June 30, 2005

Schilling's Rehab Outing

Nazz45 has pitch-by-pitch data for all five innings at SoSH. Box score included.

Well, whatta you know? Gary Sheffield was fined and suspended for two games for "aggressive actions" in Sunday's game against the Mets. The story mentions the helmet-throwing, but not the ump-bump. Still ... amazing.

Rumor Mill

Radar Online:
... On June 20, after a throwing error from Jeter to Rodriguez handed the Yankees a 5-4 loss to the last-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a TV producer says the sluggers came to blows in the clubhouse.

"I was doing an interview in the locker room and saw them go at it," says the source. "A-Rod walked past Jeter's locker and mumbled something about his throw, then Jeter told him to go fuck himself and all hell broke lose [sic]. Their teammates were pulling them away from each other."
Here is the game in question, which snapped the Yankees' six-game winning streak.

Steve Lombardi of Yankee blog Was Watching:
FWIW, after seeing this story, I asked my friend in a position to know if this story is true. Their answer was yes. I'm still trying to find out more.
David Pinto of Baseball Musings comments:
I believe this story is bogus. ... I just spoke to a beat writer covering the Yankees who's never heard a word about this.
If this TV producer was doing an interview, there was likely other press nearby. It seems hard to believe something like this would go unreported by any of the tabloids. And wouldn't the TV producer also have a camera going for this interview? If "all hell broke loose" nearby, wouldn't there be some footage of this commotion?

I'd love it if this story was true, but I have my doubts.

Sheffield -- Biggest Tool In The Shed

Upon hearing about a possible trade from the Yankees to the Mets (something that apparently was never even seriously discussed), admitted steroid user Gary Sheffield showcased more of that restraint for which he is so well-known:
I would go play for them. It doesn't mean I'm going to be happy playing there. And if I'm unhappy, you don't want me on your team. It's just that simple. I'll make that known to anyone. ... I have to deal with what they dish out, they got to deal with what I dish out, period. ... You're going to inconvenience me, I'm going to inconvenience every situation there is.
Such a class act. And this comes only a few days after bumping an umpire while screaming about being called out at first base. I've seen no news of a fine or suspension, though when "Yankee Bob" Watson is in charge of MLB discipline, current Pinstripers have little to worry about.

In his ESPN blog, Buster Olney writes:
[W]hen Sheffield is unhappy, he simply shuts it down, like flipping the switch on a motor. I covered Sheffield in his last days with the Padres, in the midst of their 1993 fire sale, and angered by the situation, the man stopped competing, like a 100-meter sprinter who decides he's only running 40 meters.

Ground ball just to his left? He wasn't diving; ole. Runner at third base and one out? He wasn't worried about contact; he just swung as hard as he could, and if he struck out, too bad. ... [W]hen he wanted his deal renegotiated or when he wanted an extension and he wasn't getting his way, he went from All-Star to Also-Ran.
Sheffield had similar attitude problems in Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Wasn't there some incident in which Sheffield admitted intentionally making errors while playing in Milwaukee? I did some digging on the internets.

According to a post at Bronx Banter, the Sheffield quote appeared in the Los Angeles Times on September 1, 1992. About his time in Milwaukee, Sheffield said:
The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. ... I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I'd say, 'OK, here's a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose.
Sheffield later backed off, saying he had spoken "out of frustration" and innocently wondering "Why would a player purposely make mistakes?"

Times writer Bob Nightengale did note in that 1992 article that "Sheffield said the only time he may have made an error purposely out of anger was when he was in the Brewer minor-league system."

May have? ... Either he did or he didn't. There's very little middle ground.

Jay Jaffe at Futility Infielder has a lengthy post about Sheffield from last August which discusses all of this stuff in greater detail, including what the Brewers play-by-play data reveals about Sheffield throwing games.

G77: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 2

Curt Schilling threw 78 pitches (57 strikes) over five innings for Pawtucket last night against the Charlotte Knights. He allowed one run on five hits, struck out three and walked one. He retired seven of his final eight batters and, according to the Globe, consistently topped 90 miles per hour on his fastball. Schilling's next start will be on July 4, also against the Knights.

Schilling said when he "was warming up in the bullpen, I felt phenomenal." However, in the first three innings, "I felt like I was forcing the issue, pressing a little bit. But in the fourth and fifth innings, I really started to feel good, started to get in a groove. ... In the last two innings, I tried to relax and pitch."

In Boston, back-to-back home runs by Doug Mirabelli and Mark Bellhorn boosted the Red Sox to victory yesterday afternoon, as did Tim Wakefield's seven innings of pitching (114 pitches). After Keith Foulke threw 47 pitches the night before, giving the bullpen a breather was paramount and Wakefield's quick 10-pitch seventh inning was key.

Wakefield recorded five outs in the top of the third. After Casey Blake walked, Travis Hafner struck out. Then, while Victor Martinez was batting, Wakefield picked Blake off first base twice -- but umpire Fieldin Culbreth blew both obvious calls. Martinez struck out and Jose Hernandez grounded back to the mound.

When Matt Mantei relieved Wakefield to start the eighth, he tried some new mechanics, but after throwing six consecutive balls, Mantei went back to his old style and retired the side on nine additional pitches.

John Olerud got his 1,200th career RBI in the third inning. He's hitting .405 with the Sox (15-for-37), with five doubles, a homer and seven RBI in 22 games. ... Could Bronson Arroyo be the Sox closer, if necessary? (I hope not.)... Q&A with Fenway's PA man Carl Beane.

The Herald's Michael Silverman talks to Pedro Martinez, who has two baseball cards -- a World Series MVP card of Manny Ramirez and an ALCS MVP card of David Ortiz -- displayed on his Shea Stadium locker:
I appreciate so much being a Boston Red Sox for seven years. I established, I think, a small legacy when I was there. ... I miss my [Red Sox] teammates - a whole bunch of crazy dudes, the 'Idiots' that I had behind me. I miss the fans, I miss the atmosphere ... Fenway is different, without a doubt, it is different. Tradition, the history of the team ... I miss a lot of that but I don't miss the media - at all ... Don't miss any of the negativity that was around there. ... Everything else, you can say I miss.
A belated look at the Red Sox 9-0 west coast road trip from 1977:
Date                    WP        LP
0729 At Cal 6- 5 (10) Campbell Miller
0730 At Cal 3- 0 Tiant Ryan
0731 At Cal 1- 0 Aase LaRoche
0802 At Sea 3- 2 (10) Campbell Montague
0803 At Sea 12- 4 Paxton Wheelock
0804 At Oak 3- 1 Jenkins Blue
0805 At Oak 1- 0 Tiant Coleman
0806 At Oak 2- 1 Aase Torrealba
0807 At Oak 5- 2 Wise Langford
This streak came a few weeks after Boston had lost nine in a row to New York, Detroit and Baltimore (June 24 to July 3). A combined crowd of 21,080 attended the three games in Oakland.

June 29, 2005

G76: Cleveland 12, Red Sox 8

Looks like it's time for Keith Foulke to head back to Alabama for more barbeque.

Foulke relieved Mike Timlin in the eighth inning (Sox up 8-5) and allowed two inherited runners to score. Then, in the ninth, he blew the save by allowing a double and a single, letting Cleveland tie the game at 8-8.

With two outs, home plate umpire Larry Young (the latest addition to the Red Sox's Lead Pipe List) began forcing Foulke to thread a needle to get a strike call. With a 2-and-1 count on Grady Sizemore, Foulke threw what looked like two strikes. Young called them both balls. Foulke then appeared to have struck out Casey Blake three separate times, but Young called all three of those pitches balls. That loaded the bases. Alan Embree was ready in the bullpen -- Foulke had faced nine batters and thrown 39 pitches at that point -- but Francona stayed with Foulke.

Foulke got two strikes on Travis Hafner, then threw an inside fastball (at only about 80 mph). Hafner turned on it and put it in the first or second row past the right field pole -- just about the shortest distance for a home run in Fenway. But that grand slam gave Cleveland a 12-8 edge.

Bob Wickman threw only three pitches to retire the Sox in the ninth. Three outs on three pitches. Clearly, the Sox were ready to call it a night. ... Which was too bad, because the Sox had rallied from three runs down in the middle innings. They scored two runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth (opposite field singles from both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were the highlights).

Foulke was booed as he walked off the field after finally getting that third out (a long fly ball hauled in on the center field warning track by Johnny Damon). "Of course I heard it. I'm not inviting them to my World Series celebration, either. They have all the right. They can boo me. They can cuss me and tell me I suck. Go ahead. If they don't want me to do the job, tell them to tell management. I've done a lot of good for this team."

Foulke refused to blame Young. Talking about a good pitch that would have struck Blake out and send the tie game to the bottom of the ninth, Foulke said Young "didn't call it a strike, so I'm not going to sit here and make excuses for one pitch. I had plenty of opportunities to get the guys out. If you don't make pitches in the right location, they get hit or you walk people."

True enough, but Young's strike zone was a mess most of the night. And when a pitcher is unsure of where the strike zone is -- when it changes pitch to pitch -- then he's forced to throw stuff right down the middle and hope the batter doesn't rip it. With Foulke's velocity down about 3-4 mph, there was little change of the Cleveland batters missing the opportunity.

Another annoyance lost in the Foulke Flameout: Tito left Wade Miller in for 118 pitches (in 5.1 unexceptional innings). I thought something similar happened on Sunday with Wells. Even after Wells seemed to hurt his heel in the fourth, Francona left him in and watched as he allowed six of the first seven batters to reach in the fifth -- just hoping he'd get that final out to qualify for the win, it seemed.

It's obvious that Francona (a) has no faith in more than half the guys out in bullpen and (b) dreads having to make that phone call in the fifth or sixth inning. While I can't blame Francona -- I feel the same way -- and I understand why Foulke is pissed -- at himself, at the fans' idiocy for booing him, at the game of baseball itself -- when are things going to get straightened out? July begins on Friday. It's past time.

Brian Roberts belted Mike Stanton's only pitch of the game for a home run in the last of the 10th, giving Baltimore a 5-4 win over New York. The Yankees had led 4-1 in the sixth. The Orioles are 1.5 games behind.

Sox try to avoid a sweep this afternoon. Wakefield / Elarton at 1:00.

June 28, 2005

A Visit From The Future

Shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez was in the Sox clubhouse last night, checking out his future place of employment. "I want to stay here right now, I don't want to go back [to Portland]."

Renteria told the Globe that he'd change positions to accommodate Ramirez. "I don't mind that he plays my position. He has the talent to play, if there are ways for him to make it -- for him to move to another position or me to move to another position. ... I don't know another position. But if I have to, I'll do it."

Interesting. There has been talk of moving Hanley to center, but the front office seems content to keep him at shortstop. Renteria could play second perhaps, but Dustin Pedroia could be starting at second next spring. If Edgar moves to third, Kevin Youkilis might be moved to first.

I believe the contracts of Mueller, Bellhorn and Millar are all up at the end of this season. It seems unlikely that they will be back in 2006. For all the talk of how 2004 was the last hurrah for a large group of Sox, there was very little turnover on the roster from last year (though Pedro and Lowe were high profile departures). There will be a much bigger change in personnel from 2005 to 2006.

G75: Cleveland 7, Red Sox 0

Sloppy.

Mark Bellhorn's error on a potential inning-ending double play ball hit to Bill Mueller led to three runs for Cleveland in the third inning; a fly ball tipped off Trot Nixon's glove and into the visiting bullpen in right field, giving Grady Sizemore a two-run homer in the seventh; and Ramon "Why Is He On The Roster?" Vazquez booted a simple grounder, though that ninth-inning miscue did not lead to any more runs.

It would be nice if a team could somehow get its sloppy play for the week out of its system in one game, but that's not how the game works.

The Red Sox could do nothing with Kevin Millwood. Their best shot at scoring came in the first inning. Johnny Damon singled and stole second, Edgar Renteria walked, Damon went to third on a fly ball, but both Manny Ramirez and Nixon grounded out to end the rally.

Boston's only other base runners were Renteria's single and Ortiz's walk in the third, and Bellhorn's single in the fifth. Millwood and two former Socks -- Bob Howry and Scott Sauerbeck -- retired the last 14 Red Sox batters.

My overall reaction to this ugly game is a perfect example of my new mood as a fan, post-2004. A 7-0 loss sucks, obviously, and I vented plenty at the TV as the game went on, but any anger at the team's sloppy play was pretty much gone by the time I went to bed. The team still has its lead in the division and there was another game tonight.

Last year, every loss gnawed at me long past the point of rationality because that night's defeat (be it by shoddy fielding, noodle bats, poor relief pitching, managerial slipups) might be the one that ended up keeping the Sox out of the playoffs. When things got rough, I had to keep telling myself that you cannot manage a club like it's Game 7 every single night.

Simply put, there is less anxiety now. In that spirit, here are Three Good Things: Boston stole three bases (Damon, Renteria and Bellhorn); John Halama pitched 2.1 innings in relief of Bronson Arroyo, saving the other arms in the pen for tonight and Wednesday afternoon; and Boston has still won 12 of its last 14 games.

Miller / Lee at 7:00.

June 27, 2005

G74: Red Sox 12, Phillies 8

Life is good.

Manny's 19th career grand slam gives Boston a 7-0 lead. Wells sweats it out through five innings, leaves with a 8-5 advantage. Embree and Vazquez do bad things and the Phillies tie the game in the seventh at 8-8.

Then the Red Sox bat in the top of the eighth:
Damon - first pitch single.
Bellhorn - first pitch double, Damon scores, 9-8.
Ortiz - first pitch single, Bellhorn to third.
Ramirez - first pitch sac fly, 10-8.
Nixon - first pitch force play, Ortiz out at second.
Varitek - called strike, ball, two-run home run, 12-8.
Eight pitches, four runs.

Boston leads Baltimore by 2.5 games in the East. They have won 12 of 13 and are on a roll not seen since last October. They are home tonight against Cleveland. Life is good.

June 26, 2005

Whooping Ass

The Red Sox have won 11 of their last 12 games. During that run, they have outscored their opponents 84-28. Boston's starting pitchers are 9-0 with a 1.78 ERA in 81 innings.

David Ortiz:
What do you want me to tell you about the offense? That we're whooping ass? I think we are. We're swinging the bat good. I'm telling you, this team, when we start swinging it, that's how we do it. Everybody puts it together.

June 25, 2005

G73: Red Sox 7, Phillies 1

The Mighty Red Sox keep rolling.

They chased Philadelphia starter Vicente Padilla after only two trips through the batting order, getting 10 of their first 18 batters on base -- three singles, five doubles, two walks -- scoring five times and making Padilla throw 80 pitches.

Matt Clement pitched seven innings, tiring in his final frame when he allowed three hits and one run. He went to only two three-ball counts and did not walk anyone. Clement saved the Red Sox pen some work by throwing only six and seven pitches in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Atlanta edged Baltimore 5-4 and the Mets walloped the Yankees 10-3.

Boston (43-30) leads the Orioles by 1½ games and the Yankees by 6½ games. If the Blue Jays beat the Nationals, New York will tumble into fourth place.

I Love Jhonny Peralta's Dog

Matt Clement gets the ball this afternoon for the Red Sox, who have won 10 of their last 11 games and are in first place for the first time since April 22. ... Everyone swears there is no connection, but Tim Wakefield has been an ace since Doug Mirabelli came back from his disabled list stint:
           IP   H  ER  BB   K
0612 Cubs 7 4 1 0 3
0618 Pitt 7 7 0 3 5
0624 Phil 8 2 0 2 6
22 13 1 5 14 0.41 ERA
In those three games, Mirabelli has gone 5-for-11. ... Terry Francona said last night's start was Wakefield's best outing of the year.

Curt Schilling will make his first rehab start this Wednesday for Pawtucket in Charlotte, NC. He should throw at least 85 pitches and is on pace to return to the big club for the weekend series in Baltimore before the All-Star break.

Jere has some great pictures from Jacobs Field. Remy and Orsillo trying to get into the park is hilarious. ... Does it say "Manny +2" anywhere?

June 24, 2005

G72: Red Sox 8, Phillies 0

A good night.

Tim Wakefield: 8 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 6 strikeouts (and a single)
Doug Mirabelli: three-run home run
Manny Ramirez: three-run home run (and a great sliding catch in foul territory)
David Ortiz: two-run home run to deep right
Johnny Damon: two singles, two runs scored
Trot Nixon: double and single

Atlanta 7, Baltimore 5
Mets 6, Yankees 4 (Pedro: 8 IP, 6 H, 2R)

The Red Sox are in first place.

Well, There's A Lot, A Lot Of Culture There

Terry Francona returns to Philadelphia, where he was hated. ... Two articles about Johnny Damon.

Roy Halladay beat Baltimore Thursday night (his 11th victory) as the Blue Jays took three of four games, allowing the idle Red Sox to move within one half-game out of first place. In New York, the Devil Rays won 9-4, also winning three out of four. Tampa Bay is now 8-29 on the road and four those wins have come in the Bronx. In fact, Yankee Stadium is the only ballpark in which the Rays have a winning record this year.
            W   L   PCT  GB
Orioles 42 30 .583 -
Red Sox 41 30 .577 ½
Yankees 37 35 .514 5
Blue Jays 37 36 .507 5½
Devil Rays 26 47 .356 16
In case you were wondering, Yankees blogger Larry Mahnken does not like Tony Womack. Read that post and marvel at the fact that Joe Torre bats this guy #2. He makes Edgar look like Rogers Hornsby. ... And a fellow poster at Larry's blog offers this:
How to build a loser
By SG

A) Sign Jaret Wright
B) Sign Carl Pavano
C) Trade three valuable players for one over-the-hill veteran
D) Sign a below average 2B for two years, then make him your LF

Then wonder "what is wrong?"

Heh.

The nuisance of interleague play finally ends this weekend. Baltimore visits Atlanta and the Yankees host the Mets (Pedro / Mussina tonight).

"Seasons on line"? The small print caption reports that both the Yankees and Mets "are frantically trying to stay in contention in their division races."

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia:
Friday: Tim Wakefield (4.41) / Jon Lieber (4.63), 7:00
Saturday: Matt Clement (3.48) / TBA, 1:20
Sunday: David Wells (4.73) / Brett Myers (2.66), 1:30
Cheesesteak.

June 23, 2005

G71: Red Sox 5, Cleveland 4

First things first: today's Globe has a long feature on Eric Van, famed SoSH poster/stathead, Ray Davies-lookalike and part-time Red Sox employee. Sidebars here and here, including the calculation that Mark Bellhorn's 177 strikeouts last season cost the Red Sox a total of 0.8 runs. ... Van corrects several errors in the article here.

Last night's win -- the Sox's fourth straight, their ninth in 10 games, and their first sweep at Jacobs Field since May 1999 -- was truly a team effort.

Alan Embree relieved Wade Miller in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs and got a strikeout and a double play (on six pitches, all strikes); John Olerud went 3-for-4 (career hits 2,200, 2,201 and 2,202), homering and driving in two runs; Edgar Renteria homered to deep left (for Boston's only run in the first six innings) and doubled home Jay Payton (who started the ninth with a double and took third on an error) for the game-deciding run; and Keith Foulke shrugged off a long foul ball crushed down the right field by line by Travis Hafner that came mere feet from tying the game and pitched a perfect ninth.

Who else? Johnny Damon came off the bench to pinch-run (and scored in the eighth); David Ortiz belted a pair of doubles; and Mark Bellhorn looked as solid as ever turning that crucial double play in the sixth. ... In light of the victory, I'll not discuss Jason Varitek's sixth inning, bases-loaded strikeout on a full-count fastball up around his forehead (the game was tied 1-1 at the time). How high does one of those pitches have to be before he'll let it go?

Payton: "It feels like we've played with a greater sense of urgency. It seemed like we coasted a little the first couple months." No kidding. ... But now, thanks to Toronto's 3-2 victory over the Orioles, Boston is only one game out of first place for the first time since May 14.

Infield prospect Dustin Pedroia was promoted to Pawtucket and the Globe's Chris Snow has a little recap of Pedroia's career since he was picked in the second round of last year's draft:
Dustin Pedroia was drafted last June, joined the Red Sox system midsummer as a shortstop, and hit .400 at Single A Augusta and .336 at Single A Sarasota. He began this season at Double A Portland at a new position, second base, and was hitting .324 after homering Tuesday night, at which time he received the news: Pack and report to Triple A ... Pedroia, in his year as a minor leaguer, has adjusted remarkably well at the plate. His most telling offensive statistic: In 108 career minor league games he has 48 extra-base hits and just 33 strikeouts.
The Herald's Michael Silverman takes some time to laugh at the Yankees:
They are flops so far, the embarrassing kind. Even when they play the schoolyard bully and beat up the scrawny kid in glasses, they come back the next day and crumble when they lay eyes on the weakling the next time instead of flashing the menacing glare that should be enough.

As incredible as the Yankees' four-home run surge was for the 35 minutes it lasted Tuesday night ... Bernie Williams' comments after the game ("If there was a turning point to the season, this should be it") reflect just how lost and pathetic the Yankees are right now. Turning point? ... You can't have a turning point against the Devil Rays, and the 5-3 Yankees loss against Tampa Bay yesterday is a reminder of both that and just how underachieving this $206 million unit truly is.

The Yankees are 3-6 against the Devil Rays this year, 1-5 against the Orioles, 3-2 against the Blue Jays, 4-5 against the Red Sox.
The Toronto Sun reports that the Red Sox have been scouting Ted Lilly for a possible trade. ... Off day today as the Sox head to Philadelphia.

June 22, 2005

A Different World

In discussing Randy Johnson's abrupt outing against Tampa Bay Tuesday night, Peter Gammons was asked what's wrong with the Unit?

Gammons said "frustration" and lack of velocity on his slider. Then he added that the American League is "a different world." What exactly does that mean?

I've heard some players (hitters and pitchers) say that pitching patterns vary from league to league, but even those answers don't go into much detail.

And Johnson didn't get lit up by Baltimore, Boston and Chicago. This was the freakin' Devil Rays -- who came to Yankee Stadium to face Johnson with a 5-29 road record.

Gammons cannot be saying that the Devil Rays are so different from any team Johnson faced in the NL. Tampa Bay certainly wouldn't be an elite team -- they'd be doormats over there, too. So what the hell does "a different world" mean?

G70: Red Sox 9, Cleveland 2

I've been remiss. I've gone longer than a week without proclaiming my love for David Ortiz.

The Cookie Monster hit two home runs and a single last night in Cleveland, scored three times and drove in four runs. Boston scored in six of the nine innings and coasted behind seven innings from Bronson Arroyo.

Ortiz: "Everywhere we go, we have fans from Boston who don't live there anymore and they support us. Give credit to those fans because they come out and show us some love. The people really know everything we do out there and they not only appreciate what kind of player you are but what kind of personality you have. I guess people like mine."

Both Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are heating up. In the last eight games, Ramirez and Ortiz have combined to hit .381 with seven homers and 25 RBI. Ortiz is batting .417 (10-for-24) with 10 RBI in his last six games. Manny's batting average is climbing -- it's now at .269, the highest it's been since May 2. He's also reached base in 21 straight games.

Arroyo was suitably impressed with Big Papi: "Ortiz just never stops. Home run after home run. ... All of my wins come from Ortiz' offense. For the last three years, he's been so clutch it's not even funny." ... Arroyo relied more on his off-speed stuff last night. "I threw more changeups tonight than I have all year."

Terry Francona said Curt Schilling's simulated game on Monday could not have gone any better, but the team will not rush him back to the rotation. After throwing in the bullpen today, Schilling will pitch another simulated game Friday in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox have not played extra innings in any of their 70 games this season, which is apparently a record, passing the White Sox's run of 69 games in 2002. ... Johnny Damon will probably get tonight off. ... Edgar Renteria's left wrist has been bothering him for the past week. ... Mike Timlin talks about being a closer.

The Yankees scored 13 runs in the 8th inning last night to beat Tampa Bay 20-11. The comeback obscured a horrible, three-inning performance from Randy Johnson. Lou Piniella left Travis Harper on the mound as he allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs and nine runs to the Yankees in .2 inning. While I understand that Piniella (a) didn't want to waste another pitcher and (b) thought he'd teach Harper a lesson and let him get out of his own jam, I wonder exactly where on the continuum of throwing games Piniella's action lies.

The Yankees lost this afternoon as Jeter, representing the tying run, struck out to end the game. So the Yankees dropped two of three to the basement-dwelling Devil Rays, and in their one victory, they allowed 11 runs.

Wade Miller / Cliff Lee at 7:00.

June 21, 2005

G69: Red Sox 10, Cleveland 9

No NESN last night, so it was either FSN or ESPN. On the Fox affiliate, Rick Manning opened the pre-game by saying that David Wells's first seven starts this season had been "terrible." ... Here are two of those "terrible" starts (Wells's third and fourth outings):
DATE  IP   H   R  BB   K
0415 7 6 0 0 3
0420 8 3 0 1 5
Figuring the Fox affiliates would be more blatantly pro-Cleveland, I decided to take my chances with Rick Sutcliffe and Dave O'Brien at ESPN. But they too were openly rooting for Cleveland, especially after Boston took a 9-4 lead in the fifth inning.

What we need is a service that would offer transcripts of radio and TV broadcasts of baseball games in the same way you can order a transcript of Meet The Press or Oprah or a CNN broadcast. But who would subject themselves to listening to all that blather and typing it out? What a horrible job -- listening to hours and hours and hours of Joe Morgan, Michael Kay, Chris Berman, etc. ... I think I'd rather clean the toilets in a bus station for tips than do that.

Anyway, Cleveland did crawl back into the game, scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth -- thanks to back-to-back home runs off Alan Embree and Keith Foulke (grr!) -- to trail by only one run, 9-8.

When Johnny Damon led off the top of the ninth with a solo home run, you could hear the disappointment in the announcers' voices -- a huge deflation of mood, voices quickly changing from giddy to subdued. But then Sutcliffe cheered himself up by noting that Red Sox fans were no doubt "cringing" at the thought of having Aaron Boone up in the bottom of the ninth.

If there was any cringing going on, it was at Foulke, who despite some excellent outings in the past week still seems to think that his job is to make the score of the game "closer." Cleveland scored once and had the tying run at second with one out, but Grady Sizemore lined to right (Jay Payton managed to catch the ball over his head with a little jump) and Coco Crisp's shot to the gap in left center was run down and caught basket-style by Damon. Whew.

When Sutcliffe realized that Cleveland would not be pulling off a "stirring" comeback, he noted that even though they lost, Cleveland had successfully "depleted" the Red Sox bullpen, which would pay off for them Tuesday night. Boston which forced out Sabathia after 4.2 innings and (like Cleveland) saw four relievers apparently did not deplete the Cleveland pen.

I also remember Sutcliffe going on and on praising Grady Sizemore for beating out a ground ball that Mark Bellhorn booted for an error in the sixth inning. Sizemore was quickly erased on a double play (started by Bellhorn) but Sutcliffe couldn't stop gushing over Sizemore for his great instincts for running to first base after he hit the ball.

David Wells was not sharp. He allowed 10 hits and two walks in five innings, throwing a whopping 111 pitches. However, Wells was throwing to a strike zone that was roughly the size of a postage stamp. Another example of Sutcliffe's idiocy was his comments in the Cleveland fourth. In one breath, he rightly said that "Wells is getting squeezed" then claimed that "Wells has lost control of the strike zone."

(With CC Sabathia on the other side, last night's starters weighed close to 600 combined pounds. Could that be a record?)

Every Sock in the starting lineup got a base hit except for Kevin Millar. Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek both hit three-run home runs. Manny had three hits, though he foolishly tried to stretch a single in the ninth and was thrown out by -- I'm not kidding -- 30-35 feet. Edgar Renteria doubled twice and Bill Mueller singled twice. It was Boston's 1,001st victory over Cleveland.

Toronto took care of Baltimore 11-2 and Tampa Bay edged the Yankees 5-4, so it was a good night. Boston moved to within two games of first place.

Arroyo / Millwood at 7:00.

June 20, 2005

G68: Red Sox 8, Pirates 0

After a 5-1 homestand in which Boston pitchers put up a 1.83 ERA, the Red Sox hit the road. First stop: Cleveland, who has won nine consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. Since May 21, Cleveland is 20-7 and Boston is 14-13.

Matt Clement and Alan Embree teamed up for a four-hit shutout Sunday afternoon. Clement threw seven innings, allowing only three singles and one walk, while striking out nine batters for the second consecutive start. Embree threw two innings, getting out of a man-on-third, one-out jam in the eighth.

The Globe's Chris Snow notes that Carl Pavano and Brad Radke were higher on the Sox's winter wish list than Clement, but that he has easily outpitched both of them, even though he actually "has poorer core pitching numbers now than he did June 20, 2004" when he was pitching for the Cubs.
           ERA   K/9  BB/9
Chicago 3.07 9.4 2.8
Boston 3.48 7.4 3.0
Snow: "Some of that should be discounted given the league change -- he's now facing a legitimate batter in the No. 9 hole." ... On June 20, 2004, his record was 7-5; right now, he is 8-1. That's because he's getting plenty of run support in Boston.

Boston scored eight runs yesterday with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on the bench. Ramirez's left ankle is still sore from being hit on Saturday night -- and Damon has a strained right rotator cuff, suffered on a diving catch back on June 4. Damon has not taken batting practice in about a week. Damon: "There's some days it feels like it's going to pop out of the socket. ... Fifteen days [on the disabled list] is probably what would help it, but I'm not that kind of person. I know I can help this team even if I'm not totally healthy. ... Maybe I need to take a day or so off once a week to rest it."

The Red Sox batted around and scored five times in the third inning, the rally highlighted by David Ortiz's two-run triple and Jay Payton's two-run homer. Payton started both games this weekend and went 4-for-7 (he doubled twice on Saturday). ... Bill Mueller doubled and tripled yesterday.

A SoSH thread -- Why Don't We Do It On The Road? -- examines why Boston has been so ineffective (16-20) away from Fenway. While the hitting has been fairly consistent
       AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
Home: .282 .365 .456 .821
Road: .282 .357 .438 .795
the pitching has not (3.94 ERA at home and 5.46 on the road). The Red Sox pitchers have allowed pretty much the same number of baserunners at home and on the road (walks + hits per inning), but looking at home runs allowed gives us a clue as to why the road ERA is so high.
      WHIP   ERA  GM  IP    HR
Home 1.35 3.94 32 288 19
Away 1.40 5.46 36 304.2 43
Tonight: David Wells (4.54) / CC Sabathia (3.91), 7:00
Tuesday: Bronson Arroyo (4.26) / Kevin Millwood (3.20), 7:00
Wednesday: Wade Miller (5.16) / Cliff Lee (3.33), 7:00

June 19, 2005

G67: Pirates 2, Red Sox 0

212 212 001 - 11

The Red Sox offense suffered a LOBotomy last night, leaving 11 men on base, and being shut out for the first time in 86 games, dating back to September 12, 2004.

Dave Williams (6 innings, 5 hits, 4 strikeouts), Rick White (2 innings, 1 hit) and Jose Mesa (1 inning, no hits) completed the whitewash as Boston fell back to three games behind the Orioles.

Three bright spots: Tim Wakefield threw seven shutout innings, Jay Payton doubled twice, and Mark Bellhorn and Edgar Renteria made several excellent fielding plays.

Clement / Kip Wells at 2:00. ... Johnny Damon has today off, and Trot Nixon is at the top of the order. Manny Ramirez, who left last night's game after being hit by a pitch, is also on the bench.

June 18, 2005

G66: Red Sox 6, Pirates 5

Now that was a lot of fun.

A leadoff double from Kevin Millar (and Kevin Youkilis as a pinch-runner (!)), a bunt from Jason Varitek that pitcher Rick White fumbled for an error, an intentional walk to Bill Mueller, a force play at the plate from Mark Bellhorn, then Johnny Damon's single (his AL-best 90th) through a drawn-in infield to center field for the win.

Damon redeemed himself after Ryan Doumit's first inning line drive went sailing over his head in straight-away center after he had broken in about three steps. Wade Miller retired the first two Pirates in the game, but then things went haywire: single, double, double, walk, stolen base, two more stolen bases, walk.

Pittsburgh led 3-0 after one inning, but Boston got the runs back in the second, thanks to singles from Manny Ramirez and Varitek, Mueller's double and Bellhorn's three-run home run into the Pirates' pen.

With the score tied 5-5, Ramirez gunned down Jack Wilson at the plate in the top of the eighth (his 9th assist, more than any other MLB outfielder). Varitek blocked the plate so well with his left leg while reaching to his right for Ramirez's throw that Wilson, though he got to the plate ahead of the ball, slid into and over Varitek's shin guard and never touched the plate.

The Red Sox wasted a lead-off triple from Edgar Renteria in the bottom half of the eighth, before winning their fifth game in a row in the ninth. ... Johnny Damon leads the team with hits with runners in scoring position (28-for-69, .406). He's now 6-for-13 with the bases loaded.

Curt Schilling threw 47 pitches during a 15-miunte bullpen session before Friday's game. "My goal is to be pitching by the All-Star break, and that's trying to be realistic."

Schilling will pitch BP Monday in Cleveland, have a side session on Wednesday, then make his first rehab start on Saturday, June 25 (probably with Pawtucket). Staying on schedule, Schilling would make two more minor league starts on June 30 and July 5 and rejoin the Red Sox on July 10, the day before the All-Star break. The Red Sox are in Baltimore that weekend and they host the Yankees after the break.

Colorado edged Baltimore 2-1, so Boston is now only 2 games out.

Wakefield (who has never faced the team he debuted with back in July 1992) / Williams at 7:00.

June 17, 2005

Payton Wants Out

Jay does not feel Boston is Payton's place. The Herald's Michael Silverman writes that Payton spoke "with disappointment but without animosity" about his role as the Sox 4th outfielder.
There's probably a half a dozen other teams, a dozen other teams, I could be playing for. Actually, as far as playing time, this is one of the worst situations I can be in because if I'm hitting .800 I still wouldn't be playing any more than I am right now ...

It has nothing to do with Boston or the team - it's a great team. If it were different circumstances, if I were 36 or 37, I'd love to be the fourth outfielder on this team. But I'm not. I'm 32, somewhat in the prime of my career, making more money than I've ever made this year and I'm sitting on the bench for the first time in my career. ...

It's a double-edged sword. You want to win, but you also need to take care of your own personal being, so to speak. Right now, we're winning a little bit, but as far as my personal career goes, it is in a bad situation as far as getting to play.
Although generally thought of as a platoon partner for Trot Nixon, Payton has actually faced RHP almost as often as LHP.
       AB+BB AVG   OBP   SLG
v LHP 60 .273 .328 .436
v RHP 52 .229 .288 .375
Total .252 .310 .408
Payton has hit very well this month (7-for-19). Unless Theo gets knocked over by a deal (a deal for a middle reliever, possibly packaged with Embree?), Payton will probably stick around until at least July. He might get a little more playing time, though I'm not sure he's playing well enough to warrant many more AB. And Nixon is doing pretty good against lefties, anyway.
v LHP
AVG OBP SLG

Payton .273 .328 .436
Nixon .320 .414 .320
Pawtucket's Chip Ambres (.328/.436/.566) is probably the best in-house bet as another 4th outfielder.

Stan Grossfeld talks to the happy people who sit in "the worst seats at Fenway." ... Two notebooks on what's going on in the farm system.

Pirates at Fenway:

Friday: Wade Miller (5.03) / Josh Fogg (4.33), 7:00
Saturday: Tim Wakefield (4.80) / Dave Williams (4.06), 7:00
Sunday: Matt Clement (3.76) / Kip Wells (3.83), 2:00

June 16, 2005

G65: Red Sox 6, Reds 1

Bronson Arroyo mixed things up last night, throwing more fastballs in counts he would normally rely on his breaking pitches. He picked off Ryan Freel in the first, he struck out the side in the second inning, and ended his seven innings with eight strikeouts and only six hits and two walks.

In the three-game sweep of the Reds, the Red Sox outscored Cincinnati 23-4 and out-hit them 36-15. The Reds never led in the series. They trailed 5-0 when they scored for the first time on Monday, they were shutout on Tuesday, and they were behind 6-0 when they got their lone run last night.

Arroyo did not allow a fair ball to be hit until the third inning; the first 10 Reds batters managed only two fair balls. The only inning Arroyo allowed more than one baserunner was the seventh. And in that frame, he was helped out by some stupid baserunning by Wily Mo Pena, who tried to stretch a single and was thrown out at second base by Manny Ramirez. It was Manny's 8th assist, which leads the AL (Jacque Jones and Ichiro both have six).
               IP   H   R  BB   K
Sun Wakefield 7 4 1 0 3
Mon Clement 8 6 3 1 9
Tue Wells 7 1 0 2 5
Wed Arroyo 7 6 1 2 8
29 17 5 5 25 1.55 ERA
David Ortiz is hitting .348 (23-for-66) with 22 RBI in his last 17 games. Ortiz drove in Boston's first run with a line drive into the right field corner. He thought about trying for a triple, but realized "Manny was coming up to hit, it was our first run, so you don't want to take your chances. I don't want to be the last out at third base, so I just shut it down."

Ramirez has caught fire, hitting .349 (22-for-63) in his last 15 games. He had two singles and a walk last night; he also lined out in the eighth on an absolute scorcher to third base. ... Kevin Millar is acting like a major league batter once again, going 15-for-30 with two homers and five doubles in his last nine starts.

Bill Mueller is hitting .316 (31-for-98) in his last 30 games. Mueller, who singled home two runs in the fifth, is now 7-for-11 with the bases loaded this season. ... Edgar Renteria singled, doubled and walked. ... Boston's first four hits last night were doubles.

In light of a couple of stories discussing possible problems with his knee, Keith Foulke says he will now discuss only "cars, motorcycles, the weather, certain politics, that's about it, and music" with the media. ... Last night, after allowing a leadoff single in the ninth -- a broken-bat looper to left -- Foulke struck out the side and looked very sharp.

So, has anyone had a Big Papi sandwich yet?

June 15, 2005

Arroyo Hopes To Sweep Slump Aside

Bronson Arroyo's slump is the big story in today's papers, as the Red Sox attempt to sweep the Reds. Arroyo says he has no physical problems and dismissed the idea that the slump is related to his suspension about a month ago. Though his numbers before and after his time off are striking:
                 IP    H   R  BB   K  W-L  ERA
First 8 starts: 53.1 44 20 12 31 4-0 3.21
Since May 25: 20.0 32 21 3 11 0-3 8.68
Arroyo Quotes:
Some of it is location and I think some of the hitters are starting to be a step ahead of me. Guys are starting to realize that I can throw a breaking ball in 2-and-1 counts to lefties and they're starting to sit on it. Like I said the whole year, it's a big chess match between me and the hitters.

My last three starts I haven't felt like I had zip on my fastball or good snap on my breaking ball. It's just one of those things. You get into a funk at certain times of the year, where you just don't feel up to par. Sometimes you can get away with it, and sometimes you can't.
In his last four starts, covering 30.1 innings, David Wells has allowed only 20 hits, six runs and two walks. His ERA in those starts is 1.78. ... Curt Schilling threw about 75 pitches of batting practice yesterday to Arizona State University players and a few former major leaguers and will be re-evaluated in Boston today.

In the last post, I said Greg Harris and Jeff Reardon had pitched the last Red Sox combined one-hitter, back on June 7, 1990. Actually, that was Boston's last one-hit victory. Aaron Sele and Tom Gordon combined for a one-hit loss in Montreal on September 3, 1997. The Expos' lone hit was a Mike Lansing home run. The Red Sox managed only two hits.

G64: Red Sox 7, Reds 0

So I check the Red Sox schedule at ESPN this morning and I find myself happy about tomorrow's off-day, because it means that David Wells will be pitching on Monday in Cleveland, and not on Sunday afternoon at home against the Pirates (when I'll be at work). ... Yes, I'm actually looking forward to Dunkin' David's next start.

The big man, Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke combined on a one-hitter as the Red Sox bashed away at the Reds for the second night in a row. [The last combined one-hitter by the Red Sox was against the Yankees on June 7, 1990 (Greg Harris and Jeff Reardon).] We've seen a lot of flip-flopping from this bunch over the first two months of this season, but I feel like things are really turning around.

Manny Ramirez homered for the third game in a row -- this one, a no-doubt bomb to the Monster Seats in left center that a fan caught on the fly! -- Bill Mueller got two hits and three RBI, Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon each collected two singles, and John Olerud continues to amaze as a sub, rolling off the bench for three innings in the field and whacking an RBI double into the left field corner in his one plate appearance.

Wells allowed the only Reds hit of the game with two outs in the sixth -- a clean line drive single to right center by Ryan Freel. Timlin struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth and Foulke retired the first two Reds in the ninth on five pitches, before getting Ken Griffey looking at strike three.

It was a night of convincing victories for the Sox, Baltimore (6-1) and the Yankees (9-0). Toronto, the team separating Boston and New York in the East, lost to the Cardinals 7-0 on Chris Carpenter's complete game one-hitter.

I have no idea what the record is for most uniform numbers worn by one player in one season with one team, but Wells must be close. At the press conference at his signing, he had #30, he began the season with #3, and he now wears #16.

Bronson Arroyo / Aaron Harang at 7:00.

June 14, 2005

G63: Red Sox 10, Reds 3

The Red Sox hacked away for 2.1 innings, allowing Eric Milton to throw only 16 pitches to get seven outs, then got down to business.

Edgar Renteria's two-run double to dead center started things off, Manny Ramirez belted a three-run homer that clanked off Wily Mo Pena's glove down the right field line and Matt Clement struck out a season-high nine batters in eight innings.

Johnny Damon had his 11th three-hit game of the season (which leads the AL). He also leads the league with 87 hits.

Milton's pitches by innings: 9-5-23 29-10-23.

First Oddity of the Night: The Red Sox held a ceremony naming the left field foul pole the Fisk Foul Pole, but NESN did not mention it in its game broadcast (which started at 7:00) until the bottom of the 5th and did not show any video until the top of the 6th.

Second Oddity of the Night: Mark Bellhorn went 0-for-4, but did not strike out.

David Wells / Luke Hudson at 7:00

June 13, 2005

G62: Red Sox 8, Cubs 1

Mirabelli returns from the DL and Wakefield gets right back on track (seven innings, four hits, one run, plus a single and a run scored) ... dismissed as coincidence?

Four home runs at Wrigley -- Youkilis in the first to cap a nine-pitch AB, Damon in the fifth (he also doubled and tripled), Manny in the seventh and Payton in the ninth.

A solid victory -- accomplished without Ortiz, Nixon, Varitek or Mueller in the lineup -- moving to within three games of Baltimore (can we stop flip-flopping between 3GB and 4GB and win a few in a row, please?), and back home to Friendly Fenway to face the Reds.

It's a shame we won't get to listen to Joe Morgan (who apparently took some extra dumb pills last night) announce any of those games.

Happy Birthday, Laura!

Clement / Eric Milton at 7:00.

June 12, 2005

If You Could Watch Only One Of The 2004 Playoff Games, Which One Would It Be?

That's the question asked by Zona90 in a members-only thread at SoSH. The breakdown, as of now, is:
ALDS 1 - 1
ALDS 2 - 0
ALDS 3 - 2

ALCS 1 - 0
ALCS 2 - 0
ALCS 3 - 0
ALCS 4 - 10½
ALCS 5 - 16½
ALCS 6 - 4
ALCS 7 - 12½

WS 1 - 0
WS 2 - 0
WS 3 - 0
WS 4 - 3½
If I could get the eight-pitch sequence to begin the 9th inning of Game 4 (walk, stolen base, single) and couple that with Game 5, I'd be set. Which means I'll take all baseball played on October 18, 2004.

It's hard to pick just one. What's your choice?

1918 World Series Program



Thanks to blogger Empyrealenvirons, I was directed to a 1918 World Series program/scorecard (here too) that I can't remember seeing before. Which would be strange, since a quote from my book is atop the Baseball Almanac webpage she found it at. You always see the program with Harry Frazee's face on the cover. This one was probably sold in Chicago.

Also check out EE's post on yesterday's game -- a clever Dylan parody.

What's Wrong With Manny Ramirez?

SI's Stephen Cannella thinks it could be age. Ramirez turned 33 a few weeks ago and his average (.248), on-base (.339) and slugging (.467) percentages are easily the lowest marks of his career.

Cannella looked at the five hitters whose stats most closely match Ramirez's through age 32 -- Juan Gonzalez, Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Duke Snider and Jim Thome -- and found that in each case, their production tailed off quickly after they turned 33. Those five hitters have no tangible effect on Ramirez's career, of course, but it's important to know that this is not simply a 2005 slump.
               AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS
2004 Pre ASG .344 .437 .682 1.119
2004 Post ASG .264 .345 .528 .873
2005 .248 .339 .467 .806
Shockingly, Ramirez is hitting .125 and slugging .214 (!!) against left-handed pitching this season.

Vs RHP
       AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
2002 363 .331 .433 .612 1.045
2003 426 .305 .411 .573 .984
2004 408 .309 .375 .605 .980
2005 154 .292 .375 .558 .933
Vs LHP
       AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS 
2002 73 .438 .534 .822 1.356
2003 143 .385 .476 .629 1.105
2004 160 .306 .446 .631 1.077
2005 56 .125 .250 .214 .464
At SoSH, LynnRoyalRooter notes: "It seems his entire lack of production is driven from a historically lousy start against the evil southpaws. Interestingly, his BB rate the same or better than in the past 2 full years. The K rate is worse however."

From my perspective, it seems that a lot of outside corner fastballs that he's taking are being called strikes. Whether umpires are calling more of those pitches strikes this year and Manny has not yet adjusted or the ball seems too far outside because he may be standing a bit further off the plate, I have no idea. I'm tempted to think that maybe his eyesight has changed slightly (wasn't that Jim Rice's problem late in his career?), but I assume a player could get his eyes checked every single day if he wanted to.

With his two singles yesterday, Wade Miller became the first Red Sox pitcher with a multi-hit game since Sonny Siebert (September 7, 1972, Yankees). ... Red Sox fans at Wrigley followed the traditional "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch on Saturday with an impromptu singalong of "Sweet Caroline."

Curt Schilling will continue his work in Arizona for a few more days before rejoining the Red Sox. Chris Snow of the Globe: "[T]here were indications yesterday that Schilling is in line to make a rehabilitation start in two weeks." He threw 75 pitches off a mound on Friday.

In today's Herald, Tony Massarotti writes of the frustration and disappointment of this year's team: "Maybe these Red Sox simply are not that good."

In an overall sense, that is nonsense, but something needs to be done. Theo Epstein: "This is difficult to fix, to be honest with you. So many people are performing below our expectations and below our projections that this isn't easy to fix. If this is the best that this pitching staff can pitch, then I really miscalculated and it's time for changes."

Mazz says the Sox could release Matt Mantei and John Halama, move Bronson Arroyo to the bullpen, dump Alan Embree, etc. Theo seemed to address that issue: "I think we're reluctant to give up on some guys who've performed for us and who have a track record. But it reaches a point where what you have isn't working and you've got to make some changes." But as Epstein added: "It's not just 'the start' anymore. We're getting into the summer."

More bad numbers for the Boston bullpen, including a league-worst 5.34 ERA. ... In Tim Wakefield's four-start slump (8.86 ERA), he has allowed 48 of 112 batters (43%) to reach base. He opposes Glendon Rusch tonight at 8:00.

June 11, 2005

G61: Cubs 7, Red Sox 6

Trot Nixon belted a first-inning, three-run home run, but Wade Miller blew a 4-0 lead, including allowing five straight singles in the second. He hung around to allow five runs and nine hits in seven innings.

The Red Sox failed to break through for six innings against a quartet of Cubs pitchers. They managed only three hits and two walks in innings 3-4-5-6-7-8. Chicago got two insurance runs off Mike Myers and Matt Mantei in the eighth, which meant Boston's ninth-inning rally fell one run short.

Down by three, pinch-hitter John Olerud doubled. After Johnny Damon flew out, Edgar Renteria singled to right, bringing Olerud home. Renteria moved to second on David Ortiz's groundout, to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Manny Ramirez's double. But then Nixon fouled out to third for the final out.

The Yankees shutout St. Louis 5-0 and the Orioles will likely win tonight (again). Boo.

Weekend in Wrigley

Terry Francona plans to give David Ortiz a rest Sunday and start Kevin Millar at first. It is still unclear whether Doug Mirabelli will come off the disabled list and catch Tim Wakefield (who is 0-4, 8.72 in four starts since Mirabelli sprained his wrist on May 18) on Sunday night.

The Herald says the Sox have some interest in Ryan Drese, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers this week.

Saturday: Wade Miller (4.73) / Carlos Zambrano (2.94), 3:15
Sunday: Tim Wakefield (5.13) / Glendon Rusch (2.07), 8:00

June 10, 2005

G60: Cubs 14, Red Sox 6

Jeez, the 1918 Cubs scored only 10 runs in the entire six-game World Series. Of course, that was the Deadball Era (the title-winning Red Sox scored just nine).

Good Things: David "Two-HR" Ortiz likes to hit at Wrigley. The Cardinals beat the Yankees 8-1.

Bad Things: Bronson Arroyo and Alan Embree threw what amounted to batting practice in the Friendly Confines (15 hits and 10 runs in their five combined innings). And Baltimore beat Cincinnati 4-3.

Red Sox v. Cubs; Not Since 1918

Timothy Gay, whose biography of Tris Speaker will be published this fall, has an excellent feature in USAToday on the 1918 World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs, the last official games played between those two teams before this afternoon.

Red Sox Beat Writer Roundtable, Part II

Part II of the Beat Writer Roundtable -- Ian Browne, Gordon Edes, David Heuschkel and Art Martone -- focuses on "off-the-record" conversations, job burnout and how writers and editors are dealing with the Internet and more progressive stats. Part I is here.

Are there female beat writers? It seems rare. The female sportswriters that write about baseball at the Globe (Jackie MacMullan) and Herald (Karen Guregian) are columnists.

Edes: The Globe has two female beat reporters: Shira Springer on the Celtics and Nancy Marrapese on the Bruins. Their numbers are fewer, it seems, on baseball, but I think that is a lifestyle issue more than anything else.

Heuschkel: There are few female baseball beat writers. I'd say the male-female ratio is something like 20 to 1. I used to cover hockey and there were a lot of female beat writers. The last female baseball beat writer at the Courant was Claire Smith. She covered the Yankees in the 1980s. But it's an interesting question to ponder, why there aren't more female baseball writers.

Edes: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is an example of a veteran beat reporter (she covers the A's). Cheryl Rosenberg of the Orange County Register is no longer in sports, but she used to cover the Angels and when in Florida, the Marlins.

Martone: There are no female beatwriters on the Red Sox, and now that I think of it I don't think there ever has been on a major paper. I don't know why that is, really, since there’ve been women on all the other major beats. The women on our staff (Carolyn Thornton, Shalise Manza Young) are reporters, not columnists, and they occasionally cover the Sox.

How often do columnists like Edes and Tony Massarotti of the Herald travel with the team? How many writers will the Globe and Herald assign to a home series -- and how many to a road trip?

Edes: Both the Globe and Herald generally assign two reporters to every trip, and on big series like the Yankees or the upcoming Cubs series, at least three. Bob Ryan, Nick Cafardo, Chris Snow and myself were in New York for the last Yankees series; the Herald also had four people there. Dan Shaughnessy, Snow and myself will be in Wrigley Field this weekend. Home games, the Herald will always have at least four people there. The Globe sometimes tries to get by with three, but the usual number is four, and for a Yankee series, it can be a half dozen. Playoffs, we had at least nine reporters, I believe.

How does the Journal work with two guys (Sean McAdam and Steven Krasner) that seem to switch off? How do they keep up with the inner workings of the team if they are absent for a week or two? Or is that important/necessary?

Martone: The way it's evolved is, Steve focuses mostly on the individual games and Sean is responsible for the overview of the team. They work together quite a bit when the team is home, but generally only one goes out on road trips, at which point that person is responsible for everything. Neither of them is ever away from the club long enough to lose touch, and it's pretty easy to catch up quickly when they return.

Heuschkel: Because I don't share the beat with another reporter, there isn't another writer who sees as many games as me. Ian Browne is in the same boat. We probably spend more time in the clubhouse than anybody. There's no substitute for being with the team.

You must hear and see a lot of stuff that cannot be reported – or simply does not get reported. What are the guidelines?

Heuschkel: It depends. If I see a player do something or blurt something to no one in particular, I'll usually approach him and ask if I can use that. They appreciate it. Anything said to you during an interview that doesn't have a "off the record" might end up in the paper.

Browne: Report everything that is relevant to the team. If you happen to hear players talking about their private lives, there is no need to report that stuff unless the players are speaking directly to you about it, and on the record. It's pretty self explanatory what you report and what you don't report. There is a lot of good-natured banter in the manager's office that doesn't get reported because it is more of casual conversation than actual news gathering.

Martone: If we don't get it on the record, or if we don't get it from at least two sources, we don't report it. If something's important enough, we'll push to meet those guidelines. There was one specific instance from a couple of years ago where Sean, Steve and I were on the roof of the press box debating one of these issues, and I remember I kept saying, "We haven't got it. It's not enough." And we didn't run it. (And I'll be damned if I can think of what it was right now.)

Edes: I don't discuss a player's personal proclivities unless the team makes an issue of them or they directly affect the outcome of the game. If a player shows up drunk, of course that's fair game. If he was out late the night before, that's not, unless it was a direct violation of a team rule, like a curfew, and he is subsequently disciplined. I'm not going to write about a player's divorce, say, unless he brings it up, or a team official does.

Martone: These things happen often. It's one of the reasons I personally get so angry when journalists are accused of having no ethics, because if that were true we'd run these things all the time. In fact, we're very careful about what we go to press with. Any mistakes we make are not made cavalierly or through indifference, as so many seem to think.

Edes: One thing people should realize is that even though we enjoy far greater access than our readers do, we still only see a small fraction of what goes on. I heard Tom Brokaw say the same the other day of his experience as a Washington reporter; despite his entrée into the halls of power, his knowledge of what was really going on was extremely limited.

Twenty or thirty years ago, fans listened to games on the radio, watched a handful of games on TV, and waited for the box scores in the next day's paper to see how every one had done. (Even then, east coast papers didn't print Monday's west coast box scores until Wednesday.) Now fans can follow any game they want pitch-by-pitch (either online or through the Extra Innings cable package), get up-to-the-minute box scores and all kinds of detailed stats. In light of this revolutionary change, how has the role or importance of a beat writer changed?

Browne: I think the beat writer needs to present things to fans that they can't see in the boxscore, or see while watching the game on TV. If a player hit a certain pitch, why did he hit it? What was his approach in that particular at-bat. Reporters have access to the clubhouse and they need to reap the benefit of that access in their stories.

Heuschkel: I consider game stories as "necessary evils" we have to write because fans usually know the score, what happened and how it happened by the time they pick up the newspaper. That's why I strive for exclusive stuff, 1-on-1 interviews, etc.

Edes: It makes it much more difficult. Even with the added access fans have online and on the tube, a beat reporter still can't assume that all of his readers have watched the game; he still must recite the essential facts. At the same time, he is aware that a lot of stuff, including interviews, are on TV or radio, and it makes it that much more of a challenge to come up with fresher stuff. The beat reporter must strive to give the reader at least some info that he hasn't been able to gather on his own.

Martone: What the Internet and cable television have done is take away a portion of the report that used to belong exclusively to newspapers (game description, boilerplate quotes, etc.). But what they've also done -- and my industry has been extraordinarily slow to respond to this -- is opened up whole new areas that the print media does better than anyone: depth, analysis, context, reporting. Developed pieces that tell a complete story. It's difficult under deadline pressures to do this well on breaking news or games, but I think that's where we're headed in the future.

Is that why game stories have evolved to include more narrative -- rather than the just-the-facts presentation that we see on the wire service accounts: "X pitched seven innings and Y hit a 3-run home run as Team Z beat Team Q."

Browne: Absolutely. Everyone is watching the games in this day and age. Put it in to perspective rather than just regurgitate what happened.

Martone: If a fan can follow a game pitch-by-pitch online, or on TV, as it happens, why would he or she waste time with a narrative version of what they watched eight hours earlier?

Heuschkel: I've always said the most difficult thing to do in this business is write a great game story. I try to keep the essential stuff (score, stats) as tight as possible. Everybody knows the what, where and when. I try to focus on the "why" part -- why something happened. To me, that's the most interesting part of a game story. I also try to give readers a behind-the-scenes look such as the mood of a player or the manager, the atmosphere in the clubhouse, etc.

Do you think fewer people are reading game stories for information or are most of them merely people who didn't get a chance to see or listen to the game? I've heard people say they rarely read game stories if they watched the game themselves.

Edes: That's hard to say. I know a lot of people say they don't read game stories, which is why notebooks take on added importance, but I still think many fans at least skim the gamers for answers to questions that might have arisen while they were watching.

Browne: I think perspective is more important than opinion in a game story. What does that night's activities mean in the grand scheme of things?

Martone: Web traffic indicates more people will read the notebook or a feature than the game story. I've had folks tell me they just skim a game story to find the quotes.

Is there pressure to insert opinion into the game stories?

Martone: I'm not sure "pressure" is the word, but there's an understanding that we have to give readers things they can't get elsewhere. I'd prefer that to be information, but sometimes it's opinion.

Edes: I don't know if it's so much of a pressure to add opinion as it is taking advantage of your access and presumably expertise to give some interpretation to events as well.

Heuschkel: You're not supposed to insert opinion in a game story. The only liberty a beat writer has is what angle to take, which can produce a favorable or non-favorable slant towards the team or an individual player. There are some beat writers who will occasionally write a column, complete with their mug shot. It baffles me how a reporter can show up to the park one day as a columnist and another day as a beat writer? To me, that's a conflict of interest. You're either allowed to have an opinion or not.

How (if at all) are the papers dealing with the internet? I know Edes conducts chats, Browne answers e-mail and a couple of the papers have blogs (Eric Wilbur at the Globe and Ed Kubosiak at the Springfield Republican). And then there's Art's much-missed Notebook. Do papers feel they have to compete? And what could they do in the future?

Martone: We have to be on the Internet, since that's where the audience is migrating. I think people discover that there's very little difference in game coverage from paper to paper, so I believe newspapers try to create varied sites that attract a wide audience which will return for the daily report. (That's what we did with Art's Notebook, and we're trying the same thing with an experimental audio blog. I record it daily, and it's usually live by 2 p.m.)

Edes: That's a major component of all of our futures. I do chats and a weekly mailbag, and occasionally will feed info to Boston.com on breaking stories long before our newspaper deadlines. I think papers are still trying to determine how to make best use of the 'Net; during the World Series, e.g., we did audio slide shows, which incorporated my commentary with images from that night's game.

Martone: But the real advantage newspapers have is that while there's plenty of opinion and analysis on the Web, there's very little original reporting. That's our strength, and that's what we have to leverage in this new medium. Then we can take advantage of other elements -- not just timeliness, but audio and video and expanded photo coverage -- that weren't available to us when we were strictly print. People think the Web will be the death of newspapers. I think that while it may eventually be the death of ink-on-paper, it will save the industry.

That's a little simplistic, since there are many other elements –- advertising, classifieds, etc. -– that make newspaper companies profitable and that will have to be addressed in the new world order. But I believe the general thrust of what I said is true. As I constantly tell people, our business is distributing information, not printing newspapers. How we distribute the information shouldn't be the main focus of what we do, though it frequently is. Because, let's face it, less-efficient systems invariably fall by the wayside. If there's one thing we can learn from history, that's it.

For those of you who have done this for many years, is there burnout from the travel and long/odd hours?

Edes: There is a huge burnout factor. Fewer and fewer reporters want anything to do with the baseball beat, which in Boston is a 12-month-a-year gig. I've had sports editors tell me that the off-season in Boston is even more important than the games. And those young reporters who do take on the beat tend to have a short shelf life. The travel, and the fact that almost all games are played at night, which means you never get home before 1 a.m., are not elements conducive to a good family life.

Martone: I personally don't know how these guys do it, churning out as much material as they do under the time constraints they face, night after night for six months. I try to give the writers as much time off as they desire during the season, within reason of course, to avoid them wearing out, especially since we lean on them so heavily at the end of the year.

Browne: There are times during the year when the travel and the hours get to you. But after doing it for a few years, you have a better understanding of how to pace yourself over the long haul that starts in mid-February at the start of Spring Training and doesn't end until sometime in October.

Among fans who look at sabermetrics and more progressive stats, there is the feeling that many print (and on-air) people look down at newer ways of analyzing the game. This may simply mirror a reluctance in the general public for new and different ideas. Do writers and editors think the average fan isn't ready for these newer methods and stats?

Martone: While there's been a vast increase in the number of sophisticated baseball fans since Bill James's Baseball Abstracts became available nationally nearly 25 years ago, I know there are many people out there who are unfamiliar with/uncomfortable with/hostile to progressive baseball analysis. I know, because I hear from them. And I know, because I see slower Web traffic generated by the Web stuff in comparison to traditional stories.

Heuschkel: I think the vast majority of readers and editors are unfamiliar with VORP, WHIP, etc. That might explain why those haven't really made it into the mainstream yet.

Browne: Stats are becoming a way of life, let's face it. Teams such as the Red Sox and Athletics place a significant amount of their player evaluation on statistical breakdowns, so you'd be silly to ignore that stuff.

Martone: I think the average fan will accept sophisticated analysis if it's presented in an easily understandable way; the problem is, doing it that way sometimes alienates the sophisticated fan, who'll feel as if he's being spoken down to. Whenever I do that kind of analysis, I invariably find myself using different literary muscles for print than I used for the Web, since I assume a level of knowledge on the Web that I would never assume in a newspaper column. It can be done; it's just hard. And it's not really the job of the average baseball writer, since their main focus should be to report the news.

I have read a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at statheads, or at the front office guys of teams who use newer stats. Do some writers have a hostility towards these new ideas?

Heuschkel: Don't confuse beat writers with baseball fans. "Statheads" are like any other minority group; they want their voice to be heard. I'm all for progressive thinking and new ideas. I think the reason some baseball executives and scouts don't like Billy Beane is because he came off an arrogant know-it-all in his book. I'm quite fascinated with sabermetrics. I wish I had more time to delve into it, but most of my time is consumed by covering the Red Sox.

Browne: I don't sense that all. Especially in Boston, I think there are a wide range of ideas that are embraced by different writers. I don't get the sense any of the writers in Boston look down on statistical evaluation.

Martone: I really don't think it's anything more than the reluctance you spoke of earlier, the reluctance of people in general to accept new ideas. And if you've been in a job, any job, a long time, you're especially wary of accepting ideas put forth by people outside the industry.

Edes: I find myself relying more and more on numbers that I would not have paid attention to in the past, and I pay attention to what folks like Eric Van and others are saying on the SOSH board. I think the resistance to the numbers guys has come less from writers than from old-school ball people.

Martone: Another part of it, though, might be that reporters are exposed to the human side of baseball in many ways -- positively and negatively -- and some believe there's a certain naivete (they might use the term "ignorance") to the sometimes bloodless strain of analysis put forth by a few of the statheads. But I think progressive stats are being accepted more and more by members of the mainstream media, and conversely more and more statheads are realizing there's a human side to this equation that was frequently overlooked in the past. Maybe the twain will soon meet!

June 9, 2005

If It's Really Hot In Chicago, Will Millar Take BP In The Nude?

There has been some tension in the clubhouse since May 24, when Mike Barnett (and former Blue Jays hitting coach) was hired to assist hitting coach Ron Jackson. Earlier this week, David Heuschkel quoted one Red Sox player as saying of Barnett, "he's putting the whole team in a slump."

Heuschkel has a follow-up in today's Courant, while Jackson tells the Herald: "We tried to iron out some things, like what his role is, what he wants to do and how we're going to do it. ... We've got different philosophies here and there. If he's got something with a player, come to me. Let's have one voice, not two or three or four or five." (See also the Globe)

With the St. Louis temperature in the mid-90s on Tuesday, Kevin Millar took BP clad in only his shorts. "As soon as I went out there, there was a tour group right behind me of about 20-25 women. They won't forget that tour." ... Francona: "I think I saw a few ladies on the tour throwing up. Nobody should have to endure that ... but I think there are about five coaches who feel a lot better about themselves now." ... At the one-third mark, the AL East remains a "long, unfinished novel." ... Charles Steedman is the man who guards the Trophy.

Every story about Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox's first pick and 23rd overall in Tuesday's amateur draft, compares him to Johnny Damon. I don't follow the draft, but these threads at SoSH should give you lots of info:
Official 2005 Draft Day Thread
Info on Sox first draft pick, Jacoby Ellsbury
Info on Sox draft pick Craig Hansen
Info on Sox draft picks from Day 2
2005 Post Draft Thread: Signings, News, etc.
Part II of the Beatwriters Roundtable tomorrow.

G59: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 0

While waiting through the three-hour rain delay before last night's game, I saw some of the Sox "Queer Eye" show, which was being reshown on Bravo. Full of quick-cuts and stupid jokes, it was pretty much unwatchable. ... Is it me or do Tim Wakefield and his wife look a lot alike?

One interesting thing, though: While out in the city yesterday, I saw a bus with an ad for the show on the side. It had four Red Sox players and the pink-shirt-wearing guy, but the players weren't the Red Sox at all. They had generic faces. Was Bravo not allowed to use actual photos of Damon, Millar, Wakefield, Mirabelli and Varitek?

As Dave Heuschkel points out, David Wells's starts this season have been largely feast or famine (0.57 ERA in his four wins and 13.21 in his four losses, with two average no-decisions). Against the Cardinals, he was superb: eight shutout innings, four hits, 94 pitches (74 strikes!), 23 first-pitch strikes to 28* batters and only one three-ball count. *: He faced Reggie Sanders both at the end of the fourth and start of the fifth because of a pick-off.

Once David Ortiz launched a long home run to right off Chris Carpenter in the sixth, the Red Sox offense broke through. Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon singled and Jason Varitek brought them in with a double to left center that Jim Edmonds made a pointless dive for. The ball landed about five feet in front of him. After the double, Carpenter walked Mueller and Bellhorn to load the bases, but he was able to get Wells looking and Damon on a grounder to first.

Edgar Renteria's solo home run in the ninth was his one bright spot of the entire series. ... I would have liked to see Wells finish the game off, but Keith Foulke pitched the ninth. After two quick outs, he allowed two singles before Edmonds ended it at 12:54 am with a fly to left.

Boston moved to within three games of the Orioles because Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 6-1. The Yankees thumped the Brewers 12-3, thus winning one of three games in Milwaukee. Since beating the Red Sox on May 27, New York has lost nine of 11.

Off today, and then on to Wrigley Field, where the Red Sox have never played (the Chicago games of the 1918 World Series were played in Comiskey Park).

June 8, 2005

G58: Cardinals 9, Boston 2

Thank God they didn't play like this last October. After the ALCS, I could not have handled it.

Another night in St. Louis, another night of substandard starting pitching, ineffective bats, and a Cardinals team hellbent on giving Boston some kind of payback. They don't give rings for winning a three-game series in June -- although it seemed like Cardinals fan and FSN play-by-play guy Joe Buck had forgotten that -- but that's all St. Louis can do for now.

Matt Clement allowed six runs and six hits in two innings, but managed to hang around for four frames before handing the ball over to John Halama, Matt Mantei and Alan Embree. Only Mantei pitched poorly, walking one and hitting two, before being ejected in the midst of a somewhat bizarre flurry of five HBPs (Walker (2), Grudzielanek, Varitek and Youkilis).

Both Sox were plunked by Al Reyes, the shithead who drilled Nomar back in 1999, resulting in the wrist injury he never fully recovered from. Youkilis was hit in the right wrist last night, though Buck maintained that he "walked right into that pitch."

In the ninth inning, Terry Francona had Millar and Payton pinch-hit for Manny and Nixon, which meant by the time Boston loaded the bases, he was left with Vazquez to bat in Embree's spot. ... Did he give up on the game? Down seven with one inning to go, I can't say that I blame him. And even if some better pinch-hitter materialized and whacked a grand slam, the Red Sox would still have been trailing 9-6.

Some in the SoSH Game Thread were wondering if he pulled Manny just in case the beanballs kept flying, but I figured he wanted to give Millar a chance to hit in one of these games. ... Comic moment: Manny Ramirez settling under Abraham Nunez's fly ball in the third, slipping and falling, then getting back up in time to catch the ball. Followed by lots of smiles and pointing.

The Pirates scored four in the eighth to beat the Orioles, so we stayed four back. The Yankees lost in Milwaukee yet again, this time 2-1. In both losses to the Brewers, Jeter has made the final out with the tying run on base. ... Pedro Martinez threw 6.1 no-hit innings at Shea Stadium, finishing with a two-hit complete game victory.

Wells / Carpenter at 7:00.

June 7, 2005

Red Sox Beat Writer Roundtable, Part I

I was 12 years old when I first started following the Red Sox. Growing up in northern Vermont, I would occasionally buy the Boston Globe. I remember being knocked out by Peter Gammons's game stories. As a Red Sox beat writer, it seemed like he had the greatest job in the world. Traveling with the team, hanging out with the players, watching and writing about the games. I also read somewhere that Gammons occasionally shagged fly balls during batting practice. I don't know if that was true, but that seemed like the icing on the cake.

Now, being a bit older and having had some experience writing for newspapers, I know that the job is not all fun and relaxation (though I'm still jealous of those who do it). Thinking that a lot of fans probably have little idea of what is involved in the life of a beat writer, and wanting to know more myself, I emailed some questions to a few of the writers who cover the Red Sox.

Ian Browne (MLB.com) worked at the Globe while attending Northeastern University. After graduating in 1995, he worked at CBS SportsLine for five years. He joined MLB.com in May 2001 and began covering the Red Sox at the start of the 2002 season.

Gordon Edes (Boston Globe) began covering the Red Sox in late 1996. In the past three years, he has written the "On Baseball" column while maintaining a considerable amount of beat responsibility. He's been in the newspaper business for 33 years. His first baseball beat job was in 1983, covering the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Times.

David Heuschkel (Hartford Courant) has been a sportswriter for 15 years and has covered the Red Sox for six years.

Art Martone (Providence Journal) has been a professional journalist for 31 years and while he's never been a beat writer, he has covered the Red Sox for more than 20 years. He wrote a daily Internet column on the Red Sox from 1996-2003 and is currently the Journal's sports editor.

Part I of the Q&A deals with the basics of the job, the day's schedules and deadlines and being a "fan." One note: All times listed are East Coast time. ... Thanks again to these four guys for participating.

What is a beat writer responsible for and how do his responsibilities differ from those of a columnist?

Martone: The beat writer is responsible for the news of the team. Injuries, illnesses, slumps, trade rumors, the games themselves ... that, and more, is generally all on the beat writer's plate. The columnists are asked to provide opinion on the team, opinion more than news or analysis.

Heuschkel: My goal every day is exclusivity. That's the easy part. The difficult part is getting scoops and the real trick is reporting the news before it actually happens. Unlike a columnist, I'm not allowed to have an opinion – at least not one in print. Columnists get paid to give opinions and/or take a stand. This, in my opinion, should not preclude them from breaking news or getting exclusive material, which the good ones do. That said, I like to say never send a columnist to do a reporter's job.

Does a beat writer stay at the team's hotel, and travel on the plane and buses with the players? Are your travel arrangements made through the team or through your newspaper?

Edes: The days when teams arranged travel for writers are long gone. The club's broadcasters still travel with the club, but they are employees of the team, so it stands to reason. Writers make their own arrangements -- fly commercial, take cabs to the game, stay at the team's hotel if they so choose.

Heuschkel: Beat writers stay wherever they want, although it's generally not at the same hotel as the team. There are exceptions, though: Tampa/St. Pete and Oakland/San Francisco come to mind. We don't travel with the team, either on the plane or bus. Someone at the Courant books my flights. I do my hotels and car rentals.

What time do you arrive at the ball park?

Heuschkel: The clubhouse opens 3½ hours before the game, so I usually get to the park four hours earlier. For a 7:05 game, I'm there at 3:00 and in the clubhouse at 3:35. Terry Francona usually holds his pre-game chat with reporters at 4:00.

Browne: I generally try and get to the park by 3:00 so I can get set up in the press box, check my e-mail, etc. For the first game of a series on the road, I might get there a little earlier because I like to scout out where there is an available phone line, or where I might be able to access e-mail from.

Edes: I'm apt to get there around 3:30. Some writers, like Jeff Horrigan of the Herald, like to arrive considerably earlier. I'll do prep work either at home or in the hotel before getting to the park. The beat reporter, especially in Boston, where more than one reporter is assigned to the team, generally concerns himself only with the home team; a columnist or "sidebar" reporter will check in on the other team.

What are the rules for access during batting practice and in the clubhouse before games?

Browne: At Fenway, we have access to players in the clubhouse from 3:30 until about 4:30, and if we need it, the clubhouse is open again after batting practice, which is generally over by about 5:35 or 5:40. On the road, we have a longer window to talk to the players before batting practice -- usually from about 3:30 to 5:15 -- but the clubhouse is not open after batting practice.

Edes: In previous beats, I often talked to players while they took BP, not so much now here, because of the amount of media, and the practice is discouraged. The clubhouses reopen at home after BP for about a half hour. That is not the case on the road, because BP generally ends 45 minutes before the start of the game, and clubhouses are always closed during that 45-minute window.

Do you file any stories before the game?

Edes: The beat reporter writes his notebook before and during the game. I generally try to file my notes by 8:00 or 8:30 (9:00 at the latest). The beat writer doesn't do an early feature, unless he's on the West Coast and there won't be a game story in the early editions. As the "On Ball" writer, I come up with a column for the early edition, and then again after the game.

Browne: I file my notebook by the second or third inning of every game and adjust as needed after the game. If there is breaking news, I will file a story as soon as possible, after I'm done talking to the manager and whatever player might be making news.

Martone: If the team is on the West Coast, notebooks and pregame features are filed by the first pitch. For the most part, though, the pregame stuff is usually sent to the office by 9:00 or 9:30, when the game is generally in the middle innings.

Heuschkel: I always file an early notebook and update it throughout/after the game. I may or may not keep the same lead to the notebook. It depends on the news value of the topic. I'll give you an example: Last week in Tampa [now late April], there wasn't any real news before the game. So I wrote this as the early lead to my notebook:
Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller, the only player in club history to win a batting title and a World Series ring, set his sights on a much more modest goal this year. He wanted to play the most games he ever has in a season.

He set a pretty good pace early, playing in the first 13 games. But he has been slowed by an illness.

A flu-like virus forced Mueller to miss his third straight game Saturday and fourth of the last five.

"Tito, I just want to let you know that I'm alive," Mueller said, interrupting manager's Terry Francona's pre-game session with reporters.

"You look like you’re alive," Francona responded.

Mueller, who looked as bad as he felt, has appeared in 14 of the first 18 games. His career high is 153 with the Giants in 2000.

So in order to exceed that mark, he would have to play in 140 of the final 144 games.
Most of that information never made it in the later editions. It was condensed to one or two sentences. David Ortiz's two homers [that night, April 23] that both traveled well over 400 feet became the lead note. As for writing early stories, I have to file an early feature that will serve as "plug story" for West Coast game until the game is over.

During the game, how do you keep score? Although it must vary, how much of your game story is written as the game goes along?

Edes: We all have scorebooks. In fact, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA) publishes its own book, though I prefer one put out by Cardinals broadcaster Bob Carpenter. We write what is called a "running" game story during the game. The formula is to file 400-500 words after the sixth inning, say, then write a "lede" as the game is nearing its end. Ledes are expected to be filed by around 10:00, with the score or some late action inserted if time allows.

Martone: Writing styles vary from individual to individual, but many of them do begin to write what we call "running" -- a chronological account of the game that can be altered as need arises -- by the third or fourth inning. Many writers feel it's better to have too much that can be cut, than not enough with deadline five minutes away.

Heuschkel: I write during the game, trying to make a play-by-play account of the first six innings as interesting as possible, which isn't always easy to do. I'll file that in the seventh inning and write a top of the last two or three innings as soon as the game is over. That's my early story. I then go to the clubhouse, get reaction from the participants and re-write a more thorough game story.

Does everyone use micro cassette recorders or are there diehards who use pen and paper? I would think in Boston you'd like to have something that records the exact quotes.

Browne: I use a digital voice recorder.

Edes: Many reporters use tape recorders, but given the little turnaround time between editions -— which makes it very difficult to use much time to transcribe -— many reporters still employ pen and paper, too. That's one reason you may notice minor disparities in quotes from one newspaper to the next. I confess I'm finding it more and more difficult to read my own shorthand!

Heuschkel: Call me a "diehard" because I use a pen and pad. But I also use a tape recorder just in case I have to go back to hear a full quote. My quotes are exact.

What are your deadline(s) on any given day? Depending on when the game ends, how much time do you have before you have to transmit your game story?

Browne: I file my running gamer on, or shortly before the last pitch, whether it is a day game or night game. I have until 90 minutes after the game to file my re-write.

Edes: The Globe deadlines to file game stories are as follows: 10:15 p.m. for first edition running stories, then 12:00-12:15 a.m. for third edition stories, an edition that covers the majority of our press run. On occasion there is a fourth edition, which allows us to go as late as 2:00 a.m., but that generally happens only on the West Coast. My "On Ball" for the first edition should be filed at least a half hour before deadline, so the desk only has to worry about the game story.

Martone: On a normal night, our writers have to file for first edition between 11:00 and 11:15 p.m. When we have early deadlines, which is increasingly the norm these days due to business reasons beyond our control, the story needs to be in hand by about 10:45 p.m. This makes an enormous difference in how the writers approach their work. If they can file by 11:15, they generally have time to go to the locker room and get quotes for their first-edition story. If it's 10:45, though, they usually file as soon as the game ends, go downstairs to get quotes, then come back and either rework or rewrite their original stories for later editions of the paper ... or, if they're on the West Coast, for the Web site. (This is a *very* new wrinkle in the business.)

Heuschkel: Ah, the dreaded D-word. It's the dirtiest word in a baseball writer's vocabulary. Seriously, I really don't get caught up with deadlines. It's tough enough to write a good game story without putting added pressure on yourself. I'll say this about deadlines: I know they exist and always aim for them. But sometimes you can't help but miss because a game gets over late.

Do you send in a version of the game story before you go down to the locker room? After getting quotes from various players, do you go back to the press box to rework the story?

Heuschkel: I send an early game story for night games before I go to the clubhouse and re-write the story when I get back to the press box. How much of it changes depends on how much time I have.

Browne: For the post-game story, if it's a blowout game, I often need to do nothing more but insert quotes. The majority of the time, there is a significant amount of tweaking with the original story.

Edes: Yes, a game story is filed by the time the game ends, or in the first few minutes thereafter. There is a 10-minute cooling off period before reporters are allowed into the clubhouse. The Sox have formalized the process with a new interview room in which Terry Francona is brought in first, then one or two players, almost invariably the starting pitcher. The system helps relieve the crush in the Sox clubhouse, which is small, but robs exchanges of the spontaneity that comes in a less formal setting, like the manager's office or in front of a player's locker.

How is all of this different -- or is it -- for MLB.com? There is less an issue of space or word length, I would assume, and if another story is warranted, it just gets written and posted.

Browne: Right, we are in the business of immediacy. If a big news story breaks, I have to get something up there quickly, and then add to it as the story develops. If a lot of stories develop on a given day, I would rather break them out into short separates rather than cram everything into a notebook. The presentation is different on the web. If something isn't on a headline, it might get lost on a reader, who might never click on to the general notebook. It's different for a newspaper, where the notebook is all there in front of you on a big piece of paper.

Are the web's deadlines simply ASAP? How often do you go back and update the stories? At what point are they "finished"?

Browne: The deadlines we have are to have a notebook filed by the third inning, a game story filed by the last pitch, a write-thru of that game story (with quotes) filed 90 minutes after the last pitch and a preview of the next day's game filed two hours after the game. Writing for a website isn't a whole lot different. We are basically after the same things as the newspaper. The presentation and the time element is just a little bit different.

In A Tale of Two Cities, a book about the 2004 season written by Tony Massarotti of the Herald and John Harper of the New York Daily News, Harper says it was "an eye-opening experience" during 1978, his first season as a sportswriter.
[I] was rather shocked to find out that Craig Nettles and Thurman Munson could be so rude and crude in dealing with the press. Those were the days before players worried that anything they said might make them fodder for ESPN or radio talk shows, and Nettles, in particular, wasn't shy about calling a reporter an "asshole" ... because he didn't like a question. ... Meanwhile, it took courage for anyone to ask a question of Billy Martin after a Yankee loss in those days, because any little thing was liable to send him into a screaming rage.
Harper says that "you're better off not knowing too much about some of your favorite ballplayers." How typical is that?


Martone: It's very typical, and very understandable. The athletes and the journalists have different jobs and different priorities. Too often, their functions clash. I think that's self-evident and to get into it any deeper would take far more space than anyone would be interested in. Good relationships can, and do, develop between reporters and athletes, but too often there's a lack of respect -- both ways -- which prevents that from happening. And for whatever reason -- money maybe, or maybe just the overwhelming amount of time the athletes and the media spend together during the course of a season -– baseball players are generally regarded as the worst athletes for reporters to deal with. (Hockey players are the best; it's very rare for writers and players not to get along on the hockey beat.)

Edes: Remaining a "fan" while covering a team would not be useful to either the newspaper or its readers. A fan tends to react in extremes, highs and lows, and a beat reporter should strive to strike a more balanced tone (though I would say that there are plenty of times we fall short of that) and let the columnists weigh in with the emotion. No one should confuse a player's ability to perform with what kind of person he is. As in any environment, a baseball clubhouse is a mixed bag, with saints and sinners, the good-humored and the sullen, the cooperative and the obnoxious. In my opinion, the Sox clubhouse has been pretty good the last few years.

Heuschkel: Going from a baseball fan to non-fan just sort of naturally happened. I can't explain it. To me, baseball is a job more than a sport. I honestly don't care who wins or loses. People often ask me if I root for the Red Sox and I tell them I root for myself, whatever is going to benefit me in doing my job. I want a quick game with no errors or walks. I can't stand extra innings, so deep down I hope whatever team is trailing after eight innings loses. The best thing is for the home team to win so they don't have to bat in the ninth.

I thought it was interesting what Harper wrote about reporters who cover the Red Sox, that most of them rip the team as a way to get back from being tortured by them during their youth. As a kid in the 1970s, I was a Dodgers fan. So I'm not sure how reporters who grew up Red Sox fans view the team once they start covering it. The first time I ever walked in the Yankees clubhouse was in 1999 during the ALCS. Afterwards I remember thinking, how can anybody hate these guys? They're such a classy bunch of professionals. It's kind of funny because I used to despise the Yankees for beating the Dodgers in the 1977 and 1978 World Series. The irony is that there are some Boston reporters that think I'm a "closet" Yankees fan because I grew up in Connecticut.

Browne: It's impossible to be a fan and be a beat writer. To do this job, you need objectivity. I would think it might be easier for a columnist to maintain a rooting interest because they aren't around the team as much. I still hold a pretty significant rooting interest in the Patriots and the Celtics. But when it comes to the Red Sox, I take a more matter-of-fact approach and concentrate on doing the job right, rather than who wins or loses.

Martone: It's one of the reasons I never wanted to cover the Red Sox; I enjoy being a fan too much. When I was younger, the assistant sports editor at the time kept telling me that I would be the paper's Red Sox beat writer someday. From what little I knew then -- and I would find out much more as I got older -- I already had decided it would blunt one of the great joys of my life. I probably would have taken it had I been offered, since it's one of those things you don't refuse, but I never pushed for it and I'm glad things worked out the way they did. Especially since the Internet came along and gave me an outlet for baseball writing!

Part II in a couple of days.