Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's a dilemma that comes up every September/early October. The Red Sox and/or Patriots are playing an afternoon game. It's a beautiful late summer/early fall day. What to do?

In most cases, my feeling is that I should take advantage of the weather. This happened last Sunday. It was a fantastic day: sunny, clear blue skies, mid-70's with no humidity. So, instead of watching the Patriots-Jets game (and flipping to Red Sox-Orioles), R. and I went for a bike ride on the Assabet River Rail Trail. It was a great day for a ride and we had a lot of fun.

The way I figure it, there will be plenty of time when the weather is crappy in November and December to sit home on a Sunday afternoon and watch football on TV, right?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome to post #1,000!

Five reasons why I think the Red Sox will win the World Series:
  • Starting pitching: I don't want to read too much into one start, but Daisuke Matsuzaka's performance against an Angels team that is second in the American League in runs scored was extremely encouraging. If we can get a Daisuke that resembles the guy who pitched for this team in 2006 and 2007 and add him to Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholtz, you have a better starting rotation than any of the competition, including the Yankees.
  • Bullpen: With the addition of Billy Wagner, the Red Sox have the deepest bullpen of any of the playoff competitors. My one concern: how will rookie Daniel Bard react to the post-season pressure?
  • The two biggest holes in the lineup have been fixed: Jason Varitek's bat and Nick Green's glove were the two biggest problems with the Red Sox lineup going into the trading season and both have been addressed. Victor Martinez has solidified the middle of the lineup, and the defensive difference between him and Varitek has been hardly noticable. Alex Gonzalez may not have the insane amount of range he had during his 2006 tour of duty with the Red Sox, but he still gets to plenty of balls, makes every play, and has incredibly quick hands.
  • Defense: Unlike their opponents, the Red Sox have "plus" defensive players at four positions: Youkilis at first base, Pedrioia at second, Gonzalez at short and Ellsbury in center field. While Lowell's range is reduced, he makes pretty much every play he can get to. Bay and Drew aren't stellar corner outfielders, they can both more than hold their own defensively. Great defense means more outs and less of a strain on the pitching staff.
  • Experience: None of the other AL contenders have the Red Sox depth of experience in the post-season. Not even the Yankees. While the Yankees "old guard" of Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera has experienced plenty of October success, key players like A-Rod and Sabathia have struggled in October. Others, like A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain haven't had much of a taste of the playoff atmosphere. The same can be said of the Angels and Tigers.
Add up all those factors, assume no injuries and guys play up to their capabilities, and we could be seeing another parade here in early November.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm a bit pissed at the Red Sox management tonight.

I had tickets to see the Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway tonight. It had been raining most of the day in Boston, but things had slowed to a light mist by the time we headed into Boston for the 7:10 start. The kids and I took the Green Line from Newton Center to Kenmore, had our traditional pre-game dinner at UBurger in Kenmore Square and headed into the ballpark. It was not raining at this point.

We got to our seats around 6:45 and the tarp is still on the field. It seems the Red Sox forecasts showed a rain storm coming into the area and they obviously didn't want to start the game and have to delay it, especially with a doubleheader tomorrow.

By 8:15 we decided to give up. It didn't appear the game was going to start any time soon, and the kids have to get up fairly early for their first day of Sunday School tomorrow. We headed to the legendary Cabots Ice Cream in Newton to drown our sorrows.

The thing that got us is that IT NEVER RAINED. The Sox and Rays could have started on time and gotten the game in. Instead, they inconvenienced thousands of fans by starting 2 hours and 5 minutes late. Worst of all, for me, is that they disappointed my kids (ice cream only does so much). And now they're pulling the tarp back on at 11 PM in the top of the 6th.

I understand that Sox management had to make a call. They made the wrong one tonight.

Friday, September 11, 2009

10 quick thoughts as we head into the weekend:
  1. I only saw four minor league baseball games this season (2 in Pawtucket, 2 in Worcester). That doesn't seem like nearly enough.
  2. Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives is my favorite show on the Food Network. I love local restaurants with lots of character, and they seem to feature a lot of them.
  3. New Fall TV shows I'm looking forward to: Glee, Flash Forward, V.
  4. Does it make anyone else nervous that the Red Sox World Series hopes could hinge on whether Daisuke Matzusaka can morph back into the guy we saw in 2007 and 2008?
  5. I'm looking forward to seeing Tom Brady back on the field in a game that counts on Monday night.
  6. I have been trying to follow the health care debate, but since the proposal still seems to be in flux (Public option? No public option?), it's hard to make a decision on whether this is a good idea or not.
  7. The new iPod Nano is the latest drool-worthy item from Apple. Music player, FM radio with pause and rewind, video camera and a pedometer built in. J. had asked for a Nano for his birthday even before they added all the new features. Hope he lets me play with it.
  8. I like the fact that I can look at my 401(k) again without cringing.
  9. If I were running MLB Network, I would go live to the park every time Albert Pujols came to the plate.
  10. Eight years ago today. Remember.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Along with being the unofficial last day of Summer, Labor Day is also the last day of the regular season for of most minor league baseball. To get our last fix, J., R. and I headed to Worcester to see the Tornadoes take on the Brockton Rox.

It was a disappointingly small crowd at Fitton Field for the final game of the regular season. The box score claimed 1,229, but I would be surprised if there were more than 1,000 people in the ballpark. The nice thing was that it gave the game a McCoy Stadium circa late-70's, early-80's relaxed feel to it. The fact that Rich Gedman and Roger Lafrancois (both Worcester coaches) were in the ballpark only added to the feeling.

The game itself was a see-saw affair, with Brockton finally winning in 11 innings 7-6. It was just a nice, low-stress, uncrowded day at the ballpark.

I'm looking forward to next season already!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tonight's tedious baseball stats post is about the distribution of the last time teams won the World Series. I started thinking about it on the way home and decided to see how it worked out. If a team has never won a World Series (believe it or not, there are 8 of them), then I count from the year the team was created. The last year the team won is in parentheses.

10 years or less (8 teams): Phillies (2008), Red Sox (2007), Cardinals (2006), White Sox (2005), Marlins (2003), Angels (2002), Diamondbacks (2001), Yankees (2000)

11-20 years (7 teams): Rays (none, started in 1998), Braves (1995), Blue Jays (1993), Rockies (none, started 1993), Twins (1991), Reds (1990), A's (1989)

21-30 years (6 teams): Dodgers (1988), Mets (1986), Royals (1985), Tigers (1984), Orioles (1983), Pirates (1979)

31-40 years (4 teams): All these teams have never won a World Series - Mariners (1977), Nationals (1969), Brewers (1969), Padres (1969)

40-50 years (2 teams): Neither of these teams has ever won a World Series - Rangers (1961), Astros (1962). Texas appears to have been a spectacularly unsuccessful place as far as winning championships, with only one World Series appearance between the two teams.

More than 50 years (3 teams): Giants (1954), Indians (1948), Cubs (1908)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Here's one more reason I love Ben & Jerry's. Not only do they make great ice cream, but they have a very well developed sense of social justice. They just renamed their Chubby Hubby ice cream "Hubby Hubby". Here's the explanation from the email I received this evening.

In partnership with Freedom to Marry we are gathered here to celebrate Vermont and all the other great states where loving couples of all kinds are free to marry legally.

We have ceremoniously dubbed our iconic flavor, Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby in support, and to raise awareness of the importance of marriage equality.

Great stuff. I'll definitely buy a pint of Hubby Hubby next time I'm in the store. And maybe send a few pints off to California.

There's more information on Ben & Jerry's Web site.

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