Thursday, May 31, 2012

Last Place? How About Just 2 1/2 Games Back?

It didn't look good early for Jon Lester, as he allowed a run early to the Detroit Tigers early in the first, and two more in the third. An early exit looked like it might indeed happen.

But to Lester's credit, he settled in and got the Red Sox to the 7th inning.

The Sox could do little with rookie Drew Smyly, who was facing the Red Sox for the first time. (No, not the guy pictured, and I bet Drew has had to put up jokes like this his whole life. Sorry, I couldn't resist.) He allowed just a single to Marlon Byrd through the first 3 2/3 innings. But it was a classic case of getting to a pitcher no one has seen before the second time through.

Adrian Gonzalez doubled, David Ortiz hit a bomb into the bleachers, Kevin Youkilis singled and Will Middlebrooks hit a laser beam into the Monster seats, and like that, it was 4-3 Sox.

Detroit tied it in the 7th on Miguel Cabrera's double down the right field line that Gonzalez just missed catching. But the Sox grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the inning, courtesy of Gonzalez' second ground rule double of the night, which scored Daniel Nava.

Kevin Youkilis hit the third Sox home run in the 8th, and scoreless relief from Andrew Miller and Alfredo Aceves (pitching in his fourth straight game) locked up a 6-4 win. The Red Sox now trail the first place Orioles by just 2 1/2 games, despite the standings showing them in fifth place.

The Red Sox have now won 14 of 19 and three straight from the slumping Tigers, and Josh Beckett tries to get the Sox the sweep tonight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Flood" Reading at Citi Field Tomorrow

My friend Ruth alerted me to a special event occurring at the press room at Citi Field on Thursday night at 7:30.

"Flood", a play by Michael Brandt, will have a special free reading at the press room of the Mets home park tomorrow night. It is about Curt Flood, the pioneer who helped break the reserve clause back in the early 1970s. (An excellent book about him and his struggle, "A Well Paid Slave" should be required reading for all MLB players.)

The play is directed by Ian Morgan, and features Ned Eisenberg, Michael Gaston, Devin Hagg, Kevin Hogan, Scott Kerns, John Rothman, Godfrey L. Simmons, and James Wallert.

After tomorrow night's reading, there will be a post-show discussion with onetime MLBPA general counsel Dick Moss. Again, the reading is free and open to all.

If you'd like to check out the play reading tomorrow, or two other presentations of the play this Saturday and Sunday, you can go here to reserve tickets.

One Game Above Mediocrity. Finally.

The long national nightmare is finally over.

The Red Sox are over the .500 mark, at 25-24.

Daniel Nava had a crucial bases-clearing double in the third inning off Justin Verlander, and Daniel Bard went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs, both solo home runs. The Red Sox once again beat the slumping Tigers, 6-3. Verlander had his worst start of the year, giving up five runs in six innings.

The bullpen was again sharp, and David Ortiz blasted his 11th home run of the year, which put the game on ice in the 7th inning.

The Red Sox have still not decided the course of action with Dustin Pedroia. He has a torn adduction muscle in his right hand. It doesn't require surgery, but he maybe shut down for 3-4 weeks to let it heal. Playing through it may make it worse. It wasn't injured when he slid making that fine play on Danny Worth on Monday. He injured it a couple of weeks earlier swinging at a pitch. His numbers have declined since the injury.

Trivia Q&A: May 29

We had 19 teams in for Trivia on the night after Memorial Day, and I was surprised there were that many in the house. People demand their Trivia, they shall have it!

It was an interesting night, and the scores were pretty good for both special categories. It was close all night between the top five teams, but the team of If Only We Could Fire The Donald came away with a relatively easy win, as they were the only teams who got as many as four of the IQ Trivia questions correct. Congratulations to them on their win, with 48 points.

We also had something I can't remember ever happening: a three-way tie for second place. It was between These Bath Salts Are Making Me Hungry, We're Paying Our Tab In Pre-IPO Facebook Stock and The Increasingly Stale Prince of Bel-Air, all with 39 points. We broke the tie with "How many total episodes of Saturday Night Live have aired in its history?" And incredibly, the first two teams who handed me their guesses picked the same number! I told them to guess again, and one of them, These Salt Baths, guessed the closest and was awarded second place. (BTW, the answer is 724.)

A reminder that next week's Trivia Night will most likely be held on Monday night, June 4th at 9 PM, as if there is a Game 5 in the Celtics-Heat series, it will be next Tuesday night. (Should the Celtics get swept, Trivia will happen next Tuesday.)

Best Team Name: It Must Be Fleet Week Because My Bed Is Full Of Seamen

Current Events
1. What rock legend was forced to cancel some shows in Las Vegas last week after he was hospitalized with a respiratory infection?
2. Singer Joni Mitchell gave a rare interview to a UK newspaper last week and called what American rock legend "a plagiarist" and that everything about him is "a deception."
3. Tamae Watanabe of Japan, at 73, became the oldest woman last week to accomplish what feat?
4. A man named Shawn Beam bowled a perfect game in Ft. Worth, Texas last Friday. What was so significant about this?
5. What West Coast landmark reached its 75th anniversary this past weekend?
6. The original tomb of what legendary singer is up for auction next month, a place he spent just two months after his death before being re-buried in another location?
7. What film knocked "The Avengers" out of the top spot it held for three weeks to become the number one film in America last week?

Country Borders Trivia
1. China and Norway
2. Panama and Venezuela
3. Iran and India
4. Zimbabwe and Lesotho
5. Czech Republic and Belarus
6. Algeria and Libya
7. Thailand and Bangladesh

American War Movies Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Gods and Generals (2003)
2. Stalag 17 (1954)
3. All Quiet on the Western Front (1979)
4. Glory (1989)
5. M*A*S*H (1970)
6. The Patriot (2000)
7. We Were Soldiers (2002)
8. The Hurt Locker (2009)
9. Courage Under Fire (1996)
10. The Buccaneer (1938)

General Knowledge
1. What man was released from prison in South Africa in 1990 after 27 years of incarceration? ( 1 pt)
2. Navel and Valencia are types of what fruit? ( 1 pt)
3. In what county would you find the Ural Mountains? ( 1 pt)
4. Who is the only former US president awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? ( 2 pt)
5. Bright's Disease attacks what organ of the human body? ( 2 pt)
6. The US Open is held every year in a stadium named after what tennis legend? ( 2 pt)
7. Bajan, a mixture of Creole and English, is the language spoken by residents of what Caribbean nation? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. How many steps are taken by the soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery each time he marches past the white marble sarcophagus? ( 4 points)
2. Who was the only US president who a Ph D? ( 4 points)
3. What seven-year-old was the youngest host ever of "Saturday Night Live?" ( 3 points)
4. "Hungry Jack's" is the name of what popular American fast food restaurant chain in Australia? ( 4 points)
5. What is the only country in Central America where baseball is the number one sport? ( 5 points)

Current Events
1. Elton John; 2. Bob Dylan; 3. Climb Mount Everest; 4. He was the first person to bowl a perfect game in a wheelchair; 5. Golden Gate Bridge; 6. Elvis Presley; 7. "Men In Black 3."

Country Borders Trivia
1. Russia; 2. Colombia; 3. Pakistan; 4. South Africa; 5. Poland; 6. Tunisia; 7. Burma.

American War Movies Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Civil War; 2. World War II; 3. World War I; 4. Civil War; 5. Korean War; 6. Revolutionary War; 7. Vietnam War; 8. Iraq War; 9. Gulf War; 10. War of 1812.

General Knowledge
1. Nelson Mandela; 2. orange; 3. Russia; 4. Jimmy Carter; 5. kidney; 6. Arthur Ashe; 7. Barbados.

IQ Trivia
1. Twenty-one; 2. Woodrow Wilson; 3. Drew Barrymore; 4. Burger King; 5. Nicaragua.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Ozzie's School of Management"

I recently completed reading a new book that was just released about one of baseball's most colorful characters: Ozzie Guillen.

It's called "Ozzie's School of Management: Lessons From the Dugout, the Clubhouse and the Doghouse" by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Morrissey.

It's an interesting look at one of MLB's most polarizing figures. Some people swear by Ozzie Guillen, other swear at him. But everyone has an opinion on him, and Morrissey takes at look at the man himself, with his final season, 2011, as the White Sox' skipper as background.

You could also call the book "Ozzie's Ten Commandments of Managing." It has chapters entitled "Get Rid of Clutter In Their Heads", "Don't Confuse Team and Family", and "Protect Your Employees from the Barbarians." The book is filled with tons of Ozzie quotes, and his very colorful use of the English language. (And there are a ton of f-bombs in this tome.)

Morrissey does not write a standard biography, but does jump around Ozzie's life in the game, especially his early life in the game since coming over from Venezuela in 1981. He hits on all of the highlights (and lowlights), like his leading the White Sox to their first title since 1917, how he nailed down the job in the first place, his running feud with Chicago GM Kenny Williams, his Twitter wars and the fierce loyalty he had with struggling players like Adam Dunn.

Ozzie's a complicated character, but you feel you get to him a bit better with this book. He comes from an impoverished background in Venezuela, but never forgets his roots.

I wouldn't say it's the best baseball book to come down the pike, but it's not a bad effort from first-time author Morrissey. The book comes to a conclusion when Ozzie was traded to the Marlins last September. But after the events of this past April Morrissey did hit the nail on the head with this prediction near the end of the book: "A person or group will feel insulted by something Guillen says. The mayor of Miami. Marine biologists. Cuban Americans. Somebody."

Never a dull moment in Ozzieland. If you're a White Sox fan, you'll probably enjoy "Ozzie's School of Management."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Umps Help While Pedey Leaves With Jammed Thumb

The Red Sox opened the four game series with the struggling Detroit Tigers on a beautiful Memorial Day with a 7-4 win that was aided by the first base umpire.

With the score 1-1, Mike Aviles appeared to have struck out to end the second inning. But first base umpire Bill Welke overruled the home plate ump, who ruled Aviles had struck out. Welke said Aviles fouled the ball off and it hit the ground before catcher Gerald Laird caught it.

Replays showed that Welke was wrong on BOTH counts.

And with a new life, Aviles singled in a run, and the Sox scored two more to lead 4-1.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland and third base coach Gene Lamont were absolutely furious, and were tossed out for their trouble.

It was enough for Felix Doubront, who went six innings and allowed two Detroit runs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added his 9th home run. Scott Atchison was excellent in his two innings of relief. Alfredo Aceves allowed a garbage time two-run shot to Jhonny Peralta to close the game at 7-4.

However, Dustin Pedroia left the game after the fifth inning after making a diving play to rob Danny Worth of a hit. He jammed his right thumb and is considered day-to-day.

Once again, the Red Sox are at .500, with a record of 24-24. The Sox have the pleasure of facing Justin Verlander in the second game on Tuesday night against Daniel Bard.

Thank You. Always.

Remembering Those Who Gave All, On Film

Trivia Night at Professor Thom's will once again be on Tuesday night this week, May 29th at 9 PM. And this week's Special Category will be "Country Borders Trivia." I will give you two countries, and you have to tell me what mutual country they both have a border with. Like if I said, "Canada and Mexico." You would say "USA." Simple enough? Yep. (That will not be one of the choices however.)

The Q Train lightning round will be, in honor of this Memorial Day weekend, "American War Movies Trivia." I will give you the names of ten famous war pictures and the year they were released, and you will tell me which war they are based on.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"In what country would you find the Ural Mountains?"

We'll get going right around 9 PM. Quick word about next week. The Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finals, and should there be a Game 5 next week, it would be on Tuesday night, June 5th. So that means that we would have Trivia the previous night, Monday, June 4 at 9 PM. If there is a sweep, Trivia would be on Tuesday.

Hope to see many of you on Tuesday night this week.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Can't Crack .500

Once again the Red Sox had the opportunity of finally getting over the .500 mark on Sunday, and once again it proved elusive.

Alfredo Aceves, who has been very good as of late, served up a meatball down the middle of the plate to Sean Rodriguez, and got burned, as he sent it across the street, as Tampa Bay won the series, 4-3.

Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run shot off Jeremy Hellickson in the 7th, for the only Red Sox runs of the day. They had a golden opportunity to add to their 3-2 lead in the 8th, but Gonzalez grounded out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Clay Buchholz was again very good, going seven innings and allowing two runs.

The AL East is still bunched up and the Red Sox are 5 1/2 games out, in fifth place at 23-24.

The Detroit Tigers now come into Fenway on Memorial Day for a four game series.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Salt. A. La. Macchia.

The Red Sox gained their first win in their final at-bat at home this season, the so-called "walkoff" win, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the hero, blasting a two-run shot off Fernando (Crooked Hat) Rodney.

A huge, big-time 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.

Josh Beckett was excellent again, allowing just a single through the first six innings. The Red Sox finally got a run off David Price, who was just as good, in the sixth on Will Middlebrooks single with two on. (It was a generous official scorer, as Sean Rodriguez booted what looked like a sure third out.)

Beckett gave up two runs in the seventh, one on a sac fly to left that Daniel Nava ill-advisedly threw home, and it allowed Matt Joyce to tag and reach second. He score when Birther Boy singled to right.

It stayed 2-1 until the ninth when Nava walked to lead off the inning. Nick Punto sacrificed him to second, and Salty, pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd, went deep.

Rich Hill got the win, as he pitched a scoreless ninth.

Curious move by Bobby Valentine in the sixth. He pinch-ran for Adrian Gonzalez with Che-Hsuan Lin, and he later pinch hit Scott Podsednik for him. (I didn't hear of any injury in regard to Gonzo.)

The Sox go for the series win over Tampa Bay on Sunday with Clay Buchholz.

Birther Big Mouth Gets His Comeuppance

Jon Lester looked awful last night, allowing three home runs, including a grand slam to Matt Joyce, and Tampa Bay took the first game of the series last night, 7-4.

Once again, the Sox could not get above .500, falling to 22-23 overall.

Last night reminded me of the Lester of 2006, who nibbled around the plate and threw a ton of pitches (there were some close ones, but I really can't blame the home plate ump), and got burned in the end. He served one up to Joyce down the middle of the plate in the third, and it was the beginning of the end.

The bullpen was stellar (5 shutout innings last night), and rolling along until Luke Scott came up to bat against Franklin Morales with 2 outs in the 9th. The first pitch was behind him, and I think everyone knew what that meant. But on 3 and 1, Morales hit Scott in the knee, and he started towards the mound, and both benches emptied.

No punches were thrown, but it seemed like the coaches on both teams were fired up more, especially the Sox' Tim Bogar and Bob McClure. No one was ejected (interesting that Morales wasn't) and the game continued without incident.

This really goes back to last week in Tampa, when Adrian Gonzalez got hit, and the Sox retaliated later in that game for that.You would think that would have been the end of it, then Dustin Pedroia got hit in the back in the 6th. At the time, I didn't think much of it, as it brought up David Ortiz as the tying run (he flied out). But ultimately, it comes back to the Birther Big Mouth.

Scott is not one of baseball's quiet guys. He never knows when to shut up, and made news over the winter with his comments about the Red Sox and their fans, and later called Fenway "a dump." And this is a guy who still thinks President Obama wasn't born in Hawaii. (One of those loony "birthers." I compare those wackos to the equally screwball "9/11 Truthers." But, this is America. Believe whatever you want to believe.)

Joe Maddon called the Red Sox "cowardly" after the game, and even promised some retaliation.

Bobby Valentine said it was "the ghosts of Fenway" who hit Scott in the leg in the ninth.

Be careful what you say about Fenway, Birther Boy. Karma has a funny way of getting even.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trivia Will Be Tuesday Next Week, No Matter What

The NBA announced the Eastern Conference Finals schedule, even ahead of today's Game 7 between the Celtics and 76ers. There will be no game this coming Tuesday, so we will definitely have Trivia Night at Professor Thom's on Tuesday night, May 29th at 9 PM.

However, if the Celtics are playing in the East Finals, and the series goes beyond Game 4, Trivia Night for the following week will be on Monday, June 4th, at 9 PM, as Game 5 would be the next night. (And if the Celtics are eliminated tonight, we go back to Tuesday nights to stay.)

I'll have the Sneak Peek question and categories up on the blog on Monday. See you Tuesday night for Trivia!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bottom Guys Do All The Heavy Lifting

The Red Sox ended their "20 games in 20 days" jaunt with a 6-5 win in Baltimore, to take their second straight road series, and end the eight-game road swing at 5-3.

Daniel Bard had another one of those "not bad but not great" starts, going 5 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs. He allowed single runs in the first and second innings, and he could have given up more. He left the game with a 5-2 lead. Andrew Miller cam on and in the 7th allowed a two-run homer to Nick Johnson, the first runs Miller has allowed all year.

It was the bottom of the order that did the damage. Daniel (Don't Call Me Nay-va) Nava, Kelly Shoppach and new boy Scott Podsednik all went deep.

It was 6-4 in the eighth when the Orioles had runners on second and third and no outs, and Che-Hsuan Lin saved the day for the Sox by making a sliding catch in right. Lin went in for defense in the 7th. It would be a sac fly and not a two RBI hit had it hit the ground, and the score was then 6-5.

And it would stay that way, courtesy of Alfredo Aceves, who got yet another four-out save, for his 11th save of 2012.

The Sox went 11-9 in the last 20 games, and have won 10 of their last 13. They are back at .500 once again, at 22-22. Thursday is a well-deserved off day, and they take on Tampa Bay at Fenway tomorrow night for three games.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Youk's Back & Provides All The Offense

It was one of those nights when the Red Sox offense was completely neutralized, and by a fine pitching performance by the O's Brian Matusz.

The Sox got just two hits all night, and one was in the second at-bat of the newly-returned Kevin Youkilis. Youk was activated and played first base, while Adrian Gonzalez returned to right field. (Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney were both put on the DL, and Scott Podsednik was brought up from AAA last night.)

Felix Doubront pitched another fine game, striking out nine in six innings. He also allowed just four hits, but one of them was a two-run homer by Steve Tolleson.

The 4-1 loss drops the Sox back into fifth place, at 21-22, as New York won last night.

Podsednik is in the starting lineup in today's finale in Baltimore, and he will become the 39th player to play for the Red Sox in 2012. Already.

And should the Sox win today, they will conclude the eight-game road trip at 5-3. Daniel Bard starts for the Red Sox today.

You may have heard that this past weekend, a onetime Sox player named Babe Ruth had one of his jerseys sold at auction for a record $4.4 million. Here's Pete Nash of the Hauls of Shame and his take on it.

Trivia Q&A: May 22

We had 17 teams in Professor Thom's on what was a bit of a slow night, but everyone seemed to enjoy the Trivia. The scores were strong for Q-Tip Trivia and SNL Characters Trivia (very few people knew who Leonard Pinth-Garnell was: Bad Trivia Players!) but they were a little weaker for General Knowledge.

IQ Trivia saw a little bit of controversy, as for the question about the only country outside Europe that was completely surrounded by one country, a number of my regulars swore that Swaziland was correct (as well as Lesotho). But then one of the folks came up to me and told me that he had once driven through Swaziland and crossed into Mozambique, so it wasn't totally surrounded by one country. I heard that it was a controversial border, so ultimately I accepted both countries as correct.

It didn't matter in the final end, as Rack City Bitch Rack Rack City Bitch (who also won for Best Team Name) wound up the winner with 56 points, three points ahead of Cornelius T. Wintergreen ESQ in second. Third place went to Monsiour Hollandes Opus with 50 points.

Next week is still not known yet which day Trivia will be held on. If the Celtics make it to the next round, we will have to wait until the NBA announces the schedule of games for next week. Stay tuned to this blog, and I will post the day we are doing it next week when it becomes available. The rule of thumb is always this: if the Celtics have a game next Tuesday, we will do Trivia on Monday. No game Tuesday? Trivia is on.

Current Events
1. What country recently banned Lady Gaga from having a concert there, after protests from religious groups there who thought she was too "pornographic?"
2. What Hollywood star maybe getting as much as $50 million in bonuses and other compensation for his role in his wildly successful new movie?
3. Forbes magazine selected what female pop singer as its "Most Powerful Celebrity for 2012" recently?
4. Yan Gomes, a 24-year-old infielder, was called up by the Toronto Blue Jays this past week, and became the first player from what South American country to play in MLB?
5. What eastern US state's highest court last week ruled that same-sex couples who married in other states can divorce there, even though it has no same-sex marriage provision of its own?
6. The Super Bowl ring of what troubled Hall of Fame NFL player was sold at auction this past weekend for over $230,000, tripled the price that was expected?
7. And at the same auction, a jersey from what baseball immortal sold for a record $4.4 million, the most ever for an item of sports memorabilia?

Q-Tip Trivia
1. Which of the following celebrities died while in their 30s? a. Elvis Presley; b. Marilyn Monroe; c. Kurt Cobain; d. River Phoenix.
2. Which of the following states did Barack Obama win in the 2008 presidential election? a. Pennsylvania; b. Texas; c. Virginia; d. Georgia.
3. Which MLB teams have moved from their home at least twice in their history? a. Giants; b. A's; c. Braves; d. Dodgers.
4. Which of the following cereal brands belong to Kellogg's? a. Alpha Bits; b. Frosted Flakes; c. Corn Flakes; d. Rice Krispies.
5. Which US states have less than 1 million in total population as of 2010? a. Hawaii; b. Maine; c. Idaho; d. Rhode Island.
6. Which of these US presidents once also served as vice-president? a. Thomas Jefferson; b. Theodore Roosevelt; c. Richard Nixon; d. John Tyler.
7. Which of these current actors have never been nominated for an Academy Award? a. Martin Sheen; b. Donald Sutherland; c. Gary Oldman; d. Christopher Plummer.

Saturday Night Live Characters Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Matt Foley
2. Alex Trebek
3. Roseanne Roseannadanna
4. Sarah Palin
5. Barack Obama
6. The Church Lady
7. Leonard Pinth-Garnell
8. Ed Grimley
9. Tommy Flanagan
10. Bill Clinton

General Knowledge
1. In "The Wizard of Oz" movie, what was the Scarecrow seeking? ( 1 pt)
2. What man ran as an independent candidate for president in 1992 and got 18% of the popular vote? ( 1 pt)
3. What actor was the voice of Charlie in the original "Charlie's Angels" TV series? ( 1 pt)
4. How many laps does it take to win the Indianapolis 500? ( 2 pt)
5. Bauxite ore is the main source of what metal? ( 2 pt)
6. What US city's regional magazine is called "5280?" ( 2 pt)
7. Excluding numbers, what is the most common street name in the US, according to the US Census Bureau? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Who was the first cartoon character to be featured posing on the cover of Playboy magazine? ( 3 points)
2. What is the most popular first name for male babies born in the United States since 1912? ( 4 points)
3. Who is the only NBA player to win the MVP Award, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year? ( 4 points)
4. Of all the world nations completely surrounded by another nation, which is the only one not found in Europe? ( 5 points)
5. Junko Tabei of Japan was the first woman to accomplish what feat in 1975, 22 years after the first man did it? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Indonesia; 2. Robert Downey Jr; 3. Jennifer Lopez; 4. Brazil; 5. Maryland; 6. Lawrence Taylor; 7. Babe Ruth.

Q-Tip Trivia
1. b; 2. a,c; 3. b,c; 4. b,c,d; 5. none; 6. all; 7. a,b.

Saturday Night Live Characters Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Chris Farley; 2. Will Ferrell; 3. Gilda Radner; 4. Tina Fey; 5. Fred Armisen; 6. Dana Carvey; 7. Dan Aykroyd; 8. Martin Short; 9. Jon Lovitz; 10. Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond.

General Knowledge
1. A brain; 2. H. Ross Perot; 3. John Forsythe; 4. 200; 5. aluminum; 6. Denver; 7. Park Street.

IQ Trivia
1. Marge Simpson; 2. James; 3. Larry Bird; 4. Lesotho; 5. Climb Mount Everest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sox Win As Injuries Mount

The Red Sox grinded out an 8-6 win over the O's in Baltimore last night, their first win over the Orioles in 2012.

Clay Buchholz looked sharp the first two innings, but the wheels came off in the 3rd, as he walked in two runs, and allowed four for the inning. 

The Sox were down 5-2 when they came back, beginning with a mammoth home run that David Ortiz hit on to Eutaw Street. The Sox added two more on a sac fly by Daniel Nava and a balk by Tommy Hunter.

The Red Sox went ahead to stay in the seventh, on a sac fly by Adrian Gonzalez and an RBI single by Will Middlebrooks.

The bullpen did another fine job, allowing just one earned run after Buchholz left, in 3 2/3 innings. Alfredo Aceves got his 10th save of the year getting Baltimore 1-2-3 in the ninth.

And the win ties the Red Sox, at 21-21, with the fading Yankees, for fourth place. New York lost to Kansas City last night, and the Red Sox are now 5 1/2 games out of first place.

The Sox received some unsettling news about Cody Ross, as he is heading for the DL, as he has a small bone broken in his foot from a pitch he fouled off in Philadelphia on Friday night. It may keep him out 6-8 weeks.

And even more about Ryan Sweeney, as he may be put on the 7-day DL for concussions, as he didn't pass a test last night. He was injured Saturday making that terrific sliding catch against the Phillies.

Last night's starting outfield was Daniel Nava (that's "Nah-va", not "Nay-va," Gary Thorne), Marlon Byrd and Che-Hsuan Lin, three guys who were not on the Red Sox Opening Day roster. If both Ross and Sweeney go on the DL, that will make seven Red Sox outfielders on the DL now. Bloody hell.

The Red Sox recalled Scott Podsednik, the 2005 White Sox World Series hero, today from Pawtucket. He was hitting .323 in his brief stint there.

Kevin Youkilis is about to come off the DL, and now the question of sending Will Middlebrooks back to Pawtucket becomes a little more cloudy. Can Adrian Gonzalez play RF a little more often, and Youk can play first? That question should be answered shortly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Q-Tip Returns & SNL Characters Featured

Trivia Night at Professor Thom's this week will feature "Q-Tip Trivia", a recurring category we haven't done in a little while. That is when I ask you seven general knowledge, multiple choice questions, and the answer can be 1, 2, 3, all 4, or none correct. You will get a point for each correct answer. However, if you give any incorrect choices, you will get zero points for that question, so you have to be careful. (If the answer is "none" and you get it right, you get one point.)

The Q Train lightning round will be, in honor of its season just concluding, "Saturday Night Live Characters Trivia." I will give you the names of ten famous characters from the show, both real and fictional, and you have to tell me which famous SNL regular portrayed that person. (The answers will all be different, and no guest hosts are involved.)

The Sneak Peek question will be for this week:
"What actor was the voice of Charlie in the original 'Charlie's Angels' TV series?"

We will get going at 9 PM on Tuesday night. BTW, as of right now, we don't know which night we will be doing Trivia next week, as the Celtics series is tied at 2, and until we know the schedule should they advance to the next round, it will either be Monday or Tuesday next week. As soon as I know, I will pass that along to you. Hope to see many of you this Tuesday night.

OK, Make It Eight Out Of Ten

The Red Sox keep on rolling, and took the weekend series from the Phillies, 5-1, behind another sterling effort by Josh Beckett.

Mike Aviles (pictured) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia blasted home runs off losing pitcher Cliff Lee. Aviles' led off the game for the second straight game, and Salty's was of the three-run variety. Not bad for a guy who had gotten 12 stitches in his head just a couple of days earlier. Aviles has 8 homers on the year and Salty has 7.

Beckett went seven excellent innings before running out of gas in the 8th. Vicente Padilla pitched out of a bases loaded jam, and Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth.

And now all of a sudden, the Red Sox, at 20-21, trail fourth place New York by one game. (The Yankees would be in last right now if it hadn't been for that bullpen meltdown by the Red Sox last month.) They have won 8 of their last 10, and are 6 1/2 games behind Baltimore, and start a three-game series with the O's tonight at Camden Yards, with Clay Buchholz pitching for the Sox.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seven of Nine

I've been playing softball pretty steady on Saturday nights, so once again with the Red Sox playing a night game in Philly, I was doing plenty of checking on the iPhone.

And most times the news was good. The Sox belted four home runs: Mike Aviles, David Ortiz (recovering from the flu), Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (recovering from a nasty cut to the side of the head). They led the entire way on Saturday.

I got home in time for the bottom of the eighth, so with the TV muted (would you really want to listen to Buck and McCarver?), I saw the Phillies get a run back to make it 7-5. Alfredo Aceves got out of a bases loaded jam by getting Shane Victorino to pop up.

Aceves gave up two singles in the ninth, but fortunately got a line drive double play sandwiched between them, and struck out Carlos Ruiz to end it.

Jon Lester got his third win, going six innings and allowed four earned runs. The Red Sox have now won 7 of 9, split the first four games of the road trip, and go for the series win today with Josh Beckett.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Pestilence of Interleague Begins With a Loss

Yep, interleague play is back. Ugh.

Daniel Bard put the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole last night in Philly, a hole that turned out to be too much, as the Phillies went on to a 6-4 win.

Bard walked three in the first, and all came around to score.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Cody Ross both left the game with injuries, and both are day-to-day.

The Sox hit three home runs, but they were all solo shots by Mike Aviles, Cody Ross (pictured) and Adrian Gonzalez. It was 5-4 in the 8th when Freddy Galvis hit a homer off Franklin Morales to make it 6-4.

That set up the first appearance by Jonathan Papelbon against his old club. Kelly Shoppach opened the inning with a sharp infield single to third. Two batters later, Marlon Byrd hit a ball to short that Jimmy Rollins threw to first, and it appeared to have pulled Ty Wigginton off the bag. (All replays were rather inconclusive.) But that brought Bobby Valentine out, and he made his point rather vociferously that Byrd was safe, by jumping up and down a few times that Wigginton came off the base. He got tossed for his trouble.

Nick Punto struck out on three pitches to end it.

Jon Lester goes for the Sox tonight.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Major League Dads"

I just finished reading an interesting book about MLB players and the long road they take to get to the Promised Land, called: "Major League Dads: Baseball's Best Players Reflect On The Fathers Who Inspired Them To Love The Game."

This book is centered on the fathers who gave current players the love of the game they have. Over 100 current players, as well as recent ones who left the game were interviewed for the book, which was written by Kevin Neary and Leigh Tobin.

Each remembrance is just a page or two long, but they feature some of the game's greats, like Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, David Wright, Joe Mauer and many others. They all speak about what their dads did for them as youngsters, encouraging them to have fun, respect the game, that sort of thing. The book also includes many of photos of the players from their earlier days of playing ball for fun. Each player's first MLB game is highlighted, and many players talk about their feelings that day and if their fathers were present for it.

(I did find one glaring mistake in the book. In the section on Jose Molina, the authors refer to Puerto Rico as a "soccer-crazy country." Well, Puerto Rico is not a country, it's a commonwealth, and it is not "soccer-crazy." Baseball is a far more popular sport on the island than soccer is.)

Terry Francona wrote the forward, and there is special section at the end that features actor James Earl Jones talking about his famous role in "Field of Dreams." I found that very interesting, in that he reveals that his character, Terrence Mann, was actually a ghost and was dead throughout the film. (I am a big fan of the film, but I must admit that I never would have guessed that, even after seeing it so many times.)

The book is available through Running Press, and is a very enjoyable read. Goes without saying it would make a nice gift for Father's Day!

The Night of the Rodeo Clown

The Red Sox gained a split of their brief two-game series at Tampa Bay with a 5-3 win. The man who blamed himself for the loss on Wednesday night turned out to be Thursday night's hero: Cody Ross.

Ross blamed himself for the lead run scoring on Wednesday when he stumbled catching Luke Scott's sacrifice fly. But the man who has always wanted to be a rodeo clown hit his 7th home run of the season and drove in four of the five Red Sox runs, including a single to bring in two in the eighth.

Marlon Byrd also hit his first home run in a Red Sox uniform last night in the second inning.

Felix Doubront got the win, going 5 2/3 innings, and allowed two runs, one earned. He left with second and third, but Rich Hill got the last out of the sixth to keep the lead.

The bullpen did another nice job last night, as Bobby Valentine mixed and matched last night. Alfredo Aceves got a four-out save, including a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap it.

Tampa Bay had all kinds of chances to score, and left 12 men on base last night.

The Sox now head to Philadelphia, and meet up with old friend Jonathan Papelbon in their first interleague (oh no) series of 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Balk Parade

Another good start from Clay Buchholz on Wednesday night, as he allowed just two earned runs in five plus innings.

But the first run was balked in in the second inning, and Tampa Bay scored the second run when they loaded the bases in the sixth, and Matt Joyce scored from third when Cody Ross slightly stumbled making a catch in shallow right.

Daniel Nava had an RBI single in the fourth for the only Red Sox run.

Buchholz' balk was one of three called on Sox pitchers on the night. Both Matt Albers and Franklin Morales balked in the eighth, but it did not lead to any runs. The Sox pitchers have now committed six balks on the season, the most in MLB.

There was a scary moment in that inning when Rays' infielder Will Rhymes (pictued) was hit in the right arm with a pitch, and then collapsed shortly after reaching first. It brought back some scary moments when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba had a heart attack during an FA Cup match earlier this year. But Rhymes fortunately suffered just a bruise on his arm.

The Sox are now 17-20 with their five-game winning streak ended.

And the Red Sox owners were busy this week, as they called legendary Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish to Boston and gave him his walking papers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beckett Superb On Wake Day

On a day when the Red Sox honored one of their all-time greats, Josh Beckett showed everyone flashes of the great pitcher that led them to a championship in 2007.

Beckett opened the game against Seattle with six strikeouts of the first nine hitters. He then went on to pitch seven innings, and was never in any serious trouble. The Mariners only got one runner past second base all day. The bullpen was flawless as the Red Sox coasted to a 6-0 win, and their fifth straight win.

My friend Eddie called Beckett "Commander Kiss My Ass" after the recent awful outing Beckett had and its aftermath. But if the Red Sox are to get back in this race, the vintage "Commander Kick Ass"  that showed up at Fenway yesterday has to make more and more appearances this season.

David Ortiz belted a homer in the third, Mike Aviles drove in two and Will Middlebrooks continued his impressive start with another RBI.

Before yesterday's game, the Sox honored Tim Wakefield. My buddy Jere was on the premises, and took some great shots (including the one here) of the ceremony and the game that followed.

Trivia Q&A: May 15

We had 20 teams in on our triumphant return to Tuesday night, and it was a crowded, noisy bar as well.

The numbers were a bit lower than I expected in the first three categories, but most teams did really well in the final two. The two teams that were tied for second place ran the table in the final round, and wound up tied for first with 48 points, so we went to a tie-breaker question: "How many satellites does Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, have?" The answer was 63, and the team of Josh Beckett's Off Day was closest and won the night. It was their first ever Trivia Night win.

Second place went to Squam Rock Land Trust, and third place went to Travolta Said If I Just Touched It I Could Be In Pulp Fiction 2 with 44 points.

Best Team Name: Yo Mama So Gay, Barack Obama Wants Her To Get Married

We back on Tuesday night again next week, May 22nd at 9 PM.

Current Events
1. What TV drama series recently paid $250,000 to use the Beatles' song "Tomorrow Never Knows" on their show, making it one of the most expensive deals made by a TV studio?
2. What Oscar-winning actor was credited with helping save the life of a jogger who suffered a heart attack in London's Hyde Park last week?
3. Keith Judd, who currently in prison in Texas for extortion, received 41% of the vote in what state's Democratic primary for president last week?
4. The Sukhoi Superjet, a Russian aircraft which was on a demonstration flight last week, crashed and killed all 45 people on board in what Asian country?
5. What famous Englishman made a surprise appearance last Thursday on TV and did the weather forecast for viewers of BBC Scotland ?
6. Two people were jailed in Los Angeles last week on charges of extortion from trying to extort money from what R&B Grammy-winning musician?
7. Three Boston University students were killed and five others injured in a minivan crash in what foreign country?

May 15th Trivia
1. On this day in 1536, what woman, who was King Henry VIII's second wife, stood trial on charges of treason and adultery and was eventually condemned to death?
2. In 1811, Paraguay declared their independence from what nation?
3. On this day in 2008, what US state became the second to legalize same-sex marriage?
4. In 1972, Arthur Bremer shoots and paralyzes what man, who was running for president in Laurel, MD?
5. In 1988 on this day, the Soviet Union began withdrawing its troops from what country?
6. On this day in 1973, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan threw the first of his record 7 no-hitters as a member of what MLB team?
7. What woman was born on this date in 1937, who in 1997, became the first woman to be appointed Secretary of State?

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The Kentucky Derby is the only annual sporting event that attracts more female than male viewers.
2. Suicide kills more people than homicide in the US.
3. Cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis.
4. Disney's "The Lion King" is actually taken from a Japanese cartoon.
5. Male bees die after having sex.
6. All American POWs are eligible for the Purple Heart medal.
7. Canada has no Saturday mail delivery.
8. Forest fires move faster downhill than uphill.
9. The King of Hearts is the only king without a mustache on a standard playing card.
10. Walt Disney was criogenically frozen upon his death in 1966.

General Knowledge
1. What modern-day Turkish city was originally named for Roman Emperor Constantine? ( 1 pt)
2. What heavyweight boxer once claimed to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?" ( 1 pt)
3. What city was nearly destroyed by a massive fire in 1666 that started in a bakery? ( 1 pt)
4. From the Latin word meaning "before the form", what word means the science of crime scene investigation? ( 2 pt)
5. What cartoon character, the foe of Snidely Whiplash, was once accused of mocking the Canadian Mounties? ( 2 pt)
6. With a smell like rotten eggs, what chemical puts the stink in stink bombs? ( 2 pt)
7. According to the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, "of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are" what four words? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What popular 1980s family sitcom is shown on Italian TV as "I Robinson" or "The Robinsons?" ( 4 points)
2. What movie character was included as both a hero and a villain on the AFI's list of "100 Years: 100 Heroes and Villains?" ( 5 points)
3. What environmentally conscious Dr. Seuss character claims to speak for the trees? ( 3 points)
4. Introduced in 1975, what candy ran a full page ad in newspapers assuring parents it didn't make your stomach explode? ( 4 points)
5. The US has the most English speakers of any country in the world. What nation is second? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. "Mad Men;" 2. Dustin Hoffman; 3. West Virginia; 4. Indonesia; 5. Prince Charles; 6. Stevie Wonder; 7. New Zealand.

May 15th Trivia
1. Anne Boleyn; 2. Spain; 3. California; 4. George Wallace; 5. Afghanistan; 6. California Angels; 7. Madeleine Albright.

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

General Knowledge
1. Istanbul; 2. Muhammad Ali; 3. London; 4. forensics; 5. Dudley Do-Right; 6. sulfur; 7. It might have been.

IQ Trivia
1. "The Cosby Show;" 2. The Terminator; 3. The Lorax; 4. Pop Rocks; 5. India.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Legends Take "The Field of Dreams" Game

Last Saturday night, there was a special game played in Columbus, Ohio called "The Pepsi Max Field of Dreams Game."

It featured a team of Hall of Fame baseball legends pitted against a team constructed by a Pepsi Max contest winner named Tim Wisecup, who put his own squad together.

The Hall of Famers included Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Pedro Martinez and Ozzie Smith.

Here's more about the game, which was won by the Legends, 12-11.

My friend Andrea had the pleasure of attending last Saturday's inaugural game, and sent along a number of great photos she took. Check them out here.

Pepsi Max is also holding a contest for the next game, and you can vote for the legends who will play in that game, and you can also win a chance to have the game in your hometown. You can vote and get more info about it here.


I am really enjoying those comfortable Red Sox wins again.

This time it was a 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Fenway, with Jon Lester going all the way. He retired the first eleven hitters before allowing an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki. The shutout disappeared with two outs in the ninth. It was Lester's best outing of the season since the opener in Detroit. He struck out 6, didn't walk anyone and it was his first complete game win since 2010.

The Red Sox pitching is really hot right now, having allowed just three runs in the last three games. And that's four straight wins.

Daniel Nava hit a two-run homer into the Monster seats, his first dong since the grand slam he hit on the first pitch he saw back in June 2010. And Kelly Shoppach hit a bomb across the street for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

The Red Sox have a 4:05 PM start to end the homestand, and weather permitting, will be honoring one of the classiest gentleman to ever wear a Red Sox uniform.

Number 49.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We're Back On Tuesday, For Now

I'm happy to say that Trivia Night at Professor Thom's will be this Tuesday night at 9 PM. We had to move over to Monday the last two weeks, due to the Boston Celtics playoff games being on Tuesday. But the NBA has taken pity on us, and not scheduled any games in the second round on Tuesday. That also means that Trivia Night next week will also be Tuesday, May 22nd.

Should the Celtics progress to the next round, we'll see happens to Trivia Night then.

This week, the Special Category will be "May 15th Trivia," seven questions about the day in history (and a lot has happened on the day, too). The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What city was nearly destroyed by a massive fire in 1666 that started in a bakery?"

We will get started right around 9 PM. The Red Sox have a 4:05 PM game with the Seattle Mariners that day, so they will be done by the time we get going, and the Celtics have the night off. Hope to see many of you back on Trivia Night on Tuesday, where it belongs.

Nice and Easy On Mom's Day

It was a nice Mother's Day for the Red Sox on Sunday, as they strolled to a nice, easy 12-1 win over the Indians to take 3 of 4 in the weekend series.

Daniel Bard had some early trouble, as he walked in a run with the bases loaded, but got Travis hafner to bang into a double play to keep the game at 4-1.

The Sox scored four in the first off former Sox hurler Justin Masterson, and were on their way. Big day for Will Middlebrooks (pictured), who hit his fourth home run, Daniel Nava hit two doubles and had three RBI, Adrian Gonzalez had two doubles, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a home run with 5 RBI and Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 14 games. They capped off the day with six runs in the 7th to put the game away at 12-1.

Bard went six innings, and the bullpen once again turned in another stellar performance, with Rich Hill, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison allowing just one hit combined.

That makes it three straight for the Red Sox, and they conclude this homestand with two with the Seattle Mariners beginning tonight.

And for all the bad pub the Red Sox and their owners have gotten lately, they did something really classy in replacing Derek Lowe's stolen 2004 World Series ring.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

England's "Mets" Are Champions

Manchester City won the EPL championship today, and in incredibly dramatic fashion.

City was down 2-1 to Queens Park Rangers as the match headed into added on time. Manchester United, England's "Evil Empire", defeated Sunderland just moments earlier, 1-0, and was poised to grab the title.

But City wouldn't surrender. They scored two dramatic goals, one by Edin Dzeko and another by Sergio Aguero, and City had their first league title since 1968. Here's more from ESPN Soccernet.

The way City won it reminded me of the 2004 Red Sox.

After United's win, it looked like the celebrations at Sunderland would begin, and they would win their 20th title. But City pulled it out of the fire, and the long faces of the United fans was just priceless.

I've always compared Manchester City with the New York Mets, having to share a city with a behemoth that's won far more titles.

Congratulations to all Manchester City fans everywhere. The "Noisy Neighbours" have their title.

One of the Better Nights of 2012 So Far

I was playing in my Saturday night softball league last night, and could only follow the Red Sox-Indians game on my iPhone. Looks like I missed one of the best games the Sox have played this season.

Felix Doubront (pictured) continues to be one of the best things about 2012 for the Red Sox, as he allowed just one earned run and three hits, as the Sox took their second straight from the Tribe, 4-1.

The bullpen was impressive last night, after the shaky outing of Friday night. Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves each pitched a perfect inning to preserve the win.

Cody Ross went deep across the street, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles had RBIs. Pedroia is now red hot, and has hit in 13 straight games.

The four game series with the Indians concludes today with Daniel Bard taking on old friend Justin Masterson.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Trivia Night Will Be On Tuesday The Next Two Weeks

The NBA announced the complete Celtics-76ers schedule for the remainder of their second round series, and there will no games played on Tuesday nights.

So that means Trivia Night at Professor Thom's will take place on the next two Tuesday nights, May 15th and May 22nd, at 9 PM.

The Sneak Peek question and Special Categories will both be posted on the blog the previous Mondays.

Thank you NBA.

My Kingdom For An Easy Win

It had all the feeling of a game the Red Sox would let get away, but it didn't happen, and Clay Buchholz did not give up at least five earned runs. It was a trial to watch but the Sox prevailed, 7-5.

At the start it looked like he would. Buchholz gave up a run to the Indians and they had the bases loaded, but he got out of it. The Sox answered back with two runs in the bottom of the first on a Will Middlebrooks bases loaded double, and added two more in the second, on a Dustin Pedroia bases loaded double.

Buchholz, to his credit settled in, and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run. It was 7-1 (the Sox added three more in the 5th), and the Tribe loaded the bases, and the night was over for Buchholz. The Indians scored three runs, as Rich Hill walked in a run and Middlebrooks made an error at third.

The rest of the game had all the feeling of being in a dentist chair. The Indians threatened in the eighth but didn't score, and they scored one in the ninth and had the tying runs on second and third against a shaky Alfredo Aceves. Johnny Damon flied out to center for the final out to get the Red Sox their first home win in seven games.

It was arguably the most important start of Buchholz' career, and he pitched well. The Sox are now 13-19, and Felix Doubront takes the mound tonight against the Indians.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Anti-Wakefield

The Red Sox will be honoring Tim Wakefield with a night to remember one of the classiest men ever to wear a Red Sox uniform this coming Tuesday night. It is well-deserved, and I would hope that number 49 will go into the pantheon of numbers the club has retired.

It will surely take away for a short time what has been transpiring on the field this season, the abject disaster that is 2012. And the poster boy for it all is Josh Beckett.

Last night, he turned yet another stinker, and brought back horrible memories of last September. He got as many outs as runs he surrendered: seven. The Sox lost, 8-3. He was rightly lustily booed coming off the mound in the third inning. Red Sox fans were basically giving Beckett the collective middle finger. And after the game, Beckett gave it right back.

(And BTW, did anyone else notice the plethora of empty seats at Fenway last night, and the guy with the bag over his head in the second row? They may both become common sights at the ballyard this year.)

He was simply clueless and defiant in the post-game press conference, as reporters asked him about his playing golf with Clay Buchholz last week while his turn was being skipped in favor of Aaron Cook because of tightness in his lat muscle.

He talked about getting "18 off-days a year." He gets far more than that being a pitcher. Beckett was OK swinging a golf club last week, but wasn't available for an inning or two in last Sunday's 17-inning game, the one the Sox had to throw away because they had to use a position player at the end?

Here's more from Gordon Edes, at ESPN Boston.

Beckett just doesn't seem to give a damn about the Red Sox, the fans, or anything else that doesn't revolve around him. I thought after last year's disastrous ending, he was a big part of the problem and had to go. But the injury to John Lackey derailed anything like that from happening.

He's the worst of the "clubhouse lawyers" on this team, and a divorce between him and the Red Sox now seems to be inevitable. The Sox are on the hook to Beckett until 2014, with an average annual salary of $17 million. They will have to eat plenty of money to move him, but now what is the alternative?

And when is Beckett next scheduled to pitch? Next Tuesday night, when one of the great Red Sox players of all time will be honored. It will be a night of stark contrasts.

Wake did everything that was ever asked of him as a Red Sox pitcher. He will be honored for that, and rightly so.

Beckett? He has defiantly destroyed his legacy in Boston. Bring on the divorce.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trivia Is Back On Tuesday Night Next Week!

The Celtics wrapped up their playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Boston, and will face the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round beginning Saturday. The NBA announced that Game 2 will be next Monday, May 14th, so that means that Trivia Night next week will return to its regularly scheduled day and time: Tuesday night, May 15th at 9 PM.

The NBA has not released the rest of the series schedule yet, and when they do, I will pass along when the following week's Trivia Night will be.

The Sneak Peek question and special categories will be posted here on Monday.

See you all again at Thom's this Tuesday night!

On The Road To Nowhere

The Red Sox lost another series last night, to the equally-inept Kansas City Royals, 4-3.

Lousy defense in a rotten first inning ultimately cost the Red Sox another game. They are now 12-18. They've dropped seven of their last eight, to the A's, Orioles and Royals.

Not exactly the cream in the American League bottle.

Is anyone out there really confident this ship will turn around for the better? Bobby Valentine leaves me no confidence, and the starting pitching even less. And now we hear that Josh Beckett's been hitting the links when he was supposed to be resting what was supposed to be lat soreness.

More and more a divorce between him and the Red Sox might be best for both parties.

2004 heroes Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon return to Fenway tonight with the Indians for a four-game series.

In tribute to the late, great Carl Beane, here is his announcing the Red Sox lineup from one of his last games, last Saturday. (With thanks to my friend, the author Jim Prime, who posted this on Facebook this morning.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Fenway PA Announcer Carl Beane Dies In Car Crash

I was shocked and saddened to hear that Carl Beane, the Red Sox public address announcer, was killed on Wednesday in a single-car accident in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. He was 59 years old.

Mr. Beane was the Red Sox PA announcer since 2003. I didn't know him personally, but he was a friend of mine on Facebook.

Here's more from

My deepest sympathies to Mr. Beane's family and friends.

It's a sad day for all Red Sox fans. Fenway has lost its voice. Godspeed, Mr. Beane. You will be missed.

Have a Meatball, Courtesy of Matt Albers

The name Matt Albers doesn't exactly fill me with a lot of confidence. And I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that way.

He threw a meatball down the middle of the plate to Billy Butler in the 8th inning with two on and a one-run lead, and Butler made him pay, and the Sox went down to a 6-4 defeat.

Daniel Bard was staked to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, and wunderkind Will Middlebrooks did it again: he doubled and scored the first run. He's now played in five games, and gotten an extra base hit in all five, tying the MLB record for doing it in the first five games in a career. But he had to leave in the 3rd inning with a tight hamstring, the one that kept him out of one game over the weekend with the Orioles.

Bard gave three runs back in the bottom of the inning, which included balking home a run (he also balked again in the inning). But he settled in, and by the 8th, he had thrown only 86 pitches. And with a pen that was worked to death last weekend, I can understand Bobby Valentine staying with him. But Bard walked the first two hitters in the 8th, and then Albers showed up. The End.

No word yet on whether Middlebrooks will play in the finale tonight in Kansas City. He said after the game it was just for precautionary reasons he left.

Can the Red Sox actually win a series in Kansas City? We'll find out with Jon Lester on the mound for the Sox tonight.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Hit The Road, Start Winning Again

I was doing Trivia for a good part of last night's Red Sox game in Kansas City, but I couldn't miss the heroics of a possible star in the making: Will Middlebrooks.

The rookie blasted two home runs, including a three-run shot right down the line in the first inning. He's now hit in all four of his MLB games, and gotten an extra base hit in all four (the first Red Sox rookie ever to do so), including three home runs and nine RBI.

I even added him to one of my fantasy teams last night.

Felix Doubront got the win last night, despite going 6 1/3 innings and allowing 5 runs. It gave the pen a well-deserved rest, and Vicente Padilla went the final 2 2/3 innings in getting his first save in the 11-5 Sox win.

David Ortiz continues to terrorize AL pitching, hitting another home run, two singles and he was walked intentionally twice as well. Dustin Pedroia was just a triple short of the cycle, and walked three times.

It was 7-5 Sox in the bottom of the seventh with one out and the bases loaded, and it looked like the bell was tolling. Bobby Valentine took out Doubront and brought in Padilla, who got Billy Butler to hit into a double play, and that was basically the ball game. The Sox added four in the eighth, including Middlebrooks' second home run of the night. He had 5 RBI in the game.

Daniel Bard takes the mound for Game 2 in Kansas City tonight.

Trivia Q&A: May 7

For the second consecutive week, we had to move Trivia Night over to Monday night, and we had a similar crowd to the one we had last Monday: 13 teams took part.

A few of the players said to me that the Last Film Roles Trivia was a little too hard, and the numbers reflected it. Teams either did really well or really lousy. But the numbers rebounded nicely for most teams with General Knowledge.

The team called X was in first place all night, and capped off their night with a perfect score in IQ Trivia to take the title with 54 points. Congratulations to Alex and his crew on another fine win. Second place wound up a tie of 48 points between Orion and Sayonara Sarkozy, C'est La Vie. We broke the tie with this question: "How many films has Clint Eastwood appeared in in his career?" Sayonara Sarkozy was closest, guessing 49 (it was 66), to take second place.

Best Team Name: Rattlesnakes and Condoms: Two Things I Don't Screw With

Right now we don't know if we will have Trivia Night on Monday or Tuesday next week, due to the uncertain status of the Celtics playoff series. If the Celtics advance, the NBA will announce the second round schedule later this week. When it becomes available, I will let you where we stand. A good rule of thumb: if there is no Celtics game next Tuesday, we will have Trivia on Tuesday, May 15th at 9 PM. If there is a Celtics game that night, we will do Trivia on Monday night, May 14th at 9 PM.

Current Events
1. Five men were arrested last Tuesday, self-proclaimed anarchists, on charges of plotting to blow up a bridge in what midwestern US city?
2. Travel and Leisure magazine recently ranked which NY are airport at the very bottom of the best and worst airports in the United States?
3. A fire broke out in one of the buildings in filmmaker Tyler Perry's studio complex last week in what US city?
4. Daredevil Nik Wallenda is planning to do a tightrope walk across what famous North American location next month?
5. What pop singer's album recently passed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as the fifth best-selling album of all-time in the UK, having sold more than 4.2 million units?
6. A small downtown park in Hanover Square in Manhattan that is dedicated to the British 9/11 victims was renamed in honor of what famous person last Wednesday?
7. What legendary rock frontman will host the final episode of "Saturday Night Live" this season on May 19?

Mothers Trivia
1. Who was the frontman for the rock band The Mothers of Invention?
2. What country in the world did Mother Teresa do most of her charity work with the poor?
3. Who in the Bible is credited with being the "Mother of All the Living?"
4. What is the most popular month of the year for women in the US to have a baby?
5. Mother Love Bone was a late 1980s band from the Northwest, and two members would form what group in 1990, who has sold over 60 million albums worldwide?
6. Natalie Suleman, known as The Octomom, came into prominence when she gave birth to how many children in January 2009?
7. "The mother of all battles has begun" is a statement credited to what onetime world leader?

Last Film Roles Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Ragtime (1981)
2. On Golden Pond (1981)
3. The Flintstones (1994)
4. Neighbors (1981)
5. Giant (1956)
6. The Shootist (1976)
7. Rear Window (1998)
8. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
9. The Misfits (1961)
10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957)

General Knowledge
1. How does one right this current year in Roman numerals? ( 1 pt)
2. What cereal company is located in Battle Creek, MI ( 1 pt)
3. The US Census is used to reallocate seats for what specific legislative body? ( 1 pt)
4. In 1976, who became the second US state to legalize casino gambling? ( 2 pt)
5. Four European capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade, are all located on what river? ( 2 pt)
6. Liar's Poker, a popular bluffing bar game, is played with what substitute for cards? ( 2 pt)
7. What infamous import was voted "Worst Car of the Millennium" by NPR's "Car Talk?" ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. "And So It Goes", a recent biography by Charles J. Shields, was about the life of what 20th century American author? ( 5 points)
2.What rap star was once made an honorary executive vice-president of the Oakland A's baseball team as a teenager? ( 3 points)
3. Battles at Goose Green and Port Stanley were part of what short-lived 20th century military conflict? ( 4 points)
4. What current cable TV personality became a prosecutor after the murder of her fiance? ( 4 points)
5. Frederic Passy and Henry Dunant were the first two recipients of what award in 1901? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Cleveland; 2. LaGuardia; 3. Atlanta; 4. Niagara Falls; 5. Adele; 6. Queen Elizabeth II; 7. Mick Jagger.

Mothers Trivia
1. Frank Zappa; 2. India; 3. Eve; 4. August; 5. Pearl Jam; 6. eight; 7. Saddam Hussein.

Last Film Roles Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. James Cagney; 2. Henry Fonda; 3. Elizabeth Taylor; 4. John Belushi; 5. James Dean; 6. John Wayne; 7. Christopher Reeve; 8. Spencer Tracy; 9. Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable; 10. Bela Lugosi.

General Knowledge
1. MMXII; 2. Kellogg's; 3. House of Representatives; 4. New Jersey; 5. Danube; 6. dollar bills; 7. Yugo.

IQ Trivia
1. Kurt Vonnegut; 2. MC Hammer; 3. Falkland Islands War of 1982; 4. Nancy Grace; 5. Nobel Peace Prize.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

They STILL Can't Help Embarrassing Their Loyal Fans

How many times have I written that blog post headline this year on this blog?

More than once. More than twice.

Sunday's ending was an absolute joke. A total farce. And I don't blame Darnell McDonald at all. He's not a pitcher.

And under absolutely no circumstances should a position player be in pitching in a tie game in extra innings. None. (And I don't care if the Orioles did the same thing. The moment I saw McDonald in the bullpen, I could see disaster coming.)

The Boston Red Sox are a complete and total joke, with a clown as their leader. They're finding new and more excruciatingly awful ways to lose and torture their fans.

Clay Buchholz, who once again looked like total crap and again put the onus on the bullpen, has accomplished something only one other pitcher since 1920 has done: given up five or more earned runs in his first six starts of the season. He belongs in the bullpen, or back in AAA. And the talk is that Felix Doubront will head back to the pen when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns?

The Red Sox now have dropped ten of their last eleven at home. Consider this: under Terry Francona the Red Sox lost five straight at home only once in eight years. Under Valentine, they have dropped five straight at home twice. In just five weeks.

I'm so pissed off right now, I don't want to write any more.

Celebrating Mothers & Dead Movie Stars

In honor of next Sunday being Mother's Day, we will have "Mothers Trivia", seven questions connected to mothers of all kinds, as the Special Category on Monday for Trivia Night. We are having it on Monday again this week due to the Celtics playoff game on Tuesday night. (Right now, we have no idea about the day next week, as how the Celtics do this coming week will dictate that.)

The Q Train lightning round will be "Last Film Roles Trivia." I will give you the names of ten famous movies and the year they came out, and you have to tell me which star made his or her last ever appearance on film in it. Every answer will be an actor or actress who is currently deceased.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"The US Census is used to reallocate seats for what specific legislative body?"

We will get started at 9 PM on Monday night. The crowds are a little more manageable when we have to move to Monday night, so getting a table isn't that big of a problem. And it's also Lobster Night at Thom's, too. So come on out for lobster and trivia on Monday night this week!

Stinko On Cinco

Aaron Cook's return to MLB with the Red Sox on Saturday was a total disaster, as he was spiked by Chris Davis in the second inning covering home on a passed ball. The NESN cameras caught a chunk taken out of his left knee. He needs 11 stitches to close it up.

But Cook tried to tough it out, and stayed in the game. I won't second-guess Bobby Valentine on this, as he had a pen that was used up from the night before.

But the Orioles whacked him for six more runs in the third, and went on to an easy 8-2 drubbing. As Warner Wolf used to say, "You can turn your sets off there." And I did, as I've had enough watching bad baseball this week (and season).

Make no mistake about it. This is a better Orioles team than in 2011. They had taken 2 of 3 from New York earlier this week, so they were going to prove to be tough opposition.

But why can't this Sox team win at home? They are 4-9 at Fenway this season, and have dropped 9 of their last 10 at home. Yesterday, they allowed a seven-run inning at home for third time this year. Bloody hell.

And just to avoid a sweep at home by the Orioles today, Clay Buchholz will have to bring his "A" game, something we have seen very little of this season.

Let's just say I'm not overwhelmed with confidence at that prospect.

They don't pitch. They don't hit. They just find new ways of embarrassing their loyal fans.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

4 1/2 Hours of My Life I Won't Get Back

Another frustrating night at Fenway for the Red Sox, as they dropped a 13-inning game to Baltimore, 6-4.

They've dropped four of the last five, and seem to have a lot of trouble winning at home, now having dropped eight of the last nine at the Fens.

Jon Lester had two leads given to him by the Red Sox, but gave them right back.

Alfredo Aceves was devastating in relief, and struck out the side in the 10th and 11th innings. With the exception of Clayton Mortensen, the entire bullpen was used. Ugh.

Many opportunities to score more runs went wasted. It is frustrating as hell watching this bunch. They look like world beaters on the road last week and come home and can't beat teams inferior to themselves.

The best part of last night? Hearing Dennis Eckersley in the booth, substituting for Jerry Remy (who should be back May 10th). Love the "Eckisms" like "mediocre salad down Broadway." (That translation would be a pitch thrown down the middle of the plate.)

Have you noticed many empty seats on this homestand? Granted the weather hasn't been great, but the Boston Globe has an article about how "the Red Sox have redefined sellout."

Aaron Cook makes his Red Sox debut this afternoon, in Josh Beckett's place.

Settle in folks. Something tells me this will be one long frustrating season.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Yankee You Least Despise

Has the road finally come to an end for Mariano Rivera?

As everyone now knows, the Yankees closer was injured yesterday when he was shagging fly balls in the outfield before the Yankees game in Kansas City, and in trying to make a catch, he tore the ACL in his right knee and is likely lost for the rest of 2012. There was speculation during spring training that Rivera would call it a career after this season, so we may have seen him throw his last pitch.

Rivera will be 43 by next Opening Day, and it is quite rare to see any athlete have major surgery after the age of 40 and make a complete recovery. He keeps himself in great shape without doubt, and showed no signs his career was seriously waning when he got hurt yesterday. Only Rivera can answer the question of retirement, and he probably won't until his surgery and recovery is completed.

The reaction to Rivera's injury has been shock and dismay, even from Red Sox fans around the Internet. There is a universal respect for the man, and not just because of his record. He carries himself with grace. He's not a braggart or a showboat, although with his record he well could be. He is a religious man, and doesn't show anyone up. (I remember when he was once asked about his entry music, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. He said he doesn't listen to that kind of music, and prefers Christian music. But since the Yankees once played it early in his career, it stuck.)

In September 2004, I was at the Riviera Cafe in Manhattan watching a Red Sox-Yankees game when the Sox were down 2-1 going to the 9th. Rivera was coming in and I turned to my friend Eric and said, "He's not infallible. We bet him before, and we can beat him again." And that was the night the Sox rallied for two runs and won, 3-2. And every time we'd see Rivera come into a game in the ninth and I was with Eric, I'd turn to him and say that exact same line. And many times it worked. (Remember Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS?)

I guess you could say Rivera is "The Yankee You Least Despise" if you are a devout Red Sox fan. He earned that title when he was introduced at the Opening Day at Fenway in 2005, when the Sox unveiled their championship banner and handed out the rings. Rivera was introduced and was given a mock standing ovation by the Fenway faithful, and he handled it the best way he could: by smiling and tipping his cap (pictured). I was also at Yankee Stadium the week before, when the Yankee fans actually booed Rivera off the mound, when the Sox rallied for 5 runs off him in the ninth and won.

It will be a tough return if Rivera ultimately decides to give it one more go. Age catches up to everyone, even the so-called greatest closer of all-time. (I always phrase it like that to piss off the Yankee fans I know.) Rivera is a first-ballot Hall of Famer for sure and has nothing really more to play for. He's got five championship rings and the most saves of all-time.

I'm betting we haven't seen the last of Mariano Rivera on a pitching mound just yet.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Worst Call In Baseball History

Here is Exhibit A of the state of umpiring in MLB.

Many of you may have seen this, but this could well be the worst call in baseball history.

Umpire Tim Welke called Dodgers outfielder Jerry Hairston out on a play at first that Rockies' first baseman Todd Helton was at least three feet off the bag yesterday.

Take a look for yourself:

That takes my breath away. Once again, umps shouldn't be treated like Supreme Court judges. The bad ones should be weeded out, like what the NFL does. That was an embarrassment to the game.

Middlebrooks & Mortensen Impress

It was a pretty incredible sports day yesterday: Jered Weaver pitched a no-hitter, three games ended in their final at-bat, the New York Rangers won their playoff game in triple overtime, the shocking and incredibly sad news about the death of Junior Seau, and the Will Middlebrooks Era in Boston began.

The third baseman of the future was called up as Kevin Youkilis hit the DL, and made quite an impression. He was tearing up AAA, and drew a walk in his at-bat last night, and promptly stole second (pictured). He completed his night with a single and double, going 2-for-3 and playing a flawless third base.

It was also the first game in a Sox uniform for pitcher Clayton Mortensen, and he also left a favorable impression. He was acquired for Marco Scutaro over the winter, and pitched the last three innings, allowing a single, and then struck out six of the last nine hitters he faced.

The offense unfortunately, was ice cold in the clutch last night, going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Oakland, one of MLB's worst offenses, won it 4-2, and the Sox scored a run in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate before Adrian Gonzalez, in an 0-for-17 slump, grounded out to third to end it.

Daniel Bard gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings and got saddled with the loss.

BTW, I did like those throwback uniforms both teams wore last night, which were from 1936. I especially liked the high, "barber pole"-like socks. I wish more players would get rid of that "pajama bottom" look of the pants and go back to high socks and stirrups.

The Sox have Thursday off before the Orioles come to town Friday for a three game series. Jon Lester pitches Friday, and Aaron Cook will make his Sox debut Saturday. Josh Beckett will skip his turn, but the Red Sox insist he will be back in the rotation to make his next scheduled start next week.

NESN also said today that Jerry Remy will miss at least a week from the booth with a sinus infection, and will be replaced temporarily with Dennis Eckersley and Peter Gammons. Get well soon, RemDawg!