Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Banner raisings, bad weather and other things...
  • Nice banner raising ceremony at the Garden last night for the Celtics 17th NBA title. Paul Pierce got very emotional (actually in tears when he got his ring), and rightly so. The Truth lived through a lot of the bad times here, and deserves to enjoy the championship.
  • A bunch of Celtics legends participated in the ceremony including John Havlicek (who carried the trophy), Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, JoJo White, Satch Sanders and M.L. Carr. Which one of these things is not like the others? Sorry, but M.L. doesn't really qualify as a Celtics legend, unless it's for his legendary towel waving skills.
  • Why is it that Bud Selig keeps presiding over these debacles? From the 1994 strike and cancellation of the post-season, to the Steroid Era to the All-Star tie in Milwaukee, stuff just seems to keep happening to Bud. Game 5 of the World Series was just the latest example. The field was becoming unplayable by the 5th inning and was a swamp by the time the Rays tied the game in the top of the 6th. Was Bud Selig waiting for the Rays to tie before calling the game so he could legitimately suspend it under the rules? We'll probably never know. It certainly looks suspicious, though.
  • Halloween is coming. It's always a tremendous amount of fun on my street. We live on a cul-de-sac and the houses are pretty close together, so we get kids coming from all over town to trick-or-treat. One of the houses down the street has a haunted house in their back yard that gets more elaborate every year. We get somewhere around 150 kids coming by each year, and it's just like a big party on my street. Can't wait for Friday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A few World Series thoughts:
  • I went into this series planning to root for the Rays, but I found myself more drawn to the Phillies right from game 1. I suppose it's because Sox fans have a lot in common with Phillies fans: intense loyalty, decades of suffering, both from big northeastern cities. To be honest, I think Phillies fans deserve the win more than the Tampa area bandwagon jumpers.
  • The Rays aren't dead yet by any means, but if either team wins this has been a good decade for teams that haven't had a lot of recent success. Since the 2000 Subway Series, you have had two teams win the World Series that had never won before (Diamondbacks, Angels); two teams that hadn't won since World War I was being fought (Red Sox, White Sox) and a team that hadn't won in nearly a quarter century (Cardinals). Only the 2003 champion Marlins had won a World Series in it's recent past. The Rays (never won more than 70 games before this year) or Phillies (1 world championship since 1883 before this year) would both be worthy additions to this group.
  • What is wrong with MLB that they let one of the most exciting World Series games in recent years (game 3, a walkoff win for the Phillies), start after 10 PM on the east coast? I know they had rain to deal with, but who did they think was going to watch that game, other than Phillies fans, Rays fans and insomniacs?
  • Would you pay good money to see a Cole Hamels-Jon Lester pitching matchup? I would.
  • I saw an article putting some responsibility for the recent lopsided World Series on the long layoffs one team faced before the series started, specifically citing the Tigers in 2006 (off for a week) and the Rockies last year (8 day layoff). The Phillies took a week off before the Rays were able to dispatch the Red Sox. How's that theory working now?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Grabbed this from writer Peter David's blog. Even if you don't necessarily agree with the sentiment, this is worth watching.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A few non-Red Sox related thoughts as we recover from the post-ALCS sleep deprivation:
  • What is the deal with the Patriots? They looked really bad against the Chargers out in San Diego last weekend, then were reminiscent of last year's 16-0 regular season team in Monday night's 41-7 beatdown of the Broncos at the Razor. Will the real Patriots please stand up? Are they a Super Bowl contender or one of a number of teams contending for a playoff spot?
  • J. wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for his birthday dinner, so we went Saturday night. It was my first visit to the Boston Hard Rock since it moved from the Back Bay to the Quincy Market area. I have to say, I wasn't impressed. I thought the new location lacked character as compared to the one in the Back Bay. Other than the rock 'n roll memorabilia on the walls and the loud music, I felt like I could have been in any chain restaurant (in fact, this was the site of an Uno's prior to the Hard Rock moving in). The food was fine and they made a big deal out of J.'s birthday, so he was happy, which was kind of the point. I don't think I'd go rushing back there again.
  • In fact, I'm pretty sure the last time I went to a Hard Rock was nine years ago, when I visited the Seoul restaurant on my trip to bring R. home.
  • One more Hard Rock note. I thought that the Disney pins (which typically go from $6-8) were a bit of a ripoff, but they have nothing on the Hard Rock. We told the kids they could have a souvenir from the gift shop and they each got a pin. Imagine my surprise when the cash register rung up $26 for two pins!
  • I just heard that Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden delayed getting surgery to remove a skin cancer growth from mid-June until after the season ended. This was unbelievably stupid, as the cancer spread to a second area on his forehead. Doctors say he is cancer free after the surgery, but I don't understand how he could do this. When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a few years ago, I was on that operating table as soon as they could schedule me. No job, not even an MLB general manager, is worth risking your life for.
  • As I mentioned last week, I think a Rays-Phillies World Series is going to be a lot of fun to watch. I won't be staying up until midnight to watch every game, but I'll certainly be tuned in.
  • I got an important form via email yesterday that I needed to sign and return overnight. What file format was it in? .pdf? Microsoft Word? No. WordPerfect. Fortunately, Word was able to open it, but I didn't know anyone still used WordPerfect.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We couldn't quite pull it off this time.

As unbelievable as this may have sounded 6 months ago, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series after defeating the Red Sox 3-1 in game 7 of the ALCS.

The Rays came back from what would have been a crushing collapse, simply outplaying the Red Sox tonight. After Dustin Pedroia's home run in the first inning, the Sox just couldn't muster any offense against Matt Garza (7 innings +) and virtually the entire Rays bullpen.

You really have to score more than one run to win most of your games. The Sox couldn't do that tonight. So, they go home and the Rays open the World Series on Wednesday at the Trop against Philadelphia.

How am I feeling right now? I would say deeply disappointed. To crawl out of the 7 run hole in game 5, win game 6 and not seal the deal in game 7 makes me think about what might have changed to turn this around. If Beckett doesn't come back out in the 5th inning of game 2, do they hold on to the lead and win that game? That's the tipping point for me.

The interesting thing is that there's none of the angst that would have accompanied a loss like this pre-2004. I'm upset that we missed another opportunity to try to grab another ring, but at least we don't have to deal with the "Will they ever win it before I die?" stuff.

The Rays were the better team over 7 games this time. Good luck to them in the World Series.

I'll have some thoughts wrapping up the Red Sox 2008 season in the next couple of days.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There will be a game 7!

Josh Beckett came back to something resembling his old self. He still wasn't the dominating Beckett of old, but he pitched smart, located his fastball and set up his breaking pitches nicely. He managed to go five innings, giving up only two runs (both on solo homers).

(Just an aside here - I'm watching the postgame on TBS they are showing shots of the Rays fans. They all look like their dog just died.)

Beckett was followed up by 4 hitless innings from the bullpen - 2 from Okajima, 1 from Masterson and 1 from Papelbon. They got just enough offense on solo homers from Youk and Tek (the captain's first hit of the series), another RBI from Youk and one from Papi.

The Rays looked like the Red Sox did before the 7th inning of game 5. There was a definite "deer in the headlights" look to the players in the Rays dugout. And they get to face the Red Sox best pitcher, Jon Lester, who is unlikely to repeat his game 3 performance.

One last thing: I saw this stat on ESPN this morning. Teams down 3-1 in a series that win games 5 and 6 are 11-4 in game 7.

World Series or bust! See you tomorrow.

Thursday night's epic comeback win by the Sox over the Rays got me to thinking. What are the greatest Red Sox wins of my lifetime? I'm starting with the 1974 season, which is when I started following baseball. Here's my list, in chronological order.

1975 World Series Game 6: The story of this one is baseball legend: Bernie Carbo's game tying home run, Dwight Evans' great catch of a Joe Morgan drive and Carlton Fisk's signature home run off the foul pole in the 12b-1 inning. This is maybe the greatest game in baseball history, not just Red Sox history.

Last game of the 1978 regular season: This is kind of a group award. People forget this because of the 14.5 game collapse and the loss to the Yankees in the playoff game, but the Red Sox had to win their last 8 games to force the playoff. Luis Tiant beat Toronto 8-0 while the Indians and Rick Waits beat the Yankees. I have a very clear memory of the immortal Jack Brohamer making the last out on a pop-up to third base.

1986 ALCS Game 5: The Sox come back from a 5-2 deficit in an elimination game against the California Angels with 2 run homers by Don Baylor and Dave Henderson to take a 6-5 lead. The Angels manage a run to tie in the 9th, but the Sox win on a Hendu sacrifice fly in the 11th. With the Angels totally demoralized, the Red Sox complete the comeback, winning games 6 and 7 at Fenway by a combined score of 18-5. Angels closer Donnie Moore eventually commits suicide, which may or may not have been related to his failure in this game.

1999 ALDS Game 5: An injured Pedro Martinez comes in to relieve with the Sox down 8-7 in the 4th inning and proceeds to shut down the Indians for six innings with nothing but guts, guile and his incomparable changeup. Keep in mind that this was a Cleveland lineup with guys like Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. The Sox ended up winning 12-8. Troy O'Leary powered the Sox offense with two home runs and 7 RBI. Pedro's performance was one of the gutsiest things I have ever seen in a baseball game.

2003 ALDS Game 3: Trot Nixon hits a 2-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the 11th to win the game. The Sox, who were down 2-0 in the series at the time, come back and win the series to advance to the ALCS. I saw the game at a Chinese restaurant in Woonsocket, RI.

A-Rod eats glove, July 24, 2004: Possibly the greatest picture in the history of photography came out of this game, as Jason Varitek shoves his glove into Alex Rodriguez's face after A-Rod threatens to go after Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo after being hit by a pitch. That's the part everyone remembers, but the Sox won this game 11-10 on a walkoff homer by Bill Mueller off Mariano Rivera. Along with the Garciaparra trade, this is widely seen as the turning point of the 2004 season.

2004 ALCS, games 4 and 5: Things were looking pretty bad for the Sox, down 3-0 in the series after losing game 3 19-8 at Fenway. Then Dave Roberts steal, Mueller's single to tie the game and Papi's homer to win the game in the bottom of the 12th got the Greatest Comeback in Sports History started. Game 5 went 14 innings, ended by another Ortiz walkoff, a single this time. The Red Sox finally slew the New York-based dragon that had been tormenting them for decades.

2004 World Series, game 4: The game itself wasn't particularly outstanding (a 3-0 Red Sox win), but considering it broke the 86 year World Series drought, it belongs on this list.

2008 ALCS Game 5: Thursday night's comeback against the Rays. We'll see if this goes any further tonight.

Anything I missed? Leave them in the comments below!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't let us win.
Kevin Millar, 2004

After 6 and 1/2 innings, the Red Sox season appeared to be over. The Rays were up 7-0 in game 5, the Red Sox had shown no ability to hit Rays pitching since game 2 and Fenway Park was as quiet as a library.

Four runs in the 7th (including a slump busting 3-run bomb by Papi), 3 in the 8th to tie it (2-run homer by Drew) and J.D. drives in the game winner in the bottom of the 9th.

It was an unbelievable comeback, the second biggest in post-season history. It gives the Sox the chance to go back to the Trop and try to forge another epic series comeback.

Be there Saturday night, folks. This season isn't over yet!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A few post-season baseball thoughts...
  • For the Sox to extend the ALCS and bring it back to the Trop, a couple of things have to happen: Ellsbury, Ortiz and Varitek have to start to hit (2 for 38 combined in the series) and Daisuke has to resemble his game 1 performance and not what we have seen from the starters the last three days (12.41 combined ERA from Beckett, Lester and Wakefield).
  • Every time I watch Greg Maddux pitch, I feel like I've just gotten a treat. Unfortunately, Rafael Furcal sort of messed things up for him in the 5th inning of game 5 of the NLCS with three errors leading to two unearned runs and put the Phillies up 5-0.
  • I'm lucky enough to have watched all Big Three pitchers of the Braves playoff streak live. I saw Glavine against the Expos at Olympic Stadium in the mid-9os, John Smoltz last year against the Sox at Fenway, and and Maddux last summer, pitching for the Padres against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
  • I'm not conceding anything given the history of 2004 and 2007, but I think Phillies-Rays could be a great World Series. Fox TV may hate it, as it's not going to attract the casual fan like Red Sox-Dodgers would, but these are two great teams with a lot of exciting players to watch. Any real baseball fan should enjoy watching these two teams go at it.
  • It was 20 years ago today: Kirk Gibson hits his famous walkoff home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

13-2 going into the bottom of the 8th?

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the Sox to get slaughtered by Tampa Bay two nights in a row like this. And at Fenway, yet!

It's going to require another miracle to pull this one off. Do the Sox have it in them? I guess we'll see Thursday.

I got nothing else.

Monday, October 13, 2008

That's really not what I was expecting.

Jon Lester went up against Matt Garza in game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway this afternoon. Lester had been dominant in his two playoff appearances against the Angels, while Garza hadn't won a game since August.

So what happened? Lester was terrible, not quite matching the depths of Josh Beckett's appearance on Saturday, but bad nonetheless. Lester gave up five runs in 5.2 innings (4 earned). Most of the damage came in the 3rd, when B.J. Upton hit a three run homer and Evan Longoria added a solo shot. The Woonsocket Rocket, Rocco Baldelli, hit another three-run bomb off Paul Byrd (in his "let's save the bullpen" mode) and the Rays ended up winning 9-1.

Obviously, if Beckett and Lester can't get it done, the Sox have no chance of advancing. Going down 2-1 is hardly a disaster, but I don't think you want to tempt fate by going down 3-1 again and having to pull another comeback like we had in 2004 and 2007. Tomorrow's starter, Tim Wakefield cannot be Shakey Wakey, and the Sox offense has to wake up.

Since I had to work today I followed the game on the radio. Joe Castiglione and Dale Arnold kept making the point that David Ortiz kept fouling off balls he normally crushes. I don't know if Papi's wrist is giving him trouble or he's pressing or what, but he needs to be the Big Papi we all know and love in the middle of the offense.

One last interesting piece of information. With his RBI single in the 5th inning of game 4 against the Phillies, Manny is now 7 for 8 with runners in scoring position in the playoffs. Unbelievable.

Game 4 tomorrow. Go Sox!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Too late to blog by the time last night's 5 hour plus, 11 inning marathon ended, so here are a few thoughts from the game.
  • Obviously, the first thing on everyone's mind this morning is the condition of Josh Beckett. The formerly invincible post-season ace had his second straight poor performance, giving up a whopping 8 runs in 4.1 innings to the Rays last night. The Red Sox coaching staff continues to insist it isn't physical, but you have to wonder. His location was terrible (he only got one swing-and-miss on a fastball last night) and some of the home runs looked like guys were taking batting practice up there (B.J. Upton comes to mind immediately).
  • The bullpen (Delcarmen, Okajima, Masterson and Papelbon) came through big time, holding the Rays down until the 11th, when a rusty Timlin came in and gave up the winning run.
  • The Sox hit four home runs last night (Youk, Bay and 2 by Pedroia), but they all came with the bases empty.
  • It seems like a wasted opportunity to score 8 runs and not get a win, but I can't say I'm unhappy to be going back to Fenway tied 1-1. Game 3 seems like a pitching mismatch for the Sox (Jon Lester vs. Matt Garza), so hopefully we can grab a win Monday afternoon and get the lead back in this series.
  • Big clicker action tonight with Dodgers-Phillies game 3 and Patriots-Chargers both on TV. This is a must win game for L.A., with them down 2-0 going in. Can Manny and his boys do it? I guess we'll see tonight.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

That's one.

The Sox shutout the Rays in game 1 of the ALCS, 2-0. Daisuke had a shaky start, walking the bases loaded in the first before getting out of it. However, he came back and actually had a no-hitter going through six. He got into another jam in the 7th and gave up a couple of hits in the 8th before Okajima and Masterson bailed him out.

Daisuke will drive you crazy, but he'll get you the W more often than not.

The Sox offense was generated by a Lowrie sac fly and a Youk double and it was pretty much all they needed.

Oh, and Grant Balfour hit J.D. Drew with a pitch. I swear I expected to hear a sound like glass breaking when it struck him.

It's always good to get the first one in these series, especially on the road. Of course, the Sox have gone down 0-3 and 1-3 in their last two ALCS appearances and ended up winning the World Series. So, even if they had lost it wouldn't have been nearly time to worry yet.

We'll be back at it tomorrow!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I have said this before, but there's a reason why I don't gamble.

I managed to pick two of the four division series, but my World Series prediction (Angels vs. Cubs) was way off the mark. The Dodgers win over the Cubs was a surprise to almost everyone, but it looked to me like Chicago was playing with the weight of 100 years of Cubs fans expectations on their shoulders. A Johnny Damon or Kevin Millar to lighten the mood on that team might have helped.

Of course, I couldn't be happier that I blew my pick on the Red Sox-Angels series. I really wasn't expecting the Angels to play so poorly at critical moments, and I thought injuries to Lowell, Beckett and Drew would hurt the Sox more than they did.

With Dodgers-Phillies starting tonight, here are my picks for the League Championship Series.

Dodgers over Phillies in 6: The Dodgers are white hot, Rafael Furcal is healthy and getting on base in front of Manny and the rest of the Dodgers big hitters. The Phillies offense is excellent, but I think their starting pitching is suspect after Cole Hamels and Brett Myers (and I'm not that sure about Myers). The Dodgers don't have anyone as good as Hamels, but I think their starters are better from top to bottom.

Red Sox over Rays in 6: The Red Sox seem to be able to turn it on at just the right time, as they proved against the Angels in the first round. They'll miss Mike Lowell in the middle of the lineup, but it's pretty obvious he can't be effective until he gets that hip taken care of. The Rays are a darn good team, but I think the Sox are just a little bit better in this series.

Of course, this is dependent on Josh Beckett's game 3 performance being the result of rust and not an injury. If Beckett isn't Beckett, all bets are off.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A most profound Terry Francona quote from

"If you watch his reaction after the last out, in his mind that was his last hitter," Francona said of Lester. "He was very willing to go back out. But I think you can make a mistake to ask a pitcher when he kind of emotionally shuts it down or turns a switch off to ask him to rev it back up."

Grady Little, you paying attention?

Monday, October 06, 2008

ALCS bound, baby!

The Sox just got a walkoff win. Jason Bay hit a double in the top of the 9th off Scot Shields. After Mark Teixeira made an outstanding play on an absolutely scorched line drive by Mark Kotsay, rookie Jed Lowrie got a base hit to drive in Bay and win the ALCS for Boston.

It was another amazing game. Following last night's 12 inning epic, Jon Lester game out and gave the Sox an ace performance, going 7 shutout innings. After the Angels tied the game in the 8th, the Sox won the game in the 9th.

This was a great team win for the Sox. Timely hitting, good pitching, excellent defense and taking advantage of the Angels mistakes gave the Red Sox this series.

It's late, so I'll sign off here. See you Friday night at the Trop!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Talk about the best case scenario.

The Red Sox leave the greater Disneyland area with a 2-0 lead over the Angels in the ALDS. They have won 11 post-season games in a row over California/Anaheim/Los Angeles dating back to the Dave Henderson/Donnie Moore thing in the 1986 ALCS. The 1-8 regular season record the Sox complied against the Halos seems like it happened a decade ago, not this summer.

The game itself was an epic. The Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first on the strength of a 3-run bomb by Jason (not-Manny) Bay. The Angels started to peck away, scoring single runs in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th to tie the game 5-5. Then J.D. Drew followed up a Papi double with a two run homer in the 9th, Papelbon closed things out and the Sox won 7-5.

Oh, yeah, and Josh Beckett, the Bob Gibson of the 21st century, starts at Fenway Sunday night.

Three important points about this game:
  1. Daisuke really wants to make me pull my hair out sometimes. After three innings of the Good Daisuke, he reverted to the Bad Daisuke in the 4th and 5th. You know the difference, right? The Good Daisuke is relatively economical with his pitches, doesn't walk a lot of guys, gives up some hits and gets some strikeouts. The Bad Daisuke goes into a lot of deep counts, walks a few batters and is at around 110 pitches by the 5th inning, forcing Francona to go to the bullpen earlier than he would like. (I found it amusing that TBS announcer Buck Martinez actually called him "the Bad Daisuke" last night.) The 5th was the worst, as Matsuzaka walked the first two batters, loaded the bases with none out, and somehow managed to wiggle out of the inning with only one run having scored. I don't know how, but we really need the Good Daisuke to hang around longer when he pitches again this post-season.
  2. Papelbon had to come in for a six out save, but that's not as bad as it sounds. He only threw 21 pitches, only struck out one batter and got the Angels to hit the ball at people. Anyone who thought Pap's last regular season garbage time outing against the Yankees meant anything needn't worry. The dominant Papelbon of the 2007 World Series run is here again.
  3. How does J.D. Drew get out there after basically not having played for six weeks and hit a huge, game-winning home run? No rehab, no extra BP, just gets out there and hits. If this guy had any capability to stay healthy at all, he'd be well on his way to Cooperstown by now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A few playoff thoughts:
  • First, read this. ESPN's Bill Simmons on Manny Ramirez. It's long, but it's good stuff.
  • Have you ever seen a 97 win team unravel as quickly as the Cubs? Ryan Dempster gives up 7 walks to the Dodgers in game 1. Every member of the Cubs infield makes an error in game 2, including two on routine plays in the 2nd inning that led to five LA runs. Yahoo's Jeff Passan had a great line: "History reserves some things for the Cubs."
  • I feel for Cubs fans, though. I've been there, folks. Of course, things appeared pretty dark after 19-8 in 2004, so you never know what might happen.
  • Does anyone else think Jon Lester may be the best pitcher the Red Sox have developed since Roger Clemens? Yeah, it's a little early to be making such comparisons, but can you think of a better pitcher that's come up through the Red Sox system in the last couple of decades?
  • C.C. Sabathia's coach turned back into a pumpkin against the Phillies. On his 4th consecutive start on three days rest, Sabathia got knocked around in the Brewers game 2 loss yesterday. I never thought the Brewers would beat the Phillies - they are just too flawed, especially with Ben Sheets health an issue and poor defense. I hope they can grab a game or two back in Milwaukee, though, just to make things interesting.
  • Do you think there are Fox TV executives who go to bed having nightmares of a Rays-Brewers World Series?
  • I'm beyond sick of the Frank TV commercials.
  • Trying to go to sleep during Game 1 was an exercise in futility. With the 10:00 start and work the next morning, I went to bed after the 4th inning. I may have dozed off for a bit, but I was back downstairs soon enough and watched the rest of the game. I got to bed about 1:20 AM and had to wake up at 5:30 to get my train. I actually did all right until around 3:30 or so (aided by my Starbuck's white chocolate mocha), but I was seriously dragging by the end of the day. It was worth it, though, to watch the Sox 4-1 game 1 win.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury has already been on base seven times through the 4th inning of game 2. If he can keep getting on base like he did in the World Series last year, the Sox are going to be tough to beat.

eXTReMe Tracker