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Essential Empy

Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “interleague”

Prerogative to Have a Little Fun

Jealous of the green monsters at Fenway the Phillies trotted out two of their own emerald entities. Lou Ferrigno, who is 61 years old, still flaunts a physique outshining men half his age. As always the Phanatic was part of the shenanigans. The boisterous beryl beast was outshone by David Ross, who does a mean lip sync of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.” His prerogative is to have a little fun, oh oh oh oh. The interleague triad of Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz combined for a double play to end the fourth. Erik Kratz knocked the ball towards Drew, who quickly flipped to Pedroia. Pedroia avoided the oncoming rush of Kevin Frandsen to relay to Ortiz. The slugger impressively stretched to complete the play. In the eighth inning Jacoby Ellsbury broke the franchise record for most stolen bases in a game. He swiped second off Michael Stutes, who will have the honor of being the answer to a trivia question. Ellsbury proceeded to third base when Kratz (who will be bonus points in said trivia contest) threw the ball away into center. The record came at the cost of a tight groin, however, and...

Double Vision

It’s a good thing Jerry Remy likes Eric Frede or last night would have been infinitely more awkward. Frede came off as a geeky high school student trying to impress a girl on their first date. The temporary play-by-play man was constantly checking with Remy to see if he was doing okay, like a guy asking if his date was too warm or cold every five minutes. Most mystifying was Frede’s continual goading of Remy to do the “beat L.A.” chant, which reminded me of teenager trying to get his girl to down some wine coolers. The Red Sox launched eight doubles, which meant Microsoft donated $6,000 to the Dimock Center through its “Doubles for Dimock” charity program. It also meant that Frede was initiated early in the game to the humiliating duty of intoning, “Safe and secure, New York Life,” accompanied by the cheesy organ flourish. Whatever revenue the Red Sox earn from agreeing to that marketing gimmick had better lead to Boston signing a premiere free agent instead of the Yankees. The Red Sox scored five runs in the first, then four in the second, and three in the third. In the dream game in my head, the...


Game 75: June 28, 2009 Red Sox1L: Brad Penny (6-3)46-29, 1 game losing streak Braves2W: Tommy Hanson (4-0)H: Eric O’Flaherty (7)H: Peter Moylan (11)H: Rafael Soriano (6)S: Mike Gonzalez (9)35-40, 1 game winning streak Highlights: Mmmbop, ba duba dop. Please tell me this is Hanson’s mound music. He was 10 when the song hit number one. The Little Leaguers that took over the NESN studio wouldn’t remember this tune. Tom Caron asked a couple of the tykes who their favorite players were. Not surprisingly, one stripling named Dustin Pedroia. Because of the second baseman’s spunk, his glove, his bat, his accolades? Nope. Because Dustin rhymes with Justin, his own name. Tommy Hanson took a page out of Brad Penny’s book and pitched impressively despite flu-like symptoms. If Hanson maintains this pace he could be named the Rookie of the Year. That Boston lost to an outstanding first-year player and not just AAAA cannon fodder removes some of the sting of this loss. He may have been sick, but so was his stuff.Clay Buchholz’s voodoo doll seemed to work at first. Brad Penny clutched his wrist after a pitch, prompting Paul Lessard and Terry Francona to rush to his side. But...


Game 74: June 27, 2009 Red Sox1W: Tim Wakefield (10-3)46-28, 2 game winning streak Braves0L: Javier Vazquez (5-7)34-40, 4 game losing streak Highlights: In the aftermath of the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees sought to prune away those players who failed them so miserably. Amongst the casualties was Vazquez, who has pitched 200 or more innings in every seasons since 2004 and has accumulated over 200 strikeouts in his past two seasons. To top it off, the Yankees traded Javier Vazquez to Arizona for Randy Johnson and then flipped Johnson back to the Diamondbacks in 2007 for Steven Jackson, Alberto Gonzalez, Ross Ohlendorf, and Luis Vizcaino. Last year Jackson and Ohlendorf were packaged for the Xavier Nady deadline deal, which was a coup for the club at the time. A few days later the Red Sox would end up with the best Pirates outfielder (apologies to the followers of Nate McLouth who worship at his shrine).Neither Jason Bay or McLouth were in the lineup yesterday. Bay was given the day off while McLouth is day-to-day with a hamstring strain. It’s late June and Terry Francona is already planning for the postseason by resting key players here and there.Mark Kotsay played in...


Game 73: June 26, 2009 Red Sox4W: Josh Beckett (9-3)45-28, 1 game winning streak Braves1L: Jair Jurrjens (5-6)34-39, 3 game losing streak Highlights: Every series against Braves brings announcers the opportunity to speak of the Atlanta dynasty of the 90s to the early aughts. In that same period the Florida Marlins won two World Series. I’d take two championships over being just good enough to fail in the NLDS or NLCS repeatedly. Josh Beckett didn’t just slap down the Braves (to the tune of 7 innings, 6 hits, no runs, no walks, and 6 strikeouts) but also Heidi Watney in the post-game interview.Watney asked a question to which Beckett replied, “You missed that question already, Heidi.” Is Jason Varitek still dating Watney? If so, Beckett better hope his catcher doesn’t cross him up the next time they share the field.Sorry, NESN, but putting a microphone on Nick Green is like following a certified public accountant on the job. Let Green’s bat and glove do the talking. In the seventh the shortstop chased down Diory Hernandez’s grounder and hurriedly set himself to relay to Mark Kotsay’s outstretched glove. Green worked the walk to lead off the next inning, moved to second...


Game 72: June 25, 2009 Red Sox3L: John Smoltz (0-1)44-28, 1 game losing streak Nationals9W: Jordan Zimmermann (3-3)21-49, 1 game winning streak Highlights: The Zimmermen(n) had me confused last night, particularly with this pitcher hitting situation. I wish the National League fuddy-duddies would adopt the designated hitter already. The success or failure of Heidi Watney’s “Opposite Field” segment all hinges upon the interviewee. Last night Julian Tavarez answered a few questions and I realized how much I miss his personality. He also said he loves and misses us, that he was rooting for Boston during the playoffs last year, and even hopes the Red Sox go all the way this year.While Tavarez didn’t say so explicitly, there is a chasm of difference between playing for the floundering Nationals franchise and the continually contending Red Sox club. The reborn team can only hope that the similarly-surnamed young stars, Ryan and Jordan, are still around by the time the premium prospects they draft now can contribute at the major league level within the next few years.Provided they sign the talent they draft. The Nationals failed to sign their first pick of the 2008 draft, Aaron Crow. That was under Jim Bowden’s regime,...


Game 71: June 24, 2009 Red Sox6W: Jon Lester (6-6)H: Justin Masterson (4)H: Hideki Okajima (14)S: Jonathan Papelbon (17)44-27, 4 game winning streak Nationals4L: Craig Stammen (1-3)20-49, 2 game losing streak Highlights: Home plate umpire Bob Davidson ran Dave Magadan in the fourth inning after the hitting coach joined Kevin Youkilis in disputing a called strike. It was just his second ejection as a coach. He was first thrown out as a coach on my birthday last year by Tim Tschida for arguing that J.D. Drew should have been given time to put pine tar on his bat. In an effort to increase local ticket sales, the Nationals had Player Recipe last night. Anderson Hernandez neglected to mention that he was sharing his recipe for Nick Green Kebabs.Hernandez artfully demonstrated his skewering technique in the second but was thwarted by Green’s agility. Somehow the Red Sox shortstop avoided the bat shard targeting his tender midsection and it glanced off his sinewy arm instead.Although he singled, Hernandez was perturbed by the failure of his showy entrée. “The ball was a decoy, it wasn’t supposed to get to the outfield. My swing is calibrated to shatter the bat, impale the shortstop, and...


Game 70: June 23, 2009 Red Sox11W: Manny Delcarmen (2-1)H: Hideki Okajima (13)43-27, 3 game winning streak Nationals3L: Julian Tavarez (3-5)20-48, 1 game losing streak Highlights: Tuesday evening featured the first visit to the nation’s capital by the Red Sox since 1971. Nationals Park, which debuted last season, is not as self-consciously retro as other recent parks; there’s no silly hill in center field (I’m looking at you, Houston) or obnoxiously jutting banks of seats (ahem, Phillies). The field isn’t boringly uniform like Rogers Centre and has a just a subtle assymetry in center field. The home plate camera angle should be called Bob Uecker Cam, however. Even cozy Fenway has a camera bay far below the announcers’ booth. When you can’t distinguish Dustin Pedroia from Adam Dunn you know your camera is too far from the field.This franchise missed out on a tremendous opportunity to pay homage to the renowned Negro League teams that called the district their home. Washington D.C. had Black Senators (long before there were actual African American senators in the post-Reconstruction Congress), Elite Giants, Pilots, Potomacs, and, most importantly, the Homestead Grays.I guess marketing “gray” is difficult for your modern advertising executive.There are three statues...


Game 66: June 18, 2009 ∙ 6 innings Marlins2W: Ricky Nolasco (3-6)33-35, 1 game winning streak Red Sox1L: Jon Lester (5-6)40-26, 1 game losing streak Highlights: On a wet and messy night the only error wasn’t a flubbed grounder or an errant throw but a fifth-inning collision between Emilio Bonifacio and Dan Uggla with the shift on for David Ortiz. The home team failed to capitalize on the gaffe and didn’t have another chance to bat after the fifth. I guess they round up 5½ to 6, even though there was only one official at bat in the sixth. Of course the day after I write about Kevin Youkilis’s slump he snapped out of it in grand style. The first baseman homered over the left field wall for the first run of the game in the bottom frame of the first inning.Jon Lester was no mystery to the Marlins, however. The lefty yielded eight hits over the course of the evening, including a home run apiece by Dan Uggla and Ronny Paulino in the second for the win.Remarkably, Ricky Nolasco of the juvenile name and the 7.15 ERA surrendered a single hit in his outing while striking out five. I...


Game 64: June 16, 2009 Marlins2L: Chris Volstad (4-7)32-34, 1 game losing streak Red Sox8W: Tim Wakefield (9-3)39-25, 1 game winning streak Highlights: Do I need to plunk down big iron if I want to try Meryl Masterson’s cookies? Don’t confuse these treats with the cookies Volstad was serving up. The rookie hurler lasted just 3⅔ innings and surrendered 9 hits, 8 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, and 1 home run. David Ortiz crushed the ball in the fourth, deposited it into the visitors’ bullpen, after missing one by just a few feet in the second inning. The sold out crowd chanted his nickname but there was no curtain call this time. With his fifth homer of the season Ortiz preferred to stay in the dugout; he most likely with the hopes that such shots will be commonplace and not require any additional fanfare.Tim Wakefield dispatched the first three batters with a mere nine pitches, striking out two of them in six. The Marlins had many things working against them: their inexperience in hitting the knuckleball, their free-swinging approach in the box (the Marlins lead the majors in strikeouts), and their excitement over playing in front of a...


Game 74: June 24, 2007 Red Sox 4 W: Josh Beckett (11-1)S: Jonathan Papelbon (18) 48-26, 1 game winning streak18-6-2 series record Padres 2 L: Jake Peavy (9-2) 42-32, 1 game losing streak16-7-2 series record Highlights: In the eighth Jason Varitek slammed his eighth jack of the season off Scott Linebrink into the beach at Petco Park. Russell Branyan’s Bonoesque sunglasses didn’t help him at the plate (1-4) nor on the field (where he clashed against a teammate to convert an out into a triple for Varitek). Welcome, Jake Peavy, to a modest simulacrum of the American League. Although I don’t often see you pitch, what I saw unfold yesterday afternoon against the brilliant blue San Diegan sky was a familiar scene: a National League pitcher getting a strong dose of what it could be like to pitch on the junior circuit. Ask opposing pitcher Josh Beckett what it is like to adapt to the power-hitting lineups of the AL East. He struggled mightily in 2006; without the pitcher in the nine-hole and the immensity of a pitcher-friendly field behind him, he was but a shadow of himself at first. Just as Peavy was a shade off yesterday, and...


Game 73: June 23, 2007 Red Sox 1 L: Tim Wakefield (7-8) 47-26, 1 game losing streak17-6-2 series record Padres 6 W: Chris Young (7-3) 42-31, 1 game winning streak16-6-2 series record Highlights: Dustin Pedroia had his first steal of his major league career in the first inning. Terry Francona was ejected in the bottom of the sixth after the second umpires’ conference of the evening. Francona has far to go to tie Bobby Cox’s mark of 131 tossings, a record the Braves manager now shares with John McGraw. Chris Young carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. J.D. Drew, No-Hit Spoiler Extraordinaire, poked a seeing-eye single between first and second. After Mike Lowell reached on a fielding error by greenhorn Kevin Kouzmanoff, Young took matters onto his own arm. He plowed through the bottom third of the order, Doug Mirabelli, Julio Lugo, and Tim Wakefield, with a mere 11 pitches. Mirabelli’s career, of course, is inextricably entwined with that of Josh Bard. In the panic trade in May of 2006, Mirabelli was traded from San Diego back to Boston for Bard, Cla Meredith, and cash. Kevin Towers was glad to be rid of Mirabelli as the catcher constantly...

Kakkoii [格好いい]

Game 72: June 22, 2007 Red Sox 2 W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-5)H: Javier Lopez (8)H: Manny Delcarmen (2)H: Hideki Okajima (12)S: Jonathan Papelbon (17) 47-25, 3 game winning streak17-6-2 series record Padres 1 L: Greg Maddux (6-4) 41-31, 3 game losing streak16-6-2 series record Highlights: The Red Sox tallied their first win against Maddux; they are now 5-1 against him. Despite the loss, both starters were cool customers; Matsuzaka won by overcoming his early wildness and playing with an offense that strung together a few timely hits. Grammar pundits may deride the overuse of the word “cool” in English, but in four letters it has captured the gamut of what is stylish and acceptable in youth culture for decades. The Japanese equivalent is kakkoii; kakko means appearance or manner and ii means good. It’s a concept that covers everything from awesome to stylish to having that ineffable aesthetic in attitude and demeanor that sets you apart from the rest. It’s the essence of Daisuke. The Padres, despite their fashion sense, is a spiffy National League team. The San Diego starting rotation ranks among the best in both leagues and the NL West divisional race, featuring divergent front and field...


Game 71: June 20, 2007 Red Sox 11 W: Julian Tavarez (5-4) 46-25, 2 game winning streak17-6-2 series record Braves 0 L: Buddy Carlyle (1-2) 38-35, 2 game losing streak13-7-4 series record Highlights: With Curt Schilling close to being placed on the 15-day disabled list, yet another Red Sox rotation member stepped it up to score another win. Oddly enough, I called Tavarez’s line to a friend before the game. He had just dropped Yoyo and I said he’d probably have a seven-inning three-hitter. Now if I could just win the lifetime season tickets from the Massachusetts State Lottery. In honor of the number of runs scored in this game, which happens to be Bill Mueller’s number with the Red Sox as well as my favorite number, here’s last night’s game by the numbers. One: Walks allowed by Julian Tavarez. Kelly Johnson received the free pass in the seventh. Two: Intentional walks by Earl “Buddy” Carlyle; Jason Varitek in the first and David Ortiz in the fourth. Three: Hits mustered by the home team. Willie Harris broke up a string of ten Braves in a row dismissed by Tavarez in the fourth. None were for extra bases. Four: Homers...


Game 70: June 19, 2007 Red Sox 4 W: Josh Beckett (10-1) 45-25, 1 game winning streak16-6-2 series record Braves 0 L: Tim Hudson (6-5) 38-34, 1 game losing streak13-6-4 series record Highlights: The Red Sox improved their record to 6-4 in shutout games. Curt Schilling left the team to get an MRI back in Boston (results were thankfully negative), but Beckett proved that his shoulders could carry the team until Schilling returns or Jon Lester is recalled. Dustin Pedroia went vertical to nab Scott Thorman’s extra base bid in the second. Coco Crisp out-highlighted center field counterpart Andruw Jones with an airborne snatch of Hudson’s liner in the fifth. Where are these doppelgängers of former Red Sox players produced? Is there a lab someplace where the Edgar Renterias of the world get baseball aptitude rejuvenation shots? Perhaps it happens in those places replete with clean rooms where dirty deeds play out. Behind the doors in those pristine halls the splicing of genes of aardvarks into artichokes to make for protein-rich vegetables that also devours deleterious insects happens just the down the corridor from where the conversion of Willie Harris from bench fodder to a serviceable major leaguer also...


Game 69: June 18, 2007 Red Sox 4 L: Curt Schilling (6-4) 44-25, 1 game losing streak16-6-2 series record Braves 9 W: Chuck James (6-6) 38-33, 1 game winning streak13-6-4 series record Highlights: Coco Crisp seemed to reap the benefit of his recent change in stance. Crisp went 4-for-4 and propelled two home runs, one in the second and another in the sixth. Historically Crisp has had more power from the right side, but the tinkering has helped him on both sides of the plate. The center fielder has hits in his last five games, just one shy of his season-high hitting streak. “Okay, Curt. Breathe deeply with me. Concentrate on just the feeling of the air filling your lungs.” Coco sat peacefully on a yoga mat with legs crossed. His eyes were closed and his face relaxed. Across from him lurched Curt Schilling, legs ungainly attempting to align themselves in the criss-crossed manner Coco so easily assumed. “Can’t. Get my. Legs like that,” he grunted. “Focus on your breathing,” the outfielder urged again, opening one eye to observe the awkward angles Curt’s body. “Time. Matters not. The past. Matters not. Live in the present.” At last the pitcher’s...


Game 68: June 17, 2007 Giants 5 L: Matt Morris (7-4) 30-38, 4 game losing streak7-12-4 series record Red Sox 9 W: Tim Wakefield (7-7)H: Manny Delcarmen (1)H: Joel Piñeiro (1) 44-24, 3 game winning streak16-6-2 series record Highlights: The Red Sox are 6-1 in series sweeps and have only lost two games when playing on Sunday. The win tipped Boston into a .500 record in June. Brendan Donnelly was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strain to his right forearm muscle and Delcarmen was recalled from the Pawtucket Red Sox to take Donnelly’s place on the roster. I strain my own arm just watching Donnelly’s savage delivery. Boston swept the Giants out of town yesterday with a convincing 9-5 trouncing. But the Red Sox sweep, unlike the Yankees domination of the Pirates, garnered few national media accolades. The expectation is that teams like the Red Sox and Yankees will clobber the cellar dwellers of the senior circuit. When the Yankees do so, it is an outstanding feat of revitalization and supremacy. When Boston mirrors the exploit, it is brushed aside as an afterthought. Just after the completion of the U.S. Open I called my dad, Maui...


Game 66: June 15, 2007 Giants 2 L: Barry Zito (6-5) 30-36, 2 game losing streak7-11-4 series record Red Sox 10 W: Julian Tavarez (4-4) 42-24, 1 game winning streak15-6-2 series record Highlights: Alive! It’s alive! The Red Sox offense notched six runs against old friend Zito. Tavarez went seven for the second time this season with a line of two earned runs, two walks, and three strikeouts. Hideki Okajima and Joel Piñeiro got some low-leverage work in the eighth and ninth; each allowed one hit and walked and struck out none. Manny Ramirez legged out of a double play in the bottom of the third, dreadlocks jouncing in tandem with his rapid strides. Dustin Pedroia was unstoppable with the bat last night, going 5-for-5 with five RBIs. He fell a triple short of the cycle; if he had Kevin Youkilis’s wheels he may have been able to stretch his eight-inning double to the left-center gap into a triple. Another second baseman proved pivotal in the last series the Giants played at Fenway. It happened to be the eighth and deciding game of the 1912 World Series. The series stood tied 3-3, as Game 2 was a tie that...

Rocky Mountain Sigh

Shocking photographic proof that the Red Sox can beat the Rockies below. The images that follow may be disturbing for some audiences. Click on the picture for a larger version. Sound booth employee poised for best moment to unleash “Rocky Mountain High.” Something new: playing Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” during visiting team’s pitching changes. “Where is that damn “COL” sign from 2002? Did one of you guys use it to make colon jokes again?” Manny deep in repose. Oh noes teh yankeez r comin One way to paint the corners. Or should I have gone with “the easy way to tag home”? Office worker unchained: conservative striped shirt underneath, wacky tie-dye on top. Picking the daisies. Touching the sky. Local boys Chris Iannetta and Josh Fogg enjoy Fenway. Hugs and hand pounds in the dugout. The butterfly emerges. Mike Lowell warns Terry Francona of the perils of the hidden ball trick. Bruce Froemming will retire at the end of this season. He didn’t get hit by a foul ball that evening. “Come on, DeMarlo. I can totally steal home.” Jonathan Papelbon in full stride. It really did happen. Sadly, just once....


Game 64: June 13, 2007 Rockies 12 W: Josh Fogg (2-5) 33-33, 1 game winning streak6-11-4 series record Red Sox 2 L: Curt Schilling (6-3) 41-23, 1 game losing streak15-5-2 series record Highlights: Mike Lowell atoned for his run-scoring error in the second (his 12th of the season) with his 12th homer of the season in the bottom of the same inning. The only other Red Sox run came with three consecutive singles by Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez in the third. Well, that was a brief stint for Dustin Pedroia leading off. Using his numbers against Josh Fogg (5-11 with two home runs), Terry Francona started Alex Cora at second instead of the rookie and had the utility man batting eighth. Julio Lugo remained in the nine-hole but Coco Crisp led off, meaning the lineup’s poorest producers were back-to-back. Fogg was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on December 13, 1976. When I went to Tuesday’s game I noticed he and Chris Iannetta, who was born in Providence, were soaking in Fenway’s atmosphere. For Fogg it seemed that playing in his birth state inspired him to transcend his 1-5 record and 5.06 ERA. By the time Fogg left...


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