Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And Down Goes Don O... Down Goes Don O...

I've written before how overrated and plastic Don Orsillo is, and how Jerry Remy completely carries him. Chad Finn - who writes the excellent "Touching All the Bases" blog - said it best when he termed Orsillo a "vinyl-covered automaton." Perfect. When you consider all of the great Red Sox broadcasters over the years - doesn't it piss you off that this all-cover, no-book phony just walked in and won the holy grail in such a short time? Anyway, Don O said something stupid tonight and Jerry called him on it.

Sox starter David Pauley - who was called up from AA Portland to make his ML debut - was pitching pretty well through the 4th inning, and his mates had staked him to a nice 7-2 lead. Just what a nervous rookie needs. Unfortunately, things unraveled in the Jays' half of the fifth inning and Pauley gave up four runs to make it 7-6. Francona took the kid out and Pauley was a complete wreck. Screaming the F-bomb, holding the towel over his head, I think I may have even seen him cry on his way to the dugout.

The NESN cameras, of course, zoomed in on Pauley and Don O's first instinct was to say that Pauley was pissed because he wouldn't qualify for his first professional appearance and first win. Remy cuts in and says, "that's not even remotely entering his mind right now. The guy just lost a big lead and let the Blue Jays climb back into it." Nicely done, RemDawg, although you can't really blame Don O. He's so programmed, he doesn't know what's coming out of his mouth half the time. Okay, maybe three-quarters of the time.

Sox just turned a huge double play to preserve their 8-6 lead over Toronto. Fourth double play of the game - two of which have been highlight-reel caliber from Alex Gonzalez. Manny, Papi, Trot, and Loretta have gone deep.

Cause for Concern?

The report of Roger Clemens finally signing with Houston amplified what is quickly becoming a problem for our hometown team - starting pitching. As of today, May 31, 2006, I'd say we have a total of 2 reliable starters (Schilling 1, Beckett 1/2, Wake 1/2). And with the last two, and sometimes even the Big Schill himself, you just don't know what you're going to get each start. With David Wells sitting out a turn, we now turn our eyes toward David Pauley, Double-A pitcher at Portland, who is the only thing standing between a humiliating sweep by the Blue Jays and a salvage win for the Sox.

Beckett has been a puzzle this year. Absolutely dominant at times, but the longball is killing him. He gave up four bombs last night (two to Sox killer Vernon Wells), and then David Risky gave up another to Wells late in the game for a grand total of five home runs. U-g-l-y. It's hard for the offense to keep the team in the game with that type of pitching, a point that David Ortiz made to the Globe last night.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Short Lived Joy

Damn, talk about going from a high to low within minutes. Sox lose, 7-6. The jackasses on AM radio tomorrow will be asking why Riske was in the game.

Comeback Kids

I was just saying the other day how the Sox haven't had many impressive comebacks this year and lo and behold...

They were behind 6-0 in Toronto tonight after four - to Roy Halladay no less - before they began to turn things around. And the longball was their ammo. Coco hit a solo homer in the fifth to put the Sox on the board, Manny hit a laser-beam into the second deck in left-center in the sixth, and Varitek just crushed a mistake to right in the eighth to make it a brand new ballgame. Kudos to the bullpen (Van Buren and Delcarmen) for holding the Jays at bay.

Now we're in the bottom of the eighth and the Jays just took the lead, 7-6. Sox have David Riske pitching. I know Timlin's out and all, buy why not a few more batters for Delcarmen?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sox Win a Crazy One

Great performance today from Wakefield, who went eight innings and didn't allow a run.

Sox are leading right now, 5-0, in the top of the 9th. Two down. Rudy Seanez trying to seal the deal against Josh Paul.

Ball. Streeeek. 1-1. Foul. 1-2. And the crowd is standing, chanting Rudy's name...

Inside. 2-2. Checked-swing ball. 3-2. Men on first and second going on the pitch. Foul. Foul. Foul. Seanez can win over a lot cynics right here.

Ball four. Bases loaded. And Rudy leaves to a chorus of boos - see how quickly it can all turn? Who's coming in - Delcarmen or Tavarez? It's Tavarez. All three of these guys has to do more while Timlin is out.

Strike 1 to Norton. Strike 2. Back to back changeups from Julian. Ball, outside. 1-2. And holy cow, it's a swing and a miss that gets away from Mirabelli. 5-1, Sox, still bases loaded, all guys on without getting hits. Joey Gathright up. Let's, um, end this now, okay Jules?

Ball one. Ball two. 2-0. Ball. 3-0. Tavarez grooves a strike, 3-1. Ball four. 5-2, Sox.

Francona doesn't want to use Papelbon today. Delcarmen's up in the pen. Julio Lugo at the plate. Ball one. Ball two. This is not pretty. Three and oh. Strike, 3-1. Ball four. Another goddamn run is in.

Sox relievers have given up five walks in the ninth inning - this is what gives managers ulcers. Tavarez is staying in there.

1-0 to Carl Crawford. Strike on the outside edge. 1-1. Ball. 2-1. Strike, 2-2. The D-Rays have scored three runs without the benefit of a hit. And now they've got one - Crawford lines one to left. One run in, and a play at the plate!! Out!! Sox hold on to win 5-4. What an ending. And what a great throw by Willie Harris to Jason Varitek to nail Joey Gathright at the plate.

Not the ending you want after being in control of the game, but a win's a win. Sox pull off the four-game sweep and now head on the road for a tough stretch - three against Toronto, three against the red-hot Tigers, and four in the Bronx. Yanks won today, 6-5. Lead in the AL East stays at 2 games.

Coco's Return, Manny's Back (and Knee)

Lots of personnel notes today:

- Coco Crisp is batting leadoff and playing CF today for the Sox, which we've waited to say for about a month and a half now. Coco injured his finger sliding in the fifth game of the year, and today will be his first game at Fenway.

- Crisp was originally slated to hit sixth but was moved up to leadoff when Francona learned Manny would have to sit out another day with a knee issue. Youk is batting in Manny's clean-up spot. All reports say it's nothing serious with Manny.

- Timlin (shoulder) and Wily Mo (wrist) go on the DL, Delcarmen is in the bullpen.

Here's hoping Wake is ON today as the Sox go for the four-game sweep of the D-Rays. Yanks are up early on the Royals thanks to a John Damon homer.

Sox Go For Series Sweep Today

TB = Totally Bad. The boys are taking care of business against the lowly Devil Rays this weekend. Josh Beckett spun a beauty in the opener Thursday night (4-1 win), we witnessed the return (and fall) of David Wells Friday night in another win (8-4), and Curt Schilling won his 200th game last night, beating the Devil Dogs 6-4. The tense moments have been few and far between during this holiday weekend series - it's almost seemed easy. Sox have banged out 35 hits in the three games.
The lowlight came Friday night, when Wells took a line drive off his surgically repaired right knee. The big lug was pitching great until the top of the 5th, when Travis Lee hit a low, hard shot right back through the box. Wells went down in a heap of pain. Fortunately, all the tests after the game showed no structural damage, just a deep bone bruise. Still, as someone who has had major knee surgery in the past year, a line drive off the knee is your worst nightmare. When it first happened, you thought Boomer might be out a while; now they're hinting that he might be able to make his next start.

Sox currently hold a 2-game lead over the Yanks. Wakefield vs. Hendrickson this afternoon.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I hate to rail on guys for the money they make, but I said it when Theo signed Matt Clement back in the winter of 2004 and I'll say it again. Giving an unproven guy like Clement $25 million over three years was a big-time desperation move. Remember - that was the same winter Pedro bolted for the Mets and Randy Johnson was traded to the Yankees. We had to do something and everyone thought Tim Hudson was the guy. Instead, we had to settle for a head case (Clement) and a knee jerk (Wells), and 17 months later it's clear that the Clement package is not a reliable one. Whether it was the ball he took off the head last year or what, he looks mentally unstable (shades of D-Lowe) on the mound and his stuff is ordinary. He may pitch decent one out of six times to the hill.

Clement's our whipping boy this morning because the Sox failed to capitalize on a depleted Yankee roster and let the bastards walk into Fenway and take two out of three. Wakefield had a tough night Tuesday (7-5 Yanks win), and then Clement's stinker was last night (8-6 loss). For all their travails, the Yanks are only a 1/2 game out of first place.

Bright spots from the series, because we're trying really hard to be glass-is-half-full today:

- Manny's bat has finally awakened. He hit four homers in the three games, including two last night.

- Schilling's performance in Game 1 was encouraging

- The team showed some spunk in coming back from deficits several times

- Youk is making it a tough call for Tito when Coco returns

- David Riske looks like he can help

Okay, that last one is a stretch - but we do need someone to step up and become our 7th inning guy. Foulke is not the answer.

Another seeming deficiency for the Sox is the lack of depth on their bench - Mohr, Harris, Snow, Cora. Not a scary pinch-hitter in the bunch.

Ah well - it's time to fatten up on the Devil Dogs. Tampa comes to town tonight for the first of four. Josh Beckett vs. Doug Waechter.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Downright Offensive

The wind - unlike the fans - was howling last night at Fenway, where the Sox offense came alive and Curt Schilling pitched a gem to beat the Yankees in the first of three. Papi (it's almost like you don't even need to type this anymore - it's just assumed) had a big night, Manny mashed one out to center, and even Alex Cora played a solid game, going for 3 for 4 and playing a nice shortstop. Sox had a commanding 9-1 lead going into the ninth, which allowed Foulke to get away with this line in mop-up duty - 1 ip, 5 h, 4 r, 2 hr. Things got so ugly that Francona had to warm up Papelbon before Foulke got the last out. Final: Sox 9, Spanks 5.

Watching the game early on, the fans seemed a little out of it. Damon got a smattering of boos when he led off, but other than that it sounded like a pretty tranquil night at Fenway. The big lead probably didn't help matters.

Yanks had a starting outfield of Terence Long in left, Bernie Williams in center, and Melky Cabrera in right. A far cry from the anticipated Matsui, Damon and Sheffield. Damon DH'd last night and knocked in the first NY run.

Idle note - the Yanks now have a Small, a Long, a Wang, and a Unit on their roster.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Desperate Times Call For...

... desperate measures. YanksFan/SoxFan is reporting that the Yanks made a couple of low-cost moves today to try to shore up their depleted roster.

Wait... It Gets Better

From the Yankees side this morning, we hear that Shawn Chacon is going on the DL and Sheffield will be getting a few ABs in Triple-A Trenton.

From the Sox side, Boomer Wells pitched reasonably well last night for Pawtucket and is scheduled to face the D-Rays later this week, David Riske is close to coming back, and Coco's ready to take some light BP today.

Edge in the good news department goes to the Sox.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Golden Opportunity

Alright, so we got a hell of a lot of rain over the past couple of weeks here in New England, and my basement was one of many in the area that was inundated. So we got the sump pumps going and all, and I check it every morning before I go to work. Well, one day last week I open the front door and look down at the hoses and lo and behold - there's a freaking mini Yankees helmet sitting there - the kind you used to get at Dairy Queen after a big Little League win. It was so random that I was perplexed. How the heck did it get there? One of my friends playing a practical joke on me or something? Is the paperboy a closet Yankee rooter? I honestly had no clue, but I knew one thing - I couldn't in good conscience go to work and just leave it there. No way. So I pick it up - almost like it's a turd - and I carry it into the house and throw it in the trash can. Why am I telling you this? I don't know - just thought it was interesting. In hindsight, maybe I should have held onto it and used it as a voodoo helmet all year.

To make the transition to real-life baseball, the Yankees come to Fenway tomorrow night for the start of a three-game series, and it's high time for the Red Sox to put some separation between them.

I rag on the Yankees a lot, but I do respect (most of) them. Right now, they're in absolute tatters. Matsui is a huge loss. Sheffield has been out. Posada's hurting. Their starting pitching is a joke. Pavano did something to his elbow and needs another surgery. Their $200 million lineup this week will most likely feature Kelly Stinnett, Melky Cabrera and Miguel Cairo. NOW is the time to build a lead over these guys, and I think the Sox sense the urgency. It was nice to see Francona give the quick hook to DiNardo today.

I know it's only May, but the Yankees are ripe for the picking and the picking has to begin tomorrow night. Let's take 2 of 3 and build a small lead (Yanks are losing right now to the Mets, 4-2, on Sunday night baseball). My theory is that the role reversal between the Sox and Yanks began with that epic ALCS rebound in 2004, and the only thing left now is for Boston to actually win the damn division for once, which I believe will happen this year. The last time the Sox won the AL East (in a full season) was in 1990. They also won it in 1995, the strike-shortened year. It doesn't guarantee anything, I know, but it would be symbolic and sweet.

We know the Yanks will bounce back. A's GM Billy Beane had a great quote in this week's Sports Illustrated: "The only thing faster in New York than the time between the light turning green and the guy behind you honking is the time between an injury to a Yankees starter and reports of the names of guys the Yankees will go get." Very true. Right after Matsui broke his wrist, we heard names like Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter. Peter Gammons was just on ESPN saying they're looking at guys like Jay Payton, Richard Hidalgo, or Terence Long. Not scary.

We need to hit 'em while they're down, and keep hitting until they're unrecognizable. Starting tomorrow.


Sox tried to come back against the Phils today, but the twin gas cans (aka Tavarez and Seanez) held them back and they ended up losing 10-5. Utley, Abreu and Howard are damn good hitters. If the Yanks lose tonight, the Sox lead will stay at 1.5 games. Providing Billy Wagner doesn't have another meltdown.

Comeback in the Cards?

Seeing what the Yankees did yesterday - coming back from a 4-0 deficit in the 9th - got me to thinking that the Sox haven't come back very much this year. Maybe from a couple of small leads, but nothing as stirring as being down four runs in the ninth. (Loretta's walk-off vs. Seattle comes to mind, but they were down 6-5)

They have a chance today, unfortunately, as Lenny DiNardo couldn't get the job done and got pulled in the 3rd. Sox are down 4-1 as they bat in their half of the 5th. Let's go, boys.

Youk just hit a bomb, and now Loretta gets plunked on the elbow. One out with Trot up, who's been stroking it well. Double play. Rats. 4-2, Phils.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What a Day

A little bit of everything happening around MLB today...

* Barry Bighead finally hit #714 to tie the Babe.**

* Evidently, Pedro can beat the Yankees (7 ip, 4 h, 0 er, 8 k), but their multi-million dollar closer, Billy Wagner, can't (0.1, 2 h, 4 er, 3 bb). Yanks scored 4 in the 9th to tie, and then won it in the 11th.

* Hell of a brawl in the Windy City today. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski bowled over Cubs catcher Michael Barrett to score a run, and Barrett immediately came up swinging. Both benches cleared, with many wild haymakers being thrown. Pierzynski's hit looked clean, but in Barrett's defense A.J. didn't just get up and head to his dugout. He headed toward Barrett and gave him a little nudge. I don't know - if I just landed hard on my keister, and the guy who did it was coming at me, (and it was a jackass like Pierzynski) I'd probably slug him too. But that's just me.

* Red Sox are spanking the Phils tonight. The hitting star? Would you believe Josh Beckett? He and Brett Myers were locked up in a tight duel until the 6th, when Beckett hit a soft single to right to drive Alex Gonzalez in to make it 1-1. Beckett then scored a few batters later on a Papi sac fly for the go-ahead run. One inning later, Beckett took Myers deep. Take that, Bronson. Alex Gonzalez has also hit a homer. Sox are leading comfortably in the bottom of the 8th, 8-1. (Thank God we don't have Billy Wagner.)

(**We're all upset that a slug like Barry Bonds has tied such a cherished mark, but think about it this way. Many, many years from now, when our kids are following baseball like we do, the name 'Barry Bonds' will be synonymous with 'cheat,' and the name 'Babe Ruth' will still be legendary. It's all about the legacy, and Barry's is shot.)

Who's Your Daddy?

The injury-ravaged Yanks are playing the Mets in Game 2 of their weekend series this afternoon - with old friend Petey on the hill. Go Pedrooooooo... Mets have a 2-0 lead going into their half of the third.

Chicks Dig the Longball

The Sox pulled rank on the Phillies last night in Citizens Bank Bandbox, riding three home runs - one each from the torrid Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, and Big Papi - to beat the Phils, 5-3. Ortiz' blast landed in the upper deck. Matt Clement showed glimpses of his strong first half last year, and even showed that he can handle the bat a little bit. And what can you say about the bullpen? They're getting into a nice rhythm with Foulke in the 7th, Timlin in the 8th, and the unhittable Papelbon to seal the deal. Here's the final box.

Foulke has been decent this year, but he still scares me. I mean, the guy's best out pitch is a changeup? And he saved how many games for how many years? I'd still rather see Manny Delcarmen every now and then. Timlin - after showing a tired arm to start the year - has been lights out lately. Last night, he came in and took care of the heart of the Phillie order, striking out Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard back to back. Then Pap came in and did his thing. If Timlin keeps this up, we've got the best 1-2 late-inning punch in the game. One of the joys of NESN and high-definition was watching a splitter that Papelbon threw last night in slow motion - you could clearly see the grip on the ball, and then it literally dropped out of view of the camera as the batter swung and missed.

One additional note: the Phillies actually issued an intentional walk to Alex Gonzalez so they could get to Clement.

All of a sudden, I'm feeling a little more chipper about at least taking 2 of 3 in this series. Love the matchup tonight, with Beckett going against Brett Myers.

Oh yeah, the win was even sweeter considering the Empire lost to the Mets last night. Yanks took a 4-0 lead in the first, Mets hammered Randy to come back, and then won it in the ninth on a flyball that went over John Damon's head. I'm tellin' ya, ever since Damon and Damian had the ugly collision in Oakland in the 2003 playoffs, John hasn't tracked balls well. Something's wrong with his head, which we kind of, um, ah, already knew.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sox vs. Phils Tonight

Sox are in Philly tonight for the first of three this weekend. Philadelphia conjures images of those 1980 powder blue uniforms, and of course, cheese steak. If you're into wagering like my pal Jam, take the over in all of these games. Both teams have good offenses and Citizen's Park is an absolute bandbox.

As for the series itself, forgive me for being pessimistic. We've got Clement going tonight and DiNardo going on Sunday, and neither has done anything to inspire confidence. Bummed that we miss out on seeing the Phils' young phenom, Cole Hamels. I do think the cozy dimensions of the park will help guys like Manny and Varitek break out a bit. Also, on a purely selfish note, I'm fired up because Ortiz becomes eligible at 1B in my roto league this weekend. (I need a life.)

Other intriguing matchups this weekend -- the Battle for NY, with the Yanks visiting the Mets at Shea, and the two most surprising teams in each league face off against each other, as the Reds visit Detroit.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Well I'll Bedard

Can you throw left-handed, like this guy? The Yankees need you. The Sox lost last night to another tough lefty not named Randy Johnson, this time Canada's own Erik Bedard. Bedard held the offense to 2 measly hits over seven innings, allowing the Orioles to beat Boston for the first time in 13 straight attempts. The Sox mounted a comeback in the 9th inning with Papi's home run making it 4-3, but Wee Willie Harris inexplicably got thrown out trying to steal second to end the game. Not a good move, especially with a pure fastball hitter (Trot) in the box against a pure fastball pitcher (Chris Ray). Turns out Willie had the 'hold' sign, but he thought it was only for the first pitch. Willie, we knew Dave Roberts and believe me, you're no Dave Roberts.

Yanks won another one last night against the Rangers. Sox have the day off today and then it's off to the City of Brotherly Love for three against the streaking Phillies. Yup, intra-league play starts on Friday. Francona will have to figure out a way to keep Papi's bat in the lineup, even though the big fella hasn't played first since last year. In all likelihood, Ortiz, Youkilis and Lowell will each get a day off, which blows. All three guys have been stroking the ball. Speculation is that Lowell will sit Saturday because of his crappy track record against Phillies righty Brett Myers, and Papi will probably get Sunday off (day game after a night game). Clement vs. Lieber in Game 1 tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sox (Ho-Hum) Beat O's, Yanks Storm Back, Barry Bighead Drilled

Sox took another one from Baltimore last night, but at least had to work a little harder. Final score was 6-5. Schilling continued to give up the longballs, but the bats kept coming back led by good nights from Trot and Mark Loretta (3 hits). Manny went deep.

Their lead over the Yanks would have been bigger this morning, except for one tiny little fact. The Rangers bullpen SUCKS. Texas had a 9-0 lead after two innings, and they proceeded to spend the next few hours coughing it up in a big way. Yankees came all the way back to win 14-13.

In national news, Barry continues to search for #714 to tie the Babe (hurts to type). Did you see how Astros pitcher Russ Springer welcomed Barry to town?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are the Orioles our Washington Generals?

Meet the Orioles - the new automatic 'W' for the Red Sox. They look like a dangerous team, don't they?

The Sox blasted the hapless Orioles last night in Baltimore, 11-1, making it 12 consecutive wins over the O's. Josh Beckett pitched lights out, and the hitting stars were Mike Lowell (he hits triples too!), Wily Mo Pena, who belted an opposite field homer, and the Captain, who's been mired in a nasty slump. 'Tek hit one deep to straightaway center from the right side of the plate, so hopefully a good omen for him. We need his bat.

Making things even better, the Yanks lost to Texas last night 4-2. Mussina pitched well, but Farnsworth couldn't get it done in relief. Best team $200 million can buy.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Washed Out Again

The Sox-Rangers game today was officially called at 10 a.m., which gives you an idea of how bad the weather is around Boston. It pours during the day, it's pouring when you go to bed, it's pouring when you wake up... it's really pouring. And it's been pouring hard since Friday night, when Papi stepped out of the box and a 4-foot wave fell off his batting helmet. This rainfall has to be historic. Epic. The kind of rainfall Noah must have encountered in his huge ark. More rain is forecast for the region tomorrow which is only going to make matters worse.

The Sox are now probably nestled in their hotel rooms in Baltimore, where they'll start a three-game series with the Orioles tomorrow night. The Sox have owned the Birds lately, winning the last 11 straight. Beckett faces Rodrigo Lopez.

This update mentions that David Wells will pitch a simulated game soon and we missed a chance to see Manny and Papi swing pink bats today in honor of Mother's Day and breast cancer awareness.

Amazing stat of the day: the Cubs have scored a grand total of 32 runs in their last 16 games. Even an English major knows that's exactly two runs per game. Talk about missing Derrek Lee. They've been shut out five times during that span and scored one run four times. Anemic.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Soaked in Boston...

Tonight's game has officially been called. We'll see what happens. Looking out the window right now, it's torrential. The kind of rain that hurts when it hits you.

Anyway, in the meantime allow me to offer some thoughts after observing the first full Yankees-Sox series of the year.

* First, it's awfully addicting isn't it? Whenever these two teams get together, it's like the baseball version of '24.' You have to suspend disbelief sometimes. The next series is in two weeks at Fenway.

* You have to wonder about the physical state of both Schilling and the Unit. Schilling looked schluggish the other night, and RJ was just plain bad. The NY papers are saying it's a knee issue.

* What's the word for when you take pleasure in someone else's problems? Schadenfreude. First it was Hideki Matsui's scary wrist break, and then the realization that John Damon doesn't have his stud corner outfielders (Sheffield's out with a wrist injury too) riding shotgun with him anymore. He's now working with Bubba Crosby and a Columbus Clipper to be known soon. They may actually have to move Damon to right and put Bernie in center, after watching Bern try to play right Thursday night.

* By the way, I thought if any Yankee went on the DL with a limp wrist, it would be their porous third baseman.

* Much as I knock it, the buzz at Yankee Stadium is unlike any other, especially when their team is rolling. Reminds me of a raucous soccer match crowd - not that I've ever witnessed one in person.

* For all his cheesiness and self-promotion skills, Jerry Remy is an unbelievably good analyst. A couple weeks back, the game where Loretta laid down a bunt so Papi could hit with the bases juiced, Remy said that Loretta did it because the third baseman was playing back and he knew the other team didn't have a lefty warming up to face Papi. I remember saying to myself, 'come on Jerry, that's a bit much.' Sure enough, Loretta's being interviewed post-game and he says the exact same thing. In Thursday's classic Sox-Yanks game, Nixon came up in a crucial situation in the 6th inning against lefty Ron Villone. Don Orsillo asked Remy if he'd consider pinch-hitting for Trot, and Remy said he wouldn't because the Sox lineup would cycle around at least two more times and Villone was the last lefty out of the pen. It's small stuff, but a lazy analyst wouldn't pick up on it.

* The Yankees coaching staff is an interesting mix: Louisiana Lighting Ron Guidry is the pitching coach, Don Mattingly is the hitting coach, Larry Bowa's at third base, Tony Pena at first, Lee Mazzilli is the trusted bench advisor, and the Professor, Joe Kerrigan, is in the bullpen. I miss Zim and Mel.

* Spike Lee's a loser living on a couple of decent things he did 20 years ago.

* Matsui actually apologized to the team for his injury. Must be a Japanese thing.

* One thing the teams have in common is their inability over the years to find the right first baseman. For the Sox, ever since Mo left it's been a non-stop carnival at first. Youk actually looks like a good balance between bat and glove. For the Yanks, Giambi's a defensive liability so they have to resort to putting Miguel Cairo at first. Wonder if Donny Ballgame can still pick it?

* Either Mussina is back to his Cy Young-candidate level, or the Sox took the night off Wednesday night.

* Were Shonda and Michelle in the house at all together?

Duck Soup

Well, the weather gods are not being kind. The Sox and Rangers actually managed to play six innings last night in treacherous conditions, and I must say, Tito Francona's stalling strategy leaves quite a bit to be desired. Rangers were all over Matt Clement and the Sox, winning 6-0 when the game was called at around 10 p.m. Papi was in the batter's box and needed to have windshield wipers attached to his batting helmet. An ugly night all around, and who knows if we're going to see any more ball this weekend. Rangers come back to Fenway in early June, so we may be looking at a couple of doubleheaders if the weekend's games are postponed.

In the meantime, if you heard about Rick Sutcliffe's drunken escapades during the week, here's the video, courtesy of the wiseguys at Deadspin. Not quite on the level of Joe Namath/Suzy Kolber but still pretty damn hilarious. Unlike Sut, stay dry this weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sweet Win for Sox

This stuff is just pure theater. Every game between these two behemoths seems to feature drama, comedy, and for the Yanks last night, a tinge of tragedy.

The Sox left the Bronx last night with a great victory in the rubber game of the series. After Curt Schilling got knocked around in Wednesday night's 7-3 loss, Tim Wakefield stepped up last night and did what he usually does against the Spanks - he befuddled them. (Good word, that befuddled).

Wake gave up a quick two in the first inning and then settled down nicely. Meanwhile, his offensive mates chipped away. Mark Loretta - who's been hot lately - was in the center of the action. He smacked a single in the sixth to close the Yanks' lead to 3-2, and then in the 7th, with Harris and Gonzalez on base, he hit a hard grounder to Derek Jeter. Jeets went to his knees to stop the ball, but threw wide right to first and Miguel Cairo couldn't make the slap-tag on Loretta for the final out. All of a sudden, it was 4-3 Sox and you could hear the air come out of Yankee Stadium.

Making the win all the more remarkable was the fact that the Red Sox left 15 men on base. It was on track to be one of the more frustrating nights in recent memory. Loretta went 4 for 6 and knocked in three, and Youkilis lined a single in the ninth off Mariano Rivera for an insurance run. Papelbon, per usual, slammed the door in the ninth for a very gratifying 5-3 win.

The tragedy for the Yanks? Hideki Matsui had to leave the game with what turned out to be a broken wrist after diving to make a catch. They're saying he could be gone for up to three months, and that the Yanks are thinking of bringing up someone named Kevin Thompson. Should we feel guilty for feeling a little happy about this development? Absolutely not. The two things I enjoy seeing most with respect to the Yankees are gruesome injuries and screaming line drives into the stands at the Stadium.

One additional note on this game, which may only be interesting to me. This one featured a match-up of two of the few hitters in MLB who don't wear batting gloves, and both were behind the plate for their teams. Mirabelli goes sans gloves, as does pretty boy Jorge Posada. Remember those stingers you got back in Little League in April and May? Just imagine trying to hit a 96 mph heater from Papelbon when it's 40 degrees.

Sox are now one game up on the Yanks. Texas comes to town tonight for the first of three, and the weather prognosticators are pessimistic about any baseball being played this weekend. Needless to say, that would be extremely disappointing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Bronx Bombing

So much for a classic pitching duel. Josh Beckett came to play, but the Big Ugly - Randy Johnson - got booed off the mound in the third inning. Randy gave up seven runs, only two earned - with the key play in the game being a botched grounder by A-Fraud in the fateful third inning. To set the scene: Sox were trailing 2-zip and had men on second and third with two outs. Papi hit a seemingly harmless ground ball to third that ate up Rodriguez. One run in, Papi safe at first by a step. Then Randall uncorked a wild pitch - his control was way off - for the Sox' second run, with Ortiz moving up to second base. Manny then lined a single to left, and the huffing and puffing Papi scored with a nice hook slide for a 3-2 Sox lead. They never looked back.

It was batting practice for the rest of the night, as the boys hammered the likes of Aaron Small and Worcester's own Tanyon Sturtze. Beckett settled down after a shaky start and pitched well -- he had the blazing fastball working. Manny and Alex Gonzalez (!) smacked home runs, Mike Lowell continued to rack up the doubles... hell, even J.T. Snow got into this one and chipped in with a hit. It was one of those nights, sort of like what Cleveland did to us a couple weeks back. Sox win 14-3 in a laugher. Nice to be on the good side of one of these.

Schilling vs. Mussina tonight in Game 2. Both guys are 5-1 - should be a doozy.

October Baseball in May

As if fans on both sides weren't charged up enough for the series that begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, check out what this "writer" decided to opine on today. What a buffoon. Here's hoping Vaccaro is interviewing Papi at his locker tonight after one of his patented moonshots wins the game. Vaccaro stew, anyone?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bring on the Spanks

Alright, enough of these second-tier ballclubs. Let's get it on. Sox vs. Yanks for three starting Tuesday night in the Bronx. How's Josh Beckett vs. Randy Johnson sound to get things kicked off?

The Sox wiped the floor with the pathetic Orioles this weekend, sweeping the three-game series by a combined score of 25-9. You know it's a fun weekend for the offense when you see Alex Gonzalez lashing doubles down the left-field line.

Did I mention the Sox are going to NYC next? The Sox (18-12) and Yanks (17-11) are in a dead heat for first place in the East, and I'm excited about this one. Great pitching matchups, great offenses, great closers.... hmmm, the game could hinge on middle to late relievers and team defense. Here's hoping Rudy Seanez doesn't see the light of day.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinquo de Mayo and Papi: A Wonderful Combination

The Sox beat the Orioles tonight behind another clutch hit from Big Papi - this one a three-run, bases-clearing double down the right field line that made it 6-3 good guys, which is how it ended. Schilling was solid, scattering (as they say) 8 hits over seven innings and striking out 5. Papelbon got the save. Lowell continues to play well on both sides of the ball - he made a sweet diving catch of a bunt in the first inning tonight, almost sliding headfirst into 'Tek, which would have most definitely hurt. The play of the game, besides Papi's big hit, was Alex Gonzalez coming through with a double to tie the game at 3 - nice to see, and hopefully a good confidence-booster for Gonzo, or else he may be gone-zo.

Other side story was the return of yet another former Idiot - man, there's a lot of 'em ain't there? - this time Kevin Millar. As expected, the crowd gave Millar a nice ovation. His reaction was kind of muted - just a quick wave with his hand. He was either surprised by it, or else he was saying to himself, 'these fickle bastards skewered me from April to October last year... now they're cheering for me?' Absolutely, Kev - we're happy that you suck for someone else.

Sox are tied for first in the AL East with the Yanks, who almost blew an 8-1 lead tonight against the Rangers. Mussina pitched well, but the bullpen was verrry shaky - Small, Farnsworth and Rivera all struggled but hung on to win 8-7.

Wake vs. Erik Bedard tomorrow night in what should be a tight one, and then DiNardo vs. Mr. Anna Benson on Sunday.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sox Get Even With Jays

When's the last time the Sox played back-to-back two-game series? Very strange. They beat the Yanks Monday, got rained out Tuesday, lost to Toronto Wednesday, and then beat the Jays tonight.

Matt Clement pitched pretty well, and Mike Lowell and WMP stayed hot with the sticks. Try as he might, Rudy "Dead Man Walking" Seanez couldn't even blow this one. Sox win 7-4, as Papelbon gets Vernon Wells to ground out with two men on in the 9th.

The Orioles and Kevin Millar come to town tomorrow for the first of three. Schilling versus Sox nemesis Rodrigo Lopez.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Where's Spring?

It's been a soggy couple of days here in the Hub of the Baseball Universe. Game 2 of the Sox-Yanks-Damon series was washed out last night, and it rained hard all day today. The mist is thick right now at Fenway, where the Blue Jays are leading the Sox in the 7th, 6-5. Foulke just served up a juicy meatball to Shea Hillenbrand, who hit a 2-run homer into the Monster seats. First time in a while Foulke's looked as bad as he did last year. More in a while...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Only in Boston

We're famous for our provincial fanaticism around here, so it was a no-brainer that Johnny Damon was going to hear some boos tonight and that the celebrated return of a backup catcher would be cheered all night long.

Yes, a backup catcher - but not just any backup catcher mind you -- Tim Wakefield's personal binky catcher. The Red Sox, desperate to put an end to the Josh Bard Experiment before the first game with the Yankees, pulled off a deal for Mirabelli early this morning and his commute to Boston from San Diego was quite the adventure. Mirabelli flew to Boston on a private jet that he said must have been going 'a thousand miles an hour,' and then jumped into a state trooper SUV for the ride from Logan Airport to Fenway Park. He changed into his uniform in the back of the car, pulled up to the players' lot at Fenway, and ran into the stadium - in full uniform and cleats - to get behind the plate for the first pitch. And what were you doing before the game? It's funny - ambulances and other emergency vehicles can't get through traffic in downtown Boston - but a state trooper with a backup catcher ("He catches the knuckler!!) who needs to get to a ballgame can get from Logan to Fenway in 12 minutes?!? Good to see we have our priorities in order around here.

Anyway, Johnny Damon received mostly boos when his name was first announced. There was an undercurrent of applause, and when Damon took off his helmet, the applause got louder. Smart move by Johnny. He pointed to the Sox dugout, then at Wakefield and dug in. He looked a little bewildered by it all, and definitely looked surprised and bummed by the negative reception. The fans in the CF bleachers threw real money at him, and grandmothers held signs saying Johnny "Demon" or some other variation. It was a veritable madhouse, and I felt bad for the guy... until...

I thought about my 2004 postseason DVD collection over in the corner. I spent good money on it. Every pitch of every game in the ALCS and then the World Series - a valuable keepsake despite Joe Buck and Tim McDrunkard. A buddy and I plugged in parts of Game 6 and then all of Game 7 of the ALCS a couple weekends ago, and re-lived the moment Damon hit the grand slam that sent us into (cautious) euphoria. Considering the circumstances, it was one those Red Sox home runs that you'll remember for the rest of your life, like Pudge, Hendu, and Troy O'Leary's grand slam against Cleveland when Pedro came out of the bullpen and slammed the door on the potent Indians in their ballpark. Jerry Trupiano's "wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-back" call still echoes in my skull.

Johnny basically took a piss on those memories. And we should have seen it coming. His comments immediately after the White Sox beat us in last year's playoff were dumb and ill-timed. He talked about how he's going to be in demand, and he knows the Yankees are going to come after him hard. Six months earlier, Johnny was quoted in the papers as saying he could 'never be a Yankee,' but his comments that night in the locker room were the first sign that hey, anything's possible.

When you look at players who've made the jump from Boston to New York, or vice versa, the fan treatment has been pretty much the same. Lots of boos. Joe Torre said he was disappointed in how the fans treated Damon, saying that they should have applauded him for all he did to help the Sox win their first title in 86 years. "Without him, they might be going on 89, 90...," said the Almighty Torre. Joe's a classy guy and all, but he's got a short memory. The Sox played at New York to open the 2005 season, and the guy who pitched for the Sox that night on national TV? David Wells. His reception in the Bronx wearing a Sox uniform? Let's just say it was very different than the reception he got when he came back wearing a Padres uniform.

Clemens was the last big name to make the jump, but he went to Toronto first so that cushioned the shock. Still, whenever Clemens came into Fenway with the Yankees, he was treated as Public Enemy No. 1. "Where is Roggger?? In the showerrrrrr." Wade Boggs finally won his ring with the Yankees, and I honestly can't remember the reception he got when he came back. Can't imagine it was glowing though.

And then we come to Johnny. The problem with him making the jump to the enemy is that he had become far too entrenched as a cult hero to make the move so quickly. He could have taken a little less money (what's $12 million after taxes?) to cement his legend around here, make millions in endorsements, and keep the memories intact, as sappy as that sounds.

Of course, there was a ballgame tonight. Sox and Yanks were tied up 3-3 entering the eighth until Mark Loretta knocked in Wee Willie Harris and Ortiz broke it open with a three-run shot off former teammate Mike Myers. Sox draw first blood in '06, winning 7-3. All because the backup catcher was able to get to the ballpark in time and catch the knuckler.

Only in our fair city...

Let the Circus Begin

Approximately 19 hours from now, the former head Idiot will stroll to the plate at Fenway - against a mixture of boos and cheers - and hit against the team he did so much for during a 4-year career that put both Johnny Damon and the Red Sox back on the postseason map. He came to the Sox in the winter of 2001 - one of Dan Duquette's last moves - and promptly proceeded to become our best, all-around everyday player. He played hard and he played hurt, and make no mistake - he became the leadoff catalyst that we've never had around here. His accomplishments are etched in the brain - particularly his history-making grand slam in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS. When this guy was in a groove hitting, it was something to see. He was, and is, one hell of a baseball player.

He has also done the unconscionable. In a matter of mere months, the Caveman has joined up with the chief rival, and spent many an interview talking about his longstanding love for New York and the rich history and tradition of the Yankees. As such, there's been a lot of speculation in Boston (nahhhhh...) over whether Johnny will hear mostly cheers or boos during his homecoming Monday night. My take is this: while his switch of allegiance makes me want to vomit, we have to give the man his due for what he did here. We're too intelligent and classy not to. Cheer him at 7:08 p.m. and then he's on his own.


The Sox lost again to the lowly Devil Rays today, 5-4. Lowell and Pena went back-to-back in the 9th but it wasn't enough. Not a good road trip -- 3-6 vs. the Jays, Indians and D-Rays.

Lowlights: Josh Beckett's anomaly; 18 for 102 with runners in scoring position; the 7-8-9 hitters go a combined 8 for 58; outscored 14-3 in first innings.

Highlights: Mike Lowell has been Man on Fire - 13 for 33; Manny has come out of his shell (10 for 33, 4 HR, 7 RBI); Ortiz has been Ortiz (4 HR, 8 RBI); and Papelbon now owns the major-league record for saves by a rookie.

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