Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stink Floyd

The Red Sox ran into a buzzsaw on Sunday in their attempt to sweep the White Sox and the seven-game midwest road trip.

Gavin Floyd (pictured) retired the first 14 batters of the game before he walked Cody Ross. The no-hitter was still intact until the 7th, when Dustin Pedroia hit a clean single. The Red Sox got their first run on David Ortiz' double and Ross single. They had the opportunity to tie the game up, but left runners at second and third.

Josh Beckett had a very inauspicious start, giving up three in the first, including a two-run shot by Adam Dunn. But Beckett settled down, and left with the game at 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh.

Chicago added another run in the 8th, and that was it at 4-1.

I watched the entire game with the TV muted, as Extra Innings had the White Sox feed. As I have mentioned before, I find Ken Harrelson's brand of broadcasting a game to be the absolute worst, as I can't listen to any announcers openly rooting for the teams they cover. So I put on some music while I watched the game. It made watching a far more enjoyable experience.

But I did like those retro early 1970s uniforms the White Sox wore on Sunday (pictured). BTW, does any team in the majors change their uniforms more often than the White Sox do?

The Red Sox now head home at 10-11 for 2012, coming off a 6-1 road trip. Their bats were shut down in the final two games, scoring just two runs. But they got a win out of those two games, so I won't complain too loudly about that. They return to Fenway on Monday against Oakland.

Clint & the Dead Featured This Monday

Due to Tuesday night's Celtics-Hawks playoff game, we will be having Trivia Night this week on Monday, April 30th at 9 PM. (And next week as well, if the series does not end in a sweep for either team.) The crowds are anticipated to be rather large on Tuesday night, so doing Trivia will be nearly impossible with so many focused on the game. So on Monday night, the Special Category will be another edition of "Dead Rock Stars Trivia." I will ask you seven questions about rock (and other pop) stars who left this world way too soon.

The Q Train lightning round will be "Clint Eastwood Film Trivia." I will give you the names of ten popular films, and you have to tell me if the great Mr. Eastwood appeared in that movie.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What modern country was once home to ancient Aztecs?"

We get started right around 9 PM on Monday night. I appreciate all of you who are able to change your schedule and are able to come out on Monday. This entire month will we keep a close eye on the Celtics and their progress, and any games on Tuesday nights will move our Trivia Night over to Monday. I hope to see many of you on Monday night.

Back Even

The Red Sox got back to .500 last night as Jon Lester pitched a gem, and Alfredo Aceves was money in the ninth, as the Red Sox won their sixth straight in Chicago, 1-0.

Unfortunately, it was another of those games I had to follow on my iPhone, as I was playing softball last night, but every time I checked, the news was good.

Lester did have to escape a jam early on in the first, and had to throw 122 pitches in seven innings. But it was a gutty performance, showing why he is one of MLB's best lefthanders.

All he needed was an RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth inning, as he drove in Ryan Sweeney, who had opened the inning with a double.

Jake Peavy showed the form that made him one of MLB's best righthanders before he was hit with injuries the last couple of years for the White Sox. He went all the way and allowed just three hits, and Sweeney was the only Red Sox player to reach past first all night.

It took until Game 40 in 2011 for the Red Sox to get back to the .500 mark after the absolutely abysmal start (thanks Allan and Jere for the info), and this year they get back in half the time. (Although the Sox didn't start off as badly in 2012).

The Red Sox are still in fifth place, but are just 2 1/2 games out, and go for a perfect 7-0 road trip today with Josh Beckett taking the mound at The Cell.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Five Straight

The Red Sox lost their fifth straight game in amazingly embarrassing fashion last Saturday. It seemed it could not get any lower than that.

The Sox have not lost since.

They won their fifth straight since last Saturday, with another 10-3 thrashing of the White Sox in icebox conditions last night in ChiTown.

Daniel Bard went seven solid innings, allowed three runs, two earned.

It was a big night for Darnell McDonald, who hit a bases loaded double that untied the score at 3, and then hit a solo homer later in the game. He had two RBI heading into Friday's game, and tripled that total in two at-bats.

Cody Ross continues to impress at the plate, as the Rodeo Clown had two RBI singles.

The Red Sox have now scored 44 runs in this five-game winning streak, and lead the AL in total runs scored. A win tonight would get the Red Sox back to .500 at 10-10. Jon Lester takes the mound against Jake Peavy at the Cell this evening.

You can add your Red Sox photo to a cool Fenway Park 100th Anniversary Mosaic. I have three pictures in it: with the 2007 championship trophy, at Fenway on Opening Day this year and on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Red Sox Bomb Mr. Perfect

The Red Sox got the whoopin' sticks out again last night, and hit "Mr. Perfect." No, not Curt Hennig, who is pictured here (he actually died a few years back), but Philip Humber for nine runs in five innings, as the Sox coasted to a 10-3 win.

Kevin Youkilis belted a grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit two home runs to pace the attack. They got to Humber, who pitched a perfect game last Saturday in Seattle, for two runs in the first, and Felix Doubront took over from there. He went six innings, allowing three runs, and got his first win of 2012, and the third of his career. (With thanks to my buddy Jere, who corrected me in the original post.)

His first 2012 win should have been last Saturday, but let's not bring up that subject.

Youk and Salty are now red hot after slow starts. Junichi Tazawa pitched the final three innings and looked solid and got his first ever MLB save.

The Red Sox now have won four straight on this road trip, and are guaranteed a winning one, with three more games in Chicago before returning home next week.

The news continues to get worse for Carl Crawford, who now maybe out until August after he had his sore elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews. He is optimistic for an earlier return, but we shall see.

And a Happy 10th Anniversary to Derek Lowe, who threw a no-hitter on this day in 2002 at Fenway Park against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. And Yours Truly was there live to witness it. Thanks always for the great memory, D-Lowe.

Trivia Will Be This Monday, April 30th

The NBA just announced their schedule for the first round of the playoffs, and the Celtics will be playing the Atlanta Hawks for Game 2 on Tuesday, May 1st. Since we can't schedule Trivia opposite any of their playoff games as the crowds are too big, we will be moving Trivia Night over to Monday, April 30th at 9 PM.

And if the series goes to a Game 5, that will be on Tuesday, May 8th. If the series isn't a sweep, we will be doing Trivia on that Monday, May 7th.

I hate having to move Trivia Night, but we really have no other choice, as the basketball games would end far too late to begin Trivia Night. Game 2 is scheduled to start at 7:30, so it probably would conclude around 10:30.

I appreciate all of you who can reschedule your days and come out. Hope to see many of you this coming Monday night at 9 PM.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Wherever I Wind Up"

I recently completed reading New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey's new book "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball."

If you are going to read any baseball book this year, read this one.

Dickey has been known as quite the renaissance man, as his climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro last winter gained him lots of national attention. But he has lived quite a life, from former first round pick to journeyman pitcher to the current pitcher in the Mets rotation.

Dickey lets it all hang out in this book, which he wrote with New York Daily News writer Wayne Coffey (who I had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions at Professor Thom's for another story he was working on). He reveals many of the most intimate details of his life: from his parents broken marriage, his distant relationship with his father, to two occasions where he was sexually abused as a youngster, and how it had such a profound affect on his life.

Yep, it's not something you read in your average baseball biography.

Dickey had a promising career when he was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of the University of Tennessee in 1996. When he reported to the Rangers, he had a routine MRI done of his pitching arm, and it was discovered he had no UC ligament, and the Rangers dropped their original offer. It devastated Dickey, but he did sign a lesser offer with Texas a short time later.

The book also focuses on Dickey's relationship with God, and how it changed his life.

Dickey's career seemed on the road to be nothing more than a journeyman "AAAA" pitcher until Orel Hershiser, the Texas Rangers pitching coach, suggested Dickey try throwing a knuckleball. He met with knuckleball guru and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, and it would ultimately change Dickey's life forever, and lead him to the New York Mets in 2010.

Dickey comes off as a likable family man who has finally found peace. I admire the courage it took for him to write this book, especially telling the story of the dark times of his life, and how he managed to overcome them. It's an inspiring story, and if you get the chance, check out "Knuckleball!", the 2012 documentary he is featured in with Tim Wakefield.

Bullpen Bends. Doesn't Break.

Oh brother. I can't take much more of this.

The Red Sox got the bats out on Wednesday night, and staked Clay Buchholz to a six-run lead by the fifth inning, 7-1. Mike Aviles blasted a three-run shot in the second, and Dustin Pedroia had a single, double and triple. It looked like another laugher against the Twins.

Then, Buchholz, who was struggling most of the evening, faltered in the sixth, and left with one out and a 7-2 lead with the bases loaded. In came Scott Atchison, who gave a sharp single to Joe Mauer off his leg that scored two runs. And for whatever reason I cannot fathom, and Tom Kelly, who was doing color on the Twins feed which I was watching, wondered the same thing: Bobby Valentine took Atchison, who was not injured, out after just the one batter.

Why? I still have no idea.

Justin Thomas, who has been absolutely worthless this season, allowed two more runs to score on hits, and then hit Chris Parmelee in the helmet with a fastball. He had to leave, but appeared in the dugout later to be fine.

Valentine brought in Matt Albers, who got a ground ball DP to keep the lead at 7-6.

Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales pitched an inning apiece, and both looked sharp.

And then comes the ninth, and the Alfredo Aceves Highwire Act.

He got the first out, then gave up to straight singles, and then got a ground out to put men on second and third. He hit Ben Revere to load the bases. He then struck out Denard Span to preserve the win and sweep the series from the Twins.

Now it's off to Chicago for four with the White Sox.

I've always said this team has taken at least five years off my life. It's gonna be ten by the time 2012 ends.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another Nine Run Lead. Doesn't Disappear This Time.

As I was doing my Trivia Night last night, the Red Sox were scoring early and often, and every time I looked up, it seemed they were pouring it on.

Then I looked up to see the Sox up 10-2 in the bottom of the sixth, with two outs. Josh Beckett had just thrown his 99th pitch, and I realized something: it was nearly the exact same line as Felix Doubront had last Saturday.

8-run lead in six innings, 99 pitches thrown.


Fortunately, Beckett struck out the last batter of the inning on his 100th pitch, and it ended his night. It made me feel much better. It wasn't exactly the same. (And the opponents were the Twins and not the Yankees. Just a slight difference.)

The bullpen was stellar last night. Scott Atchison retired all six his faced, and Matt Albers just a single in the ninth to wrap it up.

Mike Aviles (I'm glad I have him on both of my fantasy teams) went 4-for-5 with a home run, and David Ortiz continued his torrent hitting, blasting a moon shot and now leads the AL in batting at .444.

Josh Beckett walked three in a shaky first inning, after getting a 3-0 lead. It looked like he was going to give back the three runs, but allowed just one, on the third walk.

It's two straight for the Sox, and they go for the sweep at Target Field tonight with Clay Buchholz, who really needs to straighten out his season in a hurry.

Trivia Q&A: April 24

It was another big night of Trivia, with 23 teams taking part. The Red Sox and Celtics both had games going on, but it was an overwhelmingly pro-Trivia crowd at Thom's.

The scores were better than I would have thought for US and World Geography Trivia, but they were a bit less for True or False Trivia. No one got the "mintonette" question in General Knowledge, and almost every team said "badminton" (it was volleyball). Heck, I would have said badminton, too!

We had three teams within three points of each other going into IQ Trivia, but the team in first, 33 Days and Counting, got all five IQ Trivia questions correct to win the night with 50 points. A nice win for Emily and her friends, after they had been out the last two weeks.

Second place went to If John Sterling Said It, Then It Must Be Right with 43 points, and third place went to John Quinn Still Owes Me $47 From Our Trip To Colombia with 42 points.

Best Team Name: The Meatish Sweetballs

An important announcement about next week: Right now, we don't know which day Trivia Night will be next week, as the Celtics will have their first round playoff series, and the Bruins have their Game 7 tomorrow. If they win, they will continue in the playoffs. Both the NBA and NHL will announce their playoff schedules either Thursday or Friday, and we will know then about next week. Please check with the blog or on Facebook Friday for more info.

Current Events
1. The National Army Museum of London recently held a contest to pick who was the UK's most outstanding military opponent. What individual was the winner?
2. What radio personality's lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio was dismissed by a judge last week, which was over stock payments he said was promised him but not paid?
3. Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher, at 49, to ever win an MLB game when he got the win over the San Diego Padres. What NL team does he currently pitch for?
4. Which electronics retailer announced recently that they will be closing 50 of their 1400 US stores this coming summer?
5. What Asian country launched its first ever long-range intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday?
6. Jim Yong Kim was elected president of what organization last week, which is based in Washington D.C.?
7. What troubled Hollywood actress got into a nasty confrontation with another woman in a nightclub last Wednesday and had a drink poured in her face?

US and World Geography Trivia
1. Which of the five Great Lakes is farthest south?
2. The Orange River is the largest river in what African country?
3. The Savannah River forms a border between Georgia and what other state?
4. Saudi Arabia and Iran are separated by what body of water?
5. Melville Island is located in what Canadian province?
6. The Nubian Desert is located on what continent?
7. What sea is off the coast of Libya?

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Rats cannot vomit.
2. The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy awarded in all of sports.
3. Yale University is America's oldest university.
4. Jimmy Carter was the first US president born in a hospital.
5. The leech has 32 brains.
6. The pig was the first domesticated animal.
7. George Washington Carver invented peanut butter.
8. "Touch" was the original name of the all-girl pop group The Spice Girls.
9. The Canary Islands are actually named after dogs.
10. CNN was the first cable channel to operate in the United States.

General Knowledge
1. What river does the city of London, England lie on? ( 1 pt)
2. In the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle", which animal laughed to see such fun? ( 1 pt)
3. What organ of the body produces cholesterol? ( 1 pt)
4. What early 1980s sitcom used Billy Joel's hit song "My Life" as its theme song in the opening credits? ( 2 pt)
5. What is the maximum number of digits that can fit on a Sudoku board? ( 2 pt)
6. John Gotti was once the boss of what New York crime family? ( 2 pt)
7. What sport was originally known as "mintonette?" ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Vincent Furnier is the real name of what American rock star? ( 4 points)
2. The All Blacks are the national rugby union team from what country? ( 4 points)
3. "Evocateur" is a 2012 documentary about what controversial 1908s TV personality? ( 5 points)
4. "Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts" is the original title of what 18th century literary classic? ( 3 points)
5. Which cartoon character was the first to appear on a US postage stamp? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. George Washington; 2. Howard Stern; 3. Colorado Rockies; 4. Best Buy; 5. India; 6. The World Bank; 7. Lindsay Lohan.

US and World Geography Trivia
1. Lake Erie; 2. South Africa; 3. South Carolina; 4. Persian Gulf; 5. Nova Scotia; 6. Africa; 7. Mediterranean Sea.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. true; 2. false, America's Cup; 3. false, Harvard; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, dog; 7. true; 8. true. 9. true; 10. false, HBO.

General Knowledge
1. Thames; 2. dog; 3. liver; 4. "Bosom Buddies;" 5. eighty-one; 6. Gambino; 7. volleyball.

IQ Trivia
1. Alice Cooper; 2. New Zealand; 3. Morton Downey Jr.; 4. "Gulliver's Travels;" 5. Bugs Bunny.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ross To The Rescue

Cody Ross gave the Red Sox a huge boost last night, blasting the tying and game-winning home runs as the Red Sox came from behind to beat the Twins, 6-5.

Jon Lester had one bad inning, the fourth, when he gave up four runs, including a two-run homer to Danny Valencia. He settled down and retired the final seven he faced after Minnesota added another run in the 5th.

The Red Sox got their first five runs off Jason Marquis, whose last appearance against the Red Sox was fairly notable: the Sox beat him 3-0, on October 27, 2004 to win their first World Series in 86 years back in 2004.

In the 8th, Franklin Morales allowed a triple to Jamey Carroll and my first thoughts were "here go the Bullpens Arsonists again." He got one out, and then Bobby Valentine brought in Daniel Bard, who got the Sox out of the inning unscathed with a lineout and popup.

Ross put the Sox ahead with a two-out home run to right. Valentine brought in Alfredo Aceves, who allowed just a single in getting the save. (But that second out, a long fly to left that I thought was gone, had me holding my breath.)

Valentine said after the game that Bard maybe used for another inning in the Minnesota series, but he will definitely make his next start on Friday night in Chicago.

On that subject, I don't see where the Red Sox have any other real choice but to keep Bard in the bullpen. Aceves has been simply brutal in the closer role, and would be better served setting up along with Scott Atchison. Andrew Bailey won't be back until the All-Star break, and Mark Melancon is working out his problems at Pawtucket (and has pitched well so far), so you don't know when he'll be back.

You can't trade for any kind of decent bullpen help right now, as no team will move anyone until July 31st at the earliest. Bard's future is definitely as a starter, but in the short-term, he should be working out of the pen. Aaron Cook has pitched well at AAA, and can (and probably will) declare his free agency on May 1st if he is not in Boston. Until the pen settles down, keep Bard where he is for now.

And also, you may have heard this story out of the NY Daily News the other day from jackass sportswriter Bill Madden (sorry, I don't respect this guy, never have) about the "blow-up" Bobby Valentine had with Mike Aviles in the first week of spring training, and how the players forced Bobby V to "apologize" to him shortly afterwards. Sorry, I don't buy this at all. Why? Do you really think a story like this would have escaped the vultures in the Boston media, who've been on a feeding frenzy since last September? And it took a New York tabloid writer, a devout Red Sox hater, to break this? Sounds very fishy to me.

Anyway, the five-game losing streak is over, and Josh Beckett takes on the Twins tonight at Target Field.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Places From Near & Far Featured This Week

Trivia Night on Tuesday at Professor Thom's will feature "US and World Geography," seven questions about places around this planet and country of ours.

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

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What organ of the body produces cholesterol?"

We will get started around 9 PM. There is a Celtics-Heat matchup tomorrow night at 8 PM, so I am not exactly sure of the precise starting time. We will see. But I do encourage you to get to Professor Thom's earlier rather than later, as tables continue to be gobbled up quickly. Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prayed For Rain. Wish Answered.

The best possible thing for the Red Sox happened today. A rainout.

I was hoping for one, as I'd rather play a four-game series with New York in either July or September. (July would be better as I'd hate to lose off days in the last month of the season.)

No specific makeup date has been announced.

Now it's off to Minnesota and Chicago, as the Red Sox try to get some dignity back.

At Least I Saw "Knuckleball!" Yesterday

I did a very smart thing on Saturday. I was invited to the "Knuckleball!" premiere at the Tribeca Drive-In last night, and even before it started, something told me not to watch the Red Sox-Yankees, and just follow it on my iPhone.

I'm so glad I did.

I saw the film at the Tribeca Drive-In, which is in the shadow of the World Trade Center site on the Hudson River, just off Vesey Street. I was thinking of a special friend while looking up at the under-construction 1 World Trade Center. A nice crowd turned out for the 8:30 PM start, just after the sun had gone down. (It was my first movie I've taken it at a "drive-in" in some time.)

"Knuckleball!" is a terrific documentary about the famous pitchers who've thrown that crazy pitch, and the film was centered on the careers of the last two pitchers who've thrown it: Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.

Both men were at the premiere, introducing the film to the audience. I had the pleasure of watching the film with Lisa and Jon from Subway Squawkers in one of the VIP sections.

If you get the chance, catch the film when it becomes available. It's a great tribute to a small fraternity of pitchers who've mastered the pitch (Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Wilbur Wood and Jim Bouton are also featured as well), and how R.A. Dickey is now the final keeper of the flame.

BTW, before the film, they brought 9 people up to answer "knuckleball" trivia questions for free tickets to a Mets game at Citi Field, and I was one of them. Most of the questions were rather easy, but the one I drew was "Who was the first knuckleball pitcher to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated?" It was multiple choice, and I guessed "Tim Wakefield." I was apparently wrong, and the answer was Wilbur Wood. Then the guy next to me was asked who the catcher was who was rushed to Fenway Park in 2006 in a police car to catch Tim Wakefield. He guessed Jason Varitek.

Dougie would not be pleased with that response.

The Kiss of Death

Red Sox owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino met with Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington in Valentine's office after Saturday's debacle.

Cherington, on Valentine's job performance:

"Very satisfied. He makes the lineup out, makes decisions during the game. The players will always influence wins and losses more than anybody else, and that's no different here. He's doing the best he can with the roster he has. It'll get better, He knows that and I know that, and along the way if changes need to be made on the roster, that's my responsibility."

Who the hell is Cherington trying to kid?

I'm betting Valentine's a goner, perhaps sooner rather than later.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Complete and Utter Disgrace

The only good things I can say about Saturday's game are: Felix Doubront pitched very well, and I did not witness one pitch of this entire travesty.

Last September wasn't bad enough. The crap over the winter wasn't bad enough, either.

You guys simply can't resist embarrassing your loyalest fans enough, can you?

Last April, I was a bit worried about the bad 2-10 start, but I knew they were a far better club than they showed. I had faith in Terry Francona and things would turn for the better. They did.

Does even one of you out there think this will get any better with The Smartest Guy In The Room at the controls?

The Red Sox have made a terrible mistake in the manager's office. And they have a ton of problems that can't be fixed quickly.

I am angry. And I am embarrassed. 

And the Sox acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Cubs tonight for righty reliever Michael Bowden, who was DFA'd last week. That will surely help this shitty bullpen, won't it?

Some People Have No Shame. Anything For Publicity.

There was one drawback to yesterday's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park at the Fan Cave.

It was the presence of one of the worst media whores in New York. (And no, I'm not talking about myself.)

I will not name this person, as I don't want to give him any more publicity, which he undoubtedly craves.

When I got to the Fan Cave, he was first in line to get in. He loves to be "first in line" for everything, and get his name in the papers or on TV by talking to the media. (He's even been banned by a few outlets.) I saw him at the Riviera for Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, wearing a Red Sox shirt. (He's an admitted Yankee fan, according to his Wikipedia page. Yes, he has one.) He was acting like a crazy Sox fan, and did his best to get camera time early on in the game. But surprisingly (or maybe not) by the time the Red Sox won it all, he was gone.

We were watching the ceremonies, and he really pissed me off when he tried to get a "Who's Your Daddy" chant when Pedro Martinez came out. He was thankfully ignored, and gave up. I was so tempted to give this prick a piece of my mind, but out of respect to the Fan Cave people, I held my tongue and ignored him the rest of the day.

This man has no shame. I remember many years ago, he turned up at at least two 9/11 remembrances wearing a special shirt that really angered one of my friends, who lost a brother at the World Trade Center. The media whore lost no one on 9/11, but he'll do anything so he can tell people "Did you see me on TV?"

Fortunately, this idiot didn't ruin what was a wonderful day yesterday (the current Red Sox almost did that). As much as I detest the Yankees and many of their fans, I have a special place reserved for those who pose as Red Sox fans just to get publicity.

And that goes double for anyone who uses 9/11 to get face time.

Some people have no shame. Or conscience.

A Day For Memories

It was an incredible day on Friday, at both Fenway Park and Greenwich Village.

The Red Sox hosted an amazing ceremony before Friday's game, bringing out more than 200 former players, coaches and managers to honor Fenway's 100th birthday. With the scores of "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural" both playing, Jim Rice was the first player to come out, from the left field garage, and he was followed by Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner (without the stache!). The players came out just with the music and their identifications on the scoreboard.

To no one's surprise, Terry Francona got the biggest ovation of anyone on the day. Players kept coming out and coming out, many of whom I did not recognize. (The Red Sox were smart putting their last names on their old home jerseys.) Pedro Martinez and Bill Lee seemed to enjoy their entrances more than anyone.

And Carl Yastrzemski made the final entrance, coming out of the first base dugout.

The former players all took their positions on the field, were met by the current Sox players, and then met in the middle of the field in one huge gathering of family. Combine that with the closing music from "Field of Dreams", and Yours Truly was wiping away a few tears.

It was truly well-done, on a 100th birthday fitting for America's Most Beloved Ballpark. Here's the complete list of all the players, coaches and managers who were in attendance. (To no one's surprise, Roger Clemens, Grady Little, Don Zimmer and Mike Torrez were not on the premises.) My friend Jere was up in Monster Seats yesterday, and has many cool pics of the event.

I spent the afternoon at the MLB Fan Cave, taking in the ceremonies with many Red Sox fan friends of mine in a special celebration there. The two recent Red Sox championship trophies were there (they were the Real McCoy and the above pic is of me and my pal Alex) and everyone enjoyed the day (that is until the first pitch was thrown). After it was over, we were given a really cool ditty bag of gifts: a t-shirt, the 2004 and 2007 World Series programs, a drinking mug, some dirt from Fenway and two tickets to a game this season. (I got a game against the Twins on August 2.)

As I have previously mentioned, the MLB Fan Cave is the former home of Tower Records, where I worked for six years in the 1980s. I had been there last year, but they had changed a few things around since then. Everywhere I looked brought back memories of a generation ago. I watched a good part of the game in the basement level, where the old cassette department was. There were couches and TVs, and told my friends some stories of when I worked there.

I was most surprised to see that the old receiving department had been converted into a kitchen, and the old countout room next to it was now a bathroom. I went into it and couldn't believe that I had once counted money there!

It was incredibly bittersweet. Back then was an incredible part of my life that I look back with a lot of affection. (I didn't take any pictures of those rooms. I was torn if I should or not, but decided against it.) I thought of all those wonderful friends I made in my time at Tower, and was thinking especially of those friends who have left this world in particular.

I couldn't help but smile when I saw the two championship trophies in the middle of what used to be the rock floor. I was in that exact spot when the Red Sox were losing Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and took a lot of crap from many people for years. And a generation later, here are not one but two Red Sox championships on display.

Above and beyond surreal.

And yes, there was a game yesterday.

I'm not going to talk about that. I don't want to ruin what was a very nostalgic day in my life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Century of Fenway

The old gal turns 100 today.

Tom Seaver said it best during a game about 20 years ago when he called Fenway "the palace of baseball."

The Red Sox take on the Yankees in the 100th anniversary game at Fenway today. Both teams will wear throwback uniforms to that original game in 1912, that the Sox won over New York, 7-6 in 11 innings.

I will be at the MLB Fan Cave today, as they will be hosting Red Sox fans in the New York for a special viewing party of all the festivities and the game. I was at the Fan Cave last year and really enjoyed it. For me, it is something really special, as the Fan Cave is at Broadway and E. 4th Street in Manhattan, where I spent six years of my life when it was the Tower Records store. I also worked for a number of music distributing companies that took me into the store over the years until Tower finally closed for good in 2006. I have about ten million memories in that location, so it will be bittersweet.

Fenway Park had an open house yesterday, inviting fans to come in for free and tour the place. A few friends of mine went, and my pal Jere has a cool post about it today.

It will be very interesting to see all the pregame ceremonies today, which include the return of Terry Francona.

I hope you all enjoy the day, and to conclude, here is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes involving America's Most Beloved Ballpark: Happy Birthday Fenway. May you enjoy many, many more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As The Boobirds Get Louder and Louder

Let's just say Bobby Valentine isn't inspiring a lot of confidence right now.

He was booed lustily (love that adjective) by the Fenway Faithful in the 8th inning after leaving Franklin Morales in too long in the 8th, another head-scratching move in a long series of head-scratching moves The Smartest Guy In The Room has made in his first 12 games.

Another loss, a 6-3 one to the scary-good Texas Rangers and their one-man Red Sox wrecking machine, Mike Napoli.

Positives last night? Josh Beckett pitched seven solid innings, allowing three runs. Kevin Youkilis hit his first home run of 2012 in the second inning. The Sox came to life in the ninth, getting the tying run to the plate before Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined into a DP to end the game.

Before the season, I said the Red Sox needed to get off to a good start to at least push the memories of 2011 off to the side and not have them shoved into their faces every five minutes. (I guess 4-8 is better than last year's 2-10 start, right?)

Right now, all we've had is more embarrassment. The Smartest Guy In The Room, who will have two radio shows and a TV show every week to shoot his mouth off on, is bound to say something so incredibly stupid and piss off another Red Sox player (Kevin Youkilis is only the first of many I'm sure), it's just a matter of where, when and at whose expense it will come on.

It makes me wonder if Valentine will survive the season. Management will give him tons of rope, but if he loses that clubhouse (if he hasn't already, as Dustin Pedroia's defense of Youk was very telling) and teams fortunes slip quickly, I don't see how they can't act.

This is Valentine's last best shot at managing a winner. If he screws it up, he'll only have himself to blame.

And BTW, my friend Sully has a good column today with a theory as to what Terry Francona's real reason for going to tomorrow's 100th anniversary celebration is after initially declining. I have to agree with him. Worth the time to check out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tito's Returning. Melancon's Leaving. DC Departs.

No, it's not what you think.

But Terry Francona has had a change of heart, and will be attending the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park this Friday.

Now who do you think will get the loudest and longest ovation that afternoon?

Here's more from ESPN Boston.

And Mark Melancon, he of the ERA of nearly 50.00, will not be witnessing the anniversary celebrations live, as he was optioned to Pawtucket today, and Junichi Tazawa will replace him on the roster.

And a fond farewell to the legendary Dick Clark, who passed away of heart attack this morning at the age of 82. It was sad seeing him on New Year's the past few years, and I wished he retired after he had his stroke in 2004.

In his memory, here is Dick Clark making a memorable cameo on the great "Police Squad" series from 1982:

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Clark.

Henry Hill Puts Last Night Into Perspective

Jon Lester had nothing, and gave up seven runs. Mark Melancon gave up three home runs and didn't get an out, and now has an ERA of 49.50. (And a ticket to Pawtucket coming?)

The Red Sox lost and lost butt ugly, 18-3 to Texas.

Reformed gangster Henry Hill (as played by Ray Liotta) said it best in the classic film "Goodfellas":

"Every once and a while I'd have to take a beating. But by then, I didn't care. The way I saw it? EVERYBODY TAKES A BEATING SOMETIME."

But hopefully not this bad again.(It was also the first time the Sox lost by 15 runs in 12 years.)

Josh Beckett goes for his second win tonight.

Trivia Q&A: April 17

We had 22 teams in on a busy night that saw the Red Sox get their heads handed to them by Texas. Seems like every time I looked up the Rangers were putting up a crooked number.

Anyway, we had a noisy crowd in, and some strong numbers in most categories throughout the evening. Most folks knew who their dead and living celebrities were.

I did make General Knowledge and the IQ Trivia rounds harder than last week, but the numbers were still good. The top two teams, Squam Rock Land Trust and A Special Message to a Special Waitress: Happy Early Birthday Amanda! both were tied going into IQ Trivia and were the only teams to get all five right in the final round, so we had a tie-breaker question: How many shows has Elton John performed at MSG in his career? ( It was based on IQ question #3.) A Special Message was closest to the correct answer (62), and won the night with 52 points. Congrats to Gillian, Joe and the whole crew.

Third place went to with 42 points.

Best Team Name: Barbie Can't Get Pregnant Because Ken Comes In Another Box

Current Events
1. What country denied reports last week that it will begin a project this August to shut down internet access throughout the nation?
2. Nine miners were rescued after being trapped for six days from a copper mine in what South American country?
3. What singer's newest album recently debuted at number one, but in its second week, sales dropped 87%, the highest drop by a number one album since 1991?
4. President Obama referred to what musician as a "jackass" in a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine, and he called him the same name in another interview three years earlier?
5. Bobby Petrino, head coach of what college football team, was fired last week after a motorcycle accident revealed the married coach had a mistress half his age?
6. What classic rocker had five guitars stolen from a California soundstage where he and his band were rehearsing for an upcoming tour?
7. What rock star says he will not be in attendance when he and his group are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, due to the "awkward situation" it would cause?

April 17th Trivia
1. On this day in 1970, what spacecraft, which was scheduled to land on the moon, arrived back on Earth safely after an oxygen tank exploded four days earlier?
2. In 1986, the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years War officially ended with a peace treaty was signed between the Isles of Scilly and what European country?
3. On this date in 1969, Sirhan Sirhan was convicted in the assassination of what American?
4. Which important southern state became the 8th state to join the Confederacy on this date in 1861?
5. Comedian Dick Shawn died on this date in 1987. In what 1968 film did he famously play Adolf Hitler?
6. In 1946, Syria gained its independence from the occupation of what European country?
7. William Holden was born on this date in 1918. In 1954, which war film did he win the Academy Award for Best Actor for?

Dead or Alive Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Bea Arthur
2. George McGovern
3. Geraldine Ferraro
4. Kirk Douglas
5. Zsa Zsa Gabor
6. Jerry Lewis
7. Andy Rooney
8. Dr. Jack Kevorkian
9. Maya Angelou
10. Abe Vigoda

General Knowledge
1. The cue ball in billiards is what color? ( 1 pt)
2. Chris Martin is the lead singer for what rock band? ( 1 pt)
3. What actress gained fame from appearing in such films as "Dial M For Murder", "Rear Window" and "High Noon?" ( 1 pt)
4. What silent film legend was called "The Man With a Thousand Faces?" ( 2 pt)
5. In the game of Scrabble, how many points is the letter "Z" worth? ( 2 pt)
6. Which golfer holds the record for winning the most Masters championships, with six? ( 2 pt)
7. Yeti Airlines provides domestic air service in what Asian country? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Which planet was named after Hermes, an Olympian god in the Greek religion and mythology? ( 3 points)
2. The South Pacific island that's called Rapa Nui by its Polynesian inhabitants is also known by what other name? ( 4 points)
3. What rock superstar holds the record for the most concert appearances by a single artist ever at Madison Square Garden? ( 4 points)
4. What well-known food and beverage retailer was founded in Quincy, MA in 1950? ( 4 points)
5. What famous songwriter once wrote a song called "I Paid My Income Tax Today" at the behest of the Secretary of the Treasury? ( 5 points)

Current Events
1. Iran; 2. Peru; 3. Madonna; 4. Kanye West; 5. Arkansas Razorbacks; 6. Tom Petty; 7. Axl Rose.

April 17th Trivia
1. Apollo 13; 2. Netherlands; 3. Robert F. Kennedy; 4. Virginia; 5. "The Producers;" 6. France; 7. "Stalag 17."

Dead or Alive Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. dead; 2. alive; 3. dead; 4. alive; 5. alive; 6. alive; 7. dead; 8. dead; 9. alive; 10. alive.

General Knowledge
1. white; 2. Coldplay; 3. Grace Kelly; 4. Lon Chaney Sr; 5. ten; 6. Jack Nicklaus; 7. Nepal.

IQ Trivia
1. Mercury; 2. Easter Island; 3. Elton John; 4. Dunkin' Donuts; 5. Irving Berlin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My friend Lisa Swan over at Subway Squawkers is holding a contest to win a chance to sit in the VIP section for the premiere of the film "Knuckleball" this coming Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan.

I will be attendance for the film, which is a documentary centered on knuckleballers Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, and it was filmed during the 2011 season. You can also get a chance to win an autographed movie poster, signed by Wake, R.A., Charlie Hough and Jim Bouton.

If you'd like to enter in Lisa's contest, go here to check out the info.

The film on Saturday will take place at the Tribeca Drive-In, which is at the World Financial Center Plaza, which is located on West Street between Liberty and Vesey Streets. The Drive-In will open at 6 PM, with pitching clinics by Wakefield, Dickey, Hough and Bouton. There will also be music and giveaways, before the film starts at 8:15 PM.

You can check out more about the Knuckleball film by going to

Monday, April 16, 2012

I See The Sox Lose On Tape-Delay

Today I had an interesting gig in my background acting job. I did a photo shoot inside Madison Square Garden for Chase. It was really cool, as the basketball court was up for tomorrow night's Knicks-Celtics game. I walked across it, and called my dad in Florida from the middle of center court: "Hey Dad, you'll never guess where I am?" It is a place with so much history, and it was a lot of fun.

But that meant I was going to miss today Patriot's Day game between the Red Sox and Rays. But I did something today I never did before: I taped a baseball game on my DVR, and did my utmost not to know a single thing that was going on at Fenway. And I was successful.

I got home just after 5 PM and turned on my TV and settled in with my remote. It was great, watching a three-hour game in almost exactly have the time, eliminating commercials and other pauses.

I saw that the Sox ran into a buzzsaw at Fenway named James Shields. Fenway is normally his House of Horrors (lifetime he was 1-9 going into Monday), but Shields, who has somehow gotten a nickname of "Big Game James" (name me the first big game he has ever pitched and won) was on his game, going 8 1/3 innings and getting the win as the Sox lost, 1-0.

Daniel Bard was good, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just the one run (on a bases loaded walk) in the 7th. Bobby Valentine kept him in despite the fact he was clearly running out of gas. (Bard walked seven, including the final two hitters on four pitches each).

The game ended very frustratingly for the Red Sox. They got Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz on first and second with two outs, and Cody Ross was caught looking to end the game. But the pitch zone clearly showed that all five pitches closer Fernando Rodney threw were out of the strike zone. Another of MLB's incompetent umps, Larry Vanover, looked like he was in a rush to get out of Fenway. Terrific.

Anyway, the Sox took three of four from Tampa Bay and face the AL champion Texas Rangers at Fenway for two games starting tomorrow night.

Three Things You Can't Avoid: Death, Taxes & Trivia

The Special Category for Trivia Night at Professor Thom's this week will be "April 17th Trivia." It will be seven questions about the date in history. (Remember, April 17th is also the deadline for getting your taxes in this year, as April 15th falls on a Sunday. So you'll only have about an hour to get them in when we finish Trivia that night. Don't forget now...)

The Q Train lightning round will be "Dead or Alive Trivia." I'll give you the names of ten famous people and you will tell me if they've gone to meet their Maker yet or not.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Chris Martin is the lead singer of what rock band?"

We get going right around 9 PM. The Red Sox have a game with the Texas Rangers and the Celtics take on the Knicks, but neither game should delay us from our appointed Trivia rounds. The crowds have been increasing again, so get in early to get a good table. See you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Day, Another Blast Across Lansdowne

The Red Sox on Sunday were the ones who let a four run lead get away against Tampa Bay, but they made a good accounting of themselves and pulled out a 6-4 win over the Rays on Sunday.

The Sox opened the scoring on a three-run blast in the second inning by Cody Ross, a ball that went across Lansdowne Street into the parking lot. Dustin Pedroia hit one in nearly the same spot on Saturday.

They added another in the fifth on Kelly Shoppach's double, and another an inning later when the red-hot David Ortiz doubled in the go-ahead run.

Mike Aviles hit his second homer in as many days in the seventh to put it on ice.

Felix Doubront shutout Tampa Bay for the first four innings, but the Rays got him for three in the fifth, and one in the sixth, and he left with a 4-4 tie. The bullpen handled Tampa Bay the rest of the way, allowing then just four hits.

Vicente Padilla got his first win and Alfredo Aceves pitched a 1-2-3 ninth (his third straight perfect outing) for his second save.

The Sox go for the four-game sweep on Monday morning at 11 AM, as it is Patriots Day in Boston, with Daniel Bard taking on James Shields.

A Sad Day

Remembering today:

Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated 147 years ago on this day.

The 1400 victims of the Titanic, which sank a century ago today.

The 96 Liverpool fans who were killed at Hillsborough Stadium on this date in 1989.

Joey Ramone, who left us too soon on this day in 2001.

And earlier this week, I neglected to mention another sad anniversary that had passed. It was 20 years ago last Tuesday that the great Sam Kinison was killed in a car accident in Nevada. I saw him twice live in concert, and even saw him once at Tower Records after his first album came out in 1986. I had just arrived on a vacation in London in 1992 when I got the news of Sam's death.

In remembrance of him, here is his very first appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman", on November 14, 1985. It was the first time I ever saw him and nearly fell off my couch laughing. I was immediately a fan.

A lot of sad events occurred on this day, so let's have some laughs:

Thank you, Sam.

Four Down In The First? No Problem.

Last night was Opening Night for my Saturday night softball league on Hudson Street in Manhattan, so I was able to catch just the first four innings of yesterday's Red Sox-Rays game from Fenway.

I caught the remainder on my iPhone, and the news on it about the game was always good.

It looked like another day when Clay Buchholz just din't have it, as he gave up four Tampa Bay runs in the first, including a three-run homer by every Sox fan's favorite, noted "birther" and charter member of the Stupid Beard Club, Luke Scott. The Rays starter was Jeremy Hellickson, who shut out New York over eight innings in his last start. I wasn't feeling terribly confident.

But the Sox got the bats rolling, with Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles and Cody Ross belting home runs. Aviles replaced Jacoby Ellsbury as the leadoff man and had three hits.

Papi had four hits and 5 RBI. The game was tied 5-5 until the seventh, when the Sox scored three, and added five more for good measure in the eighth.

Buchholz allowed all five Rays runs, but Tampa Bay got only two hits after the third inning, and Buch, Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves silcening the Rays offense.

The Red Sox have scored 25 runs in the first two games of the series, after scoring just 22 in the first six games on the road.

The Sox also brought up Jason Repko and Nate Spears from Pawtucket today, and sent Che-Hsuan Lin back to AAA, and designated Michael Bowden for assignment.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

15-6 At The Fens

My second Opening Day at Fenway Park was a memorable one, as the Sox battered Tampa Bay 12-2. (That's Yours Truly above before the game began yesterday.) I went up to Fenway with the BLOHARDS, and it was a great trip. 100 or so us New York City-based loyalists made the trip up in two buses. We were out in Section 3 of the RF Grandstand, which many thought was one of the better seats we've ever had on Opening Day.

It was my 21st ever game at the Fens, and the 15th time they emerged victorious. Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek both threw out first pitches, to Dwight Evans and Jim Rice.

Josh Beckett was sharp, as he allowed just the one run in the second inning. The Red Sox got the bats going in the third, scored three runs, and that was enough for Beckett.

He got a rather mixed ovation from the sellout crowd, as did Bobby Valentine as well. I'm surprised Luke Scott wasn't booed more vociferously. And BTW, that knucklehead was shooting his mouth off again yesterday.  (Screw you, Birther Boy.)

It was still close at 4-1 in the 8th when the Sox exploded for the first time this season, scoring eight runs. The first nine hitters in the inning reached base safely, and 14 men came to the plate in the inning.

Ben Zobrist hit a solo shot in the ninth off Mark Melancon to finish it at 12-2. Not a good sign when a struggling releiver comes in for some work to wrap it up and still gives up runs.

Kelly Shoppach had three hits, 2 doubles and 3 RBI, Kevin Youkilis had two hits and three RBI (hopefully he's coming around),  and David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury each had two hits.

Ellsbury's injury cast a bit of a pall over the win yesterday. He was trying to break up a DP when he went into Rays shortstop Reid Brignac, and Brignac fell on top of Ellsbury and landed on his shoulder. It was an unfortunate injury. No timetable for his return yet.

It was a much needed win for the Sox. They are now 2-5, and face Tampa Bay again this afternoon, the second of a four-game series, with Clay Buchholz facing Jeremy Hellickson.

Ellsbury: Out Six Weeks, Maybe More

I'm guessing Red Sox fans might be feeling the way Vincent D'Onofrio's character "Gomer Pyle" from "Full Metal Jacket" felt after the news that Jacoby Ellsbury will be out a minimum of six weeks with a shoulder dislocation he suffered trying to break up a double play in yesterday's opener:

We should know more about Ellsbury's injury today. He was placed on the 15-day DL and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was brought up from Pawtucket.

Just what the Sox need: more injuries.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Season 101 At The Fens Begins. And I Am There.

Today I am off to Fenway Park for my second Opening Day ever at America's Most Beloved Ballpark.

I am heading up there on a bus trip with the BLOHARDS, the New York City-based Red Sox fan group. I'll be in Section 3 of the RF Grandstand, and I'll have plenty to write about I am sure, and it will be up here on Saturday. (I was there for my first Opening Day in 2010, a Sunday night win over the Yankees.)

This will be my 21st game ever at Fenway Park. My first was on May 20, 1986, when the Sox played the Minnesota Twins. The Sox knocked out Frank Viola after just 6 batters (he didn't get an out), and went on to a 17-7 win. The batter up that night was Kirby Puckett, and pitching was Roger Clemens. (For years I said it was a matchup of two future Hall of Famers. Now, I'm not so sure.) BTW, Puckett left the early as the game became a blowout, and was replaced by a backup named Billy Beane. Yep, the guy who was once played in the movies by Brad Pitt.

I have good luck seeing the Red Sox live. This will also be the 43rd game I have ever been to with the Red Sox, and they are 27-15 overall. (14-6 at home, 13-9 on the road.) I did some research with my great memory, and put together some stats about the games I've been to.

The Sox are 9-4 against the Yankees, and 3-0 against them at Fenway. The next team I have seen them play most often is the Minnesota Twins, and I have seen them 7 times (3-3 at the Fens, 0-1 at Minnesota).

Here are the other AL teams records. The Sox are 20-11 vs the AL:
Baltimore 2-0 (1-0 at Camden Yards)
Tampa Bay 2-0
Chi. White Sox 2-0
Detroit 0-1
Kansas City 0-1 (Only Patriots Day game I was ever at, in 1987. It was also Fenway's 75th anniversary game.)
LA Angels 0-2
Seattle 2-0

I have not seen the Sox play Cleveland, Toronto, Texas or Oakland live. (I have seen them all in person, but against the Yankees in NY.)

In Interleague play, the Red Sox 7-4 with me in the house:
NY Mets 1-2 (all in NY)
Miami 1-0
San Diego 2-1 (all at Petco Park)
Philadelphia 3-1 (all at Citizens Bank Park)

The last time I saw the Red Sox play Tampa Bay, they were known as the Devil Rays, and it was a memorable day: April 27, 2002, and Derek Lowe threw a no-hitter.

I'll just settle for win on Friday. Enjoy the opener everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Meeting of the Blogger Minds

Three of the best Red Sox bloggers on the Internet, Jere from A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory, Allan from Joy of Sox, and Red from Surviving Grady, got together for a podcast at Surviving Grady for a cool 45-minute discussion about the life of being a Red Sox blogger.

Good stuff and definitely worth the time to listen. Go here to check it out.

No Tito At Fenway Next Friday

The hurt is deep, and still very raw.

Terry Francona said earlier this week that he will not be a part of 100th anniversary celebrations of Fenway Park next week. He told the Curly Haired Bastard (known also as Dan Shaughnessy) that he'd feel "a little bit hypocritical" going back to Fenway now and "start hugging people."

Tito, who his currently working on a book with CHB about his time as Red Sox manager, will be at Fenway the following Sunday (the 100th anniversary celebration will be on Friday) as an analyst on the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN. The Red Sox are inviting every living former player, coach and manager to the ceremonies. (I wonder if Roger Clemens or Grady Little be there?)

Tito says that both John Henry and Larry Lucchino reached out to him, but declined both invitations. He even said that his conversation with Lucchino evolved into an argument between the two.

I can understand Tito's feelings on this subject. He feels he was stabbed in the back by someone high up in the Red Sox brass, and if it wasn't one of the owners, he feels that they did nothing to root out who it is. It may have cost him the Cardinals manager job, which he interviewed for right after the "dirt" about his marriage failing and rumors of a pain pill addiction surfaced.

It will be interesting to see the fans reaction next Friday when the Greatest Red Sox Manager In My Lifetime is not present, and will there be any signs in support of Tito. I'm betting there will be.

I hope the wounds will heal soon, and I'm still betting we will see Tito in the dugout of another team as manager of an MLB team in 2013.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1-5. I Guess It's Better Than 0-6.

Before this season began, I thought that it was important that the Red Sox open with a decent start. I know they have a brutal schedule in April. But to put last season in the rear view mirror and move forward, they needed to break from the gate with a good record.

1-5. It's better than 0-6. After Sunday's disaster, I thought we might actually see a repeat of last season. But we were just a ninth inning comeback on Monday night from seeing that happen again.

Jon Lester pitched well again on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto, allowing three runs in a complete game. I would taken that if you said that before the contest.

But the Red Sox bats basically didn't show up, and Ricky Romero allowed just a single run. He was a guy the Sox had a lot of success against in the past, and he had a career ERA of over 7.00 against the Red Sox.

Both Romero and Lester were terrific, as neither team got a hit after the third inning until Toronto added a run in the 8th. The Sox threatened in the ninth as Romero walked the first two hitters. After Adrian Gonzalez hit a deep fly to center to move the runners up, Sergio Santos came in and struck out the ice cold Kevin Youkilis and got David Ortiz to ground out to end the game.

And now it's back home to Fenway for the 100th anniversary opener on Friday against Tampa Bay. And Yours Truly will be there, hoping for better than what I have already witnessed in 2012.

Not a Bad Debut In The Rotation For Bard

I was doing Trivia last night, so I was bit preoccupied and missed a good part of Daniel Bard's debut last night in Toronto's 7-3 win.

My friend Dave, a fine lawyer and sabermatrician, sent me an email last night about his start, and I'll share it with you. He thinks Bard was better than it may at first appear:

Bard's line (5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 6K) looks pretty good except for one thing:  the high number of hits.  So I took a look at how MLB called those:

Bottom 1
0-0 Yunel Escobar singles on a ground ball to left fielder Cody Ross.
1-2 Adam Lind doubles (2) on a ground ball to left fielder Cody Ross. Yunel Escobar to 3rd. 
1-2 Edwin Encarnacion singles on a ground ball to shortstop Nick Punto. 

Bottom 3
2-2 Yunel Escobar singles on a line drive to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
1-1 Kelly Johnson singles on a ground ball to right fielder Ryan Sweeney.
0-2 Adam Lind singles on a line drive to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. 
0-1 Brett Lawrie singles on a ground ball to right fielder Ryan Sweeney.

Bottom 6
3-2 Edwin Encarnacion walks.
2-2 Brett Lawrie singles on a ground ball to shortstop Nick Punto. 

Each of the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings, Bard went 1-2-3.  He recorded 15 outs, 6 by K, 4 by groundout, only 3 by flyout, 1 popout and 1 liner to Pedroia.  So the play-by-play says he did the following things wrong:

A)  Got hit hard three, maybe four times (the two line drive singles, the line-out, possibly the grounder that rolled for a double);
B)  Walked one;
C)  Did not effectively control the running game;
D)  Threw 96 pitches before getting an out in the 6th;
E)  Allowed a high number of batter-runners to reach on ground balls;
F)  Clustered his allowed hits into two innings, resulting in runs scored.

You don't have to be a stat-head to conclude that not all of these are equal, and that some of them are rather significantly different in the amount of bad luck involved.  In fact, the careful reader will have noticed the list above appears roughly in order of increasing amounts of luck, vis-a-vis the pitcher's input, determining the result of the at-bat.  I think modern-approach fans would probably put the dividing line between the "pitching" category and the "luck" category in the area of C/D.  More traditional fans might put it either before or after E.  Only Joe Morgan would put it after F.

In contrast, look at what Bard did right last night:

A)  Threw 97mph
B)  Threw a high number of strikes (65 of 96 pitches, over 70% when I think league average is 60%)
C)  Mixed in secondary pitches (change-up and slider), although I can't tell if he was able to throw his change-up for strikes)
D)  Struck out more than one per frame.
E)  Even in those resulting in hits, got to 2 strikes in most of his at-bats
F)  When he allowed balls in play, kept them on the ground (3/16 fly balls, 3/16 line drives, 9 grounders and one pop-up) 

That's an awful lot of what coaches tell pitchers to do.  The rest of it nearly everyone acknowledges has a lot to do with luck and your defense.  Bard was pretty unlucky last night.  To put it in James/McCracken terminology, Bard was medium-unlucky in run support, unlucky in hits turning into runs, and perhaps-very-unlucky in balls in play turning into hits last night. 

Trivia Q&A: April 10

We had another huge crowd Tuesday night with a Red Sox game on as well. 22 teams took part in the festivities.

It was one of those nights when the Trivia overall was not that difficult. (I don't do that consciously I assure you.) Exactly half the teams ended up with at least 40 points. The toughest round was Maritime Disasters Trivia by far. The scores were close all night, especially heading into IQ Trivia. The top six teams were separated by only two points. Most teams got at least 3 of the 5 questions right, but the team of Santorum Abandons Ship, Makes Oceans Slightly Frothier was the only team who got all 5 correct, and wound up with 52 points, and the win by three points. Congrats to Gillian and her cohorts on the victory.

Second place went to I Love These Nachos As Much As Ozzie Guillen Loves Eating Fidel's Rick Santorum with 49 points, and third place went to What's Going Down Faster Than the Titanic? Carl Crawford's Batting Average with 48 points, and they won a tie-breaker over Romney Squeezes Out Santorum to get it.

I promise next week's Trivia Night will be a bit harder. Just a bit.

Best Team Name: Don't Worry, We're Leaving After a Few Rounds (Unless Jim Says We Can't)

Current Events
1. Forbes magazine recently selected what woman as number one on its list of "The Most Overexposed Celebrities?"
2. Burger King apologized to what R&B singer last week after they released an ad with her prematurely and upset many of her fans?
3. Pal Schmitt resigned last Friday as president of what eastern European country due to allegations of academic misconduct?
4. An employee of what airline resigned last week after it was discovered she was passing along flight details of over 70 celebrities to paparazzi?
5. What country says it plans to launch a rocket carrying a satellite later this month, but other nations say it is really a cover for a ballistic missile test?
6. The trial of a man who killed the mother, brother and nephew of what singer is set to begin in Chicago this week?
7. Florida Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen apologized this past weekend after saying that he "loves" what onetime world leader, and he was suspended for 5 games by his team today?

Maritime Disasters Trivia
1. The SS Sultana was a ship whose three boilers exploded and sank, killing over 1600 US soldiers returning from what war?
2. The Lusitania was torpedoed during World War I off the coast of what European country?
3. What Italian ocean liner went down off the coast of Nantucket Sound in 1956?
4. What Canadian male singer had a hit song called "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in 1976?
5. The Essex, lost at sea in 1820, was one of the inspirations for what classic Herman Melville novel?
6. The wreck of what battleship has a memorial built on top of it after it sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941?
7. From what English city did the Titanic make its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912?

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The fastest tennis ball ever hit was measured at over 160 MPH.
2. Cape May, New Jersey's southernmost point, is below the Mason-Dixon Line.
3. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, had a fear of the dark.
4. FDR had only one vice-president.
5. It is impossible to cry in space.
6. Sharks are considered mammals.
7. Electrons are larger than molecules.
8. The study of plants is called botany.
9. Only 1% of the Earth's water is drinkable.
10. Argentina is the largest country in South America by area.

General Knowledge
1. According to John Gray's bestselling book, men are from Mars and women are from where? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the official name for a group of lions? ( 1 pt)
3. Black Friday falls on the day after what American holiday? ( 1 pt)
4. The three famous cartoon "Chipmunks" were named Alvin, Simon and what other name? ( 2 pt)
5. Coined by an AP reporter, what two-word term refers to the drought-stricken American plains of the 1930s? ( 2 pt)
6. What was the first US state to legalize same-sex marriage? ( 2 pt)
7. First distilled by the Spanish in the 1600s, what liquor is made from the succulent agave plant? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. "Il Cacciatore" is the Italian translation for the title of what classic Robert DeNiro film? ( 4 points)
2. The Angkor Wat temple is featured on what Asian country's flag? ( 4 points)
3. What denomination of Protestantism was founded by a Frenchman whose tombstone reads only "J.C."?
4. "Journey Beyond The Stars" was the original name of what classic science fiction film? ( 3 points)
5. What infamous Missouri bank robber was killed by a member of his own gang for a $10,000 reward? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Kim Kardashian; 2. Mary J. Blige; 3. Hungary; 4. Virgin Atlantic; 5. North Korea; 6. Jennifer Hudson; 7. Fidel Castro.

Maritime Disasters Trivia
1. Civil War; 2. Ireland (I also accepted UK); 3. Andrea Doria; 4. Gordon Lightfoot; 5. "Moby Dick;" 6. USS Arizona; 7. Southampton.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. true; 2. true; 3. true; 4. false, three; 5. true; 6. false, fish; 7. false; 8. true; 9. true; 10. false, Brazil.

General Knowledge
1. Venus; 2. pride; 3. Thanksgiving; 4. Theodore; 5. Dust Bowl; 6. Massachusetts; 7. tequila.

IQ Trivia
1. "The Deer Hunter;" 2. Cambodia; 3. Calvinism; 4. "2001: A Space Odyssey;" 5. Jesse James.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pitchers & La Luna Put Sox In The W Column

Thank goodness there won't be an 0-6 start for the second consecutive year.

Felix Doubront (pictured) gave the Red Sox a shot in the arm last night, going five innings and allowing just two runs in his first ever MLB start in Toronto. He didn't get the victory, but had just one shaky inning, the third where he allowed the two Blue Jays runs.

But the two heroes of last night's 4-2 Red Sox come from behind win were Dustin (La Luna) Pedroia, who hit his first home run of 2012, and doubled and scored the tying run in the ninth, and Scott Atchison, who was superb in relief of Doubront, allowing just an infield single in three innings.

The Sox scored three in the ninth, on Adrian Gonzalez' sca fly, and a meltdown by Toronto closer Sergio Santos. He couldn't find the plate, walked two, and they both scored. The first on Ryan Sweeney's RBI single (pinch runner Darnell McDonald would have been out by a mile if the throw had been on line), and then another a wild pitch.

Alfredo Aceves came on (I was in another room on the computer but turned the sound up loud so I could hear it, as I thought by not watching it might be a better idea) and he got the Blue Jays 1-2-3 to wrap up his first save (and bring his ERA from infinity to 27.00) and the first Red Sox win of 2012. A much needed win.

Daniel Bard makes his first MLB start against the Jays. I would guess the calls for his return to the pen have quieted just a bit today.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Sox Bullpen Can Expect This If They Don't Get Their Act Together

This is an amazing video from Greek television. Apparently some protesters broke into a TV studio and didn't like that some right-wing guy was being interviewed, so they pelted the host with eggs and yogurt live on the air. (I can't understand a word of this clip. It's all Greek to me. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Do they allow fans to bring eggs and yogurt into Fenway?

Sunken Ships Featured This Tuesday

This Tuesday night, Professor Thom's Trivia will feature "Maritime Disasters Trivia," seven questions about ships that met terrible fates at sea. We're doing it in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's fateful collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic, which is this coming Sunday.

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

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"The three famous cartoon 'Chipmunks' were named Alvin, Simon and what other name?"

We get started just after 9 PM. The Red Sox will be playing the Blue Jays in Toronto that night, and it is Daniel Bard's debut as a starting pitcher. (And no, I don't think the team will panic and make him the closer by then.) Hope to see many of you Tuesday night for Trivia. Get in early, as tables have been going quickly lately.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

I've Seen This Movie Before. It Doesn't End Well.

Good Lord.

Bobby Valentine has two guys at the front of his bullpen who threw batting practice with the game on the line today, and now Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves each have their first BS of the season. (That stands for "blown save" folks. But another "BS" can certainly apply here.) I can just hear the cries of "Make Daniel Bard the closer right now!" and "I wish we still had Papelbon!"

And once again, the Red Sox open a season getting swept. 12 runs today wasn't good enough.

I'm so pissed off right now that the vitriol isn't coming out of me.

You simply can't let games like this escape if you intend to run with the big boys of the American League. As we all know, the crappy start of 2011 cost the Red Sox big time in the final end. Games in April are just as important as the September ones.

Who will close at the next opportunity for the Sox? We'll find out who Valentine chooses when that opportunity presents itself.

New York was swept at Tampa Bay this weekend, and for the first time since 1966, both the Red Sox and Yankees open the year 0-3. (And they both finished at the bottom of the AL that season.)

My friend Allan at Joy of Sox has some sage advice for all Red Sox fans right now:

Stay away from all Boston media until further notice.

Amen to that.

Monty Python Wishes You a Happy Easter

One of the funniest scenes from my favorite movie of all-time, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

For this Easter, the "Killer Rabbit" scene:

Happy Easter Everyone!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

First Garbage Can Game of 2012

If Josh Beckett wants to get the fans' trust back, he'd better stop turning in piss-poor efforts like the one he did on Saturday in Detroit.

The Tigers hit five homers off him, two each by Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Bobby Valentine yanked him in the fifth inning with the score 7-0.

Take nothing away from the Detroit Tigers. They are a very good team that could easily end up in the World Series. However, it would have been nice had the Boston Red Sox shown up to play at least.

It was a lousy game not just by Beckett, but by just about everyone involved. Two errors by the Sox, and no runs scored. Detroit starter Doug Fister left the game early with an injury in the fourth (looked like an oblique) and was put on the DL later in the day. The Detroit bullpen gave up nothing the rest of the way, and the game brought back bad memories of last September.

Beckett simply had nothing. Even the outs were loud, and 2 or 3 fly balls ended up at the warning track.

It was the first "Garbage Can" game of 2012. (You know, the one where you do your best to "throw it into the garbage" and forget about it.)

Why do I have a terrible feeling a DL stint by Beckett may not be too far away?

10-0. I'm just glad I muted my TV and didn't listen to one word said by Buck and McCarver. (A friend on Facebook told me that they did their best to rehash last September.)

I'm so glad I pulled out my iPod and sound dock and had music on the entire game.

God bless Steve Jobs, wherever he is.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Lester Was Terrific; Sox Won't Go Undefeated

It was Opening Day in Detroit for the Red Sox, and a matchup of two of the game's best pitchers was on tap: Jon Lester vs. Justin Verlander.

They did not disappoint.

The game was scoreless until the seventh, when Detroit finally broke through, on back-to-back doubles off Lester. Jon was very impressive: he allowed just one run, six hits, three walks and four strikeouts.

But Verlander was even better. The Sox got only two hits off him in eight innings. Detroit scored another run in the eighth, and turned to Jose Valverde, their wild man closer who was perfect in 49 save opportunities. (I wondered if the Tigers hadn't scored that run would Verlander still have been in?) I thought the Sox best opportunity was getting Verlander out of the game, and they tagged Valverde for two runs, including Ryan Sweeney's two-out, two-strike RBI triple that tied it. (I said to a friend when Valverde came in that I had a good feeling and he was due for a blown save.)

But the Red Sox pen let them down in the bottom of the ninth, as Mark Melancon put two on with one out, and Bobby Valentine turned to interim closer Alfredo Aceves to bail him out. Aceves hit the first batter he faced, and Austin Jackson won it with a single to left.

A great ninth inning comeback down the drain.

The Sox showed lots of heart coming back after Verlander was a buzzsaw all game long.

A lot of good things to take away from the opener. (The bullpen isn't one of them. But it's just the first game.)

Josh Beckett takes on Doug Fister in Game 2 of 2012 on Saturday. The game will be on Fox, and thankfully it will be broadcast here in New York.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The 25

Here is the 2012 Red Sox Opening Day roster (12 position players, 13 pitchers):

Pitchers: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves (who was named the closer by Bobby Valentine), Mark Melancon, Matt Albers, Franklin Morales, Michael Bowden, Vicente Padilla, Justin Thomas, Scott Atchison.

Position Players: David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Aviles, Kevin Youkilis, Nick Punto, Cody Ross, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach.

15-Day DL: Carl Crawford, Rich Hill, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Andrew Miller.

60-Day DL: Andrew Bailey, Chris Carpenter, Ryan Kalish.

A Lot To Prove

They embarrassed their city.
They embarrassed their fans.
They embarrassed themselves.

"They" is the 2011 Boston Red Sox. They had one of the worst Septembers in franchise history and it cost them dearly. The Sox lost everything, and it was one of the worst collapses in baseball history. (The 1964 Phillies still own the worst one. By far.)

There was plenty of bloodletting after it was over. Terry Francona departed. Theo Epstein departed. A new regime has taken over. And everyone associated with the Boston Red Sox has a lot to prove.

A lot.

I like the fact that very few pundits are picking the Red Sox to make the playoffs. (I've even seen a few picking them fourth.) Expectations were sky high at this time last season. (Remember that inane Boston Herald front page that said that the 2011 team would be the best team in franchise history? That absolutely made me cringe at the time.) They are to say the least a lot more muted now. As a Sox fan, I have always liked it when the Red Sox were not picked to win it all, and 2012 is clearly one of those years.

Bobby Valentine is a short-term solution here, having been given just a two-year contract. So the heat is one him right now to produce.You know he will be super-motivated. But you also know that we are all living in Bobby Valentine's world. He will want to be the center of attention. The Sox management knew that when they brought him on. There are going to be times when he will say or do something that will make me cringe in 2012. I accept that. I am perfectly willing to cut Bobby V a break right now. He deserves the opportunity to show that he can lead this team to a title. It is also his last best shot at a winner. You have to think that if he blows this, another opportunity won't be waiting for him.

I wasn't looking for any apologies for what happened last September from anyone connected to the Red Sox. (No matter what the damned Boston media thinks, we as fans want a winner in 2012. Last season is history. It's in the rearview mirror.) Forget all that "fried chicken" crap. That was simply overdone after the season ended. The negative media seized on that and wouldn't let it go.

The fact that the starting pitching fell completely to pieces in September was the overwhelming reason why the Red Sox went home in October. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett were the main culprits. They were supposed to be the stoppers and weren't. However, you win as a team, and you lose as one. The 2012 team has many questions, like the back of the rotation, the front of the bullpen, Carl Crawford's health, shortstop and more.

The Red Sox doubters are out there in full force. And if the Red Sox don't get off to a good start this month their voices will grow very loud. So a decent start would be a good thing. And no doubt we will hear about 2011 until our ears bleed if the Red Sox break from the gate the way they did last year.

As far as I am concerned, 2011 is over. I don't need any reminders about it. And I won't make any predictions about this season. We'll see how it goes and hope for the best.

Personally, I think too many guys on this team felt a sense of entitlement, and it cost the team dearly. I hope certain individuals took long looks in their mirrors about happened last September. I don't care how many World Series rings they may have. They have a lot to prove, and not just to the media, but to us the fans.

Opening Day is tomorrow in Detroit.

It's time for the Boston Red Sox to rebuild their reputations, and make us proud again.