Pitchers & Catchers Report to Ft. Myers

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wallace Matthews Is a Big Fat Idiot

One of my "favorite" sportswriters is at it again.

Wallace Matthews wrote a column yesterday in Newsday defending Roger Clemens as a "victim" in the latest mess he's in with the country singer Mindy McCready. To read this unbelievable nonsense, go here.

You may remember Matthews as the gutless coward who attacked Tim Wakefield last year, with the wrongheaded notion that his games are the slowest in the American League. I wrote about that last May. Matthews seems to be the only human being with some kind of vendetta against Wake, who happens to be one of the classier players to step foot on a Major League baseball field.

But he's really gone overboard now in this defense of Clemens, as some kind of victim in this. He seems to imply that this whole thing was a setup by McCready (and Brian McNamee's lawyers) to jump start her failing singing career. (Yeah, I'm sure she's really enjoying being "the other woman," Wally.)

And he also thinks that this whole thing is a "non-story." Hey Wally, have you ever seen any of those "To Catch a Predator" shows on Dateline NBC, where they catch adult men trying to hookup with underage girls online? You could very easily put Clemens in the same league as those predators. There's nothing funny about a married, superstar pitcher going after an underage girl while projecting to the world that he's this family man and reincarnation of John Wayne. Defending this jackass, who could very well be a statutory rapist, as some kind of "victim" is so far beneath contempt.

And this statement by Matthews is just beyond belief: “The fact that she was 15 and he 28? Well, that one is a little tougher to get around, but these days, 15 is the new 30.” Matthews and his editor should be fired for writing that. And this is coming from a man with a young daughter. How would you feel if your underage daughter got involved with an older man, Wally?

I used to have some respect for Matthews. When he was with the NY Daily News, he used to write the boxing column, and they were generally pretty interesting (and I am not the biggest boxing fan in the world).

But since he's gone to Newsday, I think Matthews had flipped his lid. The hatchet job he did on Wakefield wasn't bad enough last year. He ought to be ashamed of what he wrote yesterday. Clemens is no victim, just an arrogant bully who thinks the entire world is out to get him. (And now it turns out that McCready wasn't the only woman Clemens was seeing behind his wife's back, as he flew other women around the country on his private jet, including a New York bartender he met a few years back. But McCready was the only underaged one.)

My thanks to Joy of Sox for alerting us to this idiotic of piece of trash from Matthews.

Heroes Galore

The Red Sox' five-game losing streak came to a memorable end last night at Fenway, thanks to the collective efforts of a number of individuals.

Jon Lester was sensational last night. It was the best game he's pitched in his young MLB career (including last year's World Series win), as he went 8 innings and allowed just one hit. He walked four, but they were spread out and he was never in trouble the entire night. He struck out six, but unfortunately came away with just a no-decision.

Roy Halladay was just as good over 8 2/3 innings, allowed just three hits until the rally started. Big Papi walked, Manny Ramirez singled, and Kevin Youkilis sent the faithful home happy with a single that Vernon Wells couldn't handle that allowed the Big Man to score the lone run of the game.

Not to be left out was the events of the top of the inning. Scott Rolen doubled with two outs off Jonathan Papelbon, and Vernon Wells rapped a shot that looked like it was destined for centerfield and the first run of the game. But Dustin Pedroia made a sprawling play at second and threw Wells out at first to keep the game scoreless.

It was the best pitched game of the year, a game the Sox just refused to lose. The offense was again AWOL, but it was also a cold night and one of the AL's premier pitchers was proving why he is such a terrific pitcher. It was also the first time in 28 years the Red Sox won a 1-0 game in the bottom of the ninth.

And it was good to see the return of Mike Lowell, who was just activated off the DL last night. He took the collar at the plate, but handled all of his chances at third flawlessly, like he always does. Good to have you back, Mike.

Trivia Q&A: April 29

We had another busy night at Thom's for Trivia, and an exciting and fast-moving Red Sox game on as well. 15 teams took part, and when the Red Sox pulled out the nailbiter, full attention was brought over to our Trivia Night festivities.

I had a number of comments from the Trivia players that this night's contest was particularly tough. The scores seemed to bare that out, as in the first two rounds there were no perfect scores (or in General Knowledge), but there were four in True or False.

The scores were generally very close throughout the night, with 10 of the 15 teams withing five points of the lead going into IQ Trivia. It turned out to be a tough round of IQ Trivia, as only one team got only four out of five correct, and that turned out to be the winners, Cheating Devices, who came from a third place tie to win the night by five points. My congratulations to them, especially as they were new players to our Trivia Night.

Current Events
1. This troubled pop star was arrested last Friday but not charged after slapping a man at a bar in London.
2. This one-time TV star and his wife of eight months will appear on the TV show "Divorce Court" in May to settle their divorce case.
3. This western US city was hit by dozens of minor earthquakes on Sunday, after it got a 4.7 magnitude quake on Friday.
4. This man's assassin, who has served over 40 years in prison, was denied parole for the 13th time last week.
5. A passenger train in this Asian country jumped the tracks and collided with another train, killing at least 70 people and injuring 400.
6. Mars Inc. announced that it will buy this company, the world's largest chewing gum manufacturer, in a deal worth $23 billion.
7. Buses, subways and streetcars in this North American city went on strike in this North American city on Saturday in a dispute over contracting out work.

Answers: 1. Amy Winehouse; 2. Gary Coleman; 3. Reno, NV; 4. Malcolm X; 5. China; 6. Wrigley; 7. Toronto.

Brooklyn Trivia
1. In which year did the Brooklyn Dodgers play their last game at Ebbets Field? a. 1955; b. 1957; c. 1959; d. 1960.
2. From which European country does the name Brooklyn come from? a. Netherlands; b. England; c. Germany; d. Belgium.
3. Which poet wrote the classic poem "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry?" a. Herman Melville; b. Allen Ginsburg; c. Walt Whitman; d. Dylan Thomas.
4. Which author wrote the famous book "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?" a. Arthur Miller; b. William Styron; c. Hart Crane; d. Betty Smith.
5. Which of the following celebrities was actually born in Brooklyn? a. Jackie Robinson; b. Sylvester Stallone; c. Al Pacino; d. Joe Torre.
6. In what year did the Brooklyn Bridge open? a. 1869; b. 1876; c. 1883; d. 1889.
7. What is Brooklyn's nickname? a. "The City of Churches;" b. "City of the Strait;" c. "Monument City;" d. "The Emerald City."

Answers: 1. b; 2. a; 3. c; 4. d; 5. d; 6. c; 7. a.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. At room temperature, a gallon of drinking water weighs approximately 4.5 pounds.
2. An omnisicient narrator uses the third person voice to tell a story.
3. Mononucleosis is also known as "the kissing disease."
4. Gloria Steinem co-founded Ms. magazine in 1972.
5. A dish with "fra diavolo" sauce has a tart and sweet kind of taste.
6. Dirty snow melts faster than clean, white snow.
7. The Great Wall of China took just 200 years to build.
8. Humphrey Bogart's father was a prominent surgeon.
9. The opposite sides of a dice cube always add up to seven.
10. A hippopotamus is normally born on land.

Answers: 1. false, it weighs 8.3 pounds; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, it is hot and spicy; 6. true; 7. false, it took 2,000 years; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, they are born under water.

General Knowledge
1. Of the 50 states, how many of them were named for US presidents?
2. On what TV series was Norm Abram a co-host for over a quarter century?
3. In 1883, what industry led the movement to divide the US into four time zones?
4. What writer first called the mistaken reports of his death "an exaggeration?"
5. In 1989, Senator Jesse Helms targeted the work of what photographer as obscene?
6. The name of what element is derived from the Greek word meaning "hidden?"
7. The siege of Troy is the subject of what Greek classic?

Answers: 1. One (Washington); 2. "This Old House;" 3. railroad; 4. Mark Twain; 5. Robert Mapplethorpe; 6. krypton; 7. "The Iliad."

IQ Trivia
1. Who was the only actress to win an Academy Award for portraying a past Academy Award winner? ( 4 points)
2. "The Guerrilla Girls" is an activist group that was founded to protest sexism in what? ( 5 points)
3. Sargent Shriver was the first director of what organization? ( 4 points)
4. On a horse, where is the correct place to put a snaffle? ( 3 points)
5. The male and female of what animal are called "hob" and "jill?" ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Cate Blanchett (for portraying Katherine Hepburn in "The Aviator"); 2. art world; 3. Peace Corps; 4. mouth; 5. ferret.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama's Worst Nightmare Returns

Barack Obama's worst nightmare has returned, and there doesn't seem to be much he can do about it.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who's been shooting off his big mouth about how America brought the 9/11 attacks on itself among other bombastic nonsense, has clearly fallen in love the attention its brought himself, and is now milking for every cent it can bring him. Last week he kicked it off by sitting down to a softball interview with PBS' Bill Moyers, and yesterday he gave another one of those "America is the world's worst terrorist nation" speeches while hailing fellow racial inflamer Louis Farrakhan in Washington, DC. (Wright's racist spewing is well-known, so I won't recap the "highlights" here.)

It appeared that Wright crawled back into the woodwork after Obama gave his speech a few months back when he distanced himself from all of Wright's nonsensical rantings. But now, Wright's on "tour" and you know that Obama just wishes this guy would go back under the rock he crawled out from and stay there (or at least until after the general election is over). Obama is going to regret that he didn't go far enough in that speech, and didn't completely throw Wright under the bus.

Wright is serious trouble for Obama. The senator knows that the real battleground to win the presidency will be which candidate does best among Conservative Democrats and Independents, the two groups who ultimately decide who gets the office. Obama's numbers are declining among them in states like North Carolina and Indiana, which are having primaries soon. He and his advisors are in a real quandry over this.

I can't help but think of that scene in "Casino" when I think of this situation, when Robert DeNiro complains about Joe Pesci's character, that every time the press mention the gangster, they bring his name up. Obama and Wright seem to be tied together, and Obama just can't seem to shake him. (I also can't help but think that somewhere Hillary Clinton is chuckling over all of this, and that it seems like Wright is secretly on her payroll. Always remember, you count out the Clintons at your own peril.)

Wright is a racist hustler who has a book coming out just before the general election (what a surprise). If Obama is on the ticket, he will continue to be an albatross around the senator's neck, especially when his book comes out. The irony of it is that if Obama is not on the Democratic ticket in November, nobody's going to give a damn about this asshole Wright anymore. So the more he hurts Obama, and if he ultimately keeps him out of the race in November, it will end up costing him as well.

It's only fitting, so Wright can crawl back into the hole he slithered out of, and stay there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Brooklyn Trivia on Tuesday

Trivia Night this week will feature as its special category: "Brooklyn Trivia." There will be seven questions about the largest borough in New York City, which also happens to be the birthplace of one Omnipotent Q. For those of you who aren't up on New York's hippest borough, the questions will be of the multiple choice variety.

There will be a Red Sox game against Toronto on at Professor Thom's on Tuesday night that begins at 7 PM, but we hope to get the festivities rolling on or before 9: 30 PM. This week's Sneak Peek question is:

Of the 50 US states, how many of them were named for US presidents?

We will have the other usual four categories as well, so I hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

More Clemens Schadenfreude

Every Red Sox fan's favorite villain has more trouble on his hands. Some more really serious trouble.

As if Roger Clemens' lying in front of Congress last February wasn't bad enough (and a perjury charge seems to be forthcoming), it was revealed in today's New York Daily News that The Carpetbagger had a 10-year affair with troubled country singer Mindy McCready.

Yep, Roger was having an affair with this woman when she was just 15.

Can you say, "statutory rape?" (I'm not sure of the state laws surrounding it, or whether there is a statute of limitations regarding it. They first met back in 1990.)

Clemens met her while with the Red Sox in Florida, and claims he's never had any kind of sexual relationship with her. You know, the "we're just good friends" line.

This should really damage his defamation suit against Brian McNamee, as the defense would surely use McCready as a witness in it to torpedo Clemens' reputation he's put forth over the years as this great family man. And you have to wonder what his wife Debbie thinks of all this. This sure hasn't been a good year for her.

Here is the story for your reading enjoyment.

Once again, it's all come home to roost for The Texas Con Man. The years of BS he's shoveled is now dumped squarely in his lap, and he's paying the price for it all. There's only one thing I can say about it:

Tee-hee.

Good For Carlos

The New York media this morning is making a huge big deal over the fact that Carlos Delgado hit two home runs in the Mets win over Atlanta yesterday and didn't acknowledge the fans and take a curtain call for each one.

Count me in the group that applauds Delgado for not doing it.

It's been a real struggle so far this season for the Mets first baseman, and he's been hearing the boo-birds big time at Shea Stadium. He had just one home run and a .186 average coming into yesterday's game, and heard the jeers during the players' introductions. But he went deep twice yesterday, and ignored the fans who wanted him to come out of the dugout both times. And the press here seems to think it was Delgado's way of giving the Mets fans The Middle Finger.

But he explained it after the game, to the New York Post:
"The way I look at it, I hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. I've got great respect for the game, and I don't think it's the place for a curtain call."

Amen to that. I wish more players would follow Delgado's lead. Those curtain calls for the most part are simply idiotic, especially the ones when a team is losing, and losing badly. Curtain calls should be something special, like when someone hits a home run to win a game or sets some kind of record. (It makes me think of when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in 1961, he had to be pushed out of the dugout by his teammates to acknowledge the applause, and it was only because he was such a modest man he at first didn't want to do it. I wonder what he would think of all of this.) The Mets fans in 1986 started this crap of demanding that every time someone on the home team hits one out it's cause for a huge celebration. And now the press seems to think it was Delgado's way of telling the fans to shove it that he didn't come out and acknowledge their cheers and take a bow.

No matter what Delgado's motivation for not coming out and staying in the dugout, I respect the fact he didn't come out. Good for him.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Indignity


To paraphrase the great Harry Doyle (pictured): "What, just two goddamned hits?"

That's what many Red Sox fans were saying after something happened today that many of us thought never could happen: The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox in a three-game series.

Yes, I know the Rays are a better team this year, and are perhaps the best Tampa Bay team in their short history. But that doesn't make up for the lost weekend the Red Sox just suffered through. They scored just five runs in three games, and just one (yep, just one goddamned run) in the last two games. The Red Sox offense was simply MIA, especially today. (David Ortiz was out of the lineup for the second straight day, which leads me to believe there really is something wrong with the Big Man.)

Josh Beckett was simply superb, striking out a career-high 13 batters, and allowed just one earned run on four hits. A wild throw on a pickoff at first allowed a run to come home for Tampa Bay as J.D. Drew made a bad throw to try to catch him. And Beckett allowed a seventh inning home run to Evan Longoria, and that was all she wrote, as the Rays went on to win 3-0.

Taking nothing away from the games Edwin Jackson (on Saturday) and James Shields pitched today (a two-hit shutout), but the Red Sox looked really sluggish this weekend and they also looked like they couldn't wait to get back on the plane to Boston. They've now dropped five straight for the first time since 2006, and face the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Let's hope they can get at least more than two goddamned hits then.

Hangin' With The Eck

Here is the picture that appeared in yesterday's edition of the Boston Globe of Yours Truly posing with my pal Chris Wertz and Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley at the Players Club at Fenway Park on Thursday evening in celebration of the release of the documentary "Blessed: Still We Believe 2." The Eck was a really friendly guy who gladly posed for pictures, signed autographs and talked baseball with everyone.

Perfectly Dreadful

The Red Sox dropped their second straight game at Tampa on Saturday night, and the shame of it was that it was a fabulously pitched game by Clay Buchholz (pictured) that went to waste. They have now dropped four straight, as Sean Casey was put on the DL after injuring his hip on Friday night.

Buch pitched his best game since the no-hitter last September, allowing just one hit until the eighth. He gave up a hit to Dioner Navarro with one out and the Sox holding a 1-0 lead. With two outs, Akinori Iwamura connected into the right field seats to make it 2-1 Tampa Bay lead. Buchholz got the last out and pitched a complete game loss. The bullpen was rested tonight, something it desperately needed.

Iwamura better be careful when he steps into the batter's box tomorrow, as he needlessly did that stupid "bat flip" after he hit the home run. It was just his first home run of the year. I'm certain that the Red Sox' starter on Sunday, Josh Beckett, witnessed it and took some mental notes as it was transpiring.

Tampa Bay is a better team then they were last year, but offensively, the Sox looked sluggish last night. The flu bug hasn't helped matters, and David Ortiz was given the night off, after going 0-for-6 on Friday. Edwin Jackson pitched a fine game for the Rays. I never thought I'd write this, but Josh Beckett goes for the Red Sox on Sunday in an effort to avoid getting swept in the Tropicana Dome.

Ugh.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dave Destroys Stuff

I've been a longtime fan of David Letterman, and especially his old time "Late Night With David Letterman" show that ran from 1982-1993 on NBC. (I must admit I'm not that big a fan of his current show, but I do check it out from time to time.) I loved all the wacky stuff he did and the oddball guests who would appear, like Andy Kaufman, Brother Theodore and Crispin Glover. And of course, nobody could top the immortal, late, great Larry "Bud" Melman. I was a nightly viewer, and it was always worth staying up to 1:30 AM to see what he would do.

I've been checking out some old Letterman Late Night clips online, and I always thought one of the great recurring things he used to do was "destroying stuff." He did it with an hydrolic press, a steamroller, and my personal favorite, just throwing stuff off a five-story tower.

I found this one on YouTube, of Dave tossing stuff off the tower. This one, which originally aired in 1984, includes a grandfather clock, a couple of six packs of beer, guacamole, Wile E. Coyote, and a dollhouse. (Unfortunately, it doesn't include my all-time favorite, when Dave drops a whole slew of watermelons at once. Simply a superb television moment.)

The clip lasts about 3 1/2 minutes. Enjoy the violence.

In Today's Boston Globe

In the City & Region section of the Boston Globe, there is a photo and small story about the reception at Fenway Park the other day for "Blessed: Still We Believe 2." And the photo just happens to be of myself, my pal Chris and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. (I had a feeling that the photo would turn up in the papers somewhere.)

Unfortunately, the photo is not online with the story. Here is a link to the story in today's Globe. (Scroll down as it is near the bottom of the page.)

BTW, no mention of me in the story. How dare they leave out The Media Whore!

My thanks to my buddy Alex and his parents, who spotted the story and picture this morning.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Hallowed Ground of Fenway Park

It was a quite a memorable and historic day for me at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon.

The fact the Red Sox lost to LA didn't really put a damper on the day. I took Amtrak up to Boston, and as soon as I got off the train I ran into some difficulty (I'm never getting off at Back Bay again), and had to take a cab to the park. After hoofing it up Lansdowne Street, I hooked up with my friend Chris and some other people for the Fenway Park tour. I was incredibly excited as we immediately walked on the field at 11:55 AM and stood with some other folks on the warning track behind the batting cage as the Red Sox took batting practice. (I had to bend down and pick up a couple of rocks as souvenirs!) We saw David Ortiz hitting shots while Peter Gammons was chatting with some folks at the cage. I also had a pleasant surprise seeing my friend and fellow blogger Jere of "A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory" at the foul screen and we chatted briefly. Manny Ramirez then came out of the dugout and signed autographs with Julio Lugo with the fans next to me and even posed for photos with them.

We stayed on the field for about 15 minutes before the tour took us over to the Green Monster seats. (One of these days before I die, I want to sit up there for a game.) It is such a great place with a fabulous view (pictured), and I can't believe I was once against the idea of seats being up there. I snapped a lot of pictures, and as I did, a couple of ladies from the Red Sox brought over a replica 2007 World Series ring, and I tried it on. It is a rock and a half, and I bought a ticket to the Rings Lottery the Sox are holding to give the fans 9 rings this coming July.

While I was on the Monster, I saw my sister and nephew in their seats in left field, and tried to call them on my cell, so I could wave to them. But unfortunately, they couldn't hear me. (My sister, her husband and their kids just happened to be there yesterday, and I met them in the park just before the tour began.) It was loud in Fenway during the pregame, as it is in most MLB parks.

The tour finished off in the upper level right field seats, underneath the "Budweiser" sign. We saw the bar that is 60 feet, 6 inches and made of the old bowling alley that used to be there. The view is also really fabulous. (Thanks to our guide Kevin, who was really knowledgeable and friendly. And thanks for waiting while I was late!) When the tour finished, my buddy Chris and I went to our seats. (We did stop for lunch before we went to our seats, and I had a "Remdog," which is the biggest hot dog I've ever eaten. It was good too.) We thought it was in section 18 just behind home plate. Turns out we were in section 18 in the left field pavilion. Those seats are in the new "Coca-Cola" section that was just built this season.

It took a few minutes to reach the seats, as we had to walk up a number of levels. But those seats are really incredible, and you get a wonderful view of the entire park. (The only thing you can't see is when the ball goes into the left field corner and those seats next to it. I had to watch the players in order to see if a ball went foul.)

Once the game ended, we went to a reception at the Players Club in Fenway, as the movie I appear in "Blessed: Still We Believe 2" was being honored. Chris and I chatted with a number of folks, including Dennis Eckersley, who was there representing the club, as the film was being shown on a big screen TV. The Eck is a really personable guy, and we told him about the film and Professor Thom's. We took photos with him, and we talked with him about Bill Lee, who has been to Thom's on a few occasions. (It was quite the animated conversation too!)

After the event, everyone was given a gift bag, which included a copy of the current film, plus the original as well, courtesy of Bombo Films, who made the films. (And as the night was ending, I was almost alone in Fenway Park, the first time I had ever been there when it's been so empty. It was an almost indescribable feeling.)

It was simply one of the more memorable days of my life at Fenway (my 18th game there), and the fact the Red Sox lost really didn't bother me that much. My thanks to all of you at Fenway Park and the Red Sox who made it so great.

Masterson Masterful, Bullpen Blows Up

It was a brilliant day at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon, with brilliant blue skies and warm temperatures. (I'll have more on the day in the next post.) The Red Sox have been bothered by the flu, which has gone through the clubhouse. Terry Francona made a wise decision by holding Tim Wakefield back so he can start in Tampa on Friday night. Wake owns the Rays in the dome, so the Sox were forced to bring up another starter from the minors, namely rookie Justin Masterson.

Masterson, who was drafted two years ago out of San Diego State, was mentioned prominently in Johan Santana trade talks this past winter, and is considered by some scouts to have a future in the majors as a number 3 starter. He's started this season at Portland in the Eastern League, and got the call for the finale against the LA Angels.

From the start Masterson was in command. His poise was impressive. He was in trouble only once, and got a DP to get himself out. He allowed just a home run to Mike Napoli, on two hits in six innings while walking two. He was sent back to Portland right after the game.

Masterson left with a 3-1 lead, and Tito turned it over to his pen. They were the Boston Arson Squad on this day, as none of the relievers brought in, namely Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, David Aardsma and Julian Tavarez, did anything to help Justin get the win. They allowed six runs over three innings, and let a great debut from the rookie go up in smoke.

David Ortiz, who hit a bomb to center that would have been out of most parks and was caught by Torii Hunter in the fifth, hit a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth to make it 7-5. But that was as close as the Red Sox could make it, and they lost the series to the Angels.

Now it's off to Tampa to open a three-game series with the Rays, with Wakefield, Clay Buchholz and a returning Josh Beckett taking the hill this weekend.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shipping Off to Boston

The Red Sox winning streak ended tonight at six, as they dropped a 6-4 decision to the LA Angels at Fenway. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the latest Sox player to fall victim to that Old Devil Flu. Jon Lester took his place on three days rest. He gave up three runs in five innings, including two long bomb homers to Gary Matthews.

Papi went deep to tie the game in the fifth, but new callup Craig Hansen (remember him?) gave up a home run to Casey Kotchman (he seems to do something against the Sox every time he plays) to untie it, 5-4. Hansen actually didn't look bad at all, as he's off to a great start at Pawtucket, and his slider looked good tonight in the 1 2/3 innings he pitched.

I'm off to the Fens on Thursday for the afternoon finale of the series and homestand, against the Angels. It should be a really special day tomorrow, and I'll tell you more about it on Friday, as I won't be posting on Thursday. It is still not known who will pitch for the Sox tomorrow, but I'm sure Terry Francona will think of someone.

A Chip Off the Old Block

There's been a lot of hubbub here in New York, and especially on sports (aka knucklehead) radio about Joba Chamberlain, and Hank Steinbrenner (pictured, and that should be "HS" and not "JS") and his recent inane comments about him.

Hankenstein's been acting like a two-year-old, and has been demanding that the Yankees move Chamberlain into the rotation now, because he throws 100 MPH and anyone who thinks he should stay in the bullpen must be "an idiot." Talk about idiots. (Kyle Farnsworth throws 100 MPH, too, Hank. Should he start too?)

Chamberlain's in the best possible place for himself and the Yankees right now. While he was a starter in college and in the minors, he seems to be a quality eight inning reliever, and that is probably the most valuable commodity in baseball right now. You can't trade for one right now, and if you have one you hold on to it with your life. Quality starters and even closers are more common.

Steinbrenner seems to think by putting Chamberlain in the rotation he will automatically light up the boards and is a future Cy Young Award winner. He hasn't started an MLB game yet, but has shown he can setup Mariano Rivera quite well. So why even think of moving him? Rivera will be 39 this year, and is signed for two more years. Can he still be the same closer he's always been down the road? No one knows that, and you can't take chances should he get hurt or ineffective. You have to have someone who could step in should that happen.

The two rookies they've been counting on, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, have been taking their lumps in the early going, and everyone, including Hankenstein himself, knew that was a definite possibility. But the Yankees made a commitment to these kids, that they were the real thing. Now, Mr. Hankee has been running off his mouth once again that he would have made the Johan Santana trade last winter. It's REALLY easy to say that now, and Hankenstein looks like especially idiotic know. He also looks like he's doing his best to make himself look smart, and placing the blame for the Yankees' failures on Brian Cashman, who is committed to youth and the Yankees young pitchers. (Hey Hank, you and brother Hal are the money men, and the final say on matters like trades, so don't insult everyone's intelligence by uttering such nonsense.) I'm sure this is giving Cashman a few sleepless nights, and probably just wishes Hankenstein would just keep his big yap shut.

And a better question that few seem to be asking about moving Chamberlain to the rotation is: who replaces him in the eighth inning? LaTroy Hawkins? Kyle Farnsworth? Good luck with that one. And I've also heard that the injuries that Chamberlain had at Nebraska may make him a ticking time bomb, namely the knee and shoulder problems he's had. And putting him in the rotation might accelerate those troubles. Chamberlain maybe best suited as a one-inning reliever, and grooming him to be Rivera's successor. But, like getting his new luxury boxes, Hank has to be made happy. (Don't you get the feeling from those pictures of him, that he's NEVER happy?)

Yep, Hankenstein's a chip off the old block, and is bringing back the "good old days" when Pop would do or say anything outrageous. And most of the time, it was to the Yankees' detriment. He's fallen in love with the press and the back pages, just like his father.

Like I said before the season, it's going to be a fun year. Except if your name is Brian Cashman.

Four Runs Down? No Problem.

Once again, the Red Sox are proving to be a team you just don't give up on. They had some rotten news in the afternoon, as Josh Beckett had a stiff neck, probably brought on by the flu a few players and coaches have been battling the past week. Jason Varitek was again on the shelf because of the flu (and Dustin Pedroia was the emergency catcher), as was Manny Delcarmen.

So in Beckett's place was David Pauley, who last saw the majors back in 2006. (I was at Thom's early yesterday, and that program "Yankee Classics" was on YES. They showed that game where Melky Cabrera made the catch to rob Manny of a home run in 2006. You know, when Johnny Damon acted like a four-year-old after he caught it. And who pitched that night for the Sox, and very well? One David Pauley. I was wondering what had happened to him. And an hour later, he's up to replace the Commander last night. Bizarre. And on a side note, when is YES going to show my favorite "Yankee Classic?" Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I'm not holding my breath.)

Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a home run and Pauley retired the first six. But the wheels came off, and he gave up five runs, mostly to the lower half of the LA Angels order. But these are the Red Sox were talking here, and they chipped away. A Papi RBI single and a Kevin Youkilis Monster-seat blast tied the score. Trivia Night got going so I had to sneak some peeks, but another Jacoby blast and an Angels run on a Casey Kotchman homer tied it up again. But it was Ellsbury and Pedroia to the rescue again. A Jacoby single and a Pedroia double put the Red Sox ahead to stay, 7-6. The top of the lineup that wowed the baseball world during the World Series last year was back again. Ellsbury led the charge with two homers, and Dusty had three doubles.

It was the sixth Red Sox comeback in their last eight games, and their tenth of the year already. They now have the best record in the AL, and with Papi's early season woes, no Schilling, and an injured Mike Lowell. This could really be another special year.

Trivia Q&A: April 22

We had another large and spirited crowd for Trivia Night on Tuesday, with 19 teams taking part in the "new and improved" version. We managed to get going at 9:15 PM, even with an exciting Red Sox game going in the background.

The contest moved along at a little brisker pace with three of the categories now just 7 questions instead of 10. (We completed the competition in just about two hours.) The scores were very similar as well to the "old version." They were quite good for both April 22nd Trivia and True or False. The scores were close throughout the night, with 11 teams within six points of the leader going into IQ Trivia.

I thought IQ Trivia was a bit harder this week, and I was curious to see what the final results would be. Only two teams got as many as four of the five correct, but one of them was I Only Fly Cory Lidle Airlines, who were also the defending champions last week. They were two points behind the leader going into IQ Trivia, and like what the Red Sox have been doing lately (and last night too), pulled out a come-from-behind win and took the title by three points.

My congratulations to them, as they have now won Trivia Night five of the last seven weeks. (They are also the only team to present me with a person's obituary as they handed in a sheet--namely one of the late, great Arthur C. Clarke, who passed away last month, and who was a question twice in recent Trivia Night contests. I am honored.)

Current Events
1. Jacques-Edouard Alexis was ousted as Prime Minister of this Caribbean nation following riots over the price of food.
2. This rap star was released from prison last Friday after serving nearly one year behind bars.
3. A 5.2 magnitude earthquake, centered in this Midwestern state, rattled buildings last Friday.
4. The family of this late baseball Hall of Famer settled a lawsuit with a filmmaker last week over a web site they felt was trying to make big money off the late star's name.
5. For the second consecutive year, this was the number one largest company in the US, with profits of $12.7 billion.
6. Robert Cheruiyot, who hails from this country, won his fourth Boston Marathon on Monday.
7. It was announced that this country will air "The Sopranos" and "Grey's Anatomy" for the first time, as they have been slow historically in airing American TV shows.

Answers: 1. Haiti; 2. Foxy Brown; 3. Illinois; 4. Mickey Mantle; 5. Wal-Mart; 6. Kenya; 7. Cuba.

April 22nd Trivia
1. The World's Fair of 1964-65 opened officially on this date in 1964 in this US city.
2. This Hollywood actor, a three-time Academy Award winner, turns 71 today.
3. This Hall of Fame baseball pitcher tied the MLB record by striking out 19 San Diego Padres in a nine-inning game on this day in 1970.
4. This one-time US president died on this date in 1994.
5. This great jazz bassist and composer, who was known as "The Angry Man of Jazz," was born on this date in 1922. (He died in 1979.)
6. The Holocaust Memorial Museum was dedicated in 1993 on this date in this city.
7. The Great Land Rush of 1889 began at high noon on this date, with over 50,000 people lined up to grab available land in this US state.

Answers: 1. New York; 2. Jack Nicholson; 3. Tom Seaver; 4. Richard Nixon; 5. Charles Mingus; 6. Washington DC; 7. Oklahoma.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Chocolate is the flavor of Mississippi mud pie.
2. On a piece of candy corn, the narrow end is normally yellow.
3. Coaxial cable is usually used to connect a cable box to a TV.
4. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was a representative from the state of Iowa.
5. John Adams had the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence.
6. The main purpose of a salad spinner is to dry the salad ingredients.
7. The French town of Chantilly is best known for producing stained glass.
8. Boston mayor Honey Fitz was the grandfather of John F. Kennedy.
9. The author Salman Rushdie made a cameo appearance in the film "Bridget Jones' Diary."
10. The airplane Buddy Holly died in was actually called "American Pie."

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, it is white; 3. true; 4. false, Illinois; 5. false, it was John Hancock; 6. true; 7. false, lace; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, the plane had no name.

General Knowledge
1. What type of clothing are clam diggers?
2. The Italian city of Carrara is world-famous for producing what?
3. What term describes animals that chew cud as part of the digestive process?
4. The Boer War, fought from 1899-1902, took place on what continent?
5. What musician was famous for his "duck walk" across the stage while playing his guitar?
6. Pike's Peak is located in what US state?
7. The main character of the movie "Clueless" is named after what famous singer?

Answers: 1. pants; 2. marble; 3. ruminant; 4. Africa; 5. Chuck Berry; 6. Colorado; 7. Cher.

IQ Trivia
1. In 2001, a federal judge temporarily suspended the publication of a book that retells what novel from a slave's point of view? ( 4 points)
2. What classic 1970s TV show featured the characters named Rollin Hand, Cinnamon Carter and Barney Collier? ( 5 points)
3. What politician said, "If Al Gore invented the Internet, I invented the spellcheck"? ( 3 points)
4. In the 1980s, Englishwoman Barbara Woodhouse had her own TV show on what subject? ( 4 points)
5. The Ghats mountains are located in what Asian country? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. "Gone With the Wind;" 2. "Mission Impossible;" 3. Dan Quayle; 4. dog training; 5. India.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Win For the Patriots

The Red Sox extended their winning streak to five games yesterday with an 8-3 romp over the Texas Rangers to complete a four-game sweep over them. Clay Buchholz pitched six strong innings in getting his first win since last September 6, as the Red Sox won their fifth consecutive game on the Patriots Day holiday.

The offense was alive and well yesterday, and didn't need Manny Ramirez, who was given a day off. David Ortiz appears to be out of the early-season doldrums, driving in three runs on two doubles, including one that Milton Bradley lost in the sun (pictured). Julio Lugo had a big day, going 4-for-4 and a walk. Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits and two stolen bases.

Texas' pourous defense didn't help matters either, as a possible double play started by Ian Kinsler instead was thrown past Ben Broussard at first and continued the five-run fourth.

But the story of the afternoon was Buchholz, who threw first pitch strikes all afternoon, and was in trouble only once. But he once again should some good poise, and allowed just 5 hits while striking out 6.

The Sox are now 14-7, and now the LA Angels come to Boston, and the Red Sox send Josh Beckett to the hill tonight.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pope Benedict at Ground Zero



Here is the video of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Ground Zero on Sunday morning. The entire clip, from Fox News, lasts about ten minutes.

"Oh God of love, compassion and healing, look on us people of many faiths and traditions who gather today at this site of incredible violence and pain. We ask in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here, to heroic first responders, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11th, 2001."

Trivia Night Changes

There are going to be some changes to Trivia Night beginning with tomorrow's edition. Since we may be forced to start Trivia Night a little bit later on Tuesdays due to the Red Sox games that start at 7 PM, we are going to trim three of the categories down just a bit. We were forced to drop an entire category last week, and we really don't want to do that again, as we want to keep the five category system.

So, beginning tomorrow, three of the categories, Current Events, General Knowledge and the Special Category, will now be 7 questions instead of 10. Each category will be worth 7 points, but some weeks I will be including some special questions worth more than one point to bring the values back up a bit. True or False Trivia will remain 10 questions, as it is a speed round and time in that category isn't that big a deal.

There will also be a change to IQ Trivia. It will remain 5 difficult questions, but the point values will be reduced, from a total of 25 points to 20. (Since the point values of three categories is reduced, I felt we had to reduce IQ Trivia to balance it.) There will now be one three-point question, three four-point questions and one five-point question.

Once again, we will be starting these changes tomorrow. Hopefully it will make the night go a little bit quicker. Once the baseball season concludes, we may go back to the old system, and it will just depend on how well this goes. I hope this will make Trivia Night a more enjoyable evening for everyone.

Tomorrow's special category will be "April 22nd Trivia." It will be seven questions on events that occurred on that date. Hopefully we won't get going to late (around 9:30 or so, hopefully earlier). The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday is:

What type of clothing are clam diggers?

I hope many of you can come out and see the "New and Improved" Trivia Night on Tuesday!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Late Inning Magic

The Red Sox did it again on Sunday, as they fell behind 5-0 against the Texas Rangers and Kevin Millwood, and it didn't look good. They were leaving runners everywhere, 11 in the first 7 innings. Manny Ramirez was tossed out of the game in the second inning after disputing a third strike call. (Does it seem Manny is arguing with home plate umps more this season?) Tim Wakefield gave up single runs in the first and second innings, but then gave up a three-run shot to Milton Bradley in the fifth.

But as they have many times this season, they scored runs late, and in Sunday's game, it was the comeback of the season so far. The Sox scored two in the seventh and with two outs and nobody on, staged a dramatic rally against Texas closer C. J. Wilson. Jed Lowrie doubled in a run, David Ortiz had a rare infield single RBI, and pinch hitter Dustin Pedroia doubled in Papi to tie it. With the bases loaded, Sean Casey drew a walk to put the Sox in front to stay, 6-5.

Jonathan Papelbon got Texas 1-2-3 for the save, and Wakefield got the win. The Sox have the best offensive numbers in baseball from the seventh inning on, and it seems like they are never out of a game. The Red Sox have taken the first three games of the series, and four straight, and are now 13-7. They end the series with the traditional Patriots Day game that begins at 11:05 AM on Monday, as the Boston Marathon gets under way.

Can You Say, "Locked In"?

You could sense something big was coming.

The Bruins had just come from behind to beat the Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, and the Fenway faithful erupted when the final score went up on the scoreboard. The Red Sox had been behind most of the night, 3-2, after taking a 2-1 lead in the first inning. Jon Lester looked for sure he was going to get blasted out of the game by the third, as the Texas Rangers had a 3-2 lead with two on and one out, and the Sox had Julian Tavarez warming up.

But Lester got out of it, and shut the Rangers down until the 7th, when he departed. Texas was leaving runners everywhere, so the Red Sox were still in the game. With one out in the 8th, and the Bruins win fresh in everyone's minds, Dustin Pedroia doubled, and David Ortiz hit a hard grounder that went off Ian Kinsler's glove for an RBI single.

And that brought up the hottest hitter on the planet: Manny Ramirez. He hit a pitch off Joaquin Benoit that hit the left field light tower and kept going, across Lansdowne Street. It was home run number 496 for ManRam, and put the Red Sox up to stay, and a 5-3 comeback win.

Manny Ramirez is a man on a mission. He's in great shape, focused, and taking no prisoners right now. Four to go until 500.

Pope Benedict XVI Visits Ground Zero

It was incredibly moving to see Pope Benedict XVI visiting Ground Zero this morning. He was there to offer prayers for the 9/11 victims, and comfort those people who were there to meet him and represent the victims.

There was a lottery for 24 spots to meet the Holy Father. I put in for it but wasn't chosen. Among those who were there were the victims' loved ones, first responders and survivors of the World Trade Center attack. The Pope had requested just a small group there to take part, and that was the right thing to do.

The Holy Father came down the ramp in the Popemobile, and then made his way on foot with Cardinal Egan of New York. He then knelt in prayer and after a few moments lit a candle for the victims. He said a prayer for them, which was very simple and moving. At the same time, somber music played in background by a single cellist, and it brought back incredibly vivid memories for me of the times I have been at the September 11 remembrances.

Then each person met the Pope, who comforted each person. They were also given pieces of the Twin Towers' steel in the form of a cross. The entire ceremony lasted about 20 minutes. There were no speeches, no homily, just simple prayers for the victims. The Pope then returned to his Popemobile and left the site.

It was the perfect way for the Holy Father to pay his respects at the WTC site. It was solemn, touching, respectful and very memorable.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Former Sox Catcher John Marzano Dies

I was saddened tonight to hear of the death of former Red Sox catcher John Marzano. He was 45 years old, and he died due to a fall down the stairs in his Philadelphia home today.

He worked for his hometown Phillies on their cable outlet, and for MLB.com, where he hosted an Internet baseball show. I remember when he first came up to the Red Sox with a lot of promise. He played for parts of 10 seasons, and also for the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Marzano went to Temple University and was also a member of the 1984 US Olympic team, and came up to the Red Sox in 1987. He was part of a crop of good young talent the Red Sox brought up after they won the 1986 American League pennant, along with players such as Ellis Burks, Mike Greenwell and Todd Benzinger.

Here is an article from the Associated Press about his untimely death.

John Marzano leaves a wife, two daughters and two grandchildren. My condolences to his friends and family.

Papi Salami

David Ortiz finally got his first hit at Fenway Park this season, a big third inning grand slam off Texas starter Luis Mendoza in leading the Sox to an 11-3 win at the Fens last night.

It was a night when just about everything went right for the Red Sox. Papi's second homer of the year landed in the Monster seats to make it a 4-1 game. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs to get his fourth win of the season in five starts. Jed Lowrie started for the first time at shortstop and doubled and hit a sacrifice fly, as the Red Sox scored four in the third and five in the fourth.

There was a sense of relief for all involved seeing Papi take one deep. At first he got the silent treatment when he entered the dugout, but he was swarmed by his teammates shortly afterwards.

Mike Timlin pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, his first perfect frame of the season, after some pretty rough outings.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Danny Federici: 1950-2008

My deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Danny Federici, the great keyboardist of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who died on Thursday at the young age of 58.

He had been suffering from melanoma, which is a form of skin cancer. He did his last show with Bruce back on March 20 in Indianapolis, after missing much of this current tour due to his illness.

One of my favorite concerts of all-time was seeing him with Bruce and the band at Giants Stadium during the Born in the USA tour in 1985. They played for over four hours, and it left me exhausted after it was all over. You always got your money's worth seeing Danny and those boys in concert, and I have on four occasions.

May God bless his family and friends at this difficult time. And thanks for the memories, Danny.

What Do the Pope and Red Sox Nation Have in Common?

Hank Steinbrenner (pictured) doesn't care for either one.

Actually, Hankenstein has told the Pope's people that he doesn't want the Popemobile driven on the grass at Yankee Stadium when Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass there on Sunday afternoon. It's understandable that the club doesn't want any automobiles on the grass while the Pope is there. More about it from AOL Sports here.

I wrote this post just because I wanted to write that headline. (And of course, put up yet another photo of the true Hank Steinbrenner.)

I Have Terry Francona to Thank

On Thursday afternoon I was an invited guest to the BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club in Manhattan, across from Grand Central Station. The BLOHARDS are the group of New York City-based Red Sox fans who have supported the team for over 40 years, and they have two meetings each year. I am also a member.


As I did last year, I did some trivia for the members, and this year I did some trivia questions I did at Professor Thom's during Trivia Night. I gave away prizes courtesy of the bar, namely two Thom's t-shirts and a $50 gift certificate to the bar. My pal Chris from Thom's also was there, and gave a cool speech about the bar that included an upcoming viewing of the documentary we appear in and an upcoming benefit for the former Sox pitcher Jerry Casale that will take place at Thom's in July.

Also featured during the meeting was Red Sox pitcher David Aardsma, who received a nice ovation from the 125 or so people in attendance. Then he went up to the mic stand and was interviewed by WFAN's Ed Randall. They talked about Aardsma's career, and it was interesting to hear that his sister is an actress who has appeared on a few TV shows. But when Randall brought up the fact Aardsma hit Alex Rodriguez the previous night on a 3-1 pitch, he received a standing ovation. David looked genuinely embarrassed by that attention. But he came off a rather personable guy.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Tina Cervasio, who also was an invited guest, and she also spoke with the members during the meeting. Tina was the Red Sox sideline reporter who has now moved over to the MSG Network in New York. She was very nice, and is quite an attractive woman as well. During the meeting, she told a very funny Manny Ramirez story (one of many I'm sure she has to tell) from last year's playoffs.

There was also a singer/actress named Christine Pedi who did a killer impersonation of Barbra Streisand singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." There was also the "Henry Berry Memorial Slide Show," which was a pictorial review of the Red Sox and baseball since last year. A really funny and comical moment was when "The Horse's Ass Award" was given out, to the individual who was the biggest jackass of the year. It's been won by such individuals as George Steinbrenner and Alex Rodriguez (the last two years for him). I thought it might go to Hankenstein this year, but it was given out, and rightly so, to the first person who ever once appeared at a BLOHARDS meeting (back in 1986): Roger Clemens.

Near the end of the festivities, there was another prize giveaway, for correctly answering some Red Sox trivia. One question was: "What number does Terry Francona wear?" There was some silence, as so few people have ever seen Tito without a pullover top or jacket on. But I yelled out: "47!" And I was correct, and I won two tickets to Fenway Park for next Thursday's game against the LA Angels.

Yep, I have Tito to thank, for all those few times Sox fans have ever seen him in his uniform top. (In the picture, it was Tito during the 2005 All-Star Game with Mariano Rivera. That was one of the only pictures of him I could find with him wearing his number.)

Once again, the luncheon with the BLOHARDS was a fun event, and my thanks to Joe Cosgriff, Ray Duffy and Frank Minishak of the club for staging such a great event, as I was so glad to be a part of it. The next BLOHARDS meeting will be on August 27, and I'll have the trivia raring to go then.

Got Rings Lately?

I was at the BLOHARDS meeting yesterday (more on that in the next post), when I saw the newest BLOHARDS shirt was on sale, and I had to grab one. It's called "got rings lately?" It looks great, all in blue, and it's the perfect response to those "got rings" shirts the Yankees fans put out in 2005 after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. And the words on the back of the shirt are just priceless:

We've been together for a long time now, and it's been great. Really. A team couldn't ask for a better rival.
But lately, something changed. 3 consecutive ALDS folds? That choke in 2004? No championships this millennium? It's like your heart's not in it anymore.
So...maybe we should start seeing other teams. Of course it's sad, but it's for the best. You and the Orioles are going to be one cute couple.
And if you ever get your act together? We'll leave the lights on for you at Fenway Park.

God bless those BLOHARDS. If you'd like to get a shirt, you can get it for $15, so go the BLOHARDS site for more information. All proceeds from the shirt benefit the Jimmy Fund.

Dead Moose

So who am I referring to in the title of this post? Bullwinkle? Bob Moose? (Actually he's already dead. And did you know he threw the last no-hitter in the history of Shea Stadium, and I was there?) Moosie Dreier? (And how the hell do you name a kid "Moosie?") Moose Skowron? The Mariner Moose?

No, it's Mike Mussina, and he was ritually slaughtered last night by one Manny Ramirez, who took him deep twice in Yankee Stadium last night in the Red Sox 7-5 clubbing of the Yankees last night. It was the second and third bomb that ManRam has belted off the Moose in two games this season. (Boy, if the Yankees are counting on him this season they are in real trouble.)

Manny continues to scorch the Yankees. In the last two+ years, he is hitting .478 against New York (55-for-115), with 14 HRs, 27 RBI. And in his last time up, against Yankee whipping boy Kyle (Where Do You Want It?) Farnsworth, the first pitch went sailing behind Manny, close to his head. For the first time ever, Farnsworth got an ovation from those Yankee fans that hadn't already abandoned the place. And in true "The Dog Ate My Homework" fashion, he explained what happened after the game (with thanks to The Joy of Sox):

It just slipped. I was trying to be aggressive and go in on him, but the ball slipped on me. The ball slipped. Sometimes it's dry.

Next time, try to be a little more obvious, Mop-Up Man. (And note to Melky Cabrera: dancing in the dugout after you've hit a home run with two outs in the ninth and your team still losing doesn't make you, a marginal player, look like the sharpest knife in the drawer. And I bet you were waiting for that stupid curtain call that didn't come, too.)

The other big story of the night was Josh Beckett. He gave the Sox eight terrific innings. He had one bad inning, the fifth, when he allowed three runs. But after that, the Commander set down the final 10 hitters, and turned it over to Jonathan Papelbon. That is the difference between these two teams. Beckett's an ace the Sox can count on, after a miserable night like Wednesday. The Yankees simply don't have that.

And he was smart not to retaliate after Farnsworth's shaningans. But Beckett was seen shaking head after the incident in the dugout. So, believe it that the Commander stored that little incident in the back of his mind for later in the season. 13 more games between these two teams.

It won't be the last time we've heard about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Arduous Day's Journey Into Night

Oh brother, another four hour plus game between the Red Sox and Yankees.

Yep, they got together again and played another game that went on forever. No one pitched well, especially both starters, and it turned into a slugfest, with the Yankees winning, 15-9. Clay Buchholz, Julian Tavarez and Mike Timlin all got rapped around, with Tavarez getting the loss.

One of the biggest cheers of the night at Professor Thom's was when Red Sox reliever David Aardsma hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch. It was that kind of night.

The Red Sox go for the split of the two-game series, with Commander Kick Ass of the F**k Yeah Brigade looking to get the Red Sox even before they head back to Boston.

Iranian Loony's New Low

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the screwball who made a complete jackass of himself last year by claiming the Holocaust never happened and Iran has no homosexuals, insulted every person who suffered a devastating loss on September 11, 2001 by claiming that the attacks were just a cover to attack Iraq and Afghanistan, and by claiming that "they said that 3,000 people had been killed but never published their names.”

As someone who has been present at Ground Zero for every September 11 remembrance and heard all the names of those killed at the World Trade Center that fateful day, I am beyond insulted that this piece of shit could say something like that with a straight face. Every person lost that day has had their names published, and their families have suffered greatly, and all still do. But it figures coming from some "leader" who told an audience at a university in New York that his country has no gay people. It is simply shameful, and it insults the memory of every innocent person lost on 9/11. (These days it seems to be easy for empty-headed morons like this to insult the 9/11 victims, who can't defend themselves. Thankfully, those that love them do.)

I don't have to say that this asshole owes everyone who suffered a loss on September 11 an apology. But I won't hold my breath waiting for one. More on this lunatic's rantings here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

First RBI, Pinch Homers and Flashing Leather

Jason Varitek (pictured) came of the bench last night and hit a game-winning pinch hit home run in leading the Red Sox to another ninth inning win over the Indians in Cleveland last night.

The Red Sox are back in first place (I know it's just 15 games in) as Jed Lowrie got his MLB hit, a really important one that drove in two runs in the seventh. Lowrie also had one earlier in the game as he beat out an infield grounder to prevent a DP and allowed a runner to score from third, for the Red Sox first run of the night.

I would guess the Indians are glad to see the Red Sox leave town, and the only way they come back to Cleveland for the playoffs, as because of the bizarre schedule (thank you interleague), the Red Sox play the Indians only once at the Jake. (Don't bother me with new corporate stadium names.)

Tim Wakefield's knuckler was dancing, but he was also walking batters. He gutted out six innings and allowed just two runs. Manny Delcarmen hit Ryan Garko with the bases loaded to tie it up at 3 in the bottom of the 7th. This set it up for Tek's heroics, and they added another run in the inning. Hideki Okajima pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save, and it was capped off by a sensational catch in the right field stands by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Now it's off to New York City for a two-game series with those guys who are moving into that new ballpark next year that the new co-chairmen ordered five jackhammers into last Saturday in order to thwart the beginnings of some kind of new curse that at first they said didn't exist because there was no jersey buried there but then it didn't matter at all because curses were BS but they went ahead and did it anyway and got that evil thing out of there and donated it to the Jimmy Fund because it would make them look classy instead of the paranoid fools that they truly are.

You know, the Yankees.

Trivia Q&A: April 15

We had 16 teams, and a huge crowd at Professor Thom's last night. Since there was a Red Sox game and a Bruins playoff game on at the same time, the Trivia festivities were delayed until about 9:45 PM. Because of the late start, True or False Trivia was bumped, so we had just four categories. (we also had two rather large teams, both with over 10 players. As you know, we like to limit the teams to six per team, so they both were playing for fun, and by the looks of the tables, they sure were having a blast.)

The scores were generally good for 1970s Trivia, although some of the feedback I got on it was that a few players found it difficult because they weren't born when the events took place. (Thanks for making me feel old guys!!) The results were also good for General Knowledge, and going into the final round we had six teams withing five points of each other.

But one of those teams trailing, We Can't Win Every Time, got four of the five IQ Trivia questions right to pull out the win, by three points. No, they can't win every time, just most times, as this was their fourth win in six weeks. Congratulations, guys.

Current Events
1. This book, according to a new Harris Poll, is by far America's favorite book.
2. This auto giant is recalling over 628,000 minivans in Japan due to an installation flaw that could lead to cracks in the fuel tank.
3. This Oscar-winning actor said last week that he and his wife of 11 years, who were about to divorce, have decided to reconcile.
4. More than 600 earthquakes, over the course of 10 days, were detected recently by underwater microphones off the coast of this US state.
5. This airline returned all of its 300 grounded jets to service after clearance by the FAA last Saturday.
6. It was revealed this week that this late movie star was filmed by the FBI in a sex video that was just sold for $1.5 million to a New York businessman.
7. The remake of this horror film took in over $22 million last week to become the number 1 film in the US last week.
8. This African nation, with a 100,000% inflation rate and an 80% unemployment rate, has had a two-week delay in its recent election results and bloodshed is feared if recounts are challenged.
9. Iraqi troops freed a British journalist who worked for this American TV network after he was kidnapped recently in the city of Basra.
10. These two US airlines, who were both struggling, are going to combine to form the world's biggest carrier.

Answers: 1. The Bible; 2. Toyota; 3. Sean Penn; 4. Oregon; 5. American Airlines; 6. Marilyn Monroe; 7. "Prom Night;" 8. Zimbabwe; 9. CBS News; 10. Delta and Northwest.

1970s Trivia
1. So-called Iranian students storm the US Embassy and take employees hostage in Teheran, and a standoff that lasts 444 days.
2. Richard Nixon becomes the first US president in history to resign, over the Watergate break-in scandal.
3. "Star Wars" opens in movie theaters and becomes the highest grossing film of all time to that date.
4. Paul McCartney announces the Beatles have officially split, and releases his first solo album.
5. The Yom Kippur War, the fourth and largest Arab-Israeli conflict, begins on October 6 of this year.
6. Karol Wojtyla becomes the 264th pope, and is known as Pope John Paul II.
7. Jim Morrison of the Doors dies of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 27.
8. Jimmy Carter becomes the first candidate from the Deep South to win the presidency, over incumbent Gerald Ford.
9. The Summer Olympics are held from August 29-September 11 of this year in Munich, West Germany.
10. Carlton Fisk hits one of MLB's most famous home runs, in Game 6 of this year's World Series.

Answers: 1. 1979; 2. 1974; 3. 1977; 4. 1970; 5. 1973; 6. 1978; 7. 1971; 8. 1976; 9. 1972; 10. 1975.

General Knowledge
1. What boxing great preached on the streets and on the radio and is a minister at a Houston church?
2. What artist did Absolut commission to do a 1985 painting of a bottle?
3. Which US city is home to the historic Old North Church?
4. In April 2001, physician Ronald Shemenski made headlines when he became seriously ill where?
5. On the long-running BBC TV series "Doctor Who," what does Doctor Who's spaceship look like from the outside?
6. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese used what route to move supplies into South Vietnam?
7. By definition, where would an arboreous animal live?
8. The Maorist guerrilla group known as Shining Path rebelled against the government of what country?
9. What legendary comedian regularly referred to his childhood friend "Old Weird Harold" in his rountine?
10. Lipitor is a popular medication prescribed to people with what problem?

Answers: 1. George Foreman; 2. Andy Warhol; 3. Boston; 4. South Pole; 5. phone booth; 6. Ho Chi Minh Trail; 7. tree; 8. Peru; 9. Bill Cosby; 10. high cholesterol.

IQ Trivia
1. What science fiction author is credited with the idea of orbiting communication satellites? ( 5 points)
2. What prize do the Mystery Writers of America give annually for outstanding writing? ( 5 points)
3. A kegler is someone who plays what sport? ( 4 points)
4. Dr. Sylvia Earle is a noted scientist in what field? ( 6 points)
5. "Sternutation" is a term for what human condition? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Arthur C. Clarke; 2. The Edgar; 3. bowling; 4. oceanography; 5. sneezing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Manny's Moonshot Whacks Tribe

Last night's Red Sox game had all the makings of a sure loss. The Jon Lester Walk Parade was on full view, and Jake Westbrook of the Indians seemed to have the Sox shut down. They scored in the first but lost a golden opportunity when Jason Varitek grounded back to the mound with the bases loaded.

It was a 4-1 game when Lester was lifted in the fifth after walking four. And Julian Tavarez came into a bases loaded, one out situation and shut the Indians down without any further scoring. He also held them scoreless in the sixth and seventh as well.

The Red Sox got the comeback going with a run in the seventh and a Kevin Youkilis homer in the eighth. Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless eighth, and the Indians brought in Joe Borowski, who's every appearance is a sheer adventure.

And it sure as hell was one on Monday night. Borowski gave up a leadoff double to Julio Lugo, who came around to score on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly. David Ortiz got his second hit of the night (hopefully the sign of good things to come), and Manny Ramirez hit a pitch right down the middle into the left field stands for his 493rd career home run to make it 6-4. Thanks, Joe.

Jonathan Papelbon was devastating again, as he struck out two of the three hitters he faced to seal a great win. The Red Sox are now 8-6.

This night brought back pleasant memories of 2007. A great comeback win to build on.

Monday, April 14, 2008

1970s Trivia On Tuesday

On Tuesday night, we will have as our special category for Trivia Night, "1970s Trivia." It will be ten events that occurred during that memorable decade, and each answer will be a different year during the '70s.

We will also have the regular four categories for you to deal with as well. Trivia will begin shortly after 9 PM, as there will be the Red Sox-Indians game in Cleveland on at Thom's, so we will begin some time late in that contest.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What artist did Absolut commission to do a 1985 painting of a bottle?

Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

ESPN Ruins Baseball, Too

I thought that goofup by Fox was bad on Saturday evening when they dumped out of the game too early, but what the hell was with ESPN on Monday night during the Red Sox-Indians game?

The network that forces Chris Berman and Dick Vitale down everyone throats left the Red Sox-Indians game on at least SIX occasions for a commercial while an inning was still going on. And they stayed away for at least a minute every time. (Fortunately, I was able to switch over to the MLB package coverage of the game, so I didn't miss anything.)

I decided to watch the ESPN broadcast because the MLB package had the Cleveland feed tonight. I really don't have anything against their announcers, as they aren't too bad. ESPN also had Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser on, who I both like. (Even though we had to endure Steve Phillips as the third guy in the booth. He is simply awful.)

Who was at the controls tonight, and were they drinking on the job or something? If it happens once, it can be explained away as a mistake. But this got to ridiculous proportions, to the point I went to the Indians feed after the eighth inning. ESPN made no acknowlegment that there was some kind of problem with their feed. (Could this have been just a local problem?)

Yep, ESPN Ruins Baseball, too.

A Boston Marathon, One Week Early

It was a nine-inning, four hour marathon at Fenway Park last night, as the Red Sox won 8-5, in one of those games that was just torture to watch. I got to Thom's to watch it with the score at 3-1 in the third. (I played softball last night, and drove in the winning run in the final inning.)

The Red Sox pounded Phil Hughes for six runs in three innings, and took a 7-1 lead. But Daisuke Matsuzaka seemed determined to give it back, as he slogged through 5 innings, walking six and allowing four runs. The bullpen did a decent job, but Mike Timlin got torched by Jason Giambi again, as The Giambalco took him deep into the bullpen for the second time in three nights. Timlin left the game without retiring a batter.

Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon were not available, after the heavy workload they had this weekend. So Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen stepped up, with MDC getting the final two outs as the Red Sox got the victory.

It was also a night that David Ortiz got the night off, with Manny Ramirez at DH and Jacoby Ellsbury in left. Papi needed a rest to clear out the cobwebs and recharge the batteries after the worst start to his career.

But the events of yesterday made me wonder one thing. Since the Yankees unearthed that Red Sox jersey from the new stadium yesterday, and it was a David Ortiz jersey, does Big Papi go on a roll now? (And I have to give the Yankees credit. They are donating the jersey to the Jimmy Fund, so it can be auctioned off. A nice way to end a really silly incident.)

And one final observation on this jersey nonsense, before we finally move on to more relevant stuff. I noticed that the New York Post had blaring headlines for the entire weekend on this whole fiasco, while the Daily News barely mentioned it, and had a story about the unearthing on page 19 today, with just a couple of throwaway paragraphs.

I guess the News had a hard time dealing with this Post "exclusive."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

High Comedy and Lies From Mr. Hankee

You still have to love all the Yankee paranoia.


Apparently, Hank Steinbrenner (pictured) sent a team of workers into the new Yankee Stadium to jackhammer on the third base side yesterday and they found the Red Sox jersey that a Red Sox fan, Gino Castignoli, who worked on the place, had left buried in concrete. (Note to Gino: why did you come clean about it one year before the new stadium opened? Wouldn't have been better to have waited one day before it opened? Just a thought.)

The long, national nightmare is over. I guess. Read it here.

Hankenstein continues to be a horse's ass. And his paranoia is simply great high comedy. First he denies the jersey was left there. Then he says it was no big deal. Now he sends in a team to have it removed. And his brother Hal is encouraging the co-workers of the Red Sox fan who left the jersey to "kick the s**t out of him." Simply hilarious stuff. (Seriously, if some co-worker does go after Castignoli and assaults him, Mr. Hankee's brother could find himself in some legal hot water.)

So much for his not talking about the Red Sox anymore this year.

Cano Grounded to Second (In Case You Were Curious)

Fox Ruins Baseball. For about the 65,832nd time.

They did their version of the "Heidi" game on Saturday, at the very end of the Red Sox-Yankees game from Fenway. As many of you know, there was a very long rain delay in Boston. As Alex Rodriguez was about to step to the plate in the eighth inning with two on and two out in a 4-3 game, the heavens opened up and the game was held up for nearly two and one-half hours. This put Fox in a quandry, as their coverage of a NASCAR race was to begin at 8 PM. (Don't ask me what race, as I have no idea what NASCAR is all about.)

Fox had a pregame for it, and the race was set to commence at 8:53 PM, as Fox graphics showed the audience. The game finally got going again just after 8:30 PM. It was moving along fast, and it appeared the game might end before the race would start. With two outs and none on in the ninth, Robinson Cano fouled off a number of Jonathan Papelbon pitches, and the count was at 3 and 2.

And suddenly, we saw a NASCAR race beginning with the game gone. At that point, a graphic came on the screen telling the audience to move over to FX, which is Fox's cable outlet. I was at Professor Thom's, and the bar crowd went ape, screaming for the change over to FX and yelling some colorful language about NASCAR. It took some precious seconds for the TV to be changed over to FX, and when we arrived at it, the graphic was on the screen saying the Red Sox had won. And we had no idea how the game ended!

I pulled out my cell and checked on my ESPN MVP service and found out that Cano had grounded out to Dustin Pedroia to give the Sox the win.

The bar, which included some Yankee fans to go along with the Red Sox throng, were furious at Fox's butchery of the final of a game that many had waited through a long rain delay to see the finish. It is absolutely inexcusable that they gave the audience no warning whatsoever (I was in a crowded bar and heard nothing, but I later read Joe Buck told the audience about the switch coming) that they were moving the game to FX. And they did it right in the middle of an at-bat! Fox has done nothing but ruin baseball coverage since MLB gave them the over-the-air rights. (And my friend Chris told me today that Fox had the exclusive to Saturday's Cardinals-Giants game, but since they did not send a broadcast crew to cover it, no one in St. Louis or San Francisco could see it. They didn't have the decency to turn it over to the local broadcasters. Absolutely appalling.)

Someone at Fox should lose their job over their goofup on Saturday. But we'll still have to live with their godawful broadcasts every Saturday anyway.

Oh yes, Manny Ramirez hit a moonshot and drove in three runs, Josh Beckett won his first game of the year, Jonathan Papelbon proved why he's the best closer in the game, and David Ortiz is still lost at the plate, as the Red Sox won 4-3 at Fenway.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bloomberg: Yankees Under a "Curse"

The insanity continues.

You may have heard that silliness with the Red Sox shirt (and other items) being buried underneath some concrete by a Red Sox fan at the new Yankee Stadium as reported by the New York Post yesterday. Well, it took another turn as the fan, who name is "Gino" and grew up in the Bronx as a Yankee-hating Red Sox fan, produced proof yesterday, namely some cell phone shots of him pouring the concrete over the said items last August.

Yankee officials denied last night that any such thing happened, but had to backtrack after this Gino fellow produced the photos to the Post.

And in the story today, they went to Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who said this:

"It is an outrage!" the Boston-born Bloomberg told The Post before the Yanks played the Sox last night.

"The one thing that I'd really like to be able to do is to go in there and pitch for the Yankees and beat the Red Sox with a perfect game. That would be a way to end the curse," the mayor said.

"They envy the Yankees. They wish they were the Yankees. And every once in a while, you might not win the whole thing, but to say that the public is on the side of the Yankees is an understatement."

"End the curse?" So, Bloomberg now believes the Yankees are under a curse? Oh brother. I'm sure Bloomberg had his tongue firmly in his cheek. (But don't get me started on "They wish they were the Yankees." We thank God every night we aren't.)

And to prove Yankee fans are idiots, read this:

"[Red Sox jerseys] should be buried under two tons of concrete," said Christopher Rogers, 25, of Albany, who watched the Bombers hammer the Sox 4-1 at Fenway Park last night. "Buried because that's what we do. We bury them."

What rock has this moron been hiding under the past four years?

And also in this article, there's some woman who's a Wiccan priestess trying to cast out "the Red Sox jinx" while beating a Red Sox jersey with a broom.

Don't you just love the fact it is now YANKEE fans who are trying to get rid of curses and jinxes? Like I said before, it was always they who were obsessed by it.

Congratulations Nelson

Congratulations to Nelson Figueroa, who won his first MLB game in five years last night for the Mets, as he went six innings, allowed just two runs on two hits while striking out six, as the Mets won over Milwaukee, 4-2 at Shea Stadium.

Nelson's also a Brooklyn guy, as he was born and raised in Coney Island, and grew up a Mets fan. He went to Lincoln High School, which also produced Lee Mazzilli, as well as Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He was originally drafted by the Mets in 1995, and his career has bounced around, as he came up with Arizona in 2000 and was traded to the Phillies in the Curt Schilling deal that year. It was there that my father, who worked for the Phillies in their spring training complex in Clearwater, FL, got to know him and said he was a really nice guy.

His career took to him to Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Washington, as well as Mexico and Taiwan. The Mets signed him after pitching in the Taiwan Series last year. He had a terrific spring, and was brought up when Pedro Martinez went down with a hamstring injury.

Back in February, there was an interesting article in the New York Post about him, and how he designed a t-shirt (he's pictured wearing it) dedicated to the 9/11 victims, and how it was so popular that it raised over $450,000 that went to 9/11 charities. You can read it here.

I wish Nelson all the best with the Mets. He's a good guy, and I hope he can help the Mets out more this season.

Running Into a Buzzsaw

The Red Sox ran into a hot pitcher last night in Chien-Ming Wang and lost, 4-1 in the opening game of the three-game series with the Yankees last night. It was just one of those nights when you just tip your cap to a pitcher who threw a fine game, and turn the page and come out slugging the next day.

Clay Buchholz looked very good, as he went six innings, allowing just one run. He had one shaky inning, the fifth, when he walked three and the Yankees scored the one run off him. Mike Timlin, just off the DL, gave up a home run to Jason (Giambalco) Giambi, and they added two more runs. But their story was Wang, who allowed just a J.D. Drew home run and a bunt single to Coco Crisp in the ninth in pitching a two-hitter.

David Ortiz is now 3-for-39 on the season, as he took the collar again last night. You have to wonder about that mended he of his that he had surgery on after last season. He played hurt a good part of last season, but now you have to wonder. It's really affecting him, as Papi hasn't talked to the press after the last two games. But I still think at some point he will have that bust out game where he hits two moonshots and gets four hits in a game. Just hope it happens soon.

BTW, I was on the Boston Globe web site this morning, and I actually saw a thread started called "Francona Must Go." Yep, he's handled the bullpen so badly that it's time to fire the man who has brought two World Series titles to Boston in the last four years, a man who just got a deserved new contract, and is now acknowledged as one of baseball's best managers. Francona is probably the best Red Sox manager in my lifetime. So it's time to bounce him.

Yes, even the Red Sox have bonehead fans who own computers.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Three Years Out

It was three years ago today that the Red Sox celebrated their first championship in 86 years by handing out their World Series rings and raising the championship flag before a packed house that included the New York Yankees in the other dugout watching it happen. (The Red Sox won big that day as well.)

But that day for me will always be another anniversary: it was the day many of my friends and I officially abandoned the Riviera Sports Bar and Cafe as the place to watch the Red Sox games in New York.

Our friend and bartender Jim McGuire was not present that day, and we all thought that there was something very wrong with that. We found out the next day that Jim was fired by the general manager, and it incensed us to no end.

We drew up a petition to get Jim reinstated, and it was signed by a few dozen of us. We said that we would no longer give them our business unless Jim was back. It was presented to the Riviera's owner, but he told the New York Times a month later (yes, it made the papers that May, read about it here) that our protests made very little difference to him, and so we officially abandoned the place. Jim landed a gig in a nice bar called Phebe's on East 4th Street for nearly six months before Professor Thom's opened in December 2005.

The Riviera has a ton of wonderful memories for me from the historic 2004 Red Sox postseason run. But the Riviera is old news, living off their reputation and not the "happening" bar to watch the Red Sox in New York City. (Thom's owns that distinction.)

Haven't been there in three years. And I'm proud of that.

Lowell to the DL as Sox Win

The Red Sox placed Mike Lowell on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained thumb, after he injured it on the first play of the game on Wednesday night diving for a ground ball and left the next inning. At this point it is unknown how much time he will miss. Jed Lowrie was called up from Pawtucket to take his place on the roster.

This will give more playing time to Sean Casey, with Kevin Youkilis sliding over to third. Casey is making the most of his new found playing time, as he had two more hits last night in leading the Sox to a 12-6 win over the Tigers. The game also featured Manny Ramirez running through a stop sign from DeMarlo Hale to score a run (so who says he doesn't hustle?), and Julian Tavarez getting torched in the eighth inning after Terry Francona removed Hideki Okajima with the Sox holding an 8-3 lead. It soon became 8-6, as Tavarez was yanked for Jonathan Papelbon, and he restored order in retiring the last batter.

J.D. Drew continues to wield a hot bat, as he had three hits and two RBI. Tim Wakefield struggled throught the first five innings, as he walked five and struck out five, hit two batters and allowed two runs. But he left with a lead the Sox did not relinquish, and dropped the Tigers to an incredibly bad 1-8 start to their season.

The Evil Empire comes to town tonight for three games, and neither team is particularly healthy or where they want to be. Not what I would call an important series, but it's still the Yankees, and it's always interesting.

Oh, The Paranoia!!

Today's New York Post has a screaming headline on their front page (pictured) about a construction worker, a Red Sox fan, who, last August, buried a Red Sox t-shirt in the concrete slab of visitor's clubhouse of the new ballpark. And now the Post writes how the Yankees may now be "cursed" because of it.

It made me burst out in laughter at hearing this paranoia.

Yep, the Red Sox have gotten so deep into their heads that those who were so obsessed with curses and jinxes for years regarding the Sox are now convinced it's on them now. I said it for years, it was the Yankees fans who were totally obsessed with curses...

Seriously, it's all really silly and stupid. Curses and jinxes are totally asinine and sophomoric. I just love the fact the Post is playing this up like it's some major story. Read it here.

The Post won't reveal the identities of the workers who revealed this story to them, because "They aren't supposed to talk to the media." More likely they are saving their lives from angry Yankee fans who felt they did nothing to stop this moral outrage!

I'm almost surprised that Hankenstein hasn't ordered the visitor's clubhouse to be torn apart and the shirt removed. From the story, it sounds like the way the shirt was mixed into the concrete, it would almost impossible to remove a shirt that's probably not intact anyway. And the cost of tearing up the visitor's clubhouse and the delays it would cause the stadium's construction wouldn't be worth it anyhow. Hankenstein's media flunky basically dismissed the story anyway.

My buddy Chris Wertz was interviewed for the story, and it was good to see him give the Red Sox fan's take on it.

So now, I guess the Yankees and their fans now have a built-in excuse if their team continues to fail in their bid to win a World Series once they move into their new ballpark.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Buckner's Triumphant Return. Again.

This article appeared at Bornintoit.com on Thursday, but I thought it was worth putting on my site as well.

Bill Buckner returned to Fenway Park on Tuesday for the Opening Day ceremonies, to throw out the first ball to his former teammate and Red Sox legend Dwight Evans. There were rumors that it was going to happen, but it remained a secret until the very last minute, when Joe Castiglione made the announcement.

It was truly a touching moment to see a man who was such a terrific all-around player get such a rousing ovation from the Fenway faithful. Buckner was genuinely touched by it, and had to brush away tears on a couple of occasions.

It was wonderful that the Red Sox owners made the offer to Buckner, and that he finally accepted after turning down offers in the past to return. But make no mistake about it, it's not the first time he's been warmly received by the fans at Fenway since that infamous error of 22 years ago.

On Opening Day of 1987, the fans reacted similarly when he was introduced in the pregame introductions. Back then, it was their way of saying they were behind him despite the fact the Red Sox didn't win the 1986 World Series, and it wasn't all his fault. The Sox eventually released him during the 1987 season, but he returned once again as a player in 1990 and got another thunderous ovation on Opening Day in 1990. Once again, Red Sox Nation was telling him and the world that they held no grudge with him.

But as the years went on, there was an incident involving Buckner and some fans over that infamous play that the media played up on, and they seemed to be coming to the conclusion that Red Sox fans in general were angry at Buckner and held him reponsible for the 1986 loss. I remember Buckner telling a story about how one writer contacted him and actually asked him if he contemplated suicide over the fact the Red Sox lost that World Series. (It was shortly after Donnie Moore's suicide, the pitcher who eventually took his own life after many things in his life went sour after Dave Henderson hit a home run off him in the 1986 ALDS, and eventually the Angels lost the series in 7 games. Moore had really serious problems in his life that had nothing to do with baseball.)

Eventually, Buckner got tired of the media hounding him over the error, and eventually left Massachusetts and resettled his family in Idaho. He simply wanted to live a life away from the endless questions over it. The media, such as outlets like ESPN and Fox, always seemed to bring up the error to further pour salt into the wounds of Red Sox fans, especially in games when the Sox took on the Yankees. (And they will never be fully forgiven by me for it.) Dan Shaughnessy has made a cottage industry over Buckner's error and every critical Red Sox loss with his book, "The Curse of the Bambino." (Granted, he's not the only one, but he is the poster boy for those who revel in it.) If you were to take of poll of Red Sox fans before the 2004 championship and asked them, "Who do you hate more, Bill Buckner or Dan Shaughnessy?", CHB would win that in walk, and I bet about 90% of the fans would have said Shaughnessy.

I have known very few Red Sox fans who ever cursed the name of Bill Buckner or held him personally responsible for the Red Sox not winning a World Series until 2004. I have always believed most of the idiotic nonsense over Buckner's error came from anti-Red Sox circles (such as jackass Yankees fans), and not from disgruntled Sox fans. I have always felt badly for the way Billy Buck was treated by the media, and the way his name became a national joke for futility. He was a gutsy ballplayer and borderline Hall of Famer, who had a terrific year in 1986 (102 RBI) and was a big part in the Sox getting to the World Series. The responsibility for the 1986 loss should also be shouldered by such people as John McNamara (who deserves most of the blame in my opinion), Roger Clemens, Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, and Rich Gedman. And of course, as far as Buckner goes, everyone seems to forget Game 6 was already tied when Buckner made the error, and that even if he fielded the ball cleanly, Mookie Wilson beats Bob Stanley to first (in my opinion, after seeing numerous camera angles of the play), as Stanley was late coming off the mound. And don't forget, the Red Sox still had shot to win the series in Game 7 two days later, but the Mets prevailed, 8-5. (And all these years later, NO ONE seems to give the Mets any credit for a spectacular comeback. It always seems to be "Buckner's error" that was the whole story. A real shame.)

Once again, it was nice to see Bill Buckner at Fenway Park this past Tuesday, and the outpouring of support he got from the fans. I also found it interesting that after the game in a press conference, Buckner said he didn't blame the fans for making his life difficult, but he had to make peace with the media.

The fans never needed to make peace with Buckner. (Winning two World Series eases the pain of that loss dramatically of course.) But it's good to see Billy Buck back with his old Red Sox number 6 on Tuesday. For years I was always said that if I ever bumped into him in a bar, I would buy him a drink and thank him for the memories.

If that day ever comes, the drinks are still on me, Billy.