Generation Gap: A Boston Fan’s Psyche

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Since 2001 there has been a steady shift in the mentality of a Boston fan. Well, the young ones, anyway. It really took off in 2004 after the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

I watch most games with my Dad, he’s been a fan his entire life and he’s the reason I love the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, and Bruins as much as I do. But as fans go, we are very different. 

Lets look situation-ally first: Red Sox game, no score, bases loaded, one out, and Papi’s up.

My first thoughts: “grand slam, runs will score on a double, sac fly would score at least one, so would a single or a walk”. These are the first things that float trough my mind. 

My Dad, on the other hand, is the pre-2001 vintage. His first thoughts: “Here comes the double play! They leave more men on base than anybody.”

We all know about Red Sox fans in the pre-2004 era. If one thing goes wrong they curl up in a ball, and get ready for the “inevitable”. And lets face it, a lot has gone wrong in his 50+ years of following Boston teams. The Patriots were awful for a long time, the Celtics were good in the early days, but then turned into a joke in the 90s, the Bruins have been up and down, and the Sox…well, we’ll just say they had some heart-wrenching losses in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

If you consider what he’s seen, its understandable that he is, as I call him, a “Negative Nancy”. But I’ve noticed a similar issue with many of the older Boston fans. In April they were ready to throw in the towel, despite the fact that a baseball season had just started. 

Why does this happen?

I’ve decided its all about heartbreak. I have been following Boston sports since I was old enough to understand. Lets assume the age of understanding is about five, so that’s 1991.

So in 19 years, I have seen the Patriots go to five Super-bowls, win three, lose one they had no chance in, and only one heartbreaking loss that still haunts me. I cannot, and will not look at footage from that day.

I have seen the Red Sox win two World Series, and make it to the playoffs almost a dozen times. I only have one heartbreak: 2003. 

The Celtics were a joke in the 90s, and most of the 21st century, until the creation of the Big Three. Now they are pushing for banner 18. Last year was tough, but without Garnett, I did not expect too much. 

So in my experience, the heartbreaks are much rarer, and the teams have played better. How many other cities can say their NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL teams have all been to the playoffs in the past three years? Not many. Three, to be exact: Boston, NY/NJ, and Arizona. And if we were not grouping the New York/New Jersey teams together, there would only be two. 

If you look at it like that, it’s pretty darn amazing, especially since Boston has two championships in that span. But I look at things optimistically. I have a saying in my house, and I have applied it to every sport I watch. I don’t give up until the buzzer sounds or the last out is made. I refuse to admit defeat until the clock runs out, sometimes a little irrationally, but I have seen some terrific comebacks in my time. 

That’s what separates the young fans from the old. The young fans feel the losses, and remember all the heartbreaks, but they also remember the joys, the triumphs, and some pretty amazing plays. 

The older generation, the “Negative Nancys” have not recovered from the heartbreaks. They vividly remember ’67, ’75, ’86, and all the other close-but-no-cigar moments. To them this whole winning thing is new and they aren’t sure how long it will last, so they steel themselves against the inevitable. 

So while the older generation is just waiting for the other shoe to drop, the younger generation is living in the moment. The older generation expects every walk allowed by a Sox pitcher to score, and expected the Bruins to go down after being up 3-0. 

After watching game five of the Celtics-Orlando series, my dad said “They’re done, just like the Bruins.” A sentiment echoed by his friends, and the older fans I know. The young were more hopeful. Going home for game six, we knew the Celtics would win. 

Does that mean the younger generation has more faith than our fathers, and grandfathers? No. Less pessimism? Definitely.  

I gloated for a few days about how optimism always wins in the end. And who knows, maybe the next generation of Boston fans will be another batch of “Negative Nancys.” Maybe they will be irrational optimists, or maybe they’ll just be normal. That would be a switch, wouldn’t it?

Seroids, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loathe The List

David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez join Sosa, A-Rod, and Bonds as players named on the now infamous list.

But let’s be clear about this list (that’s not even supposed to
exist). It was a voluntary testing program to learn how wide-spread
performance enhancing drug (PED) use was in major league baseball. We
don’t know how wide spread, we don’t know if there were other lists,
but it is important to remember that at the time, many of the PEDs that
players tested positive for WERE NOT banned.

Another thing about the list: It is not a guide to who used
steroids in the majors. Some of the players on the ever-blessed list
tested positive for items that you can buy at a drug store and weren’t
banned by major league baseball until 2005.

So, before we judge anybody–and I’m including my least favorite player in all of baseball Alex Rodriguez in this–we have to know what they took, for how long, and why.

To automatically judge based on a name on a list…did we learn
nothing from Joe McCarthy? His “list” of card-carrying communists was a
farce. This list is a little more serious, but it doesn’t discriminate
between a legit ‘roid user and someone who used something that wasn’t banned at the time to get over an injury.

Quite frankly I’m sick and tired of hearing about steroids in
baseball. The only people who really care about perpetuating this
nonsense is the media. The fans, the players, and everyone else would
just like to move on. The media won’t let us.

I’d like to see whoever is leaking these names step forward and
claim responsibility. That @%*hole should be in jail. No one seems to
have compunctions that the way we’re getting information about this
list is ILLEGAL. 

Doesn’t anyone wonder why, if David Ortiz was juicing in 2003, his
post-season batting average was below the Mendoza line? Anybody else
wonder if Ortiz’s bat heated up by getting a different batting coach
and having Manny Ramirez hitting behind him? Is that so terribly
illogical that a 27-year-old baseball player could discover his swing
after going to a new club?

Gee. What a novel idea.

Barry Bonds got huge. He was quite literally a Giant. That is not
natural. Ortiz had a seemingly natural progression and hey…he’s in
the middle of what looks like a natural digression.

Here’s an analogy for you. For those of you who prefer things to be politically correct, stop reading now or skip ahead. It’s an analogy to
make a point, nothing more. For those of you still reading, answer
these questions: Do you respect Thomas Jefferson? George Washington?
James Madison? Do you think they were great men?

They were all slave owners. When they lived, slavery was a common
practice, it was not illegal. Yes, it sucked. Yes, it was wrong. And no
one is denying that it was a terrible thing and it’s sad that America
was formed with that institution still in place.

So does that change your opinion of the founding fathers? Should
they go into the history books with an asterisk because slavery was
outlawed almost one-hundred years later? Are they no longer great men?

No.

It’s the same with these players. Habitual juicers…I have more of
an issue with them, but if they weren’t breaking the rules, they don’t
deserve to be punished. Period.

We don’t call for discrediting of men who had questionable practices before it was illegal, why should we do it now?

It’s certainly something to think about. It’s not a black and white
issue, and it’s not something to be judged without all sides of the
story.

Do your research. The media will not tell you all the facts and you
can’t trust the TV. You have to look for yourself. How many people know
what that list is and why none of the names are supposed to be
released? How many people know that the players weren’t doing anything
against the rules at the time of the test?

As fans, we have a responsibility to look into the stories we are
fed every day. We have a responsibility to read and learn and make our
own decisions. As for me, I’m behind Papi 100%. I’m betting it comes
out that he was not a habitual juicer, and he might be one of the ones
who used something over the counter he didn’t even know was a PED, or
didn’t know it’d be banned later. 

Marathon Morning: Red Sox Sweep The Orioles With A Twelve Run Rout

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Its a good morning when you have a
baseball game at 11 and you have nothing to do. Its even better when
you get to see a young guy pull off a show-stopping performance on Patriots Day of all days. All while thousands of people ran in the 113th Boston Marathon.

Justin
Masterson, usually the long reliever/all around lights
out pitcher from the bull pen, got his first start of 2009. In 5
innings he struck out 3, walked 2, and allowed 1 earned run on 4 hits. Not a bad outing, considering he did all that
on just 84 pitches. And thanks to the Red Sox very strong bull pen,
that one run was the only one allowed all game.

The bats got going in the first, when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double. A single from Dustin Pedroia scored the speedy Ellsbury, and a ground out from Baldelli brought in Dustin, putting the Sox up by two.

In the second, Jason Varitek continued with his seemingly rejuvenated
swing (its only a few weeks into the season, but I remain optimistic)
and launched a solo shot into the monster seats, where fans were
alternating between watching the game, and watching the marathon
runners make their way through Kenmore Square.

The Orioles scored in the third, and it remained close until the bottom of the sixth. Another RBI single for Pedroia and a triple from David Ortiz made it 6-1, Red Sox.

The bull pen held the Orioles to a scoreless top half of the seventh,
and then the Red Sox really got started. The Orioles faced 12 Red Sox
batters, Mike Lowell had an RBI double and an RBI single in the inning.
Also with RBI singles in the seventh were Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youkilis.

The
best part of today? With the exception of Ortiz, who’s average is up to
.196, the rest of the team is now hitting above .220. Pedroia got
moving, so did Ellsbury, and Ortiz had a good day with two hits, two
RBI, and a run scored.

Lefty pitcher Hunter Jones made his major league debut, and pitched a scoreless 9th for the Red Sox, while Rocco Baldelli left the game in the fourth with a mild hamstring strain, and Orioles third-basemen Ryan Freel left the game in the third after being hit by a pick-off attempt from Masterson. He went to the hospital as a precaution, but there is no news yet on when he will return to the Orioles line up.

The
Sox now have a five game winning streak, are back over .500, and have
now won their 66th Patriot’s Day game, which started with a 21-gun
salute from the Minutemen, and ended with a 12-run salute from the Red
Sox.

Pink Hats, The Youk Fu, Picture Day and a Changeup

There’s a lot to cover today, and since Spring training has officially started, we finally have news! On a funny note, Manny rejected another massively huge offer from the Dodgers. That’s his fourth offer he’s declined due to either: not enough money or not enough years. Really, at this point, Boras should be telling him to take anything because no one is going to pay as much as he wants for as many years as he wants because we know that Manny doesn’t play unless its a contract year. Enough said.

Next on the list, the now-infamous and controversial pink hats. I’ve actually had several emails/comments/etc about the pink hats, either for or against. So here’s the new plan: a poll. Its at the end of the article, so select your answer and we will get a clear picture of how Red Sox Nation (or any baseball fans, really) feel about the pink hats.

Moving on.

A few days ago was Red Sox Photo Day. Probably one of the most ridiculous things in all of baseball, photo day never ceases to produce a few funny pictures.While we haven’t seen all the pictures yet, here’s the first few. We get a glimpse at the “Youk Fu” (to be explained later), we realize that the team as a whole is not particularly photogenic, and we see that Terry Francona looks a little like Ben Kinglsley. Click on the photos to seem them larger.

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Here they are, from left to right, top to bottom:
Row 1: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, RHP Michael Bowden, 1B/DH David Ortiz, OF Jason Bay, RHP 
           Josh Beckett
Row 2: U Mark Kotsay, OF J.D. Drew, LHP Jon Lester, 3B Mike Lowell, SS Julio Lugo
Row 3: 2B Dustin Pedroia, RHP John Smoltz, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Jonathan Papelbon,
           LHP Hideki Okajima
Row 4: RHP Junichi Tazawa, C Jason Varitek, RHP Tim Wakefield, 1B Kevin Youkilis,
           Skipper Terry Francona
Along with being picture day, it also seemed to be father’s day, with Little Papi and Little Lugo hanging out. Here are some super cute pics that made me go “awwwwwww”

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Aren’t they just too cute?
A few final things to address: The Youk Fu. I would try to explain, but I’ll just let Kevin Youkilis do it for me.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/x8hxiv
The Youk Fu
by beisbolct

Guess the goatee is out…

Finally, lets take a look at the pitching staff. While Wake was a little rusty in his start, Beckett, Saito, Lester…they’ve all be sharp. Lester has even worked on his changeup a little more and if he continues to progress it through Spring training, he’ll have a very dangerous pitch added to his already ace-like repertiore.

One thing you can’t argue is that the Red Sox have massive depth with pitching. They have several guys who could start but will likely be in the bull pen because they don’t need to start. So that makes the good bull pen even better. Then we have the consistent capstone himself in Papelbon, and I think with a pen this strong, he won’t have to come in for any 5-out saves or even 4-out saves, which will keep him full of gas just a little bit longer.

What can I say, I’m excited about this season. I think they have great chemistry in the clubhouse with guys like Papi, Pedroia, Papelbon, Tek, Lowell, and Youk. They all relax and goof off in the clubhouse, but when the game is on, so are they. And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of “Large Father” and “Pedroia Productions”. I’m sure Pap’s mom has a lot more embarrassing movies of her son that will make their way into the clubhouse this year.

A few final questions facing the Sox this year:
1. Will Jacoby steal his way back into America’s heart by winning another free taco?
2. How much Double Bubble will Tito go through on average a game?
3. Will Pedroia attack the next person who calls him a “little guy” “jockey”, etc?
4. Will the Youk Fu catch on as a national craze?

Finally, and, most importantly:

5. Will Pedroia ever beat Tito at Cribbage?

Here’s the poll:

Your Pink Hat Opinion

I have no opinion. I’m neutral.
They aren’t called the “Pink Sox” so why wear a pink hat
Real fans wear pink hats!
Only for special events, like cancer awareness days
They’re okay if your a girl
Other opinion.


View Results
Free Myspace Poll

 

So You Wanna Be A Red Sox Fan? Part 2

Here’s part two of your guide to being a Red Sox Fan.

As one of my lovely commentators pointed out, there are a few aspects of Fenway that I forgot to mention. So here’s a brief guide to Fenway:

 -It was built for the 1912 season, and the Red Sox owner at that time, John I. Taylor, decided to call it “Fenway
Park” because it was located in a section of Boston called “the Fens”.
(If you were wondering, Taylor was also the guy who changed the club’s
name to the Red Sox in 1907)

 -Duffy’s Cliff: Around from 1912-1933, Duffy’s Cliff was a 10′ high mound that ran from the left-field foul pole to center field, and because of this, any left-fielder playing at Fenway
had to play the entire game running uphill. Duffy Lewis, a star left
fielder for Boston, had playing this way so down pat, they named it
after him.

 -The Red Seat:
There’s a seat in the right field bleachers painted red. It marks the
spot of the longest measurable homer hit inside Fenway.
Ted Williams hit it on June 9, 1946, and it was measured at 502 feet.
According to legend, the ball crashed through the straw hat of a man
sitting in that seat, Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21.

 -The
Pesky Pole: The right field foul pole is named after Johnny Pesky. He’s
been a virtual fixture at Fenway since 1942. While he moved around a
bit, Pesky has been nicknamed “Mr. Red Sox” and his number, number 6,
was retired last year. The pole was officially named “Pesky’s Pole” on
September 27, 2006, Pesky’s 87th birthday.

 -Did you know that Fenway Park cost $650,000 to build in 1912?

 -The largest crowd ever at Fenway was 47,627, for a doubleheader against, you guessed it, the Yankees in 1935.

 -Behind the manual scoreboard (one of the last remaining) in left field is a room where the walls are covered with signatures of players who have played left field over the years. Maybe that’s where Manny always disappeared to…

 -No one has ever hit a ball over the right field roof.

 -The screen behind home plate that protects spectators from wild pitches/fouls/etc was the first of its kind in the majors

 -9 Red Sox players have pitched no-hitters at Fenway: George Foster (6/21/1916), Dutch Leonard (08/30/1916), Ernie Shore (06/23/1917), Mel Parnell (07/14/1956), Dave Morehead (09/16/1965), Derek Lowe (04/27/2002), Clay Buchholz (09/01/2007) and Jon Lester (05/19/2008)

 -The
Sox have currently sold out 469 consecutive games, and with the team as
talented as it is this year, look for it to increase.

Now a few more clarifications/rules/tips:

 -There is no curse of the Babe, we were not cursed and we don’t believe in it. Some people did/do but its best, if you want to hide your  newbie status, not to mention the “Curse of the Bambino“.

 -Before you go to a game, familiarize yourself with the roster and the starter’s numbers. This will help you, trust me.

 -The
“Yankees Suck” chant. I know I already mentioned it, but I think I need
to clarify. If you are a new fan, its best to avoid starting these
chants simply because of your in-experience. Some fans believe it is
applicable any time, any where. Others think there is a time and place.
Save yourself the trouble and join in, but don’t start.

 -Don’t
ask stupid questions. What is a stupid question? Here’s one: “I thought
Manny Ramirez played left…who is that Jason Bay guy?” or “Why does
that guy have the ‘C’ on his chest?” These will get you glares/looks of shock and will guarantee that everyone thinks you are a bandwagon jumper.

 -if
someone calls you a “bandwagon jumper” don’t get defensive and start
spouting off this whole sob story about how you’ve been a Sox fan since
the ’86 season (I’ll give you a hint, ball rolling through Bill
Buckner’s legs…). Just say “you’re crazy” or “okay” and brush it off.
Unless you have asked one of the above questions, then just admit to it
and say something nice about the fans/team/etc and all will be
forgiven. Most of the time.

 –Fenway is old.
It has lots of bad seats, but lots of character as well. Just don’t ask
why they built it like that, because its been that way since 1912, as
you’ve just learned, and its just the way it is.

Now, for a few pronunciations.This isn’t all-inclusive, so if you run into a problem, go with their first name or just point.

David Ortiz = (or-teez)

Jason Varitek = (Ver-a-tech)

Jacoby Ellsubury = (jucO-bee)

Dustin Pedroia = (Pedroy-ya)

Kevin Youkilis = (You-kill-is) just call him “Youk

Daisuke Matsuzaka = (Dice-K Mat-sue-za-ka) just call him “Dice-K”

Hideki Okajima = (Hide-e-key O-ka-G-ma) just call him “Oki

That’s
it for part 2. If I hear of anything else, there will be a part three,
if not, look forward to my next article which actually will be on the
MLB’s best fans.

Off Season Rumblings

This off-season has been somewhat “quiet” in terms of the Red Sox. The moves of the teams in the AL East are all important because that might be the toughest division in the league. 

The Rays have made a few good moves, but are (mostly) sticking with what worked next year. 

The Yankees have found a problem and done what the Yankees do best: throw money at it. Why else do you think this was the first time in forever that they didn’t make the playoffs? That’s what the Yankees do. So as long as nothing happens to CC, Teixiera, or any of their other additions, they should be right back in the mix.

The Red Sox have been comparatively quiet. They got stung a little on the Teixiera deal, and right now they have no catcher, they made a few solid, cheep deals that should do nothing but help, and if they don’t, its not like they’ll have $10 million dollars on the bench with just one player out. 

They have a few loose ends to tie up, but they look to be in the mix for the AL East again this year. Pedroia and Youk will be back, Ellsbury and Lester can only get better, Beckett will be Beckett, Dice-K, despite his heart-attack inducing style, always does well, and who knows? Buchholz could be a lot better than he was last year, everyone seems to think so. 

First, they need to bring back Varitek. It looks like it’s probably going to happen because no one else wants him, and the Red Sox, despite their “we don’t care attitude” would love to have him back. I think, to, that if they bring him back, he’ll have something to prove, and maybe his bat will improve. I could be wrong, I’m no expert, but I like being hopeful. 

Finally, on that vein of hope, I have to say that I’m optimistic about Papi and Mike Lowell this season. I think Mike will be fine, and Big Papi will bounce back. Call me crazy, but with everyone healthy, the Red Sox are poised to be a big threat in the AL East, despite the Yankees trying to buy every free agent in sight. Think the fans are going to miss the ‘stash? 

So, my prediction is for one heck of a season, with the Rays, Yankees, and Sox coming down to the last few weeks to see who takes the crown and who takes the Wild Card. 

Red Sox Blank Rays, Close In On AL East

jles.pngRed Sox 3 Rays 0. Lester pitched into the 8th, allowing 0 runs on 6 hits, striking out 9 and walking 3. Paps came in and got a 4 out save allowing 1 hit and striking out 3. With this win, the Red Sox pull into within a half game of the AL East-leading Rays and move up to 7 games in front of the idle Twins for the Wild Card.

Not really the best night for the bats, considering the Sox had 9 hits and only 3 runs, all of those coming in the bottom of the 1st.  Lester  pitched 7+ innings of shut-out baseball, and Jackson pitched  6 shut-out innings. Fortunately for the Sox, that early jump proved to be enough to win the game.

Tonight the Red Sox made baseball history, breaking the streak for most consecutive home sell-outs with 456, beating the Cleveland Indian’s streak of 455. In honor of that, we will look at the 15 greatest moments at Fenway since May 15th, 2003 (when the sell-outs started).

Why 15? Well, 456 is reasons is way too many to cover in one blog, but 4+5+6=15, which is a much more manageable (not to mention readable!) amount.

15. April 22, 2007: Home Run Bonananza The Sox tie a major league record high 4 HR’s   back to back to back to back home runs in the third to help the Sox onto their first sweep     of the Yankees in Fenway since 1990. Hitting HRs were Manny, JD Drew, Lowell and     Varitek.

14. August 1 2008: A Brand New Bay Jason Bay makes his debut after the down-to-the-wire trade which sent Manny to LA and a few prospects to Pittsburgh. He has a great night,    
hitting well and making a spectacular catch, even scoring the winning run on Jed Lowrie’s
single in the 12th. This is not so great because of the game itself, but the fact that energy     returned to the Red Sox as they played like a completely different team after ridding    
themselves of Manny being Manny and his dramatic unhappiness.

13. October 25, 2007: Schill’s Last Game: In the last home appearance of the Red Sox in    
the 07 World Series, Schil and crew hang on to win a 2-1 pitcher’s duel with the Rockies.
 
12. July 2, 2007 Ellsbury Scores from Second on a Wild Pitch: Three days into his major league tenure, Jacoby Ellsbury did the nearly
impossible. He scored on a wild pitch from    
second base. Texas reliever
Willie Eyre hit catcher Gerald Laird in the leg with a pitch,
and Ellsbury was gone. He never
stopped, never thought twice as third base coach waved     him
home.

11. October 5, 2007 Manny’s First Walk-Off Home Run: Manny knocks a three-run shot out of the park to give the Boston Red Sox a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League
    Division Series, beating the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) 6-3.

10. September 21, 2006 David Ortiz hits Red Sox Record Home Runs: David Ortiz    
cemented himself in the Boston record books by hitting 54 home runs in a single season in
2006. It was his 51st, on this date, that put him past Jimmie Foxx’s single-season record,
and made him (officially) Boston’s Home Run King.

9. April 5, 2007 Dice-K’s Debut: Dike K strikes out ten in his major league debut and gives Sox fans a preview of all the Ks that are to come.
 
arodtek fight.jpg8. July 24, 2004 The Fight: A-Rod is hit
by a Bronson Arroyo pitch and proceeds to jaw about it all the way down the first base line. He and Varitek have words, and bam! A-Rod gets a face full of angry catcher’s mit. A bench-clearing brawl later, Tek, A-Rod, Kenny Lofton, Gabe Kapler and Tito were all ejected.

7. September 28, 2007 Red Sox vs.    Twins: A Red Sox win and a Yankee’s     loss gives Boston’s its first division title     in 12 years. Dice-K racks up the K’s     and bows to the fans, while Papelbon    
dances barefoot and thousands of fans hang around for almost an hour to see     the results of the Yankee’s game.
 
6. May 13, 2007 The Mother’s Day Miracle: Bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox are down 5-0 to  the Baltimore Orioles, Julio grounds out, then Coco singles on a throwing error by Ramon     Hernandez and Papi scores him. Mo Pena somehow manages a single that moves David     to third. After both JD Drew and Youk manage a walk, scoring Papi,  Tek comes up and     doubles, scoring both Drew and Mo. Hinske walks, and Youk is out at home (its very close, though).  Back up to bat is Lugo, who made the first out of the inning. He reaches on a throwing error and Hinske and Tek score to win the game.

5. October 20, 2007 JD Drew’s clutch Grand Slam in game 6 of the ALCS: the Sox down to the Indians 3 games to 2, proved to be the straw that broke the Indians’ back and    propelled the Sox to their second World Series win in four years. It was the shot that was heard ’round Boston and will probably always be known as the 14
million dollar grand-slam,     simply because with the bases loaded and
no out, Fausto Carmona had struck out Manny     and gotten Lowell to
pop out, very few people had faith in the then-struggling outfielder.

4.
September 1, 2007 Clay Buchholz’s No-Hitter: In his second Major League start, rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz tossed the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history, striking out 9, walking     three and hitting one batter in the 10-0 defeat of the Baltimore Orioles. Why is this ranked     behind Lester’s? Keep reading.

3. May 19, 2008 Jon Lester’s No-Hitter: The reason behind this being ahead of Buchholz’s no-no is because not only was it the first Red Sox lefty no-no since 1956, it was also a     record for Jason Varitek, who has now caught 4 no-hitters, more than any other catching.     Aided by a spectacular catch by Ellsbury and some heads-up infield plays, the Sox beat     the Royals 7-0.

2. October 18, 2004 ALCS Game 5: After going 12 innings the night before, the epic game 5
outdid it by going 14, ending when Big Papi’s single brought in Damon for the win. The Sox     would go on to Yankee stadium for the Bloody Sock game, and as the 26th team in playoff history to
face a 3-0 series deficit, become the first to force a Game Seven.

1. October 17 2004  ALCS Game 4:  The Sox go 12 innings, with a walk-off homer in the 12th. But they never would have gotten there if Dave Roberts hadn’t stolen 2nd and scored     on Bill Mueller’s single, tying the game 4-4 in the 9th. This sparked the Sox comeback,     down 3 games to none, to win it in seven take their first World Series in 86 years.

So there you go, 15 great moments from the sell-out period of Fenway park. Next up: A big time pitching show-down as Rays ace Kazmir takes on Sox stud Dice-K. Should be a great game, with the AL East being given to the winner. (If only for a day) So put on your best Papelbon glare and watch the game!

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Take A Deep Breath…And Let It Out

I have some staggering stats for you following last night’s down-to-the-wire game.

455. Fenway has sold out 455 consecutive times. Tying the Indians record for most consecutive sell-outs. When they return home after the brief trip to Texas, they will break the record.

.621: That’s Dustin Pedroia’s batting average over the past 7 days.

3.79: that’s the ERA for the starting pitchers. Not bad when your team has average 5.3 runs a game. Look for the ERA to get lower as we roll into September and October. (Especially if Beckett returns to his dominance, and Lester gets his power under control.)

97. That’s how fast Lester threw one pitch against the Orioles. He claims to have never gone higher than 96 in his career. If he can get a fastball that fast under control, he will be the ace of the AL.
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44: Stolen bases for Jacoby Ellsbury, who has struggled to get on base all year. Imagine how much larger that number would be if he could get on base more often…

110 and 191. That’s how many times Dustin Pedroia has scored and how many hits he has this season. Those are both Major Leage Leading Stats.

2. That’s how many players the Red Sox have who are in the running for MVP, some might even say that they are the front-runners.

and finally…

3. That’s the games back we are on Tampa Bay, who still have one more
night with the Yankees, who have now won 6 straight road games. We still lead the Wild Card, but I would love to retake the East just in time for the playoffs.

Now, back to the game.

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Dice-K did well, not one of his stronger outings, but not bad either. We just could not get any offense going.

Except for Dustin, who looks like he could get a hit in his sleep.  The bottom half of the order produced too, at least, a little.

Youk was again out, and Jason Bay had the day off, so already the bats are just a little bit weaker.

The Sox started to come back, then stalled, leaving the score at 4-2 Orioles.

Then Papi got a free pass. Dustin got a double, and Kotsay hit a wall-bouncing triple to score them both, tying the game in the bottom of the 8th.

yaypedey.jpgThe Sox held the Orioles, who threatened with two men on in the 9th, but could not deliver, and then the bottom of the order came up. Cora singled, then Crisp singled on a wack-a-doodle bunt that 99% of the time rolls foul, but didn’t, then Jacoby, who popped out in the 7th with the bases loaded and 2 outs, stepped up and bunted. Cora dived into third, the ball was overthrown, so he got up and scored, meeting his teammates at home, ecstatic to have come back and finished the sweep, something that had been unable to do against the White Sox and against the Yankees.

Yay. And Crisp was running his heart out, not realizing that Cora was the winning run and the game was over.

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That might be the weirdest walk-off win I have ever seen, on a sac-bunt and a throwing error.

We have the night off. Good. I’m tired and I need to watch the season opener for FOOTBALL!!!! Yay.

Disregard this. Minor webmaster testing nonsense.

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Oh What A Night

This game was the most ridiculous, the longest, and the craziest game I have ever sat
through.

papihomer.jpgAnd I had to balance this while watching the oh-so-nerve-wracking gymnastics team finals (USA won a silver…they should have had gold) and Michael Phelps (who was, at least, stellar and I never doubted him) I can’t handle more nights like this one.

Papi hits not one, but TWO homers in the first. We go into the second inning 10-0 against the rangers. Game over, right?

Wrong.

If anything, this game highlighted our bullpen problems and then put them under the microscope. Zink was good for three, then he got rocked. The innings between Zink and Okajima were horrible. Who has a 12-2 lead and blows it to be losing 16-15 in the eighth? Ladies and Gentlemen, our bullpen.

This was Zink’s first game at the Show ever, so I am willing to forgive him and let him have another chance. He was nervous. And we made a lot of errors. That was a sloppy game. That could have been the most embarassing loss in the history of the regular season (we have had some stupid post-season losses that I will not mention here). All I gotta say is thank goodness for Youk. The beastly man struggled earlier when the Sox were hitting like an offensive machine, but came up with not one, but TWO homers in the fifth and eighth. The second of which would prove to be the game-winner.

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Here’s the goal for tonight: bring that same offense, but please, please, please have better defense. With the solid southpaw on the mound, I have no doubt that Lester can rebound from the loss to the ChiSox and turn in a dominant performance. Everyone will be tired, I know, but that’s okay, because the Rangers had to stay up for last night’s nonsense too. I told my housemate how long the game was and she said “Wow. How many innings did it go to?” and I replied “Eight and a half.”  That is so not normal.

Oh well, we are the Sox, and we did notch the all-important W (which is even sweeter coming off a day where the Rays snagged  a beautiful L) I think the absence of Longoria is hurting them and the Sox need to capitalize on this. Perhaps the addition of Byrd (thank goodness for replacing Buchholz) will give the Sox that extra bit that they need to maybe even take back the division.

Speaking of Clay. Look, he’s a young, talented pitcher, but something is not clicking. It might be something small, I mean, look at Okajima. He went from lights out to terrible, and then changed one pitch and started looking lights out again. The big boys know Clay’s pitches. He’s not really throwing that poorly, but he’s getting hit. A lot. So maybe a little trip down to the minors and a little work on his pitches to really get in there and fool a batter and we could possibly have another ace on our hands. Call me crazy, but I have faith in the kid.

Wheels, Deals and Happy Meals

In the course of one weekend, I went from hating the game of baseball, deciding the fat lady had sung on the Sox season, and giving up on baseball all together for about 24 hours to being impressed with the team and hoping for another championship. There is only one team in baseball that can do that with all of their fans so effectively: the Boston Red Sox. Its like one of those movies where you are so angry at the characters that you get up to leave, but once your out, you can’t stand to leave in the middle, so you just go to the bathroom and head back in, only to see the characters completely turn things around.

Lets not talk about the first two games, where the Yankees hot streak clearly got the better of the issues Boston has with leaving men on base, the bullpen, and the lineup. I’m sorry, when Josh Beckett pitches out of his mind and you can’t get him any runs to help out? That is not good. But that’s all I’m going to say about Friday and Saturday. On to Sunday.

Once again, the Sox lean on Jon Lester when they are spiraling into a losing streak. Once again, Jonny pulls out a great game and saves the Sox. I had a lot of confidence going into Sunday, because lets face it, Sidney Ponson? Despite the surprising streak he’s been on, his low inning count and high walk rate had to eventually catch up with him. I’m hoping that this loss sparks a whole new Yankees collapse, though I doubt it because yet again, the big money boys have made some big money deals to bring in a bit of help. Sure enough, the combination of the-pillar-of-the-pitching-staff Lester (note, he may not have the most wins, but he always goes deep, and I always feel a little bit safer when he’s on the hill.) He’s the only one I really trust to pull the team out of a losing streak, he’s really good at that, and like Tek said, he’s only going to get better. Coming from Tek, who is probably one of the best pitching judges out there (he should really become a pitching coach when he retires, with all the good he does behind the plate, I think he’d be great as a coach.) that’s high praise.

Speaking of Tek, guess who is still hitting. Yay! And the Papi-Manny Double-Whammy is back in business as of last night. I think Manny is starting to realize that he needs to be on his best behavior if he wants to get a better deal at the end of the season, which I’m sure his agent has been telling him. But that’s all I’m going to say about the Manny Saga. Anyway, Boston’s bats were a’swinging last night with a bunch of doubles and a two-run dinger from none other than Big Papi. I think he needed that.

1217244978_3318.jpgMan, its good to have the big guy back. And with him back, Dustin can be the lead-off man (I know Tito still wants Jacoby in that spot, but I think he’s not ready yet) followed by Youk (anyone else think Joba should have been ejected from the game for that ball he threw at him? I don’t care how stupid the timing was, there is just no way that wasn’t intentional) then the Papi-Manny duo that hopefully will again start to terrify opposing pitchers. I like the batting order now. I like having Jacoby at the bottom, I think he needs some more time in the bigs before he really is an effective lead-off man. I think this visit to the 9th spot will be good for him. Speaking of Jacoby…

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What a catch. I tell you what, with his speed and defensive ability, I don’t care that his arm strength isn’t that good. That boy has wheels. He’ll be stealing bases again in no time, and with him on, a single can turn into a double or triple. We like to call him wheels.

The trade deadline approaches, and no word yet from Theo about anything. Do we make a quick trade to shore up the bull pen or do we work from within, like with Masterson? (who I still think is going to be a solid reliever). Do we trade Coco or keep him? (keep, sorry Coco) Can we please trade Lugo? I mean…come on, won’t anyone take him? What kind of dealing will be done? Will the Pirates continue to let other teams raid their cookie jar? Who knows. Will the Yankees continue to make ridiculous deals to make sure they are contenders? Of course. They’re the Yankees. They must be in the playoff hunt every year. Its a conspiracy, I tell you, the Steinbrenners are paying off the baseball gods…but thats another story for another day.

So, that’s the wheels, the deals…what about the Happy Meal? After deciding the fat lady had sung on the 2008 season, I went and got myself a Happy Meal to bury my sorrow in a little pack of fries, a burger, and a very small diet coke. It was partially the Happy Meal I had for lunch on Sunday and the Sox performance that night that renewed my faith in the boys. (Not that I had ever actually lost it, but in true Sox fan form, I let it go temporarily) What did I have for lunch today? What do you think. Superstition rules all, and the toy I got today was way better than yesterday.

Next up, Dice takes on the Halos. God help us and not them. (Seriously, I know they’re the Angels, but we could use a little help, and if that help comes in the form of a Rays and Yankees collapse or Sox mega-hot streak, I’ll leave that up to You, Big Man.)

Batter up!