Monday, May 31, 2010
Please say a prayer today for all those brave men and women who have given their lives for our country this Memorial Day. Thank you to all those military personnel around the world currently putting their lives on the line for our freedom. Stay safe.
And don't forget the 9/11 victims this day, too. They may not have been combat troops, but they gave their lives as well.
May God bless all of them.
The Q Train lightning round will be something a little different. "Name That Sport Trivia." I will give you the names of ten current athletes and you will have to name the sport they play. They will be active athletes, and there will be ten different sports with no repeats. And don't worry, I won't be asking about any role players or bench guys. (And no, Dustin Pedroia won't be one of the ones used. Just felt like putting up his photo.)
The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
Snoopy's best friend on the comic strip "Peanuts" was a small yellow bird named what?
We will get going at 9 PM on Tuesday night. And a heads-up to all of you about the next two weeks. Because of the Boston Celtics appearance in the NBA Finals and the many fans that will be in Professor Thom's next Tuesday, we will be having next week's Trivia Night on Wednesday, June 9th at 9 PM. Should the series go to a 6th game the next week after that, we would have to move Trivia Night that week also for a final time to either Monday night, June 14th or Wednesday night, June 16th at 9 PM. Stay tuned for updates about that.
Thanks to all of you for your patience with all the moving we've had to do. See you tomorrow night.
David Ortiz continued his incredibly hot hitting in the month of May on Sunday, and I'm sure he's sad to see this month come to a close.
Papi blasted his 11th home run of the season in leading the Sox to an 8-1 romp over Kansas City. (By the way, in the picture above, my cousin is right behind the "Poland Spring" sign in the front row. I'll have to ask him how he scored such big time ducats.) He's hit 10 of them this month, has 27 RBI in May and he's hitting .363 for the month as well. Overall he has hit in eight straight games, and it's the second time in his storied career he has 10 HRs, 25 RBI and hit .350 in a month.
Not bad for a guy who many critics were figuring would be released by June 1st.
Jon Lester won his 6th game of the season and continued his terrific pitching. He got off to a shaky start, allowing KC a run in the second and his command was a bit off. He wound up walking four in seven innings, but he was sharp from the third inning on.
The Sox had trouble with vagabond hurler Bruce Chen, an emergency starter for the Royals in place of the injured Gil Meche. He pitched four good innings, allowing just two hits and one run. But the Sox beat up on the KC pen, scoring three in the fifth and three more in the sixth. Jason Varitek concluded the scoring with a blast out of Fenway in the eighth.
The Red Sox gained a game on Tampa Bay, who lost to the White Sox. The Sox are now 5 1/2 games back. They get a rare memorial Day off before taking on Oakland at Fenway on Tuesday night.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Something I've been saying for years, warning about, and it happened today in Anaheim.
I've been writing on this blog for a long time about how much I hate those stupid, inane "celebrations" at home plate whenever someone hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth or in extra innings. Players acting like Little Leaguers, guys acting like they just won the World Series over winning a normal game late. Mobbing (and practically mugging) a guy who just happened to get a hit to win an average game.
Some of them have gotten violent, with players getting knocked to the ground in them. Teammates hitting teammates with fists. I hold my breath whenever I see them.
Well, we have a casualty today, and it's a serious injury.
Kendry Morales of the LA Angels hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Seattle Mariners (a so-called "walkoff" one; I hate that term too, but that's another story) and had to do that "leap" into the pile at home plate, tossing away his helmet, with his teammates about to attack him. But he landed awkwardly on his ankle, breaking his left leg. He'll need surgery and it will probably kill the rest of his 2010 season.
Over something as unbelievably stupid as trying to do a "cool" celebration. Here's more from ESPN (including video).
Angels manager Mike Scioscia after the injury: "It'll change the way we celebrate. It sure was exciting, but you always wonder if it's an accident waiting to happen."
Maybe now MLB players will wake up and stop these stupid, foolish acts at home plate. Save the celebrations for something special, like winning a title or throwing a no-hitter.
Just because you won a game in your last turn at-bat doesn't mean you have to act like morons.
Do you think Kendry Morales regrets what happened? You bet he does.
Nothing wrong with celebrating a late-inning win. Just stop acting like fools. We don't need more unnecessary injuries.
I checked the linescore to discover that it was Roy Halladay, who the Red Sox torched last Sunday in Philly, who pitched it, and didn't allow a base runner either. It was 20th perfect game in MLB history, and the first time in the modern era that two have been pitched in a calendar year. It's the third since last July, and all three have been pitched against the Florida teams.
The Red Sox won, 1-0. By the time I got home, it was over. Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon (who was perfect) shut down the Royals on five hits. A Mike Lowell RBI groundout was the difference, as the Red Sox did little against Zack Greinke.
And of course, it's always a great day when overrated Joba Chamberlain gets lit up, and it happened again today, as New York blew a 10-3 lead to the Indians, and the Tribe won, 13-11. He gave up four runs in one-third of an inning, and his ERA is just below 6.00. It's the third time the Yankees have blown a five-run lead or more in their last four home games.
Rest in peace, Dennis Hopper. I played "Born to Be Wild" on the iPod in his memory tonight.
Today would have been John F. Kennedy's 93rd birthday if he were still around. Just can't picture him as an old man.
When Wake walked Mitch Maier to load the bases with the score tied, 5-5, I thought for sure Terry Francona would go to Scott Atchison to get the final out of the inning with Yuniesky Betancourt coming up. He didn't, and Betancourt took Wake into the Monster seats for a grand slam to make it a seven-run inning, and Kansas City went on to a 12-5 win.
Granted, the Royals offense is actually pretty good, leading MLB with a .282 average on the season. But their pitching isn't very good, and the Red Sox have done nothing the last two nights against their bullpen.
It says a lot when Bill Hall, brought in to pitch the ninth, got the only 1-2-3 inning of the night.
Wakefield gave away 3-0 and 5-2 leads, and allowed 11 hits and 3 walks. Good news for the Red Sox was Victor Martinez, who doubled in two runs and hit a two-run blast in his first two at-bats.
The rest of the night? Forget it.
And Jacoby Ellsbury is back on DL, as lingering soreness from the broken ribs has forced him out again.
Once again, the Red Sox look great on the road beating the contenders, but then come home and get taken to school by one of the AL's havenots. Now they need wins the next two days to just get a split in the series.
Clay Buchholz goes tonight and Jon Lester tomorrow. Tampa Bay lost last night so the Red Sox lost no ground.
Friday, May 28, 2010
UPDATE: Since the Boston Celtics wrapped up their Eastern Finals series with a trip to the NBA Finals, Trivia Night that is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8th, will be moved to Wednesday, June 9th at 9 PM, as Game 3 will be on that Tuesday. And should there be a Game 6 in the series, we will have to move Trivia Night again the next week to Wednesday, June 16th at 9 PM.
Sorry about that gang. Thom's will be jam packed with Celtics fans, so the move will be necessary. Thanks for your understanding.
Mr. Strasberg (not to be confused with "Baseball Jesus," future Hall of Famer Stephen) is currently putting together a book (and possibly a documentary) of old baseball-related photographs from baseball fans from the last 100 years called "Fantography."
So far he has collected over 3,000 vintage snapshots and they have been from MLB, the Negro Leagues and the minor leagues. The photos are from the fan's perspective, and Mr. Strasberg will be in the Boston area during the week of June 7-14, and he is seeking submissions to "Fantography."
If you do want to submit a picture, it should have the people in the photo, when it was taken and the story behind it. Please do check out his web site for more information about this terrific project.
Here is Mr. Strasberg to explain his project:
Sounds like a great thing, and I wish Mr. Strasberg all the success in the world with it.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Terry Francona yanked Daisuke Matsuzaka out in the fifth inning tonight, and for good reason. Count me in the group that has had quite enough of him and his act.
Move him after this season.
You want to love this guy, especially after the splendid performance of last Saturday night in Philadelphia. He went up against one of the best offenses and just dominated. He won 15 in 2007, and 18 in 2008.
But tonight, he looks like shit against the worst team in the American League in terms of taking walks. Yes, 14th in the AL in drawing free passes, a team of free swingers. And what does he do? He walks eight, eight bloody Kansas City Royals en route to a 4-3 loss.
I actually feared a letdown after the last two terrific series on the road the Sox just had. And sure enough, the Evil Dice-K showed up, and started with that nibbling shit again, walked four batters in the fifth, as Kansas City scored three runs on one bloody hit.
Am I angry? You bet your buttocks I am.
I have grown really disenchanted with this guy. Tonight I just wanted to yell at the TV, "Throw strikes dammit!!" However, I am not one of these idiot yahoos who call radio stations, screaming and shouting, "Get this guy out of here, now!" (And God knows, there are enough of them who pollute the airwaves in New York. And Boston, too.) No, that's not happening now. But I really hope the Red Sox finally get as exasperated as I am now with watching Daisuke Matsuzaka try to nibble the opposition to death.
And now he's the only active MLB pitcher who has had two outings where he has walked eight and given up just two hits in the same game. Yikes.
I have no idea where the Red Sox can send him or for what. The Sox are still on the hook for two years with him after 2010, for a total of $20 million. Way too early even consider that they could get for him. I just hope that Theo Epstein will explore the idea this winter.
Watching him pitch is simply torture. It's exasperating. It's excruciating.
David Ortiz also added a two-run shot for his 10th dinger of the season.
John Lackey pitched a gutty game. Wasn't outstanding, but got to the 7th inning, allowing just two runs.
The Red Sox were swept by the Rays in April and looked really bad in the process. There were some "experts" who felt the Red Sox didn't belong on the same field as Tampa Bay, with all their stolen bases and superior pitching. Well, the Sox sent the Rays a message this week to not get too comfortable in first place. They clearly don't own it.
The Sox completed their first three-game sweep at St. Pete since 2001. (They actually had two four-game sweeps there in 2002.) The Red Sox have now won 8 of 9, and have won 23 of 35 since Tampa Bay won four straight at Fenway in April. It was a critical run for the Red Sox against some of the best clubs in baseball, and they've let them all know that those who have written them off have done so at their own peril, including Tampa Bay.
Yep, paid back with interest.
The Red Sox now play four at Fenway with Kansas City, with Daisuke Matsuzaka opening the series. The Red Sox are now in third place having passed Toronto, 5 1/2 back of TB, and two behind New York for second place.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
1. June 19, 1846 Score Sheets For First Match Game; Knickerbockers vs. New Yorks.(A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)
2. 1859 Knickerbocker B.B.C. Challenge Letter to the Eagle B.B.C.(A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)
3. 1859 Photo of the Excelsiors of Brooklyn and Knickerbocker Base Ball Clubs by Williamson, Brooklyn.(A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)
4. 1874 Autographed Warren Cabinet Photo of Harry Wright.(A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)
5. 1875 Letter to Harry Wright Awarding Boston the Championship Pennant of 1875. Signed by Harry Wright and Morgan Bulkeley. (From the missing Harry Wright Correspondence Scrapbook Vol. 1, A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)
6. 1892 Imperial Cabinet Photo of the Boston B.B.C with Mike “King” Kelly(M. T. McGreevey Collection of Baseball Pictures, Boston Public Library)
7. 1877 Letter Written by Banished Ballplayer Jim Devlin to Harry Wright. (Harry Wright Correspondence Scrapbook Vol. 1 , A. G. Spalding Collection, New York Public Library)
8. A) 1887 Autographed Tintype photo of Hall-of Famer Tommy McCarthy. (A. G. Spalding Collection, New York Public Library)
8. B) The Last Will and Testament of Hall-of-Famer Thomas F. McCarthy. (Suffolk County Probate Court, Boston, MA.)
9. 1917 Letter Written by Christy Mathewson to August Herrmann. (August Herrmann Papers, National Baseball Hall of Fame)
10. 1859 Brooklyn Excelsiors Challenge Letter to Knickerbocker B.B.C.(A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection, New York Public Library)Click this link for a more detailed description of each missing artifact.
I love when Wally calls the ump "a pipsqueak."
With thanks to John Fitzgerald at the Playing For Peanuts site.
Welcome to Brooklyn, Wally. Opening night for the Cyclones is June 19th, and I'll be on hand.
Jon Lester rode the tightrope early in last night's game at St. Pete, as he walked the first two hitters he faced, but got out of it unscathed. Jon walked five, but allowed just a fourth inning single, and that was it for six innings last night. I turned to some of my pals at Professor Thom's before Trivia Night and said after the hit, "There goes the no-hitter." They laughed and kidded me about it.
Little did anyone realize that if Lester hadn't given up that hit, it would have put Terry Francona in a ticklish situation, as Lester rolled up a high pitch count, and he surely would have had to yank him early. Fortunately, the night worked out well for everyone, except the Tampa Bay Rays.
The bullpen was lights out yet again, courtesy of Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Pap allowed just a walk in getting his 11th save.
There were fireworks in the fifth, as Carl Crawford questioned Bob Davidson's strike zone, and it cost him, as Davidson tossed him from the game, along with Rays' manager Joe Maddon. Davidson was all over the place last night.
The red-hot David Ortiz was the star last night, as he doubled in two runs in the fourth for all the offense the Red Sox needed on the night.
The starting pitchers have allowed just one run in the last four starts, against two of the best teams in baseball.
Jacoby Ellsbury was pulled from last night's game before it began, as he was complaining of soreness on his side. It could be related to the injured ribs, but the Sox maybe worried about it, as Darnell McDonald was not DFA'd as expected. He'll still be with the Sox, and pitcher Scott Atchison was again designated for assignment. Not sure how long Ellsbury will be sidelined, but doesn't figure to play tonight.
Since the Papelbon meltdown in the Bronx, the Red Sox have won 7 of 8, and won series against Minnesota, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. On this blog, I said the Sox had to go 8-5 in this tough 13-game stretch beginning with the series in Detroit on May 14th. After the heartbreaker in NY on May 17th, they were 1-3. They are now 8-4 in that stretch. The Sox trail Tampa Bay by 6 1/2, and New York by just 1 1/2 games for second. (If the Red Sox had won that May 17th game, they would be in second by 1/2 game.)
And since they were swept by Tampa Bay on Patriots Day, the Red Sox are 22-12.
Still feeling confident the Red Sox are finished, Mikey?
The scores on Current Events were rather low, but the scores really picked up by "11-20 Trivia." It stayed a really close match throughout the evening, and it came down to two teams who switched positions after General Knowledge, "Suck It Dawson" and "Papi's Angels."
But "Suck It Dawson" pulled out the win, by just one point, by getting four of the five IQ questions correct. Congrats to Matt and Liz, who were absent the last few weeks, on their triumph.
And also congratulations to Joe and Gillian, other Thom's Trivia regulars, who announced that they were engaged (and it was reflected in their team name). All the best to you both.
It is not 100% certain which night Trivia Night will be on next week. If there is a Celtics playoff game next Tuesday, we will have Trivia Night on Wednesday, June 2nd. If there is no game next Tuesday, Trivia Night will go on as scheduled next Tuesday. Check back here for updates as they become available.
1. This Asian country banned Facebook after a page on the networking site encouraged users to post sketches of the prophet Mohammed.
2. This Hollywood actor, who has invested millions of his own money in oil-separation technology, will help with the cleanup of the BP oil spill in The Gulf of Mexico.
3. The cover of this magazine this week has nearly 1300 pictures of people from Facebook, from a group from the site "I Want to Be in (the magazine)", for a lead story about FB.
4. Richard LaMotta, inventor, entrepreneur, Brooklyn Tech grad and inventor of this ice cream sandwich in 1982, died recently at the age of 67.
5. Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century astronomer, was reburied last Saturday in this European country as a hero, nearly 500 years after he was buried in an unmarked grave as a heretic.
6. The video game "Pac-Man" celebrated its 30th anniversary this past week. Name 2 of the 4 ghosts that chase Pac-Man.
7. This media star is suing Post Cereal over what he believes his likeness was degraded in a recent Cocoa Cocoa Puffs commercial.
Answers: 1. Pakistan; 2. Kevin Costner; 3. Time; 4. Chipwich; 5. Poland; 6. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde; 7. Hulk Hogan.
Q Are You?
1. This man was born in San Bernardino, CA in 1930. He is one of his generation's most nominated and respected actors. He won the Best Actor Oscar in 1971, Best Supporting Actor in 1992, 3 Golden Globe Awards and various other Oscar nominations.
2. This man was born in The Bronx, NY in 1949. According to RIAA, he's the third best-selling solo artist in the US, and he's had 33 Top 40 hits in this country (all written by him). He's won 6 Grammys and is in the Rock and Roll and Long Island Music Halls of Fame.
3. This man was born in Jonesboro, AK in 1955. He has been a MS state representative and a successful lawyer. But he is best known for his books, and he has 25 of them to his credit and sold over 250 million copies worldwide.
4. This man was born in NYC in 1937. He has had a brilliant career in the military, rising up to four-star general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He won a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Vietnam, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other awards.
5. This woman was born in NYC in 1953. She has released 11 albums in her career, she was the first female singer to have four Top 5 singles released from one album, and she was recently fired by Donald Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice.
6. This man was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1979. Among his accomplishments: two-time MLB All-Star, Hank Aaron Award winner, holds the MLB record for consecutive errorless games at 1B, and made an uncredited one-line speaking role in the 1994 "Milk Money."
7.This woman was born in Ottawa, ONT in 1974. She is a seven-time Grammy Award winner. She has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and her 1995 album remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the US.
Answers: 1. Gene Hackman; 2. Billy Joel; 3. John Grisham; 4. Colin Powell; 5. Cyndi Lauper; 6. Kevin Youkilis; 7. Alanis Morissette.
11-20 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. This is the traditional number of days of Christmas.
2. The number of players on each side of a soccer match.
3. Abraham Lincoln was this number president.
4. In golf, the clubhouse bar is known as this numbered hole.
5. A score is this number.
6. Baseball Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Ernie Banks wore this number.
7. In the US, this is the number age that a person can enlist in the Armed Forces with parental permission.
8. In tennis, this number represents the first point gained in a game.
9. This number amendment to the Constitution established prohibition in the US in 1920.
10. Judas Iscariot, Jesus' betrayer, is said by tradition to have been this numbered man at the Last Supper.
Answers: 1. twelve; 2. eleven; 3. sixteen; 4. nineteen; 5. twenty; 6. fourteen; 7. seventeen; 8. fifteen; 9. eighteen; 10. thirteen.
1. TV star Eva Longoria is married to which NBA player? ( 1 pt)
2. Ivan Pavlov is best known for his conditioning experiments with what type of animal? ( 1 pt)
3. What actor received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in "City Slickers?" ( 1 pt)
4. The line "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing" can be found in what George Orwell book? ( 2 pt)
5. In what London venue are all British monarchs crowned? ( 2 pt)
6. What is the longest and strongest bone in the human body? ( 2 pt)
7. What does an ocularist make? ( 3 pt)
Answers: 1. Tony Parker; 2. dogs; 3. Jack Palance; 4. "Animal Farm;" 5. Westminster Abbey; 6. femur; 7. artificial eyes.
1. What does a labeorphilist collect? ( 5 points)
2. What 19th century politician turned down an appointment as a US senator because it meant accepting a pardon for treason? ( 4 points)
3. What author wrote the "Tales of the City" series of novels? ( 3 points)
4. Sucre is the constitutional capital of what South American country? ( 4 points)
5. What US president had previously been a US senator, minister to England, France and Spain, Secretary of War, Secretary of State and Governor of Virginia? ( 4 points)
Answers: 1. beer bottles; 2. Jefferson Davis; 3. Armistead Maupin; 4. Bolivia; 5. James Monroe.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Disappointing crowd at the Trop tonight, just over 21,000 in the house. And there were many Red Sox fans on hand as well. What does it take to get people to watch a baseball game in Tampa? They have an exciting young team that has the best record in MLB. And they can't fill the building when one of their main rivals are in town? A real disgrace.
Clay Buchholz was terrific after struggling the first two innings. He kept the Rays off the board, and David Ortiz hit a line shot into the right field seats to put the Sox up in the second. They added three in the third, and two more in the fourth on Youk's 10th blast.
Buch went six, and the bullpen was perfect. Hideki Okajima retired all six men he faced, and Daniel Bard got the Rays 1-2-3 in the ninth. Sox pitchers retired the final 14 men they faced.
The Red Sox have now won 6 of 7 since Papelbon's meltdown in the Bronx. So much for that game sending the Red Sox into a tailspin.
The Sox also DFA'd Darnell McDonald after the game to make room for Mike Cameron. I hope he goes back to Pawtucket. But whatever happens, I wish Darnell all the best. He's a baseball lifer and it was a pleasure to meet him last week at the BLOHARDS meeting.
And we don't have to worry about being invaded by the "Lost" fans who watch the show the same night up in the Loft. I think the show was canceled or something, no?
Anyway, our Special Category this week will be the May installment of "Q Are You?" trivia, where I give you clues as to a current celebrity and you have to identify him or her.
The Q Train lightning round will be "11-20 Trivia." We have done "1-10 Trivia" many times, and I thought to myself, why not the next ten numbers? So, let's do it. All the answers to the questions in the round will be a number between 11 and 20, and there won't be any duplicated.
The Sneak Peek question this week:
Ivan Pavlov is best known for his conditioning experiments with what type of animal?
OK, "Lost" is over, so no more excuses for those who've missed my Trivia Night because of it. Attendance is mandatory for you this week!
My friend Adam checked in again this morning with the state of the AL East. Interesting reading.
The Sox are now 2.5 games out of a playoff spot, with 117 games left to play. I don't know how they can possibly make up that deficit ...
While I don't think Tampa Bay as a team is as good as their record says they are, almost two months of .700+ baseball makes them hard to catch. They'd have to collapse to miss the playoffs. If they play .500 ball for their remaining 118 games, they'd finish with 91 wins.
Most Sox fans don't take Toronto seriously. The Sox have played them well this year, winning 5 of the 6 head-to-head games. Still, the Jays have been hot. They won 15 of 21, before dropping 2 of 3 in interleague play this weekend. Toronto has hit the most HR in the AL. Still, I don't really buy their offense. They have a .312 OBP as a team. They are a feast or famine offense; they don't get on base consistently but have players who have hit for power so far. Most of their player OPS is skewed by high SLG. For example, does anyone think Edwin Encarnacion will finish with anything close to the .745 SLG he has right now? I'm also not sure they have enough starting pitching behind Marcum and Romero to stay in the race past June/July.
That brings us to the "hot" MFY. Actually, the MFY are the coldest team in the division. They got off to a great start, winning 11 of their first 14 games. Since then, they've been 15-15. In other words, they've been a mediocre team for two-thirds of this season. The MFY have lost 10 of their last 15. Horse Face (Teixeira .702 OPS) and Jeter (.698 OPS) have flat-out sucked. Future HOFer and batting champ Robinson Cano hasn't hit well in May.
CC Sabathia has struggled lately. He has allowed 10 HR in his last 7 starts. Sabathia has never allowed more than 20 HR in a season. He is on pace for 30+ HR right now. Hughes is a very good pitcher, who over-performed early. He is only 23-years old, and the MFY will monitor his work load. Pettitte looks like he's coming down to Earth. He has massively over-performed his FIP. And, while his traditional numbers look good right now, his secondary numbers look a lot like John Lackey's. New York also has some bullpen issues.
The MFY have had some injuries. They miss Posada's bat, just like they missed Swisher's bat when he was out. Granderson and Johnson didn't hit well before they were hurt. The MFY are an old team. They are going to have injuries. Last year, they over-performed because their old players stayed healthy and played at a higher level than they should have. Those same players look like they'll perform in a more typical fashion this year. The MFY need A-Rod, Teixeira, Cano, and Swisher to have big years--and they need their starters to perform like they did in April--or they may be in trouble. The MFY look very beatable to me. Of course, they'll go through stretches were they play better than they have recently. They're a good team. Also, they have the resources to add players. But, I don't see them as anything close to a playoff lock.
The Sox still have holes. They desperately need bullpen arms. But the pen should improve if the starters continue to go deep in games. I still don't like the bench. Mike Lowell is a wasted roster spot (I wonder if Theo is holding onto Lowell to keep him away from the MFY). Once Mike Cameron comes back, this will be a very solid team, offensively and defensively. For all the criticism Theo has taken, Beltre and Scutaro have been as advertised. Both have been significant upgrades over last year. It's too soon to tell about Cameron. His injury isn't age-related, though. Only Lackey has been a disappointment--a huge disappointment--and, by far, the Sox' worst starter. He has had major control issues and his K-rate and SwStr% are way down this year. But if Beckett is healthy, the Sox should have enough starting pitching to make a run. They easily have enough offense. Their defense on balls in play, aside from Hermida and McDonald (who won't be playing when Cameron comes back), is very good.
The only real question mark on this team is the pen. While they have been overworked, they look like they lack quality. Hopefully, Theo will acquire an arm or two. In 2003, the Sox began the season with a weak pen. Theo made three big bullpen acquisitions that helped the Sox make the playoffs: Byung-Hyun Kim (who was huge in the regular season), Scott Williamson, and Todd Jones. In fact, by the end of the season Boston's pen was very good. Everyone seemed to know it but Grady. Let's hope Theo can duplicate 2003 and find bullpen help during the season.
The Sox have played .591 ball in May (22 games). After starting the season 6-9 (.400 WP), they are 18-12 (.600 WP) in their last 30 games. For two-thirds of the season so far, they have played like the team they're supposed to be. They have played through adversity and injuries already. Despite what fans and some in the media think, the Sox are not done. These next three games are big. But they're not "make or break" games. I expect Boston to be in it all year. Things always seem to turn around for a team when CHB declares them dead. This should be fun.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The finale reminded me of a classic Monty Python quote:
"Everyone gets killed and lives happily ever after."
I never watched the show, but I always enjoyed looking at this YouTube clip:
Garbage time pitcher Ramon Ramirez (and he should stay there) allowed three in the ninth, but the Red Sox won easily, 8-3.
Kevin Youkilis had a triple, a home run and scored three runs, as the Sox whacked Roy Halladay, who allowed six earned runs.
The Red Sox took 2 of 3 in Philadelphia, allowed one of the best offenses in MLB just 5 runs by the starting pitchers. And now head to Tampa for three with the Rays. They trail Tampa Bay by 8 1/2, but now only trail New York by 2 1/2 games for second place.
And Mike Cameron figures to be back for the Rays series, as he hit a game-winning home run for Portland on Sunday. He went 3-for-5 and hit .333 in eight games on his rehab assignment.
And according to Pete Abraham of the Globe, a fan related this story about Mike Cameron this past weekend:
He was not scheduled to play in either game of the doubleheader, but Mike Cameron was in Portland on Saturday. An hour before most games, the Sea Dogs make a player available for autographs. On Saturday, the player was Mike Cameron. He was so kind, taking time to talk to each person, pose for photographs, and sign whatever. What a class act.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
But I look at the bigger picture. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against one of the best offenses, not only in the NL but in all of baseball. He gave the Sox a huge boost tonight, especially giving the pen a virtual night off. It was also in a bandbox of a ballyard.
The Sox shut out the Phillies, 5-0. Big win, as New York lost and Tampa Bay won.
Would a shortstop with a bit better range have caught Juan Castro's bloop to left? Maybe. But I don't blame Marco Scutaro.
The Red Sox needed a "W" on this night, and they got it. Everything else is gravy.
And of course, we in New York didn't see this game because Fox hijacked it for their regional coverage. Thank you so much.
They STILL ruin baseball.
Fox hijacked the game for their regional coverage, and for whatever reason, they are showing games tonight, beginning at 7. They also stole the Mets-Yankees game, so that is what will be seen in the New York area.
Fox Ruins Baseball, and the number of times they have done so now is just too high to keep track of.
The Red Sox ran into Cole Hamels in Philly last night, and he allowed Victor Martinez a first inning homer, and that was about it. He pitched seven solid innings, allowed just three hits, and the Phillies cruised to a 5-1 win. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth both went deep off John Lackey, who turned in yet another subpar performance.
Tampa Bay lost in Houston, so the Sox lost no ground in the AL East last night.
To those who still think interleague play is such a wonderful thing, guess which AL team has the toughest interleague schedule? Yes, your Boston Red Sox. Check out this thread from Sons of Sam Horn. (TB and NYY have the 10th and 11th most difficult schedules this year. Terrific.) For the life of me, why are Tampa Bay and New York playing Houston this year, as they aren't in the NL West, who the AL East is playing this year? And why doesn't New York play the Phillies in Philadelphia after hosting them in the Bronx last year? Don't ask me, as I haven't got a clue.
Listen, I'm not suggesting there are any kind of "conspiracies" going on here. I just have no idea of the way this interleague schedule is done. And it just makes the overall schedule a complete and utter mess.
Interleague is a damned joke. (With thanks to The Joy of Sox for the link to SoSH.)
And welcome back, Jacoby Ellsbury.
Friday, May 21, 2010
That is, the best winning percentage for a starting pitcher who has pitched in at least 100 games.
From Gordon Edes:
"In his 100th career start, Lester pushed his winning percentage to .719 (46-18). Since 2006, that has been bettered only by San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (45-17). And Lester now holds the distinction of having the best winning percentage — in history — among pitchers with at least 100 starts."
And now, I thank God even more the Slappy trade was never consummated in late 2003. You may remember that not only was Manny Ramirez going to Texas, but as a literal throw-in, Jon Lester was also heading to Texas for Alex Rodriguez.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones that never happen.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Here's more from Chad Finn of the Boston Globe.
Kevin has been playing with the independent St. Paul Saints, and his contract allows him to work with NESN and MLB Network, where he has also been doing some studio work.
And I also understand that Mr. Millar has checked out this site recently, too. I really appreciate that, Kevin.
And welcome back to the Sox, too. It's good to have you back.
The Red Sox played their final regular season game against the Minnesota Twins tonight. They played them only five times in 2010. That is exactly one game LESS than they played the Twins in Spring Training this year.
And the Red Sox will play six games against the National League Philadelphia Phillies this season (beginning tomorrow). One more than a team they could be battling for a possible wild card berth with.
And don't get me started on the inequities of the schedule that interleague causes. Those were 18 games taken away from teams in their own league in order to satisfy a handful of teams (Mets, White Sox for example) who will draw full houses for their crosstown rival. In other words, the Red Sox would have played those 18 against teams from the AL Central and West (many of whom they could be battling for a postseason berth with), but instead will play the Philles (six times, I guess they are their NL "rivals") and all teams from the NL West but the Padres. (And why NOT the Padres? Don't ask me to figure it out.) It has created havoc and it should be junked. And I don't care about the all-New York and all-Chicago series. They aren't special any more, as they play six times a year.
Just get rid it. I won't miss it.
Lester was never really in trouble all night. He allowed just a run in the eighth on a double, a ground out and a sacrifice fly. The Twins also scored a run in the ninth, which was aided by a Dustin Pedroia error. Lester threw 102 pitches, and was consistently throwing first-pitch strikes all night.
It was his fourth straight win.
Kevin Youkilis blasted a three run homer and had four RBI, Adrian Beltre also homered (both were off Francisco Liriano, who had not allowed a home run all year), and Victor Martinez rapped out three doubles.
Good news after the game, as Terry Francona announced that Jacoby Ellsbury will be activated for Saturday's game in Philadelphia. He had two hits today in his rehab appearance in Portland for the Sea Dogs.
The Red Sox also gained another game on New York, as they were swept by Tampa Bay at home. The Sox have now gained three games on them since Monday's heartbreaker, and trail them now by 3 1/2 games for second behind the Rays.
It was the second straight fine outing for Clay, as he allowed just the two runs. Daniel Bard looked a bit shaky in the ninth, as Terry Francona gave Jonathan Papelbon the night off, but he got the save, as he allowed an inherited run to score.
David Ortiz continued his hot hitting, belting his 8th homer in the fourth, on another night that did not look like it was fit for man nor beast, as it rained throughout the entire evening. The umps had to video-review it, and it was confirmed it did clear the wall in left center.
The win pushed the Red Sox again above .500, at 21-20. They trail the Rays by 8 1/2, who won at New York last night.
The Red Sox brought up shortstop Angel Sanchez from Pawtucket after the game, as Marco Scutaro will sit for a couple of games with what has been termed "tennis elbow" in the left elbow. He had a cortisone shot for it on Tuesday. And also, the Scott Schoeneweis Era has come to a merciful end, as he was designated for assignment after last night's game. Sanchez figures to be up just for a few days, and Scott Atchison figures to return from Pawtucket when Scutaro is ready to go.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will both be playing for the Portland Sea Dogs of AA today.
The scores on "TV Characters Trivia" was a bit lower than I expected, but I guess I threw a few tough ones in there. The night was close throughout, but the team of Save 'Em Up wound up leading the entire night and wound up taking first place by three points. It was their first win on Trivia Night and my congratulations to them.
Once again, we return to our regular Trivia Night and time next week. It will be Tuesday night, May 25th at 9 PM. If there's a Game 5 in the Celtics series, it will be next Wednesday night, so we are safe.
1. Ryan Murphy, the creator of the TV show "Glee," has called for a boycott of this magazine after it printed a controversial article about the show recently.
2. This boy's name was the most popular baby name for the 11th consecutive year in the US for 2009.
3. An Afriqiyah Airways flight crashed in this northern Africa country, killing all but one person on board last week.
4. 24 people were killed and nearly 200 others were injured when government forces of this Asian country clashed with protesters known as "red shirts."
5. Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old girl from Australia, became the youngest person in the world to accomplish this feat when she completed it last Saturday.
6. Ronnie James Dio, who became the lead singer of this iconic heavy metal band in 1980, died of stomach cancer last Sunday at the age of 67.
7. Rima Fakih, representing this state, won the 2010 Miss USA pageant on Sunday, despite some racy pictures of her that popped up of her pole-dancing shortly before the pageant.
Answers: 1. Newsweek; 2. Jacob; 3. Libya; 4. Thailand; 5. Sail solo around the world; 6. Black Sabbath; 7. Michigan.
TV Characters Trivia
1. Frank Furillo
2. Samantha Jones
3. Denny Crane
4. Jack Shephard
5. Bull Shannon
6. Patty Hewes
7. Jack Donaghy
Answers: 1. Hill Street Blues (Daniel J. Travanti); 2. Sex and the City (Kim Cattrall); 3. Boston Legal (William Shatner); 4. Lost (Matthew Fox); 5. Night Court (Richard Moll); 6. Damages (Glenn Close); 7. 30 Rock (Alec Baldwin).
True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. About half the world's population has seen at least one James Bond film.
2. The prefix "giga" means a million.
3. The first set of Crayola crayons had just eight colors.
4. Independence, Missouri was the start of the Oregon Trail during America's westward expansion.
5. Olives are a vegetable.
6. French fries are the most ordered item in American restaurants.
7. Rabbits and horses cannot vomit.
8. Benjamin Franklin once gave guitar lessons.
9. Identical twins have the same fingerprints.
10. The actor who portrayed "The Marlboro Man" in ads died of lung cancer.
Answers: 1. true; 2. false, a billion; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, a fruit; 6. true; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false; 10. true.
1. Leavenworth, established in 1895, is a federal type of what? ( 1 pt)
2. What actor was the voice of Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story?" ( 1 pt)
3. What book by Laura Ingalls Wilder was once banned in the US? ( 1 pt)
4. What is the central bank of the United States called? ( 2 pt)
5. What country borders France between Germany and Belgium? ( 2 pt)
6. What Beatles album cover shows the band engaging in a semaphore message? ( 2 pt)
7. Who is the only actor to twice get four Oscar nominations for one film: producing, acting, writing and producing? ( 3 pt)
Answers: 1. prison; 2. Tim Allen; 3. "Little House On The Prairie;" 4. Federal Reserve; 5. Luxembourg; 6. Help!; 7. Warren Beatty (1978 and 1981).
1. What actress was nominated every year for a Best Actress Emmy from 1985-1996 but never won the award? ( 4 points)
2. What US state has as one of its nicknames, "The Peace Garden State?" ( 5 points)
3. In 1955, James Blake called the police and had what now-famous person arrested? ( 4 points)
4. The remains of Christopher Columbus is said to be buried in the capital of what Caribbean country? ( 3 points)
5. What 19th century gambling term meaning "a desirable prize" is today better known as a major American city's famous nickname? ( 4 points)
Answers: 1. Angela Lansbury; 2. North Dakota; 3. Rosa Parks; 4. Dominican Republic; 5. The Big Apple.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Boy did they ever.
It was 5-0 New York after five, and it looked the Red Sox were going off into that good night without a whimper. But the bats came alive, starting with Kevin Youkilis' home run in the sixth. But then one of MLB's most overrated players, Joba Chamberlain, got his butt lit up by the Sox, as they tagged him for four runs and a tie game in the 8th. It brings me no end of joy watching that schmuck get whacked all over his own home park by the Red Sox.
And in the ninth, Monday's hero became Tuesday's goat as Marcus Thames dropped a pop fly that led to Jeremy Hermida's heroics, as he hit a fly to left that sailed over Randy Winn's head for a two-run double, and a 7-5 Red Sox lead against losing pitcher Mariano Rivera. (Why exactly was he playing so shallow?) I'm just guessing, but I bet Thames didn't get a faceful of shaving cream after the game on Tuesday.
But there was still more drama to come with Jonathan Papelbon, as Marco Scutaro botched Slappy's grounder, and Robinson Cano doubled him in. He moved to third on a sac bunt. After a walk, Pap made a fabulous play on Juan Miranda's shot back to the mound, holding the runner at third. And then Randy Winn struck out swinging to end a fabulous comeback once again by the Red Sox. Papelbon bent last night, but he didn't break.
And he's taking about five years off my life with games like this.
BTW, did anyone else notice that New York's 8th and 9th inning relief pitchers have gotten lit up their last two times out, blowing multi-run leads? They sure haven't looked invulnerable lately.
The Red Sox offense has really showed me something in this two-game series. They have wiped out five run New York leads on back-to-back nights in the enemy building. They are showing me they don't quit, and have a lot of heart and pride. They made me proud last night.
Now if the pitching staff can just get on the same page...
Josh Beckett was once again subpar, allowing five runs in 4+ innings. He left with a tight back, and J.D. Drew also left after the 8th inning rally with an undisclosed ailment. (Uh-oh.)
This was without a doubt the biggest win of the year for the Red Sox. They had lost 8 straight at Yankee Stadium, and now head home to face two games with Minnesota.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I did five trivia questions about the Red Sox, and that went really well. It's always fun doing that and giving away prizes. We were joined by the great jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli, Ed Randall of WFAN, Budd Mishkin of New York 1, and some other special guests.
From the Red Sox, Darnell McDonald made an appearance with Dave O'Brien, the Red Sox and ESPN announcer. Both very personable guys. I enjoyed meeting them both.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Gary Titus, a DJ and fellow Trivia Maven from Massachusetts. He and his friend Kurt Carberry came down to NY to talk about Sherm Feller, who Gary knew and was the longtime PA of Fenway Park. It has been Gary's mission to get Sherm into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. It's been tough going, but Gary is really determined to see it happen for his friend. He has a web site you might like to check out: www.shermfeller.com.
Gary showed a really cool video presentation of the following clip as a tribute to the late, great Sherm. It's worth checking out:
It was another great day hanging with the BLOHARDS, doing some Yankee bashing and renewing friendships. I'm looking forward to doing more trivia on September 24th, the second and final meeting of the year of the group. And hopefully we'll have something positive to talk about.
I begin it on this disgraceful stat:
The Boston Red Sox have allowed the most total runs in the American League this year.
Let me repeat that: The Red Sox have allowed the most runs of any team in the AL in 2010. (An average of 5.43 per game.) More than Baltimore, Chicago or Kansas City.
Totally and completely unacceptable.
The pitching in a word, blows. Sorry to put it in such graphic terms, but it fits. This was supposed to be the strength of this club, but it is currently strangling them right now. There seems to be no one right now Terry Francona can completely count on. Even Jon Lester, who looked like he was kicking it into another gear after struggling out of the gate, was partially responsible for the flame out in Detroit last Saturday. This was supposed to be the one area the Sox could count on this year.
And count me in the group that hopes Daisuke Matsuzaka is on another team next year. Hang last night on him, putting his club in a 5-0 hole before the first inning ended. He got torched in the opening frame, in an important game against your main division rival. He tantalized us with that game against Toronto last week, thinking the "real" Dice-K was back. I'm through counting on this guy.
And Papelbon? Flat fastballs to guys like Slappy and even to Marcus Thames ain't getting the job done. I know it was just his first blown save since last July. But when the offense picks the pitching staff up after falling into such a hole, YOU HAVE TO SLAM THE DOOR AND PUT THE GAME INTO THE "W" COLUMN. End of story.
Two truly backbreaking losses in three days. The mettle of the Nation is really being tested now.
And where is John Farrell in this whole thing? Listen, I am not calling him to be fired or anything. I've always liked him as the pitching coach, and I certainly can't come up with a better alternative to him right now. But this struggling pitching staff is on his watch, and with so much expected of it, eyes will now be turned toward him for answers.
The offensive numbers continue to be impressive. The Red Sox are second in the AL in runs (behind New York), second in RBI, first in hits, third in doubles, fourth in OBP, second in SLG, and second in total bases. They've really picked it up, and those people who bother to pay attention know that another bat is not what the Red Sox need right now.
And now some truly gruesome pitching numbers:
The Sox are last in the AL in ERA, earned runs allowed, and total runs allowed; 10th in walks allowed and 11th in quality starts.
Again, totally and completely unacceptable.
BTW, is it any coincidence that both Tampa Bay and New York are at the top of the division and are 1-2 in the AL in ERA, and most other pitching stats?
We've reached the quarter pole of the season and the hole is getting deeper again. The Sox trail Tampa Bay by 8 1/2 games. You can hang it on the pitching, which has been the albatross of this team. It has to get turned around and now. No more excuses. No more "it's just May and only 39 games have been played."
It's beginning to get late awfully early in Boston right now.
And why is a possible rainout tonight not the most unwelcome news for the Red Sox right now?
And that's all I'll say about Monday night's game. For now.
So, I thank all of you again who stayed with me during last Tuesday's Trivia Night. It was a trial to say the least. This week's Trivia Night is on Wednesday, due to the Red Sox playing that Team I Will Not Name. I appreciate all of you who will adjust your schedules this week for it. Next week we will go back to Tuesday night, May 25th at the regular time of 9 PM.
But for this week, the Special Category is "TV Characters Trivia." I will give you a famous character from TV (only going back as far as the 1980s for this one), and you will give me both the TV show he/she was on, and the name of the actor/actress who played said character. So each character will be worth two points each.
The Q Train lightning round this week will be the category we had to skip last week because of the length of the playoff game, "True or False Trivia."
The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
Leavenworth, established in 1895, is a federal type of what?
We will get going at 9 PM on Wednesday night, so I hope to see many of you in for our special night of Trivia.
Monday, May 17, 2010
John Lackey got hit hard for the second straight start on Sunday, but this time had no support from the Red Sox, who were sitting down Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez.
Armando Galarraga was just brought up from AAA and the Red Sox got just one run off him. Lackey allowed all five runs in seven innings, striking out three and walking four.
Well, so much for bringing some momentum to the Bronx for the two-game series. I wouldn't have minded Sunday's defeat that much if they could have held on on Saturday night. They wound up dropping two instead of winning two in Detroit.
The Yankees coughed one up in the Bronx today, as their bullpen imploded in the 8th against the Twins, as Joba Chamberlain loaded the bases with two outs, and Mariano Rivera walked in a run, and then gave up a grand slam to Jason Kubel.
But the Red Sox fall back to .500, at 19-19. Daisuke Matsuzaka will go against Phil Hughes on Monday night, and Josh Beckett will try to do better against New York against C.C. Sabathia.
On Monday afternoon, I will be at the Yale Club in Manhattan at the BLOHARDS meeting, as they always have their first of the year on the Sox' visit to New York. I will be doing Red Sox trivia and handing out prizes. It's always a fun time and I'm looking forward to it.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
And yesterday it was on hand for all to see as my Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th anniversary among my family and friends in Brooklyn.
My sisters and I put together a party at Buckley's in Brooklyn that included a really nice video tribute to them, which included all kinds of photos of all of us from through the years. It was really well done and everyone really enjoyed it.
I had the job of doing the toast to them and I made it really short and sweet.
We had a DJ who did a terrific job with the video and music. Everyone seemed to have a great time, as the food was great and it was really nice seeing many folks I hadn't seen in many years.
It was a day my parents really deserved, and I'm so fortunate to have had such caring people who have been there for me at every twist and turn in my life.
I love them both very much.
And the day was capped off later in the night when I met some friends at the Bleecker Street Bar in Greenwich Village who I worked with many years ago at Tower Records. We've gotten together before over the last couple of years. The turnout wasn't very large, but it was nice to see those folks who did come out.
Tower was always a very special time of my life, and as the years have gone on (and the fact that Tower is now no more), it has meant even that much more to me.
Yes, Saturday really was a special day of memories.
He did yet another bangup job on Saturday night, giving up a single to a lefty he was supposed to get out, and it led to Ramon Ramirez' failure to throw a strike across the plate to Ramon Santiago with the bases loaded, as the Tigers were given a nice birthday present, a gift-wrapped 7-6 win in 12 innings.
There's nothing that irks me more than giving games away. The Red Sox blew a 6-1 lead, allowing Detroit to score three runs in the sixth, and then Hideki Okajima completely melted down in the 8th, as Detroit tied it at 6.
The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in both the 10th and the 11th, but wasted both opportunities.
Kevin Youkilis drew five walks, David Ortiz had three hits, and Jon Lester was good until the 6th. He wound up striking out 10, gave up four hits. It wasn't good enough, as the bullpen frittered away another win.
Best news of the night was that Jacoby Ellsbury will begin his rehab Monday at Pawtucket. No word on how long it will go. And Mike Cameron's rehab stint is coming to a close, and it appears he will be reactivated on Monday in New York.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Tigers had just taken three of four against New York this week, and the Sox came in to Comerica Park and got down to business right away. Marco Scutaro singled, and then Dustin Pedroia belted a two-run shot in the first, and David Ortiz blasted a mammoth 450-foot shot into right center field with two on to make it 5-0 against Max Scherzer.
Clay Buchholz looked shaky in the first inning, as Detroit got a run back to make it 5-1. But he settled in, and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and one run, but walking five. He is now 4-3 on the year.
Papi blasted another homer in the fourth for his sixth home run of 2010. It was the 34th time in his great career he's gone deep twice in one game. Bill Hall hit a pinch hit home run in the ninth to complete the scoring, 7-2.
The Rays lost but New York won, so the Red Sox are now 5 1/2 back in the AL East. Jon Lester takes the mound tomorrow night.
The Philadelphia Flyers became the fourth team in sports history to erase an 0-3 deficit in a seven game series and come back and win it all. The game was a microcosm of the series: the Bruins jumped out 3-0 in the first period, but Philly came back and scored four straight unanswered goals to win it, 4-3.
They join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders (boy, do I remember that team), and your 2004 Boston Red Sox (boy, do I REALLY remember that team!) as the only teams to turn the trick.
Like that baseball team, this goes on the Bruins' permanent record, and even if they win the Stanley Cup next year, this will be on their resume and will be remembered. Forever.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Islanders owner Charles Wang (a fellow Brooklyn Tech grad by the way) has talked to the Mets owners about moving to an arena to be built next to the Mets' home park, and Jeff Wilpon has also talked to him about buying the Islanders outright.
I'd love to see the Islanders in Queens, as it would sure beat seeing them move to Kansas City, which has long been a rumor if the Islanders don't get a new arena, the Lighthouse Project, built in Nassau County.
But being purchased by the Wilpons? I don't know about that, to be honest. They're not exactly doing a bangup job with the Mets right now. But a move to Queens would certainly raise the Islanders profile considerably.
And I thought last night that if an arena at Citi Field doesn't work out, what about a move to the new arena the Nets are building in Brooklyn? That would certainly add more juice to their rivalry with the Rangers (and according to the article, the Islanders can legally move to Brooklyn). It would also reunite the Islanders and Nets in the same building, as they shared the Nassau Coliseum until the Nets left for New Jersey in 1977.
They do some great work and it's my pleasure to spread the word and help them out. If you would be interested, please click this link, and it includes everything you need to know about it and an inspiring video called "Two Weeks."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tim Wakefield was very good today, allowing just three runs in seven innings. He couldn't get Travis Snider of the Jays out, as he doubled in a run in the fifth and hit a two-run homer in the seventh (on a low knuckler) to account for Toronto's three runs. Manny Delcarmen was once again sharp, allowing just one hit in 1 2/3 innings following Wake.
Tim also got his career 2,000th strikeout to end the fourth when he fanned Vernon Wells.
The Sox got two in the ninth as they attempted a late comeback against Kevin Gregg. It fell just short as the Jays held on, 3-2. Shawn Marcum was terrific, pitching seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits in getting the win.
The bad news. Inept home plate umpiring may have been the difference in a Sox getting a win today.
Dale Scott was simply appalling behind the plate, calling pitches more than six inches outside on both sides of home strikes (and for both teams as well). This game was simply Exhibit A on what I have been saying for many years. That the state of home plate umpiring in MLB can be summed up in two simple sentence:
It sucks. Big time.
David Ortiz was called out in the ninth on one of those pitches, and Terry Francona was tossed out shortly afterwards, after Scott called an Adrian Beltre check swing a strike (he clearly didn't go around). Tito had every right to go ballistic.
I hate these shitty umps who feel that become a member of their profession should be like becoming pope, a lifetime position. MLB has a real problem with their umps, especially with the state of home plate umpiring today.
Scott's awful game reminded me so much of Eric Gregg's egregious performance in the 1997 NLCS Game 5, when he called Livan Hernandez' last pitch, which was at least a foot outside, a strike to end the game (pictured). Say his name and that's what most fans remember about him.
The loss should not overshadow the terrific homestand the Sox just had. They went 7-3, as I had hoped. Now, the road gets tougher. As they will face Detroit for three, New York for two, return to face Minnesota for two, and then head for Philadelphia and Tampa Bay for three each.
We'll see where they stand after that is complete. It will tell us a lot about this 2010 Red Sox club.
The Sox have won 14 of their last 21 (including the MFY series and the sweep in Baltimore). They have been carried by their offense because the starters continue to be spotty. Right now, the Sox are 3rd in the AL in runs per game, 2nd in HR, and second in team OPS.
Tampa's offense by AVG/OBP/SLG is around league average. Yet they're second in the AL in runs per game right now. In my opinion, the Rays' offense is over-performing. If they continue to hit like they have, they should score fewer runs the rest of the way.
Here's a comparison of the Sox offense the past three seasons:
2010 - 5.24 R/G .273 AVG/.353 OBP/.456 SLG (.809 OPS)
Even with the slow start, the Sox are on pace to score 849 runs. Remember that the Sox have played 34 games, and Jacoby Ellsbury has only played 6 games and Mike Cameron has only played 11 games so far this year.
Let's look at Tampa. Right now, they're on pace to score 909 runs. I don't think they'll get close to that number. Here's a three-year comparison of the Rays' offense:
2010 - 5.61 R/G .254 AVG/.334 OBP/.407 SLG (.741 OPS)
Tampa's 5.61 R/G seems like a fluke. Based on their performance, they should be scoring many fewer runs than they have. Assuming they continue to hit like they have, it's safe to assume that they'll score fewer runs. Aside from Longoria and Crawford, the Rays line-up is pretty weak. The Rays are only averaging 4.1 R/G through 10 games this month. So maybe they're already coming back down to Earth. Their pitching has been great (2.80 team ERA). How long can that continue?
The problem for Boston so far this year has been run-prevention: pitching and defense. That should improve. Boston's pitchers are too good to be awful over 162 games. And the return of Ellsbury and Cameron should improve the OF defense. Even VMart's throwing has improved. His CS% is up to 18%. I think it's way too early to bury the Sox.
He went seven innings, allowing just a run on three hits, while striking out nine. And he walked no one. He attacked the hitters (of course not literally, but didn't nibble around as he always seems to do, to drive everyone to distraction) and was never in any trouble. He even called it the best start of his Red Sox career.
The Sox got him some runs early, getting two in the first and another in the second on Jason Varitek's blast across Lansdowne Street.
His first two starts were worrisome to say the least. He seemed to have that one bad inning in both, but last night was a completely different story. He showed the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting in 2007. Now if that guy could show up just a little more often...
If the weather holds today, Tim Wakefield gets the ball for a spot start today in the finale of the homestand against the Blue Jays. And BTW, the Red Sox have now fulfilled what they had to do on this homestand, go at least 7-3. They have also won 7 of 9 since the disaster in Baltimore.
I guess the ledge isn't so crowded any more.
15 teams took part, and we got the first two categories in during halftime of the basketball game. We got it in just as the half ended, and the crowd was loud and vocal about it all night. I graded the paers at once for the first two categories, and announced the results during breaks in the game. The game ended at about 10:50 PM, and we were finally able to do the last two categories.
We managed to finish by 11:30 PM, and I was pleased to see that the majority teams did stay until the end. The winners were The Razor Ramones, who had a great IQ Trivia round, as they were the only team to get 4 of the 5 questions correct. It was their first ever win, and I congratulate them on it.
I want to thank all of you who endured a strange night of Trivia on Tuesday, with all the breaks for the game we had to take. You are all the best, and I really appreciate it.
A reminder that next week's Trivia Night will be on Wednesday night, May 19th at 9 PM, due to the Red Sox-Yankees game next Tuesday. Hopefully if the Celtics make it to the next round, there won't be a game on Wednesday night. (Fingers are crossed!)
1. A British man was convicted yesterday and fined $1500 for sending a bomb threat to a UK airport by this unusual way last December.
2. Goodluck Jonathan, who was acting president of this African country, became the full time leader as the country's president died last week.
3. This athlete recently told Barbara Walters that she "shanghaied" him in an interview they did 22 years ago, and claims he was in his "junkie" stage at the time.
4. A mine explosion in this country on Sunday killed at least 12 people and injured more than two dozen others.
5. The culture minister of this European country is boycotting the Cannes Film Festival over a film that criticized the country's prime minister over his handling of a deadly earthquake there in 2009.
6. Bob Bennett, a Republican senator from this western state, was ousted from his party's primary ballot at the state's convention and won't have a chance for a fourth term.
7. Dallas Braden, a lefty pitcher for this AL team, pitched the 19th perfect game in MLB history last Sunday, a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Answers: 1. Via Twitter; 2. Nigeria; 3. Mike Tyson; 4. Russia; 5. Italy; 6. Utah; 7. Oakland A's.
Q Tip Trivia
1. Which of these films starred Sandra Bullock? a. Crash; b. Two Weeks Notice; c. Vanity Fair; d. Election.
2. Which of these teams did hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver play for? a. New York Mets; b. Chicago White Sox; c. Cincinnati Reds; d. Boston Red Sox.
3. Which of these rock stars were born in the UK? a. Freddie Mercury; b. Elvis Costello; c. Kurt Cobain; d. Joe Strummer.
4. Which of these sports franchises has never won a league/world championship? a. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; b. Houston Rockets; c. Colorado Avalanche; d. Arizona Diamondbacks.
5. Which of the following are countries located in Africa? a. Bahrain; b. Botswana; c. The Maldives; d. Mali.
6. Which of the following famous people were born in the 19th century? a. Babe Ruth; b. Dwight D. Eisenhower; c. John Wayne; d. Irving Berlin.
7. Which of the following states were not in the Confederacy? a. Kentucky; b. Arkansas; c. Texas; d. Tennessee.
Answers: 1. a, b; 2. all; 3. b; 4. none; 5. b, d; 6. a, b, d; 7. a.
1. In the 1982 film "Reservoir Dogs," the main characters have code names that are all what? ( 1 pt)
2. What is a Geiger counter used to detect? ( 1 pt)
3. In 1773, residents of what city dumped tea into the harbor to protest taxes on them? ( 1 pt)
4. From what city did the Titanic begin its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912? ( 2 pt)
5. The United States invaded what Caribbean island on July 25, 1898? ( 2 pt)
6. What British general surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown in 1781? ( 2 pt)
7. Which of the Queen of England's residences suffered a serious fire in 1992? ( 3 pt)
Answers: 1. colors; 2. radiation; 3. Boston; 4. Southampton; 5. Puerto Rico; 6. Lord Cornwallis; 7. Windsor Castle.
1. Philematology is the science of what? ( 5 points)
2. In 1917, "The Miracle of the Sun" was witnessed by thousands in fields near what Portuguese town? ( 4 points)
3. What famous novel opens "in London in the year of our Ford 632?" ( 4 points)
4. What 17th century painter's notable works include "Night Watch" and "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp?" ( 3 points)
5. The first paper money introduced in Europe was in 1661 in what country? ( 4 points)
Answers: 1. kissing; 2. Fatima; 3. "Brave New World;" 4. Rembrandt; 5. Sweden.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
But he was fortunate that Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays was leading his own personal walk parade, and totally lost it in the bottom of the second. He walked five batters in the inning, including one with the bases loaded, and was gone, losing 6-4. The Sox only had one hit in the inning in getting the lead back, but that's all that was needed. Faulty Toronto defense certainly helped matters, as Aaron Hill threw away a perfect DP that would have ended the inning with Toronto still up, 4-3.
The Red Sox added another run in the third, and that was all Lackey needed. He went six innings, and gave up a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the fifth. The bullpen took over from there, as Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon were flawless in getting the 7-6 Red Sox win.
Good news on the injury front, as Mike Cameron began his rehab assignment at Pawtucket, going 1-for-3 as a DH. He may be back in the lineup for the Detroit series over the weekend.
Josh Beckett's next start has been pushed back two days, so Tim Wakefield will get the start Wednesday afternoon against the Blue Jays. Beckett will now open the series in Detroit on Friday night. But it was later reported that Beckett slightly injured his back in a batting cage on Monday as the pitchers were taking swings with interleague play coming up later this month. Terry Francona said that the decision to move him back two days had nothing to do with this, and Beckett will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
Monday, May 10, 2010
A.J. Burnett was worse than Josh Beckett was on Friday night, allowing nine earned runs over five innings. (Didn't the Yankees sign him to beat the Red Sox? He still hasn't in a New York uniform.) The Red Sox got it going early, as they scored a run in the second on Marcus Thames' butchering of a fly ball to left that scored a run. The Sox scored five runs in the third, all on hits by David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida.
Hermida capped the scoring in the fifth with a two-run blast to right.
The ten-game homestand ends this week with three with Toronto, who have been playing well as of late. Before the homestand began, I figured the Sox needed to go at least 7-3 on it. They are now 5-2 and taking 2 of the 3 from the Jays will accomplish that. John Lackey returns to the mound tonight.
The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."
The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
In 1773, residents of what city dumped tea into their harbor to protest taxes on them?
The Celtics have a playoff game on Tuesday night, and the NBA, in its infinite wisdom, has scheduled it for 8 PM start. We will probably get going with Trivia Night at halftime, which should be around 9:15-9:30 PM. Sorry for the delay, but there will probably be some fans on hand for it.
And please keep in mind that next week, Trivia Night moves to a special night, Wednesday, May 19th at 9 PM, as the Red Sox play the Yankees the previous night, and it is impossible to have a night of trivia at Thom's while those two play.
See you on Tuesday night.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Dallas Braden is somebody now, as he pitched the 19th perfect game in baseball history on Sunday afternoon as the Oakland A's beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0. It was the second time in two years that the Rays have had a perfect game thrown at them, as the last was last July in Chicago by Mark Buehrle.
I was fortunate to join the game on the MLB package in the 4th inning and stayed with it.
Gabe Kapler grounded out to Cliff Pennington to wrap up the masterpiece. He struck out six, and became the sixth pitcher in Oakland A's history to pitch a no-hitter, and the second to hurl a perfect game, joining Catfish Hunter, who turned the trick in 1968.
After the game, Braden had an emotional reunion with his grandmother on the field. And she met the press afterwards, and said to them, "Stick it, A-Rod." Good for you, Grandma!
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Since 1997 to be exact.
I use the word "inconsequential" to describe a season where the Red Sox were no factor at all in a pennant race. You may remember many years like that in the 1980s and 1990s.
Doing a little research today, back in 1997, the Red Sox were never in first place after Opening Day, and by May 1st they began their serious fall. (You may remember that their ace starting pitcher that year was Aaron Sele. Or maybe you don't.) By May 13th they were in double digits behind the division leader, and wound up 20 games out on the final day of the season. A thoroughly rotten year.
It was a lost year, they finished 78-84, and the last year they played before trading for Pedro Martinez. It was also the last year the Red Sox have ever had a losing record.
The Sox won the Wild Card the next two years, and in 2000, they were in first place as late as June 22nd. On September 13th they were 9 games back, the furthest they were behind all season, and actually began cutting into New York's lead, as they were faltering down the stretch (remember they had lost 16 of 19 to end the season?), but the Sox ran out of games and finished second, 2 1/2 games back. (New York still ended up winning the Series, with the second worst record ever at the time for a World Series winner.)
2001 may have been an infamous season, but the Sox actually spent 62 days in first that year, and as late as July 21. But Dan Duquette made the move of getting rid of Jimy Williams for Joe Kerrigan in mid-August, and the Sox went right into the tank and wound up 13 games out.
2002 was the first year of new ownership group of John Henry and company, and by coincidence, they spent the same number of days in first as 2001: 62. They built a lead of 5 games by May 8th, but they spent their last day in first on June 26th. They were three games under .500 for August and that basically sealed their fate for 2002.
The Red Sox made the playoffs the next three seasons, and in 2006, they spent the first four months in first place, but a knee injury to Jason Varitek on August 1st began an absolute rash of injuries that sent the Sox hurdling out of first on August 3rd. They went an absymal 9-21 in August and finished 11 games out.
Of course the Red Sox have been in the postseason the last three years. There has been an incredible run of success for the Red Sox in recent years. Every year since '97 there has been some pennant race the team has been involved in at some point in the year.
I sincerely hope that this is not the first "thoroughly rotten" year in Boston in a long, long time.