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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Bard (Daniel)”

To the Naysayers

Doris Burke has not wanted for soundbites in her courtside interviews with Celtics players. Kevin Garnett was the star of Game 5 and of the mic. “The competition, the naysayers, the owners who talk too much. The people who don’t think a 36-year-old can do what I do. I take a lot of pride in my craft, I work really hard at my craft every day, and I’m a true professional.” The Celtics’ win made up for the deflating extra innings loss to the Orioles. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s two-run home run tied the game in the ninth, but the blast didn’t ignite his team like Paul Pierce’s three-point shot over LeBron James. The Red Sox rotation is in temporary disarray after Daniel Bard’s implosion in Toronto. He was sent down to Pawtucket and Darnell McDonald was activated to replace him. Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready to replace Bard in the rotation, so perhaps the seeming failure of the experiment of Bard as starter was well-timed. Bard confessed what was apparent to most observers. “I allowed something to happen when I switched roles,” he said. “I think it’s just maybe that we just tried to turn me into a starter rather than just...

Fit to Be Tied

Dennis Eckersley said it best: Daniel Bard spit the bit in this game. He walked six batters over 1⅔ innings pitched but only allowed a single hit. Unfortunately for the Red Sox that hit was a three-run home run off Jose Bautista’s bat. I like Bautista better as a personification of a jersey. In the second inning two Blue Jays batters were victims of Bard’s wildness. Yunel Escobar was hit on the hand and the ricochet of the ball knocked his helmet off. Escobar’s near-concussion led to the bases being loaded with two out. This time around Bard walked Bautista instead of allowing a home run so only a single run scored. Bard couldn’t get the ball anywhere near the zone and hit Edwin Encarnacion in the wrist for another run. It should have been obvious to everyone, particularly John Farrell, current Blue Jays manager and former Red Sox pitching coach, that Bard was reliving his disastrous Lancaster days in Class A ball and that he was not intentionally hitting batters. In the sixth Drew Hutchison hit Kevin Youkilis in the shoulder nonetheless. Youkilis was incensed, not because he was hit by a pitch but because of how high the...

Oh Danny Boy

In his first season as a major league starter Daniel Bard notched his first win — but it was as a reliever. I suppose this shouldn’t be too shocking in this topsy-turvy season. Bard toed the rubber in the eighth like he used and his team broke its five-game losing streak. The score was 5-5 going into the ninth, which is unusually high-scoring on the Twins’ part. Minnesota is 11th in the American League in runs and 12th in slugging percentage. Ryan Doumit smacked his first double of the season in the fourth to plate two runs and Danny Valencia launched his first homer of the year immediately afterwards to give his team the lead. The Twins added to their lead in the fifth in a fashion more typical of their brand of baseball: leadoff base on balls by Trevor Plouffe, Denard Span single on which Plouffe advanced to third, and a run scored on Jamey Carroll’s 6-4-3 double play. Not only did Carroll ground into a scoring double play but he was part of a dazzling twin killing in the sixth. Plouffe tumbled after David Ortiz’s sharp grounder up the middle and flipped to Carroll. Carroll niftily handled the...

Patriots’ Dismay

The 38,108 fans at Fenway knew it. People who took the day off to watch the game knew it. Even those who couldn’t get the day off knew it. The only one who didn’t know it was the only one who mattered. Bobby Valentine kept Daniel Bard on the mound as he walked in what would be the winning run with two down in the seventh. The frame started out promisingly enough. Jeff Keppinger tapped out to Nick Punto and Jose Molina struck out looking. But then Sean Rodriguez walked on six pitches, the last of which was a pitch in the dirt. Allowing Bard to face Desmond Jennings was defensible. The emergent outfielder lined a single into center after working the count 2-2. Carlos Pena, he of the 171 strikeouts a season average over the last dozen years, walked on four pitches. Instead of Valentine emerging from the dugout to pull Bard Bob McClure came out to check in with the newly installed starter. Bard did the same thing to Evan Longoria as he did with Pena, a four-pitch base on balls. Perhaps Valentine was emotionally and physically not into the game due to the recent controversy between he...

Clouds In My Eyes

This year Daniel Bard is the spokesplayer for the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer. Past representatives have all been starting pitchers and position players, so Bard’s insertion into rotation has given him the profile needed to be the frontman for such a significant charity. But does he have the stuff to start? In his first major league start Bard lasted 5 innings. He tried to get through the sixth but allowed Edwin Encarnacion to walk on six pitches and Brett Lawrie followed up with an infield single to short. Two of the five earned runs scored off Bard were due to Justin Thomas, who took over after Bard couldn’t get an out in the frame. But before the sixth Bard was better than your typical fifth starter: 3 earned runs, 8 hits (just one extra base hit, a double by Adam Lind), 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Can he stretch himself to hand the ball off to his replacement at set-up man, Mark Melancon? And if he could, would he want to? He might have to transform himself into the former Blue Jay, Roy Halladay, to secure a win. Or, setting a more realistic goal, a C.J. Wilson or Alexi...

Jacobean Era

It’s Jacoby Ellsbury’s world; we just live in it. A few hours after becoming the first Red Sox 30/30 man Ellsbury was one of the few offensive forces on either team in the 14-inning long game. Not only is the season a marathon but these last few games determining the American League wild card have proven prolix contests of endurance. Terry Francona had to call upon J.D. Drew, who had not seen action since July 19. The curious call paid off when Drew singled in Jed Lowrie in the fifth for the visitors’ first score of the game. Francona’s decision to pinch run Lars Anderson for Adrian Gonzalez in the ninth, leaving his team without one of its best hitters for five innings, didn’t turn out as well. Anderson went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a stranded runner. For 22 outs the Red Sox relievers held the Yankees scoreless. Granted, the lineup was more Scranton/Wilkes-Barre than Bronx, but Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, Franklin Morales, and Felix Doubront still kept a mix of all-stars and young players hungry to prove themselves at bay in hostile territory. I was surprised to see Scott Proctor make an appearance because Joe Torre had no...

Annoying Andino

The bullpen band’s mojo helped to break the 4-4 tie in the fourth, but the usually sound duo of Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon struck a sour note in the eighth. Bard allowed singles to Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds but whiffed Adam Jones. Papelbon relieved Bard and struck out Chris Davis looking but allowed a bleeder off Nolan Reimold’s bat that loaded the bases. With his bases-clearing double with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth, Robert Andino gave his team a two-run advantage and his name was added to the list of bit players who dominate the Red Sox. Andino’s name is uttered with strings of expletives, much like all-time great Frank Catalanotto. Ric Flair’s visit, while exciting for Josh Reddick and Dustin Pedroia, didn’t infuse the team with the winning spirit. But it did inspire Jerry Remy to emit a number of “woos.” Don Orsillo’s tie reminded me of a pattern on some manhole covers. Sorry, personhole covers. Game 155: September 20, 2011 Baltimore Orioles64-90 7 W: Willie Eyre (2-1)H: Pedro Strop (3)S: Jim Johnson (8)2B: Nick Markakis (27), Robert Andino (22) Boston Red Sox88-67 5 H: Matt Albers (10)H, L: Daniel Bard (33, 2-9)BS:...

Hole in O

Mike Aviles’s fourth-inning home run with two out broke the 3-3 tie and the Sports Authority sign. Of all the batters that have taken the box the utility infielder was not at the top of the list of people that could rip a hole in one of the signs over the Green Monster. In every game at Fenway all I can picture is Dustin Pedroia trying to whack the cover off the ball to duplicate the feat. Daniel Bard came through in the eighth with his first hold in his last three attempts. The relief showed his ace abilities by striking out the side while only allowing Ben Zobrist to reach on a base on base on balls. Joe Maddon was ejected by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the sixth for disputing balls and strikes. The strike zone map of last night’s contest shows that Bard and other Boston hurlers did indeed benefit from Wendelstedt’s judgment. I couldn’t help but pass judgment on Johnny Damon’s comments in his interview with Heidi Watney about how this current Rays team reminds him of the 2004 Red Sox. Damon can say that when his eyes are stinging with champion champagne and no...

And Your Bard Can’t Sting

You tell me that he’s got ev’ry pitch you want And your Bard can sting But he’s blown the last threeHe’s blown the last three You say you’ve seen triple digitsAnd that Bard’s got speedBut the ball’s on a teeThe ball’s on a tee When your prized relieverStarts to weigh you downLook for some strong liquorI’ll buy a round, I’ll buy a round When your Bard is brokenWill he make you moanYou may be awokenUse the phone, use the phone You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there isAnd your Bard can stingBut you can’t hear meYou can’t hear me Don Orsillo’s tie looked like mildew or an oil spill. Game 148: September 14, 2011 Toronto Blue Jays75-74 5 W: Ricky Romero (15-10)S: Frank Francisco (15)No extra base hits Boston Red Sox86-62 4 H: Franklin Morales (9)H: Alfredo Aceves (9)BS, L: Daniel Bard (5, 2-8)2B: Marco Scutaro (20)3B: Jacoby Ellsbury (5)HR: Adrian Gonzalez (26)...

What a Joke

Jerry Remy could barely contain his contempt for the Rays’ stadium as yet another foul ball got trapped in one of Tropicana Field’s catwalks. “What a joke,” he commented as B.J. Upton’s went up but failed to come down in the sixth inning. Upton would eventually strike out, but had this been a normal baseball stadium the batter would have been out a few pitches earlier. The catwalks are arrayed like human bones in the Kostnice Ossuary but deserve none of the reverence. The skeletal protuberances exist to provide light for a team that plays in a state that is nicknamed the Sunshine State. One redeeming site in Florida is the new Red Sox spring training facility. JetBlue Park in Fort Myers will have features that echo Fenway Park, including a Green Monster in left field. It is outstanding that the Red Sox organization makes sure that the parks in its system are structured such that minor leaguers can familiarize themselves with hitting, fielding, and pitching in places like Fenway before they ever make it to the show. The same architect firm that developed iconic parks such as Camden Yards and PNC Park, Populous, developed the Red Sox’s spring training...

Junk Bard Dog

My friend said it best: Daniel Bard devolved into a Craig Hansenesque arm slot last night. Bard’s erratic eighth inning erased what would have been Tim Wakefield’s 200th win. The vigil continues. I would have loved to chronicle Boston’s offensive exploits here, but any accomplishments they tallied were in vain because of the late inning meltdown by the usually steady set-up man. One thing to note was David Ortiz’s fifth inning solo shot to the second deck that prompted him to wink at a fan. With the Vancouver riots and Toronto taunting, who knew Canadians could be such a feisty bunch? Game 142: September 7, 2011 Boston Red Sox85-57 10 H: Franklin Morales (8)H: Dan Wheeler (4)BS, L: Daniel Bard (4, 2-6)2B: Carl Crawford (23), Josh Reddick (16), Adrian Gonzalez (43), Jacoby Ellsbury (39)HR: Ellsbury (25), David Ortiz (29), Gonzalez (24) Toronto Blue Jays71-72 11 W: Shawn Camp (4-3)S: Frank Francisco (13)2B: Jose Bautista (23), Yunel Escobar (23), Edwin Encarnacion (34)HR: J.P. Arencibia (21)...

Jan Kaas

After a tortuous first inning that almost took an hour the game sped up to encompass a mere four hours and 21 minutes. For other match-ups such a long game would mean extravagant scores in the double digits. But for a Yankees-Red Sox game, it meant a taut contest of just a half-dozen runs combined. The local nine seemed to have the game won in the fourth inning with Dustin Pedroia’s circuit clout to dead center. But in the sixth and seventh innings Alfredo Aceves showed the shakiness that prompted the Yankees to jettison him from their staff. Aceves allowed Russell Martin to start the sixth with a single to left but induced a double play from Eduardo Nunez. With two down Derek Jeter smacked a single off the wall, Curtis Granderson walked, and Mark Teixeira was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Teixeira took the curveball to the knee with all the toughness of an inbred thoroughbred racehorse, collapsing to the ground on contact. In the seventh Aceves’s inconsistency continued. Andruw Jones earned a base after a 14-pitch showdown and Jesus Montero, who was making his major league debut, was grazed by a pitch. “Jan Kaas,” pronounced...

Kauffman’s Qualities

Prior to the game Heidi Watney gave the NESN audience a tour of the improvements to Kauffman Stadium and its amenities and made a rather good case for the organization being granted the 2012 All-Star game and festivities. Fenway Park simply cannot compete with Kauffman in terms of space and parking. Boston’s park is awkwardly yet endearingly ensconced in a city block while the Royals’ home is paired with Arrowhead Stadium to form the Truman Sports Complex. The park lives up to their state’s nickname: the Crown Vision high definition scoreboard in center field certainly shows the crowd game information. The club added fountain view terraces, increased the width of concourses, and revamped the outfield concourses so that fans can walk entirely around the field. So overall I was impressed by Kauffman’s renovations. They should definitely host the All-Star game… when they have their 100-year anniversary. I think John W. Henry and his ownership group are finished with upgrading Fenway, but I think there’s one more bold move they could initiate. Would they ever consider buying Lansdowne Street to build a concourse behind the left field wall? They could put the home bullpens on that side, just glass it in...

CSI: Boston

Record ID: 1159Incident Time: Bottom thirdTitle: RobberyLocation: Home plateSummary: Two suspects attempted to steal runs. One suspect (6'2" Hispanic male, black hair, late 20s to early 30s) successfully attained run. Second suspect (6'1" Caucasian male, brown goatee, early 30s) got through three checkpoints and attempted to stretch a bungled throw from the center fielder into a run. Apprehended by Josh Tomlin and Carlos Santana at the scene of the crime. Record ID: 1160 Incident Time: Top fifth Title: Public intoxication Location: First base Summary: Suspect (6'6" Caucasian male, brown hair, prominent chin, mid 30s) sprawled awkwardly over sack in attempt to cover first. Given breathalyzer test and was found sober. Suspect was somewhat belligerent, berating officers on the scene and encouraging them to issue the tests to all of his seven friends, as “they play as if they are drunk when I’m pitching.” Record ID: 1161 Incident Time: Top sixth Title: Indecency Location: Third base side field box seats Summary: Suspect (5'10" Caucasian male, brown hair, late 40s) seen with baseball glove. When approached and asked about glove the suspect attempted to avoid charges by stating he was a famous football player, a dubious claim given his stature. Released with...

Place or Group of Stones

Jake Arrieta’s last name is Basque in origin according to Ancestry.com and is a habitational name. “Arri” means “stone” and “eta” means “place or group of stones.” Arrieta was rocked by Jacoby Ellsbury in particular — the center fielder blasted two solo shots. His third inning homer was retrieved by a poor soul in a black t-shirt in the sweltering Baltimore bleachers in right. In the seventh the souvenir ball made it to the standing room only area in right, chased down by a bevy of fans in Oriole orange. Yet it was Boston that topped GQ’s worst-dressed cities list while Charm City didn’t even make the list of 40. I guess it’s because the championship blend of Patriot blue, Red Sox red, Celtic green, and Bruins yellow is somewhat jarring. Mark Reynolds moves like a pile of animated stones at third, like a horta without the corrosive acid. One doesn’t need advanced defensive statistics to know that Reynolds is a poor fielder, his league-worst .899 fielding percentage at his position speaks volumes. What he lacks for in fielding he doesn’t make up for in batting average. That he walked twice in this game wasn’t a testament to Reynolds’s strike...

Cleveland Steoreotypes on a Roll

It’s 2011, the world hasn’t ended, the United States has an African-American president, and Cleveland’s professional baseball team still uses “Indians” as its nickname and has Chief Wahoo as its mascot. Other teams have mascots that are animals (Tigers, Orioles), items of clothing (the two Sox), and occupations or types of people (Brewers, Pirates, Dodgers). Only Atlanta and Cleveland stubbornly cling to mascots that denigrate Native Americans. Rather than tinkering with the postseason Bud Selig should do something that is truly in the best interests of baseball and force Larry Dolan and John Malone of Liberty Mutual to finally change their teams’ names. It wouldn’t hurt for them to establish a scholarship fund for people who will use their education to help Native American organizations (and I’m not talking about casinos) while they fundamentally change the face of their franchises. When Cleveland swept the Red Sox in the second series of the season it was thought to be a fluke. Since then the squad has established itself with the best record in the majors, reaching the 30-win mark before any other club. Justin Masterson, who looks like he is growing a playoff beard along with the Bruins, pitched well enough...

Take That Left at Alburquerque

Is the price the Red Sox have to pay for a winning streak the decimation of the rotation? First John Lackey and then Daisuke Matsuzaka were shelved and tonight Josh Beckett was pulled after six innings and 83 pitches due to neck stiffness. By the time Beckett left the mound the offense had established a 2-1 lead against the formidable Justin Verlander. The Tigers ace’s near Johnny Vander Meer was well in his rear view mirror, something he needed to see J.D. Drew’s tie-breaking, two-out longball drift into the right field stands in the fourth inning. David Ortiz clubbed an insurance run into the bleachers behind the bullpen in the seventh. With Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon in the offing the homer seemed to be a little extra something but probably unnecessary, like tonsils or the appendix. But one should never look a gift Teixeira in the mouth. Bard, perhaps worn down from last night’s outing and intervening rain delay, surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the form of consecutive homers by Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera must have been excited to be in Fenway since it now offers hard liquor. Papelbon wasn’t his sharpest either. He pitched...


With injuries inflicting the starting rotation and a shuffling of the bullpen Clay Buchholz needed to toe the rubber as effectively and as deep into the game as possible. In his last start at Fenway the gangly starter endured a two hour and seven minute rain delay and still came out to finish the game and notch the win. This time Buchholz didn’t win but held the Tigers scoreless for seven innings. Daniel Bard replaced him in the eighth and after one pitch the tarp was unfurled again, halting play for 26 minutes. Bard was the pitcher of record when battery mate Jarrod Saltalamacchia put a charge on the ball and knocked it deep off the left field wall. Carl Crawford, who had drawn a two-out base on balls from Daniel Schlereth, scored the only run of the game on the Red Sox catcher’s hit. The Tigers reliever is the son of Mark “Stinky” Schlereth, a guard with multiple Pro Bowls and Super Bowl championships under his belt. The elder Schlereth recommended his son pursue baseball rather than follow in his cleats because of the injury risks and potential for long-term disabilities. As painful as Daisuke Matsuzaka’s sprained ulnar collateral...

My Kingdom for a Hold

This loss not only guaranteed a series loss against a divisional foe but sent the Red Sox to the bottom of the AL East standings. The recently reliable Daniel Bard revisited his early season jitters in the eighth inning. The reliever allowed back-to-back singles to Nick Markakis and Derrek Lee. While pitching to Vladimir Guerrero with two on and two out Jason Varitek was hung with two passed balls. This from a backstop who just handled Tim Wakefield with no problems. The first passed ball advanced the runners into scoring position while the second resulted in Markakis getting tagged out at home by Bard. Guerrero muscled a single up the middle and made his agonizing jog to first. While he made my every joint ache in sympathy, Lee, another grizzled veteran, scored the go-ahead run. That run undid Kevin Youkilis’s game-tying circuit clout in the top of the inning. It must have been satisfying to Josh Beckett to see his teammate’s batted ball soar over Luke Scott. Scott had showed Beckett up in the fourth by flipping his bat and Cadillacing around the bases. The Baltimore batter should enjoy his RBIs now because he’ll pay for them with a ball...

April Cruel

Barren trees were limned with snow, stark limbs stretched across the gray sky like cobwebs in a disused room. Similar skeins seemed to etch the edges of the players’ minds even though they were thousands of miles away in Texas. Spring training, like spring cleaning, can’t clean every corner perfectly. Jon Lester relinquished a home run to leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler, the first batter he opposed this season, and later surrendered two more. Kevin Youkilis returned to the hot corner and erred on the first ball he fielded, a chopper off the bat of speedster Elvis Andrus. Most egregious was Daniel Bard’s two-thirds of a inning debacle in the eighth. David Murphy, Andrus, and Josh Hamilton all sprayed doubles around the outfield. The 5-5 tie made possible by David Ortiz’s solo home run evaporated in a puff of chalk when Murphy’s fly ball bounced just fair on the left field line. Sometimes it snows in April. New England was shrouded in somber white for the passing of Lou Gorman, former general manager of the Red Sox. He will always be known for trading Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson in 1990, a “win now” tactic that didn’t bring the championship to...


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