Pitchers & Catchers Report to Ft. Myers

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let the Post Mortems Begin

The Mets season came to a crashing end on Sunday, just as soon as Game 162 began.

Tom Glavine, pitching in possibly his last game as a Met, got hammered for 7 runs in just 1/3 of an inning, and put the Mets in a 7-0 hole against the Florida Marlins. Any good feelings from the 13-0 Saturday rout was gone in an instant.

The Mets tried to come back in the bottom of the first. They got a quick run back in the bottom of the first and managed to load the bases. Ramon Castro hit a deep fly ball to left, and when it left the bat it appeared like it would go out. But it settled in the left fielder's glove in the middle of the warning track. The Mets had one last shot to get back in the game, in the third when they loaded the bases again, but came away empty. And from there, they only got a couple of more hits. By the finish, it was an 8-1 Florida Marlins victory.

And minutes later, the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals, 6-1, to give the Phillies an improbable NL East title, their first in 14 years.

So, let the finger pointing begin.

The Mets played their final seven games at home, against three teams (Washington, St. Louis and Florida) who were basically playing out their schedules. This certainly wasn't the cream of the NL bottle. The Mets could manage just one win against these clubs. The pitching was simply awful coming down the stretch. The offense produced runs, but the starters and the pen gave away most of the leads.

The Mets ended up losing a seven game lead with just 17 to play. All credit to the Phillies for playing exceptionally well down the finally stretch. This was as much a great Phillies comeback as it was a Mets collapse. And unfortunately, what happened to the Mets these past three weeks will go down in history with what happened to such teams as the 1964 Phillies and 1995 Angels.

What makes this collapse even more improbable is that the Mets had the best road record of any team in baseball (47-34). If you play that well away from home you are sure to be a postseason club. But the Mets were mediocre at home, going just 41-40 at Shea.

Already we are hearing about the dissatisfaction from Billy Wagner about how the bullpen was used the last few months. There is sure to be plenty of blame to go around for this colossal failure. Right now, you have to wonder who will take the fall for this. I believe this could cost GM Omar Minaya his job. He's made some really questionable moves this year (not signing Chad Bradford or Darren Oliver, trading away Brian Bannister for a lousy Ambiorix Burgos, signing an ineffective Scott Schoeneweis). Will this cost Willie Randolph, or some of his coaches their positions? We will see shortly.

I'm terribly sad to see the Mets season end this way. But I feel good for my friend Mike, a dedicated Phillies fan who has supported his team through thick and thin. I remember telling him back in April when the Phillies got off to a bad start to not give up on them, that they had a lot of talent and could get back in the playoff picture. The Phillies clearly deserved to win, and with their offensive firepower, could go a long way in these playoffs.

As for the Mets? See you in Port St. Lucie in February.

Stop the Funeral

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the Mets would not go quietly into the winter yesterday, as John Maine took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and the Mets wallopped the Florida Marlins, 13-0, in a game that featured an on-field brawl between Jose Reyes and Florida catcher Miguel Olivo.

Great to see the Mets still have some fight in them. They could have packed it in after this disasterous week, but they showed some grit and determination yesterday.

The Phillies loss to the Nationals on Saturday means the Mets and Phils are tied going into the final game. If both teams do the same thing today, there will be a one-game playoff in Philadelphia tomorrow. But if the San Diego Padres lose in Milwaukee and the Colorado Rockies win along with both Mets and Phillies winning, it sets up an amazing four-way tie. And if we reach that scenario, we'll look into it. But right now, it looks like something someone with an advanced knowledge of calculus needs to truly figure it out.

But all the Mets have to do is win today to guarantee at least another game.

BTW, did you see that idiotic nonsense in today's papers about how the Mets were supposedly "cursed" because the fan who caught Balco Barry's 756th home run was a Mets fan, so that caused this late season slump?

Good grief, when are these simpletons going to stop using "curses" and "jinxes" to explain teams failures? I guess a tired bullpen, some dubious starting pitching and some selected injuries have nothing to do with this? Yeah, it's all due to a Mets fan one night in San Francisco catching a home run ball. An absolute pox on Dan Shaughnessy and every other jackass sportswriter for bringing such ludicrous nonsense into the equation.

Shit happens. Deal with it.

Let's Go Mets!

Best Record in Baseball

The Red Sox beat Minnesota last night, 6-4, and that combined with Cleveland's loss at Kansas City means that for the first time since 1946, the Boston Red Sox will finish the regular season with baseball's best record (or tied, should they lose today and Cleveland wins). But they have the tie-breaker with the Indians, so they selected the "eight day" schedule for the ALDS. Here is the schedule they will have for the opening round against the Los Angeles Angels (times are still to be determined):

Red Sox vs. Angels
Wednesday (time TBA)
Game 1 at Boston

Friday (time TBA)
Game 2 at Boston

Sunday (time TBA)
Game 3 at Anaheim

Monday (time TBA)
Game 4* at Anaheim

Wednesday (time TBA)
Game 5* at Boston
(* - if necessary)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Simple Message to All the Naysayers

Now that the Red Sox have won the American League Eastern Division for the first time since 1995, it's time to get something off my chest. For the past few weeks, as the Yankees got closer to the Red Sox, a lot of what I call "The Usual Suspects" in the media were coming out with their "it's 1978 all over again" garbage in regard to the Sox lead getting smaller. Not all writers in the print and electronic media were doing it, but it seemed like it was the "chic" thing to do for some, even if it made no bloody sense at all. It was making me really angry.

There seems to be a bias against the Sox in some circles, from those who will pounce on any little thing and make a bigger deal than it really should be. There are certain writers I absolutely, positively detest, and this is as good a time as any to point out these assholes, and I hope they are sad over the fact there was no "epic collapse" in Boston this year.

They are, in no order: Bill Madden, Filip Bondy, Murray (The Chasshole) Chass, Jon Heyman, Wallace Matthews, Dan Shaughnessy, Richard Justice, and every other dimwit "sportswriter" who went out of their way to gloat over the fact the Sox lead shrunk to 1 1/2 games. The Red Sox bent, but did not break. They showed really guts and heart when things were going bad, and held on despite the so-called Yankee "juggernaut."

I think it's best to let the late, great, legendary country music icon, "The Man in Black" Johnny Cash, tell all these morons how each and every Red Sox fan feels about all the negativity from these naysayers the past few weeks, and what we think of these nitwits and their "collapse" crap. (And I apologize to you, my readers, if any of you are offended.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thank You Melvin Mora!

In a scene reminiscent from the hit film, "Major League," Melvin Mora laid down a gorgeous bunt with two outs in a tie game, and drove in the winning run, as the Baltimore Orioles came from behind to beat the New York Yankees, 10-9 at Camden Yards. (The bunt also did remind me of the one Ramon Hernandez laid down against the Red Sox in extra innings to beat them in Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS in Oakland.)


Combined with the Red Sox 5-2 win at Fenway Park over Minnesota, the Red Sox have ended the nine-year Evil Empire reign of terror in the AL East, and the Red Sox win their first division title since 1995.

The Yankees were one out away from victory in the ninth and were leading, 9-6, when former Red Sox outfielder Jay Payton hit a bases loaded triple to tie the game off Mariano Rivera. New York had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the tenth, as they had the bases loaded and one out, but couldn't get anyone in. Baltimore then loaded the bases with one out, and Kevin Millar couldn't do the Sox a favor, but instead struck out looking. Mora then caught everyone by surprise by laying down a gorgeous bunt to score Tike Redman from third to give the Red Sox the AL East crown.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched a beauty tonight at Fenway for his 15th victory, going eight innings and giving up just two runs while striking out eight. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save. David Ortiz continued his hot hitting, belting his 35th homer in the eighth to ice the victory.

I truly enjoyed this victory, as I can now go to my buddy Chris' wedding tomorrow in New Jersey and not have to check my cell for updates every five minutes.

And as I write this, I'm enjoying one of my favorite beers, Corona Light, and I raise my bottle (which is tough to do and write on the keyboard at the same time) to the 2007 AL East Champion Boston Red Sox. And also a special nod to one Melvin Mora for his spectacular bunt to win it. (Thanks also to my dad who mentioned the film "Major League" to me right after it happened.)

Thanks also for making the trip down to New Jersey on Saturday even more special.

"BuchWild"

It looks like another Red Sox player is going to get into the blogging business. Clay Buchholz had now established a blog site called "BuchWild."

Right now there are contributors writing for the blog, but in the future there will be articles written by the Red Sox rookie about his MLB experiences.

Curt Schilling loves to blog, and Kevin Youkilis has gotten into it, so it should be interesting to see what Clay has to say as his career moves forward. Here is a link to the site, which just got going last week:

http://www.buchwild.com/

Good luck, Clay!

UPDATE: The Red Sox announced today that Clay Buchholz will officially be shut down for the remainder of the season, including the postseason. They feel he has a fatigued shoulder, like Jonathan Papelbon had last season, and it's not because he's hit his limit as far as total innings, so they don't want to push the rookie any further. See you in Spring Training, Clay.

A Great Memory From 1990



My friend Adam passed this YouTube video to me this morning. As the Red Sox are closing in on winning the AL East this weekend, here is a video of the last out from the 1990 division-clincher at Fenway between the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.

This is the one with the famous catch that Tom Brunansky made to save the game and the title. I remember watching this game in a now-defunct sports bar in the East Village. (Long before watching Red Sox games in bars became one of my passions.) With two outs and two on and the score 3-1 Red Sox, Ozzie Guillen (then a shortstop with a good porn mustache), hit a ball off Jeff Reardon that for sure would have tied up the game had it dropped in. But Bruno had a great jump and got to it. (I have never seen a replay of him actually making the catch from any other angle. At first I wasn't sure he even got it. But by the fan reaction, he clearly got it.)

The Red Sox celebrated by bringing out a Gatorade bucket and dumping it in the middle of the celebration. You don't see that anymore.

I looked up the game on Baseball Reference, and noticed a few things. The White Sox were actually six games better than the Red Sox in 1990, but the A's beat them out for the West title (remember, no Wild Card). There are two players still active from that game: Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa. And this was also the final regular season game in a Red Sox uniform for the great Dwight Evans, who is seen in the dugout during the last out. (He was the DH that night.)

Here is the box score:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS199010030.shtml

1990 is still one of my favorite baseball seasons. Red Sox won the AL East, Yankees finished dead last. I'll never forget a game on September 1st that year, when the Red Sox humiliated the Yankees on the Saturday NBC game of the Week, 15-1, at Fenway Park.But I bet most Red Sox fans have little or no memory of it. That's a shame.

But this video is still a great memory of the Red Sox taking a division crown,and in spectacular style, when it truly meant something more.

Going Down the Elevator Shaft

It's been pretty painful watching the Mets play over the past week, and last night might have been the worst of all. As I watching the Red Sox game, I also kept an eye at the proceedings at Shea Stadium, and also the Phillies-Braves game in Philly.

The differences couldn't have been more glaring. Shea Stadium was maybe have-filled (they announced 48,000 or so at the game, but those were the number of tickets sold to the original game that was rained out earlier this year), and they seemed subdued and just waiting for another loss to happen. While in Philadelphia, there didn't seem to be an empty seat in the house, and the fans looked like they were roaring on every pitch. (It sure didn't hurt the home side scored four runs in the first.)

It seems like there's a black cloud hanging over Shea, as the support seems to have dwindled, as most Mets fans I know already think it's all over. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowds the Mets get this weekend. They are still very much alive, despite the events of this week. They really need the fans support, especially right now.

The team looked like they threw in the towel last night, as they were dominated by a Red Sox reject, Joel Pineiro. They could manage only three hits against him in eight innings, and against a team, the St. Louis Cardinals, that are playing out the schedule. Pedro Martinez pitched a gutty game, the best pitched by a Mets starter in over a week. St. Louis still won, 3-0, and now it's a tie in the NL East. It's another dogfight over in the NL West, as Arizona leads San Diego by one game and Colorado (winners of 11 straight) by two. (The Padres currently lead the Wild Card race over the Mets and Rockies by one game.) And it's possible that all five teams could have the same record by the end of Sunday. Unbelievable.

So Mets fans, you have to root for three teams this weekend: Arizona (over Colorado), Milwaukee (over San Diego), and of course, Washington (over Philadelphia). The Mets have to avoid one of the worst end-of-season flops in history and win every game.

Not impossible, but they have to show some life. As do the fans at Shea as well.

Do They Have to Make Us Sweat? Part 2

And once again, the answer of course, is an unequivocal yes.

The Red Sox let one get away at Fenway on Thursday night, against a patchwork Minnesota Twins team, started by Boof Bonser. (How does a playoff-bound team lose to some guy named Boof?)

This could have been the night the Sox won the division, but the Devil Rays couldn't beat the Yankees, who put out a lot of their bench guys after wrapping up a playoff berth on Wednesday. With Scott Kazmir going for TB, I thought it was a real possibility.

Josh Beckett had an off-night, as there were runners on base all night, and he gave up home runs to Michael Cuddyer and Garrett Jones (who??). He also made an ill-advised cutoff of Dustin Pedroia's throw that might have thrown a runner out at home. Not one of his better nights, but he should still be the AL Cy Young Award Winner, without a doubt.

But the Red Sox were up to their old tricks again, leaving runners everywhere, including the bases loaded in the first and ninth innings, and two in scoring position in the eighth. And for the umpteenth time this year, opportunities wasted comes back to haunt this team.

Hideki Okajima returned and pitched a solid eighth, allowing just a single, and David Ortiz had four hits, including a long home run. But isn't wasn't enough. The Magic Number remains at two. The Sox simply have to win two of three to win the division. If they can't at least split this series with this Twins team playing out the schedule, I see a first-round exit as a definite possibility.

Let's get this over with and get ready for the playoffs. Put Minnesota away.

They can't do anything the easy way. Being a Red Sox fan means sweating, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Something All Americans Should Know

There was yet another Democratic presidential debate last night, this one at Dartmouth University. Someone asked a really cintillating question, one all Americans should know before casting a ballot in next year's presidential election: "Which team do you support, the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?" Here are the candidates responses:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: Red Sox.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Cleveland Indians.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton: Yankees.
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel: Red Sox.
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: Red Sox.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: White Sox.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: Red Sox.
Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: Yankees.


Oh, brother. Who gives a rat's ass what these hypocrites think about baseball? I've never cast a
ballot with the idea that "I'll vote for the one who supports my team." Of all the issues surrounding us as a nation, this is just silly. I'm sure it was asked in the spirit of breaking the tension and having some fun, but when you mix politicians and sports, idiocy is sure to follow.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that the Yankees have not won a World Series since Hillary Clinton was elected to the Senate? I don't believe in curses or jinxes, but then again...

Media Double Standards

Anyone else notice this? As I was watching the Yankees celebrating their postseason berth on ESPNews last night, I was immediately struck by something.

Back in both 2003 and 2004, the Red Sox were ripped by certain "usual suspects" in both print and electronic media for their celebrations in wrapping up the Wild Card berth both years. (You may remember Derek Lowe, Kevin Millar and a few other players going down to the Baseball Tavern on Boylston Street down the block from Fenway in full uniform to celebrate with the fans that night in 2004.) These said critics ripped them for celebrating such a thing.

But last night, the Yankees only wrap a playoff berth, nothing specific yet, and wildly celebrate in their locker room, and the same idiots who ripped the Sox say nothing about that. (And did anyone else notice how low-key the celebrating was last Saturday when the Sox wrapped up their playoff berth?)

I don't have a problem with teams, including the Yankees, celebrating that. I do have a problem with so-called sportswriters who'll rip the Red Sox at every turn (Bill Madden, for example), and then give the Yankees a pass for basically the same thing.

Too many are two-faced, agenda-driven, hypocritical assholes who I have very little respect for.

Big Night for Pedroia & Lowell

It was a topsy-turvy night for the Red Sox on Wednesday night. The last of a two-game series with the Oakland A's began at 5 PM (and I could find out no logical reason why the time was moved up two hours). Jon Lester gave up a run in the third inning, but the Sox came back with three of their own to grab a 3-1 lead.

Oakland got three back on a three-run shot by light hitting shortstop Donnie Murphy. The Red Sox got two right back in the bottom of the fourth to get the lead back. But Mike Piazza tied it up once again with a home run into the Monster seats, and that was the night for Lester. He looked sharp at times, and struck out nine, but again his pitch count was high by the fifth. He was making a bid to get a postseason start, but this won't help his cause.

In the sixth the Red Sox broke the tie and went ahead to stay with four runs, the first run scored on a home run by Dustin Pedroia. It was a big night for the soon-to-be AL Rookie of the Year, who went 3-for-5 and scored four runs. Manny Ramirez had three hits and scored two runs, and looks like the Manny of old. It was also a special night for Mike Lowell, as he drove in five runs and became the all-time leader in RBI for a Sox third baseman in a season. The final score was 11-6.

The bullpen did a fine job after Lester departed, as Kyle Snyder, Mike Timlin (the winning pitcher), Javier Lopez, Eric Gagne (with his usual tightrope act) and Julian Tavarez shut the A's down in getting the Red Sox' 94th win of the season. The Yankees won at Tampa Bay, so the Red Sox lead remains at 3 games, with a four-game series with Minnesota left for the Red Sox to finish the regular season.

In our Magic Number Picture, we honor a man beloved by many Red Sox fans the world over for his color commentary on Red Sox games. He was a former Red Sox player from 1978-84 and one-time All Star second baseman. He has gained fame for his affable and self-effacing banter with his broadcast colleague Don Orsillo during Red Sox games on NESN, and was the first president of Red Sox Nation. He's currently running for the office on a permanent basis, and we wish him all the luck in the world on gaining the job.

It's the Remdawg himself, Jerry Remy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Boys Are Back In Town

Last night's Red Sox return to Fenway also saw the return of two missing stars to their lineup: Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis. Manny was back in the starting lineup, but batted in an unusual position: second. Terry Francona wanted to give him as many at-bats as quickly as possible.

The fans were certainly glad to see him back, as he got a nice ovation in the first inning, and he promptly singled to right. Manny batted three times in five innings, popping up and also walking before leaving for a pinch-runner. Kevin Youkilis also appeared last night, as a pinch-hitter for Eric Hinske. He figures to be in the starting lineup in today's game.

Curt Schilling was in fine form last night, allowing just one earned run to the Oakland A's, a home run to Daric Barton in the first inning, while striking out six in six innings, and walking none. He left with a 3-1 lead, and the Red Sox added three in the eighth to ice the game and a 7-3 win. It was Schilling's ninth win of the season.

It was interesting in the eighth, as Eric Gagne was on the mound, the crowd at Fenway erupted when the "1" on the scoreboard next to TB turned into "6" in their game against the Yankees. The crowd stood and wildly applauded as a confused Gagne looked on. Dioner Navarro would hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the tenth to give the Rays a huge, come-from-behind win against New York, 7-6. (And you can guess the folks at Professor Thom's enjoyed the comeback as well.)

Today the Red Sox take on Oakland again, this time with Jon Lester on the hill. An unusual start time, 5 PM at Fenway Park.

The Magic Number dropped to the number of the man pictured here. He was a great glove, light hitting infielder who was originally acquired by the Red Sox in December 2001 from Colorado for Scott Hatteberg, but was non-tendered two days later and signed by the Pirates. But two years later, he signed with the Red Sox as a free agent. He batted just .221 in his one year with the Sox, but that year was 2004. He showed off his dazzling glove, playing shortstop and second, and made a memorable, fantastic grab off the bat of Dave Roberts in a Sunday night game in June. He'll always be remembered for throwing out Ruben Sierra to complete the greatest postseason comeback in the history of Major League Baseball. He also suffered through some terrible tragedies in his personal life, but always had an infectious smile on his face. His real first name was Calvin, but the world will always know him as Pokey Reese.

Trivia Q&A: September 25

We had 10 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday. There was a good crowd in for the Red Sox game, but the game ran a bit long, so we had to limit the trivia contest to just four rounds, as True or False was bumped to next week.

September 25th Trivia was rather well-received, as three teams got at least nine correct. Five teams got perfect scores in the General Knowledge questions, so I'd better make them a little tougher next week. In the final round of IQ Trivia, at least half the teams got at least 15 out of the possible 25 points, and when the dust cleared, we had a tie between two teams: They're Not Booing, They're Saying Lugo, and My Friends Are Getting Married, I'm Just Getting Drunk.

We broke the tie with a question I had written for a friend of mine in another trivia contest. (It had to be a numerical one, as the closest team to the answer would win.) The question was, "How many colleges and universities are there in Boston?" Both teams guessed numbers far lower than the actual number (47), but My Friends were closest and awarded the win.

Next week there will be no baseball game on Tuesday night, as the MLB playoffs don't begin until the next day, so we will have a full slate of Q&A, and it will begin shortly after 9 PM that night. I hope you can join us.

Current Events
1. This Hollywood superstar was hurt in a crash in New Jersey last Friday and suffered a fractured rib.
2. The MTA is proposing to raise the fare of single subway ride to this price, possibly by early next year.
3. This rock singer will announce a grant to NYC public schools for AIDS education to the tune of $300,000 later tonight.
4. The New York State Attorney General accused the social-networking Web site of failing to keep its users safe from sexual predators and not responding to complaints yesterday.
5. This tropical storm strengthened earlier today in the Atlantic, but as of now poses no threat to land.
6. This movie and TV star was arrested early on Tuesday morning on drunken driving charges after failing a sobriety test in L.A.
7. Thousands of Buddhist monks and their sympathizers in this Southeast Asian country are protesting the government denying freedom of speech, assembly and worship.
8. A strike by UAW members that began yesterday against this automotive giant could end up costing them billions if it lasts more than a week or two.
9. Former president Alberto Fujimori was extradited from Chile back to the country he once led to face charges of corruption and human rights abuses.
10. This American cyclist was officially stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title yesterday for the illegal use of synthetic testosterone.

Answers: 1. George Clooney; 2. $2.25; 3. Elton John; 4. Facebook; 5. Karen; 6. Kiefer Sutherland; 7. Myanmar (Burma); 8. General Motors; 9. Peru; 10. Floyd Landis.

September 25th Trivia
1. On this date in 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa first reached this body of water.
2. In 1789, the US Congress passed this number of amendments to the Constitution, ten of which are known as The Bill of Rights.
3. In 1976, at the home of drummer Larry Mullen, this legendary rock band was formed.
4. In 1981, this woman became the 102nd, and first female, to become a Supreme Court justice.
5. In 1983, 38 prisoners escaped from Long Kesh prison, which was the largest prison escape since WWII. In what country is Long Kesh prison?
6. In 2006, this sports venue officially reopened after it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
7. Ground was officially broken on this date for this famous baseball stadium in 1911, and it's still going strong.
8. This musician/actor, who starred in such films as "Enemy of the State" and "Independence Day" turns 39 today.
9. Don Adams, who played Agent 86 on this classic TV series, died on this day in 2005.
10. This future US president led American forces in the capture of Monterrey in the Mexican War on this date in 1846.

Answers: 1. Pacific Ocean; 2. twelve; 3. U2; 4. Sandra Day O'Connor; 5. Northern Ireland; 6. Louisiana Superdome; 7. Fenway Park; 8. Will Smith; 9. "Get Smart;" 10. Zachary Taylor.

General Knowledge
1. What is the occupation of the brothers Mario and Luigi in Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers game?
2. What country is the home to the movie-producing city that is nicknamed "Bollywood?"
3. In which European city is the famed 17th century "Bridge of Sighs?"
4. The Norse god Thor carries what magic weapon?
5. What is the name for the part of speech that modifies a verb?
6. In the animated TV series, "King of the Hill," what is Hank Hill's profession?
7. The phrase "Manifest Destiny" was first used in the 1840s to justify what US movement?
8. Having gained fame as a child prodigy, Midori is renowned for playing what instrument?
9. In which author's works would you find Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail?
10. In the 1982 film "Reservoir Dogs," the main characters have code names that are all what?

Answers: 1. plumbers; 2. India; 3. Venice; 4. hammer; 5. adverb; 6. propane gas salesman; 7. territorial expansion; 8. violin; 9. Beatrix Potter; 10. colors.

IQ Trivia
1. What Academy Award-winning actress was a regular on the TV series, "A Different World?" (5 points)
2. In Greek mythology, what is the name of the creature that guarded Hades? (6 points)
3. The poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" immortalizes a battle from which 19th century war? ( 5 points)
4. On the TV series, "Magnum PI," Thomas Magnum usually wears the baseball cap of which MLB team? (4 points)
5. Which classical composer wrote the melody for the wedding march, "Here Comes the Bride?" ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Marisa Tomei; 2. Cerberus; 3. Crimean War; 4. Detroit Tigers; 5. Richard Wagner.

Monday, September 24, 2007

September 25th Trivia on Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia at Professor Thom's will feature "September 25th" trivia on Tuesday, namely stuff that happened in history connected with this date. We will also have the four usual categories to go along with it. The Red Sox are playing the A's tomorrow at Fenway, so we will begin at or near the end of the game's conclusion.

Also at Thom's, my buddy Matt is showing a James Bond film up in the Loft section of the bar starting at 8:30 PM. Not sure which Bond film he will be showing, but it's another good reason to come out to the bar on Tuesday night, as Matt has been doing this for a few weeks now.

This week's Sneak Peek question is:
In the animated TV series, "King of the Hill," what is Hank Hill's profession?

Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

A-Rord?

Early today I discovered a web site called Popjocks.com, and they had an interesting story there. Apparently, a fan was spotted wearing an Alex Rodriguez World Baseball Classic jersey in Yankee Stadium this past weekend. Not so unusual, as there are a lot of them out there from players from all different countries.

But this one had a typo on the back, that if I had gotten it, I would have sent it back immediately and demanded a new one. (Not that I would have ever gotten an Alex Rodriguez jersey, no matter what team he plays on.) Instead of spelling the last name "RODRIGUEZ," it was spelled "RORDIGUEZ." The picture you see makes me wonder if the guy knows about the mistake, or whether he even cares about it.

This was seen in the same place where a banner was hung many years ago from the upper deck saluting the Yankees captain, "Derek Jetter."

I guess spelling is not the strong suit of many Yankee fans. (My thanks to Popjocks.com for the picture and interesting story.)

Idle Red Sox Again Up by Two

The Yankees' 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays this afternoon (thank you Jesse Litsch) at Yankee Stadium increased the Red Sox lead in the American League East back to two full games. The Red Sox were off today. The lead had dropped back to 1 1/2 games yesterday, as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally figured out how to beat Tim Wakefield in the Tropicana Dome, where he had never lost in his entire career.

The Yankees now head down to St. Pete to play three games with the Rays starting tomorrow night. Tampa Bay has again been a thorn in the side of New York, and they've gone 7-8 against them this year. Scott Kazmir will pitch Wednesday against them. Then they go to Baltimore for the final three. The Orioles have also been tough against them, and overall are 8-7 aginst the Yankees this season.

The O's and Rays maybe the bottom feeders of the AL East, but the Yankees shouldn't look past either of them.

The Red Sox take on Oakland Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and then the Minnesota Twins will conclude the season at Fenway Park this weekend for four games. If the Sox win five of six, they will win the division, no matter what the Yankees do. Curt Schilling and Jon Lester will face the A's in the two-game series. Will Manny Ramirez or Kevin Youkilis be back in the lineup for this series? It's impossible to know about either, but I hear both were at Fenway on Monday testing out their injuries.

With the drop in the Red Sox' Magic Number, we salute the man who was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 and also set the record for most RBIs in a season by a leadoff man. (Remember when he used to hit leadoff?) He had some fabulous years for the Red Sox, and was the centerpiece of the most controversial trade in recent Red Sox history, on July 31, 2004. But it was a trade that eventually helped the Sox get to the Promised Land nearly three months later. It's been a struggle for him since he left Boston, as he's had various injuries, but most Sox fans hope he can get his career back on track.

Anthony Nomar Garciaparra.

September 24, 1957

Today is a very sad anniversary in the history of the borough of Brooklyn. It was 50 years ago today that the Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field. It would be the final MLB game ever played in the borough, and the last professional game played here until the Brooklyn Cyclones were born in 2001.

Only 6,702 fans attended what would be the death of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was a long year for the Dodgers in 1957, and they finished third and were long out of the pennant race. Rumors of a possible move dogged the team throughout the season. The Dodgers moving west had become a foregone conclusion, and the fans had basically abandoned the team.

The finale was a 2-0 Dodgers win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, as rookie Danny McDevitt pitched a five-hit shutout for his seventh win of the year, striking out nine. Four future Hall of Famers played in this game, two for each team: Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese for the Dodgers, and Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski for the Pirates. (Reese interestingly went in as a defensive replacement at third base for Gil Hodges, who played third that night and moved over to first later in the game. Duke Snider did not play that night.) The last play ever at Ebbets Field was when Pirates first baseman Dee Fondy grounded out to shortstop, and that SS was a man who would go down in Red Sox infamy over 20 years later: Don Zimmer.

Three future 1962 New York Mets would also play in this game: Hodges, Zimmer and Brooklyn-born catcher Joe Pignatano (who went in for Campanella as a defensive replacement). Seven years after that, Hodges would become manager, and Pignatano his bullpen coach, of the 1969 World Series champion Mets.

For more on the game: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO195709240.shtml

The Dodgers would finish the season, and their 67-year history as the Brooklyn Dodgers that weekend in Philadelphia, and would lose their final game there. The Pirates would also play the final game the New York Giants would ever play that same weekend at the Polo Grounds.

Two weeks later during the World Series, a simple notice would be sent out by Dodgers management stating that the team had officially transferred to Los Angeles. In February 1960, the wreckers ball came to Sullivan Place, between McKeever Place and Bedford Avenue, and Ebbets Field was torn down. A housing project now stands on the site. It was a dagger driven through the heart of the borough, and it was never, and will never be, the same again.

It's hard to believe that it has been a half-century since the Dodgers officially left. Those great Dodgers teams are still beloved in the borough by those fans who'll never forget them. I have never been to the site that the ballpark was on, even though I live just ten minutes from it by subway. I'll probably go there one day. I've heard all the stories about Ebbets Field from people like my parents, other relatives and their friends.

I'm sorry I never got the chance to see a game at Ebbets Field, one of the truly historic ballparks in baseball history.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This Weekend in Football

It was a big weekend for the Jets and Giants, as both New York area teams pulled off victories, the Jets 31-28 over Miami and the Giants won 24-17 at Washington. It was the first win for both clubs, as they both dropped their first two games. They were both much-needed wins, as it looks like it will still be a long year for both of them.

I spent most of the afternoon watching the Vikings game in Kansas City. Professor Thom's had the game on one of the big TVs, and there are a few regular Chiefs fans who come in for their games. (The majority of the crowded bar was pulling for the Patriots, as they rolled to an easy 38-7 win over Buffalo.) The Vikings got off to a good start, as Adrian Peterson ran for an 11-yard TD to open the game at 7-0. Peterson looked impressive, and ran for 102 yards on 25 carries. Jouneyman QB Kelly Holcomb started for the Vikings in place of Tarvaris Jackson, and threw for 165 yards, going 14-for-28.

With score 10-3 nearing the half, Holcomb had a wide open Robert Ferguson in the end zone, but slightly over threw him. The Vikings came away with nothing, and wouldn't score the rest of the game.

The Vikings run defense was again terrific, holding Larry Johnson to just 42 yards. So Kansas City went to the pass. In the fourth quarter with nine minutes to play and the Vikings up 10-6, Damon Huard hit Dwayne Bowe with a 17-yard pass to put KC up, 13-10. And that's the way it stayed, as KC won their first game of the year, and the Vikings are now also 1-2, and meet Green Bay, who are now 3-0, at the Metrodome next Sunday.

As for my favorite college team, don't ask. Well, at least Notre Dame scored an offensive TD for the first time this year. (Hey, they actually scored two!) Travis Thomas and Robert Hughes scored the TDs, but they could score no more, as Michigan State rolled on to a 31-14 victory at South Bend. MSU also became the first team ever to beat ND at Notre Dame Stadium six consecutive times.

Notre Dame has now gone 0-4 to begin a season for the first time ever. They have now lost six straight going back to last year, the second longest streak in school history, and have given up at least 30 points in every game. Absolutely brutal, and they take on Purdue next Saturday. Will they even win one game this season?

This is going to be one long football season for the teams I support, without any doubt.

"Come Back to Brooklyn"



I got an interesting email from my aunt the other day, and it was this video on YouTube, with a musical tribute to the beloved borough of Brooklyn called "Come Back to Brooklyn." I thought it was pretty good, with a catchy tune to it. It contains many scenes of Brooklyn and its neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, where Yours Truly was born.

As you know, there are two types of people in the world: those who were born in Brooklyn, and those who wish they were. Even if you're not from Brooklyn, please do check it out. It's a cool little video.

Four Years Out of Five

Jorge Velandia flied out to Coco Crisp tonight at about 10:40 PM, and it finally became official. The Boston Red Sox will be playing October baseball for the fourth time in the last five years.

The Sox became the first team to officially clinch a playoff berth with an 8-6 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But it was one helluva roller coaster ride to get there tonight.

J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer and continued his hot hitting as of late, and Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched six solid innings and the Sox led, 5-3. But Dice-K walked two batters with two out in the seventh, and Javier Lopez gave up a three-run shot to Carlos Pena to put the Rays ahead. It looked like the bullpen was once again letting a Red Sox win disappear into the night.

As it looked like a golden opportunity to clinch a postseason berth was going down the drain, Jason Varitek hit the first pitch from Al Reyes in the ninth into the left field seats to tie it, and after an Eric Hinske double, Julio Lugo hit a two-run blast into the seats in left to put the Sox out front. Jonathan Papelbon came on to seal the deal with a perfect ninth to put the Red Sox into the postseason. The winning pitcher tonight: none other than Eric Gagne, who pitched a solid, clean eighth inning. The celebration was low-key but you could tell the players were ecstatic with the great come-from-behind win, after a truly brutal week.

Boy, nothing ever comes easy with this team.

Now let's go get the division.

The Magic Number Picture tonight honors a man who maybe the most beloved man in Red Sox history. He's done everything you can possibly do for one ballclub: player, coach, manager, scout, broadcaster. He only hit 17 home runs in his career, but he's one of the only baseball players in history to have a right field foul pole named in his honor. He's been associated with the club for seven decades, and he's one of the truly class gentlemen this game has ever known: John Michael Paveskovich, also known as Johnny Pesky. (You really didn't think I was going to honor Bill Buckner here, did you?)

Hopefully one day the Red Sox will retire his number, and I hope Johnny is around to see it happen.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

20

It turned out to be a huge night for the Red Sox on Friday night, as Josh Beckett pitched six strong innings and became the Majors' first 20-game winner in two years as the Sox won, 8-1, against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Tropicana Dome.

It was a game they absolutely had to win, and it stopped their season-long high losing streak at four games. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell hit ninth-inning home runs to ice the game. And Jacoby Ellsbury made a phenomenal catch, running into the Red Sox bullpen to make a sliding catch. My heart was in my mouth when I saw him falling, but Ellsbury continues to prove he's ready to be a big time player.

But the real star of the night was Beckett. Like last Saturday, he allowed a first-inning run, but got angry and decided that was all he was going to allow. He settled in nicely from there, and had little trouble after that. Beckett may very well have won the Cy Young Award with his last two performances. He again stepped up when the Red Sox needed him, and relaxed a nervous Nation.

Combining this win with the Yankees' 14-inning loss to the Blue Jays in New York, the Red Sox increased their AL East lead back to 2 1/2 games. Their Magic Number to clinch a playoff berth is now at two (as Detroit won), but their Magic Number to win the East is now the number of the Red Sox legend featured here. (It's nice to put up another Magic Number picture after a nearly one-week drought!)

He was "The Little Professor," a tremendous outfielder and hitter who was overshadowed by his older brother who played down the road in New York. He was seven-time All-Star and a career .298 hitter. And with all due respect to Trot Nixon, he was the best player to wear his number in Red Sox history. He's also a class gentleman as well.

The great Dom DiMaggio.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 2"

I have been pleased to get to know Joe Pickering Jr., who is a Red Sox fan and songwriter. He has put together his third CD, which he recently sent to me. It's called "Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 2." Joe, along with singer/producer Phil Coley, Danny Mack and Ray Sanders have recorded another fine collection of songs, mostly about their love of the game of baseball, and on a variety of subjects.

It's not just about the Red Sox. Joe and Phil do their homework, and sing songs about such baseball greats as Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, and Ichiro Suzuki. They also do their take on Cubs, Mets, Phillies, Yankees, and of course, Red Sox fans. (I will admit some bias here. They recorded a song called "The Bravest Red Sox Fans," and I am quoted in the liner notes about it. Thanks guys.)

But Joe and Phil also sing about some more "obscure" baseball subjects, such as the late, great early 20th century Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty, who's death to this day still remains one of baseball's greatest mysteries. And they also pay homage to Eddie Feigner, the man who was "The King" in the legendary softball team "The King and His Court." And they open the CD with a nice tribute to Buck O'Neil, the late, great gentleman who was denied the Hall of Fame shortly before his death last year.

The Red Sox players are not forgotten, as they crafted fine songs about the late Tony Conigliaro, and even about the two Japanese imports, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. The CD concludes with some nice tributes to Vietnam and World War II veterans, "We Honor You!" and "If This Rifle Could Talk."

"Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 2" has a definite country and folk feel to it. Joe, Phil, Danny and Ray can be proud of the CD they have put together. They clearly have a great love of America's pasttime, and I am proud to support them. If you'd like to know more about the CD, please check out their web site: http://www.kingoftheroadmusic.com/.

Good luck with the CD guys!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quotes to Keep in Mind

It's time to rally the troops, hunker down, have a stiff drink, support our boys and come out slugging. As we venture into the final days of this long regular season campaign, and for the benefit of you Nation members who are on the verge of panic, keep these quotes in mind.

"Hope is a good thing - maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies.”
--Andy Dufresne, "The Shawshank Redemption"

"
We made no excuses and have none, it’s on us. We’ll find out over the next 9 games who we are and what we’re made of. We played ourselves into this cushion and we’re at the point of using it up. Tip your hat to the Yanks for playing as well as they have too, regardless of how well anyone has done they’ve put themselves into this position by answering the bell when they needed to. I would tell you we’ll do the same. We’ll right the ship starting tomorrow and get after it from there."
--Curt Schilling, "38Pitches," September 20, 2007

"Never, never, never give up."
--Winston Churchill

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number 1 is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number 2 is think. You should spend some time in thought. And Number 3 is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.
Don't give up. Don't ever give up."
--Jim Valvano, March 4, 1993

I hope they helped.

Don't Forget Recent History

The truly lousy play of the Red Sox lately has many fans questioning this team, and just how far they can go in the postseason. But I saw a great post today courtesy of The Joy of Sox, and hopefully it should relax a few folks who believe the sky is falling.

Recent history (over the last decade) show that finishing the season lousy by a postseason qualifier doesn't necessarily mean it's all over in October. A few examples:

The Florida Marlins lost seven of their last nine games in 1997, and won the World Series.

The New York Yankees really went into the tank in September 2000 and lost 18 of their final 21 games, and won the World Series.

The Anaheim Angels lost 7 of their last 11 games in 2002, and won the World Series.

The 2005 Chicago White Sox had a 15 game lead in the AL Central in early August and saw it drop to 1 1/2 games also, and won the World Series.

The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals were up 7 games on September 20, saw their division lead drop to 1/2 game with three games remaining,
and won the World Series.

The 2006 Detroit Tigers were 10 games up in early August, lost 31 of their final 50, and lost the AL Central title on the final day to Minnesota, and won the AL pennant.

So all of this crap you read (especially in the New York tabloids) about how "there's a race in the AL East" is just a lot of trumped-up nonsense. BOTH teams are going to the playoffs, it's just a matter of who each will face in the ALDS. (Just recently, all you heard from the same folks was "just making the playoffs is what counts.") I'm concerned about the current play of the Red Sox right now, but they are assured of going to the postseason, and the Wild Card history shows that there is no great advantage to winning the division over the Wild Card. There is home field advantage and the "prestige" of winning the division, but so what? Winning the World Series is what truly matters. (I never saw the Yankees flying a "2004 AL Eastern Division Champions" flag.) Anyone who uses the "c" word to describe the Red Sox right now is (and please pardon my French), full of shit.

So come away from the ledge, take a deep breath, have a stiff drink, and Keep the Faith.

There's still a lot of baseball left to be played.

Forget 1978: It's Not Relevant

The Red Sox completed a disasterous three-game series in Toronto with another lethargic 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays, just like on Monday night. The bats simply did not show up in this game, as they managed only three hits against Jesse Litsch. (Another scrub who the Red Sox make look like Tom Seaver.)

Clay Buchholz was very good for four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth and gave up two runs, including an error when he tried to make an ill-advised throw to third on a bunt to nail a runner, but instead threw it away. The game remained 2-1 until the eighth. The Sox threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs when Julio Lugo hit a strange grounder that took a weird bounce on SS Ray Olmedo. He regrouped and nailed Lugo at first. (The replays made it look like Lugo wasn't busting it coming out of the batter's box and only turned it on when he realized the ball had taken a funny bounce. Swell.)

It was another night of missed opportunities, hitting into double plays and not taking advantage. The offense simply did not show up in Toronto, as they scored a mere 5 runs in three games against a .500 team playing out the schedule. (The Blue Jays head to New York next, and you know as sure as shootin' they will roll over like dogs this weekend in the Bronx.)

Jonathan Papelbon gave up a grand slam in the eighth to Russ Adams (him again?) to put the game out of reach, 6-1. Papelbon came in to try to straighten out the mess created by Mike Timlin, who loaded the bases with one out. The Red Sox went with barely a wimper in the ninth, and with New York's win over the Orioles, the AL East lead is now 1 1/2 games.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Both the Red Sox and Yankees are heading to the postseason, as the Detroit Tigers are heading down the elevator shaft, having been swept in Cleveland, and the Sox' magic number for a playoff berth is now down to three. Right now it's just a matter of who the Red Sox will play in the first round, Cleveland or LA. But this awful play recently, in many facets of the game, is to say the least worrying. You have to wonder how far this Red Sox team can go in the postseason. (I won't try to speculate on that now. My head hurts too much.)

And by the way, anyone who brings up "1978" this week in regard to the AL East race has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. When baseball went to the three division system per league in 1994 and brought in the Wild Card, it ended the type of race we saw that year. And since both teams are heading to the postseason, any drama about this race is more or less artificial. And if both teams end up with the same record this year, there will be no tiebreaker game, as New York won the season series. So that ancient year is just part of the history books, and has absolutely no relevance to 2007 at all. None.

The Sox head to Tampa Bay on Friday night, and have the pleasure of facing Scott Kazmir that night, while the Sox will call on Josh Beckett, who'll be going for number 20. They better not look past the Rays, who have actually played decent ball the last month. And we had better see a better effort from this club this weekend, especially at the plate. They sleepwalked through Toronto, and let's hope they wake up when they get to St. Pete.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What the Hell was Francona Thinking?

Pick a term of your choice to describe last night's game in Toronto.

Excruciating. Infuriating. Nauseating. Unacceptable.

Anyone of them will do.

This latest godawful Red Sox loss can once again be laid at the feet of one Terry Francona. Now listen, I am NO Tito basher. I happen to like Francona, as I think he's the best Red Sox manager since Dick Williams. I think he knows how to handle players, and especially the media, which in Boston is no easy thing. He also knows how to handle a bullpen. But twice, TWICE, in the last five days, he has cost the Red Sox a ballgame with his terrible mishandling of the bullpen. And both times in the eighth inning.

I agreed with him bringing in Eric Gagne last night. They got him to be a big time setup man and sometime closer. With Hideki Okajima's struggles, it was time to move Gagne back to eighth, as he had pitched well recently. He got the first two outs relatively easy, but then the roof fell in. AGAIN.

A walk. A single. Another walk. Another walk to force in a run. A double to drive in two (and a man gunned down at home to finally end the disaster).

And where is manager Francona? Sitting on the bench with his head up his ass hoping and praying Gagne wouldn't fail.

But he did. AGAIN. And once again, no one was backing up a reliever while the game was being lost, just like Friday night. Jonathan Papelbon was shown while the carnage was unfolding holding a baseball in the pen, and he wasn't warming up. Hey, if Gagne had pitched a clean inning, who was coming in to the ninth, Santa Claus? No, Papelbon. So why wasn't he backing up Gagne? He last pitched during Friday's travesty, so there was no reason not to use him in the eighth to save this game. None at all.

Finally, when Gagne walked in the tying run, Bryan Corey (Bryan Corey?) was seen warming up in a hurry. But it was too late, as Gagne gave away yet another game, this time a two-run double to Russ Adams. Gagne threw 32 pitches, only 13 for strikes. Totally absymal.

It was another horrible display of managing by Francona. He let Gagne give another away. There should have been SOMEONE throwing in the pen when Gagne walked the second hitter to load up the bases. He was clearly rattled and couldn't find the plate. I'm anxious to read his excuses in the Boston papers why he let Gagne hand the Blue Jays a victory.

And now I can draw only one conclusion about Gagne, and I rarely say this about a Red Sox player: he's a choker. Have you noticed that he's been doing better in those situations that Francona brings him into, like those ninth innings when the Sox are down, but with the game on the line, he folds like a cheap suit? If he's not hurt, then he's one big choke artist. The July 31 trade from Texas has proven to be one of the worst moves the Sox have made in recent memory, as Gagne is a complete and total failure in Boston.

More and more, I believe the Sox should leave Gagne off the postseason roster. Right now I'd rather have Kyle Snyder on the roster than Gagne. He simply cannot be trusted with a lead late in a game. He's either a garbage time pitcher, or completely useless. And if he were to have a problem with that move, tell him to take a hike and find other employment in 2008. (He's blowing millions with his tank jobs over the past couple of months. Good luck finding big money anywhere.) I simply don't want to see this jackass with a ball in his hand in a clutch situation ever again this season. The Sox simply cannot take the chance with him.

While Gagne and Francona are mostly to blame for the latest travesty, the Red Sox offense is also to blame as well. They left plenty of runners on base last night, including men in scoring position three times. Once again, squandered opportunities come home to haunt the Red Sox.

Clay Buchholz goes in the series finale on Wednesday night. The kid will try to save their bacon and get a little dignity back. But this team has no one to blame but themselves if they let this division lead go flying out the window. They can't keep giving games away like they did last night. Granted the "real" magic number for the Red Sox is four (over Detroit, not New York), as that will put them into the playoffs this season for sure. Some feel that just getting the Wild Card is fine, but there is a psychological edge to getting the division crown. Plus, you want some momentum to carry you into October. Stumbling in is no good omen.

So no more excuses. No more stupid, idiotic decisions costing the team games.

Time to prove to everyone that you guys belong in the playoffs. Ten games left. Get Manny Ramirez back in the lineup. Time to get off your dead asses, score runs, pitch well and win some games.

Is that too much to ask?

Trivia Q&A: September 18

There was a definite pall hanging over the start of Trivia Night, as another devastating Red Sox loss made it tough to get many folks in the mood to play. But we got it going and nine teams ended up taking part. We had a good evening despite the god-awful managing of Terry Francona.

Chris Wertz substituted for the venerable Jim McGuire as Thom's bartender, and he did his best to pick up the bar's spirits. We had all five categories this week, and Heads of State Trivia actually went down fairly well, as four of the teams got perfect scores.

But by the end of the night, Third Eye Blind wound up the victorious team, and by just two points. They got 20 of a possible 25 points in the last round, and took the prize.

We'll be back again next Tuesday night for another round of Trivia, that is unless the Red Sox have put me in an early grave by then. If they have, I'm sure Thom's will find a substitute host.

Current Events
1. This actress, who won an Emmy award on Sunday night, caused a bit of a stir when she used a word that got bleeped in her acceptance speech.
2. President Bush has tapped Michael Mukasey, once a federal judge from this state, to be the new Attorney General.
3. This revenge-thriller film was the number one film at the box office in America last week, taking in $14 million.
4. A plane crash on a resort island in this Asian country, killed 91 people on board on Sunday.
5. This celebrity toasted the Jewish New Year with Israel's president last week and declared herself, "an ambassador for Judaism."
6. This man, who was once called "the most trusted man in America" is planning a return to TV on a cable network called Retirement Living TV.
7. This singer refused to appear on the TV show, "The View" this week, as he didn't want to appear with host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who he considers "dangerous."
8. Sales of these new types of vehicles are up 49% in the first seven months of 2007, a marketing company said Monday.
9. A group of women are petitioning for the right to drive in this country, the only one that specifically bans female drivers.
10. The southwest corner of 53rd Street and 8th Avenue was named yesterday in honor of this late New Yorker, a TV and Broadway star who died nearly three years ago.

Answers: 1. Sally Field; 2. New York; 3. "The Brave One;" 4. Thailand; 5. Madonna; 6. Walter Cronkite; 7. Barry Manilow; 8. hybrid; 9. Saudi Arabia; 10. Jerry Orbach.

Heads of State Trivia

1. John Howard
2. Shimon Peres
3. Stephen Harper
4. Felipe Calderon
5. Nicolas Sarkozy
6. Hamid Karzai
7. Thabo Mbeki
8. Bertie Ahern
9. Angela Merkel
10. Hosni Mubarak

Answers: 1. Australia; 2. Israel; 3. Canada; 4. Mexico; 5. France; 6. Afghanistan; 7. South Africa; 8. Ireland; 9. Germany; 10. Egypt.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. A snapdragon is an insect.
2. Shiites and Sunnis are the main groups of Islam.
3. The birthplace of karaoke is actually South Korea.
4. "Race car" is an example of a palindrome.
5. The chess piece known as a castle is called a rook.
6. The only vitamin the human body can produce from exposure to sunlight is Vitamin A.
7. New Zealand won the America's Cup away from the US in 1983 after the Americans held it for 132 years.
8. The Los Angeles Dodgers were the only MLB team to win the World Series twice in the 1980s.
9. Venison is the meat that comes from deer.
10. The most US presidents in history were born in the state of Ohio.

Answers: 1. false, it's a flower; 2. true; 3. false, Japan; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, Vitamin D; 7. false, Australia; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, Virginia.

General Knowledge
1. In the Bible, how long did the Israelites wander the desert before entering the Promised Land?
2. Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie is the duaghter of what Academy Award-winning actor?
3. In what state was Abraham Lincoln born?
4. In what type of puzzle are words and syllables represented by pictures?
5. What psychologist invented a special box in which a rat could press a lever to get food?
6. Who wrote the folk song, "This Land is Your Land?"
7. In the 1969 movie, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," the main characters are killed in what country?
8. Pure gold is how many karats?
9. Which artist created the painting, "Guernica?"
10. What is the name of the Israeli parliament?

Answers: 1. 40 years; 2. Jon Voight; 3. Kentucky; 4. rebus; 5. B.F. Skinner; 6. Woody Guthrie; 7. Bolivia; 8. 24; 9. Pablo Picasso; 10. Knesset.

IQ Trivia
1. According to Greek mythology, who killed Medusa? (5 points)
2. Which national daily publication was originally called, "Customers' Afternoon Letter?" (5 points)
3. What does the computer acronym DOS stand for? (4 points)
4. On what space shuttle did John Glenn travel when he returned to space in 1981? (5 points)
5. What modern-day city now stands where Tenochtitlan was originally founded? (6 points)

Answers: 1. Perseus; 2. The Wall Street Journal; 3. Disk Operating System; 4. Discovery; 5. Mexico City.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A True Giant of a Man

I read a great article in today's New York Daily News by Michael Daly about former New York Giants great George Martin, as he is currently doing something special to benefit those first responders and recovery workers who got sick working at the World Trade Center after the disaster there.

Martin is currently walking over 3500 miles, from the George Washington Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and hopes to do about 35 miles a day. He hopes to raise $10 million for them. He hopes to complete the walk in about three months.

The article also compares what George Martin is doing to that moronic sociopath/double murderer O. J. Simpson, who once again is in trouble with the law, after that armed burglary he was involved with landed him in the slammer in Las Vegas.

Yep, karma has a funny way of working out sometimes. Here is the link to Michael Daly's fine column about two men on opposite ends of the American spectrum, and it's well-worth reading:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime_file/2007/09/18/2007-09-18_george_martin_true_giant_oj_simpson_a_mi.html

George Martin is truly one of the good guys out there, and doing something terrific out of the goodness of his heart. You can follow George and his coast-to-coast trek by checking in on his web site: http://www.ajourneyfor911.com/.

This just shows that there are so many great, caring people out there. The 9/11 disaster will be with us forever, and with many of those brave souls who rushed to the World Trade Center getting ill because of it, the worst day in our history won't be going away. The "9/11 Fatigue" crowd should take note of this. It changed the world forever, and if you think we can go on and "let that day go," you might as well move to Mars. Many wonderful people like George Martin felt the calling to do something, and my hats off to him.

Good luck, George. We're all pulling for you, and we'll be following your journey.

50,000 Visitors

The Mighty Quinn Media Machine hit another milestone today, as we had our 50,000th visitor here since I put up the Site Meter on April 20, 2006. It was just after 11:30 AM, and it was a reader from Arlington, Virginia.

We also had a big day in terms of hits yesterday, as the article I wrote about that tool Shelley Duncan and the 10-year-old Red Sox fan attracted a lot of visitors. It was a hot topic on the Internet, and I had 325 hits on Monday, and more than 200 were from web searches about Duncan. It was one of the top 10 days in terms of readership I've had since I started the site over 18 months ago. So his thoughtless was to my benefit...

As always, I thank all of you for visiting my little web site here.

Know Your World Leaders

Tuesday Night Trivia returns again tonight, and it will be part of a special doubleheader, as "Kayreoke" will start off the night at 7 PM at Professor Thom's. The filmmakers from Bombo Films will be in to record many of those calling the action of the Red Sox-Blue Jays game for their upcoming documentary about this Red Sox season. This will also be the last edition of Kayreoke for 2007.

Trivia will follow after the game, and hopefully will get going before 10 PM. We will have the usual four categories, plus one special one, "Heads of State Trivia". In this category, I will give you the name of a world leader, and you have to tell me which country he or she is the head of state of. Don't worry, I'm not going to ask any from any "obscure" countries like Mozambique or Moldova. They should be from countries you've heard of!

And today's Sneak Peek question:
"In what type of puzzle are words and syllables represented by pictures?"

Hope to see you tonight.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Do They Have to Make Us Sweat?

I believe the answer to the question in the title is: Yes. Of course.

Oh brother, have I seen this act before.

The AL East title is now firmly withing the Red Sox' sights, and tonight they drop a real stinker, a lethargic, lifeless 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto, a team with numerous injuries who are just playing out the schedule, and just fighting to stay at .500. Tonight the Red Sox looked like the team playing out the schedule. No fire, no spark, no nothing tonight.

They just have to make a nervous fan base just a little more uptight.

This is to take nothing away from Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan. He pitched a terrific game, and was never in trouble the whole night. He looks like a pitcher with a future, as he allowed just one run on four hits in pitching a complete game victory. Tim Wakefield wasn't awful, as he was in his previous two starts, but he put the Sox in an immediate hole by allowing a two-run homer to Frank Thomas in the first inning. He then settled down, and went six innings, but allowed another home run to Thomas, who later hit his third of the night off of Kyle Snyder (who's rapidly pitching his way off the postseason roster) in the eighth to cap off the Blue Jays win.

And as I write this, the Yankees were leading the Orioles by four runs. (You know how that one will turn out.) You can't count on having other teams, especially one that has dropped 19 of their last 25, to do your business for you.

And if the Red Sox not showing up tonight is bad enough, the Mets gave an even worse performance tonight in Washington than they did at Shea yesterday. Less said about that the better.

They just have to make Red Sox Nation sweat just a little more. Their fans don't have enough ulcers from watching this. The Red Sox simply can't do anything the easy way.

Give us a break. The fans don't need this aggravation.

It's time to stop the fooling around, get focused and wrap up the goddamn division already.

A Lost Weekend For The Mets

It was a truly awful weekend, one to forget for the Mets these past three days. There were some good things, like the game Pedro Martinez pitched on Saturday against the Phillies. He struck out nine in six sharp innings, allowing just one run. But once again, the bullpen let one get away. Tom Glavine was very good on Friday, allowing just a Chase Utley home run. But it went extra innings, and mistakes in extra innings cost the Mets the game.

It's been an Achilles heel for the Mets this season. Billy Wagner has been terrific for most of the year, but hit a bit of a down slide in August. Aaron Heilman is hot and cold, Pedro Feliciano shows signs of true brillance at times, but not often enough. And Guillermo Mota? I just thank God he never threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform. He's an abject disaster who shouldn't get to pitch in any game that's even close.

Sunday was just one of those "garbage can" games, as I like to call them. It was simply an awful day, as the Mets committed 6 errors (2 by Jose Reyes) in a brutal 10-6 loss to the Phillies. Oliver Perez was in trouble for the entire time he was out there, and the bullpen was again lousy, especially Mota.

But the Mets are still 3 1/2 games up on the Phillies. They are still in a great position to win the division, and the Wild Card for sure. No reason to panic. But they have to play better than the effort on Sunday, though. And you have to respect what the Phillies have done. They have had a roster list of injuries, from losing guys like Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Brett Myers and Ryan Howard for extended periods during the year. Charlie Mauel has done a fine job keeping the Phillies together, and I bet around mid-season, most Phillies fans probably figured it was time to look towards 2008.

The Mets have a favorable schedule to end the year, and I expect them to win the East. But it will be interesting to see if the Phillies can parlay a successful weekend at Shea into a postseason berth. Stay tuned.

Congratulations to a Classy Guy

Congratulations to Jim Thome, who hit his career 500th home run in grand style yesterday. He became the first player ever to hit it to win a game (the so-called "walkoff" variety), as the White Sox came from behind to beat the LA Angels, 9-7 in Chicago on Sunday.

In a recent poll, Thome was voted second in all of baseball as far as "the nicest guy in baseball" just behind Sean Casey. Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Willie Randolph, back when he was a coach on the Yankees. He was asked who the nicest guy he's ever met in baseball. He didn't hesitate. "Jim Thome, without question," he said.

I've always been a fan of Jim Thome, and it's always great to see when good guys like him reach great accomplishments like this. And there's a truly great backstory regarding the fan who caught the ball and a gift Jim gave him for returning the ball:
http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/09/17/fan-gives-back-thomes-milestone-ball/

Once again, congratulations, Jim. May this be the first step you take to get to Cooperstown one day.

Disappointing, Not Devastating

I was with a huge throng at Professor Thom's last night for both the Red Sox Sunday night game and the Patriots game with the Chargers. The TVs in the bar were equally divided between both contests. But my mind was squarely on the Red Sox.

In the afternoon I watched the Vikings-Lions game among the host games featured in the bar. From watching the game, it's pretty clear that neither team is among the NFL's elite, or a playoff-caliber team. The Vikings made all kinds of mistakes, as Tarvaris Jackson threw four interceptions, and they also lost a critical fumble in OT. Combined the Vikings and Lions turned the ball over four times.

It was 17-10 when the Vikings' Ray Edwards recovered a fumble and returned it for a TD to tie the game. Detroit went for the win in the final minute with a long field goal, but it was wide left. Jackson's best moments in the game was when he drove the Vikes to the Detroit 35 with just seconds to play, but Ryan Longwell's 52-yard field goal hit the upright and carromed away. It went to OT, and Jackson was knocked out of the game. Brooks Bollinger came in and promptly fumbled at midfield. Detroit took over and got down to the Vikings 20, and Jason Hanson kicked the winning field goal to give the Lions a 20-17 win.

As the Patriots were cruising over the Chargers to an easy win, 38-14, the Red Sox had their hands full with the Evil Empire. It was an exciting game all around, the best played of the weekend. Curt Schilling pitched a terrific game for seven innings, as the rest he got from that midseason injury has done him good. He was economical in his pitches, but ran into trouble in the eighth, and gave up a three-run home run to Derek Jeter to put the Sox behind.

The Legendary, Immortal Joba Chamberlain sure did look rather hittable last night, surrendering a double to Eric Hinske and a long home run to Mike Lowell. And Mariano Rivera pitched a shaky ninth, allowing a run and eventually got David Ortiz to pop up with the bases loaded to allow the Yankees to escape with a 4-3 win.

Not the best of days yesterday, but the Sox got what they needed this weekend. One win, and three good performances from their starting pitchers. Their lead is now 4 1/2 games with 12 to play. The magic number remains at 9, and now it's off to Toronto and Tampa Bay for the final road trip of the regular season.

Shelley Duncan: Classless Jerk

Here's yet another item to add in the catalog of reasons why people despise the New York Yankees.

Many of you many have seen this in the Boston Herald on Sunday. Apparently, the latest Yankee successor to Mickey Mantle, rookie outfielder Shelley Duncan, signed an autograph for a 10-year-old boy at Fenway Park on Friday night this way:

"RED SOX SUCK! SHELLEY DUNCAN."

Young Red Sox fan Griffin Whitman was excited to get an autograph from a major league player, but sure wasn't happy with the message Duncan left with it. Talk about being a complete moron. Duncan sure doesn't impress me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer. Someone from the Yankee organization (who are probably embarrassed by all of this) should sit down with this bonehead and tell him that doing stupid nonsense like this only makes enemies, and not friends, with opposition fans. And especially doing it to a young kid. (It would have been one thing to have done this to an adult, and think it would have been more or less laughed off. But to a young boy? Makes me wonder what Duncan uses for brains.) The good majority of players are usually happy to sign autographs for young fans at games, even for fans of the opposing side, and wouldn't do something as thoughtless as this.

Duncan ought to be ashamed of himself.

Here's more about that classless jerk and his bad attempt at humor:
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1031894

Sunday, September 16, 2007

ND Will Score a TD This Season, Right?

In a battle of winless underachievers, Michigan gave it to Notre Dame on Saturday, 38-0, at Ann Arbor. I knew this was going to be a struggle for the Fighting Irish this season, but I sure didn't expect this.

It was the third straight disaster for ND. The score was 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 31-0 at halftime. The offense is a complete shambles, and they gained only 79 yards, and had another game where they gained negative yards rushing (-6). Jimmy Clausen was sacked an astounding eight times. The offensive line has allowed 23 sacks in the first three games. The Irish offense did not get into Michigan territory until there was 3 minutes to play in the third quarter. Notre Dame has scored only one TD in three games, and that was via an interception last week.

This is simply an awful Notre Dame team, in all phases of the game. It maybe the worst Irish team in my lifetime, even worse the Gerry Faust teams of the early 1980s.

The next five games Notre Dame have are against quality opponents: Michigan State, at Purdue, at UCLA, Boston College and USC. Ugh.

After the game, head coach Charlie Weis walked into the Irish locker room and announced that they were going back to Square One, that all positions on the team were back up for grabs. After the first three games, you might as well blow this team up and start all over again.

What do they have to lose at this point?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ted Would Have Liked This

So much for that Yankee momentum.

The Red Sox came up big on Saturday afternoon, as Josh Beckett gave the Sox another quality start over the Yankees and became the Majors' first 19-game winner. The awful night last night was put in the rear view mirror as the Red Sox whacked New York, 10-1 at Fenway. It speaks volumes of the guts and determination of this Red Sox team, that a devastating loss the night before wouldn't derail them from their ultimate goal of winning the East and going into October and getting another crown.

In a so-called matchup of Cy Young Award candidates (Beckett is by far a stronger one), it was all Sox. Beckett pitched seven strong innings, allowing just a home run to Derek Jeter in the first. He dominated the rest of the way, allowing just two hits. Chien Ming-Wang may have the same number of wins (18) going into this game, but he isn't in the same class with Beckett, as he got hit for five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

David Ortiz doubled in two runs and Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits and drove in three after replacing Kevin Youkilis, who was hit on the wrist with a pitch and had to leave the game. (X-rays were negative on Youk, and he is day-to-day.)

BTW, to all those who were patting themselves on the back about how the Yankees hit the Sox two best relievers on Friday night: did you happen to notice that the Sox whacked New York's two best starting pitchers in back-to-back games? Pettitte and Wang are both good pitchers, but they aren't aces. An ace is something the Yankees clearly don't have.

It was a big win for the Red Sox, as they needed to bounce back right away after the terrible loss last night. They won their 90th game of the season and restored their AL East lead to 5 1/2 games. And the Magic Number drops to the number of the legend featured here. He was "The Kid," "The Splendid Splinter," "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived."

Ted.

Cyclones Season Comes to a Close

The Brooklyn Cyclones season ended without a championship, as they were defeated by the Auburn Doubledays, 4-1, at KeySpan Park last night. Auburn, the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate in the NYPL, won the best-of-three series, 2-0, as they defeated the Cyclones at Auburn the night before.

It was still a great season for the Cyclones, as they had many talented players who will be moving up the Mets' minor league ladder. They also knocked out the Staten Island Yankees in the first round to get to the championship series, so it was still a good postseason for them.

Congratulations, guys. Thanks for a great summer, and good luck to all of you next season.

Countdown to the Playoffs

Yesterday I updated my countdown clock, and now it refers to the start of the MLB playoffs, which begin with the Divison Series on October 3. No time is yet set for the first game that day, so I used 12 noon until I find an exact time.

Last night? Less said about that travesty the better. Terry Francona did an absolutely awful job of managing the pen in the eighth. I have a lot of respect for Tito's ability as a manager (he's the best Red Sox manager since Dick Williams), and he handles a bullpen far better than Joe Torre does, but he blew it last night by not having Manny Delcarmen or Jonathan Papelbon throwing when the inning started, and it cost them the game. Hideki Okajima is crashing down to earth, and it may finally be time to use Eric Gagne in the eighth, the main reason they got him.

That game took about five years off my life last night.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Red Sox Nation to the Rescue



Here's a really nice clip that shows just how great Red Sox fans are. Back on June 30th, the Red Sox had "Disability Awareness Day" at Fenway Park, to highlight people with all kinds of disabilities. The national anthem was sung by a young boy named Peter, who is affected by autism. Peter gets a little nervous as he was singing before over 36,000 fans. But the Sox fans help out the young man, and he gets through it just fine.

Thanks to my sister Theresa, who sent me this nice YouTube video, that runs just under two minutes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Idle Sox Gain as Blue Jays Win

The Red Sox were idle on Thursday, as they get ready for a three-game series with the Yankees that starts Friday night at Fenway. New York was in action against the Blue Jays in Toronto tonight, and it was a pitcher's duel between A.J. Burnett and Ian Kennedy.

Both pitchers were very good, and the game remained tied into the ninth. Lyle Overbay saved the game for the Jays with two outs and two men on by making a diving stop of a liner hit by Melky Cabrera to end the inning. The Yankees brought in Chris Britton (who?) to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and as soon as I saw him I thought, "This game is about to end."

And sure enough, he gave up a single to Alex Rios, who immediately stole second. Frank Thomas then singled him in to put the Yankees 5 1/2 games back and end their winning streak.

Daisuke Matsuzaka goes for the Red Sox tomorrow, and has a lot to prove. He's been horrible, and the Sox need him to get back on the winning track and pitch a solid game.

The Red Sox Magic Number is now 11, and in this post we remember the man who was known as "The Professional Hitter." He got two of the biggest hits in the championship season of 2004, and they were both off Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park. It's a shame his career ended so prematurely. But our hats off to Bill Mueller, "The Yankee Killer."

By the way, don't those standings on the Fenway wall look appropriate?

The Return of Mr. Clutch

It was one of those games last night that got off to a rough start, and it looked for all the world that the lead in the American League East might be trimmed by another game.

But Big Papi would have none of that.

The Red Sox trailed from the top of the first until the last pitch of the game, But they emerged victorious, thanks to the bat of one David Ortiz. It was the second consecutive the night the Sox staged a big comeback. Big Papi had not hit a game-winning home run all season, and his last one was September 6th of last year.

Papi connected off of a 3-1 inside fastball from Al Reyes and sent it soaring into the Boston night sky. It looked like Delmon Young might catch it, but he turned the wrong way away from the ball, and it landed just inside the right field wall to give the Red Sox an important 5-4 win over Tampa Bay and keep their AL East lead at 5 games (as the Blue Jays went belly up yet again last night).

Papi also slammed a three-run shot in the third to cut a 4-0 deficit to one run. The Red Sox hit Edwin Jackson hard early, but too many of them were landing in Devil Ray mitts. The Sox were also up to their usual tricks of leaving runners in scoring position in the middle of the game, where a hit could have tied it or given them the lead.

The bullpen was superb in picking up a struggling Jon Lester, who gave up all four runs in the first. He had trouble with his command, and was pulled in the fourth. Julian Tavarez restored order, pitched three great innings, allowing only one walk. The rest of the pen allowed just one hit the rest of the way, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth and got his first win of 2007.

Big Papi became just the fourth Red Sox player ever to have five 30 home run seasons, as he hit HRs number 30 and 31. His RBI total is now at 104. The old Papi we know and love seems to be back, and at just the right time.

The Magic Number dropped another digit last night, and today we honor a man who, as a Red Sox player, seemed at times to only walk or strike out. But he will forever be remembered as the man who hit home runs in three consecutive postseason Red Sox wins, two of them clanking off the foul pole. Two of them were among the biggest homers in team history. He adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated for their 2004 World Series edition, seen here.

It's "Dinghonk" himself: Mark Bellhorn.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Day of Emotion

It was an incredibly emotional day at Ground Zero yesterday, as we came together to remember the souls who were lost there six years ago. It was a day that had a different feel to it all together and for a number of different reasons.

This would be the final time any of us would be allowed down into the pit of the site, as the construction has moved along at such a pace that bedrock will be covered over forever by this time next year.

The city also moved the ceremony over to Zuccotti Park, across Church Street on Liberty Street. An estimated 3,500 people were there to remember those lost loved ones. (Although the New York Times, the so-called "newspaper of record," said that "only a few hundred" were there. I guess no one can count at that paper.) Also, for the first time, the weather didn't cooperate, as there were intermittent showers throughout the morning, and umbrellas were going up and down all the time. The last five years the weather had been picture perfect every time. (I can't help but think there's some kind of message there.)

My friend Deborah and I got to the park just after 7 AM, and we were one of the first people there. First responders read the names this year. The ceremony began shortly before 8:45 AM, and a few moments later, the bells rang for moment the first plane struck the North Tower. About 30 minutes later, the name of our beloved friend Joyce was read. We stayed in the park for over three hours before we took the walk down to the site. (The picture you see of me and Deborah was taken while we were in Zuccotti Park.)

This year there was very little room down in the site for people to safely walk, due to all the construction. So, people were allowed down into the site in groups, so the wait to get down was longer. At 10:25 AM, we made the trek down the ramp. It was very emotional for both of us, as Deborah and I had done it on every anniversary together. As I walked won, flags of all 50 states adorned the ramp on the right side. I was also struck by how different Ground Zero looked from last year. It is indeed on the way to being rebuilt.

It took nearly fifteen minutes to get to the bottom of the ramp and inside a specially built circle that the family and friends of the victims could lay flowers and other mementoes. I brought down two red roses, and I also wrote a little message on the circle. Deborah and I spent about fifteen minutes there. It was another emotional day there, and I'm proud to have been there.

As we walking back up the ramp, I spotted Jon Corzine, New Jersey's governor, walking down the ramp with a group of people. He stopped, and saw the picture of Joyce I was holding, and gave me an appreciative nod. That was nice of him to do that. (The picture of Joyce is so incredibly stunning that whenever I hold it, it seems to immediately get people's attention, even in large crowds.) I was also later told that we were seen on TV walking back up the ramp by my parents.

After we left the site, Deborah and I went to the Tribute Center on Liberty Street, which is place of remembrance for the WTC and the victims. We spent a little while there, and and soon as we got out, we heard a reader who was doing the list of names say: "for the friends of Joyce Ann Carpeneto." Deborah and I were so incredibly happy to hear that. Deborah had a met a lady the night before who said that when she read the names she would remember Joyce at the end of it. It really made our day to hear that, and we couldn't help notice that as soon as we left the Tribute Center, we heard that lady say that. (If we left 30 seconds later, we would have missed it. I think someone was guiding us...)

We also went down to Battery Park to check out the flags that were in the park for the 9/11 victims, courtesy of NYC 9/11 Memorial Field. We met some nice people from the group who took pictures of us, and we also planted a flag for our late friend in the park. And just as we did, the heavens absolutely opened up and the rain came down in buckets. I just thank heavens that it didn't happen during the actual ceremony.

After going over to the Family Room on Liberty Street, we concluded the day with meeting a nice friend of Deborah's who is a teacher in a high school right next to the WTC site. It was a really emotional day for all of us. It was mentally and as well as physically exhausting, but it was something we all needed to do. September 11 is a special day in my life, and I was so proud to be down in Lower Manhattan to remember my friend, as well as all of the victims of the worst terrorist attack in American history.

May God bless all of them, and their loved ones especially.

From Seven Runs Down to Seven Runs Up

It was a wild night at Fenway Park last night, and it certainly didn't get off to a good start. Tim Wakefield got banged around pretty good, and got lit up for his second straight start since he missed one with a sore back. He gave up seven runs in just over 3+ innings.

This was a game the Sox need to win. You can't lose two straight at home to the Devil Rays in September. It was 8-1 through three and half when the Sox got to Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnenstine for four runs in the fourth. They continued to chip away, and with the game tied, 9-9, Kevin Youkilis banged a triple off the wall with bases loaded to put the Red Sox ahead to stay.

The final score was 16-10. Mike Lowell had four hits, and David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, J. D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia all added home runs. For the second time in a week, the Red Sox won a game when they gave up ten runs.

The Magic Number dropped another number, as the Yankees won in Toronto. Today we honor former shortstop and third baseman, Jersey City native and Seton Hall grad John Valentin. He was a solid ballplayer for the Red Sox in the mid-to-late 1990s, and will always be remembered for moving to third to allow a rookie named Nomar Garciaparra to come up and play short in 1997.