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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unassisted Triple Play tonight!

And to end the game, taboot! The NY Mets were down 7-9 to the Phillies and had men on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the 9th inning with no outs when Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive to Bruntlett, then doubled up the man on 2nd and tagged the runner coming in from 1st base. It was not a good time for the Mets to be attempting a double steal.

WTF is goin' on with the Sox these days?

Just last night it appeared that all was well with the Sox. They had just swept Toronto, and bounced back from a 20-11 ass whoopin' from the Yanks last night with a thoroughly convincing 14-1 woodshed session. But Commander Kick Ass Beckett is looking more like Gilligan these days as the Yanks launched 5 long balls off of him tonight. Yet he somehow outlasted Sabathia, in number of innings that is, as Sabathia was pulled after 6.2 IP and 118 pitches, while Beckett finished 8 IP and threw 120 pitches. He scattered 9 hits, but since 5 of them left the yard, that left the Sox on the short end of a 8-4 evening. It started off ominously, as Jeter put one out with the very first pitch of the game. The Yanks scored in each of the first 5 frames when it finally looked like Beckett was settling into a groove, tossing a scoreless 6th and 7th innings, sitting 8 Yankees down in a row. The Sox were only down by 3 at that point, and that means nothing in a Red Sox-Yankees game, but a 3 run deficit became a 4 run deficit in the 8th when Matsui hit his 2nd HR of the night.

The 5 HR's allowed by Beckett in one game is a new low for him. In his last 2 starts/13.1 IP, he's allowed 15 ER's; and in his last 3 starts he's allowed 10 HR's. He denied that working with new catcher Martinez for the 1st time had anything to do with his previous loss, Varitek was catching again tonight. So what is wrong with Beckett and the Sox these days? They had better figure all this out and fast, too. September is right around the corner.

Sox Lose 4-8 BOX SCORE

I love it when the Yanks are on Fox!

This season the Yankees are 2-6 when the game is aired on Fox, and includes losses by these football scores: 22-4, 16-11 (against the Sox), 14-8, 14-4, and now 14-1.

Which Penny will show up tonight?

Will we see the shiny Penny that pitched 6 innings of shutout ball against the Yankees on June 11th, striking out 6 while walking only 1? Or will we see the flat Penny who has won only one game since June 18th?

From a 9 run loss to a 13 run win: SWEET!

That train called New York Yankees that came through last night and flattened that Penny that was sitting on the track derailed today after a 14-1 woodshed session administered by the Red Sox. The Sox were looking to rebound after being swept in a 4 game series in New York earlier this month. Last night's 9 run loss had everyone scratching their heads wondering who in the hell are these guys? They're not the ones who lost 8 straight to the Sox earlier this season.

Kevin Youkilis led the charge to right the ship, albeit one day late (no thanks to Penny), with 2 HR's, 3 hits total, and 6 RBI's. Junichi Tazawa tossed a great game as he scattered 8 hits over 6 scoreless innings. All the bazillions of dollars the Yanks spent on Burnett couldn't save him today as the Sox pounced on him for 7 runs before the 2nd inning was over. They never looked back, totalling up 14 runs on 15 hits. The lonesome Yankee run was a moot point solo shot by Swisher in the 7th inning.

Sox Win 14-1 BOX SCORE

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 12 0
Red Sox 3 4 0 0 2 3 0 2 0 14 15 0

Big League Brain Fart by Toronto's Cecil

Jason Bay advanced from 1st to 3rd last night in the top of the 4th inning on rookie Brett Cecil's big league brain fart. The score was tied at 1-1 with Bay, who had drawn a walk to lead off the inning, standing on 1st base. After missing wide with a ball, Toronto catcher Rod Barajas weakly threw the ball back to Cecil who missed the catch, walked towards the SS to retrieve the ball, looked at it very quickly, and threw it into the Blue Jays dugout without calling for a time out. The ball was still live, Bay advanced to 2nd base and was eventually awarded 3rd base on the throwing error. Cecil had his arms up in the air as if to say 'What did I do?', as it took the umpires an extra moment or two to realize that he hadn't called for the time out. Bay turned out to be the winning run when two batters later, Mike Lowell singled to bring him in to score.

Yankees: Beware

This is not the same Sox team you swept earlier this month in your house. You're playing in Fenway against a team that has resumed it's winning ways prior to the All Star Game. The Sox just swept the Toronto Blue Jays, always a good team, just in the wrong division. The Sox beat Toronto tonight by a score of 8-1 behind the pitching of Jon Lester and 2 HR's from J.D. Drew. Lester went 8 innings, allowing 3 H's and 1 R while striking out 5. Drew went 4/4, and Martinez added another HR.

The Sox are 6.5 GB the Yankees. Penny and Tazawa are the next 2 pitchers up for Boston. Let's hope they turn in a pair of good performances and the bats stay hot. This series ends on Sunday with Beckett up against Sabathia. Beckett will be looking to rebound after a rare poor performance in his last outing. Sabathia beat Buchholz in a pitcher's duel the last time he faced the Sox.

Sox Win 8-1 BOX SCORE

Buchholz would have none of that

Buchholz would have none of that 'pitching like an ace and losing' crap anymore. In his last 2 starts Buchholz was finally looking like the prospect as he has been touted: 13 IP, 4 H's, 3 ER's, 6 K's, total for the 2 games. Unfortunately he was bested in those pitcher's duels by Justin Verlander of the Tigers and CC Sabathia of the Yankees.

Tonight was no different, except that the Sox bats were alive and there was no bullpen implosion, either. Buchholz can probably see that 'Entering RI, The Ocean State' sign disappearing fast in his rear view mirror. (The perps only got to 2 of his rims before being nabbed, and not the rear view mirrors.) He turned in another great game tonight: 6 IP, 6 H's, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K's, lowering his ERA to below 4.00, and got run support this time. The Sox tagged Toronto ace Halladay for 5 runs by the time the 5th inning had ended. Ortiz, Bay, and Martinez all had HR's for the Sox, who banged out 10 H's total.

Sox Win 6-1 BOX SCORE

A beginner's guide to baseball

Chris Erskine of the LA Times provides this humorous look at 'A beginner's guide to baseball.'

From the 'mound' (a small hill) to the 'bullpen' (far, far away), the game is a simple one. But don't forget the food.
By Chris Erskine August 19, 2009 11:52 a.m.

Sadly, many folks still don't understand the game of baseball well enough to appreciate our local teams' fairy-tale seasons. So here's the deal on this beautiful and occasionally arcane sport -- a beginner's guide to baseball:

Baseball is a simple game with a million rules, all subject to the interpretation of four blind but very assertive people known as "umpires." These umpires are usually assisted by 30,000 to 40,000 beery-eyed witnesses, all of whom are sure they saw the close play better -- from a quarter-mile away. They are blind too.

One of the first things you notice is that the players often wear white, representing purity and innocence of spirit. This is one of many baseball traditions. White also shows the dirt best. To stay loose, the players scratch themselves a lot, but only when the TV camera is on them. No one knows why.

A game begins with a group song, then a man goes to a little hill. His purpose is to throw the ball past an opposing player, from his little hill, sometimes called a "mound," to the catcher, who takes a position behind home plate. So yes, technically, they are throwing the ball out of bounds with every single pitch.

When a "batter" misses the ball three times, he is considered "out," and it is baseball tradition for him to bark something rude to the vision-impaired (blind) person behind home plate. But not too rude. If you bark something too rude, you are asked to please leave, thank you very much. As you can tell already, baseball is a very passive-aggressive experience.

Now, if a batted ball lands on or within the chalk lines, the batter runs counterclockwise in sequence to the four bases. Why you would want to run in a big circle, basically getting nowhere, is one of the glories of the game and is considered a template for life itself. First, second and third base are also popular euphemisms for sexual conquest, assuming you have such things in your life.

As with romance, there are many ways to be called out in baseball. You can strike out, as mentioned earlier, or you can get tagged out. Various scenarios involve tagging second, third or home, providing that it's a "force play" situation. In double plays, the shortstop doesn't even need to have the ball when he swipes second base. He just needs to pretend.

Are you with us so far? Good.

When a team records three outs, what happens next is that all the fans get up and go to the snack bar for ridiculously overpriced food. In another baseball tradition, items that are supposed to be hot are cold (hot dogs), and items that are supposed to be cold are hot (beer).

Fans will also use this time to stand in line at the restroom (which is free but probably not for long).

By the time the fans return, it is often about the fifth inning. There is usually much circling of the bases by the batters about this time, which makes everyone happy, except the manager and the pitching coach, who are all the time going out to the mound to consult with the pitcher and to make sure he is not drunk or something.

If the manager is unhappy, or the pitcher is drunk, the manager will motion for another pitcher to come in, someone who is worse than the one before.

At that point, another new player trots in, usually from the farthest point possible from the pitching mound itself. They call this distant area "the bullpen." The journey is basically like going from the Continental terminal for a connecting flight to the American terminal -- except it takes longer.

Even after the new pitcher finally arrives, the game cannot resume yet, for although he has been warming up, this new pitcher needs to warm up some more.

No one knows why.

After a long delay, the game begins again, and this new pitcher will often face only one or two batters before the manager will "yank" him for another pitcher, because the next batter is right-handed, and he doesn't want his lefty to face a righty because batters see the ball better when it is thrown by someone of the opposite persuasion.

Still with us? Amazing.

In almost every game, there will be a big flare-up, a batter will be hit by a pitch or maybe a "balk" will be called. No one completely understands balks, except for three old-timers and they are all living in an assisted-care facility in Palm Springs. So whenever a balk is called, there is much discussion.

Discussions like this are frequent in baseball, and occasionally venomous. Anger is essential to the game of baseball and provides much of the visual entertainment. Anger is almost as important as eating, which provides the main action.

Honestly, if you took away the food, no one would go to a baseball game at all.


Wake and Dice-K

As reported on redsox.com, Tim Wakefield will make a start in Pawtucket on Wednesday, while Dice-K will throw a side session on Friday. Wakefield's return is imminent, provided he has a good outing. Dice-K will pitch in the Gulf Coast League and then return to Boston next week. After the medical staff clears him, he will make 2 starts for Portland before moving on to Pawtucket.

Jerry's Back!

MLB.com is reporting that Jerry Remy will resume broadcasting this Friday when the Yankees return to Fenway. He will be working games at home to start, and not join the club on the road, wanting to ease back into his old routine while his health continues to rebound.

But who will catch Wakefield?

With Tim Wakefield’s return looming on the horizon, what will become of the Sox’s catching situation? George Kottaras has done an admirable job of catching that fluttering ball that comes out of Wake’s hand. When Kottaras and Wakefield both come off the DL, what will happen to Kotteras? Who will catch Wake? Will the Sox carry 3 catchers? Victor Martinez can play 1B, but he’s also been working with Wake catching his bullpen sessions. Martinez has never caught a knuckleball before.

“I thought it was O.K.,” said Martinez, who wore a bigger catcher’s mitt during the session. “I dropped some balls, obviously, but we’ll see. I’ll get another bullpen session to try it again. I’m going to do my best and see what happens.”

If Martinez can figure out that screwy pitch, it will not bode well for Kottaras. The Sox sorely need Wake back in the rotation. Let’s hope that V-Mart can handle that pitch. If he succeeds, then Tito will have the luxury of shuffling him to 1B, Youk to 3B, and giving Mike Lowell another day off, before returning to the dish and giving ‘Tek a break.

Now I know some will be calling for Wake to retire, but if he can stay healthy, he’s a steal at $4M/year. Given his longevity, he could be asking for a lot more, but this just gives the Sox the luxury of being able to spend that $$$ on others, knowing full well what they can expect from Wake each year: 10-15 wins, 150+ innings.

Yankees lose, Sox do not

The Oakland A's shut out the NY Yankees today by the score of 3-0. The Red Sox did not lose today and remain 7 games behind the Yanks.

Kid catches two foul balls off bat of Josh Hamilton

A young fan in Texas catches 2 foul balls off of the bat of Josh Hamilton. Watch the video here, courtesy of MLB.com. After the page loads, scroll to the bottom and click on page 3. Look for the video added on 08/17/09: "A young fan catches two straight foul balls." As more videos are added by MLB.com, this video may be moved to page 4 or 5.

Try this link and go to page 2.

Monday, August 17, 2009

You Haven't Done Nothin'

Earlier this month Matt told Yankees writers to settle down, as they haven't won anything yet. I've had this song spinning' around in my head ever since that post (there are worse songs to have stuck in your head- do you need a reminder- lol.) I dedicate this song by the great Stevie Wonder to all Yankee fans and writers, as well as Ken Rosenthal and Keith Law.

Ninth Inning Rally Beats Texas

The Red Sox scored 6 runs in the top of the ninth inning tonight in Arlington, TX, beating the Rangers 8-4. Jon Lester pitched another great non-decision game. In 6 innings, he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 11, making some of those Rangers look downright silly at times. During the 9th inning rally, the Sox overcame a baserunning error by Clay Buchholz, who was sent in to pinch run for Jason Varitek.

Sox Win 8-4 BOX SCORE

Michael Bowden Makes His Statement

Michael Bowden is one of the Sox’s top prospects. He made his debut in August of last year and limited the White Sox to 2 runs over 5 innings. He’s had a fair season in Pawtucket, but it’s been an up and down season so far for him. He has a 4-5 W-L record, 3.23 ERA, 108+ IP, 89 H’s, 78 K’s, and 41 BB’s. Perhaps after getting bypassed first by Bard, and now by Cabrera, he’s decided to stake his claim by tossing 5+ innings of 3 H, shutout ball on Tuesday.

Buchholz, Cabrera, Bard, and Tazawa have all made it to Boston since graduating from Pawtucket this year so far. Bowden could be next, but there are also a couple of other pitchers that are putting up some noticeable numbers, including Marcus McBeth, Rocky Cherry, Billy Traber, and Jose Vaquedano. Javier Lopez has been a bit streaky at times, stringing several scoreless performances together, interupted by a couple of stinkers. He seems to be on an upswing right now, hurling 7 scoreless innings over his last 7 appearances.

Who will be the next man from Pawtucket to get the call?

Man on a Mission

Clearly, Clay Buchholz does not want to return to Pawtucket, foisted heist of his BMW rims notwithstanding. Last Saturday, he limited the Yankees to two runs over 6 innings, but Sabathia was 2 runs better. Tonight, he went 7 innings against the Twins, and allowed only 1 earned run.

Yes folks, just when we thought it was safe to go to the ball park again, just when we thought the Sox bats had come alive for good, after watching in painful silence as the Yankees put the hurt on the Sox by limiting them to 0 runs in a 25 inning stretch, just after we see them turn the corner and pound out 15 runs in 2 games against the Tigers, the bats go quiet once more. The opposing pitcher this time was another stud, Justin Verlander, who silenced the Sox bats, save for 4 hits, and 0 runs.

Buchholz now has two quality starts in a row. With Smoltz shaky at best and now gone, and with Penny having a bit of a rollercoaster ride lately, Buchholz appears to be stepping up his game. Let’s hope that his good showings against Sabathia and Verlander, and Tazawa’s 4 good innings once he settled down, are signs of good gems to come.

There is some other good news from this game besides Buchholz’s pitching. Fernando Cabrera, who was recently called up to Boston from Pawtucket, struck out the side in the 9th inning. He allowed only 1 hit in his 2 innings pitched so far.

Sox Lose 0-2 BOX SCORE

McCoy Stadium and the Pawtucket Red Sox

My first ball game as a credentialed writer

For 2 years in the late ‘60’s, McCoy Stadium was the home of the Pawtucket Indians, not the Red Sox. Professional baseball in Pawtucket dates back to 1892, and the city has hosted a pro team continually since 1970. When the Indians pulled up stakes after the 1967 season, McCoy stayed empty until the Red Sox moved their AA team to Pawtucket. In 1972, the Pawtucket Red Sox became a Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and has remained so ever since. Ben Mondor, owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox from 1977 to 2005, purchased the bankrupt PawSox and turned the franchise into a model of AAA stadiums. He is the only Minor League owner to be inducted into Boston’s Hall of Fame. He remains Chairman of the Board.

Sensing that my trips back east might be lessening in the not too distant future, I tried to talk my brother into taking in a game at Fenway Park this year. He steadfastly refused to take out a 2nd mortgage on his home to finance such a trip, so I decided to try for a game at McCoy Stadium instead. No alternative financing was required, so we purchased a pair of tickets in a great location on line for $24. ($24 at Fenway might get you a beer and a dog.)

As soon as he completed the transaction…. DOH! I write for a Red Sox blog that gets well in excess of 4K hits a month! I quickly called Matt O’Donnell, owner and editor of FenwayWest.com, and told him I wanted to try and get press passes for a PawSox game. Well of course! I gave a call to the PawSox and was directed to Bill Wanless, Vice President of Public Relations, and left a voice mail. I followed that up with an e-mail, telling him about graduating from high school around the corner to my current status as a contributing writer to this blog. I received a quick response awarding me 2 press passes! (Well, don’t I feel special!)

Half way up to Pawtucket, I realized I had forgotten my questions that I had drawn up beforehand! We made a quick stop at a library, went to my e-mail and printed them up again. We had no problem entering and parking in the VIP section. I was thinking that I may not have time to get onto the field to talk to any of the players. After finding the press box, I made it to the field and spoke briefly with the first player I saw hoping I would not have to break out my poor, broken Spanish. No such luck, but I was able to communicate a bit with pitcher Randor Bierd, from the Dominican Republic.

Still looking like quite the newbie I was, I asked the first person I saw about talking with any players considering the late time it was getting to be. Feeling a little discouraged, I turned around to find my way back up to the press box when I see a player signing autographs for kids who would drop down toy buckets and cut out milk jugs in hopes of gaining an autograph. He turned slightly, and I saw #30- Michael Bowden! Yes! He was one of three players I had prepared questions for. He was easily accessible, friendly, and willing to answer my questions. He readily agreed to have his photo taken for my post of his interview as well.

This stroke of good luck certainly had a quick, positive effect on my attitude and confidence. I continue to backtrack and follow my steps from the press box. I’m walking along the edge of the field that borders the stands, when a group of kids from a Cape Cod youth organization start yelling down at me asking me for my autograph. "My autograph?! But I’m nobody." They responded, “Well, you’re down on the field, so you must be somebody!” So I obliged them and signed a t-shirt, sneaker, and a hat.

On up to the press box. I met the 2 Steve’s calling the game, and they directed me to sit anywhere that was unoccupied. I start walking down the aisle and stopped at the first station I saw. It wasn’t until after the game had started that I realized I was directly behind home plate, totally in line with the plate, rubber, and second base. Air conditioning on a hot, muggy Rhode Island summer day felt good at first. Soon though, the windows were being opened one by one, making the experience closer to what it should be- outdoors.

I opened my laptop, got Game Day up, and started typing. Score sheets, press info, statistics, and player bios were made available for all. There was great food and drinks for all in the press box, in a casual atmosphere.

It was another full house at McCoy. My brother had been roaming around while I made my way to the field and then back up to the press box and showed up just after the National Anthem had been sung. The Columbus Clippers get roundly booed as if they were the Yankees at Fenway.

I found myself sitting next to sports writer Mike Scandura who turned out to be of great assistance to me. When my brother showed up, he jumps right into the conversation giving me some time to write and enjoy the game, too. Scandura was very knowledgeable about the Sox and the game. He also filled me in about protocol for those with press passes. To my other side was the official scorer, behind him was the man who puts up the plays and stats on Game Day.

The PawSox would eventually lose the game. Clinging to a 2-1 lead going into the 7th inning behind a good 5 inning performance by Kris Johnson, Javier Lopez came in and unfortunately had a horrible day on the mound. He allowed three runs to score on three hits one walk and one error by himself. I had been hoping to see him return to his old self when he was pitching well for Boston. He had a recent run of good games in June and July, (8 games, 9 innings, 0 runs allowed), before another downslide. He’s been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride this season. After a few subpar games at the end of July, he’s gotten back into a nice groove in August (6 games, 6.2 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts and 0 earned runs.) Let’s hope that’s the Javier Lopez that may show up in Boston in September.

Once the game was over, Mike showed me the way to the clubhouse. After giving the players about 15 minutes, we were allowed to enter. There were sofas, a big TV, and food for the players. Past these were the lockers. I saw Lopez, but was hesitant to approach him given his performance. My questions were based upon his good string of frames just earlier in the month. He was quick to make his departure, understandably so. Mike was interviewing Fernando Cabrera, after which I got to ask him a few questions. After Cabrera, I spoke with manager Ron Johnson and batting coach Russ Morman.

After we left the clubhouse, we took a walk through the halls beneath the stands which had seemingly endless memorabilia from the PawSox history, including the longest professional baseball game ever played- 33 innings, which started on April 18th, 1981, was called at 4 in the morning of April 19th. The game was finished on June 23rd. Members of the Red Sox roster in 1981 who played in that game include Wade Boggs, Bob Ojeda, Bruce Hurst, Rich Gedman, and manager Joe Morgan. Cal Ripken, Jr. was a member of the opposing team, the Rochester Red Wings.

Fenway Park isn't the only Red Sox park that hosts major concerts. While I was back east, Bob Dylan played a show there.

Everything about the day was near perfect. I got my first press credentials and 4 interviews. The only thing to make the day better would have been the PawSox winning, but as Johnson and Morman both said, the development of the players is just as, if not more important than winning. Big thanks go to Mike Scandura for showing me the ropes, Bill Wanless for getting me the passes, and Michael Bowden, Fernando Cabrera, Ron Johnson, and Russ Morman for taking the time to speak with me.

Keith Law Quick to Pass Judgement on Youk

Kevin Youkilis was ejected in the rain delayed game between the Tigers and the Red Sox. Kevin Youkilis was ejected after being hit by a high, inside pitch and charging Rick Porcello, the Tigers pitcher on the mound. Another baseball melee ensued, and both Porcello and Youkilis found themselves taking early showers.
Only 6 innings later and Keith Law of ESPN has already opined on the incident and again casting a negative shadow on the Sox. This is not the first time he's taken cheap shots at the Sox. He ranks right about dead even with Ken Rosenthal when it comes to baseball coverage.

NPR on Pawtucket Red Sox and McCoy Stadium

More flattering stories! National Public Radio (NPR) posted a great story about taking in a Pawtucket Red Sox game at McCoy Stadium as compared to a visit to Fenway Park. There is also an audio link that you should listen to in addition to reading just the article that enhances the story nicely. (It was a bit humorous to hear the announcer call the city PAW-tucket, when it really should be pronounced P'tucket.) My review of my trip to McCoy Stadium in July will be coming soon.

Aaron Bates: Portland to Pawtucket to Boston

Aaron Bates is a California 1st baseman who started off this season at AA Portland and was shredding pitchers at a .340 clip when he got called up to Pawtucket. He struggled there hitting at a .205 average when he was unexpectedly called up to Boston to plug a hole at 1st base due to injuries. He played in 5 games for the BoSox. He hopes his last game there will be the one that the front office remembers: 3/4, 2 doubles, 1 run, 1 RBI. You can read the full story in the San Jose Mercury-News. Let's hope that he makes RSN forget about that other Aaron B. for good.

Fernando Cabrera Gets Called Up to Boston

Fernando Cabrera, closer for the Pawtucket Red Sox ever since Daniel Bard got called, has joined his former teammate in Boston. Cabrera has a 1.69 ERA in 38 games for Pawtucket, has earned 20 saves, and made the AAA All Star Team this season, earning a save in that game, as well.

Some may have questioned why he got the call rather than Michael Bowden. Unfortunately for Bowden, he had a poor start on August 5, (3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K), which may be the most likely reason he was bypassed this time.

PawSox Interviews: Russ Morman

Russ Morman, a first round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 1983, played in the Minor Leagues for 17 years, making it to the big leagues in 9 different seasons. He earned a World Series ring in 1997 as a member of the Florida Marlins. After retiring, he became a coach and manager with several different organizations, garnering a Manager of the Year Award in 2001. He has been in the Red Sox organization since 2004, first as hitting coach for the Portland Seas Dogs (AA), and now hitting coach with the Pawtucket Red Sox since 2008.

I found him congenial and easily accessible; as I did with all the other PawSox manager and players I spoke with. Morman is as genuinely interested in the progress of the players that pass through Pawtucket as manager Ron Johnson.

Q~ Who has been your biggest surprise this season so far?
A~ We just like to continue to see the guys continue their progress in terms of trying to make it to the big leagues. I would say that maybe a guy like Aaron Bates might fit that. He was a major league invite, he started off the season at Double A, got to Triple A, got a chance to get to the big leagues.

Q~ Like Michael Bowden last year.
A~ Exactly. There are those types of stories. Chris [Carter] has been up and down, Jeff Bailey’s been back and forth a couple of times

Q~ Is there anyone at Portland or the single A teams that looking forward to get up here at Pawtucket?
A~ I have no idea about that. Until they show [up] here, I don’t really know. We also have another young player that’s just come up this year, Bubba Bell came up this year, and Mark Wagner, too, who caught behind the plate today, so we’ve got some good young talent that’s moving through the system and getting their feet wet here at the Triple A level. It’s exciting to see some of the guy’s progress in their careers.

Q~ How about Chris Duncan from St. Louis?
A~ He’s been an absolute professional He came in here and just really worked hard. He’s a special kid anyways, he’s always been around baseball. It’s great to see him out there. He’s going to be a big influence and very influential because he’s been there. He’s already shown guys how to go about their business with his work ethic. It’s been really, really good.

(Chris Duncan was not very talkative and didn’t want to answer questions, understandably so, but was very polite nonetheless. He was recently traded to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo and sent to the AAA PawSox after being in the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.)

John Smoltz: DFA'd

The Boston Red Sox have designated John Smoltz for assignment today after his poor performance against the New York Yankees last night. The 42 year old Hall of Fame candidate could never find a groove and get his rhythm this year. Junichi Tazawa has been called up from Pawtucket to replace him on the roster.

PawSox Interviews: Ron Johnson

Manager Ron Johnson, a native Californian, was a first team All American first baseman at Fresno State University. He had a brief career in the major leagues with Royals and the Expos from 1982 to 1984. He became a coach with the Royals for 6 years, after which he started his managerial career starting at the single A level, working his way up to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. He has been the manager of the PawSox since 2005. As manager of the PawSox, he is in good company, following the likes of Darrell Johnson, Joe Morgan, Johhny Pesky, Butch Hobson, Rico Petrocelli, and Ken Macha. I had an opportunity to ask him a few questions after the PawSox lost to Columbus on July 27th. He is an easily accessible manager, and gladly answered my questions in my first trip to a clubhouse. Despite the loss and the fact that they are under .500, he remained upbeat, as one could tell that he and his coaching staff are more concerned with the development of their players than the won-loss record that one may first notice.

Q~ Who has been your biggest surprise this season so far?
A~ That’s kind of a tough question to answer because I don’t really… I don’t think you can really go into a minor league season and actually…. Nothing comes as a real surprise unless you’ve got a guy who’s a utility infielder and at this point in the year he’s got 35 home runs, or something strange like that.

Q~ Like Bowden last year?
A~ Michael Bowden has been a prospect since the day he started so that’s not a surprise. Buchholz, the way he was, was not a surprise; Chris Johnson is a prospect. Actually, I don’t have any surprises this year.

Q~ After making the playoffs last year, and falling below .500 this year, would you say that your W-L record is not indicative of the team’s true abilities?
A~ No, I would just think that we were pretty much a different team last year, we had a more veteran club last year. We’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of movement. To be honest with you, the won-loss record is really never …. With the Boston Red Sox, our goal is to make sure players are prepared to either cover guys when they get hurt in the big leagues, or move on and become Major Leaguers. If you can combine it with winning, that’s great as we did last year. This year, we haven’t had the top club this year… so we’ll find a way to win every night no matter what the score is.

Q~ Is there anyone at Portland or the single A teams that looking forward to get up here at Pawtucket?
A~ I’m sure they all are… we’ve got instructors with people down there. Our job is to work with these guys, and believe me, it’s consuming enough, that’s why we leave that to the bosses… and when they become Triple A we take them from there.

Jim Rice's Defining Moment: August 7, 1982

It was 27 years ago today that Jim Rice ran into the stands at Fenway Park, grabbed a 4 year old boy who had been hit in the head by a sharply hit foul ball. Blood was gushing from the boy's head. Rice grabbed him and took the boy, John Keane, through the dugout to an ambulance which rushed him to the hospital.

Rice's instinct helped save Keane's life, but it will not be found in Rice's statistics nor will it be on his plaque at Cooperstown. In all the hoopla over whether or not Rice would make it into The Hall; are his numbers good enough, did he play long enough, etc.; this defining moment in Jim Rice's career should not ever be forgotten, especially in this year, the year that he was finally inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.

PawSox Interviews: Michael Bowden

Growing up in the Chicago area, Michael Bowden rooted for the Cubs, so one can only imagine the excitement he must have felt when he made his Major League debut last year for the Red Sox pitching against that other team from Chicago, the White Sox. In that game, he went 5 innings, allowing 7 hits and 2 runs, earning him a victory in his first Major League start, as well as his first Major League appearance. In 2009 he made another appearance for the Red Sox, pitching 2 scoreless innings, striking out 2, and allowing no walks.

Bowden was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Red Sox, and has been rising ever since. He started the 2008 season at AA Portland, made the AA All Star Team, moved up to AAA Pawtucket after that, and made it all the way up to the big leagues, pitching in that one game. He started the 2009 season in Pawtucket and has already made one appearance in Boston already this year, pitching 2 innings of scoreless relief, striking out 2, and allowing no walks.

His won-loss record at Pawtucket this year is a deceiving 3-4, but in 103.1 IP, he has only allowed 86 hits, 39 ER's for 3.40 ERA, walking 38, striking out 74, and limiting opposing batters to a paltry .226 average.

I expect we will see Michael Bowden in Boston again this year. I had an opportunity to speak with him at the Pawtucket-Columbus game on July 27th. In my few moments I had to speak with him, he was very polite and cooperative to speak with. I certainly hope we get to see him when the Red Sox come to Oakland next year!

Q~ You’ve been progressing quite nicely, starting at Portland AA last year, making it to the AA ASG last year, then up to AAA Pawtucket, and finally making an appearance in Boston, allowing only 2 runs in 7 innings against Chicago. That must feel pretty good.

A~ 2 runs in 5 innings. It was an awesome experience. I’m from the Chicago area and I grew up rooting for the Cubs, so going up there making my debut against the White Sox and actually getting the win was an unbelievable experience.

Q~ You have to look past your won-loss record to get the real picture of your season. You had a nice gem the other night, but lost 3-1. How do you feel about your season overall so far this year?

A~ I’ve had a little bit of a rollercoaster ride season. I’ve had about a month in there where things weren’t going my way and I was coming out of my mechanics, walking a lot of guys, just not pitching my game, but I took a little break around the All Star break, I skipped a start, got to watch some video tape. I just worked on some mechanics and tried to go to where I was earlier this season and I think I got there and I was excited to start the second half and start applying the adjustments.

Q~ There seems to be a logjam ahead of you in the Boston rotation and because of this; your name comes up often as a potential trading chip. Any thoughts that you would like to share on that situation?

A~ You know what, it’s something that me as a player I don’t control, it’s up to the front office. I understand that it’s a business so I know that it could happen but me personally I don’t worry about it since it’s out of my control, so until something happens I really don’t care. You know I just throw it over my shoulder and take care of what I need to.

Q~ Do you feel that there is more pressure in the Red Sox system than there is elsewhere?

A~ Sure, I mean, they’ve got a much bigger fan base, the media there is pretty overwhelming at times, but you know what, I thrive off of that stuff like that and it just motivates me to work harder and do the best that I can.

Q~ How do you like Pawtucket and RI and the east coast?

A~I liked them until this year, but it’s been raining 75% of the time. Our weather here has been tough to play in. It hasn’t been a normal summer; very rainy, humid. We’ve had a few nice days. It’s nice that our All Star break, our three days were perfect, so that was very nice. Overall I love playing in Pawtucket, the fans here are awesome, they sell out in the summer, good atmosphere here, good ball park, good team, the front office here is awesome, they treat us nicely, so it’s fun coming to the ball park every day.

Where Are They Now: Paul Byrd

Back in the Sox organization, that's where. MLB.com reports that Paul Byrd has signed a Minor League contract with the Boston Red Sox. Unlike last year, there was no waiver process this year, as Byrd had 'retired' last year.

Sox Can't Figure Out That Giant Yurt

Is this where they go when 'they're taken out back?' Sox just can't do anything right in that baseball 'park' in St. Petersburg, FL, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox are now 2 - 13 at the giant yurt over the past two seasons.

Sox Lose 4-6 Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Red Sox 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 4 7 0
Rays 0 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 6 7 1

Interviews with PawSox: Fernando Cabrera

When Daniel Bard got called up to Boston, the Pawtucket Red Sox turned to Fernando Cabrera to be their new closer. He has since turned into a dominant, lights out closer for the PawSox. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he had spent 8 years in the minor league systems of the Indians and the Orioles. He was released by the Orioles after 2008 and signed to a minor league contract with the Sox this year. Having spent that many years in the minor leagues, he was eligible as a sixth year free agent to opt out of his contract, but liked pitching for Pawtucket and the Red Sox system so much, and having much better success this year, he decided to stay. Cabrera represented Pawtucket at the Triple A All Star Game this year and earned the save in that game as the International League beat the Pacific Coast League. He's had his ups and downs, having off years mixed in with injuries and good years, and made a couple of major league appearances since he first signed in 1999. He represented Puerto Rico in the WBC in 2006 and 2009.

This year Cabrera has been quietly amassing a fantastic set of numbers. In 36 appearances and 45 innings pitched, he has earned 19 saves, allowing only 34 hits, 19 walks, and 9 earned runs, while striking out 44, limiting opposing batter's to a .209 BA, and posting a 1.80 ERA. It looks like he may finally have reached the final level before being called up to the big leagues one more time. I had a chance to speak with Cabrera after the July 27th PawSox game at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. Not knowing beforehand if he spoke English or not, I prepared my questions in Spanish, but discovered he speaks English well, and answered them in English. I found him to be a very congenial person to speak with. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Boston in September when the rosters expand.

Q~ Was it important to you to be on the Triple A All Star Team?
(¿Es importante que usted esté en el equipo de los Triple A All Stars?)
A~ It is really, really important because that is a sign of recognition that you had a great season in the first half.

Q~ You have good statistics this year. Are you happy this year?
(Tiene usted estadísticas bueno esto ano. ¿Esta contente esto ano?)
A~ I’m really happy here. I’m really happy because I’m working hard to do that. Things go well this year. I’m working hard to keep things going well this year.

Q~ You wear number 38, the number of Curt Schilling. These are big shoes to fill, yes?
(¿Tiene usted el numero treinte-ocho, el numero de Curt Schilling. Es zapatos grandes, no es?)
A~ This is a number I always wear in my career, and I never thought I tried to use it because it was Curt Schilling’s number. I like that number and now here I have the opportunity to take it, so it is a number I use throughout my career in the minors, so I never have the chance to use it in the big leagues. It is a number I like to wear even in Puerto Rico... and that’s good because sometimes you feel comfortable with some [things like that], so I get the chance to wear it here.

Q~ What part of your game have you been working on the most this year?
(¿Qué parte de tu juego que han estado tratando de mejorar esta ano?)
A~ I work a lot on the mental part, focus, and attacking the hitters. I try to attack the hitters better than I was doing in the past. It is more the mental part… that I try to do better. It works for me, I feel more mature, I feel more complete in that part. You learn more about the game, you are more able to control your emotions, control everything in your game because this is pretty much a mental game. That was the only thing I really want to work on. A lot of times you don’t know if you’re better on that, and you go to get some more experience… I can feel I’m better in that. That’s good, I’m going to keep working to get better every day.

Q~ Do you like The USA and Rhode Island?
(¿Te gustan los Estados Unidos en general, y de Rhode Island en particular?)
A~ I am here to work, so it’s not about what the city has to offer, but it’s a city I like because we can see the support from the fans. It’s a good stadium.

Interviews with the Pawtucket Red Sox

Thanks to Bill Wanless of the PawSox, I had the good fortune to be able to obtain a press pass for the July 27th AAA game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Columbus Clippers (Indians affiliate) at McCoy Stadium. I had opportunities to interview pitchers Fernando Cabrera, who represented the PawSox at this year's AAA All Star game, and Michael Bowden, as well as manager Ron Johnson and batting coach Russ Morman. Starting tomorrow, I will be posting 1 interview per day, and then will follow with my personal review of the whole day's experience.
Everyone involved with the PawSox that I came into contact with was very polite and informative, and made this rookie in the press box and clubhouse feel welcomed. Thanks to all.

Sox Win Slugfest, Buchholz Struggles

The Boston bats came out of the gate swinging and hammering the Orioles, scoring 4 in the first, and 14 runs total in the first 4 innings, scoring in each of them. You would think that staked to a 4 run lead in the first, that Buchholz would cruise, too, yet he walked the first batter he faced. He made it through the first 2 innings without allowing a run, but in the third inning, staked to a 7 run lead by that point, he climbed into the barrel until he gave up 6 runs. The Sox added 7 more runs in the 4th inning, giving Buchholz an 8 run lead heading into the bottom of the 5th. After a lead off homer by Adam Jones, he issued a free pass and allowed a single, which earned him an early trip to the bench. (Is it too late to swap Buchholz to get Masterson back?) The rest of the bullpen didn't fare well as they should have, but...

The Sox bats were still not done, though, not until they hammered the O's for 23 hits. (And neither were the O's bats quiet.) Every Sox starter had at least 1 hit, (save 1), 5 of them with multi-hit performances. Victor Martinez led the way with a 5 hits in 6 AB's and 4 RBI's.

Sox Win 18-10 BOX SCORE

Sox: Tuneup Your WP Radar, Joba's Comin' to Town

The New York Yankees have adjusted their rotation so that Joba 'the Headhunter' Chamberlain will be pitching in the opening game of that upcoming series, set to open at NY on Thursday. Sergio Mitre will now not pitch against the Sox. (damn!)

John Smoltz is set to face Joba in the opener, meaning the Sox bats better be alive and kicking. Despite his historic credentials, Smoltz has not found his rhythm and has not yet turned in a quality start this season.

As much as I would love to see the Sox sweep the Yankees the whole season, it is highly unlikely that would happen. This might just be the game that snaps the 8 game streak. Then again, now that the trade deadline has passed, players might be a bit more relieved that their status hasn't changed and should be able to focus more on the game, rather than distractions such as their status and other unsavory issues not needed to be rehashed in this post. The initial horror and furor over other issues has (hopefully) reached and passed it's peak. The dust will settle, and the answers to the questions will be answered.

To the Sox: you concentrate on today's game and let us armchair GM's worry about games later in the week. Play ball!

I was a second away from hitting the 'post now' button, when I took a quick look at Gameday on RedSox.com. The Sox are already up 4-0 in the top of the 4th. That should be a big enough cushion to get Buchholz started off with the right pitch.

La Roche gets flipped

I called it in a previous post. I had a feeling LaRoche was going to be flipped. LaRoche was traded to the Atlanta Braves today for another 1st baseman- Casey Kotchman. NESN.com suggests that it is possible that Kotchman could be flipped if another deal was agreed upon before the 4 PM deadline.

Red Sox August National Broadcast TV Schedule

From RedSox.com:

Aug 8 Sat 1:10 PM @ NYY: Fox
Aug 9 Sun 5:05 PM @ NYY: ESPN
Aug 22 Sat 1:10 PM v. NYY: Fox

All times PDT.

Victor Martinez about to traded to Red Sox

From MLB Rumors:

USA Today's Bob Nightengale via Twitter: the Red Sox are about to acquire first baseman/catcher Victor Martinez from the Indians. Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, trying to confirm, says it "looks good." FOX Sports agrees, and notes a lack of a third team involved. They also believe this kills the Adrian Gonzalez talks.

Bronson Arroyo Speaks Out

Former popular Red Sox pitcher, now pitching for Cincinnati, speaks out about steroids and the list. He says that even he may be on the list. Buster Olney and Peter Gammons weigh in on his comments.

V-Mart still a possibilty

ESPN is reporting just after noon EDT today, that the Red Sox and Indians are working on a deal that would involve Martinez and Buchholz. ESPN also reports that little or no progress has been made with the deals involving Halladay and Gonzalez, as both the Blue Jays and Padres continue to ask for steep prices on them.

The latest on Roy Halladay

In two words: not much. Toronto continues to demand "two left legs, a right arm and a left cerebellum" according to Marlins president David Samson. The Texas Rangers still appear to be the frontrunners in the Halladay sweepstakes, but continue to balk at the price tag. They may have the prospects and the cash to acquire him, but as of yet, not ownership approval. MLB Rumors suggest that they are leading the pack, but also think that it is possible the Red Sox, Dodgers, or Angels may swoop in with an 11th hour offer. Who will blink first?

With Penny and Smoltz on the rollercoaster and Dice-K still at least a month away (probably won't be back until September 1st), could Halladay wind up in a Sox uni?

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.........

Yankee fans are having a field day with this one

Yankee fans are pointing to the spike in his HR totals in 2003 as compared to 2002. The Twins did not want him swinging for the fences, they wanted him to be hitting singles and playing small ball. Upon arrival in Boston, they said swing away. That's why he started hitting more home runs.

Yes, it is a sad day in Red Sox Nation. I like Papi as much as any other fan. I've read his autobiography and was impressed by his integrity and his many other positive qualities. I will reserve final judgement of him after he does his research to find out what the substance was that got him on 'the list.' One thing is certain, he will talk, he will come clean, and it won't be some half assed dog 'n pony show like A-Rod or that other former Yankee.

David Ortiz is no Roger Clemens.

Theo on Ortiz

NECN.com has a video interview with Theo Epstein and his thoughts on the allegations of Ortiz's name being on 'The List,' as well as video interviews with his teammates. Theo says that Ortiz has the full support of the Red Sox.

Nomar talks about 'The List'

John Chandler of NESN.com has a video interview with Nomar and his thoughts on 'The List'.

WEEI.com posted some of his comments:

“It’s so hard to even understand, I mean what is that list? This has become an
absolute joke, I think it’s just a crock, I don’t even believe the list, it’s kind of ridiculous when you have a list like that and it doesn’t go through the proper channels. What is the truth about something like that? That’s just unfair.

“I know David and I know the guy is just so solid as an individual and cares about the game and what he does, I just hope he’s doing alright.”

“There’s a lot of guys having to deal with accusations and that’s unfortunate. I don’t know the truth. The only thing for me is that I don’t agree with people taking them at all by any means.”

“You have guys who are taking regular supplements at GNC and getting 50-game suspensions. That’s unfortunate. There’s a big difference between being a cheater and being irresponsible, they seem to put the same label on both.”

“There are flaws but it’s getting better. It’s not perfect but I think it’s headed in the
right direction for sure. I think we all as individuals and fans of the game have to be aware of that, it’s not going to be perfect and we shouldn’t cast somebody a certain way until we hear the whole story.”

“There’s process that’s supposed to go on, if there’s a suspension a guy can appeal it and there’s a big process to see what happened, did any of those guys [listed] even
have that chance? I guarantee they didn’t. It was a list that was supposed to be
anonymous and now they’re saying it’s not. They didn’t have a process.”

“There was supposed to be just a number. I knew guys who didn’t take the test just to be positive because they wanted testing. Are those guys on the list? I don’t know. There are literally guys who said, ‘I’m not taking it, go ahead and put me on there because I want the number to be above [five percent], if those guys are on the list?’ How about that? People don’t talk about that.”

“I think there’s a bigger issue about a grand jury and stuff being leaked like that, I think we have a bigger problem there than steroids in baseball, that’s a lot bigger than stuff that’s supposed to be sealed and confidential. It’s not anymore. That hurts in all walks of life.”

“Then you’re going to have 100 guys trying to tell a story, but is this [list] even
legit? I don’t know, that’s what you question. It’s one of those things where if
it was in court it would probably be tossed out and not allowed.”

Ken Rosenthal Wastes No Time Tying Papi & RSN to the Whipping Post

The pseudo-journalist for Fox wasted no time at all to lash out at David Ortiz and all of Red Sox fans with harsh words before Ortiz even had a chance to respond to the allegations that his name is on 'the list.'

Rosenthal: Black cloud over Boston
Rosenthal: Black cloud over Boston

David Ortiz Issues Statement

From WEEI.com:

BOSTON, MA — Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz issued the following statement today:

Today I was informed by a reporter that I was on the 2003 list of MLB players to test positive for performance-enhancing substances. This happened right before our game, and the news blindsided me. I said I had no comment because I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

I want to talk about this situation and I will as soon as I have more answers. In the meantime I want to let you know how I am approaching this situation. One, I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true. Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public. You know me - I will not hide and I will not make excuses.

I want to thank my family, the Red Sox, my teammates, and the fans for their patience and support.

That one bad inning, yet Sox still win

It seems as if the Sox starters have been plagued by that one bad inning. Not every starter, not every game (win or lose), but this scenario has been played out several times this year, and again today. Jon Lester cruised through 5 innings scattering 4 hits and 0 runs. Then the proverbial fan got active. Lester couldn't make it out of the 6th inning, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and allowing 4 runs in the frame. He fanned only 2 A's before Delcarmen came in, who allowed one more run.

The Sox found themselves in a 4-1 hole before their bats came alive, scoring 8 runs over the next three innings. After Delcarmen, Bard came in and pitched another scoreless inning. Pap got the save, but not before allowing a single and a stolen base to Orlando Cabrera.

SOX WIN 8-5 Box Score

Statement from Dice-K

From WEEI.com:

BOSTON, MA—Red Sox right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka issued the following statement today:

“I spoke to Tito on the phone yesterday, and I’m very glad that we had a productive conversation.

As for the reports from the past several days, I want to correct some misunderstandings. I did not go public with any complaints and I regret that some of my private conversations were made public without my knowledge or consent.

Also, I never said in public or in private conversation that: ‘If I’m forced to continue to train in this environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan.’

I had no intention of criticizing the team and we are, in fact, working together to communicate, to exchange ideas, and to try to understand one another’s baseball culture as we move forward.

The team and I have had many meetings and conversations, and after shaking hands with the general manager, manager, and coaches on the 24th, I was able to resume my training in a good state of mind.

My goal is to put myself into a position where I can contribute to this team.

I look forward to rejoining my teammates and playing in front of the fans at Fenway Park.”

Souvenirs from RI

Back home in CA, and oh does it feel good to be sleeping in my own bed again! There are many things I miss about living back east (long, cold winters would be the least of them), but I make an attempt every year to visit the folks and 1 brother who still lives in RI. He's a big Sox fan as well. Since the folks wouldn't take out a second mortgage on their house so we could go to a game at Fenway, we decided to catch a PawSox game. Details of our trip to that game will be coming next week, as I recently went through a 54 hour period with only 5 hours sleep, travelling in cars, buses and planes; and crossing three time zones, taboot. Today is brain dead/jet lag day, and will resume more cognitive thinking and acting tomorrow, but I wanted to tell you about some of the items I came back with.

My brother is a yard sale and flea market wizard. He can find something for sale for $1 knowing full well he can resell it for $100. He amazingly picked up a Red Sox jacket for some ridiculously low price that he knew was too small for himself and gave me that, a Red Sox pennant, and a talking bottle opener. I brought home a couple of packs of Fenway Franks from the local Stop 'n Shop. They had Red Sox market umbrellas there too, but I wasn't about to try and fit that in my luggage. (I live in a shady area, so it wouldn't get much use anyhow.) This gets better.

While at the PawSox game, I got a big frig magnet and press pass (my first) with lanyard. Earlier in the week though, was probably my best score of the week. While walking through the package store looking for Sierra Nevada beer (the consensus at the family get together), I found... Green Monsta Beer! Holy Golden Hops, Batman! I grabbed six packs of both the Sierra Nevada and the Green Monsta.

Green Monsta beer is a big pale ale brewed by the Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster, MA, and was enjoyed by all who imbibed. The six packs were all gone and my return trip date was looming, so I grabbed two more to take home. Would've taken more, but those heavy suckers would push my baggage over the 50 pound limit (they even charge you for your first checked piece of luggage now!)

Last year, I brought home a bottle of Kevin Youkilis Sauvignyoouuk Blanc. Not being much of a wine drinker, that one remains unopened until the 1st game of the next World Series the Red Sox are in, later this year.

You guys back east now have New Belgium Fat Tire & Skinny Dip Ales, and since RSN is everywhere, how about Wachusett sending us some out west?!

Lastly, speaking of beer (mmmmm, beer....), to my disbelief, I see Narragansett Beer is back! "I have to buy at least one six pack of that", I thought, so I did. Back at the folks, I pop one open, take a sip, and say to my father, "Now I know why they went out of business."


Am I the only one who thinks Eck's cheese references are getting to be a bit too much? He said 'cheese' twice in the last inning. I (think I) like him, and I definitely prefer NESN to the Fox, TBS, ESPN, and the local SF Bay Area stations when the Sox play Oakland, but someone needs to drop him into a vat of Velveeta. Eck! Enough with the cheese already!

Ever wonder what goes on in your old hometown? McCoy Stadium

I'm sitting in the press box at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket right now and having an experience I never thought I would ever have. I'm sitting right next to the official scorer. The full post will come later in the week, but I just wanted to let everone know that this is a great stadium.
Javier Lopez just came in to pitch in the top of the 8th inning. More later in the week.

Where are they now: Mike Timlin

The Denver Post reports that Mike Timlin, who filed for free agency at the end of 2008 ending his mostly succesful 6 year stint in Boston, has been working out and throwing bullpen sessions at Coors Field after the Rockies bullpen had some recent troubles. GM Dan O'Dowd invited Timlin and may be offering him a minor league contract soon.

Although he was primarily a middle reliever and set up man, Timlin amassed 27 saves while with Boston, and was a reliable rock in the Sox bullpen for most of his 6 years there. In 2005, he notched a 7-3 W-L record, with a 2.24 ERA. He made 81 appearances and racked up 13 saves. His numbers fell off in 2006, causing many to speculate that his career might be near it's end. However, he rebounded in 2007 with a 2-1 record and a 3.42 ERA in 50 appearances. His numbers fell again in 2008 and he filed for free agency at the end of that season.

Timlin, 43, indicated when he filed for free agency that he may just attempt a return in 2009 after taking a year off.

“Sometimes the time off helps," said Timlin, who stayed in shape by playing catch with former teammate Mike Myers and throwing batting practice for his son’s youth team. “God has given me the strength to do this. I believe I can still pitch at this level."

He remains good friends with Josh Beckett and the two go hunting together in the off season. He was also the leader of the Boston Bullpen Band. We wish him the best of luck in his attempt to return to the big leagues, especially with a team close to his home.

Pawtucket Red Sox

Since neither me nor my brother care to drive in Boston, and my parents wouldn't take out a second mortgagee to pay for Boston tickets, (and a limo to get there), we're going to see the Pawtucket Red Sox play on Monday v. the Columbus Clippers, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. I'll be flying on Tuesday and will try to get my post with photos up within a couple of days. I should also mention that we were able to secure press passes, which will make for an excellent post. Stay tuned!

Angels of the Highway

No, this post is not about those Angels somewhere in Southern California. It has little to do with baseball, except that I had my Sox shirt and hat on while I was headed to Logan with my daughter. She's on her way back to CA as I type, while I stay in RI one more week.

I was on I-93 in Quincy in rainy bumper to bumper traffic when the driver's side windshield wiper fell off. Thank the powers that be that the traffic was slow and that an emergency turn-out showed up about a half mile later. I got out and started fiddling with it, but was not having much luck. I got back in the car to dry out for a moment, still scratching my head, when a knock on the window startled us. It was a tow truck driver, mechanic, and first aid specialist from the "Angels of the Highway" roadside assistance program funded by the Commerce Insurance Co. Not having driven in MA for over 20 years, I had no knowledge of this program, but you could probably hear my sigh of relief all the way back in CA. Thankfully, we had cell phones ready to go, but Plan B was not necessary.

I'm sending out a big shout of thanks to John the driver for his help! I tried to offer him a gratuity for his services, but he graciously turned it down, saying he's just doing his job. I told him I was looking for an umbrella to help keep him dry, but again he said not to bother, he's just doing his job, as he had 8 more hours to go.

We got back on our way and passed through Ted Williams Tunnel. This was my daughter's first solo flight, so I accompanied her as far as they would let an unticketed person could go. I stayed until I could no longer see her, and later received a text message saying she was on the plane. Easily flustered in situations such as this, I was looking for an information booth or a map of Logan and/or Boston when a Logan employee helped me with the self service parking check out machine. I didn't get his name, and I wasn't even 100% sure he was an employee of Logan (I didn't see any identification on his business suit), but big thanks to him as well!

OK, it's only 6 PM, maybe I'll try to find my way to Fenway and Cask 'n Flagon for a brew. I get back in my father's car and the brakes are feeling scarily soft. Not having driven in Boston for an even longer period of time, I deferred to caution and decided to just stay on the highway back to RI.

Dad! Fix your brakes! Yankee fans, sheesh! But he's still my father.

I did have an odd experience the first night I was back. This was primarily a summer cottage neighborhood 40 years ago, far removed from bright urban lights and suburban sidewalks. Every year when I come back, usually about the same time in July, I walk up and down the road that parallels Mount Hope Bay, and then walk down the public right of way and have a seat on the benches just above the beach. As I was walking back to the folk's home, a car comes around the corner with a bright light shining on me. WT.... ? "Hey partner, what're you up to?" came booming from the loudspeaker on the patrol car. He gets out, I tell him I'm just taking a walk. My brother lives in this house that we were immediately next to, and my parents live in the house next door, as I pointed to it. Next thing I knew, he had me assume the position and patted me down. Fortunately, I still had my wallet and ID on me, which he asked me for. He called in the DL#, and I could hear them recite and verify my name and address. Apparently, some neighborhood newbie with nothing better to do called the local constable to say that there was a strange man walking up and down the street. Sheesh. Besides all the McMansions the town zoning commission has crammed into every last available lot, and the neon palm trees, (yes- neon palm trees!), I now have to endure this.

The next night I had my Sox shirt and hat on, and ran into 5 old friends as I took my evening walk. Much better. (I had considered calling the local PD to ask them if it was OK to take a walk, but thought better of the inquiry.)

Now if only the Sox can find their bats. Maybe I'll send them another of my father's old bats from his high school days that I found in the basement. Not to worry, it's still only July, and we're now into the 21st century. No more swoons.

Ever wonder what goes on in your old hometown? (continued)

Red Sox Sonoma here (aka Dave), sitting at the ol' homestead in RI visiting the folks for their 65th anniversary along with my 3 brothers. I got to watch the game last night on NESN which is quite a treat after suffering through TBS, Ken Rosenthal, and Fox. Late after the game had ended, we got to experience a good old fashioned New England lightning and thunderstorm, of which there are very few of in coastal California. Woke up late (I'm still on CA time), went downstairs, had breakfast and picked up the Providence Journal. (I still prefer paper to digital newspapers.) Mark Patinkin is an entertaining columnist for the paper who writes about the Sox on occasion. He wrote a story in today's ProJo called "License plates Rhode Islanders will love." Sounded interesting, so I read it. He recites a list of new RI license plates now available for an additional fee. There was one plate design that he described that confounded him, me, and I am sure all of RSN as well.

A RI Yankee license plate.

Huh? WT........ ?

I understand that the General Assembly of RI, as well as every other state in these dire economic times is trying desperately to find new sources of revenue, but a Yankee license plate?

Puh-leeze! We're only 50 miles from Fenway! What did you guys put in your pipe?! After all the reports of violence between Red Sox and Yankee fans, the State Legislature proposes this?! Now I know there are Yankee fans in RI (my father is a Yankee fan), but putting one of those plates on your car would be kin to lathering yourself up in bacon fat and walking into Grizzly Bear country in Montana!

Money's tight everywhere, but this proposal should garner a Darwin Award for whomever the brilliant public servant is who submitted it. Then again, Yankee fans aren't that brilliant either, (with just a few exceptions, such as my father, and Jimmy, the guitarist I work with.)

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

Jason Bay says Sox fans have seen nothing yet. Interesting tidbits from redsox.com: "Bay is the first Red Sox player to reach base five times without recording a hit since Ted Williams on May 23, 1951, vs. the St. Louis Browns -- five walks for Teddy Ballgame. ... Rehabbing shortstop Jed Lowrie (left wrist) went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored on Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket. ... With a stolen base in Sunday's 6-0 victory over the Royals, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury became the second player in Red Sox history to record 40 steals in multiple seasons, joining Hall of Famer Tris Speaker (1912-14). ... Boston enters the second half of the season in first place in the AL East for the fifth consecutive year, dating back to 2005."