Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gagne Traded to Red Sox

The Red Sox made a great trade today at the deadline, dealing lefty pitcher Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders David Murphy and Engle Beltre to Texas for closer Eric Gagne. The Sox added Gagne to an already superb bullpen.

Gagne had the right to turn the deal down, but he waved his no-trade clause to become a setup man for Jonathan Papelbon. Gagne gives the Sox plenty of insurance, especially if Mike Timlin's shoulder is a real problem. Gagne will see plenty of action setting up, and will probably also get some closing opportunities from time to time as well.

I hated to see Kason Gabbard go, but he will get a chance to pitch full-time in Texas. Murphy will get more of a chance to play there than in Boston, and Beltre is an extremely young outfield prospect who is many years away.

This deal tells me the Sox are going for it now, and reinforced their already strong pen. The possible deal for Jermaine Dye did not materialize (sounds like he might re-sign with Chicago), I was sorry to see they did not make any kind of deal for a fourth outfielder, and they didn't move Wily Mo Pena. Oh well.

It was still an exciting day to be a Red Sox fan.

And did anyone else notice the Yankees actually subtracted from their bullpen, and didn't add any veteran to bolster their mediocre pen? Very curious indeed.

The Clock Is Ticking

We're now in the final hours before the 4 PM trading deadline, and the Red Sox haven't made any big moves. They did Joel Pineiro, as well as the team, a favor by trading him and some cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later. Addition by subtraction, and I would have taken a couple of broken bats for him right now. (And to think, the Sox were actually considering this guy for the closer role early in the spring. Thank God they came to their senses about that one.)

The Yankees traded Scott Proctor to the Dodgers for infielder Wilson Betemit today. Very curious deal. I've heard the Yankees got him in case Alex Rodriguez walks away after this season. (If that's true, the Yankees are in real trouble.) Betemit's a good utility player, and helps the Yankees' bench, but that's not the most glaring need they have right now. And they really want to move Kyle Farnsworth, who's deep in Joe Torre's doghouse. I hear they are bringing up rookie Joba Chamberlain for their bullpen, but if they move Proctor, and want to rid themselves of Farnsworth, they must be looking at another vet to put out there.

The Mets made a nice deal in getting Luis Castillo for second base from Minnesota. Good stick, good glove, speed, he'll help steady the Mets 2B problems. It will be interesting to see if they can land a veteran starter or bullpen help. Rumors about Eric Gagne have been getting louder, but they don't want to part with rookie OF Carlos Gomez.

Still nothing on the Jermaine Dye-to-the Red Sox rumors. The Sox don't want to part with either Manny Delcarmen or young pitching prospect Justin Masterson, who would be packaged with Wily Mo Pena. Stay tuned. ESPN will have coverage up until the moment the deadline comes and goes.

I will also have a new countdown clock up at 4 PM. It will be the countdown to the next Red Sox-Yankees series, which happens August 28.

Trivia Q&A: July 30

We had 10 teams in for Trivia on Monday night, which was a rather clammy night with no Red Sox game on, as they were idle. But we had a decent crowd, and a few were happy to see the return of Movie Quotes Trivia.

I really didn't think the quotes were terribly difficult, but a few teams had trouble with them. Most teams got about 6 correct or fewer. The scores were better in True or False and General Knowledge.

We had a close match going into IQ Trivia, with the top five teams separated by just three points. But the team called Canonzalone and Friends ran the table on the final round, and wound up winning by eight points. Yes, the long national nightmare ended for my friend Mariangela, as she and her team won for the very first time, after countless second place finishes, including losing the heartbreaking tiebreaker last week.

My congratulations to her and her team. "The Curse" is finally over. See you all next week when you defend your title for the first time.

Current Events
1. Pratibha Patil was sworn in recently as this country's 13th president and first woman ever to occupy the office.
2. Alberto Contador of Spain was crowned the winner of this competition yesterday.
3. This country defeated Saudi Arabia on Sunday to win its first ever Asian Cup in soccer.
4. Seven crew members were killed in a crash of a cargo plane at Domodedovo Airport on Sunday in this city.
5. This comedian was selected to replace Bob Barker as the new host of "The Price Is Right" starting this fall.
6. "The Simpsons Movie" was the number one film in the US this past weekend. How much did it take in in the US (within $5 million)?
7. In which major city did two helicopters crash in midair last week, killing four people?
8. This famous movie star, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of his birth, was honored with a bronze statue at the National Cowboy Museum last week.
9. This TV show host revealed last Thursday he broke his left wrist before taping his show last month.
10. This comic actor recently revealed he'll be starring in the movie remake of the classic TV series, "Get Smart," as Agent Maxwell Smart.

Answers: 1. India; 2. 2007 Tour de France; 3. Iraq; 4. Moscow; 5. Drew Carey; 6. $71.9 million; 7. Phoenix; 8. John Wayne; 9. Stephen Colbert; 10. Steve Carell.

Movie Quotes
1. "To me, being a gangster was better than being president of the United States."
2. "I said it before, and I'll say it again. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it."
3. "A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous."
4. "Wanna make 14 dollars, the hard way?"
5. "It's good to be The King."
6. "Round up the usual suspects."
7. "Hey rookie. You were good."
8. "That's a horse of a different color."
9. "Man's got to know his limitations."
10. "I'll see you in hell, William Munney."

Answers: 1. "Goodfellas;" 2. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off;" 3. "The Godfather;" 4. "Caddyshack;" 5. "History of the World, Part I;" 6. "Casablanca;" 7. "Field of Dreams;" 8. "The Wizard of Oz;" 9. "Magnum Force;" 10. "Unforgiven."

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. In horticulture, cactus is considered a succulent.
2. According to the UN, India has the largest population in the world.
3. The manned US space shuttle launches take place from the Johnson Space Center.
4. Giorgio Armani uses his real name when designing clothes.
5. Kenny was the name of the character who dies in almost "South Park" episode.
6. Johannesburg is not one of South Africa's three national capitals.
7. On the TV show, "The Brady Bunch," the character of father Mike Brady was a lawyer.
8. The Millenium Dome is located in Australia.
9. The Statue of Liberty has six separate points on its crown.
10. The human "windpipe" is known medically as the trachea.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, it's China; 3. false, it's the Kennedy Space Center; 4. true; 5. true; 6. true; 7. false, he was an architect; 8. false, it's in England; 9. false, it has seven; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. By what other name was the television host Don Herbert known as?
2. What is a Geiger counter used to detect?
3. The African tsetse fly is famous for carrying the disease known as what?
4. How many legs does a spider have?
5. Which late TV personality, in 1998, co-authored a best-selling book called "The Century?"
6. The flag of which nation consists of a white cross centered against a field of red?
7. During which war was the TV drama "China Beach" set?
8. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is an example of which type of bridge structure?
9. According to Greek mythology, what vain youth spurned the love of the nymph Echo?
10. In 1997, the Soufriere Hills volcano caused many residents to leave which Caribbean island?

Answers: 1. Mr. Wizard; 2. radiation; 3. sleeping sickness; 4. eight; 5. Peter Jennings; 6. Switzerland; 7. Vietnam War; 8. suspension; 9. Narcissus; 10. Montserrat.

IQ Trivia

1. What was the second state to be officially admitted to the Union? (5 points)
2. What nation changed its name officially to Myanmar in 1989? (5 points)
3. In which city was the signing of the treaty that ended the American Revolution? (4 points)
4. What famous French artist decided to spend his last years of his life in the South Pacific? (5 points)
5. What ancient people created the earliest known examples of a writing system known as cuneiform? (6 points)

Answers: 1. Pennsylvania; 2. Burma; 3. Paris; 4. Paul Gauguin; 5. Sumerians.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Clownin' Around at KeySpan

I received a very nice email today from Kyle Petersen, who works as a vendor at KeySpan Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones home park in Coney Island. I saw Kyle at the Cyclones game last Friday night, and he really stands out, as he is also a very talented juggler, as well as unicyclist. He walked right past my father and I as he was selling Cracker Jacks and juggling at the same time. Folks like Kyle make the experience of going to KeySpan that much more fun.

Here I am including a YouTube video of Kyle in action at KeySpan. (It's about three minutes long and definitely worth checking out.) He's a really talented guy, and he's got his own blog about the Cyclones and his exploits at KeySpan. Check that out also:


Always a pleasure to help out a fellow Cyclones supporter!

It was also good to find out on Kyle's blog that J. R. Voyles, the Cyclones second baseman who was beaned the other night, was not seriously hurt, and will be back in action soon.

The Cyclones are still in first place in the NYPL, at 26-12 and five games up on the Staten Island Yankees.

Thanks Kyle, and Go Cyclones!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Movie Quotes Returns

Monday Night Trivia will see the return of an old favorite category that I haven't done in a while: Movie Quotes. I put it to the side for a while, but a number of regular trivia players ask me to bring it back at some point. So I'm happy to announce it will be back as a category on July 30. But it will probably be back just for tomorrow night.

It will join the usual categories, plus the return of True or False, "The Q Train." We had to bump that category last week as we had a very late start to Trivia Night due to the Red Sox-Indians game. The Red Sox are off on Monday night, so we will have the usual five categories, as well as the normal 9 PM start time.

This week's Sneak Peek question is:

According to Greek mythology, what vain youth spurned the love of the nymph Echo?

Hope to see many of you for Trivia on Monday night.

So How Many Titles Have The Devil Rays Won?

I was watching last night's Red Sox-Devil Rays game from St. Petersburg, a game the Sox won, 12-6 in 12 innings. In the second inning, J.D. Drew was at the plate, when I clearly heard a voice, which I was believe was that idiotic, obnoxious leatherlung who's made a small name for himself with all the moronic yelling he does at opposition players at the Tropicana Dome. (I couldn't for the life of me tell you his name, nor do I care.)

He actually yelled words at the Red Sox to the effect of: "You know the Yankees are going to catch you!" and "You guys always choke!"

I couldn't help but bust out laughing hearing that. So how many times has your team won a championship, buddy? Or better yet, how many times has your team not finished last in their history, pal?

It also reminded me of the time back in 2004 when a group of Devil Rays fans were behind home plate during a Red Sox-Devil Rays game at the Trop and they all held up signs saying, "1918." That was really funny. (And please see the preceeding paragraph for an answer to that.)

I guess being a baseball fan in Tampa Bay, you have to turn your attention away from the team you're rooting for, and try to make yourself feel better, any way you can.

Cal Ripken: The Iron Man

He was always one of my favorite "opposition" players. I always respected his talent, work ethic and dedication to the game of baseball.

Today, Cal Ripken goes into the Hall of Fame with Tony Gwynn, two very deserving men. They both played the game the right way, and they both join the immortals of the sport forever at Cooperstown this afternoon.

I will now turn over the rest of this blog to my friend Eddie Dalder, who is a huge Cal Ripken fan from Maryland. He sent me a very nice email about one of his idols, and I thought I would share it with all of you. Thanks for sharing your memories, Eddie.

Most people will be watching ballgames today when I will be looking towards Cooperstown. I know that football is near but today is special. I grew near Baltimore and my favorite athlete will always be Cal Ripken, Jr. The past week has caused me to remember his career and a time when The Baltimore Orioles were a good team. I'd like to share some thoughts.

Cal Ripken Sr. was the ultimate Oriole. Many Oriole players who came through the team's minor leagues in the '60s and '70s say "Senior" was the best coach they ever had. He was a baseball lifer like many whose consistency and excellence will not make headlines. There was a method called "The Oriole Way." Every player from the lowest minor league to the major league roster received the same instruction so that habits and drills were consistent. "Perfect practice makes perfect" was a saying attributed to Senior. He eventually wrote his own expanded version. Cal, Jr.and Bill Ripken grew up in the minor leagues wherever their father went. Junior even said he would go with his father to practices just for the time in the caralone with his father.

One winter's day, Cal Senior needed to plow snow, so he hand cranked an old tractor. It backfired and the crank hit him. Senior had an ugly gash. His sons were telling him to go the hospital. Senior applied an oilyrag, plowed the snow-then he went to the hospital. Is it any wonder why Cal played so many games in a row?

Bill Ripken was a good player in his own right. .291 average in 1991, slick fielding second baseman. However, when your brother is "The Iron Man", you tend to be overshadowed. A heckler once yelled, "You'll never be as good as your brother."

Bill responded, "I know."

Jon Miller once said that, in a western movie, Bill would have broken his brother out of jail. He had a baseball card recalled because of an obscenity written on the knob of the bat. Bill said this about the stat obsessed reaction to Cal's election to The Hall of Fame, "It's not about pure numbers. Certain so-called 'experts' have said that if it wasn't for the streak, Cal wouldn't go into the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned, those people are on crack.'' Most people don't know that Cal was a great basketball player. Bill saw that his brother had amazing physical skill. Bill and Cal run a baseball academy. Cal is the public face while Bill does the day-to-day instruction. He has no regrets.

Few people have heard of Ernie Tyler. He is the home plate attendant at Camden Yards. He will rub up the baseballs and look after the umpires. His sons run the clubhouses. Ernie is 83 and had missed a game since 1960-a few months before Cal Jr. was born. Mr. Tyler will end his streak at 3,769 games because Cal invited Ernie to be his guest at today's Hall of Fame inductions. His sons can't make it. The Yankees are in town. Tony Gwynn is a perfect companion to Cal Ripken Jr. Both were examples of longevity and excellence. "Punch and Judy hitter" is usually an insult, but not to Mr. Gwynn. He is the best hitter I have seen.

A .338 lifetime batting average shows that. I am sure his conversations with Ted Williams on hitting must have been fascinating. Tony hit .370 in 1987 but finished 8th in the MVP voting. He admits he was mad at the time. However,well, as the commercial said, "Chicks dig the longball." Gwynn and Ripken practiced their chosen craft and did it well. Tony is now the baseball coach at San Diego State and his son; Tony, Jr. is playing with the Milwaukee Brewers. Gwynn Sr. will become a grandfather in the fall. Congratulations on your election and that life event. As Harry Chapin once sang, "All my life's a circle, sunrise and sundown."

2,131 will be Cal Ripken's ultimate legacy. I doubt it saved baseball. It has shown remarkable resilience in spite the efforts of owners and players to kill it. Fourteen years without a day off is hard to understand. Most people can appreciate the idea because we punch the clock ever day, do our job well, and then go home. Cal understood he had a privilege with obligations. He signed for hours after games. I was stunned when I heard fans in opposing ballparks applauding him. 2,131 was a "good" when the sport needed it. It reminded people of the excellence of Lou Gehrig. His streak ended because he had a fatal illness that bears his name. Barry Bonds has helped people remember the grace and ability of Hank Aaron. "The Hammer"withstood hate mail, death threats and prejudice from as he passed the immortal Babe Ruth. Numbers may be surpassed, but the legends of Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth will reign and be cherished.

I was present at game 2,130 as Cal tied Lou Gehrig. It was fun. The Orioles won 8-0, Cal hit a home run and got a 6 minute ovation. It was a party and something I will always remember. My favorite memory was the 2001 All Star Game. Ripken had announced his retirement, Gwynn, and both were in a "Summer of Love." Sure, the pitch may have been grooved in there, but Cal hit it out for a home run. As the saying goes "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." I saw a home run and a tear came to my eye. I realized later that my extended childhood was ending. I was an adult with responsibilities, but Cal playing reminded me of my childhood when life seemed simpler. Now both Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn enter The Hall of Fame together. They entered baseball at the same time, retired at the same time and set a high standard. Cal said upon his retirement it is an honor to be remembered at all.

Congratulations gentlemen.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Game Delayed By...Fireworks?

Last night I went to my third Brooklyn Cyclones game of the 2007 season. The team is having a fabulous season, and they have the best record of any team in the New York-Penn League. The season is about at its midway point. The Cyclones are the Mets Rookie "A" team, and they play a 76-game schedule.

Last night they hosted the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Washington Nationals' affiliate. (They used to be called the Expos, but when the big club left Montreal, they changed the team name to "Lake Monsters." Who thought that one up?) It was a very good, well-played game. It was scoreless through nine innings.

Vermont loaded the bases in the tenth, and got the game's first run with two outs on a walk with a 3-2 count. The game stayed 1-0 when the Cyclones took their turn in the 10th. Then a really scary moment happened. I had a seat behind home plate, and could see and hear very clearly Cyclones second baseman J.R. Voyles get hit squarely in the head with a pitch that got away. He laid down on the ground for five minutes while medical personnel put him on a stretcher and took him to the hospital. I certainly wish him all the best and a speedy return to the Cyclones lineup.

While the medical people worked on the injured Voyles, fireworks began going off in the background, beyond centerfield. The PA announcer said that the Cyclones had no control over when the fireworks go off (on Friday nights during the summer, fireworks are shot off from one of the piers). Not only were the fireworks really loud, they created a smoke condition, and it totally covered the ballpark. I felt like I was at that Red Sox-Indians game from the late 1980s that eventually got called because of fog in Cleveland. (It was the one that Oil Can Boyd once famously said, "That's what happens when you build a stadium on the ocean.") The umpires had to halt the game, and it was delayed for 25 minutes.

Finally the fireworks subsided, and the game resumed. Vermont got the final three outs for a 1-0 victory. I've seen games delayed in my life for various reasons: rain, snow, hail, fog, lightning, power outages, things like that. It's the first time I've seen a baseball game delayed for fireworks. (And it was the only fireworks I saw all night, on or off the field.) I think the Cyclones should avoid that situation in the future. Either make a deal with those people running that show, or start their Friday night games earlier.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And Ryan Went Deep Last Night

I was at Professor Thom's the other night and my buddy Willie pointed this out to me. Indians first baseman Ryan Garko bares quite the resemblance to Red Sox backup catcher and Internet cult hero Doug Mirabelli.

And on cue in last night's game, Garko tomahawked (if you'll pardon the expression) a pitch off of Julian Tavarez in the seventh for a three-run homer to keep last night's game close. Now, you don't suppose that Ryan told all of his teammates before the game, "Ryan's goin' deep tonight!"or anything like that, do you?

But I do wonder if celebrated his "bomb" by waking up his neighborhood when he got home and then fell asleep after midnight while watching some adult entertainment...

Sox, Tribe Slug It Out In Series Finale

After three well-pitched games in Cleveland, the finale of the Red Sox-Indians evolved into a big time slugfest, with the Red Sox prevailing, 14-9. Manny Ramirez went deep twice, the first being a nearly 500-foot bomb to center, and Wily Mo Pena had a rare big night, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and a three-run homer to pace the offensive attack. (I really hope this doesn't convince the Red Sox to hold on to Pena beyond this coming Tuesday's trade deadline.)

The Red Sox win, combined with the Yankees loss in Kansas City, puts the Red Sox back to 7 1/2 games up in the AL East.

The two teams combined for just 10 runs the first three games, but both either matched that or came very close to that number last night. The Red Sox have been involved in very few slugfests of this nature all season. Kason Gabbard looked strong for the first four innings, allowing just a home run to Franklin Gutierrez. The Red Sox staked him to a 9-1 lead, but the wheels came off in the fifth, and Gabbard came up one out short of going the necessary five innings for the win. Julian Tavarez came in to get the last out in the fifth, and did a nice job getting the game to the late innings in his first relief outing since being sent to the pen. He deserved a better fate in the seventh, as a Julio Lugo error to start the inning led to four runs.

It looks possible that Gabbard may be odd man out when Curt Schilling returns to the Red Sox, and it looks like that might happen on the Red Sox next trek out to the West Coast. Schilling had a terrific rehab outing at Toledo for Pawtucket, pitching five innings, striking out eight and allowing just two hits. He said after the game that he will have one more outing for the PawSox before he's reactivated. Gabbard's done a really nice job overall, and can be very valuable to the Red Sox in the September stretch run.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Schilling Calls Out McGwire and Bonds

It certainly was an interesting interview that Curt Schilling gave to Bob Costas the other night on "Costas NOW." As we all know, Schilling is never shy about offering his opinions on everything under the sun. He's a polarizing subject, as there are those who love him and those who intensely dislike him. The camera goes on him and the mouth gets moving.

But I am with Curt on the latest bruhaha. Costas asked him about Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and the whole circus surrounding steroids. Schilling, who appeared with McGwire before Congress in 2005, basically said that since he dodged questions that day about any possible steroid use, he was basically guilty of being a user. "If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn't sue their ass off, am I not admitting that there's some legitimacy to it?," Schilling said to Costas.

I find it interesting that NONE of those players accused of steroid use, either in the terrific "Game of Shadows" book, or the Jose Canseco's "Juiced" expose of steroids, has sued the authors (players such as Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, McGwire or the now-infamous Rafael Palmeiro). If they are really clean and have been defamed in those books, why haven't they gone to court over it? (Because if they did, EVERYTHING would come out in open court.)

The fact that McGwire hasn't said "no" when asked about steroid use in the past convinced Schilling he's got something to hide. (McGwire simply ruined his Hall of Fame chances with that ill-advised "non-denial.") Bonds' reaction to the HBO show on steroids was something you'd expect from this classless jerk, and he went after the show's host: "Costas is a little midget who knows jack shit about baseball." (Costas has been critical about Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's home run record, and said in a roundabout way that Bonds was a steroid user the other night.) Nice. ("Little midget?" Is there such a thing as a big midget?)

Whether you like Schilling or not, it's hard to argue with his point. The fact that Bonds and McGwire have dodged all the steroid allegations and have done absolutely nothing to try to repair their reputations tells me there's much more to this story than either is letting on.

Just read "Game of Shadows" and see if you still believe Bonds isn't a juicer.

I bet you won't.

The Shoe's On The Other Foot

Well, just when I said I enjoyed 1-0 games, especially when my team wins, the Red Sox lose the next game by the same score. It was one of the best pitched games of the year by both teams. Fausto Carmona, who the Red Sox beat twice last season as the Indians closer, one on a Big Papi game-winning homer, looked sensational, pitching eight solid innings. He won his 13th game, and currently has an 18-inning scoreless streak now.

Josh Beckett was superb as well, as he pitched a complete game, allowing just a home run to Franklin Gutierrez. It was a really tough game to lose, but not like the games the Red Sox lost to Kansas City and Chicago last week. Those games make you want to pull your hair out, as they were against clearly inferior teams at home, and they wasted upteen opportunities to score runs every game.

Last night was a case of running into a buzzsaw. You just have to tip your hat to a really well-pitched game by a starter having a terrific year.

Now over the last three games in Cleveland, the Sox have allowed just three runs to the hard-hitting Indians, and won two out of three. The pitching has been sensational as of late. Their lead in the AL East is now at 6 1/2 games.

But the Yankees continue to beat up on the Kansas City Royals, who gave the Red Sox and Tigers nothing but trouble last week on the road. Nice of them to roll over like dogs when they go home to meet the Yankees.

And once again I ask the same question I asked yesterday. When was the last time the Yankees won a 1-0 game?

The red-hot Kason Gabbard takes the hill for the Red Sox in Cleveland tonight to conclude the four-game series.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Red Sox, Dice-K Keep Rolling

There was a great pitchers duel last night at Jacobs Field, between Daisuke Matsuzaka and C.C. Sabathia, and Dice-K and the Sox came out on top, winning, 1-0, as they boys from Boston won their fifth straight game and remain 7 1/2 up in the AL East.

I really enjoy low-scoring, well-pitched games like last night (and especially when my team comes out on top). I think they are just as good, if not better, than 10-9 games. Dice-K pitched seven strong innings, allowing just 4 hits, and Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon continue to be the best 1-2 combo in any MLB bullpen in securing The Dice Man's 12th win.

Oh, and by the way, when was the Yankees last 1-0 win this season? Can't say I can recall even one.

It was also "Kayreoke Night"at Professor Thom's, as fans got to call the action for a half-inning at a time. I was the host of the festivities, and as an added bonus, a film crew was in to film us for a documentary being made about the 2007 Red Sox. Everyone had a good time last night, and especially because the Red Sox prevailed.

Mike Lowell's bloop single in the fourth proved to be the difference, driving in Kevin Youkilis. Red Sox Nation was also in full voice, as thousands of Sox supporters filled the stands. I read online where many Indians fans were annoyed by it. But let's face the facts. If the Indians were playing a team like the Mariners or Blue Jays, there would be far fewer fans in the stands, and the multitude of Sox fans puts money into the coffers of the Indians management (so I doubt they will publicly complain). If they want to keep the Sox fans away, they should buy up all the tickets and not sell any to Red Sox fans looking to go. But even then, many fans can make good money to those fans looking to get in. The Almighty Dollar is always a big lure.

Wherever the Red Sox go, their loyal supporters follow. That's a fact of life these days. Get used to it.

Wacko Professor Gets Canned

I was pleased this morning to hear that Ward Churchill, that screwball professor from University of Colorado, was fired from the school yesterday. This moron and fake American Indian once likened the victims of the 9/11 attacks to "Little Eichmanns" and felt they deserved the fate they suffered on that horrible, tragic day.

He's another one of these mental pygmies who thinks the government was behind what happened that day. But the school didn't fire him for that. They got him for plagarism, falsification and other infractions.

I was really pissed off when this jackass' remarks hit the news two years ago when he was all set to speak at a school in upstate New York. But thanks to the mobilization of the 9/11 families and various media outlets, the school backed down and Churchill's invite was revoked.

Now he's out of a job and that's a good thing. One less bonehead teaching on college campuses.

And this asshole better pray he never crosses paths with me.

Rock Disrespects The Babe

Late last night, I caught the repeat of a special edition of "Costas NOW," which is on HBO and features Bob Costas talking about sports. I've always like Costas and his take on sports and especially baseball, as I guess we are both considered "traditionalists" when it comes to the game.

He dedicated most of last night's show to Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, and of course, steroids. It was an interesting show, as it also featured an interview with Curt Schilling. But what got me to writing about it was a panel discussion that was midway through the show that featured Costas with Baseball Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Gary Carter, and for some inexplicable reason, comedian Chris Rock.

I guess Rock is a big baseball fan, and was there for some comedic purpose. They touched on a number of subjects about baseball, but inevitably, it turned to race in regard to Bonds' chase of the home run record. And in the middle of that, Rock came out with a real beauty, in his attempt to be outrageous.

He said that the records held by Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb were "bullshit," because neither of them played against black players. (He also called all of Ruth's dingers "714 affirmative action home runs," whatever the hell that means.)

Nice of Rock to disrespect the memories of all white players who played before Jackie Robinson, and demean every one of them who played before 1947 and what they accomplished as being illegitimate.

Frankly, what Rock said was "bullshit."

Rock should take a history lesson. Babe Ruth may very well have saved Major League Baseball back in the early 1920s. Back then, because of the fallout of the Black Sox scandal of 1919, baseball's popularity was sagging to record low levels, and was in danger of fading away as the national sport. Make no mistake, it was in real trouble. But along comes Ruth, who captured the nation's imagination with his prolific home run totals in putting the New York Yankees on the map as a baseball dynasty. He simply became the most popular athlete in the country, and to this day is still the biggest star baseball has ever known, or probably will ever know. Many great superstars have followed The Babe, but he is still in a class by himself in MLB history. Players today owe The Babe a great debt, for what he meant to the sport, and for taking it to another level in the pantheon of American sports.

To call what Ruth did "bullshit" sounded simply like the rantings of a simple-minded fool who just doesn't get it. (It reminded me of those Yankee fans who yell "Boston Sucks" at Red Sox fans even when the Sox are in first place.) If Rock had made an intelligent point like, "I think the era Babe Ruth played in was inferior to the following ones because there were no black players, and his accomplishments should be judged in that light," I would have respected his point and not written this column. But instead he chose to jump in the mud and say something outrageous. (I would guess the HBO producers expected that.) Rock could have made his point (which does have validity) without defaming Ruth.

The fact that blacks didn't get the chance to play on the same MLB teams as whites before 1947 was indeed unfortunate, unfair and racist. The integration of baseball in 1947 was long overdue, and was a major turning point in 20th Century baseball (as well as history). But the accomplishments of players like Ruth, Cy Young, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and other early 1900s greats shouldn't be besmerched because bigoted owners wouldn't allow blacks to play alongside whites (although people like Connie Mack, John McGraw and Bill Veeck wanted to bring blacks on their teams before 1947, but they were considered too radical, and more powerful owners shot them down). It certainly wasn't the players call not to have blacks play with them, and in Ken Burns' "Baseball" documentary from 1994, he pointed out that in 1939, a poll of MLB players found that 69% of them had no problem with blacks playing in the majors.

And Chris Rock better watch with his talk disrespecting Babe Ruth. He might want to have a chat with Pedro Martinez about that.

You may remember that back in 2001, Pedro was so sick and tired of all that "Curse of the Bambino" BS from sportswriters after a win over the Yankees that year he said, "Wake the Bambino. I might just drill him in the ass." Shortly after saying that, Pedro went down with a shoulder injury that more or less killed the remainder of the 2001 season for him.

Granted, Rock is not a ballplayer, but he better be careful with putting down The Babe and his legacy. I don't wish Rock any ill, but The Bambino has his ways of getting even.

Weekly World News Bites The Dust

Well, another part of my past has gone away. I read with a little bit of sadness that The Weekly World News, the most outrageous, and the goofiest of all the supermarket tabloids, is ceasing publication next month.

It is another connection I had to Tower Records that's gone. Let me explain.

When I started at Tower in 1984, I was first introduced to this wacky "magazine." Every week, some store employee would bring it in and we'd have a good laugh reading the incredible and ridiculous stories and headlines it always screamed, like "Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby" and nonsense like that. (They always seemed to be obsessed with aliens for some reason.) The stories ranged from Elvis sightings, apes getting into colleges (see above), Titanic survivors found on icebergs, and just about every goofy and nutty thing you (or rather they) could possibly think of.

It brought to the world a "writer" named Ed Anger, who always seemed to be pissed off about everything. I love the title of his book, "Let's Pave the Stupid Rainforests and Give School Teachers Stun Guns." The magazine was hilarious, as the writers sure had vivid imaginations and great senses of humor. It was actually published by the same folks who brought us the National Enquirer (and it made the Enquirer look like The New York Times in comparison).

For more on the Weekly World News' demise, check out this article:

I'm sure aliens all over the universe are crying about their favorite earthly magazine's fade into history.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Three Years Ago Today

Here's a pleasant memory for a sunny day.

From July 24, 2004:

Ah, the memories.

God bless Jason Varitek.

God bless Bill Mueller.

God bless The 25.

Welcome Back to The Show, Jon

On an emotional night last night in Cleveland, Jon Lester returned to majors for the first time since last August, when he was diagnosed with cancer. Lester was command for six solid innings as the Red Sox scored early and often for him, and won, 6-2.

He threw 96 pitches and struck out six. His parents were watching behind the Cleveland dugout, and each time they showed them on TV, his mother looked to be on the verge of tears. It was that kind of night.

Just seeing Jon Lester on a major league mound again was a great thing. To see him pitching so well was just an added bonus. He surrendered a two-run homer to Grady Sizemore in the third, and got into a bases loaded jam in the fourth with one out, but got a grounder back to the mound and forced the runner at the plate, and then struck out Sizemore to end the threat.

His fastball and curve both looked great. The fourth inning was the only serious trouble he was in all night. The bullpen did another superior job, with Mike Timlin, Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen putting a lid on the Indians. Delcarmen also picked up his first save of the season.

It was also a big night for Coco Crisp, who had four hits and scored three runs. Manny Ramirez doubled in two runs, JD Drew singled in one and another scored when Mike Lowell banged into a double play. It was 4-0 before Lester took the mound. (It was nice to see the crowd, including many Red Sox fans, giving him a nice hand when he first went out there.)

It was a great night overall for the Red Sox, who remain 7 1/2 games up in the AL East. But it truly belonged to Jon Lester, who made a nice return to the majors after a frightening battle with cancer. It's good to have him back, and but most especially, cancer-free.

Trivia Q&A: July 23

We had 12 teams for Trivia Night on Monday. It was a late start, as the Red Sox-Indians game went on until 10:25 PM. We had a good crowd to see the return of Jon Lester to the majors, so we waited for the game to conclude. We had a good evening of trivia. Most teams did well in Hall of Fame Trivia, as well as General Knowledge. (We had to bump True or False Trivia to next week as the late start limited us to four categories.)

It was a four-team race going into the final round, as they were separated by just one point. The top two teams both ran the table in IQ Trivia, which is worth 25 points. So, for the first time in many months, the contest ended in a tie.

So I came up with a tie-breaker question, with help of my pal Jim: "How many seasons has The Simpsons been on the air?" Both teams came up with "18" and were correct. (I originally thought it was 17, but I was corrected.) So we had to go to a second tie-breaker question. (Double overtime!)

Since we did Hall of Fame Trivia, and the Red Sox game was on TV earlier that night, I came up with, "What was Ted Williams' last season in the majors?" One team said 1950, and the other said 1958. The answer of course is 1960, so I Wish This Microphone was crowned champion over I Once Killed a Drifter.

It was a terrific night of Trivia, and we'll be back next Monday at the usual time of 9 PM, as the Red Sox have an off day on July 30.

Current Events
1. The final book in the Harry Potter series was released last Friday. Within 1 million, how many copies did it sell in the US in the first 24 hours?
2. Tim Donaghy, an official in this sport, has been accused of being in a point-shaving scandal connected to the mob.
3. This film, which received less than stellar reviews, beat out the new Harry Potter film to become the number one film at box offoce last week.
4. 26 people were killed in this European country when a tour bus plunged off a mountain road and burst into flames.
5. Russell Feingold, Democratic senator from this state, says he will offer two resolutions in Congress to formally censure President Bush over the Iraq war.
6. Padraig Harrington, a golfer from this country, defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff to win the British Open yesterday.
7. This televangelist died of colon cancer over the weekend, at the age of 65.
8. 200 people were trapped inside this monument on Saturday night when a power failure stopped everything for nearly three hours.
9. The Taliban in Afghanistan is currently holding 23 people hostage from this Asian country and are demanding the release of Taliban prisoners in exchange for their release.
10. A skyscaper in this Middle eastern city has now claimed the title of "World's Tallest Building" and will be over 2600 feet when it officially opens in September 2009.

Answers: 1. 8.3 million; 2. basketball; 3. "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry;" 4. France; 5. Wisconsin; 6. Ireland; 7. Tammy Faye Bakker; 8. Gateway Arch; 9. South Korea; 10. Dubai.

Hall of Fame Trivia
1. This player won eight batting titles, 5 Gold Gloves, was on 15 All-Star teams and hit .338 in his career.
2. This pitcher won a record 511 games, and is the all-time leader in innings pitched and complete games, and has an award named in his honor.
3. This player was AL MVP twice, AL Triple Crown winner in 1934, hit the most grand slams in MLB history, and is considered the best hitting first baseman of all-time.
4. This was the last man to hit .400, won 2 MVP awards, two Triple Crowns, and homered in his last at-bat.
5. This man is in the Hall of Fame as a manager, having won 7 World Series titles, but also managed one of the worst teams of all-time as well.
6. This player has been World Series MVP twice, four times AL home run champion, but also once hit 3 HRs in a World Series-clinching game.
7. This pitcher, called "The Franchise," won 311 games with four teams, but is best known for leading his first club to an improbable World Series win.
8. This player, a third baseman, won 5 AL batting titles, 2 Gold Gloves, was a 12-time All-Star and retired with 3010 hits in 1999.
9. This Brooklyn-born pitcher was the most dominant pitcher of the early 1960s, throwing four no-hitters and a perfect game, and holds the NL record for strikeouts in a season by a pitcher.
10. This player hit 586 career home runs, won a Triple Crown, was MVP twice and was also baseball's first full-time black manager.

Answers: 1. Tony Gwynn; 2. Cy Young; 3. Lou Gehrig; 4. Ted Williams; 5. Casey Stengel; 6. Reggie Jackson; 7. Tom Seaver; 8. Wade Boggs; 9. Sandy Koufax; 10. Frank Robinson.

General Knowledge
1. On the TV sitcom, "Frasier," was type of terrier was the dog "Eddie?"
2. Which legendary country singer had the nickname "The Man in Black?"
3. Which former Soviet premier initiated the program known as perestroika?
4. In the 1999 film, "The Blair Witch Project," the characters disappear in the woods of what state?
5. The 18-month-old child who was rescued from a Texas well shaft in October 1987 was known by what first name?
6. What tragic American literary character made his home in West Egg, Long Island?
7. What was Captain James Kirk's middle name in the TV series, "Star Trek?"
8. Which 1980s film featured the antics of a goofball named Frank Drebin?
9. What company traditionally awards Pink Cadillacs to its most successful salespeople?
10. What was the name of country music legend Tammy Wynette's signature song?

Answers: 1. Jack Russell; 2. Johnny Cash; 3. Mikhail Gorbachev; 4. Maryland; 5. Jessica; 6. Jay Gatsby; 7. Tiberius; 8. "The Naked Gun;" 9. Mary Kay Cosmetics; 10. "Stand By Your Man."

IQ Trivia
1. A diamond is rated a 10 in hardness on what scale? (5 points)
2. What book by Irma Rombauer has gone through six editions and sold over 15 million copies? (6 points)
3. Gutzon Borgium is famous for designing which national monument? (5 points)
4. In 1998, what did the American Film Institute vote the greatest US movie of all-time? (4 points)
5. The Fianna Fail is a major political party in which country? (5 points)

Answers: 1. Mohs Scale; 2. "The Joy of Cooking;" 3. Mount Rushmore; 4. "Citizen Kane;" 5. Ireland.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hall of Fame Trivia On Tap

Monday Night Trivia tonight will feature a category on Baseball Hall of Famers, as MLB will be inducting its newest members this upcoming weekend. So I thought it appropriate to honor them by having around of trivia about them. I will read some info about some famous Hall members and you have to identify them. We will also have the usual ctaegories plus a round of True or False Trivia, which will be "The Q Train" lightning round.

The Sneak Peek question is:

Which former Soviet premier initiated the program known as perestroika?

Trivia will get going around 9:30 PM or so, as the Red Sox will have a game in Cleveland against the Indians. It will be a special night, as Jon Lester makes his return to the majors for his first start after battling lymphoma last year. I hope to see you then.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

September 11 Remembrance Moved

Earlier last week, I received an email about the upcoming 9/11 Memorial Remembrance at Ground Zero this September 11. It now appears that the loved ones of the 9/11 victims will not be able to go into the site, as the City of New York now feels that because of the ongoing construction inside the site, the official remembrance will have to be moved. It will be in Zuccotti Park, which is across the street on Liberty Street, between Broadway and Church Street.

This is a terrible mistake the city is making.

The footprints of the World Trade Center site is simply hallowed ground, and sacred territory. For thousands of people who lost someone they loved that day, going back to site to remember them is a special pilgrimage. Over 2700 brave and innocent souls lost their lives there that terrible morning in 2001, and over 1100 of them disappeared, and their families have nothing of them and no place to properly grieve.

I have been there for all five ceremonies, and I can testify that it is an incredibly sacred place. On the first anniversary in 2002 (pictured, "The Circle of Honor"), it was a life-changing day for me. 20,000 people went down into the site that day. Many like me return there every year on the day. My life stops cold that day, and everything takes a back seat to the special remembrance that takes place inside the site. I feel it is a special and sacred duty to be there every year on that date.

The city wants the ceremonies to take place at Zuccotti Park. That will simply be a logistical nightmare, as thousands of people, and not just those who lost loved ones, will be around the site to remember the victims. I can't imagine how they will accomodate so many people in such a small area. The park is relatively small in comparison to the site across the street. There are many safety and security issues raised by this move as well.

And besides, people travel from all over the country and the world to be there on September 11 to properly and with dignity remember those loved ones they lost. I was by the site earlier this month, and while the construction continues at a rapid rate, there is still room on the footprints to allow the victims' families and friends to remember the victims. I don't understand why the city can't stop construction for little more than half a day to allow this to happen. Of course, the day will come that it will no longer be possible to do that, but I would hope the city would reconsider this plan.

The city has also not said if there will be any access to the site on the day of the remembrance. It would be a terrible thing if the city doesn't allow at least that. I hope the city will listen to the families and allow them access to the spot where their brave loved ones lost their lives in the worst terror attack in American history.

They owe the families at least that much.

Lester Recalled From PawSox

The Red Sox recalled lefty starter Jon Lester today from Pawtucket, and he will start tomorrow night in Cleveland against the Indians. It is his regular rotation spot, so it will be a perfect fit for him.

Julian Tavarez is being moved back to the bullpen. He's been getting hammered lately, although he seems to pitch well for the first few innings before he gets hit. Tavarez figures to share the longman role with Kyle Snyder. It is expected that Javier Lopez will return to Pawtucket, as he still has options left. (Update: The Red Sox elected instead to DFA [designated for assignment] Joel Pineiro, the righty who has struggled mightily this season, and became the Sox garbage time pitcher, to make room for Lester. Thank God Pineiro went nowhere near the closer role this season.)

It has been an up-and-down year for Lester at Pawtucket, as he is 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA. He has pitched well in his last four starts, going 3-1. But his strikeout totals are down. Throughout his minor league career he has averaged about a strikeout an inning. But in his last 55 innings, Lester has fanned just 38.

Good luck in Cleveland tomorrow night, Jon. It's good to have you back.

David Ortiz Update: Big Papi will sit out today's game against the White Sox, and may miss a couple of games against Cleveland, due to the sore shoulder he suffered with his dive into second base on Friday night. It's nothing serious, as the MRI proved nothing was damaged.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Day in Hell, A Night in Heaven

It was to say the least an interesting day on Friday. It was going to be my first visit to Fenway Park in the 2007 season, after the game against Atlanta I was going to earlier this season got rained out. My friend Leah once again got me her tickets that she could not use. So I was really psyched to see America's Most Beloved Ballpark on Friday night.

I decided to once again take the Fung Wah Bus out of Chinatown. I've used it on three other occasions in the past, and it's always been fine. (It's had some well-known troubles in the past, put it's always been an economical way to get to Boston.) It costs just $15 each way, and it gets you from Chinatown in Manhattan to South Station in downtown Boston. The buses are generally pretty good, and better than you would imagine. I've gotten to Boston in just about four hours, and back from there in about the same amount of time.

I left at 12 noon on Friday. We hit some traffic getting out of New York, and were a little behind schedule. After a short 15 minute break in Connecticut, we hit the Massachusetts Turnpike shortly after 3:30 PM. I was planning on meeting my friend Joe, who was also going to be at the game, at about 5 PM on Yawkey Way so we could watch batting practice.

But at about 4 PM, I saw a sign near the Worcester exits that said, "Accident, Traffic Slow Ahead." Not only was traffic slow, it ground to a halt. I put on the radio to discover that there was a serious accident up ahead, and it would take time to clear. And boy, did it ever. Over the next two hours, we moved about two miles. It was so bad at one point, I saw drivers getting out of there cars, wondering when the traffic would move again. (It reminded me of a night two years ago, when I got stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike for 5 1/2 hours when I got stuck behind a fatal accident coming home from a Red Sox game in Baltimore.) It was beyond frustrating, and I called Joe to tell him that I had no idea what time I would be at Fenway. I was even fearing I might miss about half the game.

But by 6, the traffic cleared. I was still about 38 miles from Boston, and figured I'd have no shot of getting there by the start of the game. Thank goodness there was no traffic going into Boston, and we actually got to South Station at 6:45 PM. I got off the bus, and flew through the station. I got to the subway ("The T" as its known to the locals), changed at Park Street for the Green Line. I got off at Kenmore Square, and hustled my way to the ballpark. It was 7:15, and as I entered the park, I saw Josh Beckett pitching to Jim Thome with two out and one man on.

It was a miracle I got to see any of the top of the first. Fenway looked absolutely beautiful. And I also made a decision. No more bus trips to Boston. I'll spend the money and take the train next time.

My seat was bewteen third and home, in the loge section, five rows from the box seat section. One of the best seats I've ever had at Fenway. My buddy Joe and I were able to hook up during the game. It was great start for the Red Sox, but the umps clearly blew a J.D. Drew home run, calling it in play, when it really had cleared the top of the wall and should have been a homer. Manny Ramirez was tagged out at home, so it meant one run instead of three. Terry Francona absolutely blew a gasket (pictured), and I think the recent frustration of the last few nights boiled over. He got tossed, and the Fenway Faithful gave him a standing ovation as he departed.

Beckett allowed a three-run homer to Thome in the third, and it looked like it might be another incredibly frustrating night. But the Red Sox came alive, scoring four in the fifth, capped by a Coco Crisp bases loaded triple. David Ortiz singled in a run, but was thrown out trying to get to second, and sprained his shoulder in the process. It's not considered serious.

Beckett went six, and the bullpen shut Chicago down the rest of the way. The Red Sox added five in the eighth to ice it, which included a grand slam by Julio Lugo to finish off a 10-3 win.

I took the bus back after the game, as I had a round-trip ticket. It was a roller-coaster ride of a day. The Yankees were murdered in the Bronx by the Devil Rays, 14-4. (When the score of 10-1 went up in the eighth, the crowd loudly cheered.) The Red Sox lead is now back to eight games. (Both teams won this afternoon, the Red Sox wiping out the White Sox, 11-2, so as of this writing the lead stays at 8.) I listened to the Mets 4-1 win in Los Angeles on the radio going home, so it was definitely a happy ride home.

I walked through my door at about 4 AM. I was exhausted and went though a really difficult day, but seeing the Red Sox come alive like that and win made it all worthwhile.

Heck, any day at Fenway Park is well worth the aggravation to get there.

Prayers For Kaylee

Please say a prayer for our blogger friend Kaylee, who is going to have open heart surgery this coming August 10. Kaylee is a very nice young girl who is just 15 years old and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a devoted Red Sox and Patriots fan, and part of the community of Red Sox bloggers that I have listed here. Her site is called "The World According to Kaylee," and it can be found be going to: http://kaylee-wwwtheworldaccordingtokaylee.blogspot.com/.

Hang in there, Kaylee. I'm sure everything will work out just fine.

Remember the immortal words of our team from just a few short years ago: Keep the Faith.

We're all praying for you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

10 MORE Things I Don't Like in Baseball

Earlier this month I compiled a list of the top 10 things I don't like in baseball these days. It included things like players standing at home admiring home runs, interleague games, and the lack of scheduled doubleheaders. Here is the article from earlier this month:

But there were a few others that didn't make the original list, so I thought it was time to compile another list (I guess this is 11 through 20) of things I don't like about baseball today. Here it is, and it is not in any particular order:

11. Umpires. The umpiring in the majors over the last few years has gotten particularly worse, especially the home plate umpiring. (That leads to longer games, as many never call the high strike.) While most umps do a good job (the best ones are the ones you don't notice), there have more calls blown on the bases and along the lines as well. It goes back to that ill-advised mass umpire resignation back in the late 1990s. Some competent umps were let go, but some inferior ones were brought on. It seems as though umpires have no accountability, as unlike the NFL, they don't review their umps performances so they can weed out the less competent ones. Becoming an MLB umpire shouldn't be a lifetime position, like becoming pope or a Supreme Court justice.

While one good trend in umpiring has emerged in recent years, and that is umps getting together and reversing bad calls. But there are also some umps who think they are a part of the game (CB Bucknor comes to mind with his flashy strike three call), and some who seem to relish getting into arguments with managers. While no umpire deserves nasty verbal abuse, too many don't do what old time umps do, namely turn their backs and walk away. No person has ever bought a ticket to watch an umpire in action (unless your a friend or relative of one).

12. Home plate celebrations. Some of these game-winning celebrations (the so-called "walkoff" ones) are getting really silly and stupid. There's always been a lot of celebration when a team wins in their final at-bat, and there's nothing wrong with that. But the ones where players are slamming their fists and arms at the game's hero is going to get someone hurt one day. (It happened in the minors a few years ago, and the hero ended up on the DL.) You've got to be careful in these things. (Notice how the hero takes his helmet off when entering that pile?) Jake Peavy of the Padres hurt his ribs in the 2005 NL West clinching game in the celebration afterwards, and it wound up costing his team in the NLDS. Hey, winning a game where you've come from behind on an average day is great, but you haven't won the World Series.

13. Pitch counts. This seems to dominate almost all pitching talk these days. There's almost a panic that happens if a pitcher goes over 100 pitches, like he's going to blow out his arm if he goes any further. Pitch counts didn't come into vogue until the mid-1990s. Granted, you have to be careful with young arms, as teams have a lot invested in some of the more promising ones. But there are times when you have to let a pitcher go to see what he can do. Complete games are almost a thing of the past, as youngsters in many cases just have never had the opportunity to try to pitch nine innings.

14. Home fans along the lines. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen this in my life, especially during the old days when I went to Shea Stadium a lot. For some reason, the Mets had a plethora of fans who would do this: the Mets would have a man on first and two outs, and a player on the Mets would hit a fair ball down the line and some moron would reach out and touch the ball and the runner at first, who probably would have scored, would be sent back to third. And of course, they would leave the runners there, and would lose by a run or two. I still see this occasionally during some games, as the bright lights who have seats along the field are so anxious to grab a passing fair ball that they would actually try to grab it (and many times succeeding) and hurt their own team. It makes me wish they'd have an intelligence test issued before games to those people who sit so close to the action. And I'd bet most would fail.

15. Constant noise at games. It seems as though if you go to any MLB park (especially Shea and Yankee Stadiums), there seems to be a non-stop cranking of noise coming from the park's speakers. Most of it is pretty superfluous, as I guess most teams feel they have to keep entertaining the fans every second they are in the ballpark. I come for the game and the players. I don't need to keep hearing music blaring every moment I'm there. It makes me long for the days when at Shea Stadium the main source of music was the organ played by Jane Jarvis. (Those days are gone forever I'm afraid.)

16. Throwing baseballs back on the field. The Bleacher Bums in Chicago started this stupid trend many years ago. I'll never understand why fans do it. I guess it's because when a player on another team hits a homer they have to show their disdain for it by rejecting it. But I've been going to games for nearly 40 years and I've never once brought a ball home, either a fair or foul one. A couple of years ago, I remember in Arizona a Diamondbacks fan actually threw back onto the field a home run that Barry Bonds hit, and it was one of those as he was closing in on 700. Whether you like him or not, that ball would be worth a lot.

And besides, I've always said that before I die, I want to catch either a fair or foul ball at a game. I don't care who hits it, on whatever team. It goes home to the trophy case.

17. Gold Glove Awards. By far and away, the most overrated awards in sports today. They are voted on by managers and coaches, and it is a popularity contest. No one seems to bother to look at statistics. And once a player wins one, it seems as though he's a lock to win more, no matter who good or bad a season he's had in the field. (Derek Jeter is not the best shortstop in the AL, and didn't deserve to win any of the Gold Gloves he has. There were SS who had far better years in the field than he did each time.) I also recall the year that Benito Santiago won a Gold Glove the same year he led the NL in passed balls and errors back in the 1990s. The award is simply a joke, and too much credence is given to them.

18. All-Star Game complaints. Fox ruins this game to begin with by starting the game way too late (the 2007 game began at 8:54 PM ET, so a good part of the US couldn't hang for the finish). The ballotting by the fans is a joke, as players get elected who really shouldn't start all the time. The managers insist on trying to get every player into the game, as that led to the game ending in tie in 2002 because both teams ran out of pitchers. MLB also insists on every team being represented, and that leads to players picked who really shouldn't be there. And that's just the beginning.

19. Curtain calls. Mets fans in 1986 began this trend of insisting players come out of the dugout after hitting just any home run. Curtain calls should only be for special moments, like if a player hits an historic or important home run, or breaks a record. Calling for a guy to come out after hitting just any home run cheapens the idea of player coming out to respond to the fans. Curtain calls should be for moments like when Roger Maris hit number 61 in 1961.

20. The disappearing game statistics. Have you ever noticed that when Barry Bonds comes up to the plate on ESPN or Fox, they seem to anticipate his hitting some home run by taking the game stats that appear on the screen the entire game (you know, the score, inning, men on base) off the screen and make their logo the only thing on the screen and bigger? This is done so that if something big happens, the entire world will know that the game was seen on either ESPN or Fox. Both networks have been doing this for years (check Mark McGwire's 62nd home run back in 1998, as there's just an ESPN logo on the screen). Putting up the current game stats was a great addition to the game, and we don't need it removed so the network can get more publicity.

Hey, you never know, the world might forget that ESPN or Fox had something to do with it.

That Was Embarrassing

You can pick your adjective about the events of this past Red Sox-Royals series that just concluded last night. I found it to be simply embarrassing.

The Kansas City Royals have the second-worst record in the American League. While they have been playing better baseball the last month, and are no longer the doormats of the AL, dropping a series to a team like this at home is just inexcusable.

Watching the Red Sox lately has been roughly the equivalent of getting your teeth pulled. They can get men on base, but they continue to leave men on, especially in scoring position, at an alarming rate. (They are now number one in the AL in that dubious category, leaving an appalling 13 on last night.) It almost seems like when they get a rally going, you just know they won't capitalize on it. (They had a four-run rally in the fourth, and Julio Lugo had a clutch double to drive in two. He's been hot lately, but what people will remember is he failed to drive in Coco Crisp from third in the eighth when they were down, 6-5.)

Sure teams have slumps and the Red Sox are going through one now. But when you see Kansas City on the schedule, those are the ones you have to put away. Especially when one pitcher is making his first ever MLB start and the other is 4-8.

It was another brutal one-run loss, 6-5. Lately, the Red Sox have been dropping one-run games at an eye-popping rate. Julian Tavarez is pitching his way out of the rotation, and his ERA this month is over 8.00. He got off to a good start last night, as he usually does. Three solid innings before the roof caved in. KC scored six runs in the next 2 innings and he was done. (The bullpen, however, was superb. They did not allow a hit the rest of the game.) Tavarez clearly belongs in the pen. He can be an effective two-to-three inning pitcher, so I believe another arm in the bullpen through a trade may not be necessary.

Who to replace Tavarez? Jon Lester leaps to mind, as he pitched a fine game at AAA last night. It has been an up and down season for him at Pawtucket, but his last four starts there have been a lot better. Curt Schilling will be back by the first week in August, as his minor league rehab is about to start. How he will be is anyone's guess. A veteran starter might be a better alternative to a bullpen arm right now as the trade deadline approaches.

And this slump is just inviting the Yankees back into the AL East race. While New York is playing better baseball right now, the Red Sox have to just go out and take care of business and not worry about them. (My friend Jere on his blog pointed out that the Yankees pitching has allowed 48 hits and 17 walks in their last four games, all wins. That's an awful ratio. It just goes to show how bad the teams they've been playing are offensively, leaving runners everywhere. Sound familiar?)

The Chicago White Sox are in town this weekend for what now looks like an important series. It's been a terrible year for Chicago, and the Red Sox have to get down to business and start playing better baseball. The Red Sox are 3-4 on the homestand that began the second half of the season. It's time to calm down a restless fan base.

As for me, the last two nights have been really frustrating, so I am taking tonight off and going out with a dear friend who has no interest in baseball. (But the cell phone will be in possession for updates.)

Then I will jump back into the fire, as I will be going to my first Fenway game of the year on Friday night. I'm praying for good weather, as well as some timely hitting then.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Guess What I Got in Today's Mail?

"Thank you for your interest in being a contestant on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.' You have not been selected to be a potential contestant. We appreciate your continued interest in the show and thank you for taking the time to audition with us."

In secret I took the test for "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" for a third time back on July 2, and passed for the second time in three tries. (It was the exact same test I took back in June when I did not pass, just the questions were in a different order.) I only told a few close friends, and didn't say a word about it here on my site. Today I received the above rejection card in the mail again from them that I got back in May.

I guess I didn't pass the interview again, even though I took a totally different path from the interview from May. The third time wasn't a charm.

I'm done trying to get on this show. Apparently, I'm not good enough to be a contestant.

Screw them.

40,000 Folks

At 11:49 AM today, we had the 40,000th visitor to The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, that is since April 20, 2006, when I put the Site Meter up on this site. (That was five weeks after I began the blog.)

Visitor number 40,000 was someone who came here off of a satellite provider, and their exact location was not specified. They had done a web search on Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, the old Houston Oilers wide receiver who I recently mentioned in one of my All-Star Game columns.

I'm averaging about 130-140 hits per day over the last few weeks, and I thank all of you who come to my site, especially those of you who come over here on a daily basis.

The Return of The Fortune 500?

These are the days I'm glad I have a blog. It allows me to vent.

It's time to go on a rant here.

Like many of you who support the Boston Red Sox, you're probably as fed up and as sick and tired of seeing putrid and lousy efforts as the one we witnessed on Tuesday night at Fenway Park. This was absolutely one of the worst games of the year.

Tim Wakefield got off to a good start, but gave up two runs in the fourth. He pitched six decent innings until the roof caved in in the seventh. The pitching has not been the biggest problem lately. There has been a few games where the starter has gotten knocked around, but it's the offense that's a real worry. The Red Sox right now are absolutely horrific in the clutch, and just can't that hit when it matters. Sunday was a perfect example. They got 11 hits, but could get only one run and wasted a great effort by Josh Beckett and lost 2-1. (He was pissed after the game and I don't blame him at all.)

They hit into WAY too many double plays, leave too many men on base, and too many rallies have died with men in scoring position. Tonight was just a terrible effort from the offense. Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia both killed rallies on the bases, and the Sox were 0-7 with men in scoring position in the first six innings (when it really counted). They got two men on in the fifth when it was 3-0 with none out, and neither moved an inch. And the worst part about this is that this happened against the Kansas City Royals at home. (They have been playing better ball over the last month and are no longer the doormats they once were, but that's no excuse.) Kansas City had a pitcher (Leo Nunez) going making his first major league start, and in just over four innings, the Red Sox couldn't manage to get a run off him. Embarrassing.

And thank you so much to the Toronto Blue Jays tonight, for rolling over like dogs to the Yankees in the Bronx, giving the game away in the ninth and tenth innings.

There are too many players who simply not getting the job done in the clutch right now (Drew and Crisp jump to mind immediately). Tonight the Red Sox looked like a team playing out the string in late September. They had 12 hits, and left 10 more men on base. It was absolutely awful, and they should apologize to their fans for such a travesty. You can't lose games to Kansas City at home in July, especially since the Yankees are playing better ball now, and have a favorable schedule this month. It's like inviting the Yankees back into the AL East race.

Hey, there's still a long way to go in this season, and the Red Sox still play the Yankees six times later this year. The Sox still lead by eight, which is still a huge lead any way you look at it.

But this spate of mediocre baseball has got to come to an end. They are 20-20 since June 1. It's reminding me way too much of the middle of the 2004 season, when the Red Sox played so-so ball for three solid months, and drove their loyal supporters like me nuts. The Red Sox need a jump start right now, and need to make the bench stronger by adding a veteran bat to the outfield. (I mentioned Eric Byrnes the other day, as I think he'd be a perfect type of player to add.) And, please, please, put us all out of our misery by dumping Wily Mo Pena off on someone by July 31. He's a total waste.

I also remember back in 2004 when a Boston scribe (can't remember who) came up with the perfect name for the Sox when they were playing such miserable ball that summer: "The Fortune 500." Simply explained: "The Red Sox cost a fortune, and are playing .500."

It's time to light a fire under this club. Somehow, some way. New blood would be a good start, and getting rid of the deadwood. Putrid efforts like the one on Tuesday have to end.

My rant is now complete. Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trivia Q&A: July 16

We had a total of 12 teams competing on Monday Night Trivia last night. We got going right around 9:30 PM, as the Red Sox win over Kansas City was a quick one (just 2 hours and 18 minutes). Most teams did well in the July 16th Trivia, as well as True or False. Most had a harder time with Current Events.

It was extremely close going into the final round, IQ Trivia. Four teams were separated by just two points, but a new team to Thom's, Ms. Amy Pants and The Waist Band, emerged victorious, as they had the best final round, rolling up 19 of a possible 25 points. They wound up winning by six points.

Second place was once again a team led by my friend Mariangela. Her teams have finished second an inordinate number of times the last few weeks. "You're worse than the Red Sox in that regard," I said to her, a Yankee fan, after the proceedings. Mariangela vows to get over the hump one of these weeks.

Go get 'em, girl. Remember the 2004 Red Sox!!

Current Events
1. This man was sworn in as the ninth president of Israel yesterday.
2. IAEA inspectors confirmed the shutdown of a nuclear reactor in this country over the weekend.
3. The 15th Pan American Games officially kicked off in this South American country last week.
4. An earthquake rocked this country yesterday, causing seven deaths, and starting a fire at a nuclear power plant.
5. This MLB team lost the 10,000th game in their history yesterday, becoming the first professional sports team to do so.
6. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of this western city and 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse reached a settlement of $600 million yesterday.
7. This country is expelling four Russian diplomats over the Kremlin'srefusal to extradite a key suspect in the murser of a former KGB agent.
8. Seve Ballesteros, an athlete in this sport, officially retired from active competition yesterday.
9. This rap singer pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other counts on Sunday in the shooting of a woman in NYC last week.
10. This rock band has a petition on their website urging fans to push Congress to ensure US troops returning home traumatized by combat get the help they need.

Answers: 1. Shimon Peres; 2. North Korea; 3. Brazil; 4. Japan; 5. Philadelphia Phillies; 6. Los Angeles; 7. Britain; 8. golf; 9. Remy Ma; 10. Dave Matthews Band.

July 16th Trivia
1. This author's "Catcher in the Rye" novel was first published on this day in 1951.
2. This man became the Republican nominee for president on this day in 1980.
3. This first manned mission to the moon left Cape Kennedy today in 1969.
4. A civil war in this African nation ended today in 1994.
5. This magazine founder and his wife were killed in a plane crash this day in 1994.
6. Millenium Park in this US city opened today in 2004.
7. A mission that eventually became this California city was founded on this date in 1769.
8. Haile Selassie signed the first Constitution of this African country in 1930.
9. These two countries signed the Treaty of Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation in 2001.
10. This business icon was sentenced to five months in prison for lying about a stock sale in 2004.

Answers: 1. J.D. Salinger; 2. Ronald Reagan; 3. Apollo 11; 4. Rwanda; 5. John F. Kennedy Jr; 6. Chicago; 7. San Diego; 8. Ethiopia; 9. China and Russia; 10. Martha Stewart.

True or False ("The Q Train")
1. "The fickle finger of fate" is an example of an aliteration.
2. The track stars Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee were actually sisters.
3. When writing in Russian, the Cyrillic alphabet is traditionally used.
4. The last line of "The Communist Manifesto" encourages "working men of all countries to unite."
5. Tiffany lamps are famous for their lampshades made of silk.
6. The Mall of America, the largest indoor shopping center in the Us, is located in California.
7. Susan Faludi's 1991 book "Backlash" examines the media's negative portrayal of the feminist movement.
8. Farsi is the official language of Iraq.
9. Pima is a type of cotton.
10. The last men walked on the moon in 1972.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, they were sisters-in-law; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, they are made of stained glass; 6. false, it is in Minnesota; 7. true; 8. false, it is Iran; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Over which South American city does the 100-foot statue "Christ the Redeemer" stand?
2. The US Naval Station Pearl Harbor is located on which Hawaiian island?
3. Which zodiac sign is represented by a goat?
4. "There is nothing wrong with your television set" began every episode of which classic sci-fi TV series?
5. The 1983 TV movie, "The Day After" depicted what event happening to Lawrence, Kansas?
6. Which Asian country's legislature, established in 1890, is known as The Diet?
7. In which city is the Byzantine cathedral known as Hagia Sophia located?
8. The famous 1980 box office disaster "Heaven's Gate" belongs to which movie genre?
9. Inventor James Watt, known for his work on the steam engine, devised what unit of measure?
10. In 1959, Berry Gordy founded what famous record label?

Answers: 1. Rio De Janeiro; 2. Oahu; 3. Capricorn; 4. "The Outer Limits;" 5. a nuclear attack; 6. Japan; 7. Istanbul; 8. Western; 9. horsepower; 10. Motown Records.

IQ Trivia
1. Which future US president represented the British soldiers in the trial of the Boston Massacre? (4 points)
2. In 1985, who was the first US musician to perform in the Soviet Union after the cultural exchange suspension was lifted? (6 points)
3. According to her famous poem of 1920, how did Edna St, Vincent Millay's candle burn? ( 5 points)
4. Eric Blair was the birth name of which famed British author? ( 5 points)
5. The Superfund program was created in 1980 by Congress to do what? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. John Adams; 2. John Denver; 3. At both ends; 4. George Orwell; 5. Clean up toxic waste.

Gabbard's Simply Superb

Red Sox rookie lefty Kason Gabbard pitched a three-hitter last night as Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz all belted home runs to give the Sox a 4-0 win at Fenway over the Royals last night.

Gabbard was in complete control all night. He had an incredibly sharp curve ball, and he struck out eight. He pitched a complete game shutout, the first lefty Red Sox rookie to do so since 1972.

He pitched 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball until giving up a clean single to Emil Brown. Gabbard got into his only trouble of the night in that inning, as Kansas City had the bases loaded with two outs, but he got out of it unscathed.

KC pitcher Brian Bannister was sharp the first three innings, and Julio Lugo was the first man to reach base for either team in the third on an infield hit. Replays showed he was out, but the Red Sox got the call. (Lugo was eventually picked off. Justice, I suppose.)

Pedroia and Ramirez both banged balls into the Monster seats in the fourth to give the Red Sox all the runs they needed. But the star of the night was Gabbard, who continues to improve with each outing. He figures to be in the rotation the next couple of weeks at least, as Curt Schilling won't be back until early August.

The Red Sox lead continues to be 9 games, as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays as well. I love the fact that BOTH New York tabloids were trumpeting the fact that on Sunday the Yankees had cut the Red Sox lead to "single digits."

I guess they have to try look at the bright side of this whole thing from their perspective, right?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Trivia Tonight

Trivia tonight at Professor Thom's will include the usual categories plus True of False Trivia, and July 16th Trivia. That will be people, places and things connected with July 16 in history. We should get going at some time around 9:30 PM, as the Red Sox have a game against Kansas City tonight. Hope you can join us.

Today's Sneak Peek question:

"There is nothing wrong with your television set" began every episode of which classic sci-fi series?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wily Mo Pena for Eric Byrnes?

I was watching the Red Sox game on Sunday with some friends, and we came up with a possible trade. This would be a deal that would greatly benefit the Red Sox. (I'm not trying to be one of those muttonheads who calls WFAN with a "great trade" idea, and it turns out to be trading a couple of tomato cans from the Yankee farm system for Johan Santana, or something like that.) I don't know if this will come to fruition, and I certainly am not starting any unsubstantiated rumors.

The Red Sox clearly need a fourth outfielder. J.D. Drew is having hamstring problems, and a trip to the DL at some point is not out of the question. Wily Mo Pena has clearly been a bust in Boston, and he's never going to make it there. (I find it very interesting that Drew has been out the last couple of days and Eric Hinske, who's hitting under .200, got the call both days. That tells me that Terry Francona has completely lost any confidence in Pena.)

Pena is NOT a fourth outfielder. He's not a good defensive outfielder, or the kind of guy you bring in into a game in the late innings to shore up your defense. He strikes out WAY too much, and has no conception of a strike zone.

If the Red Sox have a glaring weakness, it is the bench. Alex Cora is a fine utility player, but Pena and Hinske scare no one, and Doug Mirabelli's only good for catching Tim Wakefield's knuckler (and for increasing my Site Meter numbers when he hits home runs). They need a veteran bat.

Eric Byrnes (pictured) would be a nice fit.

I've always liked him. He's always been a scrappy, hustling outfielder who can play all the outfield positions. He's having a fine season in Arizona, with 14 home runs, 50 RBI and batting .310. But he's also a free agent after this season, and the Diamondbacks may not wish to re-sign him, as he'll be looking for a major salary increase. (He's making just over $2 million this season.)

Pena is only making $1.25 million this season. Now, whether the Diamondbacks have any interest in Pena, I do not know. But remember, Arizona GM Josh Byrnes (no relation to Eric) is the former right hand man of Theo Epstein. So a trade between the two clubs is not out of the realm of possibility.

If Arizona makes it known that they will move Byrnes and not bring him back, they will probably wait until the July 31 deadline to move him, as I'm sure his price will rise the longer he's on the market. I'm sure the Red Sox would have to offer more than Pena to get Byrnes, but I'd be willing to do it, even if Byrnes is only on the Sox the rest of 2007.

Right now I'd deal Pena for a used ball bag and a couple of broken bats. But if they could make a significant trade for a veteran bat and move Pena, they'd be killing two birds with one stone.

I think Eric Byrnes fits that bill.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush"

This past week on HBO, a documentary film debuted called "Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush." I didn't get a chance to see it during the week, as I was busy with the Red Sox games and other assorted things. But earlier today, I had a chance to see it. I'm really glad I did. It is simply one of the best documentaries ever made about baseball.

As many of you know, I am a descendant of Brooklyn Dodger fans. Both my parents, my aunts and uncles, as well as my grandparents, were loyal fans. I knew this was a film I had to check out. As I write this, I live just ten minutes on the subway from where Ebbets Field once stood. (My dad saw the film the night it debuted, and said it was very well-made.)

"Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush," narrated wonderfully by Liev Schreiber, is a history of one of baseball's most beloved teams, but it is centered on the years 1947-1957, the teams that were nicknamed "The Boys of Summer." Jackie Robinson's arrival in baseball in 1947 is the starting point, and the bitter departure of the team after the 1957 season closes it out. The team is shown in archival footage, and through the eyes of many of those people who remember it well or have an intimate connection to the club.

Unfortunately, many of the key people of those years are no longer living, but we are blessed with the remembrances of such players as Johnny Podres, Carl Erskine, Duke Snider, Ralph Branca, and Clem Labine (who died shortly after the film was completed). Rachel Robinson talks about her husband's entry into baseball, Joan Hodges about her late husband Gil, and we also hear from celebrity Dodger fans like Larry King, Louis Gossett and Pat Cooper. There are also authors and others who've studied Brooklyn Dodger history adding their two cents as well.

The differences between baseball back in the 1950s and today are shown in vivid detail. Many Dodgers lived in Brooklyn year-round (Gil Hodges lived 11 blocks from my house), and worked jobs in the winter. Back then, Brooklyn players felt like a part of your family, and you saw the same players on the team all the time (but of course, players were literally chained to the clubs they played for and couldn't leave voluntarily, as free agency was still a generation away).

It is a compelling two hours. All of the key moments in Brooklyn Dodger baseball history are recalled, like Robinson's MLB debut, losing the pennant on the last day in 1950, the epic 1951 playoff, losing the World Series to the Yankees in 1952 and 1953, and the glorious triumph of the 1955 championship. I couldn't help but draw parallels to the modern day Red Sox on two occasions. The 1951 NL pennant loss to the Giants reminded me of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (both the Dodgers and Red Sox had three-run leads late in both games, only to see both games lost on home runs), and the championship of 1955 brought to mind the Red Sox epic triumph of 2004. (Both teams had finally gotten past the Yankees, and their staunchly devout fan bases finally got to an enjoy a championship.)

And of course, this documentary would not have been complete without a breakdown of the events that led to the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles. I thought the handling of owner Walter O'Malley ("That sonofabitch" as my dad refers to him to this day) was rather fair. He is not painted as "The Devil Incarnate," nor is he shown as some glorious visionary. (But I love a joke one person tells in the documentary. Goes like this: "If you were in a room with Hitler, Stalin and Walter O'Malley and had a gun with just two bullets, what would you do? Simple, shoot O'Malley twice.") New York City planner Robert Moses is made out to be more of a villain here, as he rejected O'Malley's bid to acquire land at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues to build a new stadium. Moses was the most powerful man in New York in the 1950s, and if he had approved it, the Dodgers never would have left.

The Dodgers were a unifying force in the borough of Brooklyn, and they brought people together of all backgrounds. But by the late 1950s, the borough was changing, and O'Malley taking the Dodgers to California changed it forever. It broke Brooklyn's heart, and it's never been the same since. It's something the borough has never recovered from, and never will. It's a terribly sad ending to this terrific documentary (of course it had to end this way). O'Malley and the Dodgers find gold in California, but Brooklyn continues into decline. I had tears in my eyes as Frank Sinatra's "There Used To Be a Ballpark" plays as the film concludes.

I would highly recommend that if you are a fan of baseball history you check out this documentary. Back in 1986, I went to Fenway Park for the first time. After the game, I called my dad in Brooklyn, when I got back to my motel room. One of the first things I said to him was, "Now I have an idea what it was like to see a game at Ebbets Field." One of the regrets I have in regard to baseball is I never had a chance to go to a game there. (I was born four years after the Dodgers left.)

"Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush" will make you feel the pain of the loss all the more, whether you were ever at Ebbets Field or not.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Sports Songs and Beyond"

A few months ago, I began a correspondence with a gentleman named Joe Pickering, Jr. He found my web site, and he told me he is a songwriter, and that he is part of two CDs centered around sports. The first was called "Baseball Songs Sports Heroes," and the second called "Sports Songs and Beyond."

The first CD has been featured on the Fox Network, in an HBO movie and on many TV and radio shows. The CD is now included in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sound Library. The first CD has built quite a pedigree.

Joe sent me a copy of his second CD not long ago. (It has also been accepted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sound Library as well.) I was impressed with "Sports Songs and Beyond." This CD has a great variety on it. It's not simply a baseball or sports music CD. Joe, a devoted Red Sox fan, wrote three specific songs about the Red Sox, "Hell Freezes Over!", "Wait 'Till Next Year" and "This Is Your Season To Remember." Phil Coley does a nice job on vocals, and the CD has a definite "country" and laid back feel to it.

Other songs on the CD are about the Chicago White Sox ("Let Buck Back In") and the New York Yankees ("The Curse of the Bambino Is Back"). That latter song is about the Yankees losing the 2004 ALCS as seen from the eyes of a frustrated Yankee fan. (Isn't that the best kind?) "Sports Songs and Beyond" also includes songs about the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, baseball in Philadelphia and Washington, and about his love of the rodeo. The CD concludes with three Christmas tunes.

Joe's done a nice job with the CD, and I'm proud to support his efforts. You can find more about it at his web site, King of the Road Music: http://www.kingoftheroadmusic.com/. Joe is currently working on his third CD, and it includes a tune I'm proud to say was inspired by me and other Red Sox fans (as Joe told me) living "behind enemy lines" here in New York and New Jersey, "The Bravest Red Sox Fans." Joe recently sent me an advanced copy of the song. (Nice job, my friend!) I encourage you to check out Joe's site.

It's not every day I inspire someone to write a song!

Another Bridge Picture

I haven't done it in a while, so I thought I'd post another picture of me taken at the Brooklyn Bridge last April. It was for an article that was coming out in a magazine about Red Sox fans in New York. (It hasn't come out yet, and I guess I better look into that!)

This one is obviously me standing along the Brooklyn shoreline, with the world-famous and best-loved bridge as a backdrop. (Unfortunately, the photo doesn't fit entirely into the layout here. Nothing much I can do about that.)

A lot of really nice shots of me came out in that shoot. I took photos with a professional photographer who took pics of me with the bridge in the background, the skyline in the back, as well as a few on the bridge itself. It was a pleasure to be a part of it, and I'll post a few more in the near future.