Saturday, April 30, 2005

Well, I'm back.

The surgery actually went as well as it could have gone. The surgeon said that there were "no surprises". Everyone I dealt with at Mass General was great, from the OR staff to the nurses. The only things I didn't like were the beds (too uncomfortable - how do people lay in those for days or weeks?) and the fact that they were pumping me full of IV fluid, making me go to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Oh, and the johnnies they make you wear. I think they design them to be one size fits nobody.

These are pretty minor quibbles, though. Overall, the staff at Mass General made my stay as comfortable as it could have been and I'm greatful to everyone there for the good care they took of me.

I'm now 4 days post-op and my main problem seems to be that I'm still pretty tired. I'm not sure if it's my body getting used to the thyroid pills or recovering after surgery or a combination of both, but I am feeling better every day, which is good.

I'm certainly in better shape than the Red Sox starting rotation, with Curt Schilling and David Wells both on the DL. Schilling claims he'll be back from a bone bruise on his surgically repaired right ankle in two weeks, but I've got my doubts. Boomer has a sprained foot, which will put him out for 4-6 weeks. Add Bronson Arroyo's 6 game suspension for hitting a Tampa Bay batter, and the Red Sox will be without 60% of their starting rotation for at least some period of time.

What is amazing is that the Sox didn't lose one start to injury last season. The top 5 starters (Schilling, Pedro, Wakefield, Lowe and Arroyo) started 157 out of 162 games last year, so it appears that the injury bug has finally caught up to them. Hopefully we can get it all out of the way early and everyone will be healthy by June.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Here's my last blog entry that I'm making with all my original factory installed parts. Surgery is tomorrow, and I'm at the point where I'm glad I'm going to get this over with. A. will be sending an email dispatch tomorrow night on how things went, and I'll try to update my blog later in the week.

Interesting weekend for the Sox. They lost two of three to the D-Rays down in Tampa. What is worrying me the most is Curt Schilling's performance. Schilling blew leads of 4-0 and 5-2 in Saturday's game, and the Sox ended up losing 6-5. Curt just doesn't look sharp consistently. He has flashes of last year's brilliance, but doesn't seem to be able to sustain it consistently. Hopefully he'll come out of it in the next few starts, but so far this year he's been the worst of the Sox 5 starters.

In the bad luck department, Roger Clemens gets the prize. He's thrown 21 shutout innings in his last three starts, and the Astros ended up losing all three games 1-0. Roger has only given up one run in 4 starts, has an ERA of 0.32, and the Astros only managed to score three runs for him, all in his first start, which he won 3-2. I'd love to know the last time a pitchers team got shut out 1-0 in three consecutive starts.

Jim Bouton sent me a sneak peek at the addendum he's writing for Foul Ball. It's great, and I've learned a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that Jim and Chip couldn't share with me while the whole Pittsfield situation was happening. Included is the section on the Parks Committee meeting that I attended, and I'm actually mentioned in the book. I believe Jim is planning to release the updated version in paperback this fall. I'll be sure to let you know when it's available, because it's a must-read story.

J. had his first two Peanut League games over the weekend. We showed up early on Saturday, and we had a rousing practice before the game with the kids and all the dads participating. Despite the crummy weather (it was misting and the field was wet), it was a great morning and a lot of fun.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Had my pre-op testing today. Nothing notable to report, although one of the nurses I met with kept telling my how healthy I was. All I could think was, "If I'm so healthy, how come I'm here?"

Got to meet with my surgeon today, too. She actually drew pictures illustrating what she was going to do and what the risks are, which I really appreciated. She did a nice job of making it simple for me without talking down to me.

Nomah had what looked like a really painful injury last night. Tore his left groin muscle coming out of the batters box and is gone for 2-3 months. I feel badly for Nomar. He was a great player here and I really wanted to see him succeed with the Cubs.

An unbelievable pitchers duel between Rodrigo Lopez of the Orioles and the Sox Matt Clement tonight. The Sox won 1-0 on an unearned run. Given the way these two teams bash the ball, a 1-0 game is not what you would expect. The Sox sweep the Orioles in a short 2-game series in Camden Yards!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Six days to go until surgery. I veer wildly from wanting to get this over with to dreading the experience. Definitely leaning toward wanting to get this whole thing behind me, though.

Of course, there's nothing better than waking up in the morning to the sight of the $200 million New York Yankees tied for last place in the AL East. Yes, the Evil Empire is tied with the Devil Rays for the cellar. The Big Unit got beat by the D-Rays 6-2 last night, after the Yankees put up 13 in the 2nd inning and won 19-8 on Monday.

And of course, we all know what happened the last time the Yankees won a game 19-8. They didn't win a game for the rest of the year! (See 2004 ALCS Game 3.)

The Sox wasted a nice performance by Bronson Arroyo last night, who led Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays 3-1 when he left. Embree and Foulke kind of fell down on the job, though and the Sox ended up losing it in the 9th, 4-3. They did end up the homestand 6-2, so I can't complain too much. It would have been a nice one to have, though.

The highlight of the game had to be a massive homer by Manny Ramirez over the Green Monster light towers and out onto the train tracks next to the Mass Pike. It was as hard hit a ball as I've ever seen hit at Fenway.

R. finally got her cast off yesterday, and everyone is a lot happier for it. She still has to restrict her activity a bit for the next month (no running or jumping), but we feel like we've passed a major milestone in her recovery.

J. had his first baseball practice of the year yesterday, and it was successful by all accounts. He's in a coaches pitch league this year, after playing T-ball last year. The first game of the season is on Friday.

J. is also going to experience a milestone tomorrow - his first professional baseball game without Dad! He's going on a trip to the Pawsox with the town YMCA tomorrow for a noon game against the Syracuse SkyChiefs. I can't wait to hear his reaction.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I'm not in a good mood, despite another Sox win. We were supposed to go to a cookout with some close friends today, including two who were up from Florida for a few days. Unfortunately, R. and I both came down with nasty colds and neither of us were really up to going out today. It sucks, but it's just poor timing. I'm really disappointed I missed it, though.

Of course, my illness probably wasn't helped by sitting out in the cold at the Pawsox season opener at McCoy last night. The Pawsox won in 10 innings, 4-3 on a walkoff single by Mike Lockwood. I gave up after the 9th, since I was so cold I was literally shivering, so I caught the win on the radio on the way home. Still, it was a great night to be at the ballpark with my friends The Hey and Bismo, along with The Hey's daughter and her boyfriend. Baseball season doesn't really feel like it begins until I see my first live game of the season, so it felt great to get it under my belt.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I continue to amazed by the kindness of our friends as we get closer to my surgery. I'm first case in the morning, which means I need to be at the hospital at 6 AM! Our original plan was for me to take a cab in and A. would drive in after she got the kids off to school, meeting me after surgery. I wasn't enthusiastic about this plan for obvious reasons. I didn't really want to go to the hospital alone, but it was all we had.

So a couple of days ago, a friend of ours (who has two kids of her own, I'll add. One of them is R.'s best friend), offered to come by the house at 5 in the morning and get the kids off to school so A. can take me into the hospital.

I'm overwhelmed by this generous act. It means more than I can say to have A. there with me at the hospital. So, thanks to this friend. I'll never forget it.

I wanted to comment on the Red Sox Opening Day ceremonies before they faded too far into the past. I unfortunately wasn't at the game, but I was able to sneak into the office cafeteria to watch the event on TV.

I was so impressed with the job the Sox, led by Dr. Charles Steinberg, did with what was the most important Opening Day ceremony in team history. Every note was right (with one exception), from the inclusion of US soldiers delivering the World Series wins to the giant World Series pennant on the Green Monster. Highlights for me included the reception for Johnny Pesky, who was the last member of the team to get his ring, Yaz and Pesky raising the flag and the appearance of former Sox players from last year's team, especially Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts.

The only misstep was the painfully lame song performed by Terry Cashman during the flag raising. Cashman is best known for the song "Talkin' Baseball", which was a cute little baseball ditty he penned in the '80s. Well, he took a similar formula (stick as many players names in as you can think of, make them rhyme and set them to music) and cranked out this song. It was terrible. Even worse, it took the focus away from Yaz and Pesky raising the flag. A better choice would have been the Pops playing something or even just the crowd noise.

That's a minor quibble, though, as overall the ceremony was wonderful and memorable. I only wish I had been there!

Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins is one of my favorite young players, and Wednesday night he pitched his second complete game shutout in a row. In this day of 6 inning "quality starts", how often do you see that happen?

Opening Night at McCoy tonight! A full report about another frigid April night at the Pawsox over the weekend.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I met ex-Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst at a card show this weekend. He was one of the members of the Pawsox all-time team card set I have been getting autographs for. Hurst was very nice and chatted with Jeremy for a minute. So now I've got nine of the 30 Pawsox cards signed.

A rough weekend for the Sox, who dropped 2 out of 3 in Toronto. David Wells pitched poorly again, giving up six runs in 6 and 1/3 innings, then the bullpen gave up another six. Matt Clement only gave up 3 runs over six innings today, but this guy will drive you to drink. He worked in and out of trouble all afternoon, and just seemed to get a strikeout or double play just when he needed it. Hopefully some home cooking will right the ship. Tomorrow is the home opener, with the ring ceremony and everything else. Unfortunately, I'll be watching it on TV during a late lunch at work, but tickets were pretty much impossible to come by.

We had our first really nice weekend of the spring this weekend and it was really nice to be outside. We did some work around the house, got the bikes out and went for some walks. After the hideous winter we had, I'm happy it's finally spring.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Many days when the weather is good, I get off the train at Yawkey Station near Fenway Park and walk to my office to get some exercise before I start the day. Usually it's pretty quiet over by the ballpark at 7:30 in the morning, but yesterday was a bit different.

When I walked down Yawkey Way, there were about 75 people dressed up in Red Sox gear in front of the ballpark, and all the local TV stations were set up there for the premiere of the movie "Fever Pitch", which is a love triangle about a boy, a girl and a baseball team (my wife tells me it sounds like a documentary of her life).

So I'm walking down Yawkey Way wearing my Red Sox jacket, and the people start cheering. I look around, thinking that Drew Barrymore or someone had just shown up. But, no. It turns out they were cheering ME for wearing the jacket (I was tipped off by the shouts of "Nice jacket!")

This all goes to prove that people around here will cheer for just about anything displaying a Red Sox logo these days.

Pedro Martinez was quoted in yesterday's Boston Herald as saying tht if the Red Sox "want to keep the (World Series) ring, that's fine". Pedro dropped some more sour grapes to the press during an off day in Cincinnati.

Y'know what Pedro, why don't you put your money where your mouth is? Don't want your World Series ring? Fine. Auction it off for the Jimmy Fund or a Dominican charity or whatever good cause you want to come up with. I can't imagine that Pedro's ring would go for less than six figures. That money could do a lot of good for some less fortunate people.

Or you could give it to me. That would be OK, too.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Well, not a good start to the season for the Red Sox, as they drop their first two to the Evil Empire. The distrubing thing about the two games for me were the poor performances by our new free agent pitchers. David Wells looked unfocused and didn't have his location. I don't know if it was because of his poor reception by the Yankee fans or what, but he just wasn't himself.

Matt Clement wasn't much better, as he only went 4 1/3 innings today and worked in and out of trouble, leaving after giving up three runs. The Sox made it exciting, as Varitek tied the game with a homer off Mariano Riviera in the top of the ninth (the third consecutive save he's blown against the Sox). He ended up with the vulture win, though, as Derek Jeter hit a walk-off homer of of Foulke.

Neither of the Sox former starters won either, as both Derek Lowe and Pedro lost despite pitching well. Pedro struck out 12 in six innings, but the Mets closer, Bredan Looper, coughed up the win, giving up home runs to the Reds Adam Dunn and Joe Randa to blow the game for the Mets. Lowe gave up three runs in seven innings (two earned), but the Dodgers only scored two runs against the Giants ace Jason Schmidt.

Dmitri Young of the Tigers has had the big offensive day so far, as he went 4 for 4 with three homers and 5 RBI in their win over the Royals yesterday.

I'm really considering getting the MLB Extra Innings package, where you get a bunch of out-of-market games each week. I'm watching the 9th inning of the Cardinals-Astros game right now during the free preview. It's $149 for the season. I'll try to decide by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Opening Night is tomorrow, as the Sox face the Yankees. I can't wait; it seems like Spring Training has lasted for months.

I thought I'd make my annual predictions tonight before the season starts, but first let's review my 2004 predictions (they're published here in my blog last March 31).

Let's see, in the AL I picked the following division winners - Red Sox (nope, but that's OK); Kansas City (what was I thinking about?); and Anaheim (yup). I picked the A's to win the wild card (they had a good chance to win the West, but choked down the stretch). I picked Vladimir Guerrero as the AL MVP (yes!) and Barry Zito as the Cy Young (Johan Santana wasn't even on the radar screen). So, I got two of the playoff participants and the MVP. Not bad.

My NL division picks were the Phillies (the pitching wasn't as good as I thought, and the Braves didn't fall off nearly as much as I thought); the Cubbies (Kerry Wood and Mark Prior only made 43 starts between them) and the Giants (nope). I got the wild card right, picking the Astros. I missed on both the NL MVP, picking Albert Pulhols instead of Mr. Steroids, Barry Bonds and the Cy Young, picking Eric Gagne instead of Roger Clemens.

Finally, I picked the Red Sox to meet the Cubs in the apocalyptic World Series, with the Sox winning. Fortunately, I got the important part right.

And now, with no further ado, here are my 2005 picks:

AL East champion: New York Yankees
AL Central champion: Minnesota Twins
AL West champion: Los Angeles Angels (or whatever they're calling themselves these days)
AL wild card: Boston Red Sox

NL East champion: Atlanta Braves (the Mets are better, but not good enough; getting Tim Hudson offsets the Mets getting Pedro)
NL Central champion: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West champion: San Diego Padres
NL wild card: Chicago Cubs

AL Champion: LA Angels
NL Champion: Atlanta Braves

World Series Champion: LA Angels

AL MVP: Vladimir Guererro
NL MVP: Carlos Beltran

AL Cy Young: Randy Johnson (and it kills me to say that)
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson

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