Opening Day at Fenway

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Great Night Out at Citi Field

It was a good weekend for the Red Sox in New York this one just past.

The one they spent in Queens.

I went to Friday night's game with approximately 200 members of the BLOHARDS, the New York-based Red Sox fan group. We sat in the left field stands, in section 134. We had a great few of the field (see above). I was pleasantly surprised to be sitting next to the actor Peter Riegert, best known as the character of Boon in the classic comedy "Animal House." I enjoyed talking baseball with him most of the night, and he is a knowledgeable Mets fan. (He's been to a BLOHARDS meeting a few years back, and has affection for the Sox.) I also had the pleasure of hanging with DJ Jim Monaghan, who I have known for many years and is a huge Sox fan. (Jim's best known for his days at WNEW-FM back in the 1980s, and today does a morning show on WDHA in New Jersey.) Many years ago, I wrote to him when he had two of the BLOHARDS on his radio show, the first time I had ever heard of the group.

It was basically a good-natured crowd at Citi Field on Friday. Lots of banter between the groups of both teams fans, but I didn't see any fights or threats of violence. (No, this wasn't the Bronx.) Some Red Sox fan tried to get a chant of "1986" going, but that went nowhere.

On the field, the Sox ran into a hot Mets team, who had just won 7 straight on the road, and were expanding their lead in the NL East. The Mets are my favorite NL team, so this was going to be a "conflicting" weekend. ( I just didn't want to see either team get swept.)

The Sox got a bit a of a shaky performance from Henry Owens, but got home runs from David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley and an odd inside-the-park job from Blake Swihart. (Replays looked like the ball cleared the line in the center field, but no replay necessary.) One thing we learned from Friday's game: Junichi Tazawa is NOT a closer. With a three-run lead in the 10th and two outs and nobody on, he promptly walked four in a row, and Torey Lovullo was forced to bring in Craig Breslow, which scared the delights out of all of us. But he got Yoenis Cespedes on a deep fly to center to wrap up the 6-4 Red Sox win.

Well, I've seen the Sox live twice this year: two wins. (The other being the Opening Day win against the Nationals.)

The Sox got another well-pitched game from Joe Kelly on Saturday (did I just write that?) in a 3-1 Red Sox win. Kelly won six games in August, in six starts. He's the first Sox pitcher to do that since Pedro Martinez turned the trick in 1999. Kelly has clearly turned his season around. But no, he's still not going to win the Cy Young Award.

The Mets won a back-and-forth affair on Sunday, which included Big Papi's 494th career home run. The Sox came back from behind twice, but the Mets pulled it out in the 8th to salvage the series.

The Sox continue to play well under the interim boss. They are 10-6 under Lovullo, and have won 4 of the 5 series they have played, with the other being a four-game split with Kansas City. Granted, the pressure to win is long gone, but they are certainly not tanking the season. They have suddenly become an exciting team to watch, as Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts are all red hot and leading the offense.

Getting back to .500 may not be realistic, as the Sox would have to go 21-11 in the remaining 32 games to reach that. But, they have nothing to lose, so you never know how the last month may turn out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Still Searching For a New Trivia Home

Hi again, Trivia players! It's your friendly neighborhood Trivia Master, John Quinn. It's been a while since I posted anything here about Trivia. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer. I am still looking for a new venue for my next Trivia Night. I talked to a couple of bars over the last few months, but nothing became of it. And last week, I thought I might have some good news to tell you all, but no luck.

I am anxious to get back in the Trivia business again, so I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any establishment that might be looking for a Trivia host. I prefer Manhattan, but I wouldn't mind hosting in my home borough of Brooklyn as well. So, if anyone has any ideas, please do let me know and send me an email at: jbq1462@hotmail.com. I miss all of you guys, with all the great support you have given me over the years. I hope we can all meet up again soon for another Trivia night. Be well, everyone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

O'Brien Replaces Orsillo & The Fans Aren't Happy

NESN moved quickly last night and named a replacement for the departing Don Orsillo: Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer Dave O'Brien.

Orsillo was at the end of his five-year contract with NESN, and the network chose not to bring him back. The fan reaction to his dismissal has been swift and ugly. Petitions have popped up on line, including this one from Change.org, which is at 12,000 and counting as I write this.

It's no reflection on O'Brien, who is generally well-liked by the fans. It's a condemnation of a decision that has left Red Sox fans stunned and shocked. It sounds like Orsillo did not have a good relationship with NESN programming head Joseph Marr, who made the move to let Orsillo walk.

Jerry Remy was visibly upset after last night's game about losing his broadcast partner, with tears in his eyes as he talked with reporters after the Red Sox' 5-4 loss in Chicago.

It sounds like the deal is done, and Don is gone. He gave the Sox fans 15 terrific years behind the mike. I will always appreciate his class and professionalism. And he won't be a free agent long.

Gordon Edes has a terrific take today on Don's Red Sox career here. Take the time and read it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don Orsillo's Leaving NESN

2015 is looking more and more like a changing of the guard for the Red Sox.

Larry Lucchino is leaving, Ben Cherington is departing, and John Farrell has temporarily left due to illness. And now, another long time Red Sox staple is going.

NESN and Don Orsillo are parting ways after this baseball season. The Dennis and Callahan Show reported this news early this morning. So far, no specific reason has been given for the move, as to whether this was NESN or Orsillo's doing.

Orsillo spent 15 years in the NESN booth, after doing Pawtucket Red Sox games. His first game in 2001 after replacing Sean McDonough was Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in Baltimore.

He and Jerry Remy still made watching the Red Sox games worth tuning in, despite the season turning into an utter crapfest early on. I'm betting that Don's next gig maybe a national baseball job, as he did playoff games on TBS over the last few years.

I wish Don well, and will remember one of his finer moments with NESN here, in April 2007:


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dombrowski Will Run the Show Now


I guess you might say the Red Sox won twice on Tuesday night.

During their 9-1 win over the Indians, Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo made a startling announcement as the 8th inning was underway, that the Red Sox had hired former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski as the new president of baseball operations, beginning immediately.

Current GM Ben Cherington was asked to stay on, but he declined, as Dombrowski will have the last word on all baseball decisions. Cherington will stay on with the transition until the end of the season.

Dombrowski has been the general manager of the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Tigers. His high point was winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997. He had been the GM in Detroit from 2002 until a couple of weeks ago, when the Tigers allowed him to move on. He rebuilt a Detroit club that lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003, and won the pennant in 2006.

Last night's announcement was a real surprise, as the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski figured to be either Toronto or the LA Angels. He will now be calling the shots, and has a huge job ahead of him turning the Red Sox fortunes around.

Cherington leaves with winning a World Series in 2013, but also what appears to be a third last-place finish. It was most likely he would fall on the sword for the moves the club made that badly backfired over the past year.

What this means for John Farrell is not clear, but you have to figure that if he is healthy enough to resume his managerial duties in 2016, he will be back. Letting him go during this offseason would be a disasterous PR move for the Sox. But Farrell will be under the microscope once the season begins.

Dombrowski also figures to bring in some of the people who worked for him in his other MLB positions. The new GM could be the recently hired Jerry DiPoto, who was LA Angels GM until he resigned earlier this year. Former Braves GM Frank Wren, who worked with Dombrowski for many years, has also been prominently mentioned for the job.

Dombrowski will be formerly introduced by the Red Sox this afternoon.

Let the 2016 season begin.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Historic Day For Bradley

I sure haven't written a lot of positive stuff about the Red Sox in what has been a lost year of 2015.

But the offense has put up some historic numbers the last two days against the Seattle Mariners. If I had told you before Saturday's game that the Red Sox would give up 10 runs in a game that was started by Felix Hernandez, what would you figure, a 10-1 or 10-2 loss, right?

The Sox absolutely pummeled Hernandez, who gave up 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

After getting 15 runs on Friday, the Sox topped that on Saturday and more. And Jackie Bradley Jr. made a clear statement that he is finally an MLB hitter, going 5-for-6, with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI, and scored five times. Bradley became the first Red Sox hitter ever to get five extra base hits in one game. (Nope, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice nor Jimmie Foxx ever did that.)

Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts both had four hits, and Bogaerts became the first MLB player this year to get four hits in a game six times. Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Brock Holt each had three hits. The Sox in total had 26 hits, first time they reached that number in a game since 2005.

The combined 37 runs in two games is the most the Sox collected in back-to-back games since they set the unbreakable record of 49 runs in two games against the St. Louis Browns in 1950. (They scored 20 in the first game, and then game back the next day to set the record of 29 in a game that stood until the Texas Rangers scored 30 a few years ago in Baltimore.)

The 22 runs the Sox scored was the most since that memorable night against the Florida Marlins when the Sox scored 25 runs, including 14 in the first inning.

The best part of yesterday as been the continued smoking hot hitting of Bradley. Since his huge day last Sunday in Detroit, he has gone 13-for-22 with 3 HR, 13 RBI and 9 extra base hits.

Wade Miley was terrific in going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs. But even in garbage time, the bullpen pitched like garbage, allowing eight runs even up by 17 runs. Priority One next season will be putting together a reliable pen.

And by the way, is it a coincidence that the Red Sox have come alive with two incredible games from the offense and starting staff after the news of John Farrell's lymphoma? Just asking...

I'll wrap this up by pointing out that yesterday's win was the Red Sox first on August 15th since 1997. You may have heard about the so-called "Ben Affleck Curse," the fact the Sox have not won on that day since his film "Good Will Hunting" came out, and August 15th is the actor's birthday.

Good, another made-up "curse" bites the dust. CHB will have to hang his hat on another "curse" he'll undoubtably make up to sell more books.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prayers For The Skipper


How many times have you and I as Red Sox fans thought, "Boy, it just can't get any worse?"

I thought that on Wednesday afternoon, after the Red Sox were swept by the worst team in MLB, the Miami Marlins, and gave up a 10-run inning to them in the process.

But nothing could compare to the news that came out on Friday afternoon.

John Farrell announced during his daily press conference that he has been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma, which was caught while he was having hernia surgery last weekend in Detroit. The hernia may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the lymphoma was caught in the curable stage.

Farrell has stepped away from the Red Sox for the rest of the season, and will begin chemotherapy on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. Bench coach Torey Lovullo will take over the team as interim manager for the balance of 2015.

Farrell is just 53 years old (7 months younger than I am). The news hit the Red Sox team hard, and David Ortiz later said that Hanley Ramirez was in tears when he broke the news to him.

We can only offer the Red Sox skipper our thoughts and prayers, and he gets through chemoptherapy with good health. Hope to see him back on the field in 2016.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Happy Trails to Mike Napoli & His Badass Beard

The Red Sox continued their dismantling yesterday, sending 2013 champion Mike Napoli back to Texas for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We thank him for what Dave O'Brien once called "the unexpected gift of a season" that the 2013 year and championship was.

Nap and his badass beard will never be forgotten.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Lucchino Departs at Season's End


Love him or hate him, Larry Lucchino left his mark on the Red Sox.

Lucchino is stepping away from his role as president and CEO of the Red Sox when this season ends. He'll be replaced by current vice-president and COO Sam Kennedy, who was brought to the Red Sox as a intern by Lucchino in 2002.

Lucchino leaves a mixed legacy in Boston, but far more on the positive side. After stints in Baltimore and San Diego, where he helped develop both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Petco Park, he joined the Red Sox with John Henry and Tom Werner when the club was sold in 2001.

When I hear his name, I'll always think of the way he turned up the rivalry with the Yankees by calling them "The Evil Empire" in 2003. He was instrumental in bringing in Theo Epstein as GM for the Red Sox in 2002, and was also responsible for Theo leaving Fenway in a gorilla suit and his temporary resignation in 2005. Lucchino could rub people the wrong way, and come off as meddlesome and a bit of a tyrant at times.

And also don't forget, he was the one who wanted Bobby Valentine as manager in 2012.

But the shining stars on his Red Sox resume are the three championships the Sox won in 2004, 2007 and 2013. And the renovation of Fenway Park was also on his watch, making the park a far more livable and watchable place to watch a game.

Larry also showed up many years ago at a BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club, and actually came off as a rather friendly individual.

I can remember years ago Red Sox fans who were totally disgusted with Lucchino's meddling and wondering when he'd be gone as team president. Conspiracy theorists are already speculating as to whether Lucchino is taking the fall for the Red Sox' awful last couple of seasons. According to Gordon Edes at ESPN, it sounds like Lucchino was phasing his role down for the last couple of seasons, and the team did not want to lose Sam Kennedy to another organization. (He had been wooed by the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs about a president position.)

Changes within the Red Sox continue, and I didn't see this one coming. I wish Larry Lucchino well.