Tuesday, September 30, 2008

These Are The Good Old Days

From Mike Vaccaro's column in today's New York Post:

"Man," a Yankee fan named Jose Ayala said outside Yankee Stadium, "I can't stop thinking that Boston is going to be in October and we aren't. Something's wrong, man. Something's just not right."

Tee-hee. Another Yankee fan who can't face reality. The Red Sox are so far the Team of the 21st Century, with two World Series championships and five playoff appearances in six years. The Yankees are a team in decline and had no business being near a playoff berth this season. The Red Sox earned it and New York didn't. Just another one of their fans who pines for "the good old days."

And by the way, on a side note, in the same column, this guy says all of his friends who were Mets fans were rooting for the Yankees in the 2001 postseason after the horror New York went through with the September 11 terror attacks. Maybe his were, but I didn't know ONE Mets fan pulling for the Yankees in that postseason. (Mets fans weren't forgetting what happened the previous October.)

Like Rudy Giuliani said after the worst day in our history: we have to go back to living our normal lives. And for me and MOST Mets fans in New York in October 2001, that's rooting against the Yankees.

The Yankees weren't good enough in 2008 and the Red Sox were. That's reality, pal. Get used to it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Still an Oh-fer in the 21st Century

Here's the Fenway crowd on Sunday letting Giambalco and the Yankees know they haven't won a World Series in the 21st century.

BTW, I don't know if anyone was watching the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday night, which was nothing more than just a glorified spring training game to wrap up the regular season for the Red Sox and Yankees. As the Fenway crowd was singing "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth, the YES cameras were focused on Robinson Cano as he was throwing the ball around second base.

As the crowd was singing, "So good! So good! So good!", Cano could be seen mouthing some of his own words to that refrain, and from his lips it looked an awful lot like "F**k you! F**k you! F**k you!"

Ah, those Yankees. All class, all the time.

Enjoy the golfing, guys.

Honoring an Icon

In honor of his passing last week, the special category for Trivia Night on Tuesday night will be "Paul Newman Trivia," questions about the life and times of the great actor and humanitarian. The questions will also be of the multiple choice variety. (BTW, for those of you on the Internet looking for Paul Newman trivia, the Q&A will be posted on this site early on Wednesday morning.)

The Q Train lightning round will be another round of "Spell the Word Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for Trivia Night this week is:
In 1978, Congress banned the use of household paint containing what potentially toxic metal?

The Red Sox march to another World Series championship doesn't begin until Wednesday night at 10, so we should have no problem getting going on time tomorrow. So I hope many of you can make it to Thom's for a great evening of Trivia.

To the Yankee Fan You Love (Or Hate)

I received this from my friend Dan this morning, an email message you can send to that special Yankee fan friend (or enemy) in your life:

Eight years and counting.

Not a Bang But a Whimper

For the second straight season, the New York Mets came up short at the finish line, as the Florida Marlins beat the Mets, 4-2 on the last day of the season, to deny the Mets any chance of gaining a postseason berth. Milwaukee defeated the Chicago Cubs and their win gave them the Wild Card.

It is simply inexcusable. Those at the top must be held accountable for this second straight disaster, a truly awful embarrassment to a proud franchise. A 3 1/2 game lead with 17 to play goes down the drain. Omar Minaya should be unemployed this morning, as he was the architect of this abomination. But instead, the clueless ownership will reward this moron with a new four-year deal. (Minaya is buddies with Tony Bernazard, player personnel director who is tight with the Wilpons. He's also the guy who got Willie Randolph fired. So that's why Minaya has nothing to worry about today.) It is simply unfathomable that he put together two straight flops in the home stretch and he gets to return in 2009.

I don't want to hear about injuries. The Red Sox and Rays have had as many key injuries as the Mets and both found ways to overcome them and finish strong. The losing culture that surrounds the Mets MUST be changed. But the man most responsible for the mess the Mets are now can't be at the head of it.

Jerry Manuel did a fine job as manager, going 55-38 as interim boss. It sounds like he will be back. I really can't argue he should be fired, as he brought stability to the Mets when Randolph was fired.

How to fix the Mets? I really think the Mets need some gamers, guys who've proven they can play under pressure and not fold. The current bunch are wearing the "choker" tag for the second straight year, and the Mets need to make as many changes as possible to improve the club. Moving into a new stadium, they need a fresh start.

But with a Clueless Putz as GM, I'm not optimistic about this team in the short run. The Mets also need some young blood as well. They must follow the Red Sox model and rebuild their farm system.

And blow up the bullpen. As soon as possible.

The closing ceremonies after the game were nicely done. (Although I saw people leaving the park before the ceremonies started. Where were they going?) Mets stars of the past were introduced coming out of both bullpens. Old favorites like Jerry Koosman, Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, Ed Charles, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver walked out to huge ovations. They stood in lines along both foul lines and each walked up and touched home plate. Then at the end, Seaver threw out the last pitch to Piazza and both walked across the field to the centerfield gates, where they closed them together to bring the Shea Stadium to an official close.

It was a sad ending, both at the final game and the closing ceremonies. The Mets had New York City in the palm of their hands the last few weeks, and blew another golden opportunity to make the Yankees the other team in town.

My deepest sympathies to all those loyal Mets fans I know. They deserve better than this.

Beckett Has Oblique Injury


It was revealed after the Red Sox win of the season finale on Sunday night that Josh Beckett suffered an oblique injury during one of his bullpen side sessions and will not open the ALDS against the LA Angels on Wednesday night. Terry Francona juggled his rotation and now has Jon Lester opening Game 1 (now scheduled for 10:07 ET that night), with Daisuke Matsuzaka now pitching Game 2 on Friday night (9:37 ET).

It is now hoped that Beckett can go in Game 3 at Fenway on Sunday. The Red Sox will discuss more about his status later on Monday. Terry Francona believes that Beckett's injury isn't serious and will be able to make the start. Here's more from the Boston Herald.

No word yet on the status of either Mike Lowell or J. D. Drew. It is still believed both will be on the postseason roster with their injuries. How much playing time either gets is anyone's guess at this point.

Break out the rosary beads. The Red Sox might just need some help from above to get to the ALCS.

BTW, The Red Sox' own Don Orsillo will be doing the announcing of the Tampa Bay-Chicago/Minnesota ALDS series on TBS with Harold Reynolds. The Red Sox-Angels series will be done by Chip Caray and Buck Martinez. Go here for more on TBS' coverage of the ALDS and NLDS.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So Long, Shea

It is still to be determined whether this will be the final game ever in the history of Shea Stadium, as the weather will play a big part as to whether this is it. If they do play today, and the Mets win, there will be at least one more game at the old park.

Whatever happens, Shea Stadium is coming to its end. I will always have pleasant memories of the place. The Mets have needed a new park for some time, so Citi Field should be welcomed with open arms next season.

But Shea was the first MLB park I was ever in. I was 6 years old in 1968 when I went on a bus trip with my dad and the Knights of Columbus to see the Mets play the Giants. The memories I have of it are seeing Willie Mays play, Jerry Koosman pitch for the Mets and the Mets winning. I believe this was the game, played before a full house on a Friday night in June that year.

In 1969, I went to two games that year, both memorable ones. I went to Opening Day, which was also the first game ever in the history of the Montreal Expos. (I was also at the last one the Expos ever played, also at Shea in October 2004.) I remember thinking the Expos uniforms looked like they were wearing pajamas. The sharpest memory I have of the game was backup catcher Duffy Dyer hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to make the score 11-10 Montreal, which was the final.

I was also at a game on September 20, as the Mets were charging to the NL East title. Few people remember that Bob Moose of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw the second (and now last) no-hitter in the park's history, a 4-0 win. I remember my whole family got into upper level seats based solely on a huge number of Borden's coupons we saved up during the season. (I remember my dad just giving away the ones we had left over to other fans before the game.) In the game I recall Robero Clemente making a great catch in the corner late in the game making a great catch to save the no-hitter. It was one of the only losses the Mets suffered on their way to winning the World Series.

I went to numerous games in the 1970s, and on special days like Banner Day, when fans could make up banners and walk on the field in-between games of a doubleheader (remember those?). But by 1977, I was really disaffected by the Mets trade of Tom Seaver to Cincinnati, and it drove me away from the team. (That's when my affection for the Boston Red Sox began.) I took the Mets back on the day they were sold to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon in 1980, but hasn't been the same since those days of the early 1970s.

I've only been to one pennant-clinching game in my life live, and that was when the Mets wrapped up the NL East in 1988 over the Phillies. There have been upteen memorable moments in the history of Shea Stadium, and since everyone puts their list of them out with the stadium ending its run, I thought I would give you mine. (I will limit it to the top 5 Mets games, and the ones I remember witnessing, either on TV or in person.)

Before I get to the Top 5, here's the other five to round out the Top 10: Robin Ventura's grand slam single to beat the Braves in the 1999 NLCS; Todd Pratt's home run to win the 1999 ALDS over Arizona; The Mets first pennant clincher, over the Cardinals in September 1969; Willie Mays retires in 1973; Tom Seaver returns to Shea in 1983 for his second stint with the Mets.

5. Tom Seaver's "imperfect game" against the Cubs in 1969. I remember my neighbors trying to get into the park that night without tickets and had to come home without getting in. An enormous crowd witnessed Tom Seaver retire the first 25 hitters against the first place Cubs before a rookie named Jimmy Qualls broke up the perfect game with a clean single. One of the best pitched games I ever saw.

4. Bud Harrelson's fight with Pete Rose in the 1973 NLCS. You rarely see brawls in the postseason, but this was a dandy. Little Bud took on Big Bad Pete as the Mets were on their way to winning the 1973 pennant. I recall Mets players going out to calm the left field fans, who threw bottles at Rose in LF when he took his position after the fight. The umps were threatening a forfeit for the Mets if they didn't stop.

3. Mike Piazza's home run on September 21, 2001. The most emotional night in Shea's history, 10 days after the WTC disaster. It was the first game in NYC after it, and Piazza hit the most memorable homer in the park's history to give the Mets the win over the Braves to keep their pennant hopes alive. I'll never forget being in tears for the WTC victims during a really emotional pregame ceremony.

2. 1986 World Series win. No need to recap the highlights here, as you know them by heart. I've always felt that the Mets never get nearly enough credit for the phenomenal comeback in the 10th inning of Game 6, and Bill Buckner got far too much blame (John McNamara was the real goat in my opinion).

1. 1969 World Series win. The 1969 team is the most beloved team in its history. They were a 100-1 shot in April, and heavy underdogs against Baltimore. The series featured phenomenal pitching and three of the best catches in World Series history, by Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda. It will forever be remembered as one of American sports' biggest upsets.

I will always have a lot of affection for Shea Stadium, and it's time to say goodbye to the old place, as its time has passed. It served the Mets and New York well.

Thanks for the memories, Shea Stadium.

Hello Citi Field.

Notre Dame Rolls Over Purdue

Notre Dame rolled on to a 3-1 record with a 38-21 win over rival Purdue at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

Jimmy Clausen had a big day, as he threw for a career-high 275 yards and three touchdowns. It was a topsy-turvy affair, with the game tied at 14 at the half. Armando Allen ran for a career-high 134 yards as ND put the game away in third quarter.

I only saw the game briefly, as yesterday was my sister's wedding, and I got a chance to see some of the first half between the wedding and reception.

Notre Dame has now matched its win total from 2007, and Purdue still has only one win at South Bend since 1976. The Fighting Irish take on Stanford in their next game at South Bend next Saturday.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

The great actor Paul Newman died at his Connecticut home last night of complications from lung cancer. He was 83 years old. I was always a fan of his films, especially "Cool Hand Luke," "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." But this is my favorite character from my favorite film of his, the immortal Reggie Dunlop from "Slap Shot":

Godspeed, Mr. Newman. And thanks for the memories.

Here Comes the End at Shea

The painful decline of the Mets took an even bigger hit last night as the Florida Marlins came into Shea Stadium and beat the Mets, 6-1. Combine that with wins by the Phillies over the Nationals, 8-4, and the Brewers over the Cubs, 5-1, puts the Mets on death's doorstep. Once again.

They trail the Phillies in the East by 2, and the Brewers by 1 in the Wild Card. A Phillies win today or tomorrow gives Philly the East title, and if Milwaukee wins both games this weekend, the Mets will officially miss the playoffs again, after having a big September lead.

The Mets will bring Johan Santana back on three days rest today to try to keep the season going to tomorrow. The weather may not cooperate today, but what does that matter.

An ugly situation in Queens is getting uglier.

OK, Bring On The Angels

It's now official. The Red Sox will be playing the LA Angels in the ALDS, beginning on Wednesday night in Anaheim. (The time hasn't been set yet, but I would guess it will be the 10 PM start that night.) The Rays lost, but the Red Sox loss in the rain last night to the Yankees, 19-8, gave the American League title to Tampa Bay, and the Red Sox win the Wild Card.

Wow, let me write that again:
The Tampa Bay Rays are the 2008 American League Eastern Division champions.

Pretty incredible.

Game 2 of the ALDS will be Friday night at Anaheim, Game 3 on Sunday at Fenway. Game 4 (if necessary) will be Monday at Fenway, and if the series goes to a Game 5, that will be Wednesday at Anaheim. No times have been set for the games, and the whole series will be broadcast by TBS.

BTW, does anyone remember the last time the Red Sox were defeated by the Yankees, 19-8, at Fenway Park? It was the final Yankees win on 2004, the last Sox loss of that year, as the Red Sox went on an eight-game winning streak, made baseball history and forever put the choker tag on the Yankees.

Arise, go forth and conquer, Red Sox.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lester Shines Getting His 16th

Jon Lester pitched six solid innings last night as the Red Sox took three out of four from the Indians with a 6-1 win at Fenway.

It was Lester's 16th win and he once again flirted with a no-hitter, as he carried it into the sixth inning. Josh Barfield broke it up with a double, and I would bet deep down Terry Francona was glad it was gone, as he certainly would not want his prize lefty going deep into the game on a chilly night with little at stake as far as the playoffs went. Lester gave up a single to Jamey Carroll to break up the shutout.

Francona turned the game over to his pen, and they were excellent, allowing no hits the rest of the way. The Sox got three runs in the first off Jeremy Sowers, and Kevin Youkilis hit a home run to ice the win at 6-1.

The Rays loss in Detroit yesterday means that the Red Sox division title hopes are still alive, but barely. Their magic number is 1, so the next Rays win (or Red Sox loss) gives them the title. A Red Sox-Angels matchup looks very likely, and the only thing to be determined about that is which date it will begin. The Angels have the option of beginning it on Wednesday or Thursday night (rumor has it they are leaning towards starting on Wednesday), as they have the best record in the league. If they do choose Wednesday, the Red Sox may use a three-man rotation in the ALDS (Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka), and may carry just 10 pitchers in the first round.

The Red Sox will officially retire Johnny Pesky's number tonight, weather permitting. Dustin Pedroia goes for the batting title this weekend, and is currently five points behind Joe Mauer. And oh yes, the Yankees are in town for the final three games of the season, with their golf clubs in tow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Governor Chris Wertz

The Red Sox tonight announced the 45 remaining positions of "Governor of Red Sox Nation" on their website tonight, and I am pleased to say that my pal Chris Wertz of Professor Thom's fame is now Red Sox Nation's New York governor!

Congratulations to Chris. The picture here is of Chris and myself with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley at Fenway Park last April for a reception for the film "Blessed: Still We Believe 2."

With Chris taking office here in NY, I expect a high position in his cabinet, like "Minister of Information" or something like that! Congratulations, Chris.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Heart, No Soul, No Guts

I'm not talking about the Boston Red Sox here, but I am talking about the New York Mets, who are on the verge of late-season infamy. Once again.

Their games these last few weeks are simply excruciating to witness. A team that has an absolute horror show and a total joke for a bullpen. They can't get a hit when it matters. Johan Santana can't pitch every day. Tonight's loss to the Cubs was the worst loss of the season. They had a man on third and no outs on three straight occasions in the late innings, the worst being a triple by Daniel Murphy leading off the ninth in a 6-6 tie, and couldn't get him in. The Cubs, who've wrapped everything up in the NL, had nothing to play for, and scored 3 runs in the tenth and won, 9-6. The Mets had everything to play for. And they come lemons again. Pathetic.

On a night when the Phillies dropped another to the Braves and the Brewers won. It was a golden opportunity gone, to be just a 1/2 game behind Philly and 1 up on the Brewers. They are now tied with Milwaukee for the Wild Card lead. The Mets are as good as dead now.

They have no heart. No guts. They belong nowhere near the playoffs with this bunch. They are going to ripped a new one by the media on Thursday, and they deserve all of it. (I had the game on the radio in the tenth, and when the stadium played charge calls in the bottom of the tenth inning to try to get something going, the remaining fans just booed it. And rightly so.)

If the Mets miss the playoffs again they need a thorough housecleaning and change the losing culture of this team. Don't bring back manager Jerry Manuel, although he has done a decent job. (Notice he still has the "interim" tag on him?) They should offer Jose Reyes or David Wright around baseball and see what they could land for them. They should go out and get players with some heart, with some guts, gamers who don't fold at the home stretch.

The difference between the Red Sox and the Mets is incredibly stark. The Sox are loaded with gamers, ballplayers like Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Lowell and Varitek. They take no crap and just grind and grind and never give up (see ALCS 2004 and ALCS 2007). The Mets are loaded with chickenshit, guys who play scared.

The Yankees are dead, and New York is wide open for the Mets to take. And they look like a bunch of frightened rabbits right now.

And I heard on TV yesterday that they are bringing back the architect of this disaster, Omar Minaya, back for another four years. I find this mind-bogglingly stupid. If the Mets blow this for the second straight year, his ass should be fired on Monday morning. Period.

Let me write that again. If the Mets fold for the second straight year in the final days of September, they will still be bringing back Minaya, who put this disaster together and presided over two straight infamous collapses, for four more years.

My sympathies are with all loyal Mets fans, especially the ones I've known for many years. They don't deserve this crap, and especially from an asshole of a GM who couldn't find his ass with both his hands.

I dare the Mets to prove me wrong.

Happy Yankee Elimination Day

The Red Sox officially stamped their ticket last night to their fifth postseason berth in the last six years with a gritty 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians at Fenway.

It was a hard-fought win and one of the more tension-filled games of 2008. 22-game winner and probable Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee was going for the Indians. The Sox got to him in the fourth, as David Ortiz hit a monster double off the "Giant Glass" sign in dead center, and Kevin Youkilis followed it with a moonshot into the Monster seats to make it 2-0.

Tim Wakefield pitched four solid innings, but the defense betrayed him in the fifth as Cleveland scored four times. Sean Casey missed a grounder at first it looked like he should have grabbed. Kevin Youkilis mishandled a ball at third that looked like could have been an inning-ending DP with the score at 2-1. And Coco Crisp just missed making a sliding catch that would have kept the game at 3-2.

But all was forgiven as the Red Sox scored three in the bottom of the inning to put the Red Sox back on top, 5-4. It was capped by Jason Bay's seeing-eye single that gave the Sox the lead. Wakefield pitched six innings, and then the pen took over.

Hideki Okajima got the final out in the seventh, as he was called in with the base loaded. And Jonathan Papelbon did the same thing in the eighth, as Jamey Carroll grounded out on the first pitch to keep the Sox ahead.

Pap got the Indians 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 41st save, as Victor Martinez popped up to Alex Cora to put the Red Sox into a position to be World Series champions in back-to-back years for the first time since 1916. The Red Sox also became the first team to clinch a postseason spot by beating a 20-game winner since 1975. (It was also just Lee's third loss of the year.)

The Red Sox loss officially eliminates the Yankees, who have now gone eight consecutive years without winning a World Series. (You have to wonder if Brian Cashman will take the fall for all of this.)

Now we can officially concentrate on the playoffs, as I was reluctant to with the Yankees still having a faint pulse. (Call it my "Yankee paranoia" from the distant past rearing its ugly head for a brief time. But I should have known better. It's a new era.)

Tampa Bay won a doubleheader in Baltimore last night, so it looks like the Rays will win the AL East. They are three games up on the Sox with 5 games to play. So be it. The Red Sox will probably going to Anaheim to open the ALDS against the Angels, either on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Nice job, guys. Now I can relax a bit. Bring on the postseason.

Yet More Hilarity From Hank

Hank Steinbrenner (pictured) is at it yet again. The man who only is where he is because of his pop's DNA gave his 1,000th interview of the year, and for the 1,000th time stuck his foot in his mouth and showed again what a total dimwit he is.

Hankenstein's pissed that his beloved Yankees are going home without a title for the eighth straight year, and especially that they have a better record than the LA Dodgers, who will win the NL West. So Mr. Hankee is miffed at the divisional system, which he feels is robbing his Yankees of their rightful place in the postseason.

Boo-f'n-hoo. Here's the column for your reading enjoyment.

He says his anger isn't the fact that Joe Torre's team will go to the playoffs and his isn't. BS on that. It's ALL about Torre going and the Yankees not. He also questioned the Cardinals winning the World Series two years ago while winning just 83 games. Hey Hank, your beloved Yankees won the Series in 2000 while winning just 87 games, one of the lowest totals ever for a champion. And the Yankees made it that year only because the AL East was particularly weak. (It's not always a great division, bird brain.)

I have to thank Mr. Hankee for an enjoyable year of acting like a complete moronic nitwit. It brought back those years when his pop George would do the most outrageous things when the Yankees were going bad.

And we look forward to more years of Hank and his raving stupidity.

Trivia Q&A: September 23

We had 16 teams in for Trivia Night, on what started out to be a rather nerve-wracking night, but turned into a celebratory one as the Red Sox beat the Indians just after the second round and raised the spirits of the bar considerably.

I used a new category called "What's the Number Trivia," as my friend Chris, who also runs a bar trivia night in another Village pub, told me he used it one night. I asked the players to know what number two certain events had and either add, subtract, multiply of divide them. The feedback I got was mostly on the negative side, but I may just try to fine tune it over the next several weeks and try to get a version of it that the players might like better. The scores were generally about average in that round.

The scores were good in both True or False and General Knowledge, and we had seven teams withing eight points of the lead. The scores were pretty good in IQ Trivia (I was surprised that no one got the Elvis Presley question), but the team of Every Time I Look to My Left...wound up getting the best score in that round (actually tied with 16 points), but won pretty comfortably by eight points. Nice job by Matt and his crew pulling off another win.

Current Events
1. This onetime Hollywood superstar actor was arrested along with his son on narcotics possession charges last week.
2. This man, who was the richest American back in March according to Forbes, is now again number 2, as Bill Gates again has the top spot.
3. 16 people were killed last Wednesday as terrorists attacked the US embassy in this Middle Eastern country.
4. Thabo Mbeki agreed to resign as president of this African country after getting caught up in allegations he influenced a corruption case against his rivals.
5. Web hackers bypassed security in this political commentator's web site last week and exposed the personal information of some of the site's users, which was posted on the Internet.
6. Travis Barker, former drummer of this '90s rock group, was seriously injured in a plane crash in South Carolina last Saturday that killed four other people.
7. This pop singer was busted by police for the fourth time in three years after getting caught with crack in a public restroom in London on Sunday.

Answers: 1. Ryan O'Neal; 2. Warren Buffett; 3. Yemen; 4. South Africa; 5. Bill O'Reilly; 6. Blink-182; 7. George Michael.

What's the Number Trivia
1. The number of regular season games each MLB team plays minus the number of games each NBA team plays in their regular season.
2. The number of presidential assassinations multiplied by the number of people depicted in Leonardo daVinci's painting "The Last Supper."
3. The number of years FDR was president divided by the number of World Series won by the New York Mets.
4. The number of states that made up the Confederacy plus the number of Oscars won by Jack Nicholson.
5. The number worn by hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky divided by the number worn by NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird.
6. This was the numbered amendment that ended prohibition multiplied by the number of times per day Muslims are required to pray to Allah.
7. The numbered bill US Grant is on plus the size of the full roster on a MLB team (before September 1).

Answers: 1. 162-82= 80; 2. 4 x13= 52; 3. 12 divided by 2= 6; 4. 11+ 3= 14; 5. 99 divided by 33= 3; 6. 21 x 5= 105; 7. 50+25= 75.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon in Apollo 11.
2. Plato was the most famous student of the philosopher Aristotle.
3. Car makers currently express engine size in terms of liters.
4. "Plaited" hair is braided.
5. Conan O'Brien was a writer for both "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons."
6. The rock band Uriah Heep was named after the inventor of the seed drill.
7. A book that has a soporific effect on someone makes them ill.
8. The tourist attraction The Spanish Steps are found in Rome.
9. "The Kitchen Debate" was a war of words between John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro.
10. The charcoal briquette was invented by Henry Ford.

Answers: 1. true; 2. false, Aristotle was a student of Plato; 3. true; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, the band was Jethro Tull; 7. false, it makes one sleepy; 8. true; 9. false, it was between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khruschev; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. What organ sends oxygen and other nutrients to a developing fetus?
2. In Cajun cuisine, what crustaceans are also known as "mudbugs?"
3. What men's magazine, which was banned from Wal-Mart in 2003, is the world's best selling men's lifestyle magazine?
4. A stone resting on a cliff's edge is said to possess what type of energy?
5. Who was the first black manager in major league baseball history?
6. In September 1916, who became the first billionaire in American history?
7. The Eclipse Awards are given for achievement in what sport?

Answers: 1. placenta; 2. crawfish; 3. Maxim; 4. potential; 5. Frank Robinson; 6. John D. Rockefeller; 7. horse racing.

IQ Trivia
1. What powerful V8 engine was re-introduced in many Chrysler cars in 2003? ( 4 points)
2. What was the name of Quint's boat in the 1975 movie "Jaws?" ( 3 points)
3. Who famously told Dan Quayle during a debate in 1988, "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy?" (4 points)
4. What vocal quartet sang backup for Elvis Presley in the '50s? ( 4 points)
5. In August 1914, the cement steamer SS Ancon became the first ship to do what? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Hemi; 2. Orca; 3. Lloyd Bentsen; 4. The Jordanaires; 5. Pass through the Panama Canal.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Well-Deserved Honor

I read in this morning's Boston Herald online that the Red Sox are going to break with their retired numbers policy and on Saturday will retire the number 6 in honor the beloved elder statesman, Johnny Pesky. A formal announcement from the Red Sox should happen within the next day or so.

All I can say is: it's about time.

Johnny has done just about everything someone can do for one organization: he was a star player, manager, coach, broadcaster and scout. He's been in the organization nearly 60 years, and is beloved by everyone who knows him.

Johnny turns 89 on Saturday, and the plan is that the Red Sox will have a ceremony for him on Friday night before their game with the Yankees to formally put number 6 in retirement. Here is the Boston Herald's article about it.

The Red Sox have retired 1 (Bobby Doerr), 4 (Joe Cronin), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), 9 (Ted Williams), 27 (Carlton Fisk) and 42 (Jackie Robinson). And at some point number 14 will go up there for Jim Rice (hopefully after he gets elected to the Hall of Fame next year), and down the road, 45 will go up for Pedro Martinez. (I don't think we'll ever see 21 retired. And I think it's about time to give some player that number again.)

Hey, Bill Buckner can now say his number on the Red Sox is now retired. But, of course, it wasn't for him.

The old ownership had strict rules for retiring numbers. The player had to be in the Hall of Fame; had to have played at least 10 years with the Sox; and had to have finished their career in Boston. I've always thought those rules were way too strict. I'm really happy they are honoring the great Johnny Pesky while he's still around to enjoy it.

Here's the complete list of Red Sox who've worn number 6, courtesy of The Joy of Sox. Interesting to note that the Red Sox gave out Pesky's number to other players while he was serving in WWII. I guess he wasn't an established veteran player yet:
Hal Rynes          1931
Wally Dashiell 1932
Bucky Walters 1933
Dusty Cooke 1934
Carl Reynolds 1935
Joe Cronin 1936
Eric McNair 1937-38
Boze Berger 1939
Marv Owen 1940
Odell Hale 1941
Johnny Pesky 1942
Roy Partee 1943-44
Skeeter Newsome 1945
Johnny Pesky 1946-52
Johnny Lipon 1952-53
Harry Agganis 1954-55
Mickey Vernon 1956-57
Vic Wertz 1959-61
Lu Clinton 1962-64
Lee Thomas 1964-65
Rico Petrocelli 1966-76
Johnny Pesky 1981-84 (COACH)
Bill Buckner 1985-87
Rick Cerone 1988-89
Tony Pena 1990-93
Damon Berryhill 1994
Chris Donnels 1995
Gary Gaetti 2000

Amen To That, Pap

My friend Adam sent me an article from New York Metro yesterday, from a writer named Sean Quinn (no relation). It was about the Yankee Stadium closing, and it quoted Jonathan Papelbon and his feelings about it. He didn't sound overly impressed.

“Is it cool playing in Yankee Stadium?” asked Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon earlier this season. “It’s OK. I don’t think you can say it’s the same stadium that housed those great teams in the ’40s or ’50s.”

And this, which I'm sure many of us in Red Sox Nation echo:

“The stadium that everyone oohed and aahed about is long gone,” said Papelbon. “Don’t be crying about the end of this stadium. That one is home to the Evil Empire. Still some great players, but not a team that everyone seemed to love like a member of their family.”

They Can't Do Anything Quick and Easy

It was an extremely frustrating night watching the Red Sox try and officially wrap up a playoff berth at Fenway on Monday. I thought this would be the night, as the pitching matchup looked like a mismatch on paper.

Josh Beckett, who had an ERA about 1.00 since he was deemed healthy after all the concerns about his elbow, went for the Red Sox. He was matched against Zach Jackson, who the Indians got from Milwaukee in the C.C. Sabathia trade. Jackson was 0-3, with an ERA over 6.00 since his recall from the minors.

Winner: Jackson. Loser: Beckett.

The Red Sox left men everywhere on Monday night, 12 in all. They left the bases loaded in the seventh, and runners on second and third to end the game. And both courtesy of Jed Lowrie, whose been stuck on 44 RBI for some time now. He struck out looking in the 7th, and swung at a pitch out of the strike zone to end it, as the Indians barely held on, 4-3. Lowrie is really struggling, and now has just 4 hits in his last 33 at-bats.

Jason Bay struck out twice early in the game with men on base both times to end innings. Jason Varitek ran the Sox out of the sixth, when Jeff Bailey's smash down the leftfield line hit the ump, and Bay had to scramble back to third. Varitek had the entire play in front of him and soon as the ball hit the ump there was no way Bay could score. It killed what could have been a bigger inning.

David Ortiz hit his 23rd home run, but in a losing cause. Papi is red hot now, though, and just at the right time. Beckett wasn't great, allowing four runs in six innings, and it included back-to-back hit batsmen in the second, and he later walked in a run. The game reminded me of the one in which Beckett pitched against Minnesota in the last week of the season in 2007, as the Sox were about to wrap up the AL East. In that game he was very hittable and the Sox lost. The bullpen was very good however, as the combo of Lopez, Masterson and Okajima allowed just a hit and a walk in 3 innings.

The magic number stays at one, and the Red Sox will have to face Cliff Lee on Tuesday night, who currently has 21 more wins than Zach Jackson. A Blue Jays win over New York will also give the Sox a playoff berth. Tampa Bay appears to be on the verge of winning the East, as they are now 2 1/2 games up with their 4-2 win at Baltimore on Monday.

Time to stop fooling around and wrap up a postseason berth.

I'm anxious to end this Magic Number watch on my blog for good.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Brush Up on Your Math Skills

This week's Trivia Night will have something different as far as the special category goes. The category will be called "What is the Number Trivia." I will give you two events where the answer is a number, and you have to either add, subtract, multiply or divide them to get the answer. Sounds complicated but it really isn't.

Here's an example (and it won't be part of the quiz):
The number of Red Sox World Series titles multiplied by the number of Beatles number one American singles. The answer would be: 7x20=140.

The events will be all different ones, everything from history to sports. We'll also have the usual four categories, and "The Q Train" lightning round will be True or False Trivia, the one we had to skip because of the lateness of the start last Tuesday. We should get going at the regular time of 9 PM this week.

This week's Sneak Peek question is:
A stone resting on a cliff's edge is said to possess what type of energy?

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

Seems Like Old Times

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched an absolutely tremendous game for the Red Sox yesterday, going seven strong innings in the Sox' 3-0 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Dice-K struck out six, walked two and allowed just two hits. He had trouble only once, in the second, when the Jays had runners on first and third and one out. He struck out the next two hitters to get out of it, and went on to get his 18th victory of the year against just two losses.

Hideki Okajima pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a strong ninth, allowing just a single with two outs. It was his 40th save of 2008. It felt a like a game right out of 2007.

Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits, a triple and two doubles. His triple opened the game and he scored on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly. It was all the Red Sox needed. David Ortiz hit an opposite field two-run shot in third for his 22nd homer of the season.

The Red Sox magic number dropped to one, and a win tonight over Cleveland puts the Red Sox in the playoffs officially for the fifth time in six years. Tampa Bay lost to Minnesota yesterday, 4-1, so the Red Sox are still very much alive for the division title, and are currently 1 1/2 back. The Red Sox win on Sunday eliminated the Twins from the Wild Card, and Toronto from the playoffs altogether. Tampa Bay opens a four-game series in Baltimore tonight, as Josh Beckett takes the mound against the Indians at Fenway.

Enough Already. Send in the Bulldozers.

It was a lovefest last night as the final game was played at the second Yankee Stadium. Lots of hoopla and memories, as no one wanted to reflect on the dismal cast that currently makes up the 2008 squad. A few thoughts about it.

First of all, I keep hearing this "85-year history of Yankee Stadium." This is wrong on two counts. There were TWO Yankee Stadiums. The first one was there for 51 seasons, from 1923-1973. Then there was two years there was NO Yankee Stadium in 1974 and 1975. Then, the SECOND Yankee Stadium was in operation from 1976-2008. That was 33 seasons. So, without a calculator, that adds up to 84 seasons, or a total of 83 years. I guess people conveniently forget how the Mets and Shea Stadium came to their rescue in 1974 so they could tear down their first park and put up a brand new one and let the Yankees play there.

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle DID NOT play in this second Yankee Stadium. They played in the first one.

Funny how there was no mention of Roger Clemens at any point last night, or George Steinbrenner's two suspensions from baseball.

And I'm really glad that it was someone as nondescript as Jose Molina who hit the final home run in this version of Yankee Stadium. It wasn't Jeter, Slappy or Giambalco. Years from now, people will ask, "Who hit the last home run in the second Yankee Stadium?" And the answer will be as head-scratching as the guy who hit the last homer in the first Yankee Stadium. Remember who that was? It was Yankee immortal Duke Sims. And like Molina, an obscure backup catcher.

And as we close out Yankee Stadium II, a photo of the greatest moment in the building's history:

Funny how it was mysteriously overlooked last night.

Let's Go Red Sox.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big First Win For Vikings

The pressure was squarely on the Vikings today in their matchup with the Carolina Panthers, as they were already 0-2 after two weeks, and another home loss could turn this into the beginnings of another lost season.

Gus Frerotte replaced Tarvaris Jackson at QB, and Adrian Peterson started at RB despite a hamstring injury he suffered during the week.

At first it didn't look good as Carolina jumped out to a 10-0 lead by the early second quarter. The Vikings finally got on the board with a Ryan Longwell field goal with just eight minutes to play in the half.

As the half was running out, Antoine Winfield sacked Jake Delhomme and returned his fumble 19 yards for a score to tie the game at 10 (pictured). From there the Vikings defense took over, and held Carolina scoreless the rest of the game. The Panther rushed for just 49 yards against the powerful Vikings run defense. Carolina also was hit for a total of 12 penalties as well.

The Vikings finally got the lead in the third, as Frerotte hit Visanthe Shiancoe with a 34-yard pass to give them a 17-10 lead. Frerotte had a respectable first start, going 16-for-28 for 204 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. He led a second-half opening drive in just over two minutes for 80 yards to get the Vikes in front.

Longwell added another field goal in the fourth to complete the scoring, 20-10. Adrian Peterson played well despite the hamstring injury, rushing 17 times for 77 yards.

It was a huge win for the Vikings, as they were made preseason favorites to win the NFC North, and badly needed a W. They are now 1-2 and face the Tennessee Titans next Sunday at Nashville.

I Guess Lester Blames Canada

So what's with Jon Lester and the SkyDome, er, the Rogers Centre?

For the second straight time north of the border, he got knocked around early by the Blue Jays, giving up five runs in the first two innings. He did settle down as the Red Sox got back in the game, but Toronto held on for a 6-3 win. Lester dominated the Blue Jays at Fenway last Sunday, giving up just a run and four hits in eight innings to get his last win.

Lester got hammered last August and couldn't get out of the third inning in a 11-0 loss. But he held the Jays in check as the Sox scored three runs off Roy Halladay yesterday, on an RBI single by David Ortiz and Jason Bay's 9th home run with the Red Sox. It was also hit on the native Canadian's 30th birthday.

The Red Sox had other chances to score runs, but came up empty. They loaded the bases in the fifth with two outs, but Jed Lowrie struck out. And Alex Cora bounced back to the mound with two on and two out in the eighth.

The Red Sox magic number continues to be 2 (over New York), and 1 over Minnesota and Toronto. A Red Sox win and a Yankee loss tonight to the Orioles would give the Red Sox a playoff berth. Tampa Bay wrapped up their first ever trip to the postseason with a 7-2 win over Minnesota. The Red Sox now trail them for the division lead by 2 1/2 games.

Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the mound today in search of his 18th win against Jays' rookie Scott Richmond in the Red Sox' final road game of the regular season.

They Won't Go Undefeated

No, I really didn't think it would happen.

Notre Dame suffered their first loss of 2008 at the hands of Michigan State yesterday at East Lansing, 23-7. The Fighting Irish were a 8 1/2 point underdog to the Spartans. The young Spartans running back Javon Ringer was very impressive, rushing for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also became the fist MSU running back to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games.

It was a day little went right for Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen went 24-for-41, with one TD and two interceptions. One was picked off in the end zone after the call was reversed by replay. The Irish also turned the ball over a total of three times and missed two field goals.

ND didn't score the first points until the fourth quarter when it was 13-0 MSU. But the Spartans put the game away when Ringer scored his second TD after a long drive with just over 2 minutes to play.

Notre Dame returns home for the next two weeks, with games against Purdue and Stanford.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Down to Two

The Red Sox cut their magic number for a playoff berth to two last night with a gritty 4-3 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Paul Byrd went six innings, giving up three runs and left with the game tied. He gave up three straight doubles in the second, and the Jays were up, 2-0. The Red Sox rallied for 3 runs in the sixth, as Kevin Youkilis singled in a run with the bases loaded (after it appeared he swung at a 2-2 pitch and the first base ump said he didn't), and Sean Casey followed with a two-RBI double.

The Blue Jays tied it right back up in the sixth and it stayed 3-3 until the eighth. The Red Sox again loaded the bases and Jason Varitek it a slow roller to shortstop and Toronto could only get a force and second, and the go-ahead run scored.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in ninth, and immediately had a ball hit by Adam Lind go off his glove and tried to rush a throw to first but it wide and Lind wound up on second. From there, Papelbon shut the Jays down, getting a liner to short, a grounder to second and a strike out to wrap up his 39th save.

Tampa Bay routed Minnesota, 11-1, to drop the playoff magic number to 2. If the Red Sox win, and both Minnesota loses to Tampa Bay and New York loses to Baltimore (the Yankees and Twins both have the same record now), both the Red Sox and Rays will clinch playoff spots, and New York and Toronto will be eliminated. The Sox continue to be 1 1/2 games out of the division lead.

And also, the Bartolo Colon Experiment is now over, as the Red Sox have placed him on the restricted list and suspended him. He returned to the Dominican Republic and doesn't plan to return to the Red Sox as a spot starter/reliever. The word on Mike Lowell's hip is good, as he consulted with experts about it. He will get some limited playing time the rest of the regular season and hopefully will be good to go for the playoffs. He will have arthroscopic surgery once the season is completed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The SawxHeads Meet The BLOHARDS

The good folks from SawxHeads were at the BLOHARDS luncheon that I was at back on August 27th. They filmed a good part of it and just put the above clip on their site.

It was a great day for all of us assembled. The clip is just over 3 minutes, and look for the lovely Tina Cervasio doing her Manny Ramirez impression, with fake wig. She's also interviewed near the end as well.

They showed a number of events that went on that day, but curiously, they left off me doing Trivia that day. I'm not insulted, as they filmed me later that night at Thom's in the video clip that appeared on this blog last Saturday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goodbye East, Hello Angels

The AL East was probably decided last night at the Tropicana Dome as Tim Wakefield got banged around by the first-place Rays and the Red Sox crashed to a 10-3 loss.

I thought this guy was suppose to own the Rays, especially in the dome at St. Pete?

I guess that was the old, bad Rays.

David Ortiz gave the Red Sox a fast 2-0 lead with a first-inning homer. But Wakefield gave that back and more, and it was concluded by Willy Aybar's two-run homer. It got worse in the second, as he gave up homers to Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez. (Who?) Not exactly the heart of the Rays lineup was in the middle of the damage.

Wakefield gave up a leadoff double in the third and that was it for him for the night. Terry Francona managed it like a playoff game, as he began bringing in relievers to halt the damage. It reached its nadir when Javier Lopez booted an easy grounder back to the mound, which ended up costing the Red Sox two runs. It was 8-2 by then, and the game was basically over. A series that started out so promising with a 13-5 wipeout of the Rays ended with two losses where the offense basically disappeared. In the six head-to-head matchups with the Rays over the past 9 days, the Red Sox could win just two. And may have cost them a first round playoff advantage.

You now have to wonder if Wakefield or Paul Byrd will get the nod as the fourth starter in the postseason playoffs. Wake has been wildly erratic this month so far. Byrd has pitched well since joining the Sox in August, giving them some valuable innings with pitchers out. He's had some shaky outings, but Wakefield needs to finish the season better than what he showed last night.

The only good thing that came out of last night's loss was the hitting of Ortiz. Papi slammed a mammoth shot that hit the scoreboard beyond the rightfield bleachers for his second homer of the night and his third of the series. He appears to be hitting his stride at just the right time as the regular season winds down.

Minnesota also lost again to the Indians in Cleveland so the Red Sox magic number for the playoffs is down to 4. Tampa Bay can clinch their first playoff berth ever with two wins in the four-game series with the Twins this weekend. The Rays now also own the AL East tie-breaker, having won the season series from the Sox, 10-8. The Red Sox will have to pass them and make up three games in the final ten to win the division. They squandered a golden opportunity last night, and a first-round series against the LA Angels looks very much like a real possibility.

And like the Rays in the dome with Wakefield, the Red Sox have historically owned the Angels. But also like Wake and the Rays, not this year, as the Angels won 8 of the 9 meetings. It won't be easy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Frerotte In, Jackson Out

The Minnesota Vikings finally pulled the plug on The Tarvaris Jackson Experiment, as head coach Brad Childress announced today that 37-year old backup QB Gus Frerotte is now the number one quarterback and Jackson now will take a seat on the bench.

And Childress said that it's for the rest of the season.

The Vikings had to take this action, as the biggest weak link on the team is at QB. The Vikes had to settle for nothing but field goals in the loss to Indianapolis last Sunday, as Jackson continued to sputter in trying to get the team into the end zone.

How much Frerotte has remains to be seen. As Fanhouse points out in this article, Jeff Garcia appears to be available at Tampa Bay, and he would be a good fit in Minnesota. Let's hope this move to Frerotte can get the Vikings season on track, or Childress won't last the season.

Red Sox Release 2009 Schedule

The Red Sox today released their 2009 schedule. They will open the 2009 regular season at home for the first time since 2002 with a three-game series with their current division rival, Tampa Bay Rays. It is also just the second time since 1996 that they open the regular season in Boston.

They begin interleague on May 21 with a series with the Mets at Fenway. They will play the NL East teams in 2009 as far as interleague goes (and the Braves six times, their traditional "rivals").

The Sox will play the Yankees for the first time at Fenway in a weekend series starting on April 24, and will go the the new Yankee Stadium for the first time on May 2 for two games.

The Red Sox will close the season with a four-game series with Cleveland from October 1-4. To check out the complete 2009 schedule, go here.

Beckett Strong Despite Loss

It was the night of the pitchers as Josh Beckett got into a duel with the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine. Both pitchers deserved to win but neither finished in the decision as Tampa Bay pulled one out in the ninth, 2-1. The loss dropped the Red Sox back into second, one game back.

Beckett continues to get stronger as October approaches, as he allowed just one run on four hits, the run being a seventh-inning homer to Carlos Pena. Justin Masterson came in in the ninth and allowed a bloop single, a walk, a hit batter and a single to Dioner Navarro to give the Rays the victory.

Beckett retired the first 13 batters before Cliff Floyd singled to right with one out in the fifth. The Red Sox got their lone run on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Youkilis in the sixth.

Tonight is the final game of the series, a pivotal game for the Sox to win if they still want to take the division. If Tampa Bay wins tonight, they would own the tiebreaker, as they would win the season series, 10-8. Tim Wakefield, who has historically owned the Rays at the Tropicana Dome, goes up against Matt Garza. The Red Sox magic number for the playoffs continues to drop, as Minnesota lost in a shootout to Cleveland, 12-9. It now stands at 5.

Trivia Q&A: September 16

We had the largest crowd ever for a Trivia Night on Tuesday night, as lots of Red Sox fans came out for the important game with Tampa Bay. It was a very tight game, and the crowd was so into it that my friend Jim the bartender and I had to hold up getting Trivia started until the game concluded. It finished just after 10 PM with Tampa Bay pulling out a 2-1 win in the ninth.

Because of the late start, we had to do just four categories so the night could end at a decent hour. (The Q Train lightning round was bumped, and it will return with True or False Trivia next Tuesday.) We had 19 teams take part for the second straight week, and almost all stayed until the very end. The scores overall weren't bad, and we had only two teams get perfect scores in any round.

Going into IQ Trivia, we had the top five teams separated by just four points. The overall winner of the round was a team called Yo Momma Went Down Faster Than Lehman Brothers, as they were the only team to get four of the five questions correct. But they wound up tied with the team of Sarah Palin's Bush Doctrine? Abstinence, both with 29 points.

As we going to break the tie, one of the Trivia Night players came up with a great idea to break the tie. We asked both teams what age our bartender friend Jim was, and Yo Momma guessed right on the nose and got the tie-breaker win. (I was honestly surprised Jim was amenable to that question.) My congratulations to them on their win.

Current Events
1. NBC said last week that it had sold a dozen 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl this February for this staggering amount apiece.
2. According to the US Census Bureau, five of the ten richest counties in the US are now located around this city.
3. The president of this South American country expelled the US ambassador Philip Goldberg last week for encouraging anti-government protests there.
4. Onetime actor/comedian Al Franken won a primary election last week to challenge for a Senate seat in this state.
5. This legendary British novelist and ex-spy recently told the Times of London he nearly defected to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
6. Richard Wright, a founding member of this legendary British classic rock band, died of cancer on Monday at his home at the age of 65.
7. This rock superstar has been targeted by Islamic extremists with death because he will play his first concert in Israel for its 60th anniversary celebrations later this month.

Answers: 1. $3 million; 2. Washington, DC; 3. Bolivia; 4. Minnesota; 5. John LeCarre; 6. Pink Floyd; 7. Paul McCartney.

Famous Nicknames
1. The Great Emancipator
2. The Little Corporal
3. Charlie Hustle
4. The Chairman of the Board
5. The Iron Lady
6. Old Hickory
7. God's Rottweiler

Answers: 1. Abraham Lincoln; 2. Napoleon Bonaparte; 3. Pete Rose; 4. Frank Sinatra; 5. Margaret Thatcher; 6. Andrew Jackson; 7. Pope Benedict XVI.

General Knowledge
1. Charles Gulden launched his empire in 1862 by selling what food?
2. According to the title of a popular 2004 book, what women "don't get fat?"
3. What is depicted in "The Blue Marble," one of the most popular photos in history?
4. The Luftwaffe was part of what branch of the German military in WWII?
5. At the height of the Vietnam War, Congress made it a crime to destroy what government-issued document?
6. What color once went missing from M&M's for 11 years over fears about food dye?
7. In which northeastern US city did Dixie Cups originate?

Answers: 1. mustard; 2. French women; 3. Earth; 4. Air Force; 5. draft card; 6. red; 7. Boston.

IQ Trivia
1. In championship darts, how many points are awarded when the red inner circle of the bullseye is hit? ( 4 points)
2. The Lake of Death and The Sea of Tranquility are both located where? ( 4 points)
3. What game was banned by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s to discourage gambling in Iran? ( 5 points)
4. Which rock singer shared Time magazine's Person of the Year honor with Bill Gates in 2005? ( 3 points)
5. Which movie bad guy was voted the American Film Institute's Worst Villain of all-time? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. fifty; 2. The Moon; 3. chess; 4. Bono; 5. Hannibal Lecter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Red Sox Blast Away Rays

The Red Sox rolled out the heavy artillery at the Trop last night against the Rays, and they let loose six home runs, four against so-called Red Sox killer Scott Kazmir, and they strolled to an easy 13-5 win, and are now just percentage points out of first place.

From the start Kazmir wasn't right. His first pitch was way off the plate to Coco Crisp and went to the backstop. I immediately thought of Ricky Vaughn from "Major League" and Bob Uecker proclaiming, "Just a bit outside." But Kazmir REALLY did look like Wild Thing, as his first nine pitches were balls.

When he did challenge David Ortiz, Papi made him pay and he launched the first of many bombs on the night into the rightfield seats to make it 3-0. And two batters later, Mike Lowell hit another shot to left to make it 4-0.

It would be all Daisuke Matsuzaka needed. He didn't look very sharp either, as he went 5 innings, threw 101 pitches, but it was good enough as the Sox had such a large lead. He seemed to be going 3 and 2 on every Rays hitter, so the pitches were mounting.

The game took a really ridiculous turn in the third when Jason Varitek got hit with a Kazmir pitch, and ump Jerry Meals (who called an awful game behind home plate) decided to warn both teams about it. It was clear that Kazmir had no command at all and it wasn't intentional. But that didn't stop him warning both teams. (Two players did get hit later in the game, one from each team, but no one was tossed.)

Kazmir also gave up homers to Varitek and Jason Bay. (Tek's homer set a new franchise record for a catcher, as he broke Pudge Fisk's mark of 155.) All four homers he gave up were moonshots. He gave up 9 earned runs before he was pulled with no outs in the fourth. Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis hit home runs after he departed. When the score was 11-1, Joe Maddon of the Rays raised the white flag and emptied his bench in the fifth. When Don Orsillo on NESN pointed out the game took the feel of a spring training game with all the bench guys in, Jerry Remy had a great line: "It's appropriate. We are in Florida."

After Dice-K left with the score 13-1, Chris Smith gave up two two-run homers to make the score a final 13-5. Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless eighth, and set a new MLB record with his 1,051st appearance as a righthanded reliever.

BTW, this game was unbelievably NOT a sellout. Just over 29,000 fans were in the Trop last night, and you could see some empty seats. What does it take for the Tampa fans to sellout a game? The Rays are playing the most important series in their history, for first place in mid-September. And there was still a large amount of Red Sox Nation present. Are they still that apathetic about this exciting club? If they are, the Tampa Bay area doesn't deserve a team, and Rays management has every right to pull up stakes and move elsewhere.

The Rays are in first today by the slimmest of margins, .002 points ahead of the Red Sox (Tampa Bay has two games in hand). The Red Sox magic number is now 6 for clinching a playoff berth, as Minnesota lost in Cleveland.

Josh Beckett takes the ball tonight against Andy Sonnanstine as the Red Sox attempt to get first place all by themselves in the AL East.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Famous Nicknames Trivia on Tuesday

Trivia Night's special category will be "Famous Nicknames Trivia." I will give you the nickname of a famous person and you will tell me who it is (or was). They will be from various different fields of endeavor, such as history and music. But "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," James Brown (pictured), will not be one of them.

We will have the usual four other categories, along with True or False Trivia as The Q Train lightning round.

This week's Sneak Peek is:
The Luftwaffe was part of what branch of the German military in WWII?

We'll have another big Red Sox-Rays game on at the bar, but we will get going at the regular time of 9 PM. Hope many of you can come out for the festivities.

Looking For Payback at The Trop

Jon Lester continued his dominance yesterday, allowing the Blue Jays just one run on four hits in eight innings as the Red Sox pulled to within one game of the AL East lead with a 4-3 win at Fenway.

Before the weekend began, I thought the perfect scenario would be the Sox winning three out of four and the Rays dropping two of three to the Yankees. And lo and behold, the Yankees actually cooperated (boy was it weird not rooting against them), and now we see a three-game showdown between the Sox and Rays beginning tonight.

Lester won his 15th game and outdueled Roy Halladay. He gave up a first-inning homer to Jose Bautista and that was it. The Red Sox scored runs in the first and second, and Coco Crisp had two key RBI. David Ortiz hit a rare triple in the eighth that Alex Rios misplayed and scored on Kevin Youkilis' sac fly.

It proved to be huge as Jonathan Papelbon had a very shaky ninth. He allowed three hits, and one was a controversial single that Lyle Overbay tried to stretch into a double but was called out (pictured). The replays seem to show the ump got it wrong, and it curtailed a big inning. Papelbon was relying to much on his fastball and the Jays were hitting him. He had a solid outing on Saturday night, and no one with the Sox seems worried about yesterday's tightrope walk.

Speaking of walking tightropes, Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the hill in Tampa tonight against the Rays, and will be followed by Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield in the series. If the Red Sox take two of three at The Trop (matching what Tampa Bay did at Fenway this past week) they will be tied with the Rays on Wednesday night. The Red Sox also cut their magic number for a playoff berth to 8 as Minnesota lost in Baltimore, 7-1. They now lead the Wild Card by six games.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Peterson Can't Do It Alone

It was a truly brutal loss for the Vikings today in Minnesota, as they let a 15-0 lead in the middle of the third quarter slip away, as the Indianapolis Colts scored two TDs and a field goal with :08 to play and won, 18-15.

It was another banner day for Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 160 yards, 118 in just the first half. But the Vikings could not get the ball into the end zone and had to settle for five Ryan Longwell field goals, one of which was 53 yards to conclude the half. It was another subpar performance by Tarvaris Jackson, who went just 14-for-24 and 130 yards. He also fumbled in the third as the momentum was shifting the Colts way. He just doesn't impress me as being an NFL starting QB. And the Vikings are paying for it.

The defense shut Peyton Manning down in the first half and the start of the third quarter, but they were still within striking distance. Joseph Addai scored on a one-yard run, and Manning hit Reggie Wayne with a 32-yard TD early in the fourth, and a two-point conversion tied it at 15.

Longwell attempted a 49-yard field goal late, but that went wide left. That brought back flashbacks of Gary Anderson's miss in the 1998 NFC title game, that eventually kept the Vikings out of the Super Bowl. (Granted that was just a 38-yard attempt, but Longwell's miss also left me with a bad feeling.) Adam Vinatieri missed on a chip shot FG from 30 early in the game, but hit a 47-yarder at the end to give Indy the win.

The Vikings are now 0-2, including their loss to Green Bay last Monday night. Many pundits felt that they were a favorite to win the NFC North this year, so a win next week against Carolina is a must. Brad Childress could find his job in serious jeopardy unless this team starts putting the ball in the end zone more frequently.

Red Sox Rally For a Split

The Red Sox rallied late to get a split in their day/night doubleheader last night, beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5, after getting whacked in the first game, 8-1.

The loss just about buries the Blue Jays, as instead of being 5 1/2 back with a sweep, they are now 7 1/2 back. The Red Sox were also fortunate that the Yankees also rallied at the same time in their second game against Tampa Bay last night and won 6-5. The Rays also split their twinbill with New York so the Sox are still 2 back in the AL East.

Bartolo Colon pitched six innings last night but only had one bad inning, the second, as the Jays scored five runs off him, which was aided by Jed Lowrie's second error of the season. The Red Sox had scored two in the first. They chipped away and got the score to 5-4 by the eighth. They tied the score on Jason Bay's double and Lowrie's single. Two outs later he was on third when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 20-foot roller along the first base line and made it to first when Toronto pitcher Scott Downs slipped and fell leaving the mound, and Lowrie walked in with the go-ahead run.

David Ortiz added an RBI double, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get the Red Sox a really huge win last night. Minnesota swept the Baltimore Orioles last night in their doubleheader, so the Red Sox Wild Card lead is now at 5 games.

Jon Lester takes the mound today in the finale against the Blue Jays and Roy Halladay.

ND Rolls Over Big Blue

The denizens of Professor Thom's, the official University of Michigan bar in New York City, couldn't have been happy yesterday, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish simply rolled over Michigan, 35-17 at South Bend. Notre Dame is now 2-0.

Notre Dame came out slugging, scoring two TDs off of Michigan mistakes in the first six minutes. It was ND's best performance in at least two years, as Jimmy Clausen threw two TDs and Robert Hughes scored two. Michigan paid for their mistakes, as they turned the ball over six times.

A freak accident near the end of the first half led to an injury to coach Charlie Weis. A Notre Dame defensive player got blocked into him on the sidelines and he wound up tearing the ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee. He returned to the game on crutches in the second half, and will have surgery on the knee later this week. His status for next week's game against Michigan State remains unknown at the moment.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

With the SawxHeads at Thom's

Back on August 27th, the good folks from SawxHeads were in Professor Thom's with me and my friends enjoying the 11-3 Red Sox romp over the Yankees. They brought their video cameras with them, and did a story on the bar.

And naturally, they found Yours Truly and few others, like my friends Eric and John, as well as SawxHeads' own Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald, and they interviewed us on the balcony of the second floor's Loft. It was fun hanging out with them, and you can see me leading the cheers in the middle of the Red Sox pummeling of the Bronx Bombers that night. (It's hard to miss me wearing the Red Sox home jersey!)

The clip lasts about 2 1/2 minutes. My thanks to the good people over at SawxHeads for the video.

Wake Spins a Gem

The conditions at Fenway were simply abominable last night, with heavy rain falling for most of the game. But both the Red Sox and Blue Jays needed to play, as the idea of back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend was simply out of the question.

So the Red Sox gave the ball to Tim Wakefield, who was shelled in Texas last Saturday, in his worst start of his Red Sox career. Last night was simply one of his best.

Wake had the knuckler dancing all night, befuddling a hot Toronto club, who came in having won 11 of their last 12. All they could manage against him was three hits, two of them doubles. Wake struck out four and issued no walks. He retired the last 13 hitters he faced before giving way to Manny Delcarmen.

It was something the Red Sox needed desperately, to give the bullpen a night off with the doubleheader today. The Red Sox scored a run in the first on Jed Lowrie's sacrifice fly. Lowrie doubled in another run in his next at-bat, and David Ortiz doubled in two in the seventh to make it 4-0.

The scoring was capped off in the eighth but no less than Kevin Cash, who hit his third home run of the season with two on to make it a 7-0 final. (All three of his homers have been bombs as well.)

The Rays were rained out in New York (as were five other games last night), so the Red Sox are now 2 back of them. Tampa Bay will play a twinbaill today, as will the Minnesota Twins, who were rained out in Baltimore. The Sox' Wild Card lead is now at 6 games, and their magic number for a playoff berth is 11.

Also yesterday, MLB determined by coin flip that should the Red Sox and Rays need a one-game playoff for the AL East title, it will be played at Fenway. It is highly unlikely, as the Wild Card winner (that would be the Twins in this case) would have to have a better record than both the Sox and Rays. If the Red Sox and Twins are tied for the Wild Card, a one-game playoff would also be played at Fenway. Again, not very likely.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now Back to the Red Sox, Already in Progress

It was a lousy last couple of games for the Red Sox to complete the Tampa Bay series, especially the last one. It was a night the Red Sox couldn't get the clutch hit in a tie game, especially in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings.

They were brutal in RISP situations, as the Red Sox went 0-for-15. The combo of Ortiz, Bay, Lowell and Youkilis--the heart of the order--went an astounding 0-for-17. This mostly against a pitcher, Andy Sonnanstine, who had a career ERA against the Red Sox over 8.

So now the Sox are 2 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay going into Friday night's game. The Sox open a four-game series tonight (weather permitting) with a hot Toronto Blue Jays club that has won 11 of 12 games. Roy Halladay will pitch Sunday, and AJ Burnett and Jesse Litsch will pitch in the doubleheader Saturday. The Red Sox will have Tim Wakefield going tonight, Bartolo Colon and Paul Byrd on Saturday and Jon Lester Sunday.

The Rays go to New York for three. (Does this mean we REALLY have to begin rooting for the Yankees now?) If the Red Sox can take three of four and the Rays drop two of three, the Sox will be just 1 game out of first going into the other three-game showdown with the Rays on Monday.

It's not going to be easy for the Red Sox from here on, as the Blue Jays are determined to make it difficult for them, pitching both Burnett and Halladay on three days rest. I still think they are too far back to make a serious run (they are six back as I write this), as they are 6 1/2 back in the Wild Card race.

But the Red Sox can't afford to look past them.

For the Seventh and Final Time

It was a sad and somber day yesterday as I went down to bedrock along with nearly 5,000 other people to remember the 9/11 victims yesterday. It was seventh and last time that we will be able to descend down to the bedrock of the World Trade Center site, as the pressure is now on to get the site's construction moving to an eventual completion.

It was a terribly emotional day, as it always is. The turnout this year was about doubled from last year, as the weather was much better, and the finality of walking on hallowed ground brought more loved ones out. The emotions weren't as raw as past years. I got down to the site with my friend Deborah at 7 AM. The names were read this year by family members who were paired with NYC students from the 90 countries who lost people at the WTC. My friend Joyce's name was read at about 9:15 AM, and that was very emotional for us.

We descended into the site at about 11 AM, and we laid roses in a circle at the north end of the site (pictured), and stayed there about 30 minutes. It's still so surreal being in the middle of the spot where the worst tragedy in American history took place.

After we left the site, we met up with Keith of ArtAid, whose done some great work remembering the 9/11 victims with his great murals with the victims names on it. We signed one of his newest creations. We then went to a restaurant called Southwest NY, which is in the World Financial Center, across from the site. Every year they do a complimentary buffet for all the family members and it was really good. We met owner Richard Cohen and he was very gracious and we thanked him.

We concluded the day by going to Battery Park, and we signed the beam that will be part of the 9/11 National Memorial and Museum, and we also planted a flag with all the 9/11 victims names on it in the park in honor of Joyce. There were hundreds of flags flying there and it was quite a stirring sight. They were put up by a group called New York City 9/11 Memorial Field, and they've done some great work also.

As I was going to bed last night, I could see the beautiful "Tribute in Light", the two blue lights in the sky from Lower Manhattan that are turned on every September 11th evening, from my house, nine miles from the WTC site.

It was another emotionally draining day, and as I write this I'm still a bit tired. But September 11th will always be a very somber and reflective day for me, to remember my lost friend and the thousands who also lost their lives on the worst day in our history. I'll always be at the site, whatever is there, every September 11 for the rest of my life. I owe it to the victims, and especially Joyce, to be there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Can Be The Ones Who Remember

It's that day again.

For me, it's the most solemn and somber day of the year. My life basically comes to a stop, and everything, including my passionate support for the Red Sox, takes a back seat. It's a day that affects all Americans, in one way or another. Just say those two words, and it instantly conjures up visions and memories of the worst day in our long history.

September 11th.

I will be at the site, known as "Ground Zero" or "The Pit" for the seventh anniversary remembrance on Thursday morning. Like last year, the ceremonies will be held in Zuccotti Park, on the corner of Church and Liberty Streets, across from the southeast corner where the World Trade Center once stood. For me and my friend Deborah, it is an obligation to be there, to remember our friend Joyce.

There will be a few thousand family members at the ceremonies on Thursday, and this will also be the final time we will be permitted to descend into the site, to leave roses, mementoes and prayers for those 2,751 brave souls who perished seven years ago. I honestly thought that last year would be the last time, as very little room was available in the site. The construction had finally picked up in recent months, and I thought we couldn't do it this year. But I was surprised back in July when the city announced that it would happen again this year. But this should definitely be the last time, so it should be an even more emotional day, especially for those of us who've descended down into the site for every remembrance since 2002.

When I was a kid, early September always filled me with a lot of dread. The new school year was coming, and I enjoyed the vacations so much that I hated returning to school. Now, early September also fills me with a different kind of dread. It's extremely difficult to be at Ground Zero every September, seeing loved ones of the 9/11 victims breaking down. Being on the site of the most catastrophic event in our country's history, where a dear friend of mine's life ended. It never gets easier, but I feel there is only one place in the world I can be on that day. As the days get closer to each anniversary, I try to immerse myself in things like the Red Sox playoff chase, the opening of the NFL season, writing trivia for my weekly contest at Professor Thom's, that sort of thing. But the 9/11 remembrance is always like the 800-pound elephant in the room. It's there and sooner or later you have to deal with it.

So, on Thursday morning, I will. We will remember fondly my friend Joyce and all those others beautiful souls who lost their lives seven years ago. We'll remember the good times as well as the tragic day. I always smile when I think of Joyce: a beautiful spirit who cared about her family and friends, and was taken from this life too soon. She is missed by everyone whose life she touched.

Especially mine.

For those of you who haven't seen my two previous tributes on this site, here they are.
September 11, 2007
September 11, 2006

I also include two videos here. One from Bruce Springsteen, with his song "My City of Ruin," which is a touching tribute to all the WTC victims. And also, "Twisted Steel" by Ian Hunter. He is married to Joyce's cousin, and dedicates this song to her every time he plays it.

I included that short speech by Bruce Weitz from the TV show "Third Watch" as the "Words to Live By" on my blog over the next few days. It was from a show called "233 Days" when a firefighter who was killed on September 11 is found among the ruins and his funeral takes place. It was a very touching way to conclude the show. Especially the final line: "We can be the ones who remember."

We must always remember. And Never Forget.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Place: So Close, But Yet So Far

The "new guy" came up big last night. Jason Bay pulled the Red Sox out of a 3-2 hole against Tampa Bay with a two-run shot off Dan Wheeler in the eighth to put the Red Sox just three outs away from regaining first place in the AL East. (I had to stop Trivia Night briefly as Professor Thom's went wild.)

That's as close as the Red Sox got.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and immediately gave up a long home run to right to pinch-hitter Dan Johnson to tie the game at 4. He then proceeded to give up doubles to give Tampa Bay the lead, 5-4. A Red Sox comeback in the ninth came up short as Coco Crisp popped up to second with Jacoby Ellsbury on third to end it. The Sox are once again 1 1/2 games behind the Rays.

It was Pap's fifth blown save of the season. Hey, the guy's human and things like this will happen. And Tampa Bay's a good team. But he's now pitched in three straight games, so he might not be available tonight.

Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled through 5+ innings, allowing three runs. He clearly had trouble locating his fastball, and the walks kicked in (and he allowed a run on a bases-loaded hit batsman). Dice-K not being able to get the Red Sox deep into the game put the pressure on the bullpen, who did a good job until Papelbon in the ninth.

The series concludes tonight with Josh Beckett taking the mound against Andy Sonnanstine. The Twins were victorious last night, so the Wild Card lead is now at 6. Toronto won a doubleheader in Chicago, and they have now won 10 straight games and are 7 back.

Trivia Q&A: September 9

We had a terrific turnout at Professor Thom's on Tuesday night, as plenty of Red Sox fans came out for the contest with the Rays, and many of the regular Trivia players were also on hand. We had 19 teams take part. The scores were rather strong throughout most of the night, and we had five teams get perfect scores in the "Spell the Word Trivia" round. (It took a little longer last night as I had to stop while the bar went nuts over Jason Bay's eighth inning homer at Fenway.)

Going into the final round, we had a four-way tie for second place, and they were trailing the leaders by two points. The numbers on IQ Trivia were rather low, and I was worried when I began marking the papers that a few teams were getting shutout. But most teams got the King Henry VIII question right. And the team of Bridget Moynahan's Voodoo Doll's Got Legs emerged victorious, as they got 11 points (three questions correct) and were crowned champions, but the slimmest of margins, one point. (And it was over a team ironically named "525,600 Second-Place Finishes.") Congratulations to Matt and his crew for another successful night.

Current Events
1. Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks Pictures were hit with a lawsuit this week with claims that they stole the plot of their film "Disturbia" from this classic Alfred Hitchcock movie.
2. A London museum bought the original artwork of this rock band's logo for just under $100,000 last week.
3. In its annual survey, Forbes magazine rated this southern city as the best in the USA for single people.
4. This Oscar-winning actor is suing Paramount Pictures, the makers of a hit 2007 film he starred in, claiming he's owed more than $10 million in bonuses based on the movie's success.
5. This onetime 1970s sitcom star hit a fan with his truck after arguing with him over some pictures outside a Utah bowling alley this past weekend.
6. After 12 years and over 5,000 performances, this Broadway musical ended its run this past Sunday.
7. On the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, this country's parliament was dissolved and elections will be held next month.

Answers: 1. "Rear Window;" 2. Rolling Stones; 3. Atlanta; 4. Tommy Lee Jones; 5. Gary Coleman; 6. "Rent;" 7. Canada.

September 9th Trivia
1. This state joined the Union on this date in 1850, becoming the 31st US state.
2. The small nation of Tajikstan gained its independence from this country on this date in 1991.
3. Elvis Presley made his first appearance on this legendary TV show on this date in 1956.
4. David A. Stewart, who gained fame as part of this 1980s rock duo, was born on this date in 1952.
5. Rachel Hunter, model and actress once married to Rod Stewart and originally hails from this country, was born on this date in 1969.
6. Alf Landon, who once ran for president and was defeated by this man, was born on this day in 1887.
7. Prisoners seized control of this maximum-security prison in 1971, and when it finally ended four days later, 43 people were dead.

Answers: 1. California; 2. Soviet Union; 3. "The Ed Sullivan Show;" 4. Eurythmics; 5. New Zealand; 6. Franklin D. Roosevelt; 7. Attica.

Spell the Word ("The Q Train")
1. ENUNCIATE (verb): to utter articulately; to pronounce.
2. HISTRIONIC (adj): overly dramatic; deliberately affected.
3. CATERWAUL (verb): to have a noisy argument.
4. POPINJAY (noun): a vain or a talkative person.
5. CORPULENT (adj): very fat; obese.
6. ACCLIMATE (verb): to become accustomed to a new climate or situation.
7. CAJOLE (verb): to persuade with flattery; to coax.
8. ARBITER (noun): a person chosen to judge or decide a dispute.
9. RECIDIVISM (noun): a tendency to lapse into a previous condition or pattern of behavior.
10. FACETIOUS (adj): given to jesting; not serious.

General Knowledge
1. What is the second longest river in the world?
2. The town of Baccarat, France has been known for centuries to produce what?
3. In the 1983 movie "All the Right Moves," Tom Cruise's character plays in what sport?
4. What state was 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee once governor of?
5. What is the shortest of William Shakespeare's plays?
6. Which jazz sax player helped create bebop while playing with Dizzy Gillespie?
7. What is the only vitamin the human body can produce from exposure to sunlight?

Answers: 1. Amazon; 2. fine crystal; 3. football; 4. Arkansas; 5. "The Comedy of Errors;" 6. Charlie Parker; 7. vitamin D.

IQ Trivia
1. King Henry VIII belonged to what royal family? ( 4 points)
2. According to Greek mythology, the tears of Eos are responsible for forming what? ( 5 points)
3. What is the longest book in the Bible? ( 4 points)
4. What kind of pasta means "little turnips" in Italian? ( 3 points)
5. What was the only opera written by Beethoven? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Tudor; 2. morning dewdrops; 3. Psalms; 4. ravioli; 5. "Fidelio."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

456, and a Half

“I believe it’s safe to say that this amazing feat of consecutive sellouts will never be matched. I hope our fans take great pride in setting the standard in Major League Baseball."
---Indians owner Larry Dolan, after the Indians' 455-game sellout streak ended in 2001

You spoke too soon, Larry. (The Red Sox got you on the field last October, and they got you again last night. This time at the ticket window.)

The Red Sox had their 456th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park last night, and celebrated it in style as the Red Sox moved to within a half-game of the AL East lead as they went on to a 3-0 win behind the stellar pitching of Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon.

Lester pitched 7 2/3 innings before giving way to Papelbon, who nailed it down for his 36th save. Lester got his 14th win, as he struck out nine and allowed just six hits.

The Red Sox got all their runs in the first, on RBIs by David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis and a home run by Jason Bay. Coco Crisp also continued his torrent hitting, getting three more hits, and he's now batting .291. Edwin Jackson settled down for the Rays after that shaky first, but the Rays' bats have been slumbering lately, and were dominated by Lester.

The Sox had a low-key celebration before the game to celebrate breaking the consecutive sellouts record, as players greeted fans at the gates, threw balls to fans just before the start, and three fans tossed out the first pitch. The Red Sox also thanked their fans by putting out a full page ad in the Boston Globe with 456 reasons why they are thankful to them. You can see it here.

And courtesy of the Boston Globe, here are the facts and figures of the streak (click to increase the image):
The Red Sox are also now a full seven games ahead of the Minnesota Twins for the Wild Card, as they were idle last night, and the Magic Number to wrap up a playoff berth is now at 13.