Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pinch Me

Sorry for the 10-day hiatus. I developed an avulsion on my right middle typing finger so I had to give it time to properly heal.

A lot has happened since we last left you. The Sox are currently playing their 10th game since May 7 (the back end of a doubleheader against Detroit) and are bidding to be 8-2 if they can pull out a win. They went to Toronto and swept them bums, then took 3 of 4 from the Orioles (including an incredulous comeback win in the Mother's Day finale). So far, they've taken 2 of 3 from the Jim Leyland-led Tigers. Just had to post this picture of Leyland and the old stove-pipe Pirates hat from the late 70's/early 80's.

The Yankees, on the other hand, have not exactly rallied around the Texas Con Man. The bazillion dollar lineup continues to underachieve, John Damon is getting old, Giambi's banged up, Matsui's power is gone, Bobby Abreu looks absolutely clueless at the plate. The returns of Mussina and Wang haven't given them a big jolt. Mariano Rivera is very hittable. And on and on. Bottom line: as we sit here tonight, at 8:06 p.m. on Thursday night, May 17 - with a healing avulsion, no less - the Red Sox have an 8.5 game lead on New York and it could be 9.5 by night's end. Pinch me. (Tigers just tied up the nightcap at 1, with back to back doubles by the resurrected Magglio Ordonez and the ever-steady Carlos Guillen).

Let's see - other important news and notes:

The Sox are starting to get hit with some key injuries. Josh Beckett - who was throwing lights out in his last start - had to come out early due to a skin problem on his right middle finger. The team was very careful not to call it a blister, as Beckett has a long history with blister problems, and instead called it an avulsion, or small tear.

J.D. Drew chased after a home run ball in the Tigers opener and hit the short right field bullpen wall pretty hard. He's day to day with a sore back.

Mike Timlin's on the DL with shoulder tendinitis. Manny had a little hammy issue.

On the bright side, the Sox have some decent pitching depth (Tavarez pitched a gem esarlier today and Snyder has been steady) and they just sent Jon Lester to Pawtucket for some starts so he may be close to returning.

See, that's how it is here in the Nation since the magical events of October 2004. We're glass is half full - at least sometimes.

Why, take for example, the wonderful news that Roger Clemens let the Yankees "come and get 'im." While some of us no doubt let our minds wander - and think about the storybook ending that Clemens could have if he ended his career in Boston - this is a much better scenario. We hate Roger, we hate the Yankees, and it's going to be awfully fun watching them miss the playoffs this year. Who thinks Clemens will face the Sox in that early June series at Fenway?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad; Yanks in Panic Mode

Since we last left you, the beat has gone on for the Sox. They won Friday's makeup game against Seattle in dramatic fashion, with a late Manny blast, and then they traveled to Minnesota and took 2 out of 3 from a tough Twins team at the Metrodome. Wakefield was superb Friday night, the Sox lost to Johan Santana on Saturday, and then they won a nailbiter yesterday, 4-3.

They're following the same formula - good pitching, timely hitting, good defense. Francona gives Manny a day off and starts Hinske. They win. He puts Alex Cora in there and the guy has been Pete Rose, rapping out hit after hit after hit. The middle relief continues to be outstanding. Papelbon is a-ok. As we wake up this morning, the Sox can enjoy a day off knowing that they've got the second-best record in baseball (behind, believe it or not, the Milwaukee Brewers). They've got a 5.5 game lead on the Yanks.

Speaking of the Yanks, it was announced yesterday at hallowed Yankee Stadium that Roger Clemens has finally settled on the highest bidder and will be wearing pinstripes again this year. Big announcement at the park - stopped the game, Roger speaks on a microphone from the owner's box, says he's "privileged" to be back, etc. Membership indeed has its privileges - according to news reports, the Yanks will pay Rog a prorated $28 million through the rest of the year. He still gets his schedule/travel quirks that he had in Houston. The general consensus is that the decision came earlier than expected, and it's easy to see why. The Yanks have been trotting out Triple-A slop two or three times a week, and they're in danger of falling out of the race in May. They HAD to do this. Still surprised that he's walking away from the posh home gig, though. More on the ridiculous Roger recruiting process in a separate post.

When it's firing on all cylinders, the Yankee rotation now looks pretty tough. Clemens, Pettite, Wang, Mussina, Hughes vs. Schilling, Beckett, Dice-K, Wakefield, and (eventually) Lester.

The Yanks are in action tonight against Seattle while the Sox are en route to Toronto for a three-game set.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

When All Else Fails...

... why, fire the trainer, of course. All the pulls, strains, and aches that have befallen the Yankees so far this season came to a head yesterday when the team summarily dismissed the dude who leads the pre-game stretching routine. Classic George. To be fair, the rash of injuries has been pretty unbelievable. Then, of course, you've got your daily Carl Pavano health issue. What a colossal waste of money - I love it. Think George wishes he owned an NFL team, where there's no such thing as a guaranteed contract?

Anyway, back to our team. The Sox got back to their winning ways last night with a 6-4 victory over Oakland. Josh Beckett wasn't electric, but he was still pretty damn good. Beckett is now 6-0 on the young season, and is the first Sox pitcher to win six straight since Roger Clemens did it in 1991. Every hitter in the lineup had at least one hit and what stood out for me is key contributions - both at the plate and in the field - from Coco Crisp and the ever-steady Alex Cora. After an unlucky season last year, Coco is finally flashing some of the tools that caught Theo's eye.
The Mariners are in town tonight for a makeup game, which means we get to see Ichiro go against Dice-K again. After that, the gang is off to Minnesota to play the Twins this weekend.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pap Smear

The Nation wakes up shocked this morning that our closer supreme, Jonathan "Pap" Papelbon, gave it up in the 9th inning last night to some surfer dude named Travis Buck. Papelbon had been near-perfect so far this year, but his velocity was off last night and more importantly, he wasn't putting the ball where Varitek's mitt was. Buck capitalized with a two-run bomb in the top of the 9th to tie the game at 4 and the A's scored the eventual game-winner in the 10th.

All the naysayers are questioning the velocity issue, wondering if Pap's shoulder might be acting up again. People - it's one blown save. The guy's human. If it happens a couple more times over the next week, then we might have something to talk about. What hurts is that the Sox blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads, and wasted another solid outing from Curt Schilling. That's beisbol.

They're back at it tonight, with Chad Gaudin (1-1, 2.54) going against Josh Beckett (5-0, 2.48).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Moss Remains the Hot Topic

Being a sports radio host in this town is like being on auto-pilot. The news just keeps happening all around you, and you just have to sit there for a couple of hours every day, give your opinion, and listen to many others'.

The hot topic in Boston today continues to be the Pats' signing of Randy Moss. Here's a couple of good links from today's papers that shed some light on the player the Pats may be getting, and how pleased some of his new teammates are. Tom Brady actually agreed to re-work his contract to allow the deal to happen.

- Cris Carter on Randy Moss
- Brady restructures contract -- after all, it beats the hell out of throwing to Kelvin Kight
- And here's another good one on what adding Moss to the offense does strategy-wise

In baseball news, the Sox - those guys with the best record in Major League Baseball - resume play tonight against Oakland at Fenway. Curt Schilling, who has been positively outstanding since his Opening Day stinker, goes against Joe Blanton.

Someone also told me - and I don't believe it - that hockey and basketball playoffs are going on? I had no idea.

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