Saturday, July 31, 2010

Addition By Subtraction

The Red Sox didn't make any big time moves by the trading deadline, but they did trade disappointing reliever Ramon Ramirez to the San Francisco Giants, and swung a deal for Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Sox sent minor leaguers 1B Chris McGuiness, RHP Roman Mendez, a player to be named later and cash considerations to the Rangers for the catcher.

The Jeremy Hermida Era in Boston is over as well, as he was designated for assignment, and promising rookie Ryan Kalish was brought up from Pawtucket and is playing in today's game. Dustin Richardson was also brought up from AAA to take Ramirez' spot in the bullpen.

The Red Sox also said that young pitcher Felix Doubront has been moved from starter to the bullpen at Pawtucket, so he figures to be back in Boston at some point this season in the Red Sox pen.

Still Judas?

The Detroit Tigers are at Fenway Park for the first time in 2010, and that also means it is the first time that Johnny Damon will be at Fenway since he abandoned the pinstripes last winter.

He didn't play in last night's game with lefty Jon Lester going. With Daisuke Matsuzaka going this afternoon, you figure he will be in the lineup today. (UPDATE: No Damon today, as apparently he's been suffering from back spasms. Hmm.)

The reaction he will get should be interesting.

Much has been written about it, and I guess every Red Sox fan has opinion about it. So here's mine.

Even after he left in a rather deplorable way in late 2005 as a free agent, Damon's gotten it from the Fenway Faithful. "Judas" became his new nickname. Fans were really pissed off at him and his mouthpiece, Scott "Dr. Evil" Boras. I was especially miffed after Damon said in May 2005 that he's never go to New York. But he's a business man as well as a ballplayer (remember, the Sox got him as a free agent in 2002), and he went for the big money in New York. So be it.

But I've always felt that when the pinstripes were eventually shed, the raging hatred at Damon would start to wear thin. After all, he had one of the biggest hits in Red Sox history (the grand slam off Javier Vazquez in the 2004 ALCS Game 7), and was part of a history-making group that got the Sox and their fans to the Promised Land for the first time in our memories.

Despite the acrimony over his departure, he was always a good sort who was well-liked by the fans here. The difference between him and Roger Clemens, for example, is stark. Clemens was just a me-first guy who burned all his bridges on his departure in 1996. He had little use for the fans when he went to Toronto, and even bad-mouthed them after the Sox won it all in 2004. (I'll never forget the standing ovation he got at Fenway in 2003 when everyone thought he was retiring. It sickened me.) Red Sox management tried their best to get him back in the good graces of the fans in 2007, but he rejected it and went back to NY for their desperation big bucks instead (and thankfully, he did).

Anyway, the point is is that Clemens will never be back in the good graces of Red Sox fans. Ever. He is a pariah, a man without a team. I don't what will happen with Damon today, but I don't think you'll see either a lot of hate or love directed his way. I think Sox fans have gone past his Yankee years, and as time goes by, he will be appreciated more for his role in the 2004 World Series Champions.

And after he leaves the game, I still think that Damon will give an interview to someone and he will say: "Leaving Boston was the biggest mistake I ever made."

We'll see.

As The Deadline Nears

I missed most of last night's Red Sox game, as I've had a sudden surge in background acting parts, with the new TV season coming shortly. I got back just in time to see the Detroit Tigers score twice against Tim Wakefield, and it was 6-1 in the 8th and it looked like a loss was a certainty.

Jon Lester just didn't have it on Friday night, as he allowed four runs on eleven hits in six innings. He gave up two home runs to Jhonny Peralta, who Detroit had just gotten in a trade with Cleveland (figures).

But at least the Red Sox went down with a fight. Jose Valverde walked the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, and David Ortiz hit a line drive grand slam into the right field seats down the line and it was 6-5. Adrian Beltre doubled and J.D. Drew was walked intentionally to bring up Mike Cameron with two outs.

But Cameron got caught looking at a third strike and it was over. A great comeback was not to be, and with Tampa Bay beating New York, the Sox could gain no ground, and are now 6 1/2 back of Tampa Bay for the Wild Card, and 7 1/2 behind New York.

Game 2 of the series takes place at 4:10 PM today, with Daisuke Matsuzaka taking on Max Scherzer. It starts 10 minutes after the trading deadline happens. What will the Red Sox do? I really think they will make a move or two, but there are no strong rumors happening even right now (it is 1:05 PM as I write this).

Sit tight, folks.

The Sox can still swing deals in August, through the waiver wire. A bit tougher to do, but they got both Alex Gonzalez and Billy Wagner that way last year. So if it passes with nothing significant, it's not the end of the world.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get On Your Bikes and Ride, Against Cancer

I thought I would bring to your attention a very special cause worth supporting.

My cousin Sue has a good friend named Dr. Ramon Franco, a surgeon who is riding in this year's Pan-Mass Challenge. The Pan Mass Challenge is a yearly bike race in Massachusetts where the contestants ride to fight cancer. It takes place over two days, and covers over 200 miles in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 30 years, over $270 million has been raised in the fight, and this year's goal is $31 million. 5,200 will be riding in this year's race, which takes place August 7th and 8th.

Ramon will be riding for children with cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital and The Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary. He rides with a team called ROAR (Reindeer On a Ride). All donations are tax-deductible. If you'd like to support him, or anyone else in the 2010 Pan-Mass Challenge, please go here.

I wish Dr. Franco and his friends at ROAR (which include Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald), and all those taking part in the Pan-Mass Challenge, all the best in their fight against cancer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seven Straight

No, the Red Sox haven't won seven in a row, but have now taken seven consecutive games from the L.A. Angels since Jonathan Papelbon's October Meltdown of 2009, as the Sox whacked the Halos, 7-3.

Marco Scutaro belted a grand slam in the 8th inning to break a 3-3 tie. Josh Beckett gave the Sox seven good innings. Scutaro's granny was the fourth Sox home run of the day, as Bill Hall, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis also went deep earlier.

After a truly dismal showing in Oakland and a very unsatisying split of four games in Seattle, the Sox caught a slumping Angels team and wound up with a terrific sweep and a 6-4 record on the west coast swing.

Beckett allowed three runs, but it easily could have been none. Jeremy Hermida butchered a ball in left that led to two Angels runs, and Bill Hall lost a ball in the sun that put Reggie Willits on second, and he scored two outs later that gave the Angels a temporary lead.

Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez finished up, with MDC bringing on a little drama, but Hall saved him with a terrific catch to end the 8th.

Tampa Bay and New York both won, so the Red Sox return to Fenway seven behind NY and five behind the Rays. Thursday is a well-deserved off day and on Friday the Sox begin a seven-game homestand with the Tigers and Indians coming in. Friday Johnny Damon returns to Fenway for the first time without pinstripes.

Should be interesting the reaction he gets.

Keep On Keepin' On, Dave

The news on Dave Roberts and fight against cancer is good, as Dave says his recent tests have come back clean.

He still has radiation treatment to deal with, but he's optimistic.

"I see the light at the end of the tunnel, he said.

Hang in there, Dave. We're all behind you.

Here's more from MLB Fanhouse.

The Scoreboard Was Loud Last Night

John Lackey made his return to the stadium he called home for eight seasons last night, and the Angels fans didn't let him forget they weren't happy with his decision to leave for the Red Sox last winter.

The hero of Game 7 of the 2002 World Series was booed lustily by the Anaheim faithful, and Lackey took note.

“The scoreboard talks the loudest," he said after the game, and it sure did, as he pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, which included a home run to Bobby Abreu on his 124th and final pitch of the night. It was Lackey's second straight terrific performance, and he is now 10-5 on the season. Lackey is known as a very good second half pitcher, and he appears on his way to a strong finish for 2010.

Daniel Bard came on and got the last two outs of the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon picked up his 24th save of the year as the Sox took the series from the Halos, 4-2.

The Red Sox were leaving runners in scoring position during this game, including the bases loaded in the first. It looked like another one of those games until Jed Lowrie doubled in two in the seventh to make it 2-1. Jered Weaver looked strong until two outs in that inning, but a walk and a single in front of Lowrie led to his clutch hit. Single runs in the 8th and 9th proved the difference in the game.

The Sox locked up at least a .500 record on this west coast trip, as they are now 5-4 with one to play.

Josh Beckett takes the mound this afternoon in Anaheim as the Red Sox go for the sweep. However, Terry Francona said before today's game that both Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon would not be available for the road trip finale.

Well, they better get a good long start from Beckett today.

And Mike Lowell had one helluva rehab game for Pawtucket at Toledo last night, as he blasted three home runs and had five RBI. It appears he will be activated on Friday.

Trivia Q&A: July 27

We had 18 teams in for Trivia Night on Tuesday night. A little lighter than last week, but still a spirited crowd enjoyed the night. (And again, Yours Truly was the subject of a few team names. More on that shortly.)

The scores for Q Are You? were generally very good, but they were slightly down for Audio Movies Trivia. The crowd enjoyed the return of audio trivia, and it will now be a monthly Q Train staple. (Boy, when I played "My Heart Will Go On" the venom unleashed was like I had rarely seen before on Trivia Night. And of course, my pal Chris played up on that, and it was rather funny amongst the hissing and booing.)

It was close going to IQ Trivia, but the team of John Quinn For Congress, who were last week's winners, pulled out a slim one point victory to enter the Winner's Circle. Nice job, guys and good luck going for the hat trick next week.

Current Events
1. James Gammon, a respected character actor who played the Cleveland Indians manager in this 1989 classic comedy baseball film, recently died of cancer at the age of 70.
2. Walt Disney and Kraft Foods were among 24 multinational companies that have moved their regional headquarters to the largest city in this Asian country.
3. Over 500 of these birds are washing up ashore or are clinging to life on the shores of Brazil over the last few weeks, leaving officials there baffled as to why.
4. Sports Illustrated recently published its list of the top 50 highest-earning American athletes, and this controversial man topped the list, earning over $90 million in salary and endorsements.
5. The International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence violated no international law, but this neighboring country vowed never to recognize it.
6. 19 people were killed at the Love Parade music festival in this European country last weekend when a stampede occurred and details of how and why it happened remain unclear.
7. Daniel Schorr, an Emmy-winning reporter for many years with this TV network who discovered he was on Richard Nixon's infamous "Enemies List" in 1973, died last week at the age of 93.

Answers: 1. "Major League;" 2. China; 3. penguins; 4. Tiger Woods; 5. Serbia; 6. Germany; 7. CBS.

Q Are You?

1. This man was born in North Somerset, England in 1939. He's an actor, comedian, writer and producer. He's best known for his work on two classic British comedy series, but he's also been in 2 James Bond films, was nominated for an Oscar and won an Emmy in 1987 for a role on "Cheers."
2. This woman was born in Reading, England in 1975. She is the youngest actress to accrue six Oscar nominations in her career, winning once, in 2008. She's also been nominated for an Emmy and a Grammy, for a children's album in 2000.
3. This man was born in The Bronx, NY in 1942. He is a stand-up comedian and actor. He made HBO's first stand-up comedy special in 1975 and eight in total, many comedy albums and in 1979 was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
4. This woman was born in New York City in 1942. She's a singer, songwriter and pianist. She was known as a hit songwriter in the 1960s, but is best known for an iconic album she made in 1971, one of 25 she's made in her career.
5. This woman was born in New York City in 1947. She is a romantic novelist, and an author of mainstream dramas. She's the seventh best selling writer of all-time, having sold nearly 600 million books and 22 of her novels have been adapted for TV.
6. This man was born in Panama City, Panama in 1969. He is an 11-time MLB All-Star selection, a World Series MVP, a pitcher with a career ERA of 2.21 and is considered a sure bet first-ballot Hall of Famer when he retires.
7. This man was born in Knoxville, TN in 1963. He's a director, writer, producer and actor. He's made nine feature films in the last 20 years, and his films use nonlinear storylines and lean heavy on violence and bad language. He won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his 1994 film.

Answers: 1. John Cleese; 2. Kate Winslet; 3. Robert Klein; 4. Carole King; 5. Danielle Steel; 6. Mariano Rivera; 7. Quentin Tarantino.

Audio Movies Trivia "The Q Train")

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (The Blue Danube)
2. Fever Pitch (Tessie)
3. Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)
4. Philadelphia (The Streets of Philadelphia)
5. Midnight Express (The Chase)
6. Field of Dreams (Moonlight Graham)
7. Saturday Night Fever (Stayin' Alive)
8. Man On the Moon (Man On the Moon)
9. Titanic (My Heart Will Go On)
10. Life of Brian (Always Look On The Bright Side of Life)

General Knowledge
1. What was the name of the boy in the song by Johnny Cash with a girl's name? ( 1 pt)
2. What canal joins the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean? ( 1 pt)
3. Eric Cartman is a character from what TV series? ( 1 pt)
4. What American swimmer won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics? ( 2 pt)
5. In what country was Adolf Hitler born? ( 2 pt)
6. What rock musician plays with a group called The Delaware Destroyers? ( 2 pt)
7. Asuncion is the capital of which South American country? ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1. Sue; 2. Panama Canal; 3. "South Park;" 4. Mark Spitz; 5. Austria; 6. George Thorogood; 7. Paraguay.

IQ Trivia

1. Kirribilli House is the official residence of the prime minister of what country? ( 4 points)
2. The Juno Awards are given to Canadians in what field of endeavor? ( 3 points)
3. The 2001 film "Scotland, PA" is a retelling of what Shakespeare play set in 1975? ( 4 points)
4. 60% of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in what US state due to its corporation-friendly laws? ( 4 points)
5. Okta is a unit of measurement to describe what? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. Australia; 2. music; 3. "Macbeth;" 4. Delaware; 5. cloud cover.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Have Another Winner!

Well, once again, I told you so.

Kendry Morales now has company in the I Got Hurt In Dumb Celebrations department.

Unnecessary celebrating was going to get someone else hurt, as I wrote this past Saturday night.

But I wouldn't have guessed this to be honest. And it's another bad injury that should never have happened.

Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins tore a meniscus in his knee while he was delivering a pie to the face of Marlins teammate Wes Helms after Helms won the game in the bottom of the 11th with a single against the Braves on Sunday. He might actually need surgery on the knee.

Unbelievable. I can see it on Coghlan's history now:

He went on the DL in July 2010 because of a knee injury delivering a pie to the face of a teammate.

Dumb, stupid, idiotic nonsense.

And of course, nobody will learn anything from this.

OK, who'll be third with the next celebrating injury of 2010? Take your bets now.

Making Seattle a Distant Memory

David Ortiz banged two home runs as the Red Sox put the bitter taste of the last two games out of their mouths with a 6-3 win over the Angels in Anaheim last night.

On a night when the Sox were facing the newly-acquired Angel pitcher Dan Haren, a win by the Sox was extremely important, especially with their two main rivals having already won. Kevin Youkilis actually knocked Haren out of the game in the fifth, hitting a line drive off his pitching arm with the Red Sox up, 2-1.

Papi now has 21 dingers on the season, and the second one you can blame squarely on Mike Scioscia. Papi had gone deep earlier in the game, and with the Red Sox up 2-1 in the 8th, Kevin Youkilis stole second. Ortiz hit a ball to right that was just missed being a home run, missing the pole in right by just a few feet. You've got an open base, why are you pitching to him? (I know that Adrian Beltre was on deck, so it was a "pick your poison" moment.) Papi then blasted a two-run shot off Fernando Rodney to expand their lead, one they would really need.

Scott Atchison took over after Clay Buchholz pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run. But Atchison, who has been pretty good over the last month, gave up a two-run shot to Hideki Matsui to make it 4-3. Uh no, here we go again with the Bullpen Arson Squad.

Jonathan Papelbon came in with two out to get the final out of the 8th. The Red Sox added two runs in the ninth, as J.D. Drew hit a ball off the top of the right field fence with two on, making it 6-3. (Drew was also safe on a wild pitch at the plate, but another of MLB's incompetent umps, Wally Bell, called him out. He had a clear view of the play as well. Bell also called a miserable game behind the plate as well.)

Pap got the Angels in the ninth, just allowing one hit, for his 23rd save, to get a crucial win last night. New York and Tampa Bay both won, so the Red Sox remain 8 back in the East, and 5 back in the Wild Card.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Now It's Just The Mets and Padres

Matt Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history tonight, and the fifth one of 2010, as the Rays beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-0.

Garza was actually in a great pitcher's duel with Max Scherzer, and he had also not allowed a hit until the sixth inning, when Matt Joyce belted a grand slam to put Tampa Bay on top. The Rays had only three hits in the game themselves.

Garza, "The Human Spitting Machine," walked Brennan Boesch in the second inning, and he was the only Tiger to reach base. He was wiped out in a double play, so Garza faced the minimum in getting the no-no.

This now leaves just the Mets and Padres as the only two MLB teams that have never thrown a no-hitter. It's very strange in the Mets' case, as they have played in very pitcher-friendly parks in their history, especially Shea Stadium, which only had two thrown by opposition teams in its 45-year history. (I was at the last of the two, thrown by Bob Mosse of the Pirates in 1969.)

They've had many excellent pitchers in their history, and many have gone on to toss no-nos with other teams, like Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Mike Scott, Hideo Nomo and of course, Nolan Ryan (7 times). There's a lot of luck in tossing one, and it's always been strange it's never happened for the Mets.

Now, every expansion team from 1977, 1993 and 1998 has thrown one. Only the Padres from the four of 1969 still haven't done it. (The Montreal Expos got their first no-hitter in the ninth game of their existence, in April 1969. And it was by Bill Stoneman.)

It was also the first time a pitcher (Scherzer) lost a no-hitter on a grand slam since Dickie Thon did it to Frank Viola in 1990. (BTW, what team was Viola pitching for at the time? Yep, the Mets.)

Where Do The Sox Go From Here?

My friend Adam gives some thoughts about the Red Sox bullpen needs with the MLB trade deadline approaching this Saturday:

The Sox' biggest need has been the same all season: they need relief pitching. Theo did a very poor job this off-season in acquiring bullpen help. He relied too much on two pitchers who were awful in the second-half (Ramirez and Delcarmen) and one that has been steadily declining (Oki). Even Paps struggled at times last year. There was no reason to assume this group would be good before the season, and they have sucked as a group pretty much all year.

No AL contending team has a pen nearly as bad as the Sox (unless you consider the Angels a contender). By ERA, Boston's relief corps are the 4th worst in the AL. ERA measures results based on ER, which are subject to the decision of the official scorer. When you look at a metric that measures performance--FIP--the Sox are the worst pen in the AL by a fairly large margin. This group has trouble holding leads. That's an especially big problem right now because Boston's depleted offense is having trouble scoring.

The Sox have only one reliable arm: Bard. Atchison, by the numbers, is the second-best. He has been pretty good and is Theo's only off-season "find." Paps hasn't been very good, and Ramirez, Oki, and MDC have flat-out sucked. MDC has been below replacement level.

The question is what's out there. There are interesting pitchers like Chad Qualls, who has a horrible ERA but a good FIP and K-rate. The problem with acquiring bullpen help is the cost. Teams tend to pay too much for relief pitchers in terms of salary and prospects. Another thing to avoid are pitchers who look good solely based on ERA, which is bad at predicting future performance. Kyle Farnsworth might be available. He has had a good year. Scott Downs is very good and consistent. But as a potential Type-A FA, he'll cost a lot. There are reports that the Sox are interested in Marlins closer Leo Nunez, who has been outstanding this year. The problem with Nunez is cost, and the fact that this is pretty much his only good year. His first half success might be a fluke. But it's also possible that Nunez has reinvented himself. He is throwing his change far more than in the past and his GB-rate and K-rate have increased significantly.
Good relievers are hard to find. It's generally not a good idea to overpay for them. But the Sox have a glaring need. The only way they can win with their current pen would be if every injured player comes back completely healthy and the team's offense regains its form and the starters consistently go deep in games.

Tampa has one of the best bullpens in the AL. That's the only edge they have over a healthy Sox team. The Rays offense and starters are really not as good as people think they are. If healthy, even with a poor pen, the Sox are good enough to make a run. They are better than Tampa. The problem is they aren't healthy, and probably won't be for a few weeks.

The Babe Should Curse The Thief

Babe Ruth's last will and testament, which he signed on August 9, 1948, just days before his death, turned up with a Long Island memorabilia dealer recently.

(That is a copy of his signature from his will above, which he actually misspelled his name in his dying days.)

The will had been missing for at least nine years, stolen from the Manhattan Surrogates Court. The FBI is investigating exactly how it ended up where it did, with a tax preparer named Mark Lewis.

My friend Pete Nash has a good article on his site Hauls of Shame about this, and he was also quoted in a story in today's New York Post about it.

Listen To The Music This Tuesday

This Tuesday night, we will have our July installment of "Q Are You? Trivia," and that's when I give you clues about seven current celebrities and you have to tell me who I am talking about.

And for the first time in a long while, we will be doing an audio round, and it will be "Audio Movies Trivia" for the Q Train lightning round. It will be 10 songs from movies, and you have to identify what film the music is from. (No, there will be no Doobie Brothers music in it. I just liked that title for the post.)

The Sneak Peek this week is:
What canal joins the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean?

We will get going at 9 PM. The Red Sox have another late night game on the West Coast on Tuesday beginning at 10 PM. (Have they been on the West Coast all month?) We had a huge throng in last Tuesday, and it's great to see so many folks come out. So get to Thom's early to guarantee a good seat! See you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

They Won't Win With This Bullpen. Period.

A show of hands of all of you reading this who think the Red Sox can honestly make the playoffs with this bullpen.

I don't see many of them going up. You don't see mine going up either.

The Sox are flushing this season away with one of the worst bullpens in MLB (13th in the AL in ERA) and did it again today, courtesy of Hideki Okajima. He was formerly a quality reliever, but now he just looks like crap. Okajima gave up five straight hits and messed up two bunts as Seattle, one of the worst offensive teams in baseball at 39-60, beat the Red Sox, 4-2.

Okajima's ERA is now at 5.81, and the league batting nearly .350 against him. Appalling.

Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn't terrific, but he allowed just one run in six innings, so he did his job. Daniel Bard was fine, pitching a scoreless seventh. But when he allowed a single to the first hitter in the eighth, Terry Francona had the brilliant idea of bringing in Okajima. (Where was Jonathan Papelbon in all this?)

Seattle won the four game series, 2-2. And they came dangerously close to actually sweeping it.

The pen gave up six runs in the eighth inning in this series, and five in the ninth, to a really lousy team. That is disgraceful.

Once again, Tito has no one to completely trust after Papelbon and Bard. Theo Epstein has some serious work to do this week, with the trade deadline coming up on Saturday at 4 PM. The Sox absolutely need a quality 7th/8th inning pitcher to add to Pap and Bard, as the fear is that they will both be overused as the season gets on. Tito just can't rely on firestarters like Okajima, Ramon Ramirez or Manny Delcarmen. Of course, the price of anyone of quality will be very high, so Theo as to decide to sacrifice some good young talent to add on to this season. He has to decide if it's worth it. Once again, he gets paid to make those decisions, not me.

Another bullpen shitshow costs the Red Sox dearly, and the offense went to sleep after taking a 2-1 lead. They aren't blameless either, as they had opportunities to add on and didn't do it.

Nice way to ruin Jerry Remy's 3000th broadcast on NESN as well.

And now it's on to Anaheim, and the Red Sox now find themselves 8 games behind New York, who won today, and five behind Tampa Bay, who also won.

The ball's in your court, Theo. Save us from this bullpen. Please.

This Time a No-Hit Bid Ends In a Loss

Jon Lester gave it all he had on Saturday night. He was shutting down the worst offensive team in baseball, retiring the first 16 Seattle Mariners who came up to the plate. He struck out a career high 13 and appeared to be on the verge of making history again.

Then everyone, including himself, wound up betraying him.

Eric Patterson flubbed Jack Wilson's fly to center and the perfecto was over. Then Lester hung a curveball to Michael Saunders, and he killed it, and it was 2-1, Seattle.

No-no over. Shutout over. Win gone.

The Red Sox were facing former Red Sox pitcher of little note David Pauley and they could do nothing with him, just a David Ortiz home run. They had second and third and one out early in the game, but left the runners were they were. Another night of little offense, and a reliance on pitching and defense.

Patterson was a hero Thursday night, and a villain on Saturday. (To be fair, Patterson wasn't the one who hung the curve to Saunders, so "villain" might be too strong a word. Besides, I just want a win. Anything else is gravy.)

Seattle went on to a 5-1 win, helped out by Manny Delcarmen's latest meltdown (a walk and a hit batter brought in another run). Now I would consider trading him for a few broken bats and a used ball bag. It would be an upgrade for the bullpen.

The AWOL offense has hurt this team mightily since the All-Star break. Victor Martinez looks to back for the Anaheim series, so that's a bit of good news. They can do no worse than a split in this series, but another loss to the weak Mariners would seem like a series loss. Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to prevent that today.

New York lost, so the Sox saw yet another chance to gain ground evaporate. Tampa Bay won, so they remain 7 back, and 4 behind the Rays.

Did Anyone Learn Anything From Kendry Morales?

The answer appears to be: no.

I thought there was a possibility that those stupid, inane, imbecilic "dogpile" celebrations that got Kendry Morales a season-ending injury on May 29th would finally come to an end, as perhaps the players would finally wise up and stop acting like wild idiots just because someone ended a game in the final at-bat.

Silly me.

What set off this rant? I was watching the highlights of the games tonight, and saw James Loney's home run that beat the Mets in 13 innings at Dodger Stadium this afternoon. And at the close of the highlights, I saw the usual dogpile of nonsense, and then I saw one of the Dodgers, Matt Kemp, actually put a wrestling slam on Loney, a body slam, in the "celebration." (If you check on this link, you can see Kemp putting it on Loney in the beginning before you look at the video. But it doesn't show the actual home run or the aftermath, which is strange because this video is from Fox Sports, which showed the game.)

What the hell is this asshole using for brains? Does he really want to injure his teammate??

Unbelievable. In the two months following Morales' injury, the usual pileups are still happening at home plate and in the field.

Nobody has learned anything. And it really pisses me off.

As many of you know, I have been warning about this for years. MLB has done nothing about it, and in the light of the Morales injury, they really should have warned all 30 teams to cut out the unnecessary crap, that just because you won a game in your last at-bat should be no cause to act like you just won the World Series. In the immortal words of the legendary head coach Vince Lombardi (who was talking about touchdown celebrations), "Act like you've been there before."

Now I am waiting for the next serious injury to occur in one these things. And it will. Bank on it. Just a matter of when, not if. I just hope it's not a Red Sox player.

And I bet nobody learns anything after that one happens, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Night Of The Ex-Mariners

Josh Beckett made his return to the Red Sox after a two-month absence and gave the team a 5 2/3 innings, 5 strikeout, 1 earned run performance, as the Sox won another battle with the Seattle Mariners, 2-1. (The Red Sox optioned Michael Bowden back to Pawtucket before the game to make room for Beckett.)

But the night belonged to the players on the Sox who once wore Mariner uniforms. Bill Hall had the game winner in the 7th, taking Jason Vargas deep to break the 1-1 tie. Adrian Beltre drove in the first run, and Mike Cameron had two hits. Former Seattle hurler Scott Atchison came in for Beckett in the sixth and got the final out, and pitched a scoreless seventh and got his second win of the year. He is proving to be a valuable man in the pen lately, the most trustworthy behind Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard.

David Ortiz got picked off third in the sixth, with the bases loaded and one out, and it basically short circuited the inning. As bad as that was, it was worse for the Mariners. Mike Cameron doubled in the fifth, and when Chone Figgins didn't properly backup the play and the throw went past him and Cameron wound up on third (where he was stranded). Manager Don Wakamatsu benched him after the inning, and after an argument between the two across the dugout, fists flew with many players getting involved trying to break it up, including Vargas.

It's been a disaster of a year in Seattle, and it was on display in the dugout last night. (You know there will some ex-Mariners coming out of this situation.)

I was watching the Mariners feed last night, and Dave Sims mentioned that he had Ortiz on his radio show that day and he said he would "play three more years and that's it."

Jon Lester goes for the Red Sox tonight. New York won last night and Tampa Bay lost, the Red Sox remain 7 out of first, and three behind the Rays for second.

You Mean They Don't Use Tasers In Baltimore?

A fan ran on the field earlier this week during the Twins-Orioles game at Camden Yards, and instead of nailing the interloper immediately, security basically let the idiot run himself out of gas before he finally gave up.

Can you imagine anything like this happening at Fenway Park? Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis would have nailed this clod to the turf long before he had his two minutes of fame (that's about how long he was on the field before his arrest).

And you know he would have been tased and sent to jail and had a cellmate named Bruno lickety split if he were in Philly.

The sad times in Baltimore continue:

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Special Birthday Celebration

For those folks who check out my blog in Los Angeles, I thought I would alert you to a special event occurring there next month.

The great jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott will be doing a special gig at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. on August 5th, and it will be in celebration of his 85th birthday (which actually occurred this month). My good friend Alex Minasian is Jimmy's piano player, and I saw Alex with Jimmy and his quartet last year in New York, and they put on a terrific show. And Jimmy is a nice man as well, as I got a chance to meet him after the show.

It will be a very special night, and Jimmy will be joined by such musical greats as Deniece Williams, Joe Henry and Billy Vera.

It's an 8:30 PM show that night and all tickets are a $35 general admission. Jimmy has been slowed by health problems in recent years, but bless him, he still has the pipes to put on a good show. And his band is really tight. If you'd like more information about the House of Blues gig, please check out this link.

I wish I could be there. Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

90 Minutes Of Hell I'll Never Get Back

For the first time this season, I feel sorry for John Lackey.

As Joe Castiglione said at the end of Thursday night's game: "It felt like three different games."

It was a comfortable win until the bottom of the ninth. I'll spare you the gory details. Crummy pen plus awful defense makes for a lethal combination. And it was against the Seattle Mariners, the team with the worst overall offense in baseball.

Eric Patterson saved their bacon in the 13th.

This bullpen leaves me absolutely no confidence, despite Hideki Okajima's Houdini act in the 12th. I know they will get their injured position players back in the next few weeks, and nothing is over.

But the pen will be the death of this 2010 team.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No More Excuses, It's Getting Late

The Red Sox put their fans through a dreadful 6-4 loss to the weak-hitting Oakland A's yesterday and lost the series to them.

It's what I feared. A series loss to open a very important road trip.

Clay Buchholz was clearly rusty upon his return from the DL (and once again, thank you, interleague), allowing five runs in four innings. You know he wasn't himself when Matt Watson, who hadn't had a hit in MLB in five years, took him out of the park yesterday. Jed Lowrie (pictured) made his return as well, going 1-for-2 with a walk, RBI and a run scored.

But once again, the Sox wasted a golden opportunity early on. They got one in the first, but left the bases loaded. And David Ortiz continued his struggles since the All-Star break, as he is now 3-for-25 with 10 strikeouts.

With the exception of Adrian Beltre (3 HRs in the last 6 games), the offense has looked stiff. Almost no spark in Oakland, and now they must right the ship in Seattle, against one of the worst teams in baseball. And the Sox have the good fortune of missing Felix Hernandez, who pitched yesterday against the White Sox.

New York and Tampa Bay both won yesterday, so now the Red Sox are 7 games out, and 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay. I'm beginning to believe that the Sox need to take 3 out of 4 this weekend. A split might not gain them anything.

BTW, a familar face beyond the left field wall is getting a makeover.

The Red Sox also sent Dustin Richardson and Daniel Nava back to Pawtucket, and DFA'd Ryan Sheely, to make room for Buchholz, Lowrie and Jeremy Hermida, who will be activated today.

And was it surreal watching Fenway Park turned into a soccer stadium last night or what? I caught NESN's coverage on FSC last night, with the main cameras at the Green Monster. Seeing the rightfield stands from that angle all night was truly bizarre. Celtic won the match over Sporting Lisbon by penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

My condolences to the family and friends of former Red Sox manager Ralph Houk, who died yesterday at the age of 90. I salute you, Major...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Times That Try Fans' Souls

The Red Sox really flushed one down the loo last night, as they let a 4-0 lead go down the drain in Oakland, as the A's scored a run in the 10th and won, 5-4.

Tim Wakefield may very well have made his last Red Sox start (ever?) as he got rapped around for four in the third, which included a passed ball on the knuckler that allowed one run to score. He went six innings. Clay Buchholz returns today, and Josh Beckett's back on Friday, so Wakefield goes back to the pen. It now seems to me the Red Sox career record for wins, which Wake is now 14 away from, is beyond his reach. He now only appears to be good for two or three innings as a pitcher. He's just not a consistent starting pitcher anymore.

I would hate to see him struggling on just to try to reach that. He's been one of the classiest people ever to wear a Red Sox uniform, and I'm really hoping he decides to call it a career after this season. Wake turns 44 in a couple of weeks, so maybe it's finally time.

A lot more not to like about last night. The Red Sox left the bases loaded twice after the game was tied and came away with nothing. The A's bullpen went nearly six innings allowing the Sox nothing. The Sox outhit Oakland, 12-6, and left 12 men on base. I am also hoping the Red Sox will reassign Tim Bogar after this year, as he made another bonehead decision at third, sending in David Ortiz in the first inning on a double and he was thrown out. The more you talk about your third base coach, the more he doesn't belong there. The Sox sure miss DeMarlo Hale down there.

And of course, Balkin' Bob Davidson, the home plate ump, figured in the final run scoring in the 10th, as his odd balk call on Ramon Ramirez sent the winning run to second. The call got John Farrell tossed, and Kevin Kouzmanoff's single won it for Oakland. (Damn, how many times have we talked about umpire calls making a big difference in games this year, and not just Red Sox games? Too many it seems to me.)

New York and Tampa Bay both lost last night, so a golden opportunity to gain ground on both was lost last night. That's what hurts the most about last night's excruciating loss.

Jed Lowrie returns to the lineup today, along with Buchholz returning from that hamstring injury. Yep, the injured troops are returning. Hopefully they get their butts in high gear and take the series from the A's this afternoon.

Trivia Q&A: July 20

We had a huge crowd in for Trivia Night, and as my friend Jim put it, "Reminded me of the old days." We had 25 teams in, one short of the record we've done twice, and the largest turnout of 2010.

The scores were very good early on, especially for the Q Train round with "10-100 Trivia" and General Knowledge was also filled with strong numbers. But I rolled out some toughies for IQ Trivia, and the highest score for that round was 11 points out of a possible 20. The scores were very close and it looked a tie-breaker question might be in the offing for the second straight week.

But the team of I Was Just In Justin Bieber, who was leading most of the night and by two points going into the final round, got just one question right for only four points. The team was so convinced they hadn't won that they were heading for the exits as I was reading the final team scores. But I whispered over to them that they had actually pulled out a one-point victory.

My congratulations to them and I'm glad I caught them in time.

Thanks to all of you who turned out and made it one of the best nights of 2010 so far.

Current Events
1. A study in Advertising Age magazine looked at over 11,000 magazine covers of the last four years and concluded that putting this female celebrity on the cover saw a reduction in overall sales.
2. This country last week rejected a request from the US to extradite film director Roman Polanski to face sentencing on charges of unlawful sex with a minor in 1977.
3. This college football team announced that after a $260 million renovation this summer their home stadium will now seat just under 110,000 fans, the largest college stadium in the US.
4. US News and World Report annual survey of America's best hospitals ranked this East Coast one as the best for the 20th consecutive year.
5. Last Thursday, this South American country became the first in Latin America to legalize gay marriage.
6. A memorial bust of this man was put next to the Western Allied leaders of WWII in the National D-Day memorial in Virginia sparked outrage last week and calls for its removal.
7. A music video by this male singer passed Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" as the most watched video ever on YouTube, with more than 246 million views.

Answers: 1. Paris Hilton; 2. Switzerland; 3. University of Michigan; 4. Johns Hopkins; 5. Argentina; 6. Josef Stalin; 7. Justin Bieber.

Space Trivia
1. On July 20, 1976, Viking I became the first spacecraft to land where?
2. Exactly how many Apollo missions landed on the Moon: 5, 6 or 7?
3. Titan is the largest satellite of what planet?
4. Within 5 million miles, how many miles are there between the Earth and the sun?
5. At its closest, which planet is closer to Earth, Venus or Mars?
6. Who was the first American to orbit the Earth?
7. What physicist gained worldwide fame with his best-selling book about space, "A Brief History of Time," in 1988?

Answers: 1. Mars; 2. six; 3. Saturn; 4. 93 million; 5. Venus; 6. John Glenn; 7. Stephen Hawking.

10-100 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Pearl is the traditional gift for this number anniversary.
2. A hit song by Paul Simon had this many "ways to leave your lover."
3. This is the number of the interstate highway that goes from New York to San Francisco.
4. Beatle Ringo Starr turned this age earlier this month.
5. The US Senate has this number senators.
6. This is the distance in feet between the bases in baseball.
7. This is the number worn by Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox.
8. Ronald Reagan was this number US president.
9. Three score is this number.
10. The British prime minister lives at this number on Downing Street.

Answers: 1. thirty; 2. fifty; 3. eighty; 4. seventy; 5. one hundred; 6. ninety; 7. twenty; 8. forty; 9. sixty; 10. ten.

General Knowledge
1. What number is the cubed root of 64? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the largest religion in Turkey? ( 1 pt)
3. What 1968 movie featured an intelligent computer called "HAL 9000?" ( 1 pt)
4. What country is made up of 3,000 islands, the largest being Honshu and Hokkaido? ( 2 pt)
5. What pop singer made her screen debut in the film "Crossroads" in 2002? ( 2 pt)
6. In 1821, the US took possession of Florida after purchasing it from what country? ( 2 pt)
7. What actor portrayed Magneto in the film "X-Men?" ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1. four; 2. Islam; 3. "2001: A Space Odyssey;" 4. Japan; 5. Britney Spears; 6. Spain; 7. Ian McKellan.

IQ Trivia
1. The tragus can be found where in the human body? ( 3 points)
2. What Sesame Street character once revealed in a skit on the show that his real name was Bernie Liederkrantz? ( 4 points)
3. In 1811, which country became the first Spanish American colony to declare independence? (4 points)
4. Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris were up close witnesses of what historic event in American history? ( 4 points)
5. Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to accomplish what unique feat in 1901? ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. ear; 2. Guy Smiley; 3. Venezuela; 4. Assassination of Abraham Lincoln; 5. Survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Red Sox 1, Left Coast 0

The Red Sox opened their important 10-game journey out west with a 2-1 win in Oakland last night.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched, and like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. It was the Good Dice-K who was on display last night, the one the Red Sox were hoping would be the good return on their huge investment.

He went 6 2/3 innings, allowed just 2 hits and 1 run (a home run by Rajai Davis), walked two and struck out six. No BSing around, he was aggressive and retired hitters quickly. At least twice last night I was channel surfing in-between innings and came back to find Dice-K pitching with one out already.

It was 1-0 Oakland in the fourth when Eric Patterson tripled and scored on David Ortiz' deep fly. One out later, Adrian Beltre hit a bomb into the left seats to make it 2-1.

Daniel Bard got out of the seventh with a pop up, but put two on in the eighth before he got out of that jam. Jonathan Papelbon got the A's 1-2-3 in the ninth (which is always a pleasure) for his 21st save, and a great start to a crucial swing on the West Coast. Matsuzaka is now 7-3.

Tampa Bay also won last night, so they are now 2 1/2 behind New York, who was idle. The Red Sox trail the Rays by 3 1/2. Tonight, Tim Wakefield makes what could be his last start for some time, with Clay Buchholz returning tomorrow and Josh Beckett making his return on Friday in Seattle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"One Small Step For Man..."

This Tuesday night, we will be celebrating the anniversary one of mankind's greatest achievements, Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon on July 20, 1969, with a round of "Space Trivia" as the Special Category. It will be seven questions about our universe and what's out there.

The Q Train lightning round will be "10-100 Trivia." Every answer will be a number ending with a zero between 10 and 100, like 20, 30, 40, etc. There will be no repeat answers.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What is the largest religion in Turkey?

The Red Sox game in Oakland doesn't begin until 10 PM, but we should get going at our normal time of 9 PM. We had a very spirited and close Trivia contest last week and I hope that happens again this week. Hope to see many of you Tuesday night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another Critical Road Trip Looms

Another day when the Red Sox injuries played a factor in a loss. No, thankfully, no one got hurt. But Jon Lester got almost no support, as C.J. Wilson struck out 10 and Texas took three out of four, 4-2.

Lester gave up three earned runs in eight innings. But the offense was again AWOL, and they really needed a huge spark. They really miss guys like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez. You can only count on guys like Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald for so long.

And when you are forced to have Kevin Cash bat in the ninth inning, you've got serious trouble.

It was also the day the Red Sox marked their 600th straight sellout at Fenway, but in the end, there was very little to celebrate.

Remember back in May, when the Red Sox went on a critical road trip, and many felt we were going to see what the Red Sox were truly made of in 2010?

Well, they had a terrific trip, as they got hot after that crushing loss in New York on May 17th.

Now, they are about to embark on an even more critical stretch of the season, as they start a 10-game road trip out west tomorrow in Oakland, and it will take them to Seattle and Anaheim.

They then return to Fenway for seven with Tigers and the Indians, and then hit the road for another ten, to New York, Toronto and Texas. That is 20 of the next 27 away from Boston, and by August 15th, we'll see where the Sox stand, and see if there is any reason to stay with the 2010 season.

They've got to get the Hurt Parade back, sooner rather than later, as the season hangs in the balance. (And one piece of good news after the game: Josh Beckett will make his first start back this Friday night in Seattle.)

Beast Indeed.

Last night's matchup didn't look promising. Cliff Lee vs. John Lackey. The Red Sox lost the first two games to Texas, and it looked like the weekend was getting longer and even more frustrating.

I missed the game last night because of my Saturday night softball game, but I followed it on the cell phone. Lackey was breezing along for 5 2/3 innings, but Texas broke through with two runs on four straight hits. 2-1, and it stayed that way until the ninth.

Marco Scutaro singled, and two outs later was at third. Up stepped Kevin Youkilis, and he took Lee down into the corner to tie it up, and extra innings awaited.

Mike Cameron was robbed of a homer by Nelson Cruz, who reached above the bullpen wall and snagged his shot. In the 11th, the Sox loaded the bases with none out, and up stepped Our Boy Youk. And once again, he delivered a long fly to center that once again drove in Scutaro and the Sox had a huge, big time win.

Kudos to the bullpen, who pitched four no-hit innings, with just Daniel Bard allowing a walk in the 8th. Jonathan Papelbon pitched the 9th and 10th, and Manny Delcarmen, just off the DL, pitched the 11th and got the win.

Interesting stat: the Red Sox are 7-2 in games started by former Cy Young winners this season.

New York lost to Tampa Bay, so the Red Sox are back to 5 1/2 behind, and 3 1/2 out of second.

The Sox recalled pitcher Michael Bowden today from Pawtucket and DFA'd catcher Gustavo Molina. (Dusty Brown was brought up yesterday and is now Kevin Cash's backup.) Jon Lester looks to gain a split of the series this afternoon against C.J. Wilson, before the Red Sox embark on a ten-day trip to the Left Coast.

"You May Run Like Hayes, But You Hit Like..."

I was saddened to learn of the passing of James Gammon today of cancer at the age of 70. He was a gravelly voiced character actor who was in such films as "Ironweed," "Silverado," and "The Milagro Beanfield War," and such television shows as "Nash Bridges," "The Waltons" and "Bagdad Cafe." And of course, he starred in the immortal film, "Cabin Boy."

But for me, he will forever be manager Lou Brown of the Cleveland Indians who took the Tribe from dead last to a one-game playoff win over the New York Yankees in "Major League." It is absolutely one of my favorite baseball films of all-time.

One of my favorite scenes (pictured above):
Charlie Donovan: How would you like to manage the Indians this year?
Lou Brown: Gee, I don't know...
Charlie Donovan: What do you mean, you don't know? This is your chance to manage in the big leagues.
Lou Brown: Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.

Another favorite, addressing the troops on Opening Day:
Lou Brown: All right people, we got 10 minutes 'till game time, let's all gather 'round. I'm not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I'd just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we'd save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I'm for wasting sportswriters' time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give 'em all a nice big shitburger to eat!

Couldn't find either on YouTube. Strange.

Here's more on the the career of James Gammon.

Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Gammon. Godspeed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Among The Best In The Business

GQ Magazine ranked the Top 5 Best and Worst Broadcast Teams in Baseball in their current issue, and our very own Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy finished number four in their best ranking.

If you were watching the Sox game last night, DO and The RemDawg mentioned it during the third inning, and it led to another memorable exchange. From my friend Ian at Sox & Dawgs, here's the video of another classic Don and Jerry moment.

Yep, even on rotten nights, Orsillo and Remy make the Red Sox games worth watching.

I do like this list, BTW. The Giants team was ranked third (I like the team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow) and the terrific Mets trio was second. Vin Scully was ranked number one, all by his lonesome. Big shock there, huh?

The worst team? No shock that Ken Harrelson, his White Sox pom poms and Steve Stone were bottom. They are simply above and beyond unwatchable.

So, in honor of Don and Jerry, I dedicate this clip to them:

Good News On The Injury Front

Your Daily Red Sox Medical Report has some good news in it today.

Manny Delcarmen is expected to be activated today, as Fernando Cabrera has thankfully been designated for assignment.

At Pawtucket last night, Clay Buchholz pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs. He should be activated for the raod trip next week. Jed Lowrie (remember him?) had a big night in the same game for the PawSox, going 3-for-4, with a home run, a double and 2 RBI. He should be back soon as well.

Unfortunately, Jason Varitek's foot is taking longer than expected to heal, so it's looking like another month for his return.

But there's better news with Dustin Pedroia. He's no longer on crutches, but will still wear a protective boot on his injured foot for another 1-2 weeks. He will then be evaluated then, and the Red Sox will have a better idea when he will be ready to return.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Slowest Man In MLB Hit For The Cycle Tonight

Yes, that's how bad it was at Fenway on Friday night. Bengie Molina hit for the cycle (and got hurt for his trouble getting the triple in the 8th with a leg muscle injury) on a ball that hit off Eric Patterson's glove in center.

The Apocalypse is upon us.

Some stiff named Fernando Cabrera gave up a grand slam to Molina in the fifth, as Texas won another 8-4, and the Red Sox looked like a team playing out the string again. Felix Doubront again didn't pitch badly, but his two fielding errors really hurt the Red Sox.

The lack of quality players, especially in the bullpen, is really catching up with this team. The Red Sox are now 6 1/2 back in the East and falling, as New York beat Tampa Bay tonight.

And Cliff Lee waits in the wings tomorrow night.

No Way to Start Off the Second Half

The Texas Rangers came out swinging early and often at Fenway on Thursday night, and it was an early shower for Tim Wakefield.

Wake's always had trouble from the boys from Texas, as he has a 10-16 lifetime mark against them. He got the first out on a strikeout, and it appeared Michael Young had swung and missed for strike three, and ran down to first when Kevin Cash didn't catch it. But the home plate ump, Bruce Dreckman, ruled incorrectly that Young had fouled the ball off. replats showed Young missed it by about 6 inches, and why would he run to first if he thought he fouled it off?

Young singled on his second chance, and the roof fell in after that. 5 more consecutive hits, capped by Bengie Molina's two-run homer, and it was 6-0.

Wake was gone in the third, after another run was in and two were on. But that's all Texas would get. If there was any good news, it was that the bullpen over the final seven innings, shut the potent Texas attack down.

J.D. Drew and Bill Hall hit solo home runs, and that was all on the night, as Texas coasted into a 7-2 win. Tommy Hunter went six innings for his 6th win against no losses.

Some good news on the injury front, from Pete Abe in the Globe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Surprise For George?

We can only hope so. (From yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune, by Steve Breen.)

And another:

No Pizza For You, Hanley

Interesting column from Steve Buckley in the Boston Herald about Jon Lester and Hanley Ramirez. A reporter threw a softball question to Jon about him and Ramirez going back to when they were in the minors together, as they faced each other last Tuesday night in the All-Star Game. Sounds like they weren't buddies in the minors:

“I’d have a better chance of being struck by lightning than me and him getting a pizza together,” Lester said. “You can take that for what it’s worth. But there was no chance on God’s green earth that I was getting a pizza with him.”

Ramirez has alienated a few folks in Florida as we all know, and it's known as well he wasn't most mature player while in the Sox farm system. That response from Lester makes it all the more important that Ramirez is not in a Red Sox uniform. And I'll always love that the Sox got Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell for him in 2005.

It also shows that Lester continues to be a tough first-rate ace, and Buckley compares him to Bob Gibson in his column. High praise indeed.

The second half kicks off tonight at Fenway, as Tim Wakefield goes up against the Texas Rangers' Tommy Hunter. Good to have real baseball back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jim Joyce Should Count His Blessings

Here's a clip from YouTube (sent to me by my friend Adam), of a Gaelic Football All-Ireland quarterfinal qualifying match from last Sunday that ended with upset Louth fans coming on the field and going after referee Martin Sludden, after he made a mistake in allowing opposition Meath a stoppage time goal that should not have counted and it gave Meath the win. He later admitted his mistake.

It gets nasty and the ref escapes with his life, just barely.

Don't Worry About Papi's Win

Many fans might be worried about David Ortiz' win in the Home Run Derby on Monday night, as there seems to be a stigma attached to doing so. Fans remember Bobby Abreu's drop in home run numbers in 2005 after his win with the Phillies.

But history says you should have nothing to worry about. My friend Dan sent this to me this morning, a breakdown on the past winners since 2000 and how they did the rest of that season, from Home Run Derby's Wikipedia page.

2009: Prince Fielder
The Brewers first baseman saw his home runs per at bat increase from one for every 14 at bats in the first half to one every 11.79 in the second half. It was modest, for sure, but made him a vicious power threat down the stretch (Babe Ruth’s career home run/at bat ratio was 11.76).

2008: Justin Morneau
Had four homers and 18 RBIs in the first 13 games of the second half and finished with a remarkable 61 RBIs in 65 games after claiming the derby title in Yankee Stadium. (Josh Hamilton, who stole the show that year with awesome early-round performances before finishing second to Morneau, hit .366 in September of that year.)

2007: Vladimir Guerrero
Hit .353 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in August and went deep once every 20 at bats after winning the crown in San Francisco, compared to once every 22 at bats in the first half.

2006: Ryan Howard
Perhaps the best case there is for inclusion in the exhibition, Howard hit an astounding .355 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs after the All-Star break. His OPS jumped from .923 to an otherworldly 1.259 en route to the National League MVP Award.

2005: Bobby Abreu
This is the guy many bring up to support their claim that the derby destroys hitters. His home run production did drop dramatically after winning the event in Detroit (six home runs after the break), but from the end of July to mid-September he raised his average from .288 to .300 and his OPS of .929 in August was his second-best mark for one month that year. He certainly didn’t disappear.

2004: Miguel Tejada
The then-Orioles shortstop batted .311 in the first half of the season, and .311 in the second half. His slugging percentage before the break was .506. After claiming the Home Run Derby in Houston? .566.

2003: Garret Anderson
He reached the 30-homer mark just once, so it was hard to call Anderson a real home run hitter and when he hit 22 in the first half of the year it was a bit of an aberration. The longtime Angel was more of an average hitter (.285 or better in 12 of 14 seasons at one stretch) and showed it after winning the derby by hitting .350 in August (with a still solid four home runs).

2002: Jason Giambi
Amid perhaps his best season as a Yankee, Giambi was remarkably consistent, posting a 1.032 OPS in the first half and a 1.035 mark in the second half. Yet, some two months after he sprayed balls all over Miller Park to take the crown, the one-time MVP had his best stretch, batting .388 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs in September.

2001: Luis Gonzalez
In his best season as a pro (57 homers, 142 RBIs), Gonzalez did see a dip after hitting 35 dingers before the break. Much of that had to do with the fact that his walks began to skyrocket as pitchers worked around him. Still, he managed to hit .313 with 10 homers in August and then had perhaps the biggest bloop single in major league history that October to slay the Yankees.

2000: Sammy Sosa
Firmly nestled in his multi-year home run binge with the Cubs, Sosa had one of his best second halves after winning the derby in Turner Field. He had 13 homers and 29 RBIs in August and raised his OPS from .922 in the first half to 1.138 after the intermission.

And congratulations to Joe Girardi, the first AL-losing manager in the All-Star Game since Mike Hargrove lost in 1996. Here's Tom Verducci's take on why it's his fault the AL lost, one I agree with.

That just means the Red Sox can sweep the World Series at Fenway this time.

Trivia Q&A: July 13

We had 17 teams in for Trivia Night, on a busy night with some folks in for the All-Star Game. We had the tightest round of Trivia in the four years I've been doing it at Professor Thom's.

The scores were good throughout the night, and especially for the Q Train and General Knowledge. The scores were also very good for IQ Trivia, and at the end of that round, we had three teams tied for fifth place, two tied for third, and for the first time in many months, we had a tie for first. (The difference between first place and the tied fifth place teams was just two points.)

So, we had to break the tie. The two teams were Your Mother's a Whore, Mel Gibson and We Didn't Know Steinbrenner Even Had a Heart (they were also the winners of the Best Team Name of the night, as the Boss' death earlier on Tuesday inspired many team names). The question I had saved was based on an IQ Trivia question from last December:

"Barbra Streisand holds the record for the most gold and platinum records by a female solo artist. How many did she win?" I gave a clue it was between 15 and 50, and Your Mother's a Whore, Mel Gibson guessed closest and won. (It is actually 26.) My congratulations on their back-to-back wins.

Current Events
1. Colombian authorities confiscated a duplicate of the World Cup trophy last weekend at the Bogota airport when they discovered it was made of this illegal substance, mixed with gasoline to make it moldable.
2. This pop/R&B singer has decided that his next album will be released on CD only, saying, "The Internet is over. I don't see why I have to give my new music to iTunes or anyone else."
3. A judge in Australia ruled that this Aussie pop group plagiarized a nursery rhyme with their 1983 hit song and must pay 5% of the royalties to the nursery rhyme's publisher.
4. The ex-girlfriend of this Hollywood star recently revealed that she taped the star making a vulgar and bigoted rant against her, calling her "a whore" and "a bitch."
5. This sandwich franchise opened a movable shop recently on the 27th floor of 1 World Trade Center, which is currently being built, for those working on the building, and will move up with the building as it is being finished.
6. The US swapped 10 suspected spies back to Russia last weekend, with 4 people who were convicted by Russia on espionage charges sent to the US. In what European capital did the swap take place?
7. This HBO miniseries topped the list of all shows by getting 24 nominations for the 2010 Emmy Awards, which were announced last week.

Answers: 1. cocaine; 2. Prince; 3. Men At Work; 4. Mel Gibson; 5. Subway; 6. Vienna; 7. "The Pacific."

July 13th Trivia
1. The Live Aid benefit concerts took place in two main venues on this date in 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London and in what East Coast American city?
2. The New York Draft Riots took place beginning on this date and lasted three days, protesting conscription that took place during what war?
3. This actor, who has appeared in two of the most famous movie series of all-time but has been nominated just once for an Oscar, for "Witness" in 1985, was born on this date in 1942.
4. John C. Fremont, a military officer, explorer and who was most famous as the first presidential candidate of this political party in 1856, died on this date in 1890.
5. In 1988, this baseball team fired manager John McNamara and replaced him with coach Joe Morgan, and the team won an MLB record 24 straight games at home and the term "Morgan Magic" was born.
6. The first atomic bomb was exploded on this date in 1945, in the desert of what western US state?
7. On this day in 1985, this English pop group had the first and only James Bond theme song to hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, "A View to a Kill."

Answers: 1. Philadelphia; 2. Civil War; 3. Harrison Ford; 4. Republican; 5. Boston Red Sox; 6. New Mexico; 7. Duran Duran.

AL/ NL All-Stars Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Reggie Jackson
2. Pete Rose
3. Willie Mays
4. Cal Ripken
5. Ted Williams
6. Roberto Clemente
7. Lou Gehrig
8. Ernie Banks
9. Stan Musial
10. Wade Boggs

Answers: 1. AL; 2. NL; 3. NL; 4. AL; 5. AL; 6. NL; 7. AL; 8. NL; 9. NL; 10. AL.

General Knowledge
1. What is the official language of Venezuela? ( 1 pt)
2. In geometry, how many degrees are there in a complete circle? ( 1 pt)
3. In what country did the D-Day landings take place? ( 1 pt)
4. Will. I. Am. is the singer and founder of what pop group? ( 2 pt)
5. El Salvador is considered part of which continent? ( 2 pt)
6. Who was the star of the 1980s TV series "Dougie Howser?" ( 2 pt)
7. What country was the setting for the film "The Sound of Music?" ( 3 pt)

Answers: 1. Spanish; 2. 360; 3. France; 4. Black Eyed Peas; 5. North America; 6. Neil Patrick Harris; 7. Austria.

IQ Trivia
1. Before "The Simpsons," what was television's longest running prime-time animated series? ( 4 points)
2. What liquor is made from the agave plant? ( 3 points)
3. In Greek mythology, who is the god of music? ( 4 points)
4. A person who is ecclesiophobic is afraid of what? ( 4 points)
5. What is the more common name for the American historical event called by many as "The Battle of Greasy Grass Creek?" ( 5 points)

Answers: 1. "The Flintstones;" 2. tequila; 3. Apollo; 4. churches; 5. The Battle of Little Big Horn.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2 Million Dogs, With No Taxpayer Money

A couple of interesting articles about the Red Sox and Fenway Park today, courtesy of my friends at The BLOHARDS.

From the Wall Street Journal, about how the Sox are one of the few teams not begging taxpayers for their money.

And another about how the Red Sox fans top the majors in consumption of hot dogs and sausages, from the New York Times.

Papi Wins The Home Run Derby

Can't say I've ever been a big fan of the Home Run Derby, especially with the fact that ESPN always has to shove Chris Berman down our throats while it's on.

He defeated Hanley (I Only Hustle When I'm In The Mood To Do So) Ramirez to win the crown. I only hope this doesn't adversely affect The Large Father for the second half of 2010.

Howie Spira's Former Best Friend Dies

George Steinbrenner died of a massive heart attack at the age of 80.

Let the revisionist history begin. This should be interesting.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Stars Take Center Stage, and We Do Trivia

Tuesday Night Trivia returns this week with "July 13th Trivia" as the Special Category. We will have seven questions about people, places and things connected with that date in history.

Since MLB's All-Star Game will be going on while we have our Trivia Night in progress, the Q Train lightning round will be "AL/NL All-Stars Trivia." I will give you the names of 10 very famous players throughout history, and you will tell me which All-Star team they played on in their careers. There won't be any who played on both teams, or anyone currently playing in the majors.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
What is the official language of Venezuela?

We'll get rolling at the usual time of 9 PM. The All-Star Game will have just begun (with all the pregame hubbub, they never get started before 8:40 PM or so), so I hope many of you can come out and enjoy a night of Trivia with us. See you on Tuesday.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ending The First Half In Style

For the first five innings of Sunday's Red Sox game in Toronto, it had all the feel of one of those "Let's get this game over as fast as possible so we can go on our break" type of games.

The Red Sox didn't get a hit off of Toronto starter Jesse Litsch until two outs in the sixth. (I thought that was a good omen, as the Mariners were no-hit for 5 2/3 innings last night by Javier Vazquez until Ichiro Suzuki broke it up, and the Mariners went on to win.) It was a double by Marco Scutaro. And Darnell McDonald followed that with a two-run shot to left. David Ortiz followed that immediately with a dong to right, and all of a sudden it was 3-0, Sox.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched very well, allowing just four hits and no walks through the first six innings. But the first two men reached in the seventh, with a home run by Aaron Hill making it 3-2.

The day was over for Dice-K, and Daniel Bard came on for two perfect innings of relief, and Jonathan Papelbon got the first two hits on flyouts on the first two pitches. Can't remember the last time he did that. But Lyle Overbay singled to keep the game going. But John Buck popped to short to end the game and give the Sox two of three in Toronto and end the first half at 51-37, five games behind New York and three behind Toronto.

Now it's time to rest and get healed, and on that front, Josh Beckett pitched well in his rehab start for Pawtucket today.

Viva Espana!

Congratulations to Spain on their first World Cup triumph at the first final in their history, as they downed the Netherlands, 1-0 in extra time.

It won't go down as one of the great World Cup Finals in history, as it was rather chippy throughout, with a ton of yellow cards handed out (14 to be exact), and the Netherlands played one man down, as Dutch defender John Heitinga was sent off late in the match. (Actually, the Dutch were fortunate not to be two men, as defender Nigel De Jong should have gotten a red and an exit for planting his studs into Xabi Alonso early in the match.) There were a ton of stoppages for fouls and cautions.

The match looked like it was heading for penalty kicks, which also happened at the 1994 and 2006 Final. (It's just an awful way to decide a world champion.) But in the 116th minute, Andres Iniesta scored the only goal, sending the Spanish into a frenzy.

They held on for the win, and after it was over, the victorious Spanish changed into their normal red jerseys (they wore navy blue today, as the red and orange of the Dutch wouldn't have blended well) and accepted the FIFA World Cup for the very first time. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Spain's captain, was probably the MVP of the tournament, as he allowed just two goals throughout the tourney. (Spain scored a record-low 8 goals for a world champion.)

I was at Professor Thom's today, and a good crowd was on hand. (Not as big as the USA's matches, but still a good turnout.) It was about 50-50, and I did see a number of jerseys supporting both teams.

And, Paul the Psychic Octopus was correct again!

Congratulations to Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, both of Liverpool, who were on the winning side. The Dutch played hard and gave it everything they had, and the nation of the Netherlands should be proud of their boys.

Little Man, Gargantuan Spirit

Love this blurb from Pete Abraham of the Globe today:

Dustin Pedroia took batting practice before the game, keeping the weight off his broken left foot by kneeling on a stool as he swung at pitches from hitting coach Dave Magadan.

I just wanted to see some pitches,’’ he said. “I actually felt pretty good.’’

Pedroia’s foot may be broken but his spirit is intact. As manager Terry Francona spoke to reporters in his office before the game, Pedroia walked back and forth in the hallway yelling loudly.

“Let’s go,’’ he said at one point. “Hoo-haw!’’

Dustin Pedroia: a man among men.

Don't Let The Record Fool You

Another John Lackey start, another disappointing outing.

He had absolutely nothing. The Red Sox scored one in the first, but Lackey gave that back and more. Toronto put three on the board and had the bases loaded, but Lackey got out of it with no further damage.

The Red Sox got three in the second and one in the third for a 5-3 lead. But the Jays tied it back up in the fifth on Alex Gonzalez' 17th home run of the season (that's not a misprint), and took the lead in the fifth for good on Fred Lewis' check swing double down the line that drove in two. Toronto won, 9-5.

Lackey is now 9-5, but has an ERA of 4.78. He walked six and struck out two while giving up seven runs on eight hits. The Red Sox just aren't getting their money's worth with this guy.

Four Red Sox players were hit by pitches, and Terry Francona and Mike Cameron got tossed in the seventh after questioning a strike three call by home plate ump Jeff Kellogg. But the replay seemed to back up Kellogg.

The finale of the first half will see Daisuke Matsuzaka take the mound against Jesse Litsch. New York blew one last night courtesy of former future Hall of Famer Joba Chamberlain allowing a grand slam in the 8th. The Red Sox remain five back.

BTW, Kevin Youkilis was passed over again for the All-Star Game, as Paul Konerko was picked to replace Justin Morneau at first base for the AL. That's fine. Youk can stay home for three days and rest his ankle. The Sox are well-represented at the All-Star Game anyway.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Delusion of Yankee Propaganda

My friend Jere mentioned on his blog today that he heard a commercial on the radio that featured everyone's least favorite announcer, John Sterling. And in it, Sterling called the current Yankee Stadium, "The World's Most Famous Ballpark."

Uh, excuse me, John. But the current ballpark the New York Yankees play in is the third Yankee Stadium, and it was constructed in 2009. It is a completely different entity from the other two the Yankees played in in their history. It has been around for little over one year.

And talk about delusional. Even the old Yankee Stadiums were not even close to the "World Most Famous Ballpark." Once again, the Yankees have never heard of a sport called soccer. I'm sure I'll get all different choices are to what REALLY is the world's most famous ballpark, but you can make strong cases for Wembley Stadium (pictured) and Old Trafford in England, and Maracana Stadium in Brazil. And a few others in places like Italy, Spain and Germany as well. The world worships at the altar of soccer, and you'll see that tomorrow when the entire world (over 1 billion folks at least) tune in as the sport crowns a new world champion.

I've talked about this Yankee propaganda before. This crap they peddle that they are the greatest in the world (I'm not talking about winning World Series), that the entire world worships at their door. Most of the world doesn't pay attention to baseball. Millions around the world do, but baseball just doesn't compare to soccer on a worldwide basis.

And you can't call a park that been around little more than one year even "America's Most Famous Ballpark." The Yankees currently don't play in the Yankee Stadium that Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle played in. This current ballpark is a completely different entity that just happens to have the same name. The award for the current "America's Most Famous Ballpark" probably goes to either Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.

It never ceases to amaze me just how egomaniacal the Yankees can be when they think the whole world revolves around them. Just makes it that much easier to dislike them.

The Day Got Better and Better

When I got up yesterday, the news was spreading like wildfire that Cliff Lee was heading to New York, as a deal by the Mariners was supposedly 99% completed.

Not good, I thought. But later in the day, it was revealed that the Mariners got cold feet about one of the prospects the Yankees offered in the deal, and instead sent Lee to Texas with Mark Lowe for big time prospect Justin Smoak and three other minor leaguers. That was good to hear.

I was at MCU Park for the third time this year, watching the Brooklyn Cyclones play the State College Spikes. (Cyclones won, 4-2.) Seems like whenever I have to follow the Sox game while I'm there, they don't do well.

But every time I went to check a score last night, the run total for the Red Sox kept climbing. And climbing. It was 10-0 by the third, and then 13-0 by the fourth. The whoopin' sticks were out last night in Toronto, as Bill Hall, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron all launched home runs for the Sox. The hideous sweep in Tampa was a memory.

Jon Lester was beneficiary of all the runs, and he went six innings, allowing just two runs. The final was 14-3. The Rays were beaten by the Indians in St. Pete, so they gained a game on second place Tampa Bay. But New York won again, as the Mariners, without Cliff Lee who was scheduled to pitch before the trade, rolled over like dogs like just about everyone in the Yankees' way these days, so the Red Sox are still five agmnes back, two behind the Rays for second.

John Lackey takes the mound this afternoon in Toronto, the penultimate game before the All-Star break.

Touchdown, Rangers

I was watching the sports news in the early afternoon on Friday, and Buster Olney of ESPN said the line of the day (or words close to it, as it turned out later), as it seemed like a deal to send Cliff Lee to the Yankees was all but done:

"The deal to send Cliff Lee to the Yankees is on the one-yard line."

Well, the Yankees fumbled, and the Texas Rangers picked up the ball and ran it back 99 yards for a touchdown, as Lee is now a member of the Rangers.

Friday, July 09, 2010

He's No Facebook Friend Of Mine

I was on a friend's Facebook page yesterday, and she put up that she had voted Kevin Youkilis in the Final Man vote for the All-Star Game. (BTW, I am not bothered Youk isn't going. Let him rest his ankle for three days.) She's a big Red Sox fan. Some friend of hers, who is not a friend of mine, piped in about Youk, saying he was the most despised member of the Red Sox, and that his nickname is "Table For One."

I did some research to see if there was any validity in this, and I could find none. I answered the guy back, and told him that you must have Youk confused with Alex Rodriguez, and I could find no information about such a nickname.

The guy answered me back with some abuse, with words I won't put here. Yes, you guessed it, it was a jackass Yankee fan I was dealing with. (And really are there any other kinds? OK, there are.) At that point, I answered back with some colorful language of my own, but I later deleted it, as I didn't want to get into a pissing contest on my friend's Facebook page. (I've had people who I am friends with who don't know each other do that on my profile and dislike it very much.)

Anyway, you have to believe that if Kevin Youkilis was the most despised of all Red Sox, some scribe like Tony Massarotti or, of course, Dan Shaughnessy would jump all over that, and the word would get around. I'm not privy to the Red Sox clubhouse, of course, but I could find nothing on the Net about it. I remember the blowup Youk had with Manny Ramirez two years ago, but I haven't heard of any others with any other teammates.

But, with thanks to Joy of Sox, Youk had some pointed words for Jacoby Ellsbury yesterday.

Could Youk have some detractors among his Sox teammates? I'm sure he might (and I don't recall anyone going on the record on it).

So be careful who your Facebook friends are. You never know when they might be writing unsubstantiated nonsense about one of your favorite ballplayers.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

LeBron James Heads to Miami

Just wrote that title to get your attention. I'd be upset about this if I really cared.

Although this almost makes me want to become a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

The Red Sox' injuries and lousy bullpen concern me about 10,000 times more.

One last thing about this pathetic circus. It reminds me slightly of Roger Clemens bolting for Toronto in 1996. James handled this even worse than the Texas Con Man did, with that asinine one-hour "special" from ESPN. But they both gave their former fans the middle finger in how they departed, stringing those fans along, and neiter had the dignity to at least thank and wish their fans well. TCM said he wanted to play closer to his family in Texas and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. James went a step further and basically told the city of Cleveland to go screw yourselves on live national TV.

Both situations were unseemly, and have no respect for either man.