Friday, April 30, 2010

Five On Five

The Red Sox announced today they will honor the newly-retired Nomar Garciaparra at Fenway Park in a ceremony before next Wednesday's game against the Angels.

How appropriate. Honoring Number Five on Cinco de Mayo.

Welch, A Rocket Misfire and The Hated Indians

Here's an interesting article from the new Hauls Of Shame web site about a rare baseball card that was apparently stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It was of Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch, who won 315 games in the 19th century, and was one of the best right handed pitchers of his era. His card is considered to be more valuable than the famous Honus Wagner card.

The Welch card was supposed to auctioned off on May 1st, but Robert Edwards Auctions pulled the sale down.

Elsewhere, anything that embarrasses Roger Clemens is always fine by me. (Thanks to my pal Jere for the link.)

The Indians are more despised than the Yankees or Red Sox, and are the most disliked baseball team? The Reds and Astros are more hated than the Yankees? You've got to be kidding me. (I would bet that has something to do with their nickname.) No one, and I mean NO ONE, is more hated than the MFY, no matter what some half-assed study finds. (With thanks to Allan at Joy of Sox for the link.)

Makes You Think, Doesn't It?

My buddy DJ posted the following the video on Facebook last night, and it really is phenomenal. It is a film by The American Museum of Natural History in New York, and it is a 6 1/2 minute journey through the known universe. It starts in the Himalayas, and ends back there.

But it goes a few billion years into space, into exactly what we know is out there. But of course, there is so much out there we don't know. Just an incredible video they have made, and it puts everything into perspective.

Even the music is cool. Enjoy:

And seeing the above film, I couldn't help but think of this:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It May Be a Clean City, But We Swept Toronto Anyway

My calendar says that April is coming to a close, so that means one thing: the Jon Lester we all know and love should be back in form.

And he sure was on Wednesday night, as he allowed just one hit and struck out 11. Lester simply dominated, and Daniel Bard struck out the side in the eighth, allowing a hit. And Jonathan Papelbon as simply lights out again, getting Toronto 1-2-3 for his seventh save, and Lester's first win of the season, 2-0. It was the first sweep by the Red Sox this season.

Another superb start by the rotation. I was getting worried there for a while.

Brett Cecil was terrific for the Jays, allowing just a sacrifice fly to Dustin Pedroia in the sixth and an RBI single to Darnell McDonald in the seventh.

The Red Sox have now won 7 of 9, and are back to .500, at 11-11. They passed Toronto into third place, 5 1/2 behind Tampa Bay and three behind New York.

The Sox now head to Baltimore and take on the Birds Friday night, with John Lackey on the mound.

Speaking of one hit (or should I say, "What, one goddamned hit?"), I wish all the best to my favorite ersatz Cleveland Indians broadcaster, Harry Doyle (pictured), also known as Bob Uecker. Ueck is having heart surgery on Friday, and I wish him godspeed and hope he returns to the booth soon.

I Can't Believe Buchholz Pitched Eight Innings

Well, the title of this post actually comes from a team from Trivia Night last night.

I was also amazed how good Clay Buchholz pitched last night, as in the eight innings he went, he allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four. He's currently the ace of the Red Sox staff right now. He allowed the Toronto Blue Jays just one run in the first, and then settled in, throwing 117 pitches. He was rarely in trouble, and gave the Red Sox staff, especially the bullpen, which was taxed on Monday night's slugfest, a nice breather last night.

Terry Francona rolled the dice in the ninth, as Jonathan Papelbon had pitched in five of the previous six games. He brought in Ramon Ramirez. But the gamble paid off, as Ramirez got the Jays 1-2-3 to get his first save, as the Red Sox won, 2-1.

Jeremy Hermida singled in David Ortiz in the second to make it 1-1. From there it was a duel between Buchholz and Shawn Marcum, who was equally as good. The Red Sox laoded the bases in the eighth with two outs, and closer Kevin Gregg came in to face Mike Lowell, who was batting for Ortiz (second time and counting). Gregg wasn't anywhere close, and walked Lowell on four pitches to give the Red Sox the lead.

The Sox go for the sweep tonight, as Jon Lester takes the mound. Before last night's game, they sent Scott Atchison to Pawtucket, and brought up pitcher Fabio Castro, to help the worn out pen. And once the game concluded, castro returned to AAA, and Alan Embree was brought back to the Red Sox for his second stint in Boston. (Actually, if he wasn't brought up by this week, he could declare his free agency, so the Red Sox brought him up. This could spell the end of the road for Scott Schoeneweis, as Daisuke Matsuzaka will be activated on Saturday, and another pitcher will go.)

Trivia Q&A: April 27

It was a big night at Professor Thom's on Tuesday night, as the crowd was enjoying the Celtics wrap up their opening round series with Miami, and the Red Sox took a second game in Toronto. (There was even "Lost" Trivia going on up in the Loft, but not hosted by me. They had a big turnout for that, too.)

We had 19 teams in for the Trivia, and we didn't get started until the Celtics game ended at about 9:30 PM. (Nice to see my old friends, The BLOHARDS, in for Trivia Night after an extended absence.) Most teams got off to a good start with Current Events, but the Q Are You? round was a bit tough, and the highest score was just 5 of 7. The scores on The Q Train and General Knowledge were pretty strong as well.

The top teams were close all night, and we had the top five teams separated by just two points going into IQ Trivia. But the team holding first place, It's Not Illegal, Just Frowned Upon, Just Like Masturbating In An Airplane held on and won the title by four points by getting 4 of the 5 questions.

Nice job guys, as they achieved the rare double of winning Trivia Night and Best Team Name as well.

Current Events
1. A senior cleric in Iran last week said that women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for this, something that has always plagued the country.
2. A recent poll in the US and Western Europe by Harris Interactive of the world's most respected leaders named these two men at the top of the poll. Name 1 of the 2.
3. This rock star suffered a brain hemorrhage last weekend and was in critical condition, according to his web site.
4. Islamic fundamentalists in this African country declared music to be "un-Islamic" and radio stations throughout the country cut all music from their broadcasts.
5. Benjamin Hooks, a Baptist minister, attorney and executive director of this organization from 1977-1992, died recently at the age of 85.
6. This state enacted a new immigration law last week, sparking lots of controversy and calls to boycott the state in terms of tourism and major events there.
7. Heinz Fischer was re-elected president of what country this past Sunday?

Answers: 1. Earthquakes; 2. Barack Obama and Dalai Lama; 3. Bret Michaels; 4. Somalia; 5. NAACP; 6. Arizona; 7. Austria.

Q Are You?
1. This man was born in Montreal, QUE in 1931. He is an actor, novelist, author and a recording artist. He's best known for his role on an iconic TV series of the 1960s, but he won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his work on an ABC series in the 2000s.
2. This woman was born in Ladysmith, BC in 1967. She's a model, actress, producer and author. She was Playboy's Playmate of the Month, starred in two highly successful TV series and has been married three times.
3. This man was born in Texarkana, TX in 1930. He founded his first company, Electronic Data Systems in 1962, which he sold in 1984 to GM for $2.4 billion. He's dabbled in politics and is currently the 85th richest man in America.
4. This man was born in New Orleans, LA in 1976. He's been the MVP of the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and the NFL four times, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, and was the overall number one selection in the 1998 NFL draft.
5. This man was born in Shropshire, England in 1939. He was the lead singer and guitarist of a UK band that had limited success but a devoted following and after they split in 1974, he's had a successful solo career, with his best known song was the theme song for Drew Carey's ABC TV series.
6. This woman was born in New York City in 1981. She's a singer, musician and actress. Her first album in 2001 sold 12 million copies and it earned her 5 Grammy Awards. Her third album in 2007 earned her three more and she was named top R&B artist of the 2000s by Billboard magazine.
7. This man was born in New York City in 1946. He has directed 18 feature films and won three Oscars, one for Adapted Screenplay and two for Best Director, and overall his films have won nine Academy Awards.

Answers: 1. William Shatner; 2. Pamela Anderson; 3. Ross Perot; 4. Peyton Manning; 5. Ian Hunter; 6. Alicia Keys; 7. Oliver Stone.

1-10 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The number of years the American Civil War took to fight.
2. This was the number of Roman Catholic presidents in American history.
3. This is the number of elements in the Periodic Table that begin with the letter "Z."
4. Dudley Moore starred in a film in 1979 with this number.
5. How many different types of pieces are there in a standard game of chess?
6. How many counties are there within New York City?
7. How many points is a ringer worth in horseshoes?
8. This was the total number of deadly sins.
9. This was the number worn by MLB Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Yogi Berra and Gary Carter.
10. The Beatles had a song on "The White Album" called "Revolution Number what?"

Answers: 1. four; 2. one; 3. two; 4. ten; 5. six; 6. five; 7. three; 8. seven; 9. eight; 10. nine.

General Knowledge
1. What restaurant franchise did Ray Kroc take over in 1954? ( 1 pt)
2. What actress won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "Walk the Line?" ( 1 pt)
3. The battles of Lexington and Concord marked the beginning of what war? ( 1 pt)
4. The Third Republic was what nation's government from 1870-1940? ( 2 pt)
5. What astronaut circled the earth in 1962 in the space capsule Friendship 7? ( 2 pt)
6. What team was Josh Beckett the World Series MVP for in 2003? ( 2 pt)
7. Between China, Australia and Brazil, which nation is the smallest in area? ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1.McDonald's; 2. Reese Witherspoon; 3. American Revolutionary War; 4. France; 5. John Glenn; 6. Florida Marlins; 7. Australia.

IQ Trivia
1. What welterweight champion boxer, born Walker Smith Jr., was chosen as the greatest fighter of the 20th century by the Associated Press? ( 4 points)
2. Founded in 1867, what organization required members to pledge to "protect the weak, innocent and defenseless, and to relieve the injured and oppressed?" ( 5 points)
3. What early 20th century novelist is best known for a series of novels called "Remembrance of Things Past?" ( 3 points)
4. What mountain was called Denali ("The Great One") by the Indians, but Bolshaya Gora ("Great Mountain") by the Russians? ( 4 points)
5. What country singer released an album in 1992 called "Joshua, Judges and Ruth" named after three books of the old Testament? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Sugar Ray Robinson; 2. Ku Klux Klan; 3. Marcel Proust; 4. Mount McKinley; 5. Lyle Lovett.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slogfest North of the Border

Was watching that game in Toronto last night like pulling teeth or what?

I was bouncing between feeds last night, as ESPN was going from game-to-game, with the Mets-Dodgers game rained out. So they showed the NESN feed of the game for about 3 innings. (The MLB package had the Jays feed. Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler aren't bad, but I'll take Don and Jerry any day.)

Once again the Sox got Josh Beckett some runs and he totally wasted it. A 5-0 lead was gone in the third, as Beckett got pounded for 6 runs. But the Jays pitching was hardly better, as Dana Eveland surrendered eight and the Sox had the lead back in the fourth, 8-6. But Beckett put the first two on, and Terry Francona pulled the plug mercifully, and brought in Scott Atchison. (Uh-oh.) Actually, he wasn't that bad, getting two outs, before a fly to left was just missed against the wall by Bill Hall, and the game was tied again.

The Sox finally jumped out to stay in the sixth, getting four to take a 13-9 lead. The best news of the night was the pitching of Manny Delcarmen, who retired all six men he faced in the sixth and seventh. But Hideki Okajima, who has been simply hideous as of late, put three men on and two of them scored in the eighth before Daniel Bard got the Sox out of the eighth with a 13-12 lead.

Jonathan Papelbon got a 1-2-3 ninth inning (thank goodness), and 4 hours and 4 minutes after it started, the Red Sox had a 13-12 win. It was brutal to sit through, but a win is a win. The Red Sox are now 9-11, and have won five of their last seven.

It was good to see that the Red Sox scored 13 runs without the benefit of a home run. Jason Varitek had four RBI, and five players had at least three hits.

My friend Adam pointed out to me last night that Josh Beckett's numbers for April 2010 are eerily similar to April 2009:

2010: 7.22 ERA, 37 H and 13 BB in 28.2 IP
2009: 7.22 ERA, 36 H and 16 BB in 28.2 IP

Well, let's hope he turns it around this year the way he did last year. And soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Monbo Time"

I thought I would alert you all to a very special project for a really special cause.

"Monbo Time" is a cool little three minute and six second ditty about the Red Sox and former pitcher Bill Monbouquette. It was performed by The Remains, a band of four Boston University students from the 1960s. The band got together and recorded that song in support of Monbo, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.

The Remains will be donating 50% of all sales of the song to the treatment of cancer and research. It is available now from, and also will be available on iTunes shortly and other online outlets. Check out the lyrics and a clip from the song here. The lyrics were penned by Fred Cantor and David Levin, based on an old Remains tune called "Time Keeps Movin' On."

Here's a nice recent article about the Remains and the song from NESN. Bill is now in remission in his fight against leukemia after a successful stem cell transplant he had over a year ago.

It really is a cool song, and well worth your support. I wish The Remains every success with the single, and Bill Monbouquette godspeed in his fight against leukemia.

"Q Are You" Marks Its April Return

This week's Special category for Trivia Night will be this month's edition of "Q Are You?", where I give you clues on a current celebrity's identity and you have to tell me who it is. It has been a good category that most folks seem to like, so we bring it back once every month.

The Q Train lightning round will be "1-10 Trivia", the category where every answer will be a number between 1 and 10 (with no repeats).

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
The Battles of Lexington and Concord marked the beginning of what war?

There wil be a Celtics playoff game on Tuesday night (I was really hoping they would have wrapped it up yesterday), but it will begin at 7 PM, so we will get going at the conclusion of the game, which should be around 9:15-9:30 PM. If it is a late start, we might just do four categories on Tuesday night, but that will all depend on our start time.

See you on Tuesday night.

Wake's Quest Takes Another Hit

Sunday wasn't Terry Francona's best afternoon managing the Red Sox bullpen.

He pulled Tim Wakefield a bit too early. Wake left with a 4-1 lead in the 7th with two outs, a man on and Nick Markakis at the plate. Tito went with Hideki Okajima and he promptly gave up an RBI double, and then Miguel Tejada banged one off the foul pole in left to tie the game at 4.

Yet another possible win for Wakefield was gone, as the pen turned into the Arson Squad again. Tim left the game tipping his hat to the crowd, as the bullpen now awaits him. (He didn't look terribly happy leaving the game, but the Sox faithful gave him a really nice ovation as he departed.) It now looks more and more like Wake will have no end of trouble reaching the Red Sox all-time win mark of 192, as he is still stuck on 175 career Red Sox wins.

A damn shame really.

BTW, Wake's first appearance out of the pen this year will mark his first relief stint since a very memorable outing: Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, where he went three innings and got the win.

The game went to the tenth inning, and as soon as I saw Scott Atchison in the game, I knew this one was heading for the "L" column. And sure enough, he loaded the bases with no outs, and Scott Schoeneweis gave up two straight singles that got Baltimore three runs. Atchison will either be DFA'd or sent down when Daisuke Matsuzaka joins the rotation.

The Red Sox scrambled for two runs in the bottom of the tenth, and had two on with two outs, but Marco Scutaro lined out to second to end it. It was just the Orioles' third win of the year and broke a ten-game losing streak. Against the worst team in baseball this past weekend, the Red Sox basically had to claw for those two wins. The O's got 16 runs against the Sox pitching staff, and they had been the lowest scoring team in the AL. Not good.

I love Terry Francona as Red Sox manager, and I despise those idiots who refer to him as "Francoma" when things he does doesn't work out. He has his bad games like the players do. This was just one of them.

Now, off to Toronto and Baltimore for six games, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will be activated for his first start of the year on Saturday in Baltimore.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Rockin' Good Saturday Night

I only caught a brief part of Saturday night's Red Sox game with the Orioles, as I went to Ian Hunter's show at The City Winery in the West Village last night. It was the first time seeing him live, and boy, can that man still rock at the age of 70!

I was in a bar/restaurant near the show with my dear friend and Mott the Hoople fanatic Joan, who arranged to get me to the show. We talked over some old times from our Tower Records days, and at one point I asked the owner of the bar if he could put on the Red Sox-Orioles game, which he was kind enough to do.

It was just in time to see Marco Scutaro blast a three-run shot into the Monster seats to make it 4-3, Red Sox. We left to go to the show but I was following the game on my cell phone, and it was 7-3 in the 8th on my next update, as I saw the Kevin Youkilis belted another three-run shot in the 7th. Finally, a comfortable win.

Hold the phone. I saw that Ramon Ramirez was in the game in the ninth (he really gives me the willies), and sure enough he gave up a homer and a double after the first out, so Jonathan Papelbon was summoned, and gave up three straight hits to make it 7-6. I started thinking that the Sox were going to totally ruin my night with Ian Hunter, as I really didn't want to keep checking my cell while the concert was going on.

As Ian and his band were concluding their first song, I saw the third out was made and the Sox held on. Papelbon struck out the final two hitters (including Ty Wigginton, who went 4-for-4 and always seems to give the Sox fits in recent years).

It was a terrific night, as the band did 23 songs over 2 1/2 hours and I had a great time.

Red Sox go for the sweep today as Tim Wakefield makes his final start before heading to the pen with Daisuke Matsuzaka returning this coming week.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Do We Have To Sweat The Orioles?

That was my pal Joe's query last night as I was at Professor Thom's watching last night's game during my friend Ruth's cancer benefit (which was a lot of fun). And the answer to Joe's question last night was "yes."

So far, we're sweating everybody this month, no matter where they are in the standings.

David Ortiz banged his first home run of the year, and Jon Lester was certainly better than his last outing, going 5 2/3 innings and didn't allow a run. He left with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, and Daniel Bard got the final out to keep the shutout intact.

But he gave up a two-run shot to Adam Jones in the seventh, and Baltimore tied it with a run on a groundout in the eighth. Despite being 2-14, teams like the Orioles scare me, as they really aren't as bad as they appear, and they will start winning games. Never take them for granted.

The Red Sox scratched out a run in the bottom of the inning on a single, two groundouts, an intentional walk, a four-pitch walk to David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre drew another walk to get the Red Sox the lead back.

Jonathan Papelbon had some drama in the ninth. He got the first two outs (one when Nick Markakis was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double) but walked the next two (one intentionally after a stolen base) before former Red Sox pariah Julio Lugo struck out swinging to end the game, 4-3.

Another nail biter the Red Sox put their fans through last night. Once again, the faithful could use a laugher and soon. John Lackey takes the ball at Fenway against the O's tonight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Six Is Not Enough

A sweep of the Texas Rangers was not meant to be on Thursday night, as Clay Buchholz pitched six solid innings, allowing just two hits.

But Texas got to him for three runs in the seventh, and the Red Sox bats were stymied all night by C.J. Wilson and the Rangers pen and the final was 3-0. Buchholz struck out ten, a career high. But the run support wasn't there last night.

Buchholz struggled in his first starts and appeared to be a candidate to move to the bullpen, with Daisuke Matsuzaka returning to Boston shortly. But the decision has been made to move Tim Wakefield to the long man role in the pen. (I would guess that would make Scott Atchison the odd man out, but we'll see what the Sox do when Dice-K is activated.)

The bullpen threw two more scoreless innings (Ramirez and Schoeneweis) last night, and was terrific in the Texas series. They look miles better since the first awful week of the season.

Terry Francona announced yesterday that Jacoby Ellsbury has four hairline fractures of his ribs, after the collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11th. (Is it me or did it take the Sox crack medical staff an awfully long time to make that diagnosis?)

The Red Sox trail the Tampa Bay Rays by six games and are at 6-10. Look on the bright side: the 2-14 Baltimore Orioles are in town for three games.

And guess what? Slappy's in the middle of controversy. Yet again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thank You, Kevin

Our old friend Kevin Millar has indeed hung up his spurs, er, spikes, and is calling it a career at age 38. KFC retires with a lifetime .274 average, 169 home runs, and 697 RBI. Nothing Hall of Fame-worthy mind you, but he will live in Red Sox glory forever for what he did the night of October 17, 2004, with the Sox in an 0-3 hole in the 2004 ALCS against the You-Know-Whos, telling anyone who would listen to him:

"Don't let us win tonight! Just don't let us win tonight!"

He began the greatest comeback in baseball postseason history (as well as sports history) by drawing a walk against the so-called greatest closer in history, and then took a seat as Dave Roberts got it moving even more dramatically.

Not bad for a guy who began his MLB career as a replacement player during the infamous, idiotic baseball strike of 1994-95.

All of us in Red Sox Nation wish you all the best, Kevin, in your new gig on the MLB Network as an analyst. We look forward to more of the goofiness that endeared you to all of us.

I posted both of these YouTube clips three weeks ago when Millar was released by the Cubs, but they are worth checking out again. The first is Kevin telling Red Sox Nation to hang tough after falling behind Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS (and he was an Oriole then!), and the other is his famous "Born In The USA" video that played on the scoreboard at Fenway during his Sox days, known as "Rally Karaoke Guy."

Thanks for the memories, Kevin. I owe you a drink if we ever meet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Youk Gets The Hero Pounding This Time

It looked like another night the Red Sox were going to piss me off yet again.

Josh Beckett gave up four runs in the first two innings, and walked five Texas Rangers on the night. Another crappy start by the Sox was under way. But the bats got going in the second, with a Mike Lowell home run.

In the third, J.D. Drew hit a ball with the bases loaded right down the right field line that landed in the first rows of seats for a grand slam to give the Red Sox the lead, 5-4.

They added another in the fourth when new Fenway cult hero Darnell McDonald hit his second homer in two nights. (For the rest of the night, the park was abuzz every time he stepped to the plate. He also drew two walks as well.) The Sox added another in the fifth, and Josh Beckett was cruising into the seventh with a 7-4 lead.

But he ran into trouble, putting the first two on, and with one out, Josh Hamilton hit a bomb into the bleachers in dead center to tie it up. Beckett went seven and gave up seven runs, and got a no-decision.

Then it became a battle of the bullpens. Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima allowed Texas only one hit for the remaining five innings, and the Texas pen was just as good, retiring 18 Red Sox in a row until the 12th. Neftali Feliz was tremendous, retiring all six he faced, and the NESN radar gun said he hit 102 MPH in striking out Kevin Youkilis.

Marco Scutaro singled with one out in the 12th. He tagged up on a deep Drew fly to center, and just made it to second. It would be a big play, as the Rangers walked Dustin Pedroia intentionally, and Youk came up and singled off the Green Monster to give the Red Sox their second straight win in their final turn at-bat.

Another win they desperately needed. These late night wins can take a toll. Can we please have a laugher soon, guys?

Vikings Get The NY Teams, Pats

The Vikings will open the 2010 season against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, September 9th at the site of last year's disappointment, the Louisiana Superdome. It is also the first NFL game of the regular season. (Have you noticed that both ESPN and NBC must have the previous year's champions in both baseball and football respectively for the very first game of the year?)

They will also play both New York teams in 2010. The Jets first at the new Meadowlands stadium (whatever it will be called, I guess after whatever corporation ponies up the most cash for the name) on October 11, a Monday night game. They play the Giants for the third straight September at the Metrodome, on December 12th.

I was very curious to see that the Vikes take on the New England Patriots on October 31st at Foxboro. It will be the only time I will call Professor Thom's hostile territory.

The Vikings open their home schedule against Miami on September 19th, and close the season on January 2nd in Detroit. (The NFL is scheduling nothing but divisional games that final week of the season. Interesting idea.) They will also have an early bye this year, in Week 4.

They will also play one other game on Monday night, against Chicago on December 20th, and one Sunday night game, October 24th in Green Bay.

Here is the complete Vikings schedule:

Wk Date Game Stadium Time (ET)

1 Sep 09 MIN @ NO Superdome 8:30 PM

2 Sep 19 MIA @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

3 Sep 26 DET @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

4 Bye
5 Oct 11 MIN @ NYJ New Meadowlands Stadium 8:30 PM

6 Oct 17 DAL @ MIN Mall of America Field 4:15 PM

7 Oct 24 MIN @ GB Lambeau Field 8:20 PM

8 Oct 31 MIN @ NE Gillette Stadium 4:15 PM

9 Nov 07 ARI @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

10 Nov 14 MIN @ CHI Soldier Field 1:00 PM

11 Nov 21 GB @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

12 Nov 28 MIN @ WAS FedEx Field 1:00 PM

13 Dec 05 BUF @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

14 Dec 12 NYG @ MIN Mall of America Field 1:00 PM

15 Dec 20 CHI @ MIN Mall of America Field 8:30 PM

16 Dec 26 MIN @ PHI Lincoln Financial Field 1:00 PM

17 Jan 02 MIN @ DET Ford Field 1:00 PM

Hallelujah: A Memorable 98th Anniversary

It sure didn't look like it would be the Red Sox night on Tuesday, which was the 98th anniversary of Fenway Park's opening in 1912.

Tim Wakefield was getting hit, giving up six runs and putting the Red Sox in a 6-1 hole by the fourth inning. The Texas Rangers ran wild on Victor Martinez, and stole nine bases on the night.

All I could think to myself was, "Can't anyone on this team pitch anymore?"

Well, after Wakefield left after 5, the pen shut Texas down and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game. Jeremy Hermida hit a home run, and in the sixth, Josh Reddick hit a ball in left that Josh Hamilton overran as he headed to the left field seats and it bounced in, and appeared to hit a fan in the head. But the umps missed it, and allowed a second run to score to make it 6-4.

It stayed that way until Darnell McDonald, just called up earlier in the day to replace Jacoby Ellsbury, who went on the DL, blasted a pitch into the Monster Seats with one on to tie it up at 6. He was the first Sox player since Orlando Cabrera in 2004 to homer in his first Red Sox at-bat. It looked like McDonald's homer might just be a footnote, as the Red Sox reverted to their usual ways by leaving the bases loaded to finish the inning.

The Red Sox had first and third and one out in the ninth and Adrian Beltre popped up to keep the runners where they were. (Oh no, not another wasted opportunity.) Jason Varitek walked to bring up that man again: McDonald. He hit a pitch that I first thought was heading into the seats, but instead Hamilton just missed catching it to give the Red Sox an extremely needed big-time win, 7-6. (I didn't mind the wild celebration in the infield, as you know I'm a critic of those inane "walkoff" things. But the Sox needed to let out the frustration. I just glad they didn't kill McDonald.)

To paraphrase Warner Wolf, who would say this whenever a struggling team won: "Hey, the Red Sox won a ballgame tonight!"

The five-game losing streak is over and now the Red Sox have to build on this to get the ship righted.

And my buddy Eric pointed out after the game that the combination of Darnell McDonald and Josh Reddick, with just one game this season between them, have 5 RBI in 5 at-bats. The combo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, in 60 at-bats, have a grand total of: 1 RBI.

And Mike Lowell pinch-hit for David Ortiz (two more strikeouts last night) in the 8th inning with a lefty in the game and walked. I have a feeling that won't be the last time we see that happen this year.

Trivia Q&A: April 20

We had 17 teams in for Trivia Night, and a nice crowd in to watch the Celtics playoff game and the Red Sox-Rangers game. We got going just after the scheduled time, and the scores in the first categories were rather strong, especially in "Lexigraphic Trivia." I guess most folks know their lexigraphy. (And the bar was hopping at the Celtics blowout win, and even more when the Sox came from behind and won.)

We had just six teams get all five points in All or Nothing Trivia, and after some good scores in General Knowledge, it was close heading into IQ Trivia. But the team of Suck It, Bjork ran the table in that round and pulled out a two-point win. It was only just the second time in our Trivia Night's history that a team who missed the first round won it all in just four rounds. Nice job to Matt and his friends.

And a tip of the cap to the team of Bob Eyjajallajokull's Law Blog for helping me pronounce that name. I was calling it "That Volcano in Iceland" until they wrote the correct pronounciation for me, and that gave everyone a good laugh. And I rewarded them by giving them the prize for Best Team Name (which was a pitcher of beer).

Current Events
1. This TV personality filed for divorce from his wife of 13 years last week, and it will be his eighth overall divorce.
2. Volcanic ash from an eruption of a volcano on this island nation disrupted air traffic across northern and western Europe this week.
3. First Lady Michelle Obama made her first overseas visit without the president last week. Name 1 of the 2 countries she visited.
4. This prestigious American newspaper was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes last week, the most any newspaper received for its work in 2009.
5. Conan O'Brien announced his return to television recently, and it will be with this network beginning this coming November.
6. This state selected "an official microbe" last week, Lactococcus Lactis, which is bacterium used to make cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack cheese.
7. Ubaldo Jimenez, a pitcher on this NL team, threw the first no-hitter in the team's history, a 4-0 whitewash over the Atlanta Braves last Saturday night.

Answers: 1. Larry King; 2. Iceland; 3. Haiti and Mexico; 4. Washington Post; 5. TBS; 6. Wisconsin; 7. Colorado Rockies.

Lexigraphic Trivia
1. At Symbol
2. Caret
3. Asterisk
4. Pound Key
5. Ampersand
6. Semi Colon
7. Tilde
8. Copyright Symbol
9. Backslash
10. Elipses

Answers: 1. @; 2. ^; 3. *; 4. #; 5. &; 6. ;; 7. ~; 8. (c inside of a circle); 9. \; 10. ...

All or Nothing Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. This is the largest continent in the world in area.
2. CNN was launched in 1980 by what man?
3. What is America's longest river?
4. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in 1863 in what state?
5. The Hundred Years War was actually more than 100 years long. True or false?
6. What state is known as the Hoosier state?
7. What Shakespeare play begins with the line, "Who's there?"
8. Gingivitis affects what part of the body?
9. The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in what state?
10. Adam West portrayed what superhero on TV in the 1960s?

Answers: 1. Asia; 2. Ted Turner; 3. Mississippi; 4. Pennsylvania; 5. true (116 years); 6. Indiana; 7. "Hamlet;" 8. gums; 9. New York; 10. Batman.

General Knowledge
1. In which century did George Washington begin his first term as president? ( 1 pt)
2. How man US states contain the word "new" in them? ( 1 pt)
3. What one-time Michigan-based record label recently celebrated its 50th anniversary? ( 1 pt)
4. Name 1 of Canada's 2 national sports. ( 2 pt)
5. What current US state is the site of the only World War II land battle fought on US soil? ( 2 pt)
6. "Meerschaum" and "corncob" are two popular types of what? ( 2 pt)
7. A framboise beer is fermented using what kind of fruit? ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1. 18th century; 2. four (NY, NJ, NM, NH); 3. Motown; 4. hockey and lacrosse; 5. Alaska; 6. pipes; 7. raspberry.

IQ Trivia
1. Which US state was its own republic from 1777-1791? ( 3 points)
2. The Hemlock Society, an American right-to-die organization, took its name to honor what philosopher? ( 5 points)
3. What comedian did rocker Iggy Pop phone in 1968, seeking approval for his band's new name? ( 4 points)
4. Who's last book, "Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium" was a posthumous bestseller in 1997? ( 4 points)
5. Who was the only filmmaker to win two Best Director Oscars during the 1980s? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Vermont; 2. Socrates; 3. Moe Howard; 4. Carl Sagan; 5. Oliver Stone.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cameron to the DL; Ellsbury Next?

The Red Sox received some bad news as far as Mike Cameron's health goes. Turns out he has a hernia, this diagnosis coming after he passed kidney stones last Friday. He's now been put on the disabled list, and may very well be there longer than just 15 days.

He has an abdominal tear, and the Sox are not sure if he'll need surgery for it yet. Josh Reddick was called up today to replace him on the roster. Here's more from Amalie Benjamin.

Jacoby Ellsbury will test his sore ribs today, and the Red Sox will make a determination on whether or not to put him on the DL retroactive to April 11th, the day he collided with Adrian Beltre and suffered the injury.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hole Deepens

An embarrassing four games against the Tampa Bay Rays concluded with the Red Sox get whacked again, 8-2, before a sellout crowd on Patriot's Day, ending a six-game winning streak they had on this holiday.

Once again, the Sox couldn't get a hit with men in scoring position, and John Lackey got raked over the coals, as he surrendered all eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.

They are 4-9, and now 6 games back of the Rays in fourth place. They've lost five straight.

On Patriot's Day, April 19th.


How embarrassing was this weekend? The Red Sox never had a lead in the series, and after blowing that bases loaded opportunity in the first game on Saturday night, I had a feeling this would be a weekend to forget. (The last time the Red Sox led in any game was the win in Minnesota last Wednesday.) The last three games were blowouts. (Despite the 6-5 score in Game 2, Tampa Bay was comfortably ahead most of the way.)

The Red Sox are now an absymal 0-for-their-last-32 with runners in scoring position.

One thing is for certain: the Sox won't win with Bill Hall playing center field. (Pictured, as B.J. Upton hits a three run home run in the third.) He finally got his first hit of the year, and now he needs just one more to match his error total for 2010.

In the words of Dustin Pedroia (from Amalie Benjamin) after the sweep:
When you don't show up to play, you're going to get beat. Doesn't matter if you play the Rays or [bleepin'] Brookline High School.

Damn straight.

So, is this an aberration, or a portend of things to come?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Gagne's Back!

No, not really. This was actor Jonah Hill throwing out the first ball at Fenway on Sunday. (BTW, is he available to pitch? After what I've seen the last three days, he couldn't be any worse.)

Sorry if I frightened any of you with that title.

With thanks to Sully Baseball for the photo.

On the subject of The Ring Thief, he officially retired yesterday after not making it back with the Dodgers this spring.

Know Your QWERTY

We have an unusual Special Category this week for Tuesday Night Trivia. We will have "Lexigraphic Trivia" and that will be ten symbols of the English language you will have to identify when I give you their names. This should be an interesting category to see how well it goes.

The Q Train lightning round will be "All or Nothing Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What one-time Michigan-based record label recently celebrated its' 50th anniversary?

There will be a Celtics playoff game on Tuesday night at 8 PM, but we are planning to start Trivia Night at the regularly scheduled time of 9 PM. So I hope to see many of you on Tuesday.

Hauls of Shame

A new book is coming out shortly called "Hauls of Shame." It deals with the fraud and corruption in the baseball memorabilia business, especially those very rare items that were stolen from the libraries in Boston and New York, and from the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

And a new web site of the same name has been created, that focuses on those stolen items, the FBI's investigations, and many other things connected to the seedier side of the collectibles business in baseball. The site and book are by Pete Nash, who has been front and center in bringing the fraud to the public's attention.

It's definitely worth your time to check out the site:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In Plain, Easy-to-Understand Language

The Boston Red Sox look like shit right now.

Sorry. No other way to state it now.

They aren't hitting, they aren't pitching. They aren't catching the ball well. And dropping home games to one of your division rivals isn't helping matters any, and it doesn't matter what the calendar says. They are now 1-5 at home against New York and Tampa Bay.

I'm not going to sum up the latest disastrous team performance on Sunday, other than I thought last Thursday afternoon in Minnesota was bad, but what they did today was in front of their home fans who paid good money to witness it.

The Rays are hungry, no doubt about it. And they are showing why many think they are a playoff team this weekend. They pitch, hit and run very well.

The Red Sox look old, slow, lethargic. Almost like a team playing out the string in late September. They can't buy a hit when it matters. They are digging themselves an early season hole they may have a lot of trouble climbing out of.

Sorry if I sound like one of those fans who thinks the sky is falling, but seeing another embarrassing performance on Sunday really makes me question this team right now. And I don't care if there's 150 games still to play. I pray that the first dozen games are not a portend of things to come. Can the Red Sox turn this around? Of course they can. (They have gotten off to slow starts the last decade, and made the playoffs. So it's far from done.)

It just feels like it's getting late. In the middle of April.

Waste is a Terrible Thing to Mind

Waste, waste, waste.

The Red Sox really seem to know how to do that well. On an awful night in Boston not really fit for man nor beast, they had a golden opportunity to win the completion of the suspended game in the 11th, as they loaded the bases with no outs. (I saw Manny Delcarmen warming for a possible 12th inning, so I thought they BETTER win it here.)

But David Ortiz was coming up. And the bad feelings hit me. Come on, Papi, just a fly ball. Instead, he hit a bouncer to first and a force at home. Then Adrian Beltre grounds into a DP to send it to the 12th. (Extra Bases noted tonight that since Opening Night, the Red Sox have gone 12-for-81 with runners in scoring position, a pitiful .148 average, and they are averaging 3.8 runs per game. They are also winless at home since that night. Yikes.)

The End looms.

MDC gives up a two-run blast to Pat Burrell, a DH who hasn't been hitting his hat size. (Sound familiar?) Say it plain and simple: Delcarmen is a stiff, and maybe playing on another team soon.

It was an historic night, as Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a no-hitter in Atlanta and the Mets won a 20-inning marathon in St. Louis. But the Red Sox were determined to make my life miserable.

Game 2. Mike Cameron muffs a routine fly to center in the first inning that leads to four unearned runs against Clay Buchholz. Should have been a third out and no runs scoring. They also allowed another unearned run on Marco Scutaro's error. (So where exactly is this World's Greatest Defense we've been assured this team has?) Granted the weather was awful, but the Rays played in it too, and didn't make any miscues.

They looked like Dead Team Walking until a pair of two-run shots in the seventh by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis made it 6-5, Tampa Bay. But the Red Sox went back to their wasteful ways by getting two men on in the eighth with one out and left them there. They went 1-2-3 in the ninth to conclude it.

End of a truly decrepit night at the Fens. The Sox are 4-7. And the Nation is grumbling.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Red Sox By The Numbers"

If you are a Red Sox fan who enjoys knowing who wore what number and when, then the book for you is "Red Sox By The Numbers."

The Sox have been wearing uniform numbers since 1931 (so the answer to the question, "What number did Babe Ruth wear with the Red Sox?" is "none.") and the book covers each man who wore a number, and the chapters breaks down by every number.

The book is written by Bill Nowlin and Matthew Silverman. I've had the pleasure of meeting Bill at Fenway Park last year, and he has written many terrific books about the team. 17 to be exact. (He is also a founder of Rounder Records, the great roots label.) Matthew Silverman also wrote the book "Mets By The Numbers."

The research for the book was very thorough, as the authors used many resources to get even the most obscure Red Sox players nailed down. Each chapter has a a section called "the most obscure Red Sox player" to wear that particular number.

The book also has a lot of good humor, and it also lists every player to wear that number, including managers and coaches. And it will have many facts you've probably never known. Such as: "Who were Johnny Peacock and Lou Finney?" They were the two players who wore number 9 in 1944 while Ted Williams was away in World War II. (I'm still amazed the Sox gave away the numbers for players, especially Ted, who away fighting in the war.) Or: "Who wore number 8 before Carl Yastrzemski?" That would be the immortal Ed Sadowski. (Yep, him.)

There's an interesting interview with Joe Cochran, the clubhouse man who gives out the Red Sox numbers. And the authors also chatted with every player from the 2009 Sox about why they wear the numbers they do.

The Sox have issued 74 numbers to over 1,500 players. And just about all of them are covered. Bill Nowlin and Matthew Silverman have done a tremendous job bringing even the most obscure Red Sox players some fame in a very interesting book. (It is currently available. Click the following link to go to

I highly recommend "Red Sox By The Numbers." I also enjoyed the first line from the press release the publishing company, Skyhorse Publishing, who sent me with the book: "If you hate the Yankees and your favorite number is 2004, then this book is for you!"

It sure was for me.


When I was a kid playing punchball and stickball in Brooklyn, we'd play for hours on end, until our parents would call us in for dinner. When we had to stop in the middle of a game, someone would call out, "continuation." We'd get together again and pick it up from where we left off.

It was Mother Nature who called out "continuation" at Fenway Park last night, as the rain came down and wouldn't let up. By the ninth inning the tarp rolled out as the game was tied 1-1, and you knew they wouldn't get it going again.

So they will pick up from where they left off at 7 PM tonight in the bottom of the ninth.

The game really should have ended with a Red Sox win. Red Sox fans now know the name of third base coach Tim Bogar, because for whatever reason, he sent in Kevin Youkilis all the way from first on David Ortiz' double in the fifth with nobody out, and the Rays gunned him down. And naturally, the Red Sox didn't score in that inning.

Their only run of the night was an opposite field home run by Jason Varitek.

Josh Beckett was terrific and deserved a win. He went seven strong innings, struck out eight and was victimized by some shoddy defense that allowed Tampa Bay's only run. A Marco Scutaro error and Adrian Beltre losing a chopper in the lights (you don't see that every night) got them their run in the third.

Last night's suspended game was the first one for the Red Sox since 1996, and the first ever for Tampa Bay. They will try to finish the game tonight before the regularly scheduled one, but the forecast is for even more rain.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lots of Pain

Physical for Mike Cameron (possible kidney stone), and Jacoby Ellsbury (rib injury); and for David Ortiz (being sued by rapper Jay-Z). The Red Sox may have to make a roster move today, and either Ellsbury or Cameron might be looking at a trip to the DL.

At least Daisuke Matsuzaka is making progress at AAA.

Congratulations to former Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills on his first win as a manager with the Houston Astros. Glad to see a good baseball man like him get his shot as a manager. They are now 1-8. Good luck, Brad.

Josh Beckett vs. Wade Davis at 7:05 PM. Hopefully the weather holds at Fenway.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Think Positive: It Was a 3-3 Road Trip

Well, the best thing that can be said for Thursday afternoon's matinee was that it won't be a game you'll look back on and say the Red Sox should have won.

The Sox threatened in the first two innings against Francisco Liriano and came away with nothing. I had a feeling it was going to be a long day. (Actually the game finished in a little more than 2 1/2 hours.)

Tim Wakefield looked pretty decent for the first four innings before the wheels fell off in the fifth and he allowed three runs, and it was 4-0 Twins.

Red Sox didn't hit, didn't pitch well, and looked sloppy in the field. (Why does Victor Martinez insist on throwing down to second base to try and nail a runner when there is a fast man on third who then practically walked in and scored? He's now done that twice this year.)

A garbage can game for sure, an uninspiring 8-0 loss. Move on. Bring on the Rays.

An Odd Coincidence

I heard last night that Pete Steele, the lead singer of the bands Type O Negative and Carnivore, died of heart failure at the age of 48.

I can't say I ever really been a fan of the bands, or goth rock or hardcore in general. But I was shocked to see he was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 4, 1962.

That's because I was born on the same day in the same place.

My sister remembers he lived in my neighborhood years ago, and that drove a crazy-looking purple and black car. I think would have remembered that, and the fact that he was 6'7'' as well.

No, I can't recall Pete Steele and I meeting. But it would have been something if he and I had crossed paths. We definitely had something in common.

He also once turned up on "The Jerry Springer Show" back in the mid-1990s on a show about groupies:

I close this post with a quote from Mr. Steele from his Wikipedia page, on his recent return to his Roman Catholic roots:

There are no atheists in foxholes, they say, and I was a foxhole atheist for a long time. But after going through a midlife crisis and having many things change very quickly, it made me realize my mortality. And when you start to think about death, you start to think about what’s after it. And then you start hoping there is a God. For me, it’s a frightening thought to go nowhere. I also can’t believe that people like Stalin and Hitler are gonna go to the same place as Mother Teresa.”

My sympathies to his family, friends and fans.

Park Talks About The Runs (And It Has Nothing To Do With His ERA)

This is destined to be a YouTube classic, courtesy of Chan Ho Park:

Brought back memories of Eddie Lee "Trots" Whitson, who once begged out of a game at the Toilet (pun intended) years ago because of some tummy trouble.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Sox Win Outdoors in MN in 29 Years

John Lackey went six solid innings, allowing just two runs in getting his first win in a Red Sox uniform, as the Sox rolled, 6-3. It was their first outdoor win in the state of Minnesota since 1981.

Jeremy Hermida had the key hit, a three-run double with two outs in the eighth that put the game away at 6-2. (Daniel Bard gave up a homer to Michael Cuddyer leading off the bottom of the eighth.) Jonathan Papelbon walked two in the ninth and made it interesting, but got his third save.

Dustin Pedroia belted his fourth home run of the year. Permit me a rant here, if you don't mind. As Pedroia was running around the bases, the knucklehead fan who caught it threw it back on the field, to the brief applause of the Twins faithful.

Do any of these fans have any sense of history? It was just the second home run hit at the new Target Field, and the first opposition blast. I know it's become chic to throw back when an enemy hits one out (thankfully, you can't do that at Fenway, as you will be ejected from America's Most Beloved Ballpark if you do it). It was also the first opposition one hit. I'm not thinking about money here, but it is something you can show to the grandkids one day: "I caught the second home run hit at Target Field. Here's the ball." No, that guys would rather get some cheap applause that lasted just fleeting seconds. You can thank those Cubs fans for starting that moronic trend.

It also reminds me of that fan who threw back Grady Sizemore's grand slam at the opener of the new Yankee Stadium last year. First granny at the new joint and the guy didn't want it. Dumbass.

I've been going to games for over 40 years, and I've never gotten a ball, fair or foul. Before I die, I want one, and it won't matter who hits it.

Rant over. Thank you for your indulgence.

The Red Sox are now 4-4, and complete their series and road trip Thursday at Target Field, with Tim Wakefield and his dancing knucklers taking center stage.

Big Man With A Heart of Gold

David Ortiz may have gotten off to a rough start this season, and let off steam recently to an assemblage of sportswriters with lots of colorful language.

But despite the pressure on him to produce, he is still a gentle soul, as this story sent in by a Red Sox fan to writer Pete Abraham can attest to. The fan met Papi in Kansas City after a game with his young daughter.

It's definitely worth reading, from the Extra Bases Blog.

And interesting take on Papi's early season struggles, from Alex Speier.

Trivia Q&A: April 13

We had a big crowd in for Trivia on Tuesday night, and 18 teams took part. The crowds are definitely increasing as the weather gets better, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come. (Nice to see my old friend Keith and a few of his pals in last night. The rotating phone numbers as the team name was really funny.)

The scores for the night overall were rather good. Our second edition of "Q Tip Trivia" went really well. I had to explain the rules many times, but I think overall the players enjoyed the category. It is now a rotating category that will be back in May. We actually had a small controversy in the category, too. It was pointed out to me that the Bee Gees had recorded "If I Can't Have You," which they turned over to Yvonne Elliman to sing on "Saturday Night Fever." We originally had them as no, but made the change when one of our regulars had the song on his iPod.

It was a close night all night, and it was exceptionally close going into IQ Trivia, with three teams tied for second, all one point behind the leaders. But the team in first, The Death Panelists, got 4 of 5 correct to hold one for a one point victory. It was their first time taking part in Tuesday Night Trivia, and congratulations to them on their win.

Current Events
1. Malcolm McLaren, the famous English impresario who founded and managed this legendary English punk band of the 1970s, died last week at the age of 64.
2. This former presidential candidate was chosen by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in a vote last Saturday as their favorite for the 2012 presidential election and won by a single vote.
3. British Airways merged with this European-based airline last week to create the third largest airline in the world by revenue.
4. Dixie Carter, an Emmy-nominated actress best known for her role on this 1980s/90s CBS series, died last week at the age of 70.
5. This golfer won The Masters at Augusta this past Sunday, his third Masters title and fourth majors title of his career.
6. The former home of this NFL team was imploded this past Sunday, and the fans held tailgate parties near the stadium to mark the event.
7. Actor Dick Van Dyke did some rapping on the latest online album, a children's album, with Chad Smith, the drummer from this rock band.

Answers: 1. The Sex Pistols; 2. Mitt Romney; 3. Iberia; 4. "Designing Women;" 5. Phil Mickelson; 6. Dallas Cowboys; 7. Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Pop Music Q Tip Trivia
1. Which of the following one-initialed 80s singers had a Billboard #1 single? a. Stevie B; b. Heavy D; c. Sheila E; d. Kenny G.
2. Which of the following are brothers of Michael Jackson? a. Brandon; b. Randy; c. Rebbie; d. Marcus.
3. Which of the following were original names that became The Beatles? a. The Quarrymen; b. The Crickets; c. Johnny and the Moondogs; d. The Silver Beatles.
4. Which of the following musical acts appeared at Woodstock? a. Neil Diamond; b. The Who; c. Sha Na Na; d. Sly and The Family Stone.
5. Which of the following are rap songs from '80s? a. Roxanne, Roxanne; b. Roxanne's Revenge; c. Roxanne's Doctor; d. The Parents of Roxanne.
6. Which of the following songs were recorded by The Bee Gees? a. To Love Somebody; b. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing; c. New York Mining Disaster 1941; d. If I Can't Have You.
7. Which of the following artists sang on the original "We Are The World" single? a. Chevy Chase; b. Bonnie Raitt; c. Peter Wolf; d. Diana Ross.

Answers: 1. none; 2. a, b; 3. a,c,d; 4. b,c,d; 5. all; 6. a,c,d; 7. d.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Leonardo daVinci's "Mona Lisa" painting has no eyebrows or eyelashes.
2. If a cockroach's head has been cut off, it can still live for about a week.
3. Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, was beheaded on charges of witchcraft.
4. A toilet seat has more germs than a car steering wheel.
5. Lansing is the capital of Michigan.
6. Sapphire is the birthstone for September.
7. The actor George Burns lived to the age of 100.
8. St. Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, was actually born in Ireland.
9. The Lumbar Curve is located in the leg of the human body.
10. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, adultery; 4. false; 5. true; 6. true; 7. true; 8. false, Britain; 9. false, back; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. What planet is called Earth's "sister planet?" ( 1 pt)
2. In which state is the NCAA basketball runners-up, Butler University, located? ( 1 pt)
3. Which word, placed at the end of each of these words describes a popular game: duck, candle, five, ten? ( 1 pt)
4. The island nation of Mauritius can be found in what ocean? ( 2 pt)
5. Pleurisy is a disease that affects what organ in the body? ( 2 pt)
6. Who wrote the opera "Don Giovanni?" ( 2 pt)
7. In the game of billiards, what color is the number 5 ball? ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1. Venus; 2. Indiana; 3. pin; 4. Indian Ocean; 5. lungs; 6. W.A. Mozart; 7. orange.

IQ Trivia
1. The Luzon Strait separates The Philippines from what other nation? ( 4 points)
2. What two airlines flew the Concorde from 1976-2003? ( 4 points)
3. Divers can get the bends due to bubbles from what type of gas? ( 3 points)
4. Who was the first US president who was born an American citizen and the only president whose second language was English? ( 4 points)
5. The Leatherstocking Tales were a series of novels by what 19th century author? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Taiwan; 2. British Airways and Air France; 3. nitrogen; 4. Martin Van Buren; 5. James Fenimore Cooper.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Couldn't Spoil The Party

The Minnesota Twins opened their brand new stadium yesterday, Target Field, and it looks like a beauty. (Hey, Minneapolis, can we get the Vikings a new ballpark, too? That's a discussion for another time.) And they celebrated it with a 5-2 win over the Red Sox. (It was also the first time the Red Sox opened any brand new ballpark since 1923, when they opened Toilet Bowl Uno.)

Jon Lester gave another subpar performance, and looked like the young rookie who always seemed to give the Sox a 5 inning, 100-pitch game. And yesterday it was 107 in five innings. He gave up two in the first and left the bases loaded, and gave up four of the five runs. He simply had no command, and seemed to go to three balls on most hitters.

The Red Sox could manage only one run off Carl Pavano in the six innings he pitched. Back-to-back doubles by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz in the fourth inning put the Sox on the board. But it was another forgettable day for Papi, as he struck out two more times.

Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly in the eighth accounted for the other Red Sox run.

Jacoby Ellsbury sat out with the rib injury. He is questionable for tomorrow's afternoon game, and may even sit out the entire series. Jeremy Hermida played left field yesterday in his place.

CHB Tosses Papi Under The Bus. What a Shock.

Dan Shaughnessy thinks that David Ortiz is the biggest problem with the Red Sox. My friend Adam thinks otherwise, and sent me a very good analysis last night of the first week of Sox games so far:

No surprise here, I tend to disagree with CHB. Ortiz is hardly the Sox' biggest problem right now.

Looking at this team, the biggest problem is the bullpen. The Sox seemingly have little depth in their pen. I don't care whether or not Paps is as good as Rivera because the closer role is overrated. Having a dominant 60-70 IP is pretty meaningless unless the rest of the pen--the pitchers who throw the other 350+ relief innings--are good at their jobs.

Papelbon is a very good relief pitcher. Bard has a great arm. Oki is a good, not great, reliever. After that, the Sox have lots of questions. MDC's velocity is down. If he can return to his 2007/2008 form, the Sox are in good shape because MDC is a righty who is very tough on left-handed hitters. The bottom three pitchers in the pen--Ramirez, Atchison, and Schoeneweis--are nothing special. Even worse, Boston's pen lacks pitchers capable of consistently throwing multiple innings. This is very important. The MFY have at least three long relievers: Aceves, Mitre, and Park.

The lack of length and depth in the Sox' bullpen will have to be addressed. If it isn't, Sox fans better hope the starters go deep in games on a regular basis and/or the offense pounds other teams. Unless the Sox' pen improves or the FO makes a move, there will be a lot of pressure on the starters and the offense.

But, let's get back to CHB, a writer who has a singular inability to analyze baseball. While Shaughnessy has a rudimentary understanding of the game, he is very good at tearing down star players and making dire predictions. (Remember when Beckett wouldn't be re-signed?) The Sox have played 7 games and the season is 8 days old. While it's true Ortiz has struggled so far (.436 OPS), he isn't the only one. JD Drew (.536 OPS) and VMart (.650 OPS) haven't done much offensively so far. One could argue that both of these players are more important to the Sox' offense than Ortiz.

I'd prefer that the Sox started the season 7-0 and that the pitching and offense were flawless. Still, it's way too early to panic. CHB disagrees:

For starters, let's dismiss the notion that it's unfair to question Ortiz' place in the lineup after only one week. This is not a five-game sample, folks. It's a three-year trend.

By a "three-year trend," I'm assuming CHB really means the last two seasons and the first week of this season because Ortiz's best year was 2007. Considering the fact that Ortiz was hurt in 2008 and started slowly in 2009 because of the injury, panicking after Papi's bad first 6 games is dumb. In 2008, despite a wrist injury, Ortiz hit .264 AVG/.369 OBP/.507 SLG (.877 OPS) in 109 games. Ortiz hit .264 AVG/.356 OBP/.548 SLG (.904 OPS) in 104 games after June 1st last year. Anyone see a trend?

According to CHB, the Ortiz problem, coupled with the loss of Bay and Francona's loyalty to his veteran players is a huge problem for the Sox. CHB notes: "Tito stayed with Mike Timlin and Jason Varitek long after they stopped contributing and it's not going to be easy to tell Ortiz to sit." This is just stupid.

First, Timlin's results were good in 2007. He wasn't good in 2008. However, he was OK from July 5th to August 29th, a 17-game stretch where he gave up 6 ER in 20 IP (2.70 ERA). A review of the game logs indicates that Timlin was only used in two non-garbage-time situations. Both times he pitched well, earning a win in a 12-inning game and pitching a scoreless 8th inning in a 2-1 loss. Timlin only appeared in 6 games after August 29, 2008, mostly in low-leverage situations. And he only pitched 2.2 post-season innings. By the end of the season Mike Timlin was the 6th option out of the pen, after MDC, Paps, Oki, J-Lo, and Masterson. Does CHB even watch the games?

As for Tek, I have been very critical of the decision to keep him around. But that's Theo's fault, not Tito's. Francona's other options at catcher since 2006, when Tek started sucking, were Mirabelli, the other Javy Lopez, Kevin Cash, and George Kottaras. Is it any wonder why Tek got lots of playing time? Someone should explain to CHB the difference between a manager's job and that of a GM. Once the Sox obtained VMart, Tek's days as a starter were over.

Finally, and just for the sake of argument, let's look at Jason Bay so far this year. In his first 6 games for the Mets, he has hit .261 AVG/.370 OBP/.391 SLG (.762 OPS). Those aren't exactly stellar numbers, especially when you consider the fact that Bay has 0 HR and 2 fewer RBI (a stat that CHB thinks is important) than David Ortiz.

"I don't want David looking over his shoulder a game and a half into the season,'' the manager said after Ortiz's outburst with the media during the Yankee series. "I want him to walk up there and feel comfortable ... He's done a lot of good things here and I think he thinks some people bailed on him last year. Being reactionary isn't my job.''

It's strange that CHB uses this quote from Tito because the Sox' manager is 100% right. CHB disagrees:

It's time to react. Mike Lowell and Jeremy Hermida are on the Boston bench, waiting for a chance to hit.

Since CHB bases his decisions on small sample sizes and Hermida has been better than Ortiz so far this season, let's compare the two players since the beginning of the 2008 season:

Hermida – .255 AVG/.335 OBP/.403 SLG (.738 OPS) 30.16 AB/HR
Ortiz – .248 AVG/.346 OBP/.478 SLG (.824 OPS) 19.04 AB/HR

Hermida isn't better. Also, playing Hermida at DH weakens the Sox' OF depth. If there's an in-game injury, Hall would have to play the OF. If Hermida move from DH to OF, the pitcher would have to hit. The Lowell argument has some merit, when you consider how well he hits left-handed pitching. So a platoon situation may be necessary in the future. But it's way too early to sit Ortiz--especially since the stats show that Ortiz has been a far better hitter than Mike Lowell over long stretches of 2008 and 2009. Even if a Lowell/Ortiz platoon becomes necessary, Papi will get the bulk of the playing time.

As usual, CHB offers little in the way of analysis. This is his usual knee-jerk bullshit. CHB lives to trash Boston icons. Ortiz isn't a "big" problem. If he sucks, he'll be replaced. Ortiz's contract ends after this season.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hot and Cold

Hot. That describes Dustin Pedroia, who hit his third home run of the young season, and in the exact same fashion: an inside fastball that he hit down the left field line. He went 4-for-5 in the Red Sox' 8-6 win over Kansas City yesterday.

Another big day for Victor Martinez, who had two hits, drove in a run and scored one. Jeremy Hermida has his second straight start (in place of J. D. Drew) and had a two-run single in the first, when the Sox put up four runs.

It was a mediocre start for Clay Buchholz, who labored through five innings, allowing three runs. The bullpen was good with the exception of Ramon Ramirez, who faced three batters in the eighth and they all scored, on a three-run shot by Jose Guillen. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save. The Red Sox are now 3-3 in 2010.

Cold. That describes David Ortiz, who struck out four times (and walked) in five at-bats yesterday. He is now 2-for-18 and 9 Ks in this first week. He was called out looking twice yesterday, but both were dubious calls.

Jacoby Ellsbury collided with Adrian Beltre going after a foul ball in the ninth and left the game with bruised ribs. He will probably sit out today's game in Minnesota and will get another day off on Tuesday, as the Sox and Twins have a day off, with both teams opening Target Field today at 4 PM. Jon Lester and former Yankeeography star Carl Pavano take the mound.

The Q Tip Returns

This Tuesday night, we will have another round of "Q Tip Trivia." That is the one where you will be given seven questions, and you have to decide which of the four choices of answers is correct. It could be one, two, three, four or none correct. You will get a point for each correct answer, but if you give any incorrect answers, it will negate all right answers and you'll get no points for the question. This time it will be "Pop Music Q Tip Trivia," seven questions about the wonderful world of pop music. We had a good response to the inaugural "Q Tip Trivia" last month, and hopefully for this one, too.

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

The Sneak Peek for this week is:
What planet is called Earth's "sister planet?"

We will get rolling at 9 PM, and I again thank all of you who turned out last Thursday for that special night of Trivia. See you all on Tuesday night.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Whole Lotta Dong Going On

The Red Sox pulled out the whoopin' sticks last night, and on a night when three of the regulars were sitting. And one of the "irregulars" banged out two of the five hit last night: Jason Varitek.

It was Tek's first start, the day before his 38th birthday, catching Josh Beckett. On his second at-bat, he took Zach Greinke (yes, the Cy Young winner last year) deep on a curve ball, after Greinke had left a hanger to Jeremy Hermida (his first start, too), who hit a bomb to right for his first Red Sox home run.

Kansas City opened the game with a run off Beckett in the first, and the Sox started hitting homers in the fourth. They added two more in the seventh, and Kevin Youkilis hitting the third solo shot of the game in the eighth. The Royals answered back with two in the seventh, with one that really shouldn't have scored. (And a single that nearly took Beckett's head off.) Home plate ump Gary Darling, who has a strike zone the size of a postage stamp, squeezed Beckett on a called third strike that should have ended the inning. Both pitchers were being squeezed last night, and Darling is Example #1 of why baseball games take so long. (Are you listening Joe West?)

Varitek and Dustin Pedroia iced the game in the ninth with two more homers to make it an 8-3 final. Beckett went seven, allowed three runs and struck out four in getting his first win of the year.

Clay Buchholz takes the hill for the first time this season to close the series in Kansas City today.