Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A historic day in baseball today. For the first time in over 30 years, a team changed cities. MLB announced today that the Montreal Expos would move to Washington, D.C., starting with the 2005 season. The Expos, of course, never really recovered from the 1994 strike, and have spent most of the last decade getting rid of their best players. Vladimir Guerrero and Orlando Cabrerra are only the latest example.

The Washington (Senators? Nationals?) will be playing in RFK Stadium for three years until a new stadium is built in the city. It will, of course, cost $400 million taxpayer dollars. Also, MLB had to pay a multi-million dollar ransom to Peter Angelos, owner of the Orioles, to remove the threat of any lawsuits over the new Washington team moving in only 40 miles away from Camden Yards.

I really object to taxpayers footing the bill for stadiums for privately held sports teams. While I don't have any problem with government money being used for infrastructure improvements (public transit, road improvements, etc.), but there's no reason we should have to pay for their ballparks. The Patriots and the San Francisco Giants proved that stadiums can be built with private money. There's no reason all teams can't do it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Well, the Sox recovered from the deja vu loss on Friday night to beat on the Yankees in the final two games of the series. It was sort of the reverse of the previous weekend's series in the Bronx. Both teams lost the Friday game on blowups by two of their top pitchers, then clobbered the other team on Saturday and Sunday. The Sox can clinch the wild card with a win in Tampa Bay and an Angels loss to the Rangers tonight.

Only two real races left - the NL wild card and the AL West. The NL race should go right down the last day, with the Cubs, Houston and the Giants fighting it out for the last few days. The A's have really faded in September, and allowed Anaheim and Texas to catch up. That race could easily go down to the last weekend as well.

Now that the house in Vermont is sold, I find myself wanting an RV. I'm not quite sure why - I've never vacationed in one and I'm not really sure how I'd like it. I like the concept though; taking everything with you, hitting the open road; not having to deal with hotels and such. A. wants nothing to do with it though. She's joked that I can park the RV in the hotel parking lot and she'll sleep inside. I did order a CD from to take a look. Maybe someday...

Friday, September 24, 2004

What the heck is Terry Francona thinking?

Pedro pitched a good game tonight. Only gave up three runs in seven innings. He was over 100 pitches and it would have seemed like an ideal time to go to the bullpen.

But, noooooo.

Leadoff home run by Matsui. An out, then a hit, then another out and a double by Ruben Sierra. Sox down in the 8th 5-4.

Wasn't Tito watching last year?

Repeat after me: Timlin/Embree/Williamson in the 8th, Foulke in the 9th.


The house in Vermont closed today. It's officially no longer ours.

Double Sigh.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I almost thought we were going to have some more late inning magic tonight. After beating the Orioles in their last at-bat the last two nights, the Sox entered the last of the 9th down 9-5 to Baltimore. Three singles loaded the bases (including one by Ellis Burks, after spending nearly the entire season on the disabled list - he got a huge ovation from the Fenway crowd), then Manny came up and hit a single to score Mueller and Guitierrez. Ortiz came up as the potential winning run, but ended the excitement by flying out deep to right.

The Yankees beat Tampa Bay in a makeup of a hurricane delayed game, so the Sox enter the weekend series 4 1/2 games back. They really need a sweep of the Empire to make a serious run at the division title.

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. I've never really liked this holiday - too many things remind you of the things you screwed up on over the last year. But I'll be at the synagogue tomorrow night and Saturday.

Next week will be exactly 90 days before our trip to Florida, which means it's time to make our priority seatings at Disney for December. We'll be doing our now traditional dinner at Chef Mickey's with my parents and my brother and his family, of course. Also, we're going to try to sign up the kids for this pirate cruise Disney runs. Basically, you drop the kids off at the Grand Floridian, where they go off in a boat with some Disney Cast Members who take them on a "treasure hunt" around the lake. They get lunch and a bunch of little trinkets, in addition to a pirate hat with Mickey Mouse ears attached. It sounds like fun. A. and I are going to get reservations at Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our grown-ups night out this year. The reviews I've seen of the place have been outstanding and we've never been to the Lodge before, so I'd like to check it out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I was walking down Newbury St. in Boston today when I saw Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a Clone Trooper, a TIE Fighter pilot and a Tusken Raider were walking down the street. Not the sort of thing you see on Newbury St. every day. It was somehow connected to the release today of the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD, but it wasn't apparent if they were connected to one of the local stores (Virgin Megastore and Newbury Comics were both nearby) or if they were just fans in costume. In any event, it was pretty cool. Vader even had the heavy breathing sound effect going, and people kept shouting out "May the Force be with you!"

The Sox and Orioles went at it again today in a very exciting game. Curt Schilling and Rodrigo Lopez hooked up in a scoreless duel, until the Sox scored a run in the last of the 8th. Foulke came in and went to 3-2 on Javy Lopez with 2 out and a man on when Lopez hit a bomb over the Monster Seats to give the O's a 2-1 lead. The Sox then came back in the bottom of the 9th to win the game on a Mark Bellhorn double with two on. Amazing!

Boston didn't gain any ground on the Yankees, who also won. They did knock the magic number for the wild card down to 8. The Angels are losing to Seattle 3-2 in the 2nd as I write this.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Well, after the stirring win on Friday night, things kind of went south for the Red Sox over the rest of the weekend as they lost the last two games of the series by a total of 20 runs. Derek Lowe’s start was just a train wreck, before he got hit on the leg with a line drive and left the game. Pedro didn’t fare much better. So the Sox lost ground in the Bronx, ending the weekend 4 1/2 games back of the Yankees.

They’re not doing much better tonight. They’re losing 8-2 to the Orioles in the 5th, as Tim Wakefield is getting knocked around. The Sox just executed perhaps the worst rundown I’ve ever seen outside of a Little League field. Melvin Mora had a brain cramp and forgot that first base was open and started to trot home on a walk. The Sox noticed this and started trying to tag him out. After five or six throws, Doug Mirabelli dropped a ball near third base. He recovered the ball and made a poor throw home, which Kevin Millar couldn’t handle. So, the Orioles got a run on Mora’s mistake. It was a play that will be guaranteed to show up on the blooper reels.

Walter Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal’s technology columnist, September 16 column addressed protecting yourself from viruses, spyware and such in Windows. His number one suggestion? Buy a Mac. As Mossberg notes, there are no viruses and almost no spyware out there for Mac OS X. It’s also much harder to install a program undetected on the Mac - the default is that you have to enter a password before installing any software. You can read the entire article at the link above - click on the archives button if the article isn’t on the site.

I can’t believe summer is almost over. It was such a strange summer - lots of rain, almost no really hot days. My lawn never got brown like it typically does. We did some fun stuff - Storyland, Vermont, the pool - but it really felt more like an extended spring than summer.

Manny just hit a bases loaded, ground rule double. It’s now 8-4.

Things seem to be moving slowly in Pittsfield. I haven’t heard much - just a couple of short messages on the Wahconah Park message board. The city really needs to approve a new agreement for the refurbishment of the ballpark to happen in time for the beginning of the 2005 season. The Northeast League owners are meeting later this week, and if something doesn’t get done the fact that the ballpark is still up in the air isn’t going to work in our favor toward getting a team.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

What a game!

It looked pretty bleak as the Sox entered the 9th down 2-1 in the Bronx. Bronson Arroyo had turned in another excellent performance, giving up only 2 runs in 6 innings, despite sitting through an hour and 25 minute rain delay. However, first El Duque and then Tanyon Sturtze had gone him one better, only giving up one run. Tom Gordon pitched a scoreless 8th and gave way to the Yankees Uber-closer, Mariano Rivera.

It was apparent from the start that Rivera didn't have it tonight. He walked Trot Nixon (Dave Roberts pinch ran), then struck out Varitek. He then hit Kevin Millar (Gabe Kapler pinch ran). Orlando Cabrerra came up with a big opposite field single, scoring Roberts (Nomar who?). Youkilis struck out, leaving it up to Johnny Damon with two out. Damon hit a blooper to right-center, which looked catchable by Kenny Lofton. However, Lofton came up short and Kapler scored with the winning run!

Lots of kudos to go around tonight. Damon with an earlier homer and two RBI. Manny Ramirez with an amazing catch, plucking a Miguel Cairo drive out of the left field stands and robbing him of a home run - Cairo didn't even know that he was out until he made it all the way around the bases and was back in the on-deck circle! The pitching, in addition to Arroyo, saw scoreless innings from Embree, Timlin and Keith Foulke getting the huge save in the 9th.

The Sox are only 2 1/2 back now, with 17 to play and 5 against the Empire. It' gonna be fun!

Barry Bonds hit his 700th home run tonight, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in that exclusive club. He did it in the 3rd inning against the San Diego Padre's Jake Peavy, who forever gets to be the answer to a trivia question.

Big doings at work, which I found out about today in a phone call from my boss. Nothing I can talk about yet, but the course of events over the next few weeks will tell me a lot about where my future lies. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Lashanah Tovah!

That's Hebrew for Happy New Year. This evening started Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the year on the Jewish lunar calendar.

Today was also the 5th anniversary of the day we brought R. home from Korea. I can hardly believe it's been five years! I recounted the story of our first trip to Korea around J.'s Adoption Day last September. I'll try to post R.'s story in the next few days.

Sox won tonight, breaking a brief two game losing streak. The Yankees also won, so they're still four games back. The Angels and Mariners are tied 0-0 after 5 1/2 as I write this - I'm listening to the Internet feed of the Mariner's local broadcast. Schilling goes for number 20 tomorrow night, then it's off to the Bronx for the weekend.

Oh, and our $14 billion tunnel is leaking. That's right, the new Central Artery tunnel is leaking - apparently a section that should have been filled with concrete years ago wasn't, and water came pouring out of the walls. I guess $14 billion just doesn't go as far as it used to.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Greetings from the Final Night in Vermont.

I drove up here after work to meet people from a local battered women's shelter tomorrow afternoon. They're coming to take the remaining furniture. I'm going to pack up a few things that are left here and bring them back home. I'll also make sure that the place is clean. The closing on the house is 10 days from now.

I realized a couple of days ago that this was the first time I've ever been to Vermont without A. I had never come to the state before meeting her, and over the course of the last 12 years or so I've fallen in love with the place. One reason why: I arrived here about 10:30 at night. The sky is completely clear tonight. One of the great things about the area the house is in is that the nearest thing even remotely resembling a city is Lebanon, NH, which is about 30 miles away. That means the sky is very dark, and on a clear night like tonight, it seems like you can see every star in the galaxy.

I did enjoy the ride, though. I've always liked solo road trips. Something about it being just me, some tunes and the open road that I find very relaxing and liberating. I had a stop for dinner, gas and some supplies in New Hampshire, but other than that the trip was pretty much straight though. It would have been even better if I had the Element instead of the minivan, but I needed the extra storage capacity to get all the stuff home.

This isn't goodbye to Vermont, though. We'll certainly be back, although we'll have to rent a house. We've determined that there are vacation rentals around here that are pretty reasonably priced, so it shouldn't be a problem.

We had a great experience Friday night - we went out to a Korean restaurant for dinner. The place is called Little Pusan in Maynard. The kids loved it, and they seemed very willing to try new things, which isn't always the case. They both want to go back, so we may make Little Pusan our new Friday night dinner tradition, replacing pizza night.

The Yankees are getting their butts kicked again tonight, this time by the lowly Royals. It was 17-3 Kansas City last time I checked. So, the Sox should enter their last 20 games only 3 behind the Empire. The first showdown happens over the weekend at Yankee Stadium. I can't wait!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

So much for the big pitching duel.

Tim Hudson vs. Pedro Martinez last night. Should be a good one, right? A big game for the A’s, who were trying to avoid being swept by the Sox at home.

Sorry, afraid not. Hudson walks the first three batters he faces, gives up three runs in the first, four more in the third and the game is basically over. Pedro held up his end of the bargain, pitching well and getting an 8-3 win.

So, the Sox finish 8-1 on the big nine game stretch against the AL West, losing only one game to the Rangers and seeping the A’s and Angels. Anaheim lost to the Blue Jays last night, so they’re now 5 games back in the wild card chase. The Yankees got rained out of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, so Boston picks up 1/2 game to be only 2 back in the East.

We started being required to wear suits again this week at work. For the last few years, we’ve been business casual but since the merger a lot of things have changed. So, now I have to wear a tie and I’m out a few hundred bucks for a couple of new suits and a bunch of new dress shirts. I’ve never liked wearing ties, and I fail to understand the need for employees who don’t meet with the public to dress in formal business wear, but the rules are the rules. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.

The Patriots start their defense of the Super Bowl title as the NFL season kicks off in Foxboro. They take on the Colts in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The Pats have owned Peyton Manning at home, so we’ll see if they can keep that up tonight. On paper, the Patriots should be even better than they were last year. Super Bowl teams seem to have trouble repeating, or even getting back into the playoffs, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Pats fare.

Speaking of the Patriots, I saw a funny Dunkin Donuts commercial during the Sox game last night. Two DD employees are standing at the counter and one says to the other “What’s with all the eye black?” The other says “It helps cut down on the glare.” The scene cuts to three Patriot players wearing their king-sized Super Bowl rings and reflections from the rings bouncing all over the store. Dunkins gets an “A” for creative sports themed commercials lately, with that one and the “Curt Schilling works on his Boston accent” spot.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Labor Day weekend was a good one. The weather was great, and we had some fun times.

Saturday, of course, was the Pittsfield Hillies game out at Wahconah Park. The Hillies took on the Hartford Senators in the rubber match of a three game Vintage Baseball series. Hartford had won the first game on July 3 (Check out my July 11 and 15 blogs) at Wahconah and the Hillies took the second game down in Hartford.

The game was played on a hot, sunny day at Wahconah. The whole family drove out there for the day. After a stop for lunch, we arrived at the ballpark just before the first pitch. The first game in July was more of a Big Media Event, with ESPN Classic televising the game and an overflow crowd of around 5,000 in attendance. Saturday’s game was more of a nice day at the ballpark. There were about 2,000 people in attendance and the whole atmosphere just seemed more relaxed. We picked up the (free) programs and some paper Hillies megaphones for the kids and took our seats.

The game itself was much better played than the 4 1/2 hour, 14-12 affair we saw in July. I think the quality of play in the first game was hurt a bit by many of the Hillies unfamiliarity with the vintage game and equipment, plus I think everyone was nervous about being on TV. This game was much more crisply played with fewer errors and more of a natural baseball rhythm. We saw lots of good defense, aggressive base running, and even a home run. The Hillies won the game 12-4.

We all had a good time, despite the heat. The kids and A. were fortified by these all-natural popsicles they had on sale, and I beat the heat with a Hillies Ale. I was quoted in the game program from something I had said in an email after the first game. The kids were very impressed and thought I was famous. I also had the opportunity to sit for a few minutes with the principals in Wahconah Park, Inc., Jim Bouton and Chip Elitzer. Most of my contact to date with them has been through email, although I spent a good amount of time with Chip at the first game and was able to meet Jim briefly. I also met Mayor Roberto of PIttsfield, with Chip introducing me as “one of our investors”.

Of course, if you read “Foul Ball”, you know it couldn’t be all good news. The Carpenters Union in Pittsfield filed a bid protest with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office saying that the contract to refurbish Wahconah Park should be subject to the competitive bidding rules set up for public projects. Even though the company leases Wahconah Park from the City of Pittsfield, no taxpayer funds are being used to do the work. The Attorney General came back, essentially saying that there was some merit to the Carpenters Union’s argument and that the City needed to look at this again.

So there are apparently two options. Either there is an expensive and time consuming competitive bidding process, which would probably mean that the construction would not be complete in time for the 2005 season, or the City has to rewrite the agreement so that it addresses the AG’s objections. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

After we got back home, I took off again to head into Boston for something of a family reunion. The Hynes Convention Center was hosting the annual World Science Fiction Convention. Although I didn’t have any intentions of going to the con, I was invited to a party being thrown by old members of the Boston Star Trek Association. The BSTA was the Star Trek fan club I was active in mostly during my college years, prior to our founding of the USS Christa McAuliffe. The folks in the BSTA were really my extended family during that time, and I was curious to see who would show up and how they were doing, since I hadn’t had any direct contact with many of them in years.

The party exceeded my wildest expectations. A big group of my old friends was there, and it was great to see everyone and catch up. A group from the McAuliffe made an appearance as well, which really made the evening complete. I suggested to the Webmaster of the BSTA’s site that there should be a BSTA Yahoogroups mailing list, similar to the one we’ve had for the McAuliffe for the past six years. Knowing that BSTA tradition is for the person who makes a suggestion ends up doing the work, I even offered to moderate it. We’ll see what kind of feedback I get, but I think it would be a great way to keep in touch.

How could this entry be complete without mentioning the white-hot Sox? After a loss to the Rangers over the weekend, the Sox have won three more in a row, beating the A’s twice in Oakland. The A’s had the best home record in Baseball going into the weekend, and the Sox have outscored them 15-4 in the first two games. I had said before this nine game stretch with the AL West contenders started that I would be happy if the Sox could take six games. They’ve already won seven, and Pedro goes tonight against Tim Hudson. Then they go off to take on the last place Seattle Mariners for four games. It’s hard to believe that the M’s were the Sox closest pursuer for the Wild Card just last season.

One of the biggest things about this streak (3 in a row, 13 out of 14 and 19 out of 21) has to be the reemergence of Derek Lowe. Lowe looks more like the Cy Young contender of 2002 over the last couple of months. I have got to believe that the improved defense has something to do with it. Lowe doesn’t have to pitch wondering if his ground balls are going to be fielded cleanly, and with the vastly increased range in the infield, a lot fewer of those balls are getting through the infield.

Oh, and you’ve got to love Kevin Brown of the Empire smashing his hand into a wall and breaking it. What a dope.

Finally, just as impressive as the Sox run has been the winning streak run off by the Houston Astros. They’ve won 11 in a row, vaulting themselves back into competition for the NL Wild Card. After having a team that had underachieved all season, and suffering injuries during the season to starters Andy Pettitte, Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt, they’ve made a huge turnaround in the post-Jimy Williams era. Could that have been another example of addition by subtraction?

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Red Sox win again! 10 in a row now. Pedro beat John "Way Back" Wasdin of the Rangers in a 2-0 pitchers duel that was much closer than it had any right to be, given how hot the Sox offense has been and how mediocre Wasdin is. Combine that with the Yankees 3-1 loss to the Orioles tonight and the Sox are only 2 and 1/2 games back in the East!

The cable guy came to install the Tivo box yesterday. It's very cool. I haven't had a huge amount of time to play with it, but I like the Instant Replay feature (rewind 15 seconds of live TV to see something you missed) and the ability to pause a live show an pick it up later. It seems really easy to program. One of my big problems with a VCR is that if I don't watch a show right after I tape it, I forget which tape it's on, or tape over it. Tivo should eliminate that problem.

R.'s first day of Kindergarten went really well. She was just bubbling at me when I spoke to her after school yesterday. She's very disappointed that they don't have school on Saturdays and that she has to wait all the way until Tuesday to go back! J. seems to be getting off to a good start, too. Most of the kids in his class are different from last year's, but he knows a lot of the kids who were in half-day Kindergarten last year from recess and joint activities and such.

The Hillies play tomorrow in the rubber match with the Hartford Senators at Wahconah. The whole family is going this time, and everyone seems excited about it. I'll post a full report over the weekend.

Last, and certainly not least, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is facing down Hurricane Frances in Florida, in particular my brother and his family and some good friends I have living down there. The good news seems to be that, at this point, the storm has been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane from category 4 over the last couple of days. While the storm is certainly still dangerous, 105 MPH winds sound easier to take than 145 MPH winds.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Today is the first anniversary of my blog. I started writing this on September 1, 2003. I went back and saw what I was writing about a year ago. Unsurprisingly, last September’s blog entries mostly dealt with the Red Sox pursuit of the AL Wild Card. I’ve done 126 blog entries over the past year and written about 50,000 words. I’ve really enjoyed keeping this record of what I’ve been thinking about over the past year and I’m looking forward to keeping it up.

Why keep a blog, anyway? Well, there are a couple of reasons for me. First, it allows me to give those of you interested enough to check in every once in a while the ability to see what’s up with me and what’s running through my head. Second, it gives me a permanent record of what I’m thinking about and what’s important at a specific point in time. I’m sure that a decade from now or more I’ll be really interested in seeing where I was in my life at a specific point in time.

Of course, what’s important right now is the Red Sox pursuit of the Wild Card and their surge back into contention in the American League East. The Sox beat down the Anaheim Angels 10-7 last night, with Manny Ramirez hitting two home runs, Dave Roberts a three run shot and Curt Schilling pitching another fine game for his 17th win of the season. It got needlessly close in the 9th when Mike Myers couldn’t get anyone out, loaded the bases and gave up a grand slam to the Angels backup shortstop Alfredo Amezaga to pull the Angels to within three runs. Do you think that Mike Scioscia was regretting having pulled Vladimir Guerrero, Adam Kennedy and Darin Erstad out of the game earlier when the Angels were down 10-1? Fortunately, Keith Foulke came in and slammed the door on the Angels to get his 25th save.

Almost as much fun as the Sox loss was the historic 22-0 beating administered to the Yankees by Cleveland in the Bronx. Javier Vasquez couldn’t get out of the 2nd inning. Omar Vizquel had six hits for the Tribe, tying an AL record for most hits in a nine-inning game. It was the most lopsided loss in Yankee history (that’s 101 years of baseball). Estaban Loaiza, acquired earlier in the season from the White Sox, came in to relieve late in the game and gave up six runs in three innings in a lifeless performance. Harold Reynolds and John Kruk called it disgraceful on Baseball Tonight - it didn’t even look like Loaiza was trying out there.

So the Sox are now 2 1/2 games up in the Wild Card race and only 3 1/2 back in the AL East. We’ll see if they can keep it going tonight behind Bronson Arroyo.

Jacque Jones of the Twins made one of the greatest catches I’ve seen in a while against the Rangers last night. It was a full extension, diving catch of a fly ball in right center, sliding across the Metrodome’s carpet. Hitting the astroturf just couldn’t have felt good. Jones, Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart make up as good a group of defensive outfielders as there are in the game today.

J. started first grade today, and all went well. I met his teacher at the pool and she seems very nice. R. starts kindergarten tomorrow, so I’m staying home to see them both off on the bus and take a few pictures tomorrow morning. She has the same teacher J. had last year. We liked her a lot and I think R. will really enjoy school. Kindergarten and first grade! When the heck did my kids get old enough for this?

Later on tonight...Sox just won game 2 of the Anaheim series, 12-7. Sox went up early, Angels tied it 5-5 and then the Sox pulled ahead to win. Now they're up 3 1/2 in the Wild Card. The Yanks won in Cleveland, so the Sox are still 3 1/2 back in the East.

With the Sox holding such a big lead, I was also watching the Expos-Cubs game on ESPN. It was scoreless into the 11th, when Nomar scored a run on a wild pitch by Claudio Vargas. They must keep all the sharp objects out of the Expos dugout, because Frank Robinson looked like he wanted to slit his wrists. The Cubbies ended up winning 2-1.

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