Monday, August 31, 2009

The Trivia Maven Gets The Hot Seat

Many of you may know that over the last couple of years, I have tried out numerous times to be a contestant on the TV game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." I entered through the web site, went down to ABC's studios in Manhattan, and took the written exam: 30 questions on all different subjects, with a choice of four each.

I actually passed it a few times, and was interviewed by a producer for about five minutes afterward. Then, every time I passed, I would get a card in the mail 2 or 3 weeks later saying that my name was not put in the contestant pool and that I should go back to the drawing board and try again.

Last year I thought I was done with it. I figured that for some reason I would never get on the show, and I should stop banging my head against the wall and just move on with my life.

Only, I couldn't do it. From the first time I saw "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," I've dreamed about getting my shot on the show, to sit in "The Hot Seat" and see what the pressure to answer trivia questions in front of a live audience and a TV one was like. So this year I went back, in secret, to see if I could make it.

I told no one. I entered through the web site again, and didn't pass the test. (They only tell if you passed, and don't say what the passing score is.) The test was actually a bit harder than the previous year, but this year they said before the test that you could come back the next day and wait in a stand-by line to try and take the exam again.

On July 16th, I did just that. I was one of about 100 people to get in that day at the 5 PM exam, and off the stand-by line. And lo and behold, I passed it. Only 10 people did, and after being interviewed by a producer, I was interviewed again, this time on video. And I was told in about 3 weeks I'd get a card telling me whether I was selected for the contestant pool. I waited it out, but I was prepared to get that "you didn't make it, try again" card.

Four weeks went by, and I didn't hear from them. I wasn't sure if it was a good sign or a bad one. But on August 13th, I got the card in the mail that I WAS selected to be in the contestant pool. I was excited, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll be picked for the show.

A week later, I was on the set of "The Bounty" filming my extra role, when I checked my cell phone for messages. There was one from a producer of the show, informing me that I was chosen to be a contestant for a future "Millionaire" episode.

I went back to my position on the set at Belmont Park in a complete daze. Holy mackerel. I'd watched the show for 10 years, and I was finally getting my shot.

I still can't believe it.

On October 1st, I'll go before the cameras at ABC and sit in The Hot Seat, chat with Meredith Viera (a Red Sox fan!) and we'll see what happens. My father and my friends Chris and Betty will be my lifelines. The show will be taped in advance, and it will be shown either later in the year or in early 2010.

For those you fans out there who want to come in and root me on, you can click this link, which will take you to the form for audience tickets. (One problem: there are two taping times on October 1, 12:30 and 3:30 PM, and I don't know which one, or maybe both, I will be a part of.)

BTW, if I win any money on show, I will be legally prohibited from saying exactly what I won until the show airs, so I can't mention anything about it after the taping here. I just want to do respectably. That will make me very happy.

But I can't wait until October 1. Am I nervous now? You bet! I've got a month to get ready. And that's a special date, too. Let's just say that someone from above may have been pulling strings, making this dream of mine happen.

What Do the Kennedys & Michael Douglas Have In Common?

The answer is they will both be featured this week at Tuesday Night Trivia. The Special Category this week will be "Kennedy Family Trivia," in honor of the passing of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. It will be seven questions about one of the most famous families in American history.

And this week's Q Train lightning round will be "Michael Douglas Film Trivia." I will name ten films and you have to tell me if the Oscar-winning actor appeared in that movie. We've done a few actors' films in The Q Train lightning round recently, and the players seemed to have liked it, so why not again?

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Splenda is a sugar substitute that comes in what color packets?"

We will get going at the usual 9 PM start time. The Red Sox have an important game at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, but that won't stop us from having a great night of Trivia. Hope to see many of you then.

Successful Debuts For Byrd, Wagner

Yep, Paul Byrd, who had thrown a single inning since last September, outpitched and beat the great Roy Halladay at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Byrd was signed by the Red Sox on August 5th, and made four minor league starts before being recalled yesterday. It made all the sense in the world starting him yesterday, and pushing Jon Lester on Tuesday to begin the Tampa Bay series. Byrd looked like the sacrificial lamb with Halladay taking the hill for Toronto.

And since he wasn't traded at the deadline, Halladay looks like he's completely fallen off the map. The Red Sox have hammered him twice, and he had one of the worst outings of his career against the Rays earlier last week. The Red Sox scored single runs off him in the first four innings to build up a 4-0 lead. Halladay went six innings giving up just the four earned runs, including a solo homer to Rocco Baldelli.

Byrd was simply terrific. He went six innings, allowed just three hits, walked three (that was unusually high for him) and struck out one. He gave the Sox more than could have been expected, and after that Terry Francona turned it over to the pen.

Billy Wagner made his Red Sox debut and looked sharp. He allowed a double to Adam Lind, but struck out the side in the eighth. He was consistently hitting 95 on the radar gun and his fatsball had plenty of movement on it. Takashi Saito completed the shutout in the ninth to give the Red Sox a sweep over Toronto, 7-0, and the Sox have now won six of their last seven.

They remain 6 back in the East as New York won, but the Twins come-from-behind win over Texas extended the Red Sox Wild Card lead to 3 1/2 games. The Sox now hit the road for seven games, against two strufggling teams: Tampa Bay and Chicago.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a rough outing with AA Portland yesterday, throwing 49 pitches in the first inning, allowing New Hampshire five runs in that frame, while walking four. He pitched a perfect second inning, but that was it. Don't expect him back in Boston soon.

And Tim Wakefield will probably have a cortisone shot on his back today. He was better yesterday, but it's not known when or if he will pitch again.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Buch Has The Jays' Number

Clay Buchholz bounced back nicely from his rough start against Chicago with his best performance since his 2007 no-hitter on Saturday, going 8 1/3 innings in beating Toronto for the third time this season, 3-2.

Buchholz allowed just two hits going into the ninth. With one out and one on, Terry Francona went to Hideki Okajima to face two lefties, and he gave up two line drive hits, and it was 3-2. Jonathan Papelbon came in and got a foul out from Vernon Wells, and old friend Kevin Millar popped up to third to give the Sox the win and Pap his 32nd save.

Buchholz struck out a season-high nine, and was not in trouble all night. It should have been an easier win for Buchholz, but the Red Sox were leaving men everywhere all night. They left 12 men on, 6 in the first three innings. Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays' starter who had a 10.80 ERA against the Red Sox in two starts this year, looked like he wouldn't last beyond the first few innings but wriggled out of trouble in almost every inning he was out there.

But three runs was all Buchholz needed. He gave up 7 runs in his last start against the White Sox on Monday in 4 2/3 innings. Twice this season Buchholz has squandered wins while getting tons of run support. This night was just the opposite, as the Red Sox couldn't bust the game wide open for him. Maybe that was a good thing for him, as the closer game seemed to make him bare down a bit more.

New York won against the White Sox in the afternoon, keeping the East deficit at 6 games, and Texas won in Minnesota, keeping the Sox' Wild Card lead at 2 1/2 games. Today, it's Byrd vs. Birds, as Paul Byrd makes his 2009 debut for the Red Sox. Jon Lester was pushed back to Tuesday night at Tampa bay because Tim Wakefield's back problems surfaced again, and his scheduled start Tuesday is now off. We can only hope it's just a bump in the road, and not a recurrance of his recent sciattica problems.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

At Least The Red Sox Get More Athletic

Today the Red Sox swung a minor deal with the Baltimore Orioles, getting much-traveled outfielder Joey Gathright for a minor leaguer or cash considerations.

He's a lifetime .262 hitter and has hit just one career home run in six MLB seasons. But he's an expert at jumping over cars, as this 2002 clip from YouTube can attest to. This is a pretty cool video:

Red Sox Opening 2010 in New York?

The tentative MLB schedule for 2010 has the Red Sox opening the season against the Yankees, either at Fenway or the New Wind Tunnel. No decision has been made on the venue, but the Red Sox want it to be in New York, as they want a later opening due to the outdoor hockey games to be played by the NHL and NCAA next January at Fenway Park.

Here's more from

The Red Sox will open Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins, on April 12th, and what will surely be the most anticpated series of 2010, the Los Angeles Dodgers will play the Red Sox at Fenway for a three-game interleague series June 18-20. That will mean the return of one Manny Ramirez.

That should draw a little interest, no?

Fighting Cancer, One Beer at a Time

I missed Professor Thom's Jimmy Fund benefit on Thursday night due to my film commitment (boy does that sound high brow!) but fortunately there was another on Friday night, and many good folks turned out to raise money and drink beer for all those brave kids fighting cancer.

And Yours Truly won three draws in getting free beer, and I guess that explains why my head hurts this morning. But it was a nice night all around, especially during the Red Sox game when in the bottom crawl across the screen they mentioned Professor Thom's benefit with a few of my friends names. Nice job, Red Sox.

And the Red Sox did an even better job on the field last night, despite Josh Beckett's redux of 2006. He again gave up the long ball, giving up a three-run shot to Aaron Hill and a two-run bomb to Rod Barajas. That now marks 12 home runs in the last four starts for Commander Kick Ass. Something just isn't right with him, and I really hope he's not going the same route as late last year, as he tried to tough out an injury he hid. The Sox need him badly if they want to get to the postseason. Beckett went five innings last night, allowed all five runs, struck out nine and walked five.

But fortunately the Red Sox backed up Beckett on a rainy night, and after being behind 3-0, tied the score in the third. When Beckett gave up Barajas' home run, the Sox immediately answered back with Jason Bay's 29th home run, a two-run shot off Scott Richmond.

It was still knotted in the eighth when Toronto threatened. Travis Snider attempted to score on a double, but Jason Varitek (pictured) made the play of the night, taking the relay at home and totally blocked off the plate with his left leg and tagged Snider out to keep the score tied. The Red Sox took the lead for the first time in the night on Casey Kotchman's line drive force out with the bases loaded.

There was still more drama in the ninth, as Jonathan Papelbon loaded the bases with one out on two cheap hits and a hit batsman. But he reeled back and struck out the last two batters to preserve the 6-5 win and register his 31st save.

New York's win kept the Red Sox 6 back in the East, but Texas' loss in Minnesota (boy Joe Nathan looked determined to give that one away) moved the Red Sox back to 2 1/2 up in the Wild Card race.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Like Being In Show Business

I missed all of last night's Red Sox-White Sox finale at Fenway Park. Junichi Tazawa got rapped around good, and Terry Francona let Nick Green finish the game on the mound, and he pitched two shutout innings as the Red Sox didn't get the sweep, 9-5.

New York's loss keeps the Red Sox six back, but the Texas win puts the Rangers 1 1/2 games behind the Sox in Wild Card hunt.

I couldn't watch last night's game as I was doing my new job. A few weeks ago, I hooked up with a New York casting agency, on the recommendation of a friend, who thought me working as an extra in films and TV might be something I might enjoy and be pretty good at. So I went for it. I had some headshots taken by my friend's friend, and they came out really well. I sent them a resume and a photo and they took me on.

The agency so far has done right by me, and I've been on three projects so far. I've been an extra on the TV show "Law and Order SVU," and filmed extra roles in the upcoming movies "The Bounty" and "You Don't Know Jack."

In "Law and Order" I did a walk-on role, or in technical terms, I was a "Courthouse Passerby." I walked on Centre Street in front of the State Supreme Court building as a guy just passing by. I walked directly behind a reporter doing a story as the cameras moved forward. I also walked up and down the courthouse steps as the stars filmed a scene below. I was there about four hours, and just walking around is harder than you think, mainly because a lot of it is standing around waiting for the director and crew to set up scenes. And then you have to do it over and over again.

The two films were longer and a bit harder. "The Bounty" is Jennifer Aniston's new film, and the scenes I was in was at Belmont Park, just over the Queens line. I spent an entire day being a part of scenes where Ms. Aniston was being chased all over the park. I was at a betting window, chatting with a friend as we walked around the park, and in a major scene, Jennifer ran behind me as I was lined up with a group of fans watching horses heading from the paddocks into the actual park. We filmed it last week on a really hot day, but the crew made sure everyone had water and sun block. I was there for about 9 hours and it was a great experience.

Last night it was my first "all-nighter." I was an extra in the upcoming HBO biopick "You Don't Know Jack." It's the story of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who is being played by Al Pacino. The scene I was a part of last night was at Radio City Music Hall, set in 1998 when Dr. Death was invited to Time Magazine's 75th anniversary celebration, but turned around as he entered the building and left. I was a paparazzi, snapping pictures as soon as the stars came out of their limos. Mr. Pacino was there, looking very much like Kevorkian. I had to dress like it was March, so I had to wear my leather jacket and scarf to make it look like it was winter. And I wore it all night. Fortunately, it wasn't too hot, but the filming went on from about 10 PM to nearly 3 AM.

They took shots from all different angles, and I won't be surprised at all if I'm in this film. I was snapping away with a Nikon camera all night, at Al Pacino and also his stand-in, and all the extras who played glamorous stars (including my old friend John from my Tower days who turned up last night in a nice surprise). At one point, Al was about 10 feet from me waiting for a scene to start, and I couldn't help but think "Here's the man who made Michael Corleone a legend." It was again tiring work, as a lot of it was waiting for scenes to be set and redone. I was on the clock for nearly 10 hours last night, and didn't make it home until nearly 5 AM.

I'm not sure when any of these productions will be airing, but I'll be looking for them. It's been a great experience so far, and the people I've dealt with have been extremely professional. It would be really cool if I could turn this into a full-time thing. I don't have any illusions of going on to bigger fame. But, who knows?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wake's Back. Papi's Back.

It did my old heart some good seeing Tim Wakefield back and doing what he does best: eat innings. The knuckler was doing some serious dancing, and the White Sox really looked befuddled. Even Victor Martinez did a fine job behind the plate last night: no passed balls. (He even used a first baseman's mitt doing the catching.)

It looked like Wake would win his first start back after spending more than a month on the DL. But Ramon Ramirez, who continues to be less than stellar after a smoking start in April and May, gave up a game-tying home run to Scott Podsednik to make it 2-2. Finally, Daniel bard came in to smoke Jim Thome to end the eighth. (So why wasn't Bard in there from the start?)

David Ortiz hit a home run in the third to tie the game at 1, and Alex Gonzalez, who the Red Sox got for his glove, hit his second homer of the year in a Red Sox uniform to make it 2-1.

The story of the night was Wake, who went seven solid innings. He was rarely in trouble, allowed just six hits and a walk, and struck out three. Bard pitched a scoreless ninth, and with one out, Big Papi went deep for the second time of the night, a shot right down the right field line to give the Red Sox the win, and Bard his first major league win.

It was Papi's 10th career game-ending home run (I prefer that to "walkoff") and 9th in a Red Sox uniform. He now has 22 home runs on the year. (Remember a time earlier this year when the consensus by some was that he'd be lucky to reach 20?) It sure brought back some fine memories of the recent past.

The Red Sox remained 6 back in the East, as New York beat Texas, and the Sox' Wild card lead increased to 2 1/2 games. The Red Sox go for the four-game sweep over Chicago with Junichi Tazawa on the mound.

The Red Sox also released Brad Penny this morning, by his own request. Billy Wagner will be activated in his place, and will be available in the bullpen tonight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It was one of those nights that at one point looked like Jon Lester's effort might go down the drain on the freakiest of plays. With two on and two out in the seventh, Lester struck out Alexi Ramirez on a pitch in the dirt that he swung and missed, but it hit the corner of the plate, took a bounce away from Jason Varitek, and scored the tying run from third. Then a line drive off Mike Lowell's glove gave Chicago a 3-2 lead and the night was over for Lester.

The Red Sox tied it in the bottom of the seventh, and took the lead back for good on Jason Bay's blast into the Monster seats to make it 4-3. They scored two more to add some insurance for Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed just a double in the ninth while striking out two to lock down a big 6-3 win over the White Sox.

The night got off to a fast and historic start as Jacoby Ellsbury lined a ground-rule double into the bullpen in the first, and on the next pitch to Dustin Pedroia, stole third and broke Tommy Harper's 1973 Red Sox record for stolen bases in a season with 55. He received a standing ovation from the sold-out house, and scored the first run when Pedroia grounded out.

The Red Sox are now six games back of New York in the AL East. They nearly pulled out a win last night over Texas, but the Rangers held on by the skin of their teeth, 10-9. The Drunken Headhunter got whacked for seven runs in four innings, and the Red Sox Wild Card lead remained at 1 1/2 over Texas, and 3 over Tampa Bay, who also won in Toronto last night.

Ted Kennedy Dies at 77

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, America lost a true giant in the world of American politics on Tuesday. Senator Edward Moore Kennedy of Massachusetts passed away tonight at age 77 after a fifteen-month battle with brain cancer.

He was a complicated man and a controversial politician. I wasn't his biggest fan, but I always respected his passion for the causes he believed in. Here's more from Yahoo News.

Quick, true story. My cousin worked as an intern for Sen. Kennedy many years ago in Washington. He was briefed by his staff, and was told there are two things you never do with Ted: Don't ask him to go out for a drink, and don't introduce him to your girlfriend.

My cousin said they were absolutely serious when they said this.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kennedy.

Trivia Q&A: August 25

We had 14 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday, and the bar was less crowded than usual. I would guess with the upcoming Labor Day holiday and the end of summer on the horizon, a few regulars decided to go elsewhere last night.

Anyway, we had an unusual round for The Q Train, as the numbers for all teams but one were either 5 or 6 correct (the other had 4). It was one of the toughest lightning rounds we've ever had. The scores were also lower for Current Events, but they were better for The 1980s Trivia and General Knowledge rounds.

Going into IQ Trivia, we had six teams separated by five points, but the first place team going in slipped to third, and we had a tie between Megan Wants a Restraining Order and Prestige Worldwide, both at 39 points at its conclusion. We broke the tie with a question about the movie "Casino" I asked back in May about how many "F-words" are in it (which happens to be a record for a feature film). Prestige Worldwide was closest (422 is the actual answer) and we were crowned champions for this week. Nice going guys.

Current Events
1. The mayor of this midwestern city was hospitalized last week when he was attacked at a state fair coming to the aid of a woman who was being menaced by a man wielding a pipe.
2. Don Hewitt, the longtime producer of this TV show, died last week at age of 86.
3. John Marek became the 68th death row inmate to be executed in this state by lethal injection since the death sentence was reinstated in 1979.
4. Hans-Rudolf Merz, president of this European country, apologized to the Libyan government after arresting Moammar Khadafy's son on charges of abusing domestic employees there, but the case was later settled.
5. This MLB team was sold for about $900 million to Tom Ricketts, capping a process that began over two years ago, and it will be the largest sale of any team in baseball history.
6. This US state was rocked by two earthquakes last week, with one that registered 5.0 and rattled buildings in the state's largest city.
7. More than 90 wildfires have been raging across this European country since Saturday, with thousands evacuated from thie homes and fires have threatened two ancient temples.

Answers: 1. Milwaukee; 2. "60 Minutes;" 3. Florida; 4. Switzerland; 5. Chicago Cubs; 6. Alaska; 7. Greece.

The 1980s: Yes or No Trivia
1. Germany as a nation is reunified officially following the Berlin Wall's collapse.
2. The USSR invades Afghanistan.
3. The San Francisco 49ers win the first of five Super Bowl titles.
4. John Lennon records "Double Fantasy," his comeback album after five years away from the music business.
5. Seoul, South Korea hosts The Summer Olympics.
6. "Rain Man" wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
7. The Chicago Bulls win their first NBA title over the LA Lakers in five games.

Answers: 1. no (1990); 2. no (1979); 3. yes (1982); 4. yes (1980); 5. yes (1988); 6. yes (1989); 7. no (1991).

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of "Tarzan," is buried in Tarzana, California.
2. The Hawaiian Islands are an archelpago.
3. Gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body in terms of volume.
4. In the board game "Risk," the winner is determined by drawing cards.
5. The USA has the most TV sets in the world.
6. It will take a person more than 400 years to watch every video on YouTube.
7. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman ever to run for US president.
8. Soccer is the biggest participant sport in the world.
9. The average person says about 5,000 words in a day.
10. Over the last 40 years, food production has increased faster than the world's population.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. true; 4. false, rolling dice; 5. false, China (300 million); 6. true; 7. true; 8. false, fishing; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. In England, a "boot" is what part of a car?
2. The line "When you've got nothin', you've got nothin' to lose" is from what Bob Dylan song?
3. The Erie Canal links Lake Erie with what other body of water?
4. The new iPhone 3GS has a touchscreen with an "oleophobic coating" which is specifically designed to do what?
5. What Broadway play tells the story of John Merrick?
6. What bad habit has the technical name "rhinotillexomania?"
7. If you have three bills, each one with a different face from Mt. Rushmore, how much do you have in total paper currency?

Answers: 1. trunk; 2. "Like a Rolling Stone;" 3. Hudson River; 4. not show fingerprints; 5. "The Elephant Man;" 6. nose picking; 7. eight dollars.

IQ Trivia
1. What scientist first determined that human sight results from images projected onto the retina? ( 5 points)
2. When Barack Obama and his future wife Michelle went on their first date in 1989, what film did they see? ( 4 points)
3. In the classic film "The Bridge Over the River Kwai," what country is the River Kwai in? ( 4 points)
4. By definition, where does an abyssopelagic animal live? ( 4 points)
5. Who was the director of "The Manhattan Project," and was also known as "The Father of the Atomic Bomb?" ( 3 points)

Answers: 1. Johannes Kepler; 2. "Do The Right Thing;" 3. Thailand; 4. bottom of the sea; 5. J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wagner Traded to Red Sox

Well, after all the posturing and whatnot, Billy Wagner agreed at the last minute this afternoon to a trade to the Red Sox. The Sox had claimed him off waivers, and had until 1 PM today to swing a deal with the Mets. The Sox will send two players to be named later to the Mets.

The Red Sox will pick up his contract for the final month of this season, which will be about $2 million. The Sox will not pick up his $10 million option for 2010, so Wagner can walk away as a free agent after this season. The Red Sox can offer him arbitration, and can get two draft picks as compensation should he walk.

Wagner figures to be used as a lefty setup man for Jonathan Papelbon.

Bats, Chisox Goof Pick Up Buchholz

It looked for all the world like Clay Buchholz was sending the Red Sox to a loss in the opening game of the four-game series with the White Sox. Chicago scored two in the second and two more in third on rookie Gordon Beckham's two-run blast.

But with the score 4-1 in the bottom of the third and the bases loaded with two out, Big Papi hit a 3-0 pitch down the first base line that looked like a sure third out. But pitcher Jose Contreras booted the ball allowing Ortiz to reach and made it 4-2. A walk and a wild pitch later and it was 4-4. Mike Lowell (pictured with David Ortiz) really made Contreras pay as he launched a pitch onto Lansdowne Street to make it 7-4 and end the night for the White Sox pitcher. He should have been out of the inning with a 4-1 lead intact, but six unearned runs later he was taking an early shower.

The Red Sox added two more runs and it looked like an easy win was on the horizon. But Buchholz continued to struggle, and allowed a three-run shot to Paul Konerko to make it 9-7 in the fifth. Terry Francona took no chances and pulled Buchholz just one out away from a win. (That's the second time Buchholz has missed a win by just one out in the fifth inning this year. Remember the 18-10 win in Baltimore?) He wound up allowing 7 earned runs and struck out 3 while walking 3.

The bullpen took over and allowed just one run over the remaining 4 1/3 innings. The Sox tacked on three more runs in the eighth, highlighted by a home run by J.D. Drew.

Ramon Ramirez got the win, and the Red Sox are now 1 1/2 games up on Texas in the Wild Card, who were idle last night. They open a series in the Bronx tonight against You Know Who. I'll just watch that series and see what happens.

Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon On August 27th and 28th

This week the 8th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon will be happening at Fenway Park. It will kick off at 6 AM on Thursday and will feature an array of amazing stories and features of those brave folks who are battling now or have fought cancer.

It will run each day from 6 AM to midnight, and a number of celebrities will be on hand to lend their support to the cause, such as Denis Leary, Lenny Clarke and Jimmy Fallon. This year the target is to raise $5 million. (An eBay auction just concluded yesterday that included with a number of cool items that included throwing out the first pitch at Fenway with Mr. Leary and Mr. Clarke.) All proceeds from the Radio Telethon benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It will be jointly broadcast by both NESN and WEEI. Red Sox Nation has always been extremely generous with the Sox' charity, and hopefully this will be the biggest Radio Telethon ever.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Fine Day at The Fens

Here are some shots my buddy Governor Chris Wertz took at Fenway Park this past Saturday:

Being acknowledged on the scoreboard in the second inning.

Hanging with my buddies at the Baseball Tavern before the contest.A partial shot of the group in Section 3 of the RF Grandstand. (Yours Truly is in the middle row looking off to the left.)Doing a spirited version of "Sweet Caroline" with the Red Sox up 12-1. (I'm on the far left.)My friend Bravo wearing one of the more popular shirts in Fenway that day.

Pizz Honors America

Here is a YouTube clip of my friend and jazz great John Pizzarelli doing "The Star Spangled Banner" before last Saturday's Red Sox game. John told me he had to get song in within 90 seconds, and I was timing him as he sang it. He did it in 75 seconds, and it's terrific take.

Back to the 1980s On Tuesday

This Tuesday night, our Special category for Trivia Night will be: "The 1980s: Yes or No Trivia." It will be seven statements about the decade of the 1980s, and you have to tell me if that fact occurred in that decade. It will also be a double points round, as if you give the right year it happened, you will also get an additional point.

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia." After last week's Match Game debacle, that category will be shelved until we can work the bugs out of it.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What Broadway play tells the story of John Merrick?

We will get going at usual time of 9 PM. It's been gratifying to see such large crowds week after week at Professor Thom's, even during the hot summer. So I look forward to seeing many of you Tuesday.

A Tale of Two Becketts

Before last Tuesday's start in Toronto, Josh Beckett was making a serious case for the AL Cy Young Award. He had 14 wins, and was simply dominating, especially in his starts at Fenway.

But the wheels came off in the SkyDome, as he allowed seven runs in five innings. Most fans thought it was an abberation, and the old dominating Beckett would return for his outing against New York and C.C. Sabathia.

Beckett got his head handed to him on Sunday night, and became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow at least five home runs against him since Tim Wakefield gave up six against Detroit in 2006. It was also a career high in homers allowed by him in a game. It brought back bad memories of 2006, when Beckett was allowing homers by the tractor-trailer load, trying to do nothing but blow people away.

It was ugly from the start and didn't get any prettier. Beckett wound up going eight innings and allowed eight earned runs. His last two starts, the numbers are simply brutal: 13 1/3 innings, 15 earned runs. And he had a stretch in these two starts where he allowed runs in an astounding ten straight innings, before finally getting a scoreless one in the sixth last night.

You have to seriously wonder if Beckett is hiding an injury to go from one extreme to the other. I really hope this isn't a repeat of late last year, where it came out after the playoffs that he was really injured and trying to push his way through. A hurt Beckett may end any chance of the Red Sox going to the postseason this year.

It all added up to an 8-4 loss to New York, and the Sox are now 7 1/2 games behind in the AL East, and one up in the Wild Card. Safe to say te division is now gone. And unfortunately this week, Texas is playing New York in the Bronx. Does that mean we have to root for... well, I'd rather have all my back teeth pulled out than do that.

The White Sox play the Red Sox for four starting tonight, with Clay Buchholz taking the mound tonight. They are no pushover, and the Red Sox better find a way to regroup and make the push for the Wild Card.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This Could Only Happen to the Mets

Eric Bruntlett of the Phillies became the 15th player in MLB history to pull off an unassisted triple play, as he did it the way it's been done so many times.

The Mets had first and second with no outs and the runners going with Jeff Francoeur at the plate. Francoeur hit a smash up the middle, with Bruntlett running over from second to cover the bag. He caught the ball, stepped on second, and tagged Daniel Murphy as he was coming down from first.

It ended the game, giving the Phillies a 9-7 win. It was some inning for Bruntlett, as he made two errors earlier in the 9th. It's the third time in history it has happened in the ninth inning, and the second time that ever ended a game, the other being in 1927. (Thanks Jere.)

Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians was the last man to do it, back in May of 2008. Two Red Sox players have done it in their history: George Burns in 1923 and John Valentin in 1994. Here is the list of players who've turned the unassisted triple play, which is as rare as perfect games.

Are They Kidding?

Are the Wilpons kidding with this? No, I guess they aren't.

Talk about living with blinders on. I was really dismayed to see the back cover of today's New York Post with the headline, "They'll Be Back."

The Mets' "Brain Trust" has decided that the total and complete mess their team has become is NOT the fault of either Omar Minaya or Jerry Manuel and they say both will be back in 2010.

My sympathies to all Mets fans out there.

How much more do the Mets have to be run into the ground before the Wilpons see what's going on with this team? They gave Minaya an idiotic three-year extension last year and they are on the hook to him through 2012. They don't seem to want to do what's in the best interest of the team and bring in new blood. Granted they would have to eat Minaya's deal and pony up more cash for someone who actually has a clue as to what they are doing.

We all know what has happened on Minaya's watch so I won't list the gruesome stats here. But I feel nothing but sad for all my friends and relatives who are devoted followers of the Mets. This team really needs a complete overhaul and the Wilpons just don't want to do it. They don't have their fans best interest at heart, just the bottom line.

This team will be mediocre at best in 2010. It's painful to watch the Yankees get all the headlines in this town and the Mets are basically just an afterthought. I want to see the Mets become THE team in town again. But it's pretty apparent that that won't happen with Fred and Jeff Wilpon running this sinking ship.

13-1 in 1999, 14-1 in 2009

There are fewer things in life I enjoy more than being present when the Red Sox lay it into the Yankees good.

And I was a present witness on Saturday afternoon for the ass hammering the Sox gave the Evil Empire, 14-1. It was quick and fast, and erased the bad memories of Friday night. The Red Sox now lead the season series, 9-5, and one more win will give them the season series for 2009.

The Red Sox have now outscored New York in this series 25-21. Who would have thought that in the fifth inning of Friday night's game?

The Sox scored three in the first and four in the second, pummelling A.J. Burnett and fat contract for a 7-0 lead. It's the third straight time the Sox have given Burnett a whipping at Fenway. (Didn't the Yankees get this guy because his lifetime numbers against the Red Sox were so good?)

The bats were alive, as Kevin Youkilis went deep twice and had six RBI, David Ortiz blasted a solo shot and had three RBI, and Alex Gonzalez hit his first homer back in a Red Sox uniform. The Sox also scored twelve of their runs on Saturday with two outs.

I went up to Fenway with my pal Governor Chris Wertz of Red Sox Nation-NY and about 100 others from the New York area. (Chris did an absolutely amazing job organizing the whole event.) We were sitting in section 3 in right field, and had a great view of the contest. We were joined by former Red Sox pitcher Jerry Casale and his family, and jazz guitar great John Pizzarelli, who did a wonderful job singing "The Star Spangled Banner." John told me the Sox wanted him to do it in under 90 seconds, and I clocked him at 75 seconds.) I enjoyed chatting with Jerry, who sat right behind me and told me stories of his Red Sox career. (Nice job the Red Sox with their trivia question on the board: "What former Red Sox pitcher gave up Carl Yastrzemski's first MLB home run in 1961?" Answer is "Jerry Casale.")

We also held up signs for Red Sox Nation-New York, and in the second inning, we were on the huge video scoreboard in centerfield. (Chris has been promised a copy of it by the Red Sox. Can't wait to see that.) And in the sixth inning, the Fox team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver mentioned us on the air, and a couple of friends of mine at the park got text messages about it. Nice job by the Fox guys there.

I thought going into yesterday's game that Junichi Tazawa (pictured) might get his head handed to him after what happened on Friday, but the kid looked terrific. He scattered eight hits but showed some great poise, getting out of two jams early on. He pitched six solid innings for the win. He will obviously get the next start later this week, and with Tim Wakefield coming back Wednesday, Bard Penny seems to be odd man out.

We had a great trip up to Fenway on the buses, and an even better time at the park. (On the way back we discovered Tampa Bay beat Texas to extend the Sox Wild Card lead to two.) I have now been to Fenway twice to see the Red Sox play the Yankees, and the composite score is: Red Sox 27, New York 2. The other time I was there you may remember was October 16, 1999: Red Sox 13, Yankees 1. I affectionately call that game "The Clemens Massacre."

I should see the Evil Empire at Fenway more often. 15-1 Red Sox next time?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

No comment about Friday's game. I didn't see a second of it as I had dinner with a dear friend of mine. And I'm so glad I did.

Tim Wakefield pitched what could be his final rehab start with Pawtucket, allowing just two hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings against Rochester. He could be activated over the weekend, and pitch either next Wednesday or Thursday against Chicago.

The Sox have badly missed Wake, as well as Daisuke Matsuzaka. I think it's time to admit Brad Penny is as big a failure as John Smoltz was. Time to forget about bringing in reclamation projects and spending the money toward better use. The back end of the rotation has really cost the Red Sox dearly.

Jacoby Ellsbury tied Tommy Harper's 1973 team stolen base record with 54, as he swiped one in the first inning.

Another positive is that Tampa Bay beat Texas tonight, so the Red Sox lose no ground in the Wild Card race, which is looking more and more important all the time. They still hold a one-game lead.

Momentum Going Back to Boston

Lots and lots to like from last night's sweep in Toronto.

Jon Lester threw eight solid innings, allowing just a run and three hits, after loading the bases and allowing the run in the first.

J.D. Drew banged out two home runs and Victor Martinez hit a rocket out of the SkyDome (I will always call Toronto's home that) and the Red Sox coasted to an 8-1 demolition of the Blue Jays.

The last two games by Lester and Clay Buchholz really spared the pen and gave them a good rest going into this important series with the Yankees.

The Sox scored 25 runs in the sweep over a falling Blue Jays team, but it was good to see the bats rocketting at just the right time.

Texas won at home last night, so the Red Sox Wild Card lead remains at one game.

Brad Penny, Junichi Tazawa and Josh Beckett will pitch this weekend's series against New York. Yours Truly will be in attendance on Saturday, along many other members of Red Sox Nation-New York to root on our boys against The Evil Empire. We will be sitting in section 3 in right field in the back five rows (there will be 100 of us). So if you're at the game, stop by and say hello.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

RemDawg Returns Friday

It was terrific news to hear that out very own President of Red Sox Nation, one Jerry Remy, will return to the Red Sox broadcast booth on Friday in time for the showdown with the Yankees. I only wish I could see it. (In NYC, we are stuck with the YES boneheads, with NESN blacked out. Boo. Hiss.)

Here's more from Extra Bases.

Eck, Dave Roberts, Frank Viola, Jim Kaat, Gordon Edes and everyone else did a wonderful job filling in with Don Orsillo, but there is only one RemDawg.

Welcome back, Mr. President. We missed you.

And the Red Sox had a big night on Wednesday, beating Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, 6-1. Clay Buchholz pitched six good innings for the win, and Big Papi and Jason Bay went deep yet again for the Red Sox, along with Victor Martinez to cap it off in the ninth. Texas was beaten again by the Minnesota Twins, so the Red Sox now stand alone with the Wild Card lead of one game.

The Red Sox go for the sweep of the Blue Jays on Thursday with Jon Lester taking the hill.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jack Cust Should Do His Homework

I read an article today online that Jack Cust, the Oakland A's outfielder/DH and one of those players mentioned in the Mitchell Report, is miffed at George Mitchell because of the "lack" of Red Sox players named in the report.

In Cust's words:

"Were there any Red Sox on the report? To me, that's kind of a joke. How does that happen? It's coming out now with guys on that team. The guy worked for the Red Sox - they spent all kinds of millions of dollars - and then no one there had their name brought up."

Uh, excuse me, Jack, there were Red Sox players named in the report. But Cust is pissed that because Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were outed by the New York Times recently as being on the infamous List of 104 from the steroid survey of 2003, somehow Mitchell was "covering" for them because neither was in the 2007 report from Mitchell.

Once again, George Mitchell had NO access to that List of 104. It was sealed by the feds in early 2004 because of the upcoming BALCO trials, so Mitchell and investigators had no possible way of knowing who failed the test in that survey. And they still don't, as it's a federal crime to leak any information from those sealed documents.

Here is the complete list of players named in the Mitchell Report, and you can see some obvious names of players connected to the Sox. But Cust is like many others who is not satisified that none of the big "stars" were named in it.

Hey, I don't see Alex Rodriguez' name on this list, either. Was Mitchell covering for him too, Jack? Do your homework before you run your mouth, pal.

Determined to Give One Away, But Not Succeeding

Last night had all the earmarks of a game the Red Sox would lose. They jumped out strong, scoring four runs, and added to it. But Josh Beckett had a rare bad night, allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to come back, allowing home runs to Ricky Ruiz (who?), Travis Snider and Rod Barajas, and seven runs total in 5 1/3 innings.

It was 7-7 at Beckett's departure, but the Red Sox scored three in the eighth, based on some sloppy Toronto defense, to grab the lead. But Daniel Bard struggled (as he has been lately), allowing two runs back, and Jonathan Papelbon loaded the bases in that inning before finally getting a long fly to preserve the lead.

David Ortiz and Jason Bay hit home runs earlier (Papi scored three times) and it looked like the bats would give Beckett enough support. But the Jays were keeping with Beckett, and the righty was getting tagged pretty good.

Papelbon held on in the ninth for his 29th save. Good news came out of Texas as the Minnesota Twins came from behind to beat Texas, 9-6, to put the Sox and Rangers in a tie for the top of the Wild Card standings.

Trivia Q&A: August 18

It was a mighty interesting night at Thom's for Trivia last night. We had 20 teams and a rather spirited crowd. We had some strong scores early, and they were really good for Woodstock Trivia. But then we tried out something new called "Play The Match Game" which was substituting for the Q Train lightning round.

It was a disaster. We have been successful in the recent past introducing new things to Trivia Night, but this didn't work out well at all.

We had two people from Thom's answer a sentence like from the old game show, with the teams also giving their best guess. But no one matched either player, so we were forced to scrap the round. I will take the blame here, as we rushed into trying this out. We got off to a good start, playing the old "Match Game" theme, but it went downhill from there. We will try to work on bringing back at some future. My apologies to all the Trivia Night players, and The Q Train will be back next week.

We had a close match going into IQ Trivia, but the team of Holding Down The Fort managed to get all five questions correct, and won easily and by six points. They came from being tied for fifth going into the last round. Nice job guys, and congratulations on the win.

Current Events
1. A mine fire and explosion in this European country last Thursday killed 20 people in that nation's worst ever mining disaster.
2. Rafael Correa was sworn in for a second term as the president of this South American country last week.
3. Rugby and this sport were added to the Olympic Games of 2016, and it will mark the first time it will be in the Olympics in 112 years.
4. This British pop star was arrested in England on Saturday after being in a car accident, but was released later without being charged.
5. This Hollywood star is suing an Italian photographer who he claims jumped over a fence at his villa and took pictures of his houseguest in a bedroom.
6. Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who attempted to kill this politciian in 1975 and spent 34 years in federal prison, was released from custody last Friday.
7. Usain Bolt of Jamaica set a new world record in this track and field event at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin this past weekend.

Answers: 1. Slovakia; 2. Ecuador; 3. golf; 4. George Michael; 5. George Clooney; 6. Gerald Ford; 7. 100 Meters.

Woodstock Trivia
1. What folk singer was the opening act of the Woodstock festival?
2. What guitar legend was the final act at Woodstock?
3. What political activist did Pete Townshend knock off the stage with his guitar when he interrupted The Who's performance?
4. What method of transportation were performers who were delayed getting to the venue by traffic jams brought in by?
5. Name 1 0f the 3 female artists who had solo performances at Woodstock.
6. Between Led Zeppelin, CCR and The Grateful Dead, which one did NOT perform at Woodstock?
7. Which classic rock band played the logest set at Woodstock in terms of number of songs: 25?

Answers: 1. Richie Havens; 2. Jimi Hendrix; 3. Abbie Hoffman; 4. helicopter; 5. Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, and Melanie; 6. Led Zeppelin; 7. The Who.

General Knowledge
1. What are the two primary substances that make up the metal alloy brass?
2. What US president was nicknamed "Old Hickory?"
3. The Brandenburg Gate is located in what European city?
4. What actor joked in 2008 that his desire for quality roles was surpassed by his yen to make "Booty Call II?"
5. In what country is the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp found?
6. What singer wrote the 1998 best-selling book "A Pirate Looks at 50?"
7. The Beach Boys and Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch both had number one hits with what song of the same title?

Answers: 1. copper and zinc; 2. Andrew Jackson; 3. Berlin; 4. Jamie Foxx; 5. Poland; 6. Jimmy Buffett; 7. "Good Vibrations."

IQ Trivia
1. The logo of the Shell Oil Company is a stylized version of what type of shell? ( 3 points)
2. What president signed into the law the bill to create the Medal of Honor? ( 4 points)
3. In the 1994 film "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," what is Priscilla? ( 5 points)
4. What three colors are used to build all the colors on a color computer monitor screen? ( 4 points)
5. The Dry Tortugas are a group of islands located off the coast of what US state? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. scallop; 2. Abraham Lincoln; 3. bus; 4. red, green and blue; 5. Florida.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre Joins The Vikings. What a Shock.

I hope the Vikings know what they are doing.

Brett Favre officially becomes a member of the Minnesota Vikings today, as he will sign a contract for two years, at $25 million. He was already in camp earlier today in Minnesota taking snaps at QB.

Both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are nursing injuries, so Favre becomes the number one guy right away. I am not one who was pushing for the Vikings to do this, but now it is done. It has nothing to do with him as a former Green Bay Packer. He looked old and worn down at the end of the 2008 season with the Jets. He had surgery on an ailing rotator cuff back in May and says he's ready to go.

I will reserve judgment on this move. Favre has a lot to prove in my eyes, and beginning this Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, he will get that opportunity.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Remembering Woodstock on Tuesday

This Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, so we at Trivia Night will be celebrating that fact with "Woodstock Trivia," seven questions about that historic weekend.

The Q Train lightning round will be taking a break this week, and it will return next week. In its place we will be doing something a little different. We will have a round we are calling "Play The Match Game." We will have seven fill-in-the blank questions, and you have to give your answer to it, like the classic game show. We will have two folks from Thom's give their answers, and if you match one or both, you'll get a point. (Two if you match both.) Yours Truly will be acting as Gene Rayburn, and we'll see how this goes.

The Sneak Peek question this week is:
"The Brandenburg Gate is in what European city?"

We will get going at the usual time of 9 PM. The crowds continue to be excellent, so you may want to get in to get some choice seats. See you then.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Lead Disappears

A rotten Sunday afternoon in the heat of Texas: Red Sox leave runners everywhere, Tazawa gives up four runs, and the Red Sox lose, 4-3.

They are now officially in second place in the Wild Card race, as Texas now has the lead by a half-game.

Another important road series, and the Sox lose it once again. I looked at this six-game swing in Texas and Toronto before it began and thought they really needed to take 4 of 6 instead of the usual spilt of a road trip. Now they need to sweep Toronto to make that happen.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia both went deep but they were both solo shots.

I had a feeling this was going to be a rough day when I saw Brian Anderson and Alex Gonzalez at the bottom of the order. You can live with Gonzo at shortstop with his weak bat and good glove, but Anderson is simply a stiff at the plate. He can play the outfield but it's no wonder the White Sox finally gave up on him, as he's a .225 lifetime hitter. And yet, Terry Francona let both hit in the eighth down by one with one out. And both struck out against C.J. Wilson in the Sox' final threat of the day.

Now it's off to Toronto for three. I'm waiting for that hot streak, that 15 out of the next 20 to happen to propel the Red Sox, but I'm seriously wondering if we won't see that until 2010.

"King's Call"

Here is one of the best tributes to Elvis Presley, courtesy of Thin Lizzy. It's the late Phil Lynott's tribute to the King, with the great Mark Knopfler on lead guitar, recorded in 1980. So in honor of the 32nd anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, here is the video, courtesy of YouTube. (With thanks to my friend Steve who put the clip up on Facebook today as well.)

It's hard to believe it's been 32 years since Elvis' death, and that Phil Lynott has been gone 23 years now.

God bless both Elvis and Phil.

Texas Thieves Run Wild

For the second time this season, Brad Penny was on the mound and a team swiped eight bases against the Red Sox, and this time the Texas Rangers coasted to an easy 7-2 win in Arlington last night.

Penny has now lost his last four decisions, and went 5 2/3 innings last night. He struggled mightily, allowing four runs in throwing 121 pitches. He was fortunate the score wasn't worse than it was at the time of his departure.

The Red Sox could manage only solo home runs from Jason Bay and Victor Martinez against Derek Holland.

It was emabarrassing seeing Texas run at will against Penny and Jason Varitek. Opponents now have a better than 90% success rate against Red Sox catchers, and 91 steals against Varitek.

The Sox' Wild Card lead is back to a 1/2 game, and today's series finals is a critical one, with Junichi Tazawa taking the mound, looking for his second career win.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tex Calls For Help and V-Mart Obliges

My buddies over at Surviving Grady today have a post about last night's thrilling Red Sox comeback in the ninth, and features Tex (aka Donna), seen in the above photo calling on help from above as Victor Martinez was at the plate in the ninth. (Hey, the Vikings won in Indy, too!) Tex is a frequent visitor to this site, and one of the Red Sox most devoted fans in the Lone Star State. (And she's wearing a cool Surviving Grady/Youk t-shirt, too!)

Unfortunately, I had the Texas Rangers feed on the MLB package, so I did not see this scene. But as we all know, Martinez came through with one of the biggest hits of 2009 for the Red Sox, as Frank Francisco got a big time ass hammering, and the Red Sox won, 8-4.

I spent a good part of last night at the Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island (they won) and got home in time to watch Texas take a 4-2 lead in the seventh. Every time I checked my cell phone at the game, the news wasn't good.

Jon Lester allowed a two-run home run to Michael Young in the first, and it stayed 2-0 until the sixth. As I was getting on the subway at Stillwell Avenue and heading home, David Ortiz belted a two-run dinger to make it 2-2.

But it looked like it would be Texas' night, as they added a runs in the sixth and seventh. But the Sox staged an incredible rally in the ninth. David Ortiz and Jason Varitek both reached to get it going, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled in Papi. Clay Buchholz went in to run for Tek. But Dustin Pedroia's drive off the wall in left looked like it would tie the game, but Buchholz got caught in-between second and third and hseittated, and got thrown out at home for the second out.

As Terry Francona was about to be roasted in the papers the next day for putting a pitcher in to run, Victor Martinez saved his bacon, doubling in two runs. Jason Bay singled him in and J.D. Drew slammed a two-run shot to right to make it 8-4. Jonathan Papelbon came on in the bottom of the ninth to lock down the win and give the Sox a much-needed win to start the important six-game road trip.

A loss would have put Texas in the Wild Card lead, but now the Red Sox are up by 1 1/2 games. The Red Sox also acquired Alex Gonzalez, who played for them in 2006, in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for a minor leaguer, and designated Chris Woodward for assignment after the game ended.

Brad Penny takes the mound tonight in Arlington against Derek Holland.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Not much to say about Thursday afternoon's game and finale of the four-game set with the Tigers other than the Red Sox ran into a pitcher throwing some serious gas and got shutout, 2-0.

Justin Verlander was hitting 99 and 100 MPH from the beginning and by the time he departed after eight innings, he was still hitting 100, on his 122nd pitch. He allowed just four hits, and the Red Sox had golden opportunities to score runs in the first and third innings, but came away empty.

Clay Buchholz was terrific yesterday. It was probably his best start of the year, allowing just a run on an infield out in the fourth and a home run to Ryan Raburn in the seventh. He certainly pitched well enough for a win, but the Sox ran into a pitcher who just flat-out awesome yesterday.

Terry Francona rested Dustin Pedroia and J. D. Drew yesterday in anticipation for the start of the important three-game series with Texas tonight. The Sox are a half-game up on the Rangers in the Wild Card, as they won in Cleveland yesterday.The Red Sox begin a six-game road trip to Texas and Toronto. Needless to say they've got to make some hay over the next week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Always Good To See Old Friends

The Red Sox rolled to their third straight win over the Detroit Tigers, 8-2 at Fenway last night. Lots to like: Mike Lowell and Jason Bay both going deep again (and both are heating up big time), and Josh Beckett is making a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award, winning his 14th game of 2009, the first pitcher in MLB to reach that mark.

He allowed just two solo shots, to Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames, in going seven strong innings. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced and didn't allow a hit until Guillen's homer in the fifth. He now has a record of 6-0 and an ERA of 1.20 in his last seven starts at the Fens.

It was Bay's third homer in the last five games, and Lowell's third in two nights. Lowell will definitely be in starting lineup for the forseeable future, as Kevin Youkilis was hit with a five-game suspension for the fight on Monday night, and is accepting it and will set through the Texas series on Sunday. Rick Porcello was also hit with a similar suspension but is appealling.

The Red Sox gained no ground in either race (division or Wild Card), as both New York and Texas both won.

But the best news of all was the surprise return of Jerry Remy to the NESN booth in the second inning last night. He looked good and talked with Don Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley about the trials and tribulations of the past few months. (He talked also with the media about the depression he's been battling since he's been away.) He gave no indication of exactly when he's be back, but he looked better than I thought he would. He was introduced to the Fenway Park crowd in-between the top and bottom of the second, and received a rousing ovation. (With thanks to Joy of Sox for the above photo.)

Welcome back, RemDawg. Hope to see you back soon.

And congratulations to old friend Pedro Martinez, who got his first win of 2009 with the Phillies, going five innings in his debut and allowing three runs to the Cubs in a 12-5 win.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Not Your Average Fenway Night

Last night's Red Sox-Tigers had so many things in it:

Hit and brushed back batters (an extension of Monday night).
Youk and Rick Porcello getting friendly on the mound. (I hope Joba Chamberlain was paying attention to this after his game.) Both benches emptied and both players were ejected.
John Farrell and Jim Leyland having some cross words.
Terry Francona getting tossed after arguing a call at second and throwing his gum.
Mike Lowell coming in for Youk and blasting two home runs, the first Sox player to do that since 1967. (I was wondering, has anyone ever come off the bench and hit three HRs? Not sure if that's ever happened.)
Jason Bay getting hot, blasting a three-run shot across Lansdowne Street.
A rain delay coming out of nowhere.
A rookie pitcher pitching his first MLB start (Junichi Tazawa), struggling in the first but settling down and getting the win.

It sure wasn't dull.

Does this light a fire under the Red Sox? We'll see. A 7-5 Red Sox win, after being down 3-0 after the top of the first. New York won so there's no change in the East, but Texas lost, so the Wild Card lead is now at 1 1/2 games.

SABR Trivia Answers

I was a little derelict in putting up the answers to SABR Trivia contest, which I posted here last week. The New York Times printed them Monday, so here they are:

Who are the three members of the 500 home-run club who also pitched in the Major Leagues?

Babe Ruth (1914-21, ‘30, ‘33), Jimmie Foxx (1939, ‘45) and Ted Williams (1940).

2. Who is the player with the most career hits who never managed in the Major Leagues? Who is the pitcher with the most career victories who never managed in the majors?

Hank Aaron with 3,771 hits (Pete Rose and Ty Cobb both managed); Grover Alexander with 373 wins (Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson all managed).

3. Who is the only player to get at least 250 hits for the American League’s Milwaukee Brewers and the National League’s Milwaukee Brewers?

Jeff Cirillo (472 and 528, respectively).

4. Who are the three men who defeated the Yankees in a postseason series as both a player and a manager?

Rogers Hornsby (1926 World Series as player/manager); Billy Southworth (1926 World Series as player and 1942 World Series as manager), and Mike Scioscia (1981 World Series as player and 2002 A.L.D.S. as manager)

5. Rickey Henderson, the new Hall of Famer, made postseason appearances with which five teams?

Oakland A’s (1981, 89-90, 92), Toronto Blue Jays (1993), San Diego Padres (1996), the Mets (1999) and Seattle Mariners (2000).

6. Name the five Hall of Fame pitchers whose Major League careers began after the advent of the Cy Young Award in 1956 but never received the post-season honor.

Rich Gossage, Juan Marichal, Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton.

7. Which three Major League pitchers later served in the United States Congress?

John K. Tener, Vinegar Bend Mizell and Jim Bunning.

8. Which four players won a batting title in a season in which they played for more than one team?

Nap Lajoie (1902 Athletics and Bronchos); Dale Alexander (1932 Tigers and Red Sox); Harry Walker (1947 Cardinals and Phillies); Willie McGee (1990 Cardinals and A’s).

9. Which player hit a home run in all three games of the 1969 N.L.C.S., the only Championship Series games in which he played?

Hank Aaron.

10. Who took the cut-off throw from Willie Mays after “The Catch” in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series?

Davey Williams (second base).

11. Name the last team to win Game 7 of the World Series on the road.

1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (at Baltimore).

12. Which three future Hall of Famers finished within seven-ten-thousandths (.0007) of each other atop the 1931 National League batting leaders?

Chick Hafey (.3489), Bill Terry (.3486), Jim Bottomley (.3482).

There are also some good fan trivia questions in the link, so check it out. Personally, I got six of the twelve correct. Not bad.

Trivia Q&A: August 11

We had another huge crowd for Trivia on Tuesday night, with 22 teams in attendance. We had a great reaction to the Special category of "John Hughes Trivia." Most teams did fairly well, and the scores were equally good for the True or False and General Knowledge rounds.

IQ Trivia was a different story. The questions may have been some of the harder ones I've ever come up with. (No one got the World Series one.) We also had an occurrence that has not ever happened before on Trivia Night. We had two teams tied for the lead in all four rounds going into the finale. Both were regulars: Stop Looking Up Answers: Coffee's For Closers and A Lady Walks Into a Bar With a Poodle Under One Arm and a Two Foot Salami Under The Other. The latter team was one of three teams to get eight points (2 out of 5) and squeeked out a one-point win over the rival.

Nice job by Rob and his crew for getting back to the winner's circle after a long absence.

Current Events
1. Budd Schulberg, a sceenwriter and producer who won a Best Screenplay Oscar for this classic 1954 film about mob violence and corruption, died last Wednesday at age 95.
2. This rock star, on his web site, is urging President Obama to have Americans observe "Meatless Mondays."
3. This rock star was injured last Wednesday when he fell from a concert stage at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, suffering head, neck and shoulder injuries.
4. Ronnie Biggs is being released from prison soon because of ill health. What 1960s crime was he one of the masterminds of?
5. Fidel Castro called this country "disloyal," claiming that a pending military deal they have with the US could be used to attack other Latin American countries.
6. Mel Martinez, a Republican senator from this state, told his supporters that he was resigning last Friday, 16 months before his term expires.
7. An environmental group in Brazil are running ads on TV stations there urging people to do this to save the rainforest and water.

Answers: 1. "On the Waterfront;" 2. Paul McCartney; 3. Steven Tyler; 4. The Great Train Robbery; 5. Colombia; 6. Florida; 7. urinate in the shower.

John Hughes Trivia
1. What was the first film directed by John Hughes?
2. What movie directed by John Hughes starred Steve Martin?
3. What John Hughes-produced (but not directed) film was the highest grossing film of 1990?
4. What 1983 film with Michael Keaton was one of John Hughes' first big successes as a screenwriter?
5. Several of John Hughes' earliest films are connected with what popular humor periodical, a magazine for which he worked during the 1970s?
6. In "Nate and Hayes," one of John Hughes' earliest films, what 1994 Oscar-winner starred as Hayes?
7. "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?" is a famous line from what John Hughes film?

Answers: 1. Sixteen Candles; 2. Planes, Trains and Automobiles; 3. Home Alone; 4. Mr. Mom; 5. National Lampoon; 6. Tommy Lee Jones; 7. The Breakfast Club.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Introduced in 1992, the McLaren F1 is an extremely fast boat.
2. A scallion is a type of onion.
3. The city of Memphis took its name from an ancient Egyptian capital.
4. Only 17% of the world's inhabitants live in a country with total media freedom.
5. About 20% of the US population are left-handed.
6. Michael Jackson owns the rights to the South Carolina State anthem.
7. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be blue.
8. The toothbrush was invented in the 15th century.
9. Prince Charles and Prince William never travel on the same airplane, in case of a crash.
10. Colorado is the biggest Rocky Mountain state in terms of area.

Answers: 1. false, car; 2. true; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, 7%; 6. true; 7. false, green; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, Montana.

General Knowledge
1. INTERPOL is based in what European country?
2. What shoe company shares its name with a type of antelope?
3. According to the Bible, who named all the animals on Earth?
4. What major city straddles the border between Europe and Asia?
5. Sub-Zero is best known for selling what product?
6. Shubunkin is a popular variety of what?
7. MI6 is the secret intelligence agency of what country?

Answers: 1. France; 2. Reebok; 3. Adam; 4. Istanbul; 5. refrigerators; 6. goldfish; 7. United Kingdom.

IQ Trivia
1. What sea animal is known as a "medusa" during its adult stage? ( 4 points)
2. Who was the last road team to win Game 7 of the World Series? ( 5 points)
3. What 19th century US president is the only one ever elected from state of Indiana? ( 4 points)
4. The Toven Specimen is an extremely rare example of what type of US coin? ( 4 points)
5. Barack Obama is a two-time winner of what award? ( 3 points)

Answers: 1. jellyfish; 2. Pittsburgh Pirates (1979); 3. Benjamin Harrison; 4. penny; 5. Grammy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Night at the Beacon With "The Royal Scam"

In 1995, I saw Steely Dan for the first time at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and it was a fabulous show. For years, I thought I'd never see them live, as both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker despised touring, and had gone their separate ways after making "Gaucho" in 1980.

But they got back together, and now they have returned with "The Rent Party Tour 09" and they are concluding their eight-show stand at the Beacon Theater this week. They are featuring one of their classic albums in their shows (or "Internet Requests" other nights), and last night I got to see their classic "The Royal Scam" played in its entirety.

The jazz group The Sam Yahel Trio opened the night, playing a nice 30-minute set. After a five-minute break, the 10-piece band came out on stage to tremendous applause. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker came out a few moments after the rest of the band as they warmed up. And they got right down to brass tacks, burning right through "The Royal Scam" album. It was interesting to see both Becker and Fagen leave the stage for "The Fez," as they left their three girl backing group to do the honors with the vocals.

The songs were played in the order they were released on the album, and when the second side was about to begin, one of the girls walked over to a turntable on the right side of the stage and turned over an album on it, to great applause from the audience.

"The Royal Scam" took just under an hour to play, and Fagen said very little until the final song, the title track was completed. That was the end of the first act, and he bantered a bit with the crowd, who was really into it.

One of the highlights of last night was drummer Keith Carlock. As "Aja" was beginning, I thought that if his drum solos can send shivers down my spine in this song, he's done his job. Well, he did that and more. It was as good as Steve Gadd's original, if not better.

Walter Becker did the vocals on "Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More" and I thought the choice of "Parker's Band" was a nice surprise. But I was a bit suprised to see that they did not play "Deacon Blues" at all, as I thought for certain it would be in the encore. I was also hoping for a little more older stuff, like more from "Countdown to Ecstasy" (although "My Old School" was terrific), one of my favorite albums from the boys. The leaned heavier on "Aja" and "Gaucho" for The selected favorites. I was also hoping guitarist Larry Carlton might pop out, as he is making some select appearances on the Steely Dan tour, but he won't be back until the NYC finale Wednesday.)

But overall, it was a terrific two-hour show. The band was extremely tight, and the audience had a great time (a guy in front of me was dancing for most of the show). Steely Dan play two more shows at the Beacon, tonight, and tomorrow night (which was rescheduled from any earlier cancellation).

Here is the set list from last night:

The Royal Scam:
Kid Charlemagne; The Caves of Altamira; Don't Take Me Alive; Sign In Stranger; The Fez; Green Earrings; Haitian Divorce; Everything You Did; The Royal Scam

Select Favorites
Hey Nineteen; Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More; Aja; Black Friday; Home at Last; Parker's Band; Third World Man; Josie; My Old School

Peg; Reeling in the Years

Home Is Where The Wins Are

The hideous six-game losing streak is over.

And the season isn't over, no matter what the New York media says.

The Red Sox scored two runs from the first two hitters against the Tigers and Edwin Jackson last night, matching what they did in the previous 33 innings. Dustin Pedroia (two-run shot in the first), Jason Bay and Nick Green all hit home runs, and Brad Penny went his usual six innings.

I checked for updates during the Steely Dan show last night (see my next post), as I didn't see the game. The Sox had a 5-3 lead into the seventh, but Manny Delcarmen allowed two runs and it was tied. Green's sac fly in the bottom of the inning gave the Red Sox the lead back.

But Ramon Ramirez, who has been an adventure lately, put two on with two out and Terry Francona brought in Jonathan Papelbon, and he got the final out on a foul out. Pap got Detroit 1-2-3 in the ninth (he threw a total of 11 pitches), to put the Red Sox back in the win column.

New York lost at home to the Blue Jays, 5-4, so the deficit is back to 5 1/2 games. Texas was idle last night, so the Sox go back to 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card.

Junichi Tazawa gets his first MLB start tonight at Fenway against the Tigers in Game 2 of the four game set.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Honoring a Film Legend on Tuesday

The Special Category this week for Trivia Night will be "John Hughes Trivia," in honor of the late filmmaker and writer who tragically passed away from a heart attack last week at the age of 59. It will be seven questions about him and his films.

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia." We will also be keeping the time limit to get the answers in after the round as it proved to be a success last week.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
According to the Bible, who named all the animals on the Earth?

We should get rolling at the usual time of about 9 PM. The Red Sox are playing the Tigers at Fenway on Tuesday (and hopefully showing some more life than they did last weekend), but that won't stand in our way. Hope to see many of you come out for another great night of Trivia.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Thank You

Thank you, Boston Red Sox, for not showing up in the Bronx this weekend.

Thank you for embarrassing your loyal fan base with a simply horrid display of offensive baseball against your longtime rival and nemesis, and at the worst possible time. I will offer no excuses to anyone for the crap I've witnessed since last Thursday.

Thank you for going 0-6 against the two division rivals in the most important week of the season.

Thank you for making the Yankees look like they belong in the playoffs and you don't.

Thank you for totally wasting outstanding pitching efforts from Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz the last three days. (20 innings, 3 earned runs, no wins.)

Thank you for setting off a panic in the Nation right now.

Thank you for bringing back terrible memories of three years ago.

Thank you for allowing the Texas Rangers to tie you in the Wild Card race. (And I'm sure not looking forward to seeing them next weekend.)

Thank you for raising my blood pressure this weekend.

And thank you for making me as angry as I've ever been at you in one hell of a long time. The season isn't over by a long shot, but the ship better get righted this week, starting on Monday night.

I'm glad I have tickets for Steely Dan tomorrow night, as I need to get away from you guys for a bit.

Now, I'm going to bed. I've vented enough.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

At Least Texas Lost

Another putrid display of baseball in the Bronx on Saturday.

Clay Buchholz wasn't bad ( 6 innings, 2 runs) but the offense was AWOL once again.

5 1/2 games back. The Texas Rangers were beaten in Anaheim by the Angels, so the Red Sox Wild Card lead remains at one game. (I think we should pay a little more attention to them now.)

The last 24 innings: 8 hits, no runs. 0-5 in the two most important series of the year this week. It's beyond embarrassing.

I know Terry Francona will never do this, but I think we may have reached the point where he should lock the clubhouse door, turn over the postgame spread table and get really pissed at these guys.

And David Ortiz claims he never used steroids.

Don't ask me, I don't know what to believe any more.

McCarver Again Pushes Innuendo As Fact

I was watching today's Red Sox-Yankees game on Fox (no need to discuss that), and in the fifth inning, the subject of discussion between Joe Buck and Tim McCarver was the Red Sox historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS. And once again, as he's done a few times before when the two teams have played each other, McCarver brought up a myth that he's now passing off as fact.

"The Red Sox were congratulating the Yankees before Game 4 of the ALCS, and wishing them well for the upcoming World Series."

Bullshit. They never did anything of a kind.

In previous Red Sox-Yankees games in recent years, McCarver would bring up a story about having Jon Lieber, the former Yankees pitcher, on his old "Tim McCarver Show" in 2005 and he talked about how "unnamed" Red Sox players came up to "unnamed" Yankees players and "congratulated" them on the ALCS they were about to win before Game 4. Lieber mentioned none of the players on either team, and gave no evidence that it actually happened. No one backed up his story from either team. He came off as an angry loser, as well as a chickenshit liar. I did a Google search on it years ago and I could find no story anywhere about this ever happening.

You can read more about this, as I talked previously about this happening during the 2007 World Series in a post called "Why Can't McCarver Let This Go?"

Now McCarver is saying this statement as a fact, with no background to the story. It's no wonder he continues to be one of the most despised broadcasters doing baseball today. I guess in his mind, he doesn't have to back up the story anymore because it's now fact.

Really pathetic.

Put Up or Shut Up For Buchholz Today

As bad as Thursday night was, Friday hurt worse.

It was a game the Red Sox really could have won. And really should have won. But didn't.

Josh Beckett once again is proving he is the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award. He was simply superb. Allowed just three hits in seven innings in The Wind Tunnel. But the offense decided not to show up at all last night.

Four hits in fifteen bloody innings. Yikes. The bullpen was terrific, pitching 7 2/3 innings of scoreless ball.

A.J. Burnett was also superb, allowed just one hit in over seven innings. But the Red Sox had to find a way to win this. And they couldn't. Slappy hit with a two-run home run to end the scoreless tie off rookie Junichi Tazawa to put the Red Sox now 4 1/2 games back, and they are now just one game ahead of the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card race. Tampa Bay lost in Seattle in extra innings last night, but they trail the Sox by only 2 1/2 games.

Now the focus shifts to Clay Buchholz. He has to step up and show he belongs in the majors, and that the no-hitter of two years ago was no fluke. Earlier this year he questioned why he was still in the minors as he was pitching so well at Pawtucket. He's been less than impressive since his first start in Toronto, and last Sunday he was simply absymal. When your offense gives you 14 runs in five innings, you should win. Otherwise he maybe just a glorified AAA pitcher who can't make it in the majors.

Granted, New York seems to have the advantage with C.C. Sabathia pitching today, but the Red Sox have hit him in the past. And they have to hit him today. A split is still possibility, and it's really manditory now. So now it's time for Buchholz.

Put up or shut up today.

"A Glove of Their Own"

I wanted to call to your attention a very worthy project that is gaining the attention of the literary world as well as the baseball world called "A Glove of Their Own." The book is the brainchild of Bob Salomon, who came up with it at a child's birthday party and his desire that all children should have access to baseball equipment and the chance to play America's game.

Mr. Salomon hooked up with three authors and an illustrator and the book was born. And it has taken off like a rocket on the Fourth of July. Groups like Fortune 500 companies, non-profit corporations and many baseball players have lent their support to Mr. Salomon's project. Among those groups who lent their support to it are The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rawlings, Louisville Slugger and Upper Deck.

The book was released in October 2008, is 32 pages long, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit three non-profit organizations: Pitch In For Baseball, Good Sports, and Sports Gift.

Many athletes have thrown their names and support behind "A Glove of Their Own" such as Joe Torre, Ken Griffey, Craig Biggio, Luis Tiant, Sean Casey and Dick Drago.

Mr. Salomon's goal with the book is to raise awareness as well as money, but the most important part of it is to "play it forward," like donating baseball equipment to those youths who are in desperate need of it.

Mr. Salomon has a web site for his book that you can check out by going here. He has done a wonderful job and has brought nationwide attention to the problem of children who don't have any access to baseball equipment. It's helping our great game grow with young people, and I hope you will check out his web site and throw your support to his special project.