Friday, July 31, 2009

Sox Get Martinez, Kotchman

The Red Sox have pulled off two trades as the July 31st trading deadline is about to expire. They have traded pitchers Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. Price was pitching at Single A Salem, and Hagadone was at Single A Greenville.

The Adam LaRoche Era in Boston lasted just nine days, as he was dealt back to the team he started out with, the Atlanta Braves, straight up for first baseman (and Red Sox killer) Casey Kotchman.

Martinez, 30, currently has 15 HRs, 67 RBI with a BA of .284.

Kotchman, 26, this season has a BA of .282, with 6 HRs and 41 RBI.

Reason # 2,275 To Hate Dan Shaughnessy

CHB (Curly Haired Bastard) totally tosses David Ortiz under the bus in his latest epic column. I love how jackasses like him go after bloggers for their irrationality, but yet comes out with trash like this. I would suspect he's had this column in his mind to write for a long time.

(BTW, I picked that number as this is my 2,275th post. I've hated him every time I write something here.)

Oh Yeah. Red Sox 8, A's 5.

Yep, they played baseball at Fenway yesterday, and the Red Sox salvaged a split, 8-5, over Oakland of a four-game series.

Jon Lester struggled, allowing four runs in five plus innings. The Red Sox faced yet another Oakland rookie, Gio Gonzalez, and had him on the ropes in the first, loading the bases with one out. They got just one run, on a Jason Varitek single. Oakland came back and got four off Lester in the sixth, and the very real possibility of losing three of four at home to one of the AL's bottom feeders was a real possibility.

The Sox rallied, scoring two in the sixth, and got a 6-5 lead on David Ortiz' 14th home run, a bomb to right center. They added two more in the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon came on to get his 26th save in the ninth.

New York lost in Chicago to the White Sox, so the AL East lead is now back to 2 1/2 games.

And the clock now ticks down to 4 PM, as the trade deadline is now fast approaching. I'll be glued to my TV as it arrives. I'll bet money now the Red Sox do something significant.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

David Ortiz' Statement

From Extra Bases:

Today I was informed by a reporter that I was on the 2003 list of MLB players to test positive for performance-enhancing substances. This happened right before our game, and the news blindsided me. I said I had no comment because I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

I want to talk about this situation and I will as soon as I have more answers. In the meantime I want to let you know how I am approaching this situation. One, I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true. Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public. You know me - I will not hide and I will not make excuses.

I want to thank my family, the Red Sox, my teammates, and the fans for their patience and support.

The Papi Revelation

As the entire baseball world knows by now, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez' names were mentioned in a New York Times article today, outing them as players who tested positive in the survey MLB conducted back in 2003 when they finally came into the 21st century about testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

In the previous post here, I question exactly who revealed these names, why they did it now, and why no one else was mentioned as well. (And I said the same thing when Alex Rodriguez was outed last February.) It makes me wonder if these "shadow figures" have some type of agenda or what. We'll probably never get answers to those questions.

MLB and the Players Association are probably seething over this article today. The last thing they want is to have names from that List of 104 come out.

Ortiz has not addressed the issue yet, and at some point he will have to explain his side. Papi has always been on the side of law and order when it came to steroids in baseball, which led me to believe he had no skeletons in his closet. The overwhelming reaction to today's revelations doesn't seem to be a big surprise. Chalk up another one for the "everybody's doing it" crowd.

If true, I can't see how this won't hurt Ortiz and his legacy. I am most disappointed by his tough stand on PEDs, and how it now appears he had plenty to hide. (He said this earlier this year, from Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald):

“I would suggest that everyone get tested. Not randomly. Everybody. You go team by team, you test everybody. Three, four times a year.”

As for players who tested positive, Ortiz said, “... you’re gonna be out. Serious. And period. Ban ’em for the whole year.”

“I know that if I test positive, using any kind of substance, I know that I’m going to disrespect my family, the game, the fans, and everybody. And I don’t want to be facing that situation. So what I will do is, I won’t use it.”

Really strong words. But now they sound extremely hollow. Papi deserves to have his side of the story told, and I hope he will, and as soon as possible.

As far the Red Sox championship teams of 2004 and 2007 goes, that is done. Move on. The Sox won those titles, and they are in the record books. Anyone who suggests asterisks be placed next to them (and you know hypocrite MFY fans will), take a look at the era. You'd have to put asterisks on every team's titles for the past 20 years as well. I've never been naive enough to believe that the 2004 Red Sox were completely clean. They had their juicers like the Yankees had during their last four title teams as well. I would bet every team, no matter where they finished in the standings in this generation, had someone taking PEDs.

I don't believe in asterisks for anything concerning baseball records. The one on Roger Maris' home run title in 1961 was moronic. I don't believe in putting them on Barry Bonds home run records or anything else in the books. Fans will decide for themselves about records and the like. Baseball didn't put one on the Cincinnati Reds' 1919 World Series win over the Chicago White Sox, who just happened to be in the bag of gamblers in that series. (There were calls to erase it from the record books from some circles, but that was wisely ignored.)

When a team wins a championship, it is forever. Nothing can change that.

I'm still reserving my thoughts about what happened today with David Ortiz and the New York Times revelations. I want to hear Papi's explanation first.

But I am really disappointed in him.

Ortiz, Ramirez Named as Two of the 104

An article today in the New York Times has come out and said that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were both on the list of 104 players who failed MLB's steroid test in 2003.

Right now, David Ortiz is playing in today's game against the A's and wouldn't talk before the game about the report.

As I did with Alex Rodriguez this past February, I question why only Papi and Manny are being outed now, and no one else. Why hasn't anyone else connected to this mess been named today? The fact that names are coming out at curious times makes me wonder about who has the information and why they are leaking it out now.

More sure to follow about this.

The Ball's In Your Court, Theo

Something big's coming. I can feel it.

Yet another crappy performance by the Red Sox on Wednesday night. Brad Penny gave up a home run to leadoff man Adam Kennedy on the first pitch, then gave up two hard-hit singles and then was afraid to throw a strike, walking two. Then the newest Red Sox killer, Rajai Davis, cleared the bases and made it 5-0. (I will give the A's credit. They've played hard this series, and they look like the team fighting for a division title.)

Good God. You knew this wasn't going to end well. Mike Lowell seemed to be the only Red Sox player who cared last night, driving in 5 of the 6 runs the Sox managed to score. He connected off the other Red Sox killer, Brett Anderson, in the first, a three-run shot, to get it back to 5-3. But then they remembered they can't hit against Anderson, and once again made him look a phenom. The middle of the order was simply dreadful, and Kevin Youkilis (who earned the Golden Sombero, four strikeouts last night) and Jason Bay looked totally lost right now.

Justin Masterson came on after Penny's barf-inducing performance and pitched like he was already in a Blue Jays uniform, giving up yet another run as soon as he entered. He has been simply awful since the Baltimore meltdown of a few weeks back.

Once again, the Boston Red Sox lost at home to the team with the third worst record in the American League, and one that sent up the white flag last week when they dumped their best hitter for prospects. They've given up 17 runs the past two nights to this team. (Emphasis added to drive home the point.)

The Sox should be beating up on crap teams like this. Instead they find themselves 3 1/2 games back, as New York won again. They've dropped 8 of 12 since the All-Star Break.

Another mind-numbing loss to the lousy Oakland A's, 8-6. I saw this series as a must-take-at-least-3-out-of-4 one. Now they can only hope to split on Thursday. That is if they win.

Maybe this embarrassment will finally wake this damned team up. Then again, the clock is ticking to 4 PM, Friday afternoon.

Enter Theo Epstein, stage left...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Way to Ruin 14's Night, Guys

How in the hell do you allow the Oakland A's 21 hits, with the current lineup they are putting on the field?

The reliable Red Sox bullpen, having not allowed a run since the All-Star break, totally melted down last night, as they coughed up seven runs after Clay Buchholz departed in the sixth.

And it was to an Oakland A's team that had recently put up the white flag, having traded their best hitter, Matt Holliday, to the St. Louis Cardinals, last Friday. They have one of the worst offenses and records in the AL. And they got 21 bloody hits last night and nine runs, and won in 11 innings, 9-8.

Jonathan Papelbon was handed a three-run lead in the ninth and promptly coughed it up. Once again those damned, blasted leadoff walks led to the disaster. Don't ask me to figure out what's going on with this guy. Everything has to have melodrama this season with him. 1-2-3 ninth innings are becoming rarer and rarer. The walks are up to high levels, as well as the number of baserunners he's put on. And Oakland took advantage. A double brought in one run, and two costly Nick Green errors tied it up.

Oakland won it with two in the 11th off Manny Delcarmen, and the Red Sox could rally for just one in the bottom of the 11th before falling just short.

And New York was beaten by the Rays in St. Pete last night, 6-2, thus the Red Sox really wasted a golden opportunity to gain valuable ground in the AL East. And they ruined Jim Rice's number retirement ceremony at Fenway last night. (With thanks to my friend Jere of "A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory" for the cool picture I used here, as he was lucky enough to be in attendance last night.) Johnny Pesky, Jim's longtime mentor and friend, had the honor of pulling up the covering to show off the brand new "14" on the right field facade. (At least that went according to plan.)

The Red Sox traded Mark Kotsay to the White Sox before last night's game for light-hitting and slick-fielding outfielder Brian Anderson. He was immediately optioned to Pawtucket.

I think it goes without saying the Red Sox need to take the last two games with Oakland to try to wash the miserable taste out of their mouths from last night. Brad Penny will try to make that happen tonight.

Trivia Q&A: July 28

We had another big crowd in for Trivia Night on Tuesday, as 23 teams took part, and I was really curious to see what the reaction to the "Shakespeare Trivia" would be once I first announced it.

It was met with a mixture of applause and groans, but the applause was actually louder. And the numbers on Shakespeare Trivia was actually good across the board. But it balanced the Q Train trivia numbers. They were harder this week, with the highest score anyone got was a 7 out of 10.

I also tossed a question from Current Events, the one about the new telescope on La Palma. Turns out it is also the coast of Morocco (as well as Spain), so to be fair, I threw it out and awarded everyone a point. I was in a generous mood on Tuesday.

The scores were close going into IQ Trivia, and it was a tougher round. No team got more than three questions right out of five, but the team of Picaddilly Line to Cockfosters, who were tied for second going into the round, got a high of 13 points of 20 to capture the title by one point.

Nice job guys, and congratulations on your win.

Current Events
1. This English rock singer was named an honorary captain of the New England Patriots when they play the Tampa Bay Bucs in an NFL game in London this October.
2. In a recent online poll by Time magazine, this man was actually selected as "The Most Trusted Newsman in America," garnering 44% of the vote.
3. An amateur astronomer in Australia last week discovered a black spot on this planet, and it most likely had been struck by a comet or asteroid.
4. Gidget, a dog featured in this fast-food restaurant's ads from 1997-2000, died from a stroke last week at age of 15.
5. The four major American sports leagues and the NCAA filed a lawsuit against this state to prevent them from implementing legal sports betting.
6. The world's largest single-mirror optical telescope, Gran Telescopio Canarias, was officially opened last week on the island of La Palma, off the coast of this country.
7. Harry Patch, the last surviving British veteran of this war, died last week at the age of 111.

Answers: 1. Elton John; 2. Jon Stewart; 3. Jupiter; 4. Taco Bell; 5. Delaware; 6. Spain and Morocco (question was removed and everyone awarded a point); 7. World War I.

Shakespeare Trivia
1. What is Shakespeare's shortest play? a. Hamlet; b. The Comedy of Errors; c. Julius Caesar; d. Othello.
2. Which Shakespeare character utters the line, "Come, you Spirits. Unsex me here!" a. Lady Macbeth; b. Ophelia; c. Puck; d. King Lear.
3. The feuding lovers Beatrice and Benedick are characters in which play? a. As You Like It; b. Much Ado About Nothing; c. The Comedy of Errors; d. Twelfth Night.
4. Shylock is the villain in which play? a. Cariolanus; b. Measure For Measure; c. Timon of Athens; d. The Merchant of Venice.
5. "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?" is from which play? a. Othello; b. Twelfth Night; c. Romeo and Juliet; d. Henry V.
6. In what century was Shakespeare born? a. 14; b. 15; c.16; d. 17.
7. What is Shakespeare's longest play? a. Othello; b. Richard III; c. Macbeth; d. Hamlet.

Answers: 1. b; 2. a; 3. b; 4. d; 5. c; 6. c; 7. d.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. English is the second most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin.
2. The Bible is the most shoplifted book in the world.
3. The human head has just 15 bones.
4. The island of Gibraltar was named after a former slave.
5. Napoleon Bonaparte died while having sex.
6. About 1 in 10 people in the world live on an island.
7. Apples are the world's most popular fruit.
8. The UN flag is the only flag that may fly above a US flag on an American flagpole.
9. Westminster Cathedral in London is actually a Roman Catholic church.
10. Thomas Edison invented the paperclip.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, 22; 4. true; 5. false, he died from poisoning; 6. true; 7. false, tomatoes; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, it was invented by William Middlebrook.

General Knowledge
1. Who was left off the fan-voted All-Star MLB roster this year, ending his streak of 11 consecutive All-Star games?
2. What's the only inanimate object to get a verse in "The Farmer In The Dell?"
3. What gas are the bubbles in soda filled with?
4. Duncan Jones, director of the film "Moon," is the son of what famous rock star?
5. What beer was advertised in the famous "Whassup" TV ad campaign of 1999?
6. What do you call a rhombus whose angles are all right angles?
7. Bulldogging and barrel racing are competitions in what sport?

Answers: 1. Manny Ramirez; 2. the cheese; 3. carbon dioxide; 4. David Bowie; 5. Budweiser; 6. square; 7. rodeo.

IQ Trivia
1. Liechtenstein lies between Switzerland and what other country? ( 3 points)
2. What Caribbean island did President James Buchanan attempt to buy in the 1850s, but Congress refused because they thought he'd take the money and flee there himself? ( 4 points)
3. Which Hall of Fame baseball player is the only man to have his number retired by three different teams? ( 4 points)
4. "Wild Bill" Donovan is known as "the father" of what US governmental agency? ( 5 points)
5. What area of Brooklyn, NY is named for the rabbits that had overrun it in the 17th century when the Dutch first landed there? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Austria; 2. Cuba; 3. Nolan Ryan (Angels, Astros and Rangers); 4. CIA; 5. Coney Island.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brett Favre Says He's Staying Retired

Thank God.
The best news I've heard all day.

Beckett Tops The AL Class

Last night was one of those rare nights that I missed a Red Sox game on TV. I went to KeySpan Park to catch the Brooklyn Cyclones-Aberdeen Ironbirds game. (The Cyclones won in 14 innings, 3-2, on a wild pitch. I was there for the first 10 innings.)

I followed the game on my cell phone, and it was a pleasure that every time I went for an update, the Red Sox were putting runs on the board. Nice to see a little spunk back in the offense, as they got 14 hits and coasted to an easy 8-3 win over the Oakland A's last night.

Adam LaRoche had two doubles and an RBI, Jed Lowrie had two RBI, and Dustin Pedroia belted a homer in the first to get it all going. Josh Beckett became the first 12-game winner in the American League, going 7+ innings and striking out ten.

Every time I was going to my cell, I also noticed that the Yankees were scoring runs in St. Petersburg. New York beat the Rays, 11-4 to keep the Red Sox 2 1/2 back in the AL East.

The Red Sox will put number 14 up on the right field facade as Jim Rice gets his well-deserved night to honor his election to the Hall of Fame tonight at Fenway.

Wish I could be there, but Trivia Night here in New York will keep me away.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Omar Minaya: A First-Class Disgrace

As all of you know, the Mets finally jettisoned a cancer that was plaguing their team today, as their VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard was finally given the axe today.

It was about time. It's well-known that Adam Rubin, Mets beat writer for the New York Daily News, wrote a number of articles about Bernazard that led to the Mets finally taking action against this clod. He was a thoroughly disliked individual who wheeled unusual power within the Mets organization. If Rubin hadn't written the series of articles, the Mets surely would have done nothing to Bernazard.

But in a truly disgraceful press conference, Mets GM Omar Minaya tossed Rubin under the bus. Minaya accused Rubin of an ulterior motive for writing the articles, that he was looking for a job in the Mets organization with player development, and once he didn't get one, he went after Bernazard.

What a bunch of BS. It was clearly a case of killing the messenger, and reminiscent of the worst kind of Washington political mudslinging. "Rubin got one of 'our guys', so now we're going to get him." Incredibly vindictive. I am now convinced that Minaya couldn't find his ass with both his hands.

Minaya singlehandedly destroyed his relationship with the media. Can anyone in the print media ever trust this guy again, on or off the record?

Minaya comes off as a disgruntled asshole, and you have to wonder if Jeff Wilpon, who now runs this pathetic show in Queens, told Minaya to go after Rubin. Rubin was mortified during the press conference, and afterwards denied totally he was trying to get a job with the Mets. Rubin explained he had spoken with many other people from different organizations about getting into baseball, and never spoke once about it with Minaya. But he did say he spoke with Wilpon about it, so you have to figure that Wilpon sicced Minaya on him.

And if Wilpon didn't, Minaya should be fired right now for disgracing the Mets organization for doing something so despicable.

He's totally lost control of the organization. What should have been a simple press conference to announce a major change in personnel turned into yet another embarrassment for one of baseball's laughingstock organizations.

The Mets ABSOLUTELY need new ownership. Someone who knows how to run a winning team. Someone who has the first clue. But unfortunately it won't happen any time soon.

Sad. Pathetic. Disgusting. Disgraceful.

Pick your adjective. They all fit the New York Mets right now.

And this from "Can't Stop the Bleeding" on their Twitter page tonight. This sums up the Mets and their moronic front office nicely:

Here’s a list of things the Wilpons and Minaya don’t understand:
1) public relations
2) journalism
3) ponzi schemes
4) baseball


High Brow Trivia on Tuesday

I know I'll probably get some moans and groans over this from a few of the Trivia Night regulars, but our Special Category on Tuesday night will be "Shakespeare Trivia." We will have seven questions about the life and works of the immortal Bard of Avon. And for those of you who are lost on the subject, you'll have a fighting chance because the questions will be of the multiple choice variety.

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What beer was advertised in the famous "Whassup?" TV ad campaign of 1999?

We should get going right around 9 PM, and there will be a Red Sox-A's game on as well. Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Rookie Pitcher Sends Sox Back to The Tank

So, how many of you out there still think John Smoltz was a great pickup this winter?

Smoltz got whacked by the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, giving up six runs in just five innings as the Orioles salvaged the last game of the weekend series, 6-2. They also broke their 11-game losing streak at Fenway Park as well.

Rookie David Hernandez (who?) baffled the Red Sox for seven innings, as he retired the first nine, and allowed just one run in getting the win. What the hell is it with this team facing rookie pitchers? They make these guys look like crafty veterans.

The combination of Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Jason Bay (that's your 3-4-5 hitters for those of you keeping score out there) went a collective 0-for-12 on Sunday. Stink-o.

That's taking nothing away from Hernandez. The O's are high on this 21-year-old pitcher, and he pitched well in his previous start against the Yankees.

Smoltz was used for target practice by the Orioles. Nick Markakis had 3 RBI including a bomb of a homer to right. The O's scored one in the first and three more in third, and went on cruise control from there.

New York's win over the A's on Sunday once again puts the Red Sox 2 1/2 back in the AL East.

Terry Francona says he still has faith in Smoltz, but he is now 1-4 with an ERA over 7.00. His next start is against the Orioles once again in Baltimore on Friday night, which will be just hours after the trading deadline passes. Today makes me wonder if he'll be making that start or not.

I have to admit I watched more of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies today on MLB, especially after it got ugly early in Boston. I think Bud Selig needs his eyes checked, as he not only butchered Jim Rice's years with the Red Sox (it didn't start in 1979, Mr. Commissioner, but 1974), and also who Rickey Henderson played for in 1997 (it was the Angels, not the Yankees, Bud). But I enjoyed the ceremonies, and it was just such a great day to be a Sox fan there. My pal and Governor of Red Sox Nation-NY, Chris Wertz, was on hand representing us all. (It was great seeing Carl Yastrzemski there, but he really seems to have aged a lot in recent years.)

And Rickey Henderson never once referred to himself in the third person!

Congratulations to Jim Ed, Rickey, the family of Joe Gordon, Tony Kubek and Nick Peters.

Papi and The New Guy Go Deep

There's a good way to make a good impression on a new group of fans when you've just been traded there, and the folks aren't sure if it was a good deal or not.

Go deep in your first game.

That's just what Adam LaRoche did last night in the eighth inning. The Sox had a 5-2 lead, and LaRoche took Orioles pitcher Mark Hendrickson into the Monster seats in left to ice the game at 7-2, and kept Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen in the ninth. It was LaRoche's 13th home run overall of 2009.

Jon Lester was simply brilliant again, and kept his perfect record lifetime against Baltimore intact at 9-0. Lester went 7 1/3 innings, struck out nine. He had only one shaky inning, the fourth, when the Orioles scored two runs.

David Ortiz cracked his 13th home run, a three-run shot to dead center in the first, and that was all Lester needed. they added another run in the second to make it 4-0.

Lester got a standing ovation when his night completed in the eighth. Daniel bard and Ramon Ramirez finished up, and the Red Sox are now 1 1/2 games back, as New York's winning streak came to an end at 8 earlier in the afternoon. Tampa Bay kept pace with the Red Sox, coming from eight runs down in Toronto to beat the Blue Jays in Toronto. It was the biggest comeback in their team history.

This afternoon, Jim Rice will join Rickey Henderson in being inducted with all of MLB's immortals at Cooperstown. MLB Network will be carrying the proceedings live and I'll be watching. The remote will be getting a workout, going back and forth between Cooperstown and Fenway all afternoon.

Congrats, Jim Ed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Would It Have Killed Billy Beane to Have Waited Until Monday to Trade Matt Holliday?

Yep, Beane made the A's even more impotent by trading away his best slugger in the middle of a series at Yankee Stadium yesterday. Holliday went to St. Louis for three minor leaguers. Naturally, the A's looked awful in an 8-3 loss last night.

The A's play the Red Sox at Fenway this coming Monday for four games. The trading deadline isn't until 4 PM this Friday.

Thanks Billy.

A Crooked Number. Finally.

The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park last night to start a three-game series with the Orioles, who are 1-14 on the road against the AL East.

It was just the tonic the struggling Sox needed, as they won a hard-fought 3-1 game and it ended the Red Sox' losing streak at five games.

Baltimore jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second, on a sacrifice fly that occurred because jason varitek overthrew second base on a stolen base attempt. Tek has simply been absymal on SB attempts this season. He has thrown out just 7 runners in 80 attempts. Ouch.

Brad Penny was really solid last night. He allowed just that unearned run. The Red Sox had cahnces early, but couldn't cash in. They left 5 on in the first 3 innings.The Sox finally got on the board in the fourth, as J.D. Drew finally ended a miserable losing streak at 0-for-25 with a single. Mike Lowell doubled behind him. Varitek singled Drew in, and Jed Lowrie hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. It was the first time the Sox scored multiple runs in an inning since last Friday, a span of 52 innings.

The Sox added another run in the fifth, and it looked like they'd add another in the seventh, as with two out Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double into the Triangle. It was a bad break, as it surely would have been a triple. Dustin Pedroia singled to right and I assumed, "4-1." But Nick Markakis fired a strike to the plate and gunned down Ellsbury. Markakis continues to be one of those players I would love to see in a Red Sox uniform one day. He now leads the AL in outfield assists with 11.

Jonathan Papelbon came in for the save and it was once again another episode of "Heart Attack Theater." He gave up back-to-back singles and a walk with one out. So, Papelbon reeled back and struck out Luke Scott and Melvin Mora to finish off the game and got his 25th save. This season has been a bizarre one for Pap. His walk total continues to climb, as does the number of men he's put on base this season. He has faced the opposition 8 times with the bases loaded, and struck them out 7 times. (Or as my dad loves to call it, "A John Franco Special." Pap has to add some melodrama to the ninth inning, the way Franco always seemed to in his Mets days.)

New York won again against the A's last night, so the Red Sox remain 2 1/2 back in the East. Jon Lester takes the mound tonight at Fenway.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Immortal Leather Sandwich Anniversary

It's been tough sledding for the Red Sox and their fans since the All-Star break, but it's always good to keep in mind the events of the recent past. It was five years ago today that this occurred:

And it was finished off in the ninth by this guy:

God bless Bill Mueller.

Keep the Faith, everyone.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Mark Buehrle pitched the 18th perfect game in Major League Baseball history in Chicago this afternoon, as the White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0.

Buehrle threw 116 pitches in getting his second career no-hitter. He no-hit the Texas Rangers in 2007 (pictured), and also faced the minimum of 27 batters. He walked Sammy Sosa early in that game, but picked him off. No one else reached in that game. (I'm sure if any other pitcher has ever thrown two hitters and faced just the minimum in both games.)

The game was saved in the ninth inning by DeWayne Wise, who went into the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement, and he reached over the wall in left center to take a home run away from Gabe Kapler. It would have broken up the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout all in one fell swoop.

It was also just the second time the Tampa Bay Rays have ever been no-hit. The other? Derek Lowe turned the trick at Fenway Park against them on April 27, 2002, a game that Yours Truly had the pleasure of being in attendance for.

Congratulations to Mark Buehrle on his perfect performance. I believe he owes DeWayne Wise at least a dinner, if not a whole lot more.

The Embarrassment In Queens Gets Worse

The total embarrassment that is the New York Mets took another turn this week. I'm not talking so much them dropping a series to the Washington Nationals (as if that wasn't bad enough). The news came to light that Tony Bernazard (pictured on the left), who is in charge of player development, REALLY embarrassed the club, and not just on one front, but three.

Seems as though Bernazard, tough guy he is, wasn't pleased with what he saw of the Mets' AA team at Binghamton, and tore off his shirt in the middle of their locker room and challenged anyone to fight him. He considered them as a group a bunch of wimps, and took it upon himself to show off his manhood (no, not THAT manhood) and put some "fight" into the team. Jeez.

And if that's not bad enough, Bernazard threw a raging fit at an Arizona Diamondbacks scout at Citi Field recently who was in the wrong seat at a game behind home plate. And now it's come to light that Bernazard got into a profanity-laced argument with Francisco Rodriguez on the team bus in Atlanta last Friday.

What in the world are the Wilpons waiting for in order to fire this guy? He totally undermined Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson last year and got them fired, and now Clueless Omar Minaya is now "investigating" Bernarzard's recent actions. What does he have to investigate? Doesn't he have any idea what's going on, or is he just lying through his teeth?

The Mets organization has been totally embarrassed lately, and not just on the field. The team has had some major injuries, but they can't hide behind that. It exposed the fact they have almost nothing of any quality in their farm system, and those rumors of a Roy Halladay trade were probably planted by someone in the Mets organization and probably by Bernazard. Nobody in the right mind really believe the Blue Jays offered the Mets a deal for Fernando Martinez (who is currently hurt and on the DL), Bobby Parnell and two minor leaguers. Strike four?

Minaya and Bernazard have simply run the Mets into the ground (Minaya doing to the Mets what he did earlier this decade in Montreal). The Mets are at a point the Red Sox were in 2001. They need a total housecleaning at the top, and need to bring in a GM with a winning pedigree and with a plan (like the Mets did in 1980 with Frank Cashen). It pains me to see the Mets being simply embarrassed like this, having so many family and friends as devoted followers. The Wilpons seem to sit there and do nothing, and let the lunatics run the asylum. The fortunes of the Red Sox turned after John Henry and company bought the Sox in 2001, and immediately fired the GM and manager. The Mets won't be sold now, as they just built a new stadium and the economy is not in good shape to make a sale worthwhile.

I fear that the changes that need to be made with the Mets won't be made. Ownership won't see the Mets are in truly awful shape, and will use the injury excuse for the reason that this season was a wreck.

They will continue to be the "other team in New York" if they don't make some radical changes, and now. And that will be a terrible shame indeed.

It Felt More Like 10-1

Dustin Nippert?

When I saw that name as Texas' starting pitcher on Wednesday, I thought this might be the night the Red Sox offense busts out of its doldrums and finally puts up some runs. The original starter, Vicente Padilla, was down with the flu and Nippert was a last-minute addition.

Nippert joined the list of hurlers who have recently baffled the Sox. It's one thing to lose to a quality pitcher like Kevin Millwood, but they looked anemic against Nippert. All they could do was get a Nick Green home run in the third. They had two shots to score runs after that, but once again came up empty.

When the Sox fell behind 2-1, I turned to my friend Joe at Professor Thom's and said it felt like the Red Sox were down 6-1 instead. And when it increased to 3-1 Texas, I said it then felt like it was 10-1. And I knew the night was all but over.

The putrid offense has now gone an amazing 49 innings without scoring more than one run in an inning. They close out a wretched road trip at 1-5, and scored just 13 runs on the trip.

Clay Buchholz was shaky in his second start, as he allowed all three runs in four innings. The bullpen continued to be superb since the All-Star break. They pitched four shutout innings, and have pitched 13 2/3 innings since the break without allowing a run.

Doug Mathis (who?) pitched the final 3 1/3 innings for the save and again the Sox looked sluggish, getting zilch off him. Truly pathetic.

New York's sweep of the Orioles means that the Red Sox are now 2 back in the East.


The Red Sox announced today that Jim Rice, who will be inducted in the Hall of Fame on Sunday (broadcast on the MLB Network and looking forward to it), will have his number 14 join the other six numbers on the right field facade the Sox have retired with a ceremony on Tuesday night before the game with the Oakland A's.

Congratulations, Jim Ed. A well-deserved honor.

Lugo Traded For The Classless Jerk's Brother

I was shocked on Wednesday to see that Julio Lugo Era ended in Boston not with him getting released by the Red Sox, but he was actually traded with cash considerations to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Chris Duncan and a player to be named later. Duncan will be sent to AAA Pawtucket. He is also the brother of Shelley Duncan of the MFY, who is best known for this act of stupidity.

Wow. I would have accepted a couple of broken bats and a used ball bag in return and considered that a fair deal. But Theo Epstein actually got somebody in return for him.

He really must be a genius.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Red Sox Acquire LaRoche

Extra Bases blog is reporting that the Red Sox acquired lefty first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates today. No word yet on who they surrendered to get him.

LaRoche, a free agent after this season, is known as a good second-half hitter and figures to see action at first against righthanded pitching. He has 12 HRs and 40 RBI with a .247 average with the Pirates this year.

Makes me wonder if the Sox are still very concerned about Mike Lowell's health.

UPDATE: WEEI is reporting the Red Sox gave up two minor league prospects, P Hunter Strickland (from Single A) and SS Argenis Diaz (Double A), to get LaRoche.

Another Rookie Pitcher= More Trouble

The Red Sox officially fell into second place in the AL East, as they could do little with Texas rookie pitcher Tommy Hunter, as the Rangers cruised into a 4-2 win in Texas.

The offense continues to be moribund, getting just two runs (including one with two outs in the ninth). Joy of Sox points out on his blog today that the Red Sox have now gone an astonishing 40 innings without putting up a crooked number on the board (just 0 or 1 in every inning in nearly five games). And this after getting four days off for the All-Star break.

It's a team-wide struggle, as only Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are batting over .300. The Sox fell behind 2-0 after the first with Josh Beckett on the mound. It almost seemed like 10-0 with the way too many of them just aren't hitting. Beckett wasn't bad, but wasn't great either, going all the way and allowing four earned runs and striking out seven.

Once again they made a rookie pitcher look like Sandy Koufax. Hunter pitched six innings, allowed just a run on four hits. The Red Sox had few opportunities to score runs. The best being in the sixth when they had two on and one out, but Jason Varitek struck out and Jed Lowrie popped up.

So now it's up to Clay Buchholz, the last Red Sox pitcher to win a game (I can't believe I just wrote that), to try to right the ship in the series and road trip finale in Texas.

The Orioles are rolling over for New York, losing 6-4 last night, putting New York in first place by one game.

Concerned? Sure. Panicked? no, not by a long shot. The knee-jerk reaction of most Red Sox fans is, "Trade for another bat!" But exactly who? And you know the price for any decent hitter is going to be extraordinarily high. Theo Epstein won't make any panic moves, but I bet he's looking for someone right now.

Keep in mind that there are 69 games still to play and 10 with New York. As usual the Yankee yahoos are out crowing that their club is in first place (they wouldn't be yahoos if they didn't). Whooptie-f'n-do! Too much baseball left to play.

The bats have to get rolling, no doubt about it. The good news is that one game is not insurmountable. Insurmountable would be more like being down 3-0 in the ALCS, a deficit no one could ever come back from.

Oh, wait a minute...

Trivia Q&A: July 21

We had another great crowd for Trivia Night on Tuesday, with 21 teams taking part. We had strong numbers for Current Events and The Q Train, which was "Robert DeNiro Films Trivia," where everyone had to guess which films he appeared in out of 10 listed. I got some good feedback on that type of category and it will be back for more appearances.

The numbers on Space Flight Trivia weren't bad, but weren't outstanding. It was a close competition all night, and coming down the home stretch we had seven teams bunched up withing three points. But the team of Table One Cheats would up winning by one point, as they nailed 4 of the 5 questions in IQ Trivia correct. Last week's champs, Up-Down-Up-Down staged a late rally and ran the table in the final round and missed by just a single point.

Congratulations to this week's winners (and I must say in defense of my friends Table One: they don't cheat. Or as they wrote on one sheet that if they cheated they'd win nearly every week).

Current Events
1. It was announced last week that this sitcom star will host the Emmy Awards on September 20th, after he hosted the Tony Awards earlier this year.
2. Grand Central Publishing announced that it will be issuing just 1,000 leather-bound, signed copies of this man's forthcoming autobiography, at $1,000 per copy.
3. A Caspian Airlines jet that originated in this country and was heading for Armenia, crashed shortly after takeoff last Wednesday, killing all 168 people on board.
4. Zac Sunderland, a 17-year-old American, became the youngest person to do this alone last Thursday, which took him 13 months to complete.
5. A Madonna concert was canceled in this European city last Thursday,when the stage collapsed while it was being constructed, killing two people and injuring eight.
6. Nine people were killed in this Asian country on July 17th when two bombs exploded at the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the nation's capital.
7. These two legendary college football teams will meet next year for the first football game to be played in the new Yankee Stadium.

Answers: 1. Neil Patrick Harris; 2. Ted Kennedy; 3. Iran; 4. Sail around the world; 5. Marseille; 6. Indonesia; 7. Notre Dame and Army.

Space Flight Trivia
1. Which Apollo flight number was the final one sent to the Moon in 1972?
2. Who was the first American to orbit the Earth, in 1962?
3. What were the first living creatures the US ever sent into space, in 1958?
4. What was astronaut Harrison Schmitt's claim to fame in 1972?
5. What year did the Challenger spacecraft explode shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board?
6. Which space program did the US launch following the completion of the Apollo program in 1973?
7. What country was the first to launch a man-made object that orbited the Earth in 1957?

Answers: 1. Apollo 17; 2. John Glenn; 3. mice; 4. He was the 12th and final man to step foot on the Moon; 5. 1986; 6. Skylab; 7. USSR.

Robert DeNiro Films Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The Great Santini
2. Wag The Dog
3. Donnie Brasco
4. Marvin's Room
5. Brazil
6. And Justice For All
7. Sleepers
8. The Devil's Advocate
9. Backdraft
10. Colors

Answers: 1. no; 2. yes; 3. no; 4. yes; 5. yes; 6. no; 7. yes; 8. no; 9. yes; 10. no.

General Knowledge
1. Former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle represented what state in the Senate?
2. In the US, premier caviar comes from what kind of fish?
3. Hungarian cuisine is known for its heavy use of what spice?
4. How many units does an album have to sell in the UK in order to win a gold disc?
5. What country has more lakes than all other countries combined?
6. How many checkers does each player begin with in the American version of the game?
7. What 1980s pop group took their name from a mad scientist in the film "Barbarella?"

Answers: 1. South Dakota; 2. sturgeon; 3. paprika; 4. 100,000; 5. Canada; 6. twelve; 7. Duran Duran.

IQ Trivia
1. The Republic of San Marino is entirely surrounded by what country? ( 3 points)
2. In 1972, the US gave what animals to China in exchange for two pandas? ( 5 points)
3. What was the computer screen name of Meg Ryan's character in the 1998 film "You've Got Mail?" ( 4 points)
4. What unusual fact do authors Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis have in common with President John F. Kennedy? ( 4 points)
5. What common, everyday item was invented by Dr. Martin Cooper in 1973? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Italy; 2. musk oxen; 3. Shopgirl; 4. They all died on the same day, November 22, 1963; 5. cell phone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wake to the DL; Buchholz Returns


Tim Wakefield was put on the disabled list today by the Red Sox, as he strained a muscle in his back pitching in a side session last Saturday. Clay Buchholz was recalled from Pawtucket and will pitch tomorrow night in Texas in his normal turn.

Wakefield was disabled retroactive to July 18th, so he cannot return until at least August 2nd.

The Call For Buchholz Grows

For five innings last night, John Smoltz looked pretty solid. The Red Sox had a 2-1 lead, but the Texas Rangers are a dangerous offensive team, and proved it in the sixth. And Smoltz didn't survive it.

When the dust cleared, it was 6-2 and the game was for all purposes over. Smoltz got hammered for 5 runs, three of which were home runs to Michael Young, David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And none of them were cheapies either. They were blasts. It was the first time Smoltz had allowed three home runs in an inning in 15 years.

Smoltz is now 1-3 with a 6.31 ERA. The hue and cry now will be for Clay Buchholz, who opened the second half with a win and went right back to AAA, to return to Boston. Smoltz has been wildly inconsistent, and I'm sure many fans feel he might be better suited to the pen. But I think the Sox right now are content to wait. They won't make any knee-jerk moves based on last night. But Smoltz has to step it up and take the onus off the Red Sox bullpen.

The offense has also sputtered since the break ended. They have scored just 10 runs in the last four games, with Jason Bay and J.D. Drew struggling mightly. Last night actually got off to a good start, as the Red Sox grabbed the early lead on David Ortiz' RBI double, which just missed being a two-run homer.

The fourth inning should have been a much bigger inning, but the Sox only got one more. Jason Bay was thrown out stealing second after a single, and J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell both reached after Bay was cut down. Jason Varitek doubled, scoring Drew, but Lowell was easily thrown out at home to end the inning.

The Red Sox have scored first in the last four games, but have won just once. The offense has looked more moribund as the they go on. There seems to be a lethargy in this team right now, and that's surprising since we've just come off the All-Star break. So will Theo Epstein go out and get another bat to try and jump start it? Still too early to see that as a real possibility.

New York won again last night, so the AL East is now a tie. Josh Beckett, he of the 11-win record, tries to right the ship in Texas tonight against rookie pitcher Tommy Hunter.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Space Flight Trivia on Tuesday

Today is the 40th anniversary of one of mankind's greatest achievements, the lunar conquest. So to honor that historic moment, our Special Category for Trivia Night on Tuesday will be "Space Flight Trivia," seven questions about man's voyages into space.

We will also be trying something new in The Q Train lightning round. The category will be "Robert DeNiro Films Trivia." I will name 10 popular films, and you will tell me whether the legendary film star appeared in that movie. (The more popular and obvious movies like "The Godfather Part II," "Goodfellas" and "Casino" will not be in it.)

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle represented what state in the Senate?

We should get rolling right around 9 PM. The Red Sox have an 8 PM game in Texas, but that won't interfere with the festivities. Hope to see many of you on Tuesday.

Too Much Halladay

The Red Sox were fortunate in the previous two series they played against the Toronto Blue Jays that they didn't have to face Roy Halladay. Well, their luck ran out on Sunday.

Halladay brought his A game to the Rogers Centre and outdueled Jon Lester as Toronto won, 3-1 and took the weekend series.

He showed why he's still one of the elite pitchers in this game today, as the Red Sox had him on the ropes in two of the first three innings but they could only get one run off them. The Red Sox hit him hard in the first, as hits by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were followed by a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz. Jason Bay then hit a blast that Alex Rios caught in front of the wall to end the inning.

In the third, the Sox had two on and one out and couldn't get anyone else in. And from that moment on, Halladay took over. He retired 18 of the next 19 batters he faced in going all the way to get the win.

Jon Lester wasn't bad at all, but his control deserted him at the wrong time. In the second innings, he walked back to back hitters and seemed a bit unnerved, as some the ball calls were very close. But Rod Barajas made him pay by slapping an RBI double to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Barajas later added a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Lester walked a season-high four in seven innings.

There has been a lot speculation that Halladay is on the move on July 31, but my gut feeling is that he will still be in a Blue Jays uniform on August 1. He's not a free agent until after next season, and there's no pressure to move him now. And Toronto is asking for an exorbitant price for him. I also wouldn't bet on him going to the Red Sox or Yankees. Theo Epstein loves the young pitching prospects and Toronto would want at least two. Epstein would rather hold on to them than to have to pay Halladay, who is now 32, a long term deal for at least $15 million per. I wouldn't bet on New York either, as GM J.P. Ricciardi would rather send Halladay out of the AL, or at least the division.

The Red Sox move on to Texas tonight, with John Smoltz getting the ball. They are now just one game up in the AL East, as New York swept Detroit this past weekend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Come Into the 21st Century, Guys

Earlier today I discovered a company online called "Zazzle," that sells all kind of products. I nearly fell over backwards laughing when I discovered that they were selling this t-shirt, and for $15.95:

(Unfortunately, I wasn't able to post the photo online.)

Yep, they are selling "1918" shirts, under the heading "A Little Taste of Reality For All Boston Fans." I bet they are still selling like hotcakes.

Have you stopped laughing yet?

Talk about a company that's been hiding under a rock for most of this current century.

Paul Opens Citi Field

I caught the first half of yesterday's loss by the Red Sox in Toronto on, and when it was 4-1 I had a feeling it was going to be a Red Sox loss (and it was 6-2). Have you also noticed that every time the Sox play Saturday afternoon games in Toronto and it's not on the MLB package (which it can't be because of those inane Saturday baseball rules) they always lose?

But yesterday was a bigger day in my life. I went to Citi Field for the second of Paul McCartney's shows at the new Mets ballpark. (Paul helped close Shea last summer at Billy Joel's shows, but Billy was only there on Friday night to help Paul open the new joint.)

I landed a ticket on Thursday, after seeing an ad for the shows during his Letterman appearance on Wednesday night. I thought for sure they would be all sold out. I last saw Paul back in 1989 at Madison Square Garden, and it was one of the best concerts I was ever at, so I ponied up some cash for a seat between third and home in the second section above the field to see him a second time.

It was worth every single cent.

The Irish rock group The Script opened at 7:25 PM, and did a spirited 45-minute set. Then after a 45-minute break, Paul and his band came out to a rousing welcome. About 55,000 people were in the house, and it was mostly people a bit older than me, but I did see plenty of younger folks as well. There were two enormous video screens of about 100 feet in height next to the stage, in centerfield of the ballpark. Paul talked about opening Citi Field and his appearances at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966, and how the Beatles couldn't hear themselves play because of the screaming girls. (He did that more than once to get the women in the audience to scream.)

He opened with a rocking version of "Drive My Car." Paul has a treasure trove of material he could play, but he divied it up among Beatles, Wings, solo and tracks from the latest "The Fireman" album. He did tributes to both John Lennon and George Harrison. He dedicated "Here Today" to John, and he appeared to be on the verge of tears as the song was concluding. And he pulled out the ukelele to start "Something" and in the middle of the song switched over to guitar with the band. (Funny he never mentioned Ringo once the entire show.)

His band was very tight and were clearly enjoying the night. They were at the top of their game and the audience let them know it. Paul talked in the intro to "Blackbird" that he wrote the song during the height of the Civil Rights movement was thinking of a young black girl when he composed it (I never knew that). It was a night of memories, and especially for some guy sitting a few seats from me, who pulled out a joint when "Eleanor Rigby" started.

The highlight of the night was "Live and Let Die," when at just the right moment of the song, explosions went off and fireworks shot into the sky from the stage. Nicely done. I also enjoyed some of the background film that accompanied a lot of the songs, especially when "Band On The Run" started, as they showed the filming of the album cover shoot from 1973. Good stuff.

Paul did 27 songs in two hours, and never took a break, not even for a glass of water. The band came out and did eight songs in two encores, concluding with a medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" and "The End." The show lasted just over 2 1/2 hours, and I simply had a marvelous time.

Paul sure didn't play like your average 67-year-old. Thanks Paul.

Here is the complete set list from last night, in the order the songs were played:

“Drive My Car”
“Only Mama Knows”
“Flaming Pie”
“Got To Get You Into My Life”
“Let Me Roll It”
“The Long and Winding Road”
“My Love”
“Here Today”
“Dance Tonight”
“Calico Skies”
“Mrs. Vanderbilt”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“Sing the Changes”
“Band on the Run”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“I’m Down”
“I’ve Got a Feeling”
“Paperback Writer”
“A Day in the Life”
"Give Peace a Chance”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Hey Jude”

Two Encores
“Day Tripper”
“Lady Madonna”
“I Saw Her Standing There"
“Helter Skelter”
“Get Back”
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
"The End"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buchholz Opens Part 2 With a Win

The Red Sox strategy of opening the second half of the season with Clay Buchholz pitching the first game against the Blue Jays paid off handsome dividends as he went 5 2/3 innings in leading the Sox to a 4-1 win at Rogers Centre.

Buchholz struck out three, and most of his outs were on the ground. He certainly made his case that he is no longer a minor leaguer, and that he belongs in the Red Sox rotation. He allowed just the one run, and the bullpen core of Daniel Bard (once again quite impressive as he struck out 3 of 4), Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon (another 1-2-3 ninth for the save, let's see that more often) shut down Toronto the rest of the way.

Kevin Youkilis belted a two-run shot in the first, and David Ortiz doubled in two in the fifth to provide all the offense Buchholz needed.

Buchholz immediately returned to AAA after the game. He will certainly be back and maybe even before September 1.

New York came from behind and beat the Tigers, 5-3, so the Red Sox maintained their three game lead in the AL East.

Mistake Admitted and Corrected

The Julio Lugo Era came to a merciful end last night, as the Red Sox designated him for assignment before last night's game with the Blue Jays. That allowed the Red Sox to activate Mike Lowell from the DL.

From the moment I heard the Red Sox had signed Lugo to a four-year, $36 million deal, I knew it was a mistake. He was far from a slick-fielding shortstop. I never understood Theo Epstein's fascination with this guy. He's had some pretty good offensive years, hitting 10 or more home runs five times (and 15 twice), and was a solid .270 hitter. But that vanished in Boston, as he hit just 10 home runs in 2 1/2 years, and had turned into a real defensive liability. (Remember that popup he muffed in Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS in the seventh inning? The Red Sox late-game offensive explosion made people forget that.) The knee surgery earlier this year made his range even worse.

Theo Epstein all but admitted his mistake signing him:

“We did win a World Series with him as our everyday shortstop, and he did make a lot of contributions to that world championship. That’s not to be lost in the mix. But obviously we’d be fudging the truth to say it worked out the way we envisioned. He just never got on track here, never really got locked in and comfortable, and never played even close to the way we expected.’’

Lugo now has to be either traded or released in the next 10 days. His next stop maybe New York. The New York Daily News reported that Lugo was seen working out at the Mets camp in the Dominican Republic right after he was DFA'd. They will wait for Lugo to clear waivers and will then pick him up. The Red Sox will be munching down the vast majority of the $13 million still owed him.

Jed Lowrie will be activated today, and Clay Buchholz will be returned to Pawtucket.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fog Out In Coney Island

I went to the Brooklyn Cyclones game on Friday night, as it was "FDNY Night" at KeySpan Park, honoring New York's Bravest. There was a fine crowd on hand, as the Cyclones draw very well on Friday nights. The Cyclones were playing the Auburn Doubledays (Blue Jays' affiliate).

It was a briskly moving game, and by 8 PM it was in the fifth inning. The Cyclones scored a run in the first and it held up into the fifth. Collin McHugh of the Cyclones was pitching a dandy and allowed just two hits. But I noticed as the game was moving along, some fog was coming in from the west, and some buildings on Surf Avenue were disappearing from view.

But with one out in the bottom of the fifth, it became really thick and the umps and managers got together and held up the game. Then the raindrops started and I called it a night. It was apparent the fog was going to abate for the rest of the night, and it was silly to hang around.

I got home a short while later (at least I had a Red Sox game to come home to and they won) and the game was called where they stopped, a 1-0 Cyclones victory.

It was the first game I've ever been to that was called on account of fog. And as the delay began, I could only think of one person and a famous quote he once made regarding an MLB game that was called because of the same reason.

"That’s what they get for building a park on the ocean."

That famous line was by the immortal Oil Can Boyd (pictured pitching with the Brockton Rocks last year), who said that during a game the Red Sox were playing in Cleveland in 1986, a rather fair distance from any ocean.

I guess that's what the Cyclones get for building their park on an ocean. One that was just a bit bigger than the one Oil Can thought he and the Sox were fogged out by so many years ago.

Pedro in Philly; Lugo Going?

Pedro Martinez signed this week with the Philadelphia Phillies, a one-year deal worth about $1 million.

My initial reaction was sadness. I really wish Pedro Martinez would have retired instead.

He clearly is a shadow of what he once was. I don't care if he was effective in the WBC in March. He hasn't pitched in the majors this year, and I suspect he was holding out for more money from someone before finally settling on the Phillies.

Pedro was simply the best pitcher I've ever seen in a Red Sox uniform. His 1999 and 2000 seasons were two of the greatest seasons any pitcher has ever had. The Red Sox made the right decision to let him walk after the 2004 season. His body broke down in New York, and while he did rejuvinate the Mets franchise, his best days were clearly behind him.

Can he help the Phillies? He could. But he will be 38 in October. He is a sure-shot first ballot Hall of Famer, and it will be sad if he turns into a vagabond like Steve Carlton did at the end of his great career, going from team to team, just trying to hang on.

I hope that if he struggles in Philly, he'll finally hang it up, and leave us all with many pleasant memories.

And it also appears that the Julio Lugo Era is concluding in Boston, by either by trade, release or DFA.

Lugo missed yesterday's workout in Toronto, and it appears he will be removed from the roster one way or the other. Mike Lowell is scheduled to be activated today, along with Clay Buchholz being brought up for today's start. Aaron Bates will be sent back to Pawtucket, and Jed Lowrie is waiting in the wings. Rumors were strong Theo Epstein was looking to dump him off on anybody for a marginal prospect, and is willing to eat most of the $13 million owed him. (Yikes.)

Lugo, never the best of shortstops even when he was healthy, lost even more range from his recent knee surgery. His offensive numbers were decent, but he lost his power numbers over the last two years, and Nick Green has played far better in the field.

By game time tonight we may finally have an answer to his status. I will give Lugo his due. He's handled this season like a professional, and hasn't been whining about his playing time. But it's time to cut the cord with this guy, and realize signing him was an expensive mistake.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rare Stolen Photo Garnered Thousands in 1999

The Boston Herald today reported that a team picture of the 1889 Boston Red Stockings of the National League (pictured), which was stolen out of the Boston Public Library many years ago, was among the items auctioned off from the late Barry Halper's collection in 1999.

The picture is among 40 BPL items that were stolen, and it was sold for over $6,000 in 1999.

It was just the latest item linked to Halper, a late minority owner of the Yankees. The FBI is currently investigating stolen memorabilia, and an auction that was to have taken place in St. Louis was shut down because of the ongoing investigation.

WTC Site to Be Open on September 11

It was announced yesterday that the loved ones of those lost in the September 11 attacks will be able to go into the site during this year's remembrance.

For the past seven years, we were able to go down the long ramp into the site to pray and remember those lost, but since construction has moved at a rapid pace, it looked like last year was the final time that could happen. The ramp going down had been removed earlier this year.

But a new upper level of the memorial site has been built and those want to go in can. And the plaza across Church and Liberty Streets will once again host the remembrance, as it has the last two years.

It means a lot to all of us that since some access to the site is available this September 11, that we are able to go in. I have been there for all seven previous remembrances, and it is an experience that is really hard to put into proper words. Thanks to the city and state for allowing that to happen.

Paul Rocks The Ed

Yesterday on "The Late Show With David Letterman," Paul McCartney and his band played on the marquee of The Ed Sullivan Theater. Paul returned to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs after 45 years. They played two songs that were played on air and sounded great. They attracted a huge throng who checked out the proceedings on Broadway.

Paul will be playing at Citi Field on July 17, 18 and 21, the first musical artist to play the new stadium.

But the band actually played a set that lasted for nearly 23 minutes, most of which didn't make it on air. My friend Eddie passed along the clip to me, and you can check out the whole thing here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Commander Meets The Commander

My friend Dan sent me this picture of Josh Beckett, Commander Kick Ass, meeting one Barack Obama, Commander-in-Chief, before the All-Star Game at St. Louis last night.

Makes me wonder what this exchange could have been. Maybe Beckett's opinion on the stimulus package, Obama's choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, or the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay? Or maybe Obama's got money on the Red Sox winning this year's World Series?

"You're my man, Josh. Go kick some ass in the second half! Then after that I want you on MY team!"

Running to Help City Kids

My friends at the Fresh Air Fund will be having a special Half-Marathon to benefit their organization this coming August 16th. Last year's event was a big success, raising over $125,000 in support of the Fresh Air Fund kids.

So if you'd like to participate in a really good cause, please click this link for more information on where you can register.

Trivia Q&A: July 14

We had a big and historic night of Trivia on Tuesday. The All-Star Game was going on (which I could only sneak peeks as I was busy for most of it) and we had 19 teams in for the festivities.

We had the lowest scores I could remember for Current Events (I guess I made it too hard?) as seven teams got just one answer right. The Baseball Trivia numbers were pretty good (I specifically made it a bit easy) and the Q Train numbers were rather strong.

There were teams tied for the top spots throughout the night. We had four teams get perfect scores in IQ Trivia, and it set up one of the closest finishes in our history. Between first and fifth place, the final numbers were separated by just a single point, and that has never happened before.

And we had a three-way tie for the top spot (I believe that has never happened before either), with all of those teams at 41 points, so we had to break the tie. I had a prepared question, "The Arizona Cardinals have now have the longest drought in NFL history since they won an NFL title. How many years has it been?" The answers by the teams was really varied, from 30 to 93. But the team of Gareth Loves Weintraub and Cheese was the closest, as they guessed 60 and missed by just two, as the answer is 62.

My congratulations to them on their victory. And thanks to everyone who made it quite a memorable night on Tuesday.

Current Events
1. Robert McNamara, who served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as this cabinet secretary, died last week at 93.
2. Alexis Arguello, a three-time world boxing champion and a politician in this, his home country, committed suicide earlier this month at age 47.
3. British police are investigating this British tabloid newspaper over allegations the paper's reporters paid private investigators to hack into phones of many politicians and celebrities.
4. 71 people died this past week after they consumed contaminated liquor at a party in this Asian country.
5. Four former employees were accused of digging up bodies and reselling plots at a historic cemetery outside this major city last week.
6. According to Mercer's 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living survey, this world capital city is the world's most expensive city to live in, up from number 2 last year.
7. The Space Shuttle Endeavour was delayed from its scheduled launch in Florida this past Sunday for what reason?

Answers: 1. Secretary of Defense; 2. Nicaragua; 3. News of the World; 4. India; 5. Chicago; 6. Tokyo; 7. Launch pad area was hit by lightning 11 times.

Baseball Trivia
1. The Sporting News ranked Fenway Park as the number one park in all of MLB in their latest issue. Which team's stadium was ranked 30th, or dead last?
2. Which former MLB star declared bankruptcy last week, and is currently facing numerous lawsuits over his business dealings?
3. What NL team did Babe Ruth finish his MLB career with?
4. Who currently holds the AL record for home runs in a season?
5. What player was nicknamed "Charlie Hustle?"
6. Who was the first MLB player to have his uniform number retired?
7. Who was the first athlete to play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl?

Answers: 1. Tampa Bay Rays; 2. Lenny Dykstra; 3. Boston Braves; 4. Roger Maris; 5. Pete Rose; 6. Lou Gehrig; 7. Deion Sanders.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Seaweed is a form of algae.
2. Ronald Reagan was the oldest person to become President of the United States at the time of his election.
3. The first novel featuring James Bond was "Dr. No."
4. Theodore Roosevelt is the US president on Mt. Rushmore wearing glasses.
5. Chianti is a white wine.
6. Approximately 90% of the Earth is covered by water.
7. Baking soda is a primary ingredient in Alka-Seltzer.
8. Dick Cheney once worked as a deputy press secretary for Ted Kennedy.
9. Nuclear explosions in the US have been in just one US state.
10. Black-eyed peas aren't peas at all, but beans.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, "Casino Royale;" 4. true; 5. false, red; 6. false, 70%; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false, five states (NV, NM, CO, AK and MS); 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. The Taiwan Strait separates the island of Taiwan from what nation?
2. What color is the applicator top on a bottle of Elmer's Glue-All?
3. What is the proper term for a group of antelopes?
4. What musical features the song known as "The Impossible Dream?"
5. Who wrote Janis Joplin's hit song "Me and Bobby McGee?"
6.Who was the first black male actor to star in a lead dramatic role on a television series?
7. What type of corn whiskey gets its name from a French royal family?

Answers: 1. China; 2. orange; 3. herd; 4. "Man of La Mancha;" 5. Kris Kristofferson; 6. Bill Cosby; 7. bourbon.

IQ Trivia
1. The Galapagos Islands are part of what South American country? ( 4 points)
2. From what university did the characters in the 1985 film "St. Elmo's Fire" graduate? ( 3 points)
3. What artist is known for a series of paintings depicting a man in a bowler hat? ( 5 points)
4. In 2003, 12 states sued the EPA for failing to enforce what 1970 law? ( 4 points)
5. "This isn't a hospital, it's an insane asylum!" is a famous line from what movie? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Ecuador; 2. Georgetown; 3. Rene Magritte; 4. The Clean Air Act; 5. "M*A*S*H."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"A Night In The Kremlin"

Last night was a perfect night to get away from baseball for a brief time. I have little to no interest in the Home Run Derby, especially since ESPN insists on jamming that annoying Chris Berman down our throats.

I decided to check out a new play about Stalin and Marx. Just not the Marx you'd guess. Harpo, not Karl.

"A Night In The Kremlin" opened last night at the June Havoc Theatre on W. 36th Street in Manhattan. It is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

A few months back, I got to know Bernard Besserglik, the play's author, through the site Facebook. He discovered my love of the Marx Brothers and their films. He let me know he had written a play that was coming to New York in July, a wacky farce about Harpo Marx and his trip to Soviet Union in 1933. I was certainly fascinated by what Bernard said, and I took him up on his offer and attended last night's premiere.

Mr. Besserglik is a London-born former foreign correspondent who now lives in France. He spent a number of years in Moscow and has always been fascinated by the Russian people. He wrote "A Night In The Kremlin" with Bob Barton, who wrote the music for the play.

Harpo actually did go to the Soviet Union in 1933, on a goodwill tour of the country. The play is highly fictionalized, and it is done in the Marx Brothers "over-the-top" style. Harpo's travelling trunk is the centerpiece of the story, in which he meets the General Secretary of the Communist Party and attempts to help a pair of star-crossed Russian lovers.

The show reminded me in parts of "The Producers," taking a figure from history and twisting him and twisting him. Stalin is shown with Harpo, donning the eyeglasses and mustache in a funny Groucho routine. The show has a very talented cast, and there's plenty of singing and dancing, with Jeff Essex as Harpo and Angus Hepburn as Stalin both giving terrific performances. It's hard to believe anyone could make Stalin funny, but Mr. Hepburn does a terrific job at that.

As the years have gone on, I've come to enjoy live theater more and more, especially in this intimate setting. (The theater holds just about 100 people.) I really felt like I was part of the performance, and the actors (who had to act as stage hands before, during and after the play) really gave a spirited performance. I had the pleasure of being with Mr. Besserglik (who came in from France for the run of the play) before and after the play, and met many of his friends who also came in for the opening night.

I definitely recommend "A Night In The Kremlin." It's a great spoof with lots of catchy tunes and fine performances from a relatively unknown cast. The play will be at the June Havoc until August 3rd. You can check out the show's web site for more information and how to get tickets.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baseball Trivia During the All-Star Game

In honor of the All-Star Game being played this Tuesday night in St. Louis, we will be having a round of "Baseball Trivia" as the Special category. It won't be about baseball statistics, and they'll be about the players and teams. So you won't have to do any numbers crunching to prepare for it. (And there won't be any questions about the All-Star Game, so you won't have to brush up on that either.)

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
The Taiwan Strait seperates the island of Taiwan from what nation?

The All-Star Game will begin at about 8:40 PM (that is when the first pitch is thrown and all the pregame hoopla is finished), and we will get going shortly after 9 PM. So I hope you can come out and join us on Tuesday night.


Josh Beckett reached the century mark in wins for his career on Sunday, spinning a three-hit shutout over the Royals, 6-0. The Commander was in total command all day.

The All-Star Break arrived and Beckett is simply on an incredible roll. In his last 13 starts, he is 9-1 with an ERA of 2.40. He was in trouble just once on Sunday, loading the bases with one out in the seventh. But he got the Pitcher's Best Friend, a groundball double play to second, to get out of the jam.

Beckett threw just 94 pitches, and got his 11th win of the season, tying teammate Tim Wakefield for the AL lead.

The Red Sox jumped on Bruce Chen of the Royals early, getting a run in the first. He was on the ropes in every inning, but the Red Sox finally put more runs on the board in the fourth, making it 4-0. The one run was all Beckett needed, as he didn't give up his first hit until the fourth.

It was a memorable day for Aaron Bates, who figures to be returning to Pawtucket once the break ends. He had three hits and an RBI, and just missed a fourth when he lined out to right. Kevin Youkilis had two hits and an RBI, and seems to be out of his slump. Jacoby Ellsbury had his 40th stolen base of the year and scored a run.

It was a bizarre day for Jason Bay. He drew three walks (all four pitch walks) and was hit by a pitch twice. He saw 20 pitches and 17 of them were balls. He had five plate appearances, and was officially 0-for-0.

The Red Sox end the first half at 54-34, three games ahead of New York, who were swept by the team that always gives them fits, the Angels, in Anaheim. After the game, Terry Francona announced that Clay Buchholz will be brought up from Pawtucket on Friday and make his first start of the year, as both Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield will be going to the All-Star Game. (Beckett figures not to pitch as he went yesterday.) It will be a spot start against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Brad Penny will pitch next Saturday, and Jon Lester will close the series against the Jays next Sunday. John Smoltz will open the Texas series the following Monday, and he'll be followed by Beckett and then Wakefield.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pedroia Will Miss The All-Star Game

Dustin Pedroia will miss the All-Star Game in St. Louis this Tuesday, and will stay in Boston with his wife Kelli. She's going through a difficult time with her pregnancy, and Dusty decided to stay with her.

AL manager Joe Maddon added Carlos Pena to the roster to replace Pedroia.

A statement from Dustin today (from

"After consulting with Tito, Theo, Phyllis Merhige of Major League Baseball and my wife, Kelli, I have decided to withdraw from this year's All-Star Game in St. Louis. I will instead stay in Boston with my wife as we tend to a family health matter.

This was certainly not an easy decision. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game of baseball and for the All-Star Game and am incredibly honored that the fans voted me this year's starting second baseman for the American League. I am disappointed that I will not be able to enjoy the amazing experience with the other All-Stars, especially with my Red Sox teammates, but it is important that I put my family first at this time.

I want to thank Major League Baseball as well as Tito and Theo for supporting me in this decision. I also want to thank the fans for their understanding and the continued support they have shown throughout my career."

All the best to Dustin and his wife and that everything turns out fine.

Sox Overcome Bullpen Arson Squad

This one had my head spinning.

The Red Sox jumped out to a fast 9-0 lead after four innings, blasting KC starter Gil Meche from the game. (He actually departed with back spasms, but I'm sure he was glad to get out of Dodge.) Dennis Eckersley on NESN then said about John Smoltz getting such a huge lead again, "He'll be alright, as long as it doesn't rain." That was in reference to the Baltimore disaster of a week and a half ago, the game he started and got the big lead and the rain showed up, and well, you know the rest.

And then, I started having flashbacks. Once again, Justin Masterson deals with having a big lead by immediately giving up three runs. Manny Delcarmen came in and poured more gasoline on the raging inferno, and it was all of a sudden 9-6. Hideki Okajima finally ended the eternal sixth inning, but then went back to work in the seventh determined to let Kansas City get closer.

It was 9-7 and finally someone who knew how to get batters out came in: Daniel Bard. He's been spectacular, and shut the Royals down in the seventh, retiring three straight hitters.

There was of course, lots to like about Saturday night. The offense finally exploded after some dubious efforts this week. David Ortiz continued his resurgence, hitting his 12th home run, a bomb into the right field bleachers (which was also his 1,000th hit of his Red Sox career), and Kevin Youkilis added two, including one in the seventh. Jason Varitek hit his 13th homer of the year, a shot hit right down the right field line. John Smoltz was terrific, allowing just one run in five innings. His pitch count was growing by the end of the fifth, so Terry Francona pulled him. And J.D. Drew made one of the best defensive plays of the year in the sixth, taking a ball hit to right on one hop with the bases full and gunning a strike to the plate and nailing the slow-footed Miguel Olivo a step before he could score.

And congratulations to Aaron Bates, who got his first MLB hit and RBI in the eighth, after making an error in the top of the inning that led to the final two Kansas City runs.

It was 15-9 in the ninth, and of course, the topper of the night was the sky opened up and it poured down rain with an out to go. (That's all we would need, a rain delay!) But the Red Sox got the final out without further ado.

It was a hard-fought win for the Sox, and they are now 5-4 on this homestand. New York blew another one to the Angels in Anaheim, so the Sox are now two up in the East, and will be in first place through the All-Star Break.

But the bullpen continues to be a concern, as they allowed six earned runs last night. Hopefully, the All-Star Break will do many of them some good. Josh Beckett will conclude the first half today against Bruce Chen. And Dom DiMaggio will be honored at Fenway Park before today's game.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lester Continues to LiveStrong

Jon Lester continued to own the Kansas City Royals, and got the bare minimum of offense to get the win.

And with no help from a home plate umpire in dire need of a seeing eye dog.

Lester was magnificent again last night, pitching eight shutout innings and allowing just four hits for his seventh win. It was his first time facing Kansas City since his no-hitter against them in May 2008. And now he has gone the last 25 innings against them without allowing an earned run.

He also just filmed a commercial for Nike's "LiveStrong" campaign, in support of people with cancer. He certainly was that, and a whole lot more.

Brian Bannister was just as good last night, if not better for the first seven innings. The Red Sox got just one hit against him, and it looked like another night of the Red Sox making a rather mediocre pitcher look like Sandy Koufax again.

In the fifth, the Sox had first and third with one out, and Mark Kotsay broke for second, in a play designed to get the run home. Kotsay stopped, and was caught in the rundown. Jacoby Ellsbury then broke for the plate, and clearly had touched home before Miguel Olivo's tag. But ump Derryl Cousins called him out, and then tossed Ellsbury out of the game for tossing his helmet in frustration. Once again, poor umpiring reared its ugly head again, and this time it looked like it could cost the Red Sox a game. It would nice if Cousins would admit he blew that call, but the arrogance of most umps will most likely not allow that to happen.

The tossing of Ellsbury actually had a silver lining to it. In the seventh, Kansas City had two on and no outs and Rocco Baldelli, Ellsbury's replacement, caught a deep drive on the warning track and threw a strike to Dustin Pedroia, who nailed Mark Teahen at second. It killed KC's rally, and it's a throw Ellsbury would not have been able to make.

Finally in the righth, Bannister's bubble burst. Kotsay singled to center, and pinch-runner Aaron Bates moved to second on Nick Green's sacrifice, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored when Dustin Pedroia banged one off the Green Monster to bring him in with the only run of the game.

Jonathan Papelbon wasn't fooling around in the ninth and got the Royals 1-2-3 for his 23rd save of the season. New York and Overrated Chamberlain blew a four-run lead in Anaheim last night, 10-6, to put the Red Sox back alone in first place in the AL East late last night.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stolen Items Traced to Late Yankee Owner

The case of the stolen baseball memorabilia now points to a man named Barry Halper (pictured), a Yankees minority owner, who died in 2005.

The Boston Herald reported today that Halper sold a contract from an 1879 player named E. B. Sutton in a 1999 auction. But the Herald discovered that the letter was part of a collection of letters stolen from the New York Public Library many years ago.

Halper also claimed in two interviews to own the will of Tommy McCarthy, a Boston NL player from the late 1800s. His will was part of a collection of wills from ballplayers that went missing from Suffolk Probate Court in Massachusetts. Many were returned in 1998, but McCarthy's never turned up.

Halper's former assistant says he has no idea where the will is.

This is part of the ever-widening probe by the FBI into stolen baseball memorabilia. I remember for years the local media here in New York would visit Halper's house in New Jersey (they were careful never to say his hometown to protect his privacy) and he would show off parts of his huge baseball collection.

I remember being really amazed by what he had: uniforms, hats, contracts, seats, autographed balls, and just about anything connected to baseball. His house was like a tour of the museum at Cooperstown. But now the feds at looking at his estate, and you have wonder how much of what he had was gotten under fraudulent purposes, and where ultimately the investigation will end up. Stay tuned.