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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Francona (Terry)”

Sunday Surge

If we want to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth to wage a stunning comeback, these steps must be followed precisely. Jerry Remy must spill coffee on his scorecard. While cleaning it off he has to say, “I’ll be okay as long as we don’t go into extra innings.” The statement would turn out to be prophetic. Next be sure to find an adorable little girl with a charming sign announcing that it is her first game. She didn’t ask for hot dogs, however, she asked for something far more rare: a hug from the sometimes irascible Jerry Remy. The girl got her wish. Another essential ingredient for a late-inning comeback? A former ballplayer of both teams sitting up on the Green Monster. Christopher Trotman Nixon took in the game 37 feet above the field. If the game is on a Sunday, the opposing manager has to come out and argue a close play at second at the seventh inning stretch. He should pause for the playing of “God Bless America,” of course. On any other day with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” being performed the skipper can proceed with the discussion until ejection. Or you...


Jenny Dell captured Terry Francona’s assault of Don Orsillo. I give it 8.5 Nolan Ryans. Francona got a deduction for using Orsillo’s tie; Ryan would have tackled his opponent. Orsillo’s hair suffered temporarily. Of course he carried backup hair products to restore his hairstyle to its broadcast-ready state. Fans showed their appreciation of Francona. His team had cooled off since the series opener, only mustering a single run in the third. With runners at first and second and Jason Kipnis in the box Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to catch Mark Reynolds stealing. The throw missed Jose Iglesias, who replaced Will Middlebrooks at third for the evening, and skipped into left field. Reynolds scored on the error. Since the run was scored on an error it was unearned, much to John Lackey’s delight. Mike Carp gave his team an early lead with a three-run homer in the second, giving Lackey the run support needed to tally his third win. Game 49: May 24, 2013 Cleveland Indians27-20 1 L: Justin Masterson (7-3) 2B: Michael Brantley (7) Boston Red Sox29-20 8 W: John Lackey (3-4) 2B: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (11)HR: Mike Carp (3)...

Thursday Troubles

Both the Red Sox and the Bruins lost on Thursday. The Bruins could have put away the Rangers in the fourth game of their season but a tumble by Tuuka Rask and behind-the-net carelessness by Zdeno Chara forced the series to Game 5. In the third inning Jacoby Ellsbury was tagged out at home on Dustin Pedroia’s single to center. David Ortiz clouted a three-run homer right after the play at the plate and brought the Red Sox to within a run of the visitors. That was the closest Boston would come to Terry Francona’s club, however. Francona’s former organization presented a video tribute prior to the game. His team returned the favor by trouncing the Red Sox. It was odd to see Francona in the third base dugout. I wonder if he misses the special bench on the first base side. I miss Francona less than I did last year, but it was a bit sad to see him on the opposing side. But in Farrell we trust… for now. Game 48: May 23, 2013 Cleveland Indians27-19 12 W: Zach McAllister (4-3)S: Scott Barnes (1) 2B: Drew Stubbs – 2 (11), Michael Bourn (6), Yan Gomes (3)3B: Stubbs (1)...

Boston Strong

To support their city the Red Sox made a jersey with Boston’s area code and hung it up in the dugout. Throughout the game the Cleveland crew made the visitors feel at home, playing “Sweet Caroline” and “Dirty Water.” The flag in center field stood at half-mast. The President decreed that flags at the White House and government buildings, military posts, and naval vessels would be half-staff until sundown this Saturday. Will Middlebrooks etched his support on his shoe. The third baseman went 0-for-4 with a walk, but his teammates more than made up for his lack of hits. Felix Doubront had a seven-run lead to work with after the second inning was mercifully ended by Middlebrooks’s strike out. Jerry Remy was visibly angry when he spoke about the Boston Marathon bombing in the show opener. Meryl Masterson’s cookies seemed to cheer his mood. Banter between Don Orsillo and Terry Francona also had him chuckling. “That's the only reason I want the Red Sox to hit a home run, so I can have something to go to sleep to,” quipped Francona in the pre-game press conference. Gordon Edes got in a jibe about how he would mute the sound during...

Eight Years Ago

Although the game ended with a loss by the Red Sox, fans got to revel in past glory with a celebration of the 2004 World Series Champion team. Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, and Tim Wakefield made their way around Fenway on a duck boat with the trophy. At one point Nomar Garciaparra held the trophy, which must have been a bittersweet moment for him. It is heartening to see whatever bitterness Terry Francona departed Boston with dissipate. There is no one else like Pedro. He made dominance look easy. I moved here from Hawai‘i in 1997 so I only briefly understood what it meant to not have a marquee future Hall of Fame pitcher in your rotation. Pedro signed his name behind the Green Monster for the first time. “Now we can all go and sign and say mission accomplished,” he said. “I’m going to sign really high [on the wall], so that Manny doesn’t pee on it.” He and Kevin Millar need to start a comedy act, stat. Millar joked about how everyone had gained the freshman 30. Pedro recounted his dinner with Jason Varitek and Roger Clemens and how they talked about pitching. That must be like Leonardo...

Morale(s) Booster

Yes, I was an English major who tried to write those avant-garde intertextual theses with parentheses that cleverly (or so I thought) split one word into multiple lexemes. Forgive me for the sins I visited upon Shakespeare, Elizabeth Bishop, and a whole gamut of novelists, poets, and playwrights with the assistance of Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, and Michel Foucault. Franklin Morales made a spot start in the last game of this series in Chicago and would have been the winning pitcher were it not for a comedy of errors in the bottom of the sixth. The circus started with Kevin Youkilis booting Darwin Barney’s ground ball. Starlin Castro found a soft spot in the infield defense with a short single to the right of the mound. Youkilis was able to field Alfonso Soriano’s ground ball but Barney advanced to third and Soriano was safe at first. Matt Albers fielded Jeff Baker’s comebacker well but when he threw to second Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles both dived for the ball. The ball squirted into center field and Barney scored the tying run. Through no fault of his own Albers was tagged with a blown save. In the top half of the...

Angry Aviles

Mike Aviles was ejected for the first time in his major league career in last night’s game. The shortstop argued with home plate umpire Dan Bellino’s strike that ended Aviles’s at bat and the top half of the seventh inning. I found myself agreeing with Aviles: the pitch seemed to be a shade too far outside. According to the strikezone plot at Brooks Baseball, however, Aviles did let a strike go by; it seems he was fooled because the balls he took were very close to the final strike. Nothing like a painstakingly accurate chart to cool one’s righteous indignation. I don’t think I was the only one who got a little misty when Don Orsillo recounted an anecdote featuring former manager Terry Francona. The Tropicana clubhouse is known for a wall of headshots of major league managers that would be updated with frightening efficiency. Francona said he would check if he still had a job by checking out the photos to see if his shiny pate was still present. That prompted Jerry Remy to recall how he told Francona that his meetings were boring. From that point forward Francona had a magazine waiting for Remy. Orsillo and Remy didn’t...

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...

Tears Over Eight Years

Of exultation in 2004 and 2007. Of frustration in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Of dolor in 2011. I’m watching Terry Francona’s press conference and I think that jettisoning him is a mistake. It’s an extreme overreaction to an admittedly colossal collapse. Bill Belichick wasn’t fired after Super Bowl XLII. Neither Doc Rivers nor Claude Julien were fired after 2010. I will be in Cooperstown when Francona is inducted into the Hall of Fame and I hope the Red Sox will not lose too many games when Boston plays against his next team. Godspeed, Tito....

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...

Fight or Flight

The Red Sox choose the wrong sort of flight, fleeing the field with their collective tail between their legs with a loss against the cellar-dwelling Orioles. To be fair the local nine put up a bit of a fight in the fifth with Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI double and Dustin Pedroia’s triple to plate Gonzalez. Terry Francona fought tooth and nail for David Ortiz, whose fly ball to right field was wrongly ruled foul. While Francona had Ortiz’s back the same couldn’t be said for the designated hitter. The slugger told reporters that Alfredo Aceves should be starting. “To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting. It’s as simple as that. I think at one point, he might be a starter. It all depends what the front office decides, but he’s got good stuff, and we definitely need a guy that can come in and give us six or seven good innings.” Perhaps Ortiz’s frustration is with baseball operations. Three Orioles took flight: Robert Andino, Nolan Reimold, and J.J. Hardy all homered off greenhorn Kyle Weiland. Game 153: September 19, 2011 Baltimore Orioles63-89 6 W: Jeremy Guthrie (9-17)H: Troy Patton (2)H: Willie Eyre (2)H: Clay...

Do You Have Prince Albers in a Can?

Then leave him in there next time. Tim Wakefield entered the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead and turned the ball over to Matt Albers with a one-run lead, Mike Moustakas on second, and one out. Albers allowed the inherited runner to score to tie the game and tacked on three of his own earned runs to the total. Franklin Morales returned the favor and allowed two of Albers’s runners to score when he surrendered a triple to Eric Hosmer. I dreamed I was a kid in the Little League World Series with Terry Francona as my team’s manager. Our team played against Japan and I worked a walk off a little girl who threw knuckleballs to load the bases. I eventually scored and a woman in the audience complimented me on my plate discipline. In my dream the little league relievers did a better job Boston’s bullpen. At least we didn’t cause NESN talking baby to cry. Don Orsillo didn’t wear the chicken hat but did wear a tie similar to his May 19 ensemble. That tie was aligned so the grid appears as diamonds whereas last night’s tie had horizontal lines parallel to the horizon. Game 125: August...

Millennial Man

Since Terry Francona shaves his head bald you can’t see the aging caused by seven years with the Red Sox by whitening temples. There are are a few more wrinkles, but when he talks about the Red Sox he still speaks with the same level of love and enthusiasm. In the December 4, 2003 press conference announcing his hiring as manager Francona said, “We’re supposed to win here. In talking to Theo and Larry and Josh, we’re trying to win next year, but we’re trying to win for a lot of years after that. The whole idea is to build a team that can win and keep it together and win consistently. That is wonderful pressure.” And win he did. He added 715 Red Sox wins to his 285 victories with the Phillies to reach 1,000 wins last night. Rather than remarking on his personal accomplishment Francona deflected credit to his players, Josh Beckett in particular. “I’m just glad to win any way. Beckett was tremendous. He pitched out of a little bit of a mess at the end, but he was tremendous.” When asked about Francona’s milestone Beckett replied dryly, “If he were a pitcher it would be more...

The Whole Breakdown of It

On the early morning charter flight from Florida to Maryland the Red Sox and their manager, in their itchy-eyed delirium of sleeplessness, must have passed the time making ridiculous predictions. “When we play Baltimore today we’ll score as many runs as we played innings last night!” declared Dustin Pedroia. Darnell McDonald rolled his eyes. “That’s nuts, man. Each guy would have to have around two ribbies. But maybe I could do it by sneaking a double down the left field line with the bases loaded. As long as Adrian wasn’t clogging up the basepaths.” “Okay, maybe not more than 16 runs. But close,” asserted Pedroia. “I could push the envelope and pull Wakes before things got out of hand for once,” Terry Francona murmured as he sipped his favorite tea. Dan Wheeler whispered to newcomer Randy Williams. “That’s not pushing the envelope, that’s being awake instead of in a coma.” “Francoma,” snorted Williams. “He can keep me on the bump as long as he wants, I got this.” Back in real life Kevin Gregg and David Ortiz served their three-game suspensions simultaneously and they were replaced on the field with mixed results. Not one of the six Orioles pitches who...

Brew Crew Blues

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were on fire last night, uttering one-liners as easily as Adrian Gonzalez knocks in opposite-field hits. As NESN cameramen showed Charlie Moore the pair returned to Orsillo’s paddle boat adventure. Fish tales were exchanged, such as Adrian Gonzalez batting .453 with a .540 on-base percentage and .906 slugging in June thus far. Actually, that’s true. In the bottom of the seventh Craig Counsell matadored Darnell McDonald’s grounder, an error that allowed Drew Sutton to score. “Looked like Roberto Luongo at shortstop on that play,” quipped Remy. Incidentally, Sutton has seven doubles in 34 at bats. Three players with more at bats have fewer doubles than him: J.D. Drew, Marco Scutaro, and Jason Varitek. The latter two have their reasons, but Drew, not so much. The NESN broadcasting pair delighted in Terry Francona’s obliviousness to basic hockey concepts. “Boy, he has no clue. None,” stated Remy. Line shifts, power plays, and offsides are as obscure to Francona as hitting offspeed pitches are to Wily Mo Pena. Nonetheless, Francona donned a Marc Savard jersey for his pre-game press conference, which was part of the Bruins treasure trove that Josh Beckett bought for his squad. All their ribbing...

Defensive Difference

Tim Wakefield is just seven victories away from 200 wins. In 2009 it seemed like an inevitability that he would reach this milestone; he went 11-5 and made the All-Star team. He had a lackluster 2010 and there was no room in the rotation for him this season. He’ll have his chances to notch wins with spot starts as he did last night or with vulture wins out of the bullpen, but given his ineffectiveness and his team’s lack of production the odds are against Wakefield reaching the two-century mark. The knuckleballer wasn’t helped by his defense, with Jed Lowrie playing particularly poorly at short. Danny Valencia sneaked a single by Lowrie in the second after Michael Cuddyer led off with a base on balls. Ben Revere loaded the bases with a line drive single and Adrian Gonzalez uncharacteristically whiffed on a sharp grounder off Denard Span’s bat. In the fifth Lowrie failed to stop Drew Butera’s ground ball from slipping into the outfield. Two runs had already scored that inning and Lowrie’s error allowed two more. Terry Francona got to watch most of the game from the comfort of the clubhouse as he was ejected in the second inning...

Lowrie’s Seasoned Salt

My mom always had a jar of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt in the cupboard to quickly add zest to hamburgers or pork chops. In much the same way Jed Lowrie adds zing to the Red Sox; it’s not a coincidence that since Lowrie has been inserted in the lineup home cooking has been tastier. Today Lowrie put Sam Fuld to shame with a 4-for-5 outing, sprinkling in four runs batted with a splash of two-run home run for good measure. Terry Francona exploited Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero’s vulnerability to J.D. Drew by slotting the right fielder into the leadoff slot. The move also gave Carl Crawford some relief from the pressure of batting first. Drew led off the game with a triple that nearly cleared the center field wall and went on to score the first run of the game. Kevin Youkilis also just missed a homer when he hammered the ball of the top of the home bullpen’s wall in the bottom of the third but easily lofted the ball over the visitors’ bullpen wall in the sixth. His 114th home run further padded the lead to 7-0 and equally split his roundtrippers to 57 at Fenway and 57...

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Stupidity

It’s not that our team doesn’t have smarts, it’s just that our team’s smarts are inconsistently used. Mike Lowell is widely regarded as particularly wily, so he knew that keeping Carlos Pena pegged at first with the bottom of the order coming wasn’t a priority. But Clay Buchholz is the poster child for nervous throws over to first. His pickoffs are like Nomar’s pre-batting tics or Wade’s chicken dinners, except since they happen in-game they may cause mayhem. Pena didn’t even have a lead and Buchholz tossed over to first. Lowell is wise the the ways of the game but at this point is so inert he has to flip to pitchers on many ground outs to his position. One game he is going to be at first and Wakes is going to be pitching and neither will make it to first in time to stop a Molina from getting an infield single. So Mikey couldn’t get to Clay’s errant throw and it gamboled through foul territory to the Rays bullpen. Carlos galloped all the way from first to third while J.D. and Mikey pawed through the equipment, chairs, and relievers that littered the area. (Later Amalie Benjamin tweeted that...

John Lacking

For all the complaints about Daisuke Matsuzaka’s starts, his teammate John Lackey’s performances can be as exasperating. This past offseason’s key free agent acquisition lasted 4⅔ innings with a line of 8 hits, 7 earned runs, 6 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Lackey had so little command of the strike zone that he couldn’t even take advantage of home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg’s favorable strike zone. Had the Red Sox saved some offensive firepower from the first game Lackey could have secured his 10th win of the season, but Cito Gaston’s relief corps shut down the Boston batters for five innings. The relievers may have been aided by Kellogg’s calls. Kellogg inspired the ire of many of the visiting hitters. Seven times the Red Sox batters were called out on strikes. As the strike zone seemed to be favoring pitchers, hitters found themselves swinging at questionable pitches, resulting in five swinging strikeouts. Mike Cameron was ejected in the seventh inning for complaining to Kellogg, prompting Terry Francona to confront Kellogg. Seconds after Kellogg motioned that Francona was getting tossed the Red Sox skipper copied the motion, Carlos Zambrano-like, which proved to be one of the few enjoyable moments in the game....

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...


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