Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gil Hodges: A Brooklyn Icon Gone Too Soon

On April 2, 1972, the sports world was stunned by the sudden death of Mets manager Gil Hodges, who suffered a fatal attack after shooting a round of golf with his coaches as spring training was wrapping up in Florida.

Hodges was just a few days short of his 48th birthday. He had suffered from heart problems a good part of his life (and even suffered a mild heart attack late in the 1968 season). He was an icon for New York baseball fans, especially for those who lived in Brooklyn.

Gil Hodges lived about a half-mile from where I lived in Brooklyn. (His wife still lives there.) He made Brooklyn his year-round home after he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, and never left there, even when the team did.

On April 6th, Hodges was laid to rest. His funeral was at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, where he attended Sunday mass. I was 10 years old in 1972, and I have vivid memories of this time. I can remember being at my grandparents house and my father getting a call from my uncle with the terrible news about Gil's death. My dad was a huge Hodges fan from his Dodgers days, and it understandably shook him up. My whole family went to his wake at the church, and I'll never forget passing his coffin. He was wearing his World Series rings, and I was impressed by how enormous the size of his hands were.

On the day of the funeral, my father took me and two of my sisters to the church, as the funeral was going on. There was a huge crowd there to pay their respects. The crowds were held back by barricades and the police. We stood across the street at Avenue M and East 28th Street, and I remember seeing news crews on the roofs of the houses.

All types of dignitaries and former and current baseball players were there. I'll never forget seeing the Mets players arrive, but my lasting memory was seeing a black man with white going up the steps, and someone next to me saying "There's Jackie Robinson." It was him, with close friend Ralph Branca, and it was just six months before his premature death at the age of 53. (At the end of the second video, he is together with former teammate Pee Wee Reese. Amazing stuff.)

Last week, I was checking out some videos on YouTube, and came across two stunning videos of the funeral, taken before and after the service. It includes all kinds of people, from the Mets and Dodgers players, to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, broadcaster Howard Cosell and New York mayor John Lindsay. (Listen to the boos after he exits a police car!)

I honestly don't know who made the film, but it is in very good condition, and it is credited to "ABC News Video Source. It brought back a lot of memories for me. (I looked for my dad in the crowd, but couldn't find him. I'm sure that I was buried somewhere among them.) There's no narration to it, just the sounds of the crowd, and the sound quality is pretty good too.

I can't believe it was 41 years ago this month that we lost Gil Hodges, but he has never been forgotten by his adopted New York City borough. It's still a shame he isn't in the Hall of Fame, but that's a discussion for another time. Anyway, here are the two videos, and both are about 12 minutes in length.

Monday, April 29, 2013

No, Honest Abe Isn't One of the Choices On Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia at The Mad Hatter will feature "April 30th Trivia," seven questions on the day in history, with people, places and things connected to it.

The Q Train lightning round will be "Oscar Winning Characters Trivia." I'll give you the names of ten movie characters that garnered the actors or actresses who played them Academy Awards. And they will be of the more recent vintage, within the last generation of films.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"The musical 'Man of La Mancha' is based on what 17th century novel?"

We get going at 8 PM. If you'd like to book a table for your Trivia team, please do call the bar on Tuesday and let them know how big your team will be. The Mad Hatter is located on 26th Street and 3rd Avenue and the phone number is 212-696-2122. Thanks so much, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday night!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Pretty Damn Impressive April

The Red Sox have two games remaining in the month of April, and so far it's been a pretty historic month. They are tied with Texas for the best record in baseball and are off to their best start since 2002. It was just what they needed to put the crapfest that was 2012 in the rear view mirror.

Going into today's game with Houston, the Sox are 17-7. The team record for wins for the month of April is 18, done twice, in 1998 and 2003 (both seasons the Red Sox went to the postseason).

The Sox lead the American League in many offensive categories: runs batted in, stolen bases, extra base hits and total bases. They are in the league top five in doubles, triples, batting average, runs, walks, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS.

The pitching has been equally outstanding, as the Red Sox lead the league in wins and strikeouts, and are in the league top five in ERA, saves and opponents batting average.

The team is second in the AL in defense, having made just 9 errors in 24 games.

Mike Napoli is leading the majors in RBI with 27. Clay Buchholz is one of two five-game winners, and is second in the AL in ERA (1.19).

There is so much to like with this team. Terrific hitting, pitching and defense. They go for the sweep over the Astros today with the return of John Lackey from the DL.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Lenny Dykstra had legions of fans during his playing days with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, from 1985-1996. His run-through-a-wall, take-no-prisoners style endeared him to the fans of both northeastern baseball cities. He never quit, and always seemed to come up big when his team needed him most.

Christopher Frankie, who worked for Dykstra in the late 2000s, has chronicled the life of the former baseball star-turned-Wall Street magnate in "Nailed! The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra."

It's a cautionary tale to be sure. After Dykstra's career ended prematurely in 1996, he was determined to build a financial empire. He built up a car wash business in Southern California and sold it for $55 million. He bought Wayne Gretzky's mansion for $18 million, and flew around the country in private jets. He was living the good life, and appeared to living out his dreams and fantasies.

Chris Frankie went to work for him in 2007, with a magazine he was putting out for ex-athletes called "The Players Club." Frankie grew up a Mets fan and thought working for Nails was his dream come true.

It was a nightmare for him. Frankie chronicles a very different Dykstra from the one the fans knew in his playing days. Reckless with money, overly demanding, racist, homophobic, and generally not the kind of guy you'd want to split a beer with after work. His attitude towards women was equally appalling.

"Nailed!" is not so much a baseball book (although it does chronicle Dykstra's life before and during his playing days), but mostly a horror story told by Frankie of working for an unstable individual who built up an empire made of cards. Dykstra does whatever he can to keep that empire viable, and ripping off those he was closest to wasn't beneath him. It was all built on lies, cheating and deception, and it all eventually came crumbling down on him.

It's a truly stranger than fiction story, and it ends up with a deadbeat who eventually ends up paying the piper, and winds up behind bars.

If you grew up loving Lenny Dykstra and wondered what the hell happened to him that led to his landing in jail last year, this will open your eyes, and shatter some illusions as well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

24 Days In First

The Red Sox took the three-game series with Oakland yesterday, 6-5, and now have a record of 14-7, and a winning percentage of .667.

They are currently tied with Texas for the best record in the American League, and only the Atlanta Braves have a better record in all of MLB.

The Sox have now been in first place every day this season (24 in all), and lead the Orioles by two games.

There are two four game-winners in baseball, and the Red Sox have two of them: Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Lester got his latest win yesterday, despite giving up a three-run home run to Chris Young and walking six. But he sure looked like he was being squeezed big time on pitches in the lower part of the strike zone. Overall, the starters have an ERA of 3.14, and the defense has made just 6 errors in 21 games. That combo makes for winning baseball.

Allen Webster, who the Sox got from LA last year in the blockbuster trade, looked terrific in his MLB debut last Sunday, allowing just two earned runs in six innings. He figures to be back later on in the season. (And speaking of that trade with the Dodgers last August, isn't about time Carl Crawford moved on from it? He can't keep from running his mouth about it.) One guy who probably will NOT be back is Alfredo Aceves, who was optioned to AAA last night. After a truly awful performance in the rain and cold on Tuesday, the loose cannon blamed everyone but Barack Obama for the loss after the game. With John Lackey making the start  coming off the DL this Sunday, Daniel Bard back in the pen, and with Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow on rehab and returning shortly, Aceves appears done in Boston. The Sox have unsuccessfully tried to deal him, so he will either languish at Pawtucket or be released.

The Red Sox begin a four-game series tonight at Fenway against the newest members of the American League, the Houston Astros, who currently have the league's worst record at 7-14.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trivia Q&A: April 23

We had another good turnout on Tuesday night, with some folks in at The Mad Hatter for the basketball playoff games as well. It was also good to see an old friend, Mike, a regular from The Other Place, in with some friends. Always good to see support from folks I've known for a long time.

It was a night when a team did something I've rarely seen on Trivia Night: went from fourth to third to second to first in the last four rounds and get the win. It was done tonight by The Blueprint For Greatness In Trivia, who won with 42 points, winning by two points. Great job by Larry and Dave getting the victory!

Second place went to You Take My Blood with 40 points, and third place went to I'm Not Gay But $20 Is $20 with 39 points.

Best Team Name: My Grandma Is a Great Wrestler, But You Should See Her Box

Current Events
1. TV Guide recently selected the opening theme from what 1980s sitcom as the top TV theme song of all-time?
2. What Asia-Pacific country's parliament approved a gay marriage bill last Thursday, and broke out into song after it was done?
3. Pervez Musharraf, former president of what Asian country, was arrested on charges relating to his dismissal of judges in 2007?
4. A massive collection of memorabilia that was recently discovered in a Florida storage facility once belonging to what classic American rock band will go up for auction next month and is expected to garner several million dollars?
5. What Asian country reported that over 100 cases of bird flu were there as of last Sunday, with 20 reported deaths?
6. A skier and four snowboarders were killed last weekend in what state during the deadliest avalanche there in 50 years?
7. Name 1 of the 2 celebrities who had run-ins with the law this past weekend: one was arrested for DUI and the other was busted for disorderly conduct, both on Friday.

Florida Trivia
1. In 1821, the US acquired Florida from what country?
2. Jacksonville is the largest city by population in Florida. As of 2010, which city is second?
3. How many total teams in the four major sports play home games in Florida?
4. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which is over 4 miles in length, is located near what major Florida city?
5. The oldest European settlement in the United States is located at what Florida city?
6. As of the 2010 Census, Florida is ranked what number in terms of total population out of the 50 states?
7. Actor Burt Reynolds played college football in the 1950s at what sunshine state university?

1, 2, 3, or 4 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The number of state capitals named after US presidents.
2. In astrology, Taurus is this number sign of the Zodiac.
3. On a telephone, the letters DEF are found on this number.
4. This number was a hit song for The Bee Gees, Faith Hill and U2.
5. The number of Super Bowls won by the New York Giants in their history.
6. In volleyball, this is the number of sets needed to be won to win a whole match.
7. The number of US presidents that have been impeached.
8. This is the number of Noble Truths in Buddhism.
9. A Beatles greatest hits album from 2000 was this number.
10. Second baseman in baseball is this number position.

General Knowledge
1. Nicolas Sarkozy is a former president of what country? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the second letter in the Greek alphabet? ( 1 pt)
3. What instrument did jazz great Dizzy Gillespie play? ( 1 pt)
4. What fraction is often used to estimate pi, since it computes to 3.14285? ( 2 pt)
5. St. George is the patron saint of what country? ( 2 pt)
6. A "cat's game" is slang for a draw in what game? ( 2 pt)
7. What is the only nation that borders both the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. In 2001, what was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Feature Animated Film? ( 4 points)
2. The League of Nations was headquartered in what city until its demise in 1946? ( 4 points)
3. John Oliver will be filling in for two months for what TV host, who will be taking his first ever hiatus this summer? ( 3 points)
4. What category has the most Nobel Prize winners between 1901 and 2012? ( 4 points)
5. In 1781, what was the first planet in our solar system to be discovered using a telescope? ( 5 points)

Current Events
1. "Cheers;" 2. New Zealand; 3. Pakistan; 4. The Beach Boys; 5. China; 6. Colorado; 7. Al Michaels and Reese Witherspoon.

Florida Trivia
1. Spain; 2. Miami; 3. nine; 4. Tampa; 5. St. Augustine; 6. fourth; 7. Florida State.

1, 2, 3 or 4 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. four; 2. two; 3. three; 4. one; 5. four; 6. three; 7. two; 8. four; 9. one; 10. four.

General Knowledge
1. France; 2. beta; 3. trumpet; 4. 22/7; 5. England; 6. tic-tac-toe; 7. Russia.

IQ Trivia
1. "Shrek;" 2. Geneva; 3. Jon Stewart; 4. medicine; 5. Uranus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Irish American Baseball Hall Class of 2013

My friends at The Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame made their choices for the Class of 2013, and it is to say the least a mixed bag. Five men were chosen: two former players, one former owner and two baseball writers.

Former Mets Rusty Staub and Joe McEwing were selected, and Rusty was always one of my favorite Mets players, and I always appreciated "Super Joe" and his style of hard nose play.

The other three selected are: Peter O'Malley, the former Dodgers owner, whose father stabbed Brooklyn in the back by moving the Dodgers west in 1958; New York Daily News writer Bill Madden, a known Red Sox hater and writer I have very little use for; and Dan Shaughnessy. (Do I even have to even have to describe him?)

No matter, congratulations to all and they will all be formally inducted at Foley's NY Bar and Restaurant on May 7th at noon.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Now We Do Sunshine State Trivia

We bumped "Florida Trivia" last Tuesday as the Special Category for Trivia Night, as we honored the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks with a round of "Boston Trivia." But this Tuesday, we will do the round of Florida Trivia we didn't do last week. It will be seven questions all having to do with the Sunshine State.

The Q Train lightning round will be "1,2,3 or 4 Trivia." It will be ten questions where the answer to each will be the numbers 1, 2, 3 or 4.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What instrument did jazz great Dizzy Gillespie play?"

We get going at The Mad Hatter at 8 PM. The bar is located at 26th Street and 3rd Avenue, and if you are coming with a group, please do call the bar on Tuesday to let them know how big your party will be. There won't be any problem getting a reservation, but it just helps out to know how many tables will be needed. The bar's number is 212-696-2122. I appreciate that very much, and look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday night!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

And In The Role of Mike Piazza: Daniel Nava

This day needed a storybook ending, and it got one.

The Red Sox were down, 2-1, with two outs and two on in the bottom of the 8th. David Ortiz had bounced into a DP two better earlier, and it was rather deflating. Mike Napoli walked, and up came Nava. He had been picked off second base by Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez in the seventh, and the Sox came up empty in that inning.

Nava then slammed a pitch over the bullpens in right to make it a 4-2 game. Andrew Bailey was shaky in the ninth, allowing a home run, a walk and a single. But he got Alex Gordon to ground out to shortstop to end the game and give the Sox their 7th straight win, 4-3.

Clay Buchholz got his 4th win with another terrific effort, and the Sox starting pitchers have now gone 16 games from the start of the year allowing less than three runs.

It was an emotional day as the Red Sox played their first game in Boston since the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon last Monday. But doesn't what happened in that 8th inning sound vaguely familiar?

To me, it sure does.

It takes me back to September 21, 2001. The Mets played  the Atlanta Braves in their first game back in New York since the attacks on the World Trade Center. The city and the country were wounded, and it was an emotional night. First responders and law enforcement officials were on hand, and the fans came out to thank them for all they did in the aftermath of the attacks.

In the 8th inning, the Mets were down, 2-1 (like the Red Sox today), and up stepped Mike Piazza, with two outs and one man on. And he blasted what is generally regarded as the biggest home run hit in Mets history, and the Mets held on for a 3-2 win over the Braves.

Sounds like what Daniel Nava did in the 8th inning for the fans of Boston.

Thank you, Daniel. But more importantly, thank you to all the first responders who risked their lives this past week in Boston.

Damn Straight, Papi

It was a really moving pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park today, as the Red Sox honored the first responders and the victims of Monday terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.

David Ortiz concluded the ceremonies by saying this:

"This is our f***in' city. Nobody will dictate our freedom. Stay strong!"

Sure it was crude, but it definitely made a point. Boston has been through a lot this past week, and Papi was letting certain people know in no uncertain terms that the people of Boston (as well as America in general), won't be intimidated by terrorists.

For those of you who did not see it, here it is, courtesy of my friend Derek Hixon:

All About BOSTON Today

Baseball returns to Fenway on Saturday afternoon, after a harrowing day in Boston when everything was shut down in the hunt for one of the Boston Marathon bombers. (It was eerily similar for me to what happened in New York City on September 11, 2001, when the city here was locked down like Boston was on Friday.)

Thankfully it all ended with the arrest of the suspect, and now baseball will resume on Saturday, in what should be an emotional day at the Fens.

David Ortiz will also make his 2013 debut, as he was activated from the DL for the weekend series with the Royals. Today is also the 101st anniversary of Fenway Park. Today the Sox will wear the special uniforms shown above: home whites with the letters BOSTON on the chest, in honor of the city they play for. Very classy.

Friday's postponed game will be made up with a split doubleheader (naturally, is there any other kind anymore?)  at 1:10 PM and 7:05 PM. (And I won't get to see the second game here in NYC. Thanks always, ESPN.)

A huge thank you to all in law enforcement who put their lives on the line over the past week to catch the terrorists. And please say a prayer for the four people who killed because of these people, those who were injured (many for life), and their loved ones.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Support The Hub On Friday

The Red Sox completed a sweep in Cleveland on Thursday, taking the Tribe, 6-3, behind another stellar start from Jon Lester.

It's been an amazing start to 2013. Better than I could have hoped for.

The Sox are 7-1 on the road, and 11-4 overall. They lead the AL East by 2 1/2 games. Only the Oakland A's have a better record in the AL.

The pitching has been spectacular. The Red Sox starters have now allowed three or fewer runs by the starters in all 15 games so far. Every one of them have pitched at least five innings, except in the game in Toronto when John Lackey got hurt (and he pitched into the fifth). Going into last night, the Sox starters had an ERA of 2.30, and overall the staff ERA is 2.66.

And in sweeping our old friend Terry Francona and his Indians tonight, the current winning streak is at 6.

David Ortiz is expected to be activated on Friday, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is expected to be sent to Pawtucket. It was a rough go for the kid since the Sox left New York, but he will be back.

And Friday is "Wear Boston Day," in support of the great city of Boston and the marathon victims. Everyone is encouraged to wear something associated with the city, or the sports teams.

I will certainly do my part. It will be an emotional night at Fenway on Friday, as the Sox return home to play Kansas City, their first game in Boston since the devastating attack on Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I had a busy night with Trivia on Tuesday at The Mad Hatter, but I was able to get the Red Sox-Indians game on one of the TVs in the bar across from where I was hosting.

It was clearly a very emotional night in Cleveland. The Red Sox were going up against their former manager Terry Francona for the first time since he left, but that of course, took a back seat to the terrible events that shook the Boston Marathon on Monday.

The team hung a special jersey in the dugout: "Boston 617 Strong." (617 is the Boston area code.) Both teams wore a black arm band in memory of the victims.

And the Sox gave the fans back home a treat, scoring seven runs in the second inning, and that was all they needed for a 7-2 win. Felix Doubront went 5 innings, allowing two earned runs. The Sox starters continue their streak, now at 13, of games where the starters have gone at least 5 innings and allowing 3 runs or less.

Clayton Mortensen and Alex Wilson pitched four innings of shut down relief, allowing no runs.

It was also an "historic" game as well. It was the first time since 1900 that a nine-inning game has 25 or more strikeouts and 15 or more walks. The Sox struck out 16 times, and drew 9 walks. And still managed to win.

They are now 9-4. These boys continue to impress, and even under some very trying circumstances.

Trivia Q&A: April 16

It was nice to see another larger crowd come out to The Mad Hatter for Trivia Night, including old friends/Red Sox fans Rhonda, Ruth and Amy from The Other Place. We continue to get larger crowds as the weeks progress, and some new faces every week.

I had to do Boston Trivia on Tuesday night, in light of the terrible events at marathon on Monday. (I also wore my old Red Sox road jersey, as it says BOSTON across the chest.) I'm glad I did, and the numbers were generally pretty good in that round.

The team HBP led throughout the night, and pulled out a one point victory with 42 points. Ship of Fools finished second with 41 points, and we had a tie for third between Green Monkeys and We Don't Want To See Any More Weiner (which won Best Team Name) with 39 points. We had a tie breaker question: "How many total titles have the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots collectively won in their histories? The answer is 33, and Green Monkeys was closest with their guess and won third place.

Current Events
1. What rock star made a startling confession on Facebook on Monday, saying he relapsed back into alcohol and drug abuse over the past year and a half after years of sobriety?
2. Tim Cook, the CEO of what company, was ranked number one on Out magazine's list of the "50 Most Influential Gay Men and Women in America?"
3. A New York State appeals court declined to revive a $330 million lawsuit brought by what personality against Sirius XM Radio for refusing to pay him stock awards he said he was due?
4. What Oscar-winning film was mysteriously pulled from theaters in China last Thursday, its opening day there, for reasons not specified?
5. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck what Middle Eastern country last week, killing at least 37 people in a sparsely populated southern area of the country?
6. The BBC announced it will not play what song when it entered the UK pop chart last Sunday, saying it finds it "distasteful" the song's rise up the chart in the wake of Margaret Thatcher's death?
7. Adam Scott became the first golfer from what country to win The Masters tournament last Sunday, after a sudden death playoff?

Boston Trivia
1. Alexander Graham Bell was a professor at what Boston institution of higher learning before securing his telephone patent?
2. At 790 feet, what is the name of Boston's tallest building?
3. Martin Scorsese won an Academy Award for Best Director for what Boston-based film?
4. The Celtics have won the most titles of any Boston sports team. Between the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots, which one has won the second most?
5. What Boston tunnel is named after one of the city's all-time sports legends?
6. True or False: The first subway built in the United States was built in Boston.
7. What American statesman defended British soldiers involved in the infamous Boston Massacre of 1770?

Oscar Winners' Films Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Whoopi Goldberg
2. Christian Bale
3. Geoffrey Rush
4. Sandra Bullock
5. F. Murray Abraham
6. Frances McDormand
7. Tim Robbins
8. Adrien Brody
9. Natalie Portman
10. Judi Dench

General Knowledge
1. What was the last Apollo mission to the moon? ( 1 pt)
2. The town Truth Or Consequences is located in what western US state? ( 1 pt)
3. Hydrography is the science of surveying and mapping what? ( 1 pt)
4. In craps, what roll of the dice is often called "puppy paws?" ( 2 pt)
5. A Queen Conch is what type of animal? ( 2 pt)
6. As of 2013, who has hosted or co-hosted the Academy Awards show the most? ( 2 pt)
7. What South American country's flag most closely resembles the flag of the state of Texas? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What small European country has the world's highest income per capita, as of 2013? (4 points)
2. The Waikato River is the longest river in what country? ( 5 points)
3. What 20th century American historical figure was mockingly called in American newspapers "The Napoleon of Luzon?" ( 4 points)
4. What American automaker launched the EV1 in 1996, billed as the world's first production electric car? ( 4 points)
5. "Remote Control" was what cable channel's first game show? ( 3 points)

Current Events
1. Ozzy Osbourne; 2. Apple; 3. Howard Stern; 4. "Django Unchained;" 5. Iran; 6. "Ding Dong, The Witch's Dead;" 7. Australia.

Boston Trivia
1. Boston University; 2. John Hancock Tower; 3. "The Departed"; 4. Red Sox; 5. Ted Williams; 6. true; 7. John Adams.

Oscar Winners' Films Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Ghost; 2. The Fighter; 3. Shine; 4. The Blind Side; 5. Amadeus; 6. Fargo; 7. Mystic River; 8. The Pianist; 9. Black Swan; 10. Shakespeare In Love.

General Knowledge
1. Apollo 17; 2. New Mexico; 3. bodies of water; 4. two fives; 5. snail; 6. Bob Hope (18); 7. Chile.

IQ Trivia
1. Luxembourg; 2. New Zealand; 3. Douglas MacArthur; 4. General Motors; 5. MTV.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In Honor of Boston

We have a change in tonight's Special Category for Tuesday Night Trivia. We will be doing "Boston Trivia" tonight, seven questions in honor of that great city to the northeast of us that suffered greatly yesterday. We will do "Florida Trivia" next week. 

The Q Train lightning round will be "Oscar Winners' Films Trivia." Hope to see many of you tonight at The Mad Hatter at 8 PM for a great night of Trivia Q&A!

Monday, April 15, 2013

We've Got Your Back, Boston

My thoughts and good wishes are with the wonderful folks of Boston tonight.

Stay strong everyone. We're all Bostonians tonight.

Sunshine State Q&A On Tuesday

Tuesday Night Trivia at The Mad Hatter tomorrow at 8 PM will feature "Florida Trivia," seven questions about all different things concerning the Sunshine State.

The Q Train lightning round will be "Oscar Winners' Films Trivia." I will give you the names of  ten Academy Award-winning actors and actresses (who won just one Oscar), and you have to tell me what that film was. Most will be from the most recent generation of winners.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What was the last Apollo mission to the moon?"

We get started at 8 PM. The Mad Hatter is located on E. 26th Street and 3rd Avenue, and the weather should be a bit nicer on Tuesday evening. If you could call ahead if you'd like a table, that would be great. The bar's number is 212-696-2122. I look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday night for another great night of Trivia!

Lester & Buchholz: Perfect Together

Before the 2013 season began, I thought that if the Red Sox had any chance this season, the keys to moving on up would be that both Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz would have to pitch like aces.

For the first two weeks, they sure have.

Lester pitched another dandy on Saturday, holding Tampa Bay to one earned run over seven innings, in a great pitcher's duel with David Price. The Sox pulled it out, 2-1, in 10 innings on Shane Victorino's infield single.

Lester is currently 2-0, with a 1.42 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He has struck out 18 in 19 innings.

Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz has been even more spectacular out of the gate. He flirted with a no-hitter on Sunday, losing it on Kelly Johnson's broken bat single to begin the eighth inning. That's not really important, as he shut down Tampa Bay on just two hits over eight innings in getting the win, 5-0.

Buchholz is now 3-0, with an otherworldly ERA of 0.42, and WHIP of 0.95. (He has walked four in both has last two starts however.) He also has 23 strikeouts in 22 innings, and struck out 11 yesterday, just the second time in his career he has fanned in double figures in a game.

The Red Sox pitching overall has just been fantastic. The starters have allowed three earned runs or less in the first 11 games, which is a team record (the 1916 Red Sox broke from the gate with 9 straight, the old record).

Obviously, Lester and Buchholz can't keep up this pace, but they are clearly motivated and the return of John Farrell has helped them both enormously.

The Red Sox go for the sweep today, with the Patriots Day game at Fenway beginning at 11:05 AM.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Long Shot"

I just completed reading "Long Shot," the autobiography of the life of Mike Piazza, which he co-wrote with author Lonnie Wheeler.

Piazza is remarkably honest and forthright in his book (with plenty of salty language as well), and touches on a various number of subjects that surrounded him. (The book gets the name from the fact that Piazza was a 62nd round pick of the Dodgers, and done more as a favor to Vince, who was close friends with Tommy Lasorda.)

He talks extensively about his family, especially his father, who is clearly the guiding light to his baseball success. He also talks about his dad's relationship with Lasorda, and some of the myths surrounding it, such as the fact that Lasorda was not Mike's godfather.

Piazza's relationship with his first MLB manager is also explored in some depth too, and he is very candid about how it became strained and was never the same once Piazza was dealt to the Mets.

Mike is also very open about his relationship with many ballplayers, especially his best friend in the game, Eric Karros. He is also rather blunt about the Martinez brothers, Pedro and Ramon, who he was teammates with in LA, and with Pedro in New York.They were never pals, and goes into some depth of the problems he had with some other Latin pitchers he played with as well.

And as you would expect, he talks at great length about the dustups he had with Roger Clemens, and Piazza is more baffled by Clemens than anything else. Piazza feels in many that Clemens robbed of the joy of playing in his one and only World Series and looks back at that whole situation with regret.

"Long Shot" is one of the more open and honest books that I have read about an athlete in a long time. Piazza talks at length about his Catholicism, and credits his late mother for instilling that in him. He also talks at great length about how self-absorbed he was during his career, and how he'd wished he'd been more open. But his relationship with the press was never very good, and he thinks that could ultimately hurt his Hall of Fame chances, which are clearly very important to him.

He also talks about how the 9/11 attacks changed him, and the famous home run he hit in the first game back at Shea in September 2001 against the Braves.

He also chats very honestly about the steroid rumors that dogged him later in his career, and swears he has never gone near them. And he touches on the famous gay rumors that got started in the 2000s. Piazza still does have a strong ego, and he is not shy to tell readers why he should be in the Hall of Fame, and lays out all his stats and reasons.

Piazza lets it all hang out in "Long Shot" and if you are a Mets fan or just a baseball fan who likes a compelling story, I would recommend the book.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Two Tough Losses & The Streak (Mercifully) Ends

A couple of really tough losses for the Red Sox to end the series with the Orioles. The first series loss of 2013. But the Red Sox are still in first as we begin Friday, tied with Baltimore at 5-4.

Joel Hanrahan melted down in the ninth inning on Wednesday, after three stellar innings by the pen. He allowed five runs in the 8-5 loss, and got hit hard on the opener on Monday as well, but managed to get the save then. He's allowed three home runs in his first two Fenway games as Red Sox closer, and that is a concern.

But John Farrell won't do anything foolish. Hanrahan is the closer, but he'd better get his stuff together. Already we've heard people saying Andrew Bailey should be closing, but that is way too premature. Hanrahan will have his blown saves, like all closers do. Heck, Mariano Rivera has never had a perfect season in his career, as he is supposedly the greatest closer of all-time.

Alfredo Aceves gave the Red Sox five good innings last night, allowing two runs and left with the game tied. he will get the start next week against the Indians in Cleveland on Tuesday while John Lackey is on the DL. The bullpen has been tagged with the last two losses, but it is still a Red Sox strength.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is really struggling at the plate, and figures to be heading to Pawtucket by April 19th, when David Ortiz returns from his rehab assignment at AAA. He got off to a good start there last night, going 2-for-3 in the Pawsox' opening night win. Bradley is still a big part of the future, and getting his stroke back at AAA will really benefit him long term.

And finally "The Streak" ended at 794 on Wednesday night. That was the so-called "sellout streak", which the Red Sox claim that every game since May 2003 was sold out at Fenway. Like most other fans, I never cared about that at all, and it had become an albatross that needed to end. And now fans can come to the ballpark and buy some affordable tickets at the box office just moments before a game begins. And that's a good thing. And most of those fans will be there to see baseball, not be there because it's the "cool" place to be.

The Sox begin four games with Tampa Bay this weekend, ending with the Patriots Day game on Monday at 11:05 AM.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Trivia Q&A: April 9

It was a gorgeous day and night in New York on Tuesday, and a really nice crowd (including a few regulars I hadn't seen since The Other Place), bigger than the last few weeks, came into The Mad Hatter for Trivia. The bar has a back garden for people to enjoy their meals outside, and that brought many people out, and a few from there checked out our Trivia when we got going.

We had some strong scores for TV Trivia, but for US States Nicknames, they were all over the map. It was a two team race heading into IQ Trivia (the scores were really good for most teams in the round), but the team of Welcome Back Emily! We Needed You! wound up winning by just one point, with 47 in total. Second place went to Weekend at Thatcher's (who won Best Team Name), with 46 points, and third place went to We're Too Damn Hot with 44 points. (The next two teams were each a point back, so it wound up much closer in the end.)

Congratulations to Emily and her friends (who have been some of my loyalest regulars) on their first victory at The Mad Hatter!

Current Events
1. What classic rock band announced their first concert tour in six years last week, with dates in North America and concluding at Hyde Park in London in July?
2. The daughter of the king of what European country was subpoenaed last Wednesday in a charity embezzlement scandal her husband may have been part of?
3. What state's governor signed comprehensive gun control laws last week, making it the third US state in 2013 to pass new gun legislation?
4. What pop singer signed a $50 million deal with Pepsi to star in TV commercials and have her face emblazoned on soda cans as well?
5. Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died last Thursday of cancer at the age of 70. In 1975, he was the film critic to win what prestigious award?
6. Margaret Thatcher, Britain's longest-serving prime minister, died on Monday at the age of 87. How many years was she the prime minister?
7. What woman received an honorary BAFTA award for her support of British film and TV last week, and was honored as "the most memorable Bond girl" for her appearance at the 2012 London Olympics?

TV Trivia
1. Every episode of "Seinfeld" contains an image or reference to what superhero?
2. "I Want to Believe" was a phrase featured on a poster in what 1990s TV series?
3. The first interracial kiss on American network TV occurred in what 1960s TV series?
4. What groundbreaking 1970s TV series was based on a British series called "Til Death Do Us Part?"
5. How many seasons has the long-running TV series "The Simpsons" been on Fox?
6. "Venus Flytrap" and "Johnny Fever" were two characters on what 1980s sitcom?
7. Name 2 of the 4 TV series that have won the Best Drama Emmy award a record four times.

US States Nicknames Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Equality State
2. Granite State
3. The Old Dominion
4. Razorback State
5. Magnolia State
6. Yellowhammer State
7. Ocean State
8. Constitution State
9. Gopher State
10. Evergreen State

General Knowledge
1. Since 1985, how many tournament wins has it taken every year to win for an NCAA men's basketball title? ( 1 pt)
2. How many is there in a gross? ( 1 pt)
3. Which of the year's four seasons boasts more US federal holidays than any other? ( 1 pt)
4. Which group is more susceptible to colds, teenagers of people over 50? ( 2 pt)
5. A Granny Smith apple is usually what color? ( 2 pt)
6. The Berlin Wall was originally built in what year? ( 2 pt)
7. Biafra was a secessionist African state that left what central African country in 1967 but rejoined it three years later? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. The Onyx River, which is just 20 miles long, is the longest river found where? ( 4 points)
2. What rank, discontinued in the US Navy in the 1980s, comes between captain and rear admiral in the British Navy? ( 5 points)
3. What does a phlebotomist collect? ( 4 points)
4. What 2008 presidential candidate was the bass player for the rock band "Capitol Offense" while he served as his state's governor? ( 4 points)
5. Which of her films did Bette Midler jokingly say "had strong American values: divorce, alcoholism, plastic surgery and revenge?" ( 3 points)

Current Events
1. The Rolling Stones; 2. Spain; 3. Connecticut; 4. Beyonce Knowles; 5. Pulitzer Prize; 6. eleven; 7. Queen Elizabeth II.

TV Trivia
1. Superman; 2. "The X-Files;" 3. "Star Trek;" 4. "All In The Family;" 5. twenty-four; 6. "WKRP In Cincinnati;" 7. "Hill Street Blues," "LA Law," "The West Wing", "Mad Men."

US States Nicknames Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Wyoming; 2. New Hampshire; 3. Virginia; 4. Arkansas; 5. Mississippi; 6. Alabama; 7. Rhode Island; 8. Connecticut; 9. Minnesota; 10. Washington.

General Knowledge
1. six; 2. 144; 3. Winter (five); 4. teenagers; 5. green; 6. 1961; 7. Nigeria.

IQ Trivia
1. Antarctica; 2. commodore; 3. blood; 4. Mike Huckabee; 5. "First Wives Club."

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Third Opener. Third Win.

Yesterday was my third trip to Fenway Park for the home opener with the BLOHARDS, and third time I've seen the Red Sox win: a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

It was an enjoyable trip up on the bus from Connecticut, and even happier one returning last night. As a group we had tickets in the right field grandstand just to the left of the Pesky Pole in foul territory. Clay Buchholz was terrific, pitching seven shutout innings. He walked four, but was never really in any trouble. The Sox couldn't solve Wei-Yin Chen for six innings, until they finally broke through in the seventh for three, as Daniel Nava blasted a three-run shot to give the Red Sox all the offense they needed. (There was a bit of grumbling before the game that Jackie Bradley was not in the lineup, sitting in favor of Nava. Is John Farrell a genius or what?)

Joel Hanrahan did the tightrope walk in the ninth (got a feeling that won't be the last time this year I write that), giving up a home run and a double, but nailed down his third save of the year.

It was the 9th straight win by the Red Sox in their home openers. The last loss was in 2004 to Toronto.

BTW, it was also 44 years to the day I went to my first ever Opening Day game. That was at Shea Stadium, when the Mets played the Montreal Expos, in Montreal's very first game in their history. And the Mets lost, 11-10, in a very exciting game. But the year would end happily for the Mets and their fans, with their first ever championship.

The win puts the Sox at 5-2, tied for the best record in the AL. I continue to be impressed with this Sox club. Terrific starting pitching, tight defense (although Dustin Pedroia fumbled a couple yesterday but neither were costly) and clutch hitting. This doesn't look like a world-beater club by any stretch, but they have come out of the gate looking like a hungry, motivated team.

Let's hope they keep it going. There's a lot to like here.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Boob Tube Q&A On Tuesday

Trivia will be happening on Tuesday night, April 9th at 8 PM at The Mad Hatter, 26th Street and 3rd Avenue, with the Special Category being "TV Trivia." It will be seven questions on the history of that "vast wasteland" we all love: television. There will be some classic questions, and a few of the more recent variety.

The Q Train lightning round will be "US States' Nicknames Trivia." I will give you the names of ten well-known nicknames of states from the nation and you have to tell me which one it is.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"Which of the year's four seasons boasts more US federal holidays than any other?"

We'll get going at 8 PM. For those of you requesting tables, if you call ahead during the day on Tuesday, that would help out the staff of The Mad Hatter very much. The bar's phone number is: 212-696-2122. Thanks so much, and I look forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday night.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Pretty Damn Impressive

Before this season began, I looked at the schedule and saw the Red Sox opened on the road, with six games in New York and Toronto. (Is it my imagination, or do the Sox ALWAYS seem to play a series in Toronto before their home opener? It seems that's been happening a lot in recent years.) I figured if they could split those six games, that would be a good start.

And after the last two years beginning 0-6 and 1-5, the Sox REALLY needed to get out of the blocks in good shape.

So what do they do? They go into both cities and win both series, 2-1. And they looked mighty good doing so.

Jon Lester looked like the Lester we have all come to know and love, winning his first two starts, and in very impressive fashion in Toronto on Sunday. Seven shutout innings, and was never really in any kind of trouble. He looks like the ace his needed to be, as the jays did not a runner past second the entire game.

The Sox gave him five runs before he ever took the mound. The first five batters all got hits off R.A. Dickey, and all scored. It was capped by the first of three blasts by Will Middlebrooks, who just missed hitting a fourth, putting Melky Cabrera on the warning track in the 8th inning. The fours were wild for Will: 4-for-4, 4 RBI, 4 runs scored and 4 extra base hits.

The Red Sox took the "John Farrell Love Fest" on Friday, and got shutout on Saturday by some good Toronto pitching. But today's 13-0 win showed me something, as the entire lineup contributed (except for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jackie Bradley, who both took the collar). The Sox hit no home runs in New York, and there was speculation about this team's power with David Ortiz out. But they answered that today, hitting six home runs (Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava and Mike Napoli also all added dingers).

I had the Blue Jays feed on TV all weekend, and you can see that many fans are buying into this Blue Jays "Dream Team" nonsense. Granted, six games don't make a season, but the players better not buy into the hype. They could end up being a carbon copy of the 2011 Red Sox if they are not careful.

The Red Sox pitching over the first six games has been top-notch, the defense playing well and they have been hitting big time in the clutch. (Jays announcers said that the Red Sox had more hits with runners in scoring position in the first inning--four--than the Jays have had all season so far.) That certainly is a recipe for success. It's early of course, but there are good signs everywhere so far.

I'll be at the home opener at Fenway on Monday afternoon, and will have a report about it on the blog on Tuesday. It will be my third opener in four years.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

"Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 4"

My friend Joe Pickering at King of the Road Music has put together another fine batch of baseball-oriented tunes on his fourth CD called "Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 4."

It's the fourth in a series of CDs released by King of the Road Music since 2001. I've had the pleasure of listening to them all, and this is another fine collection of baseball songs, dealing with subjects as diverse as Johnny Pesky, the St. Louis Browns, the Chicago Cubs, and Willie Mays.

But there is a song called "I'm a Yankee Fan", so you have been warned. (Just kidding.)

To balance that ditty, there is "All I Want For Christmas Is The Yankees To Lose," which to no one surprise, is my favorite song in the collection. The album has a group of various singers, including Phil Coley and Danny Mack, who has been on the other collections.

The CD also includes a few tunes about about America and patriotism. I also liked "Heroes Don't Come Back" very much, which is about those baseball players who went off to fight in World War II and did not return.

There are even two songs about Santa Claus to wrap up the collection, for your Christmas listening pleasure.

Definitely give "Baseball Songs: Sports Heroes 4" a listen. Joe and his crew have done another nice job blending our National Pastime and music.

Here is the video for "All I Want For Christmas Is The Yankees To Lose." Enjoy:

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Playing With The House's Money

It was another easy win for the Red Sox on Wednesday night in the Bronx, a 7-4 victory over the Yankees.

Clay Buchholz was stellar over seven innings, and Jackie Bradley got his first MLB hit and RBI, a single in the third inning. (With thanks to Ed Achorn of ProJo for the cool pic of Mr. Bradley.) The Sox scored early and often and it was 6-0 after three innings.

So, are the Red Sox that good or are the Yankees that inept? Too early to answer that, obviously. But the Red Sox have never trailed in the first two games. They are winning games with contributions from everyone. (Jose Iglesias has five hits already!) It was also the first time they have won their first two games since 1999, and the first time they won their first two opening games in the Bronx since 1935. However, this was only the 6th time the Sox have opened their season in the Bronx since then. (Thanks for that stat, Jere.)

I was hoping that the Red Sox could open the first six games in New York and Toronto with at least a 3-3 start. They have now already won their first series of the year, and a sweep tonight would already accomplish a .500 road trip at the very least.

It was also once again a night of many empty seats late in the game at Yankee Stadium, as it was cold (41 degrees at game time), but the optimism is not high in New York right now. The best team in the city right now is the Mets, and young Matt Harvey pitched a dandy at Citi Field, striking out ten in a 8-4 Mets win over the Padres.

The Red Sox will be playing with the house's money tonight, with Ryan Dempster making his Red Sox debut.  Just in case, where did I hide my broom?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Trivia Q&A: April 2

We had a nice night of Trivia, but the crowd was down again, which maybe due to the holidays that have just concluded. Many of the regulars were not in. Thanks to all of you who came out and enjoyed the night.

The numbers were a bit low throughout most of the night, as I think this was one of those nights where the Trivia was a bit on the harder side. The highest score in True or False Trivia was 7 (we almost always have a team with a perfect score), and in Pop Music Trivia was 5. I promise the Special Categories won't be as tough next week!

The team of The Originals led from start to finish, and ended the night with 43 points and the win. Second place went to Bowell and The Movements with 35 points and third place went to I'd Like To Bend Over a Barrel and Show Her the 50 States with 30 points (who also won for Best Team Name).

Current Events
1. Julia Pierson was sworn in last week as the first female director of what government agency?
2. What comic actor took a lot of heat last week after he made a video lampooning the late actor Charlton Heston and his famous "Cold Dead Hand" speech?
3. What athlete caused a bit of an uproar last week after being part of an ad saying "Winning Takes Care of Everything?"
4. George Mason University recently released a study of the "Freedom of the 50 States" in terms of personal and economic freedom. Which eastern US state was ranked last?
5. What TV show was canceled last week after 25 years on the air, and it was the third time in its history (on two different networks) it had been canceled?
6. Which of the four major US wireless carriers became the first to remove the contract requirement from its mobile phone payment plans?
7. What action film won the Easter weekend at the box office, pulling in over $41 million in its first weekend of release?

Pop Music Trivia
1. What female pop singer suffered a vocal hemorrhage in 2011?
2. In 2005, the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration was won by Ray Charles and what female artist?
3. What female pop singer starred for three seasons in the reality TV series "Newlyweds?"
4. What rock singer played a bar owner in 1998 English gangster film "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels?"
5. Shawn Corey Carter is the real name of what rap star?
6. According to Billboard, who was the top selling album artist of the 1970s in the US?
7. What rock band's "Greatest Hits", released in 1981, is the all-time best-selling album in UK history?

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Bill Clinton was one of just two US presidents to donate their salaries to charity.
2. Kool-Aid can be turned into Gatorade by adding some salt.
3. The word "nerd" was actually invented by Ernest Hemingway.
4. The darker the color of your alcoholic drink, the more likely it is to give you a hangover.
5. The band Creed once put on such a bad show that they were slapped with a class action lawsuit by the fans in attendance.
6. The sitcom "Seinfeld" was originally titled "Insomnia Cafe."
7. Firstborn children tend to have higher IQs than their other siblings.
8. Sloppy handwriting skills of doctors are responsible for over 7,000 deaths each year.
9. Adolf Hitler was once selected as Time magazine's Man of the Year.
10. Women in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to drive cars, are allowed to fly airplanes.

General Knowledge
1. What letter vitamin do we get from the sun? ( 1 pt)
2. What folk singer wrote the classic song "This Land Is Your Land?" ( 1 pt)
3. What war was fought on American soil from 1756-1763? ( 1 pt)
4. Regina is the capital of what Canadian province? ( 2 pt)
5. The Rio Grande River begins in what US state? ( 2 pt)
6. How many noggins (or gills) are there in a pint? ( 2 pt)
7. "Boz" was a pseudonym used by what famous 19th century novelist? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What food symbolized eternity in ancient Egypt? ( 5 points)
2. "Arrangement in Grey and Black" is the formal title of what 19th century painting, known by what more common name? ( 4 points)
3. What automobile company was founded by William Crapo Durant and Fredric L. Smith in 1908? ( 4 points)
4. The Grand Canal is the longest canal in the world at 1400 miles, and is located in what Asian country? ( 3 points)
5. Of the 13 independent island nations of the Caribbean, which is closest to the South American coast? ( 4 points)

Current Events
1. Secret Service; 2. Jim Carrey; 3. Tiger Woods; 4. New York; 5. "America's Most Wanted;" 6. T-Mobile USA; 7. "GI Joe: Retaliation."

Pop Music Trivia
1. Adele; 2. Norah Jones; 3. Jessica Simpson; 4. Sting; 5. Jay-Z; 6. Elton John; 7. Queen.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. false, Herbert Hoover & JFK; 2. true; 3. false, Dr. Seuss; 4. true; 5. true; 6. false, "Friends"; 7. true; 8. true; 9. true; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. D; 2. Woody Guthrie; 3. French & Indian War; 4. Saskatchewan; 5. Colorado; 6. four; 7. Charles Dickens.

IQ Trivia
1. Onions; 2. Whistler's Mother; 3. General Motors; 4. China; 5. Trinidad and Tobago.

Monday, April 01, 2013

A Fun April Afternoon In The Bronx

Opening Day 2013 could not have gone any better for the Red Sox.

They opened with an 8-2 win over the Yankees in New York, a game the Sox led from the second inning on. It was the first Red Sox win on Opening Day since 2010, and New York's first home opener loss since 1982.

Jon Lester went five strong innings, and allowed the two New York runs. He almost got out of a bases loaded, one out jam, but gave up a two-RBI single to the light hitting Francisco Cervelli.

The bullpen was splendid, allowing nothing but two walks in four innings. It will clearly be a strength for this team in 2013.

Jackie Bradley Jr. made his MLB debut and drew three walks (as many as Carl Crawford had in all of 2012), scored two runs and made a great running catch to end the third inning (pictured).

The offensive stars were the top of the lineup, as Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and two RBI; Shane Victorino had two hits and three RBI; and Dustin Pedroia had two hits and an RBI. Jose Iglesias chipped in with three hits and an RBI.

I know the Yankees are really banged up, and will get a few of their major stars back soon. But C.C. Sabathia didn't have it all, allowing four runs in five innings. This could well be a VERY long year in the Bronx, as this team has "last place" written all over them. (And did you see how empty the place was in the 9th inning? Granted the Sox put the game on ice and some rain began to fall, but that was embarrassing just how empty it was. The fans are jumping off the ship awfully quickly, don't you think? And BTW, the game was NOT a sellout.) 

It will be nice to look in the papers tomorrow to see the Red Sox and Mets both in first (the Mets whacked the Padres, 11-2 at Citi Field) and the Yankees in last. 

Not all of those positions may hold as the season goes on, but you never know.

Talkin' 'Bout Pop Music On Tuesday

This Tuesday night, April 2nd at The Mad Hatter, the Special Category will be "Pop Music Trivia," seven question about popular music, mainly from the last generation, but with a few oldies but goodies thrown in as well.

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

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"What war was fought on American soil from 1756-1763?"

We get going at 8 PM. One change to proudly announce. We have decided to move the announcement of the Best Team Name from after the fourth round, to after the third round. It makes more sense to hand out the free pitcher of suds earlier in the night! Hope to see many of you for another great night of Trivia Q&A on Tuesday night!

Bring On 2013

It's Opening Day 2013, and everyone's optimistic today.

I like the changes the Red Sox made this winter, and beginning today in New York, we see which ones pan out and which ones don't. I can see the Sox winning as many as 88 games this year. Obviously, MANY things have to break right for that to happen: Jon Lester has to pitch like an ace again, John Lackey has to look like the pitcher the Sox were getting in 2010, David Ortiz has to bounce back healthy from the Achilles injury, Will Middlebrooks has to take the next step at third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. has to show he's ready for the big time. And that's just the beginning.

The Red Sox are in a rather balanced AL East, and it is one where anyone can win it, or finish last. Most of the so-called "experts" have the Sox finishing fourth or fifth. So be it. The Sox have so much to prove after the abject disaster that was 2012. (And would someone please tell that guy who managed the Red Sox last year to shut up and go away?) Maybe the lack of respect they are getting nationally will motivate them this season. Or maybe not.

Anyway, it's Opening Day. A day of new births. A day for optimism.

Bring it on.