MLB Regular Season Ends

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jason Bay: 2008's Orlando Cabrera?

As the entire world knows by now, the Red Sox acquired Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon in exchange for disgruntled Manny Ramirez.

Bay is a terrific outfielder with pretty good speed and is a good base runner. His numbers compared to Manny's this year are strikingly similar. But I could not help but see the parallel between this trade and the one the Sox made four years ago today when they sent Nomar Garciaparra packing to Chicago.

The fans reacted to Nomar being traded for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz with: "Was that all?" It seems to be a very similar reaction today, that the Sox got rid of Manny, along with Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss and all they got was Bay (and no pitching back).

Like in 2004, the Sox were looking to move a disgruntled superstar they felt they could not count on down the stretch, as it was health issues with Nomar and just about everything else with Manny. I have heard that Manny's act, especially over the last few weeks, has poisoned the Red Sox clubhouse, and cast a pall over the club. A divorce was definitely coming between Manny and the Sox, but I really thought they'd wait until the season concluded to let him walk and get two draft picks for him. Now they have gone out and gotten a talented player in Bay, who unlike Cabrera, is under their control through next year. (OC was a free agent after 2004 and eventually walked.)

For those of you wanting to know Bay's numbers, go here.

Jason is 29, which is seven years younger than Ramirez. This is the fourth time he's actually been traded. He was originally drafted by Montreal in 2000, dealt to the Mets in 2002, and was traded to the Padres in 2003. He was then dealt to the Bucs in 2003 at the deadline date for Brian Giles. He didn't make his MLB debut until he reached Pittsburgh. He's also making $5.5 million this year, more than three times less than what the Sox were on the hook for Manny. He's put up some terrific numbers in Pittsburgh, which is primarily a pitchers park, but of course, he's done it with a lousy Pirates team all these years. He now moves over to the Big Stage of Fenway, and has to fill some very large shoes in Manny Ramirez.

It behooves Jason to get off to a good start with the Red Sox. He makes his debut tomorrow night at Fenway, and should be warmly received in his first game. Bay's originally from Canada, British Columbia to be exact. (Let's hope he works out better than that other Canadian the Sox picked up last July 31. No names need be mentioned here.)

I do have one question: will Jason be given number 38? Curt Schilling said he would consider giving up the number if a large contribution is made on behalf of ALS. (Schill might be done with the Sox as we all know. But I really don't think that will happen.)

Manny now goes to Los Angeles, and can be a free agent after the season, as the options in his contract were dropped. Should he return to Fenway Park as an opposition player one day, I'm sure he'll get a night of standing ovations, the way players like Cabrera, Dave Roberts and Kevin Millar. He'll always be One of the 25.

But should he show up one day wearing That Uniform, you know the one with those pinstripes, well, that would be a different story.

Welcome to Boston, Jason Bay.

The Trade

Here is the trade:

Red Sox get Jason Bay
Dodgers get Manny Ramirez
Pirates get Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss from the Red Sox and Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris from the Dodgers

So the Red Sox sent away Manny, Hansen (who I'm not sorry to see leave) and Moss (who I liked but would see limited playing time), and get just Jason Bay? I like Bay a lot, but they got no pitcher back in return? And the Dodgers landed Manny for just two minor leaguers? (I also read that the two option years were dropped, so that makes Manny a rent-a-player for 2008 in LA.) Losing Hansen is no great loss, as he's too erratic, and didn't look like he'd ever make it in Boston. I'm more upset the Sox didn't upgrade the pen.

Manny Ramirez Traded To LA

The Manny Ramirez Era in Boston has finally come to an end.

He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 4 PM deadline in a three-way deal that brings Jason Bay to the Red Sox.

More coming shortly.

As Zero Hour Approaches

Last night's game with the Angels was the worst game the Red Sox have played all season. Josh Beckett was horrific, the defense was simply putrid (4 errors), and the best the bats could do was a two-run homer from Coco Crisp. They were swept by the Angels in a convincing factor (22-9 in total runs, but it seemed like so much more), and now the hottest team in baseball goes to the Bronx for a four-game set. It was a really awful display of baseball by the team that is allegedly the defending champions. They are now 4-8 since the break and 1-5 in this homestand.

But now the Red Sox have an off-day before the Oakland A's come in. But nobody's worried about the A's (yet). All heads now turn to whether the Manny Ramirez Era in Boston concludes at 4 PM today. The hottest rumor now is a possible three-way trade sending Manny to Florida, with the Sox getting Jason Bay and lefty reliever John Grabow. Bay is having a terrific season, with 22 HRs and 67 RBI. He is also seven years younger and making far less money than Manny. A newspaper in Florida said late last night that a three-way deal was in place, but as I write this the AP says there isn't one in place.

And once again, Manny has been running his mouth off about the lack of respect he's been getting and the way they get the fans to turn on certain superstar players. This was not-so-veiled swipe at Peter Gammons and his missives he's been throwing at Manny lately. Now it seems like management may have no alternative but to move him today. If he stays past the deadline, the situation maybe getting even more strained. Curt Schilling told WEEI radio today that he thought this whole mess was affecting the team and its recent spate of rotten play.

At 4 PM today, the deadline for trades without waivers will come. Will Manny Ramirez still be wearing a Red Sox uniform tomorrow night?

Yesterday, I thought for sure no trade would happen involving him. At this point, I'm not sure which way it will go. Stay tuned.

The Case For Keeping Manny

My friend Rhonda, who is as passionate a Red Sox fan as I am, sent me an email yesterday about her feelings over what's been happening with Manny Ramirez, and I thought I would share her thoughts with all of you.

Thank you in advance for allowing me this interruption in our regularly scheduled workday to Manny-vent re: Mannygate:

-Manny is one of the greatest hitters and run-producers of all time.
-He plays the wall well and is great at throwing out guys at second. Doesn't run quickly out of the box, but not exactly a huge problem when you're talking about a guy with his long-term, consistent production.
-He's on the downside of his career, but we got him at his peak and profited considerably as a result.
-The Red Sox have won 2 World Series since Manny came on board, during which their lineup--the centerpiece of which was Manny Ramirez--was absolutely central to their accomplishing this goal that eluded us for almost 1 century.
-Manny's contract, while one of the most lucrative of all-time, was not outrageously lucrative in comparison to the contracts of one Jason Giambi, one Alex Rodriguez, one Mike Mussina. Have these guys got rings? Answer: no. Are they annoying and in some cases immoral, lying, cheating assholes? Yes, yes, and yes. (OK Moose isn't but the others...'nuff said.)
-The Boston Red Sox organization and owners have profited wildly through the Red Sox' past 5 years of wild success. Manny Ramirez's production is one of the top three reasons for said wild success, arguably.
-How fun is Manny to watch playing the game if you're a Boston fan? Fun. Wicked fun. Wicked pissah fun. Does it contribute to the Fenway/Red Sox experience? A resounding yes.
-Manny hurt his hammies in Cleveland. He asks out in the late summers every year for a couple of games to rest said hammies/legs. What has this conservative approach--that's characterized by many as lazy but that I'd characterized as pretty freaking smart/strategic for an aging superstar athlete--helped produce? Health in October when it matters most. 2 World Series rings. 1 AL Division title. And a seismic shift in the history of one of the most historic sports franchises of all time. But some would prefer to have someone who plays with the "dedication" of a Derek Jeter, a Johnny Damon, or an Alex Rodriguez, Gammo (or some other reporter) say(s)? The Yankees are right up the road for anyone who wants to jump ship and root for those boring automotons as opposed to our Dominican clown. Give me Manny Ramirez over those dorks any day.
-Manny is cute and has great hair. He is also cut. Just sayin'.
-Manny is nice to fans. It's well-documented.
-Manny is popular with his peers/players, generally speaking. His work ethic is well-documented. Players don't really complain about him any more than they'd complain about, oh, one Curt Schilling, for example?
-The Boston media are a-holes.
-The Boston media are a-holes.
-The Boston media are a-holes.

I think Manny has been a bargain to have on the Red Sox for all that we've gotten in return. Manny hasn't carried the Red Sox single-handedly, but to diminish or understate his contributions and role shaping the new Red Sox as we know them would be a ridiculous and unfair mistake. If you are in the top .0001% of the world that can do your job and do it unlike any other, you deserve to be paid at the very tippy top of your salary range. Manny deserves that. He's received that. He's also produced though. Doesn't mean we have to like every aspect of him personally, but to say that he has to go because of his "attitude" is really not looking at the full picture, I don't think at least. As Bob Sugar said in Jerry Maguire, it ain't show friends, it's show business. Who's shown us more business and macro results via his work at the plate, in our lifetimes,--over time and all things considered--than Manny Ramirez? I'd argue not a one. For that, I have no problem with Manny asking out of a game or two if his knees hurt. I'd rather have him this October than not, and history has shown us this'll happen.

Unless we can get maximum return in a trade, in which case I'd be all for, because like I said, we've seen the best of Manny. What I don't like is to see him ripped in the media at this point in the season. Seriously: what good will that do anyone at all? None.

Thanks for nothing, Gammons, CHB, Edes, Wilbur and company.

I couldn't agree more with you, Rhonda. I still feel Manny will be in a Red Sox uniform at this time tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Way Too Close For Comfort

John Lackey pitched 8 1/3 innings of no-hit ball at Fenway Park last night, as Dustin Pedroia broke up the no-no with a clean single to left in the ninth, and then Kevin Youkilis broke up the shutout with a two-run home run. But the Red Sox fell short, losing to the Angels, 6-2.

It brought back not-so-nice memories of September 2, 2001, when Mike Mussina came within one out of a perfect game over the Red Sox, before Carl Everett (who I will always respect for it) singled to break it up.

I was also thinking of the post I put up 10 days ago about the 50th anniversary of the last time the Sox were no-hit at Fenway, by Jim Bunning of the Detroit Tigers. (I have to admit when I wrote it that I might have been putting the whammy on the Sox.) Once again, thank goodness for Dustin Pedroia.

And as the bottom of the ninth was about to begin, I enlisted some "help" to try to get the Red Sox in the hit column. I called my mom in Brooklyn and asked her to put the "Hungarian Evil Eye" on John Lackey and his no-hit bid. My mom is partially of Hungarian descent and it has been a funny thing for years that my mom would put "the evil eye" on someone or something. And lo and behold, it worked! I announced to the crowd at Trivia Night that the HEE had cost Lackey his no-hitter to some laughs and some strange looks as well.

I have to admit feeling more relief than anything after the game ended last night. Getting no-hit is embarrassing more than anything else. Lackey is a good pitcher and there's no shame in that he pitched a terrific game. But last night showed that the Sox need some kind of spark, on offense especially. Clay Buchholz also belongs back at AAA. The defense hurt him last night, but the Red Sox need a good fifth starter to eat up innings so Buchholz can go back to Pawtucket.

I wonder what Bronson Arroyo is up to these days...

Trivia Q&A: July 29

We had a really great night of Trivia last night at Thom's, as baseball history was potentially unfolding at Fenway Park. There were 17 teams playing last night. The scores were really good last night, as most of the teams rolled up big points, especially in the "Celluloid Heroes Trivia," as three teams got the maximum 14 points in the round.

Going into IQ Trivia, we had two teams tied for the lead, and three other teams within four points of the leaders. And we had something unusual in that round. We had 11 of the 17 teams get the same three questions right (questions 2, 4 and 5). But the two teams that got question 3 right, about John Major, wound up tied for the lead with 47 points. But at the time I didn't know it, as I did not give one team credit for getting it right. They rightly approached me about it, so we had to have a tie-breaker question.

I had a baseball question ready: "How many times have the New York Yankees lost the World Series in their history?" Both teams took their best guess, and the answer was 13. And the team called Table One, one of the long time regulars who had never been in the winner's circle, finally got their Trivia Night title. (I had originally proclaimed them the champs before the team of With Our Tables Combined We Are Still Missing No One told me of my error, which forced the tie-breaker question. I was simply mortified having to tell Table One they had to get one more question right before they could win.) The celebrations began with Tara and her crew, as they broke out the camera and took pictures with me of their historic win. I felt very good they had won, as they come to Trivia Night every week and do a ton of research in the effort to win. (I'm always impressed that they do that.)

My congratulations to Tara and all the Table One regulars. The long national nightmare finally ended for them.

BTW, all the best to Trivia Night regulars Alex and Meredith, who are leaving New York later this week for Pittsburgh, as Meredith is going to graduate school there. Alex is also running for Governor of Red Sox Nation for Pennsylvania. So he has my official endorsement. If you'd like to help Alex out, you can vote for him here. (You can vote for Alex Grosby, and the email address you can use is westygroz@yahoo.com) Good luck Alex!

Current Events

1. This Hollywood superstar actor rolled up the most salary of any performer for 2007: $80 million.
2. The International Olympic Committee banned this country's team from competing in the Summer Olympics because of government interference in the national-level committee.
3. This Congressman, a former presidential candidate, presented articles for the impeachment of President Bush to the House Judiciary Committee last Friday.
4. Google announced that it has found and indexed this landmark number of unique web pages.
5. A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck off the coast of this Asian country, with reports of landslides and a disruption of transport and power supplies.
6. This actor was arrested for suspicion of DUI after being involved in a car accident in Los Angeles on Sunday.
7. Wildfires have charred over 26,000 acres and forced the evacuation of over 200 homes near this national park since last Friday.

Answers: 1. Will Smith; 2. Iraq; 3. Dennis Kucinich; 4. one trillion; 5. Japan; 6. Shia LeBoeuf; 7. Yosemite.

Celluloid Heroes Trivia
1. Lt. John Dunbar
2. Capt. John H. Miller
3. Atticus Finch
4. Ellen Ripley
5. Andy Dufresne
6. Rick Blaine
7. Dr. Jeffrey Wigand

Answers: 1. Kevin Costner ("Dances With Wolves"); 2. Tom Hanks ("Saving Private Ryan"); 3. Gregory Peck ("To Kill a Mockingbird") 4. Sigourney Weaver ("Alien"); 5. Tim Robbins ("The Shawshank Redemption"); 6. Humphrey Bogart ("Casablanca"); 7. Russell Crowe ("The Insider").

Spell the Word ("The Q Train")
1. BOMBINATE (verb): to make a humming or buzzing noise.
2. EVIDENTIARY (adj): pertaining to constituting evidence.
3. TRANSCENDENTAL (adj): being beyond ordinary experience or belief; supernatural.
4. MESOMORPHIC (adj): existing in an intermediate state.
5. CANTILEVER (noun): any rigid construction extending horizontally well beyond its vertical support.
6. FALLACY (noun): a deceptive or false notion or belief.
7. MERITOCRACY (noun): leadership by able and talented persons.
8. COERCE (verb): to compel by force, intimidation or authority without regarding individual desire.
9. SARTORIAL (adj): of or pertaining to tailors or their trade.
10. CONIFEROUS (adj): belonging or pertaining to the conifers.

General Knowledge
1. What invention was patented by Elias Howe in 1846?
2. What was the name of Ross' pet monkey on the TV series "Friends?"
3. In the religion of Islam, what is a "hajj?"
4. What popular drink of the 19th century, now banned in the US, can cause blindness and insanity?
5. John Steinbeck's book "The Grapes of Wrath" chronicles a farming family's trek from what state to California?
6. What river runs through Rome, Italy?
7. According to the federal flag code, what's the preferred way of discarding the US flag?

Answers: 1. The sewing machine; 2. Marcel; 3. a pilgrimage to Mecca; 4. absinthe; 5. Oklahoma; 6. Tiber; 7. burn it.

IQ Trivia
1. How many provinces are there in Canada? ( 4 points)
2. What entertainer wrote the theme song to the TV game show "Jeopardy?"( 3 points)
3. What British leader was a circus performer's son, a school dropout, and a welfare recipient? ( 5 points)
4. What are bathyscaphes designed to explore? ( 4 points)
5. What word was repeatedly spelled backwards in the novel and the movie "The Shining?" ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. ten; 2. Merv Griffin; 3. John Major; 4. deep sea; 5. murder.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Disappointed With "The Commissioner"

In this whole mess that's been going on with Manny Ramirez over the past few weeks, one voice that seems to have taken up arms against ManRam is one Peter Gammons.


Courtesy of The Joy of Sox today, Gammons' recent columns at ESPN have been to basically to bash Manny. It seems like the Sox front office is using Gammons to do their "dirty work," and get out as much vitriol against the slugger as they possibly can. (I'd love to put down a link to his columns, but you have to go to that "ESPN Insider" column, the one you have to pay to join. So go there and join it if you'd like to read them in their entirety.)

Gammons always impressed me as being a Manny "defender." He would always go to great lengths to say what a hard worker he was and that no one in the game works at the science of hitting more than Ramirez does. But now he referred to him as an "overpriced DH," and wrote a lengthy piece about how Manny is scared of hard throwers like Felix Hernandez and Joba Chamberlain, who last two starts Manny missed. 

And what really had me scratching my head was Gammons calling Manny's contract "the worst in baseball." Who the hell is Gammons kidding? Could he honestly sit there and say that Manny's eight-year, $160 million deal with two options at $20 million is worse than Carl Pavano's deal, the man the Yankees got to sit on the bench with so-called injuries and steal their money? Or the one Roger Clemens signed last year, a pro-rated deal at $22 million, and who  New York only got two postseason innings out of? Is is worse than the one Andruw Jones signed this past off-season, and he's currently hitting .166 for the Dodgers?

Come on Peter. This was one of the best deals the Sox ever made. In eight seasons he's averaged 34 HRS and 110 RBI, was part of two championships and was World Series MVP in 2004. Yeah, Manny's a bit of a head case, but he was a vital part of this incredible decade of Red Sox baseball. I would say the Sox got their money's worth with Manny. 

It's s obvious that Gammons is doing the bidding of the Red Sox front office, who clearly want to see Ramirez walk out the door and be rid of him. It's sad to see a respected journalist like Peter Gammons doing a character assassination like this on Manny. 

I guess I'd rather have seen CHB doing all this to Manny instead of Gammons. He's much easier to hate.

The Slide Continues

For years it seemed like the Red Sox owned the Angels, whether they called themselves "California," "Anaheim" or that hideous misnomer "Los Angeles of Anaheim." (Fortunately most years the Angels also owned the Yankees.) But this season it looks like the tables have turned. The Angels have already won the season series (and currently lead it 6-1), and won yet again last night, 7-5, at Fenway Park.

Right now, the Angels appear to be the team to beat in the American League (despite what boneheaded Mad Dog Russo said about the Yankees on the radio yesterday). They currently have the best record in baseball. The Red Sox had Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound last night, and he appeared to be cruising into the sixth inning with a 2-1 lead. I had a sneaky feeling it wouldn't last. And I was right.

A walk to Chone (He Pronounces His Name Shawn, Don't Ask Me Why) Figgins to open the inning started the carnage, and Red Sox killer Casey Kotchman hit a pitch into the bullpen to give LA the lead. Two more batters reached base before Torii Hunter lined a home run into the Monster seats to make it 6-2 to end Dice-K's night. Justin Masterson came in and gave up a suicide squeeze to Jeff Mathis to make it 7-2 and complete the six-run sixth.

The Red Sox chipped away, but let some further scoring chances slip away. Jacoby Ellsbury struck out with the bases full to end the sixth at 7-3, and Manny Ramirez ended another promising seventh, as he hit into a DP with two on. In the ninth he blasted a two-out solo shot into the seats in left off Francisco Rodriguez, but it was too little, too late and the Angels went on to a 7-5 win.

New York and Tampa Bay both lost, so the AL East remains the Rays lead the Sox by one, and NY by three. The Red Sox are still skidding, and are now 4-6 since the break, and have dropped three of the last four at home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Movie Good Guys on Tuesday

Since we did a round of "Movie Villains Trivia" last week and it was rather successful, I thought that why don't we do a round of trivia about movie good guys? So we will. This week's special category will be "Celluloid Heroes Trivia." (And I always did like that song by The Kinks.)

It will also be just like last week's special category in that it will be worth double points. I will give you the name of a movie good guy (or gal), and you will tell me both the film it comes from and the actor or actress who played said good person, for two points apiece. We will also have a round of "Spell the Word" in "The Q Train" lightning round.

This week's Sneak Peek question is:

John Steinbeck's book "The Grapes of Wrath" chronicles a farming family's trek from what state to California?

We will get going at 9 PM on Tuesday, and my friends from the BLOHARDS will be on hand for the Red Sox game against the Angels and for the Trivia. It's always an interesting night when they are in the house. See you Tuesday night.

Lester to the Rescue Again

Jon Lester once again acted as the Red Sox stopper last night, and pitched seven strong innings as the Red Sox avoided a sweep last night and pounded Sidney Ponson and New York, 9-2.

Lester had only one shaky inning, the fifth, when the Yankees got two runs to cut the Sox lead to 7-2, and had the bases loaded with no outs. But Slappy (aka Mr. Clutch) lined out, and Lester got the last two batters without any other runs scoring. That was basically it, as New York got only one more base runner the rest of the night as the Red Sox got a much needed win to cut Tampa Bay's lead in the East to one game.

David Ortiz hit a two-run shot for his first homer since his return, and Jacoby Ellsbury busted out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with a stolen base. Mike Lowell had a two-run single, and the bottom of the order (Varitek, Cora and Ellsbury) had a superb night, going 6-for-12 with 3 doubles and an RBI. And Manny Ramirez had two doubles and an RBI single to pace the attack. Lester allowed nine hits but went on to his ninth win against three losses.

Ramirez made more news yesterday by saying he'd be open to any deal should the Red Sox put one together to move him. He can veto any deal with his 10 and 5 status, but it sounds like he's ready to leave.

But trust me folks, the Red Sox aren't trading him by Thursday afternoon. His marriage to the Red Sox maybe crumbling, but it's not over yet.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lifeless

Another game with the Yankees on Saturday, another lousy loss.

It started off with some promise, as the Red Sox scored two runs in the first, as David Ortiz singled in a run, and Manny Ramirez knocked in another with an RBI groundout.

But the lead wouldn't last, as Tim Wakefield gave up runs in the third and fourth, and the Red Sox wouldn't get the lead back. J.D. Drew hit his 19th home run, but other than that, it was a listless, lifeless loss. A fire has to get lit under this offense, as even with the return of David Ortiz, they look sluggish and lethargic.

Justin Masterson relieved Wakefield and didn't get anyone out. Craig Hansen again looks like he has no business being in the majors, and allowed three runs in the eighth, with the Red Sox down by four at the time. It wound up a 10-3 New York win. (And the biggest cheer of the day came when Hansen plugged Slappy on the elbow with a pitch in the eighth. It was that kind of day.)

And now the Sox need a win on Sunday night just to avoid a sweep at home. Dammit.

The Manny Ramirez saga continues, as the Curly Haired Bastard at the Boston Globe said today that Sox are fed up with Manny and are exploring a possible trade at the deadline this coming week. I honestly don't believe it will happen, as the Red Sox can't get anywhere near Manny's value. And with all the tomfoolery going on with him now, who would want to take him on?

I'll believe it when I see it.

A Message to MFY Number 62


A comeuppance is coming your way, pal. Oh, another one just happened to get away from you on Friday night, heading for Youk's head in the seventh inning. Oh, it just happened to get away from me, right? The bullshit "Roger Clemens excuse" when he went after Mike Piazza years ago. (I heard you were buddying up with the Texas Con Man when you joined the MFY last season. It all makes sense.) Just when Youk just happened to be in the batter's box. For the fourth time in less than a year.

Or as Terry Francona said after last night's game about you, "He has great command until Youk gets in there. That's all I know."

"It's 1-0 and I'm two balls and no strikes, I've got to throw a strike," Chamberlain said. "I don't want to get the leadoff runner on. That's it. I'm trying to throw strikes. I'm not trying to do anything else. It's 1-0. Nobody wants the ball right there, but at the end of the day, it's 1-0 and I'm trying to get the win."

I know bullshit when I read it. Come up with a better excuse than that, asshole. Sounds a lot like "the dog ate my homework."

Think you can get away with this shit forever, pal? Think again. Your bush league actions has once again gone into the collective memory bank of every Red Sox player, especially guys like Youk, Beckett, Pedroia and Pap. The ass-hammering that's coming your way may not happen in the next series, or even this season. But it's coming. Doesn't matter that you're an American League pitcher who won't come to bat. You will taste a bit of hardball justice down the road. Either from Youk himself or one of his pissed off teammates. Or more than one at the same time.

Count on it.

Sean Casey may have put it best last night:

"The bottom line is it happens to be the same guy every time," Sean Casey said. "He's got pinpoint control all through the game; he threw behind him in New York. If you're in the big leagues, you keep missing that bad, come on.

"The fact that it's Youkilis every time, it definitely raises flags."

Be afraid, Chamberlain. Be very afraid. Youk's Revenge is coming. It's just a matter of when, not if. (With thanks to Surviving Grady for the picture of Kevin Youkilis.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Special Screening of "Blessed!"

On Thursday night, August 7, the documentary featuring many of Professor Thom's regulars, "Blessed! Still We Believe 2," will have a special screening at Thom's at 8 PM that evening.

Many of Thom's regulars, including myself, make appearances in the documentary. It has been well-received, and if you'd like more information about it, go here.

I hope many of you can come out for this special night. I'll be there. (When I am NOT there?)

Welcome Back Big Man

David Ortiz returns to the Red Sox lineup tonight for the first time since his wrist injury of May 31. He was gone for 54 days, and the Boston Globe has an interesting breakdown of the Red Sox offensive numbers since he left. Believe it or not, the numbers actually improved:

Batting average: .280 before; .279 after.
Runs per game: 5 before; a hair over 5 after.
Home runs per game: 1.05 before; 1.15 after.
On-base percentage: .353 before; .360 after.
Slugging percentage: .441 before; .450 after.

The Sox were 34-24 with Ortiz, 26-19 without Big Papi.

It goes to show that the Sox are such a deep team that they didn't miss a beat without having Papi. But his presence back in the lineup should be very welcome and hopefully rejuvenate those players currently struggling. And no better time than to have him return tonight.

And hopefully Manny Ramirez is good to go too. We shall see.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Governor Wertz? Has a Nice Ring to It

My buddy Chris Wertz of Professor Thom's today announced that he is tossing his hat into the ring and running for the coveted position of "Governor of New York State" for Red Sox Nation. As many of you know, the Sox are having a governor for Red Sox Nation for each US state, and the election of one for New York is currently underway.

Of course, I have a vested interest in this, as if Chris becomes governor, I will surely become a member of his cabinet, with all the perks that come with it. Today, Chris sent me the essays he's submitted for his candidacy. Here they are:

What qualifies you to be Red Sox Nation Governor of your state?

Owning a Red Sox bar in New York City is no mean feat. When asked, "Why do I do you it?" I always answer, "Because my brethren need a home." Professor Thom's is the home for displaced New Englanders who recognize authenticity. From "clamapaloozas" to celebrations of local goods like Moxie, Fluff and Autocrat to birthday parties for former Sox to benefits for aging Sox, the goal is a haven 212 miles from Fenway that brings everyone closer to home. The Red Sox are the center of that. We host former players, players' parents, and Red Sox employees at all levels. I even had the pleasure of hosting the World Series Trophy's only stop in New York City.

A Red Sox Nation governor must strive for his community and when you are talking about a community of 25 million people the effort is a full-time job-a job I'm proud to do. I'm a long way from my birthplace in Brighton where my brother would pull me out of grammar school to catch Red Sox matinees, but I feel at home everyday in this little corner of New England etched out of the East Village.

What is your top goal or initiative to enhance the Red Sox Nation experience for citizens in your state?

As Governor I will assemble a crackerjack cabinet made up from the leaders of RSN in New York. This position is bigger than one man. It's a responsibility to be shared by the most talented ex-pats New York City has to offer. Together, we will continue to provide a safe haven for resident and visiting citizens of Red Sox Nation.

I've already spearheaded two successful visits by World Series Trophies (2004 and 2007) and I promise to bring the next celebration to the heart of Gotham. In addition, I will use this recognition to organize more charity events important to New Englanders. My goal is that every member of RSN Nation knows that even behind enemy lines in New York City there's a place to go where everybody knows your name.


Chris has done such a great job in making Thom's a great home away from home for those Red Sox fans from New England here in NYC, and for any Sox fans in general. It would be great if we can get him over the top. If you'd like to vote for him (and you can up to 10 times from any email address), please go here. (The email address you can use for Chris is: chriswertz@hotmail.com)

Thanks for all your support. You can vote for NY Red Sox Nation governor until August 5. (And I'm sure he'll do a better job as a New York governor than that guy pictured here. Chris has no skeletons in his closet. At least I don't think he does.)

Four Years Ago Today

I think many of you may remember this:

And this, later in the same game:

And of course, this:

Which led three months later to this:

It was four years ago today that the Red Sox played one of the most memorable regular season games against the Yankees at Fenway Park, which many feel was the turning point of the 2004 season. Such enduring images: Slappy tastes a faceful of Tek's glove, and Billy Mueller takes Rivera into the bullpen for a 10-9 win. Some happy memories as the Evil Empire comes into Fenway this weekend.

Sweeping Out the Mariners

It was a long and frustrating day in Seattle for the Red Sox in the finale of the series, as they left runners everywhere and had a game go to 12 innings. But the result was a good one, and the Sox swept the lowly Mariners to gain a split in the road trip, going 3-3, with the 6-3 win.

Mike Lowell (pictured) was the hero, as he turned a terrific round-the-horn double play in the 11th, and broke the tie in the 12th with a two-run single.

Clay Buchholz had his best start since return from Pawtucket, but allowed all three runs in going 5 1/3 innings. He gave up homers to Raul Ibanez and Jose Vidro. But Justin Masterson was outstanding in his relief appearance since coming back from AAA. He came into a two-on, one out situation and struck out the first two hitters, and then retired the next six hitters. He maybe the bridge the Sox need in getting to Jonathan Papelbon.

The bullpen was terrific yesterday, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Pap got into a mess in the 11th, as Seattle got two on with one out. But he got Kenji Johjima to rap into the 5-4-3 DP, to extend the game one more inning. Craig Hansen had to make it interesting in the 12th, loading the bases with two outs, but he got Jose Vidro to ground out to end the game and get his second career save.

Manny Ramirez missed the game due to a sore knee, but said afterwards he should be OK for the game against the Yankees tomorrow night. David Ortiz completed his rehab at Portland last night, going 0-for-1 with a walk. Next stop is Fenway for Big Papi. Also, there are rumors the Red Sox are in talks with the White Sox on a straight swap of infielders: Alex Cora to Chicago for Juan Uribe. It would reunite Alex with his brother Joey, who is Chicago's bench coach. Uribe is hitting .225 this season with 3 HRs, 18 RBI.

My deepest sympathies to Pedro Martinez, whose dad passed away yesterday in the Dominican Republic of cancer. Pedro returned home last night, and of course, will miss his next scheduled start tomorrow night for the Mets against the Cardinals.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Straight in Seattle

Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox a big shot in the arm last night, pitching seven shutout innings until faltering in the eighth, allowing two runs to end his scoreless string at 24 1/3 innings. Hideki Okajima showed flashes of what he did so consistently in 2007, getting the final two outs (getting away from his tightrope-walker act), and Jonathan Papelbon got his 30th save to give the Red Sox a much-needed 4-2 win.

Tampa Bay's loss to Oakland last night means the Red Sox are now a half-game out of first.

Dice-K picked up his 11th win against just one loss. J.D. Drew hit a home run in the first, and the Sox added three in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Drew, Mike Lowell's RBI double and Jed Lowrie added another sac fly to complete the scoring.

Daisuke was a lot more economical in his pitch count through seven, as tossed just 90 through that inning. Papelbon's 30th save means that he became the first Red Sox pitcher to get 30 saves in three straight seasons. It was also the 102nd save of his brilliant young career.

David Ortiz went 0-for-4 and reached on an error in his next-to-last game of his minor league rehab assignment in Portland last night. So far in five games, Big Papi is 5-for-16 (.313) with 5 runs, 3 homers, 6 RBIs, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts.

Trivia Q&A: July 22

We had 13 teams in for Trivia on Tuesday night, a bit below the number of teams we normally have been getting every Tuesday night. Many of the regulars weren't in last night, and I can imagine they may have been away on vacation or had other events to go to. (Should I be worried? I hope not.)

But we still had a very spirited contest. The reaction to the double points "Movie Villains Trivia" was very good, as many teams got 8 or more points out of a possible 14. The numbers for True or False were very strong, but for General Knowledge were a bit lower. We had nine teams within five points of the lead going into IQ Trivia. The scores in that round were generally good, with most teams getting at least three correct.

But the team known as Batmanny Being Batmanny held off all comers and got 15 points in the final round to secure a victory, and by five points. They did extremely well in Movie Villains Trivia and held the lead for the rest of the night. My congratulations to them on their win.

Current Events
1. This southern state earned the title of "The Fattest State in America," as more than 30% of their adult residents are considered obese.
2. This West Coast city placed five of its high-tech public toilets up for auction on eBay because they attracted too many hookers and drug users.
3. "The worst building in the history of mankind,"an ugly 105-story hotel in this Asian country, is once again under construction after a 16-year lull.
4. A dwarf planet that was discovered in 2005 orbiting beyond Pluto was officially given this name last Saturday.
5. Padraig Harrington won this title for the second consecutive year on Sunday.
6. NBC announced on Monday that this actor/comedian, who will succeed Conan O'Brien next year on "Late Night," will debut his show on the Internet first.
7. Tropical storm Dolly is moving rapidly towards this state, and it just became a hurricane earlier today.

Answers: 1. Mississippi; 2. Seattle; 3. North Korea; 4. Makemake; 5. British Open golf tournament; 6. Jimmy Fallon; 7. Texas.

Movie Villains Trivia

1. Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)
2. General Zod (Terrence Stamp)
3. Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis)
4. Alex Forrest (Glenn Close)
5. Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci)
6. Damon Killian (Richard Dawson)
7. Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman)

Answers: 1. "Back to the Future;" 2. "Superman;" 3. "Gangs of New York;" 4. "Fatal Attraction;" 5. "Goodfellas;" 6. "The Running Man;" 7. "Unforgiven."

True or False ("The Q Train")

1. Boll weevils are notorious threats to cotton crops.
2. The futon originated in China.
3. The action in the film "Casablanca" takes place in Morocco.
4. Mastercard, in 1950, was America's first nationally accepted credit card.
5. Actress Courteney Cox once appeared in one of Rod Stewart's music videos.
6. The prefix "pan" means "all."
7. The geyser Old Faithful is found at Yosemite National Park.
8. Three Mile Island power plant is located in Pennsylvania.
9. Gibraltar is a colony of Spain.
10. Biceps work in conjunction with triceps to bend and unbend the elbow.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, Japan; 3. true; 4. false, Diner's Club; 5. false, she was in a Bruce Springsteen video; 6. true; 7. false, Yellowstone; 8. true; 9. false, Great Britain; 10. true.

General Knowledge

1. The 1948 Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me Kate" incorporates which of Shakespeare's plays?
2. What style of music, popular in Louisiana, is a blend of Cajun music and blues?
3. What does the medical instrument called a sphygmomanometer measure?
4. The currently minted US five-cent coin is primarily made up of what metal?
5. In what war did the notorious pirate Jean Laffite fight?
6. Under which president did Bruce Babbitt serve as Secretary of the Interior?
7. What actress was often referred to as the "First Lady of the American Theatre?"

Answers: 1. "The Taming of the Shrew;" 2. zydeco; 3. blood pressure; 4. copper; 5. War of 1812; 6. Bill Clinton; 7. Helen Hayes.

IQ Trivia

1. According to Greek myth, how many labors was Hercules made to perform? ( 4 points)
2. What singer, struggling with tax debt, titled an album "Who'll Buy My Memories: The IRS Tapes?" ( 3 points)
3. According to the Old Testament, which prophet is taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire? ( 5 points)
4. What engineer designed the iron frame for the Statue of Liberty? ( 4 points)
5. Phalanges are found in what part of the human body? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. twelve; 2. Willie Nelson; 3. Elijah; 4. Gustave Eiffel; 5. the fingers (hands).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Red Sox at 100 Games

My friend Adam, who's a whiz with numbers and stats regarding the Red Sox, sent me an email yesterday about the Red Sox having reached the 100 game mark for 2008. He's mostly positive about where the Red Sox stand right now. I thought it was worth sharing with you, my audience.

The Red Sox have played 100 games. They have a .570 WP, 3rd best in the AL--even though they have been abysmal on the road (.396 WP) and have faltered a bit lately, going 7-8 so far in July. Prior to this month, though, they were very steady:

Month W L RF RA WP
March 1-1 7 10 .500
April 16-11 129 120 .593
May 17-12 154 121 .586
June 16-11 138 105 .593
July 7-8 75 60 .467

As a team, they have scored 4 fewer runs than they did after 100 games in 2007 and allowed 23 more runs. However, their pitching--especially their starters--is significantly better than it was in 2004. Here's how they stack up after 100 games with the championship teams:

Year RF RA
2004 561 488
2007 507 393
2008 503 416


Negatives - the relief pitching
The Sox' overall pitching numbers aren't awful. They're 6th in the AL in team ERA (3.86), tied for 2nd in saves (31), 1st in strikeouts (720), and 3rd in BAA (.245). However, that's largely due to the starting pitchers. Sox starters are 3rd in ERA (3.79), 3rd in CG (5), and 2nd in strikeouts (476) and BAA (.241).

The bullpen has the 11th best (4th worst) ERA at 4.02. They are also 10th in BAA (.253) and they have the 5th most losses (16). Relief losses can be a sign of lousy pitching. But it can also mean the offense isn't doing it's job, as in the case of the Blue Jays whose relievers have a 7-17 record despite having the 2nd best bullpen ERA (3.12). In Boston's case, I think it's more the former than the latter. Only one "contending" team--the Tigers--has a worse ERA after the 7th inning. The Sox' pitchers have an ERA of 3.90 in the 7th and later, compared to the MFY (3.33) and the Rays (3.35).

There is room for improvement. Masterson may stabilize things, giving the Sox quality innings out of the pen. He will also be able to work as a long-man if needed. I also believe an improved offense will lead to an improved bullpen by cutting down on relief losses.

Positives - Ortiz is coming back
This is huge. While I don't expect Papi to carry the team immediately, he will give the team a huge lift. I expect Ortiz to put up good numbers in the final two months of the season. Pat Burrell had a similar injury and it did not affect his production. But even if Ortiz is only able to function at 70%, he is a huge upgrade over Coco Crisp.

Having Papi back lengthens the line-up, with only Tek, Lowrie/Cora, and the struggling Ellsbury as "easy" outs. If Jacoby gets hot again, the Sox have a pretty scary line-up. Either way, I expect Boston to score a lot more runs with Ortiz back, which will take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff.

Positives - the remaining schedule
I keep hearing about the Sox' road record (which is awful). A lot of Sox fans and media types have said if the Sox don't start winning on the road, they'll miss the post-season. I think they forget that only one AL team has a winning record on the road: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA. The MFY are at .500. Every other team has a sub-.500 road record. The team the Sox are chasing, the Rays, are 6 games under .500 on the road—and they’ve played 9 fewer road games than the Sox.

Here are the number of games each AL contender has played at home and on the road so far:
Red Sox – 47 home games (34 remaining) 53 road games (28 remaining)
Rays – 53 home games (28 remaining) 44 road games (37 remaining)
MFY – 52 home games (29 remaining) 46 road games (35 remaining)

White Sox – 48 home games (33 remaining) 49 road games (32 remaining)
Twins – 53 home games (28 remaining) 45 road games (36 remaining)
Tigers – 48 home games (33 remaining) 50 road games (31 remaining)

The Sox have played 53% of their games so far on the road. Boston and Texas have played the most road games so far in the AL.

55% of the Sox’ remaining games are at home, as compared to 43% for the Rays and 45% for the MFY. Assuming all three teams play the same way at home and on the road, here's how they'd finish the season:

Red Sox 94-68 1st place
Rays 93-69 1 game back
MFY 88-74 6 games back

If the Sox continue to win at home, I’d say they’re in very good shape.

Lester the Stopper

Jon Lester (pictured) gave the Red Sox 7 1/3 solid innings last night in Seattle and picked up his 8th win of the season as the Red Sox ended a three-game losing skid with a 4-0 win over the Mariners.

Lester was superb, and until the eighth inning, was never in trouble. He scattered eight hits, struck out six, and walked no one. His sinker was terrific all night. He loaded the bases in the eighth with one out, but Jonathan Papelbon came on to get Raul Ibanez to hit into a DP to end the threat. He finished off Seattle in the ninth with no problem for his 29th save.

The bottom of the lineup, not noted for their prowess at the plate in recent weeks, did all the damage. The bottom four spots went 13-for-19, and Jason Varitek slammed a two-run shot in the fifth, and Jed Lowrie singled in two runs in the eighth to make it a 4-0 game.

But the star of the night was Lester, who got the Red Sox a much needed road win, just their third in the last eight games away from Fenway. They kept pace with Tampa Bay and New York, who both posted home victories.

And David Ortiz continued his rehab at Portland last night, going 2-for-3 with a walk in the Sea Dogs 8-2 win over Connecticut. Papi was kept in the yard, but he once again reported no problems with the wrist after the game concluded.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Celluloid Evildoers on Tuesday

This Tuesday night, the special category for Trivia Night will be "Movie Villains Trivia." It will be a category worth double the points, as not only will I ask you for the movie the villain was in, but I will also ask you for the name of the actor or actress who played said villain. So the category could be worth 14 points if you really know your stuff.

BTW, that is a picture of Dr. No from that classic 1963 James Bond picture, and he was played by Joseph Wiseman. So, as you can guess, that will not be one of the movie villains asked on Tuesday night.

We will also have the other regular categories, and "True or False Trivia" will be back for "The Q Train." The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday night is:

The currently minted US five-cent coin is made primarily of what metal?


We've been having some huge crowds at Trivia Night, and I always thank you so much for coming out and enjoying the night. So get to Thom's early, as the seats and tables are going fast! See you Tuesday night at 9 PM.

"A Q Life"




On his great site today, The Joy of Sox put up a really cool thing that I had to put up on my site. It's called "Wordle," and what it does is that it can take some words from your web site and mix them up in one setting. So I decided to do the same thing with mine.

I liked the one that came up for The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, but I also created one just for me. It's a lot of words from my life all combined into one, and I call it "A Q Life." (Just click the image and you can see it larger.) If you'd like to check out Wordle, go here.

My thanks to Joy of Sox for bringing to light a really fun site.

Michael Savage is a Big Fat Insensitive Idiot

"I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' " -- Michael Savage

A true asshole who thinks autism is some kind of "racket." Savage is a paranoid right-wing radio jerk who's been bounced off TV and has offended just about every group he doesn't like. As someone who has two nephews who are afflicted by autism, I can't begin to say how offended I am by this. More about what this heartless jackass said here.

Autism groups will be protesting this shithead's thoughtless and insensitive remarks today in New York and will be demanding his firing. I hope they succeed.

Doubts

I guess I'm glad I missed Sunday night's game after all.

I followed it on my cell phone as I played softball last night. And it was another night Tim Wakefield gave the Red Sox a quality start and he came away with nothing. The Angels rallied in the eighth against Wake and Manny Delcarmen for three runs and the Sox found themselves swept, 5-3. There's no shame in being swept by the team with the best record in baseball. But it is the fifth time this season that the Sox have been swept on the road in a three-game series. They are also now a putrid 21-32 away from Fenway Park this year.

Both are totally unacceptable for a team that has aspirations for repeating as World Series champions.

Right now, Jacoby Ellsbury is in a big slump, as are Mike Lowell and Coco Crisp. The bottom of the lineup is a gigantic black hole and destroying too many rallies. The Red Sox didn't have a single hit after the third inning last night and looked anemic against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth, as he struck out the side. The bullpen is a mess and totally unreliable. Justin Masterson is back up to help, with David Aardsma having gone on the DL. But you can't bank on the rookie. The trading deadline is 10 days away, and they need help in the pen. (But there's not a lot of quality out there to trade for.)

It's putting doubts into my mind.

Granted, they are just 1 1/2 games out, and have a favorable schedule after the Yankees series, especially in September, when they are home for most of it (and are 36-11 at Fenway). David Ortiz returns Friday after banging the ball around in Pawtucket. But the road struggles have to be straightened out, and beginning tonight in Seattle, where Jon Lester gets the ball. The Mariners are one of baseball's bottom feeders, and a team the Red Sox should feast on. But Safeco Field has not been a welcoming place for the Sox, no matter what kind of club the Mariners put on the field. Anything less than taking at least two out of three from Seattle is unacceptable.

Time to stop screwing around and get the ship righted.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

50 Years of No-Hitters

It was 50 years ago today that Jim Bunning (pictured), then of the Detroit Tigers, tossed a no-hitter against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. It is significant in that it was the last time the Sox were no-hit on their home field.

Bunning, now a Republican senator from Kentucky and a Hall of Famer in 1996, also went on to throw a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium on Father's Day in 1964. It was the first of just two no-hitters thrown at Shea (Bob Moose's gem in 1969 was the other). He became the second of four pitchers to throw no-hitters in both leagues (Cy Young, Nolan Ryan and Hideo Nomo are the others; Nomo just officially retired two days ago).

BTW, what do both of Bunning's no-hitters have in common? They were both first games of scheduled doubleheaders. Scheduled doubleheaders, you remember them, don't you? You mean you don't?

It got me to thinking about the other no-hitters the Red Sox have been involved in in the last half-century. So, here they are, all 10 of them, with five at Fenway Park and five on the road. (Seven by the Sox, three against them.)

At Fenway Park:
June 26, 1962: Earl Wilson vs. LA Angels, 2-0. (It was the first no-hitter ever by a black pitcher in the majors, and Wilson also hit a home run in the game.)
September 16, 1965: Dave Morehead vs. Cleveland, 2-0. (Losing pitcher was Luis Tiant, only 1,247 people witnessed it.)
April 27, 2002: Derek Lowe vs. Tampa Bay, 10-0. (Nearly 33,000 in the park that day, including me.)
September 1, 2007: Clay Buchholz vs. Baltimore, 10-0.
May 19, 2008: Jon Lester vs. Kansas City, 7-0.

Away from Fenway:
August 1, 1962: Bill Monbouquette vs. Chicago, 1-0.
April 27, 1968: Tom Phoebus, Baltimore vs. Red Sox, 6-0.
July 4, 1983: Dave Righetti, New York vs. Red Sox, 4-0.
April 22, 1993: Chris Bosio, Seattle vs. Red Sox, 7-0.
April 4, 2001: Hideo Nomo vs. Baltimore, 3-0. (Nomo's first start in a Red Sox uniform.)

This list doesn't include two other no-hit games the Sox have been involved in: Matt Young's no-hitter that he lost in Cleveland, 2-1 in 1992, and Devern Hansack's rain-shortened five-inning no-hitter in the final game of the year in 2006. MLB doesn't recognize any no-hit games that don't go at least nine innings anymore. (Young only pitched eight innings that day.) Don't ask me why.

Six Solid Innings Wasn't Enough

For six innings, Josh Beckett looked like the guy who struck fear in the hearts of his opponents last October. He scattered five hits, and left runners on third base with less than two outs on two separate occasions. He threw very few pitches, and looked like he'd go all the way in yesterday's game at Anaheim.

He did go all the way: eight innings in a 4-2 loss to the Angels.

Kevin Youkilis hit his 17th home run, a two-run shot in the second, and it looked like it would hold up. But the Red Sox could not add to it, and they had opportunities to do so.

It all came apart on Beckett in the seventh, as he gave up a leadoff homer to Vladimir Guerrero, and then put two more men on base. A sacrifice and an intentional walk brought up Erick Aybar as a pinch-hitter, and he promptly tripled down the right field line to make it 4-2 L.A. Coco Crisp made a sensational catch up against the wall in right center or it would have been more.

But the Red Sox once again had opportunities to get back in it, as they had two on in the eighth, but Jed Lowrie struck out to end the inning. In the ninth, they again had two on with one out, and Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell coming up. But both popped up to the infield to end a frustrating day. The Yankees got a really cheap-ass win in New York, a bases loaded hit batsman in the 12th inning gave them a win, and Tampa Bay beat Toronto last night to put the Red Sox 1 1/2 games back.

The news from Pawtucket continues to be good, as David Ortiz went 1-for-4 last night in the PawSox loss, but the one hit was another homer, his third straight game with one. He actually plays his final game with the PawSox today before moving over to Portland later this week for the final three of his rehab stint.

Tim Wakefield takes the hill today to avoid a sweep. The Red Sox are now 21-31 on the road this season. They have to find a way to improve their lot away from home. They head for Seattle after today's game for three, a place that's been a house of horrors for them in recent years, no matter how bad the Mariners have been.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Victims Loved Ones Can Return to Ground Zero This 9/11

I was very surprised to learn earlier today that at this year's memorial at Ground Zero to remember the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, loved ones of the victims will be allowed to go down into the site, 70 feet below street level, and lay flowers and other memorials at the pit of the site.

Last year it appeared that the sixth anniversary would be the final time any of us would be allowed down. The Family Groups had to fight the city hard to get the chance to go down there last September, as they said it was too dangerous and too much construction was going on to allow people to go down there safely. But a compromise was reached last summer, and we were allowed to pay our respects there again.

But after a meeting with the families on Friday, we will be able to go down there this September 11. The official remembrance was at Zuccotti Park last year, which is directly across from Ground Zero on Liberty and Church Streets (and I'm sure it will be there again this year). Apparently after the Port Authority and the City of New York revealed that the timetables for the construction on almost all the projects down there had been scrapped, there will be room for all the loved ones to once again return to the site for the seventh consecutive September 11th.

I have been down there for all of the six previous remembrances, and it has been some of the most moving moments of my entire life. I am pleased that the PA and city will allow it to happen one more time.

But I'm sure this will be the last time.

Thud

The Red Sox opened the second half with that sound, as Clay Buchholz had a similar start last night against the Angels to his previous one against the Orioles last Friday.

He gave up three runs in the first to put the Sox in a hole, but settled down until he gave up a homer to Garret Anderson in the fourth. He put two on in the fifth with two out, but got what at first appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to Alex Cora, but he bobbled it, and a run scored and the inning continued. Two more hits and three more unearned runs later, the game was 8-3 and basically over. The LA Angels went on to an 11-3 win. The loss put the Red Sox back in second again by a half game, as Tampa Bay won at home over Toronto on Friday night.

Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez both hit home runs, but Buchholz' struggles and Cora's error made them basically irrelevant. I'm really beginning to wonder if the Red Sox should go out and get a veteran shortstop for the balance of the season. Cora gives them almost nothing at the plate, and has little range at short and his overall defense has been shaky at best. I like Jed Lowrie, but he may not be ready yet. Both Omar Vizquel and Jack Wilson should be available at the deadline, but both their teams are going to want some decent prospects in return.

In better news back East, David Ortiz had another terrific night in his rehab at Pawtucket, going 1-for-3 with another homer, 3 RBIs and two walks. His home run was an opposite field blast. He plays his final game with the PawSox tonight.

Josh Beckett takes the mound today at Angel Stadium, an afternoon game on Fox today. Tomorrow night's game is on ESPN, but it's on at 6:05 PM, because the throwaway, worthless ESPY Awards are on after it. (I won't be able to see the game because I'll be playing softball tomorrow night.) They can't put that crap on BEFORE the game? Oh yes, it has to be on in "prime time." Idiots.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Manny's Payback?

Today's Extra Bases blog at the Boston Globe web site has an interesting piece of news from Bob Lobel, the sports director from WBZ in Boston, who says that the Red Sox fined Manny Ramirez "a six-figure sum" for the altercation he had last month with traveling secretary Jack McCormick. (Although later reports today say the fine was "between $10,000 and $15,000.")

And apparently, Ramirez was miffed enough about it, according to Lobel, that he gave the Red Sox brass "the middle finger" during a game earlier this month. When Manny went to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the game against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera on July 6th, he struck out on three pitches and never took the bat off his shoulders. The Sox front office believes that this was his way to "stick it" to them for the fine he got hit with after the pushing incident with McCormick.

The Sox originally refused to discuss what happened immediately after the incident, and that it was handled "internally." I find it hard to believe that the fine remained a secret for this long. Whether Manny did tank it on July 6th is still a matter of conjecture. But it might also explain the bizarre happenings of earlier this week.

Manny says that he wants to meet the Sox front office staff about his contract after the season. According to the Boston Herald, Manny said, "I want to know what's my situation. I want no more [expletive] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing. I think I've earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me this is what we want, this is what we want to do."

The Red Sox owner John Henry shot back in an email, and wasn't happy with Ramirez' comments. "I find remarks that we have been anything other than completely straightforward to be personally offensive. Manny has been a crucial part of two world championships. I do not believe we would have won either without him. He has never played a more important role than he has thus far this year."

Manny really isn't in a strong situation here. The Red Sox hold all the cards, and have two $20 million options, for 2009 and 2010. No one is going to pay him $20 million per year if the Sox decline it and he becomes a free agent. If Manny has a lousy second half, the Sox may ultimately decline it, but it would hurt him tremendously in his wallet if his numbers go down. He will be 37 next season. But if he has a monster second half, the Sox would probably keep him for at least 2009. He has said for a good part of this year he wants to stay in Boston, but this little dustup with management is hard to figure out. Could this be the tentacles of Scott Boras, Ramirez' new agent, at work here?

Never a dull moment with Manny around. Stay tuned.

Robbed of a Precious Family Heirloom?

This morning I read one of the most over-the-top "Voice of the People" letters to the New York Daily News I've ever seen. You've got to check this one out:

Mammon vs. Mariano

Manhattan: In the ninth inning, in the last All-Star Game ever at Yankee Stadium, Mariano Rivera was summoned to pitch. "Enter Sandman" starts to play over the speakers. Out of the bullpen comes the greatest closer in baseball history. The Stadium goes bananas. The energy is so tangible, I can feel it at home, over the television. I have a tear in my eye in response to this immense, once-in-a-lifetime moment of respect, awe and beauty in tribute of Mariano. Then - right in the middle of as moving an experience one is likely ever to have as a baseball fan - Fox abruptly GOES TO A COMMERCIAL?

The horror I felt was as though I had just been robbed of a precious family heirloom. Whoever is responsible should lose his/her job.

Does this sound overly dramatic? If you're not a great fan of baseball, perhaps. But I am a great fan of baseball. I was watching a great moment. Then it was stolen from me.

Shame on Fox television. Shame on them.

Name Withheld (for obvious reasons)

As many of you know, I love to occasionally comment on some of the more ridiculous letters I read in newspapers. This one had me literally in hysterics after I read it, and I wondered if this was sent to the News as some kind of a joke. But I bet the author (whose name I left off because it was so ridiculous) is absolutely serious.

So Fox didn't show Mariano Rivera, the alleged greatest closer of all time, coming into the All-Star Game in the ninth inning. Frankly, who cares? In about 99.9% of all pitching changes, the networks don't show the complete change, no matter what the situation, as they go to a commercial. (Money talks, bullshit walks, my friend.) Nobody at Fox is getting fired over this, as they were just doing their job.

To compare hearing Rivera come in to "Enter Sandman" and not seeing it to being robbed of a "precious family heirloom" is just a little over-the-top, don't ya think? Horror over this? A moment stolen away? Overly dramatic? I think you need to get out more often, buddy. I knew Yankee fans can be a bit silly and even moronic, but this letter made me bust out laughing.

Thanks for the chuckle, pal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Papi's On the Way Back

David Ortiz began his injury rehab at Pawtucket on Thursday night, and it was a certifiable success. Papi went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk in the PawSox' 15-6 win at home against the Toledo Mud Hens.

Papi homered in his second at-bat on the night before a sellout crowd at McCoy Stadium. He also popped out, lined out and walked in his four at-bats as the designated hitter.

Papi reported no problems with the wrist after the game. He'll have two more appearances with the PawSox before moving over to Portland to play three with the Sea Dogs, and then if everything goes according to plan, he'll return a week from tomorrow against the Yankees at Fenway.

NHK Live at Thom's



Here is a YouTube video of NHK, the national TV network of Japan, when they did a live remote at Professor Thom's pub this past July 3rd, which was the opening game of the Red Sox-Yankees series in the Bronx. It was shown back in Japan for a morning show there, and there were two segments they filmed at the bar.

The reporter, a very nice young lady, started the segments at Finnerty's bar, where many Yankee fans hang out next door. She wore a Yankee jersey, but when she walked into Thom's, she was booed by the bar patrons, and took the MFY jersey off to show a David Ortiz jersey, and was cheered. It was all setup that way beforehand.

My buddy Chris was also interviewed, and at about the 3:00 mark, I was filmed alone at a booth, watching the TV there. (I look kind of "friendless" there!) There are also shots of some fans doing "Kayreoke," which we did the night before the live remote. In the second segment, it concludes with a bunch of us whooping it up in back of the reporter, and you can see me briefly pointing to the guy wearing the Daisuke Matsuzaka shirt.

We all had fun doing it, and the NHK folks were very nice.

The video lasts just over 6 minutes. Yep, we're still big in Japan!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Pitching Quandry

Today on the radio and in print I've been hearing and reading a lot about last night's All-Star Game, and the fact that both managers used up both of their available pitchers and there would have been a serious problem had the game gone further than 15 innings.

There's an easy way to avoid that in the future. And it isn't what most so-called "experts" are suggesting.

The knee jerk response to what happened with the pitchers last night is "add more pitchers to the roster." Wrong, wrong, wrong. Expanding the rosters isn't the solution.

The solution is to better use the pitchers who go in the beginning of the game. The teams carry 12 pitchers, and that is plenty. I believe that the managers should go with just three pitchers for the first six innings. Let three starters pitch two innings apiece, and turn the final three innings over to the closers, or even more starters. You will have as many as six pitchers left should the game go to extra innings and that is fine. (Clint Hurdle actually went this route on Tuesday night, using three starters over the first six innings. But he was hamstrung near the end, as both Tim Lincecum and Kerry Wood were unavailable at the last minute due to illness and injury.)

Managers should make an effort to get all the position players in the game, but they must have a corral of pitchers left should the game go to overtime. This fetish of letting the starter go two innings and then bringing in a pitcher an inning has to stop (and I was dismayed to see Terry Francona doing that last night). As much blame Bud Selig took for the travesty of the 2002 All-Star Game that ended in a tie after 11 innings, it really should have gone to Joe Torre and Bob Brenly, who felt compelled to get EVERYONE in the game. It was a recipe for trouble, and it simply can't happen again.

Hey, if you have five or six pitchers who don't get into the game, so be it. These guys are major leaguers, not Little Leaguers. What will they do, go home and cry to their mommies? Many of them have incentives in their contracts if they make the All-Star team, which is fine, so even if they don't play, it's been worth it for them. And believe me, most of their managers wouldn't mind seeing them not used anyway.

I looked at the 1987 All-Star Game, and that is the perfect way to use pitchers in the game. It was an extra-inning game that went 13 innings in Oakland, and it was a 2-0 NL win. The NL used just 8 pitchers, and the AL just 7 (both squads did have fewer pitchers than yesterday). The first three pitchers on both teams went 2 innings apiece, except AL starter Bret Saberhagen (pictured), who pitched three innings.

I also took a look at the 1967 All-Star Game, which also went 15 innings. Granted this was in a different era, but the AL used only five pitchers the entire game, and still had three pitchers who were never used. Catfish Hunter, who was the losing pitcher, pitched the last five innings for the AL. I'm not suggesting that baseball go back to using pitchers like that, but it is interesting that there wasn't the paranoia back then about pitchers getting hurt, and there wasn't the World Series advantage on the line back then. Just league pride was at stake.

So adding more pitchers isn't the way to go. If a game with even more pitchers goes just nine innings, you'd have even more pitchers who won't get into the game. You just have to better utilize those pitchers who pitch early in the game, and stop worrying about injuries, and especially about getting every pitcher into the game.

Smarter managing will make for a better contest, and give the so-called experts one less thing to run their mouths off about. And that's always a good thing.

More Evidence Against the Carpetbagger

The New York Daily News revealed today that Kirk Radomski, the drug supplier who was a large part of the Mitchell Report and cooperated with federal investigators in their investigations, has turned over evidence to the feds that he supplied Roger Clemens with HGH in either late 2002 or 2003.

You can read the story here. (BTW, I love the fact the News put this story in their "Yankees" section.)

Clemens' clueless lawyer and mouthpiece Rusty Hardin said this:

"I can't imagine that there's any truth to that at all," said Hardin. "We'll find out one day Roger never received or took the stuff."

Like any lawyer, it's deny, deny, deny. But with all the mounting evidence, it looks like The Texas Con Man will be entering a room with striped sunlight sometime down the road.

Long Night's Journey Into Morning

The longest All-Star Game in history was played last night at that dump in the Bronx that has a date with the wrecker's ball after this season. The American League came out on top, 4-3 in 15 innings on Michael Young's sacrifice fly to score Justin Morneau with the winning run. (Reminded me of the Sid Bream play that won the pennant for the Braves in 1992.) J.D. Drew was voted the game's MVP, as he hit a two-run homer in the 7th inning to tie the game at 2. (Isn't that a great picture of him? I love it when Red Sox players do well at that joint. The last All-Star Game at the alleged "Cathedral of Baseball" and the MVP award was won by someone on the Red Sox. Sweet.)

The game took five hours to play and featured all kinds of action, especially in extra innings, like the NL getting out a bases loaded, no outs jam in the 10th, and the AL getting a runner thrown out at home. Both teams ran out of players (Drew came up to bat 5 times), and Scott Kazmir pitched the 15th inning (after going last Sunday) to get the win.

Once again Terry Francona gets an All-Star Game win, and you know what that means: Game 1 of the 2008 World Series will be played at Fenway Park this year. (I wrote the same thing last July, so don't get nervous. I love being optimistic.) The AL is now undefeated in the last 11 All-Star games. (10-0-1, including that travesty that happened in 2002 with that game that ended in a tie. It would have been interesting to see if the game had gone to say 18 innings, or beyond. You can't halt it, because as we all know, "This time it counts!!")

Some other observations about the Midsummer Classic:

A pox on Wade Boggs for showing up to the opening ceremonies wearing a Yankee hat. (I thought the ceremonies were well-done by the way, with the Hall of Famers at their positions in the field with the game's starters.) He's in the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox player, as he was identified in the graphic. Both Gary Carter and Dave Winfield wore the hats of the teams they are in the Hall with, but also brought a long a second hat of the other major team they are associated with (Carter a Mets hat, Winfield a Yankees hat). Boggs will only be remembered for what he did in Boston, and I'm sure a lot of Red Sox fans like me didn't appreciate it. All anyone will remember about Boggs' days in New York is is that he rode a horse on the field after New York won the 1996 World Series. How appropriate for a total jackass.

Did you see George Steinbrenner in the cart getting the royal treatment at the end of the ceremonies, being driven around the field? He looks like an ad for death, and even worse than I would have thought. He was shown bawling as he made his way around the park. Looks like whoever set it up was ripping off the tribute to Ted Williams from the 1999 All-Star Game.

It was just so great to see the large contingent of Red Sox players who saw action, and Terry Francona managing the team from the Yankees home dugout. And as the game went deeper into extra innings, there wasn't a single Yankee player in the game, and J.D. Drew was still in the game for the AL. Almost surreal.

When is MLB going to stop scheduling this game so late on the East Coast? 8:40 PM is WAY too late to throw the first pitch. The ninth inning didn't happen until after 11:30 ET, and many people in the East can't stay up for it, especially the younger ones. (Same goes for the World Series. Many kids in the East have never seen the finish of a World Series or All-Star Game.) MLB continues to slit their own throats with these start times. I hear the excuses for having it at the time they have it and usually involves the West Coast. Hey, if you're a true fan out West, you get to see all of the game and it will end at a good hour. It all revolves around ratings points out West, and it annoys me. They talk about an "East Coast bias" in baseball, well this is one "West Coast bias" in my opinion.

Jonathan Papelbon (along with all of the Red Sox players) got a rude welcome in Yankee Stadium (big shock, eh?). The asshole New York media played up that statement Pap made on Monday about wanting to close the game, but eventually deferred to Mariano Rivera. (Funny, Rivera said the same exact thing about wanting to pitch the ninth and even stronger than Pap. Of course, Rivera's their boy, and can walk on water in their eyes.) So unlike the NY media to print lies, right?

It was also simply appalling that Pap and his wife actually got threats from some moronic Yankee fans over this crap. (What else do you expect from these muttonheads, America's worst sports fans?) Terry Francona, to his great credit, was going to have Rivera pitch the ninth no matter what, as he knows how to handle situations like this and has a sense of doing the right thing.

Never ceases to amaze what total putzes the New York sportswriters can be, creating ersatz controversies to sell newspapers.

Trivia Q&A: July 15

We had a really huge crowd in on Trivia Night last night, as many also came in to watch the MLB All-Star Game. But a large contingent of Trivia Night regulars were on hand, and we tied the record for the largest number of teams from two weeks ago: 25.

The scores were very good throughout the night, and many teams got perfect scores on the All-Star Games Venues Trivia round. The scores were also strong for the Spell the Word round, as this time it wasn't nearly as difficult as it was two weeks ago. We had two teams tied going into the final round of IQ Trivia. Two teams got perfect scores of 20 in that round, including the winners My Dixie Wrecked, who wound up winning by just three points. My congratulations to them on their win.

Current Events
1. Leaders of the nations meeting in the G8 summit in this country last week agreed to a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050.
2. Tillman Thomas became the new prime minister of what Caribbean island nation last week?
3. China officially took this off its officially designated menus at Olympic restaurants last week, a dish known to be popular in many Asian countries.
4. Time Magazine reported last week that an international survey stated the people from this European country were voted "The Most Obnoxious Tourists."
5. A police officer who recently tore off the head of a wax figure of this man in a museum in Berlin won't have to pay restitution for it because his is destitute.
6. A volcano erupted last Saturday on a remote island in this US state and sent an ash cloud 50,000 feet in the air.
7. Pope Benedict XVI will open the World Youth Day festival in this city later this week.

Answers: 1. Japan; 2. Grenada; 3. dog meat; 4. France; 5. Adolf Hitler; 6. Alaska; 7. Sydney, Australia.

All-Star Game Venues
1. SkyDome (1991)
2. Jacobs Field (1997)
3. Riverfront Stadium (1988)
4. Comiskey Field (1983)
5. Olympic Stadium (1982)
6. Kingdome (1979)
7. Jack Murphy Stadium (1992)

Answers: 1. Toronto; 2. Cleveland; 3. Cincinnati; 4. Chicago; 5. Montreal; 6. Seattle; 7. San Diego.

Spell the Word ("The Q Train")
1. MORIBUND (adj): in a dying state; near death.
2. EPILEPSY (noun): a disorder of the nervous system, characterized by loss of attention or sleepiness.
3. AVARICE (noun): excessive desire or greed.
4. SYRINGE (noun): a small device for pumping liquids through a small aperture.
5. ILLEGIBLE (adj): not legible, hard to read.
6. CYGNET (noun): a young swan.
7. FLUMMERY (noun): complete nonsense.
8. ZEPPELIN (noun): a rigid airship or dirigible.
9. EPITOME (noun): a person who possesses to a high degree the features of a whole class.
10. HOMEOSTASIS (noun): the tendency of a system to maintain internal stability.

General Knowledge
1. What color is the big number 5 on the back of the new US $5 bill?
2. On the TV show "Mork and Mindy," what is the name of Mork's leader?
3. The first laser produced a beam that was what color?
4. What 1970 bestselling book was written by Alvin Toffler about the rapid growth of technology?
5. What country won soccer's World Cup in 2006?
6. What former NFL quarterback went on to co-host the 1980s TV show, "That's Incredible?"
7. What card game uses a deck with only 48 cards?

Answers: 1. purple; 2. Orson; 3. red; 4. "Future Shock;" 5. Italy; 6. Fran Tarkenton; 7. pinochle.

IQ Trivia
1. If you're "intestate," what, by definition, do you not have? (4 points)
2. What American character did James Montgomery Flagg help to immortalize with his 1914 poster? ( 4 points)
3. According to an Aesop fable, what type of bird told the goddess Juno he wanted the voice of a nightingale? ( 5 points)
4. What author wrote the novel "The Regulators" under the pen name Richard Bachman? ( 3 points)
5. In order to bind his empire, what historic military leader married off many of his soldiers to Persian women? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. A legal will; 2. Uncle Sam; 3. peacock; 4. Stephen King; 5. Alexander the Great.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Helping Out a Founding Father

On Monday night, we had the benefit for former Red Sox pitcher Jerry Casale at Professor Thom's pub. We had a terrific turnout, and there were lots of goodies for the bar patrons to bid on in a silent auction or go after in a raffle.

My buddy Chris Wertz did a tremendous job setting everything up, and I was happy to assist. We had some great items that I mentioned in some previous posts. But we also had some great last-minute items up for bids, like a signed Carlos Delgado bat, my friend Jere's upcoming book "Dirty Water," two more tickets to a Sox game in early August (graciously donated by my friend Joe), dinner for two at Tavern on Jane, my friend Horton's fine establishment in the West Village, and what turned out to be the biggest prize of the night: two upper level tickets to Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

I met Jerry Casale and his family shortly after they arrived at Thom's, and Jerry was a real pleasure to talk to. We talked about both us being from Brooklyn, and he told me some of his Red Sox stories, about playing in Fenway Park and being teammates with Ted Williams. He was a kick to chat with, and told me in vivid detail the three home runs he hit in rookie year of 1959. Jerry still follows the Red Sox closely, and he told me how much he still hates the Yankees. During the night, a recording of Phil Rizzuto announcing a home run Jerry hit at Fenway in 1959 off the Yankees' Bob Turley was played, and Jerry later explained where the pitch was and how far over the Green Monster it went (and Rizzuto on the radio couldn't believe how far it went). Jerry played this tape for his patrons at Pino's, the restaurant he used to run in midtown Manhattan.

Paul (Fitzy) Fitzgerald, the Boston comedian also known as Nick Stevens, was the MC of the auction, and he did a fabulous job, mixing some great humor with his hosting skills. I also had the pleasure of meeting many of Jerry's family who came out for the event. A video was also played of photos of Jerry throughout his life, from his time in baseball before the Red Sox through the time he ran his restaurant, and even some nice pictures of his family as well.

During the evening, Chris announced to the gathered folks that Larry Lucchino of the Red Sox had sent a $500 donation to the event, which was very nice of the Red Sox to do. They donated some great gifts, and it was terrific that they got involved, too. (The All-Star Game tickets, which were $200 apiece, got the largest bid in the silent auction: $675 in total.)

It was nice to see such a fine turnout, and Jerry and his family were thrilled to be a part of it. It was really our pleasure to help out Jerry, whose bar/restaurant was a forerunner of the bars like Professor Thom's in New York City that brings Red Sox fans from all over the New York area and beyond together to watch over favorite team.

Jerry was like one of our Founding Fathers, and we were glad to be graced with his presence, and happy we could help him in his time of need.