Friday, October 31, 2003

The Red Sox bizarre October continues as they placed Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers, meaning any team could take him with no compensation to the Sox. Presumably, the Red Sox were trying to get rid of the remaining $100 million left on Manny's contract over the next five years to give them some additional payroll flexibility. Unfortunately, there weren't any takers.

This was a gutsy move by Theo and the Sox. If it had worked and they found a taker, they would have freed up $20 million of cash for next year, plus $3 million for Todd Walker and $5 million for John Burkett. With that money the could have signed some premium free agents like Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon or Kevin Millwood, or resigned some of their own players like Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe, Pedro or Nomar.

Since no one took Manny, the team is now going to have to deal with the fallout. You really have to wonder what Manny's work ethic is going to be next year now that he knows the team really doesn't want him. It'll be interesting to see how the front office and the Sox as yet unnamed new manager deal with this in 2004.

Trick or treating was great tonight as the kids cleaned up with candy on our street. We have a great street for Halloween. The houses are close together and we live on a cul-de-sac, so we get lots of kids from all over town here. The kids wore Power Ranger costumes and had a great time visiting all the houses. J. collected a pretty respectable amount of cash for UNICEF, too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Celtics season kicked off tonight, and they had a very successful start to the post-Antoine era. The Celts are up by 28 points over Miami with about three minutes left as I write this. The amazing thing is that they have six players in double figures - something that rarely happened with Walker and Pierce scoring about half the Celtics points last year. Even better news is that the dried-out Vin Baker looks like a player again. He’s got 15 points with a couple of minutes left; one off his season high last year. I know it’s only one game, but his progress is certainly promising.

‘Toine had a great start to his Dallas Mavericks career last night, but Shaq and Kobe stopped fighting with each other long enough to beat the Mavericks. Walker had 19 points including 5 out of 6 from three-point land. I’m sure the Mav’s fans are happy with that performance, but we’ll see how they feel after one of his 2 for 8 nights.

The start of the basketball season always makes me think of my maternal grandmother. Grandma was a huge basketball fan. Her fandom went all the way back to the pre-NBA days of the Original Celtics and the Philadelphia SPHAs (do a Google search if you want to find out more about them).

We used to go down to Philly every summer to visit my grandmother. I still can’t figure out how my mother drove down there alone every year from Rhode Island with two small kids in the back seat, especially without things like Gameboys or built-in DVD players to keep us entertained. Once we got to Grandma’s we used to do lots of fun stuff like going to the 7-11 down the block for Slurpees and riding the trolley. I have some memories of doing the tourist stuff like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, too.

Grandma moved up to Providence and I remember lots of Sunday afternoons in her apartment watching the NBA on CBS. It was really nice for me as a kid to have that connection with her.

I’d love to know what she would think about today’s NBA with the more physical, lower scoring play you tend to see today. I’m sure she wouldn’t be too crazy about some of the off the court antics that go on, but I’m sure she’d still be watching.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I was watching the William Shatner Biography episode tonight and it reminded me of a couple of things. First, before Shatner became a cultural icon he was a very highly regarded actor both on the stage and on TV. Second, the famous Saturday Night Live "Get a Life" skit is hysterically funny. I think it's even funnier now that I've distanced myself from active fandom and actually gotten myself a life.

Of course, I suppose that if I really had a life, I wouldn't be sitting here watching William Shatner on Biography, would I?

We've only got a couple of weeks of J's first soccer season left, and I have to admit that I still don't get the whole soccer thing. I never played the game much growing up, of course. Nobody played soccer back then. We played a lot of baseball, of course, along with touch football, street hockey, basketball and lots of other games. I don't really understand the rules, the strategy or much else about the game. J has fun playing it, though, and I suppose that's what really counts.

One game from my childhood that I'm looking forward to teaching my kids is called "Outs". It consisted of taking a rubber ball and throwing it against a concrete or brick wall as hard as you could. Your opponent had to field the ball cleanly on one bounce or in the air. If he succeeded, it was an out. If he misplayed the ball, it was a run. We'd play this game for hours, and it was a lot of fun.

Monday, October 27, 2003

To the surprise of virtually no one, Grady Little was fired as manager of the Boston Red Sox today. The Sox brain trust claimed that he wasn't fired over the ALCS Game 7 non-move, but it doesn't ring terribly true. If the Sox win game 7, or even if he brings in the bullpen and the Sox end up losing, Grady is probably negotiating his contract extension today instead of looking for a job.

It'll be interesting to see who the next manager is. Bud Black, former Sox player Glenn Hoffman, Terry Francona and Jim Fergosi are among the rumored candidates. It'll be interesting to see if the new manager can replicate Grady's 95 wins next year.

I've always found the first day of work after daylight savings time starts to be tough to take. With today's overcast conditions added in, it was pretty much completely dark when I left the office at about 5:30 today. It reminds me that we're in for another long, cold New England winter. I'm hoping for less snow than last year, but the fact that we had some flurries earlier this month doesn't leave me feeling very optimistic.

Friday, October 24, 2003

I just got back from the Apple Store in Chestnut Hill. Apple released the newest version of it's operating system today, Mac OS X 10.3, also known as Panther. I had never been to one of these first day of release events at an Apple Store, and it was kind of fun to be there. The place was packed, and people didn't seem to be too shy about spending money.

Panther seems to be a pretty good upgrade. One of the coolest new features is a window management feature called Expose. You know how you have a bunch of windows open on your screen and you can't figure out which one you need to get to? With Expose, you hit F9 and all your open windows shrink down to fit on the screen. When you run the mouse over the windows, the application name pops up. You click the window you want and it comes to the front automatically.

It doesn't sound so great when you write it down, but you really have to try it to get the full impact. In fact, I think it's so good that I'm sure Microsoft will be ripping it off in the next release of Windows.

I just finished a great book called "Foul Ball", by Jim Bouton. Bouton, of course, is the former Major League Baseball player who wrote the blockbuster "Ball Four" about his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. This book is about his attempt to save Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, MA by fielding an independent minor league team there. Bouton and his group pledged to upgrade the 1919 vintage ballpark and maintain it at no cost to the city.

Opposing Bouton's group were various local interest groups intent on building a new $18.5 million ballpark at taxpayers expense. These groups included the mayor and city council, the Berkshire Eagle newspaper, Berkshire Bank, a local law firm and General Electric. Bouton's implication in the book is that these groups had a vested interest in building the ballpark on a piece of property owned by the Eagle which had been contaminated with PCBs and other pollutants by GE over many decades. Building a ballpark there would "cap" the site and avoid millions of dollars in potential cleanup costs.

The book is an expose about the shameful way Pittsfield's elected officials ignored the will of the people, which was to save Wahconah Park. The book, in the end, isn't about baseball, but about the subversion of the political process by special interests. It's written in that great, frank, tell-it-like-it-is Bouton style that you will remember if you read Ball Four. Bouton had to self-publish the book after the powers that be blocked his attempt to go through a publishing house. You can get the book at most bookstores or libraries, or head to

That's it for tonight. Go Marlins!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

So, what's the biggest sports story in Boston today? Is it:

1) The Patriots huge overtime win against division rival Miami on Sunday?

2) The trade of Celtics co-captain Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks?

3) Grady Little's brain fart last Thursday?

If you listened to WEEI today, you would have thought it was Grady. A few people wanted to talk about Walker, and almost no one wanted to talk about the Pats.

So, I'm declaring this a Grady-free zone until the Red Sox make a decision about his future, starting now.

I'm not sure about the Walker trade, but Danny Ainge seems to think it's a case of going forward by first taking a step back. Ainge spoke of a three-year plan to rebuild the Celtics into a championship contender again. It's obvious the Celtics are not going any farther than the first couple of rounds of the playoffs as they are currently constituted, so we'll have to see if it works out.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Check out the following article in the MetroWest Daily News by Damian Vega at I sent him an email response, which you can check out below.

Dear Mr. Vega,

I almost never write to newspaper writers, but your article in Sunday's MetroWest Daily News regarding Grady Little's decision not to remove Pedro Martinez from game 7 of the American League Championship Series got me off my keyboard.

Nothing personal here, but I can only imagine that you and Grady Little were watching a different Pedro than the one I and virtually everyone I know saw. While it's nice to say that " The problem arose when Pedro couldn't put mind over matter the way great ones are supposed to. Go out there and find a way to win. Case closed.", the fact is that most of us understand Pedro's physical limitations. Wishing that Pedro can go out there and be effective after 100+ pitches doesn't make it so.

Pedro was obviously spent after the 7th. I was surprised when he came out for the 8th, but I assumed Grady would have him on a short leash. By the time he threw his first pitch to Matsui, I was screaming at the TV for Little to get him out of there.

Would I have second-guessed Little if he had removed Pedro after the 7th and the bullpen coughed up the lead? No. Given the performance of Timlin, Embree and Williamson in the post-season, it was the logical move to make. Would a few yahoos complained about it on WEEI? Sure, but I think 95% of Red Sox fans would have supported the move, even if it hadn't worked out.

The simple fact is that Grady Little didn't do his job, which is to give the Red Sox players the best chance to win. He didn't evaluate the situation properly and didn't have the best pitcher AT THAT MOMENT out on the mound.

Does Little deserve to be fired for this? Now that my anger has subsided and I've thought about this rationally for a bit, probably not. He obviously knows how to run a clubhouse and how to get the best out of his players. My thought now is that the Sox hire a top-flight strategic man to be Grady's bench coach to help compensate for his obvious shortcomings as an X's and O's manager. It's going to be brutal for him next year, though. I hope he understands that.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Talk about adding insult to injury...

I spoke to my brother this evening. He's been out of town on business all week, so we hadn't had time to talk about the end of the ALCS. After we discussed the game, he tells me that he had arranged through a friend of his to get me two tickets to Game 1 of the World Series if it had been played in Boston. Instead, I spent the evening watching the episode of Smallville I taped a week and a half ago.

So, what's going to happen to Grady? I can't see any way the Red Sox can bring him back. If you're around my age or older, I'm sure you remember what it was like for Don Zimmer after 1978. He was booed every time he walked out of the dugout until he was fired at the end of the 1980 season. That would be mild compared to the treatment Grady Little would get from the fans. Can you imagine what it would be like when he got introduced on Opening Day? Given how PR and fan conscious the Henry ownership team is, I can't imagine they'll pick up his option or extend his contract.

Friday, October 17, 2003

They did it to us again.

I can't believe they've taken us to the edge one more time and smashed our hopes to the ground. This was not quite as bad as the '86 World Series, but it was damn close. As the events of the 8th inning unfolded, I felt sick to my stomach. And I put the blame wholly on Grady Little's shoulders.

I was surprised that Pedro came back out for the 8th inning. He struggled a bit in the 7th and gave up his second home run to Jason Giambi, but got out of the inning without any further damage. He did his little pointing to the sky thing, hugged his teammates and, I thought, had completed a very successful start. I figured we'd see Timlin and/or Embree in the 8th and Williamson in the 9th.

When he came out to start the inning I, along with practically every other baseball fan on the planet, assumed that Pedro would be on a short leash in the 8th. He already had about 100 pitches and was starting to labor in the 7th. So after he got Nick Johnson to pop out, Jeter and Bernie Williams followed with hits and Jeter scored. Grady came out of the dugout and I assumed he was coming out to get Pedro and have Embree face the lefthander Matsui.

But, no! Pedro says he can get Matsui, so Grady leaves him out there. At this point it's obvious Pedro has nothing left. He's not going to tell Grady he wants to come out, though. It's Grady's job to make that decision.

So, for some bizarre reason Grady couldn't see what everyone else saw - that Pedro was toast. Pedro gave up a hit to Matsui, moving Bernie to second. Still Grady doesn't move! He keeps Pedro out there to face Posada. At this point I'm screaming at the TV for Grady to get him out of there. Posada, of course, hits a little flare to center field and both runs come home to tie the score. Finally Grady comes out and gets Pedro.

Of course you know what happened next. Mariano Rivera pitches three scoreless innings and Aaron Boone hits a leadoff home run off off Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the 11th to win the AL pennant for the Yankees. A pennant that could have belonged to the Red Sox if Grady Little wasn't a moron.

I'm very angry about this. If Grady had brought in Timlin to start the 8th, or had even brought in Embree to face Matsui and they had failed, I would have been disappointed, but not angry. Pitchers have bad outings. It happens. But I can't excuse Grady Little for not making an obvious move to satisfy Pedro's ego or for whatever other reason he might have. He lost the Red Sox a chance to go to the World Series.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

You knew it was going to come to this, didn’t you? Clemens vs. Pedro, Game 7 Yankee Stadium, right? It just wouldn’t have seemed right if this series didn’t come down to the ultimate showdown in the ultimate game.

Leading up to that, however...

I had my first in-person visit to the LCS yesterday, seeing game 5 at Fenway Park. This, of course, was delayed from Sunday due to the rainstorm. My seats were in the last row of section 28, on the third base side of home plate. The view was good - the standard pole was blocking the middle of the infield, but I had a great view of both the pitcher and catcher. I couldn’t see the center field scoreboard, but that’s OK.

Fenway was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. Part of the reason for this was the fact that the game was originally scheduled as a night game, so the 400 or so seats in center field that are covered for day games were sold. When the game was postponed and moved to Tuesday afternoon, those 400 people had to be moved somewhere. Apparently they were placed all over the park, including standing room in the .406 Club and the Monster Seats.

The game itself was a tough one to watch. The Sox just couldn’t hit. Nomar, especially, looked really bad. He almost looked defeated as he came up to the plate. I’ve been watching him since he played with the Pawsox, and I’ve never seen Nomar like that. Thankfully, he finally broke out of his slump in game 6.

The pitching side was great, though. Lowe pitched very well. His only bad inning was the 2nd, and he wasn’t helped by his defense in that inning. Walker made a throwing error and Mueller didn’t handle a semi-tough chance. The bullpen did it’s usual great job in the postseason (where were these guys all year?). They just couldn’t generate enough offense to overcome the four Yankee runs.

One positive comment on a Yankee. How does Derek Jeter always seem to be in the right place at the right time? He made two great defensive plays yesterday and helped his team to win.

Of course, I can’t pass by the NLCS events of yesterday. I had dinner with my father-in-law after the game and then went home. I turned on the Cubs-Marlins game and saw the Cubs had a 3-0 lead in the 7th. I figured I’d watch the rest of the game, see the long-suffering Cubs fans celebrate their first National League pennant since World War II and then go to bed. Little did I expect the bizarre turn of events in the top of the 8th.

Of course, everyone knows the story. On a pop foul down the left field line, a Cubs fan deflected a ball that Moises Alou could have caught for the second out Then the floodgates opened. The Marlins scored eight times in the inning, and the Cubs lost.

The poor guy who went for the foul pop was taking some serious abuse for his poor judgment and had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field by security and was driven home in an armored vehicle. I’m sure he’s praying that the Cubs win game 7, or he’s going to go down in history as the man who cost the Cubs a trip to the World Series. That’s overstating the case, of course. He did cost them an out, but he’s not the one who fell apart in the inning.

I really sympathized with the Cubs fans, though. They were showing shots of the stands during the 8th, and I know these people were feeling the exact same thing I was feeling during the 10th inning of game 6 of the 1986 World Series. That feeling of a lifelong dream being dashed, of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory.

This all brings us to today’s ALCS game. I wasn’t feeling too good about the Red Sox chances after they blew an early 4-1 lead and were down 6-4 in the Bronx. Then they scored three in the seventh to take the lead. Nomar finally broke out of his slump with a big triple. Trot Nixon added some insurance in the 9th with a two run homer and the Sox forced the big showdown referred to above.

Enjoy tomorrow night. It should be one for the ages. Go Sox!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2003

One thing I forgot. Wouldn't you have loved to have been watching the Game 3 with Bill Lee when Zimmer attacked Pedro?

There are few sadder phrases in baseball than "Game called on account of rain."

But that's what happened tonight. Game 4 of the ALCS got rained out. I had gone all the way into Boston, taking the T from Newton Center. I grabbed a quick sub at D'Angelo's and met my father-in-law in front of the Pizzeria Uno's in Kenmore Square. We walked over to the ballpark, sat down and not five minutes later the announcement was made that the game had been postponed.

The makeup game is going to be Tuesday at 4, so I'll have to take a couple of hours off at work. It also breaks my streak of game fours, since this game will now be the 5th game of the series. Oh, well. The good news is that it gives the Sox the chance to pitch Derek Lowe in Fenway, where he's been much more effective this year.

On the other side of the fence, how about that Josh Beckett, eh? 23 years old, his team on the brink of elimination in the NLCS and he goes out and pitches a 2-hitter against the Cubs. I only saw a bit of the game before I took off for Fenway, but it's an outstanding performance from Beckett. With him, Brad Penny and Dontrelle Willis, the Marlins could potentially have a Big Three to rival the A's combo of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder. It'll be fun to watch these guys for the next few years.

This will be a quick entry, since we're headed to see the Ringling Bros. circus at the FleetCenter today.

All right, I admit it. I didn't see much of the game. We were invited by my company's CFO a couple of months ago to go to dinner at Davio's and to see the play "Thoroughly Modern Mille" at the Wang Center. I did, however, have a Walkman radio and kept up with the score as the game went on, but I didn't actually see the crazy events in the 4th inning until I caught the highlights (or lowlights) this morning (i.e., Pedro hitting Karim Garcia, Manny going after Clemens on what he thought was a tight pitch, The Gerbil attacking Pedro). Two points on this:

- Manny, the pitch wasn't that close. What the heck were you charging the mound for?

- Don Zimmer, you might want to stick to going after guys who aren't less than half your age.

The Sox are back in that familiar position of having thier backs against the wall. Tonight is really a must win.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I walk into the office this morning and the message light is flashing on my phone. I check the messages to discover that it's our CEO. She had called just after five, and said that she had a question if I was still there. If not, I should call her back the next morning. Cursing myself slightly for actually leaving at 5 (I had J.'s open house at school last night), I called her back. I got the CEO's assistant, who said she wasn't in yet, but she would let her know that I called.

About 15 minutes later she calls back and asks me, "I was wondering if you'd like to go to the game Sunday night?" After I regained my voice, I said "yes" and thanked her profusely. When I went up to get the tickets, she told me that several of my co-workers had told her that if she got playoff tickets that she should give them to me first. It's nice to know that people were thinking of me.

So, I'll be going to Game 4 of the ALCS. The pitching matchup is scheduled to be David Wells for the Empire against John Burkett. Should be a decent game if Burkett can avoid his first inning woes. I'll be sitting in the left field grandstand, so the view should be pretty decent, too.

This will be my third playoff game. The first two were Game 4's as well, both against Cleveland in 1998 and 1999. The first game was in 1998 when Jimy Williams decided to pitch Pete Schourek instead of going with Pedro on short rest. Schourek pitched great, going five scoreless innings, but the Sox lost the game and the series when David Justice drove in the winning run off Tom Gordon. I've never heard Fenway, and the walk back to the subway, so silent as it was after that game.

The second game was in 1999, and that had a much better result. The Sox clubbed Bartolo Colon, who was going on short rest and won the game 23-7. Of course, Boston went on to win the series in five games, as Pedro made his memorable relief appearance in the finale.

Naturally, I'll have lots on my first live ALCS experience in Monday night's blog entry.

A couple of thoughts on game 2. As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, the Red Sox really lost that game when they didn't take advantage of Pettite's shakiness in the first two innings. Lowe didn't pitch badly, but he's obviously tired after pitching three times in the Oakland series. I think four days of regular rest will do him some good and he'll come back strong in game 6.

Of course, the questions of the day were "Why did Grady play Damian Jackson instead of Todd Walker?" and "Why did Grady pitch Scott Sauerbeck in the 7th?". I can't explain the first question. Walker's been so hot with the bat I'd be willing to sacrifice a bit of defense for him. After all, it's not like Jackson plays the position like a gold glover.

As far as Sauerbeck's first appearance in 11 days, here's my thought. With the Sox behind I think Grady wanted to give the most reliable members of his bullpen (Timlin, Embree and Williamson) the night off. With the off-day today that would mean two full days of rest for these guys. The Sox are certainly going to need them as the series goes on, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I’m writing this as I sit here watching game 2 of the ALCS. The score is currently 0-0 in the top of the second and Varitek just doubled down the right field line. I’ll make comments as we go along.

I did want to say a couple of things about game 1, though. Tim Wakefield and the bullpen came up huge last night. For the first six innings Wake was as good as I’ve ever seen him. The Yankees had no chance against the knuckleball and it wasn’t until he started missing the strike zone in the 7th that Grady had to get him. Then Embree, Timlin and Williamson kept the Yankees at bay the rest of the way.

Speaking of Timlin, you could make a case for him as the Red Sox MVP thus far in the playoffs. He’s been perfect out of the bullpen so far, not allowing a runner to reach base in any of his appearances. Given the Sox bullpen problems all season, the fact that they have been coming up big pretty much since game 2 of the Oakland series is nothing short of miraculous.

Sox lead 1-0 after one and a half, but they’ve had seven baserunners so far. It would have been really nice if they had scored a couple of more runs.

My favorite non-game part of last night’s telecast was Fox’s interview of “objective” Yankees fan Ed Hillell. Ed was interviewed after Todd Walker’s disputed home run off the foul pole. A young fan apparently touched the ball as it hit the pole, and the right field umpire called it foul. He was quickly overruled by the home plate umpire, who called it a home run. The kid who touched the ball was quickly inundated with media types and was so overwhelmed that he left the ballpark. Ed, who was sitting nearby, claimed that the ball would have gone foul had it not been touched, while the replay clearly showed that it would have hit the foul pole. The Fox broadcast team of Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Bret Boone spent pretty much the rest of the game hosing on poor Ed, who has now officially used up his 15 minutes of fame. Even the game summary referred to him with the notation for Walker’s home run (Ed still thinks it’s foul!). I thought it was all pretty funny and Ed no doubt had about 600 messages on his answering machine when he got home.

Game 2 is now through 2 and 1/2 and the Empire leads 2-1 on a Nick Johnson home run.

Last night marked the first time I had to make the big decision between taping Enterprise and Smallville. I have two VCRs, so I can usually tape both and watch them later after the kids are in bed. However, since I wanted to watch the game on one TV, I couldn’t tape both. I ended up deciding to tape Smallville, since it was the second part of a cliffhanger continued from last week. It’s incredibly annoying, though, that two of the very few network TV shows I actually watch regularly are on at the same time.

That’s it for tonight. Still 2-1 in the bottom of the third. More on game 2 tomorrow night.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I don't think I've ever been as stressed out watching a sporting event as I was during the 9th inning of ALDS Game 5. Even Adam Vinatieri's kick in the Patriots Super Bowl win didn't have me that nervous. Anyone who ever questions Derek Lowe's heart again needs to be shown a video of the 9th inning of that game. He came into the most pressure packed situation imaginable and stopped the A's cold. It was one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen.

One of the nastiest collisions I've ever seen happened in the game, too. I don't think I've ever seen baseball players butt heads like I saw Johnny Damon and Damien Jackson did last night. It was very scary (and did Fox really need to show it so many times?), but it looks like Damon is going to be OK.

We're now one-third of the way to the dream World Series matchup of the Red Sox and the Cubs. 1908 vs. 1918. All the Sox have to do is beat the Yankees. They'll do it in seven games. I can't imagine the Red Sox taking out the Yankees without making it as difficult as possible first. Then they'll beat the Cubbies in seven, after the Cubs take out Florida in six.

I've discovered one bad thing about being a well-known, wear your heart on your sleeve Red Sox fan. Everyone at work wants to talk to you about the game. Now, I'd like nothing better than to sit there and talk baseball all day, but I do have a lot of work to get done. I might have to start being a little more direct when people drop by when I'm in the middle of something...

Monday, October 06, 2003

There are few things worse than being sick on a holiday, but I'm there. Today is Yom Kippur and I skipped services because I've been nauseous and had a headache all day. I took a three-hour nap and I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow, since I have a ton of stuff to do at work. I actually went in on Saturday for a few hours since I knew I would be out today and wanted to get a jump on a few things.

I've experienced this phenomenon before, though. It's almost as though my body knows it has a day or two off and decides to let my defenses down. I've usually been working my butt off or had something stressful going on for the few days or weeks before it happens. In this case, the work (the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act plus the usual end-of-quarter deadlines) and stress (the announcement of the sale of my company last week) no doubt combined to lay me low today. Once we get past quarter-end, I'll have to take a mental health day, but until then I'll just have to cowboy up.

Speaking of cowboying up, we have another phenomenal win by the Olde Towne Team at Fenway yesterday. Without getting into too many details about the game, it was nice to see the big boys, i.e., Garciaparra, Ramirez and Ortiz, step up and get the job done in the bottom of the 8th inning of game 4. Both games were incredibly exciting, as my kids will attest. The sight of Daddy jumping and dancing around as the Sox won was pretty funny as far as they were concerned.

Along with most folks, I think the Red Sox have a decided advantage over Oakland tonight with Pedro pitching on his normal turn while Zito pitches on short rest. Hopefully the Sox hitters will be patient, wait for a good pitch to hit and wear Zito down.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

So, how did I come to be at a Chinese restaurant in Woonsocket, RI for one of the most exciting games in Red Sox history? Well, therein lies the tale...

Me and my three closest friends all turn 40 within about 21 months of each other. We've been celebrating each other's birthdays with a "boys night out", and last night was Dave's turn. Dave decided that he wanted to see the band Roomful of Blues at Chan's Chinese restaurant in Woonsocket. Apparently, Chan's has been doing jazz and blues shows for years on weekend nights. So, I bought the tickets about a month ago, long before we had any idea what the playoff schedule would be or, indeed, we even knew if the Sox would be in the playoffs.

So, we went to Chan's to have dinner, watch Roomful fo Blues first set and then we would decide whether we wanted to stay for the second set or go find a sports bar to watch the rest of the game. After the first set we went to check the score, which was 1-0 in the top of the 5th. Dave (being the birthday boy) decided that we should go somewhere and watch the game. Unfortunately, even though Dave and I are native Rhode Islanders, we don't know Woonsocket too well. We had no idea where to go.

The dilemma was solved by staying at Chans and watching the game on the TV in the bar there. Bill (who is a baseball fan, but is a bigger blues fan) and Steve (who is not much of a baseball fan at all) decided to watch the band's second set while we watched the game. And, of course, the rest is history.

A few comments on the game:

- Big kudos to the Sox pitching staff. Derek Lowe, Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson did a great job of holding the A's until Trot Nixon's heroics in the bottom of the 11th. I was especially impressed with Lowe's performance in the wake of his relief loss in Game 1. Lowe has had a tendency to let a bit of adversity get to him this year, and it was great to see him bounce back.

- If the Sox come back and win this series, the controversial obstruction call will go right down with the "Tuck Rule" play in the Patriots-Raiders Snow Bowl in Oakland history. In my opinion, Tejada made a bonehead play. The rule (7.06B) very clearly states that the play shall proceed until no further action was possible. If Tejada had been thrown out at home plate, the A's certainly could have argued that he had been obstructed by Mueller at third and should be called safe. By stopping between third and home, he abandoned his attempt to score and Jason Varitek made a very heads up play to tag him out. Sorry, Miguel. Next time keep running.

- I know it didn't work out, but wouldn't you have loved to see Pedro come out to close the game in the 9th?

- I'm really feeling good about Burkett today against Hudson on short rest. A lot of pitchers today have difficulty going out on three days rest, since they're used to pitching on four. Case in point is Game 4 of the Sox-Cleveland 1999 ALDS, where the Sox clubbed Bartolo Colon as he started on three days rest (a game I had the good fortune to attend).

One last thing that was almost as exciting as Trot Nixon's home run was the end of the Marlins-Giants series. Jeff Conine threw out J.T. Snow, the potential tying, run as Pudge Rodriguez held onto the ball in the collision. It was an amazing ending to the game.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

OK, I'm not a happy person this evening.

Of course, I'm sure you know that the source of my unhappiness is the Red Sox 2-0 deficit in the ALDS. Oakland won last night's marathon game in 12 innings 5-4. The game started at 10 PM Eastern time and didn't end until about 2:45 in the morning. I lasted until the top of the 7th, at which point the Red Sox led 4-3. Todd Walker had just given the Sox the lead with his second home run of the night.

There were two reasons I headed to bed at that point. The first was the fact that I couldn't keep my eyes open. Second was I decided that there was no real upside at that point. If the Sox held on and won the game, then I wouldn't have really missed much. If the bullpen blew the lead, well, I really didn't want to see that. So I got up this morning and heard the results on the radio. Seems like sleep was the better alternative.

If I had to hand out awards for the top three Goats of the Game (sort of the opposite of the Stars of the Game they do in hockey), here are my picks in reverse order of importance:

3. Grady Little - Grady blew it by not pinch running for David Ortiz in the top of the 8th after he walked leading off the inning. Ortiz is generally acknowledged to be the slowest man on the team. Virtually anyone else would have scored on Bill Mueller's double one out later, but Ortiz stopped at third. Someone fast, like Adrian Brown, certainly would have scored the insurance run the Sox could have used in the 9th.

2. Manny Ramirez - your $20 million a year slugger has got to get a big hit once in a while in the post-season. Manny ended the 3rd with two outs and the bases loaded, and the 5th with two outs and runners on the corners. He needed to get a hit in at least one of those situations, especially in the 3rd when it looked like the Sox had Tim Hudson on the ropes a little bit. Instead they came away with nothing. Manny ended the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th innings.

1. Byung-Hyun Kim - He's the obvious choice. Your closer can't go out and walk the eighth batter and hit the ninth batter in the last of the ninth. He just can't.

Today's game was really the story of one bad inning for Wakefield and a great performance by Barry Zito. Not much more you can say about it.

So, the Sox return for two (I hope) at Fenway on the verge of elimination. The Yankees are down 1-0 to the Twins and are tied in game 2 1-1 in the top of the 6th as I write this. Don't you think there are some Fox TV executives about ready to kill themselves at the prospect of an A's - Twins ALCS instead of Boston-New York?

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