Friday, October 30, 2009

Two games into the World Series and nothing has happened to change my mind that we're in for a seven game epic. A few thoughts:
  • Cliff Lee made his legend in game one. Aside from simply dominating the best offense in the game in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium, he did the following:
    • Made the most nonchalant catch of a popup I have ever seen in a baseball game, much less a World Series game.
    • Caught a Robinson Cano one-hopper back to the mound behind his back and threw Cano out at first.
    • Took the subway Yankee Stadium when his cab got stuck in Manhattan rush hour traffic. No one recognized him. Of course, who would expect the World Series game one starter to be on the subway?
  • Pedro Martinez did nothing to hurt his legend last night either, going 6+ innings and giving up three runs. It probably should have been two, but Charlie Manuel channeled Grady Little and sent Pedro back out for the 7th after throwing 99 pitches through 6. Of course, we all know that Pedro turns back into a pumpkin after 100+ pitches. What happened in the bottom of the 7th was pretty predictable to everyone except, apparently, Manuel. Still, Pedro was great, keeping the Yankees off balance pretty much all night.
  • You never quite know what you are going to get with A.J. Burnett, and he has never been in a must win situation on the biggest stage in the game before. Burnett stepped up and kept the Yankees in the series with filthy stuff in game 2.
  • Does Joe Girardi have that little faith in his bullpen that he has to go to 39 year old Mariano Rivera for a six-out save? I guess so.
  • MLB umpiring has taken a huge step backwards during this postseason. The latest incident occurred last night, when Chase Utley was called out on a play when replays showed he was obviously safe. This occurred in the 8th inning, and if the call had been made correctly it would have brought Ryan Howard to the plate to face Mariano Rivera with two on and two out. The various blown calls during the playoffs have raised calls for instant replay to a crescendo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A few World Series thoughts:
  • In the five seasons since the Yankees last appeared in the World Series they have spent a total of almost $986 million on payroll, or almost $197 million a year. In comparison, the five World Series winners during that time frame (2004 and 2007 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox, 2006 Cardinals and 2008 Phillies) spent less than $533 million, or a bit more than half what the Yankees spent. The biggest difference was in 2005, when New York's $208 million payroll was $133 million more than what the White Sox spent. The smallest happened in 2007, when the Yankees spent a scant $47 million more than the Red Sox (or roughly the combined 2009 salaries of C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira). I guess money really doesn't buy happiness.
  • How must it feel to be a Cleveland Indians fan and realize that the starting pitchers of game 1 of the World Series both pitched for your team less than 18 months ago?
  • Pedro Martinez pitches tomorrow night in Yankee Stadium. I cannot wait.
  • My prediction: Phillies in 7. I think it's going to be a classic series.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Five years ago Red Sox Nation was set free.

Free from "The Curse of the Bambino". Free from Yankee fans chanting "1918" and waving pictures of Babe Ruth. Free from being lumped in with the Cubs (101 years and counting). Free from wondering if wondering if we would see the Red Sox win the World Series before we died.

We all remember the sequence of events: down 3-0 to the Evil Empire in the ALCS. 19-8. Walkoff hits by Papi in the wee hours of the morning in games 4 and 5. Curt Schilling's bloody sock. Damon's grand slam. Celebrating the AL pennant on the Yankee Stadium lawn. Opening the World Series against the Cardinals at Fenway. The weird sound Bellhorn's home run made when it hit the foul pole. Back to Foulke. Red Sox are World Champions. Can you believe it?

I really started following the Red Sox intently when I was 10 years old and had lived through so many disappointments in those 30 years. The September collapse in 1974. Losing game 7 to the Reds in '75. Bucky Bleeping Dent in '78. Bill Buckner in '86. A long playoff losing streak with sweeps by the A's ('88 and '90) and Indians ('95). Grady Little and Aaron Boone in 2003.

October 27, 2004 washed that all away. We had defeated the Yankees in the greatest comeback in baseball history and swept the Cardinals. I finally knew what it was like to see my team win the whole thing. Winning again in 2007 was great, and I would love to see a few more parades through Boston, but nothing is going to ever match 2004.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A few thoughts as I watch ALCS Game 6:
  • Well, we now know what the Patriots can do against bad teams. They beat the winless Titans and Buccaneers by a combined score of 94-7 the last two Sundays. Tampa wasn't quite as pathetic as Tennessee was in the snow last weekend, but they were still seriously overmatched. The Patriots go into the bye week 5-2. We'll see if these beatdowns translate against better teams in the second half of the season.
  • I'm hoping the Angels beat the Yankees tonight. If there's a game 7, it means that Sabathia won't pitch until at least game 3 of the World Series (or Opening Day, 2010, if we get lucky).
  • Visiting at least one of the New York ballparks is a high priority for me next season.
  • Here's my list of major league ballparks I have visited:
  1. Fenway Park
  2. Shea Stadium
  3. Yankee Stadium
  4. Olympic Stadium
  5. Veterans Stadium
  6. Citizens Bank Park
  7. Three Rivers Stadium
  8. PNC Park
  9. Cleveland Municipal Stadium
  10. Tiger Stadium
  11. Skydome/Rogers Centre
  12. Memorial Stadium (Baltimore)
  13. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  14. Land Shark Stadium (formerly Dolphins Stadium)
  15. Kingdome
  16. Safeco Field
  17. Wrigley Field
  18. Comiskey Park
  19. U.S. Cellular Field

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Postseason baseball thoughts:
  • I saw perhaps the worst call in baseball history in the Yankees-Angels game last night. Two Yankees (Posada and Cano) at third base, neither standing on the base. The Angels catcher tags them both. How can only one be out? Umpire Tim McClelland totally missed the call. It ultimately didn't make any difference, since the Yankees didn't score in the inning and they won 10-1 anyways, but it got the talk radio yahoos screaming for instant replay again.
  • Assuming no miraculous comebacks from down 3-1, it looks like the Yankees and Phillies will be meeting in the World Series. I think this matchup is between the best teams in each league. The Phils actually have a shot at beating the Yankees: they have good starting pitching and some big boppers in the middle of the lineup. New York should be favored in the Series, but I'm hoping the Phillies can make it competitive.
  • Really, what was Steve Phillips thinking?
  • I'm begging Charlie Manuel to give Pedro a start against the Yankees. Talk about must-see TV.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We had a weird day today. It was snowing, much earlier than is normal for this area of the country. It hasn't been sticking to the pavement, but has been accumulating on the grass a bit. It's supposed to get back to more normal October weather in the next couple of days, fortunately.

In spite of the weather, I got quite a bit done today, including:
  1. We met with the Director of Education at our synagogue about J.'s Bar Mitzvah project. His Bar Mitzvah is just over a year away, which is just amazing to me. We got some pretty good ideas about things he might do.
  2. I assembled a new desk chair we got at Ikea.
  3. We went to the Rockport/Reebok Factory Outlet in Marlborough and got the kids Tom Brady jerseys for $24 each. They were buy 1 get 1 50% off, and then an additional 20% off with my AAA card. This compares to $60 each on the Patriots Web site.
  4. Had lunch at the always awesome Five Guys. If there's a better place to get a burger and fries, I haven't run into it yet.
  5. Did 30 minutes on the treadmill to offset the Five Guys visit.
  6. Watched the Patriots crush the Tennesse Titans 59-0. It was pretty obvious that the Titans weren't enjoying the snow all that much, and didn't pose much of a challenge to to the Pats from their first possession. New England set an all-time record for points in a game and took over first place in the AFC East, as the Jets fell to Buffalo in OT.
  7. Caught up on some of my DVR'ed TV, including episodes of Smallville, Dollhouse, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Super Hero Squad.
  8. Right now, I'm watching Cliff Lee dominate the Dodgers, as the Phils are winning game 3 of the NLCS 6-0 in the 5th.
So, all in all, a productive day. Not ready to go back to work tomorrow, though!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is it just me, or are some Red Sox fans just missing the point?

I was listening to the Baseball Show on WEEI yesterday for a while, and it seemed like call after call was complaining about Terry Francona's handling of Josh Beckett in the 7th inning of Game 2. Should he have been taken out earlier? Maybe, but Beckett has more than proven his ability to work his way out of jams. He only threw 103 pitches total. He just missed a couple of spots and the Angels did a good job of taking advantage, as you would expect a good team to do.

Yet, one guy actually managed to compare this to Grady/Pedro in the 2003 ALCS.

In any event, aren't these people completely missing the point? The pitching hasn't been bad. The Red Sox are down 2-0 in the ALDS BECAUSE THEY ONLY SCORED ONE RUN IN TWO GAMES! Lackey and Weaver have been brilliant, the Sox bats have been dead, and that's why we have our backs up against the wall this morning.

Of course, things are far from lost. This is hardly the first time the Red Sox have been in this position in the last decade. They managed to win series after being down at least two games four times in the last decade - 1999 vs. Cleveland, 2003 vs. Oakland, 2004 against the Yankees and 2007 against the Tribe again. They forced a 7th game last year after being down 3-1 to the Rays last year and down 7-0 in game 5.

Hopefully some home cooking does the Red Sox bats some good and Scott Kazmir has jet lag or something. Otherwise, it's going to be a long time until Spring Training.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It was a crazy week, so I haven't had much of a chance to blog about the post-season. I don't have much to say about the game 1 loss against the Angels, but here are two quick non-baseball stories from the week.

  • T-alerts work! I get an email and a text from the MBTA whenever trains on the Worcester/Framingham line are delayed. Most times, they come too late to do me any good, but this wasn't the case on Wednesday. I woke up early to take the 6:25 AM train to work, since I had something I had to get done by noon. When I started up the computer, there was an email from the T, saying that my train was running 10-15 minutes late. A few minutes later, another email arrived saying that the delay was up to 20-25 minutes. I decided to drive in. When I got to work, there was a third email saying that the train had been canceled. Although it cost me a few bucks, the email saved me untold aggravation and possibly missing my deadline.
  • Tech support...not so much: I needed to get my password changed for a database I have to access, so I submitted a tech support ticket. About a half-hour later, a man with an accent on a bad phone connection left me my new password. After listening to the message twice, I figured out what he was saying, reset my password and was good to go. About 20 minutes later, another gentleman with an accent on a bad phone connection calls me and asks if I'm having trouble accessing the database. I told him no, someone had already called me and I was all set. About an hour later, I tried to access the database again, and it told me my password was incorrect. I tried a couple of more times and realized what had happened. The second guy had reset my password again. Stop helping me, Help Desk!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

This is one of the things I love best about baseball.

There has been a major lack of great pennant races this season. 7 of the 8 playoff spots were wrapped up well before the weekend. There's only one race left, but it's turning into a dandy.

The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins are tied atop the AL Central with one game to go. I got to see most of the two games yesterday. The Twins beat Zack Greinke and the Royals yesterday in an electric game. A matchup between Greinke, the probable Cy Young Award winner and Joe Mauer, the likely MVP, in a scoreless game with a man on third resulted in a single for Mauer and a 1-0 lead for Minnesota. The Twins ended up winning 5-4 on an 8th inning home run by Michael Cuddyer.

In the evening, a surprisingly listless Tigers team lost to Freddie Garcia and the White Sox. However, they have Justin Verlander pitching today and hold an early 3-0 lead as I write this. The Twins play the Royals without Greinke, which gives them a pretty good chance of winning.

Wins or losses by both teams means a playoff game on Tuesday in the Metrodome. The Twins were involved in a playoff last year, losing to 1-0 Chicago.

No Red Sox fan old enough to remember can forget the endings of the 1967 or 1978 seasons. This is what the regular season is all about. I'm rooting for a playoff game on Tuesday. We'll know by tonight!

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's the last weekend of the MLB regular season. Here are five non-Sox related things I'm thinking about:
  1. The two most disappointing teams this season had to be the Cubs and Mets. Both had big payrolls ($149 million for NY and $135 million for Chicago) and were expected to win their divisions, or at least be very competitive. The Mets were ravaged by injuries (Beltran, Reyes, Delgado, Wright and Santana all missed significant time) and the Cubs just never seemed to get going.
  2. Colorado bounced back nicely from a poor 2008 to make the playoffs and still have an outside chance of winning the division (although it would require a sweep at Dodger Stadium this weekend). And they didn't need a freak winning streak to do it like they did in 2007.
  3. It's a bit sad that two once-great franchises, the Pirates and Royals, have fallen on such hard times.
  4. Did Cleveland really have a 3-1 lead on the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS? How did they fall apart so quickly? Maybe trading the last two A.L. Cy Young Award winners had something to do with it.
  5. Joe Mauer is one of my favorite non-Sox players. I hope the Twins can manage to sign him to a long term deal before he goes to free agency. Hopefully the revenues generated by the new Target Field help. They should do a big business in hand warmers and wool caps in April.

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