PhilSox Blog: April 2008


Wicked Lester: Jays 0 - Red Sox 1

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Honestly, I got to see very little of last night's pitchers duel between Jon Lester and the Jay's Roy "Doc" Halladay. I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays and can't even really keep up with the score, let alone watch the game. So I get to my car about 9:00 PM and get the XM rolling. I hear Lester strike out two and get a routine grounder from the third to clear the Jays in the 8th. I listen to the continued "next to nothing" of the Sox bats in the bottom of the frame. Papelbon comes in and as I'm parking, he has struck out one batter on 3 pitches, the second on 4. By the time I get in the house and fire up, I've missed a double by Rolen and the play of the game, a huge stop by Dustin Pedroia (that looked exactly like his huge stop during Buchholz's no-hitter last September). Then, as I ate my supper and wondered why the Blue Jays insisted on keeping Halladay in for the ninth. Sure enough, two out walk to Papi, Manny single, Youk walk-off. Game!

Lester was utterly awesome. One hit, 6 K's, 4 walks, no runs. What else can you ask for. In fact, the only hit almost wasn't a hit because of what would have been another great Pedroia play. He leaped on an line drive by Overbay to lead off the fifth. The ball went off his glove, but had he caught it, Lester would have been looking at a no-hitter of his own going into the ninth.

While the bats continue to suck, the Red Sox have had three virtuoso pitching performances in the last three games (Buchholz, Beckett, Lester). If they can get back to production at the plate, May will be looking very promising, indeed!

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Is This an Opposites Sketch?

Monday, April 28, 2008
Does anyone else have the feeling that we've stepped through the looking glass here? I mean, you have a Steinbrenner who recants (sort of) the numb-skull comments he made about idiots and relief pitching, you have Papi patting .077, then .305 (for a couple of weeks) with a grand-slam, now 0 for 6 on Friday then sitting two days. Beckett goes seven innings, gives up 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and 13 freakin' strike-outs, and LOSES!? Why? Because the Red Sox got shut out by the Rays, who are now tied with Baltimore for the lead in the AL East?

CUE MUSIC:"One pill makes you bigger..."

The Sox have squandered two excellent starts from Buchholz and Beckett, not to mention a decent early lead in the division. Today's day off will be a welcomed rest. With the Red Sox playing through a rather arduous April schedule, it was a matter of time before some stopped repeating the canned statements and let loose with a rant. That came yesterday from Josh Beckett. For my taste, I always much rather complain after I've done well because I think your comments are taken more seriously and less like whining. Josh had a career day and then went off about the schedule that the Sox have had to endure. Read here.

Tomorrow that Red Sox will take on Blue Jays at Fenway in the first of three, then a home weekend series against the Rays. This will bring them into May over .500 (one game over, at worst) and, as I'd mentioned to a friend during the first week, given the way the month was layed out, over .500 is a good place to be.

P.S. Bonus points if you the title rings a bell for you!

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This Time, It's Personnel!

Friday, April 25, 2008
Dustin PedroiaHoly cow! is there ever a lot going on with the Red Sox and personnel? As a service to my readers (all three of you) let me encapsulate some of the many items.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie

The "Young Ones" are doing there best to pick up where they left off last October. Jacoby is batting a decent .290, and his OBP is .423. He is 8/8 on steals, has 9 RBI, and 3 jacks. Peds, one of the few position players who's position is never really in question, is batting .351, with 13 RBI. Then, when you consider Jed Lowrie's play while filling in in an infield in constant flux, it really makes you smile thinking about how good this team could be for years to come!

Coco Crisp, Bobby KieltyJacoby Ellsbury

Well, these days, instead of talking about where we can trade Coco, it now seems we're talking about keeping our intermittently smiling and serious outfielder. With Bobby Kielty due for hand surgery, and Coco coming back in the line up, perhaps the Crispy one is not due for Chicago or elsewhere? Coco is batting .306 with 5 RBI so far this season and has only one error.

Mike Lowell, Sean Casey

Our Mike is due to take some starts at Pawtucket and be back in the line up shortly. Though we surely miss seeing him on third, you can't help but like the way Youk covers for him. To make matters better, Sean Casey has been more than adequate on first. Sean is batting .346 with 8 RBI and one error at 1st.

Josh Beckett, David Pauly

Josh goes down with a stiff neck (read as copious vomiting and the trots), so in comes David Pauly from AAA. Not a Beckett-like start by any means, but solid enough to let the offense win the game.

Papi & MannyManny Ramirez, David Ortiz

Manny just being Manny means 6 jacks, 20 RBI, a .356 BA, and a .423 OBP. Papi, who started off horribly slumped, has batted .305 with 12 RBI since April 14.

Dice-K, Jon Lester

What's worse that Dice getting the flu and missing a start? Filling in with Jon Lester, this young season's front runner for the "What Was I Thinking Award." I had Lester pegged to have a breakout season and possibly win 20. That sure doesn't look like one of my brighter posts! Also, he came in on 3 days rest, which is one more than the 2 innings he covered in the loss to the Angels. Dice has not made the trip to Tampa Bay, but wouldn't be scheduled to start anyway.

Clay Buchholz, Manny Delcarmen, Justin Masterson, Mike TimlinJustin Masterson

Done typographically, that list of names above would look like a roller coaster, which is an accurate simile for the Sox pitching. Buchholz is off do a decent start (1-1, 4.89 ERA, 18 K's and 8 BB over 20 innings). Manny Delcarmen will look strong on one appearance, then like paper mache the next. Justin Masterson looked wonderful in his first major league start (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K's), but our boy Mike Timlin is simply not the Mike Timlin we've seen before. (5.3 IP, ERA 13.50, 2 BB, 2 K's).

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Weekends are busy times for me, and as such, I find myself needing to catchup a bit here after a weekend packed with stuff to blog about.

Red Sox Sweep!

Most important of the weekend events was yesterday's completion of a sweep against the hapless Rangers. Boston came back from early deficits in the first three of those games, making for comebacks in 9 of their 14 wins so far! Timely hitting, some clutch jack action from Tek and Manny, plus surges from Lugo and Pedroia, and solid play from fill-ins Casey and Lowrie, were the stories with in the story. Most importantly, the unearthing of the Ortiz jersey from Yanker Stadium II has unearthed Papi's bat, as well. Ortiz had 10 RBI over the series, including 5 on Friday when he had a grand slam. His batting average was at .077 when the garment was recovered. Since then he is batting .322!

Manny Hits #496

One of those comeback wins was courtesy of Manny Ramirez who cranked a 2 run shot in the 8th inning of Saturday's game. The score was tied at the time and the lead held. Manny was ejected from Sunday's game in the 2nd for arguing a called third strike. He was scheduled to have a day off Monday and, even though he had most of Sunday off anyway, he did indeed ride the pine yesterday.

Hello, Kettle? This is Pot...

Only an idiot would have a guy with a 100 MPH fastball as a middle reliever. That was the latest bit of "wisdom" from Son-of-a-Steinbrenner, commonly known as Hank. Well, not really the latest, because he back peddled considerably the next day. Still, who exactly is the idiot he was referring to? Cashman, the guy who got Joba Chamberlain in the first place. Joe Torre who managed him last year, the year of the "Joba Rule"? Surely not Joe Girardi?

Can you identify the true idiot in this group?

Phils Majors and Minors

So, the Phillies managed to avoid the sweep from the Mets and, last night, finally figured out how to outscore the Rockies. The biggest story from the weekend though, the Iron Pigs game that I attended on Friday night. Boy, does the Phillies AAA team suck, or what? They got beaten 8 - 3, but that score makes the game seem a little less like the one-sided affair that it was. Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania is a great place to watch a ball game and both I and my step-daughter enjoyed the beautiful weather and post-game fireworks immensely. I have a little bit of post-game eye strain, however, from trying to identify the young prospects that the Phils are honing in Lehigh Valley. I couldn't see him.

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"Moose" Owned by ManRam: Red Sox 7 - Yankees 5

Friday, April 18, 2008

MANNY HITS #494 and #495

The first of two Manny-bombs against Mussina.What a difference a day makes, huh? After the marathon loss of the night before, last night's win over the Bronx Bozos was made all the better because we received some more evidence that MANNY OWNS MUSSINA!

With two jacks in his first two AB's, Manny has himself 5 away from the 500 milestone and a little farther from the hearts of the Yanker faithful.

As an aside, while logged on to last night for the game thread, I posted to following query:
"Ok. So, is blacked-out out for me because of YES. The radio feed audio isn't as sharp at it was on ESPN last night. My question is this: Are the less than classy left field fans yelling "Manny is an a#%hole" like last night?"

The one of the responses (from a Yanker fan, because many them are fixtures in this Red Sox forum) was this:
"Are you serious? I hadn't realized. Even that shocks me. Growing up just blocks from the Stadium, Manny is probably one of the few Sox players some, if not most, Yankee fans admire. I know I do at least. Except when we play you guys...then the dude drives me [expletive] crazyyyyyyy"

I met this comment with a combination of surprise and disbelief. There were people in the stands holding up impromptu "Moany Ramirez" signs when he complained (and rightly so) about the strange and lengthy delay that Wednesday's home plate ump, Tim McClelland, had when calling balls and strikes. The sound on ESPN that night was clear enough to hear all sorts of vile and vulgar shoutings from classless Yanker fans, so much so that I was glad my kids weren't watching. Yet, this guy, who claims to be a long time resident in the thick of it all, is surprised that Manny was chastised. Please!

Not to be outdone by the fans, Kyle Farnsworth took it upon himself to get payback for Manny's clubbing of Moose and throw a 98 mph burner that sailed just behind Manny's head. He was immediately warned by the home plate ump, as were both benches. In reality, Farnsworthless should have been tossed, fined, and suspended. A heater of that caliber in the head could surely be a career ending event! It was a move totally devoid of class, character, and respect for either the game, the opponent, or himself. What a total and utter clown!

The "wild pitch" as the Yankers wish to consider it, prompted this wondrous quote from Terry Francona:
“I’m glad he didn’t hit him...98 (miles per hour) at your lips is going to hurt.”

In the end, the really important thing is that we have left these two early series against the Yankers up by a game. we won't see them again until July when we return to their house for a 4 game jaunt. So, far at least May and June, they (the fans) can stew knowing they are 2 out of 5 against the Red Sox!

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Texas Slaughter: Phillies 10 - Astros 2

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Home runs by Utley, Burrell, Howard, and Coste were the prime examples of what the Phillies thought about Huston's pitching in yesterday's rout.

This sums it up well:

Looking forward to this Met's series.

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Like School in the Summer: No Class!

Aside from the painful length of the game last night and the pitching that made Joe Borowski feel a little less like putting his head in the oven, there was one other lousy aspect to last night's Red Sox loss to the Yankers: The fans.

We've come to expect little in the way of class or decorum from many of the folks with seats in Yankee Stadium*. Last night was only one in a long line of examples, albeit a pretty pointed example, at that.

OK. So Manny gets booed for showing his temper over the "Rain Man" sort of method that home plate ump Tim McClelland used for calling balls and strikes. I understand that this will not endear anyone to NY fans, let alone Manny. But what the room temperature IQ's missed, was that Manny was not arguing the call, but the slowness of the call. That was an issue for several hitters on both side during the evening. Either way, had the hooting an hollering been limited to situation like this one, so be it.

Before too long, though, those of us watching on ESPN found our just what a challenge it can be to do live TV. When Manny got back out to left field, you could hear the resounding chant of "Manny is an A#%-Hole" clearly over the play-by-play. Now, is that doesn't say, "New York at its finest," what does.

Another wonderful moment was when Kevin Youkilis struck out, the camera caught squarely a older gent in a Yanker cap shouting "F##k You!" at Youkilis as he walked back to the dugout. Now, keep in mind, this is the same Kevin Youkilis that is batting .368, or, in other words, he's batting 41 points higher that any of the Yankees. Well, any of them with the exception of Chad "I'm hitting so far over my norm that I'm getting nosebleeds" Moeller's 4 out of 10 for the season.

I know that there is always extra passion when the Yankers host the red Sox. Just look at Cano and Cabrera after one of the shakiest wins in recent Yanker history...

You tell'em, Jeter!

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Ugh! Red Sox 9 - Yankees 15

This just in: The Red Sox's bullpen just gave up another hit.

Good grief! Was there ever anything as painful as sitting through all four hours+ of that game last night?

30 hits? 24 runs? One lone error by (who else?) Julio Lugo. 42 men on base on 341 pitches from a total of 9 pitchers? Yecch!

Oh, and Kevin Youkilis had to have x-rays (thankfully negative) after fouling a ball off of his left big toe. He, and his starters-leading .368 average, may miss tonight.

Some of those innings reminded me of this:

"Wham! A Homa! Wham! Anudda Homa!"

I don't know what to expect from tonight, but I'm sure glad last night is over!

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The 9th ROCKS!: Phillies 4 - Astros 3

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
First, as everyone seems to know, this blog is dedicated to the Phillies out of loyalty and nostalgia and to the Red Sox out of love, passion, and obsession. While the majority of my posts deal with the Sox, I'd be crazy to not add something about the late game magic that the Phillies conjured up last night!

Even with the Red Sox two 9th inning homers in as many days, last night's Phils take the cake. They entered the last frame down 3 zip. Jose Valverde comes in to try for a save for the Astros. First batter is Chris Snelling. He jacks one, making it 4-1. The next batter, Chase Utely, gets plunked. Next, Ryan Howard K's. This brings up Pat Burrell, who promtly homers. It's now tied at three. Geoff Jenkins strikes out, but takes first on a passed ball. This brings Pedro Feliz, who doubles. Jenkins doesn't see (uh, ignores) the stop sign and scores in a super close play at the plate. Jenkins was either safe or the recipient of some cosmic karma after the bogus game ending slide last week that gave the Mets a win over Philly.

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Dr.'s Orders: Curt Says "N-No!"

The Boston Globe (among others) is reporting a story that Curt Schilling's doctor, Craig Morgan, told WEEI that Curt would consider signing with the Yankees. Curt, in Cleveland with the rest of the team, claims to have been surprised by this revelation and insists that it is not true.

I watched an interview with Curt months back (think it might have been on Real Sports, but I am not sure) that was before he resigned with the Sox. Curt was talking about places he like to go and was adamant that the Yankers were not an option. While mentioning various options that he'd consider possible, he mentioned the Phils and the Diamondbacks. He specifically denied a chance of wearing the nauseating pinstripes on the Bronx Bozos. I believe the way he put it was that going the the Yankers would be like switching from the Hatfields to the McCoys.

But here we are, not too much later, reading about this supposed conversation. With the issues that exist between Schilling and the Red Sox front office over the shoulder problems he's having, or, more specifically, how to deal with them, this story might be getting a bit more credence than it would earn otherwise. Schilling is also reported to be voluntarily restructuring his contract to eliminate incentives he is scheduled to receive for making weight requirements. Schilling said this:
“It’s against probably the advice of the Players Association and my attorney, but it just didn’t seem like it made any logical sense. I’m already collecting money I’m not earning right now, and I’m going to make more?”

My hope is certainly that Curt is being honest. As things stand, if he never threw another pitch, he would still be an icon in Boston. If things end up being that he moves on from the Red Sox, I think fans could handle that. If, however, he were to go to the Yankers? Well, I think most would add his name to the list that holds Damon and Clemens.

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Tek PH Homer: Red Sox 5 - Indians 3

For the second night in a row, the Red Sox pulled off a little drama with a ninth inning jack. Instead of Manny this time, the pinch hitting Jason Varitek cranked a solo shot in the ninth to give the Sox a one run lead. Youk would also score a run in that inning to thwart the efforts of the Indians and Jensen Lewis.

After the homer that Manny hit on Monday, Joe Borowski, that Indians' closer wwent to the DL, the team citing triceps issues. MLB Home Plate reported that Borowski's issue wasn'T so much pain as it was a feeling like "throwing under water." Whatever the issue, last night's replacement being Lewis ended up feeling drowned a bit, too.

Perhaps the real story of the night was the MLB premier of Jed Lowrie. The game saw his first hit in the majors and also his first three RBI - not to be understated in a two run win!

David Ortiz, while he did ground into a double play, managed to get another hit, brining his average up to triple digits again (.113) Manny went 0 for 3, with a walk and a K.

So, off we go to NY!

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Shirt Hoax Update: $50,000?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Just in case the whole Cement Jersey Hoax was not, in and of itself, enough to make you despise the Yankers even more, the latest lie from the "House With a Papi Foundation" is that the recovery of the jersey from the concrete has cost the Yankers no less than $50,000!

Note to Hank: Start off slower. You can't pull off this caliber of bullshit this early in you tenure.

So, not only was the shirt mysteriously found in a service corridor, as opposed to the floor of the clubhouse where it was said to have been placed, now were are to believe that the hole in said service corridor has a $50,000 price tag on it. Please! While the photos in the story are certainly worthy of scrutiny, the hole appears to be about 4 feet wide and about 3 to 4 feet deep. There was some re bar reinforcements that had to be cut, and it will need to be filled back in.

If the Yankers paid $50,000 for that, they got robbed. I would have done it for $5,000 and 2 tickets to tomorrow's game. Of course I would have buried something far more "cursed" in the process, but I would have saved them over 43 grand!

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Red Sox 6 - Indians 4

Manny hits #493!

The match-up last night was the kind of game that I fantasized about during the hot stove season. You know, on those nights when I would lay awake, dreaming about the 2008 season and how wonderful it would be to kick back in the easy chair, pop open a beer and watch some baseball! Last night was just that sort of experience and it ended in glorious fashion with a 2 run shot by our Manny!

Seriously, how is it that Joe Borowski is still the closer for Cleveland? I sure as heck don't know. Our pals over at Soxaholic said it best. I won't repeat it, so follow the link.

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Recovered Red Sox Jersey a Hoax!

Monday, April 14, 2008
For this, the 100th post on the PhilSox blog, we humbly submit to all that the recovered Ortiz jersey supposedly pulled out of the concrete at the new Yankee Stadium is purely a hoax. The fake photo-op was contrived by the Yankee front office to nip in the bud any "curse" talk.

As the photo see clearly shows, the jersey that sources claim to have pulled out of a solid concrete slab of floor at the new venue wouldn't fool a child. PhilSox Blog consulted with a local contractor who asked to remain unnamed. "Anyone who has worked with cement at any time knows that fabric, when mixed with liquid cement, absorbs the mixture. When you took it out of the floor it would never be in as good shape as [the shirt in the photo]. A shirt that was actually submerged in concrete then dug up with jackhammers would be shredded and torn as the concrete was smashed. At least you'd expect to see like chunks of concrete hanging on [the shirt]. The shirt in the photo was not buried in cement!"

Perhaps we should be giving the Yankees some credit for going all out on this. It would seem though that even the most ardent Yankee fan would have to wonder about a few details:
  • After denying the story all along, they changed their minds and decided to "remove" it awfully fast.
  • They knew exactly where to jackhammer, even though the person who buried it was not there to assist.
  • The nailed the spot perfectly on the first try.
  • They happened to have a photographer on hand.
  • The shirt was in remarkably good shape, with bright, crisp red numbers and letters.
No one can blame the Yankees for wanting to solve this issue as quickly as it arose. Yankee fans got a ton of mileage out of "The Curse of the Bambino" for a long time. Chanting things like "1918" and such became the third most familiar line out of New Yorker's mouths, surpassed only by "I want to see a lawyer!", and "Yo, Joey, how's my hair look?" Having any possibility of a curse running the other way had to have struck fear in hearts of many a Yankee lover. I know that most of them can't wrap their minds around a concept like "karma", but they had to be worried about it, none the less.

So, as far as Hank and George and the rest of the too-thin mustached Yankee faithful are concerned, the who messy situation is over. They probably even buried one of Giambi's sweaty jocks in the whole before they filled it in, just for good measure. But as for the rest of us out here in Red Sox Nation, we know the truth.

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Red Sox Take 2/3 from Yankers!

After a decidedly crappy beginning to the weekend, the boys from Boston came back on Saturday and Sunday so as to head off for Cleveland having taken 2 out of three from the Yankers. With many fans saying before hand that this year's April series at the Fens was decidedly less than exciting, many disagreed and believed that any Red Sox/Yanker match-up is good for getting the blood moving and the dander up.

On Saturday, the big story PhilSox territory was how someone at FOX almost got murdered after the network switched to NASCAR with two outs and two strikes in the Yankee 9th! After the 2 hour plus rain delay, the game resumed at roughly 8:20 PM EST. After Papelbon fanned A-Rod and the Sox made a quick time of the bottom of the 8th, the Yanks came up for what would be their last at-bat unless they rallied. we all sat, engrossed as Paps retired the first two batters in short order. Then, with two strikes on Cano, FOX switched to some race, with a quick announcement that the game could be viewed on FX. well, by the time I got there, the game was over! I had to wait until the game was archived on to see that Cano grounded out. In fact, things were so screwed up with FOX, that if you watch the archived game at that point, you see Papelbon dealing to Cano, but hear some announcer dealing with the opening moments of Saturday's installment of "Redneck Merry-Go-Round"!

Sunday night saw the red Sox jump out to a large 7 - 1 lead, despite a very shaky Dice-K. With the bats finally seeming to awaken a bit, the Sox held on to9 win 8 - 5. Papi took the night off, and here's hoping that the rest helps him a bit. Also out was Jeter, with Posada coming back in late in the game and pointedly not throwing to second on steals while nursing a bum shoulder. All the more good for the Sox.

On to Cleveland!

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Yanked Back to Blogging

Saturday, April 12, 2008
Drew's solo homer and Crisp's botom of the 9th bunt were the only two hitsAfter being away for a couple days and not getting posts done for the Tigers' first win and then the Red Sox coming back the next day to spank them 12 - 6, I'm "yanked" back here today after listening to the first Yanker-Sox match of 2008. The painful 4-1 loss the Red Sox suffered leaves one wondering which is more to blame; the virtuoso performance by Wang (complete game,2 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K's, 1HR) or the continued anemic plate performance of the Red Sox. Most notably, of course, is the pathetic .077 that David Ortiz is posting, which includes an 0 for 3 last night.

Buchholz had another good outing. (6 innings, 4 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K's) But, like I mentioned, no run support. Right now, for Sox pitching, the first sing of a weak link is Jon Lester. He seems to break down consistently after about 4 innings. He looks like a deer in the headlights when he gets in trouble, which is not what I was thinking when I predicted him having a breakout season. Oh, and there ther's the bull pen, which I can't even bring myself to think about these days.

While stopping in at for the usual camaraderie of other beleaguered Sox fans, I noticed many comments about the lack usual excitement around this Sox/Yanks series. These comments came from both Red Sox fans, as the oddball Yanker fans that always seem to be on TalkSox. (These guys puzzle me to no end, but maybe that's best saved for another post.) I, on the other hand, was juiced for this weekend since seeing in on the schedule. With both teams coming in dead even in the surreal AL East, who cares if it is only April?

Relegated to listening to the audio from WRKO (thanks to's blackout of YES carried games in my area) I sat in my kitchen with the laptop in front of me, wringing my hands and looking at a ridiculous box score as it built itself. I'm hoping for better things today, as FOX states they are carrying the game. Tomorrow, ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball promises the third game. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for both. I like the match-ups in the next two games. Mussina vs. Beckett will depend if Josh is closer to his mid season form that in his first start and if Mussina is closer to last years "suck" than in his previous start. Sunday feels really good. The recently smokin' Dice-K up against Phillip Hughes.


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Good Start: Tigers 0 - Red Sox 5

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

With the first game at Fenway, the 2008 season can really begin, and what a way to start. Dice-K was superb again, throwing 6 2/3 shut-out innings. The bats finally woke up a bit (at least most of them) and the Red Six prevailed, 5 to zip, over the hapless Tigers.

There was so much more though, and all before the game began! Attended by representatives of Boston sports championships (Celtics, Bruins, Patriots) the 2007 rings were handed out. Of special note was the fact that players that were around for the '04 win received special rings, with two trophies depicted under their surnames where the new gents only have one trophy. The rings were gorgeous, and (at least on they showed close-ups of most as they were dispersed.

There were lots more guests. Johnny Pesky was in attendance and, with a little help from Papi, hoisted the new 2007 World Series Champions flag. In perhaps the biggest surprise, the first pitch of the game was thrown by none other than Bill Buckner! A teary-eyed Buck emerged from behind the banner cloaked green monster and received one of the largest ovations of the day.

Buckner later went to the booth to chat with Jerry and Don. I have to be honest, it was the low point of the afternoon. First, I am not a big fan of interviews during the game. I want to see the game, you know? But poor Buckner! Let's just say that he's not a great public speaker. At one point Don Orsillo made a joke about Buck perhaps getting into the booth somewhere because if Jerry could do it, anyone could. I think Buckner's ten minutes of mumbling and extended pauses is proof that Don is way off.

It was still good to see Bill Buckner.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was on hand to belt of "God Bless America" during the stretch, but I did not get to see that thanks to

So, now we move on with the rest of the season. Here's hoping we have another one of these to watch in April of '09!

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Opening Day at Fenway

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
2007 World Series ring!
At long last, the Red Sox have come back to Boston! Opening day at the Fens, but so much more than that! Today marks the the end of the Japan saga that has seen our beloved Sox literally running around the globe on an MLB good will tour that has left them all a bit sluggish. Today also holds the special designation of having the World Series ring ceremonies, with some surprises, including who will throw out the first pitch and who will sing the National Anthem.

Over the last few weeks we've all been reading the various interviews with players and coaches and we have all read them saying the right things. They talked about how it was an honor to represent MLB and Red Sox Nation in the far east. But we all know the truth, don't we? The trip has knocked the crap out of the team and cannot be left out of the list of reasons why we have begun 3 and 4. In fact, this world wind tour is the main reason things have begin shaky, and we should all be glad that things haven't been worse.

Now the guys have had the pleasure of sleeping in their own beds, seeing their families, and relaxing for a day. In to town come the Detroit Tigers, who while winless, have a line-up that makes us think of a stick of dynamite with a trick fuse. It's going to go off, it's only a matter of when. But the Tigers will have their work cut out for them at Fenway today. A lot of things that were working against the Red Sox are now in the past and the feeling that things are looking up can't be denied.


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Questioning Francona...Again!

Monday, April 07, 2008
I'm watching yesterdays Red Sox game on, which means that I'm hearing the Toronto television feed. It's the bottom on the 5th, and Beckett has just loaded the bases with two out. It seems like Francona was giving Beckett one last chance to finish the inning and put himself in line for a win if the Sox could score in the 6th. It did not work.

In comes Manny Delcarmen. The announcers (the Blue Jay announcers) mention that this seems like an odd thing to do since the next batter is Frank Thomas, Blue Jay power hitting DH, seems to have Delcarmen's number lately. He bats about .333 against MDC and had smacked a t RBI double off him earlier in the series. So, at this point, I'm saying to myself, "Why is he using Delcarmen?" That was about the only statement I had time for because the first pitch went over the Center field wall for a grand slam.

I'm a fan of Sabermetrics. I'll admit it, I'm a geek. One of the things that I like about the Red Sox is that they are a team that pays attention to stats. But now I'm looking at the third game in a row where Tito has ignored the mathematical probabilities and it has proven to be a bad thing.

We're finally going home tomorrow for the Fenway season opener. Mathematically speaking, how likely is it that the 0 - 6 Detroit Tigers will be 0 - 9 by Friday?

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Questioning Francona

Saturday, April 05, 2008
Wake started strong but finished poor.Being that the general concensus is that Terry Francona is horribly underrated and that his new $12 million deal is a reflection of his wonder, I'm hesitant to question him so soon in the season. However, after the Wakefield situation last night and the after pulling Youkilis today in favor of Casey. what else can a Red Sox fan do?

In last nights game, having no on warming in the 6th, Francona was forced to leave an obviously faltering Wakefield in to give up three runs. Wake quickly went from one half of a great pitchers duel with Toronto's Shaun Marcum, to being almost totally useless over the course of a few throws. Today, all were shocked to hear that Sean Casey was getting the start at first and Youk got to sit on the bench and watch the first error at first for the Sox since mid 2006. That error scored two runs. Casey was less than mighty at the plate as well, going one for four while filling in for Youkilis and his team best .316 average.

The Red Sox will surely wake up soon in terms of their bats, but the hole that is getting dug in the mean time is annoying to say the least. With Varitek, Lowell, Ramirez, and Ortiz (at a lowly .111) all batting under .250, they are asking a lot of their pitching. For their part, the hurlers are respectable, but sporadic. These first two games against the Jays have been nothing short of painful. With the home opener coming in the form of a series against the Tigers, hope holds that tomorrow's first start for Josh Beckett will let the Red Sox go home on a high note.

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Sox Opening Day (3 of 4)

Friday, April 04, 2008
The Red Sox will take the field tonight in Toronto for the Jays home opener. Counting the Japan trip, then the A's first home game, this will be the Sox third opener. They of course have one more, the most important, opening day at Fenway this coming Tuesday.

Yesterday was an off day which we're hoping will take the last of the team's jet lag away. There nothing like an off day to get creative juices flowing for folks when there isn't actually a game to talk about. I heard on Mike & Mike this morning a clip of some baseball pundit extolling the reasons why Papelbon should be a starter. I cannot remember who this lad was (If anyone knows, please leave a comment!) but he was taking a page out of some Sabermetrics guide and talking about how your best pitcher should not be a reliever and your best reliever should not be a closer. The geek view of this topic is that you should put your "closer" in whenever the game is really on the line. For instance, if you have a 1 run lead in the 6th, and the opponents meat is coming to the plate, that should be the clue to put in your "closer". The only flaw with this theory that I can think of was that the Red Sox tried this once and it was a downright disaster. Meanwhile, the Yankers have two closers; Rivera for the ninth, Chamberlain for the eighth. I vote we keep Paps where he is.

There's been discussion about center field and the Crisp/Ellsbury situation. The truth of this matter is that decisions on who is in the line-up are not being made strictly on numbers and perceived benefit towards a win. Crisp got a start Wednesday and will probably get more, not because he is better than Ellsbury, but because the front office wants to "showcase" him so that a trade can be worked out. He went 2 for 5 that night and scored a run. I suppose that isn't too bad a show, but I can't help but wish that Jacoby was in. (Drew, who went 1 for 5, is not being showcased for anything, as far as I know.)

It appears that Josh Beckett will make his first start on Sunday in the third game of the Toronto series. Here's some logic that I can't help but question. Starting Tuesday (for that Fens opener) the Sox will be facing Detroit who will be, at best, playing .500, assuming they sweep the White Sox. Based on their plate performance while being swept by the Royals, those Tigers may not be able to get three in their first home stand, but anyone who thinks that those bats aren't going to wake up at some point is nuts. Should we be leaving Beckett out until that Tuesday? I mean, he didn't get the Japan start, now he won't get to pitch in Fenway until the 11th or 12th against the Yankees? I say you let him have the Fens opener, which still leaves him ready for game three of the Yankee series (Which is the only one I'll actually get to see since will be blacked out for me and Sunday's game is on ESPN. (Thank you YES network!) Who do we need Beckett more against, the Toronto line-up or those of Detroit and New York?

Finally, folks are expressing their relief to see some players waking up a bit. Papi had hit first hits, his first RBI, and his first jack of the season on Wednesday. Matsuzaka looked much better in his second start, as did the young Jon Lester. Even Tek is performing better at the plate, getting a RBI double (He was robbed of a homer, pure and simple) and a homer this week. We have survived the worst part of this Homeric 2008 Opening Odyssey with a record of 3 and 1, and that is a good thing because April is not getting any easier.

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Phillies Walk-off Walk

Rollins went from first to third via a bunt in the 10th

Nothing plain about the extra inning win those Phils got yesterday. After trailing 6-0, a 6th inning small-ball clinic rendered 7 consecutive singles and they left the inning leading 7-1. Jump ahead to the 10th, tied at 7 and Jimmy Rollins scores the winning run through a walk-0ff walk by Jason Werth with the bases loaded!

Rollins went from first to third on a sac bunt by Victorino. The Nats chose to intentionally walk both Utley and Howard, which brought up Werth.

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What in the...

Thursday, April 03, 2008
Can someone tell me what the deal is with these things on Alfonso Soriano's face? I hate to sound dumb, but do dark skinned players need light colored glare stickers? I mean, on, where things seem dark in many broadcasts, all I could see udner the bill of his batting helmet was these things and his teeth.

(Click on the images for larger view.)

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Opening Day Redux: Red Sox 2 - A's 1

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Youk scores the first of his two runs against the A's last night.As I expected, the first two days of the 2008 season have been filled with innings, stats, highlights, and articles read: Busy is not a big enough word. I did manage to clear my schedule to watch the Red Sox squeeze past the Athletics by a score of 2-1. Mostly what I had to "reschedule" was sleep, as the game started at 10:05 in my EST village.

The games should have left most Sox fans as it left me; a bit more relaxed. Matsuzaka looked like we all think he should, with 9 k's, 2 hits, no walks, and 1 run over 6 1/3. Okajima came in and managed to hold the fort, giving up only a single walk before being relieved by Paps with on out left in the 8th. Papelbon, the other source of bad nerves after two shaky appearances last week, looked worlds better, making short work of that last 8th inning out, then striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

The plate is still a spot where we all hope things liven up a bit. Papi is still hitless, and we did only manage 2 runs, but that should have been three. Jason Varitek was robbed of a homer in the 6th when his shot clearly hit the yellow above the A's out-of-town scoreboard. According to the announcers, no ump (meaning the first base ump) made any moves to position himself better to see the ball. In the end (some debate by Francona not withstanding) Tek was awarded the double, but Youkilis had scored from third (he scored both Red Sox runs, by the way) to take the lead.

This afternoon, we finish what feels like a marathon against the A's with a rematch of last week's Lester vs. Harden match-up. Let's hope Lester can get things straight so we can head to Toronto atop the AL East at 3-1.

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No Flash to Gordon: Nats 11 - Phils 6

Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Gordon was all bunged up on opening day!Oh brother! That about sums it up. What else can you say when the Phillies manage to bring the game tied into the ninth and the Tom Gordon gives up 5 runs?

The Phils spread their runs out over the innings, including two jacks; one by Utley and one from Rollins. The unfortunate match for those two homers were the two errors, one my Rollins and one by Ruiz.

The real story will have to be the total selfdestruct of the Phillies bullpen. Between Madsen and Gordon seven runs were plated by the hot-off-the-start Nationals. Gordon looked absolutely lost on the mound, and now I get to listen to all the Yanker fans say brilliant lines like "That why we got rid of him!"

I know that it's too early to be looking at statistics, but opening day certainly make some interesting numbers. Based on what we've seen so far, Jim Thome of the White Sox is on pace for 324 home runs and 648 RBI this season, the Atlanta bullpen is on target to give up 810 runs, 324 in the form of homers. Then there's the Philly pen. Tom Gordon's current ERA is 135.00, and we'll see the relievers give up about 1134 runs this season.

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