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.

Red Sox Spring Training Analysis (Part 1)

It’s time for a little baseball prognosticating.

I admit to being a stats addict, and as such, I’m going to look at
the stats from spring training in 2008, compare them to the stats from
the 2008 regular season, and then see what conclusions can be drawn for
this season based on this year’s spring training numbers.

Whew. Good thing I’m a stats freak…’cause that’s a lot of numbers.

We’ll start by looking at the captain, and see if his 2009 will be better than 2008.

‘Tek hit .320 in 2008 Spring training, with three homers and seven RBI.

In 2008, he hit .220 with 13 home runs and an astounding 122 strikeouts in 131 games.

So far this spring, Varitek has hit .206 with 3 homers and 12 RBI.
Maybe the lower spring training batting average bodes well for ‘Tek;
his 2007 spring training batting average was .108, and he ended up
hitting .255 with 17 home runs in 2007.

Prediction: ‘Tek will hit somewhere between .229 and .245 for 2009. We’ll see.

 

Next, we’ll take a look at Jacoby Ellsbury.

In 2008 spring training, Jacoby hit .209 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored.

During the regular season, despite slumps, Jacoby finished with .280, 47 RBI, 98 runs scored and 50 stolen bases.

This spring, Jacoby has hit .250 with 8 runs scored, 5 RBI, and one steal.

Look for him to hit around .300 this season, with more runs scored
and more stolen bases if he can avoid the slumps. Since this will be
(sort of) his third year in the majors, maybe he can avoid the
sophomore slump. If he does, Ellsbury will be one of the game’s elite
leadoff hitters. That, combined with his great defense, should lead to
an excellent player.

 

Now lets look at the AL MVP Dustin Pedroia.

In 2008 spring training, Dustin batted .179 with one homer and four RBI.

By the time the 2008 season rolled around, he stepped up his game considerably, hitting .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI.

This spring, not including his brief stint at the World Baseball Classic, Pedroia has hit .370 with four RBI and 10 hits.

Pedroia throws off the stats a little, because so far, he’s been a
slow starter (he hit .196 in 2007 spring training, then hit .317 for
the year). But because of the World Baseball Classic, we don’t have all
his stats. If you figure them all out, Dustin’s spring average is
.279–considerably higher than his usual spring training average. That
means I have to forget stats and just guesstimate.

Look for Pedroia to do better than his stellar year last year,
hitting around the .335 to .350 mark. This may be overly optimistic,
but he’s got the will and the drive.

That’s it for part one. Next, I’ll look at Lowrie, Lowell, and Youkilis, and see what kind of years they will have.

Four Big Questions for A Fantasy Baseball Beginner

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As I begin my first foray into the fantasy baseball world, I’ve come
up with more questions than answers. Here are a few things I’ve
learned: fantasy baseball is way harder than fantasy football. My
fantasy draft is just days away and I have no idea what I’m going to
do. I’ve spent the better part of a week with the flu, so I used that
time to watch 30 Clubs in 30 Days, as well as look at thousands
of box scores and predictions and fantasy advice. But I still have
questions. Here are the four big ones I’ve been trying to answer:

Question 1:

What’s the best strategy? Do you put all your money on the big name
guys and  have the rest of your team come from late rounds? Or do you
maybe spend more on two or three great players, then take all the good
middle round picks to fill up the rest of your roster? Is it smart to
try and take all the good pitchers so you can force trades in your
league for better position players?

Here’s
why this confuses me: in my Fantasy Football league, you go for your QB
and your RBs, because they get you the most points, then it just
depends on who you want and when they come up in the draft. But fantasy
baseball? There are a million different strategies and I have no idea
which one works best.

Question 2:

How
far do you trust your instincts? I fully believe that Jacoby Ellsbury
and Jason Bay are going to have phenomenal years. I also expect C.C.
Sabathia to get injured or not do as well this year based on the sheer
amount of work he did last year. But he’s ranked high in the ESPN draft
order and projected to have a great year. Bay ranks fairly high and
Jacoby is not that far down, but tehn comes the question: if you are
not going for a name like Sabathia, do you try and take Bay earlier
than he’s supposed to go to try and get a better price? It is all very
confusing.

This also applies to
currently injured players, like A-Rod. Do you still take him in the
draft even though he won’t be playing for a while? Or should you wait
and try and pick him up as a free agent? (not that I would ever take A-Rod, but I’m curious.)

Question 3:

For
our draft, its an auction draft, and we nominate players on our turn.
Here’s a big strategy question that I just can not figure out. Do you
nominate the player you want or nominate someone to make others spend
their money. Like if you want Youkilis as your 1B, but its too early
for him to go, do you nominate Teixeira in hopes of getting your
opponents to spend more of their money, thus leaving you with more
draft power in the middle rounds, or do you go ahead and nominate
Youkilis and hope you don’t have to overpay for him?

I
did two mock drafts and tried both tactics with mixed results.
Sometimes I got the guy I wanted, sometimes I overpaid, sometimes
someone else nominated them and the bidding got too high.

Question 4:

Homerism.
I looked at my team, and I had Pedroia, Beckett, Bay, Lester and
Papelbon on my team, and Drew and Masterson on the Bench. Drew and
Masterson I don’t mind because if they do look good, or if Drew has
another month like he did last June, I can throw him into my outfield,
but I began to wonder about the others. Did I pick Beckett and Lester
because I think they are going to have a great year, or because they
are Boston pitchers?

Papelbon,
Pedroia, and Lester were all smart picks, I think. My gut is telling me
that Lester will have a better year than last year, and Paps is always
good, plus, he’s in a contract year, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Pedroia is off to a good start and I think he’ll have another great
year, he still wants that batting title, so I would count on him having
a high average and on base percentage.

Beckett…well,
he is a smart choice, but I can’t tell if I took him because of his
stats or because he’s from Boston. The same question applies to Bay.
There are a lot of good out fielders in the draft, and Bay is certainly
one of them, but was my decision to pass on others based on the fact
that I wanted the Boston player?

Like
I said, its all very confusing. But when I took a close look at my
tentative roster, almost all the players I want to draft are from the
American League. So not only am I a “Homer” I’m also a league
discriminator.

So those are my four burning fantasy questions. Next I’ll try and highlight a few guys who, in my opinion, will be busts and sleepers.

The Beasts of the East: Who Wins Baseball’s Best Divisions?

It seems like everyone is making their picks for who wins the AL East, I’m going to take it one step further and look at both the AL and NL East, arguably baseball’s best divisions.

Lets
start in the National League. The East is a powerful division, will the
defending World Champion Phillies again take the top spot? Will the
Mets suffer another late-season collapse? Can the Marlins overtake them both? Will the Nats actually look good this year? Barring major injuries and some fluky miracle season, here are my picks for the NL East:

  1. New York Mets (2008: 89-73, 3 GB) Here’s why: K-Rod and JJ Putz should ease the Mets’ bullpen woes,
    somewhat. It will at least keep them from hemorrhaging so much at the end
    of games. They have a good offense anchored by Wright, Reyes, and
    Beltran, the Mets should be able to make the playoffs this year. If
    they don’t, I give up, they must be cursed.
  2. Philadelphia Phillies (2008: 92-10, WS Champs) They kept most of their World Series winning team together, backed by a great offense with players like Utley, Howard, Victorino, and Rollins. However,
    the injury bug tends to bite hard the year after winning it all (look
    at the Red Sox from last year: same team, new injuries). Look for the Wildcard to come from the East this year.
  3. Florida Marlins (2008: 84-77, 7 1/2 GB) The Marlin’s
    are a good young team on a tight budget, and could surprise everyone
    and take over the East this season. With Hanley Ramirez and excellent
    pitching, the Marlins are a force to be reckoned with. Look for them to
    hang around and make life miserable for the Mets and Phillies.
  4. Atlanta Braves (2008: 72-90, 20 GB) Atlanta made some good moves in the off-season, with good pitching additions, but a weak offense will have them trailing the Mets, Phils, and Marlins this year. They are young, so look for the Braves to start contending more in a year or so.
  5. Washington Nationals (2008: 59-102, 32 1/2 GB) The Nats
    are young. I wouldn’t look for them to be great this year, but I would
    expect a better season than 2008. They’ll still come in at the bottom
    of the NL East, but with a much better record.

Now
on to baseball’s toughest division. The AL East has appeared in the
World Series 54 times out of 104 series. Of those 54 appearances, they
have won the World Series 38 times. That’s a pretty impressive
division, and its only getting tougher. Here are my (mostly) unbiased
picks.

  1. Boston Red Sox (2008: 95-67, 2 GB, Wildcard) Boston made a few little moves in the offseason that will have a very big impact. “Bargain” additions of Smoltz, Penny, Saito, and Tazawa make a descent bull pen and good pitching staff into a phenomenal pitching staff with a lights-out ‘pen. They have a few young guys to watch, both on the field and on the mound, and have several key players returning from injury in Lowell, Ortiz, and Beckett. This
    team came within one game of the World Series last year when they were
    hurt, now that everyone’s back, look for them to retake the East.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (2008: 97-65, AL Champions) Everyone is still waiting to see if the Rays are “for real”. They are. The addition of Pat Burrell certainly helped the Rays, but they may have the same issue as the Phillies: health. In order for the Rays to compete, Troy Percival needs to stay healthy, and the pitching staff is a little lacking in depth.
    The key cog in the Ray’s wheel is David Price. He came in and pitched
    well late in the season, but once there’s a legitimate scouting report
    out on him, major league hitters will figure him out. He has to stand
    up to the pressure and eat up good innings. If not, the Yankees may
    take back the second spot, and wi
    th it the AL Wildcard spot.
  3. New York Yankees (2008: 89-73,
    8 GB) Why, if they spend $400 million dollars on stellar players this
    off-season, are the Yankees in third? Because they spent millions of
    dollars on a very small number of players and neglected to give
    themselves some dep
    th.
    CC Sabathia ate up a lot of innings last year, many times on short
    rest. It takes longer than a few months to recover from that and puts
    you at risk for injury. Burnett should do okay, and the addition of Teixeira will definitely help the Yanks, but without much of a bullpen and with
    starters who don’t always eat up innings, the Yanks may find themselves
    losing games late. Mariano Rivera, great closer that he is, is also
    approaching 40, and will start to decline.The Yanks will keep things interesting, and be competitive, making things tough for the Rays and Red Sox.
  4. Toronto Blue Jays (2008: 86-76, 11 GB) The Jays, in any other division, would be a playoff team every year. The loss of Burnett could hurt them, but they still have Halladay
    and a great pitching staff. They are looking for some players to return
    to form and some young guys to give them a lift, but probably not
    enough to compete for a playoff spot because their division is so
    tough. 
  5. Baltimore Orioles (2008: 68-93, 28 1/2 GB) Though the
    Orioles have a young, good offense, their lack of pitching means they
    will again be in last place in the division. Look for them to do a
    little better than last year, but with a division this tough, where
    they have to face the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Jays in 72 games this
    season, its going to be a difficult year.

News from the Weekend:

The Red Sox locked up LHP Jon Lester for 5 years, and ended talks (temporarily) with
OF Jason Bay. Because of his free agent status at the end of the 2009
season and the down economy, Bay decided to wait and see what the
market does. He would like to stay in Boston, but not at a cut rate
when he could get more elsewhere.

Dustin Pedroia
has a minor abdominal strain and will need a few days of rest before
resuming baseball activities. The injury is minor and should not effect
his opening day status.

The shortstop debate is over for the Red Sox, at least temporarily. Julio Lugo will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee tomorrow and will be out of opening day. Jed Lowrie will (most likely) start the season as the Red Sox shortstop.

Manny
Ramirez started his spring training by being pulled from a game due to
a hamstring injury. After trying to cut off a double in left field, he
felt tightness in his hamstring and was pinch hit for in the bottom of
the 4th inning.

The Weekend Wrap-Up: Lester, The WBC, and Boys Being Boys

As I’ve been watching the
World Baseball Classic, which has been highly entertaining so far and
which I will discuss in a moment, I’ve begun to question a staple of
the sports world. The butt slap thing.

I’m a girl, we don’t do
the butt slap congratulations thing, and personally, I don’t get it. I
mean, isn’t a pat on the back much easier? Me, being an astounding 5′
1″ could easily reach these guys butts, but when you’re taller, you
have to reach down further, correct? So I was watching team USA’s
inning 6 route of Venezuela, due mostly to poor pitching choices on the
part of Venezuela, and when Youk came in with a run, when Dunn got his
homer, when Youk got his homer after the epic eleven pitch at-bat, as soon as he got around his teammates, butt slaps all around.

I’m
just going to put it out there as one of those guy things that we girls
will never understand, no matter how much we love sports.

Now that we’ve gotten the somewhat awkward question out of the way, lets get down to the business of baseball.

As
I said earlier, the World Baseball Classic has been vastly
entertaining. I’ve watched most of the games, I was shocked, like most
people, when the Netherlands upset the Dominican, and when Australia
came roaring back, down by four, to rout the heavily favored team
Mexico 17-7 in Mexico City. Speaking of upsets, as I am typing this,
Italy has just knocked team Canada out of the WBC. So now Italy and
Venezuela will face off again to see who makes it to round 2.

Korea
won Pool A in nail-biter fashion, beating Japan 1-0 after losing to
Japan 14-2 on Saturday. Australia’s win over Mexico was the country’s
first win in World Baseball Classic history, and it was an exciting
game to see. This weekend was good for hitters, bad for pitchers, as
most of the teams are using the long ball to put up huge scores, with
four games ending with the winning team in double digits.

And now for a few questions.

For
Kevin Youkilis: Is this offensive prowess going to continue throughout
the regular season? Here are Kevin’s WBC stats: 8 AB 3 H (2 HR) 7 R 3
RBI 9 TB 2 BB 2 SO.
If he kept that up for the season, he’d finish
with a .375 average and .500 OBP, and he’d finish much higher than 3rd
in the MVP race.

For Chipper Jones: What is going on? In seven at-bats he’s had one free pass and five strikeouts. This is not looking good for the man they thought might finish over .400 last year.

For
Dustin Pedroia: Does the poor performance at the WBC mean anything?
Remember in 2007 when Dustin hit under .200 the first month of the
season and then turned out a Rookie of the Year, World Series winning
finish? Besides, Dustin has still come up with two clutch hits and two
RBI, hitting from either the one or two spot,
which is two more than David Wright has hitting from the five hole.

For
Venezuela’s Manager: I question the pitching decisions you have made,
but after seeing Italy handle Canada, I reserve judgment until after
the rematch as to whether or not you made a mistake that first game.

For
Alex Rodriguez: Could you maybe not make any headlines for the next
week or two so that the sports media can talk about baseball and not
your hip surgery, or your marital problems, or your club-house manners,
or you having juiced, or your cousin who gave you drugs. Seriously,
that list is ridiculous. I’d much rather be kept up-to-date on
injuries, contract signings, and young guys making a splash at spring
training.

No offense to A-Rod here, I know the press blows these stories way out of proportion and beats them into the ground, but still

Finally,
on to my favorite Southpaw. Rumors have been flying around all weekend
about a five-year, multi-million dollar contract the Red Sox have on
the table for young lefty Jon Lester. This will be the third farm boy
the Sox will attempt to sign to a long-term deal this year, as both
Pedroia and Youkilis were locked up in the off season. The Sox
discussed a long-term offer with their eccentric closer Jonathan
Papelbon, but only managed a one-year deal avoiding arbitration.

Though
Lester has not yet signed the contract, the Sox will most likely come
to terms with him and Papelbon either this year or next.

Here’s one last thing to leave you with. Picture day always produces a few funny moments, and here are the Red Sox outtakes. Enjoy.

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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kotsaypd.jpgjddrewpd.jpglesterpd.jpglowellpd.jpglugopd.jpg

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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.

So You Wanna Be A Red Sox Fan: Guide to 2009

So, its February, and its cold, and you’ve started thinking about springtime and baseball and you’ve decided to jump on the Red Sox bandwagon. While I, personally, feel like you need to cheer for your home-town team unless you are or have been raised (like me) by a transplanted fan. If, however, you choose not to do this, its all good. Red Sox Nation is always willing to welcome one more.

So, if this is the case, here are a few rules/tips/etc. to get you through 2009 without being called a bandwagon jumper.

First, the rules.
1. No pink hats. Unless there’s some breast cancer day, pink hats are big no-nos.
2. When Kevin Youkilis is up to bat, he is not being booed, everyone is yelling “Yooouuukkk”
3. Never, EVER mention Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone without some sort of negative or  
    expletive.
4. If someone brings up Yaz during game, they are not talking about birth control, they are
    talking about Carl Yastrzemski.
5. 99.9% of the time we will never root for the Yankees to win. The only exception to this rule
    is if a Yankees win can secure the Red Sox the Wildcard or the AL East.
6. You cannot like both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Not possible, don’t even try.
7. Starting the “Yankees Suck” chant when we are not playing the Yankees is a bad plan. It
    either makes everyone think you are drunk or a brand new fan.
8. If someone brings up Williams, Fisk, Lynn, Yaz, Pesky, etc, and you don’t actually know
    anything about them, shhh!
9. You must know something about baseball, be sure to know what a sac-fly is, a hit-and-run,
    what is and is not a save, drop third strike, fair and foul, and have a little idea what the
    batting average means.
10. If you are surrounded by fans who start the whole “that’s it, we’re done” nonsense, they
     are old fans, they’ve been around for a while, and they don’t actually mean “we’re done”,
     they still have hope, but its a lingering knee-jerk reaction, and the longer they’ve been a
     Sox fan, the longer they will have said reaction. 

Now, the traditions:

We’ll start with songs. Songs at a baseball game are important. They take up the time in the middle of innings when we’re switching sides, get the fans back into the game, and entertain everyone. The Red Sox have several which are played at almost every single home game.

First, is Sweet Caroline.
Sweet Caroline is played at every game in the middle of the eighth inning. The lyrics can be found here or on the big screen at Fenway.

Next, we have Tessie.
Tessie has some history. It was originally from a Broadway play and utilized by the Royal Rooters in the early 1900s to inspire the Red Sox and taunt opposing teams. In 2004, if was re-recorded by the Dropkick Murphys and several members of the Red Sox orginiazation, and it tells the story of the Royal Rooters. It is the second of three songs played after every Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

This is from the CD Warriors Code, by the Dropkick Murphys, explaining Tessie:

“We recorded this song in June 2004 and after giving it to the Red
Sox told anyone that would listen that this song would guarantee a
World Series victory. Obviously no one listened to us or took us
seriously. We were three outs away from elimination in game 4 at the
hands of the Yankees and receiving death threats from friends, family,
& strangers telling us to stay away from the Red Sox and any other
Boston sports team and get out of town. Luckily for us things turned
around for the Red Sox and the rest is history.”

Then there’s Dirty Water
Dirty Water was recorded by the Standells and debuted on the radio in 1966. It is the first song played after every home victory by the Red Sox and is a tribute to Boston. Lyrics can be found here.

Finally, Joy To The World
Joy to The World is a song by Three Dog Night, it is the last of the three songs played at home Red Sox victories. Check out the lyrics here.

Finally, here are some random 2009 tid-bits you might need to know.

-Dustin Pedroia’s listed height and his apparent actually height are different. Say nothing, he’s a beastly player.
-Kevin Youkilis is Mr. Intensity. He’s not really called that. One of his nick-names is “The Greek God of Walks”. He is also not generally called that. Mostly, we call him “Youk”
-Jason Varitek is one of 4 (3?) Captains in Major League Baseball. So the “C” on his chest is a big deal.
-Wakefield pitches knuckleballs.
-Terry Francona is also refferred to as “Tito”. He doesn’t chew tobacco, but he does go through tons of double-bubble every game.
-“PawSox” refers to “Pawtucket Red Sox” the AAA team for the Red Sox organization.
-The mascot is “Wally the Green Monster”, this is because the thirty-seven-foot, two-inch left field wall at Fenway, the tallest of such walls in the majors, is called “The Green Monster”. It was not actually painted green until 1947.
-When they call Jon Lester a “southpaw” this means “lefty”
-The AL East is the division the Red Sox play in. It is a tough division, because the Yankees spend so much money and the Rays have had first-round draft picks for years, so they have a lot of young talent. The Orioles and the Bluejays are also in the division.
-The bull-pen band is a term for when the bull pen gets bored or wants to distract the other team and they bang on the fence and shake things to create music. They are actually quite good.
-A Fenway Frank is a hotdog.
-Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo are the NESN announcers for the Boston Red Sox
Fever Pitch was not that good of a movie.

That’s about all I can think of for now, so if you’re just joining us, welcome to Red Sox Nation, you’ll love it here.

A Hairy Situation: Boston’s Best (Facial*) Hair

*may include some non-facial hair

While we wait anxiously for baseball season to start, recover from last night’s buzzer loss to the Lakers, and wonder about Matt Cassel now that he’s  been tagged, I’ve decided to lighten the mood and take a look at some of the best hair around Beantown. These are in no particular order, because I had a hard time judging soul patch against stash against scruff. 

So, without Further Ado, here are some hair-raising examples.

dustinbeard.jpg

And so here we have Dustin Pedroia’s scruff/goatee. This changes throughout the season, sometimes he’s clean-shaven, sometimes he’s just got scruff, sometimes he’s got scruff and goatee, sometimes just the goatee. We applaud Dustin for his artistic shaving, and it is our opinion that the ever-changing hair is somehow tied to Tito…but we have no proof.

Next…

josh.jpeg
kesoulpatch.jpg

Josh Beckett for the Red Sox and KG for the Celtics representing the “Soul Patch”

Now, many of the C’s rock this look from week to week, but Josh is the main member of the Red Sox who so effortlessly rocks the soul patch. Again, we have no explanation for the tuft of hair these gentlemen prefer, but the way they play the game, we don’t question it.

oline.jpgThe New England Patriots O-Line, AKA “The Mountain Men”. Their signature beards are grown throughout the season until they look like this. Its either an intimidation tactic, a bonding experience, or both, but either way, I feel sorry for some of their wives. They make our list for the sheer lumberjack-ness of their hair.

papshair.jpgJonathan Papelbon’s Hair. While it doesn’t count as facial hair, its too much fun not to mention here. On one side, we have the mohawk. The entire Rays team had those last year, and they weren’t intimidating, especially on Joe Madden, but on Paps, we like it. On the other side we have the signature spiked look, which was rocked for most of the 2007 World Series run. So while its not on his face, we love it and him, so he makes the list.

tombeard.jpg

Tom Brady may have the world’s most famous stubble, but he has been known to rock a bit more of a beard, which we suspect is in support of his mountainous o-line. The stubble is, however, much more attractive, and on Brady’s already handsome face, makes him look rugged and manly. The beard…not so much. While we appreciate the bonding, we think Tom should stick to the stubble.

welker.jpgThen we have everyone’s favorite slot machine, Wes Welker. He, like Pedroia, likes to shake things up, but his most famous (or infamous) cut is the mustache. Now, we secretly called it the “porn star ‘stache”, but when he rocks it with a beard, its much less creepy. All in all, we’re in favor of the light scruff, its less creepy, or clean-shaven, which is also good.

And finally…

youkbeards.jpg
Youk. Kevin Youkilis has been clean-shaven, but lately, he’s been rocking the goatee. We much prefer the goatee. We have a theory that its an intimidation technique, and goes well with the intense, scary, persona he has when he plays (we also think that Youk doesn’t shower to help with that persona, or at least, lets people think he doesn’t). Its the most famous goatee on the Red Sox roster, and gives us all hope that Youk will always play with intensity, grit, and consistency. Funny how a little bit of hair can say so much. Maybe the goatee is why Joba Chamberlain is out to get him?

That’s all the hair I have today. If I missed anyone or you think someone should not be on this list, let me know, maybe I’ll add them in.

We’ll be doing the “Best Of” for the next few weeks. Anything to get us through until opening day. Next up: “Best Fans”, we’ll look at Damon’s Diciples, the Bleacher Creatures, and the Royal Rooters, to name just a few.

Sox Avoid Aribitration While Tek Clears The Air

Theo Epstein has now gone six years without actually going to the arbitration hearing.

Papelbon signed a one year, 6.25 million dollar deal to keep him out of arbitration in his first year of eligibility, and they may not be finished. This was the biggest deal ever for a relief pitcher in his first year of eligibility.

Of course, after locking up Youkilis and Pedroia with multi-year deals, one can bet the Sox, with their available funds, would likely try and lock up their eccentric closer as well.

Javier Lopez signed a $1.35 million deal, which is a $500,000 raise from last year.

Also according to reports, the meeting that Jason Varitek had with the Red Sox without the Prince of Darkness (aka Boras), it was to clear the air with the team because they had been ignoring Boras’s calls. He also stated that he had no idea that teams would forfeit a draft pick when he decided against the Red Sox earlier offer. How true this is, I don’t know, but it is possible that our beloved Captain, baseball smart as he may be, may not know all the ins and outs of trade deadlines and arbitration deals. From his comments, Tek sounds sincerely apologetic and a little ashamed.

For my part, I’m going to believe him, and maybe that is why he decided not to take the $10 million, which I never understood why he didn’t. It made no sense to not take that deal, and now I am starting to understand his reasoning behind not taking it. If he didn’t know about the draft pick, and PoD (Boras) wasn’t about to tell him, then he was going along, blissfully ignorant that taking him from the Red Sox would come at such a high cost for another team.