August 31, 2004

It Was A Good Day. Dig if you will the picture ...
Angels     000 001 024 -  7 15  2

Red Sox 410 100 40x - 10 16 1

Cleveland 333 061 006 - 22 22 1
Yankees 000 000 000 - 0 5 0
Before tonight, the Yankees had never lost by more than 18 runs (24-6 at Cleveland on July 29, 1928 and 19-1 at home against Detroit on June 17, 1925) and had never been shutout by more than 15 runs (15-0 at home against the White Sox on May 4, 1950). Cleveland also set a team record for largest shutout win, topping its 19-0 rout of Boston on May 18, 1955. ... And George Steinbrenner was on hand to watch!

In Boston, the Red Sox won for the 19th time in 23 games. In the last 2 weeks, Boston has gone 13-1 while New York has won only 6 of 14.
August 16                       September 1

Yankees 75 42 .641 -- Yankees 81 50 .618 --
Red Sox 64 52 .552 10½ Red Sox 77 53 .592 3½
The Nation's rallying cry: 8791!

August 29, 2004

Monday, Monday. It was all I hoped it would be ...

Boston 6, Detroit 1
Toronto 6, Yankees 4
Anaheim 4, Minnesota 2
Oakland 9, Tampa Bay 6
Baltimore 7, Texas 6
AL East                        Wild Card

Yankees 81 49 .623 - Red Sox 76 53 .589 -
Red Sox 76 53 .589 4.5 Angels 75 55 .577 1.5
Rangers 73 56 .566 3
Sox off Monday. Angels at Fenway Tuesday night.

August 28, 2004

For Starters ... Derek Lowe pitched a season-high eight innings last night and although the road got a little bumpy at the end, Boston fairly cruised to a 5-3 win. It was their fourth straight victory, 10th in the last 11 games, 13th in the last 16 and 16th in the last 20. I'm enjoying this team.

Lowe allowed a run and four hits in the first two innings, throwing 40 pitches. After that, he was sterling, throwing only 34 pitches over the next four innings and retiring 10 men in a row. It was the first time this season Lowe had three consecutive 1-2-3 innings.

Lowe says his confidence is "as high as it's been since I've been a Red Sox. I really believe every single time that I go out there that I'm going to win." ... Boston's starters have been credited with 58 of the team's 74 wins, a total exceeded only by St. Louis (62). In their last 17 games, Red Sox starters are 12-3 with a 3.44 ERA. In August, they are 16-6, 3.88. Lowe: I think this is the type of streak this city has been waiting for us to go on. I think this is the type of team everybody expected to see coming out of spring training."

As Bob Hohler wrote in the Globe: "One of the marvels of the recent stretch of success for the Red Sox has been their ability to overcome a seemingly unrelenting wave of losses to key players." In the fourth, Manny Ramirez fouled a 1-2 pitch off his left knee. He looked like he couldn't put much weight on the leg, but he finished the at-bat -- driving the ball hard to left (!) and then left the game. Ramirez suffered a contusion; x-rays were negative.

In the 3rd, Manny reached on an error, went to third on Jason Varitek's double and scored when Tiger catcher Brandon Inge couldn't handle an easy throw from shortstop on Kevin Millar's grounder. Ramirez, who would have been dead if Inge had caught the ball, tried to shove the catcher out of the way, then just went around him while Inge went looking for the ball.

Bill Mueller sat out Friday's game with a bruised right ankle/foot, so Mark Bellhorn moved over to third. Ricky Gutierrez started at second base and singled in his first three at-bats, driving in Boston's last two runs. ... An MRI taken on Doug Mientkiewicz's shoulder showed no structural damage, but he will likely miss the next two games. ... David McCarty will be in Boston this weekend, but will probably not be activated until rosters expand on Wednesday (good discussion of who may or may not be brought up).

Terry Francona couldn't use Keith Foulke, who had some back stiffness in his back. So in the 9th, he began with Timlin, who quickly surrendered a double and a single before striking out Craig Monroe. Alan Embree came on to whiff pinch-hitter Marcus Thames and Curtis Leskanic retired Inge on a fly to right.

I didn't see it, but apparently Ivan Rodriguez was in the on-deck circle, set to bat for Nook Logan if Inge kept the inning (and the game) going. Now if Rodriguez was hurt and simply could not play, fine, but if Tigers manager Alan Trammell was going to have him bat, why not do it for Eric Munson or Inge (the catcher) earlier in the inning? Truly a moron (non-)move.

Pawtucket split a double header with Scranton last night. Byung-Hyun Kim started one game, pitching five innings of one-hit ball, walking one and striking out six. Pedro Astacio started the other game, giving up eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings. He had 3 strikeouts and no walks. ... The Globe reported that Astacio pitched the first game and Kim went in the nightcap, while the Herald had Kim in first game and Astacio in the second. ?!?
Improved Link/Post.

Of Mice And Men. According to columnist Bernadette Malone, "people who hate Republicans plan to release swarms of mice in New York City to terrorize delegates to the National Republican Convention. Republican-haters plan on dressing up as RNC volunteers, and giving false directions to little blue hair ladies from Kansas, sending them into the sectors of New York City that are unfit for human habitation. ... Prostitutes with AIDS plan to seduce Republican visitors, and discourage the use of condoms ..."

I was able to obtain a top-secret photo of one of the mice in his terrorist lair.

More Scare Tactics. A sinister plot to bomb a New York City subway station? Maybe not. No verifiable connection to any terrorist organization, no explosives, no timeline and the two men arrested were not even working together. ... Republicans urge Bush to avoid talking about Iraq at the convention -- you know, 'cause of the 972 dead Americans, the billions of our tax dollars that are unaccounted for and stuff. ... Also: "Under growing pressure to ship Marines to Iraq, the Marine Corps is cutting in half the rigorous field combat training it gives units preparing to deploy, senior officers say."

The White House is stonewalling a FOIA request for records detailing administration contacts with the Swift Boat Veterans. But the Bush Gang has steadfastly maintained it had no contact, so there are no records to hide, right? Information and links regarding this bullshit are here and here.

What Would Dukakis Do?: "How [Kerry] allowed two Vietnam dodgers turn a war hero into a question mark with hardly a rebuttal suggests that he may be in way over his head in this campaign. ... There is no excuse for the Kerry campaign to have been so ill-prepared for the Bush garbage machine. It is has now been previewed in multiple campaigns over the last two decades, and a devastating preemptive strategy should have been implemented months ago."

Ben Barnes: "I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard [in 1968] when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I'm very sorry about that and I'm very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas." Video of Barnes.

Two articles that lay out logically how Bush has failed. The Seattle Times, which backed Bush in 2000, explains its endorsement of Kerry. More simply, he is incompetent.

August 27, 2004

Train Kept A-Rollin'. The Red Sox are 17-7 in August and have won 9 of their last 10 games -- and that one loss was to Ted Lilly. Everything -- hitting, pitching and fielding -- is falling into place. And the Yankees had to rally late in Toronto to avoid having their lead cut to 4.5 games. One of the local news broadcasts here in New York began its Yankees coverage last night with "And the Boston Red Sox simply will not go away ..."

On Wednesday, the Red Sox batted around twice, belted 3 home runs in the space of 8 pitches in the 4th inning, David Ortiz hit 2 bombs, Manny Ramirez scored 3 runs -- hell even Dave Roberts had a couple of singles. Schilling pitched into the 7th inning and was able to leave after 99 pitches. We received further confirmation that Terry Adams is useless. Ramiro Mendoza retired all four batters he faced.

Back home last night, Bronson Arroyo continued his work as the team's #3 starter, allowing 6 hits and 1 unearned run in 7.1 innings. He struck out eight batters with a breaking ball that was hellish on Detroit's right-handed hitters. The Tigers scored their only run when, on an attempted pickoff throw to third base, Doug Mirabelli's throw glanced off Ivan Rodriguez's bat (!!) and sailed over third base into foul terriorty. Omar Infante, who had begun the inning with a double, walked home.

That tied the game at 1-1. In the 4th, Bill Mueller doubled and scored on Dave Roberts's sac fly. Ramirez began the next inning with a double of his own and after Ortiz singled (and Manny was held at third!), he scored when Kevin Millar grounded into a double play. In the 8th, Mirabelli walked and came around on Mark Bellhorn's single.

Boston forced Jason Johnson to throw a ton of pitches: 30 in the first inning, 28 in the second, and 109 through 5 innings. And they ran. Roberts and Damon both swiped second base -- and both of Rodriguez's throws were short and skipped into center field for errors.

Terry Francona managed the bullpen correctly, pulling Arroyo with one out in the 8th, after Bobby Higginson's double. Mike Timlin came in and struck out Rodriguez and got Dimitri Young on a first-pitch line out to Manny. Keith Foulke then set down the side in the 9th on only 9 pitches. Francona also put Bellhorn in the #2 spot, dropping Roberts down to the 9-hole -- where he belongs.

Francona has been more focused with his bullpen management. His usage patterns have certainly improved, and with the starters often going 7+ innings, the moves have been pretty timely and logical. On Wednesday, Boston led 11-1 when Adams relieved Schilling after only 99 pitches. Adams got the next two batters, but was hideous in the 8th, allowing 3 consecutive singles, getting two outs, then allowing a 4-pitch walk and another single before getting the hook.

Obviously, the big lead gave Francona the luxury of seeing if Adams could work out of trouble. He could not. With Williamson a huge question mark for the rest of the season, Mendoza will be pitching a lot of high-leverage innings. So far, he seems up to the task. The main arms of LH Embree and Myers and RH Timlin and Mendoza setting up Foulke looks pretty solid right now.

Derek Lowe faces Mike Maroth tonight. Then it's Pedro/Bonderman on Saturday and Wakefield/Ledezma on Sunday. After a day off, a tough stretch begins with three games against the Angels and Rangers in Fenway and three in Oakland. Right now, Boston leads Anaheim (8 straight wins, off last night) in the wild card by .5 and Texas by 2. Oakland leads the Angels in the West by 1 game.

In the world of SoxBlogs, Surviving Grady is essential reading. Great stuff the past two days, including Steinbrenner's sock puppets and a muffin shoppe in the bullpen.

August 25, 2004

Two New Blogs. Jose Melendez's Keys To The Game and Kelly at The Miserable Red Sox Fan Speaks.

Last night, Mike Timlin turned back the clock to (the good part of) October 2003 when he got out of a based-loaded-zero-outs situation in the 6th inning. He struck out Reed Johnson and Orlando Hudson and retired Alex Rios on a routine grounder.

In the top half of that frame, Doug Mirabelli, filling in for the suspended Jason Varitek, launched a three-run rocket to left. There was excellent bullpen management by Francona, who used Ramiro Mendoza and Keith Foulke to nail down the 5-4 victory. However, he erred by batting Dave Roberts 2nd and Orlando Cabrera 6th. And he's made the same mistake tonight. Boo. Curt Schilling vs Josh Towers.

August 24, 2004

An Off-Day With Manny. Last Thursday, Manny Ramirez took a trip to the small town of Manteno, Illinois, to work out the details of the complete restoration of a 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible he's giving his father for his 65th birthday in October. The Globe's Stan Grossfeld tagged along (and took photos, 7 of which are online). This highly entertaining article is exactly the kind of stuff we should be getting from the Boston media. When Ramirez says he's worried the car won't be ready in time, the negotiations for a rush job are hilarious.

Ramirez: "Boston is the best city ever. The fans are great. They love me. Oh my God. You go out to eat, they don't let you pay for nothing. You win it there and people will go nuts. I'm going to party for a month." ... A month?!? Lightweight. They'll have to delay spring training so the players can get over their hangovers.

Even though Jason Varitek is unavailable until Friday, the Red Sox chose not to call up another catcher. So who's Mirabelli's backup? Doug Mientkiewicz, who says he caught in high school, college and the minors, adding, "I'll be a lot more comfortable behind the plate than at second."

Theo Epstein was in Portland (AA) on Sunday watching Pedro Astacio and Lenny DiNardo. Astacio started and went 4 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk and 0 runs; he had 4 strikeouts. DiNardo allowed 3 runs on 4 hits but got credit for the win. ... Pokey Reese took "20 swings at 60 percent" on Friday and then hit again on Sunday. He also took some grounders.

Tonight: Tim Wakefield vs. Miguel Batista, 7:05 pm
Wednesday: Curt Schilling vs. Josh Towers, 7:05 pm
Pitches Of Lilly. There were 126 of them last night and only a handful missed their mark. Ted Lilly threw a masterful 3-hitter and struck out a career-high 13 as Boston lost to Toronto 3-0. Lilly had pinpoint control and a sweeping 12-to-6 curve that fooled everyone all night long. In the sixth, when he struck out both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, it was plain to see that as long as Lilly stayed in the game, the Red Sox weren't gettin' nothing. Put this game beside the gems thrown this year by Jason Schmidt and Johan Santana and look forward to Wakefield tonight.

In the top of the first, Orlando Cabrera hit a line shot off the left center wall for a double and took third on Ramirez's long fly to right center. But he was stranded there and Boston would get only one more runner as far as second base (Mark Bellhorn, whose triple in the 5th hit the very top of the right centerfield wall and bounced back onto the field). ... After Lilly struck out Ortiz to end the first, he struck out the side in the 2nd and he struck out the first two batters in the 3rd -- six consecutive punchouts (a new team record). It was going to be a long night.

On the other side of the field, Pedro Martinez's final line looked pretty good nice - 7 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts -- but he was not sharp in the first three innings, when Toronto scored all of its runs. Reed Johnson hit Martinez's second pitch for a home run. Orlando Hudson followed with a triple and scored on Vernon Wells's sac fly. Pedro walked two batters in the 2nd, but escaped further trouble. In the third, he walked Hudson and surrendered singles to Carlos Delgado and Eric Hinske. That made the score 3-0, which seemed surmountable, but was actually 2 more runs than Lilly needed.

After Hinske's single, no Blue Jay batter reached base, but it was too late. ... Pedro retired the next 14 batters (only 3 of them hit the ball out of the infield). Curtis Leskanic and Alan Embree retired the side in order in the 8th. ... Because Doug Mirabelli had such good numbers against Lilly (5-for-9 with 3 home runs; now he's 5-for-13), Jason Varitek began his suspension last night. Varitek will return to action on Friday night.

The Yankees won 6-4 in Cleveland, so Boston slipped back to 6.5 in the East. Anaheim beat Kansas City 9-4, Minnesota topped Texas 7-4, and Oakland edged Baltimore 4-3. In the wild card race, the Red Sox are tied (actually .001 ahead) with the Angels (who trail Oakland by .5 games in the West); Texas is one game behind the Red Sox.

This was pointed out during the NESN broadcast last night:

2003 after 122 games: 70-52, 4 GB NYY, 1 game ahead in WC
2004 after 122 games: 70-52, 5.5 GB NYY, 1 game ahead in WC

August 23, 2004

August. Day-by-day in the East.
New York  W   L W W W W W L L W W W W L   L L W L L L

Boston L W W L L W W L W W W L W L W W W W W W
7 days -- 5 games closer in the standings.

August 22, 2004

Tangible. In today's SoSH game thread, a few of us were posting updates of the Angels-Yankees game. One Red Seat noted: "Earlier, the MFY radio announcers were talking about Jeter's sacrifice bunt to move a runner to 3rd. They made it sound like he just donated one of his kidneys or something." The inning in question (the 3rd) went like this:
Lofton (b) singled softly to right.
Williams (bbf) doubled to deep right, Lofton scored (Yankees 1-0).
Jeter (bf) sacrificed to pitcher, Williams to third.
Sheffield (fbs) doubled to left, Williams scored (Yankees 2-0).
Rodriguez (f) flied out to center.
Matsui (c) grounded out to first.
I wondered what the expected benefit for the Yankees from Jeter's "productive out" [sic] would be. It didn't take long before The Napkin posted the dope (2001 data):
Man on 2nd, 0 out = 1.138 expected runs
Man on 3rd, 1 out = 0.920 expected runs
So, far from deserving of praise, Jeter's bunt actually lessened the chance that the Yankees would score in the rest of the inning. And New York ultimately lost the game 4-3.

Finally, a Red Sox win tonight would be huge; cutting the Yankees' lead to 5½ games (the lowest since June 27) would definitely raise the decibel level in the Bronx front office.
Six In A Row? The Red Sox won six consecutive games on April 23-29. They have a chance to match that nice, but relatively modest, streak tonight. With Derek Lowe showing his best sinker of the season in his last start, confidence is high.

Anaheim beat the Yankees 4-3 (Percival retired the side on 4 pitches in the 9th to complete the sweep), so Boston is now only 6 games back. The Red Sox are tied with Texas for the wild card, but the Rangers trail the Royals 8-0 in the 5th. Tampa Bay beat Oakland 2-1.

Bronson Arroyo said he "felt really sluggish, like I was throwing underwater" against the White Sox Saturday. He said that during one mound visit, pitching coach Dave Wallace "asked me if I wanted him to smack me in the side of the face. He went, 'You need to wake up and get things going.'"

Gordon Edes on the Sox-claiming-Clemens story: The Astros "never discussed a trade with the Sox or Yankees involving either pitcher, according to a source with direct knowledge of the process." Edes says the Yankees claimed Andy Pettitte when the Astros placed him on waivers the same day. "As for reports that the Clemens 'trade talks' broke down over Kevin Youkilis, the Sox did indeed throw out Youkilis's name to the Astros, but that was last year when the target was lefthanded closer Billy Wagner."

Bob Hohler reports that Jason Varitek will serve his four-game suspension "within the next couple of days". His appeal is scheduled for Thursday the 26th and the Red Sox begin a nine-game stretch against the Angels, Rangers and A's beginning August 31. Hohler believes Varitek will catch Pedro on Monday in Toronto, miss the next 4 games and return on Saturday to catch Pedro again at home against Detroit. ... Varitek has been hot, hitting .371 since the All-Star break and .444 in August. But the team has scored 10 runs in each of its last two games without David Ortiz's bat (0-for-15 with eight strikeouts in the last 4 games), so the slack should be picked up.

Manny Ramirez's first-inning home run was his 379th tying Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 50th all-time.

August 21, 2004

Red Sox Keep Rolling. Everything is clicking for the Red Sox. They came out swinging against Chicago for the second day in a row, taking a quick 7-2 lead en route to a 10-7 victory. Last night, they scored six times in the first two innings off Mark Buehrle and coasted 10-1.

Boston has won 5 straight, 9 of 11, and 11 of their last 14. The Angels beat the Yankees today 6-1 -- New York has now lost 5 of their last 6 games -- so the Red Sox are 6½ games behind in the East, New York's smallest lead since July 10. In the wild card race, they are ½-game ahead of Texas (who plays in Kansas City tonight).

There simply isn't much to complain about. In these two games against Chicago, Damon has reached base in 5 of 9 plate appearances. Orlando Cabrera is 4-for-9 in the #2 spot and clearly becoming more relaxed in the field. Manny Ramirez has caught fire once again, belting his 16th career grand slam last night and launching a 3-run shot (#31) in the first inning today. Jason Varitek singled twice last night; he doubled and hit two home runs today. Ricky Gutierrez got two hits last night. Mark Bellhorn returned from the DL today, walking on four pitches in his first appearance; he later singled and stole a base.

Curt Schilling threw only 78 pitches in 7 shutout innings last night and Francona was right to take him out with a 9-0 lead and save his arm for October. Tito also managed the bullpen just right today, yanking Bronson Arroyo before the lead vanished, sticking with a rusty Mike Timlin in the 6th and 7th, taking a look at Terry Adams in the 8th and giving Keith Foulke some work in the 9th.

Yesterday, Francona said he made a mistake in using Foulke Wednesday night with a 4-run lead. It was Foulke's third consecutive day of work and he was not sharp. ... Alan Embree has been getting some necessary rest. He has pitched in only three of Boston's last 17 games.

Curtis Leskanic pitched a scoreless ninth last night. "I don't think I've ever been this nervous in a major league game, other than my major league debut. ... I didn't know what my stuff was going to be like." ... Jason Varitek may drop his appeal of his four-game suspension for the July 24 brawl with the Yankees. A hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.

Alan Schwarz, whose new book "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics" looks great (an entertaining review from George Will; Schwarz's website), writes about Ichiro, who is making a run at George Sisler's record of 257 hits in a single season.

Tomorrow night, Derek Lowe faces Freddy Garcia in the ESPN Sunday night game.
Whew. It's true. The Red Sox claimed Roger Clemens when the Houston Astros put him on waivers on July 29. When the waiver period ended, Boston had two days -- until August 4 -- to work out a deal. When nothing could be finalized (Kevin Youkilis was a sticking point, apparently), Houston pulled Clemens back.

There is little/no chance of the Astros putting him on waivers again, because this time it would be irrevocable, and whoever had the claim could have Clemens simply for the cost of his salary. ... I would have found it impossible to root for Fat Billy, so while I understand why Boston put in a claim, I'm relieved a deal was not made.
Now Hear This. Every day, our democracy recedes a little further into the distance ...

Reuters, March 9, 2004:
"The US military is about to add a controversial new weapon to its huge arsenal in Iraq. ... A defence contractor announced securing a million dollar deal to supply the First US Marine Expeditionary Force with a so-called Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD ... [which] deliver[s] a shrill 145-decibel tone over a distance of more than 300 metres, causing splitting headaches, pain, panic and even hearing loss. The sound is about twice as powerful as the scream of a standard smoke detector. And earplugs will not be of any help. ...
At the time, more than a few people on the left semi-joked that the Bush administration was using Iraq as a testing ground for this weapon and its real use would be on protestors during its late-August convention in New York City. Pretty loony, huh?

Well, guess what?

AP, August 19, 2004:
Authorities to turn up the volume for GOP convention - a 150-decibel 'megaphone'

Police will have a much more high-tech -- and louder -- option to make themselves heard over the din of Manhattan traffic and noisy protesters outside the Republican National Convention. It's called the Long Range Acoustic Device, developed for the military and capable of blasting warnings, orders or anything else at an ear-splitting 150 decibels. ...

The department recently bought two of the 45-pound acoustic sound machines for $35,000 apiece, and plans to mount them on Humvees posted outside Madison Square Garden. It would mark the first time the instrument -- which can beam sounds for 300 yards or more -- has been used by a civilian force. "We believe we'd be able to use them in a number of scenarios," said Paul Browne, the police department's chief spokesman.
My YLP offers another perspective:
I've read about these weapons before. There's been much talk about all the high-tech devices the NYPD has at its disposal, for use against "anarchists" "if necessary". I feel strongly that this kind of talk is designed to frighten us into staying home -- to intimidate us into not protesting.

It goes hand in hand with not letting us use Central Park to rally, the FBI visiting potential protestors in their homes, and stories about how anarchists are planning violent protests. Will those anarchists be real protestors - or RNC plants? Let's not give in to fear-mongering. Let's not spread the leftist version of terror alerts.

August 19, 2004

Help Is On The Way. Mark Bellhorn played six innings for Pawtucket last night, going 1-for-3 with a double. He might play again tonight and then join the team Friday night in Chicago. ... Trot Nixon could return in early or mid-September. He hopes to begin baseball activities later this month.

Epstein is still holding out hope that Byung-Hyun Kim could help the bullpen in September. Kim had an easy two innings for Pawtucket on Tuesday, but surrendered eight runs in the third. ... Pedro Astascio's velocity is around 86-87 in the Gulf Coast League and Epstein says he "could move up the chain fairly quickly." ... Youkilis is now in Fort Myers beginning his rehab. ... Scott Williamson was originally scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, but decided against it after getting a third opinion. Williamson will opt for a 10-to-14-day rehabilitation. If he does have surgery, he would not be able to pitch until 2006.

Good pitching performances by everyone this week: strong starts from Lowe and Wakefield, Pedro and Schilling battling without their best stuff, and Arroyo pitching well again in a losing effort.

Doug Mientkiewicz on the collision with Carlos Delgado: "[T]here was nothing dirty about it, but I just didn't appreciate being hit like that in my first game at second base ... [H]e knows I'm a first baseman and he took advantage of that."

The New York Post says the Yankees are close to a deal that would send Esteban Loaiza to the Rangers. The paper notes: "Moving Loaiza so soon after he was acquired and less than a week after [Joe] Torre and Mel Stottlemyre devised a six-man rotation to get a better look at him is an admission that getting him was a mistake."
Dale Sveum -- He's Actually Getting Worse. Three days after third base coach Dale Sveum waved Kevin Youkilis home and into a collision that left the rookie with a severe bone bruise in his right ankle, Sveum sent Bill Mueller on what could quite possibly be called his worst decision of the season. The Red Sox have had eight runners nailed at home in their last 16 games.

It was the bottom of the 8th and Boston led 6-2. Mueller was on second with 2 outs. With the Fenway crowd standing and chanting his name, newcomer Earl Snyder drove the ball through the infield for a single. Toronto LF Gabe Gross charged the ball and was in his throwing motion as Mueller rounded the bag. NESN was using its camera high above the plate, so it was easy to see the play develop.

With Sveum windmilling his arm, Mueller was about half way to the plate when Gross's throw skipped once on the infield grass. Catcher Kevin Cash got the ball and actually had to wait for Mueller to come sliding in. ... Boston held on to win the game 6-4.

Sveum claims he would not have sent Mueller if there were fewer than two outs or if the Red Sox were leading by fewer than four runs. He said he wanted to test Gross's arm and "I wanted to get the kid [Snyder] an RBI in Boston." It's a nice thought -- Synder has been a Red Sox fan since childhood -- but how could Sveum risk another injury to a key player -- who, by the way, had knee surgery earlier this year?

It's mind-boggling that the Red Sox continue to tolerate this idiot at third base. Isn't having a competent coach at third more important than not dumping one of Francona's buddies? With Theo Epstein making the following comments to Mike Lupica:
We do not have the right as a team to pat ourselves on the back for small victories. There's no time for that. We have put ourselves into the position where we have to out-grind the teams we're fighting for the wild card. ... We still might only win the wild card by a game or two. That's how little margin for error we left ourselves by being the kind of dysfunctional team we were for those three months. ... Listen, this season has tested us, no question. We're trying to survive the injuries we've had, and all the highly questionable baseball we played, all the terrible defense we played and the terrible time we had somehow turning our offensive stats into runs, and victories."
there is NO rationale for having a liability like Sveum in the organization.

Let me repeat: Eight Red Sox runners have been thrown out at home in the last 16 games. Like the situation with last year's manager, it is no longer a question of "if" Sveum will hurt this team in its playoff drive, but "when" and how many games it will be. He must be replaced immediately.

August 16, 2004

Stop Me If You've Seen This One Before. Sunday's 5-4 loss to Chicago had a bit of everything:

* Lots of Red Sox left on base, including the bases loaded in the 1st and 8th innings and two men on in both the 3rd and 9th innings

* Speaking of the 3rd inning, another runner waved home by Dale "EZ Pass" Sveum who was gunned down, ending the inning (Eric Van examines The Baserunning Outs Litany)

* More injuries; Kevin Youkilis hurt on the play (bruised right leg, x-rays negative, day-to-day) at the plate, adding injury to insult

* Poor run support (again) for Bronson Arroyo (who pitched another great game)

* Poor plate discipline and wasted at-bats; after making Mark Buehrle throw 74 pitches in the first 3 innings (37-22-15), he then threw only 36 in the next four frames (8-10-11-7)

* The continued overuse of Alan Embree and Mike Timlin (both of whom have been sucking mightily, especially Timlin) and the avoidance of better pitchers like Keith "Hey Tito, Whatever Happened To Those 2-inning Saves?" Foulke, Mike Myers and Ramiro Mendoza (did I just write that?)

* Bad lineup decisions; batting Orlando Cabrera 6th, who ended the 1st inning and tapped out weakly to the pitcher to end the game (although to his credit, he did get 3 hits, singling on the play that Youkilis was thrown out on, doubling and scoring in the 6th and keeping a rally going in the 8th with another single)

The Red Sox, Angels and Rangers are tied for the wild card. Toronto faces Derek Lowe at Fenway tonight.

August 14, 2004

(What) Is Tito Thinking?. While discussing the various bullpen moves during last night's rainy loss, Francona said: "We were getting a bunch of rain and we're trying to get through that inning. Usually, when Timlin comes into the game, he comes in for more than one hitter. But with the way the game was going and Perez behind him. ... We had Embree up and just had to go hitter by hitter at that point. When you're not sure you're going to finish a game, you might as well unload the bullets then."

Okay, it was the 7th inning. The game was tied at 4-4 when the inning began, but Wakefield had given up a 1-out home run and a double. Timlin came in and walked Joe Crede. Francona says he would normally have left Timlin in to face the lefty Timo Perez, but because of the rain and knowing the game could be delayed/called at any moment, Francona went with a "better bullet" in Embree. Perez struck out, but Juan Uribe doubled and the White Sox took a 6-4 lead. Francona then made another move (this also looked like he was stalling for time, hoping the rain would get worse). Terry Adams came in and got Carlos Lee swinging to end the inning.

Boston scored one run in the home half of the seventh (an Ortiz sac fly that was almost a 3-run quadrangular) and Adams was back out on the hill for the 8th. He allowed a single, a double and an intentional walk before giving way to Ramiro Mendoza. After getting a clutch double play, Mendoza allowed a two-run single to right, and despite a 2-run blast by Kevin Millar in the 9th, Chicago held on to win 8-7.

My question is if Francona was "unloading the bullets" and taking the game batter by batter in the rain, where in the hell was Keith Foulke? He hadn't pitched since Tuesday. Isn't Foulke a better choice than either Adams or Mendoza? What happened to that bullet?

Some posters at SoSH have taken to calling Francona "Gump 2.0." I'm not ready to go that far, but he does need to get it through his bald head that every one of Boston's remaining 48 games must be managed with an urgency that I've yet to see this season.
I'm Keeping You Safe, But You Should Remain Terrified. White House officials claim Al Qaeda is showing new signs of life and may conduct a massive preelection attack in August or September. Or they could assassinate a US or foreign leader. But these officials also say they have no evidence of any such plans and no evidence of plans to attack financial buildings, although startling warnings about that very threat were issued about two weeks ago. ... (P.S. I guess Kerry is leading the polls in Ohio.)

Bush flip-flopped this past week on a national sales tax, first saying it's "an interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously" and then having an aide quickly deny that Bush was seriously considering such a tax. By the way, I wonder how that "man to Mars" project is coming along. ... In Albuquerque, Bush praised an American Indian housing program, but forgot to say that he was cutting its funding from $5.3 million to $1 million. ... Bush also said higher taxes on the wealthy don't work because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Congressman Porter Goss, nominated as the new CIA director, told Michael Moore last March: "I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified." The White House dismissed the interview as "ridiculous hearsay". What they meant is that you can click and hear him say it. ... I have a question for Goss: Why were you and Bob Graham meeting with the Pakistani ISI general on 9/11? The FBI determined very quickly that this general (Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed) had wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, but was then allowed to quietly retire about three weeks after the attacks. What did the three of you talk about?

The Washington Post admits that it underplayed stories questioning White House claims regarding Iraq's alleged WMDs. Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks: "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"

August 13, 2004

Best Campaign Button Yet. It can be ordered from Blog for Democracy.

Pedro. We have been spoiled. So ridiculously spoiled. In 1999 and 2000, Pedro Martinez put together the best back-to-back seasons that any pitcher has ever had. If you want to find a pitcher who towered over his peers to the extent Martinez did in 2000, you'd have to go back to when the mound was still only 45 feet from the plate.

In 2000, the AL ERA was 4.97; Pedro's was 1.74. Forty years from now, when young fans look at those eye-popping numbers and beg us to tell them about the Pedro games we saw, we can take our dusty VHS tapes and CD-Rs out of the closet and tell our stories.

Yesterday afternoon, Pedro gave us another gem, silencing the nay-sayers and doubters yet again. He threw 109 pitches, allowing six hits and no walks. He also struck out 10 -- moving past Bob Feller (2,581) and Warren Spahn (2,583) into 21st place on the all-time list with 2,590 strikeouts -- and into a tie with Sandy Koufax for 4th in double-figure strikeout games with 97. It was Pedro's first shutout in 106 starts, since he one-hit the Devil Rays back on August 29, 2000 (Carl Everett had a double, triple and 2 home runs in that game!). It was his 42nd complete game (and first of this season) and 16th career shutout.

Martinez surrendered a leadoff double to Aubrey Huff in the ninth, but the crowd's chant of "Pe-dro! Pe-dro!" only got louder. He was over-throwing and went to his first 3-ball count of the game on Rocco Baldelli (NESN had ball 3 clocked at 95), but got him to swing and miss a pitch way outside. Tino Martinez popped up a full-count pitch to second before Pedro sent everyone home happy by whipping a 1-2 fastball past Jose Cruz. The game lasted a crisp 2:23.

Once again, the Red Sox played excellent defense. In the top of the first, Carl Crawford lined Martinez's fourth pitch of the game to right field. But Kevin Millar raced to his left and cut the ball off, before it rolled into the corner for a possible triple or home run. Crawford was held to a measly single. The inning ended with Crawford on third, the only Tampa Bay runner to get that far all afternoon. Only two other runners reached second.

Baldelli 4, Sveum 0. The afternoon was not perfect, however. Yesterday, two runners were thrown out at the plate on successive hits in the fifth inning. Bravo to Dale Sveum, who is following in the footsteps of Rene Lachemann and Wendell Kim. As Garry Brown notes, those two gentlemen "were noted for waving runners home and having them cut down, often by embarrassingly large margins." Brown claims that Sveum was "not entirely [to blame], because the throws came from Rocco Baldelli."

I'd say that is more reason to blame Sveum. Baldelli has a gun in center field, he was fielding both hits in shallow center and was lined up for perfect throws home. And Sveum was burned by him just last week. The first time, on Jason Varitek's single, Baldelli threw an absolute seed -- on the fly -- to nail Kevin Millar. Orlando Cabrera then singled to center and Baldelli again made a text-book throw; catcher Toby Hall took a hit from Varitek (ending up with a black eye and an abrasion on his cheek), but held onto the ball for the out.

At some point -- and I hope it's soon -- Sveum will understand that Baldelli is not just getting lucky out there; he's got a missle launcher for an arm. He has nine assists this season and four of them have come in the last six games against Boston. Yikes. ... Sveum received a mock standing ovation in the next inning when he held Bill Mueller at third on Kevin Youkilis's hit to left. ... If Sveum does prep work before games, it doesn't show. Time and again, he seems clueless when it comes to calculating the situation, who is on the bases and how fast they can run, who is in the outfield and how strong their arms are, who is coming up for the Sox and weighing the risk versus the number of outs. (I will admit that a case can be made for sending Varitek with 2 outs.) ... I fear Sveum in the playoffs; one bonehead decision could take the Red Sox out of a short series.

Scoring Update: Johnny Damon asked the official scorer to give him an error on what was ruled a double by Tino Martinez on Wednesday night. That erased two earned runs from Derek Lowe's line, lowering his ERA from 5.47 to 5.33. ... David Heuschkel of the Courant reports: "It's looking like Trot Nixon won't be back this season. Francona said Nixon isn't really close to getting back to doing baseball activity and it would be September at best before he does." ... Both Mark Bellhorn and Pokey Reese are at least a couple weeks from returning. ... Scott Williamson will have another MRI on his right elbow in Cincinnati today. The results should tell us whether we can expect him back this season.

Boston has won 7 of 10 and are 13 games over .500 for the first time this season. They lead the wild card race by 1 game over Anaheim and 2 over Texas. The match-ups for the White Sox series:

Friday: Tim Wakefield (8-6, 4.48) / Jose Contreras (9-5, 5.17)
Saturday: Curt Schilling (13-6, 3.61) / Jon Garland (8-8, 4.70)
Sunday: Bronson Arroyo (5-8, 4.14) / Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.83)

August 12, 2004

Is This It? I've lost count of exactly how many times I've asked myself that question after a Red Sox win -- or two or three wins -- this season, but I really feel like this might be the time.

They are pitching: Pedro Martinez's complete game shutout this afternoon, Derek Lowe's nice outing Wednesday that was cut short because of a recurring blister, and more solid performances from Bronson Arroyo. They are fielding: Doug Mientkiewicz made several outstanding plays Wednesday and I starred 3 plays in the first two innings today (two plays by David McCarty at first and excellent range from 2B Bill Mueller); in fact, everyone has looked crisp. And they are hitting and scoring: after Jorge Sosa retired the first 12 Sox on Tuesday, a quick burst of 8 runs in two innings led to an 8-4 win, a 3 5 5 beginning last night that buried Tampa early and a 6-0 win today in which every starter got a hit (Mueller and David Ortiz had three and Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez two).

Call him Cabin Mirror, Kentucky Fried Kevin or Buckethead, but Millar is white-hot with the bat. Since July 20, when he opened his stance in imitation of Seattle's Miguel Olivo, he has hit .457 (32-for-70), raising his average from .269 to .305. After 25 RBI in his first 85 games, he has totalled 22 in his last 20 games. He went 4-4 last night, as the first seven batters in the order all came to the plate in each of the first three innings. Fun fact: Orlando Cabrera made the last out in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd innings.

Will it continue? Ortizzle: "Maybe - I hope. It's time to do something. We've been up and down too much. It's time to come up with some (expletive)." ... Indeed. I want to see lots of "(expletive)". ... Next up, the Chicago White Sox and starting Friday night? Why it's our old friend Jose Contreras (15.1 innings against Boston in 2003-04, 28 hits, 28 runs, 14 walks, 16.43 ERA)!

Other stuff: Scott Williamson's right forearm remains so swollen, he will not throw for another two weeks. His return to the bullpen remains uncertain and Francona says there is a "decent chance" he'll pitch in September. Doesn't sound promising. ... Mike Myers's entering-the-game music is the theme from "Halloween" (the movie's masked killer is named Michael Myers). ... Updates on Trot Nixon and Byung-Hyun Kim, who allowed one run on five hits over five innings for Pawtucket last Saturday, walking none and striking out four. ... Good piece on Ramiro Mendoza: "I feel a lot of confidence, in control of my pitching. Last year, it was always pain, pain. It would never go away. Now, it feels good. ... I'm happy now."

Bronson Arroyo's T-shirt: Damon's face with the words: "What curse? We have Jesus on our side."

August 10, 2004

When Will Tito Get The Knack? Last night, in his "Keys to the Game," SoSHer Jose Melendez suggests the Red Sox parody a pop song for their playoff drive, e.g., 1999's "Nomar #5" from "Mambo #5." Jose picked "My Sharona"/"Why Francona":
Never chew your players out, players out.
Though they scream for more playing time, Francona?
Though you never hit and run, hit and run.
Or go bunt it on down the line Francona!
Three posters -- sfip, soxfaninyankeeland and me (respectively) -- help out:
Bringing in the closer huh, ah will ya, huh?
Close enough, the lead's only five, Francona.
Why Foulke's in's a mystery, it gets to me
Are Adams and 'Doza alive, Francona?


Never gonna stop, mixing up
The bottom and the top
Always mixing up, the lineup
When you gonna bat Cabrera 9, Francona?


When you gonna finally see, finally see
Left field is no place for Millar, Francona.
Theo looks at OBP, OBP
He lets you think too much for yourself, Francona.

Never gonna stop, give it up.
Such a slow hook. Always leave 'em in too long
You ain't the winning kind.
My my my i yi woo.
Wh-wh-wh-why Francona?

You leave your starters in too long, in too long
Why wait until the game's out of reach, Francona?
Where's the sense of urgency, urgency?
The wild card is far from a lock, Francona.
Losings got to stop. Cowboy up
[something, something, something] etc.
Anyone else?
One Step Forward ... This rudderless team seems incapable of mounting even a modest winning streak. For more than two months, the Red Sox have not won more than three consecutive games. Here are their longest streaks of this season:

6 - April 23-29
5 - May 21-26
4 - May 5-8
3 - April 19-21
3 - June 5-8
3 - July 24-26

Since the All-Star break:


Doesn't that make you want to tear your hair out? That's why it's impossible to *really* like this team. Just when you think they might be getting it together, they fall on their face again. ... Bronson Arroyo will try to get the club -- now tied with Texas one game behind Anaheim for the wild card -- back on its feet at 7:05 pm tonight.

August 8, 2004

Motor City Madness. And they say Comerica is a pitcher's park ...

Tim Wakefield allowed six home runs -- something a pitcher hasn't done since 1940 -- but still got the win. His Red Sox mates scored six runs in the 4th inning before making an out and edged the Tigers 11-9. Boston starting pitchers had pitched at least seven innings in nine consecutive games before today.

Five of the Detroit homers came in the first three innings. But after Boston took a 9-6 lead, Wakefield settled down a bit, allowing only one hit (another HR) in the next two innings. Mendoza, Timlin and Foulke finished up. ... George Caster of the Philadelphia Athletics allowed six home runs to the Red Sox back on September 24, 1940.

Kevin Millar mouthed off before last night's game when he didn't see his name on the lineup card. "I'm not going to be lied to. I'm not going to be lack-of-communicated to. I wasn't told I was on the bench. I didn't know that was the situation. I didn't know they traded for [Mientkiewicz] to be the everyday first baseman. ... This is the time to get an identity for this team and we still don't have it. We're still checking lineups August 7. It's frustrating. Right now, no one knows what the hell is going on. No one knows where they're hitting. No one knows where they're playing. We're in a dogfight now, but if we really have to go with 55 different lineups a week, we'll win two and lose three and win two."

Ol' Buckethead has been hot over his last 15 games -- .471 average, .532 OBP -- but if he didn't know he'd get significantly less time at 1B, then he's a fool. What he ought to be doing is thanking Francona for sticking with him when he was a corpse in the lineup for months. And today he did just that, apologizing before the game: "I came in and I was frustrated. I probably should have taken a walk down to the dugout for an hour ... I didn't want to challenge him [Francona] because he has been loyal to me. He's in a tough situation with what he has to work with right now. I've got to understand that side of it, also." ... Then he went out and went 0-4, not hitting the ball out of the infield.

Pedro Martinez won his 178th game Saturday night with a great performance. It was the 69th time Martinez had 10+ strikeouts for Boston (he tied his season-high of 11), passing Fat Billy into first place on the team's all-time list. After the game, Pedro spoke about staying with the Red Sox. "I definitely want it to work out with Boston. But I'm like the rest of you, we'll have to wait and see. I don't know how it's going to turn out right now. I just want to help this team get to the playoffs and then win a World Series. That's still possible."

Scott Williamson pitched well for Pawtucket on Friday, but afterwards his right forearm swelled up to twice the size of his left one. ... Larry Lucchino: Boston's Bad Cop? ... Eric Van -- "Harvard brainiac and chat-board legend" in the words of Gordon Edes -- notes that Mark Bellhorn, "despite his league-leading 117 whiffs, has struck out just once with a runner on third base and less than two out."

After watching a replay, Dale Sveum admitted that he had made a mistake sending Dave Roberts Wednesday night. Sveum said that on the tape, he noticed a hesitation from Roberts on the hit, so "Yeah, I goofed that up." ... Without the hesitation, Roberts would have been dead by maybe 7 feet instead of 10, but hey, it's a start.

Idiots Abound: Ethan Forman, a business writer for the Eagle Tribune: "We all know the story about how after the 1919 season Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold a young pitching phenom, George Herman Ruth, to the Yankees to finance a Broadway play." ... I hate writers who either know nothing about their subject or can't be bothered to do even a tiny amount of simple research. First, the finance-the-play storyline has been shown (in "Red Sox Century") to be mostly, if not completely, a myth. Second, Babe was not a pitching phenom when he was sold to New York. He had been in the majors for 5½ years at that point and wasn't even pitching much anymore. In 1919, he was a full-time outfielder, setting a new single-season record for home runs.

August 7, 2004

55 Games Remain. Earlier today, in a discussion about Terry Francona (and the security of his current employment), SoSH poster Rough Carrigan wrote:
Actually, Tito may be just the right manager for this team ... in 2005. It seems as though they all came to spring training just expecting to waltz into the playoffs and to then turn it on. Having Barney the dinosaur as your manager doesn't help to counteract that. But, if this season turns out badly and the players all get one serious ration of merde from Red Sox Nation, there will be no problem with self motivation next year.
My response (which isn't really a response to Rough, but his last sentence reminded me of something I've wanted to work in somewhere for a little while):
Okay, maybe this team waltzed into spring training, read all the pre-season articles and figured they'd waltz into the playoffs. I can't really say that I blame them. I thought the same thing too.

But c'mon -- they must realize BY NOW that it ain't gonna happen this way. So what are they going to do about it? What have they been doing about it? Do they need Tito (or the media or the fans) to point it out to them that the clock is ticking? I fucking hope not.

Bottom line -- if this team doesn't realize they better turn it on NOW and KEEP IT ON until the snow starts falling, then we (and they) are sunk.
Pedro/Bonderman at 7:05 pm. ... Could the winning streak we're all waiting for start tonight, please?

P.S. At 10½ games, I have officially given up on the AL East.
The Most Frustrating Red Sox Season Ever? The posters at Sons of Sam Horn discuss. And there are tons of good points, for both sides, as well as some analysis of the Yankees' performance. One poster thinks the 2004 Yankees are like the 2003 Red Sox in their almost-nightly ability to rally when behind. ... By contrast, the Red Sox seem dead if they lose a lead or are trailing after the 6th inning. Most of the same players from 2003 are still here, so I don't really understand the difference.

If 2004 is the most frustrating season (I'm not convinced (yet)), it's because of pre-season expectations. We saw management remove the one and only reason Boston failed to go to the World Series and they added Schilling and Foulke. We all agreed: This was the most-talented Red Sox team of our lifetimes.

I'll support this team until the very end of the season -- whichever day in October that may be -- and I'll watch every pitch of every game that I can, but this summer hasn't been a whole lot of fun. I've said this before -- even the victories have left me pissed off. Last year, I felt good even after a loss.

The Red Sox are now 7-15 in one-run games -- and their last 4 losses have all been by one run. Only Arizona (6) has fewer one-run victories. New York is 19-11. What's most amazing/frustrating is that based on their runs scored/runs allowed, the Red Sox should be leading the East by 1½ games. Some of the SoSH threads I have linked to recently get into that gross discrepancy.

Garciaparra, on when he injured his Achilles: "I don't even know what story they're coming up with. I'm curious as to what they're saying. I hurt it in spring training, there's no question about that. That's when it happened. I was already a week and a half into spring training, everything was fine ... I got hurt, I got hit." ... However, no one saw Nomar get hit in the foot and the person who hit the ball has yet to come forward. ... If there is any movement on this story, you can be sure that Boston Dirt Dogs will have it first.

Oops, he did it again. In the 4th inning, Doug Mientkiewicz tried to score from first on Bill Mueller's double and was thrown out at the plate. And once again, we have Francona defended Sveum: "It was just a perfect relay. That's what it took. I would have sent him all the way."

Mike Myers joined the team yesterday, adding another lefty arm that Francona might actually use instead of Embree. Lefties had hit only .188 (6-for-32) off Mark Malaska, but Francona had not used him since July 24. He was sent back to Pawtucket. Likewise, Ramiro Mendoza and Terry Adams have not pitched since the first game of the road trip 11 days ago. ... Tito seems determined to ride the Foulke-Embree-Timlin trio right into the ground, Gerbil78-style.

SoSHer Eric Van on Tito's Friday night blunders. As one poster in that thread comments, it seems like Francona is always two or three steps behind every Red Sox fan when it comes to strategy and knowing what this team can (and cannot) do. That's not where you expect the manager of a team to be. ... Another poster puts forth the argument that the Red Sox cannot -- and will not -- win anything with Francoma at the helm.

Also: Scott Williamson had an excellent outing for Pawtucket on Friday -- 1.2 scoreless innings, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts, 23 pitches, 17 strikes. ... Boston will play 30 of its final 53 games at home, where they have the 3rd-best record in MLB (33-18). ... Brian Cashman's wife, quoted in the August 9 issue of New York magazine: "Brian would like to go to Boston and win a World Series as general manager of the Red Sox." I'm sure Steinbrenner loved hearing that!

August 5, 2004

Are You On or Off? It's time to take a stand.

5belongstoGeorge: "I was born on this bus and I will die on this bus."

The Greenwell Mile: "I'm on. Always on. Even when the damn thing is speeding rapidly towards the edge of a massive cliff and sure death, I'm staying on. Because that's what the F it's all about to be a fan. You stick with your team through thick and thin."

notmannysfault: "This team may be frustrating, but it takes a lot more than the current level of inconsistency and hairbrained-ness to take down 24 years of committment, support and hope."

bosoxgirl27: "Often frustrated. Sometimes disappointed. Occasionally raging mad. But always always on..."

Lose Remerswaal: "I may turn the TV off, but I ain't making plans for October evenings no matter how hard my friends laugh at me."

BrunanskysSlide: "Every night I slam my fists with frustration, but in the morning I wake and the first thing on my mind are my Sox."

The Big Red Kahuna: "This is a rhetorical, trick question. By definition, if you are a Red Sox fan, you are always ON. The heart-wrenching, blood pressure-increasing, age-reducing, sleepless-inducing part of rooting for the Sox year in and year out is a part of the overall package. Can't choose when to deal with it and when not to. Just can't. ... You f'ers that are off aren't allowed back on."
"Nomar Hurt By BP Ball" -- True Or False?. Bob Hohler, Globe: "From the beginning, Nomar Garciaparra attributed the tendinitis in his right Achilles' tendon to a ball striking him in batting practice before an exhibition game between the Red Sox and Northeastern University March 5 at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla. But Garciaparra said he never knew who hit the ball. And no one else in the organization acknowledged hitting the ball or witnessing the incident.

"As it turns out, the episode may not have happened. Two sources familiar with Garciaparra's case said yesterday that Garciaparra told a different story to club officials, but the team never contradicted the shortstop's story, even though club officials were aware it wasn't accurate. One source said he was told Garciaparra was injured before spring training." ... More here and here.

Todd Walker defends Nomar. ... All of the Globe's Nomar coverage is here. ... Nomar on why he was seated on the bench during the July 1 loss to the Yankees: "My teammates told me to go sit down in a specific spot so we can go score some runs." Anything is possible, but why did it take over one month for this reason to surface, either from Nomar or any of the other Red Sox?

After making a fourth rehabilitation for Pawtucket, Scott Williamson will hopefully be activated for the weekend. ... Bronson Arroyo slipped from 2nd to 4th in the AL in road ERA (3.03).
Sometimes, The Truth Slips Out. AP: George W. Bush "declar[ed] that his administration will 'never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people.' ... No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted."

From the White House website: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." MP3!!!
Fire Sveum Now. Dale Sveum is a goddamn moron. He has been a miserable failure as a third base coach. Although he has only three bases to keep track of, he has admitted forgetting about the number of runners and what bases they occupied. He has sent slow-as-shit runners into obvious outs at the plate and then, facing criticism for that, held fast runners when they could have scored all-but-certain runs.

And last night, he waved the Red Sox right out of a possible victory by having Dave Roberts try to score from second on a single to medium center field in the top of the 9th. Boston trailed 5-4 and had no outs. Rocco Baldelli was in perfect position to field the ball and rifle a text-book, one-hop throw to home. Roberts was out by at least 5 feet. So instead of having 1st-and-3rd with 0 outs and Mueller-Kapler-Damon coming up, the Red Sox had a man on second and one out (and whatever momentum-killing vibes the out at the plate created). Idiot.

If this was the first blemish on an otherwise spotless coaching record, I might be inclined to give Sveum the benefit of the doubt. I'd assume he was overcome by the thought of having the speedy Roberts on the basepaths and wanted to get a quick game-tying run. But this is merely the latest in an ever-growing list of stupid decisions. And worst of all, he appears unable to learn from his mistakes. Plain and simple: Dale Sveum should be fired.

Naturally, Sveum is convinced he made the right decision. "It was a situation with that kind of speed on the bases and they've got their closer in the game, a guy who can strike people out. Baldelli hasn't made a whole lot of great throws all year, but he pulled one off tonight. He made a great play. To be honest with you, if we did it tomorrow night, I'd do the same thing again. ... It's first and third if I hold him, then you look at (a possible) popup and a double play and you lose your chance with that kind of speed on the bases. I'm pretty much sending him on anything to that part of the field."

Where to begin with this garbage? First of all, Baldelli leads all American League CF with 6 assists (he led all CFs in MLB with 15 last season); he's got a great arm. Second, he threw out Millar at third the night before. Third, if there was 1st-and-3rd with 0 outs and the batter hits into a double play, the tying run could score. ... Tito, who was similarly brain-dead in the 7th and seems to believe he's stuck with a 3-man bullpen, backed up his buddy: "You don't want to see a guy thrown out at home very often with nobody out ... but we have one of the fastest guys in the league [Roberts] and I can live with that. Dale's been aggressive and he will be aggressive and I'll back him when he is aggressive."

FYI: "Aggressive" does not mean "foolhardy".

August 4, 2004

Still, I Believe. American League East standings (through games of August 3, 1978):
                        W    L   PCT   GB

Boston Red Sox 67 39 .632 -
Milwaukee Brewers 60 44 .576 6
Baltimore Orioles 59 47 .556 8
New York Yankees 59 48 .551
Detroit Tigers 57 49 .537 10
Cleveland Indians 51 54 .485 15½
Toronto Blue Jays 39 67 .367 28
As Bronson Arroyo goes for the sweep tonight in Tampa Bay, the Red Sox are 8 games behind the Yankees.
The Nomar Wars; Optimal Lineups; Williamson Not Feeling The Heat. Red Sox owner John Henry says Nomar asked his agent Arn Tellem to ask for a trade one week before the trading deadline. We know that the club offered Garciaparra a 4-year deal for $60 million in the spring of 2003 and then 4-years/$48 million last winter. ... Henry stated last night that another $60 million offer was made this spring (though some of the money was deferred). "We never received a counter to any proposal we made." ... More on Henry's comments. ... Nomar talks back, as does Tellem. ... Bob Ryan looks at all angles.

Three stories from Chicago:
Garciaparra denies bad blood in Boston
Hope that Nomar's heel was just part of a game
Nomar takes a big cut - at his critics

David Ortiz will be back in the lineup on Saturday. Francona is leaning towards having Orlando Cabrera bat fifth behind Manny Ramirez. ... One discussion during the NESN broadcast last night was how to give Manny some protection. I wish Tito would flip-slop Manny and Tizzle -- which was his plan with Manny/Nomar before Garciaparra got hurt in camp. Bat Manny 3rd and Ortiz 4th -- and move Mientkiewicz up to 2nd. ... SoSHer Eric Van has plenty of thoughts on the optimal lineup. His analysis is always essential reading. Here's his lineup vs. RHP:

Roberts, rf
Mientkiewicz, 1b
Damon, cf
Ramirez, lf
Ortiz, dh
Mueller, 2b / 3b
Varitek, c
Cabrera, ss
Youkilis, 3b / Gutierrez, 2b / Reese, 2b

Once Bellhorn returns:

Mientkiewicz, 1b
Bellhorn, 2b
Damon, cf
Ramirez, lf
Ortiz, dh
Mueller, 3b
Varitek, c
Cabrera, ss
Roberts, lf

Last night was a change of pace for Curt Schilling: "[F]or four months now, I have not had my split for an entire start, much less a period of starts. I got tired of waiting for it to come around. I've been working to get it back and in lieu of that, I need something, so I've been working on a changeup for a while. I've been watching Petey and the other day (Sunday), I watched Santana pitch, and I said, 'You know, I'm going to start using it.' Tonight, I probably threw it more in a game than I have combined in my career."

Scott Williamson has made three rehab appearances for Pawtucket and his velocity is way down. "[N]ever in my career have I thrown this slow. Obviously, mechanically I'm doing something or there's something in my arm, I don't know. But, I've never thrown 86-88 miles per hour. Even with a dead arm I've thrown harder than this. It's frustrating. ... There's no pain or discomfort, so that's the good thing."

Remember Ellis Burks? He thinks he could return from his second knee surgery by the end of August.

August 3, 2004

What Kind Of Elitist Am I?

You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every book ever published. You are a fountain of endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and never fail to impress at a party. What people love: You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been nicknamed Jeeves. What people hate: You constantly correct their grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

August 1, 2004

He's An Early Hit, But Defense Lets Sox Down Again. Orlando Cabrera homered in his first at-bat with the team, but his 8th inning error (which should have been charged to Kapler) -- along with crappy bullpen work from Timlin -- led to Boston's 3-2 defeat Sunday afternoon.

The Red Sox held leads against both Radke and Santana this weekend, but ended up blowing both games. ... Pedro pitched very well (11 strikeouts and 2 runs in 7 innings), but Santana was even better: 8 innings, 2 hits (solo HRs from Cabrera and Manny) and 12 Ks. ... Oakland beat Texas 4-1, so Boston remains 1 game behind the Rangers for the wild card.

Red Sox players who have homered in first plate appearance with the club:
Player            Date                Opponent

Lefty LeFebre June 10, 1938 White Sox
Eddie Pellagrini April 22, 1946 Senators
Rip Repulski May 10, 1960 White Sox
Ken Harrelson August 29, 1967 Yankees
John Kennedy July 5, 1970 Indians
Rob Deer August 22, 1993 Indians
Curtis Pride September 19, 1997 White Sox
Orlando Cabrera August 1, 2004 Twins
In Chicago, Nomar Garciaparra grounded into a double play (on the first pitch) in his first AB as a Cub. He finished the game 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Today's Lineup. The Red Sox are facing LHP in 3 of their next 4 games (including today), so David Ortiz has dropped his appeal and begins serving his bat-throwing suspension.

Orlando Cabrera has arrived; Andy Dominique was sent down. Dave Roberts will meet the team Monday in Tampa Bay. I'm not sure why Mientkiewicz is sitting (he has hit LHP and RHP equally well over his career), but since he thought he was playing at home all this coming week, perhaps he needs time to pack.

Damon CF
Bellhorn 2B
Cabrera SS
Ramirez LF
Varitek C
Millar DH
Mueller 3B
McCarty 1B
Kapler RF

Dirt Dog reports that Nomar's Achilles/tendonitis has miraculously healed and he's well enough to play today in sunny Wrigley. He'll bat 2nd and wear #8.
Quotes.. Doug Mientkiewicz said leaving the Twins clubhouse was "the toughest 12-foot walk I've ever had to make. ... My best friend's college apartment, you saw the Citgo sign from his window. I love playing in Fenway. I'm looking forward to playing with the white uniform on."

Theo: "We're deep into the season now and as much as I like our club, as much as I'm responsible for it, I thought there was a flaw on the club that we couldn't allow to become a fatal flaw. The defense on this team was not of championship caliber. We might have gotten to the postseason but in my mind we were not going to win a World Series with our defense the way it was. ... What we've done today is lose a great player. But what we've also done is made our club a more functional club. We acquired two very good major league players who do some things well that we're not very good at. We need to be able to win low-scoring games in October, when things like defense take on greater importance."

Red Sox players react and say goodbye; Scott Williamson and others in Pawtucket; Bob Ryan was with the Yankees.

Stories in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Another Sun-Times piece quotes Nomar: "If it was in my control, I'd still be wearing a Red Sox uniform because it's the place I know, I love." Bullshit. He had the chance to resign twice (4 years at $60 last fall and then at $48 over the winter) and turned them both down. Will someone please call him on this crap?
How You Got Here. I like looking at the search strings that lead people here. Here's a recent sample:

women of bike week in florida almost nude
altoona pa gay sex phot
manny ramirez does dumb things
boston red sox idiot trade
manny ramirez is dumb
johnny damon wife
gabe kapler nude
The Morning After. The vitriol was spewed -- and is still being spewed, but to a lesser degree. The deal is what it is and the games continue. Fans will have to adjust. And there is no way to tell if the deal is good, bad or somewhere in the nebulous middle.

All of the papers have tons of articles and you can find them at the left side links. One item, reported by Gammons and today's Herald: "Garciaparra told the team's training staff in Baltimore last week that because of continuing discomfort in his right Achilles tendon, he would require significant chunks of time off over the next two months. A ballclub source said that this concerned the Red Sox enough to make trading Garciaparra a more pressing matter. The Red Sox said the Cubs were aware of this development during their trade talks." ... Caveat: The Red Sox have an interest in tarring fan-favorite Nomar in the wake of this deal. I assume we'll hear plenty about what (allegedly) went on behind-the-scenes as the days and weeks pass.

The Red Sox knew they had two more months of Nomar -- but this wasn't .372-Nomar. This was a Nomar who might miss half of that time either on the DL or the bench and had been absolutely brutal in the field. And the offense did not catch fire when he returned. There was no way in hell he was coming back, the market for him was small and teams knew the Sox were desperate to get *something* for him. A bad deal -- or a deal in which the Sox did not get equal value -- was almost an inevitability.

Mientkiewicz had a couple of hits last night in what must have a slightly surreal experience. Cabrera says he's thrilled to be coming to Boston and if both of those guys can reclaim their 2003 production, this might not be so bad. One thing all three new guys (Dave Roberts included) is excellent BB:K ratios. Cabrera and Roberts are also top-notch base stealers (Roberts is 33-out-of-34 this year).

A lot of the anger and profanity stemmed from what seemed like the sudden disappearance of Clement from the deal. Improving the pitching staff would have been welcome, but improving the defense was a greater priority.

A couple of SoSH posts are worth posting (from the vitriol thread linked above). I agree with just about every word of both of them. First, sog11:
"what i find confusing is that a lot of people are trying to reduce this enormously complex - on a baseball AND emotional level - to a binary, black/white, right/wrong decision. and i guess that's the nature of trades. ... i can admit that at all of the following are true simultaneously:

1. nomar was likely to leave regardless of what we did
2. we did dramatically improve our infield defense
3. we did gain a lot of team speed and give our offense additional options
4. the club, as presently constituted, had played .500 ball for a long stretch and needed a change


5. we probably overpaid for what we received in return, and not receive enough for a borderline HOF caliber player (despite the injury/rental nature)
6. it's sad to see nomar go. i know he's been an unhappy camper, but i assign a fair degree of blame on the front office and their botched winter dealings.
7. we gave up a minor leaguer i'd rather have kept
8. the defense question "upgrade" can at least be questioned, b/c if we field manky, cabrera, and reese in the same infield for the rest of the year and their offensive production stays the same as it has been, we are going to have some serious problems scoring runs

and tons more along those lines. so for me anyway, there's no easy or simple answer to this trade. i can't distill the essential complexity of the transaction into a "i'm for it" or an "i'm against it."
and Quintanariffic:
1) We are NOT trading two months of an All-Star shortstop. We are trading 4-6 weeks of a great offensive SS and (currently) lousy defensive SS who would have missed roughly 1/3 of the remaining games with an injury (or so he claims).

2) To those who say that Nomar got run out of town, $60MM over 4 years says hi. He could have stayed for more money than he will receive on the open market, but chose not to. Given that he has been quoted as saying that his current contract already paid him more than he would ever need, it certainly does raise questions as to his genuine desire to stay here.

3) There is no doubt in my mind that the injury and his relationship with the club reduced the leverage Theo had in this trade. Many people here see Nomar through 1999-2000 glasses. He's simply not that guy anymore and I think we overrate him egregiously given his absolutely putrid defense this year and downward trend the last 3 years. ...

5) If offered arbitration, Cabrera will fetch the same number of draft picks that Nomar will. I believe the RS will offer Cabrera arbitration if he remains unsigned by the arb deadline.

6) Theo should have sought a bigger bat for RF, IMHO. Who bat's 5th now? Manny is going to see a LOT of lousy pitches for the remainder of the year. Picking up a Larry Walker or some such this month would be a saving grace, though I doubt that will happen.

7) Let's let the new players arrive and get their uniforms on before any final judgements are made about this. Emotions are far too high to think rationally right now. ...
Pedro/Santana at 2:10 pm.