MLB Season Ends

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Very Happy 2014 To You All


This is my 288th and final post on The Mighty Quinn Media Machine for 2013. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

It was a year for the ages to be a Red Sox fan, as our team came from last place in 2012 to shock the world and win their third World Series championship in ten years. It buried the failures of 2011 and 2012. It was simply magical, and it was the most emotional of three wins for me (yes, even more than 2004).

The team came off the rails in 2011, and it was successfully put back on by Ben Cherington, John Farrell and the entire 2013 club. Thank you Red Sox for an extraordinary year.

It was a miserable year to be a Minnesota Vikings fan, as the team regressed badly, especially at the QB position and on defense. The Vikings still have talent, and will have a new coach in 2014. Notre Dame also fell back a bit, to 9-4, but that was expected, as they lost a number of critical players on defense and had a much tougher schedule.

It was a year of transition for my Trivia Empire, as we left one in February, and another in November. As I write this, we have not settled on a new venue in Manhattan yet, but hope to have a new place soon. I thank all of you for supporting me and my Trivia Night, and I hope to see you all again soon in the new place.

It was not a good year overall for my background acting career, as I worked just four times all year. There's a lot of reasons why, and I won't go into it here. Let's just hope for more work in 2014.

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and I hope you all have a successful 2014. I have been writing less here as the years go on, but I still value my writing here and thank all of you who stop by here for whatever reason.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Monday, December 30, 2013

So Long Metrodome...& Leslie Frazier


The Vikings bid farewell to the Metrodome yesterday with a 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions.

The Dome will be taken apart starting next month, and the new stadium will begin construction on the same site. (As much as people would like to have seen it blown up, that won't be happening.)

The Vikings played there from 1982 until yesterday. The Dome had hosted the World Series, Super Bowl, the Final Four, and numerous concerts. The Vikings were there for 32 seasons, and never went to the Super Bowl in the entire time they called the place home. (It has now been 37 seasons since the Vikings appeared in the big game, in January 1977 against Oakland.)

So I guess it is time for them to return to their roots: the outdoors. They will play the next two seasons in the University of Minnesota's home stadium, before their new home opens for the 2016 season.

I was in the Metrodome just twice: both in August 1999, for a Vikings preseason game against the Eagles, and a Twins-Red Sox game the day before. (Vikings won, 17-13, and the Twins won, 5-3.) I actually enjoyed the time I spent in the building, as it was not the dungeon it's been made out to be. It clearly isn't a classic ballpark by any means, but the noise the Vikings fans made during the football game was pretty infectious.

The Vikings conclude their final indoors with a 5-10-1 record, and it officially cost Leslie Frazier his job as head coach. He was let go today, and it comes as no surprise. The Vikings gave up the most points of any NFL team, and have a muddled QB situation. I really thought this would be a promising season, but it wound up being yet another season to forget. The Vikings had a decent second half, going 4-3-1 after the dreadful 1-7 start.

Time to start anew in 2014. A new temporary home with a brand new coach.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Irish Take The Pinstripes In The Bronx


Notre Dame ended the 2012 season with a 26-16 win over Rutgers on Saturday in the Pinstripe Bowl at that den of vipers called Yankee Stadium.

It completed a not bad year for Notre Dame, who went 9-4 on the campaign, after losing three of their biggest defensive players to the NFL and two others on D to injury. (10 of their opponents are playing in bowl games this year, so a return to the BCS title game didn't look very viable.)

Tommy Rees completed his Irish career in style, going 27-for-47 and 319 yards. I'm betting this his last football game, as he doesn't appear to be NFL material. But you never can tell.

Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, with T.J Jones and Tarean Folston scored TDs.

All-time Notre Dame is 17-6-3 in edifices known as Yankee Stadium, and the second win in two tries in the new joint.

Notre Dame plays their next game in just over eight months, as they open the 2014 season at Notre Dame Stadium against Rice on August 30th.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

In The Middle Of All The Celebrating

I saw this video just before Christmas, but I'll share it with you now.

Mike Carp had a GoPro camera attached to his cap during the Red Sox World Series celebrations, beginning with the final out of Game 6, and ending with the duckboat parade.

It's great stuff, and you can get an idea of what it was like from the Red Sox players' perspective The video lasts just over four minutes.

It was a Christmas present in October:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without The Yule Log


I have another tradition I do here at the blog for Christmas every year.

I post "The Yule Log," the burning log that accompanies terrific Christmas music, and it is shown every Christmas morning on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City from 9 AM to 1 PM.

Once again, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Linus Always Tells It Like It Is

Every year on Christmas Eve, I always post this YouTube clip, from my favorite Christmas special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

When good ol' Charlie Brown is frustrated about the meaning of Christmas, Linus takes center stage at the Christmas play and explains to all assembled the true meaning of this special holiday.

I want to wish all of you out there a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy the holiday.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Season's Grievances To You All


It's December 23rd, so you know what that day is: it's Festivus!

It's the "holiday for the rest of us", so I want to wish you all Season's Grievances and a night of great feats of strength.

Here is the godfather of Festivus, Frank Costanza, explaining the holiday, on the famous episode of "Seinfeld" that brought our holiday to the forefront: "The Strike."

Enjoy, everyone:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thud

Before today's Vikings game in Cincinnati against the playoff-bound Bengals, I was thinking about how hard the Vikings were playing over the last six weeks, going a respectable 3-2-1 after starting the season at 1-7.

I thought Matt Cassell might come back as the Vikings' starting QB in 2014, as he has been playing so well, and a good finish might save Leslie Frazier's job as head coach.

Silly me.

Cassell fumbled on the first series of downs, which Cincy recovered and scored a TD a few plays later, and he also fired three interceptions.

Adrian Peterson returned after taking a week off with the ankle injury, running for 45 yards on 11 carries.

The Vikings tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, but the Bengals took charge and it was never a contest anymore, as they coasted to a 42-14 win.

The Vikings also locked up last place, and entered double figures in losses, with 10.

The season mercifully ends next Sunday, as the Vikings will say goodbye to the Metrodome forever with a game with the just eliminated Detroit Lions.

Merry Christmas.

The Irish 12 Days Of Christmas

This is still one of the most popular things I have ever posted on my blog, so I'll post it again.

Here is "The 12 Days of Christmas," as done by Irish actor Frank Kelly, who memorably starred as Father Jack Hackett in the screwball British TV comedy "Father Ted" back in the early 1990s. It is a brilliant parody of the classic Christmas song, and it gets more silly and bizarre as it goes along.

I originally posted this on my blog in 2007, and my traffic numbers here absolutely exploded. That happened almost every Christmas since, although it has calmed down considerably the last few years. (I guess people are finding it off different places on the Internet now.)

So, here it is: "The 12 Days of Christmas", Irish style. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peyton Manning. Really? Explain This To Me.

I need this explained to me.

Sports Illustrated picked Peyton Manning last Sunday as their "Sportsman of the Year" for the year 2013.

Peyton Manning. Really?

So, what did Manning do in this calendar year that makes him worthy of that award? It started out badly for him, as his favored Denver Broncos blew a second round playoff game at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

Yeah, he's having another great year for the Broncos, and is probably on his way to his 5th NFL MVP award, a new record. But the Broncos haven't won a Super Bowl with him at the helm yet.

I thought David Ortiz would be a slam dunk choice. He literally put the Red Sox on his back and led them to a very unlikely World Series title, after a brutal 2012. His grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS literally turned the Red Sox fortunes around, and his speech in the dugout during Game 4 of the World Series again seemed to turn the Red Sox fortunes around, as the won the last three games to secure their 3rd title in 10 years.

His speech on April 20th at Fenway, five days after the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, was inspiring to say the least. "This is our f****n' city" seemed to say it all.

Papi did it with his bat, and his leadership.

And he won more titles in the calendar year of 2013 than Manning did.

I could even see picking Mariano Rivera as the winner as well. He bounced back from a devastating knee injury to finish his Hall of Fame career in style.

Sorry, I just don't see Manning as a better choice than Papi or Rivera.

I won't lose any sleep over this. At least Papi won the hardware that counts for more.

Monday, December 16, 2013

No AP Or Toby? No Problem. Enter Matt Asiata.


When the news broke yesterday morning that both Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart was sitting for Sunday's game against the Eagles at the Metrodome, I thought we might be in for a really ugly afternoon under the white roof.

I couldn't have been more wrong. No AP? No Gerhart? No problem. AP had an ankle injury, and Toby had a hamstring injury from last week's loss in Baltimore, and both were forced to sit it out.

Matt Asiata, a second year player from Utah who has been used basically as a blocking fullback and on special teams (and wears Chuck Foreman's old number: 44), got the starting assignment at running back and made the most of his big chance.

He rushed for 51 yards on 30 carries, but scored three TDs in the Vikings surprising 48-30 upset of the first-place Philadelphia Eagles. Asiata became the first NFL player to score three TDs in his first NFL start since Daunte Culpepper did it for the Vikings in his debut in 2000.

It was a huge day for Matt Cassel, who put up the best numbers of any QB in a game this season. He threw for 382 yards and 2 TDs and ran for another. Cassel isn't the Vikings long term answer, but it is clear they are better off sticking with him, and not Christian Ponder.

The 48 points was the most the Vikings have scored in a game since their record-setting team of 1998 scored 50 late in that year.

I give the Vikings a lot of credit in that they are playing hard for Leslie Frazier and are not mailing in the rest of this season. The defense played well, and shut down LeSean McCoy, the NFL's leading rusher, as he only got 38 yards on the ground.

A lot to like about yesterday, and made me wonder what could have been. Three of those last-minute losses could have been wins, and they would be right in thick of the playoff race. The Vikings are now 4-9-1, and are 3-2-1 since the loss in Dallas on November 3. They play the Bengals in Cincinnati next Sunday, and conclude 2013 with the Metrodome finale against Detroit on December 29.

Friday, December 13, 2013

No Kemp and Drew Is Still Out There

The Red Sox went through the Winter Meetings, and didn't make any significant moves. Not the biggest shock in the world. They did kick the tires on Matt Kemp, but I'm sure the money and years left on his deal (still six more years left), as well as his recent injury history caused the Sox to back off.

I was waiting for some of the usual suspects to give out "grades" on how the teams did at the Winter Meetings, which is my opinion is an act of utter stupidity and a waste of time. Last time I looked they don't hand out a championship trophy to team that wins the winter. (It would have gone to the Toronto Blue Jays last winter and the Red Sox in 2011. Neither team brought home the real hardware the following October.) It reminds me of those "experts" who insist on grading teams the day after the NFL draft, which is even more worthless, judging guys who haven't taken a snap in the league yet.

Stephen Drew has yet to sign with anyone, and the fact that one of his biggest suitors, the Mets, have pulled away from him says to me he may return to the Red Sox, possibly on a two-year deal. It sounds like the market for him isn't very large, and his agent Scott Boras, aka "Dr. Evil," has not identified any other offers on the table for him. Funny he hasn't followed his usual MO, "the mystery team" nonsense to get someone to commit. But he still has time.

Drew's return to Boston makes sense for the Red Sox. His defense was stellar all year, even if he had a tough postseason at the plate. I would guess Xander Bogaerts opens 2014 at third base, and Will Middlebrooks' future becomes a little more cloudy. This is till the biggest question the Red Sox must address before spring training.

I can see them adding another outfielder and a utility infielder before the officially finish their off-season retooling. I'm not surprised they've been relatively quiet.

It's good to be the kings.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Now That Was a Wacky 2:05


They say the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, but yesterday's Vikings-Ravens finish gave it a run for its money.

The Vikings are playing out the 2013 season, and found themselves in Baltimore yesterday playing the Ravens. And as the game began, they found themselves confronting something they haven't worried about in Minnesota for a long time: playing in the snow.

Early on, the story of the game was Adrian Peterson's foot injury in the second quarter, and it knocked him out of the game. No word yet on how long he will be out, as x-rays proved negative and he will have an MRI on his right foot today.

And AP wasn't happy with the fans or officials after the game yesterday, and let the world know it on Twitter.

The Vikings trudged on without AP, and had a 12-7 lead in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens got the ball and scored with just 2:05 left on a Joe Flacco 1-yard TD pass. That made it 15-12 after a two-point conversion. Game over.

Not quite. The Vikings got the ball, and on the second play from scrimmage, Toby Gerhart burst up the middle for a 41-yard TD to make it Vikings 19, Ravens 15. Fourth Vikings win of 2013.

Not yet. Blair Walsh made a terrible mistake on the kickoff, kicking it short and right into the hands of the dangerous Jacoby Jones. He went up the sidelines 77 yards to put Baltimore ahead and another brutal Vikings loss. Ravens 22, Vikings 19.

Hold the phone. 1:16 left and the Vikings got the ball back, and on the third play, Matt Cassel hit Cordarrelle Patterson with a short pass that he broke free on, and it resulted in a 79-yard TD. Vikings 26, Ravens 22. Another glorious Vikings comeback win.

Bloody hell. They left too much time on the clock. Aided by a very questionable pass interference call on Chad Greenway, Flacco hit Marlon Brown at the back of the end zone with four seconds left to end the wackiest final two minutes of football ever, 29-26.

There was six lead changes in the fourth quarter yesterday, the first time in NFL history that has happened. Six TDs in the fourth quarter after just one between the two teams in the first three. Unfortunately, the Vikings were on the wrong end of the last lead change, resulting in their 9th loss of 2013.

It was also the fourth time this season the Vikings lost in the last two minutes of a game. They'd be 7-5-1 and in first place if all four had turned out in the other direction. I give the Vikings credit, that they are playing hard and not tanking the season, especially over the last five weeks, where they are 2-2-1.

It's a year to forget, but at least they are losing in an exciting manner. (OK, I'm doing my best to look on the bright side.)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

OK, I Was Wrong On Cano


It's been one helluva crazy week on the Hot Stove front.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both leave the Red Sox for the greener pastures of New York and Miami respectively (that's a joke, folks). Mike Napoli will be returning to the Sox for two more years at $32 million. (And if you look at the original deal he signed last year for three years that the Red Sox changed to one year, Napoli has actually come out ahead on the deal by about $7 million.) Stephen Drew is still available to anyone, but it looks like he will leave for a multi-year deal elsewhere.

And in the shocker of the week, Robinson Cano bolted the Yankees yesterday for the Seattle Mariners, for a ten-year deal worth $240 million. The Yankees called his bluff, and Cano left. New York answered it back by signing an aging Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal. They are about 9 years too late on Beltran. (After the 2004 season, Beltran practically begged the Yankees for a deal for less money he got with the Mets, and they passed.)

It was further a bad day for the Yankees, as Curtis Granderson left for the Mets, for a four-year deal. Good move by the Mets, as they have to show their fans that they are indeed on the way back.

Plain and simple, the Yankees blew it on Cano. Granted, the Mariners needed to make a big splash and become relevant again, and in the long run the Yankees may have made the right move. But this clearly hurts them in the short run. They replace his bat with Beltran, who will be 37 next season. This team needed to get younger, and move athletic, but they settle for an aging slugger whose best days are behind him and his defense wasn't what it was. They are clearly going in the wrong direction, and now they will have to move Brett Gardner to get some pitching help in a trade.

They are throwing crazy money around now, and it's like putting Band-Aids on a gaping wound. They have gotten far away from the formula that brought them success in the late 1990s. They should have taken a step back and rebuilt their farm system and gotten younger. But it's their money, and they lost bucks by not making the playoffs in 2013.

I have to admit that I am enjoying seeing Yankee fans act like the crazy sterotypical Red Sox fans who lose their minds when a star leaves and goes elsewhere, especially to New York.

I'll leave you with this question to ponder:

Would you rather have Ellsbury go to Seattle and Cano stay in New York, or let it be the way it panned out, with Ellsbury in New York and Cano in Seattle? Granted seeing Ellsbury in pinstripes won't make any Red Sox fan happy, but it just may have worked out for the best. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Well Played, Ben Cherington


Jacoby Ellsbury sold himself to the highest bidder last night.

No big surprise, with him having Dr. Evil, aka Scott Boras, as an agent. My hat's off to Ben Cherington today for allowing another knucklehead to offer an odious contract to a Boras client.

I thought Ellsbury would end up in Seattle or Texas. Nope, it's New York. (Don't you love the fact that the Yankees go after Red Sox players with championship pedigrees?)

So much for the Yankees getting under the $189 million luxury tax for 2014. The contract they offered Ellsbury is for seven years, at $153 million. He would have been crazy to turn down this offer. The Red Sox clearly learned their lesson from the Carl Crawford disaster, and I'm really proud that the Sox brass walked away from Ellsbury, which they were clearly prepared to do.

New York signing Ellsbury means they forfeit either a first or second round pick in 2014, and the Red Sox gain a first rounder (and will gain another when Stephen Drew signs elsewhere). So tell me, which team needed to rebuild their farm system again?

Listen, I won't call Ellsbury a traitor or compare him to Johnny Damon. Ellsbury never said he wouldn't sign with New York (as Damon infamously did in May 2005). MLB players are first and foremost businessmen. It was a business decision. They are taking an enormous risk here, as Ellsbury has missed over 270 games the past four seasons due to various injuries (including 28 in 2013). This will be yet another odious contract the Red Sox wisely decided not to go near.

And for the Yankees, it was another case of having to make a big splash with their fan base. (My friend Lisa Swan, who I have a lot of respect for, is not happy about this. She has a good take on it today over at her site "Subway Squawkers.") They clearly have gotten far away from what made them winners in the late 1990s, and throwing insane money at guys like Ellsbury won't fix that.

This does remind me a bit of when the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez in 2004, and I wrote to my Red Sox fans who were upset about it: "Alex Rodriguez can't pitch."

Jacoby Ellsbury can't pitch either. Even if they resign Robinson Cano (for even more they signed Ellsbury to, yet more insanity), it doesn't address their pitching problems. For the sake of their payroll, they better pray A-Rod sits out all of 2014.

The Red Sox move on. It could be Matt Kemp, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson or Jackie Bradley playing center next year. We'll see where the Sox move on to.

Right now, I can only say thank you to Ellsbury for being a big part of two World Series championship teams. See you at Fenway next April 22.

And thank you to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who officially joined the Miami Marlins on a three-year deal last night. Thanks for being part of a memorable 2013 championship season.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

So Long, Salty

In a surprise move, the Red Sox have come to terms with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year deal.

This means that Jarrod Saltalamacchia will play elsewhere in 2014. The fact he was benched for the final three games of the 2013 World Series certainly didn't help his case. And that he was seeking a three-year deal was something the Red Sox certainly weren't interested in doing.

Pierzynski will be 37 years old this month, and a one-year deal with him clearly makes sense. The deal is for $8.25 million, and he figures to be the bridge to two young catchers the Sox have in their system: Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. He batted .272 for Texas last year, with 17 HRs and 70 RBI.

Pierzynski has the rep for being one of the most hated guys in baseball. But he is one of those "teammates love him, opponents hate him" type of players.

Saltalamacchia got some big hits in his time with the Red Sox, none bigger than his game-winning single that won the crucial Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS against Detroit. All the best to him, no matter where he lands.

Also, both Andrew Bailey and Ryan Kalish were non-tendered contracts for 2014, meaning they are now free agents. All other players that had to be tendered contracts, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Burke Badenhop and Mike Carp, were offered 2014 contracts by last night's deadline.

Monday, December 02, 2013

A 10K Run

I caught some of the Vikings-Bears game on NFL RedZone yesterday (which I highly recommend, as it has totally changed my Sunday NFL viewing), and I couldn't help think of a legendary baseball icon while watching it: Ted Williams.

Watching the Vikings this season is like being a Red Sox fan back in the late 1950s: the main reason for checking them out is for one iconic player on the team. And in the Vikings case it's Adrian Peterson.

AP rushed for 211 yards in the Vikings 23-20 OT win, and became the 28th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000 yard plateau. The season has completely gone down the dumper, but AP is still running like a man on a mission, and appears to be on his way to another NFL rushing title. He basically put the team on his back in OT (I thought a second straight tie might happen), and got the Vikings into FG range late in the OT, and Blair Walsh's 36-yarder won it.

AP now has 1,208 yards, and leads second place LeSean McCoy of the Eagles by 120 yards with 4 games to go. It's really all Vikings fans have to root for right now.

But the Vikings may have a big time player on their hands in rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who rushed for a 33-yard TD. He has brought 2 kickoffs back for TDs, caught one TD, and rushed for another.

I'm not one to root against my team in the hope they get a higher draft pick, as they can always trade up for a higher pick on draft day. But guys like Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson make me still want to tune in. I'd still like to see the Vikings get some dignity back and end the season strong.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

It Wasn't a Dream. It Really Happened.


It has now been exactly one month since the Red Sox won their third World Series in ten years. And 30 days on, I'm still trying to wrap myself around the fact they they actually did it.

On the night of September 28, 2011, a darkness fell over Red Sox fans everywhere. An excruciating one month collapse that saw the Sox miss the playoffs by one game, from a team that everyone and his brother-in-law said would go all the way. Heads rolled, and management made some godawful decisions that turned the 2012 season into a complete and total nightmare.

Generally when teams have a September collapse, it lingers far longer than just the season after. For example, the Philadelphia Phillies authored the worst collapse in baseball history in 1964, blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 to play. And it took them 12 years to recover, not getting to the postseason until 1976, when they won the NL East. And they were not a contender in any of those intervening years.

The Mets had one of the worst collapses ever in 2007, losing a seven-game lead with 17 games to play. They still haven't recovered from it, and have had 5 straight losing seasons and counting.

The point is: late-season collapses generally means the team is on the road downward.

When Bobby Valentine's Reign of Terror ended after the 2012 season, I really didn't think the Red Sox fit into the above mold. Too many things went wrong that year (not all Valentine's making, of course), but there was too much talent in Boston for the Red Sox to consider "the nuclear option" (in this case, blowing up the team and starting over from scratch). The day they made that historic trade with the Dodgers and got rid of the clubhouse lawyers, I thought right there and then the Sox were on the road back. (I couldn't help but wonder what Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez were thinking the night of October 30.)

Magic Johnson deserves a 2013 World Series ring. I'll never say a bad word about him ever again.

I had a good feeling watching the press conference that introduced John Farrell as the new Red Sox manager in October 2012. He was exactly what the team needed: a respected man who knew many of the players and organization, a guy who lets the players play, stays out of the way and brings NO drama to the scene.

GM Ben Cherington made a conscious attempt to bring in "good character" guys and many a writer questioned a few of the moves he made. Signing Jonny Gomes brought a collective yawn from most Red Sox fans. A few thought Shane Victorino was past his prime and giving him a three-year deal was foolish. Stephen Drew was a late signing, and bringing in Mike Napoli seemed to take forever, with his hip problems. And absolutely no one noticed when Koji Uehara was signed from Texas.

Few of the so-called experts picked the Red Sox to finish higher than third. Many picked a second straight last-place finish. I actually picked them second (behind Toronto, oops), winning 90 and getting a Wild Card berth. And I thought I was being wildly optimistic.

97 wins. An AL East division title. And an eighth World Series title.

I still shake my head over it. I simply could never have imagined seeing the Red Sox hoist up the 2013 World Series trophy before the year began. From the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April, it all unfolded into one of the best baseball stories in a long time.

The Red Sox buried 2011 for good.  The future looks very bright with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Allen Webster and host of other young players on the horizon. They have a host of tough decisions to make this winter.

But when people I haven't seen in a long time come up to me and ask me how I'm doing, I usually reply, "Still basking in the afterglow of another Red Sox World Series championship."

And just 125 days until another World Series championship flag flies again at The Fens.

Thank you, Red Sox.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Always Thankful

I want to wish all of you out there wherever you are a very Happy Thanksgiving.

For me it will be a day of turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, "Alice's Restaurant", NFL football, "The Honeymooners" marathon, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and being with family.

I am so thankful for my good health, and having a wonderful family and friends. And living in a country I can enjoy all these things. I'll be thinking and praying for all our brave men and women in uniform today who are thousands of miles away from they really want to be. Thanks always to them for their service.

And a special thank you to everyone associated with the Boston Red Sox who made the year 2013 a special one none of us who are fans will ever forget. This was more emotional for me than even 2004.

Enjoy the day everyone, and since I am such a lifelong "Peanuts" fan, I will conclude with Linus' Thanksgiving prayer from the TV special. May all of you have lots of turkey and cranberry sauce!


Monday, November 25, 2013

It Really Is Like Kissing Your Sister

I had little hope the Vikings could pull off an upset win in Green Bay on Sunday, but they came damn near close to pulling it off.

The Packers took an early lead in the first quarter after an amazing run by QB Scott Tolzien. But the Vikings came alive, scoring 23 unanswered points going into the fourth quarter.

I watched parts of the game on NFL RedZone, but knowing what kind of season this has been for the Vikings, I expected the other shoe to drop. And it did, courtesy of a Green Bay QB change.

Tolzien was totally ineffective after his TD, and the Packers put in Matt Flynn, the QB recently acquired after Seneca Wallace went down. And Flynn caught fire, leading GB to two fourth quarter touchdowns. (The Pack tried a two-point conversion after the first, and missed. Had they kicked the extra point, they probably win in regulation. Still can't fault the choice, as they were down by 16 points, and two TDs and two-point conversions would have tied it up.)

The Packers tied it up in the final seconds with a field goal, and off to OT the game went. Green Bay took the kickoff and went down the field, and the Vikings defense held them from getting a TD that would have instantly ended the game, and they settled for a FG. The game was still going, as it would only end if the team who got the ball first in ovetime scored a touchdown. And they also went down the field, and narrowly missed winning it, as a pass from Christian Ponder was tipped in the end zone and went off Cordarrelle Patterson's hands. So they also kicked a FG that made it 26-26.

And it stayed that way. Both teams did nothing after that, and wound up punting it back and forth.

The tie was just the fourth in the NFL since 2000, and the Vikings and Packers last played to a tie in 1978.

It was a big day for Adrian Peterson, who showed no signs of his groin injury affecting him, as he rushed for 146 yards and a TD. The team as a group rushed for 232 yards. Christian Ponder had a pretty decent day as well, and went 21-for-30 and 233 yards and 1 TD. He figures to keep his starting job for now.

But both the Vikings offense and defense disappeared in the fourth quarter. The Vikings couldn't add to their 16-point lead, and the let the Packers back in it once Flynn entered. It was a good performance for three quarters by the D, but we've seen that before in 2013.

The tie puts the Vikings at 2-8-1, and it is officially a losing season. Just Jacksonville, Houston and Atlanta are below them in the NFL at 2-9. This season, which looked promising to me in early September, can't end soon enough.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some Dates To Look Forward To

Thanksgiving now approaches, the temperatures are now below freezing, and winter is just around the corner. You know what that means.

Pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers in 83 days (February 15th).

Truck Day is one week earlier, on February 8th.

The Red Sox earlier this week released their Spring Training schedule, and it will begin with the traditional twin bill with the college boys from Northeastern and Boston College, on February 27th.

They open against MLB teams with the Minnesota Twins the next day at Ft. Myers.

The 2014 season will open for the Red Sox in Baltimore on March 31st, and the championship flag with be raised four days later when the Red Sox come home to Fenway on April 4th against Milwaukee.

Here is the Spring Training schedule and more info about tickets.

Stay warm everyone.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good To Have You Back Where You Belong


This never gets old. Ever.

Last night, I was with my good friends from The BLOHARDS, the New York-based fan group of Red Sox fans, and we gathered together as the 2013 World Series Trophy was brought in and we all took pictures with the hardware. It was at the upscale Union League Club, so everyone had to dress appropriately. (Yours Truly was in the monkey suit.) I had previously posed with the Sox Trophies in 2004 and 2007.

Dr. Charles Steinberg of the Red Sox front office was on hand and chatted for a few minutes about the team and took questions from the crowd, which numbered about 150. Red Sox PA announcer Dick Flavin was on hand to do some Red Sox-themed poems, and was really amazing. My pal Chris Wertz gave a speech about the state of the New York Union (and it is good). And I did Red Sox World Series Trivia, and my good friend John Pizzarelli gave out prizes to the winners.

Here are the five questions I did, and the answers will be at the end of this post:

1. When Jim Lonborg pitched a one-hitter in Game 2 of the 1967 World Series, what Cardinal batter got the only hit?
2. Dave Henderson and Dwight Evans hit 4 of the 5 home runs for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Who hit the other one?
3. Who was the leading hitter in average for the Red Sox in the 2004 World Series?
4. What former Red Sox player is the only active player, besides David Ortiz and Derek Jeter, with three World Series rings?
5. When Bernie Carbo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer to tie Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, who was he batting for?


This is a picture of me (second from left) with a number of the BLOHARDS, including Joe Cosgriff (far left), my pals Chris (next to me), Matt and Adam, and Dr. Charles Steinberg (on the far right). It includes bunting from Busch Stadium and the 2004 World Series. A great time was had by all.

Trivia answers: 1. Julian Javier; 2. Rich Gedman; 3. Bill Mueller (.429); 4. Javier Lopez; 5. Roger Moret.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cano Will Be In Pinstripes Next Year. Count On It.

I don't usually comment on the goings on with the New York Yankees, but this Robinson Cano free agent saga got my attention, and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

When I first heard that Cano and his flunkies were seeking a 10-year, $30 million deal to stay in New York last month, I honestly thought that was a joke. It turns out they were dead serious, and that Cano wanted a similar deal to what Alex Rodriguez got from them in 2007.

Nobody, not even the Yankees, will offer that kind of deal to anyone. The era of handing out decade-long deals may finally have ended with the one the LA Angels gave to Albert Pujols two years ago (and I bet they are already regretting it). Teams saw the way the Red Sox put together a World Series winner in 2013, and without having to sign anyone to a long term deal, and it will be copied.

And earlier this week, Cano and his crew actually were comparing him to Michael Jordan. This further shows what a rank amateur Jay-Z (Cano's new superstar agent) comes off as. Cano isn't even the best all-around player at his own position (Dustin Pedroia is), let alone a player who transcends the sport.

Cano should be comparing himself to Pedroia, not to Jordan or Rodriguez. The Red Sox smartly extended Pedroia last summer, making him the highest-paid second baseman in the game, with eight more years at $110 million.

The rumor has it that the Yankees have offered Cano a seven-year deal at about $150 million. That easily eclipses what Pedey would make over the rest of the decade. So now if you're the Yankee brass, you simply tell Cano to go out and find a team willing to make a better offer than that. And right now, that doesn't appear to be happening.

You can scratch off the usual suspects like the Dodgers or Angels, who have enormous payrolls, and are already over the $189 million luxury tax threshold (especially the Angels, who have been burned in the free agent market the past few years). And most other teams either don't have the wherewithal to sign him, or don't want to get into a bidding war with the Yankees, who will surely outbid them.

And you may have heard that the Mets brass met with Cano and his people earlier this week. It was requested by his agents and not the Mets, who basically told them that the Mets busted open the bank for David Wright last year and won't be doing the same for Cano. It was really just a pathetic attempt to try to get the Mets into a bidding war with the Yankees, so the price Cano ultimately signs with the Yankees would get inflated past what the Yankees standing offer is. Nice try, Jay-Z.

So, to my friends who are Yankee fans, I wouldn't sweat this. I'm betting that Cano won't sign on the dotted line until January at the earliest, and he will be back in pinstripes in 2014. Even if the negotiations with them becomes really rancorous, Cano is all about getting the most money, and I can't imagine him signing with any other team for less. The Yankee offer will be the highest one he's offered, and it won't be half of that ridiculous 10-year, $30 million deal he wants. Ultimately, he will have to settle for it. The Yankees hold all the cards right now, and Cano and Jay-Z know that.

Scott Boras (Cano's former agent) must be laughing himself silly right now.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Great Pretenders

At the end of the calendar year of 2012, it looked to me like my two favorite teams were going in different directions.

The Red Sox had just gone through one of their worst seasons in two generations, winning only 69 games with a season loaded with injuries and a terrible manager. Things were beginning to look a bit better, with John Farrell returning to the team as manager, and a few new players had just joined the team. But it still looked like it was going to be a long road back.

The Vikings had just come off a spectacular month of December. They entered it at 6-6, and ran the table in that final month of the season with 4 wins and a playoff berth. Adrian Peterson had just missed the rushing title by just 9 yards. I was very optimistic about the Vikings' future (and they had a good draft in April, which fueled it even more). They had a terrible year in 2011, going just 3-13, tying their worst record in team history (with the 1984 club).

I thought 2013 would be a year that the Vikings would take the next step in becoming a Super Bowl contender, and the Red Sox would just try to right the ship and possibly be on the cusp of being a playoff contender again.

The results for the Red Sox were spectacular. Far beyond what I could have hoped for. And it ended with a duckboat parade through the streets of Boston.

The results for the Vikings were beyond bad. They'll be no parades in Minneapolis in the foreseeable future.

And it was on display yesterday in Seattle. The Seahawks, now at 10-1, showed why they are one of the NFL's best teams, as they made short work of the Vikings, 41-20.

They are a complete mess. Christian Ponder threw two more interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD. He was benched in favor of Matt Cassel in the 4th quarter, and he was also picked off (and they all happened in three straight possessions). Adrian Peterson tried to tough it out with a groin injury, rushing for just 65 yards. (Granted that by the Vikings had to throw the ball more often when they fell behind by 18 in the third quarter, so AP wouldn't running much after that.)

How bad has it gotten? The Vikings have now allowed the most the points in the NFL, with 320, two more than the worst team in the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville is now the only team worse then the Vikings, at 1-9. At 2-8, the Vikings are tied with Houston, Atlanta and Tampa Bay with that record.

And the schedule is not promising the rest of the way for the Vikings. They still have Green Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati left on the road, and Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit at home. 2-14 is not out of the realm of possibility.

Well, it certainly has been an interesting year. Sad watching the Vikings go down the tubes once again. There will certainly be some heads rolling if their situation doesn't drastically improve the rest of the way.

Who would have guessed that they might be vying for the number one draft pick for 2014, while the Red Sox sit on top of the MLB mountain as champions?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The World Series Trophy's Coming To New York

As they did in 2004 and 2007, the Red Sox are bringing their World Series trophy, newly won last month, to their loyal fans in New York City, and it will be happening next Thursday, November 21st, from 5-8 PM.

It is coming down to a function run by my good friends at The BLOHARDS, and it will be a big event.

It will be on display at The Union League Club, which is at 38 West 37th Street, just off Park Avenue. Tickets are available through The BLOHARDS, and will be $50 in advance for BLOHARDS members, and $60 for non-members or Sox fans paying at the door.

The Union League Club is a pretty high brow place, so jackets and ties are required for men, and formal wear for women. There will be ties available at the door for those of you not properly attired.

If you'd like more information, please click this link. You can order tickets online here.

I will be there doing Red Sox World Series trivia and giving out cool prizes. John Pizzarelli will be in as well, along with Dr. Charles Steinberg from the Red Sox, Ed Randall from WFAN, and my buddy, Governor Chris Wertz.

Everyone will be able to take individual photos with the trophy, like me above in 2007.

I promise you a great time will be had by all. See you there next Thursday!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Happy FU Day Everyone!

I want to wish all of you out there a very Happy Felix Unger Day today.

As you all know, November 13th is the day "Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife."

Thus "The Odd Couple", one of TV's greatest sitcoms, was born.

So, to celebrate the day, here's the opening montage from Season Two.

Thanks to both Tony Randall and Jack Klugman for creating sitcom magic.


One Writer Thought Neither Tito Nor Farrell Merited a Vote


There were a lot of Red Sox fans angry yesterday when John Farrell was NOT named AL Manager of the Year for 2013.

I wasn't one of them.

Terry Francona did indeed cop the award, with Farrell finishing in second. Bob Melvin finished third.

You can make a strong case for either Farrell or Francona winning. Both turned around franchises that won less than 70 games in 2012 (Red Sox won 69, Indians won 68). The Sox won 28 games more than last year, while the Indians won 24 more than 2012, a franchise turn around record.

Neither team was picked by the "experts" to be within shouting distance of the playoffs. You can make more of a case for Francona, as he was working with less talent than Farrell was, and got them to the AL Wild Card playoff game.

And we all know what Farrell did with the Red Sox this year. I'm sure he's happy with what he and his club won on October 30th. I thought Farrell would be a slam dunk back in September. But the more I thought of the job Tito did in Cleveland, the more I thought he could win it, and ultimately did. Congratulations to him, and it's the first time he's won the award. (Nope, despite the two World Series wins in Boston, he didn't win it there.)

But in looking at the vote, I noticed something really strange.

Francona received 16 first place votes, 10 for second and 2 for third.

Farrell received 12 first place votes, 10 for second, and 6 for third.

Since there were 30 writers casting ballots, that means that both Farrell and Francona were left off TWO ballots each. (Writers voted for top three.)

What baseball season were these guys watching in 2013? You can make a strong case for either Farrell or Francona winning (Farrell was my choice), but you can't make one for leaving either manager off the ballot. As it turns out, one writer left them both off.

This sure doesn't improve my opinion of sportswriters. But then again, probably nothing ever will.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thank You, Mad Hatter

It is with regret that I have to announce that Tuesday Night Trivia at The Mad Hatter is officially over.

Unfortunately, we were unable to gain a consistent crowd at the bar, and it was mutually decided tonight that after 9 months, Trivia Night would end with this past Tuesday night's edition.

I want to thank Michael and his terrific staff at The Mad Hatter for all their hospitality and giving us a chance to do our Trivia there. I was treated with nothing but respect, and he runs a fine establishment.

As of now, we have no place to do Trivia at the present time. I will be looking into a new home for Trivia, and I hope to have a new location soon. There is a possibility that we may wait until after the holidays are over to settle into a new location. If anyone has any suggestions on places looking for a Trivia Night, please feel free to email me at: jbq1462@hotmail.com.

My thanks to all of you who have been so loyal to me over the years, and I hope to have some good news soon.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Trivia Q&A: November 5

Congratulations to the team of Kidnapping In Kyrgystan, who won Tuesday Night Trivia tonight and will represent The Mad Hatter at the 2013 NYC Trivia Championship next Monday night at Jack Doyle's against 15 other teams. They ended the night with 46 points and a four-point win. All the best to Alex and all his friends, who are some of my loyalest Trivia players, and hoping the win the whole schbang next week!

Second place went to Cheers, Mayor deBlasio with 46 points, and third place went to Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Sanjaya! with 34 points.

Current Events
1. Tina Fey and Amy Pohler will be hosting what awards show they previously hosted, in both 2014 and 2015?
2. What American sports team billionaire owner was cleared of charges of insider trading recently?
3. What world leader was recently selected as the most powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine?
4. Tony Abbott, the prime minister of what country, declared last week that his country's involvement in the war in Afghanistan to be officially over?
5. What Middle Eastern country was elected to the UN Security Council recently, but declined their seat?
6. What eastern state became the 14th to allow same-sex marriage in the US last month?
7. What R&B star was recently arrested on a felony assault charge after he was involved in a fight outside a Washington DC hotel?

Election Trivia
1. Besides FDR, who is the only other man who has been on four winning presidential tickets?
2. What 19th century president was the last sitting vice-president elected to the Oval Office until George H. W. Bush was elected in 1988?
3. Who was the only man elected president who lost both the electoral vote and the popular vote?
4. What state did Richard Nixon unsuccessfully run for governor in 1962, and memorably said, "you won't have Nixon to kick around any more?"
5. Who did Ed Koch defeat in a runoff primary election for New York's mayor in 1977, and later in the general election when he ran on the Liberal party line?
6. What is the earliest possible day that Election Day can be held in November?
7. How many states did Barack Obama win when he was re-elected president in 2012?

1-25 Trivia ("The Q Trivia")
1. This number is needed to win a game of badminton or table tennis.
2. A total of this many men walked on the moon.
3. Abraham Lincoln was this number US president.
4. This is the number of frames per second at which motion picture film is usually produced.
5. Jim Carrey starred in a 2007 film about an obsession with this number.
6. Aquarius is this number sign of the Zodiac.
7. This is the number of points on a Star of David.
8. This is the number of holes in a stipulated round of golf.
9. At the Last Supper, there were this many people around the table.
10. This number has been retired for MLB Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Reggie Jackson.

General Knowledge
1. What Zodiac sign is most of the month of March associated with? ( 1 pt)
2. Madagascar is off the coast of what continent? ( 1 pt)
3. Who played Willy Wonka in the 2005 version of the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? ( 1 pt).
4. In what century did the Earth's population reach one billion? ( 2 pt)
5. "Lido Shuffle" was hit song in 1976 for what male pop singer? ( 2 pt)
6. What country worked on building the Panama Canal before the US and failed in the 19th century? ( 2 pt)
7. What was the last film to win Oscars in the "Big Five" Academy Award categories? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What is the only Central American country without a coastline on the Caribbean Sea? ( 4 points)
2. What eastern US state has led the nation the last seven straight years where motorists are most likely to strike a deer? ( 5 points)
3. Besides France, what other country claims credit for inventing French Fries? ( 4 points)
4. The Siege of Tobruk was an eight month confrontation that took place during what war? ( 4 points)
5. What is the only US state flag that features the union flag of the United Kingdom on it? ( 3 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Golden Globes; 2. Mark Cuban; 3.Vladimir Putin; 4. Australia; 5. Saudi Arabia; 6. New Jersey; 7. Chris Brown.

Election Trivia
1. Richard Nixon; 2. Martin Van Buren; 3. John Quincy Adams; 4. California; 5. Mario Cuomo; 6. November 2; 7. twenty-six.

1-25 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. 21; 2. 12; 3. 16; 4. 24; 5. 23; 6. 11; 7. 6; 8. 18; 9. 13; 10. 9.

General Knowledge
1. Pisces; 2. Africa; 3.Johnny Depp; 4. 19th century; 5. Boz Scaggs; 6. France; 7. "The Silence of the Lambs."

IQ Trivia
1. El Salvador; 2. West Virginia; 3. Belgium; 4. World War II; 5. Hawaii.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Tuesday's Winner Goes To The Tournament


We're having a special night of Trivia at The Mad Hatter tomorrow night, November 5th at 8 PM. The team that gets the win will be competing in the 2013 NYC Trivia Championship, which will be held a week from tonight, November 11th at 7 PM at Jack Doyle's, a pub that is located at 240 West 35th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue).

Tomorrow night's Special Category will be "Election Trivia", seven questions about American elections of all kinds in honor of tomorrow being Election Day. (And don't forget to vote for the candidates of your choice.)

The Q Train lightning round is "1-25 Trivia." I will ask you ten questions, and every answer will be a number from 1 to 25. And every answer will be a different number.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Madagascar is located off the coast of what continent?"

We get going at 8 PM on Tuesday night. Tuesday's winner will compete the following Monday for a $200 gift certificate, a trophy, t-shirts and full bragging rights. Click this link for more info about the tournament. They will be representing The Mad Hatter in the 16-team tournament. So come on out and give it a whirl! Hope to see many of you tomorrow night.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

There Are No Words

From today's World Series victory parade:


God bless the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Celebrate Good Times

As we are about to have a parade on Saturday to celebrate another Red Sox glorious World Series triumph, here's a YouTube clip my friend Dan sent to me today, with a number of places celebrating the final out of the Red Sox Game 6 win this past Wednesday night.

It is everywhere from various shots inside Fenway Park to bars in Boston and around the country, everywhere from California to a couple in New York City: The Riviera and some other place that escapes me right now...

Savor these:


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Hat Trick In One Decade

Champions.

For the third time in ten years, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, with a convincing 6-1 win at Fenway last night. It was the first championship won in Boston since 1918.

David Ortiz was the MVP (of course), and this punches his ticket to the Hall of Fame for sure.

Shane Victorino had four RBIs last night, including a bases-loaded triple in the third inning that got the Sox on their way.

Stephen Drew finally came out of his postseason funk with a fourth inning solo home run.

John Lackey was simply magnificent, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run, and completing his redemption tour. Love the fact he did not want to come out in the 7th when St. Louis was threatening, saying very clearly "This is my guy!" John Farrell then gave him one more hitter (who he wound up walking). Good for him.

Koji Uehara locked it all down with a typical 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Just the second team in history to go from worst to a World Series title, joining the 1991 Minnesota Twins.

For me, it was incredibly emotional afterwards at Duke's, on the East Side, where I watched it with my pals the BLOHARDS. Tears flowed afterward, then the champagne did.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Red Sox.

What an incredible year. What an incredible team.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On The Cusp Of History


One more.

The Red Sox are just one win away from one of the greatest turnarounds in baseball history, as Jon Lester was simply brilliant for 7 2/3 innings and the Red Sox won the pivotal Game 5, 3-1.

The Sox opened with back-to-back doubles in the first from Dustin Pedroia and the Baddest Man On The Planet, David Ortiz. Papi had three more hits last night, and now has 11 for the World Series. he's two off the all-time record, and is hitting an absolutely astounding .733. He tied the record for most consecutive WS appearances reaching base with 9, and now has the highest lifetime batting average ever for a WS player with at least 50 PA at an incredible .465.

Lester threw one bad pitch to Matt Holliday in the fourth, and that tied the game at 1. It is the only run he has allowed in three WS starts in his career, and became only the second lefty in Red Sox history (along with Babe Ruth) to win 3 World Series games.

The Sox rallied in the 7th off Adam Wainwright, as with two on and one out, David Ross hit a ground-rule double to put the Sox ahead to stay. After Lester grounded back to the pitcher, Jacoby Ellsbury singled in Stephen Drew, while Ross was thrown out at home. It wouldn't matter.

Koji Uehara came on with two outs and a man on in the eight, and struck out Matt Adams to end the inning. St. Louis went 1-2-3 in the ninth to wrap up the game and but the Sox up 3-2 in the World Series.

Boy, the Red Sox have been in some tailspin since that wacky ending to Game 3, huh? It shows the resolve of this incredible team, that after such a horrible way to lose a World Series game on Saturday night, they come right back and beat the Cardinals twice in a row at home. (St. Louis was the NL's best home team this year.)

It's still far from over, as John Lackey will take on Michael Wacha again, a repeat of the Game 2 starters. The Red Sox will try to win the World Series at home for the first time since 1918.

It was the Red Sox' 107th win of 2013, 38 more than they had in 2012. Win number 108 will make history.

Monday, October 28, 2013

We'll Give The Series Another Go


Well, thankfully the World Series is still going, and there will be a Game 6 on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday night, October 29th at 8 PM, we will have "World Series Trivia" as the Special Category at The Mad Hatter, in honor of the Fall Classic, which is currently tied at 2 games apiece, with Game 6 taking place at Fenway Park with Your Boston Red Sox taking on the St. Louis Cardinals the following evening. It will be seven questions about the Series, and they will be multiple choice, so those of you who aren't big baseball fans have a fighting chance.

The Q Train lightning round will be "1-25 Trivia." I will ask you ten questions, where the answer will be a number from 1 through 25. (Every answer will be a different number.)

 The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Molson and Labatt beer are both brewed in what country?"

We get going shortly after 8 PM. The Mad Hatter is located at E. 26th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Don't forget that a week from Tuesday (on Election Night, November 5th), we will be having a special night of Trivia to send a representative team to the 2013 NYC Bar Trivia Tournament, to be held at a place and time still to be determined.

Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night for a great night of Trivia!

The Title Will Be Decided At Fenway


Another night, another wacky finish.

But this one benefitted the Red Sox. Pinch-runner Kolten Wong was picked off first base with two outs in the ninth inning by Koji Uehara to even the World Series at two apiece, 4-2.

Yes, it was the first time a World Series game ended with a runner picked off first base. (And it was not a "walkoff pickoff", as the home team always wins when that term "walkoff" is used. Whatever.) It also would have been nice to see the pickoff, as Fox was focusing on yet another crowd shot when Koji pulled off the pickoff.

This was another game that saw some unusual stuff happen. David Ortiz called an impromptu meeting in the corner of the dugout in the top of the sixth inning to rally the troops and say "we can hit this guy." It sure as hell worked, as Jonny Gomes blasted a three-run home run with two outs in the inning to break a 1-1 tie and put the Sox up, 4-1.

And you can thank Shane Victorino's stiff back for that, as Gomes was not in the original lineup, and went into LF when Victorino was a late scratch.

John Lackey made his first relief appearance in the 8th inning, only allowing one batter to reach, on a Xander Bogaerts error.

Clay Buchholz gutter through 4 innings, allowing just an unearned run. Felix Doubront came on and was terrific for 2 2/3 innings, allowing just a single after retiring the first 8 men he faced. John Farrell then decided for some unknown reason to bring in the struggling Craig Breslow, who allowed a single and a walk. Junichi Tazawa retired the last hitter, Matt Holliday, on a ground out, keeping the game at 4-2.

It's now a best-of-three, and the new World Series champion will decided at Fenway Park for the first time since 1975 later this week. Tonight will be a rematch of the Game 1 starters, Jon Lester vs. Adam Wainwright. And I don't even want to thank what kind os screwball finish we'll see in this one.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

It Was a Loss, No Matter How It Ended


Unfortunately, it was the right call.

Game 3 of the World Series ended on an obstruction call against Will Middlebrooks and the Red Sox. A first for sure.

The Sox played fast and loose with the baseball again in Game 3 when Jarrod Saltalamacchia made an ill-advised throw to third to try to nail Allen Craig at third base after Dustin Pedroia made a fabulous play in the drawn-in infield and threw home to get Yadier Molina at the plate. Salty's throw went off Middlebrooks' glove and into foul territory in left. Craig then got up and fell over Middlebrooks, who was still on the ground.

Umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction, and awarded Craig home, giving the Cardinals a 5-4 win. The Sox fought back from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits, to have it get away in the ninth.

It was the right call. From MLB Rule 2.00:

"If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered 'in the act of fielding a ball.' It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the 'act of fielding' the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

So be it. It is a miserable way to end a World Series game. But the bottom line is that the Red Sox never led in this game. And they continue to struggle at the plate (they didn't get their first hit until the 4th inning). The team is hitting .188 for the World Series, and ,225 for the postseason. Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew are black holes in the Red Sox lineup. That angers me more this morning than the way last night's game ended.

And John Farrell, who I like as manager, made some really odd decisions near the end of the game. The most glaring one was letting Brandon Workman, who has never batted in his entire pro career, hit with one out in the ninth. He was no match against Trevor Rosenthal, striking out on three pitches. Farrell should have double-switched in the bottom of the eighth, taking Salty out (who made the last out in the inning) and have David Ross catch and bat ninth.

I'm betting the way last night's game ended has left a bad taste in the players' mouths, and can't wait to get out there to avenge what happened. The Sox have had some bad losses this season, and have quickly bounced back from them. Now they are down 2-1 in the World Series, and need to do just that tonight, with Clay Buchholz facing Lance Lynn. Buchholz has struggled this postseason, and the Sox bats need to back him up, as you don't know how long he's good for.

How they hit tonight will say a lot about how they put last night's loss behind them.

Friday, October 25, 2013

OK, It Won't Be a Sweep This Time

It was a tough Game 2 of the World Series for the Red Sox, as a second David Ortiz home run in the series wasn't enough, and St. Louis went on to a 4-2 win.

John Lackey was terrific, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing one run before exiting with two runners on. Craig Breslow came on and walked Daniel Descalso before getting Matt Carpenter to hit a fly ball to left. Jonny Gomes threw wide to plate and off Jarrod Saltalamacchia's glove (he should have come away from the plate to block it and concede the run), and Breslow picked it up and threw wide, and allowed another run to score. Carlos Beltran then singled in St. Louis' final run, making it 4-2.

Breslow's error will be remembered, but that wasn't the key play. It was walking Descalso, a left handed hitter. If he strikes him out, and Carpenter still flies out, the game is still 2-1 Sox. And even if Breslow makes a perfect throw to third, it wasn't clear if the runner would have been out. Granted, you don't play baseball in a vacuum, but then Beltran still singles in two runs and it would still have been a two-run Cardinals lead.

The Sox did little against the St. Louis pen, but had two on and two out in the eighth, but Mike Napoli popped up to end the threat. Michael Wacha went six strong innings, allowed just three hits, including the Ortiz blast into the Monster seats.

It ends the Red Sox World Series winning streak at nine. I had a sneaky feeling this would not be a repeat of 2004.

It's now a Best-of-Five, with Jake Peavy going against Joe Kelly as the series moves to St. Louis on Saturday. The major concern now is Clay Buchholz, who has been moved to Game 4. The Sox are obviously worried over his shoulder, and the they probably feel they can get one final start out of him for 2013. They also don't want him lined up for Game 7, as if he couldn't go if it reaches that point, they would have to start either Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront. So going with Peavy before Buchholz makes even more sense, and gives Buchholz an extra day to rest. We'll see how it all works out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Enjoyable, Nice and Easy Game 1


The Red Sox scored early and often to open the 109th World Series on Wednesday night, and coasted into an easy 8-1 win at Fenway. I took in at Duke's, in Midtown Manhattan with many of my pals from The BLOHARDS.

It couldn't have been a better night for the Sox. Jon Lester was dominant, pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings. He pitched out of two jams, striking out eight and walking one. It was Lester's third postseason win of 2013, with a career 2.07 postseason ERA in 10 starts.

The Sox scored three in the first, capped off by Mike Napoli's bases loaded double. It was aided by Pete Kozma's error on a possible DP ball hit by David Ortiz. Kozma clearly had the ball relayed by Matt Carpenter hit off the tip of his glove, but Dana DeMuth, the ump just a few feet away, called Dustin Pedroia out. It was originally an horrific call, but the umps got together and properly reversed the call, svaing DeMuth further embarrassment.

The Sox had the bases loaded again in the second with one run in on Dustin Pedroia's single, and David Ortiz hit a towering shot to right that Carlos Beltran grabbed before it landed in the Cardinals bullpen. It was a great catch and a sacrifice fly, but Beltran hurt a rib slamming into the wall and left the game. His status for tonight is not yet known.

Papi got his revenge for the catch by blasting a majestic home run in the seventh, over the Red Sox bullpen that made it 7-0. Xander Bogaerts' sac fly in the 8th capped the night for the Sox.

It was a terrible night for the Cardinals. Not only losing Beltran, but they made 3 errors, let a pop up between Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina drop for a hit, and couldn't a clutch hit when they had two golden opportunities to get back in the game. Only Matt Holliday's home run off Ryan Dempster in the 9th kept St. Louis from being shut out.

After all the tough nail biters in the postseason, it was pleasure to have an easy win for the Red Sox to open the World Series. Three wins to go, and John Lackey will go against Michael Wacha tonight in Game 2.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hope To See You Next Tuesday

Well folks, we didn't have enough teams to have a proper Trivia Night at The Mad Hatter last night, so Trivia was called off. It is really disappointing when nights like last night happen. It has been a constant struggle week in and week out at the new place getting Trivia players in, and for a variety of reasons. I realize for many of you, Trivia is not a weekly thing, and I certainly understand the reasons why. Real life interferes, and other more important things take priority.

I thank all of you who have come out, and have shown your loyalty to me. Believe me, it is NOT taken for granted. I honestly don't know how much longer Trivia Night at The Mad Hatter will continue, especially after we have the Trivia Tournament Night in two weeks. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart who have made my Trivia Night something special for me over the years. I really hope we can continue at The Mad Hatter, as they have a good staff and have treated me really well. We just have to get more folks to come out. Any ideas are welcome, and you can email me privately at: jbq1462@hotmail.com with any suggestions. Be well everyone, and hope to see you next Tuesday, October 29th, at 8 PM.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Lost Season

A season that got off to a bad start got even worse last night for the Vikings, as they lost to the winless Giants, 23-7, at the Meadowlands.

I've been busy with the great Red Sox postseason run this October, so I haven't written much about my favorite football team. And it looks like I won't be writing much more positive stuff this year.

The Vikings, now at 1-5 in last place in the NFC North, look like a sinking ship. And bringing in Josh Freeman at QB makes it look like the Vikings are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

In his defense, it certainly isn't easy learning a new team's offense on the fly like this. But Freeman brought the Vikings no spark. They scored only 7 points against a team that is near the top in points allowed in the NFL this season. And that wasn't even on the offensive side of the ball, as Marcus Shrels brought back a punt 86 yards for a TD in the second quarter.

Freeman was 20-for-53 for 190 yards and an interception. Adrian Peterson was held to just 28 yards but what has been a very porous Giants defense this season.

How bad has this Vikings season been so far. Look at these offensive stats:

Points per game scored: 22.0 (19th in NFL)
Yards per game: 316.0 (25th in NFL)
Passing yards per game: 214.3 (24th in NFL)
Rushing yards per game: 102.0 (19th in NFL)

Obviously, the rushing yards are down because the Vikings have had to throw the ball more often. It's safe to say Peterson won't be rushing for 2,000 yards again this year.

The defense looks sloppy, the offensive line is a mess. There's very little I can look at that gives me any hope this season will turn around for the Vikings. And Green Bay is up next, on Sunday night at the Metrodome.

I'm glad I have Game 4 of the World Series to keep me occupied that night.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Fall Classic Takes Center Stage On Tuesday


On Tuesday night, October 22nd at 8 PM, we will have "World Series Trivia" as the Special Category at The Mad Hatter, in honor of the Fall Classic, which kicks off at Fenway Park with Your Boston Red Sox taking on the St. Louis Cardinals the following evening. It will be seven questions about the Series, and they will be multiple choice, so those of you who aren't big baseball fans have a fighting chance.

The Q Train lightning round will be "1-25 Trivia." I will ask you ten questions, where the answer will be a number from 1 through 25. (Every answer will be a different number.)

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Molson and Labatt beer are both brewed in what country?"

We get going shortly after 8 PM. The Mad Hatter is located at E. 26th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Don't forget that in two weeks from Tuesday (on Election Night, November 5th) will be having a special night of Trivia to send a representative team to the 2013 NYC Bar Trivia Tournament, to be held at a day and place still to be determined.

Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night for another great night of Trivia Q&A!

UPDATE (10/23): We didn't have Trivia Night on Tuesday, as we didn't have enough teams to make it a proper contest. Very disappointing, and thanks to the few who did make it out. And thanks for your loyalty always. Hopefully we'll have enough people for Trivia Night next Tuesday. See you then.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

13th Flag In '13


The Red Sox did it on Saturday night, winning their 13th American League championship with another tense game, winning it on Shane Victorino's grand slam in the 7th inning, 5-2.

Koji Uehara slammed the door in the ninth, and was awarded the ALCS MVP Award.

I watched most of the game on Saturday at my old haunt, the Riviera Cafe, with a packed house of delirious Red Sox fans. My buddy Chris and I enjoyed the win together. I have a million pleasant memories of the Riv from 2004, and it was a joy to be back, and see another great memory.

It was one of the most tense, roller-coaster series I have ever witnessed. It probably took about five years off my life.

But I love these boys. They drive me to drink at times, but it was worth every nerve-wracking moment.

Thank you, Red Sox.

Now on to the World Series, which will open on Wednesday night at Fenway. Bring on the Cardinals.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Early Runs Put The Sox On The Brink


I was thinking about last night's game all yesterday afternoon that it was important that the Red Sox jump out early and get a couple of runs, and not wait until the 5th inning to get their first hit.

Good work, boys. They had hits in all of the first five innings. Including four runs.

Mike Napoli hit a 460-foot bomb to center in the second off Anibal Sanchez (I knew he wouldn't repeat his Game 1 success), and the Sox were off. They added two more in the inning, and another on a wild pitch (scored by Napoli, who had three hits, and just a triple short of the cycle) in the third, and it was 4-0. I was hoping that would be enough.

It was. Just barely.

Detroit chipped away, and it was 4-3 by the 8th. Jon Lester went 5 1/3 innings, allowed two runs. Not vintage Lester, but certainly good enough. The pen took over, and after Junichi Tazawa allowed a run in the 7th, Craig Breslow got two outs before Koji Uehara retired the last five Tigers to nail down the 4-3 win.

Uehara is simply money in the bank.

The win puts the Red Sox one win away from their 13th American League pennant. My pal Jere at A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory has some fun facts at his blog today about the ALCS. I never knew the Red Sox have never lost a Game 6 in their ALCS history (obviously since 1985, when it went to a best of seven series), and are 5-0. Also that they have never led 3-2 in their ALCS history, and have never played in a six-game ALCS (their last four ALCS appearances have gone the full seven).

Game 6 will happen Saturday, with Clay Buchholz taking on Max Scherzer. The time is till to be determined. If the NLCS is over tonight, the game will be at 8 PM, if the NLCS has a Game 7 tomorrow, the Sox and Tigers will play at 4:30 PM ET.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wake 2, Boone 0

Yesterday was an important anniversary, and I didn't comment on it here. I guess I should have.

Of course, it was the 44th anniversary of the Mets incredible 1969 World Series triumph over the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles. That is still one of my favorite all-time baseball moments.

And oh yeah, it was also the 10th anniversary of another baseball event: Tim Wakefield giving an 11th inning home run to Aaron Boone giving the Yankees the 2003 AL pennant.

I passed the NY Daily News on a newsstand yesterday (I don't read that rag any more) and saw some kind of headline on their back page about it, and kept on walking. (I will never forgive them for their headline the day after the pennant was won: "The Curse Lives!" No, Not "Yankees Win Pennant On Boone Slam" or something like that.)

Looking back on that awful moment in my Red Sox fandom, I can actually smile now by the way it played out after Boone's home run. He got hurt in the off-season, and the Yankees came up with the brilliant idea of trading for Alex Rodriguez.

As I write this, Tim Wakefield owns 2 World Series rings. Aaron Boone owns none.

And it was 9 years ago today that this happened, and it changed everything. Thanks always, Mr. Roberts:


The AL Pennant Will Be Decided At Fenway

A crapfest of a second inning doomed the Red Sox last night, and the Tigers took Game 4, 7-3.

Jake Peavy was not sharp at all, as he walked three batters, including the struggling Austin Jackson. They all came in to score in a five-run inning. It could have been just one run, as Dustin Pedroia mishandled a ground ball by Jose Iglesias that could have been a DP to end it. (And the Sox were fortunate to get one out, as Stephen Drew was far off second base taking Pedroia's relay.)

Peavy gave up seven runs, and the Sox were basically finished. The bullpen actually did a good job after Peavy left, allowing Detroit nothing in the last five innings.

The Red Sox showed some offensive life last night and chipped away, getting it to 7-3 in the ninth. They got 12 hits, matching their total for the first 3 games. Jacoby Ellsbury had four of them. But they wasted too many opportunities early on, as they were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Xander Boegarts doubled and scored in the ninth, and John Farrell may indeed go to him for Game 5. Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks are both in big time struggles this postseason. A lineup shakeup, which Jim Leyland did in Game 4 with successful results, maybe happening tonight for the Sox.

It's now a Best-of-3, with Jon Lester getting the ball tonight against Anibal Sanchez, a repeat of the starters for Game 1. No matter what happens tonight, the new AL champions will be crowned at Fenway Park this weekend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

America's New Fad: Huntering

Here's a cool shot of two soldiers recreating the now-famous shot of Torii Hunter falling into the Red Sox bullpen on Sunday night, and Boston police officer Steve Horgan's priceless reaction.

It now has a name: "Huntering."

It was taken aboard the USS George H.W. Bush.

Thank you for your service, gentlemen.

The Head Beard Is The Difference


Most of the baseball world probably figured Tuesday afternoon's game would be an easy win for the Tigers, as they had an incredibly hot pitcher going against one who had struggled in his last few starts for the Red Sox.

John Lackey got the W. Justin Verlander got the L.

Lackey was sensational for 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits. And sure was miffed when John Farrell pulled him out in the 7th. But the pen picked it up for him, with Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara pitching out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the 8th. And of course, Koji pitched around a single, getting a DP and a strikeout to end an exciting 1-0 Red Sox win.

All the Sox needed was a Mike Napoli home run in the 7th. Napoli was really struggling going into the at-bat, having struck out in all six of his previous ALCS at-bats.

The Red Sox once again waited around to get their first hit, which happened on Jonny Gomes' infield grounder in the fifth. Verlander was simply dominant, and striking out six in a row at one point. But Lackey matched him, striking out 8 in his likewise dominant performance.

It was another game were the Red Sox walked along the edge, and got a win. They are incredibly hitting just .133 in this series so far, and lead it 2-1. Two more wins to get into the World Series.

I watched the game in two different bars, at Duke's with my friends from The BLOHARDS (for the first 7 innings), and then scooted down to The Mad Hatter before my Trivia Night with a few other Red Sox fan friends. The ending made my Trivia even more enjoyable last night.

Jake Peavy goes up against Doug Fister at Comerica Park in Game 4 tonight.

Trivia Q&A: October 15

Trivia Night began just a few minutes after the Red Sox won Game 3 of the ALCS, so as you might guess, I was in a good mood all night.

We had another fine crowd in, and a close night throughout between the top teams. The top four teams were separated by just four points, and we had four teams get all five correct in IQ Trivia. (I'll have to make it a little tougher next week.) One of those teams was Happy Birthday Charles!, which took the winner's circle with 52 points. Congrats to Charles and his friends on their win.

Second place went to Spermologers (my friend Dave from the BLOHARDS and a number of his friends) with 49 points, and third place went to Ship of Fools with 48 points.

Current Events
1. Rafael Correa, the president of what South American country, said in an interview that President Obama calling America "exceptional" was reminiscent of "Nazism?"
2. What rock superstar made a surprise performance at a Queens high school last week, as well as one in Times Square the next day?
3. Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller all won the Nobel Prize in what field earlier this week?
4. What Asian country was hit by a cyclone yesterday, with 18 deaths reported?
5. Former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, of what US city, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for racketeering, conspiracy and tax crimes?
6. What female pop singer was in Thailand recently and tweeted about a lewd sex show in a bar she was in and it led to the arrest of the bar owner?
7. What retail chain announced they will open most of their stores for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day, breaking a long-standing tradition of being closed on the holiday?

Blue Trivia
1. What 19th century classical composer wrote "The Blue Danube?"
2. "True Blue" was a 1986 album by what pop singer?
3. What was the name of Paul Bunyon's Blue Ox?
4. John Popper is a member of what rock band?
5. "The Bluegrass State" is a nickname for what US state?
6. "Big Blue" is a nickname for what major American company?
7. Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits starred in what 1990s TV crime drama?

Name The City's Last Champion Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Miami
2. Los Angeles
3. Atlanta
4. Tampa
5. Boston
6. San Francisco
7. Cleveland
8. Philadelphia
9. Baltimore
10. Detroit

General Knowledge
1. Orly Airport is located in what European city? ( 1 pt)
2. Fresh water, 2% of the earth's surface, is made of oxygen and what element? ( 1 pt)
3. In the Bible, Isaac is the son of Sarah and who? ( 1 pt)
4. In what year was the Falklands War fought between Great Britain and Argentina? ( 2 pt)
5. What is the traditional color of the sari that a bride wears at an Indian wedding? ( 2 pt)
6. What was the name of the dog in the Garfield comic strip? ( 2 pt)
7. Tennis players Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were born in what European country? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What 19th century historical figure died at the Petersen House? ( 4 points)
2. What science fiction film was set on the fictional moon called Pandora? ( 3 points)
3. Since 2005, the world record for the fastest men's 100-meters has been owned by runners from what nation? ( 4 points)
4. Fred Jones, Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley were 3 of the main characters from what popular 1970s cartoon series? ( 5 points)
5. Robert Rayford, who died in St. Louis in 1969, is now believed to be the first American to have died from what cause? ( 4 points)

Answers
Current Events
1. Ecuador; 2. Paul McCartney; 3. economics; 4. India; 5. Detroit; 6. Rhianna; 7. Macy's.

Blue Trivia
1. Johann Strauss; 2. Madonna; 3. Babe; 4. Blues Traveler; 5. Kentucky; 6. IBM; 7. "NYPD Blue."

Name The City's Last Champion Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Heat; 2. Kings; 3. Braves; 4. Lightning; 5. Bruins; 6. Giants; 7. Browns; 8. Phillies; 9. Ravens; 10. Red Wings.

General Knowledge
1. Paris; 2. hydrogen; 3. Abraham; 4. 1982; 5. red; 6. Odie; 7. Belgium.

IQ Trivia
1. Abraham Lincoln; 2. "Avatar;" 3. Jamaica; 4. "Scooby-Doo;" 5. AIDS.