Mismanaged: Joe Maddon and the All-Star Game

Kevin Youkilis was a few thousand votes away from being the starter
at first base for the American League. Jason Bay led the outfield in
votes, Boston had the most players selected to the All–Star roster by the fans.

So how exactly is it that the five Red Sox that went to the All–Star
game had a total of three at–bats, one inning pitched, and four innings
in the field?

Tampa Bay, who did not have anyone selected to start, ended up with
three players playing a total of nine innings with five at–bats.

That couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Joe Maddon, the
manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, was manging the AL All–Stars and the Red
Sox are 6.5 games ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings, right?

I don’t think so.

Last year’s epic 15–inning affair, managed by Terry Francona, seemed
much more evenly distributed. The starters got one, maybe two times up
to the plate, and everyone that could get into the game got playing
time.

The game being 15 innings long might have had something to do with
it, but the point stands. Terry Francona gave every single All–Star
their chance to shine, whether they were a Ray, a Yankee, or an
Athletic. It didn’t matter; these guys were there to be exhibited, so
everyone should get their shot on the field and at the plate.

The AL won. Congratulations. Whatever.

This year’s game was a huge disappointment. It was boring, the
changes were hard to keep up with because certain players were
replaced, while others moved all around the field to make sure they
weren’t replaced.

I can’t complain too much about the pitching; that was handled fine,
with the exception of Wakefield. His selection was one of the feel–good
stories of this All–Star Game and he doesn’t even get to pitch?

Come on! He’s 42 and was selected to his first ever All–Star team.
Fun fact: there are only two pitchers in the American league with 11
wins. Both made the All–Star roster, neither made it into the game.
Beckett didn’t play because he just pitched, so that was
understandable, but not putting Tim Wakefield in the game?

Maybe I didn’t enjoy the game as much because the Red Sox were being
pulled away from the spotlight as fast as possible by Maddon. Maybe it
was because there were no homers and a lot of cheap hits that are just
too ordinary.

I have to wonder; had Dustin Pedroia played, would he have stayed in
the game as long as non–starter Carl Crawford or Mark Teixeira?

Judging from last night, I’d say no.

I’m beginning to wonder if the only reason Beckett and Wakefield
made the team was that Maddon couldn’t find a legitimate reason to
exclude them from the roster. His bias would have been too obvious had
he left the two 11–game winners off the roster in favor of guys in
different uniforms with 10 wins or less.

Honestly, this game doesn’t mean much to me personally, but the
pride people take in playing in this game deserves more respect than
that. It deserves more than a manager playing favorites.

I get that having the pitcher batting makes things difficult, but to
not even put Kevin Youkilis, arguably one of the best defensive first
basemen in the league, on the field for even one inning is beyond
disrespectful to his talent and to the fans.

At the end of the game, I switched sides. I started rooting for the
National League, because there was no one left on the field for the
American League that I gave a rat’s you–know–what for.

I might have been more inclined to stick with my league of choice had I felt it was managed correctly.

But last night, I would have gladly traded home field advantage if it meant that Joe Maddon would lose that game.

Red Sox and Yankees: Rivals Go Head-To-Head For The First Time in 2009

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The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry
is the best in baseball, and possibly the best in professional sports.
I was raised to hate the Yankees, I mean, really, really hate them. I have a friend who was raised the same way, only opposite. She was raised to hate the Red Sox.

Why?

Who cares? It’s fun! It is certainly not a friendly rivalry, but it
is fun to have a “bad guy” to unite against. Its a showdown of good
versus evil, the Red Sox Nation vs. the Evil Empire, minor tweaks vs.
major, multi-million dollar overhaul.

A rivalry, yes, but most definitely a fun one.

Of course, with this rivalry, things can (and do) tend to go too
far. With Joba Chamberlain on the mound tonight, things might get a
little interesting. 

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If you recall from the previous two seasons, there is some bad blood
between Chamberlain and Youkilis. Why? Who knows. Fact of the matter
is, Joba’s thrown at Youkilis four times. Four. 

So far, no brawls, but it is getting a little ridiculous. Buzzing a
player inside is one thing, its acceptable, its part of the game, but
throwing at hitters, at their heads, is unacceptable. When Josh Beckett
did it earlier this season, it was an accident and everyone knew it.
When Joba did it last season, it was no accident.

If he does it again, judging by the reactions last time, there will most likely be a brawl or an ejection, or both.

Tonight, Chamberlain, who went 4.2 innings with six hits, five
earned runs, five walks and four strikeouts in his last start, will
square off against Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester. Lester looked much
better in his start against Baltimore going 7 innings with only four
hits, zero earned runs, and nine strike-outs.

While Youkilis’s consecutive on-base streak was snapped Wednesday
night, he is still making American League pitchers look bad, hitting
.429 with an OBP of .522.

In other good news, the Red Sox starters are all now hitting above .200, with Lowell, Youkilis, and Green hitting above .310.

The Yankees and Red Sox kick off their three game series at Fenway
tonight at 7:10 PM, with Chamberlain taking the mound against Lester.

Saturday’s game will be at 4:10 PM on Fox with A.J. Burnett squaring
off against Josh Beckett, who’s original start was pushed back a day
due to his suspension.

Finally, Andy Pettite will face off with Justin Masterson in the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN at 8 PM.

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.

“Wake”ing Up The Red Sox

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Wednesday, Tim Wakefield flirted with a perfect game, and might have restored the Red Sox confidence in themselves.

I feel like we need the Hitchiker’s Guide to Baseball with a big sign on the back that says “Don’t Panic” and we really shouldn’t. We’ve got, what, 152 games left or something like that?

It feels as though these first two weeks of baseball, the Red Sox have been trying to start a car. Sometimes the ignition
turns over, but it doesn’t last long. Maybe Wake’s start is the jump
they need to really get moving. It does not help, of course, that they
had to face first the Rays, and then the emotionally charged and always
difficult LA Angels.

Looking at the stats for the first two weeks of the season give me hope, however. They have allowed the second fewest runs in the AL East, the Rays have allowed two fewer, but the Red Sox are one of the three teams with more runs allowed than runs scored. So there is your problem. Well, Dice-K and Lowrie being injured doesn’t help either, but truly, the issue is offense.

The Red Sox have just 35 RBIs so far this year. That’s 27th in the league. Their on-base percentage is ranked considerably higher. Which leads me to one issue: they can’t hit with runners on. While more of the team has moved above .200, Varitek (who’s right at .200), Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Ortiz are all still below the .200 mark. Dustin is a traditionally slow starter, so his engine should start going soon, Papi had his first extra-base hit of the season, so maybe that will kick him into gear, and Ellsbury seems to be coming back, he’s hit much better in the A’s series than the others.

Maybe
Wake’s brush with history will rejuvinate the entire team. Right now,
Youkilis and Bay are on fire. Youk’s hitting .472 and Bay is hitting
.345, both with two homers. Varitek’s average might be a little low,
but of his five hits, two are doubles, and two are home runs. He’s
hitting for much more power than last year and is tied with the lowest
number of strike-outs on the team.

I’m
an eternal optimist. So maybe all of this is nothing, and they’re going
to continue to be below .500 for the first time in years, but somehow,
I doubt it. Maybe Tek is going to have another bad year, but what I’ve
seen so far says otherwise. Maybe Bay won’t hit 30 homers, but I think
he will. And maybe Kevin Youkilis will slump after the All-Star break,
but I have faith.

The
Sox return home tonight to take on the Orioles at 7:10. Penny takes on
Guthrie, who has looked pretty good in his two starts for the birds.
The Orioles are a game back of the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays. Raise
your hand if you saw that one coming. If Penny can locate tonight, and
the bats can get moving, I think the Sox turn it around and get back above .500.

Red Sox Spring Training Analysis (Part 2)

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A few days ago, I posted an article analyzing the Red Sox and using
my stats love to predict the 2009 season based on spring training. You
can read that article here, if you haven’t.This is the second in what will be a series of articles.

Today I’m going to look at the question marks of the Red Sox, Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis.

We’ll start with Mike Lowell, who had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.

In Spring Training 2007, Mike hit .170 with 9 hits, 3 homers, and 8 RBI.

In his World Series MVP 2007 Season, he hit .324 with 191 hits, 21 dingers, and 120 RBI.

In Spring Training 2008, he batted .237 with 9 hits, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI

2008 was a down year for Mike, mostly due to his hip issue. He hit .274 with 115 hits, 17 homers, and 73 RBI.

So,
how does he bounce back? He’s looked good so far in spring training,
and the hip doesn’t seem to be bothering him. In spring training this
year, Lowell has hit .286 with 9 hits, 3 home runs and 4 RBI.

My
prediction for the 2009 season? I think he bounces back to good form,
maybe not the year he had in 2007, but pretty good. I think Mike will
hit around .275-.290 (I give him a wide margin because of the injury)
with about 150 hits, between 94-100 RBI and probably around 18-20 home
runs.

Next we’ll look at the Jed Lowrie.
He’ll be the short stop on opening day, but he’ll have to fight to keep
the job when Julio Lugo comes back, because the Red Sox don’t want nine
million dollars riding the bench.

Lowrie is difficult because he is young, and we don’t know what to expect from him yet.

In
2008, he batted .098 with 4 hits and 3 RBI in spring training, then hit
.258 with 67 hits, 2 homers, and 46 RBI in 81 games with the Red Sox
last year.

So then we have to ask
ourselves, how much does spring training really matter? Can it be used
to predict a player’s performance? The answer is no. It can give a some
insight to what a player might do, but the law of averages does not
take into account injuries, slumps, and hot streaks.

That
being said, Jed Lowrie is a sort of dark horse in 2009. In spring
training so far, he’s batted .408 with 20 hits, 2 home runs, and 11
RBI.

So how will Jed do in 2009?
Good question. I’m going to predict he’ll hit around .260-.280, with
maybe 80-90 hits. However, if his spring training is any indication of
how he’ll do this year, he could do much better. It will definitely be
exciting to watch.

Next we move on to Kevin Youkilis.

Last year was the first year that Youk didn’t slump a little after the All-Star break. The question is, at 29, can Youk
repeat last year’s stats or will they take a little dip? Again, this is
where all the stats in the world can’t predict the answer.

In
2007, Youk hit .375, with 18 hits and 5 RBI in spring training, and
.288 with 152 hits, 16 homers, and 83 RBI in the regular season.

2008 was Youk’s year. He finished 3rd in the AL MVP race and had a career year in terms of hitting.

In spring training, he hit .297 with 11 hits, 3 home runs, and 8 RBI.

During the regular season, Youk hit .312 with 1678 hits, 29 homers, and 115 RBI.

In 2009, Youk played in the World Baseball Classic, which skews his stats a little.

In the WBC, Youk hit .182 with 4 hits, 3 homers, 9 RBI, and 6 walks.

In spring training, Youk has hit .208 with 5 hits, 1 home run, 3 RBI and 4 walks.

So what does Kevin Youkilis regular season look like? If he doesn’t slump after the All-Star break, I think Youk can hit around .285-.300, with 95-100 RBI and 20-25 homers. Of course, his OBP will be high, as usual, because he’s a tough out, and he should be pretty good protection for Ortiz this year.

That’s all the analysis for today. Next I’ll look at J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, and the pitching staff.

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.

“Wright” Stuff: Team USA Knocks Off Puerto Rico

Team USA finally manages a defeat of Puerto Rico and makes it to the World Baseball Classic semi-finals on the back of Mets 3B David Wright.

It was a wild one last night, and one of the best baseball games I’ve seen in a while. Of course, it has only been spring training, but still, this was phenomenal.

Puerto Rico drew the first blood with a solo dinger off of Ted Lilly in the second, but Team USA responded with
two runs of their own, including a huge slide and bad throw that
brought David Wright home on a Brian McCann sac-fly. Kevin Youkilis
added to the lead with a solo tater off of Jonathan Sanchez with two outs in the third.

But Puerto Rico wasn’t going anywhere. A two run shot by Carlos Delgado in the fourth (also off of Ted Lilly) evened things up 3-3.

In the sixth, an Alex Rios single with two men on put Puerto Rico up 4-3. They built on teat lead the top of the ninth, when Ramon Vasquez hit one that got by Derek Jeter, allowing the man on second to score and putting Puerto Rico up 5-3 with half a frame left for team USA to stave off elimination.

Shane Victorino led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off of his Phillies teammate JC Romero, followed by a single from Brian Roberts. A line-out by Derek Jeter moved Victorino to third. Roberts stole second, and Jimmy Rollins walked to load the bases.

Puerto
Rico brought in Fernando Cabrera to relieve Romero and face Kevin
Youkilis, their two run lead in danger of disappearing. Cabrera walked
Youkilis on 5 pitches, leaving the Americans down by one run.

Mets
3b David Wright stepped up to the plate, and on the 2-1 pitch, he hit a
bloop double to the right corner, bringing home two runs and keeping
the Americans in the WBC

It
was quite a game, and if you missed it, you missed the best baseball
game since the Red Sox ALCS game 5 comeback last season.

The Americans will move on while Puerto Rico returns to spring training. Regardless of how things go from here, Team USA has already outshone the 2006 team. But with players like Wright, Rollins, Victorino, Jeter, and Youkilis (among many, many others) its hard to see them giving up now.

Team USA will play Venezuela, who they split a series with in Toronto, to see who will will Pool 2 tonight (March 18th) at 7 PM eastern. If you haven’t been watching the WBC, tune in now, because things are getting very interesting.

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.

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.