Saturday, June 05, 2004

In Brief

Just a quick note to say we're still getting the comments functioning worked out at FSNE. A few technical glitches are causing the delay. Should be a go for Monday.

I don't have much positive spin on last night's loss, I'm afraid. I'm going to try and take a step back from the Red Sox today, instead focusing my energy on Smarty Jones run for the Triple Crown at Belmont. A win there may be just the cosmic mojo shift we all need.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I Can Pop Up to Shallow Left Sure as the Next Guy

Figures I start my second season at FSNE (hey, I'm no longer a rookie!) on the day after a rare Thursday off for the Red Sox, so there's no post game banter to prop up against. On top of that, I'm feeling the pressure to come up with something good which, of course, means that I'm about to choke with a case of writer's block.

I like to amuse myself and try to get some second hand sycophantic sense of what it kinda sorta must be like to be a ballplayer in the big leagues by comparing the writing process to hitting. It's similar in the sense that one goes through streaks and slumps and you're only as good as your last at bat, or last blog post. And if I get a metaphorical "hit" three times out of ten, I'm feeling pretty good.

So don't boo too loudly when I pop up to shallow left for the 3rd out with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, Theo Epstein says he's "satisfied" with the first two months of Red Sox play, but confesses that "there are a lot of things to fix." I'm pretty confident we can all agree with that assessment.

As for the starting rotation causing a rotation and regurgitation in our collective fan stomachs, Terry Francona spins it as thus:

"These things run in cycles," said Sox manager Terry Francona, predicting the Sox starters will right themselves sooner or later (Edes, Globe).

I think he's right. I hope he's right. I'm lighting candles in my Red Sox alter praying he's right.

So being the geeky nerdy guy that I am, I'm taking the afternoon off to see the latest Harry Potter movie. Stop laughing. Loved the books, loved the first two movies. But don't worry, I'm not going to dress up or anything. (But if I were to I'd go as Professor Snape for sure.)

One of the coolest things in the books/movies is The Sorting Hat. If you're not familiar with the world of Harry Potter, it's the hat that determines what "house" you get placed in at the Hogwarts School for Wizards (the wizard equivalent of Phillips Exeter). Each house has its own distinct tone and personality, strengths and weaknesses, and the hat tries to match your personality/soul with the house most suited to you.

In yesterday's post, I published the email from Stuart Scott of Sydney where he told us his Red Sox fanaticism from afar. Throughout the day, emails came in from all sorts of places, including Venezuela, Brazil, Hong Kong to name a few, with folks telling similar stories. That is, while they've never been to Boston or New England they've become ardent Red Sox fans.

So this got me to thinking that there is a "sorting hat" concept at work here. While those of us native to New England have our Red Sox identities more or less imparted to us in the birth canal, for these other, distant fans, something else is as work. Some people are destined to join the House of Red Sox while others are destined for the House of Yankees.

And, I daresay, we each get exactly what we deserve, don't you think?

In the words of Dumbledore: "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Plenty of Empty Seats on the Bandwagon Today!

Summertime and the livin' is easy … well, unless you're a Red Sox fan that is.

Martinez was charged with seven runs, the eighth time in his career he has allowed as many and the second time this season. The arduous nature of his outing was crystallized in a 16-pitch at-bat in the third, when he fell behind Angels rookie Casey Kotchman 3-and-0, then threw 11 straight pitches that were fouled off before a swinging strike three ended the at-bat and the inning (Edes, Globe).

But before we get too dispirited, let's recall this stretch last year* courtesy of Retrosheet:

05-27-2003 At NY L 3-11 31-20 Pettitte (5-5) Chen (0-1)
05-28-2003 At NY L 5- 6 31-21 M. Rivera (1-0) Lyon (1-2)
05-30-2003 At TOR L 2-13 31-22 Davis (3-3) Burkett (3-3)
05-31-2003 At TOR L 7-10 31-23 Sturtze (5-4) Fossum (4-4)
06-01-2003 At TOR L 8-11 31-24 Halladay (7-2) White (0-1)

This is one of those stretches where our collective mettle is tested and we'll have our first migration of bandwagon jump offs.

But let's not get mired in what's bad. Remember, it's still great to be a Red Sox fan through thick and thin.

This will cheer you up. Here's an excerpt of an email I received from the land down under.

Stuart Scott from Sydney writes,

Hello Ed. I've never been to a Red Sox game. I've never been to New England. I've never even been to the U.S., apart from an airport stopover in New York and Miami on my way to Belize. But I'm a Red Sox fan. I started watching baseball early last season when I by chance came across your blog. I knew nothing about the game, or about the Red Sox, but now I'm a nut for both. I hoped for a win last year like everyone else, and even in a bizarre way hoped my joining the ranks of the fans may in some small way even signal a turnaround in luck for the team (I'm the kind of guy who still avoids the cracks in the pavement!). I know the team will win one day, probably quite soon, but I'm also glad I got to be a fan in the "losing era." That's because i hate to think of all millions who will jump on the bandwagon when the Sox finally win. At least I'll be able to say: "Hey, I'm a real fan. I still supported them when they were losing."

Glad to have you among us, Stuart. While those of us from New England consider it a birthright to be a Red Sox fan, we can't forget the legions of loyal fans the world over who are our brethren. I'm reminded of bumper stickers/t-shirt logo that's popular in Texas: "I'm not from Texas, but I got here as fast I could."

More good news? The Red Sox don't have to face Vladimir Guerrero again until July 15th. The guy's on fire. Remove him from the last two games and maybe it's two wins rather than two losses. And the Angels are the best club the Red Sox have played all year.

I can deal. You?

*(Now just don't go back another year, though, when the Sox went 10 and 16 in June. Ouch.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

6 on the Road

Even as a failed mathematician, I still have enough fascination with numbers and probability to appreciate what David Pinto has done here:

I wrote a script to simulate a 45 game stretch. There are sixteen teams, and each team plays the other 15 three times. In each case, teams have an equal chance of winning. Hit the refresh button to run it over and over and see how, even equally matched, the standings spread out (Baseball Musings).

Go play with the script a bit and see what he means, then commit that to memory as something to consider when the Red Sox go winning or a losing streak over some stretch of games.

Tough loss last night, eh?

Last night, the Red Sox [stats, schedule] picked a poor time to lose their way, unable to play or pitch effectively before the game was even half complete.

As a result, the fundamentally sound Angels flattened a sputtering Sox squad, 7-6, in the kickoff - make that kick in the face - to a six-game road trip (Silverman, Herald).

I'm trying to just take it in stride. Of course, Baltimore is back to their old selves, acting like the Yankees booty call as the Soxaholix put it so sweetly last week. Heh heh.

FSNE Update

As it stands now, Friday morning the switch will be on, and my blog posts will appear at the Fox Sports New England site. Each day I'll post an excerpt of the post (generally, the first line or two) here with a link to FSNE. Then the full post will return here to Bambino's for archiving when it comes off FSNE after 2 days.

And, yes, the ability to comment will be provided. The comments will be moderated, though, so some of the more bellicose or otherwise unneighborly comments that I've let slide over the past few weeks will most likely get bounced and I imagine certain IP's could be banned from commenting altogether if gets to that point. But I doubt it will. We've been very lucky with the comments over the years, as 99% of the time, the conversation is very civil and erudite.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

.406 Debriefing

Regarding a certain pitcher who in 51 1/3 innings has allowed 103 runners, Dave Pinto asks the $20,000 dollar question (or make that $10 million dollar question if Scott Boras is your agent): "Is there are real difference in Lowe, or have batters realized they take the low pitch and have it called a ball?"

This Derek Lowe situation is quelling what should be jumping up and down excitement over the imminent return of Nomar and Nixon.

Meanwhile, here is a stream of consciousness, bullet pointed memo on my weekend trip to Boston:

  • Things started off perfectly: hit every green light to Dulles and when I checked in via the e-ticket kiosk I was offered an upgrade to first class for $25.01. Sweet. I love flying first class. Who doesn't. And it just seemed to fit the occasion considering I was on my way to the .406 club.
  • I deplaned and my body went into shock at the temperature: 50 effin degrees and a brisk wind from the north! WTF? It's Memorial Day weekend not Halloween. Despite my adoration of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, I need no additional reminder that I will never ever live in New England again. I know, I know many of you will claim to love it and that it builds character and all that but it's not for me. Life is just too damn short to have summer reduced to a couple of weeks a year.
  • The dress code at the .406 is ad hoc at best. The only policy that appeared to be enforced was the "no jeans" rule. Otherwise, anything goes. It's funny that they make folks, men and women, who show up in jeans wear a pair of Dockers khakis over their jeans. It's a funny sight.
  • The .406 club is not as exclusive as you might have imagined. Except for the $8 beers and climate controlled (thank God!) conditions, it's the same crowd you'd find in any other section of the park. (BTW this is a positive thing. I'd had visions that it'd be all snooty fan for a day types.)
  • The stadium seating is incredible. Definitely the best seat I've ever had in my life. I was precisely behind home plate. (Photos coming soon.) And from that vantage point, high above the field, I could see everything.
  • They pipe in the EEI radio feed during the game.
  • From those seats you can tell much sooner that a ball doesn't have enough on it to get out. You still get that shock of excitement when the ball leaves the bat and arcs high, but you're never surprised to see the outfielder moving in position to catch the ball well short of a homerun.
  • Watching a Red Sox game with friends you grew up with but haven't seen in a couple years is priceless.
  • Manny's homer off the sign above the Monster seats took my breath away.
  • The food at the .406 club is terribly overpriced ($30 for a Holiday Inn quality buffet). Shame on the Red Sox for the price gouging. If you ever have tickets to the .406 make sure you eat outside first.
  • The organ guy sits in the .406 as does the guy who controls the PA system and plays the music between innings. I'd always imagined the organ player had his own little spot, his own little room, tiny, filled with cigar smoke and peanut shells … my romantic image is forever ruined now.
  • In the Red Sox Hall of Fame, I was dumfounded to read on the Carlton Fisk plaque that he'd played catcher for the University of New Hampshire baseball team. Now, as a NH boy myself, I knew Fisk was from the Granite State, but I did not know he played for UNH and I graduated from the school! You'd think UNH would really make a big deal of this. No, instead they cut their baseball program entirely and never mention one of the greatest ballplayers of all time. They ought to dedicate a statue or name a hall after him or something. C'mon, UNH, there are other sports than hockey.
  • When did smoking in Boston become so commonplace? I felt like I never left Virginia I saw so many people puffing away outside Fenway and elsewhere around town. (Is this all the result of the no smoking ordinances that have driven the smokers out of bars and restaurants and onto the streets?)
  • The pizza at the original Regina's is just as fine as I remembered it. (And the line to get in just as long.)
  • Going up and back like that was tiring, but a lot smoother than I'd expected. There's a new discount airline starting up this month called Independence Air and they are showing flights from IAD to BOS at $50 each way with no advanced purchase of Saturday night stay required. I can see myself taking more of these last minute pilgrimages to Fenway if the opportunity presents itself.

I'm know there's more, but I'm out of time.

Can you believe it's June already? As you know, this is a month that hasn't always been kind to the Red Sox. But no need for the smelling salts this year, right?