Monday, October 31, 2005

Bye, Theo.

In a shocking development, Theo Epstein has resigned as General Manager of the Red Sox. It was reported in the newspapers that Theo was about to come to an agreement with the Sox that would pay him $4.5 million over three years. Theo rejected the contract offer and is leaving the team in the next few days.

Theo was one of us, right? He grew up in Brookline and ended up with ultimate dream job at the tender age of 28, then won the World Series last year. He had Thanksgiving dinner with the Schillings and traded Nomar. How could he leave?

But he did. And of course, the speculation runs rampant. Here are my theories:

- There was obviously some friction between Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and Theo. Lucchino "discovered" Epstein as a young intern in 1992. It seems that Theo wanted more control over the team and Lucchino didn't want to give up that control.

- Theo was tired of living in a fishbowl. I'm sure the guy couldn't go anywhere without people wanting autographs, suggesting trades and constantly invading his space. It's got to wear on him, and he may have just decided that he had enough. Being a GM in another town that isn't quite so obsessive about baseball might be what he wants.

Of course, this couldn't come at a worse time. The General Manager meetings are next week. Manny wants to be traded (again). There are free agents to be dealt with, not the least of which is Johnny Damon. The pitching staff needs work. There is a lot to do and Theo suddenly isn't around to do it anymore.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens over the next few days.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Now that the baseball season is over, it's time for a few thoughts on some non-baseball related topics.

Catching up on some TV

I have been catching up on some of the stuff I recorded while baseball was on. I don't watch a whole lot of regular TV series. I watched the last few episodes of Boston Legal. The show itself is fine, but I really watch it for the chemistry between James Spader and William Shatner. Shatner is really funny, at his scenery chewing best in this show. He's almost good enough in Boston Legal to make you forget he was Captain Kirk.

I also watched the Smallville episode that featured a character called Arthur Curry (better known in the comic book world as Aquaman.) There were lots of little inside jokes that an old comics fan like me loved. They dressed the Arthur (or A.C. as he liked to be called) character in orange tops and green shorts alot, drawing directly from the colors in Aquaman's costume. There was also a line at the end where Arthur suggested to Clark Kent that they should start the Junior Lifeguard Association. JLA. Get it?

Also, Erica Durance, who plays Lois Lane, spent a lot of time in this episode in a bikini. And that's never a bad thing.

Sulu comes out of the closet

George Takei's announcement that he is gay was carried pretty widely on the 'Net, showing up on the front pages of Yahoo, CNN and other news sites. George's homosexuality was characterized by my friend The Little Guy as "the worst kept secret in fandom." Pretty much everyone who has been active in Star Trek fandom knew that George was gay. I'd guess that I knew for at least 15 years.

And you know what? It really doesn't matter to me. George is a great guy, and it was a thrill to get to know him a little bit during the years I was actively attending science fiction conventions. I'm glad he feels secure enough about himself to come out publicly, but it's kind of a non-story as far as I'm concerned.

A rough week for President Bush

Yes, it's been a tough time for W. over the past week. We had the 2,000th U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, an ill conceived war that we were led into fighting under false pretenses. Then he is forced to withdraw his Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, under pressure from conservative factions. Finally, Vice-President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, was indicted yesterday on charges of purgery, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the investigation of a leaked name of a CIA operative.

Bush may be the worst president this country has seen in a long time. He has managed to alienate our allies around the world with his "might makes right" style of diplomacy. He led us to believe that Iraq was an immediate threat to the security of the U.S. and our allies because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. There were none. He has turned budget surpluses into gigantic deficits. Is there anything else he can possibly do wrong? Let's hope we don't find out.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

So the White Sox sweep.

The Astros were in every game, but they just couldn't seem to get over the top. Last night was a classic pitching duel, with the White Sox Freddy Garcia getting the better of Brandon Backe, winning a classic pitching duel 1-0. Jermaine Dye (the Series MVP) drove in the game winning run in the 8th.

So last year, the team with the third longest period of time between World Series championships, the Red Sox, won. This year, the team with the second longest drought won. The Cubs, who haven't won since 1909, can't be far behind, right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

White is the new Red.

That's the phrase that's going around in Chicago. It refers, of course, to the hope of White Sox fans that their team is taking up the mantle of the 2004 Red Sox. The long "cursed" team finally breaks a nearly-nine decade World Series championship drought. The White Sox curse, of course, revolves around the Black Sox team that threw the 1919 World Series, so it seems a bit more legitimate to me than the Bambino or the Billy Goat curses.

Last night was yet another example of the unbelievable run of good luck the White Sox have enjoyed. The longest World Series game ever (in terms of time) and tied for the longest (in terms of innings) at 14 innings last night was won by Chicago, beating the Astros 7-5. Unless Houston pulls off a 2004 ALCS style miracle, it looks like the city of Chicago will enjoy it's first baseball World Championship in 88 years.

The White Sox drought has been much different than the Red Sox, though. For the most part, Chicago has just been a pretty bad team for most of the time since their last World Series win. This is only their second appearance since 1919. Anyone under the age of around 54 or so probably doesn't remember the White Sox last visit to the Fall Classic. The White Sox really haven't been close very often, and haven't had to suffer through the excruciating losses the Red Sox tortured us with before last year.

I guess I'd rather be close and not make it than never be close, though...

Just as a point of interest, the last 14 inning World Series game was between the Red Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1916. The Sox beat Da Bums 2-1, with both starting pitchers going the distance. In contrast, the Astros and White Sox used 17 pitchers between them last night.

And the winning pitcher for Boston? None other than George Herman Ruth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I didn't see Scott Podsednik's walk-off home run in Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday night.

Why not? Because World Series games run far too late.

I watched the game from the time it started at 8:20 PM until after Paul Konerko hit his grand slam in the 7th giving the White Sox a 2 run lead. At this point it was 11:00. I get up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a 6:45 train, so I decided it was time to turn in, figuring the White Sox bullpen would probably hold on to the lead.

So I missed the Astros rally in the 9th off Bobby Jenks, and I missed the 14th walk-off homer in World Series history.

I don't understand why Major League Baseball and Fox can't get together to start games earlier, at least on the weekends. There is no reason Sunday night's game couldn't have gotten underway at 7:20 instead of 8:20. Same with Saturday. Not only would I have seen the entire game on Sunday, my kids could have stayed up to watch a couple of innings of the game.

I understand why they start the games late on weekdays. Advertising rates are higher in prime time, and people on the west coast would have no way to see the game if it started before 5:00 their time. But there is no reason they can't start earlier on the weekend. How about it, Bud Selig?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

First and most important, happy birthday to J., who turned 8 today. He got this big Lego Star Wars Clone Trooper Tank, which has 800 pieces, He's about half way through putting it together. It's pretty cool. It even comes with a little Lego Mace Windu, complete with a purple lightsaber that lights up when you push Mace's head. We had a birthday dinner at Zaftig's deli with the in-laws, then we headed back to their house for cake and ice cream. Tomorrow we'll have the big birthday party at a laser tag place nearby, which should be fun.

World Series game 1 is underway, and the White Sox are up 4-3 in the last of the 7th. Roger Clemens left after only two innings with a sore hamstring, but young Wandy Rodriguez pitched in relief of Clemens and gave the Astros 3 and 1/3 innings, giving up only one run on a home run to Joe Crede.

I think this is going to be a great World Series. You've got two teams who really play the game well. Both teams have solid starting pitching, good bullpens, play good defense and can play smallball. The White Sox have more power, but the Astros have more post-season experience on the pitching staff, assuming Clemens can come back later in the Series.

I'm still sticking with my original prediction of a Houston win of the World Series. I can easily see this going seven games.

Hey neighbor, have a 'Gansett.

When I was growing up, Narragansett Beer was the beer in Rhode Island. It was what everybody drank. They sponsored the Red Sox games on the radio. My dad sold it in his drugstore. I even had a Gansett bumper sticker on my baby carriage (really!). I even drank Gansetts with Star Trek's George Takei at the Providence Holiday Inn after a Special Olympics event George was in town for.

Unfortunately, the brewery went under years ago. The brewery building in Cranston was demolished, and the beer consigned to history.

So imagine my surprise when I was coming home from The Hey's birthday celebration last week, and there was a big Narragansett Beer billboard along Route 95! I checked it out on the Web, and they are indeed brewing the beer again. A couple of places nearby are selling Gansett, so I'm hoping to indulge in a little nostalgia (and hopefully some good beer) as soon as I can grab a six pack.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

One strike away.

I feel your pain, Astros fans. I've been there.

I wish I had stayed up to watch the end of the game. After Lance Berkman hit that home run in the 7th to put the Astros up 4-2, I felt pretty good about their chances with that bullpen. It was getting late and I had to get up early.

Of course, I found out what happened the next morning. Lidge had gotten two outs with no one on in the 9th. He got to two strikes on David Eckstein, the Eckstein hit a single through the left side of the infield. Jim Edmonds walked, then Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer to win the game.

So we're in game 6 back at Busch Stadium, and the Astros are up 3-0. Mark Mulder just didn't have it tonight, and he left after 4 and 2/3. Roy Oswalt has been incredible so far.

We'll see if the Astros can hold on, but I have to admit, there are few things I love more than a game 7.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox and their fans, as the ChiSox go to their first World Series since 1959. After sweeping the Red Sox, they took out the Angels in five games. The most remarkable thing about the White Sox victory was that all of their victories – the last four games of the series – were complete games. One each pitched by Mark Beuhrle, John Garland, Jose Contreras and Freddy Garcia. The only time the White Sox didn’t pitch a complete game was in game 1, when Contreras went a mere 8 and 1/3 innings. The bullpen only pitched 2/3 of an inning the entire series.

The last time four consecutive complete games occurred in the post-season was in 1956, when the Yankees did it in the World Series (one of the games was Don Larsen’s perfect game). 11 major league teams had four or less complete games for the entire 2005 regular season. The Red Sox only had six – three by Wakefield, two by Boomer Wells and one by Matt Clement. It’s just an unbelievable feat by the White Sox in this bullpen dominated age.

So we’ll see if the Astros can finish off the Cardinals and make it two teams who haven’t been to the World Series in a very long time (the Astros have never been in their 43 year existence). It would be a lot of fun seeing these two pitching staffs go at each other in a seven game series.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Red Sox started demolishing the .406 Club at Fenway Park. The .406 Club is a glassed-in seating area for high rollers that the Red Sox built in the late ‘80s. The big problem with the .406 Club is that since it’s glassed-in, and the windows can’t be opened, it doesn’t seem quite like you are actually in the ballpark. I have sat up there a half-dozen times or so with company tickets, and it feels like you are watching the game on the biggest, clearest TV you’ve ever seen.

So the Red Sox held a ceremonial shattering of the windows the other day, which required a cement baseball thrown by an EMC employee (EMC is sponsoring the new club). And I knew that a regular baseball wouldn’t work, because I was involved in testing the windows.

Back when I was in public accounting, one of my regular clients was a glass company that was a subcontractor working on the original construction of the Club. One day when I was out there working, one of the employees came by and told me that they were testing different types of glass for the new addition at Fenway. So he wanted to know if I wanted to throw some balls at panes of glass they were trying out. It turns out that 1/8 inch thick glass would shatter, but ¼ inch glass wouldn’t.

Oh, in case you are wondering why they don’t use plexiglass, here’s the reason. Plexiglass scratches. Glass doesn’t.

I finally got around to seeing Serenity this weekend. The movie was great, and tied up many of the loose ends of the Firefly TV series. The film contained a few surprises and a few big changes for some of the regular characters. It also left things open for future adventures. I hope we haven’t seen the last of the crew of Serenity, but if we have this was a very satisfying way to wrap things up.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Think about this: David Eckstein, Edgar Renteria's replacement in St. Louis, is in the NLCS. Orlando Cabrera, the guy Renteria replaced with the Red Sox, is in the ALCS. Edgar is watching at home.

What's wrong with this picture?

I know it's getting to be time for a vacation when I start obsessing about our Florida trip, which is unfortunately more than two months away. A. and I are taking off to Clearwater Beach for a couple of days while my folks watch the kids, then we've got Epcot and our annual family Chef Mickey's excursion. Chef Mickey's, as I've mentioned here before, has become an annual tradtion that we have been doing since J. was 2, so this will be the 7th year we have gone.

Did you ever notice how many sons of sports reporters there are in the business today? I'm watching game 2 of the NLCS (Roy Oswalt has been incredible so far, by the way - Astros lead 2-0 in the top of the 6th), and Kenny Albert (Marv's kid) was the field reporter. I started thinking of some of the others: Sean McDonough, Joe Buck, Harry Caray's son and grandson, Duke Castiglione. There are probably others I'm not thinking of off the top of my head.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Everyone has turning points in their lives. I could include among mine the day I answered a personal ad that led to me meeting the woman I would marry; the days I brought my kids home from Korea and a few others.

One of them, however, happened exactly 30 years ago today. This is the 30th anniversary of the day I became a Star Trek fan.

How do I know this so exactly? Mostly, it's because it happened immediately following game 1 of the 1975 World Series. I was at a friend's house watching the game, and Star Trek came on immediately after Luis Tiant finished off the Cincinnati Reds. The episode was Who Mourns for Adonais, the one where the Enterprise is captured by a being claiming to be the Greek god Apollo. It was a good episode with lots of action; Scotty gets zapped by Apollo, the ship gets "grabbed" by his giant hand/energy field. The best part was when the Enterprise fires on Apollo's temple/power source as Apollo shoots lightning bolts at the ship. Let me tell you, for an 11-year-old, a guy shooting lightning bolts out of his fingertips is pretty damn cool! I just watched the episode again tonight and it is still very good.

So, I was instantly hooked. I started watching the show religiously (5PM on channel 10 in Providence). I bought whatever I could, especially the James Blish novelizations of the episodes, which I read over and over again. In those pre-VCR days I taped the audio of the episodes off the TV onto cassettes.

What about Star Trek grabbed my imagination? There are a lot of things. At a young age, the stories (which can be watched on so many levels) and the action interested me. As I got older, I started to recognize the things that Gene Roddenberry was trying to say behind the stories. Star Trek (in all it's incarnations) dealt with heavy issues like war, intolerance, racism and many others.

Of course, the overriding philosophy of the show that humanity will eventually overcome all the issues that divide us today, solve the problems we face and go to the stars remains extremely compelling. As good as some of the new wave of science fiction shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica are, Star Trek's optimistic outlook on humanity still make it shine over every other science fiction show ever aired.

The other big moment in my life relating to Star Trek was the day I discovered fandom. One day in the winter of 1982 I was reading a free weekly paper in Providence called The New Paper. I noticed a classified ad with the headline Attention Star Trek Fans. The ad was for a local Star Trek fan club called the USS Ursa Minor. I responded to the ad and soon heard from Admiral Dave (although I think he was only Captain Dave back then). We soon met, and we became (and remain) great friends. I also joined Starfleet: The International Star Trek Fan Association and The Boston Star Trek Association and was heavily involved in fandom until the kids came home. Even today I still run the USS Christa McAuliffe's email list, which has helped keep the group that I co-founded nearly 20 years ago alive.

Without a doubt, the greatest gift that Star Trek has given to me is my friends. I have made so many wonderful friends over the years, many of whom I consider family. I can't even imagine what my life would be without them. It's truly remarkable that this TV show brought us all together.

So, thanks, Star Trek for 30 great years. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next 30!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Well, I was going to talk about our weekend, but I couldn't ignore the 18 inning NLDS classic played today between the Astros and the Braves. The Astros finally won the game 7-6 on a home run by Chris Burke (who had run for Lance Berkman back in the 10th.) The 'Stros had gone into the 9th down 6-5 and tied the score on a home run by Brad Ausmus. There was no more scoring until Burke's home run, which made a winner of none other than Roger Clemens, who had pitched three scoreless innings in relief.

Fairly quiet weekend. Yesterday we went to an event hosted by the the Korean Student Association at Tufts University. The kids have been involved in a Big Brother/Big Sister relationship with two students there for the past four years; the students are seniors and we have been with them since they were freshmen. It's nice that the kids have some older Korean role models to interact with. The whole experience has been really valuable for all of us.

Today was pretty quiet as well. J. had a birthday party and I took R. to lunch and bowling. We had a good time and it was a nice low key activity.

The one afteraffect of my surgery seems to be that my scar is really itchy this time, much more so than after the first surgery. It got really nasty when we were in Trader Joe's after going out to dinner this evening. It was so bad, I suggested to A. that Lord Voldemort might be in the area, but she doubted that was the case.

Coming Tuesday, a major post reflecting on the 30th anniversary of one of the major turning points of my life. Be here!

Friday, October 07, 2005


Another tough night for the offense. The only guys that did anything were Ortiz and Ramirez, who both hit solo home runs (Manny hit two). Wakefield wasn't terrible, but he wasn't great either, giving up four of the five runs, including the go ahead two run bomb by Paul Konerko (wouldn't he look good playing first for the Red Sox next year?). The pitching standout was Johnathan Papelbon, who pitched 2 and 2/3 innings in relief and has the potential to be a very good pitcher for this team for a very long time.

So the White Sox move on and the Red Sox go home. I'm disappointed that they didn't go furter, but with the World Series championship last year I'm not in the deep funk I had been in past years. I have to think that with the management the Red Sox have in place in the front office, there is a very good chance that the team will be in a position to win the World Series many times in the years to come.

Wait 'til next year.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Backs up against the wall. Again.

The Sox have been here a few times in the recent past. They were down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians in the 1999 ALDS and came back to win with Pedro's legendary relief appearance in game 5. They were down 2-0 to Oakland in 2003 and came back to win the series, started off by Trot Nixon's walk-off game winning homer in game 3 . And, of course, we don't need to talk about The Greatest Comeback in the History of Sport any more than it already has been.

Of course, they wouldn't be in such bad shape without one bad play (Graffinino's error) and one bad pitch (David Well's hanging breaking ball to Tadahito Iguchi) and this series could easily be 1-1. But it's not.

So, can they do it again?

It's certainly not impossible. Wakefield goes tomorrow afternoon and Schilling pitches on Saturday. Both guys have come up big in big games in the past. They are also back at Fenway, where they own the best home record in baseball. A potential Game 5 could be a problem, since the pitching options currently are 42-year-old David Wells on short rest, Bronson Arroyo or Matt Clement (Arroyo would be my pick of the three).

Tonight's NLDS matchup between Roger Clemens and John Smolz could be a classic. Two great pitchers matching up against each other in game 2 of the Houston-Atlanta series should be a lot of fun to watch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Yikes. 14-2. That was pretty ugly.

If they get to a Game 5, I really don't see how you can pitch Clement again. He's just been horrible. You almost need to go to Arroyo in a winner-take-all situation like that.

Still standing by my prediction, though. Remember what happened the last time the Red Sox got clobbered in a playoff game? The score 19-8 ring any bells?

A few baseball and non-baseball thoughts while watching Sox-Sox Game 1:

- Happy New Year to those of you of the Jewish faith. We enjoyed a very nice family service at our temple this morning, and my in-laws are coming soon for dinner.

- As predicted, the Cardinals took Game 1 from the Padres, but San Diego made it interesting with three runs in the 9th off the Cards closer Jason Isringhausen. Unfortunately, the Padres were down by six runs at the time and the Cards came away with an 8-5 win.

- I finally got around to seeing the iPod nano over the weekend. It's hard to believe how small this thing is - those commercials that call it "impossibly small" aren't kidding around. It's so small that it almost looks fake. It's so cool that if I could come up with an excuse to buy one I'd do it in a heartbeat.

- I got autograph number 12 on the Pawsox all-time team card set from Dave Stapleton over the weekend. Stapleton, of course, is best known for not substituting for Bill Buckner in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Stapleton had been coming in defensively for Buckner, who had bad ankles, all year, but Sox manager John McNamara wanted Buckner on the field when the Sox won the World Series. Of course, we all know what happened next.

- Clement has already hit two batters in the first. Podsednik scored to make it 1-0.

- Today is the one year anniversary of my trip to Pittsfield to speak to the Parks Commission about Wahconah Park. You can read about it here or you can pick up Jim Bouton's Foul Ball plus Part II and read the whole behind-the-scenes story. Make sure you check out page 434.

- Clement got hammmered in the first, and it's 5-0 White Sox. Not a good start.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

We made it!

Yes, the Sox made the playoffs by beating the Yankees 10-1 today. The suspense was over even before the final score was recorded, as the White Sox completed a sweep of the Indians at the Jake this afternoon. So Boston goes into the post-season for the third consecutive year, the first time in team history that has been accomplished.

So, without further ado, here are my post-season predictions, along with my votes for the major post-season awards. Check back in three weeks and see how I did.

Division Series

Boston vs. Chicago: Red Sox in 4 games. Manny and Papi prove to be too much for the White Sox.

New York vs. Los Angeles: Angels in 5 games. The Angels bullpen keeps them ahead of the Yankees and Vladimir Guererro clobbers the Yankees pitching. Since the Big Unit can only pitch one game, I give the edge to LA.

San Diego vs. St. Louis: Cardinals in 3. Do we really even have to discuss this?

Houston vs. Atlanta: Astros in 5. The 'Stros big 3 (Clemens, Pettite and Oswalt) overcome the overcome the most famous Jones Boys since Indiana and Henry.

League Championship Series

Boston vs. Los Angeles: Angels in 7. I hate to say it, but the Sox inconsistent pitching does them in. Of course, I really hope I'm wrong on this one.

Houston vs. St. Louis: Astros in 7. I changed my mind on St. Louis. The Cardinals pitching staff has been slumping lately, and the Astros have tested big game pitchers in Pettite and Clemens. So the Astros get to their first World Series.

World Series: Houston vs. Los Angeles: The Astros become the 4th consecutive wild card team to win the World Series.

Postseason Awards

AL MVP: David Ortiz
NL MVP: Albert Puhols
AL Cy Young: Bartolo Colon
NL Cy Young: Dontrelle Willis
AL Rookie of the Year: Houston Street
NL Rookie of the Year: Ryan Langerhans
AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox

Saturday, October 01, 2005

No more ties

Actually, that's not really true, even in the wake (pun not intended) of the Sox 8-4 loss to the Yankees today. It puts the Yankees in the playoffs as AL East champion, with the Red Sox finishing second yet again. The Indians also lost, 4-3 to the White Sox, keeping them one game out in the Wild Card race.

Today's game was a tough one. Wakefield, who has been huge for the Sox during the stretch run, was forced to go on three days rest after the rainout on Monday night and the subsequent doubleheader against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Wake gave up seven runs in five innings, which allowed a not particularly sharp Randy Johnson to get the win.

Stupid rain.

The Yankees are AL East champions by virtue of the fact that even if the Sox win tomorrow and tie them, it would be impossible for Boston not to play at least one post-season game. Because of that, the Yankees win the division because they won the head to head competition between the two teams this season. Even if the Sox win tomorrow, the Yankees would win the season series 10-9.

So here are the scenarios:

If the Red Sox win, they are the wild card.

If the Indians lose, the Red Sox are the wild card.

If the Indians win and the Red Sox lose, there will be a one game playoff at Fenway on Monday to decide the wild card.

The good news is that Joe Torre has decided to save Mike Mussina (who was scheduled to pitch tomorrow) for game 1 of the ALDS, so Jaret Wright will be pitching for the Yankees instead. Wright has been either (a) injury plagued or (b) terrible this year, so it bodes well for the Sox, assuming we get a Curt Schilling who even somewhat resembles his old self.

The fun resumes tomorrow at 2:05. Be there.

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