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Home » Category Listing » April 2005 Game Comments

April 30, 2005


Game 22: April 29, 2005
Red Sox (11-11), 2
Rangers (12-12), 7
L: Tim Wakefield (2-1)
W: Chan Ho Park (3-1)
S: Ron Mahay (1)

I’m going to pretend that innings 6 through 9 never happened, which will be quite easy for me because I fell asleep watching this game. As much as I was looking forward to baseball after 2 days without it, watching Park ease through the Red Sox lineup with 111 pitches (66 strikes) through 7 innings despite walking 4 hitters inspired somnolence.

You might remember that I mentioned Millar has actually been able to drive balls to the opposite field of late. In the 4th inning with two outs, Millar tripled to center field. How unlikely is that? It was his 14th career triple. He and Ortiz should have a contest for most three-baggers this season. Stock up on that applesauce.

Wakefield wasn’t doing badly at all until the 6th inning. His ERA went from 1.75 to 2.78 with this game. If only there was a way to attribute one of those earned runs to Ramirez and Damon. I had an ominous feeling about the game from the 1st inning because of those outfield miscues. I’m sure Voros McCracken has accounted for defensive sluggardness somewhere.

Deathwish goes tonight to lay down the law against the pesky Rangers. If you’re a Red Sox fan in Texas enjoying the games, be sure to be on the lookout for these unsavory characters. They only put out a grand for information on the fugitives, but it might help defray the cost of your trip.

April 27, 2005


Game 21: April 26, 2005
Orioles (14-7), 11
Red Sox (11-10), 8
W: Jorge Julio (1-0)
S: B.J. Ryan (3)
H: Mike Timlin (3)
BS, L: Keith Foulke (1, 1-3)

The Red Sox had not let an opposing team score in the 1st inning until last game, and they continued the trend with this game. It was an inauspicious beginning to a loss that felt as if one were being slowly bled to death by a leech. The less said about this game by me the better. Feel free to read MLB’s wrap for the gory details.

Happenings off the field were more entertaining than last night’s game. Curt Schilling and Lou Piniella had a war of words through the “Dennis and Callahan” show on WEEI and the St. Petersburg Times, respectively. But now Schilling has been put on the disabled list with a bone bruise. Maybe he got it putting his foot into his mouth?

How nauseating is it that Alex Rodriguez had 10 RBIs last night? It inspired this exchange:

With the wind blowing out to right field during batting practice, Jeter had told Rodriguez, “No human alive can hit a ball out to left tonight.”

But Rodriguez hit two to left, and another to center. “I think I called Jeet every name in the book,” he said.

Way to “Go Pro,” Rodriguez. Uncanny timing that his historic night came so quickly on the tail of this announcement that he is going to be a spokesperson for Pepsi along with Vladimir Guerrero.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the Pepsi family this year, and look forward to working with them for many years to come,” said Rodriguez. “It is an honor to be associated with such a world class brand, and a corporation with a long tradition of excellence.”

If Rodriguez thinks that Guerrero is upstaging him during the filming, watch for the disparaging comments. “You’re standing in my key light.” “I have to be standing here, this is my best side.” “I think I should have more lines, since I speak better English.” One more chance for Rodriguez to show that he thinks he’s the best player in baseball.

April 26, 2005


Game 20: April 25, 2005
Orioles (13-7), 8
Red Sox (11-9), 4
W: Bruce Chen (2-1)
H: Todd Williams (2)
L: David Wells (2-3)

Why can’t we get pitchers like this Chen guy? Whenever I hear his name, I think back to the May 20, 2003 game the Red Sox won against the Yankees. I got free tickets through a Yankee fan, the proviso being we had to be next to him during the game. (He’s not so bad, even though he cheers for pure evil. He truly did feel badly for Red Sox fans following Game 7 of 2003. He did not rub it in at all.) We were excited because we thought Pedro Martinez would be starting, but it turned out he had strained a new muscle. (“They are going to have to invent muscles for him to pull,” quoth the Yankee fan.) It wasn’t until around 4 PM that they announced Martinez was scratched, and I heard the news while waiting on Yawkey Way for my friends to arrive. Once word had spread that some guy named Bruce Chen was starting, scalpers looked as if they had sunk their life savings into a dotcom stock.

The Red Sox trailed until the 7th inning, when they came back with 5 runs to beat Jeff Weaver, who at that point wasn’t damaged goods. I remarked that Weaver was a fly ball pitcher and that Fenway and Yankee Stadium’s dimensions were far different from the vast Comerica Park. I also called a Bill Mueller double, who was then leading the league in two-baggers, if I recall correctly.

Thinking back to that game makes me feel better because Wells’s outing last night was fetid. He went 3.2 with 8 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 1 home run, and an ERA roughly equivalent to his IQ, 4.91. Yes, I’m getting frustrated with him. Because Chen went 6 innings, 9 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 home run, with an ERA of 3.62. Why can’t we get pitchers like Chen?

How about the injuries of Matt Mantei and Wells? The box score says it was 49 degrees, so perhaps adjusting to lower temperatures after playing in Florida was an issue. Still, they are professional athletes. Well, professional ballplayers, at any rate. Do they know how to properly stretch before a game?

Offensively, there were some bright spots and things to look forward to. Jason Varitek went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. Johnny Damon worked counts, going 3 for 3 and had 2 walks as well. You can read about those in his upcoming book. Mueller finally returned and pinch hit for Ramon Vazquez, but struck out.

I feel compelled to mention that Michelle Damon’s segments in the pre-game show are pure unintentional comedic gold, not unlike her bleach job. (Scratch that; it was catty.) She visited the Museum of Fine Arts for the “Rockwell and the Red Sox” exhibition, and looked about as out of place as a Las Vegas showgirl in a nunnery. (Must see into getting myself declawed.) Not only that, she had her husband’s ring with her. File this under “whipped,” along with Doug Christie and Kris Benson. (Although I readily admit I’d probably ask to carry around the ring were I married to a World Champion Red Sox player. I’d put it on a chain and wear it around my neck, like in high school. ’Cuz we’d be going steady. So concludes my championship ring fantasy.)

The Michelle piece also made me think of Dorothy Parker’s riposte to the challenge to use “horticulture” in a sentence: “You may lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy and me, we would have had fun together.

April 24, 2005


Game 19: April 24, 2005
Red Sox (11-8), 11
Devil Rays (8-11), 3
W: Bronson Arroyo (2-0)
H: Matt Mantei (2)
H: Mike Myers (1)
H: Mike Timlin (2)
L: Hideo Nomo (2-2)

Avoiding the sweep is good, and so are two bench-clearing incidents. Nothing gets the blood flowing and generates esprit de corps more than a scuffle with the enemy. Terry Francona may have worried about forging a team identity last season, but this year the personalities seem to be meshing quickly. Would you have ever imagined Edgar Renteria spoonfeeding applesauce to Albert Pujols or Scott Rolen? Me, neither. I also saw a recent postgame show where Kevin Millar had him singing “Whiskey for My Men, Beer for My Horses.”

Trot Nixon continued his personal vendetta against the Devil Rays. He just has something against mobuloids. Who can forget his bat “slipping” when hitting against Ryan Rupe? Creative retaliation, there. The ejections were balanced on both sides and all happened in the 7th inning: for Tampa Bay, Lance Carter, Dewon Brazelton, and Lou Piniella got pulled; for Boston, Nixon, Arroyo, and Francona were tossed.

The skirmishes would have been for naught if the Red Sox didn’t come away with a win. It was an outstanding (Don Orsillo’s favorite superlative) outing for Jay Payton, who I’ve taken to calling “Payday Payton.” Three Red Sox hit home runs: Manny Ramirez in the 7th, right after getting thrown behind; Payton in the 8th, getting his second career grand slam; and David Ortiz in the 8th, after Carter had thrown near his head in the previous inning.

An interesting development is Millar being able to get the ball towards opposite field, relying less on pulling pitches. He’s only been flying out to center and right fields, but it’s refreshing to see a different approach from him. Someday, in some game, a ball will drop in for him, or he’ll be able to execute a sacrifice fly with a runner on 3rd, and his efforts will be rewarded. Speaking of Millar, it seems as if he’s a particular target for retaliation, and I believe it is because he was a replacement player. I realize some of the pitches that hit him were not intentional, but I do think that outside of the Red Sox organization he is not held in high regard.

Applesauce. It does a body good.

April 23, 2005


Game 18: April 23, 2005
Red Sox (10-8), 5
Devil Rays (8-10), 6
L: Curt Schilling (1-2)
W: Casey Fossum (1-1)
H: Seth McClung (1)
H: Trever Miller (3)
S: Lance Carter (1)

This is the kind of game I hate to recap, part two.

David Ortiz hit 2 massive home runs, one in the 3rd (432 feet) and another in the 5th (455 feet). The second one inspired this classic Orsillo/Remy exchange, paraphrased since I didn’t record it:

Remy: Must be nice hitting one like that and knowing it’s a home run.
Orsillo: Are you saying that when you hit your 7 career home runs you were never sure right away?
Remy: Nope, I was sprinting all the way around second.
Orsillo: So, you didn’t stand and watch them leave the park?
Remy: I used to watch my bunts.

Curt Schilling isn’t back to regular season form yet, but we did see flashes of his former self. He pitched 7 innings and 9 hits, 6 runs (all earned), struck out 5, and ended with an ERA of 7.13. Some good news is that he didn’t allow any base on balls.

Well, at least the Celtics won 82-102.

Let’s hope the baseball club doesn’t get swept tomorrow.


PerezhrGame 17: April 22, 2005
Red Sox (10-7), 4
Devil Rays (7-10), 5
L: Alan Embree (0-1)
H: Travis Harper (3)
BS, W: Danys Baez (1, 3-0)

This is the kind of game I hate to recap.

I can go over all the great things that happened, like the Red Sox resurgence in the top of the 9th inning. That started with Trot Nixon getting a walk after a 7-pitch at bat against Baez. Mark Bellhorn then hit an RBI double to atone for his error in the 3rd which led to 2 runs, one of which was earned. With Bellhorn on 2nd base, the Red Sox played a bit of small ball.

Ramon Vazquez sacrifice bunted over Bellhorn to 3rd base, enabling the 2nd baseman to score on Johnny Damon’s ensuing single. This is exactly how I think small ball should be used, especially with a potent lineup like that of Boston’s. In late-game situations with a tight score, I don’t disagree with suffering an out to move a runner into better position to score.

But it ended with one pitch from Embree to the pinch-hitting Eduardo Perez. It was a massive home run, at least, not some barely fence-clearing fly ball. I’m surprised MLB Gameday could properly place the red dot within the confines of its spray chart. Tampa Bay has so little to cheer for, we’ll give them this.

April 22, 2005


Game 16: April 21, 2005
Red Sox (10-6), 1
Orioles (9-7), 0
W: Matt Clement (2-0)
S: Keith Foulke (3)

L: Rodrigo Lopez (2-1)

The Baltimore Orioles are a tough team to beat. Just ask the Yankees, who got swept by them.

The Orioles are so hot right now, I can’t see them getting shutout two games in a row. That would be inconceivable.

I mean, could you imagine a starting pitcher like say, Clement, going 8 innings against them and having 8 hits, no runs, 1 base on balls, 7 strikeouts, and leaving with a 2.13 ERA? Or a closer, someone like Foulke, getting his third save against them?

There’s no way a utility infielder batting 8th, like Ramon Vazquez of the Red Sox, would be responsible for the only score of the game with an RBI-generating ground out to the second baseman. No, not against this vaunted Orioles team, who have insistent contact hitters such as Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora as well as offensive powerhouses named Miguel Tejada, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro arrayed against their opposition. And don’t even fantasize about the Red Sox getting a win against Lopez, who have .275 BA and .339 OBP against him.

Trot Nixon could not have fished out a double hit to deep right field by Jay Gibbons in the 4th with Palmeiro on base, surely a guaranteed run. Can you envision Nixon then getting an outfield assist, throwing to Kevin Millar who throws to Jason Varitek, who only just gets Palmeiro’s spikes with the tag before the first baseman slides into home plate?

These kinds of things would never happen. Nope. Because the Orioles own the Red Sox. Don’t they? I mean, this is the team that swept the Yankees.

April 21, 2005


Game 15: April 20, 2005
Red Sox (9-6), 8
Orioles (9-6), 0
W: David Wells (2-2)
L: Bruce Chen (1-1)

Good things come in threes, they say, and insert a joke about Wells’s weight being in the 3-hundreds here. Actually, he’s probably not that heavy any longer, since he lost some water weight doctoring the ball before pitching it last night, according to Lee Mazzilli. Not many expected Wells to pitch a 3-hitter over 8 innings, and even fewer thought that Blaine Neal would be able to have a 1-2-3 9th. It’s nice when improbably good things happen to recently suspect pitchers. Wells has earned a brief reprieve from the “embedded Yankee” and “Mendoza redux” monikers.

Mazzilli, a fellow Yankee alumnus, even had the umpires visit Wells in the 6th because of the lefty’s spitting in his hands. Playing mental chess with Wells. Ponder that irony for a bit.

What’s up with all the balking? Balking always makes me think of Balki Bartakomous; am I alone in this peculiarity? Jason Varitek scored on a balk in the 5th when Edgar Renteria was batting. Varitek then hit a 3-run homer in the next inning. Other players contributing RBIs were Damon, Ramirez, Mueller, and Bellhorn. Everyone loves a potluck scoring approach. “How did you make your RBI, Mark?” “Oh, I singled it in. I didn’t want anything too heavy. How about you, Billy?” “Well, I doubled. I just prefer it that way. Spicier.” “Check out Johnny. He grounded one in. But that’s because he’s on the Atkins diet.”

April 20, 2005


Game 14: April 19, 2005
Blue Jays (9-6), 4
Red Sox (8-6), 3
W: Roy Halladay (3-0)
S: Miguel Batista (4)
BS: Alan Embree (1)
L: Keith Foulke (1-2)

I converted someone into a baseball and Red Sox fan tonight. I explained many key concepts of the game as well as Fenway traditions and history to the extent possible. There’s no rationality behind 32,000 plus people singing “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning. (Speaking of music at the ballpark, when the Fenway organist plays “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé it never fails to crack me up.) A beachball bounced near us and I admirably restrained myself from appearing psychotic and did not violently deflate it, as much as I wanted to. Unfortunately he didn’t get to hear “Dirty Water.” He quickly apprehended what it means to be a Red Sox fan, although he does have some ideas on “enhancing” baseball with soccer rules:

  • Questioning the visual acuity of the home plate umpire: “Who is that guy that said that it was a ball? I’m not an eye doctor, but I have suggestions for him to improve his vision.” (He’s an MD.)
  • Upon seeing David Ortiz fouling a ball off of his foot: “Maybe I should go down and help him. That’s very dangerous.”
  • Commenting on the quick Red Sox at bats: “Why does our team keep on swinging so early? The other pitcher hardly has to throw any pitches.”
  • When Kevin Millar got drilled in the 7th inning: “Isn’t there a penalty? Why doesn’t he get a red card or something?”
  • Second guessing of the insertion of Jay Payton and Dave McCarty: “Why isn’t Manny batting here? He got pulled?”

I was saddened I did not get to explain the infield fly rule, but I did get to explain a balk. Bronson Arroyo is a great pitcher to show the difference between a full windup and pitching from the stretch, and Foulke was a fine example for demonstrating that not everyone’s fastball has to be over 90 MPH to be effective. I’ll give him a followup quiz regarding the requirements for a pitcher to be part of a decision. Next time I’ll introduce him to the nuances of scoring the game. Speaking of which, once I get my score sheets scanned in, I’ll post them with the corresponding “Game Comments” entry. I keep score (or try to) at every game I attend. They aren’t in demand like Jerry Remy’s work, but might be of some interest.

April 19, 2005


Game 13: April 18, 2005
Blue Jays (8-6), 7
Red Sox (8-5), 12
L: Dave Bush (0-2)
W: Curt Schilling (1-1)

Sunny day swept the errors away for both Toronto and Boston’s left fielders Frank Catalanotto and Manny Ramirez. The 11 AM start of Patriot’s Day games is a league anomaly, a New England tradition that has irked other teams. Just last year Mike Mussina complained about the early start, saying that the shadows adversely affects his pitching prowess. I’m sure Dave McCarty disagrees; the two Stanford graduates might have to debate this issue at some point.

Curt Schilling earned his first win, going 5 innings on 117 pitches, 84 of them strikes. He also hit Shea Hillenbrand, which makes me wonder if there is any history between them, if he was retaliating for Bill Mueller getting hit, or perhaps he was getting back at Hillenbrand for his comments about the front office when he was traded.

If Blaine Neal were any less effective, he’d soon earn the moniker “Human Save Generator.” He came into the 9th inning and gave up 2 straight singles before striking out Alex Rios. He then gave up an RBI single to Orlando Hudson. If not for a 6-4-3 double play to end the game, a Keith Foulke appearance would have been required.

The club goes for a sweep in this 2-game series tonight, and I’ll be there in person again. I enjoy these match-ups with the Blue Jays because I imagine J.P. Ricciardi’s family giving him grief with every game: “Why can’t you run a real team like Theo?” “Can you get me tickets? No, I’m not cheering for the Jays.”

April 18, 2005


PawsoxmascotBuffalo vs. Pawtucket
Bisons (5-6), 4
Pawtucket Red Sox (4-7), 9
L: Francisco Cruceta (1-1)
W: Scott Cassidy (2-0)

Paws, the Pawtucket mascot, is so much more approachable than Wally ever was. To get in touch with the Boston mascot I had to go through a gauntlet of agents, spokespeople, PR flacks, and attorneys. He wonders why he is being ostracized. On the other hand, Paws mills with the hoi polloi, knows the regular fans by name, and even had time to pose for a picture with me. Now that he is in a stable, longterm relationship with Sox, we’ll probably be hearing the pitter patter of little pawlings soon.

Chris Narveson started for the Pawsox and went 3.1 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He got through a rough spot in the first inning. After striking out the first batter and inducing the second to fly out, he hits Mike Kinkade. He then walks the next two pitchers, loading the bases. With the designated hitter Jeff Liefer hitting, Narveson then balks in a run. He hangs on to get Liefer to line out to Kevin Youkilis.

Scott Cassidy then pitched the next 3.2 innings and was shaky. He gave up 2 home runs and 3 walks, striking out only 1. At that point, however, the Bison’s pitching was worse, with 4 runs in the 5th inning providing an adequate buffer. left-handed pitcher Jason Kershner came in the 8th to shut down the Bisons, allowing no runs.

Alejandro Machado was an offensive sparkplug. He doubled in the 3rd and then stole 3rd base. In the 5th he legged out a triple when the right fielder fell down fielding the ball right near the foul line and wall, scoring on a single hit by Luis Figueroa. At this point I was hoping that he’d hit for the cycle, and he nearly hit a home run in the 7th, but only got a ground-rule double. Reading the scouting report on Sox Prospects, they say he has minimal power. I wonder if it’s something that he’s been able to improve since then, because he looked like a force yesterday. He also made a fine defensive play in the 7th, fielding a ball that was sharply rapped by Ernie Young and then hustling to 2nd base to get the force out.

Approaching McCoy from the $2 a spot parking lot.

Fishing for autographs.

Martinez, Malaska, DiNardo, Alvarez, and Youkilis with the trophy. Please move, photographer person!

Imagine the scorecard for this one. You’d need 8 sheets if they only held 10 innings per sheet. The International League hosts a page showing the particulars of the game.


Game 12: April 17, 2005
Devil Rays (4-8), 1
Red Sox (7-5), 3
L: Scott Kazmir (0-1)
W: Tim Wakefield (2-0)
H: Matt Mantei (1), Alan Embree (1)
S: Keith Foulke (2)

I can’t believe I missed a Devil Rays game live. After spending these past two evenings watching this delightful, young, up-and-coming team, I feel as if there is a void in my life. I may even have to remedy the situation and go down to Florida to the always charming Tropicana Field to take in a few games. Isn’t that heckler amusing? I wonder who his target will be?

All kidding aside, we all know that any game against a divisional team is important because the Yankees also play them. Recall how poorly the Red Sox did against the Orioles last year, going 9-10, while the Yankees dominated them with a 14-5 record. This is the difference between winning the division and dueling it out with the other AL teams for the wild card.

Since I was in Pawtucket (more on this in a separate post later), I can only go by what the box score and game log tells me. It’s saying:

  • When there’s a 5-4-3 double play with Mueller, Bellhorn, and Millar involved, it might be the most L-intensive defensive play in the majors. Definitely something to look in to.
  • Spelling Trot Nixon for lefties is a good thing. I like what I’m seeing in Jay Payton, who so far seems to be an upgrade over Gabe Kapler as an outfield replacement. I’ve taken to calling him Payday Payton, appropriate for this game since his 3rd inning 2-RBI single was key.
  • Wakefield is looking like the 2002-3 version, seasons where he was 22-12 and ERAs of 2.81 and 4.09, respectively. He struck out 5, allowed 3 walks, and had only 1 earned run. Wakefield now has 1,343 strikeouts in a Red Sox uniform, passing Cy Young (1,341) and trailing only Roger Clemens (2,590) and Pedro Martinez (1,596). It would be nice to see him in 2011, still throwing the butterflies.
  • The Red Sox hitters’ approach to Kazmir was patience personified early on. First inning-33 pitches; 2nd inning-24 pitches; 3rd inning-21 pitches (they get aggressive here, possibly believing they have figured him out); 4th inning-8 pitches; 5th inning-12 pitches. Kazmir’s control wasn’t there; he walked 4 and only had 8 first pitch strikes out of 25.
  • Any concerns about Edgar Renteria’s production were premature. Actually, any attempts at trending data at this point is hasty. But, it’s Boston. I do it, you do it, even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it. Let’s come to conclusions without due deliberation.

We’re not alone, however. George Steinbrenner is not taking his team’s 4-game losing streak well. Many Bothans died for this information, and I suspect many more will. Steinbrenner likes neither losing or Bothans.

April 17, 2005


Game 11: April 16, 2005
Devil Rays (4-7), 2
Red Sox (6-5), 6
L: Dewon Brazelton (0-3)
W: Matt Clement (1-0)

Clement finally went long enough in a game to be part of the decision, going 7 innings, walking 2, striking out 6, and and allowing only 1 earned run. All that natural movement that Clement has was harnessed in this game. I looked up at the pitcher info board and at one point in the early innings his strike percentage was 80%, a fact that shows the he was locating well and also that the Tampa Bay team is fairly free swinging.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing from David McCarty at some point this Friday about the awesome play he made with Mike Timlin on Carl Crawford in the 9th to get the 2nd out of the inning. With any luck, he’ll be distracted by some other topic before then.

Again with the observations thing:

  • The first pitch kid had a red and blue rocker wig and painted face.
  • I go to a game and another grand slam is hit, this time by Manny Ramirez. A guy near me is visiting town from Portland and is neither a Red Sox or baseball fan. It’s the first granny he’s seen in person. I tell him it happens all the time to crush his special moment. Ramirez now leads all active players in grand slams with 18.
  • There were scattered chants of “steroids” for Alex Sanchez. But it’s difficult to get worked up over Sanchez, even after the 1st inning triple. For his career, he’s .293 BA, .327 OBP, and .366 slugging.
  • Listening to a drunk person calculate slugging percentage with his equally drunken companion can be torture. I’m certain this may violate some clause of the Geneva Conventions. Friends don’t let friends explain statistics drunk.
  • Look for an upcoming documentary entitled Dig Fenway. If you were in Fenway on Opening Day, you might be shown milling around the concourse near Gate B, where a few of the pictures below were taken.
  • Baseball fans taking the Green Line postgame along with the Saturday night social scene does not a plesant juxtaposition make. The combination of annoyed, dressed-up folks wanting to get drunk and Red Sox fans who already are sounds like it might be fun in theory. Perhaps the two groups would suddenly stop and dance an elaborate waltz like in The Fisher King. But more likely they’d do what they did last night and roll eyes at each other.
  • Saturday night crowds seem more diverse, consisting of younger groups of friends who are out to watch some baseball and have a good time (not necessarily in that order) and families with young children. In contrast, the Friday night crew around me were more the after-work set who were out with coworkers rather than friends. On Saturday nights, I’ll expect to see many more dirty looks (“stink eye” we say in Hawai‘i) from parents with their kids to raucous fans.
  • Why was there a “Yankees suck” chant in the 6th inning? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world will never know.
  • An idiot stole one of the new signs about fan interference from the right field box seats. He was showing it off in the T station. Sign stealer guy: you, sir, are a moron. If you’re going to steal something, take a memento that says “2004 World Champions.” At least I got that huge banner that covered the Green Monster. I had to rent a UHaul and hire a team of five ninja to get it, but now I can cover a home (should I ever buy one) with the banner when it requires fumigation.





April 16, 2005


JackierobinsonlogoGame 10: April 15, 2005
Devil Rays (4-6), 0
Red Sox (5-5), 10
L: Hideo Nomo (1-1)
W: David Wells (1-2)

Jackie Robinson Day

My first live game of the season. Just a Tampa Bay game, to be sure, but it was nice to be back. Some impressions and observations:

  • It is possible to clap and smile maniacally every time the public address announcer says “defending World Champions” and not look too much like a fanatic, because everyone else is doing the same.
  • There were two sets of kids in the section near me, one pair of Yankee fans (I don’t know why they were there, but both were wearing “NY” caps while their mother or maybe aunt wore a Red Sox World Series hat) and a duo of Red Sox fans. The Yankee kids sang songs, made fun of each other and the teams, and in general did not pay attention to the game. The Red Sox kids watched the game and asked questions about baseball strategy during the course of play. One even said something like, “Wow, when Nomo started, his ERA was under 1. Now, it’s like double digits.” May I adopt him? It starts early, I’m telling you.
  • At one point, the Red Sox mom/aunt grabbed the kid’s Yankee cap and smushed it. I really wish I could have taken a picture of this. She then pointed to her own cap, mouthing the words “World Champs.” This is what made me think she was perhaps not the mother of the kids, because it seemed a little cruel. Hilarious, but cruel. One of the Yankee spawn’s name was “Alex.” Maybe it was child Alex Rodriguez saved?
  • Sadly, the memory and legacy of Jackie Robinson is not as widely revered as it should be.
  • On a cold night, you don’t want to be at a game where tarriers like Hideo Nomo pitch. Thanks for knocking him out early, guys.
  • Standing up and talking on your mobile phone to try and find your friend in a different section might be acceptable if you do not do so when the bases are loaded with Manny Ramirez at the plate. Thank you for at least sitting down by the time Ramirez reached base by walking and David Ortiz got to the plate, inconsiderate mobile phone guy.
  • Do Bronson Arroyo and Casey Fossum share dieting tips?

Baseball-wise, it was the night of the Davids, with Ortiz’s grand slam and Wells looking as if he is returning to form. Even McCarty contributed with a 2-RBI single in the 7th. He’s not your typical late innings defensive replacement.

Below are some of the better photos I took last night, including the new warning sign to fans in right field.






April 15, 2005


Game 9: April 14, 2005
Yankees (4-5), 5
Red Sox (4-5), 8
L: Tom Gordon (0-1)
W: Keith Foulke (1-1)

It seemed as if everyone, the fans, the players, the managers, the umpires, was on edge. Being on the edge can be an advantage, heightening your awareness and enhancing the accuracy of your response. Or, for others, those with poor coping mechanisms, like umpire Greg Gibson, it can turn you into a being incapable of calling a consistent strike zone. For others, like a random fan in the stands, it might embolden you to take a swipe at a baseball player. For still others, like Gary Sheffield, it may perhaps inspire you to retaliate at said swipe.

Being on the edge can inspire a team guided by a single purpose, to sharpen that focus and win the first series of the season, making an April game seem almost like a September one.

Randy Johnson gave up 5 hits, 3 of the home runs. Notably, Jay Payton and Edgar Renteria, both formerly of the National League, were able to take Johnson yard, as well as Jason Varitek. It seems that familiarity breeds some contempt (as much as one can against a 5-time Cy Young Award winner).

As I recall, Terry Francona took months before he was ejected from his first game of 2004. He’s starting off early this year by getting thrown out in the 4th inning, perhaps on recommendation by his doctor to not let things fester within. He was ejected right after hitting Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson was dismissed, for what reason everyone is still attempting to discern.

My first live game is tonight. Sure, it’s only the Devil Rays, a bit of a comedown from the classic American League East glamor match-up. With Lou Pinella coaching the opposition, there’s always the chance of him throwing a tantrum. David Wells also has something to prove to the skeptical home crowd. If you have any words of advice you’d like me to pass on to him, by all means let me know.

April 14, 2005


Game 8: April 13, 2005
Yankees (4-4), 5
Red Sox (3-5), 2
W: Jaret Wright (1-1)

L: Curt Schilling (0-1)

Schilling returned from his ankle injury looking in Game 6 ALCS form for the first 4 innings, but left seeming more like the Game 1 version of Curt. When asked if he took away anything positive from his outing, he said, “No, it’s a loss. This counts. I get paid to win, period. I don’t take positive things out of games like this.” In 5.2 innings, Schilling had 9 hits, 5 runs (all earned), only 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and 2 home runs, with an ERA of 7.94. He worked efficiently until to the bottom middle of the 4th, allowing only 3 hits and no runs. It unraveled in the 5th a bit, where Tony Womack reached on a 7-pitch base on balls, and 2 runs scored.

In total, Schilling threw 108 pitches. He stated that the hits off of him were due to poor location, not lack of stamina. I find it hard to believe that locating a pitch doesn’t require an endurance and concentration that has to be tempered in Spring Training, not against a top-flight slugging team like the Yankees. As much Schilling prides himself and his preparation, both mental and physical, the mind may be willing, but the body not. At least not yet.

Offensively, the team isn’t yet reached full stride. Ten men left on base, with key lack of capitalizing on scoring opportunities in the 3rd and 5th. Trot Nixon continues his hot hitting, slamming a home run in the 5th.

The Red Sox attempt to secure their first series win on Thursday evening, with Bronson vs. Johnson. I think Johnson may retaliate at some point this evening for all of the Yankees that have been hit by pitches, since it is documented that Mike Mussina would not every do so. We all know that Arroyo is a headhunter with that terrifying inside breaking ball of his, so perhaps it will be a volatile game tonight. Not anything like hooligans at an Italian soccer match, however.

April 11, 2005


Game 7: April 11, 2005
Yankees (3-4), 1
Red Sox (3-4), 8
L: Mike Mussina (1-1)
W: Tim Wakefield (1-0)

It was the Wakefield we remember from the 2003 ALCS, the one with the butterflies that baffled and befuddled the team from Gotham. The knuckleball pitcher is the Red Sox player with the longest tenure, a member of the club since 1995. Fittingly, he was third in line to get his ring, following only Terry Francona and Ellis Burks. Wakefield went for 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, no earned runs, 1 unearned run, 5 strikeouts, and now has an ERA of 1.32.

I will admit to buying and watching Still, We Believe. As horribly as 2003 ended, it was a tremendous season. I bought the movie as a somewhat masochistic memoir of that season. Since I was at the Wild Card-clinching game against the Orioles, I felt a particular empathy for that group of renegade cowboys. The scene that sears the memory is watching Wakefield walk, zombie-like after giving up the game-winning home run, to a chair in front of his locker. You hear sobbing and see heaving shoulders. Trot Nixon comes up to him, tells him it’s not his fault. It’s clear that a teammate made the film crew stop their cameras.

As the Red Sox now say, “Turn the page.” But not before marking down a “W” for Wakefield for his first opening day victory. I’d hazard a guess and say there hasn’t been a knuckleballer starting on opening day in a long while.

Many think that signing Mike Mussina instead of Manny Ramirez back in 2000 would have been the wiser choice. Since their signing, the Red Sox have been to one World Series and won while the Yankees have been to two Fall Classics and lost both. We might be seeing the decline of Mussina, who turns 37 this year. He pitched only 5 innings, allowed 7 hits, 7 runs (4 earned), walked 3, struck out 5, and has an ERA of 4.91.From 2003 to 2004, his ERA rose from 3.40 to 4.59.

After several tepid games, the offense enjoyed some home cooking, with every starter getting a hit except David Ortiz. Doug Mirabelli showed why he is likely the best backup catcher in the league with his 2-run homer in the second inning, scoring Bill Mueller, who reached by getting hit by a pitch. Other batters showing signs of life were Kevin Millar (1 for 3, 2 RBIs) and Trot Nixon (2 for 3, 2 RBIs).

A well-played game overall. How else would you play when you have so many legends in and above Fenway Park, watching you?


Game 6: April 10, 2005
Red Sox (2-4), 3
Blue Jays (4-2), 4
L: Mike Timlin (1-1)
BS, W: Miguel Batista (1, 1-0)

How hard is it to write a game summary the day of the home opener at Fenway Park? Who will remember this Toronto series, let alone this game, ever? It is significant that the team has forced closers to the brink, making them blow saves with regularity. The recent inconsistency of the offense, particularly Manny Ramirez, continues to plague the Red Sox.

Matt Clement went 6 innings, with, 6 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 5 walks, 6 strikeouts, and an ERA of 4.35. Facing 27 batters in total, Clement had 14 first-pitch balls, a component of his high rate of giving hitters bases on balls. These extra men on base did not result in more runs, but the additional pitches certainly did curtail the duration of Clement’s outing. Clement’s inconsistent location had him working behind in most innings. He permitted the leadoff batter to reach base 3 out of 6 times, twice with walks and once by hitting the batter.

Another issue is the misplacement or misplaying of Ramirez in left field for Orlando Hudson’s double that scored Reed Johnson for the winning run. Did Brad Mills place the outfield in the correct position to avoid letting the extra-base hit get over him, or was it simply bad fielding by Ramirez? Since I have no idea of the alignment for this play, I’m in no position to judge. This is the drawback to seeing games on television. When I’m watching a game live, I often find myself observing aspects of the game no camera bothers to record.

On to the match-up against the Yankees, with home openers, banners, rings, flyovers, and fanfare.

April 9, 2005


Game 5: April 9, 2005
Red Sox (2-3), 5
Blue Jays (3-2), 12
L: David Wells (0-2)
BS: Scott Schoeneweis (1)
W: Jason Frasor (1-0)

Another inauspicious start for Wells, culminating in a 5-12 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. All you really need to know about this game is tidily summarized below.

David Wells 6.1 9 6 6 0 4 3 78-53 8.44
Matt Mantei 0.2 3 1 1 0 1 0 14-9 13.50
John Halama 0.0 1 3 3 1 0 0 16-8 16.20
Blaine Neal 1.0 3 2 2 0 0 1 12-8 20.25
Totals 8.0 16 12 12 1 5 4 120-78 -

The third inning was particularly brutal, with Wells giving up three consecutive home runs to Vernon Wells, Corey Koskie, and Shea Hillenbrand. The Blue Jays also exploded in the eighth inning, where they scored 6 runs, 4 by way of a grand slam by Gregg Zaun.

On the positive side, David Ortiz continues to be his splendid self, hitting a home run and driving in 3 runs. Also, no one mauled themselves on the LED monstrosities in the outfield. The company guilty of installing the signs is Daktronics, Inc., by the way.

The less said about this game, the better. Tomorrow will bring the opportunity to win the series.


Game 4: April 8, 2005
Red Sox (2-2), 6
Blue Jays (2-2), 5
W: Bronson Arroyo (1-0)
L: Dave Bush (0-1)

How exactly did this game become a squeaker? The Red Sox cruised into the 9th inning leading 6-3, with Keith Foulke coming in to close it out. He did so, eventually, but not before all of this:

  1. Corey Koskie singles with the count 2-2.
  2. Shea Hillenbrand singles with the count 1-0. Koskie to 2nd.
  3. Eric Hinske singles with the count 1-2. Koskie scores and Hillenbrand to 3rd.
  4. Gregg Zaun grounds out with the count 3-2. Hillenbrand scores and Hinske to 2nd.
  5. Alex Rios flies out on the first pitch. Hinske to 3rd.
  6. Frank Menechino walks on 5 pitches.
  7. Reed Johnson hit by pitch with the count 0-2. Menechino to 2nd.
  8. Orlando Hudson grounds out.

The final score was 6-5. To say Foulke was troubled after his performance would be an understatement. “Bad pitches, bad location, very disappointing. I let them get back in the ballgame. That’s everything you need to know,” he said in this Boston Globe article.

What sin have we committed to deserve this brand of diluted Canadian baseball? You would think that since Canada doesn’t have hockey this season, they would try and appreciate the sport more. Instead, we get obnoxious LED scoreboards on the outfield wall that maim players and obscure the view of the ball, paper airplane-making fans, volcanic cinders for the warning track, and a sub-par playing surface.

I can not wait until the team is back in Fenway Park. Until then, it’s two more games in the baseball mausoleum formerly known as the Skydome, now known as Rogers Centre, with Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay in the offing.

April 7, 2005


Game 3: April 6, 2005
Red Sox (1-2), 7
Yankees (2-1), 3
W: Mike Timlin (1-0)
BS, L: Mariano Rivera (2, 1-1)

The Red Sox win their first game of the 2005 season, 7-3. A few years ago, if I told you that Mariano Rivera, the greatest reliever of his time, would give up five runs in the ninth inning to blow the save and lead, you would mostly like laugh in my face. Rivera has been vulnerable to Red Sox hitting, and this game was no exception. Unable to find the strike zone, Rivera struggled with the location of his mythic cut fastball. The sequence in the ninth piled improbability upon improbability:

  1. Mueller walks.
  2. Bellhorn singles. Mueller to 2nd.
  3. Damon singles. Mueller to 3rd, Bellhorn to 2nd.
  4. Nixon strikes out.
  5. Ramirez reaches on error by A. Rodriguez. Mueller scores, Bellhorn to 3rd, Damon to 2nd.
  6. Ortiz grounds out. Bellhorn scores, Damon to 3rd, Ramirez to 2nd.
  7. McCarty walks (appreciate the incredulity of this).
  8. Renteria singles (his first RBI-generating hit this season). Damon and Ramirez score, McCarty to 2nd.
  9. Mirabelli walks. McCarty to 3rd, Renteria to 2nd.

And then Rivera is finally, mercifully pulled by Joe Torre. Does he trust so few people in his bullpen that he had to extend Rivera? Has the Hammer of God lost his handle? I feel strongly that his participation in Nike’s bizarre “Find Your Game Face” ad campaign led to his downfall.

Two day games in a row enabled me to diagnose several office-related ailments that are opportunistic to Red Sox fans’ weak immunity system:

  • Trupianeurosis: Primary symptoms include tachycardia, hyperventilation, sudden, irrational fear and feelings of danger or impending doom (or, in stark contrast, great joy followed by deep disappointment, dependent upon which team is at bat.) Induced by the phrase “way back,” with symptoms intensifying with the repetition of said phrase.
  • Red Sox-related Tourette Syndrome (RS-RTS): Sudden outburst of expletives when a Trupianeurotic attack overwhelms the individual. Other expressions of emotion have also been documented, including pounding of desks, throwing of stress balls, and rude gestures toward the real-time, self-refreshing game summary site of choice. Some have conjectured that there might be a related disorder consisting of the spontaneous expression of positive emotions, characterized by laughter and smiles, known as Championaphasia. Since October 27, 2005, fewer cases of RS-RTS have been reported because these incidents are nearly always accompanied by the immediate and profound onset of Championaphasia.
  • Chat-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Caused by inputting text into multiple windows of fan board chats, message boards, and instant messaging systems simultaneously.

The complex inter-relationships between these disorders need to be examined. I am currently in the process of writing a grant to garner funds from the National Institute of Health to further investigate the maladies that plague Red Sox fans.

The Red Sox were not swept, and in fact many of them were chipper enough to head to Fenway and attend the gala Fever Pitch premiere. These social events have been approved by Mom, who, after her harsh words yesterday, wanted to let her boys relax on their day off before facing the Toronto Blue Jays.

April 5, 2005


Game 2: April 5, 2005
Red Sox (0-2), 3
Yankees (2-0), 4
L: Keith Foulke (0-1)
BS, W: Mariano Rivera (1, 1-0)

Closer this time. It was tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning, thanks to another blown save by closer Mariano Rivera. Jason Varitek evened it up in the top of the last inning by homering off Mariano Rivera, who had flashes of mortality last year, and now suddenly seems human like the rest of us.

Someone who is so far inhuman against us is Hideki Matsui. A Wiener Whiner Line caller claims he might in fact be a robot, but I won’t descend to that level of humor. In nine at bats, he has six hits (2 of them home runs), struck out only once, and hasn’t had a base on balls. Today he was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. As I said before, far too comfortable at the plate. Perhaps tomorrow Tim Wakefield’s pitches can confound him.

Derek Jeter hit the game-winning home run off of Keith Foulke, to the opposite field, no less. Foulke did fall behind 3-0, but he got it back to a full count. Jeter fouled off one pitch, and then used his inside-out swing to deposit the ball in the short right field porch.

In trying times like these, it always helps to talk with your Mom. What would Mom say to the starting nine and pitchers?

  • “Johnny, I’m proud that you wrote that book and all, but they pay you to be a center fielder. Go out there and play like the former All-Star you are. How you got to be one with that noodle arm I’ll never know. Oh, and when will you cut that hair! As God is my witness....”
  • “Christopher Trotman Nixon, you come here right now! You run off your mouth all offseason, and now look. 0 for 4 and 2 strikeouts. Grounding into a double play and leaving men on in scoring position. You just wait until your father gets home.”
  • “Now, where did my beads go? I was going to use them for my macrame proj... Manny, what’s that in your...? Oh, no. What am I going to do with you? Just... just go outside and practice hitting. Go! Now!”
  • “David, you’re my favorite. Here, have some more ice cream. Of course it’s your favorite: Green Monster Mint from Hood.”
  • “Now Kevin, that was indeed a great double play you had in the fifth. But don’t think you can rest on your laurels. Hold on a second, come here. What’s that I smell on your breath? Jack Daniels...?”
  • “Edgar. Enrique. Renteria. To your room. No dinner. No Playstation. Straight to your room.”
  • “You look so good in that uniform with the “C” and everything. Okay, now smile. Smile, I said! I’m sending this picture to everyone this Christmas.”
  • “Where did Billy go? He went 3 for 4 with a run and had some nice defensive plays, I wanted to reward him. Oh, he’s helping little old ladies across the street. Such a sweet boy.”
  • “He’s up there burning incense again and listening to Pink Floyd. Damn hippie kid. But he did go 2 for 4, so I can’t smack him around.”
  • “As for the pitching staff. Well, everyone gets an extra piece of cake... except Keith.”

Tomorrow, the Red Sox try not to get swept in their first series. And, for heaven’s sake, you’ll lose an eye playing with that. Someone’s going to end up crying....

April 4, 2005


Game 1: April 3, 2005
Red Sox (0-1), 2
Yankees (1-0), 9
L: David Wells (0-1)
W: Randy Johnson (1-0)

The Red Sox lost the season opener to the New York Yankees, 9-2. Being the champions takes the sting out of defeat, so there is much less rending of garments this year. Insert pithy comment about marathons, sprints, and long seasons here as well. Some observations based on this extremely minuscule sampling of data:

  • Hideki Matsui can rake. He went 3 for 5 with one home run. He continued where he left off before Pedro Martinez buzzed him in Game 5 of the ALCS. Matt Clement will have to step up and brush Matsui back on Tuesday, as Matsui is looking too comfortable at the plate. He also did a Ramirez at the wall in the second inning. No, not throwing out a ball into the stands with only two outs; he made a terrific catch of a ball hit by Kevin Millar.
  • The hair triggered amongst us are probably already labeling David Wells as an embedded Yankee. He was awful, going 4.1 innings, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, culminating in a 8.31 ERA. And don’t forget the balk. Recent evidence to the contrary, I’m more concerned about him in Fenway Park. Wells said, “As I was stepping back, I thought I saw a different finger down.” Will he come back with a finger to the fans if he gets booed?
  • Let’s keep an eye on A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory. Jere was at this game, of course decked out in full Red Sox champgalia, and with a sign no less (“A Ruthian Collapse”). In the right field bleachers. I’m hoping he made it out alive.

First game is over and we got the jitters out. The series is still winnable. Baseball is back.

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