!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Reports from the Nation

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Man...

I just don't know how to feel, I truly don't. The drastic turn in the Sox lineup, while expected, is still more drastic than I thought it would be. Renteria's gone. Mirabelli's gone. Millar's gone. Graffanino's gone. Mueller's going to be gone. Manny wants out. Wells wants out. Nixon might get traded. Damon might not get resigned.

That's our entire infield, outfield and one starter. It's as if the moment that Theo left, the team started to mutate into this new thing, this goliath that slowly and awkardly is making it's way towards opening day.

I still love the Sox despite themselves but it shouldn't be this hard to love something. It's like your signicant other left the house to get a haircut, one that you might not be crazy about but it means a lot to him or her so you tell yourself that you can deal. Then, when he or she comes back they've shaved their head, gotten a tattoo and sold your car to buy themselves a motorcycle.

I find myself in a bizarre situation I need to not follow the Sox's off-season movements anymore, it only causes me stress and pain. But then what kind of Sox fan would I be if I could not obessively follow them?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pitying the Yankees, interesting...

I really do almost pity the Yankees. They're stuck in this weird state of flux at the moment. They're trying to not sign any more hugely expensive contracts or trade away what little they have left of their farm system. That makes it hard for them to get new players and if you add that the fact that they don't have a huge choice of people to promote from within you end up with them not having the widest selection of players to choose from.

I've also noticed more players turning down the Yankees, choosing not take on the burden that is associated with the team. It appears that people were willing to put up with a lot when the team was almost continual world champions but now, players would rather get a large contract at a medium-sized contending team (and the fact that so many teams are increasing payroll means that there are more and more of such teams out there).

It's hard to get a real serious pity on for the evil empire but I do feel just a twinge of it. Just wait though. They'll do something to earn back my spite.

An ace in place

It looks like a physical is all that is standing between us and Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. We had to give up Hanley Ramirez, a poster child for our new improved farm system as well as pitching prospect Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado. Personally, I think Delgado was a great part of the trade as he's not liable to be ready before 2007 and even then he'd probably only be a middle reliever. I can also part with Sanchez without too much regret. Ramirez does hurt a bit but I have to ask myself, when would he have come up? We still have three more years in the Renteria deal and with Pedoria in the farm system (and possibly in the majors next year) we don't desperately need a second baseman.

As long as Beckett is healthy, I think it was worth it. He's already got some great stuff at the tender age of 25. This means that he can both still grow as a pitcher as well as easily be an integral part of our pitching staff for a decade. The only downside of the trade is that we have to take on Lowell's huge contract. True he's a gold glover winner but he's the worst hitting gold glove winner (and that's saying something) and he's vastly overpaid. There's a rumor that the Sox might pass Lowell off to a third team and eat part of his salary. Again, I highly approve. Since Beckett's probably only going to make 4 to 5 million this year with arbitration, I view it as just paying a little more for Beckett (and he's still worth it).

This deal is already being called the best of the off-season and the best Boston trade since Schilling or possibly even Pedro. While only time will tell, it's not that bad a comparison. We managed to get an amazing player and not have to give up too much.

What I don't like is the word going around that the Sox have given up on Bill Mueller. It looks like they're not even talking to him because they'd only want to sign him to a one year deal and he's at that age when you're looking for your last long contract. The fact that the Sox are willing to keep Lowell if they can't move him further indicates that the Sox are passing on Billy Ballgame. Both the Twins and White Sox seem to want him and I hope that, if he does go somewhere else, that he is appreciated for what he can bring.

In other news when will Scott Boras and Johnny Damon realize that no one, I repeat, no one will give him eleven million for seven years. That's just ridiculous. He'd be smart to go to Boston for a four year deal, asking seven to nine million. I think if he asks for any more the Sox are gonna pass and since the Yanks don't want him and the Mets already have an overpaid centerfielder, it means that there aren't a lot of places that can cough up the cash to take him on. The Cubs maybe but they aren't going to give much more money than Boston would. Sammy Sosa taught them a leasson about offering too much money over too long a contract to an outfielder.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hunting season begins

Tomorrow is when free agents can start taking offers from other teams. Basically, most players never resign before this time because they want to see how the market is playing out (a notable exception is Mike Timlin, who knows where the love is). So tomorrow it all begins in earnest. The Red Sox will be able to go after other team's players (such as the White Sox's Konerko) and other teams will be coming after our players. We will finally see how much the organization values certain players in particular Damon and Mueller; although Olerud will be interesting as he can still contribute and it seems that the Yankees want him (do we bid on him to keep him/keep him away from the Yanks?).

I must remind myself to take deep breathes. Tomorrow it begins. Tomorrow the Sox will begin to fall apart and be rebuilt.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Still, We Believe

Of course we still believe. Not about the Red Sox, that faith has been rewarded (if you'll forgive the pun). No, the thing that we still believe in is that Theo can still be the Sox's GM despite all evidence to the contrary. One must bear in mind, that this is the same group of people who routinely say things like "if we win all of the games we have left and the Yanks lose all of theirs then we'll take the pennet!"

But it's not just the fans. We read about how Schilling, Varitek, Timlin and even Damon in his own kind of way, miss Theo and are shaken by his departure. There are all these rumors that people are still hoping that Theo will sign a deal (all he did, after all, was just not resign his contract before it expired. That doesn't mean that he couldn't sign a completely new contract). I think the fact that there doesn't seem to be a clear successor from within the organization and no candidate that is free is really the best fit for Boston (nor for Theo, although the Dodgers do have an opening...).

Another thing that is bothering me is that it keeps looking more and more likely like Mueller will be playing in Minnesota next year. It's not that I have anything against the Twins; it just means that soon Billy Ballgame might not be with us anymore.

The deal I'm keeping my eye on is with the Padres. I'm curious to see if they take David Wells in exchange for Sean Burroughs and Dave Roberts. I know it's just a rumor but as rumors go it's a pretty solid one. Bostonians love Roberts (and with great reason) and while Burroughs does show promise, he is a bit expensive for San Diego as they wait for him to develop.

This whole Manny thing is bizarre. I still think he's gonna head to the Mets in exchange for Mike Cameron (so the Sox don't have to pursue Damon) plus a prospect or two. There also might be a three team deal involing the Devil Rays for Baez and Huff as there almost was at the trade deadline last year. Or some crazy mix of the two. Or he might go to the Indians or Angels. Or he might stay in Boston. There really is no telling with Manny.

Manny's decision to leave makes me sad as he really is my favorite Red Sock. I love the way he plays the game: the weirdest mix of determination, confidence, and joy. I do definitely see why he feels a bit like a leper in Boston because when you're paid as much as he is a lot of Bostonians feel that they have a right to invade his privacy. I myself felt this urge when I saw him on the street at the corner of Boylston and Tremont as I was walking between classes. I saw him and couldn't believe it. I wanted to run over and talk to him, just for a moment, just to say how much I love him. But I didn't. I let him go his way and I went mine because I wanted him to have a few normal seconds of life without someone in his face.

We love you Manny. If you've got to go somewhere else so that you can be happy, God bless. You will be missed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Maaaaaan

I haven't been in a place where I could post. Not really. Not with Theo gone... he still could come back, right? Right? I mean, they haven't signed anyone to take his place. Oh, who am I kidding. He's long gone with his red shoes on.

Then there's still the fact that the off-season acquisitions is about to start. Unlike last year where the thing seemed to drag on until March, the word on the street is that most signings will be done by Christmas with only a few possible trades lingering until the spring. To be honest, I think that'd be for the best. I need some time to get adjusted to the new rosters, to emotionally prepare myself for what is to come.

I feel this sort of pending devestation, this oppresive weight of how drastically different this team will look next year. ThereTo quote Tom Collins from Rent, "I can't believe he's gone, I can't believe you're going. I can't believe this family must die."

To end more on a "huh?" note than a tragically depressive note, what is going on with Urbina being charged with attempted murder? He is apparently being accused of being part of a group who attacked another group of people with a machette and covering them in gasoline and intending to set them on fire. It apparently happened on his family's ranch but he claims he was asleep despite being identified by one of the men who was attacked. Man, that will make your free agent price tag plummet.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm not quite ready for the hot stove yet

I suspect I'll never love a baseball team again as much as I've loved these Red Sox. The trade winds are blowing, the rolling stones are rolling; things will never be the same again.

But, oh, guys, how I've loved you. Every minute has been beautiful, painful, scripted for maximum effect. You're the boyfriend from my youth that I'll always remember with a twinge, bitter but mostly sweet. What was, what might have been, like the aftereffect of a first kiss. Thank you.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The new face of Boston?

The post-season isn't even over and rumors have begun circulating. Why? Because New York and Boston are out of the running and they've got some of the deepest pockets and the most to prove.

As for the Red Sox, I'm betting they're gonna resign Timlin, I'm betting they're going to bring up rookie Dustin Pedroia to play second and platoon him with either Alex Cora or Tony Graffanino (I'd hope Graffanino but for budget reasons, they'll probably keep Cora).

Hanley Ramirez will most definitely start the season in AAA and will probably be up before the All-Star break.

Manny Ramirez on the other hand... urgh... I'm hoping he stays but I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up playing for the Mets, they've got the money and he and Pedro have always been close.

Johnny's gone. Let's just be honest. And he's most likely heading to the Bronx. I know that the Cubbies want him (hell, lots of people want him) but the Yankees are the only type of person to sign that large a contract for that long a period without thinking, "hey, 37 year olds don't make the best center fielders" (which is how they ended up with Bernie Williams playing the way he did this year). The problem is with him and Matsui in the outfield (if they sign him), that'd be a huge chunk of payroll just for two of your nine starters; they'd figure to make about ten million apiece. As for who the Sox would get to replace him? Who knows. They might try to get Torii Hunter from the Twins but things between the Sox and Twins aren't on the best of terms, besides they'd have to give up two prospects for him and I don't think the Sox are willing to do that.

The Sox are going to try and keep Mueller and either move Youkilis to first or platooning with Billy at third. The problem is that the Sox are going to offer him arbitration and try to keep him for one year and there is going to be at least one team that's willing to offer him a more lucrative two-year deal. I'd say that Billy might turn them down to stay with the team but the team will look so different that I don't know if he'll feel that loyality.

Millar is gone and Olerud is just a maybe, staying as a back-up first baseman at best. The Sox are going to try and persuade Konerko to leave the White Sox (especially if they need a slugger to replace Manny) but he wants to stay in the south side of Chicago. I think how much money they offer him as well as how the White Sox do this post-season will be a huge factor in whether or not he comes a calling to Boston. The more likely bet is that we try to steal Aubrey Huff away from the Devil Rays; he had a mediocre season but the guy is a good player and well worth acquiring.

I think the Sox are gonna try to tighten up their pitching but prospects look bleak. AJ Burnett is the top prospect and he ain't looking like such a good deal. I'd expect that the Sox try to acquire a number two/number three type guy who they hope can blossom, much in the way of Matt Clement. Also, I'd look for the Sox farm system to come up big with guys like Papelbon, who'll probably start in the bullpen but may move to starter, that is if he doesn't take over the closer role.

Which brings me to Foulke. He says he's good and he does have one more year left on his contract but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets traded either in the off-season or right at the trade deadline. I will always remember him fondly for what he did (lest we never forget, he fielded the final out that got us that Series title) but he fell so far last year and his price tag is a bit too high to allow for that kind of performance.

As for how the rest of the bullpen shapes up, that's up for grabs. Most of the good guys that are coming available want to closers, not set-up men and certainly not middle relief. I want to see Tom Gordon back in a Red Sox jeresy, I really do but if he doesn't want to be Rivera's set-up guy then he doesn't want to be anyone's set-up guy.

The only people who I think have job security at the moment are Edgar Renteria at short (he'll play better next year than he did this year but I doubt he'll ever hit that golden boy status that we were promised when he signed), Trot in right, Varitek behind the plate and Big Papi at DH. Other than those three, I think the nine everyday positions have just turned into a game of musical chairs.

I haven't given enough thought to pitching to go out on too far of a limb but I'm betting Schilling comes back and comes back big. He won't be as dominate as he once was I think, but I think he'll be the ace. Also, I think Wells will return despite his mumblings of retirement. Wakefield did too well this year and signed too nice a contract to not become part of that starting rotation. I think the team has nursed Arroyo along nicely and that he'll make the cut, but unforutnately he's also the perfect trade bait. The Sox might try to move him for a good pitching arm but I tend to think that the Sox management will take the bird in its hand rather than root around for two in the bushes. That fifth spot very well might go to Papelbon, I really believe it. The kid's got the goods. However, I'm more willing to bet that they're gonna try and acquire someone else to put in and just know that they can rely on Papelbon to take over mid-season if he needs to.

As for Wade Miller? Gone. His contract is up and so is his time in Boston unless he's willing to cut one hell of a deal and even then he'd be put in a long relief role. Odds are he'll cut some fringe team a decent one year deal and try to make himself a better market pick up for the 2007 season.

Of course all this is just guesswork, especially since the Sox haven't even managed to resign Epstein back as the GM. I have confidence that they will though and the next move the Sox brass will probably do is sign Francona to a longer contract, he's done too well for them not to be rewarded.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A day of new beginnings

I could rant about our lack of pitching. I could rave about how we couldn't string hits together. I could even try to console myself by reminding myself that I had predicted the Red Sox winning the series in five, which necessitates losing twice.

Instead I'm going that today is October 4th. On a personal note, that means that today is the last work day of my supervisor and close friend, Trey. Even more important than that, it means that today is mostlymartha's birthday. It is (of course) the first day of the playoffs. And it is also Rosh Hashanah. All of these things means it's a time of change, of a beginning of new things or a new chapter.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and is described as Yom ha-Zikkaron or "The Day of Rememberance." In honor of that I shall remember what the Red Sox did last year while I partake of some quiet contemplation.

And drinking. It is after all mostlymartha's birthday.

The playoffs begin... let the tunes begin also


Despite the fact that it has felt like October for the past few days, today marks the first day of the official post-season (it also marks Martha's birthday... so maybe the Red Sox can give her a win as a present?). I feel like we're going to win against the White Sox in five, I got faith.

Still, I thought I'd share our Red Sox playlist from last year with everyone. Let's hope that it inspires the same level of achievement in our boys.

1) "Meet My Team" by Robert Pollard
2) "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin
3) "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Supremes
4) "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
5) "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" by Fleetwood Mac
6) "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
7) "Heroes" by David Bowie"
8) "Centerfield" by John Fogarty
9) "Johnny Be Good" by Chuck Berry
10) "Talkin' Softball" by Alf Clausen (from the Simpsons)
11) "Uptight (Everything is Alright)" by Stevie Wonder
12) "That's the Way I Like It" by KC and the Sunshine Band
13) "We are the Champions" by Queen
14) "More Than A Feeling" by Boston
15) "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night
16) "Dirty Water" by the Standells
17) "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A childlike enthusiasm for booze



You gotta say this for Curt Schilling. That man finds more joy in pouring champagne and beer over the heads of his teammates than one often sees. I'm so used to his "Bring me your baby so that I may consume it with my manly jaws" game face and his sore, suffering misery face that the joyful, grinning little boy face he has when wasting gallons and gallons of carbonated alcohol is always a wonderful surprise. I swear I tear up every time.

And by the way, Mr. Schilling, nicely done today. Very nicely done.

There is always a lump

I have a sad, heavy lump inside of me. I have a version of this lump every year on the last day of the season. Summer is over, with my birthday always falling so shortly aftert the last day, for me, another year is over. I'm feeling old and tired and so terribly aware of how time and potential always fade, no matter how limitless they once seemed.

My lump seems particularly leaden this year. Our Boys, they were good this year, but not, it seems, good enough. I don't really know why I wanted the AL East title so much. Maybe because I was insecure about our performance all season and I thought it would be proof we deserved to be in the post-season. Partly, I just wanted the Yankees not to have it. Deprivation would be good for them, it builds character, but also, I reallly think we performed better during the season as a whole.

There's still a good chance it isn't all over today, but even if it isn't, I admit to doubting whether we've got the stuff to go very far. A few days ago, I mentioned to Jaybeans that I thought maybe it would be easier to not watch the last games. To save ourselves the stomach churning agony that our devotion always causes. I said that I wondered if it would have been better if it had never been that close, if it hadn't come down to a few, crucial games. Again. Yeah, I decided, it would have saved us a some pain, but it's a dangerous train of thought. If you don't want to live through the anxiety of September, I asked myself, maybe you don't want July or August either. Maybe you'd rather for it to all be over by June 1, maybe you'd rather not follow the game at all. And that, I was sure, would be a loss greater than any division pennet. This is what it's all about, the every day expierance of loving something for its own sake. It means jubiliation in April and a sad little lump in October. If you only love baseball because you can win titles, you're ignoring the months and months that actually are baseball.

I mean, damn, I am really going to miss that World Champions flag flying at Fenway, if and when it goes away. But whether I always realize it or not, I love not winning but playing the most. I love leather and grass, lights and shadows and all the tiny dramas and moments packed with potential. You don't have to wait 86 years for that; those things will always come back next year.

Last game of the regular season

So the Yankees won the AL East. It is infuriating that it almost doesn't matter what happens today. We could beat them, have the same exact record and they're still the division champs just because they would have a 10-9 record against us (my mind can't help but jump back to the previous Wakefield-Johnson match-up and think that we should've won that one, that it the record should be 9-9 going into today, but that's in the past and I've just got to let it go).

It at least looks like we are heading to the playoffs. The only way we wouldn't is if he lose today and the Indians win and even then we still have to lose the playoff tiebreaker.

I wish that I could say that it was enough. I mean, it's great. It really is. And to be honest I feel like I should be content that we won the World Series last year and that I shouldn't be moaning at all. But all I can say is that sometimes baseball is like a series of really good dectective novels. You read along wanting to figure out how things will all turn out, hoping that the hero will triumph. And can you imagine how you'd feel if the detective in the novel didn't catch the culprit? Personally, I'd gain no solace in the logic of "well, he didn't catch the criminal in this book but he caught the bad guy in the last story so I guess it's all okay."

Every season is a new story and I want every story to have a happy ending.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

.500 guarenteed?

So the Padres just now have earned themselves a winning record for the season. Let me repeat that, the NL West champions have just now (two days before the season ended) made sure that they will have won more games than they will have lost. Meanwhile, there is no guarentee that the Sox (who have won 94 games for a .588 winning percentage) will even make the playoffs. It blows the mind, it does.

Man, I had such odd dreams last night that I had trouble sleeping. I kept waking up thinking that last night's game was game 2 of this series, not the first. I kept thinking, "we just got to win one more time." Then I'd realize we need to sweep or win one and then the tiebreaker. Then I'd be so alert and tense that I had trouble getting back to bed.

I swear the postseason is already here.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Faith

So. The game tonight. Wow. Crazy.

After it was over mostlymartha and I played some of the songs from our Red Sox CD mix and then watched the Faith Rewarded NESN video . There is an upside to living on the West coast, after a game you still have hours until you have to go to bed. Although it does mean that the last hour of work is a waste.

Tonight was the first night that I felt like the playoffs were not only coming but that they were here. I've had faith in our boys all year but the season is so long that it was only faith but tonight it was more solid, more real. The fact that Francona was managing it like a playoff game probably helped that feeling (did you see the way he used Bradford-Myers-Timlin to end the game? That's pure playoffs, man).

I know we still got two and potentially even three games left to play but still, I feel great. And I have faith that I shall continue to feel as such.

In the words of the Standells. . .

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
That's where you'll find me
Along with lovers, fuggers, and thieves
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home

Most Valuable Player

What is value? 20 out of 47 home runs tying or winning the game? It sounds vaulable but what does it mean, really? What that tells me is that the offense and defense can keep a game close but that those 20 home runs made the difference between defeat and victory. That's value. That's David Ortiz.

David Ortiz. MVP.

Divine Intervention

Dear God,

Are you there? It’s me, Martha. Heh. Yeah, I know you hate that joke. First, I just wanted to thank you for all the good work you’re doing in New Orleans. They’ve drained the water so much faster than they expected and have found fewer bodies. It looks like that fine city may just survive after all. I definitely saw you’re hand in that one. Nice work. I pray it keeps getting better.

Anyway, I know every time I pray about sports I acknowledge that I’ve got no business praying about sports, but here I go again. I guess I never learn. Plus, you know I’ve rooted for a lot of really abysmal teams over the years and done my share of prayers for them, but before last year, it never worked. I guess all those years I prayed for the Braves, Vanderbilt football and the Tennessee Titans it wasn’t part of your divine, ineffable plan that any of those teams win. I guess it also wasn’t part of our plan that the Yankees be struck down by boils or have their knees miraculously exploded or that they were all pecked to death by lust-ravaged pigeons.

I know I shouldn’t pray for sports because, 1.) sports are not actually very important, despite what the incredible tension in my shoulders wants me to believe and 2.) lots of people pray for their team and you can’t grant all our prayers anyway.

Still. Last year I, and so many others, prayed for the Red Sox and for the first time, it seemed to work. It was as if you subtly manipulated probability, making the wildly unlikely suddenly possible and real. The very air seemed to shimmer with the feeling that real life wasn’t like this, only stories and movies and dreams. You brought us that angel David Ortiz and gave him instructions to hit as many balls as possible back up to heaven. It was beautiful. I am so very thankful.

Maybe it only works once. Maybe we don’t even deserve it this year. But I can’t help myself. So I’ll just say this. Lord, please be with the Red Sox. Let them play to the best of their ability. Guide their arms and their eyes, their legs and bats. Let them do their very best and play their hardest. If they deserve to, let them win. If they don’t, please bring solace to us who will mourn. Help ease our hearts (and my own roiling stomach) and help us find acceptance. Let us remember that there really is always next year, that the struggle and reward of the long haul is the whole point of loving anything, be it a sports team, an idea or even another person. So if we win, bring us humility and if we lose, bring us peace. Which really, maybe isn’t such a bad thing to pray for under any circumstances.

Amen.

Insightful words from Joe Torre

"You sit there and you say at the start of the season that the best team wins after 162 games. And now you're down to the final three. We all know what the situation is. ... To think that it's come down to a handful of games to decide what 157 couldn't decide, that's great for baseball -- but not too good for my stomach.''

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I'm thinking of getting a crystal ball

It is possibly the most beautiful day in San Francisco since I've moved here. Pushing 70 degrees with lots of bouncy sunshine and a breeze off the ocean that smells like summer vacation when I as eight. I've felt like I was going to throw up all day.

I fear I'm becoming like an exaggerated Eastern European grandmother in a movie, reading entrails and throwing salt. This sunny day seems to me to be full of omens. I got lost and missed my hair appointment this morning. A can of coke had a puncture in it and leaked all over the floor, soaking Jaybeans' favorite yellow t-shirt. There are no parking places anywhere.

I go into work at exactly the same time as the game starts and by the time I get home it will be long over. The hardest part to remember is, it doesn't really matter what I'm doing. For all that I watch this game with romance and mysticism, it's basically a practical endeavor. They got it or they don't

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Unfit to be tied

My mind has been racing with possibilities. The Red Sox and Yankees are tied for the lead in the AL East and the Sox, Indians and Yanks are tied for the AL Wild Card. Of course I want the Sox to take the East and the Indians to take the Wild Card, but at the end of the day all I really care about is seeing my Sox play come October (especially as it is becoming more and more evident that this current incarnation of the team won't last beyond this season).

I keep wanting to cheer the Indians on but fear that if the Yanks overtake us at home then we're out of the playoffs. This last week is going to kill me and that's all there is to it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

This isn't funny

The Giants are actually starting to get under my skin. Why? Because they have a 74-82 record, a .474 winning percentage and they're still in the playoff race. No one really expects them to make it but there still is a chance, a not-impossible chance. Meanwhile, in the AL East the Red Sox have a 91-64 record (or .587) and are in a tight race to even make it to the playoffs let alone win their division.

I'm all for the NL West having their playoff spot removed from them since the division leading Padres are currently playing under .500 baseball and their spot being used for a second wild card in the American League. Anyone with me?

Heaviness in my chest and tingling in my left arm

Postponed. Postponed?!?

That's right, the big PPD. Weather Channel says it's wretched in Boston, wet and windy, nice, gray, wet-feet Boston-y weather. Does anyone else feel like this is the longest last month of the season ever? I swear its been September for at least the last 12 weeks. Last September flew by on electric wings, buzzing with excitment like a dragonfly. I hate the season ending and by November 15 I will regret ever wishing even for a moment that it could all just be over, but I'm a little worn out.

That said, Yesterday Jaybeans and I watched the game (10:35 AM Pacific time) and drank beer ('cause it was 1:35PM Eastern time) while I made chicken stock. I wore my Schilling shirt and thought about last year. So, as a result, a memory:

October 2004; Jaybeans and I are living in Birmingham, a place where no one has ever heard of a sport other than college football. It's game 5 of the ALCS and Jaybeans and I are tired. We know we can't watch this game sober. As the game got going, I shook up a couple of martinis (Bombay Saphire, not too dry with a twist), but the shaker top wasn't on right and it flew off. Gin went everywhere, soaking the chest of my #38 t-shirt.

"Oh God," I thought, "this has got to be the worst omen ever."

I had spilled precious gin all over my favorite piece of Red Sox gear. I was almost certain I'd doomed us. Then I remembered how there is some precedent to the idea of spilling liquids having power. People used to anoint the earth all the time. Alcohol, blood, whatever. I thought, "If people can cull favor with the spirits of the earth by giving it an offering, maybe I can cull favor with the spirits of baseball."

"I'm offing up that martini to the gods of baseball," I said to Jaybeans. I danced energetically around the kitchen, drinking the remaining martini from the shaker and chanting a little. "Maybe all we need is a little luck, a little supernatural power."

That night David Ortiz hit a walk off homer, and the rest, well, you know.

Now, I'm not saying that our boys won the World Series because I soaked the Red Sox logo directly over my heart with gin. But I will say this. When the first game of the season commenced this year, I put on my t-shirt and made myself a drink. I dipped my fingertips into the glass and sprinkled the fragrant drops over my chest. Just in case.

The last few days I'm thinking, maybe it's time to break out the old shaker again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

That's it; I'm out

I give up. I do not understand the archaic magic of this game. It's the very unpredictability I love so much, but its starting to wear me out.

This season, very little has been logical. The O's imploded in the face of a few weeks of blessed, almost blinding promise, the Yankees have damn near blossomed in spite of the rocky soil that is their aged, often imfirm starting lineup and pitchers. The defending champions have clawed for inches more than they've strode for miles and the whole darn NL West can barely break .500. Giambi found where he left his magic (whether he deserves it or not) and Palmeiro lost it all. There's hope for almost anyone and anxiety for everyone, particularly if you have the peculiar good fortune to be leading your division, at least until you fall apart or your rival catches fire, or at least for the next 20 minutes.

Or let's think for a moment about Tampa Bay. They're the basement-dwelling, no-talent jokes of the American League East. Right? Then how does a team with a .414 winning percantage manage to be so scary to the big bad Sox and Yanks? How does Wakefield get the totally undeserved loss in a one hitter (one lousy hit) against a team with Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield and Matsui and can't manage to shut down said Devil Rays today?

And speaking of hits, why couldn't our boys (with their supposedly mythic offense) spread out a few of those hits and home runs they got last night into a few of the slumpy losses they've had recently, thus preventing the precarious 1/2 game lead in the first place?

And honestly, it's been the elephant in the room that I've done my best to ignore and/or be perky and hopeful about all season, but ugh, gargh. . . our pitching. I've never seen so many 4-plus ERAs in my life. Our starters have been inconsistent basically all season, our closer might as well have lost an arm in the offseason for all the good he's done, and everybody knows good pitching beats good hitting and our bullpen spent the summer in Pawtucket and why do we bean so many batters and what in the hell is up with Randy Johnson doing better at day games and---

Deep breath. I'm looking for logic that isn't there. I'd probably be better off if I could snuff the persistant little flame of hope inside me. Maybe it wouldn't hurt as much as if and when it gets doused with disappointment. But that would be logical, that would make sense. And there's very little sense in baseball.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Back down to 1 1/2

I've had to miss a lot of games this past week and maybe that was a blessing in disguise. The Sox have had some struggles, some injuries (you know what game I didn't miss? Kapler turning second and bursting his Achillies tendon, of course) and some people just not playing up to snuff. Meanwhile the Yankees are on a tear, winning their last four games.

It's been exciting that the playoff chase has included so many teams this year (just look at the NL wild card with three teams in the lead or within a 1/2 game out) but it does do something to add to the heart attack factor. The only sure way to October is to lead the division, although I'd be delighted to just make the playoffs any which way but loose.

Sometimes I start to doubt myself, to listen to some of the people who are now flip-floping and saying the Yankees are going to take the division and that the Sox might not make the playoffs. All I can repeat to myself is the new Red Sox slogan, "Fuck everybody. We're in this together."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Nervous

Randy Johnson hasn't been the "Big Unit" this season, not really. The whole situation reminds me of a situation when I was younger and watching a Braves game with my grandfather when Chipper Jones was slumping:

GRANDFATHER: Come on. Get a hit, Larry.
ME: Larry? That's Chipper.
GRANDFATHER: Eh. He's not hitting like a Chipper.

Anyway. Despite Johnson's lack of dominance, he's still 3-0 against the Sox, so something's working better than I hoped it would. Of course yesterday was the man's 42nd birthday, so let's hope that he's lost a little something.

Once again, I won't be able to watch the game because of how early it's coming on but maybe that's for the best. I got to see Schilling take the mound yesterday and dominate, so maybe that's the only game of this series that I had to watch. We're four games up and the Yankees are one and a half games out of the Wild Card run, so who knows.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Go Chewie!



I came across the image forever and a year ago... alright, it was more like a couple of months back, but still, the point is that it's not exactly recent. However, as Reports wasn't up yet I could do nothing but chuckle to myself. Now I can try and spread the joy. So. Enjoy.

The only bright spot

At least the Giants game was fun to watch. Mike Cain, the young starter for the Giants, made his third start and threw a two-hitter. It was a great game to catch, it really was.

Then I had to come home and see the highlight reel (or should that be lowlight reel) of the Sox-Yankees game. It was ridiculous and the speed-up fashion of the ESPN game summary only served to better highlight how sloppy the game went. But I must admit that a small smile creeped on my face when I caught sight of this. There's just something about Varitek throwing some 'bows at Posada that just made me think, well, at least that was something.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Let's get ready to rumble!

I thought we were going to win last night. I can admit it. After the first three hitless innings, I (for a foolish moment) thought Clement just might throw a no-no. Even when Clement gave up some runs, I thought our offense would come through especially since the Sox kept teeing off of Byrd. However, after the eight inning ended and we were still shut out, I had to change the channel. Instead I watched the Yankees lose to the Devil Rays. I must admit, it warmed the heart a little. Add on top of the fact that we retained our four game lead in the AL East but that the Indians managed to snag the AL Wild Card lead away from the Yanks.

But tonight's the showdown: David Wells versus the surpring Aaron Small. I'd say that this game will make a huge difference but to be honest this whole series is important. We'll just have to see how things unfold.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch the game as I've gotten tickets to the Giants game tonight against the Cubs. It's going to be bizarre to see Todd Walker ("Big Todd!") dressed like a Cubbie, not to mention Nomar. I still don't know how I'm going to react to that.

Speaking of the National League, I know that Chris Carpenter is the first pitcher to hit 21 wins this season but I really think that Dontrelle Willis has got to be considered the real NL Cy Young candidate. Here's a kid (I can't believe that I've officially reached the age when Cy Young candidates are younger than I am) who's gotten twenty wins (the first Marlin to do so) and he's done it in a very tough division. If I had to be a pitcher, I'd rather square off against the Pirates and Rockies instead of the Braves and Mets.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Joe Morgan

There's been a lot of hubbub made about Joe Morgan and his take on Moneyball a book that he's never read and never plans to read. Despite the fact that I think he's going on what's heard the book is about versus what it actually says, that's not what I want to write about right now.

What I want to talk about is Joe Morgan himself. I think that Joe Morgan earned the right to be in the Hall of Fame, he is truly one of the best baseball players ever to come to the game. I also think that he is a horrible baseball announcer. I'm probably in the minority here and that's alright but at least let me explain myself before I get too much backlash. He does give some really good insight into what it is to be a player, the type of things that I'd never know on my own such as how it feels to play a doubleheader, to see your manager get ejected or to struggle through a slump.

What I dislike is the type of finality that says everything with. What's bizarre is that this is one of the things that first made me like Joe Morgan a lot. When I would watch a game and Morgan would say something like, "oh, he's got to steal right here. He's not a man if he doesn't steal." I took an odd delight in it. My father, quoting someone who I can't remember to save my life, said that when Morgan commented it was as if the gods had descended from Mt. Olympus to judge the mortals.

The problem? There's more than one way to win a baseball game. That's the beauty of the sport. Some teams aren't built to steal or do hit and runs or hit home runs or drag bunts. Each team and indeed each player has ways that they can get out of jams, that they can help the team. It is small-minded to think that you know the one and only way it has to be done, it also lacks imagination. Perhaps one of the reasons that I love the Sox is because they constantly surprise me (in both horrifying and delightful ways). Just a short time ago, Ortiz managed to bunt for a hit. It was beautiful, would Morgan have recommended that? Not with such a power hitter.

He lacks an appreciation for the poetry of baseball, the infinite possibilities that exist.

On a bizarre sidenote, as I've had to sign up for Comcast's Extra Innings so that I can watch my beloved Red Sox, I've had to watch a lot of Sox games without the comfort of Jerry and Don. To be honest, I think we can sometimes forget that we have arguably the best announcer duo in baseball. Are they silly? God, yes. However, they always respect the opposing team (not something that other teams have given us when we play them... oddly, the Royals announcers were the least hospitable) and they do give insight into both that game and how it fits into the season.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yes...

Days like yesterday just make you feel good. So, I was having a so-so day until I came home and got to see Big Papi hit a walk-off homerun against the Angels (yes, again). Then, there was still enough time left to switch over to the Yankees and Devil Rays game and see the Cano's error and the Devil Rays take the game, thus extending the Sox lead in the division to four. Good times.

I still cannot believe that the Rays are 10 and 4 against the Yankees. Might make them regret starting that "who's your daddy" chant as obviously, their's is the Devil Rays.

Now let's see if we can beat the Angels again and the Rays can continue their domination of the Yanks.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finally, some room to breath


We've got three and a half games? Whew. Thank God. I shouldn't be so happy that we swept the Devil Rays. I should feel like it's a given. Although perhaps that's how Yankees' fans are born. They always expect their team to do well. When you approach it like that, all you can feel is disappointment or, at best, that your team is performing up to your expectations. There is no magic, there is no wonder.

Whereas, as a Red Sox fan, I am full of wonder. For example, tonight I was left wondering how John Olerud hit two home runs. This is "an old guy." This is a "contact hitter." Yet, when his team needed him (and to be brutally honest, Bronson needed him even more... it's been a while since he's had a win), this is a guy who stepped up to the plate and delivered. And he delivered big.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

1 1/2 important games

So things have changed. The Yankees are doing well, which we all knew was going to happen, it just hurts that they're doing it at a time when the Sox seem to be struggling. I miss the days (was it only a few short weeks ago) when the commentators on ESPN were saying "if the Yankees make it to the playoffs." Good times. Good times.

So today's Schilling's second start. I'm hoping (as I'm sure the rest of the nation is) that he's rested, that he's prepared and that he goes out there and does what Curt does best, which is dominate.

But in other odd news, the Yankees are expected to sign Mark Bellhorn. Why? This seems to go right back to the time when the Sox and Yankees were constantly trying to get the discarded players from the other team. I hope Bellhorn goes somewhere else and that he does well. If he signs as a Yankee, I'm gonna lose so much respect for him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Is this the end of Rico?

So it's the middle of the 11th against the Royals. The eleventh. Against the Royals. This was supposed to be our easy series. We were supposed to not just sweep them but to destroy them. Especially when the Yankees fall to the Blue Jays and we got a chance to gain some ground.

Why have our bats failed us? I know that Clement shouldn't have given up that homer but it happens. He gave up three runs and that's about what you can expect from a starter. Was he great? No, but he did his job and did it pretty well. For some reason that continues to escape me it's the Royals' bullpen that has managed to queit our bats.

Now it's up to Arroyo to buy us enough time that we can get something going because our bullpen needs to rest, man. We gotta get back up to full strength.

Still, no matter what happens I'm going to take today as a good day because Millar hit his fifth home run of the season. Seeing that and how his team reacted to it (pretending not to care and then pouncing him... in Varitek's case in a very literal and very big way), it made me remember what it is I love about the Red Sox. They are a team and they are all in this together and when you're a Red Sox fan, you get to join in on that ride and on this cold day in San Francisco (and a very rainy one in Kansas City) there's no place I'd rather be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Kids' Got Game

I've been watching some of the Little League World Series lately and it's great for a couple of reasons.

First, it actually is a really for real people from other parts of the world Series. England, Mexico, Guam. . . they've done it this way for a long time. Professional baseball is just not figuring out that this might me interesting.

Then there's the fact that they are showing the LLWS on ESPN, a thing with almost infinite potential for amusement. It's on ESPN with ESPN commentators. I love seeing a twelve year old throw a baseball or swing a bat and hear this professional, TV sports guy voice voice say, "And that one's just outside for ball three" or "You don't see a closed stance like that very often, but he's made good use of it during this series" or "And he just ROCKETS that one over the left field wall." It's all very serious, with a musical theme and and computer graphics during the intro to each game. They even put the scores on the running ticker at the bottom of ESPN. It currently lists NL, AL and LLWS. How special must that feel for those kids?

Last night the brought an injured player into the booth to discuss his fellow players. Sometimes they talked about how a played or practiced, but sometimes they talked about what kind of music he listened. "It says here that 'Riders on the Storm' is his favorite song? Does he really listen to that kind of music?" "Oh, yeah, that's the only kind of music he listens to." There is a lot of interest in favorite players, foods, movies and music. These are, after all, kids. Everyone seems to be truly having a good time. Do they cry when they lose? Sure, but so do pro guys when they lose important playoff games. And unlike the pro guys, these kids don't use a win or a loss to renegotiate a contract or holler at the media. They go back to middle school, they play football and basketball and then they try again next year.

It's surprisingly exciting just to watch the game itself. The players are all different sizes because they're at different parts of the puberty expierence. One guy playing for Venezula is 6'5". And he's twelve! His team's third baseman weights 94 pounds. Many of the pitchers have huge ERAs, (like 10.00) but sometimes nobody can hit them and the guy who's ERA is 3.00 gets eaten alive. They swing a lot, get walked a lot, have head to head games where no one scores for five innings then suddenly, one team scores six runs. They have twelve-year-old threatening pitcher faces and they spit and slide. I even say a guy who holds his hand up like Derek Jeter when he bats. Fantastic.

And really, some of these guys can play. When I watch the LLWS, every now and then I see a throw or a swing, a play fielded or a base covered with such deftness, such ease that I think "That kid could make it." Some of them have a touch of that sense that they're playing a different, easier game. It's the same feeling I get when I see Manny blast one over the monster seats with a swing so fluid it seems every muscle in his body came perfectly into alignment and in that instant, gravity didn't matter. These kids aren't there, but I love to think that someday some of them might be. Wouldn't it have been magical to see LLWS alum Jason Varitek when he was twelve and talking about what his favorite movie was? Would something of his potential have been evident? Probably not, but still. These kids love baseball, they play hard, they carry the devotion to the sport through another generation. I realize that I'm watching the future of the game I love.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A good day

What a busy couple of days it has been: Bellhorn's gone. Schilling's about to return to starting, we won today and the Yankees lost (with the Big Unit giving up back to back to back home runs, and a total of four home runs over sixteen pitches). It seemed that I was overly optimistic about winning three of the series but that's a small point as we prepare to roll into Kansas City and steamroll the Royals.

I know that we Red Sox fans have a tendancy to be a negative bunch, to play the gloomy gus. So I am actively fighting that. I actually feel quite upbeat. I feel confident that we are going to the post-season and I think we have a geniune shot at a repeat. How incredible will that be? Shut out for eighty-six years and then to win two back-to-back? Am I getting ahead of myself? You bet but that's the beauty of baseball, it allows us to dream and get so involved in those dreams that we manage to ignore everything else.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Our pitchers have to stop getting hit

Last night was a disaster. I had to stop watching once it hit the seven to zero point. Still, I expected the gang to pick up three of the series with last night being their's. Let's see how my predicitions pan out. Meanwhile, one can only hope that the White Sox can snap their losing streak and pound on the Yankees.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Red Sox versus Angels... series thoughts

Wakefield versus Colon, not a match-up that one would ask for I'll admit but Old Timmy has been doing alright for us as of late, so let's hope that the trend continues. I'm actually going into this match with a cautious yet optimistic feeling. I think the Sox are gonna win this series. Colon's tough but the Angels have been struggling; I know that we have also but taking down the Angels might be just the thing to reenergize us and carry us into the final month of the season. The main thing our boys have to do is shut Guerrero and Figgins down.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Day Games

Last night was beautiful. Did it take too long for us to get going? Yeah, but we still did it and that's all that matters. More often than not I'd take an ugly win over a pretty loss.

Today I was disappointed because I wasn't going to be able to watch the game. When you're a Red Sox fan on the West coast, it's very hard to catch any of a day game because it starts at eleven o'clock here. I was hoping to be able to watch us take the rubber band game. So at work I had to keep occasionally checking the scores online. When the eighth inning rolled around, I sat and watched as the game's finale slowly unfolded.

So what happened? We lost. And it was all the more painful cause we came so close to coming back. But it's over now. Now let's start all move on to Anaheim, where hopefully we can recap last year's ALDS. As a Red Sox fan what else is there to do but hope?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Last Leg of the Race

My friend Roland used to say, "everyone wins sixty and loses sixty, it's what you do with the rest of the forty-two games that makes you a champion or a cellar dweller." Well, we've got about forty-six games left in the season so we're at that point where the final pieces are gonna fall into place or not. I think the Red Sox are in good enough shape that they are playoff bound; the greater question is are the Red Sox going to be the champs or the wild card?

To be honest, I think we've got the offense. I don't think anyone's saying that we're don't. It's all a matter of if our pitching can come together. I thought we were doing well enough until yesterday. It's sad when Curt Schilling can't hold onto a three run lead against the Tigers, but if you combine that with the fact that Jaret Wright came back for the Yankees and looked very sharp and all of a sudden you've got trouble.

Were will this go? Who knows. Tonight Papelbon gets the nod for the Sox and I have to admit, he makes me feel better than Wade Miller has been of late.

No matter how the rest of this season goes we can hold our head high knowing that we're not in the NL West, now there's an utter collapse of talent. I don't know what's worse: the fact that the Padres are leading the division besides the fact that they are below .500 or that they have a three game lead in their division and are fourteen games ahead of the Rockies?

Blinded by Optimism?

I want Curt Schilling to be ready. I want it so badly, I have a hard time telling whether its true or not. Some nights lately, he jogs out to the mound and throws a pitch that seems familiar in all the right ways. It's like every muscle in his body slides into alignment, his arm becomes the illustration of the lever in the "Simple Machines" chapter of my third grade science book, and when the ball leaves his fingers it looks as though it it's filled with life and purpose. The batter swings and shakes his head a little. Even he knew, you can't hit a pitch like that.

Then, three pitches later, that same ball floats smack over the middle of the plate for a home run, and I wonder if I imagined the whole thing.

Is he still in pain, or is he just still in the midst of a greatly delayed spring training, working out the kinks? Or, worst case scenerio, is this the injury that, years from now, we look back and say "He was just never the same after that?" So many players have that magic "it" one season, then next year it's gone. Sometimes an injury does it, sometimes it's the cumulative effect of getting older, slowing down, and the magic simply disappearing (I can't help but think about Bernie Williams here).

Right now I'm avoiding that train of thought. It's looking very likely that the Sox are going to the playoffs, a thing I admit to doubting back when this season was young. But if that's the case, even my desperate hopefulness doubts that we'll make it very far without a shot to the pitching arm, so to speak. We keep pulling off wins, but we do it while allowing the other team to score seven or eight runs. You can squeak by like that during the regular season, but the playoffs (and particularly the White Sox and Cardinals) are looming and I just don't think that's going to cut it. It may be a cliche, but good pitching does tend to beat good hitting. We didn't shut down the Redbirds last year by the force of our quirky personalities.

It would be naive to pin my hopes on Foulke at this point, Chad Bradford's no miracle, Clement and Arroyo (as much as I adore them) have ERAs that make me nervous. Come on Schill, please be better. Once again, we need you.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Yes They Call Him the Streak

So, Major League Baseball has a strict policy of not showing people who interfere with baseball games. The idea is that those people are doing it for attention and so if you don't give it to them, then they are less likely to do it. I think it's a pretty good policy and works well for the most part. Tonight, however, something happened that was so unexpected that the Tigers' cameramen couldn't cut away in time. A man ran out onto the field during the Red Sox-Tigers game completely naked.

It was uncalled for and held up the game but I think Arroyo's smirk spoke for us all. Sometimes you've got to be amazed by the scope of someone's stupidity.

Imaginary Baseball World

From the extremely well done Cursed to First, there comes the idea of Imaginary Baseball World: Imaginary Baseball World is the place in your mind where you develop your metaphorical, often highly symbolic, at times Freudian, relationships with the players on your team or teams. Imaginary Baseball World is where you take the publicly agreed-upon persona of a professional athlete and relate it to your own personality... What we feel about [someone's] public personality says more about us than about him, because most of what makes up the phenomenon of baseball is imagined.

They then go through the Red Sox line-up illustrating their own imaginary relationship with each of the players. Here's a glimpse inside my own Imaginary Baseball World.

Terry Francona - We often just sit in comfortable silence.

Jason Varitek - We live in the same neighborhood. I'd always liked him but I thought he was bit uptight because of how neat he keeps his lawn, of course, he thought I was a slob because of how unkept my lawn is. We finally get to know each other better when he invites me over to his barbecue. He grills a mean polish sausage and I impress him with the beer that I bring over. Now we meet every Thursday night to go bowling with some of the guys.

Kevin Millar - I can never run for public office because of all the stupid things I've done with Millar. We've gotten drunk and thrown out of bars and clubs all over Boston. It's happened so often that we've had to start hitting Cambridge bars. After a particular gruesome Karoke session I mention that Millar's got such great blackmail material on me. He simply smiles and says, "What happens in Boston, stays in Boston, baby." Then laughs hysterically at his own bad joke. It doesn't take long before I'm laughing too.

Mark Bellhorn - We used to be close but one day I needed to be picked up from the airport and even though he said he could do it, he backed out at the last minute, meaning I had to take the T home, switching lines twice, carrying all my language with me. I find out later he was in the middle of a good book and that's why he cancelled. Our friendship has been strained ever since.

Edgar Renteria - He keeps making these awful jokes that I don't know are supposed to be funny until he offers a smile at the end. I try my best to laugh but it always feels a little awkward, a little forced.

Bill Mueller - I got to know him better during the Thursday bowling games. He always brings the latest book he's reading and I always end up borrowing it. The books are mostly historical analysis, socio-political tomes and cheap sci-fi thrillers. Sometimes we get into heavy debates about the importance of gender in modern society. Our debates usually stop when someone (usually Trot) rolls their eyes and says loudly, "Jesus, you guys are dorks."

Manny Ramirez - Manny loves to tell stories; long, rambling, Abe Simpson-style stories where he gives far more information than is actually needed. He's also always offering people things. Really anything that isn't bolted down. He'll offer people the chair he's siting in, to go get them some Gatorade. He once loaned me his car without any prompting.

Johnny Damon - A fun enough guy to have around but he keeps inviting himself along. It wouldn't bug me at all except that it's the way that he does it. A group of us will be talking about going to catch a movie at the Commons theater on Friday night and Damon (who wasn't sitting with the rest of us), will say, "Oh man, Friday's bad for me." Then he'll wait a second before sighing and saying, "I guess I can cancel that appointment." Then he pauses again as if waiting for us to comment on his sacrifice.

Trot Nixon - Trot likes to pretend to be tough but ever since I caught him eating the team's apple sauce and watching the Backyardigans in the clubhouse, I know the truth.

David Ortiz - Ortiz loves pop culture catchphrases and will use them at any and every opportunity sometimes mixing and matching them. It'd be almost annoying if he didn't flash his grin and chuckle everytime after doing it. Ever since he found out I dig the culinary arts he keeps inviting me over so I can taste what he's cooking. For away games he actually makes both of us a couple of meals and travels with them in Tupperware.

Kevin Youkilis - A good kid but he's a little too eager to please. Some of the guys make him get them coffee or pick up their dry cleaning. I've been trying to teach him to say 'no' but he's still doing it, although not as often so there's hope.

Gabe Kapler - He doesn't want me to tell anyone but he's really into manga and anime. He just got hooked during his time in Japan. He keeps his stash over at my apartment so when people visit his place they won't know his secret. Sometimes he'll call me late at night and ask if he can come pick up the latest Naruto book.

Doug Mirabelli - We never really hit it off and then one day he overheard me telling Millar about how drunk I got at my last birthday party, and now I've noticed that he's avoiding me.

David Wells - We go out and he tries to get me to do stupid things like moon a cop but when it's his turn he always chickens out. He always has an excuse, his back is bothering him or he's hungover but I know the truth: he chickened out.

Bronson Arroyo - I like Arroyo but sometimes I treat him like my own personal jukebox. I'll say, "play that song" and he'll ask, "what song?" "The one with that line about 'your smile's like a ray of sunshine' or something like that," I'll say. He'll think for a minute then play a song. I'll listen to the whole song then say, "no, that's not it." I'm half expecting him to break his guitar over my head one of these days.

Wade Miller - The first day he came I joked," not another Miller," but he didn't find it amusing. We haven't spoken since.

Tim Wakefield - We go out fishing together. He reenacts gags from the TV show Taxi and I do bits from Futurama. Neither of us gets the other's reference, but we still have a good time.

Matt Clement - He still owes me thirty-five dollars for the time when I covered his bar tab because Bukowski's only takes cash (which he said he didn't know but this wasn't his first time there and they've always been cash only). I've told him that he doesn't pay me back before his next start then I'm shaving off his goatee, while he sleeps.

Curt Schilling - I like Curt and I respect him. Sometimes we sit next to each other on the plane and talk about baseball or God, but ever since Mueller had to separate us, we've learned to avoid politics.

Mike Timlin - The fourth bowler on our team, he keeps trying to get me to go hunting with him and Wakefield. Whenever we go to play the Astros, Rangers or Braves we always go out bar hopping and say things like, "I love Boston but the South's got such hospitality."

Mike Myers - I call him up at home and ask if his name is really Michael Myers. When he says "yes," I snigger and hang up. He's had the phone company block my number.

Keith Foulke - Whenever he used to get a save, I'd give him a swat on his bottom and whenever he blew a save, I'd give him a frog on his arm. Despite the fact that I knew he hated it but the ritual worked for us last year. I finally stopped when Bronson asked me to.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I Have People!

I have found a Bill Mueller fan site. Faaaaaaaaan Siiiiiiiiiite. Someone, in fact numerous someones, love Billy as much as me. What, you didn't know I love understated, strong, silent, switch-hitting, former batting champ and imminently spankable third baseman Bill Mueller? I do. Very much. He is very probably my favorite Red Sox player and very probably my third (after Javy Lopez and my dear, departed Nomah) favorite baseball player ever. I like how he plays; I like his adorable little bottom, I like his serious, serious face.

Here it is: The Ballplayer Next Door

(courtesy of what is becoming my favorite baseball blog, the fantastic Cursed to First)

You Want Manly?

I'll give you manly. Jason Varitek just hit a game-tying home run, rounded the bases with great purpose (Don Orscillo said, "The Captain hits a home run!"), strode into the dugout and proceeded to. . . wait for it. . . eat a little cup of applesauce. He peeled back the foil, cupped it in his calloused, athelete man-hand, and ate applesauce with a little plastic spoon. It was adorable. Then he put his catcher gear back on, strode back onto the field, and, he is the captain after all, began to direct the other players. Seriously. Too cute.