Friday, September 30, 2005

Tied, once again.

The Sox took game 1 of the big showdown at Fenway with the Yankees. David Wells got off to a shaky start but settled down, keeping the Yankees off balance with his curveball. Now the season has two days left. If either the Sox or Yankees win two, they win the East. If they split, we have a playoff game in the Bronx Monday night.

Like I need more stress in my life, eh?

One thing that worked out very nicely is that since the Sox were blacked out locally on ESPN, we got the Indians-White Sox game instead, making it easy to keep up with that one. Right now it's 1-1 in the 11th inning. Obviously, Cleveland's success against the White Sox this weekend has a bearing on the Red Sox and Yankees.

I was chatting with my friend Bismo last night, and we were discussing the Sox-Yankees series this weekend. I didn't think I would be quite as obsessive about the Red Sox winning this year after they finally won it all in 2004, but I find that's not the case. I still want them to win as much as I ever did, but there isn't the "are they ever going to win it before I die?" urgency I felt in the past.

Actually, Bismo's son had a very sensible take on the Red Sox success. He said that they should win the World Series about every 10 years so that kids would always be able to see it. I could live with that.

Indians and White Sox go to the 12th...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Not tied no more.

Things are getting a bit ugly. Sox are down 4-3 in the 7th. Cleveland already won, and the Yankees are up 8-2 in the 8th. If things remain at the status quo, the Sox would have to sweep the Yankees to win the East, or win at least one more game than Cleveland to get the wild card.

They could make things a lot easier on themselves by coming back and winning tonight. That would leave them just one game behind the Yanks, and tied with Cleveland.

I don't have a lot of confidence on them getting through the playoffs if they make it. They really don't have enough pitching, especially in the bullpen. I would make the Cardinals the favorite to win the World Series this year. They have one thing they were missing last year - they have two stud starters at the top of the rotation in Carpenter (who was injured last year) and Mulder. The Astros are probably my second pick with Clemens, Oswalt and Pettite at the top of the rotation, although their offense is suspect.

I'll make my predictions this weekend after the playoff participants are set, but I'm thinking this might be the National League's year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Here's my take on the Big Papi vs. A-Rod MVP debate.

Think about it this way. In 2003, the year before Alex Rodriguez arrived, the Yankees won the American League pennant and lost to the Marlins in the World Series. In 2004, their first year with A-Rod, they lost in the ALCS. This year, they are struggling to make the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Red Sox didn't make the playoffs in 2002. In 2003, after signing David Ortiz they lost in game 7 of the ALCS. In 2004 they won their first World Series in 86 years. This year the Sox are locked in a battle with the Yankees to make the playoffs, but they've done it without their ace starter and closer most of the year.

Now, who do you think is more valuable?

The tie continues (for the moment, at least)

As of this moment (8:52 PM), the Sox are up 5-4 over the Blue Jays, after taking game 1 of today's twin bill. The Yankees just pulled ahead of the horribly bad Baltimore Orioles. The O's blew a 5-1 lead as Gary Sheffield just hit a grand slam to put the Empire up 7-5. And the Indians are down 5-0 to the Devil Rays.

Wakefield, once again, was awesome today in the first game of the double header. He just continually comes up big for the Sox. He's got 16 wins this year, and I don't even want to think about where they would be without him.

I started working full days again yesterday after working half days last week. It seems to be going well - I'm a bit tired tonight and I'm heading to bed right after the game ends. It's kind of nice to be getting back to my regular routine, though.

Go Sox!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Still tied.

Sox and Yankees both won today, and the Indians fell to Kansas City. The White Sox are leading the Twins 4-1 in the last of the 8th, so barring a 9th inning comeback, both the Sox and Yankees will be 1/2 have behind Cleveland for the wild card, and the Tribe will be 2 and 1/2 behind Chicago. There are 7 games left to play for all the contenders except Cleveland, who is off Monday and only has six games.

Races tight enough for you? Someone out of Boston, New York, Cleveland and Chicago is going to stay home in October, and we may not know who until next Sunday.

We had a nice day yesterday, heading up to the Bolton Fair. New England has literally dozens of these country fairs each fall, and this was our first one of the season. The kids had a good time riding some rides and playing games on the midway, we checked out some of the craft booths, the kids climbed on some Army trucks provided by the National Guard and R. got to do her favorite thing - go on a pony ride. It was a beautiful early fall day here, and we really enjoyed being out and doing something fun as a family after the stress of the last couple of weeks.

The Patriots won a heartstopper against the Steelers in Pittsburgh today on another Vinatieri game ending field goal. With all the talk about David Ortiz being the greatest Red Sox clutch hitter of all time, has anyone been as reliable in the clutch as Vinatieri? He's won two Super Bowls and I don't know how many regular season games on last minute field goals. He just gets it done time after time after time under pressure.

So Pats win and Sox win. A Sunday doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday, September 24, 2005


The Sox and the Yankees are tied atop the American League East, with eight games left to play. The Sox beat the Orioles down at Camden Yards 4-3, on an Edgar Renteria bloop single in the top of the 9th. The hit drove in two runs, breaking a 2-2 tie.

Renteria has been one of the primary whipping boys for Red Sox Nation this year, as his subpar defense all season hasn't shown us that he's earning his $10 million. It was good to see him get a big hit in a big game.

Matt Clement started and left after six innings with a 2-0 lead. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, though, as Clement walked six and managed to walk the bases loaded in both the 2nd and 4th innings. He managed to wriggle out of both situations, but if he continues to pitch like this I'm going to have a stroke.

Meanwhile, the Empire fell to Toronto 7-4, all the runs coming off Jaret Wright, abetted by some poor Yankee defense. Wright only lasted 1+ inning. Meanwhile, the Indians lead the hapless Royals (I love the word "hapless") 6-1 in the 7th and the White Sox have already won, so it looks like Cleveland will maintain it's 1 and 1/2 game lead in the wild card race.

It's shaping up to be quite a week, don't you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

They're ruining my fall!

The Sox lost a hideous game to the D-Rays last night, as Mike Timlin came in with men on base again and promptly imploded. While Timlin has been the rock of the Sox bullpen this year in every other respect, he's allowed a whopping 56% of inherited runners to score. So why bring him in with men on base after Wakefield faltered with two outs in the 8th? Only Terry Francona can say for sure.

So, the Sox are out of first place with 10 games to play. The Yankees have been red hot (they're ahead 7-1 in the 7th over the Orioles now), so they'll probably be a game up by the end of the night. And Cleveland is beating the Royals 5-1, so the Sox will likely be a game and a half down in the wild card race. They have to get hot in the next 10 days, or it's not going to be much of an October around here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I have seen the future, and his name is Craig Hansen.

Hansen pitched his first game for the Sox tonight. He was their number one draft pick out of St. John's in the June draft. Hansen hadn't given up a run yet in his professional career, most recently pitching with the Portland Sea Dogs, until their season ended a couple of days ago. He was activated by the Sox today, and brought into pitch against the Devil Rays tonight.

And what an outing he had. A 1-2-3 inning. He throws a fastball in the 95-97 MPH range and a nasty slider. He could easily be the Sox closer in a year or two, especially if Keith Foulke doesn't regain his form in 2006.

Hats off to Theo and the front office for drafting this guy and getting him signed. It's amazing that the Sox continue to be competitive and have rebuilt the farm system practically from nothing. They haven't had a crop down on the farm like this since the early-mid 1980's, when they had guys like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd and John Tudor coming up through the system.

Of course, that does us very little good tonight, as the Sox are down 8-6 to the Rays in the last of the 8th and the Yankees have already won. Unless the Sox come back in the 9th, they'll be tied in the All Important Loss Column.

Speaking of the future, I watched the Firefly complete series boxed set over the last week or so. Firefly was a short lived science fiction series created by Joss Whedon, best known for his TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Firefly was poorly handled by Fox and was contantly pre-empted and moved around before it was canceled after 11 episodes. The box set includes three unaired episodes, as well as the ones shown over the air.

Firefly focuses on the crew of the spaceship Serenity. Without getting into a lot of detail, the crew lives on the fringes of the galaxy. Serenity is a ramshackle ship, and the crew takes on whatever work comes along, legal or illegal. The captain, Malcolm Reynolds, is a veteran of the losing side of a galactic civil war. His main aim in life seems to be keeping out of the way of the Alliance (the winning side) and keeping his crew happy and healthy. Reynolds isn't afraid to kill someone when the situation calls for it, but he has a basic morality that drives him to do the right thing whenever he can.

The writing and acting are really brilliant. You are quickly drawn in to these people's lives and care about what happens to them. Even though you don't get complete life stories on the entire crew in 14 episodes, they are very much fully realized characters that you are compelled to watch.

Naturally, I compare every science fiction show I see to Star Trek. While they both focus on a relatively small group of main characters, the similarities end there. As Joss Whedon said in a video interview I saw on the 'Net, the crew of Serenity are the people the Enterprise goes right by. The various Star Trek crews are flying around the universe in their gleaming, state of the art starships, representing truth, justice and the Federation way and dealing with the Big Picture issues.

The crew of Serenity, on the other hand, are shuffling though day-to-day. They are watching out for their own and their universe doesn't expand much outside the walls of the ship, unless the universe intrudes on them in some way. Like most of us, they are taking care of their family and friends, and trying to do some good along the way.

To me, that is the key difference between Firefly and Star Trek. The various Star Trek crews are the heroes we'd all like to be in our imaginations. The Firefly crew is a lot closer to where most of us really are.

The good news is that the Serenity crew isn't done yet. As a result of the solidarity of the Firefly fan base and the excellent DVD sales, a movie starring the original crew is coming out on September 30. Several previiews of the movie sold out almost instantly, and the word is that it maintains the quality of the series. Even if you never saw the TV show, you should go check out the movie - you apparently don't need to have seen the show to understand what's going on.

OK, I've gone on long enough tonight. Back to work tomorrow, at least for part of the day. I'm still getting tired pretty easily, although I'm improving every day.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tough day on the Boston sports scene. The Sox got crushed by Oakland 12-3. Matt Clement got smacked around by the A's, giving up seven runs in only 1 and 1/3 innings. Clement's ineffectiveness is pretty troubling, since if the Sox actually make it to the post-season they really need Clement to pitch well if they're going to get anywhere.

The Patriots didn't fare much better, as they lost to the Carolina Panthers 27-17. The offense was pretty ineffective, and it seemed like the receivers dropped more than their share of passes. Corey Dillon and the rest of the running backs were held to only 39 yards rushing.

The only good news was that the Yankees lost to Toronto 6-5, so the Sox maintain their 1 and 1/2 game lead in the AL East.

I was really hoping that those last three games at Fenway against the Yanks wouldn't mean anything, but that's looking less and less likely. There's only two weeks left, and the Sox need to play well, or else October isn't going to be much fun around here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dave's Long Box is a very well written blog where Dave reviews choice issues from his comic book collection. His reviews are amusing and insightful, and occassionaly laugh-out-loud funny. He also does theme weeks: he did a week of entries on the DC Comics villian Cobra and most recently did a series he called "Boob Wars", where he discusses how, uh, well endowed most female super-heroes are. Very funny stuff.

Well worth checking out if you're a comics fan, or if you ever were a comics fan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Well, it's been an interesting few days.

My surgery on Monday turned out to be a lot more complex than expected, so I was on the operating table for four hours. The lymph node that contaned the cancer was right up against the cartoid artery and had a nerve in the way, so the operation turned out to be a lot more delicate than they had originally thought. Of course, I was blissfully unconcious for all of this, so the stress fell onto A. and my parents, who were home watching the kids.

To give you an idea of how the day went, I was wheeled into the OR at about 2:30 in the afternoon and made it to my room at 9:30 at night.

While I was in the OR, they installed a drain through a small hole in my chest to get rid of any excess blood. It had pretty much stopped bleeding by mid-morning on Tuesday, so they took out the drain and it looked like I was going to be able to head home. Then, a little while later, I started leaking!. Not blood, but a clear fluid that turned out to be from my lymphatic system.

More doctors, including my surgeon, visited and debated what to do. It seemed like the leaking had slowed down, but they were still reluctant to send me home. I was scheduled for additional surgery on Thursday to stop the leak if it didn't stop on it's own, and there was talk of keeping me in the hospital of two more days. The surgeon estimated there was only a 20% chance of the leak stopping by itself. Although it wasn't life threatening and there was no danger of infection, they were still worried about it.

Thankfully, A. is a nurse and offered to change the dressings if I went home. So we were loaded up with enough gauze and tape to make a good start on our own mummy and sent home.

Then, miraculously, the leak stopped. I was dry as a bone Wednesday and Thursday morning. The surgery was canceled and I went back to see the surgeon instead. She did an ultrasound to make sure there was no fluid collecting internally, and said that I was OK. So we got past that one.

Needless to say, it's been a long week. I don't know how I would have made it through without A.'s support. The stress has been getting to her, but she just gets it all done and holds us together.

Thanks as well to everyone who has sent messages or calls of support, especially my parents who extended their stay up north to help us out this week. Knowing that so many people are thinking of me means alot.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

OK, so Tuesday wasn't my last baseball game of the season. On the spur of the moment yesterday, I decided to take the kids to see game three of the Brockton Rox divisional playoff against the Capitales de Quebec. The Rox were on the edge of elimination, down 2-0 in the series. As an added enticement, "Oil Can" Boyd was starting for the Rox.

We had a great time at the game, but it wasn't a good night for the Can or for the Rox. Boyd was out of the game after 3 innings, having given up six runs, including a grand slam in the 1st. The Rox ended up dropping the game 13-5, eliminating them from the post season. Quebec goes on to play Worcester in the Can-Am League finals.

We didn't have much luck in Brockton this year, as the Rox lost the two games we saw by a combined score of 32-7. They may not let us back in if this keeps up next year!

The Sox lost an amazing pitchers duel today, as Randy Johnson beat Tim Wakefield 1-0. Both pitchers had amazing days (The Big Unit struck out 8, while Wake K'd 12). The difference in the game was a home run in the 1st inning by Jason Giambi that just snuck inside the foul pole in right field.

The Sox lost 2 out of 3 over the weekend, but lead the Yankees by 3 with 21 games to go. In prior years this would have given rise to lots of angst among the citizens of Red Sox Nation. Not this year. After finally beating the Yankees and winning the World Series last year, people aren't waiting for the Sox to inevitably fail anymore. It's a real change in attitude for Sox fans.

Tomorrow is my surgery. I'm looking forward to getting this over with. I'll be staying at Mass General overnight, then back home on Tuesday sometime. The two worst things about surgery from last time; getting up from the anasthesia is no fun. I felt groggy for about a day afterwards. The other thing was the IV fluids they pumped into me overnight made me have to get up and pee about every 90 minutes. I'll post and let you know how I am either Tuesday night of Wednesday.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

There's nothing better than flipping the clicker between the World Champion Boston Red Sox and the World Champion New England Patriots. The Pats are opening their defense of the championship against the Oakland Raiders and currenly lead 17-14 at the half. The Sox unfortunately lost 3-0 to the Angels, but ended up the homestand 10-4. They take a 4 game lead over the Yankees into the Bronx this weekend, as the Empire lost again to Tampa Bay. The Yanks fell to second place in the wild card race, 1/2 game behind the Indians.

August 28 was the date of our long-awaited visit to Safeco Field for a game between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox. On our last visit to Seattle in 1999, I had missed the opening of Safeco by about six weeks. This did give me the opportunity see the Kingdome, but it took me until this year to get back to Seattle to finally visit Safeco.

We left the hotel and found parking for $5 about a 10 minute walk from the ballpark. The one thing you really don't appreciate about Safeco from seeing it on TV is just how big the retractable roof is. We came up on the ballpark from the rear - not on the famous Ebbets Field-like facade, but on the giant track system where they keep the roof when it's not covering the ballpark. It's just huge.

We entered the ballpark and quickly found our seats. Like many of the post-Camden Yards ballparks, Safeco has a wide concourse behind the seating area that contains the concession stands. We had decent seats in the lower deck on the first base side. They were fairly far back, but they were nice and roomy and my knees weren't jammed into the back of the seat in front of me. There were no poles in the way, either.

Once again taking a page from other new ballparks, you have a view of the city skyline from Safeco, although it's not nearly as dramatic as the view you get from Camden Yards or PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The ballpark itself is nice and clean, but is a bit more generic than some of the other new parks.

The ballpark has nice facilities. There is a children's play area, a nice souvenir shop and many of the other amenities that are common in the newer ballparks.

One place Safeco really shines is in food selection. We mostly stuck to traditional ballpark fare (all of which was quite good), but you could get submarine sandwiches, Thai food, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and chocolate covered strawberries. The topper was the sushi bar, which featured "Ichirolls"!

The game itself was entertaining, but not terribly competitive. I expected a good pitching matchup as Jamie Moyer was starting for Seattle against fomer Mariner ace Freddy Garcia in his first game at Safeco since being traded last year. Unfortunately, Garcia didn't hold up his part of the bargain, giving up 8 runs in 4 and 1/3 innings. J. was happy to see his favorite player, Ichiro Suzuki, go 2 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Seattle won the game 9-2 over the White Sox, much to the delight of the low-key West Coast crowd.

Overall, Safeco was a very nice, modern ballpark, and I certainly enjoyed watching a game there. However, the place didn't blow me away like Camden Yards or PNC Park. Safeco seemed a little more generic than those ballparks. It lacked the cool touches like the warehouse in Baltimore.

My biggest problem with Safeco was that it seemed very disconnected from the city of Seattle. While ballparks like Camden Yards, PNC and Fenway are integral parts of their cities on game days, Safeco is located at the intersection of Interstates 5 and 90. While this makes for great automobile access to the ballpark, it means that it is surrounded by feeder roads and on ramps instead of restaurants and bars. I think this was an unfortunate choice and hurts the ambiance of the park.

If I gave Safeco a grade, it would probably be a solid B. It's a good, but not great ballpark that is lacking the atmosphere that the truly great parks have.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Just got back from Fenway, where I saw a teriffic game with Bismo and The Hey. The Sox beat the LA Angels 3-2 on a walkoff homer by David Ortiz. Of course, we all remember the last time Big Papi beat the Angels with a walkoff homer, in game 3 of last year's ALDS.

Papi's heroics were set up by a stellar pitching performance by Tim Wakefield, who pitched a complete game. Wake gave up only two runs and eight hits. He was backed up by some nice defense by John Olerud, who made at least three plays that Kevin Millar can only dream of making.

All in all, it was a great night at the Fens (although my view of the pitcher was obscured by a pole). This is the last game I have tickets for this season, so unless work comes up with some tickets either during the regular season or in October, it was a heck of a way to end my live baseball season for 2005.

As a bonus, the Yankees lost (again!) to Tampa Bay, so the Sox pull four games in front of the Empire.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Seattle reports begin...

I decided to break this down into three parts. Today I'll write about our trip to see the Everett Aquasox. The next entry will be about the Mariners game we saw at Safeco Field. Finally, I'll talk a bit about some of the other cool stuff we saw in Seattle.

The day, August 24, didn't start out so well. R. had picked up some kind of bug somewhere along the line and had thrown up three times since the previous evening. Amd my kids very rarely throw up - probably less than a dozen times between the both of them since they were born. So A. and R. had to stay at the hotel while J. and I drove up to Everett to see the game.

Everett is about 30 miles north of Seattle, a straight shot off I-5. Unfortunately, with rush hour traffic the ride took about an hour, but we had left plenty of time so we got to the ballpark about 1/2 hour before game time. Everett Memorial Stadium, home of the Aquasox, is a pretty typical minor league ballpark.

It seats about 3,700 people, mostly in plastic seats, although there are some metal bleachers with backs in the outfield sections. Concessions are located behind the seating bowl on the ground level, as opposed to in a concourse under or behind the seats. The stadium is on Broadway in Everett, is just off I-5 and seems to have ample parking in the area. It's fairly generic as minor league ballparks go, but has a couple of nice touches. In particular is a "Hit Sign, Win Suit" sign painted in the middle of the scoreboard. Of course, this echos the famous Abe Stark sign in Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.

As far as the game itself, it was made extra special by the fact that J.'s Peanut League team was called the Aquasox this year. Once we found out that the Aquasox played near Seattle, we decided that we needed to see a game there. Even better, we ended up with fantastic seats. They were just behind the Aquasox on-deck circle and really couldn't have been better. J. got a really close up look at the batters preparing to hit and seemed to be really into the whole thing. The season ticket holders sitting behind us were really nice, and gave us some good hints about things happening around the ballpark.

The Aquasox play in the short season Class A Northwest League, which is similar to the NY-Penn League in the Northeast. The players are mostly guys who were just drafted out of high school or college, so they are pretty inexperienced. This didn't prevent the game from being very entertaining, especially at the end. The Aquasox blew a 6-4 lead in the 9th, as the evening's opponents, the Salem-Keizer Vocanoes picked up two runs. Saving the night for the home team, however, was left fielder Alex Gary, who hit a two run, walk-off homer for the the Aquasox, as they won the game 8-6.

The Aquasox let the kids run around the bases after the game, and J. got quite a kick out of that.

The only problem we had was that the Aquasox underestimated the walk-up ticket sales, so they were a bit short on help at the concession stands. We missed an inning getting a snack around the 5th, but we couldn't do much about it.

So, although the stadium was fairly nondescript, we had a really fun time at Everett Memorial Stadiu

Friday, September 02, 2005

Today I saw the USS Constitution sail by the building I work in. Thousands of people gather for "Old Ironside's" annual turnaround cruise, and I had a free ringside seat for this. According to the USS Constitution's Web site Web site, this was the Navy's Chief Petty Officer Leadership Training Week Turnaround Cruise.

I literally got chills down my spine seeing this grand old lady sailing through Boston Harbor. Very cool.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Today is the second anniversary of my starting this blog. To celebrate, I'm going to be sitting in the Monster Seats at Fenway tonight!

Well, the two events aren't actually connected. My good friend HyperSue invited me to go to the game with her tonight after she won two tickets from Exxon. Thanks, Sue!!!

I have a lot to write about in the next few days. I still need to talk about our trips to the Everett Aquasox and Safeco Field, plus some of the other cool stuff we saw in Seattle, and now I have a second trip to the Monster Seats to talk about. So look for several new entries in the next few days.

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