Friday, June 30, 2006

A great pitchers duel between Curt Schilling and Tom Glavine (co-star of the greatest Nike commercial ever) was punctuated by one of those once-in-a-decade catches by Coco Crisp.

David Wright hits a line drive to center that appeared sure to tie the game and Coco comes out of absolutely nowhere, takes off like he should be wearing a red "S" on his chest instead of the words "Red Sox" and snags the ball out of the air when it was practically past him.

The catch was one of those that every one of the 36,000 in attendance at Fenway last night (including my friend Bismo) will remember forever. Just amazing.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

NESN is airing a new show called What if..., which explores what might have happened at key points in New England sports history. They first episode is about what would have happened if He Who Must Not Be Named took Pedro out in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. You can also vote for the top 10 other "What if?" moments. Here's their list.

What if...
Buckner made the play on Mookie Wilson’s grounder?

The Manny Ramirez-Alex Rodriguez trade was approved in the winter of ’03?

Jeff Bagwell was never traded to Houston?

Glen Wesley scored in OT of Game 1 in the 1990 Cup Finals?

Bobby Orr’s career hadn’t been impacted by significant injury?

Drew Bledsoe hadn’t been hit by Mo Lewis and Tom Brady remained the back-up in 2001?

Bill Belichick remained the head coach of the New York Jets?

Len Bias hadn’t died of an overdose and lived to play alongside Reggie Lewis?

The Celtics won the draft lottery in 1997 and chose Tim Duncan?

Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass had fallen incomplete?

It's a pretty good list, but almost all the events happened within the last 20 years. So in the feedback box on the survey I added some of my own suggestions from earlier periods in history:

- What if Ted Williams hadn't lost nearly 5 seasons to military service?

- What if Tony C never got hit by Jack Hamilton?

- What if Jim Lonborg hadn't damaged his knee skiing after the 1967 season?

- What if Ben Drieth doesn't make that call against the Patriots in the playoff game against Oakland?

- What if Dom DiMaggio doesn't leave Game 7 of the 1946 World Series with an injury and is playing center field when Enos Slaughter tries for home?

- This one's almost too obvious, but what if Babe Ruth never got sold to the Yankees?

Got any other good ones? Leave them in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Really disappointing performance by Pedro tonight. After he got a lengthy ovation from the Fenway crowd when he came out for the bottom of the first, he promptly gave up 4 runs. He wasn't helped by Lastings Milledge, who again had trouble out in left field and made an error on a Mike Lowell ball that led to two runs. Pedro only lasted three innings and gave up 8 runs (6 earned).

Beckett, on the other hand, has looked awesome. He's given up 2 runs in 7 2/3 innings and has had a nasty curve to go with his fastball. He has looked like the ace we were hoping he would be when we got him from the Marlins last winter.

Following up from a post a few days ago, my new Cafe Press T-shirt showed up in the mail yesterday. Although they messed up the initial order, I'm impressed at how they corrected it and followed through on what they promised. They took what could have been a bad experience and made it so that I'm likely to buy from them in the future. That's good customer service.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm watching the Sox-Mets game and Jon Lester just pitched to Julio Franco. Franco's Major League debut was April 23, 1982 with the Phillies. Lester wasn't even born until January 7, 1984. I'm guessing that Franco has socks older than Lester.

Young Lastings Milledge is having a tough time with left field at Fenway. He misplayed a ball off the wall by Loretta and now a ball dropped behind him on the warning track for a Manny double. Takes some practice to learn how to play that Monster.

Pedro returns at Fenway tomorrow night. I think he'll get a great reception from the Fenway faithful.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It was a good day yesterday. I had my thyroid scan, and the doctor told me that it came back "totally negative". So that's good news. I assume I'll continue to be monitored, but this was a big deal. I'm really happy that it's behind us and that it was the right result.

I spent the afternoon at Fenway Park for The Great Fenway Park Writers Series. As I mentioned in my last entry, the speakers were Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione and former southpaw pitcher Bill Lee. Joe talked about his book, Broadcast Rites and Sites: I Saw it on the Radio with the Boston Red Sox. Joe was interesting enough, but the Spaceman absolutely stole the show. He talked a bit about his book, Have Glove, Will Travel: Adventures of a Baseball Vagabond, but ranged all over the place on subjects as diverse as Buckminister Fuller, Graig Nettles ("I have his baseball card in my wallet; the view and the smell never get any better for him), Kurt Vonnegut, Ozzie Guillen (he felt compelled to say the word "faggot" at least a half-dozen times) and global warming. He just goes off on a stream of consciousness and it is both hysterically funny and thought provoking. I could have listened to him for hours.

The cost of the event included lunch and both books. Joe Castig signed his with his catch phrase "Can you believe it?" Lee signed his "Bill Lee Earth 2006", in case you were confused about which planet he was from. There were also a few VIPs in attendance. Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mike Dukakis was there, along with radio personality Dick Flavin. The Sox were represented by Vice-Chairman Les Otten and VP of Public Affairs Dr. Charles Steinberg. I wasn't far from Steinberg, who was laughing his ass off at every politically incorrect thing Lee said.

I went home and joined up with the family. We made a stop at the open house for the kids camp. This place is really nice - I wish I was going to camp this summer. Then we headed off to McCoy Stadium for the Pawsox game.

It was the 25th anniversary of The Longest Game in professional baseball history, a 33 inning affair between the Pawsox and the Rochester Red Wings in 1981. At that point in time, I went to practically every Pawsox game, so I had great memories of all the players the Pawsox introduced last night. The guys who had great major league careers included Bruce Hurst, Marty Barrett and Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. I was actually more thrilled to see some of my boyhood heroes like Roger Lafrancois, Ed Jurak, Chico Walker and Sam Bowen. They brought back such great memories of more carefree days.

Unfortunately, the game didn't live up to the pregame ceremony. Abe Alvarez got knocked around for eight runs in 3 and 2/3 innings, including home runs to the first two batters in the game. The Columbus Clippers never looked back and won the game 10-2.

Today, Big Papi did it yet again, as he hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Phillies 5-3. When he got up there with a man on base I just had a feeling he was going to do something. That's the Sox 8th in a row, all against National League opponents.

One last note: I'm watching the Braves-Devil Rays game on TBS, and the D-Rays are having a throwback jersey night. The Braves are wearing their hideous '70s/'80s uniforms. The first thing I thought when I saw what they were wearing was "They haven't been this bad since they were last wearing these uniforms." The Braves are currently in last place, 15 games behind the Mets.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I placed my first-ever order from Cafe Press a few days ago. The Hey had set up a store for my science fiction group, the USS Christa McAuliffe. I had bought a new T-shirt for the Shore Leave convention and the McAuliffe's 20th anniversary celebration in a couple of weeks.

However, instead of an ash grey McAuliffe shirt, I got a bright yellow "US Chaplains Corps" T-shirt instead. And, as J. pointed out, I'm not even a rabbi.

So I called Cafe Press customer service. I spoke to a very nice woman, who apologized profusely and said they would send me another shirt in two days. She also said that she didn't want me to waste time and money sending back the wrong shirt. Of course, I'm not quite sure what I'll do with a US Chaplains Corps shirt, but I'll come up with something.

I'm watching Roger Clemens return with the Houston Astros tonight. Roger is losing to the Twins 2-0 in the 4th. He looks pretty good, although he ran into some trouble in the 3rd. Young Francisco Liriano looks very impressive so far, pretty much shutting down the Astros early.

Tomorrow is a big day. I have my thyroid scan in the morning. After that, I'm off to Fenway for a "Great Fenway Writers Lunch" with Bill Lee and Joe Castiglione. Then we have an open house at the kids camp, topped off by the 25th anniversary of The Longest Game at McCoy Stadium in the evening. Hopefully, I'll get good news from the doctor and move on to a great day.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kyle Snyder beats the Nationals tonight, 6-3, pitching 5 good innings and getting some help from the Papelbon-less bullpen. I promise not to pick on KC Royals castoffs anymore.

These stats were lifted from Eric Wilbur's excellent Boston Sports Blog on

Case in point as to how Clement reacts when under pressure in different situations:

Bases empty: 3.09 ERA
Runners on: 10.68 ERA
Runners in scoring position: 15.63 ERA
RISP with two outs: 31.50 ERA

This says a lot, doesn't it? Now, obviously a pitcher is going to have a higher ERA when he has runners on than with the bases empty. But wouldn't you think that your ERA with runners in scoring position would be higher than your ERA with RISP and two out?

These numbers just confirm what our eyes have been telling us all year. When the going gets tough, Matt Clement gets knocked around.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Big week this week. I'm getting my follow-up test for thyroid cancer on Friday. Prior to that, I'm getting shots of Thyrogen in my rear end Monday and Tuesday. Then I get a radioactive "tracer" dose on Wednesday. This gets absorbed by any thyroid cells that might be remaining and shows up on the scan. The diet has gone OK, although I would kill for a pizza or a pint of Ben & Jerry's right about now. I'll know Friday how the test went.

The Evil Empire lost again today, with rookie Ryan Zimmerman hitting a 2 run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the 9th for a 3-2 Nationals win. Rivera wasn't available, so he hit it off starter Chien-Ming Wang. Torre was obviously hesitant to go to anyone in his bullpen.

So, if Schilling can beat Smoltz tonight, the Sox will be back in first place. They're up 1-0 early.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thank goodness we're out of Minnesota.

The Sox have looked much better down at Turner Field in Atlanta. Jon Lester showed the stuff we have all been hearing about last night, pitching 6 innings and only giving up one run as the Sox won 4-1. Today, Josh Beckett looked alot better as he pitched 6 innings and gave up only 2 runs as the Sox won 5-3. With no speakers in the way, Papi hit a home run, as did Youk.

Even better, the Yankees blew a seven run lead to the Nationals to lose the game 11-9. Rivera got the loss, giving up 2 runs in the 9th. According to ESPN, the last time a Washington team came back from a seven run deficit at home was 1932. So the Sox and Yanks are tied for first again.

These two wins in Atlanta were great, but a potentially rocky road lies ahead. Matt Clement joined David Wells and Keith Foulke on the DL, so the Sox claimed lefthander Kyle Snyder from the Royals. He's likely to start when the Sox return to Fenway to face the Nationals Monday night.

That's right. We are now picking up Royals castoffs to start for us. I'm guessing Theo couldn't find a suitable replacement in a local beer league.

Before this happens however, we get Schilling vs. Smoltz on ESPN tomorrow night. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Last night's game was a classic, at least until Julian Tavarez showed up.

Curt Schilling and Johan Santana matched each other for 8 innings, both pitchers leaving the game with a 1-1 tie. The only runs came in the 7th, with solo home runs by Jason Varitek for the Sox and Michael Cuddyer for the Twins. Then the bullpens came in. Papelbon and Timlin provided three innings of scoreless relief for the Sox. Joe Nathan and Juan Rincon matched that for the Twins.

Then the teams obviously ran out of good relievers. The Sox came up with a run in the top of the 12th off Jesse Crain on an Alex Gonzalez ground out, with Lowell scoring from 3rd.

Then Francona brought in Tavarez to pitch the bottom of the inning in a save situation. Tavarez has been very inconsistent this year, and the trend continued. After getting Joe Mauer for the first out, he hit Cuddyer. Justin Morneau followed with a ground rule double and Torii Hunter was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then Tavarez gave up a walk-off grand slam homer to Jason Kubel to end the game.

It was a disappoing end to a great game. It's pretty easy to second guess Francona (there was a lot of that on WEEI today). Tavarez has not pitched well this year. Would you have been better off bringing in Manny Delcarmen and giving the kid a bit of a trial by fire? Maybe. At some point these young pitchers are going to have to prove they can pitch in pressure situations.

One of the podcasts I listen to is MLB Radio Daily. Usually the shows are pretty good, but as an arm of MLB, they tend to be apologists for the game. The latest example, which really infuriated me, was former catcher Jim Leyritz talking about the Jason Grimsley situation.

Leyritz, as far as I can figure it, had three main points:

Grimsley shouldn't have named other players in his testimony.

This sounds good in the abstract. Personally, however, if a dozen or so IRS and FBI agents show up at my house, the odds are pretty good that I'm going to sing like a canary.

The HGH Grimsley was taking isn't a performance enhancer, but just helps with recovery.

OK, if you are taking a substance that allows your body to bounce back more quickly than another players who isn't cheating, doesn't that enhance your performance? You may not grow big muscles like you do with steroids, but obviously taking HGH makes you play better. Otherwise, why take it?

He also doesn't address the fact that Grimsley was using steroids prior to the MLB testing system.

Players who were using steroids shouldn't be punished if they did it before the rules came into existance.

I hear this one a lot from various baseball people. They never seem to remember that taking steroids without a doctors prescription is against the law. I don't think it's unreasonable that we should expect that ballplayers are using legal means to prepare for the season.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Great pitching duel in Minnesota tonight - Curt Schilling vs. Johan Santana. It's living up to it's billing so far, as it is 0-0 through 5 innings.

I caught a great "Only in Florida" promotion when I flipped though the out-of-town games between innings. "Hurricane Awareness Night" is coming up soon at Dolphins Stadium, and the first 10,000 fans will get a free Marlins flashlight.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Here comes the sun...

The seemingly unending rain finally stopped and we were greeted to bright sunshine upon waking up this morning. We took advantage of the weather and spent a good portion of the day outside. The lawn got a long overdue mowing this morning. I hadn't mowed in two weeks due to the rain last weekend and it was way overgrown. The kids ran around in the backyard while I mowed and they even helped with a bit of weeding.

Spring activities are starting to wind up as we get close to the end of the school year. R. finished swimming lessons yesterday. A. says she has really progressed during the last couple of sets of lessons. J. returned from the disabled list to play at the "sort of" last baseball game of the season. I say "sort of" because, although this was the last scheduled game, they did schedule a couple of makeup games to replace some of the games we missed because of the rain. His injured pinky seemed to be just fine, as he played the field, threw, and smacked a line drive for a base hit.

The Red Sox had kind of an odd weekend. They split four games with the Texas Rangers after winning the last game of the Yankees series on Thursday night. The weather played a big part in the schedule. The Sox were supposed to play a doubleheader (separate admission - single admission doubleheaders are a thing of the past at Fenway) yesterday, but game 1, which was supposed to start at 1:00 got delayed until early evening and game 2 got pushed back until today at 5. Today's scheduled game got moved back from 2 to 12 noon.

The big onfield news was the walk-off home run by (who else?) Big Papi in the bottom of the 9th of game 1 for a 5-4 Red Sox win. I'll never get tired of seeing those Ortiz game winners. Unfortunately, David Pauley was unable to recreate his magic from Yankee Stadium and was knocked around for 6 runs in 5 innings by the Rangers in game 2, then was followed by a succession of ineffective relievers as the Sox dropped the nightcap 13-6. Most disappointing was the fact that old friend John "Way Back" Wasdin was on the hill for the Rangers and the Sox were only able to manage 3 runs in 5 and 2/3 innings. The boys have a day off tomorrow to recover from the schedule before heading to Minnesota to meet the Twins.

Finally, we saw the new Disney/Pixar movie Cars on Saturday. It was very entertaining, although not quite up to the standards of Pixar's best efforts. Still, it was worth seeing and it got enthusiastic thumbs up from both R. and J. What is truly amazing is how CGI animation continues to progress. Many of the scenes looked like they were photographed. If it wasn't for the fact that the characters were all sentient automobiles, it would have been tough to tell that this wasn't filmed by a group of people with cameras somewhere.

I haven't forgotten about the Jason Grimsley mess. I'll talk about that later in the week.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This was going to be a longer entry, but Blogger was down for a while and it's too late to get into anything extended. I did want to bring up this article, from the Business Filter Weblog.

Yes, iPods are now more popular than beer among college students. It's the first time in 10 years that beer has been knocked out of the top spot. So it got me to thinking: which could I live without - beer or my iPod?

I gave it a lot of thought and I decided that if I had to do without one, it would be beer. I don't really drink all that much anymore; I might have a beer or two on the weekends or if I'm out with friends. My iPod, on the other hand, is my constant companion; on my commute, at work, in the car, when I'm out walking. I have become addicted to the podcasts that I listen to and the concept of having my music with me anytime I want it.

10 or 15 years ago, my answer might have been different. Of course, I'm happy that I don't have to make the choice!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wow. Talk about an ugly start.

Josh Beckett got manhandled by the Bronx Bombers. He lasted a grand total of 1 and 1/3 innings and got clobbered for 8 runs and 7 hits, plus a couple of walks. He gave up three run homers to Andy Phillips and Jason Giambi.

This is really bad. With young David Pauley going tomorrow night, you figured that you were going to need the bullpen. Now the Sox are going to have to get 7 and 2/3 out of the 'pen tonight. I was looking to take a split out of Yankee Stadium, but that's going to be a tall order after tonight.

Started my diet today. I'm having another test for my thyroid on the 23rd, and I have to go back on the low iodine diet I was on last summer. Fortunately, I can still take my thyroid replacement pills until the 19th, so I won't be exhausted all the time like I was last July. No dairy, seafood, soy products, red dyes, salty snacks, commercially produced bread for 19 days.

The worst part is the dairy. I love ice cream, and I can't have it for the next couple of weeks. Ben & Jerry's, Cold Stone Creamery and Dairy Queen might see a dip in sales.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Here was a question from Gordon Edes' mailbag on

Also I would like to see the Sox trade Clement for the likes of a Jake Peavey from San Diego. Any comments?

Now, Gordon was a professional and simply answered that the Padres wouldn't trade Peavey for Clement, or for Clemens either. I'm guessing this is something like what he was thinking, though:

Clement for Peavy? Great idea! How about we trade Hee-Seop Choi for Albert Pujols? Maybe the Angels will take Willie Harris for Vladimir Guerrero. And since we could use another starter, how about Rudy Seanez for Brandon Webb? Why isn't Theo working on this stuff?

I have never understood how some people think other teams are going to trade their gold for our garbage. Think when you propose a trade, people! It has to look like the other team is getting some benefit as well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A few thoughts:

- Kudos once again to Manny Delcarmen and Jermaine Van Buren, who came up big in last night's 8-6 win over the Blue Jays. They combined for 2 and 2/3 scoreless innings to bridge the gap from emergency starter David Pauley (fresh from the Portland Sea Dogs) to Foulke in the 8th and Papelbon in the 9th. Pauley didn't pitch badly (you could make a very compelling case that his 4 and 1/3 inning, six run performance was the best of the three starts in the Toronto series), but he's pretty obviously not ready for the big leagues.

- Roger Clemens went back to the Houston Astros. I think Clemens simply found the idea of being close to home and the potential of playing with his son, who is in the Astros minor league system, too compelling. I'm sure the prorated $22,000,022 a season the Astros offered him was pretty compelling as well. Plus, I'm guessing that Roger liked the idea of facing National Legue lineups, with the pitcher and the ability to pitch around the #8 hitter a whole lot more than the prospect of facing the Toronto and Yankees bashers several times over the last few months of the season.

- Remember in Spring Training, when everyone was wondering what the Sox were going to do with all those starting pitchers? There were seven: Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Papelbon, Arroyo, Wells and Clement. Now Papelbon is the closer, Wells is on the DL, Arroyo is in Cincinnati and Clement is either injured or terrible. Arroyo would be looking pretty good in that #4 or #5 spot right now.

- An amazing pitching duel between Pedro and Brandon Webb last night. Webb went 7 scoreless innings and Pedro went 8. The bullpens then took over and no one scored until the Mets finally broke through in the bottom of the 13th on a game winning single by Endy Chavez.

- I don't comment often on the Bruins, mostly because I'm not much of a hockey guy. I probably couldn't name 30 non-Bruin players in the NHL right now. However, I have watched with facination as the Bruins totally screwed up their General Manager search, much as they have screwed up practically everything else over the last decade or so. They tried to get Ray Shero, who by most accounts was the best qualified candidate, but he decided he didn't want to deal with the Jacobs' and headed to Pittsburgh instead. So they got former Harvard hockey captain Peter Chiarelli from the Ottowa Senators instead. Of course, it cost them a draft pick and Chiarelli can't start until around the middle of July.

I hope this guy is good, because the Bruins can't afford to look like a bunch of chumps much longer. They totally misread the market coming out of the NHL lockout and missed the playoffs again this year. They have pretty much alienated the fan base, except for the relatively small group of Hockey Krishnas who keep buying the expensive seats at the Fleet Bank Shawmut North Garden Center each year. The Bruins are a heck of a lot closer to the Revolution than they are to the Red Sox and Patriots in terms of relevance to the average New England sports fan these days. That's a trend they have to reverse.

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