Friday, September 17, 2004

Shine Time

Oh, what a night! Schilling gets his 20th to send the pesky Devil Rays packing and Survivor started up again and Fox tossed out a "special edition" of The O.C. called "Obsess Completely."

And then there's my two fave golfers paired up in the Ryder's Cup that starts today, and, oh yeah, it's BOSTON VS NEW YORK IN THE BRONX TONIGHT ON ESPN!

I am a man of simple pleasures. But I'm not alone. Check out this guy. (Somebody caption that, please.)

Re Schilling: Is he da man or what? It's Thanksgiving every day since the Boy Wonder dished the gravy on that holiday signing.

Re Survivor: Ah, a classic men vs. women immunity challenge and it all comes down to one dude (I forget which one) needing to cross a log, balance beam (over a mud pit) thing and the male tribe will win, but the guy can't do. He gets on the log, takes a couple of steps and down he goes. Over and over again. It's hysterical. In a desperate move he decides to take off his sneaker and give it a try. Oh, yeah, that'll work. Idiot. And down he goes. Fantastic television. Of course, I'm projecting because as this guy, face and body caked with several inches of fresh mud, keeps trying and failing I'm foisting upon him all lifelong frustrations of watching the Red Sox get so close to "immunity" only to fall off their own log. But it isn't the Red Sox it's some guy in his stocking feet who is the scapegoat. And it feels to good, a total catharsis, to laugh at his failure.

Re The O.C.: Interviews with the cast, scenes from past episodes, Rachel Bilson, what's not to love? And next week a show of "bloopers." Keep it coming Fox. I'll watch it.

Re Red Sox v. Yankees: As George King writes in the NY Post, "It's Red Sox-Yankees in The Bronx with the AL East on the line. If you don't like this weekend, you don't like baseball."

I'm a nervous wreck, of course. What about you? The Yankees are 11-1 when El Duque takes the mound as he does tonight. But Bronson Arroyo is a potential David in cornrows to the Yankee Goliath. And we have Manny who just loves to hit at the Stadium.

This is going to be an agonizing day at work. I just want it to be show time already.

"This is the time to shine. I think this is the best assembled team in the league and now it's time to show it." — Johnny Damon

Hell yeah it is!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

OK, Tampa Bay, Time to go Bye-Bye

So are you as ready as I am to bid adieu to damn Devil Rays? Last night's game totally winded me, which is saying something considering I watched it prone and sprawled on my sectional couch. Massorotti has a point when he suggests in might qualify as the "worst game ever."

But the Red Sox are in a pennant race, of course, giving every victory indisputable meaning. And so it was last night before a sellout crowd at Fenway Park, where the Sox claimed an 8-6 victory over the Devil Rays in a game during which the teams combined to use 12 pitchers, blow five leads and exhaust 3 hours, 28 minutes from the 2004 season.

The Red Sox were not better than the Devil Rays in this game.

The Devil Rays were just worse.

Ouch. But true. It was fugly, no? Thank heavens it ended in a win. The alternative is too horrific to even consider. Can't wait to for Schilling to escort Tampa Bay to the tarmac at Logan for their trip wherever.

Meanwhile, I missed this bit from a couple of days ago:

"Yeah, it does feel like (the teams will meet in the ALCS),'' Rodriguez said. …"It's going to be fun. This is only my first time here, so I'm not entrenched in Yankees history, but it seems like that's the way it always happens" (Silverman, Herald).

Hmm. I don't think so, Alex. Here's a bold prediction: The Yankees will not make it out of the first round. No, I don't have anything objective (besides seeing a terrible Yankees pitching staff and questionable coaching) to back me up. It's just a gut feeling. Take it with a grain of salt. (By the way, I also predict George W. Bush will win handily in November. I'm talking 40 states in the Electoral College. Now before you go slamming me, consider this is a just a prediction, not an endorsement. I learned long ago not to mix politics and baseball blogging.)

I also have a prediction about our beloved Red Sox, but I dare not speak of it publicly. I bet I'm not alone here. I know you're out there thinking and thinking 'til there's nothing you ain't thunk. But your secret is safe with me.

And here's another easy prediction: the top secret design for the 1000-2000 additional seats at Fenway from the blueprints of architect Janet Marie Smith will, like the Monster Seats and recently added right roof seats, will be a sight to behold and we'll all love it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Kashmir: "When I'm on, when I'm on my way, yeah"

Dabgummit. I know it's probably good to get a little taste of defeat, good to recall what it feels like to face back to back losses, but, truth be told, I don't really need a whole lot of practice with dealing with losing. I've sort of become a de facto expert in that regard over the years. No, what I need, what I really need, is more practice with winning. Know what I'm sayin'? I'm one helluva good loser, but I'd like to hone my skills in being a gracious victor.

So how's about a little help here, eh, Red Sox? Baseball gods and demigods? Voodoo ghosts and goblins? Help a brother out, yo.

On the being a good sport side (see, I told you I'm already adept here), I think Pedro is right when he says we need to tip our caps to the rookie Kazmir. And I'm just whimsical enough to appreciate the Hollywoodesque plot line from last night:

As he took the mound to start the fifth inning Tuesday night, 20-year-old Scott Kazmir caught himself getting caught up in the moment.

Was he really at Fenway Park, shutting out Boston in front of 35,118 rabid members of Red Sox Nation? Was he really pitching against Pedro? And did he really just strike out five consecutive Red Sox hitters, including American League MVP candidates David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez?

"I didn't want to stop," Kazmir said. "I got in a little groove there" (Carter,

A little groove? I'll say. (Oh, he' been flying... mama, there ain't no denyin')

On the other hand, this may be a one of a kind moment for the kid. Kazmir was drafted right out of high school, and if you follow the Moneyball philosophy of Beane and Epstein et al, you know the risks therein.

Speaking of Beane and Epstein, don't miss the latest Gammons piece if you haven't already read it, concerning how those guys have moved way beyond the now mainstream and passe notion of OBP.

While some dissect the "Moneyball" theories, the A's, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Indians and others are trying to find the next new new thing, which in this case is quantifying what heretofore was considered incalculable -- defense.… Since teams have studied the creation of runs and the use of outs offensively, it should be no surprise that teams are trying to quantify outs defensively.… Defensive studies led Epstein to conclude in late July that the Red Sox could not win in October -- maybe not even get to the postseason -- with their defensive alignment (Gammons, ESPN).

And let not forget, as well, that we are still 5 years away from seeing a true Epstein team built from the minors up. He's still just tinkering with what he inherited. But Epstein's a pretty good tinkerer, wouldn't you agree?

Two losses to two rookie pitchers in a row? Whatev. You know and I know how good this team is. On any given night I expect them to win. And most of the time they will. Tonight for instance …

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Fuzzies

You've got to love it when it's September and both of Boston's newspapers have above the fold stories on the Red Sox quest for the AL East title. In the Herald, Massarotti muses on the importance of home field advantage,

By overtaking New York in the AL East, the Sox presumably would claim home-field advantage throughout the postseason. That alone could prove invaluable for a club that enters tonight with a 49-22 home record that is second-best in baseball to only the rival Yankees.

And in the Globe, Hohler assures us the Red Sox are going all out to win the Division,

Maybe this is all you need to know about the determination on Yawkey Way to overtake the Yankees in the American League East: Nearly a month before the regular season ends, Red Sox starters were told to prepare to wage an all-out effort in the four-game series that ends the season in Baltimore.

I'm not abashed to say that I do get a so-called "warm and fuzzy feeling" when I read,

If the Sox remain in contention for their first division title since 1995, they plan to send Curt Schilling and Bronson Arroyo to the mound on regular rest in the twin bill. If the race goes down to the final day, the fortunes of a hopeful fandom will rise or fall with Derek Lowe (Hohler).

Well, when considering the possibility of the title coming down to the final Sunday with Lowe on the hill, I do get little achy breaky to go with my warm and fuzzy. But I only have to recall what Lowe did against Oakland in relief on that final game of the ALDS last year to get rid of any jitters.

It all seems so doable, doesn't it?

The Yankees have to be somewhat worried about their pitching. In their last 14 games, the Yankees have allowed 22 runs to Cleveland, 14 runs to Baltimore and Monday night they allowed the KC Royals to score 17. They are 9-5 in that stretch, but if they're being hammered by the Royals, what are the playoff contenders going to do with that staff in the post season? (Pinto, Baseball Musings).

OK. No more daydreaming. There's a meddlesome, wannabe spoilers club that needs to be taken down first. "Highly touted prospect Kazmir" vs. Pedro Martinez. One game at a time. One win at a time.

(Reading back through this post, I realized how short it is. And yesterday's was pretty short, too, wasn't it? The thing is I'm just too dang excited and happy to find our team in this incredible pennant race that I don't want to spoil the moment by overly discussing it. You know what I mean? I just want it to be 7:05 pm already so the Red Sox can do all the talking.)

Monday, September 13, 2004


Who'd have thought back in maudlin May that a 5-2 West Coast roadtrip in September would leave one feeling more crestfallen than elated? I confess to definitely falling into the fissure of overly optimistic expectations. Silly, really. It was a great roadtrip. Even better, Derek Lowe is settling into his September sinkerball shtick:

"That was one of Derek's better pitching performances," his catcher, Varitek, said. "He just left one pitch up to Raul. I think it was really gutty because when he left the bullpen, he didn't feel really good."

 Lowe, who lost for the first time since Aug. 6, allowed only five hits and struck out six. Meche (5-6) also allowed five hits and struck out four (Horrigan, Herald).

As for the loss, Lowe himself concludes with optimism, "We've lost four times in (26) games and three have been complete-game shutouts, or nearly complete-game shutouts …"

And with Arroyo of the Corn Row shutting down the Mariners the day before, there's no reason not to emotionally take sides with the manager:

"I just don't think we can be discouraged right now," manager Terry Francona said as the Sox prepared to play their final 20 games, including six against the Yankees, their rivals in the AL East. "We're doing too many good things" (Hohler, Globe).

So what is the surest sign of autumn's approach? Is it "the gathering swallows [who] twitter in the skies"? Nope. Is it when we "make a great noise of rustling all day, like rabbit and deer running away"? Not even. Is it when "the morns are meeker than they were, the nuts are getting brown"? No, the surest sign of fall is the first appearance of the magic number.

And ours stands at 16. Can you believe it?