Monday, March 29, 2010

I have been watching a bunch of episodes of 30 Clubs in 30 Days on MLB Network the last few weeks. This is a show where they review the prospects for the coming season of all 30 teams, interview players, the manager, coaches, etc. They spend a full hour on each team, so it gives them a chance to get really in depth.

Near the end of each episode, they name the "Prime 9", or best moments in each teams history. I decided to pick the top 9 moments in Red Sox history, with some honorable mentions, then compare that to the MLB Network list.

9) Dave Henderson hits a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS against the California Angels. The Sox come back from a 3-1 deficit to take the series and the AL pennant. Then something happened in the World Series. I forget what.

8) The Red Sox win the first modern World Series in 1903, 5 games to 3 over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

7) Ted Williams homers in his final at bat at Fenway Park in 1960, prompting John Updike to write a New Yorker article that only enhanced the immortality of the moment. If you have never read it, go do it now. No, really. Go read it. I'll wait.

6) The Red Sox win the 2007 World Series, their second in four years.

5) Ted Williams hits .406 in 1941, going 6-for-8 in a doubleheader against the Philadelphia A's on the last day of the season.

4) Carlton Fisk hits a home run off the left field foul pole in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, forcing a 7th game against the Cincinnati Reds.

3) Red Sox defeat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, capping the Greatest Comeback in History as the Sox rebound from a 3-0 series deficit.

2) The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox win the American League pennant. (I really had a hard time deciding between this and #3 - they could have easily been flipped. The thing that pushed the 1967 team up a spot was the fact that they were the turning point for the franchise. Everything that has happened to the Red Sox since points back to that year and that team.)

1) The 2004 Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. (Duh. What else did you think would be first?)

Here is MLB Network's list. Their list had one big difference from mine in that they assigned three separate moments to the 2004 ALCS. Not that they don't all deserve their own moments, but I didn't even consider that when making my list, consolidating the entire comeback into one item.

1) Red Sox win 2004 World Series.
2) Red Sox win 2004 ALCS game 7 at Yankee Stadium
3) Curt Schilling and his bloody sock beat the Yankees in 2004 ALCS game 6.
4) David Ortiz wins games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS with walkoff hits.
5) Carlton Fisk's home run in 1975 World Series game 6.
6) Dave Henderson's home run in 1986 ALCS game 5.
7) 1967 Red Sox win AL pennant.
8) Ted Williams last home run
9) Ted Williams hits .406

Pretty much total overlap, although I had a couple of items that weren't on MLB's list, of course.

I also had a bunch of honorable mention moments, which are listed below in no particular order:
  • Ernie Shore completes a no-hitter started by Babe Ruth in 1917. Ruth walked the leadoff batter, argued with the umpire and got tossed out of the game. Shore came in to relieve and retired the next 26 batters in a row. The leadoff hitter was caught stealing, so Shore faced the minimum number of batters during his time on the mound.
  • Roger Clemens strikes out 20 in a game twice, in 1986 vs. Seattle and 1996 vs. Detroit.
  • Pedro Martinez pitches six innings of scoreless relief in game 5 of the the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.
  • Tom Bunansky's makes a sliding catch to clinch the 1990 AL East title.
  • "Morgan Magic" - Joe Morgan replaces John McNamara as manager at the 1988 All Star break. The Sox immediately go on a 12 game winning streak, win 19 of 20 and 24 in a row at Fenway, leading to the 1988 AL East championship.
  • David Ortiz sets team record with 54 home runs in 2006
  • Carl Yastrzemski gets his 400th home run and 3000th hit in 1979, joining Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Willie Mays as the only other players to accomplish the feat at the time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When A. asked me where I wanted to go for dinner for my birthday, I said, "How about Jerry Remy's new restaurant?" R. then responded with, "It figures!"

We went this evening, parking in Newton Center and taking the Green Line in to Fenway station. A short, but chilly walk later we were at the restaurant.

The inside is striking. Shiny hardwood floors, a big long bar and more flat screen TVs than you can shake a stick at. Overlooking the bar are the two "Screen Monsters", giant projection screens that were playing the NCAA basketball games while we were there. The large back windows look out onto Fenway Park - see a picture here.

The food was good, but they are still working out some kinks in the kitchen. R. ordered a plain cheeseburger, just a burger, cheese and bread. It took them 3 tries to get that right - the third version was brought out by the manager, who took it off the bill. The menu was somewhat incomplete, too. A. ordered a veggie burger, but the menu didn't indicate that it came with cheese so that had to be sent back as well.

Once the technical issues got worked out, the food itself was tasty. The burgers came out with fried pickles, which were really tasty. The beer list was pretty good - I had a Wachusett Green Monsta Ale, which seemed like a very appropriate pick, given the location!

A table nearby had a bunch of guys with laptops sitting around - it took me a minute to figure out that they were doing their fantasy baseball draft. They were allowed to hook up one of the laptops to a big flat screen over their table so everyone could see the Excel spreadsheet that was keeping track of the draft picks. It was pretty cool that they were allowed to do that.

Bottom line, Jerry Remy's is a great place for a boys night out or for dinner before a game at Fenway, but probably not the best family destination with younger kids, especially if you have picky eaters. J. and I would certainly go back, but I don't think the girls liked it as much as we did.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A few thoughts as we are less than two weeks from Opening Night:
  • I was glad to see that the Twins signed Joe Mauer to an 8 year, $184 million contract. As nice as it would have been to see Mauer in a Red Sox uniform, it just seems right that a Minnesota icon like him should end up in his hometown uniform for what should amount to the rest of his career. Mauer will join the ranks of players you think of first when you think of their teams, joining guys like Cal Ripken with the Orioles, Tony Gwynn with the Padres and Robin Yount with the Brewers. Players like that, especially in the relatively small markets, are important for MLB and the fans of those franchises.
  • I'm not a huge college basketball fan, but the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is probably the best sports weekend of the year. You get last minute wins (like Michigan State over Maryland on a last second 3-pointer yesterday), upsets (a number 1 seed, a number 2, 3 threes and 3 fours went down over the weekend) and plucky underdogs (Cornell in the Sweet Sixteen?) Lots of fun to watch.
  • I don't know if he'll make the team at age 40, but it sure was nice to see Alan Embree back in a Red Sox uniform. Theo signed him over the weekend to compete for the second lefty in the bullpen spot. Always good to see one of the guys from 2004 back with the team.
  • I don't have a problem with the Rangers giving manager Ron Washington a second chance after he tested positive for cocaine. People who screw up generally deserve a second chance. But his assertion that it was the first time he had used cocaine? At age 57? Is this like all those players who claimed they used steroids "so they could come back from an injury"?

Friday, March 19, 2010

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It was a beautiful day in Boston today, so my boss let us go at 3 (I actually left around 3:20). I had quite a bit of time until I could get an earlier train to take me home, so I took a long walk. About 3.7 miles, according to Google Maps, from my office to Yawkey Station across from Fenway Park. Check out my route on the map above - it's marked in blue.

The city was thronged with people getting outside after a long winter. Everywhere I went folks were enjoying the sun and high 60s temperatures. Downtown Crossing, the Boston Common, the Public Garden, Newbury St., the Fenway - loaded with pale people happy to be outside.

Here's to Spring!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another long hiatus from the blog, but now that the baseball season is gearing up I should be here more often.
  • I watched MLB Networks "30 Teams in 30 Days" preview on the Pirates. I can't imagine being a Pittsburgh fan the last couple of decades. The Pirates haven't had a season where they played above .500 ball in 17 years. That's the longest streak in history - not even historically bad teams like the St. Louis Browns or Washington Senators have approached that. And consider that the Pirates were a very competitive team pretty much continuously from the 1960s through the early 1990s, winning three World Series championships and making seven more post-season appearances.
It does appear that hope may be on the horizon for Bucs fans, though, as GM Neal Huntington appears to have an idea as to how to build a ballclub in a small market the way teams like the Rays, Rockies and Twins have done. I hope so - Pirates fans and their spectacular ballpark deserve a better team.
  • I was listening to the Baseball History Podcast on my way home yesterday and heard an interesting fact. At the time Shea Stadium was built in the early 1960s, MLB was insisting that new ballparks were to be multipurpose facilities so that they would not be a burden on the taxpayers (this doesn't seem to be much of a concern today.) With the opening of Target Field in Minnesota this season, there are just three ballparks left that are shared with football teams: Rogers Centre in Toronto (with the CFL team), Oakland Coliseum and Dolphins Stadium. In 1990, just 20 years ago, 17 teams shared their homes with a pro football team. And this was out of only 26 teams at the time, as the Rays, Marlins, Diamondbacks and Rockies hadn't been born yet.
  • The baseball only ballparks in 1990 were: Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Comiskey Park, Tiger Stadium, Arlington Stadium, Royals Stadium, Wrigley Field, Milwaukee County Stadium and Dodger Stadium. Of course, many of those places had hosted pro football in the past, but did not have a team playing there regularly at the time.

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