August 28, 2007

Less Drama, More Fun

Nine days ago, Boston's lead over New York in the AL East was down to only four games. Tonight, as the Red Sox invade Yankee Stadium for a three-game series, the margin has doubled. Aren't you glad you didn't listen to fools and go leap off the top of a tall building?

(OMG: Look at that headline!! Why do so few people know how to correctly use an apostrophe? Does the Herald employ professional editors? ... Do they even teach this shit in school anymore? How embarrassing.)

With the eight-game bulge, the series has lost a bit of urgency. Sean McAdam calls it more of An Afterthought than The Showdown. Nick Cafardo writes that "for a flickering moment, there was a race in the American League East."

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News admits this series will likely "have a different feel to it than your typical late-season New York-Boston matchup. In the Post, George King says the Yankees are "just about out of contention in the AL East and fighting for their wild-card lives".

So ... less drama for the media, but a lot of fun for us. There is very little downside in this series. A sweep would sound the death knell for the Yankees, but even if Boston drops two of the three games, New York would still be 7 GB with 28 to play.

Elsewhere: Jeff Goldberg looks back to last Friday, August 24 as the season's most pivotal day. "It began Friday at 1 p.m., with 18 innings, and ended Saturday at 3:30 a.m., in extra innings. For the Red Sox, the day brought a dominating doubleheader sweep in Chicago. For the Yankees, a demoralizing defeat in Detroit."

Mike Lowell and David Ortiz were named co-AL players of the week. Lowell batted .500 (14-for-28) with three doubles, a homer, 11 RBI and a .714 slugging percentage. Ortiz hit .478 (11-for-23) with two doubles, a triple, three homers, eight RBI and 11 runs scored. All three of his homers this weekend came on first pitches.

Rob Bradford notes that Flo is 26-for-58 (.448) with six home runs when he puts the first pitch in play. (Dustin Pedroia has the team's best first pitch average: .474 (18-38)).

Lowell loves batting in the #5 spot. "I think my mind-set works good for that. Not that it doesn't at No. 6, but I like it. I've been a 5-hole hitter a lot in my career." In 68 plate appearances in the 5-hole this season, Lowell is hitting .458/.529/.746. He has 93 RBI, the most by a Boston 3B since Butch Hobson had 112 in 1977.

Mike Timlin Appearance Meter: 998. ... The Red Sox outscored the White Sox 27-2 from the seventh inning on during their four-game series. Boston has scored a major league-best 226 runs after the sixth inning this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury extended his club-record hitting streak at Pawtucket to 23 games. ... Jon Lester pitched six inning for Portland last night, allowing one run, five hits and four walks. He struck out four as the Sea Dogs beat Trenton 5-2.


Vas said...

they did correctly use the apostrophe...?

first thing is first --> first thing's first.

redsock said...

I don't think so. You'd never see a headline (if they the room):

First Thing Is First

It should be:

First Things First

Meaning let's get these games out of the way before we think about winning the division. These games are the first things (there are three of them, so it's plural).

I'll wait until L-girl can weigh in. (She shares my amazement at the chronic misuse of the apostrophe: job's, hat's, in it's place, etc. ...)

efd said...

I think my dislike and amazement at punctuation mark misuse is probably on a par with yours and L-girl's (I actually have a site devoted to misused quotation marks, although sadly it just passed its 7th anniversary of no updates), and I have to say I was kind of unsure about whether that apostrophe was used properly or not.

It could be that their intent might have been that first place is the priority -- the first thing (to focus on, etc.) is first. But, even if it turns out they were being grammatically correct I agree that it would have been more effective to just leave out the apostrophe, since as you point out it works just fine that way.

Spencer Brown said...

Realistically, the Yankees' goal (not correct use of apostrophe!) is to win the wild card.

The Sox should be trying to deny them that by winning this series, because they could get hot again during the playoffs. Better to bury them now.

jdowner76 said...

Vas is right. The headline was properly punctuated. The saying in question is about keeping the first thing as the first thing and not putting less important matters ahead of it. So you have to make sure the first thing is first (not second, third, etc.). In this case, it's this series (singular) that comes first. It would also be fine to use "things" (plural) but it's a bit awkward to talk about many things coming first when first is best reserved for one thing.

Jere said...

Another member of the apostrophe police here.

I saw the headline and of course started trying to figure out why they put the apostrophe where they did. I thought, Okay, they're taking a well-known phrase and putting a spin on it, as headlines often do: As has been already said here, the "first thing" (first place) should be put first in our minds. While I did think that, I also thought, Well that's a stupid way to put it!

Then when I saw your comment within the post, the realization that maybe, just maybe, the people at the Herald don't know how to use punctuation. And that would actually make more sense then them purposely altering the phrase "first things first" in a case where just putting the normal phrase also could make sense, meaning beat the Yanks first, then move on.

"Aren't you glad you didn't listen to fools and go leap off the top of a tall building?"

Apparently the fools are still up there. Just now on EEI a fan called in and said "I'm a Red Sox fan so naturally I feel like they're gonna lose, so I'm worried." Host responds with, "as a die-hard fan of a team, you're gonna have a fatalistic attitude." I don't know what's wrong with these people. If people wanted to say this, based on an 86-year drought, fine (even though I never did). But what more do you need to change your attitude than seeing the team win the World Series??? And beat the Yanks to get there, in historic fashion!! What the shit?

And I disagree with Feinsand: Yankee Stadium will be ready for this tonight. It's all they've got left. Like any series, if the games get one-sided early, sure, the atmosphere will relax. But I wouldn't expect the crowd (which will have a lot of Sox fans there to make it even crazier) to just sit quiet in a close game between the Yanks and Sox, even if it were a 15 game lead right now.

Jere said...

Oh, and do me a favor and go to and look down below the probable pitchers section to where it says "'08 Red Sox Fantasy Camp." The classic "single open quotation mark instead of apostrophe" mistake.

L-girl said...

The headline is incorrect.

The expression "first things first" means: first things, plural, more than one thing, [comes] [the implied verb] first.

It does not take an apostrophe.

The headline as written means "first thing is first". That is not correct.

redsock said...

Yay! I am right!

redsock said...

Just now on EEI

Turn it off.

It rots your brain. That's been proven by several studies.

Jere said...

L--no one's debating how the phrase goes. It's "first things first." But in headline-ese, if they meant to put the apostrophe here, it would mean "The first thing is first." Like, it's first on the list of things to do. Which is essentially another way to say "first things first" anyway.

"Dog bites man" isn't correct either, but in a headline it would mean "a dog bites a man." Isn't the point of headlines to come up with a pun or twist around a common phrase? I'd hope that if they wanted to use such a basic phrase, they'd try to do some wordplay with it, not just leave it as is.

I guess I just still have faith that no one would be so stupid as to mess up a phrase like that, especially in such a prominent place, so they MUST have meant it in a different way.

But I agree, there's totally a chance they just effed up because nobody knows basic English rules anymore.

L-girl said...

I knew what was being debated, I read the comments. I was just explaining my determination that the headline is incorrectly punctuated.

Amy said...

I absolutely love that a Red Sox blog has a debate about punctuation!

I think the Herald was trying to be clever (big mistake on their part). They were trying to say that the first thing the Sox need to do is capture first place in the division, that is, "The First Thing IS First" Place. At the same time they are pointing out that to get there, the first things they have to do is beat the Yankees, that is, "First things first."

I am sure they are regretting that attempt to be clever...

Jere said...

About EEI: I flip it on occasionally, hoping against hope that somebody's talking rationally about the Red Sox. Yesterday during the day, I tried five times. Four times: commercial. One time: Patriots talk. With Red Sox-Yanks coming up. Then today I caught that one guy and turned it off. It really is a pathetic operation.

Chris said...

I wanted to make sure that everyone aw this SI picture of Joe Torre, as long as we're pouring it on...

Devine said...

I agree with amy. I think they were trying to be clever and say essentially, "The first thing to take care of is first place."

And I'm sure they are very sorry.

Jere said...

Joe Torre is golfing today. Debating punctuation's better.

redsock said...

Trust me: The Herald was not trying to be clever.

They made a mistake -- or are ignorant of proper apostrophe usage.

The incorrect usage is an epidemic. Keep your eye's open, you'll see!

s1c said...

I wanted to make sure that everyone aw this SI picture of Joe Torre, as long as we're pouring it

Forget Torre there are better pictures to look at on that site ;)Colts & Ravens

Re: the apostrophe - I have to agree with sock and l-girl!

Devine said...

Oh believe me, I'm aware of screwy punctuation in published material and how common it is. But I still think this one is not one of those. How can we find out for sure?

Amy said...

Certainly misuse of apostrophes is rampant, but I think here it was intentional. Look at their subheading---it talks about capturing the "division crown." They clearly were referring to getting first place in the Division, then first in the League, then the World Championship. The first thing [to get] is first.

I know the Herald isn't the finest paper out there, but I still believe this was intentional.

Jere said...

"Keep your eye's open"

There open!

So, I have asked Rob Bradford about the now infamous to us only headline in the form of a comment at his blog. No answer yet.

Amy said...

Uh oh, I just posted same question on his blog. He will really think we are nuts. That's the problem with the time lag here in seeing new comments...Oh well!

s1c said...

well I think I will go ask the same question of mssr. Bradford. That way he'll feel the pressure of JOS.

chris said...

Hmm. That Chris wasn't me (the guy who likes quoting baseball reference stats for lugo, and talking about routers to meet people), unless I'm going insane. I think i better change my display name.