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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Celtics”

Youth Movement

John Farrell said of Jonathan Herrera, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia: “Three of the guys in the infield might not be able to get on rides at Six Flags.” D.J. Reyburn didn’t eject Pedroia after the third inning because of his height but because the second baseman complained about Reyburn’s strike zone. Reviewing Brooks Baseball’s strike zone maps showed that Pedroia did have something to complain about on a few of the calls. Farrell looked like a Little League parent trying to plead the case for his disgruntled tyke. Pedroia’s absence cleared the way for Garin Cecchini to make his major league debut. Herrera shifted to second base and Cecchini took over the hot corner. In the three-hole the greenhorn went 1-for-2 with a run batted in. Milton native Alex Hassan also debuted for the Red Sox. He was called up on Friday to replace Ryan Lavarnway’s spot in the roster. Hassan went 1-for-3 with a base on balls and a run scored. Hassan was driven in by one of Holt’s four doubles. This particular shot avoided Sean Rodriguez’s diving attempt and found the left field corner. Jackie Bradley, Jr., yet another youngster, scored on Holt’s hit. Even though Jon...

Got Yu Under My Skin

It is much too early ordain Yu Darvish as the next Pedro, but it is tempting to do so. For his first five years Martinez didn’t crack 5.0 WAR but then in 1997 transformed into “vintage Pedro.” I’m thankful this man is not in the AL East. Like Felix Hernandez he can build up his Hall of Fame resume against the AL West… until we trade for him like we did Pedro. I’m not quite sure why these fans are holding up katakana signs that say “da.” It is the first character in Darvish’s surname: ダルビッシュ. This transliterates as da ru bi [glottal stop] shu. If they were scoring his strikeouts they could just use Ks because that is used in Japan, too. If they wanted to save a sign with each whiff they should have used 三振, shich is pronounced “sanshin.” It was an all-around poor sports showing for Beantown this weekend. The Celtics started it by losing Game 6 on Friday, the Bruins lost 4-2 to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, and the Red Sox were swept. It could have been worse. At least Red Sox fans aren’t feeling the pain Theon Greyjoy was… yet. Game 31: May...

Hub Hat Trick

No Argonauts gear? How about some Raptors swag? I don’t blame him for not wearing Toronto Rock gear because of the lame nickname and well, it’s lacrosse. Toronto FC is pretty nifty, though. Sorry about all the losing our teams gave yours, kid. The Red Sox capped off an evening that saw the Celtics salvage some Boston pride by fending off the Knicks for another game. Tell the Westboro Baptist Church to reschedule the picket on the Cs’ funeral. The Bruins handily put away the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 in the first game of their playoff series. That’s what you get for having an ungrammatical moniker. But hey, I guess Toronto Rock. Mike Napoli started the season off slow with the first half of April a disappointing .220/.235/.420 and two home runs. Since then he turned the heat up to a simmer and last night reached a full roiling boil. Dustin Pedroia tweeted to his followers that Napoli needs a new nickname. My suggestion was “Florida Fencebuster,” inspired by his two-homer showing, his birth state, and my love of old time baseball slang. Huzzah! Game 27: May 1, 2013 Boston Red Sox19-8 10 W: Clay Buchholz (6-0) 2B: David Ortiz...

Fast as Molasses

It was 10 PM when Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo noted how slow the pace of this game was. At that point the game was about two-thirds of the way finished, rivaling the duration of matches the against the Yankees. They amused themselves with closeups of Don’s head. Oh, wait, that is one of the big head signs. David Ross had a career night (4-of-4 with two four-baggers) and called a game that led to Ryan Dempster’s first win. Call him Maximus Decimus Meridius, catcher of the Shepherd of Scotland, backstop of the Carmine Hose, and loyal servant to the true emperor, John Henry. He does fear spiders, however, so don’t expect him to verbally duel with Varys. My only explanation for this man wearing a viking helmet is because Erik Bedard uses a Scandinavian spelling of his first name. It does give me the chance to quote Hávamál. From the “Wisdom for Wanderers and Counsel for Guests” in the Elder Edda: Less good than they say for the sons of men is the drinking oft of ale: for the more they drink, the less can they think and keep a watch o’er their wits. This fan tried to use...

Boston Sports Blues

In a dim, smoky lounge a performer slumps on a stool with his harmonica. A single spotlight illuminates him but you can’t see his face because of his fedora. Once your eyes adjust to the lack of light shadowy figures behind him can be picked out: a slight man with white hair with a guitar slung around his shoulders, a stout man with similarly silver hair behind a drum kit, and a woman with red hair holding her upright bass closer than she would any man. The performer on the stool clears his throat. “You know, I gotta say, this city has been going through some… rough times.” Here and there in the audience are murmurs of assent, a smattering of applause, and one hearty, “Sing it, brother!” “So them Bruins won last year but this year blew the deal. You got your Patriots not winning them there Super Bowls.” The singer paused after a boisterous shout of “Gints suck!” “I know, I know,” continued the singer. He clears his throat and puffs a few chords on his harmonica. “Then you got the Celtics getting beat by those whippersnappers down there from Miami. Those men… Garnett, and Ray-Ray, and the...

Clay Nation

Clay Buchholz had his third complete game shutout of his career and his second such game against the Baltimore Orioles. His first complete game shutout of the Charm City squad, which happened on September 1, 2007, was a bit more memorable. As Buchholz shut down the Orioles across town the Celtics were getting outplayed by LeBron James and the Heat. Just as the Baltimore sluggers couldn’t get runners into scoring position Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s runs at the basket kept on missing. Although the Celtics game wasn’t entertaining this sign was. I don’t know how authentic this photo posted on Twitter was, but it’s worth a chuckle. Game 57: June 7, 2012 Baltimore Orioles32-25 0 L: Brian Matusz (5-6) 2B: Chris Davis (9) Boston Red Sox29-28 7 W: Clay Buchholz (6-2) 2B: Adrian Gonzalez (21), Darnell McDonald (6), Daniel Nava (11), Kevin Youkilis (5)...

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...

Officious Officials

Jim Leyland and Doc Rivers should start a support group for managers and coaches aggrieved by incompetence by game officials. Mark Cuban would be president, Bill Simmons vice president, and Dennis Eckersley sergeant-at-arms. Leyland watched with growing anger as his team slipped further below .500, a defining loss that could be attributed to a blown call by the officials in the second inning. Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson maintained that Mike Aviles swung and missed Doug Fister’s 0-2 pitch and that Gerald Laird caught the ball for the final strike and therefore the final out of the frame. Nelson was overruled by first base umpire Bill Welke, however, who thought that Aviles fouled off the pitch and Laird didn’t catch it. After the call it seemed like each batted ball was fueled by Leyland’s rage. Aviles proceeded to line a single to center to plate the go-ahead run. Daniel Nava doubled over Quintin Berry’s head to the base of the wall in center field, deep enough to score Aviles from first. Dustin Pedroia scorched a grounder to Prince Fielder that the rotund first baseman couldn’t glove, allowing Nava to score and Pedroia to reach second. All told the Red Sox...

The Perm Faces the Shredder

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the first Red Sox pinch hitter to win the game with a walk-off home run since Wes Chamberlain’s solo shot off Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco on May 9, 1995. The triumphant circuit clout represented a number of firsts. It was Saltalamacchia’s first walk-off homer and it was also the first time a player went into “the shredder” and came out with his hair looking better than when he went in. Nick Punto’s nickname is “The Shredder” but obviously not because of his hitting. While he was on the Cardinals he led home plate celebrations but rending his teammates’ garments. The Red Sox hardly needed tips on how to revel in a win but Punto’s presence has seemed to elevate the energetic festivities. I think the pummeling of Saltalamacchia was more violent than Friday’s donnybrook. Saltalamacchia nearly lost his gold chain but it was retrieved by Kevin Youkilis. Looking over the box score from that 19995 game had me comparing this team to Kevin Kennedy’s club. It was his first season as Red Sox manager. With Kennedy at the helm his squad outperformed Pythagorean (80-64 with an actual record of 86-58), won the AL East, and made the...

Baby New York

Unfortunately the Red Sox’s visit didn’t coincide with Cole Hamels’s five-game suspension. Suspensions of five games or less are farcical for starting pitchers, but Bud Selig has rarely been about what is actually good for the game but instead supports that which looks good for the game. Hamels the southpaw wasn’t his usual sharp self: Mike Aviles and Cody Ross both managed circuit clouts in the third and sixth innings respectively. Aviles has six home runs and Ross eight. Both have more homers in 2012 than Adrian Gonzalez, who incremented his home run count to three with a solo four-bagger in the eighth. Perhaps the first baseman needs a friendly cuff on the face like Matt Albers received from Bobby Valentine in the seventh. Jonathan Papelbon toed the rubber to his replacement song “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica and tallied his 12th save. That the song conjures the parallel that pitchers ring up their quarry seems something too clever for Papelbon to have figured out by himself. I wonder if he realizes that the song was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the same title? Or that it is about the brutality of real wars, not the merely...

Angry Herds

You know it’s a bad sign when I have to think about who I hate more, John Lackey or LeBron James. For me Lackey is the most infuriating Red Sox player since Julio Lugo. But as abominable as Lugo was while he was with Boston at least a poor performance by him wouldn’t necessarily lead to a loss. But the mere act of Lackey toeing the rubber will probably result in a loss for his team unless they score 10 or more runs. While Blue Jays were putting the finishing touches on a complete evisceration of the Red Sox in the seventh inning the Celtics’ season slipped away in South Beach. King James pranced like a peacock with the Heat’s 97-87 victory. James should remember that in America we rebel against kings. Except when they get hitched, in that case we devote endless, excruciating media coverage of them. (What do you call a female peacock? LeBron James.) When the Red Sox return to Toronto in June perhaps Lackey will buy a ticket for EdgeWalk at the CN Tower so he can see where the home run that John McDonald hit off him ended up. The combined distances of David Ortiz’s...

Going to Church

As Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save in the eighth inning the Celtics failed to break their 86-86 tie with the Heat and the game went to overtime. Paul Pierce’s layup failed to drop and yet another Twins hitter, this time Jason Kubel, dropped a cheap hit into shallow center. Denard Span scored from second on Kubel’s single, where Span waited by benefit of a balk by Alfred Aceves. In the bottom of the seventh Span had Ellsburied Jacoby himself with a dashing, diving grab. Across town the Celtics were outscored 12 to 4 in overtime. Jason Varitek reached on a throwing error by Luke Hughes with two out in the ninth. Darnell McDonald pinch ran for his captain but was picked off by Jose Mijares. Both teams failed to get the job done in regulation and had to do their best to further stretch their strained resources and garner a win. Where Boston’s basketball team failed the Red Sox succeeded. Hideki Okajima pitched a gutty two innings, surviving two hits and two walks to hold Minnesota scoreless. Two of Okajima’s three strikeouts came with runners in scoring position. As Okajima was clutch on the mound Carl Crawford was in...

Clay Reanimation

With the bullpen in tatters thanks to an extra-inning game, a previous rain delay, and poor starts, Terry Francona had to take extreme measures. He had Clay Buchholz return to the mound after a two hour and seven minute rain delay. Buchholz had looked sharp through the first two innings. The only baserunners were Justin Morneau in the first, who reached because of Marco Scutaro’s leisurely handling of a ground ball, and Michael Cuddyer in the second, who reached on an error by Jed Lowrie. During the delay Buchholz kept limber by playing catch with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and getting stretched out by trainers. When the teams got word that the game would restart at 4:00 p.m. Buchholz finished up his second warm-up with long toss and bullpen sessions. Buchholz’s efforts were extended by shutout innings by a quartet of relievers and a surprisingly adequate offense. Lowrie drove in Jacoby Ellsbury, who was at second base with a wall ball double, in the first inning. After the delay Adrian Gonzalez smacked a ground-rule double to right and scored on a ringing single off the Monster by Kevin Youkilis. In the eighth Ellsbury shot a single up the middle with the bases...

Snake Strike(out)

Mark Reynolds struck out all four of his at bats, not an uncommon thing for the slugger who mans the hot corner for the Diamondbacks or the rest of his teammates for that matter. As a team Arizona leads the entire league in strikeouts with 625. The next two teams aren’t even in the 600s: the Blue Jays are in second with 535 and the Marlins rounding out the trio with 523. Reynolds holds first and second season-highs in whiffs; in 2008 he had 204 and 2009 he upped it to 223. All the other hitters on the list, such as Ryan Howard, Jack Cust, and Adam Dunn, at least have the restraint to keep their punchout marks under 200. Despite the opposition’s free-swinging ways, John Lackey didn’t get a season-high number of strikeouts in a game, but turned in a solid line: 6 innings pitched, 8 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 bases on balls, and 5 strikeouts. The game started one hour earlier to minimize the overlap between the Red Sox regular season series conclusion and the NBA Finals Game 7 finale. While Boston’s baseball team swept its series, the roundball team was unable to overcome the Los...

Royal Pain

Just as Tim Wakefield was chased from the game in the fourth inning by the pesky Royals Terry Francona was driven from his customary bench by the irksome Kevin Millar. Millar whooped and hollered over the phone to his MLB Network colleagues when Victor Martinez powered a two-run home run into the home team’s bullpen. The four-bagger granted the Red Sox a somewhat comfortable 5-2 lead. But no lead is safe in Fenway, and these days no lead is safe with Wakefield on the mound. Kansas City retaliated with no regard for human life in the top of the fourth, tying the game 5-5 on a wild pitch to Mitch Maier. Maier would take a base on balls to load the diamond and Yuniesky Betancourt improbably knocked the ball over the left field wall for a grand slam. Betancourt, the middle infielder who bats in the eight hole. The shortstop with the .392 career slugging percentage. The slick fielder who had 34 homers since 2005. In such a topsy-turvy game it stands to reason that the Red Sox’s best pitcher was a position player. Bill Hall pitched a perfect frame in the ninth and had one more out than Joe...

Three Feet High and Rising

The Red Sox are finally meeting the lofty expectations fans had of them, against the team with the best record in the majors no less. The visiting baseball squad swept their opponents and secured third place in the AL East, a heartening turnaround from an underperforming team whose record was hovering around .500. Given the pitching match-up it seemed to be a game that Boston had little chance of winning, but Matt Garza’s command was as straggly as his goatee. The volatile Rays starter lasted just five innings with a disastrous line of 6 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 3 home runs. Prior to this game Garza had surrendered five home runs in 64⅔ innings pitched. Heidi Watney visited the catwalk and roof of Tropicana Field in a foiled attempt to end it all because of the Celtics’ precipitous fall. Or it was a just a photo opportunity granted by someone on the Trop’s grounds crew wishing to be featured in a segment on “The Ultimate Red Sox Show,” or maybe something more lascivious. Not only are the Celtics attempting to replicate the Bruins’ choke job by losing Game 5 113-92 but are sustaining concussions...

First Against First Place

Terry Francona is nowhere to be seen on the list of highest-paid coaches by Forbes. In fact, no MLB skipper is to be found in the top ten, which is populated by NFL and NBA honchos. Should Francona ever dine with Bill Belichick or Doc Rivers the latter two should offer to pay; with a nifty $7.5 million a year Belichick is second on the list and Rivers tenth with $5.5 million annually. For $1.5 million less than Rivers Francona coaches about twice as many games during the regular season. The $3.5 million gap between the baseball manager and the grid iron guru could be attributed to Belichick’s trio of championships compared to Francona’s pair. The fundamental difference between the MLB and the other leagues is that football and basketball are flagship programs in collegiate athletics. The earning potential of these two sports enables a top coach for a major college’s marquee football or basketball program to earn a salary comparable to the median salaries of their pro sport counterparts. Not so for baseball managers. Baseball talent requires years of seasoning that the NCAA monopoly has no patience for. While there are prospects that go the college route, there is...

Jeremy Spoke in Class Today

The 59-minute delay of the first pitch and a shattering defeat the night before left the Red Sox with more time to stew in their misery. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Victor Martinez are in couples therapy (in a start with Jason Varitek Matsuzaka pitched one run over seven innings but with Martinez he has allowed 21 hits and 18 earned runs over 14⅔ innings) and Mike Lowell is seeking a divorce from the Red Sox (he vented his frustration to the media), but on the field Boston battled back from a five-run deficit for their first win at Nouveau Stade Fascist this season. Josh Beckett weathered his second consecutive poor start against the Yankees, lasting just 4⅔ innings with a line of 5 hits, 5 runs (3 earned), 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He was pulled in the fifth inning due to injury and the Yankees played the game under protest because they believed the starter didn’t seem to be injured. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Yankees have doctors and trainers who can diagnose ailments from a distance on their payroll; they can pay for anyone. The visitors had little success against C.C. Sabathia; over seven innings the...

Twist the Sinews of Thy Heart

Window pane plaid did not become Tom Caron, but fortunately the Jim Rice-like threads did not come with Rice’s lesser broadcasting talents. Caron hosted the Barrington Marlins for NESN’s Little League Sunday and he asked Jerry Remy if he had any advice for the kids. Remy quipped that the major league Marlins don’t pay much so try not to play for them. John Lackey didn’t lack for heart but fell short in execution. To save the bullpen he pitched for a season-high 123 pitches in a losing effort. Over 7 innings Lackey allowed 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. He surrendered only one extra base hit, but it was to light-hitting shortstop Ramon Santiago for a two-run homer. It was Santiago’s first circuit clout of 2010. Boston’s offense never quite clicked. Jonathan Van Every and Jeremy Hermida paired up for doubles in the third to plate a run, but it was the only run the visitors scored. The Red Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Remy remarked that the Red Sox came out a little flat. I think it’s because the heart (and mouth) of the team, Dustin Pedroia, was out of the lineup...

Take These Broken Wings

And learn to flutter up the AL East standings over the molting Blue Jays. Toronto shed their early winning plumage in favor of the subdued hues of mediocrity they sport when playing the Red Sox. The Blue Jays have yet to defeat Boston this season but have been doing so well against the rest of the league that they remain a half a game ahead of the Red Sox in the standings. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched like the phenom he was promised to be when John W. Henry placed the highest posting fee ever for a Nippon Professional Baseball player. The starter struck out nine, walked none, gave up three hits, and gave up a single run over seven innings. Even Matsuzaka’s most vocal critic Jerry Remy admitted he enjoyed the starter’s improved, aggressive approach to batters. Blue Jays starter Dana Eveland carried on the tradition established by Brandon Morrow and walked more batters than he struck out. In the second inning Jason Varitek hit the sole home run off Eveland; playing part-time may have been difficult for the catcher to accept but the role has benefited him and his team immensely. Darnell McDonald had a smashing debut but has cooled...


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