Sunday, October 28, 2007

Never Assume, But...

Being the superstitious zealots that we are, it would have been a huge no-no in the past to assume certainty in any form or fashion when it comes to the Red Sox. Just like Charlie Brown always assumed the ball would be there when Lucy was holding it for him.

But after last night's 10-5 win over the Rockies in Game 3, this series is officially over. The Rox can win tonight but then have to go up against Josh Beckett in Game 5.

Worse yet, the Rockies may have given their best punch last night and they failed to land the knockout they desperately needed. The Sox sprinted out to a 6-0 lead, with Dice K pitching and hitting well, but the Rockies kept scrapping and it cut to 6-5 on a Matt Holliday homer of Hideki Okajima in the 7th. After that the youngsters - Ellsbury and Pedroia - took control of the game with big run-scoring hits in the 8th to give the Sox some breathing room.

The Rockies have to be completely deflated. Tonight's Game 4 features a storybook start for Jon Lester, who finds himself pitching in the biggest game of his life only a year after being treated for cancer. The Rockies throw Aaron Cook, who has also come back from some health issues. Hard to predict what will happen, but you have to like the Sox' chances against Cook, and if Lester can keep it close for 5 or 6... well, order up the Duck Boats and get that parade graphic in the Globe pronto.

It is truly hard to comprehend the fact that we're on the verge of our second World Series title in four years. My daughter is 5, and has seen 2 in her lifetime. Her father just turned 40. Spoiled brat. Our kids are never going to be subjected to the curse talk that shaped our baseball souls for so long. And that's a good thing.

This particular route to the World Series eerily resembles the 2004 path. We got hot at the right time and came back from big deficits (3-0 to NY, 3-1 to Cleveland) to win the AL pennant -- and then we went on to completely dominate the NL team in the World Series (4-0 sweep vs. St. Louis; 3-0 vs. Colorado).

Yet another epic sporting day here in Winnerville. We shift our attention away from baseball to NFL football and see if our Patriots can lay another whupping on the Redskins. And then right after that, it should be about time for Game 4 of the World Series, and a chance to see some more history in the making.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dice K Hits Too?!?

Before I forget, today's the three-year anniversary of our first World Series championship. Hard to believe it was three years ago that we vanquished the Yankees in historic fashion, and steamrolled to the title against the pathetic Cardinals. We're sniffing another one this weekend in Colorado, but as they say, you always remember your first one.

The Sox are on the verge of adding No. 2 to the trophy case, and they're off to a good start tonight in Colorado, Manny's foibles be damned. They're currently up 5-0 on the Rockies in the 3rd inning, and Dice-K (yes, Dice-K) just pitched in with a clutch 2-run single. You know things are going good for you when... Manny was thrown out at home on the prior play. He's gotten into the habit recently of whipping his helmet off his head when he's running full-steam, ala Dmitri Young. This time, the helmet came down and bounced off his foot as he was rounding third, slowing him just a bit - and of course, he was out by just a bit.

Anyway, no complaints. It's 5-0 early and the Sox have knocked Josh Fogg out of the game. The Rox are in serious trouble.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Game 1: Sox Take Batting Practice

So I'm driving into work this morning on one of the many busy, congested thoroughfares in our fine commonwealth, and I go by a garden warehouse that has a sign in front saying 'Crushed Rocks.' I'm hoping the owner has a sense of humor.

The Sox certainly crushed the Rocks at Fenway last night in Game 1, coasting to a rocking-chair 13-1 victory that was never really close. At this pace, the Sox and Patriots are both going to set some serious offensive records. In the last four games, the Sox have outscored the Indians and Rockies by a stunning score of 43-6. Sounds like a Pats-Dolphins score, eh?

You couldn't have asked for a better start to the game. Beckett fanned the side in the first, throwing nothing but heat, and then Tanner - I mean Dustin - Pedroia got things rolling with a leadoff homer that just made it over the Monster. The Pedroia/Youkilis show was again on display last night, but this time both Manny and Papi got into the act. Rockies starter Jeff Francis was underwhelming, and reliever Franklin Morales got lit up and walked home a couple of runs. Before you knew it, the game was out of hand and people were even leaving Fenway to get home early and beat the rush. It just didn't seem like a World Series game.

Crazy as it sounds, I'm hoping there's a little more drama tonight. I like when my stomach's churning. If the Sox take Game 2 tonight, with Schilling on the mound against some very good hitters who were embarrassed last night - it's all over but the (Papelbon) dancing. The Rox are going with rookie fireballer Ubaldo something or other. Sounds like he should be a Brazilian soccer player.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Waiting Game

If it seems like there are more off days during this particular postseason than in past years, it's because there are. MLB's scheduling this year has been quirky to say the least. On the bright side, hopefully it means that Sox haters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had to stay a few extra nights in hostile territory waiting for Game 1 of the World Series.

Oh yeah - the Sox are in the World Series for the second time in four years, and spirits are high here in Winnerville. Weather permitting - and that's a big if at this point - Game 1 against those amazing Rockies gets underway at about 8:25 tonight at the Fens, with Josh Beckett trying to add to his October resume against Rockies ace Jeff Francis.

A big question going into this Series: what will the 8-day layoff do to the absolutely torrid Rockies? They've won an incredible 21 of 22 games - a span stretching out more than a month - but they've had to lie in wait in Denver for more than a week and haven't been able to practice outside much due to snow. Judging from interviews I've seen with some of the Rox, though, they're pretty loose. They also come into Boston with a little confidence, having taken 2 of 3 from the Sox here in June, including wins against Beckett and Schilling.

Some tidbits as we anxiously await the game:

- How huge has home-field advantage been? As soon as Beckett won Game 5, the Sox knew they were coming back to the cozy confines of Fenway and winning two in a row wasn't all that big of a deal. As a writer in one of the papers pointed out the other day, big thank you's go out to Ichiro (inside the park HR), Victor Martinez (!) and Beckett for coming up big in the All-Star game. How about this for a proposal? The winner of the All-Star game also gets to play the World Series by their rules, i.e., DH or no DH.

- It stinks that Tito is going to have to sit either Lowell, Youk, or Ortiz when the Series shifts to Colorado. All three are pivotal in the lineup, and I wonder how Papi's knees can handle the constant movement at first. Just a guess, but maybe Ortiz sits for lefty Francis' second start? We shall see. Either way, it's a big advantage for the Rockies, who can add another hitter to their lineup for the games at Fenway.

- We've given Theo a lot of grief this year for some of his free-agent signings, but looking at the construct of this team, you have to admire what he and his baseball operations staff have done. Tonight when the Sox take the field, they'll have three players who've come up through the system - Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury - in the starting lineup. And they're each major contributors. In 2004, it was half Duquette's team, half Theo's. The pendulum has swung more to the Theo side.

- I love the Papelbon river dance as much as anyone else, but think about it: you've got your ace closer in flip-flops, on wet grass, with a few Bud Lights in him, doing a hyper jig. If he pulls a muscle, it's not funny anymore.

- Speaking of Papelbon, the one slight negative from Game 7 was that he got hit pretty hard. Garko hit a ball to deep right, Peralta had a sharp hit, and Blake's game-ending blast to the triangle in center was smashed.

- Stinks to see Tim Wakefield have to sit out the Series, especially because I think he'd be a hell of a change of pace against the Rockies after they see Beckett. His shoulder's ailing him. The Sox will go with Beckett tonight, Schilling and Dice-K (not sure which order) in Games 2 and 3, and then it could be (gulp) Jon Lester.

- According to the New York Times, the Rockies are very much a team of faith. I'm sure some guys on the Sox are more religious than others, but seems like a pretty stark contrast between the two squads. You think Papelbon's in the pews on Sunday morning?

- Time to give the managers - Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle - some credit. Like every Sox manager since the beginning of time, Tito takes a beating around here but you can't deny what he's accomplished. I liked watching him the other night after the clincher. With chaos all around him, he takes it all in calmly and lets the players celebrate. But the hugs he got from every guy on the team showed me that he is beloved. Don't know much about Hurdle, except I remember him being the rookie du jour on the cover of Sports Illustrated way back when. He turned out to be more like Super Joe Charbonneau ('member him?)

- No way to quantify, of course, but I think experience played a big role in helping the Sox climb out of a 3-1 hole and get to this point. Fausto Carmona had the deer in the headlights look in Game 6, and I thought the Indians' young but talented hitters were a bit impatient the other night.

- This is a post for another day, but Kevin Youkilis has proven me WRONG in a big way. Coming into this season, I didn't think he had done enough to be an everyday player for the Sox. His Game 7 blast off the Coke bottles notwithstanding, he's not your prototypical basher at first base. But he does everything else well, especially defense. Sorry for doubting you Youk.

- Is that Dustin Pedroia at second or Tanner Boyle?

- Rain, rain go away, come again some other day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'll Let the Picture Do the Talking

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rambling Man

Some random thoughts as I sit here watching the Harlem Globetrotters - I mean the Patriots - play the Washington Generals, er, the Miami Dolphins.

- I know it's the 0-6 Dolphins, but my God are the Patriots putting on a clinic today in Miami. It's 35-7 Pats, with almost three minutes to go in the first half. Tom Brady has thrown 4 TD passes (25 on the season, versus two picks), and Randy Moss (above) has had two jump-ball TD catches that were downright ludicrous. We may soon see Brady sitting on the bench watching his understudy perform.

- I'm starting to develop a little dislike for the Indians. I never have been a fan of Kenny Lofton, so his little exchange with Beckett the other night cemented that. Eric Wedge (do they call him "Wedgie?") gave Beckett zero credit for one of the greatest playoff performances I've ever seen. Victor Martinez looked like he was taking a stroll on South Beach when he trotted around the bases last night after hitting a homer. (I know Manny does some things that piss people off, but there's no malice there. Martinez was already pissed about the umpiring.) I hate those queer white towels. Paul Byrd's double-pump delivery is pure douchebaggery. They've got a second baseman named Ass Dribble. It goes on and on if you think about it. Cleveland sucks, and they're going to lose tonight.

- I haven't really opined on the end of the Joe Torre era. You know the story by now. The Yanks offered Torre $5 million a year (a cut from the $7.3 million he earned last year), and added some incentives to the deal. He'd get $1 million each for getting to the playoffs, winning the ALCS, and getting to the World Series. Torre justifiably told the Sons of Steinbrenner to take a hike. My take? The Yanks didn't want him back but had to save PR face with their fans by making Torre some kind of offer. Now they've lost their steady hand, and who knows what's going to happen with A-Rod, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte.

- It never materialized as an issue in last night's blowout win by the Sox, but I was very curious to know how short Schilling's leash was. Tito tends to give Curt more leeway than his other starters.

- After several days of fan-managing, Francona finally inserted rookie sparkplug Jacoby Ellsbury into the starting lineup. Ellsbury came through in the third inning with an RBI single, and used his speed to score another run during the same inning. He also got robbed by Grady Sizemore later in the game on a ball that would have rolled all the way to the triangle. Would have been fun to see him pick 'em up and put 'em down on that one. The one nitpick: he should have caught a ball late in the game that I think Ryan Garko hit. Ellsbury had one more step to the wall, but jumped a little early. Assuming he's going to be the man in CF next year, he's got a lot of familiarizing to do with Fenway.

- I know we've got it pretty good around here as sports fans, but I honestly can't remember a time like this. The Pats are rolling, the Sox are one win away from another World Series berth, the Celtics are looking good in the exhibition season with their big new acquisitions, and hell, even the Bruins are showing fans something. Maybe this Cload guy is the real deal. Oh, and the Boston College football team could find itself ranked 2nd in the country tomorrow.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

J.D. Drew is Now Officially Worth Every Penny

So if I had told you before Game 6 that Curt Schilling would have average stuff and that the Sox' 3-4-5 hitters - Papi, Manny and Lowell - would be a combined 0 for 5 in the fifth inning, you'd be thinking about 2008, right? And if I had predicted that season-long whipping boys J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo would each deliver huge hits you'd think I was going insane. Well, the Sox aren't ready to call it a season just yet. And you may as well call the white jackets in.

Things are going swimmingly in Boston tonight as the Sox and Indians battle at Fenway. The Sox are coming to bat in the home half of the fifth, Cleveland Ace 1B Fausto Carmona has hit the showers long ago, and Schilling can afford to miss on a few of his pitches now as his mates have supplied him with a tidy 10-1 lead.

That's not a misprint, nor is what I'm about to type next. The Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first on a J.D. Drew grand slam to left-center. It was an especially big hit considering that the Sox nearly squandered another bases loaded/nobody out situation. Pedroia and Youkilis were both on with infield hits, and Papi walked. Manny then K'd and Lowell flied out to shallow right, and all of a sudden we were in danger of letting Carmona off the hook. You could hear the air coming out of the stands at Fenway. And then Drew came through in dramatic fashion. The Sox proceeded to blow it wide open in the third, with Lugo smacking a double down the third-base line to drive in a couple more. Mr. Carmona, meanwhile, went searching for some Irish Spring.

It doesn't get much better than this, but we're not going to jinx ourselves and start talking about a potentially epic sports Sunday here in Boston. Oh, and note to Terry Francona: I don't care if this thing gets up to 20-1, don't you dare hand the baseball over to the goateed French guy.

(Late-breaking update: It gets better. Not only do J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo come up with big, big hits, guess who comes on in the 9th and has a clean 1-2-3 inning? Yup, the goateed Frenchman. Talk about a momentum swing. Sox win 12-2. Game 7 tonight with Dice-K vs. Jake Westbrook.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Josh Beckett: Mr. October/Ladies Man/All Around Bad Ass

As I was watching Josh Beckett thoroughly bamboozle the Indians last night, I started thinking about other great playoff performances by Red Sox pitchers. Ironically, the one I kept coming back to was the incredible Game 5 performance by Pedro Martinez in the 1999 ALDS - when he heroically emerged from the bullpen and threw 6 innings of no-hit, 8-strikeout ball to stun the Indians in Cleveland. That, of course, was the 'waayyyyyy back' game, when Troy O'Leary smashed a huge grand slam to break the game open.

Josh Beckett last night was the closest thing to peak Pedro I've seen. After a rocky first inning - in which the Indians scored their first run on a double-play grounder - Beckett was ON. His fastball was consistently in the mid to upper 90's - he touched 101 at one point - and his curveball was positively knee-buckling. Throw in a couple of timely changeups and he had the Tribe mesmerized. (Though Eric Wedge would never admit that - he incredulously gave very little credit to Beckett after the game - instead saying that he was disappointed that his hitters didn't make the necessary adjustments after seeing Beckett in Game 1. Eric - the man dominated your team. Man up.)

Game 5 in the 2007 ALCS had many interesting nooks and crannies. Kevin Youkilis got things started with a homer to left off C.C. BigAssia in the first. The Indians tied it up at 1 in the home half, and then the fun began in the 3rd. With David Ortiz on at first, Manny smashed an opposite-field blast that appeared to be a home run. The ball hit off the yellow stripe on top of the wall and bounded back onto the field. Manny of course, that sterling baserunner that he is (the TBS guys said so in the ALDS), thought it was a HR right off the hop and only made it to first base, where he hilariously began making the call for a timeout. Big Papi, meanwhile, who thankfully doesn't march to the beat of Manny's drummer, hot-footed it around the bases to score and make it 2-1. After a decent argument, the umps got together and ruled that it was indeed the longest single in the history of the ALCS. In hindsight, after understanding the convoluted 'yellow stripe' rules of Jacobs Field, the umps probably got it right.

Fortunately, it didn't matter. Beckett was superb, and the 2-1 lead held up until the 7th, when Youk again came through in the clutch with a triple that scored Dustin Pedroia. A Papi sac fly gave the Sox some much-needed breathing room and a 4-1 lead. They tacked on three more in the 8th to seal it.

From 8 p.m. Thursday night through the wee hours of Friday morning, Beckett's mean streak was on display for all to see. First, Beckett had a little verbal exchange with Kenny Lofton in the 5th inning. Lofton, thinking he had secured a walk in his at-bat, flipped his bat and made a move toward first before the ump called it a strike. We later learned that these two have a little history, with Beckett not appreciating the little bat-flip move. On the next pitch, Lofton flied out to left and Beckett said something as the ageless punk ran to first. Not wanting any part of Beckett, Lofton took quite the circuitous route to the mound before being held back by first base coach Luis Rivera. While this was going on, all I was thinking about was Beckett's focus. Here he is pitching the game of his life, and he decides to bait an opposing player? But he settled down nicely and continued his dominance. He also threw high and tight to Franklin Gutierrez early in the game to move him off the plate. But the best may have come in the post-game press conference. Some wiseguy writer asked Beckett what he thought about the Indians inviting one of his former ex-girlfriends (too bad it wasn't Leeann Tweeden, above)to sing the anthem. "I don't care what they fucking do around here," said a miffed Beckett. "She's a good friend of mine so I'm glad they flew her in to watch the game. It was nice to catch up with her." Classic response, and the f-bomb on live TV - as NESN's Tom Caron reminded us - was unavoidable because it truly is live.

All in all, it was a delectable night of baseball and on a side note, I'm pretty sure I had something to do with the win. When it was 1-1, I grabbed my daughter's Wally doll and the cork from the champagne bottle I chugged from on the night of October 27, 2004, and put them prominently next to the TV. From that point on, the Sox started to get some breaks. Needless to say, Wally and the cork will be back in action tonight.

Game 6 at Fenway Park. Curt Schilling vs. Fausto Carmona. The pressure is now squarely on the Indians, who know full well that if they lose this game, Game 7 at Fenway will be raucous and could very well send them home wondering 'What if?' While I'm skeptical that the Sox can get to the Indians' pair of aces twice in the same series, I feel pretty good about tonight. The fans have to be into it. And no queer white towels, please.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wake Up Call

As a famous cartoon dog often says, 'Ruh-roh.'

Our season hangs in the balance out in the midsection of the country, and our hopes rest on... a 41-year old knuckleballer with a bad back? How did we get here?

Simple. Cleveland has pitched better than the Sox in the last 2 games - both their starters and their bullpen - and the result is that we're down 2-1 to a very good Indians team looking for blood on their home turf.

After the ugliness that was Game 2, it was Dice K's turn to try to right the ship last night and really, we got more of the same from him. Flashes of that great Japanese pitcher we've heard so much about, but still too much nibbling. By the end of the 4th inning, he was closing in on 100 pitches, while his counterpart Jake Westbrook was the model of efficiency. The Indians marched out to a 4-0 lead, Varitek cut it in half with a two-run homer in the 7th, but that was it. Cleveland's bullpen came out and did the job again.

Am I worried? You bet. I have visions of Grady Sizemore and Kenny Lofton skipping around the bases tonight with glee, and we're looking at a Sox lineup that will most likely feature Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew and Doug Mirabelli. That's four automatic outs right now, and with Pedroia slumping in the leadoff hole, there's plenty of cause for concern. Will we see the human electrical jolt that is Jacoby Ellsbury tonight? Will Francona rue his decision to go with Wake over Beckett?

Tune it at 8 to find out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Do Not Let This Man Pitch Again

I've never been all that big into booing -- I mean, I'll boo a guy for lack of effort, but if a guy's trying and he just plain sucks, he doesn't need me to boo his ass. He knows he's sucking the bit.

This morning, I bring you Eric Gagne as Exhibit A. The former dominant closer for the LA Dodgers was our big trading deadline pickup, and at the time, everyone in Red Sox Nation seemed pretty satisfied with the move that sent Kason Gabbard and David Murphy to Texas for Gagne.

A couple of months later, we're not feeling all that satisfied. Gagne has been absolutely, positively brutal and his sucky-ness continued last night on the biggest stage yet - Game 2 of the ALCS. In a 5-hour plus game that went 11 innings, Gagne had to be used out of necessity and the results were predictable. The Sox lost 13-6, and to be fair, Gagne's pen mates - especially Javier Lopez and Jon Lester - also provided the Indians with a few meatballs. But going forward, Terry Francona should immediately cease calling for Gagne to pitch in any ballgame.

Last night's loss was extremely disappointing on several levels. First, Curt Schilling looked crappy and old against an aggressive-hitting Indians team. After the Sox took a 3-1 lead, Schilling proceeded to cough up a clutch three-run homer to Jhonny Peralta. With the score 5-3 Indians, Manny the Bad Man again came up big, this time smashing an opposite-field homer to right-center to tie it at 5. Mike Lowell then went deep off the billboard to give the Sox a 6-5 lead and send the Fenway crowd into a frenzy. Alas, the Indians tied it up in their next ups and then it was 6-6 until the ugly proceedings in extra innings.

Going into this series, the consensus among the media 'experts' was that the Sox had the edge in the bullpen. That may be true, but only when Gagne doesn't get near the mound. The Sox now fly to Cleveland for Game 3 tomorrow night (Dice-K vs. Westbrook). Game 4 (Wakefield vs. Byrd) is Tuesday, and then Beckett will face Sabathia again in Game 5 on Thursday. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that this series is tied up. Cleveland's a good ballclub. It just sucks that we couldn't seal the deal last night.

Today, we get to take a break from baseball madness and focus on the Duel in Dallas between Tom Brady and Tony Romo. Should be a doozy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dueling Aces

The frontrunners for the AL Cy Young Award were matched up against each other last night in Game 1 of the ALCS, but only one of them showed up. Josh Beckett continued his postseason mastery, while C.C. Sabathia wakes up this morning in the Back Bay somewhere wishing he could have a mulligan. The Sox coasted last night, riding Beckett's right arm and Sabathia's control problems to a surprisingly easy 10-3 win. Oh, and our potent 3 and 4 hitters - Papi and Manny - continued to deliver. Both men came to the plate 5 times, and both reached base 5 times.

It was an interminable wait for this one to start, against a backdrop of the cooler temperatures we've come to expect for October baseball in New England. Beckett started off the game by striking out the first two Indians before Travis Hafner took him deep. The Sox tied it up in the bottom of the first, and cruised from there on out. Mike Lowell's ground-rule double to the left of the Pesky Pole gave the Sox a 4-1 lead and they never looked back.

It was awfully nice to see this team abuse Sabathia like they did. They were patient at the plate, made him work, and those efforts paid off as the game wore on. As for Beckett, what else can be said? The man is cementing his legend as a premier postseason performer. Of all major league pitchers with 50 or more playoff innings over the last 75 years, Beckett's 1.87 ERA puts him behind only Mariano Rivera and Sandy Koufax. Not too shabby.

The Sox may face a stiffer test tonight when the desperate Indians throw Fausto Carmona against Curt Schilling. Carmona absolutely dominated the Sox earlier this year, and may indeed be Cleveland's true ace. I don't think you'll see 13 runs tonight.

As for the NL, the amazing Colorado Rockies continued their winning ways last night against Arizona, taking a 2-0 lead with a 3-2 extra innings win. The Rockies are a scary, scary team right now - they're a bunch of youngsters playing with house money. They've won something like 19 of their last 20 ballgames.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stay Classy, Joe

Well, the Yanks managed to play for an extra night, but that's it. The impressive Cleveland Indians hammered the final nail into Joe Torre's coffin on Monday night, beating the Yanks 6-4 and advancing to the ALCS against the Sox. I'm not going to dance on their grave - okay, maybe a small jig - but a few thoughts on the Bombers before we get into the next series, which should make for some pretty damn compelling baseball.

If you read this site fairly regularly - all two of you - you know I despise anything and everything pinstripe-related. But the one person I've come to respect, and hell, even admire a little bit through the years is Joe Torre. I always thought he seemed like a class act, but he clinched it for me when he had his entire team stand on the top step of the Fenway dugout on Opening Day 2005 as the Red Sox received their championship rings. Never mind the fact that this was a mere six months after the Yanks' historic collapse. Never mind the bitterness of the rivalry, and the sheer hatred at times. When it's all said and done, it's about competition and respect, and to see A-Rod, Jeter, Sheffield, et al, standing and clapping on the top step that day is a memory that won't soon fade.

Unfortunately, it looks like Torre is going to fade - sooner rather than later. When the Yanks fell behind 2-0 to the Tribe, ol' George issued a proclamation from Evil Empire Headquarters (EEH) that Torre would most likely be unemployed if the Yanks lost. Now he has to act on his stupid announcement. The clock is ticking in Gotham, but Torre won't be out of a job for very long.

That said, I love seeing A-Fraud sitting in the dugout above, after last night's game. And I love, love, love, that Derek Jeter hit into 17 crucial double plays during this series. I love that Doug Mientkiewicz won't have a World Series-winning ball to haggle over with a new team. I love the discord, the disarray, that is going on in New York right now. WFAN broadcaster - and I use that term loosely - Suzyn Waldman was on the air last night describing how all the coaches in Torre's office last night were in tears after the game. And of course, as she said this, she was crying. Yeah, they're crying Su because they've probably seen their last Yankee paychecks. And if there's any justice in the world, the same goes for you.

But screw them. They're done, and big changes are in the works. In the meantime, we've got one hell of a series starting this Friday with the Sox hosting the Indians. I'm worried about the Sabathia-Carmona 1-2 punch, but hoping that Papi and the Bad Man can keep it going. When the dynamic duo is locked in, it don't matter who's pitching. Game time Friday is 7:10, with Beckett going against C.C. In-depth analysis and dissection to come.

In the meantime, let's see how many heads will roll in NYC. Oh yeah, we're not paying attention - we're looking ahead. Kinda sorta.

Monday, October 08, 2007

More Badness from Manny

I was eerily close with my little rundown of what would be an ideal chain of events yesterday. The Pats came through, Schilling and Big Papi came through, but alack and alas, the Yankees responded to George Steinbrenner's cowardly challenge and won a game for their embattled manager.

The big moment in the Sox' clincher against the Angels yesterday came in the fourth inning, when Papi scorched a homer deep to right and Bad Ass Manny followed with another moonshot, this one to straightaway center off the fake boulders in Anaheim. Curt Schilling left with a shutout after seven, the Sox poured on the runs, and in the end a 9-1 rocking-chair victory sends them into the ALCS for the third time in four years. Champagne all around - again. Wonder if Papelbon had another Bud suitcase on his head...

Unfortunately, we now have to wait until Friday for more ball, but at least we get to see the Yanks and Indians knock each other silly. I'm undecided on who I'd rather see the Sox play. Part of me wants to administer a beatdown to Joba and the boys, another part can't even fathom potentially six or seven games of more Sox-Yanks melodrama.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Sweeping Trend

It's hard to remember a postseason that's been as one-sided as this one. Both the Diamondbacks and the Rockies completed three-game sweeps last night in their series, and the Red Sox and Indians can do the same today. In the NL, the Phillies never really had a chance against a red-hot Rockies team, and Cubs fans will spend their offseason asking 'what if Lou had kept Zambrano in?' The D-Backs-Rockies series should be some pretty good baseball.

Today it's all about the AL. The Red Sox are in Anaheim for Game 3 against the Angels, with Curt Schilling - on 11 days rest - going against Jered Spicoli Weaver. The Yankees are back home today, and hoping the locusts - or whatever the hell those things were - didn't migrate east. Roger Clemens gets the ball for the Yanks, Jake Westbrook for the Indians.

With the Patriots playing at 1 and the Sox on at 3, it could be a memorable sports day. If all goes according to plan, here's what will transpire:

1:15 p.m. - Tom Brady connects with Randall Moss for an 82-yard touchdown. Pats 7, Browns 0. It's going to be a long day for Romeo and the boys.

2:30 p.m. - The Patriots head to the locker room at halftime leading this one comfortably, 27-7. Brady has thrown for 200 yards, Moss has 2 TDs, and Asante Samuel has returned a pick for another TD. Can't wait for the Sox game to get here.

3:17 p.m. - Kevin Youkilis starts this one off the way he started it back home in Game 1. Home run to left-center off Spicoli, who's wishing he was surfing the halfpipe somewhere - or maybe smoking it.

3:45 p.m. - Postseason Curt is at it again. He sets down the side in the first inning, with two K's.

4:00 p.m. - Pats rookie QB Matt Gutierrez takes a knee as time expires in Foxborough. Pats win this one rather easily, and amazingly score 38 points yet again in the process. Stats Inc. says it's the first time in history that a team has scored 38 points this many times. Final: 38-14. Oh, and another 38 - this one out in Anaheim - is mowing them down. A good omen. Play your numbers tonight.

4:41 p.m. - Mike Lowell hits a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Youk and Ortiz and giving the Sox a 5-2 lead in the fifth.

6:38 p.m. - It's over in Anaheim, and the brooms are out yet again. Sox win 7-3 behind their pair of Mr. Octobers - Schilling and Ortiz. They're headed to the ALCS to face either the Indians or Yankees. Let's see what's happening in New York.

6:44 p.m. - A man named Pronk takes the Rocket deep, giving the Indians a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. The boos are raining down on Roger. Suzyn Waldman is broken-hearted.

7:55 p.m. - Karl Malden lookalike Joe Torre ambles to the mound to relieve Roger Clemens of any further embarrasment. The Indians have teed off on the Rocket, and have an 8-2 lead over the Bombers in the fourth. Not a good day for New Yorkers, and really not a good series of events over the last few weeks. Between Weasel Boy Mangini, Isiah's escapades, and of course, the stunning collapse of the Mets, the misery continues. And I couldn't be more delighted.

9:38 p.m. - The broom has it. Four division series matchups, four sweeps. Derek Jeter and friends are making tee times for tomorrow because they ain't got nothing else to do. The Indians win it 13-4. Thaaaaaaaaahhhhhh Yankeeeees loooose...

Oh, and notice above that the Sox won their game at 6:38 and the Yanks lost theirs at 9:38. A good omen, indeed. I'm going to listen to some .38 Special just to make sure.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Manny is a Bad Man

Well, you couldn't have asked for a better night of baseball. The Sox and Yankees were both in action last night in Game 2 of their respective division series against the Angels and Indians. The Sox were confident coming off the absolute gem thrown by Josh Beckett in Game 1, while the Yanks were in a must-win situation, having been thumped by the Indians in their Game 1. A Sox win and a Yankee loss would be a nice way to start the weekend.

The Yanks and Indians went to extra innings in a game that was marred by an insect invasion. Bugs were flying around in clusters, sticking to players and making it difficult to see. I kept thinking about how important it is to get home-field advantage. Just contrast the two: the Yanks are in Cleveland, fighting for their playoff lives, and they've got bugs - not to mention C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona - to contend with. The Sox, meanwhile, are in the cozy confines of Fenway, on a rocking Friday night with a full house, and summer-like temperatures.

In the end, both games last night ended in dramatic walk-off fashion. Travis Hafner's single in the bottom of the 11th made the Yanks losers, and in Boston, Manny Ramirez's moonshot over the Monster - off the best closer in the game - gave the Sox a 6-3 win and a commanding 2-0 series lead. Nirvana. With the game ending at 12:44 a.m., the only big question was would the Boston bars and taverns stay open a little later for the delirious crowd.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was asleep on the couch when Manny hit his majestic homer but I've already seen it 10 times this morning. The picture above says it all. Incredibly, Manny had never hit a walk-off home run in his career - and he certainly picked an opportune time for it.

This quote from Manny in today's Globe sums it up: "In that moment, I am just trying to see the ball and trust myself," Ramirez said in a rare appearance in the postgame interview room. "I ain't trying to do too much. You know, I got a lot of confidence in myself. He's one of the greatest closers in the game and I am one of the best hitters in the game. You know, he missed his spot, and I got good timing on the ball and that's feels great, man. It's been a long time I don't do something special like that. But I haven't been right all year round. But I guess, you know, when you don't feel good and you still get hits, that's when you know you are a bad man."

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