All-Star Game at Minnesota

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Great Night to be a Boston Fan

It was a great night to be a fan of the Boston teams last night, especially if you were among the throng at Professor Thom's pub in the Village. There was a huge crowd in to watch the Red Sox-Orioles game as well as the Celtics Game 6 matchup with the Detroit Pistons.

The day started off with some bad news for the Red Sox on Friday, as Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day DL with soreness in the right rotator cuff. It doesn't sound serious, as it appears the Red Sox want to rest him. He will probably just miss two starts, and he will be replaced by either Justin Masterson or Clay Buchholz for the start on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay.

It was a bizarre night at Camden Yards, as the Red Sox opened with two runs in the first to take a fast lead. But in the second, with a man on third and one out, Terry Francona put on the suicide squeeze, with Alex Cora at the plate. Cora missed the bunt, and Coco Crisp was a dead duck. I can't remember the last time Tito tried that play. Granted the Sox have been hurting for runs lately, and Cora is a good bunter. I just hate that play, especially as the Orioles were playing the infield in at the time. And for the next ten innings, the Red Sox couldn't put a run across the plate.

Baltimore tied it on an unearned run and a home run by Aubrey Huff. Josh Beckett pitched six innings and struggled a bit, and went just six innings. The stars of the game was the Red Sox bullpen, who pitched six shutouts innings last night. Even Mike Timlin got through the 12th inning, as he got Ramon Hernandez to fly out with the bases loaded to end the inning. (As he was at the plate, I had flashbacks to the 2003 ALDS Game 1, as he won that game in the 12th inning with a bunt single with two outs against Derek Lowe. Spooky.)

As the Celtics were celebrating the first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1986 with a 89-81 victory, the Red Sox finally came through in the 13th due to some shoddy Orioles defense. Mike Lowell drove in one run with a single, and Coco Crisp's grounder that Freddie Bynum threw away brought in two more runs.

It was a win the Red Sox desperately needed, as the bad run of road losses was beginning to mount. And congratulations to the Celtics, and I can still hear the chants of "Beat LA! Beat LA!" cascading throughout the bar.

It was a great night to be a Boston fan, no matter where you took in the action.

"I'm Moving to Canada!"

No, I'm not the one planning to leave the United States.

It's none other than Susan Sarandon, who making such a "threat" should John McCain get elected president this November. She said this in a recent interview.

Good. Do us all a favor and leave if McCain gets elected.

Yep, yet another goofball, batshit left-wing liberal celebrity who takes themselves and their politics way too seriously, and really thinks we give a damn about how they feel politically, and the fact they don't want to live in this country if their candidate isn't elected. Just like Alec (Ireland, You Thoughtless Fat Pig) Baldwin in 2000 who threatened to leave the US if we elected George W. Bush.

How's life in France these days, Alec?

I wish one of these brainless nitwits would actually make good on such baseless threats.

They wouldn't be missed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting Out the Vote

This past Wednesday, I entered a contest over at the great web site Surviving Grady, as Red and Denton asked fans to write in with "the one person you'd love to spend a day with at Fenway Park." It could be anyone, living or dead, and you had to explain why. The winner gets the new 6-DVD set, "The Essential Games of Fenway Park."

The site got hundreds of entries, and the boys had a tough time narrowing it down to five. So, they expanded it to ten, and this morning, they announced on their site the finalists.

And my entry is one of the ten finalists.

I'm really blown away that it was chosen. If you go over to Surviving Grady, you can read it. It's not hard to figure out which is mine, but if you go to the fifth of the ten, "Dear Friend," that's mine.

So now I need your help. There are many great ones in the contest, and a couple that actually made me laugh out loud. So, it will be tough to win. The contest lasts until Monday night at 11:59 PM ET, so if you'd like to vote for my entry, you have to drop a fast email to Red and Denton at soxfiend2004@comcast.net and vote for "Dear Friend." You can only vote once from any individual email address.

I plan to donate the DVD if I win, to a very special person who's had a tough time recently, so I thank all of you out there for your support.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hedley Lamarr Dies

Today, an actor in one of my all-time favorite comedies died. Harvey Korman, who made his name on "The Carol Burnett Show" in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 81, after suffering from an aneurysm many months ago.

But he will be fondly remembered for his tremendous role as the evil Hedley Lamarr in the classic Mel Brooks comedy, "Blazing Saddles." It is one of the best comedy films of all time (in my humble opinion). Whenever anyone called him "Hedy Lamarr," he'd get indignant and exclaim, "No, that's Hedley!!" (The actress Hedy Lamarr actually sued Mel Brooks over the reference, and it was later settled out of court.)

One of my favorite Hedley lines from the film:
"You will be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor. "

I certainly thought Harvey Korman deserved to win a Supporting Actor award for "Blazing Saddles," but it was not to be. But Mr. Korman did win four Emmy Awards for his work on "The Carol Burnett Show," as well as a Golden Globe.

I honor Mr. Korman's memory with one of my favorite scenes in "Blazing Saddles," when Hedley tells Taggart (Slim Pickens) he wants a large group of ruffians to attack the town of Rock Ridge. Here it is on YouTube. Thanks for the funny memories, Mr. Korman.

Really Sloppy Stuff

I was home last night watching the Red Sox-Mariners game on the MLB Extra Innings package. I've never been able to fully figure out exactly how they pick which team's broadcasts on any given night, but they overwhelmingly pick the home team's feed more often than not.

For the Seattle series they had the Mariners broadcasts. (Although when ESPN showed every Manny Ramirez at-bat last night as he was going for home run #500, I switched over every time, as they used the NESN feed.) Their guys aren't too bad, and I've always liked Dave Sims, as I met him years ago back in New York when he was doing a cable sports show called "Gameface." Really nice guy.

But the game started in a really lousy fashion on FSN Northwest. As it was about to start, I noticed a plethora of commercials as the game time passed. And when they joined the game, the first pitch had already happened, and Jacoby Ellsbury had already struck out and was walking back to the Red Sox dugout. And Dave Niehaus, the longtime Seattle announcer, said to his audience, "They started early on us."

No, Dave, they started on time. Your broadcast network blew it, and had to jam in more commercials.

I've seen games where the first pitch of an inning has been missed due to commercials, but I've never seen a game start, and a batter had already struck out before they joined the game. (I believe Ellsbury struck out on four pitches.) That is just unbelievable to me, that a game could be going for more than a pitch and they are still running commercials.

That is simply beyond sloppy. It makes me appreciate NESN all the more, and how much I miss it when I'm forced to watch other team's broadcasts.

1-0? It Might as Well Have Been 10-0

I hope you all will excuse me here. I need to vent.

I watched yet another pathetic display by the Boston Red Sox offense on the road tonight, an absolutely brutal 1-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners, the worst goddamn team in Major League Baseball.

And I can feel nothing but sorrow right now for one Tim Wakefield. He pitched an absolute gem against Seattle, and threw just one bad pitch all night that Yuniesky Betancourt hit over the wall for a third inning home run. Wake threw just 94 pitches in the complete game loss, allowing just five hits while striking out six. Another game he should have won, if the damn offense would bother to show the hell up.

This is a lousy, overrated Seattle Mariners team. They had lost seven straight going into Tuesday night, and their pitching had simply gotten destroyed in Detroit and New York. But here come the Red Sox, playing like crap on the road, just the tonic Seattle needed. Erik Bedard pitched a fine game tonight, and take nothing away from him, as he went seven innings and struck out nine. But he had been awful in the month of May, going 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA going into this game this month. And historically, he's not a Red Sox killer, as his lifetime record against them is 4-4 with an ERA just over 4.00. He's a good pitcher, but he's been struggling as of late.

But the Red Sox offense did diddly tonight. Two hits, both in the fourth inning, and it was wiped out by a double play. And on this road trip, I have noticed a disturbing trend. In four of the six games, they did not get their first hit until at least the fourth inning (including tonight). They look awful starting out these games, and except for Monday night, they fall into a hole they can't get out of. Even worse, when the other team goes up 1-0 it seems like they are in trouble.

I know, I know, it's still just May. But the away record is simply abominable: 11-19. That is totally unacceptable from a team that has eyes on winning a second straight championship. They have now lost 10 of 12 away games since they beat up on the Tigers in Detroit earlier this month. They fall behind on the road and it seems like the game is over, no matter what the score. They are wasting some fine pitching performances, like the one from Wake tonight. They are now 1-5 on this 10-game swing away from Boston, and have to sweep all four games in Baltimore to make it a .500 trip. I won't bet any money on that happening.

And losing series to crap teams like the Seattle Mariners makes it all the more frustrating to watch. You have to beat also-rans like this. No excuses.

My rant is over. Thank you for your indulgence.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Number 499 Wasn't Enough

It was a strange night for the Red Sox in Seattle on Tuesday night. Manny Ramirez finally got the "498" taken off this blog by clubbing a three-run homer in the seventh inning to tie up the game with the Mariners at 3. But Mike Timlin kept up his terrible record at Safeco Field, as he gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth to give Seattle a 4-3 win. The Sox are now 1-4 on this current 10-game swing.

Daisuke Matsuzaka didn't look sharp at all, and allowed two runs in the first and one in the third, before leaving the game before the bottom of the fifth with what was at first thought to be a hip or back problem. The Red Sox later said it was shoulder fatigue. His next start is scheduled to be in Baltimore on Monday, and his status for that is currently unknown.

The bullpen did a fine job after Dice-K left, as they pitched four shutout innings before Timlin gave up the winning run in the ninth. Sarge is now 0-6 with an ERA over 10.00 lifetime at Safeco.

Both Julio Lugo and manager Terry Francona got tossed from the game after Lugo argued with ump Angel Hernandez (an umpire of questionable ability) on a third strike that Hernandez said Lugo had swung at. Tito came out after Lugo was thrown out and gave the ump a piece of his mind too, and was ejected for the first time all season.

The Red Sox try to win the series tonight with Tim Wakefield on the hill against Erik Bedard.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trivia Q&A: May 27

We had 14 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday night, as the crowd was a lot less, probably due to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. But some of the regulars were in attendance, and that was good to see.

The numbers from the first two rounds may have been some of the lowest scores ever, but it still made for a competitive game. (The low numbers might have been due mostly to the questions being a bit harder.) We had seven teams within five points of the lead heading into IQ Trivia, and the numbers in that round were actually quite good, with two teams getting perfect scores of 20.

But the team of Squeaky Wheels ended up victorious, as they had the lead most of the night and ran the table in the final round. Congratulations to them on their win.

We return to normal time next week, 9 PM for Trivia next Tuesday night, June 3.

Current Events
1. According to Relocate-America.com's annual list, this southern city is, for the second year in a row, the top city in the US to live.
2. Caladesi Island, in this US state, was recently named as "the best beach in America" for 2008 by a respected university professor's survey, a man nicknamed "Mr. Beach."
3. Forbes Traveler magazine ranked this place as The Most Visited Memorial in America, as it receives more than 4 million visitors annually.
4. This NASA space probe successfully landed on Mars on Sunday, the first successfully powered descent on the planet in over 30 years.
5. Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr was chosen as this independent party's 2008 presidential candidate yesterday.
6. Paul McCartney was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by this prestigious eastern US university on Monday.
7. Scott Dixon, who hails from this country, was the winner of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 race this past Sunday.

Answers: 1. Charlotte, NC; 2. Florida; 3. Arlington National Cemetery; 4. Phoenix; 5. Libertarian Party; 6. Yale University; 7. Australia.

1960s Trivia

1. The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the US, occur on June 28 of this year.
2. The Beatles play their last concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, on August 29 of this year.
3. Sen. Robert Kennedy is shot and killed by an assassin's bullet while running for president, on June 5 of this year.
4. On February 20 of this year, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, in Friendship 7.
5. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy participate in the first televised presidential debate, on September 26 of this year.
6. Shea Stadium opens in Flushing, NY on April 17, with the Mets losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.
7. "The Summer of Love" occurs in the summer of this year, when the hippie counterculture movement comes into public awareness.

Answers: 1. 1969; 2. 1966; 3. 1968; 4. 1962; 5. 1960; 6. 1964; 7. 1967.

True or False ("The Q Train")

1. The state of Alabama does not border the Gulf of Mexico.
2. "The Red October" from the film "The Hunt for Red October" was a nuclear submarine.
3. The Earth is divided in 24 standard time zones.
4. The 1973 film "American Graffiti" takes place over the course of just one night.
5. Australia is the largest country by area in Britain's Commonwealth of Nations.
6. In mechanics, applying tourque to an object will cause it to bounce.
7. Before the 20th amendment was enacted, US presidents officially took office in the month of March.
8. In the 2001 movie "Shrek," Shrek's sidekick is a bear.
9. The process of splitting the nucleus of an atom is called fusion.
10. An inglenook is a recess found besides a fireplace.

Answers: 1. false, it does; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, Canada is; 6. false, it rotates; 7. true; 8. false, he's a donkey; 9. false, it's called fission; 10. true.

General Knowledge

1. In the 1990 movie "Edward Scissorhands," Edward excels at what garden art?
2. What country refers to its organized crime as the "yakuza?"
3. According to the classic TV commercial, "Even kids with chickenpox" love what?
4. Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen was the leader of what band of soldiers?
5. The name of what art form comes from the Greek word meaning "to draw with light?"
6. In a famous 1988 episode, what talk show host had his nose broken by one of his guests?
7. In what play does a character declare, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers?"

Answers: 1. topiary; 2. Japan; 3. Armour Hot Dogs; 4. Green Mountain Boys; 5. photography; 6. Geraldo Rivera; 7. "A Streetcar Named Desire."

IQ Trivia

1. Franklin W. Dixon is the pseudonym for the writer of what popular children's book series? ( 5 points)
2. What kind of tree appears on the official flag of Lebanon? ( 4 points)
3. What is "bovine spongiform encephalopathy" commonly called? ( 4 points)
4. What is the easternmost US state capital? ( 3 points)
5. In which opera does the character of Mimi die at the end? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. "The Hardy Boys;" 2. cedar; 3. mad cow disease; 4. Augusta, ME; 5. "La Boheme."

Baldwin Reads The Tribe The Riot Act



Here's a funny YouTube clip, courtesy of Tiricosuave.com. You could call it "Glengarry Glen Ross" meets "Major League." The Indians have had their problems with their closers this year, so this clip was made from the two films. It takes the "Coffee is for closers" scene with Alec (I'm Moving to France if George Bush Gets Elected President But I Was Only Kidding as I'm Just Another Airheaded Celebrity Who Thinks the Public Cares About My Political Opinion and I Still Want to Assault Henry Hyde) Baldwin reading the Riot Act to the salesmen, and substituted it with the Indians players from "Major League." (You may notice in some of the "Major League" clips, they are actually backwards, and you can tell by the Indians uniforms.)

Great stuff, but be careful, as there's lots of colorful language in this clip, which lasts over two minutes.

Hey, maybe the Mets can bring in the Baldwin character to get the underachieving Amazin's going.

It was just a thought.

Enjoy.

Hallelujah! A Road Win

The Red Sox got a splendid performance from Bartolo Colon (pictured) in his second Red Sox start. He sure looked like the Colon of old as he went seven innings and allowed just one run. He was consistently hitting 95 and 96 MPH on the radar gun. But for a long time last night it looked like he might come away with nothing.

As for the third game in the last four, the Red Sox lineup was retired in order for the first three innings without a man reaching base. It reached 11 straight last night before David Ortiz put an end to it by taking Felix Hernandez over the centerfield fence to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

But the rest of the offense was silent through the seventh. Seattle tied the game at 1-1, and it had the makings of another game the Sox would lose without getting more runs. The Mariners had opportunities to score more, but couldn't cash them in, thanks to Colon.

But the Red Sox finally came through in the eighth, scoring four runs as Hernandez finally faltered. It stayed 5-1 until the bottom of the ninth, when Jonathan Papelbon, whose been doing a "tightrope act" a little too often lately, allowed two runs on his own error, a wild pitch and a couple of hits. But the Red Sox finally had the win, 5-3, and it ended their seven-game losing streak on the road, and it gave Bartolo Colon his second straight win.

A couple of random observations. I loved those shin guards and chest protector that Jason Varitek wore last night. They were camouflage, to honor the military and the fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. Nice touch, Tek.

Also, have you noticed there's a guy who sits behind the visiting dugout, a few rows up from the field, wearing this enormous "BOSTON SUCKS" shirt? I remember he was at every Red Sox-Mariners game at Safeco Field last year, and always wore the same shirt. He's on TV all the time, when they show the close-up of any righthanded batter in the batter's box. He's got to be a Mariners season ticket holder or something, as he's in the same seat for all of the Red Sox games. I just found it unusual seeing that in Seattle, as normally you'd find them in the Bronx or Baltimore.

And I also noticed that when the Red Sox had scored the four runs in the eighth, the "Boston Sucks" guy had mysteriously vanished. What a shock.

Monday, May 26, 2008

1960s Trivia on Tuesday

On Tuesday night, we return to our usual night for Trivia at Professor Thom's, after having to move it to Wednesday night last week. Hopefully, we don't have to do that again, but with the Celtics still in the NBA playoffs, we shall see.

However, tomorrow night we will be starting Trivia Night an hour earlier, as the Red Sox are playing a 10 PM game in Seattle. So we will get going shortly after 8 PM, as we want to finish up as the game gets going. The special category for Trivia Night will be "1960s Trivia," as I will be giving out seven events that occurred in that turbulent decade, and you have to tell what year it happened in. (And of course, none of the years will be repeated.)

The Sneak Peek question for tomorrow night is:
What country refers to its organized crime as the "yakuza?"

Hope you've all had an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday night.

Memorial Day 2008: Rays in First Place

Now, did anyone, even the most cockeyed optimistic Tampa Bay Rays fan, ever think that the title I just wrote here would be true?

Well, it is, as they moved into first after a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend, and another stinker by the Red Sox in Oakland, as they lost another series on the road, 6-3. The Red Sox are now in second place, 1/2 game behind Tampa Bay.

No, Jon Lester didn't pitch another no-hitter yesterday. We go through this crap every time a pitcher throws a no-hitter: Can he duplicate what Johnny Vander Meer did in 1938? Who cares. I just wanted a good outing from Lester and a win yesterday. Didn't get either. Lester struggled against the A's yesterday. He didn't have it, allowing a run in the first after David Ortiz' top of the first blast, and allowed three earned runs in five innings.

(Jon also revealed yesterday that his dad John is also suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the same disease he has so far successfully fought. Our thoughts and prayers to Mr. Lester in his fight with it.)

Manny Ramirez had three hits yesterday and two RBI in the loss, and appears to coming out of his slump, which is a good sign. (C'mon Manny, let's get to 500. I'm getting tired of looking at that "498" sign on this blog!) He also made an error in left that cost the Red Sox a run, too. The road woes continue. In the seventh, it was still a 4-3 game when Oakland had a man on and two outs. Javier Lopez came in and on his first pitch gave up a two-run homer to Jack Cust to put the nail into the coffin and end a frustrating weekend where the offense basically didn't show up. They are now 10-17 away from Boston, and have lost 8 of their last 9 road contests. That just isn't acceptable, and must improve.

Now they have a golden opportunity to turn things around on the road, as they play the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field tonight. Seattle just came off an abominable road trip where their pitching staff got slaughtered in Detroit and New York. Bartolo Colon makes his second Red Sox start tonight, against the worst team in baseball.

In Memoriam

On this Memorial Day, please say a prayer for all of those brave men and women who gave their lives so we could live as a free nation, in all of the wars America has ever been involved in. Please also remember those who are still in harm's way, defending our freedom around the world. And also keep in mind those who were wounded in battle and had their lives changed forever, as many times they are sadly overlooked.

May God bless all of you.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Comedian Dick Martin Dies at 86

I was saddened to learn today of the passing of legendary TV comedian Dick Martin, who passed away due to respiratory problems at the age of 86. He will forever be remembered in teaming up with Dan Rowan to form "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," which was a classic comedy hour that was filled with all kinds of sketch comedy, one-liners and political and risque humor, and made stars of people like Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson and Joanne Worley.

The show ran from January 1968 until it was canceled in May 1973. I was a faithful viewer of the show even in my youth (I was a hip kid), as my TV was always on NBC every Monday night at 8 PM. In their openers, Rowan played the exasperated "straight man" to Martin's "dumb guy," and it made some classic humor.

My favorite Dick Martin character was "Ferd Berfel," the neighbor in a recurring sketch, "The Farkel Family." Every show would end with Rowan saying "Say good night, Dick," to which Martin would always say, "Good night Dick."

Here is a YouTube clip of one of Rowan and Martin classic openers:



Here is more about "Laugh-In" from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laugh-In

It's too bad the "Laugh-In" repeats are nowhere to be found on TV, because I'm sure future generations would enjoy it (even some of the "dated" stuff, like about the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon). I would certainly want to relive my youth and check out some of the old shows.

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that Dick Martin is no longer with us. All I can say is "Good night Dick," and thanks for the memories, Mr. Martin.

Vote for Victoria

Last night I received a very nice email from Victoria G., a nice 10-year-old girl from Massachusetts, who also happens to be a Red Sox blogger. Victoria alerted me to the fact that she is in the running for the position of Captain of Red Sox Kid Nation.

Red Sox Kid Nation currently having the vote to determine the final 12 Captains, and there are 25 kids currently in the running, between the ages of 10 and 14, including Victoria. They were originally selected from a pool of 700 contestants, from all over the United States. Victoria has done some wonderful things to help people in her neck of the woods, like raising money for breast cancer research, helping her local baseball team and helping feed hungry people. And of course, she is a dedicated fan of the Red Sox.

To find out more about the Red Sox Kid Nation Captains contest and how to vote for Victoria, go here.

Victoria also has another web site she writes for, and please do check it out:

http://alextrezzafanclub.blogspot.com

Wow, Victoria's just 10 and runs two web sites!

You can vote as many as 10 times from the same web address, and it concludes on June 22. Go get 'em, Victoria, as you have the Media Machine's endorsement!

Bats Go AWOL Again

Once again, the Red Sox offense on Saturday night inspired the immortal words of that noted philosopher Harry Doyle: "What, just one goddamn hit?"

Yep, that was all the Red Sox offense could muster against Justin Duchscherer and the Oakland A's, as they dropped yet another game on the road, and the second to Oakland in two nights, 3-0.

It was simply an awful performance by the Red Sox offense. They seemed to be popping everything up, and didn't get a man to second base all night. They didn't get a baserunner until the sixth, when Jason Varitek was hit by a pitch. David Ortiz broke up the no-hitter in the 7th with one out with a clean single to center. But he was the last Red Sox player to reach base.

Take nothing away from Duchscherer. He was simply terrific, retiring the first 15 men he faced, and striking out four in eight innings. Josh Beckett was very good, and allowed just 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings. But Manny Delcarmen was awful again, and basically put the game out of reach for the Sox by allowing Oakland another run in the 8th.

And it was another lousy performance by the Red Sox on the road, where they are now a miserable 10-16. They have been simply murder at home, but underwhelming away from Fenway. They have now dropped the first two games of an 10-game trip.

It would be nice if the offense shows up on Sunday, as Jon Lester makes his first start since his historic no-hitter last Monday.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Today marks a very special day in the history of New York City. The Brooklyn Bridge officially opened on this day in 1883, so the iconic landmark that is New York turns 125.

The bridge is still incredibly beautiful, and I have crossed it numerous times. Walking across it is still one of the joys of being in New York. In April 2007, I had a number of photos taken of me for an article about Red Sox fans around the world for Red Sox Nation magazine. The picture included here was one of those taken, but it wasn't used in the magazine.

For more on the Brooklyn Bridge and its history, go here. (You may also notice I have the Brooklyn Bridge as my title picture of this blog. It's simply a stunning picture and I had to use it.)

There have been a number of celebrations marking this special anniversary, including a fireworks show over the East River the other night. Here is some of it, as captured through YouTube:



Happy Birthday to the Brooklyn Bridge. May it be around another 125 years and beyond.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Salamis Complete the Sweep

J. D. Drew and Mike Lowell both hit grand slams on Thursday afternoon, as the Red Sox completed a clean sweep of the Kansas City Royals, 11-8.

Drew went deep in the second, and Lowell hit one in the sixth, as it looked like the Sox were cruising in a laugher. It was also the first time that the Red Sox hit two grand slams in the same game since July 2003, when Bill Mueller hit two (one from each side of the plate) in his three home run game against Texas.

But the Achilles heel of the Red Sox struck once again, and that is their middle relief. Craig Hansen gave up two runs in the seventh, including a home run, and David Aardsma gave up a three-run shot in the eighth. Granted the game appeared to be won, but it forced Terry Francona to bring in Jonathan Papelbon, who proceeded to put two on before getting the last out for the save.

The bullpen did a nice job last night, as Bartolo Colon pitched five good innings in his first Red Sox appearance. They shut down KC over the final four innings, with just a garbage run with two outs in the ninth the lone blemish on a fine evening.

Daisuke Matsuzaka got his 8th win and is still undefeated. But the Walk Parade was on hand yet again, as he walked 6 in 5 2/3 innings, while fanning 7. He didn't have good command, as he allowed three runs on six hits and threw a ton of pitches just to get to the sixth inning. But he once again had some excellent run support behind him.

The Red Sox swept the Royals, and had previously swept Milwaukee three straight, to complete a seven-game whitewash of the homestand. The Red Sox have rebounded nicely from the two brutal losses in Baltimore last week.

The Red Sox now have the best record at home in the MLB, 21-5, and the overall best record as well, 31-19. Their lead over Tampa Bay is now 2 1/2 games as they begin a 10-game road trip to Oakland, Seattle and Baltimore.

Evil Reigns in Europe

Manchester United became the champions of Europe yesterday by winning a penalty kicks shootout over Chelsea, 6-5, after a 1-1 tie that lasted for 120 minutes in a deluge at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

England's Evil Empire scored in the 26th minute on a blistering header from Cristiano Ronaldo. Chelsea knotted the match at one just before halftime with a goal from Frank Lampard.

And it stayed tied through the second half and extra time. So it came down to penalty kicks to decide the club champion of Europe. It was a best-of-five, and Chelsea and Man U were tied 4-4, with Chelsea's captain John Terry taking what could have been the final shot. If he put it in, Chelsea would take the trophy. As he took the shot, United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar went left, and Terry went right. But he seemed to have slipped in the wet conditions, and the shot sailed wide right.

At that moment, you just knew how this was going to end. With Man U leading 6-5, Van der Sar stopped a shot from Nicolas Anelka (pictured), and Manchester United had its third Champions League title in its storied history, the two others being in 1968 and 1999. For more on the match, go here.

I'm not a Chelsea fan (although I was pulling for them yesterday), but I feel badly for John Terry. He's a terrific player, and unless he leads Chelsea back to a Champions League title or England to a World Cup victory, he'll never live down what happened with that wide open net.

Trivia Q&A: May 21

On a day when we had to move Trivia Night back to Wednesday night for the second time in three weeks, we again had a huge crowd in for the festivities, and we had a record number of teams take part: 25. It was terrific to see so many of the Tuesday night regulars come out on a Wednesday again, and I thank you all for that.

There was a little bit of grumbling over the Canadian Trivia category, but the numbers weren't bad at all. But there was a little bit of controversy over the first question, "Lester Pearson is the only Canadian to win what prestigious award in 1956?" Many teams said just "Nobel Prize," but I didn't accept that, as many Canadians have won Nobel Prizes, but only Pearson has won the Peace Prize. I guess I should have told the players to be a little specific in their answer.

We had a close contest throughout the night, and we had 17 of the 25 teams withing five points of the top going into IQ Trivia. Most teams got at least 2 of the questions in that round correct, and I was surprised that most got the five-point question right, which is usually the hardest question of the round (or so I thought). But a team called Bitch Slap That Ho For My Money ( as you can tell we're fairly liberal as far as names go) got all five questions correct (the only team to do so), and wound up winning by four points. My congratulations to them on their win.

Once again a reminder that we'll be back on Tuesday night next week, May 27, but at an earlier time, 8 PM, as the Red Sox have a late-night game in Seattle.

Current Events
1. This web site passed Yahoo as the most popular site in America, as they got more than 141 million unique visitors for the month of April.
2. A letter written by Albert Einstein, in which he refers to this as "pretty childish," was sold by an auction house last week for over $400,000.
3. A documentary about this former superstar athlete is getting raves at the Cannes Film Festival, especially about the star's drug past and sex life.
4. Leonel Fernandez was re-elected president of this Caribbean country last weekend.
5. Big Brown won the Preakness Stakes last Saturday, and is one win away at Belmont from becoming the first horse since Affirmed to win the Triple Crown. What year did Affirmed win?
6. An annual survey by the University of Michigan said that this US-based airline led the industry in passenger satisfaction for the 15th consecutive year.
7. This NBA legendary star, who says he's lost nearly $10 million gambling over the years, has now vowed to quit his gambling habit for good.

Answers: 1. Google; 2. The Bible; 3. Mike Tyson; 4. Dominican Republic; 5. 1978; 6. Southwest Airlines; 7. Charles Barkley.

Canadian Trivia

1. Lester Pearson is the only Canadian to win what prestigious award in 1956?
2. Besides hockey, what is Canada's other official national sport?
3. Winnipeg is the capital of what Canadian province?
4. What day of the year is Canada Day celebrated every year?
5. How many oceans does Canada border?
6. What month of the year is Canada's Thanksgiving Day celebrated in?
7. Name 3 of the 5 largest cities by population in Canada.

Answers: 1. Nobel Peace Prize; 2. lacrosse; 3. Manitoba; 4. July 1; 5. three; 6. October; 7. Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. Explorer Henry Hudson was employed by the Dutch East India Company.
2. In the movie "Jerry Maguire," the team that finally showed Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character the money was the San Diego Chargers.
3. The Newbery Medal is awarded for excellence in children's literature.
4. Baking soda is commonly used in fire extinguishers.
5. The smallest bird in the world is a species of sparrow.
6. Someone driving from Milwaukee to Denver would be traveling southwest.
7. In 1971, the first Starbucks coffeehouse opened in Los Angeles.
8. A lack of iron in the blood can cause anemia.
9. Colin Powell's son was appointed FCC Chairman by George W. Bush.
10. The ancient measurement called a cubit is determined by the length of a man's thumb.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, Arizona Cardinals; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, hummingbird; 6. true; 7. false, Seattle; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, it's from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.

General Knowledge

1. American settlers in the 18th century used the Cumberland Gap to cross what US mountain range?
2. On April 9, 2001, Kevin Costner and Fidel Castro saw and discussed what Costner movie together?
3. What celebrity wrote a series of children's books about a helicopter named Budgie?
4. What ancient written language did the Rosetta Stone help decipher?
5. What Protestant religion was founded as a result of King Henry VIII's break with Rome?
6. In his 1971 song "Mercy Mercy Me," Marvin Gaye sings about what issue?
7. Red globe and Thompson seedless are popular varieties of what fruit?

Answers: 1. Appalachians; 2. "Thirteen Days;" 3. Sarah Ferguson; 4. Egyptian (Hieroglyphics); 5. Anglican; 6. environment; 7. grape.

IQ Trivia

1. What music legend is an ordained minister of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis? ( 4 points)
2. Someone who is nictitating is doing what? ( 4 points)
3. The adjective "antediluvian" refers to the period before what famous biblical event? ( 5 points)
4. Erected in 1921, the International Peace Arch is located in what US state? ( 4 points)
5. What singer/songwriter wrote The Monkees number one hit "I'm a Believer?" ( 3 points)

Answers: 1. Al Green; 2. winking; 3. The Great Flood; 4. Washington; 5. Neil Diamond.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

He'll Be Back

Justin Masterson (pictured) faced the unenviable task of trying to follow up Jon Lester's no-hitter last night, but certainly did himself proud, as he pitched 6 1/3 innings of quality work, allowing just one run on three hits (all by Alex Gordon) as the Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals, 2-1, at Fenway last night.

It was just his second MLB start (I was at his first back on April 24), but once again Masterson couldn't have been better. He was brought up just for this one start from AA Portland, and he was sent back, not to Portland, but to AAA Pawtucket. He left the game in the 7th inning with the 2-1 lead.

Hideki Okajima struggled in the eighth, filling the bases on a double and two walks and getting two outs. Jonathan Papelbon came on to strike out Billy Butler to preserve the lead, and then got Kansas City 1-2-3 in the ninth to get his 13th save of the year. The Red Sox got two early runs off Gil Meche and made them stand up, as Masterson struck out five and walked three.

Bartolo Colon makes his first Red Sox start tonight, taking over Masterson's spot. BTW, have you noticed that three of the players the Red Sox offered in the Johan Santana trade talks last winter, namely Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie, have all made many significant contributions to the Red Sox this season? (Not to mention what Jacoby Ellsbury has done.)

As the old adage goes, sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

What Was That Quote Again, Mr. Damon?

The Yankees crashed and burned against the Orioles, 12-2 at Yankee Stadium last night. I caught the early-inning ugliness (or was that beauty?) last night on TV, and especially the fly ball that Johnny Damon totally butchered last night that led to more runs in the second inning. Not even the return of Alex Rodriguez, who hit an irrelevant home run to avoid the shutout, made any difference. (Why does the return of Slappy, who the press is making out to be some savior riding in on a white horse, remind me of Roger Clemens in June 2007? How did that "savior" turn out again?)

Larry Brooks had this interesting piece in his New York Post column today:

Johnny Damon, who staggered under and dropped a fly ball in the second inning after missing a liner in the first, is having his second straight bad season, and with one more year to go on his $13M per contract, appears as bad a position-player signing as Brian Cashman has ever made.

It made me think of a quote from his father that he made right after Judas left the Red Sox and signed over with the Dark Side. Here it is:

"Mark it down, it's going to be another Babe Ruth," Damon's father, Jimmy Damon, told the New York Daily News this spring. "They sent Johnny off just like they sent off Babe Ruth. It's going to be another big, big mistake. They made the biggest mistake of their lives." (USA Today, April 25, 2006)

The son's not the only "idiot" in that family.

Yep, not re-signing Damon to an absolutely odious long term contract is a move I'm sure Red Sox brass regret they made, and I'm sure they think that every time Jacoby Ellsbury steals a base or Coco Crisp makes a highlight-reel catch in center.

Piazza: Next Stop Cooperstown

Mike Piazza made it official today, and announced his retirement, after 16 seasons, and in five years from now will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Fame election. No one signed Piazza after playing an injury-riddled final season with the A's last year, so he called it quits.

Piazza will go to Cooperstown as the player with the most home runs as a catcher. He was the dominant player at his position during the '90s, and led the Mets to the World Series in 2000. Not bad for a guy who was drafted by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the draft as a favor to Tom Lasorda.

Piazza will be remembered for a lot of things, his mammoth home runs, his dustups with the Texas Con Man, Roger Clemens (more on that later), and many other things. But I will never forget, for the rest of my life, one night that involved Piazza that stands out among all of them.

On the night of September 21, 2001, New York City was hurting. Hurting really badly from the terrorist attacks that had occurred just ten days earlier. We were all trying to come to grips with what had happened, and that night the Mets were playing the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium, the first sporting event in New York since we were attacked. I remembered I worked in Manhattan that day, and had to go to a concert in the East Village to see one of the bands that the music company I worked for at the time was promoting.

Just before 7 PM, I stopped off at the ESPN Zone in Times Square to see the opening ceremonies that were taking place that night that would honor the victims and the first responders. I got there just as it was starting, and it was an incredibly emotional experience. It made me think so much of my missing friend Joyce. The crowd in the place was incredibly respectful to the unfolding scene on the TVs, and cheered and applauded at just the right moments. And I will never forget the shot of Mike Piazza with his head bent down in memory of the 9/11 victims with tears in his eyes.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay at the ESPNZone, as I had to be at the show by 8 PM. (For the life of me, I can't remember who the band was.) The entire night I was thinking of little else but how the Mets were doing against the Braves. At certain intervals, I put on my Walkman to get updates. The Mets were still very much alive in the pennant race, but I was just hoping the Mets could give their fans a memorable evening.

As the concert was drawing to a close, the Mets were down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth. There was a man on and two outs and Piazza was coming up. I decided to stay with the game to see what Mike did. And lo and behold, he drove a pitch from Steve Karsay and hammered it over the left-centerfield fence to put the Mets up, 3-2. I pumped my fist in the air and let out a yell. I had to explain to a friend of mine, who wasn't a baseball fan, why I did that.

But I was glad I had done it, as the Mets went on to win, and for just a very brief time, made New Yorkers happy again amid some horrific struggles they were going through.

Rudy Giuliani said right after the terrorist attacks that we had to go back to as normal a life as we could possibly return to. And for me, that was getting excited about baseball again. And Mike Piazza helped do that on the night of September 21, 2001, and for that, I will always be grateful to him, as just about every Mets fan is.

Enjoy your retirement, Mike.

Getting back to Clemens. Earlier today I realized that if the Texas Con Man is really finally through with baseball and doesn't throw another pitch again in the big leagues, he and Mike Piazza will both be eligible for the Hall of Fame together for the first time in 2013. And the way things are going for The Carpetbagger, it doesn't appear likely, barring a miracle of some kind, that he will go in to the Hall on the first ballot, if ever. (Especially if he does time in jail for perjury.)

Piazza appears to be a leadpipe cinch for enshrinement.

Yes, in his dustup with Clemens, it looks like Mike will have the ultimate last laugh.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Great White North Featured on Wednesday

This week Trivia Night will be on Wednesday night at the special time of 8:30 PM, due to the Celtics playoff game being on tonight. The crowd will just be too big and the game won't end before 11 PM, so the change was in order.

And this week's Special Category will be, in honor of Victoria Day, "Canadian Trivia." (Victoria Day was this past Monday, for those of you who weren't busy celebrating.) It will be seven questions about our neighbors to the north, with a special bonus points question to conclude the category. We will also have the usual four categories. So get your thinking touques on! (That was a McKenzie Brothers reference.)

The Sneak Peek question for tomorrow night is:

What ancient written language did the Rosetta Stone help decipher?

Hope to see many of you for Trivia Night on Wednesday!

Lester's Night to Remember: The Final Out



Here is a nice clip from last night's historic events at Fenway Park, courtesy of YouTube and a fan behind home plate who recorded the final out and the emotional scenes after the no-hitter was completed. Nice job by the fan.

The clip lasts just nearly four minutes. Enjoy.

"Blessed! Still We Believe 2" Now Available

Today is the official release date for the 2007 Red Sox season documentary that I appear in, along with many of the Professor Thom's regulars, "Blessed! Still We Believe 2." It is available at most fine video outlets everywhere.

For more info, here's what Amazon.com has about it, and you can also order it there.

In the near future, we will have a showing of the film at Professor Thom's. No date has yet been set.

And also, this version of the film has more "extra features" of the celebrations at Professor Thom's, stuff that was not included in the first version that was exclusively available at Shaw's in New England this past month.

I'm proud to be a part of it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Page in Jon Lester's Hollywood Story

Tonight we may have seen Jon Lester finally reach that turning point that Red Sox fans have been waiting for him to turn.

He was in complete and total command as he fired a no-hitter, the 18th in Red Sox history, over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park, 7-0. Lester was never in any kind of trouble as he allowed just a two walks, one to Billy Butler in the second, then retired 20 straight hitters before walking Esteban German to open the ninth. He then got two ground outs before he struck out Alberto Callaspo to end a very historic night at the Fens.

Lester became the first Red Sox lefty (or any lefty at Fenway) since Mel Parnell in 1956 to throw a no-hitter. He threw a season-high 130 pitches, but he was constantly getting first pitch strikes and rarely went to a three-ball count. Late in the game he was hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun, and the Royals hitters could only just flail away. He struck out nine, and was aided by a great sliding catch by Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. It was probably Kansas City's best chance at a hit all night.

The Red Sox scored five runs in the third, and added a two-run homer by Jason Varitek in the sixth to complete the scoring. (It was also a big night for Tek, as he became the only catcher to catch four no-hitters in MLB history. He also caught the no-nos of Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in 2002, and Clay Buchholz in 2007.) But it was Jon Lester's night to shine.

Terry Francona hugged Lester after it was over and it brought a tear to my eye. Jon was interviewed afterwards and called Tito "a second dad." It's another incredible moment for the young lefty who was diagnosed with lymphoma back in September 2006. He was also the winning pitcher of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.

(My buddy Chris emailed me tonight and pointed out how we had yet another "mound celebration" on the sacred turf at Fenway. It's really nice to see them coming in an abundance in recent years.)

How could you top that? Lester found a way. The poet John Keats once wrote, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." Tonight's game sure was a beauty.

Enjoy it forever, Jon.

755: Still the Record, and Hank Says So

Hank Aaron gave the commencement address at Concordia University last Saturday, and spoke to reporters before the speech. And what he said was to say the least interesting.

"I still," Henry Aaron was saying, "consider myself the home-run king."

You're not alone in that assessment, Hammerin' Hank. Millions of us who passionately love baseball feel the same way. That other guy might have a higher number, but you have the real record.

Thanks to Fanhouse for the article, which you can read here.

Mets Massacre Yankees Despite Horrific Umpiring

The Mets tap danced all over the Yankees in The Bronx last night, 11-2, despite an unbelievably idiotic call by the umps that actually reversed a Carlos Delgado home run that hit the left field foul pole and ultimately cost the Mets two runs. Mike Reilly called it a home run, but the other three idiots in blue made him change his call, despite the fact Reilly had the best angle to it. I've always liked the fact that umps get together to get a call right, but this one actually reversed a right call for a bad one. (Bob Davidson, home plate ump, to his credit, actually admitted his screwup after the game.) But the Mets showed real determination and went out and stomped all over the Evil Empire anyway, and swept the two-game series.

I have never been a fan of instant replay for baseball, but more and more I am starting to believe that having it for calls like home runs around the foul pole and fan interference might actually be the way to go. If more calls like this are blown, you might see it gain some speed.

And once again, unlike football, umpires are NOT held accountable for blown calls they make. There is no system in MLB for weeding out incompetent umpiring (and there is plenty of that in baseball). Being an ump is like being the pope or a Supreme Court justice. You're there until you die or retire. And the game is worse for it.

I had the game on the radio for most of the night, and I really enjoyed hearing Howie Rose on WFAN in the eighth inning say how, "The Mets fans have taken over Yankee Stadium, while the Yankee fans head for the exits."

It brought back many pleasant memories of October 20, 2004. Nothing like watching the Yankees get their heads handed to them on their home turf, and especially by the Mets. Only watching the Red Sox do it to them could be any sweeter.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trivia Night Moved Again This Week

The Boston Celtics wrapped up their playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, a 97-92 Game 7 win in Boston. The Celtics now move over to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, starting on Tuesday night.

And you know what that means: Trivia Night this week will be moved once again to Wednesday night, May 21, with a special starting time of 8:30 PM.

Once again, we apologize for the move, but there will be a strong group of Celtics fans in Professor Thom's for the game (as there was on Sunday), so having Trivia Night this Tuesday will be almost impossible. When we moved it two weeks ago to Wednesday, a good number of the regulars adjusted their schedules and came out for it, and we had a good crowd in. I thank you all who did that so much.

I will be posting the Sneak Peek question as well as the Special Category on Tuesday night this week. I looked ahead on the schedule and there will be no Celtics game next Tuesday if their series is still going. But the Red Sox will be playing in Seattle that night, so on May 27th when Trivia Night goes back to Tuesday, it will be at a special time of 8 PM that night.

I hope to see many of you on Wednesday night.

The Beckett of 2006?

Josh Beckett had another rough outing at Fenway Park on Sunday, as the Milwaukee Brewers knocked him around for four home runs in seven innings. But the Sox had their hitting shoes on and outslugged Milwaukee, 11-7, to sweep the three-game series.

Commander Kick Ass gave up 5 runs last Tuesday night in Baltimore, so he has allowed 11 runs in his last two starts. Today's outing brought back bad memories of the pounding he took in 2006, as he allowed home runs by the truckload back then. But he did get the win today, as the Sox also hit four home runs, courtesy of David Ortiz (two), Dustin Pedroia (pictured) and Kevin Youkilis.

Also of note on Sunday was the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury was caught stealing for the first time in his young career. He had stolen 24 straight bases until Jason Kendall caught him on a pitch out. And Kendall's one of the best in baseball at throwing out runners.

Beckett's next outing will be on Friday night in Oakland, when the Red Sox open a ten-game road trip.

Manny Ramirez is still stuck on 498 homers, and hasn't hit one since the bomb he hit in Cleveland two weeks ago. I had guessed that Manny would blast number 500 on May 18th in a contest over at Jere's A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory before the season started. Oh well.

The Red Sox also announced that Justin Masterson will be brought up for his second start on Tuesday night, against Kansas City. After the game, he will be optioned back to the minors, and Bartolo Colon will be brought up to make his first start in a Red Sox uniform on Wednesday night.

Mets Whip The Mop, and the Yankees

The underachieving Mets whacked the even more underachieving Yankees in The Bronx on Saturday afternoon, a 7-4 come-from-behind win for the Boys from Queens. And the Yankee villain was one Kyle (Mop Up Man) Farnsworth, who gave up two home runs in the seventh to Jose Reyes and David Wright to seal the Mets victory before a sold out crowd.

In the immortal words of Robert De Niro in Casino: "I wouldn't give the bum a mop job." Farnsworth continues to prove why he's one of the worst and most overpaid relievers in baseball. (And I bet most Yankee fans wouldn't mind seeing Farnsworth with a real mop in his hands, anywhere but Yankee Stadium.)

The Mets and Yankees were rained out of Friday night's game, but instead of doing the logical thing and playing a doubleheader on Saturday or Sunday, they will play one of those cutesy-pie doubleheaders where one game is played in the Bronx and the other is played later that day in Queens, when both teams meet again at Shea later next month. (So, as Dennis Miller used to say, "I don't want to get off on a rant here, but...")

The bloom is off the rose as far as this so-called "Subway Series" goes. The uniqueness of the two New York teams playing each other every year is long gone, and MLB is milking every last dollar out of it by scheduling six meetings between them every year. And they only do so because they are six guaranteed sellouts. You want to make it special again? Have them meet each other every other year, and just three times, not six. I am not a fan of interleague baseball, as it plays havoc with schedules, and creates a competitive imbalance with who every team plays.

As far as I am concerned, the Yankees are just six games the Mets are playing outside their division, as well as league. They'd be better suited playing six games inside the NL, against teams they might ultimately be fighting for a playoff spot against.

They always talk about the Subway Series being for "New York bragging rights." But honestly, who remembers who won the series between the two teams last year, or the year before?

It wouldn't break my heart to see it disappear. But as one wise philosopher once said, "Money talks, bullshit walks." ("Bullshit walks?" Could they have meant Farnsworth?)

No chance of that happening anytime in the near future.

An Ugly Win Beats a Beautiful Loss

The second game of Saturday's day/night double dip at Fenway Park had to be one of the ugliest games of this baseball season. There were seven errors by both teams combined, and the last few innings were simply excruciating to watch. It was simply butt ugly. But it resulted in a Red Sox win and a sweep of the twinbill with the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6, after the Sox took the opener, 5-2.

The Red Sox jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second game, 5-0, as Mike Lowell (pictured) doubled in two runs and hit a two-run homer in his first two at-bats. Tim Wakefield looked good for the first five innings, but by the sixth he faltered, and it was turned over to David Aardsma. He continues to be a tightrope walker, as he allowed two runners on to score, via a hit, walk and hit batsmen. Aardsma continues to walk more than he strikes out, and inspires no confidence.

Craig Hansen then came in in the seventh and gave up three unearned runs. While he wasn't hammered, he struggled. The Red Sox committed two errors ( a questionable one on Alex Cora) that gave Milwaukee a 6-5 lead.

But they are one of the worst fielding teams in baseball, and they made two errors that led to two Red Sox runs in the seventh to put them back up, 7-6. Milwaukee threatened again in the eighth, as they had two on and one out, but a double play bailed out Javier Lopez, who seemed determined to give the game away.

And Terry Francona really rolled the dice in the ninth, keeping Jonathan Papelbon on the bench, as he pitched in Game 1 and got the save. (He threw just 7 pitches in getting it.) Tito went to Mike Timlin, who also threw just seven pitches in the ninth to seal the doubleheader sweep, 7-6. The bullpen was overall incredibly shaky, but the win was put away. (Tito, what a genius!)

And in something not unexpected, Gabe Kapler received a nice ovation upon his return to Fenway Park in the second game. Gabe's a true professional, and deserved to get a nice reaction from the Fenway faithful.

The first game was a lot neater, as Daisuke Matsuzaka improved his record to 7-0 and David Ortiz blasted a three-run home run in the second inning in leading the Sox to the win and stopping a four-game losing streak. After winning the second game, the Sox are now in a first-place tie with Tampa Bay for the AL East lead.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Manny Ramirez: A Retrospective



MLB yanked the "Oriole Magic" YouTube clip, claiming some ownership privilege. But my buddy Dave sent me a link to the Awful Announcing web site, who posted a clip from ESPN of the Baseball Tonight crew, who did a "Best of Manny Being Manny" retrospective. It's the best of Manny Ramirez in all his goofiness, as well as some of his very best outfield plays. I missed it when it was first broadcast.

I hope no one yanks this. Enjoy.

Millar's Still Crazy After All These Years



My friend Eddie in Maryland (onetime Orioles and now a Nats fan) sent me this cool video, an updated 2008 version of the "Oriole Magic" song, a staple at Orioles games many years ago. So what's an Orioles video doing on a Red Sox-oriented blog like this?

I include it because it contains yet another priceless lip-syncing video performance by that crazy, lovable lug, Kevin Millar. You've got to love any video that includes him, even if it has nothing to do with the Red Sox. (It was taken down later today from YouTube by MLB. Idiots.)

UPDATE: My friend Jere of A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory informed me that the clip is now available to be seen at the Orioles web site. Go here to see it.

And speaking of Kevin Millar lip-syncing videos:



The scoreboard at Fenway played this video of KFC back in his youth doing "Born in the USA" back in 2004 when the Red Sox were trailing in the late innings. And many times it led to a Red Sox comeback.

I still miss that goofy bastard.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Guess Who's in the AL East Basement?

Yep, it's the New York Yankees, who find themselves in last place today after losing to the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2, on Thursday afternoon at the Trop.

But wow, the first-place Rays? They are one game in front of the Red Sox as I write this, as they beat up on Ian (Where Do You Want It?) Kennedy once again.

I know, I know. It's May 16th, and there's still about 120 games left in the season.

But how I do enjoy writing "New York Yankees" and "last place" in the same sentence.

Only ManRam Could Do This



Here is the play everyone is talking about from Wednesday's Sox-Orioles game. Manny Ramirez makes a great catch off the bat of old friend Kevin Millar, and as his momentum carries him to the left field wall, he high fives a Red Sox fan in the stands, and then turns and throws a strike to Dustin Pedroia, who fires the ball to Kevin Youkilis to double off Aubrey Huff at first.

Just spectacular. Manny never ceases to amaze, in one way or another.

My thanks to uncutvideo.aol.com web site for providing the video.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yet Another 3-0 Lead, Yet Another Loss

A 10-game road trip that started off with so much promise with two wins in Detroit ended with a crashing thud in Baltimore as the Red Sox, for the third straight game, blew a 3-0 lead and dropped the two-game series to the Orioles, 6-3. The Red Sox have now lost four straight and 5 of 6. And the problems are beginning to mount.

Lots to be concerned with right now. JD Drew and Julio Lugo are both hurt, and each maybe heading to the DL. Clay Buchholz was just placed there today because of a problem with his fingernail, and outfielder Jonathan Van Every was called up from Pawtucket.

The clutch hitting seems to have disappeared, as the Red Sox had tons of opportunities in both games in Baltimore to score runs (12 hits on just three runs today, and two were on solo homers) and failed time and again. Jon Lester wasn't bad at all, allowing two runs in six innings. But the bullpen is really hurting, as Hideki Okajima once again let inherited runners score, as he gave up a grand slam to Jay (I'll Act Like a Whining Asshole to Get Traded Off This Team) Payton, who took him deep on his second pitch of the game to slam the door shut and give the Orioles the win. Okajima's numbers may look on the surface impressive, but they mask the fact he is one of the worst relievers in the AL when coming into a situation with men on base.

(The play of the day, or maybe of this year, happened in the fourth when Manny Ramirez made a fabulous running catch in left field, actually high-fived a Red Sox fan after he hit the wall, and turned and doubled off Aubrey Huff at first to end the inning. At least today wasn't a total loss.)

I kiddingly said that when the Red Sox scored just one run in the first inning, "at least it wasn't three, as I bet they are sure to lose if they did." Well, today they waited until the sixth to get that 3-0 lead, and let it slip away yet again.

StoryCorps Booth at Grand Central Closes

Today I had the pleasure of attending a small ceremony in Grand Central Station for the closing of the booth run by StoryCorps, which had been there since 2003. It will officially close on Saturday.

StoryCorps is the group that records the stories of average people, and has been collecting them since their first booth opened five years ago. They have recorded the stories of over 5300 people at that location, including myself in 2005. The legendary writer Studs Terkel cut the ribbon that opened the booth in October 2003. (And Mr. Terkel turns 96 this month.)

I recorded a fond remembrance for my friend Joyce there, and it was a very special hour I'll never forget. There were some funny memories, as well as a few that brought a tear to my eye. I found out about StoryCorps through the WTC support group I belong to. They have encouraged many people who suffered a terrible loss on September 11, 2001 to come in and record a CD for them. (Every person who does gets a copy of the CD as well as it being sent to the Library of Congress in Washington DC and also to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, where it will be stored forever so future generations can hear their words.) They have recorded stories from over 200 victims' family and friends.

StoryCorps is led by Dave Isay, and he has done some remarkable work in getting the stories of just regular people at the StoryCorps booths. And today, the original location was bid a fond farewell with a short 20 minute ceremony, and then alumni like myself were interviewed for their memories of the booth for a CD that will also be sent to the Library of Congress.

I am very proud to support StoryCorps, and I encourage you to check out the booth they now have in Lower Manhattan, at Foley Square. You can record a fond remembrance of a loved one, or of someone who is here now. The hour I spent with them was incredible, and the faciliator who interviewed me could not have been more sensitive and respectful. The new location is on Centre Street between Duane and Worth Streets, across from the US Courthouse.

If you'd like to know more, just click here for more information, at the StoryCorps web site.

Another 3-0 Lead Goes Down the Drain

Another promising night where the Red Sox scored three in the first inning resulted in a loss in Baltimore last night. Monday night started out just the same, and went downhill from there. With Josh Beckett going you'd think that's all the Red Sox would get for him to get a win. But Beckett wasn't sharp at all, and by the third inning the Orioles had five runs in, culminating with Luke Scott's three-run home run.

The Red Sox had opportunities to score more, especially in the seventh with the bases loaded and no outs. Manny Ramirez came up with the bases loaded and no outs and promptly hit into a 1-2-3 double play and Mike Lowell then flied out. They added a run in the eighth, but the Orioles went on to win, 5-4. The Red Sox find themselves in second place this morning, as those pesky Rays of Tampa Bay beat the Yankees and Mariano Rivera in the 11th inning, 2-1 to go 1/2 game up in the AL East.

David Ortiz got tossed out in the ninth on a controversial check swing, and he complained loudly and then dropped his bat. And then he got run. J. D. Drew left the game in the third inning after he slid for a fly ball that popped out of his glove when his left wrist turned on the turf. It turned out to be a just a sprain, but knowing Drew's history, a trip to the DL wouldn't surprise me.

Trivia Q&A: May 13

We had a very large turnout at Professor Thom's on Tuesday night, with a record-tying number of teams, 24, taking part. There wasn't anything special going on at the bar apart from the Red Sox game in Baltimore, just folks who have to have their trivia. And I thank you all for turning out in such record numbers.

The numbers were rather good for Current Events and True or False, but many teams struggled with both General Knowledge and the special category, Name the Number. We had a good contest, and going into the final round, seven teams were within four points of the lead.

IQ Trivia was a mixed bag. Two teams got perfect scores, and six teams got no points. The other teams got two or three of the questions right. But So Long Tavarez and Thanks For All the Fish wound up the winner, as they were one of the teams who got all five right, and wound up winning by four points. The top three teams also qualified for a special drawing to be part of "High Trek Adventure," in which Professor Thom's is putting up a team on June 14. It's a scavenger hunt/Trivia Pursuit around Manhattan that day. We also be having the top three winning teams of the next two weeks entered for chance to be part of it as well.

Current Events
1. The son of this media and reality star was sentenced to eight months in prison in Florida for causing a car crash that seriously injured his passenger.
2. Brian Cowen became the new prime minister of this country last week.
3. News Corporation withdrew its bid last week to purchase this New York-area newspaper, and it was purchased instead by Cablevision.
4. Mike D'Antoni, the former head coach of this NBA team, last week agreed to a four-year deal with the Knicks to become their head coach.
5. The Social Security Administration said that this was the most popular baby girl's name for the 12th straight year, and this boy's name was number one for the 9th year in a row.
6. A new species of spider was recently named for this Canadian rock legend by a biologist at East Carolina University.
7. A stamp of this legendary singer went on sale this week, exactly 10 years after his death.

Answers: 1. Hulk Hogan; 2. Ireland; 3. Newsday; 4. Phoenix Suns; 5. Emily and Jacob; 6. Neil Young (Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi); 7. Frank Sinatra.

Name the Number
1. This number amendment to the US Constitution instituted a federal income tax, in 1913.
2. This was the number worn by MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and NFL Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas.
3. This is the number of years of marriage marking a silver anniversary.
4. Pearl Jam, LL Cool J and Chicago all had albums titled with this number.
5. This is the number of Brandenburg Concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach.
6. This numbered Apollo spacecraft malfunctioned after being launched in April 1970 and had to return to Earth without landing on the moon.
7. This was the number worn by star athletes Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg and LeBron James.

Answers: 1. 16; 2. 19; 3. 25; 4. 10; 5. 6; 6. 13; 7. 23.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. The main ingredient of Alfredo sauce is cream.
2. The game "Pokemon" is called "Pocket Monster" in Japan.
3. Walter Mondale lost two consecutive elections as a presidential candidate.
4. Dean Martin authored the book "Happiness is a Dry Martini."
5. Bob Hope once had a brief career as a boxer.
6. Mick Jagger sang harmony with Carly Simon on her hit song "You're So Vain."
7. Tess Trueheart was the girlfriend of Dick Tracy.
8. P.T. Barnum's real first name was Paul.
9. A Granny Smith is a tart apple.
10. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote many of his poems while he worked as a priest.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, he lost one; 4. false, it was written by Johnny Carson; 5. true; 6. true; 7. true; 8. false, it was Phinneas; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Islamabad is the capital of what country?
2. In the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, what was Hardy's first name?
3. What American folklore hero died after digging a tunnel faster than a steam drill?
4. The Presidio is a former Spanish fort and military base located in what US city?
5. "Brimstone" is an old-fashioned word for what substance?
6. Mammoth Cave National Park is located in what US state?
7. The 1990 film "Goodfellas" tells the story of what real-life mobster and FBI informant?

Answers: 1. Pakistan; 2. Oliver; 3. John Henry; 4. San Francisco; 5. sulfur; 6. Kentucky; 7. Henry Hill.

IQ Trivia
1. What 19th century historical figure was nicknamed "The Liberator?" ( 4 points)
2. What conservative Israeli parliamentary group is named for the Hebrew word for "unity?" (4 points)
3. "I Me Mine" is the title of what rock musician's 1979 autobiography? ( 3 points)
4. What do the zygomatic muscles help a person do? ( 5 points)
5. The island of Zanzibar is part of what African country? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Simon Bolivar; 2. Likud; 3. George Harrison; 4. smile; 5. Tanzania.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

498

Last night's Red Sox finale in Minnesota got off to a great start as Coco Crisp doubled and was driven in by David Ortiz. Manny Ramirez then took Livan Hernandez deep over the rightfield wall ("baggie?") to put the Red Sox up 3-0 with his 498th career home run.

But that was as far as the Red Sox got offensively, as Clay Buchholz gave back two runs in the first. And he was in trouble all night, and eventually gave up 7 runs in just over four innings to put the Red Sox in a hole they couldn't get out of. Hernandez settled down to get the win, 7-3.

Congratulations to Kevin Youkilis for winning the AL Player of the Week award this past week, for the monster series he had in Detroit.

After taking three of four in Detroit, the Sox dropped three of four in Minnesota. The road trip ends in Baltimore with two quick games starting tonight, and another tomorrow afternoon. Josh Beckett takes the hill against Jeremy Guthrie.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Billy and Casey Go Bonkers



An old video of Bill O'Reilly is making news, and it's one of those "going bananas behind the scenes" videos. It was of him when he hosted "Inside Edition" many years ago. Things don't go right and Bill loses it big time. I actually saw it for the first time tonight on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show. Of course, he had to show it, as he has that deep "O'Reilly Fetish," trying to ridicule him at every turn. (I actually find the war between Olbermann and O'Reilly the best of high comedy, as both think they are standing on moral high ground by bashing the other. I must admit I liked Olbermann better when he was doing SportsCenter on ESPN with Dan Patrick, long before he became a liberal water carrier.)

The clip is just over two minutes, and an unedited version from the Olbermann Show with the colorful language intact, as YouTube has taken down most of the clips of this, because CBS claimed ownership of it.

And speaking of meltdowns, another favorite of mine is the famous Casey Kasem meltdown on his radio show, "American Top 40." He uttered some incredible obscenities about U2 (just before they became famous) and "a little dog named Snuggles." It was recorded in a song by the band Negativland, in a two-song CD single called "U2." U2 sued them over the song, which is a takeoff on their hit "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The song went out of print, so it's hard to find. (Guess who has a copy?)

There's plenty of dirty language in the following clip, so be warned. It lasts just under 6 minutes. Classic stuff. Enjoy.

Lots of Numbers on Tuesday

Trivia Night returns to its regular Tuesday night spot tomorrow night, and the special category will be "Name The Number." What I will be doing is giving you seven questions, and each answer will be a number between 1 and 25. You have to figure out which one (and none of the answers will be the same number).

We should get going sometime after 9 PM. We will have the regular four categories to go with this one. The Sneak Peek question for this week is:

Brimstone is an old-fashioned name for what substance?

I hope many of you can come out for Tuesday Night Trivia, back on Tuesdays where it belongs.

"Hatchet Face" DFA'd by Red Sox

The Julian Tavarez Era in Boston is over.

The Red Sox gave the quirky righthander his walking papers today, and designated him for assignment to make room for Sean Casey, who comes off the disabled list today. This season had been a struggle for him, and he had been used infrequently and a long reliever and just didn't pitch well. Tavarez' exit means Craig Hansen stays, and their are still rumors that Tavarez' next stop might be in Denver with the Rockies. The Sox have 10 days to trade him or release him.

Before last night's 9-8 loss, the Red Sox traded Bryan Corey (who had been DFA'd twice this season) to the Padres for a player to be named, and sent Jed Lowrie back to Pawtucket.

I'm actually going to miss Tavarez, who my friend Adam nicknamed "Hatchet Face." He definitely had his moments with the Red Sox, like those times when instead of throwing the ball to first on a comebacker, he actually rolled it to first. Or when a double play ball was hit to the infield, he'd be shown "directing traffic," flailing his arms in urging the infielders where to throw the ball. I also loved the fact that Tavarez looked like he was paling around in the dugout with Daisuke Matsuzaka last year on days when they weren't pitching. I would love to have been a fly on the wall to know what they were talking about (and in what language they were speaking in, too).

I will also never forget seeing him on the field before a game in San Diego last year chatting and acting playful with a young boy in a wheelchair. He does have a softer side.

He actually did a rather decent job as a starter last year, and beat the Yankees twice at Yankee Stadium. He was a valuable swingman, and did just about anything the Red Sox asked of him, without complaint.

And how could you not love a guy who said his ambition when he was younger was to become a porno star?

Well miss you, Julian, more than you'll ever know.

Gagne Out as Brewers Closer

The Milwaukee Brewers brain trust could have saved themselves a lot of aggravation, as well as $10 million this year, had they had the good sense to view the three disasterous months that Eric Gagne spent in a Red Sox uniform last year. They made him their closer and this year he's blown five saves, and had yet another meltdown on Saturday that finally led the Brewers to remove him from the role.

The Red Sox play the Brewers this week at Fenway. As Gabe Kapler gets the ovations he deserves (if he plays that is), Eric Gagne will get booed and hounded (if he plays that is).

Nothing short of what he deserves to get. I just thank the stars above the Red Sox learned their lesson about this guy last year and made no attempt to resign him.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

England's Evil Empire Champs Again

Manchester United won their 10th Premier League championship today and their second consecutive one as they defeated Wigan, 2-0, on goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs. Meanwhile in London, Chelsea, who was still mathematically alive today, as both they and Man U were tied on points, faced Bolton.

Chelsea led 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, but the result at Wigan made it a foregone conclusion that they wouldn't take the title. And just to rub salt into the wounds, Bolton scored an equalizing goal in added time to make it a 1-1 tie. (I guess watching Man U over the last decade and a half is like watching the Yankees in the 1940s and '50s. And you either love them or hate them.)

On the other end of the table, Fulham, will all their Americans on their roster, survived the regulation battle with a 1-0 win at Portsmouth, and will be back in the EPL next season. Birmingham and Reading both won, but it made no difference, and they both take the drop to the Championship.

Manchester United and Chelsea will face each other one final time this season, in the European Champions League final in Moscow on May 21. Man U now have won 17 English titles, one behind Liverpool's 18. And speaking of "18," it is now 18 years since Liverpool (who ended the year today with a 2-0 win at Spurs) won an English title. Back in 1990 they had 11 more championships than United.

It's getting a little too close for comfort for the Merseysiders.

A Day For Mom

I dedicate my 1,400th post to my Mom, and all the mothers out there on their special day. I hope you all have a wonderful day with your families.


What is a Mother’s Love?

A mother’s love is many things. She is a teacher and a friend, someone to guide you through right and wrong, someone to listen and understand.

She can comfort you like no other, holding you in her arms. She can fill your spirit with confidence and encourage your unsure heart.

She can bring a smile to your saddened face, wipe away your tears, love you regardless of the faults you have, and stand by you throughout the years.

A mother’s love is many things, and one thing is quite sure: a mother’s love is special, for no one can love like her.

- T. L. Nash

My thanks to the Voices of September 11th for sending along the beautiful poem.

Four Solos

It was a night of solo home runs in the Metrodome last night as the Red Sox won, 5-2. (Don't you dare call it "The Homerdome," as that is a great misnomer, as the Metrodome has actually become one of the tougher parks in the AL to hit home runs in.)

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched seven solid innings, as he settled down after early in the game it looked like The Dice-K Walk Parade was making another appearance. He wound up walking three, striking out seven and allowed just two runs in getting the win. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a solid ninth, bouncing back from the crushing loss on Friday. He allowed just a popup that hit some wire for a cheap hit, but got the final three outs to seal the deal.

Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell hit homers, and Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp went back-to-back in the seventh to put the Red Sox ahead to stay. It was the first career homer for Jed. Dustin Pedroia had an RBI single in the ninth for insurance.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Answer Me This

Just a few things I'm wondering about, and can't come up with reasonable answers to.

1. Why do they call the last man taken in the NFL Draft "Mr. Irrelevant?" It's never made any sense to me. There are hundreds of college guys who aren't picked every year who hoped to be selected, so doesn't that make them more irrelevant? At least the last man take in the draft has the satisfaction of telling the grandkids one day that he was selected by an NFL team. They have to come up with a better name for the last guy taken than that.

2. Why do NFL writers and broadcasters insist on grading teams the day after the NFL Draft is completed? Let's face the facts, no one has any idea of how a team does in the draft until after the following season, than you can judge how good it was. Were any Patriots fans jumping for joy when their team selected a future Hall of Famer in Tom Brady? How many Chargers fans thought Ryan Leaf would be leading their team to a Super Bowl some time in the future when they picked him? (Sorry Peggy and Ken.) I find it ridiculous seeing Mel Kiper's "grades" on the bottom of the screen crawl for each team after the draft is over.

3. Why don't teams reschedule rainouts as part of doubleheaders unless they are forced to? I was listening to Chris Russo on the radio today (not against my will, BTW), and he talked about the Mets-Reds game possibly being rained out Friday, and all he talked about was the teams finding a mutual offday to reschedule the game, as the Reds don't return to NY this season. But wait, the Mets and Reds still have two games to play this weekend, so isn't a simple solution just play a doubleheader this weekend? Do they have such a fetish about not playing two games in one day that they would rather take away an offday later in the season rather than get the postponed game in this weekend? Ask most players their choice and they will say play a doubleheader now. Players really enjoy off days during the summer and I know most don't want to give them up and have to travel back to the same city to make up just one game. (The game was rained out, and saner heads prevailed and the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. But it was that fan-gouging "day/night" one.)

4. Why do pitchers talk through their gloves when talking to catchers during breaks on the mound, but when pitching coaches come out to talk to them, the coach doesn't talk to them through his hands? Have pitchers really become that paranoid that there are lip readers all over place, and if so, how come pitching coaches haven't become just as paranoid?

5. I've never been able to figure this out. When Las Vegas gives odds on things like who will score the first TD in the Super Bowl, the most obvious or likely players to do it are ranked from anywhere from 1-2 to 20-1, but the most obscure or least-likely players (known as "the field") usually have low odds of something like 5-1. Shouldn't their odds be more like 100-1, or even higher? I'd like that explained to me.

6. When are these silly home plate celebrations going to end when a team wins a game in so-called "walkoff" style? Good Lord, these guys act like they've just won the World Series. It's good to be excited about winning in your last turn at-bat at home, but it's getting really idiotic, as well as dangerous. Guys are beating on the hero of the night like he just declared war on them. I remember a few years ago in the minors, a guy hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth, and as his teammates were beating him up, he actually blew out his knee among all the happiness and ended up on the disabled list. When someone gets really hurt in one of these silly scrums, maybe players will finally wise up and save it for the really special times.

7. And finally, I'll end this on a classy, upscale note. In the immortal words of George Carlin, why do we say "take a leak?" You don't take a leak, you leave it!

God bless Mr. Carlin. (Even though he doesn't believe in Him.)