadcast by NBC nationally, and it was a treat to watch a game from 40 years ago in its entirety. I also went to the computer and printed out the box score of the game from Baseball Reference, and followed along with it. The differences between baseball then and now are so incredible. Just watching that game is worth the price of the DVD itself.

The game in Chicago was rained out, but I really enjoyed the evening. The DVD is great for any Red Sox fan who remembers that wonderful year of 1967, or for any Red Sox fan, period.

Even if I do say so myself.

Lester Returns to the Minors

The Red Sox sent Jon Lester to AA Portland last night, and brought Javier Lopez back from Pawtucket. It's a move that makes a lot of sense, as it gives the Red Sox a situational lefty, especially for the upcoming series in New York. Lester will get one start with the Sea Dogs, and then return to the Red Sox for his start on September 2. Julian Tavarez will now get the start on Sunday against the White Sox.

The weather is playing havoc with the series in Chicago, as the Red Sox and White Sox were rained out last night. A day/night doubleheader is scheduled for today, but the forecast for Chicago all day is not good. Hopefully they can get one game in. However, more rainouts could really change the Sox rotation for the upcoming New York series. We'll see about that.

Both teams have a mutual off day on September 24, so that is a viable makeup day, even if two games are lost this weekend. The game on Saturday is on Fox at 4 PM (not seen in NYC as the Mets-Dodgers will be on), so a day/night DH is not possible. Hey, I have an idea. How about playing a twi-night doubleheader that night, if necessary?

Yes, a twinbill for one price. You remember those, right?

Simply Beneath Contempt

As many of you who read my blog know, I am a big reader of the "Letters to the Editor" columns in the newspapers, and I have commented here from time to time on those that have garnered my interest, but mostly in a negative vein I'm afraid.

Well, on Thursday, I saw one in the New York Daily News that really royally pissed me off, and I thought I would answer it back here, as I know the News will get a number of angry letters about it, especially from the families of the 9/11 victims.

I will begin by letting you read it.

The towering inferno
Staten Island: Yes, someone should be held accountable for the Deutsche Bank fire - the 9/11 families. Anytime the mayor or the governor wants to take two steps forward at Ground Zero, the families show the world their teeth and tears and everyone takes four steps backward. I'm deeply sorry for their loss, but if it hadn't been for their constant meddling, the Deutsche Bank building would have been torn down a long time ago.
Dave Dimeo

So basically, this guy Dimeo is saying that the 9/11 families, who suffered catastrophic losses most people can simply not fathom, are to held accountable for the tragic deaths of those two heroic firefighters last Saturday? He wants to lay the blame at the feet of people who've been through the worst tragedy in American history, had their loved ones brutally taken away for nothing more than going to work in the World Trade Center one awful morning?

I really think this guy should have his head examined. Really.

Dimeo doesn't seem to blame the real culprits in the holdup for the removal of the Deutsche Bank Building, that is the city and state. The 9/11 families have shown tremendous courage and zeal in their efforts that a lasting and beautiful memorial be in place for the world to remember their loved ones. They have also been equally courageous in holding those accountable who rushed to get the World Trade Center cleared after the disaster, and nearly six years later we are still finding bones and other remains of those poor souls lost at Ground Zero.

It absolutely boggles my mind that someone would hold those people accountable for the tragedy that took the lives of those firefighters last week. Look toward those who actually started the fire (possibly some workmen) and hold accountable those who didn't allow those steampipes to carry water that might have saved those men's lives.

The Deutsche Bank Building should have torn down years ago, but those involved in all the legal wrangling surrounding the building are the ones who are responsible for the fact it is not yet gone. (And I don't point fingers at them as being responsible for the firefighters' deaths.) This Dimeo sounds totally insincere about being "deeply sorry for their loss" while at the same time using the 9/11 families as scapegoats for this terrible tragedy.

I have stood with many of the 9/11 families at different events (especially at the 9/11 remembrances), and gotten to know some of them. I am proud to be associated with them. They have shown such incredible courage and determination in the face of catastrophic and overwhelming tragedy. It has been truly inspiring to me.

I would guess that Dimeo has never been in any kind of similar situation that these families have been in. They live with the fact their loved ones were murdered in the worst event to ever happen in this country. One of my friends who suffered the loss of his brother has told me stories of getting emails (very much like the letter Dimeo wrote) from uncaring and callous individuals who question the motivation of the 9/11 families and thinks of them as nothing but greedy publicity seekers who want to make a buck off their horrible loss. The vitriol that's been hurled at the families of the 9/11 victims has been at times hard to fathom, and I really believe some of those idiots should be ashamed of themselves for it.

It just amazes me that there are individuals out there who feel that way. I only pray they are never put in a similar situation that the 9/11 families find themselves in. They live with the disaster of 9/11 every day and their lives will never be the same again. I pray for the victims and their families every night, and pray they find peace.

Anyone who believes that because of their efforts that the 9/11 families cost the lives of those firefighters really needs to get help.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'd Rather Lose 30-3

These are the kind of games that drive me crazy. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches another good game, allows just a B.J. Upton home run in the sixth, one of just two hits he allowed. But the offense wastes tons of opportunities to score runs against a 3-12 pitcher (Edwin Jackson), and the league's worst pitching staff and bullpen.

The Red Sox left an astounding 14 men on base in a thoroughly revolting 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay last night. They were an anemic 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The offense again stopped hitting in the clutch. This is what continues to worry me about this team. The pitching continues to be very good. There have been small bumps here and there, but you can generally count on the starters to come through almost every night.

But dropping games at the stage of the season, and in the manner the Red Sox lost last night is just unacceptable. The lead was cut back to 5 again as the Yankees won in Anaheim.

I just don't know what the offense has against Dice-K. In 12 of his last 16 starts, they have scored two or fewer runs for him. They've scored a grand total of 29 runs for him in his last 11 starts (and the Texas Rangers would have bested that with just last night's opening game). His record is now at 13-10, but it should be better than that. With a little more luck, he could easily have 17 right now. And what's going on with him and Tampa Bay? The Red Sox are 9-3 against them this season, about where you'd expect them to be in the season series at least. But all three losses have been hung on Dice-K, and two them were good efforts by him, only to have the offense not produce when it counted. And he's the only pitcher that Tampa Bay has beaten three times this season. Ugh.

As terribly embarrassing as the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 loss in the first game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers was yesterday, dropping a game to the worst team in baseball where one hit would have turned the game the other way hurts worse. You don't look back at extreme blowouts for very long. You just turn the page and come out slugging the next day.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. You don't want to look back on games like last night in October and utter those three previous words.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Rain and The D-Rays: A Tough Combo

It was a bit of a slow night at Professor Thom's last night, as we had our monthly "Kayreoke" broadcast in the bar. The crowd was rather light for two reasons: the Red Sox were playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (the bar is never crowded playing them), and the rainy chilly night certainly kept some people away.

But we did manage to have Kayreoke for three innings, and I did the announcing of the long top of the fourth when the Red Sox scored five runs. It was definitely the longest single outing of Kayreoke I've ever done. The documentary filmmakers from Bombo Films were in, and I even did a segment with them as I was trying to get people to sign up to do a half-inning (but without much success).

It was still a fun night as the Red Sox and Jon Lester won, 8-6. Lester wasn't sharp at all, giving up 5 runs on two home runs in 5 1/3 innings. It was a little touch and go there at the end, as the pesky D-Rays wouldn't go away, cutting a five-run Red Sox lead down to 2. Jonathan Papelbon looked spectacular, striking out three of the four hitters he faced in 1 1/3 innings for his 30th save. He's now the first Red Sox reliever ever to get two 30-save seasons.

The hit of the night was David Ortiz' first inning triple to drive in the first run. Ol' Wheels was rumbling around the bases on a gapper he hit and just beat the throw into third. It was his first triple since last September.

Later during the game, my buddy Joe turned to me and said, "I shouldn't have to get nervous in games against Tampa Bay, but I am."

I said in response, "The Red Sox always make me nervous."

The Mets came from behind in the ninth to win, 7-6, and a few Mets fans in the bar cheered. Many stayed in the bar as the Yankees game in Anaheim was beginning, and the Angels jumped out a quick 2-0 lead. In the second, they batted around against Mike Mussina and knocked him out with the score, 7-1. The bar was jumping, but from their I called it a night. I caught the remained of the carnage at home and saw the Angels wallop New York, 18-9, as Garret Anderson had a night for the ages, driving in 10 runs with two homers.

As I write this, the Red Sox lead is now 6 games. Daisuke Matsuzaka goes for the sweep tonight at St. Petersburg.

Brave Enough Behind Enemy Lines

This is my 900th post (I'm 90% of the way to 1000), and I thought I'd dedicate this to a magazine that I received last Friday that I was a part of.

I mentioned a while back that I was interviewed for a magazine for those Red Sox fans who are members of "Red Sox Nation." Well, I finally got a copy of the magazine, and I was very pleased with how it all turned out.

It's really a nice magazine, called "Red Sox Nation 2007 Annual: Red Sox Rooters." Editor Jerry Spar was kind enough to send it to me (even though I'm not a member). It is dedicated to the fans of Red Sox Nation, with all kinds of articles about Red Sox fans from not just Boston and New England, but all over the world. On page 32, there's an article about us brave souls who live in the New York area (called "Behind Enemy Lines"). And on that page is a photo of Yours Truly, with the skyline of Manhattan behind me. (I attempted to put the actual photo up here on my site but for some unknown reason I could not.)

I am also quoted in the article, and I'm glad they used what I said about the Riviera ALCS Game 7 in 2003, and in 2004 also. They also used a nice plug I gave to Professor Thom's as well.

Also inside the magazine they have listing of some of the best bars around the US to watch the Red Sox in. They gave a nice article about Thom's (with a picture of my pal Chris in there), and some other fine places in NYC to watch them. But interestingly, no mention of The Riviera at all. Not that I'm complaining or anything...

There's also a section for Red Sox bloggers on the web, and some of my friends on the web, such as Cormac Eklof of Dublin, Jere Smith, and Joanna Hicks were interviewed. They listed their sites, and included my "Brooklyn Sox Fan" site on Bornintoit.com. That was nice of them, but what, no mention of The Mighty Quinn Media Machine? I'll have to have a talk with them about this at some point.

Just kidding about that. I was really glad to be a part of the magazine, and they did a really nice job with it. Good job, guys.

Red Sox Acquire Chris Carter

I heard yesterday that the Red Sox picked up a player from the Arizona Diamondbacks (through the Washington Nationals) to complete the Wily Mo Pena trade. It is a minor league first baseman named Chris Carter. When I heard the name I immediately thought of the two gentlemen both pictured here.

The man on the top is Cris Carter (note the spelling), one of my all-time favorite Minnesota Viking players and future NFL Hall of Famer. (I still have an number 80 Cris Carter jersey in my closet.) And the photo at the bottom is of Chris Carter, the creator of one of my all-time favorite science fiction series, "The X-Files."

Actually the Chris Carter in question is a young 24-year old first baseman who's put up very good numbers in the Pacific Coast League this year. For Tucson he hit .324, with 18 home runs and 84 RBI. Here is his profile, courtesy of Minor League baseball web site: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Chris%20Carter&pos=&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=452080

I've always liked guys with his name, so maybe he can become a good player with the Red Sox one day. I wonder if he will become my third "all-time favorite" Chris Carter?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kayreoke Returns Tonight

At Professor Thom's tonight, the wildly-popular Kayreoke, where fans get to call half-innings of Red Sox games, will be back for the Red Sox-Devil Rays game. (We will be getting the NESN broadcasters feed, so I hope Don and Jerry will forgive us.) We will probably start around the third inning, depending on how many people sign up. I will once again by your genial host for all the festivities. It's always a lot of fun, so I hope you can come and join us and take at shot at calling the action.

And, as an added incentive, the filmmakers from Bombo Films will be in to film for the third time for an upcoming documentary that will be out some time early next year. It's about the 2007 Sox and their fans. (They are the same people who made the "Still, We Believe" movie, about the 2003 Red Sox. The new film is a follow up to the previous one.) So, come in and get famous!

On Thursday night, we will be having a showing at the bar of the DVD of "Impossible to Forget: The Story of the 1967 Red Sox," which I was interviewed for. I have not yet seen it, put I hear it turned out very well. The viewing will begin at 7 PM, as the Red Sox-White Sox game will start just after 8 PM. And at 9 PM, the Boston Teabag Party will take place in The Loft above the bar at Professor Thom's. It's a great night where Boston-area comedians take center stage and show off their talents.

Here's more on the DVD: http://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Forget-Story-Boston-Red/dp/B000PC1PAM

It's a busy time at Professor Thom's the next few days, so I hope you can join in on the fun.

Classy Gesture From Wily Mo

I saw in today's Boston Herald that Wily Mo Pena, the newest Washington National (who hit his second homer for the Nats last night), released a statement on Sunday through his new team, thanking the Red Sox fans for their support. Here it is:

“To my sisters, brothers and fans of the Red Sox Nation. I want to take a moment to thank you and the entire Red Sox organization for your support during my time in Boston. Your constant passion for baseball and your beloved Red Sox is unmatched and has touched me deeply. I will always consider you with a special place in my heart.

“The Red Sox organization deserves only the best and the Red Sox Nation is just that. Peace in life, Wily Modesto Pena.”


A really classy move from a player who by all accounts was a really good guy. He was good with the press and fans and worked hard to improve his game. Boston simply wasn't a good fit for Wily Mo, and the Sox may have done him a favor by sending him to Washington, where he may get a chance to play every day. If he does and plays well, good for him.

All the best in D.C., Wily Mo. Sorry Boston didn't work out for you.

Trivia Q&A: August 20

We had a huge crowd for the Red Sox-Devil Rays game on Monday night, and the majority of folks stuck around for Trivia Night. There were 20 teams involved, and there was a feeling of intensity in the air as we got under way.

The BLOHARDS were in for the game, and had their own team. They have been undefeated on the nights they've played. We had a really tight race throughout the night. The numbers for the special category, Name The Author, weren't bad at all. Most teams blew through both True or False and General Knowledge.

Going into the IQ Trivia final round, we had five teams separated by just two points. And for the first time in its short history, IQ Trivia saw four teams run the table and get all 25 points in the round. It also saw the top two teams, The BLOHARDS and Thurman Munson's Flying Circus (yes, good taste is NOT a prerequisite for a team name) tied after it was over.

My pal Chris (who was working for Jim) came up with a great tie-breaker. Since both teams were filled with Red Sox fans, he came up with this: "When Vern Stephens and Ted Williams tied for the AL RBI title in 1949, how many did they both have?" Whichever team was closest would win. Thurman Munson guessed 150, while The BLOHARDS went with 146. The answer was 159, so The Flying Circus won the tiebreaker and the game.

It was one of the best nights of Trivia we've had in the 14 months that I've been hosting it. We'll be back again next Monday night, and a bit earlier (just after 9 PM) since the Red Sox will be off that night.

Current Events
1. In a recent US News and World Report survey, this East Coast university was selected for the eighth straight year as the top university in the USA.
2. This South American country was rocked by an 8.0 registered earthquake, killing hundreds.
3. This hurricane struck Jamaica and the Yucatan this past weekend, and maybe headed for Texas later this week.
4. This legendary hard rock singer announced last week he's setting up a $2 million Christian center for at-risk youths in Phoenix.
5. A Chinese Airlines jet burst into flames on Monday after it arrived in this Asian country, but all 165 people on board escaped without injury.
6. This legendary "Queen of Mean" died earlier today at her home in Connecticut at the age of 87.
7. Relentless storms dropped over a foot of rain on two Midwest states this past weekend, and caused 6 deaths. Name one of the two states.
8. This teen comedy rolled up over $31 million this past weekend and was number one at the box office last week.
9. This space shuttle is scheduled to return to Earth, weather-permitting, on Tuesday afternoon. 10. One of the most active volcanoes in this state could be on the verge of a massive eruption at any time, scientists said last week.

Answers: 1. Princeton; 2. Peru; 3. Dean; 4. Alice Cooper; 5. Japan; 6. Leona Helmsley; 7. Minnesota and Wisconsin; 8. "Superbad;" 9. Endeavour; 10. Alaska.

Name The Author
1. "The Green Mile"
2. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"
3. "Wiseguy"
4. "I, The Jury"
5. "Profiles In Courage"
6. "Moby Dick"
7. "Catcher in the Rye"
8. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
9. "The Color Purple"
10. "Get Shorty"

Answers: 1. Stephen King; 2. Ken Kesey; 3. Nicholas Pileggi; 4. Mickey Spillane; 5. John F. Kennedy; 6. Herman Melville; 7. J.D. Salinger; 8. L. Frank Baum; 9. Alice Walker; 10. Elmore Leonard.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. Theology is the study of music composition.
2. Actor Mark Wahlberg recorded albums under the name Marky Mark.
3. The Statue of Liberty is the landmark seen on the beach at the end of "Planet of the Apes."
4. Eggs Florentine must include the vegetable spinach.
5. "The Green Boy" is the title of a famous painting by Thomas Gainsborough.
6. Chelsea Clinton was named after a song called "Chelsea Morning" by Joni Mitchell.
7. Alfred Hitchcock was once a spokesman for Paul Masson wines.
8. Lexington is the state capital of Kentucky.
9. Philadelphia is the primary setting for the film, "The Sixth Sense."
10. The Beaufort scale measures wind velocity.

Answers: 1. false, it's divinity; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, it's "The Blue Boy;" 6. true; 7. false, Orson Welles was; 8. false, it's Frankfort; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Who was the first US president to make an official visit to Moscow?
2. What does the "P" stand for in the radio network NPR?
3. The body of Egypt's Great Sphinx is modeled after what animal?
4. In which US state would you find the mountain resort of Jackson Hole?
5. In the 1998 film, "Say Anything," Lloyd plays a tape of what song outside Diane's window?
6. What type of door is divided in half so that either the top or bottom part can be opened separately?
7. In what game would you find mallets and wickets?
8. What instrument was jazz legend John Coltrane best known for playing?
9. "Married With Children" father Al Bundy worked as a disgruntled what?
10. In the 1945 novel, "Brideshead Revisited," what is Brideshead?

Answers: 1. Richard Nixon; 2. Public; 3. lion; 4. Wyoming; 5. "In Your Eyes;" 6. dutch door; 7. croquet; 8. saxophone; 9. shoe salesman; 10. family estate.

IQ Trivia
1. What method of food preservation did Nicolas Appert develop to help feed Napoleon's army? (6 points)
2. In their last game of the 1980 Olympics, whom did the US hockey team defeat to win the gold medal? (4 points)
3. Who was exposed as the anonymous author of the political bestseller, "Primary Colors?" (5 points)
4. Who was the captain of a craft called Kon-Tiki? (5 points)
5. Which Asian country uses the baht as its official unit of currency? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. canning; 2. Finland; 3. Joe Klein; 4. Thor Heyerdahl; 5. Thailand.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Authors Trivia On Monday

Monday Night Trivia will have a special category this week: Name The Author. I am going to give you either a classic or contemporary book title, and you have to name the author. The usual four categories will be part of Trivia Night as well.

The Red Sox take on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from St. Petersburg at 7 PM, and our friends The BLOHARDS will be taking part this week. (They cancelled at the last minute last week, but I've been assured they will be in Professor Thom's tonight. So it should be a great round of trivia tonight. We should get going after 9:30, whenever the Red Sox game concludes.

The Sneak Peek question is:

"Who was the first US president to make an official visit to Moscow?"

See you on Monday night!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Welcome to My New Format

As many of you longtime readers of The Mighty Quinn Media Machine can now see, I have changed the template of the blog, and I have converted it to bring in some new features, like the "Red Sox News" section on the left hand side of the blog. I hope you like the new look. Thanks to my pal Chris for all his assistance in updating the site. I will be working on it the next few days to bring back all the pictures and icons that are currently missing. I'm also looking forward to all the new stuff I will also be bringing onboard very soon.

The Comeback Kids

Curt Schilling didn't have it last night, giving up 5 runs in six innings, but the Red Sox staged a dramatic comeback from 5-0 down, scoring 6 runs in the fifth and four more in the eighth to beat the LA Angels last night, 10-5. It was Schilling's first win since his near no-hitter back in June.

David Ortiz capped the comeback with a grand slam that put the Red Sox ahead to stay (pictured). It was looking rather grim in the fifth as Schilling gave up a home run to Vladimir Guerrero, but the offense came alive against Jered Weaver in the inning, knocking him out of the game.

It is the fourth time this week that the Sox have come from behind. The staged the dramatic two-run ninth on Tuesday; came from six runs down on Wednesday, only to come up one run short in the ninth; they came from three runs down in the second game on Friday with a four-run eighth to take the lead, only to have Eric Gagne get torched in the ninth; and yesterday's return from a five-run deficit to win.

One thing that had been worrying me about this team was the offense in general, and they didn't seem to have a great ability to come back from big deficits. They've shown me something this week.

Bobby Kielty was added to the roster last night, and Jacoby Ellsbury was optioned back to Pawtucket. He'll get a start today, and Julian Tavarez will get a spot start as well. This will allow Tim Wakefield, undefeated at the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, to get the start against Scott Kazmir tomorrow night. It also sets up the Red Sox rotation nicely for the New York series beginning August 28, with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling pitching in succession.

Another Tragedy at Ground Zero

Two firefighters died yesterday at a fire at the now-abandoned Deutsche Bank Building on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan, right across the street from the World Trade Center site.

I watched the drama unfold on television last night, and it brought back painful memories of six years ago. Seeing floors of a skyscraper on fire with smoke billowing out was heartbreaking to witness, especially where it was coming from. The building was severely damaged due to the Twin Towers' collapse, and was being demolished slowly, due to the asbestos and toxins damage. It stood there for years because of legal wrangling, but last year, the demolition finally began.

The fire started on the 17th floor, and at this time it is not known yet what caused it. The two firefighters, Joe Graffagnino and Robert Beddia, were trapped on the 14th floor and died due to smoke inhalation. They were from Engine 24/Ladder 5 in Greenwich Village, which lost 11 firefighters on September 11, 2001. The house also lost three firefighters in a blaze in 1994, which included a good friend of my father.

As the son of a retired New York City firefighter, it always hits me hard when I hear that one of New York's Bravest has made the ultimate sacrifice. But when it has happened again at the place where so many gave the lives one terrible morning six years ago, it makes it all that much worse.

I was further saddened to learn on Sunday night that Firefighter Robert Beddia (pictured) was also a good friend of my pal Chris, and had frequented our old hangout, The Blind Tiger, over on Hudson and West 10th Streets. In 2004 and 2005, we'd go over to the Tiger after watching Red Sox and Patriots games over at the Riviera for some aftergame refreshment. (Thanks to Chris for the photo as well.) I'm sure that Mr. Beddia and I had met at some point one of those nights.

My deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the fallen firefighters, especially Robert Beddia.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Somber 40th Anniversary Remembrance

He was a local kid, from Revere, Massachusetts. He brought some hope to fans of a team that had very little of it for a long time. He was handsome, had a beautiful swing, and led the American League in home runs in 1965. He exploded onto the Red Sox baseball scene with a home run in his first game at Fenway Park in 1964, at the age of 19.

Tony Conigliaro had the world at his feet in 1967. He had just made his first All-Star Game appearance that season, and had 20 home runs by mid-August. He was the youngest player in history to reach 100 home runs, at the age of 22. The Red Sox were in the middle of their first pennant race in over a dozen years, and the fans of New England were excited about the game for the first time in what seemed like ages.

And with one pitch, on August 18, 1967 from California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton, everything changed for Tony Conigliaro.

It was a fastball that kept on riding in on Tony C, and the more he tried to get out of the way, the more it zoomed in on him. It struck him on the left cheekbone, and those players who witnessed it will never forget the sickening thud the sound of the ball hitting him made. (Hamilton to this day insists he was not throwing at Tony C, but he did throw a spitter from time to time, he once admitted.) It broke his cheekbone, and his eye swelled up, and his vision was damaged.

Tony C suffered retinal damage, and was forced to miss the remainder of the 1967 season, as the Red Sox went on to win the 1967 AL pennant in their "Impossible Dream" season. The damage was so severe that he was also forced to site out the entire 1968 season as well.

He made a remarkable return in 1969, hitting a home run on Opening Day in Baltimore, a win over the Orioles. He hit 20 HRs, 82 RBI in 141 games in 1969, and was voted The Comeback Player of the Year in the AL. The next season hit hit 36 HRs, 116 RBIs, which were both career highs for him. He was also voted The Hutch Award that season. ( It is given to the Major League ballplayer that best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of the late Fred Hutchinson, the former Cincinnati Reds manager who died of cancer in 1965.)

The Red Sox traded him that winter in a multi-player deal to the California Angels. He played a half-season for the Angels, hitting just 4 home runs, and decided to retire, due to the injuries he suffered due to the beaning. In 1975, he attempted a comeback with the Red Sox as a designated hitter, and played 15 games that year. But the damage to his eyesight was just too severe, and this time retired for good.

Tony C tried to get back in the game in 1982, this time as a broadcaster with the Red Sox. After what appeared to be a successful tryout, he suffered a heart attack that January, and while in the hospital, suffered a stroke that put him into a coma. He lingered in what was a vegetative state for eight years and never recovered. Tony C died on February 24, 1990, at the all-too-young age of 45.

The Red Sox will honor the memory of Tony Conigliaro before the Saturday night game (ironically enough, against the Angels) on the 40th anniversary of what is one of the worst moments in the history of Fenway Park. Tony C is a legendary name in Red Sox history, and will always remain that way. The Red Sox immortalized him earlier this year by naming a new section of bleachers above right field, "Conigliaro's Corner." It was a great honor for the local kid with a ton of talent who looked like he was taking his first steps to the Hall of Fame. (If you look at Baseball Reference, the great web site, Tony C is compared in his first three seasons to two legendary baseball home runs hitters: Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson.)

I can't help but think of the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, a 19th century poet and fellow Massachusetts native, when it comes to Tony Conigliaro: "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been.'"

Hat Trick

For the third time in a week, Eric Gagne let a Red Sox lead in the late innings go up in smoke as allowed three runs in the ninth inning after a great 8th inning rally by the Red Sox, and they could only manage a split in Friday's doubleheader with a 7-5 loss in Game 2.

Gagne has now allowed a truly astounding 10 runs and 14 hits in just six innings in a Red Sox uniform (that is a 15.00 ERA for those of you keeping score at home). There is something clearly wrong with him, as he had all kinds of trouble locating his fastball again, and the Angels hitters were waiting on it.

You now have to wonder if Terry Francona can afford to keep going to Gagne in the late innings with a lead. He used Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon in Game 1, so using Gagne to close made all the sense in the world and I had no problem with him doing it. And especially since Gagne showed flashes of his old self in getting the win over Tampa Bay last Tuesday. Any goodwill Gagne started to get had again evaporated, and the boo birds will be back out in full force. It's now in Francona's court what to do with him. (I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.)

The Sox got a great effort from Josh Beckett (7 innings and two runs) and a lousy one from Manny Delcarmen (one inning and two runs), and they pulled off a great comeback in the eighth, getting four runs to grab a 5-4 lead, led by David Ortiz' two-run double. Papi had big hits in both games, which is a great sign, and J.D. Drew had five hits in the twinbill.

Then Gagne came in and ruined everyone's night.

But it wasn't finished with Gagne's torching. Kevin Youkilis clearly fouled tipped a two-strike pitch in the ninth, which got away from the Angels' catcher. Youk was called out, and he and Terry Francona both went bananas (pictured), with Tito getting tossed. Replays clearly showed both the home plate and first base umps (Brian Runge and Mark Wegner) got the call very wrong. (Hey umps, if Youk didn't foul off the pitch, why didn't he run to first when the ball skipped by the catcher?)

Just goes to what I've been saying all year. MLB is loaded with incompetent umpires who blow even the simplest of calls. I have not seen so many blown calls in my life than this season, and I'm not just talking about the ones going against the Red Sox either. Rarely now do I see a game where something is not missed. Runge called a horrible game behind the plate, and that was for both teams. I hope both those lousy umps have the decency to come out and admit tomorrow that they blew the call on Youk in the ninth.

But of course, being MLB umpires, they won't. Complete imbeciles.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Buchholz Wins, Dougie to the DL

Clay Buchholz pitched six gritty innings in his Fenway Park debut as the Red Sox clipped the LA Angels, 8-4, in the first of a doubleheader this afternoon.

Unfortunately, the Sox lost Doug Mirabelli to a calf injury as he was rounding third base in the first while scoring the sixth run of the inning. He will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Jason Varitek had to go in to catch the game, and will probably catch Game 2 as well. The Red Sox have recalled catcher Kevin Cash from Pawtucket to take Mirabelli's slot.

Buchholz gave up four runs (three earned) while walking three and striking out five. He looked shaky to start the game, as he walked Chone Figgins on four pitches. But he settled down, allowing just one unearned run that inning (courtesy of a J.D. Drew error). The Sox came out firing in the bottom of the first, scoring six runs including a two-run shot by David Ortiz off John Lackey.

Buchholz showed some good poise, as he was under pressure in most innings, but pitched his way out of most of it. It is not surprising to see why the Red Sox think so highly of him, and why he is the top rated prospect in the Red Sox system. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon finished up for Clay to wrap up the win, which extended the Sox lead in the AL East to 6 games.

Buchholz now returns to Pawtucket, where we'll see him back in September, when the rosters are expanded. He could definitely be another power arm who can help the Red Sox reach the Promised Land this October.

So Long Wily Mo, We Hardly Knew Ye

As was expected today, the Red Sox finally and mercifully ended The Wily Mo Pena Era in Boston, as he was traded to the Washington Nationals along with cash considerations for the dubious player to be named later.

My friend Eddie in Maryland, a huge Nats fan, won't like this.

Clay Buchholz was added to the roster as Pena was dealt to the Nats. He has always been a favorite of washington GM Jim Bowden, who had him in Cincinnati. The Red Sox tried to move Pena there in the off-season as they attempted to get Chad Cordero. But that never became anything.

The Red Sox finally publicly admitted what everyone else in baseball was saying, that the trade for Bronson Arroyo last season was a complete and total bust. Pena never got an opportunity to play regularly, and he clearly was noy a fourth outfielder. He may get the chance to play every day in Washington. If he does succeed in Washington, God bless him. It just wasn't going to happen for him in Boston.

The Red Sox only got a player to be named in the deal, but that doesn't matter. It was addition by subtraction. A valuable roster spot is now opened to Jacoby Ellsbury, and probably soon to Bobby Kielty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Buchholz, Ellsbury Coming Up Friday

The Red Sox are expected to recall standout young righthander Clay Buchholz (pictured) from AAA Pawtucket tomorrow and give him the start in the first game of the doubleheader against the LA Angels at Fenway Park. Terry Francona wanted to give Curt Schilling an extra day of rest and will pitch him on Saturday, with Josh Beckett pitching Game 2 on Friday night.

Buchholz is the highest ranked of all the Red Sox prospects. He is 8-3 for the 2007 season, as he split time between AA Portland and Pawtucket. Here is more on him: http://www.soxprospects.com/players/buchholz-clay.htm

Calling up both Buchholz and Ellsbury, who was very impressive in his time up earlier this season, certainly means the end of the road in Boston for Wily Mo Pena. It is expected he will be traded or designated for assignment before Game 1. Buchholz will return to Pawtucket after his start, and Ellsbury will be added for Game 2. Ellsbury was hitting a ton at AAA recently and currently has a 13-game hitting streak. It is a little bit surprising to see him coming up now, as it was thought that Bobby Kielty would be brought up if Pena goes. What this means for Kielty, who can ask for his release if he wants it, is currently uncertain.

Baseball's Greatest Player of All-Time: Babe Ruth

Today is the 59th anniversary of the death of Babe Ruth, who I consider to be the greatest baseball player of all-time. For many years, I always thought of Ruth as "that Yankee who held the home run record." But as the years have progressed, I have come to appreciate more and more what The Babe meant not only to baseball, but to American sports in general, no matter what Chris Rock says. (I originally wrote this article for the fine web site, "The Top 100 Red Sox." I have previously written articles about Red Sox greats Johnny Damon, Bill Monbouquette, Tex Hughson, Mike Greenwell and Bill Mueller there. It has not been published there yet, but on this day I wanted to honor his legacy, so I am publishing this article here.) This article is also written more about his time with the Red Sox than that other team he was later sold to.

There are names in the annals of American sports that simply transcend time and history. Lou Gehrig. Jackie Robinson. Jesse Owens. Michael Jordan. Muhammad Ali. Names just about every American knows, whether they know the first thing about the sport they played in or not. But no one is bigger, or made more of an impact on the sport they played, than one George Herman Ruth.

You know the nicknames. The Sultan of Swat. The Bambino. The Babe. He was a circus unto himself. He was also a savior. He came along at a time when the sport, under incredible scrutiny after the worst scandal in American sports history, needed someone to save it from itself.

And it all began for him at Fenway Park in Boston in 1914.

George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895. At the age of 7 he was sent to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, which was a reformatory and orphanage. A man named Brother Matthias took Ruth under his wing, and taught him the finer points of baseball. By 1914, he came under the eye of Jack Dunn, the owner and manager of the minor league Baltimore Orioles. He signed Ruth to a contract, and also became his legal guardian. Players on that Orioles team referred to Dunn's newest find as "Jack's newest babe." It is believed that it was there that Ruth got his famous nickname. On July 9, 1914, Dunn sold Ruth's contract to Joe Lannin of the Boston Red Sox and he played his first game two days later. It has been disputed as to exactly how much the Red Sox bought him for, but it is believed to be around $3,000.

Ruth, of course, began his major league career as a pitcher, and went 2-1 in four games for the Red Sox in 1914. Ruth got a spot in a deep Red Sox rotation in 1915 that included Smokey Joe Wood, Dutch Leonard and Rube Foster. Ruth went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 217 innings, and also hit 4 home runs with 21 RBI and a .315 batting average in leading the Red Sox to their third World Series championship, over the Philadelphia Phillies in 5 games.

1916 and 1917 would be Ruth's best years as a pitcher, as he won 23 games in '16 with an amazing 1.75 ERA in 323 innings. The Red Sox had a weaker offensive club, having sold Tris Speaker to the Cleveland Indians, but the Sox' pitching carried them to another American League pennant. They faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, and in Game 2, Ruth pitched a complete-game 14-inning victory. The Red Sox went on to win the Series in five games.

In 1917, Ruth had another stellar year on the mound, going 24-13 in 327 innings with a 2.01 ERA. But an incident on June 23rd against the Washington Senators that year at Fenway would long be remembered in baseball history, and not in a positive way for The Babe.

Ruth started the game, walking the first batter, Ray Morgan. As newspaper accounts of the time tell it, the short-fused Ruth then engaged in a heated argument with apparently equally short-fused home plate umpire Brick Owens. Owens tossed Ruth out of the game, and the even-more-enraged Ruth then slugged the ump a glancing blow before being taken off the field. Ernie Shore was recruited to pitch, and came in with no warmup pitches. The catcher was also ejected. With a new pitcher and catcher, runner Morgan tried to steal but was thrown out. Shore then proceeded to retire the remaining 26 Senators for a perfect game(which has since been changed in the history books), and a 4-0 Red Sox win. Ruth subsequently paid a $100 fine, was suspended for 10 games, and issued a public apology for his behavior.

The Red Sox lost the 1917 pennant to the Chicago White Sox, and many cited this incident as the reason the Red Sox didn't take the flag. It was also an example of self-discipline problems that plagued Ruth throughout his career and is regarded as one of the reasons (other than financial) that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was willing to sell him to the Yankees two years later.

Ruth also continued his prowess with the bat, and played games in the outfield when he was not pitching. He pitched in just 20 games in 1918, and 17 in 1919. He wanted to pitch less and play the outfield and hit more, and his popularity among the fans grew more and more. He hit 11 home runs in 1918, and led the Red Sox to their fifth world championship, winning two games in the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, and extended his World Series scoreless streak to a record 29 2/3 innings, which would stand until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.

But Ruth's disciplinary problems continued to be a huge problem for the Red Sox. He jumped the team in July 1918 after being fined by manager Ed Barrow for missing a take sign. He would eventually return to the club, but his problems with Barrow continued. Barrow still wanted to use him on the mound, but Ruth's hitting was just too good and gaining lots of attention. And Ruth knew it, too.

In 1919, Ruth played 130 games and hit an astounding 29 home runs, a record for the time, for a Red Sox team that crashed into sixth place. But Ruth continued to be a clubhouse cancer, and his teammates had turned on him as he once again jumped the club in 1919. He had simply become impossible to keep in check. He was enamored with wine, women and song, and owner Harry Frazee, after the 1919 season, reached a decision on Ruth that would go down in baseball history, and in many circles, infamy.

New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert was enamored with The Babe for many years, and every offer he made to the Red Sox was refused. But as 1920 was approaching, Frazee had simply had enough of Babe Ruth and his inability to control his outlandish ways. On January 5, 1920, a deal to send the biggest home run hitter baseball to the New York Yankees was announced: it was for $125,000 and a $350,000 mortgage on Fenway Park.

At the time there was a mixed reaction to the deal. It was not universally applauded or reviled. But there is a legend that grew out of the deal that is simply wrong.

Babe Ruth was not sold to the Yankees because Harry Frazee was going broke. He was in fact in good financial health at the time of the deal, and he also did not make the deal to finance a play called "No, No Nanette." (The play did not come out on Broadway until 1925, five years later.) When Ruth had all his success in New York, the Boston media needed a fall guy, and Frazee was it. Frazee took all the blame for the trade and the decline of the Red Sox, who would not have another winning record until the mid-1930s, when Tom Yawkey bought the club. Frazee would die in 1929, but he was a wealthy man, and records indicate he was never near any kind of financial ruin.

Babe Ruth would of course go on to play 15 years in New York with the Yankees and become the greatest name the American sports world has ever known. (ESPN, in the early 2000s, would claim that Michael Jordan was, but Jordan was still nowhere near The Babe in terms of the popularity he had in the 1920s.) Ruth would shatter home run and other baseball records, and lead the Yankees to their first four world titles. He also came along at a time when baseball needed him the most, as the Black Sox scandal of 1919 threatened baseball's very existence and its popularity with the public. His home run record of 60 would last until Roger Maris broke it in 1961, and Ruth would enter baseball lore for his "called shot" in the 1932 World Series against the Cubs, where he supposedly pointed to the centerfield bleachers and hit the next pitch there. He was among the first players elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1936.

Babe Ruth died in 1948 at the age of 53, of cancer. The years of fast living finally caught up with him. His legacy would live on, and for Red Sox fans, it would be a painful one.

In 1990, Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy would write a book called "The Curse of the Bambino," in which he argued that the Red Sox' inability to win a World Series since 1918 can all be explained because of the Red Sox sale of Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. It would be a bestseller and make Shaughnessy a lot of money, but it would revile most Red Sox fans. The so-called "curse" would be a way to excuse every Red Sox mistake and explain that the Red Sox were forever bring doomed from above by the ghost of Babe Ruth.

It simply went against all logic. Why would Babe Ruth want to "curse" his former team? Sending him to New York made him the most famous athlete in American history. If anything, Ruth should have been sending Harry Frazee Christmas cards every year. Babe's daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, always said that he never had any grudge against the Red Sox.

But somehow, this "curse" took hold. It became a taunting device more than anything, used especially by the denizens of Yankee Stadium. Finally, in 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, and finally put the stupid idea of a "curse" to rest once and for all. The Babe could finally rest easy, as no longer would his name be linked to ridiculous nonsense like "curses."

The New York Daily News, on the day after the Red Sox amazing, historic comeback from being down 0-3 to the Yankees in the ALCS was completed, had a picture on page 3 of the paper of Babe Ruth with a tear in his eye. They believed he was crying in the afterlife that his New York team had blown such a big lead to the team he began his MLB career with.

Talk about ridiculous. Let's be honest here. Which of the teams would Babe Ruth have fit in more with? "The Idiots," the World Champion Red Sox of 2004, or the "corporate, stuffed-shirted" Yankees?

Maybe it was a tear of joy instead.

I could picture The Babe cracking open a beer with Kevin Millar, David Ortiz and Johnny Damon and talk baseball with them. And I'm sure on the night of October 27, 2004, wherever he was, The Babe had a cold one in honor of his former club, the Boston Red Sox, the newly-crowned champions of the world. The team he took his first steps to stardom with.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sox Comeback Falls Just Short

Andy Sonnanstine? Are you kidding me?

On paper, Wednesday afternoon's Red Sox-Devil Rays game looked like a total mismatch. Daisuke Matsuzaka was going for the Red Sox, seeking his 14th win. Going for a Tampa Bay was a rookie with a 1-8 record, and an ERA over 6.30. Daisuke has the best ERA of any American League pitcher since June 1. Sonnanstine, in his last two outings against Baltimore and Texas, had an ERA over 13.00. He had not won since beating Florida in his second MLB outing back on June 10.

The Sox had beaten Tampa Bay the last two nights, and all five times at Fenway this year. They allowed them just one run in two games. They had an emotional, come-from-behind win the night before. I saw this matchup and thought the Red Sox bats would get healthy in a hurry today.

But today they came out flat. It was simply a putrid effort for the first six innings against what has been an awful Devil Rays pitcher. Daisuke simply didn't have it. He had trouble with his fastball, and gave up an early first inning run. He then gave up four in the third, and one in the sixth.

Heck, even Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver have had bad days against lousy teams. It happens. Tampa Bay does have a pretty good hitting team as well. The pitching overall has been very good as of late, especially the starting pitching. As long as they stay healthy, it will be fine. Eric Gagne's outing last night was very good, and I suspect he will be better as time progresses.

But this offensive effort today was simply horrible for the first six innings. They finally broke through in the seventh on a two-run shot by Jason Varitek. They added another run that inning. There was hope when Sonnanstine left and they got into the Tampa Bay bullpen, which has been absolutely terrible.

The Sox got the score to 6-5 in the ninth, with a man on second and no outs. But another scenario that has haunted the Sox all year unfolded again. Dustin Pedroia couldn't get the bunt down, and wound up striking out. Kevin Youkilis, struggling big time, whiffed as well. David Ortiz walked, but Manny Ramirez, who was up there swinging at everything, struck out to end it. Again, the Sox get a man in scoring position in a clutch situation, and he dies there.

Some will take comfort in the comeback today, but the way the game concluded still has me worried. That clutch hit, one that showed up Tuesday, was gone again today. It was really a miserable loss to a bad team. They could have put another game in their pocket today, as the Yankees lost in extra innings. But it was not to be. This could have been worse, as the Yankees tied their game with two outs in the ninth, but lost anyway.

The Red Sox gained a game in the standings since the awful weekend in Baltimore, courtesy of the Orioles, who took two of three from New York. That, of course, is a good thing. But now the LA Angels come to Boston for four. We better see a better effort from the offense this weekend then we did today.

Lowell to the Rescue

Before last night, the Red Sox had won just one game they had been trailing after 8 innings, and that was the "Mother's Day Miracle" game when they came back from a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to win, 6-5 over Baltimore. So they were overdue for a dramatic win.

The Sox were down, 1-0, going into the ninth. With one out, Mike Lowell blasted a 2-0 pitch from Al Reyes (Remember him? He's the guy who hit Nomar Garciaparra in the wrist with a pitch in late 1999, and it cost him most of the 2001 season) way over the Green Monster seats to tie the game at 1. Jason Varitek later doubled, and scored the game winner when Coco Crisp singled him in (pictured). It was a huge win for the Sox, as the Yankees were slaughtered in the Bronx by the Orioles, 12-0, so the Sox are now 5 games up once again.

I missed most of the game, as I was having dinner with a dear friend in Brooklyn. So my cell phone was my source for information. (I can't tell you how happy I was to see a "2" in the Red Sox game summary as we were enjoying a pleasant night out.) I could see that the Red Sox were once again having trouble with their nemesis, Scott Kazmir. They couldn't get a run off of him, but they made him work, and got him out of the game in the seventh. Jon Lester was simply tremendous in seven terrific innings, allowing just a run on two hits in an emotional return for him to Fenway Park for the first time in nearly a year.

And in a very good turn for the club, Eric Gagne pitched a solid ninth inning, striking out the side, and got his third win of the season. I was glad to see Terry Francona bring him into that situation, and shortly after the terrible weekend he had. I am of the opinion that Gagne will be fine (and long as he's not hiding any kind of injury).

It was simply one of the most dramatic wins of the season. (Probably the third most dramatic, after the Mother's Day comeback and the April comeback against the Yankees at Fenway.) We hadn't seen the Red Sox celebrating on the field much lately with those kind of wins. And it sure wouldn't hurt to see it happen a little more often.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phil Rizzuto Dies at 89

The oldest living Hall of Famer, Phil Rizzuto, died today in New Jersey at the age of 89. He had been ill for a long time. He was a Brooklyn-born shortstop who was on many championship Yankees teams, and was the AL MVP in 1950.

But he was best known to fans from the broadcast booth, where he started after his career concluded in 1956. He announced Yankees games for 40 years. I have to admit I was never a fan of his, as his Yankee homerism could be just too much to take. He endeared himself to Yankee fans everywhere, but if you weren't a fan of the team, his style was a bit too over the top. He'd go on about his barber, his butcher, his wife, and just about anything that didn't have anything to do with the game. But I always heard that he was a gentleman away from the booth, from regular people who met him. I do have a few memories of him from years ago.

I do remember one time Rizzuto was doing a game, and he was talking to Bobby Murcer about great fielding first basemen. Murcer asked him who he thought was the best he ever saw was. Rizzuto's answer, which wasn't a Yankee, actually surprised me, as well as my dad, who absolutely agreed. "I only played against him in All-Star Games and World Series, but Gil Hodges was the best first baseman I ever saw."

I also remember a funny Hodges tale that Rizzuto once told. He was in a bar with Pee Wee Reese one night in the early 1970s during spring training. They had both been enjoying some adult beverages, when Rizzuto insisted that Reese bounced the throw to Gil Hodges that ended the 1955 World Series, the only Brooklyn Dodgers championship. Reese insisted Gil caught it on the fly. So to settle the argument, they called Hodges, who was managing the Mets at the time. It was the middle of the night, and Gil was asleep. They explained their dilemma to the Mets manager, but all he did was groan and went back to sleep. (Film from the time seems to back up Pee Wee.)

I have a Rizzuto story regarding my family. My brother-in-law Jack is a rabid Yankee fan, and for my dad's birthday one year, he got what he thought was a gag gift for him. It was an autographed picture of Phil Rizzuto, from his playing days, which he got at one of those autograph shows. It was autographed: "To the Quinn family. Thanks for listening. Holy Cow! Phil Rizzuto." Everyone got a kick out of it. My dad went one step further. Instead of junking it or just putting it away, he framed it and put it in the basement along with his other Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets memorabilia.

As I write this, it's still there.

My sympathies to the family and friends of Phil Rizzuto.

Tower Village Becoming Toys "R" Us

I was in Greenwich Village yesterday, and I walked past my old haunt, the old Tower Records store on East 4th Street and Broadway (pictured). It has been empty since last December 22, when the chain officially closed for good. I had been wondering who was going to take over that very valuable piece of real estate. Yesterday I finally found out who will.

I saw a sign in the window on Broadway that said that Toys "R" Us will be taking over, and they will be "open in time for the holidays." I would guess it will be up and running by late November, around Thanksgiving.


I will definitely check out the new store when it does open. I would also bet it will be one of the more surreal experiences of my life when I do walk in there.

I thought Tower would be there forever. I was proven wrong.

Wake Comes Up Big Again

Tim Wakefield pitched an absolute gem of a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Monday night, in leading the Red Sox to a 3-0 win.

Wake pitched six no-hit innings before Carl Crawford hit a clean single to right. A no-hitter would have been the icing on the cake, as this was a game the Red Sox needed, after such a horrible weekend in Baltimore. He pitched eight innings, struck out six and allowed two hits for his 14th win.

Make no mistake, the Red Sox needed to get this seven game homestand off to a good start. Once again, they didn't hit much, especially with runners in scoring position, but Wake was so good that a ton of runs wasn't necessary. The offense needs to step it up a notch. The starting pitching continues to be the Red Sox strongest suit. They got their MLB leading 58th win last night.

Wakefield continues to be a warrior, and he once again continued his streak of not getting a no-decision. He also got his 17th career win against Tampa Bay last night. (My thanks to my friend Adam from Maine who sent me this very cool photo of Wake alone at Fenway yesterday.)

Jon Lester makes his first Fenway Park start of 2007 tonight. It should be an emotional return for him, as it will be his first game there since the lymphoma diagnosis nearly one year ago.

A Couple of Moronic "Angels"

I heard that there was some serious Red Sox fan bashing happening over this past weekend. Baltimore radio announcer Joe Angel was really offended by all the Red Sox fans in the stands at Camden Yards, and that some people referred to the beautiful ballpark in Baltimore as "Fenway South." He in turn called Fenway Park on the air "a toilet."

As thoughtless, and as stupid a remark as that is, Gary Matthews of the Los Angeles Angels absolutely went Angel one better. He gave an interview to a reporter about Red Sox fans, and it left me just shaking my head. Here is some highlights, courtesy of The Boston Globe.

"They're loud, they're drunk, they're obnoxious," Matthews told a cluster of reporters, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

"They're one of the few places you'll hear racial comments . . . it's just different."

Matthews, who actually said he enjoyed playing in Boston and was smiling through much of his riff, was responding to a question about why the Angels have fared so poorly on their visits here. Since May 18, 2003, the Angels are 4-15 at Fenway.

"It's different from New York," said Matthews.
"Yankee fans are passionate about their teams, but they're a little more couth. They have a little more class than Boston fans. At least in New York they appreciate guys who play the game hard and play the game right and they let you know it.

"In Boston, they just smack you for three straight days. They're just dogging you there the whole time. It's a different place."

This interview makes me wonder if Matthews was drunk when he gave it. Matthews is entitled to his opinion, but this was truly strange. And the part about the comparison of Red Sox and Yankee fans was so totally off-base I had to re-read it. Many times I have read the exact opposite when it comes to a comparison of the fan bases. Red Sox fans are the ones more knowledgeable, and who appreciate good play even from the opposition team. Every team has their louts (and the Sox have theirs), but in my experience at both parks, it's Yankee fans that have less couth than Red Sox fans. By far.

And "Yankee fans are more passionate (and classier) than Red Sox fans?" Who the hell is Matthews trying to kid? That statement is so lame it is beyond ridiculous. Red Sox fans are by far the most passionate fans in all of baseball, and Yankee fans aren't even close.

I can only imagine Matthews has had some bad experience at Fenway in the past, and hasn't let it go. And I really wonder why he picked now to give such an interview. The Angels come to Fenway this weekend, and if he thought Red Sox fans were rude and uncouth, he's now in for a weekend at the park he probably will never forget. The fans aren't going to let Matthews forget those steroid rumors that surrounded him earlier this year.

He may want to invest in a pair of earplugs. He's probably going to need them.