September 28, 2004

IN! Boston beat Tampa Bay 7-3 last night, clinching at least the wild card spot. The Red Sox are 3 games behind the Yankees -- each team has 6 games remaining. ... Ortiz and Manny in the Champagne Room:

Tonight: Lowe/Halama deep down in Florida. ... Twins/Yankees rained out. The teams will play a doubleheader starting at 4:00 pm Wednesday.

September 27, 2004

Wild Card Clinch. According to SoSH posters CSteinhardt and cecilcooper, the Red Sox have clinched at least a tie for the wild card.

"Boston wins the wild card outright if any of the following things happen:

(1) Boston wins any of their 7 remaining games.

(2) Texas loses any game and Seattle beats Oakland once.

(3) Texas loses any game and Texas beats Anaheim once.

(4) Texas loses any game and the 4 remaining Anaheim/Oakland games do not split exactly 3-1 Anaheim.

(5) Oakland loses 4 games."

Arroyo/Kazmir tonight at 7:05 pm.

September 26, 2004

The Joy Of Propaganda. Thanks to Steve at Dirt Dogs for linking to me again. I gotta agree with him on this one though -- Kerry saying anything nice about the Yankees is lame (though would it influence anyone's vote?). He should either stick with supporting the Red Sox 100% or not mention baseball at all.
I'm Yelling At The TV Because It's Yelling At Me. I took Friday's night loss hard -- too hard for what was in reality not the final game of the season, but merely Game #153.

But Friday's loss and how it happened added yet another layer to the "Sox can't beat NY" shit that flows out of both cities. And I'm beyond sick of that. It's slowly driving me insane. I'm starting to think Michael Kay says stupid things just to piss me off (well, he also does it because he's a moron). The title of this post was what I said last night when Laura told me to stop bitching back at the YES broadcast.

I was home in time to watch the 7-run outburst and it helped ease my anger and doubt (not completely though). Johnny's stolen base (sorry Derek!), the three doubles (from Manny, Varitek (!) and Mirabelli), Mueller's single, even Cabrera's sac fly that pushed Matsui's back to the scoreboard -- all cathartic in their way.

So: The wild card is all but clinched, which means the Boston Red Sox will be playing baseball on Tuesday, October 5, 2004. And that is the most important thing.

Schilling/3-Finger Brown at 2:05 pm.

September 25, 2004

A Myth That Should Not Be Perpetuated. George Vecsey of the New York Times sees the light: "Back in 1986, hours before the sixth game of the World Series, I wrote an early-edition Sunday column that toyed with the concept of some cockamamie curse involving Babe Ruth and the Red Sox. ... [It] was the first time anybody had ever written about a curse involving Frazee and "Nanette" and Ruth. ... All I can say is that I don't want to be a part of the Frazee legend. My chronology about "Nanette" was wrong. I never read Fred Lieb. I had no glimmer of any ancient anti-Semitic link to Frazee ... Enough. ... Free Harry Frazee."

According to MLB, the Red Sox ALDS schedule will be:

Game 1: Tuesday, October 5
Game 2: Wednesday, October 6
Game 3: Friday, October 8
Game 4: Saturday, October 9
Game 5: Sunday, October 10
Delusional. Gump 2.0:: "If I had thought he was losing it, I would have taken him out. In my opinion he still had good stuff. ... I wouldn't have left him in if I thought he was out of gas. ...

"If I run out there after two pitches (and the Matsui homer), it would make it look like I wasn't making a very good decision before the inning. We put a lot of thought into what we're doing. I'm just saying that I thought (Martinez) was in command of what he was doing. I though he deserved to stay out there and, actually, I thought the reason he deserved to stay out there was because he was going to get them out."

Again -- "If I run out there after two pitches ... it would make it look like I wasn't making a very good decision before the inning." He's worried about how it would look?!? How about how it impacts the goddamn game! ... This is some scary shit.

And now Pedro is giving Yankee fans new punchlines? Ouch.

September 24, 2004

Groundhog Night. Check your calendars! Is it October 16th again? ... Once again, 99.9999999% of fans watching last night's game knew Pedro Martinez was done -- this time after seven innings and 101 pitches. Rodriguez and Sheffield both hit rockets off him in the top of the 7th, but he escaped trouble. It wasn't his best night anyway; he struggled in the 1st, 3rd and 6th innings, as well. (In fact, I wanted someone up after Martinez allowed a walk and a double to start the 6th.)

When Johnny Damon tagged Tom Gordon for a solo home run in the bottom of the 7th, Boston took a 4-3 lead and assured Martinez of getting the win, as long as the bullpen could hold off the Yankees for two innings -- the bullpen that Francona clearly was saving for tonight (see what he threw out there two nights ago against Baltimore). Except there was no one warming up in the Red Sox bullpen and the TV showed Pedro sitting on the bench with his jacket on. Feeling a bit of deja vu, no doubt.

I filled in Pedro's line in my scorecard after Damon's home run, knowing there was NO way he was coming out for the 8th. I mean, we want him to throw a few games next month too, right? ... Wrong. There he was, out on the mound. ... Matsui (who came into the game 1-for-19 against Martinez) looked at a ball and pounded a solo home run into the still-quiet Red Sox bullpen. Tie game 4-4. And Pedro -- at 103 pitches -- stayed in.

Embree and Timlin finally began throwing. Bernie Williams lined a 3-2 pitch down the right field line for a double. And Pedro -- at 109 pitches -- stayed in.

Posada struck out for the first out. And Pedro -- at 113 pitches -- stayed in.

Sierra, who had looked like crap against Pedro earlier, lined a single to right center; Nixon's throw was up the first baseline and Williams scored. New York 5-4. And Pedro -- at 117 pitches -- was finally pulled ... 16 pitches and 4 batters too late.

How the FUCK can this keep happening? Did anyone learn anything from last season? How fucking hard is it to go to the relief pitchers you were saving for this very night? Is Dave Wallace -- who sat in the dugout last October like a goddamn bump on a log and was there (somewhere) last night -- allowed to speak freely to Francona? Is Varitek mute? How about Ortiz on the bench? Any chance of him waving over to his manager -- yoo-hoo -- I've seen this before, get the fuck out there and change pitchers!!!!!


After New York tied the game, the hardest thing Joe Torre had to do was sit the visitors' dugout for 2 innings without doubling over in laughter. He's a strong man, has a tough grip on his emotions, though I think the cameras caught him smirking a few times.

I can feel the smoke coming out of my ears even now, exactly an hour after the final out. Even if the Red Sox had come back and won this game, this would rank as the most maddening game of the season. Of course, they did not come back. As last season showed, the heavy hitters can do a lot of damage, but when it comes to battling against the idiocies of their own manager, they will lose. ... Can we appoint Dale Svuem as manager? Sure, it took him 5 or 6 tries, but he did eventually learn from his mistakes.

How are other fans feeling? Check out some other blogs or read the game thread. At 9:11, 941827 writes: "Just to clarify - what everyone has said here is what I meant: I don't want to hear any of this 'oh, he got in trouble quickly and we didn't have time to warm people up' b.s. -- have people warming to start the 7th so Pedro can get pulled if he gets in trouble." ... But things really get going around 9:14.

Some SoSHers labeled Francona "Gump 2.0" -- and did it a long time ago. I resisted that epithet. No more. Francona clearly is no better than Grady. In fact, considering that Francona saw what happened in last year's ALCS, was interviewed by the front office for Grady's old job and STILL MADE THE SAME FUCKING MISTAKE, he's quite probably worse. More cement-headed than Little? The mind boggles. ... I can't wait to hear the excuses for this managerial fuck-up? It's going to be damn hard NOT to sound like you-know-who after you-know-what.

Silver Lining Dept.: Tito is going to get RIPPED, RIPPED, and RIPPED again over this blunder. So we can be glad that he will *not* do it again. (Right?!?) Better it happens now than in October.
Seriously -- WTF? Out hiking today and now back home in Washington Heights. ... What was going through Francoma's head last night? Anything? Mendoza over Timlin? Then Myers for 3 straight RH batters? And finally, BH Kim? You have GOT to be fucking kidding me. ... I didn't read the papers, but did glance at a few blogs this afternoon (Dirt Dogs, Soxaholix, Surviving Grady). Why oh why can't we get a manager that tries to win every goddamn game? Are they that hard to find?

And for all that idiocy, the Red Sox nearly pulled out what would have been their third consecutive last-inning victory, David Ortiz's fly ball to right falling about 10 feet short of an improbable 5-run ninth. ... About the only nice thing Tito did was give Ellis Burks an AB.

I don't think Pedro needs any more motivation to stick it to the Yankees tonight, but the Post provides some:

September 23, 2004

Orlando Magic. After spending two days with his wife in Colombia, Orlando Cabrera flew overnight Tuesday from Bogata to New York. He grabbed a newspaper in the airport and read about Mark Bellhorn's 9th-inning heroics during a second flight that landed in Boston at 10 am Wednesday. When he got to his apartment, he called Terry Francona: "I'd like for you to let me back in the lineup."

Twelve hours or so later, Cabrera, who drove in Boston's first run of the game, brought home the last, drilling a solo home run into the Monster Seats. Boston's 12-inning 7-6 win brought the Sox to 3½ games behind the Yankees (they lead the wild card race by 6½ games). ... When Cabrera reached the mob at home plate, "They started hitting me. I don't know who it was, I think it was Manny, tried to take my pants off. I think it was Manny. Or Millar. One of those two guys."

Before Cabrera's shot, the Red Sox escaped a nasty jam with some superb fielding. Singles by Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada began the top of the 12th and a bunt put them on 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. Curtis Leskanic: "You ever (stick your hand) in a blender? That's what that situation felt like." ... The Sox walked Javy Lopez to load the bases. Jay Gibbons helped out by smacking an 0-2 pitch on one hard hop right to Doug Mientkiewicz at first. He fired home for one out and Jason Varitek threw a seed to Pokey Reese at first, completing the 3-2-4 double play and ending the inning.

For the third time in three nights, Keith Foulke allowed a ninth-inning home run. Rafael Palmeiro began the 9th last night with a solo homer down the right field line that erased a 6-5 Sox lead. ... Foulke has thrown 19-21-22 pitches in the last three nights. The last time he appeared in three consecutive games -- August 16-17-18 -- Foulke threw 24-12-23 and was hit hard in the third game of that run.

The win was the Red Sox's 8th straight one-run victory (once 8-17, they are now 16-17). ... Ellis Burks may be activated today. It appears the club wants to give him one final appearance at Fenway. The team's last home game is Sunday against New York. ... Mark Bellhorn struck out three times to set a new club record. Bellhorn now has 164, topping Butch Hobson's 1977 mark of 162.

ALDS: Pedro on who should start Game 1 of the ALDS: "It really doesn't matter. I've done my share of good things with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling has come to a position where he's earned the respect to pitch any game they give him. ... He's got better numbers right now, so I wouldn't be surprised if they have him pitch the first game. I wouldn't mind it, really. I'd just pitch my game whenever that is. I just want an opportunity to be a part of it. ... I want to have my name on the Green Monster when we win. That's all." ... Eric Wilbur wonders if Tito should pitch Bronson Arroyo in Game 2 of the ALDS, taking advantage of his better stats on the road. ... Steven Krasner of the Providence Journal has more info.

Lowe/Daniel "No Relation" Cabrera at 7:05 pm. ... The Yankees host Tampa Bay at 3:05 pm. ... After going 5-for-5, Ichiro went 4-for-6 as Seattle routed Anaheim 16-6. He now has 247 hits -- 10 shy of Sisler's record, with 10 games remaining.

September 22, 2004

Never In Doubt. That was this morning's Springfield Republican tongue-in-cheek (I hope) headline for last night's game. Johnny Damon: "If we lost this game ... it could have just absolutely crushed us. ... What an awesome win."

But before the 9th inning euphoria, Rodrigo Lopez and Curt Schilling put rows of zeroes on the board. Baltimore threatened in the top of the 8th when Larry Bigbee singled to center and stole second. After that play, Boston was still concerned about Luis Lopez bunting with the count 2-1. Schilling talked to Bill Mueller at third, then to Jason Varitek, then to Dave Wallace. Schilling's next pitch was right down the middle and Lopez took it for a strike. That effectively removed the possibility of a bunt and Lopez struck out on the next pitch.

Myers and Timlin were warning up as Brian Roberts took a ball, then fouled off 3 pitches. Schilling came back with a 94 mph fastball up and away and Roberts flailed at it for the second out. David Newhan was next and also struck out, waving at a 1-2 pitch that was way out of the strike zone. ... Schilling nearly leapt off the mound, pumping his fist. Varitek: "This was the most emotional I've seen Curt." The third strike to Roberts was Schilling's 114th pitch. He was not coming out for the 9th and he knew it. He finished what was possibly his best game of the year by striking out the side with a man on second in a 0-0 game.

Boston began its half of the 8th by asking the umps to check Rodrigo Lopez's cap for pine tar. His pitches hadn't been doing anything abnormal, so I assume it was merely an attempt to rattle him. Lopez: "They're trying to figure out my pitches. It's their right to it - I don't mind. They can check my hat, my belt, whatever - I don't mind." Whether it played a part in Lopez walking Johnny Damon (on 7 pitches) and Bellhorn (on 4), we'll probably never know, but those walks did end Lopez's night.

Jason Grimsley came in and got Manny to chop to third on the first pitch (grrr!) which at least moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Grimsley intentionally walked David Ortiz before leaving in favor of BJ Ryan. ... Trot Nixon was next but having gone only 1-for-11 against lefties this season, Kevin Millar (2-for-14 against Ryan) was sent up to pinch-hit. Cabin ran the count to 2-2 and after fouling off a few pitches down the left field line, he reached out and flicked a fly ball to right field. It was deep enough to score Damon with the game's first run. ... Afterwards, Millar said he was not trying to go the other way. "I try to pull every single pitch thrown to me. I wanted to hit a fly ball somewhere. That's about the second time I've gone to right this year. ... It was a big at-bat." Varitek struck out to end the inning and Keith Foulke came on to shut the Birds down in the 9th.

Melvin Mora led off with a chopper that Mueller and Pokey Reese converged on, but at the last instant, Mueller dropped to the dirt, clearing the way for Pokey to grab the ball and gun it to first. One out. Miguel Tejada lined a single to right and took second on BJ Surhoff's grounder to Bellhorn (he flinched towards second base, but took the easy out at first). Two outs.

As we know, Foulke surrendered a long home run to Javy Lopez, but he had Lopez struck out once, if not twice, during the at-bat. Lopez (0-for-6 against Foulke coming in) fouled off the first pitch (a long drive to left that sailed out of the park) and missed the second. Foulke's third pitch was very close, but apparently a bit low; it could have been strike three. ... Lopez fouled another pitch off, then took ball 2 high. Foulke's 6th pitch also looked like a strike, on the inside corner, but it too was called a ball. Lopez banged the next pitch over the Monster and into the Boston night, giving Baltimore a 2-1 lead and turning Fenway as silent as a tomb.

Ryan stayed in the game to start the bottom of the 9th. Kevin Youkilis batted for Doug Mientkiewicz and took a four-pitch walk. Mueller, batting right-handed, drove a 2-1 pitch to deep left (his 4th hit of the game). Off the bat, it looked like a home run, but it fell short, clanging off the scoreboard for a double. The bounce off the wall was clean, so Youkilis stopped at third. ... David McCarty pinch-hit for Reese and popped an 0-2 pitch to first. Damon -- 0-for-14 against Ryan with 8 strikeouts -- fouled off 2 pitches, took a ball up and in before being called out on strikes. One out from a loss.

Mazzilli: "BJ really gutted up when he had second and third after he gave up that double [to Mueller]. They easily could have hit a ground ball, fly ball and he got them both out. He got into a good situation for Julio to face Bellhorn." And Bellhorn (0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts in his career against Ryan) was surprised Ryan did not stay in the game. Ryan "has had success against me in the past. I thought they'd leave him in and get Julio ready for Manny."

Julio threw ball one, then ball two. Bellhorn took a strike, before driving the ball to the gap in right center. From the Red Sox dugout, it looked like it might be caught, but Larry Bigbee couldn't get to it. It dropped, Dave Roberts (who ran for Yook) and Mueller scored and Boston had snatched a victory back from Baltimore, 3-2. Whew!

Bellhorn: "It's pretty crazy. You feel like you're winning Game 7 of the World Series every night you get a hit like this." ... Maybe I do need to get one of these shirts.

Those Other Teams: Javier Vazquez (7.63 ERA since the All-Star break): "I don't know what I'm doing." ... George Steinbrenner: "We'd all like him to be better, but you know, he is what he is. They better get him straightened around." New York beat Toronto 5-3. ... Ichiro Suzuki went 5-for-5 last night (he's now hitting .372 and is within 14 hits of George Sisler's 257 with 11 games remaining) and Seattle beat Anaheim 7-3. The Angels fell back to 5½ games behind the Red Sox in the wild card standings.

Tonight: The cornrow-less Bronson Arroyo -- with more quality starts and a lower ERA (15, 4.01) than either Lowe (12, 5.19) or Wakefield (12, 4.96) faces Sidney Ponson at 7:05 pm.

September 21, 2004

Odds & Ends. Tim Wakefield has lost three of his past four starts, going 0-3, 9.45 in September. He'll face the Yankees this Saturday. ... More on the Mora pickle. ... Red Sox report card for September 14-20 (it ain't pretty). ... Gordon Edes's chat transcript.

The Globe's Alex Beam asks 52 people in downtown Boston to make a choice: John Kerry in the White House or the Red Sox winning the World Series.
For The Birds. I cannot muster any bad words for Tim Wakefield. I was fairly indifferent towards him for years until his masterful pitching in last year's ALCS. Learning that he was certain he had become "another Buckner" in the eyes of Red Sox fans -- and that it terrified him -- was heartbreaking, since probably 99.7% of us held him completely blameless. I was glad to read that he soon realized that.

Aren't there also some intense locker room scenes with Wakefield in "Still, We Believe"? I recall seeing some stills on the Dirt Dogs site. I recently got the DVD, but have not watched it yet. ... The bottom line is I want Wakefield to do well and I want to win a World Series with him. He deserves it. I never thought I'd say that -- I always thought Nomar best fit the "It will feel weird to win without him" role -- but not anymore.

When I think about it, more than Pedro, more than Manny, more than Varitek or Nixon or anybody else, I want Tim Wakefield to win a World Series in a Boston Red Sox uniform.

Last night, Wakefield was looking good, having struck out 6 of the first 11 batters. Then everything went haywire. Over the next 13 batters, Wakefield allowed 5 walks, 3 singles, 1 HBP and 1 grand slam HR. ... The Sox battled back in the middle innings to trail 8-6 -- and they had the tying run at the plate a few times -- but couldn't do a damn thing with BJ Ryan or Jorge Julio.

The less said about that Melvin Mora rundown (it would have been scored 2-5-1-6-5-2-3 if successful), the better. Is Mora as bad a third baseman as he plays against Boston? He makes a throwing error, trots home thinking he's been walked in and then tries a swipe tag on Kapler in the 6th when his foot was inches from the bag (and a force play). God, he sucks.

Oh, and Manny: stop swinging at the first pitch. Eight pitches in 5 appearances -- not good. Yes, one of your hacks was a 2-run double, but please cure yourself of this recent bout of Nomaritis. Thank you.

Back on September 1, I posted a poll asking what post-season scenario you'd most like to see. Here are the results:
Of the following three scenarios, which would you prefer?

Red Sox win AL East, Yankees miss playoffs. 45% 119
Red Sox advance to ALCS, but Yankees do not. 6% 17
Red Sox and Yankees meet in ALCS. 49% 130
I was surprised that most people -- 94% -- say that if the Yankees make the playoffs, they better advance to meet the Red Sox in the ALCS. I agree.

One thing Boston's hot streak did was made me *really* want to win the division title. I admit it -- I had conceded the division to the Yankees back when Boston fell 10+ games back. I would love to leave those New York columnists sputtering at their keyboards -- I ... am ... so ... sick ... of ... them ... -- a sweep this weekend is necessary.

The Red Sox lost their third straight game, but did not lose any ground in the East. Toronto's Gustavo Chacin made his major league debut in Yankee Stadium and allowed only 4 hits in 7+ innings. (The last lefty to win his debut in the Bronx? Boston's Vaughn Eshelman on May 2, 1995.) ... The Angels crept to within 4½ games for the wild card.

Schilling/Rodrigo Lopez tonight.

September 20, 2004

The Long View. Not having access to a computer after Sunday's dreary loss, much of what would have been ranting dissolved with the hours of reflection and a night's sleep. What really happened in the Bronx? Boston lost 3 games off the schedule and 1 game in the standings. With 14 games remaining, the Red Sox are 4½ games behind the Yankees (who play 13 more games). Boston leads the wild card race by 5½ games. ... Things are not so bad.

There is one thing I want to bitch about, however, and that is Terry Francoma's nap during the home half of the sixth inning yesterday. Everyone agrees that Pedro Martinez had a rough Sunday in the Bronx. He allowed a 2-run home run to Sheffield in the 1st inning and a solo shot to Jeter in the 3rd. He had thrown 76 pitches in five innings. ... I fully expected Martinez to begin the 6th inning, but also assumed, with Boston trailing 3-1, that he would be watched carefully. With Mussina pitching well, Francona could not afford to let New York widen its lead.

Bernie walked on 4 pitches. With Posada coming up, I would have kept Pedro in the game. He had struck Posada out twice already. But the Yankee catcher was able to slice a shot into the first row of seats down the left field line for a cheap (and unlikely) 2-run home run. The score was now 5-1. I would have pulled Martinez right here.

Tito did not. In fact, as far as I could tell, the bullpen was silent. Pedro then walked Olerud on 4 pitches. Dave Wallace came out to talk and Mike Timlin finally took off his jacket in the pen. Unbelievable. Sierra looked at a strike and dumped a double into short left that skipped past Manny. Then Cairo singled down the right field line, bringing in two more runs and putting Boston in a 7-1 hole. There was still no one out.

And now, at least 3 batters too late (and some might say 4), here came Francona, wiping the sleep from his eyes to take the ball from Pedro. The crowd jeered him -- and you could tell Martinez had what Herald columnist Steve Buckley called his "camera of the mind" going as he left the game. Pedro: "Yes, I heard them. I know what they were doing, and I know why they were doing it. They are what they are." Perhaps he will channel that this Friday night.

Timlin allowed a bunt single to Jeter and then he hit Rodriguez to load the bases. Sheffield grounded into a double play and another run scored. Myers came in and there was a bit of jawing between Timlin (in the dugout) and Jeter (at third base). It seemed good-natured and all the reporting on it confirms that.

I'll just say that I have no problem with Jeter bunting, even though his team was up by six runs in the 6th inning. In my opinion, "having enough runs" does not exist in baseball and a team should score as much as it can when it can. If the third baseman is playing back, why not exploit it? I'd expect my team to do the same thing. Oddly enough, the YES announcers seemed to chastise Jeter for it, though they did not come right out and say it directly.

Some quotes: Pedro Martinez: "We were 10 behind and we came back when a lot of people gave up. We somehow found a way and we'll find a way again." ... Kevin Millar: "No one said this was going to be easy. This isn't deflating. This is no big deal. It's baseball. We've still got 'em coming to our place for three more games. This race is by no means over." ... Terry Francona: "They put us in the rear-view mirror a bit, but I'd be very surprised if they don't see us again. We'll come back."

Timlin was initially sarcastic: Oh, gosh. We're going to go home and we're going to bury our heads in the sand and we're never going to come out again. ... It's a loss. We're not that far out of range. We're not knocked out of the race. We're not knocked off a cliff. Nothing. We lost two games. That's how we look at it. It's just another two games we have to make up."

X-rays on Lowe's right leg showed no fractures. It was the shortest of Lowe's 108 starts with the Red Sox and the second briefest in his career (he pitched .1 IP for Seattle on July 3, 1997). ... Jason Varitek was absolutely brutal in the series, going 0-for-10 with 8 strikeouts and 2 pop-ups (he's 1-for-23 (.043) in his last eight games). ... Garry Brown looks at the possible playoff roster.

Starters for the Orioles series:

Tonight: Matt Riley (1-4, 6.33) vs. Tim Wakefield (11-9, 4.72)
Tuesday: Rodrigo Lopez (13-8, 3.88) vs. Curt Schilling (20-6, 3.40)
Wednesday: Sidney Ponson (11-14, 5.22) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-9, 4.01)
Thursday: Daniel Cabrera (12-7, 4.51) vs. Derek Lowe (14-12, 5.19)

Which means it'll be Pedro/Mussina in Fenway on Friday.

September 18, 2004

In Pedro We Trust. Well, that was ugly. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the first two innings this afternoon. Boston fell behind 9-0 after 2 innings, Derek Lowe lasted 11 batters and 1+ inning, and the Red Sox didn't get a hit off Jon Lieber until David Ortiz's solo home run in the 7th.

New York ended up on top, 14-4, in a game that was way more lopsided than that score would indicate. The AL East lead is back to 3½ games. ... This game was embarrassing, but it's only one loss.

New York clearly put Friday's loss behind them and came out strong and I expect the Red Sox to do the same tomorrow afternoon, when Pedro faces Mike Mussina. ... The library I am posting from is closed on Sunday, so I'll post again on Monday afternoon.
Exit Sandman. Now that is the way to start this important series. Not by pounding Orlando Hernandez, not by feasting on the Yankees weak middle relief. No, the way to send the strongest message is to score two runs off Mariano Rivera in the top of the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium -- and go to sleep with a 3-2 victory and a puny 2½ deficit in the AL East.

Bronson Arroyo pitched very well through two rain delays and Johnny Damon was the hitting star -- belting a solo home run in the third and the game-winning RBI in the 9th, but it was Manny Ramirez that led the highlight reel -- sprinting to the left field wall in the 5th inning to rob Miguel Cairo of a home run.

The catch came right after John Olerud had homered to give New York a 2-1 lead. When Manny came down, I was convinced a fan in the first row had caught the ball. I swore I saw the white in his hands. ... But wait -- Ramirez was holding a baseball over his head -- with a beautiful shit-eating grin on his face. ... He caught it! ... He leapt and hung up there above the wall for an extra fraction of a second and caught the ball. Cairo had no idea. He pumped his fist jogging around first base, he high-fived Luis Sojo at third and pointed to the sky as he crossed the plate. Only when he got to the dugout and wondered why his teammates were not greeting him did he turn around. Manny Caught The Ball!

Then The Ninth: Trot Nixon began with a 7-pitch walk, with Rivera hitting 94, but missing his spots, possibly overthrowing. Dave Roberts ran for Nixon. Jason Varitek struck out on three pitches (his 4th K of the night), but Roberts stole 2nd without a throw on strike 3. Rivera fell behind Kevin Millar 2-1 and after checking Roberts at second three times, he hit Millar on the left shoulder. Kapler replaced Millar at first as a loud "Let's Go Red Sox!" chant filled Yankee Stadium.

Rivera threw Orlando Cabrera a ball and -- surprisingly -- Mel Stottlemyre came out to talk; Rivera had thrown 15 pitches, only 7 for strikes. After the meeting, Cabrera grounded a 2-1 pitch through the right side (Cairo had no chance to glove it) and into right field. Gary Sheffield's throw was late and up the third base line and Boston had tied the game at 2-2.

Kevin Youkilis struck out on an 0-2 pitch around his eyes for the second out. On TV, Paul O'Neill noted that even after that big whiff, "Mariano doesn't show too much emotion on the mound." That was about to change. ... Damon lofted a fly ball to shallow right center. The ball seemed catchable, but CF Kenny Lofton decided early not to try for it and he let it fall. Rivera couldn't believe it. He turned towards the outfield, eyes wide, and seemed to say "Catch the ball! C'mon!" before hanging his head and jogging to back up the plate. ... In the aftermath, Jim Kaat noted that Bubba Crosby was the Yankees best fielding center fielder ("no question") but Crosby watched the play from the bench. ... And if Lofton had dove and missed, Sheffield was right there to back him up.

Mark Bellhorn grounded out and after 27 pitches, Rivera walked off the mound. ... Keith Foulke came in and after getting Jorge Posada on a fly ball to center, he struck out Jason Giambi and Olerud for his 30th save. ... Rivera has blown 4 saves this season, 2 of them against Boston. Since 2001, Rivera has a 1.89 ERA and .208 opponents batting average against everyone but Boston; his numbers against the Red Sox are 3.38, .284.

The Yankees play Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York" after each win. When they lose, they play a different version of that song. So my message to the Red Sox this afternoon is: "Make Liza Sing!"

September 17, 2004

It Is On. 8791!

A confident Bronson Arroyo took a late-afternoon flight to New York yesterday. He planned to "kick back and chill out" before facing the Yankees at 7:05 tonight. His confidence is high. ... In his last 13 starts, Arroyo is 7-2, 3.49.

"I've been looking forward for this start since as soon as I got off the mound in Seattle. That normally doesn't happen. But with the race being so close it's definitely been on everybody's mind for sure." ... Re A-Rod: "I'm going to pitch him just like I would have pitched him even if that didn't happen. I'm probably going to pitch him away three-fourths of the time and come inside a couple of times. You never know, one [pitch] might clip him, I don't know. That's just the way it goes."

Kevin Millar is hot: In the three games against Tampa, which concluded with last night's 11-4 Red Sox win, he was 6-for-11 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. In the past 51 games, he's batting .351 (59-168) with 12 homers, 44 RBI and 36 runs scored.

Bill Mueller received a cortisone injection in his right knee Wednesday night. One report said he "might play" against the Yankees, while another thought it was possible that in Mueller's absence, Pokey Reese could start at second with Mark Bellhorn moving to third. ... Trot Nixon will probably play tonight and sit out Saturday (then play Sunday). ...

Here is a list of Boston's 20-game winners, including Curt Schilling, who became baseball's 1st 20-game winner this year (20-6). He pitched 7 strong innings last night, allowing 1 run and 5 hits. But even though the Red Sox tallied 5 runs in the bottom of the 7th, taking an 11-1 lead, Francona had Schilling (at 89 pitches) start the 8th. Curt faced 6 batters -- 5 of them reached base and 3 scored. ... Terry Adams finished up.

The win brought Boston to within 3½ games of the Yankees in the East. Anaheim scored 4 unearned runs in the 8th inning and beat Seattle 6-1 to remain 5½ games behind Boston for the wild card.

Yankees Newspaper Links
New York Post
New York Daily News
New York Times
Bergen Record
Hartford Courant
Newark Star-Ledger
Staten Island Advance

Shaun Powell, Newsday: "Gary Sheffield is calling these three games 'the biggest series in the world' and that's probably the case, at least until next week, when the Yankees and Red Sox play three more."

George King, New York Post: This series is "an opportunity for the Yankees to drive an ice pick into their blood rivals' necks and force them to enter October through the AL Wild Card door. ... The big question is, can they pitch with the Red Sox? ... Can Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez's dream season continue against Bronson Arroyo, who has pitched every bit as well as Schilling and Martinez lately? ... How will Lieber respond to the biggest game he has ever pitched? ..."

Mindful of the weak New York pitching, a Yankee fan friend of my wife admitted to her last week that he was "dreading" this series. Me? I have no dread. I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite awhile and my anticipation has only grown as the Red Sox whittled the Yankees' lead down from 10½ games. ... As I post this, the first pitch is less than 7 hours away. Holy shit, is it on!
Red Sox versus Yankees: Home and Away. Eric Van has posted career on-base and slugging stats comparing what Red Sox hitters have done at Yankee Stadium versus what they've done at Fenway against the Yankees.
              Min    -At Home-   -In Bronx-

---- -- --- -- --- -- ---

Ramirez 268 .347 .476 .392 .629 .198
Mientkiewicz 31 .415 .444 .419 .538 .099
Mueller 53 .429 .661 .472 .682 .064
Nixon 139 .302 .349 .324 .380 .053
Ortiz 90 .441 .512 .322 .647 .016
Kapler 71 .310 .403 .282 .290 -.141
Varitek 151 .351 .443 .256 .359 -.178
Damon 236 .381 .452 .292 .333 -.207
Millar 79 .372 .590 .304 .377 -.281
Bellhorn 33 .400 .407 .212 .241 -.354
Van sez: "'Min PA' is the lesser of their PA at home or in Yankee Stadium, and is thus your sample size. I think it's safe to say that Manny really does love to hit in Yankee Stadium, and that Damon and perhaps Varitek don't." Discussion here.

In the Tampa Bay series, Ramirez hit several long fly balls to right field that were caught at (or in front of) the warning track. If he goes the other way this weekend, a few of those flies might drift over the fence.

September 16, 2004

Function Trumps Form. Everyone agrees that Boston's 8-6 victory over Tampa Bay Wednesday night was pretty ugly, but at this point in the season, aesthetic appearances mean little. In the AL East standings, last night's win counts as much as a 20-0 rout.

The victory was hard-won. Boston trailed 1-0 before they batted in the first, and lost leads of 2-1, 4-2 and 6-4. Tim Wakefield struggled yet again. Curtis Leskanic's brief appearance in the 6th, allowing a one-out double and a 2-run home run that allowed the Devil Rays to tie the game at 6-6, was the first time since August 1 that the bullpen had blown a lead.

After Tampa had tied the game, Boston came right back. Franklin Nunez began the 6th by walking Doug Mirabelli and Kevin Youkilis. Bobby Seay took over and walked Johnny Damon, loading the bases. He then got Mark Bellhorn to pop to first, before Chad Gaudin surrendered a sacrifice fly to Manny Ramirez. ... Boston scored once more in the 7th when Kevin Millar doubled and scored on shortstop Julio Lugo's error.

The trio of Ramiro Mendoza (7th), Mike Timlin (8th) and Keith Foulke (9th) each retired the three batters they faced to close out the game. ... Bonus: Ramirez stole third base in the 3rd inning, getting such a good jump off pitcher Dewon Brazelton that Toby Hall didn't even attempt a throw.

Last night also continued Brazelton's extreme home-road splits:
      GM  W  L  ERA     IP    H  BB   SO   AVG

Home 11 6 2 2.11 68.1 51 31 34 .206
Away 8 0 5 9.62 33.2 50 16 19 .350
Bill Mueller went to Phoenix yesterday to have his right knee examined by the surgeon who performed last May's arthroscopic surgery. Mueller will probably be back with the team tonight, and even though Terry Francona called the results of an MRI before Mueller left for Arizona "fairly encouraging," he will likely not play before the weekend. ... He bruised the knee sliding for a foul ball last weekend in Seattle.

On the eve of the Yankees-Red Sox series, Ira Berkow tries to get to the heart of a persistent rumor. Did Jason Varitek really tell Alex Rodriguez "We don't throw at .260 hitters" just before the fists started flying last July? Not according to the Boston catcher. Varitek: "That's ridiculous. I'm not that smart to come up with such a clever line in the heat of battle. I knew Arroyo didn't hit him on purpose, and I just told him to get along to first base." ... The quote first appeared in Bill Simmons's ESPN column.

The Red Sox lost a coin flip, meaning that any playoff game needed to decide the AL East (if the wild card does not come from that division) will be played at Yankee Stadium on Monday, October 4. ... Pedro Martinez will oppose Mike Mussina (not rookie Brad Halsey) this Sunday. The Yankees are off today and will skip Halsey's spot in the rotation.

Schilling goes for his 20th win of the season tonight; Mark Hendrickson starts for Tampa. If successful, Schilling would become only the fourth Red Sox pitcher since 1978 to win 20 games in a season, joining Pedro Martinez (twice), Derek Lowe (once) and Fat Billy (thrice).

September 15, 2004

Pricking Our Gonfalon Bubble. Bedard to Madritsch to Kazmir. Not quite as poetic as those three Cub infielders, perhaps, but just as effective. The Devil Rays starter -- the youngest pitcher in the major leagues right now -- dispatched the Red Sox with relative ease last night in only his 5th career start. Boston is now 0-6 this season facing rookie pitchers for the first time.

In his 16 major league innings before last night, Kazmir had not thrown a 1-2-3 inning. He had three of them against the Red Sox, the first one coming when he struck out the side (Kapler, Damon, Bellhorn) in the 3rd. He then opened the 4th by whiffing Ramirez and Ortiz. He finished with 9 strikeouts in 6 innings, allowing 3 hits and 3 walks.

Pedro Martinez's control was off all night. He walked five, which boosted his pitch count to 113 in only 6 innings. Pedro also allowed only 3 hits, but two of them were solo home runs. Carl Crawford belted the second pitch of the game into the Monster Seats; Rocco Baldelli homered in the 3rd.

Boston had several chances to score off Kazmir. In the 2nd, they loaded the bases with one out. Bill Mueller smacked a grounder down the first base line, but Tino Martinez gloved it, stepped on the bag and threw home in time for Toby Hall to tag David Ortiz for a double play. ... Kevin Millar began the 5th with a double and Orlando Cabrera walked. But Kevin Youkilis (who had replaced Mueller (he left the game with a sore knee)) struck out and Kapler fouled out to the catcher. With Damon at bat, Kazmir picked Millar off second.

Trot Nixon hit a 2-run, pinch-hit home run in the 8th to bring Boston to within three runs. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Varitek was hit by a pitch and Millar walked. Cabrera represented the tying run, but he lined the first pitch to Crawford in left field.

Afterwards, Ortiz expressed his anger and frustration to the Herald's Howard Bryant: "We've got to have these games. We've got to have them. These teams are down and we have to be more aggressive with them. That kid, he was good, real good. But we weren't aggressive with him. It was like we weren't expecting him to challenge us the way he did." ... Pedro added: "You just have to think that hopefully we won't have to face another rookie. Those rookies are giving us a headache. We'll hopefully see them go, get some veterans and make them pay." ... Right on cue comes the news that Martinez will face off against the Yankees' rookie Brad Halsey this Sunday. ... The first two games will feature: Arroyo/Hernandez and Lowe/Lieber. That means Martinez, Wakefield and Schilling will face New York in the September 24-26 series at Fenway Park.

Pitcher Abe Alvarez and shortstop Hanley Ramirez were named Boston's minor league player and pitcher of the year (more here). ... Doug Mientkiewicz has the flu. ... Last night scores: Yankees 4, Royals 0; Seattle 3, Angels 2. Boston fell to 4 games back in the East, but remain 4½ ahead for the wild card.

This Yankee series is still a few days away, but the trash talking has begun. ... David Ortiz to the New York Post: "I betcha they're very worried about us. They know our pitching's doing well and our hitting's doing well. Their pitching is not doing very good. I know almost 100 percent they're thinking about [this weekend's series]. We're in good shape right now."

Gary Sheffield was asked about the Varitek/Rodriguez brawl: "I don't care if these guys hit us or throw at us. We ain't gonna stand for it and it definitely ain't going to turn out the way it did the last time. ... If he [Varitek] wants to be a tough guy, we'll take that challenge," Sheffield said.

Sheffield added that he will not get a cortisone shot for his left shoulder. "I can't miss that series. Just from the standpoint of what it means to the city, not just how close they are in the series. To miss any of those games, it's like a tragedy."

But first, there are games tonight and tomorrow. At 7:05 pm, Wakefield faces Dewon Brazelton (0-11 on the road this season), who allowed 8 runs in 1.2 innings against the Red Sox on August 11.

September 14, 2004

A Royal Rout. Kansas City, with last Thursday's 26-5 stomping of Detroit fresh in their minds, sent 15 men to the plate in the 5th inning against the Yankees last night, scoring 10 times en route to a 17-8 rout. It was the biggest inning against New York since Boston scored 11 times in a 13-7 win on May 31, 1998. ... The Royals' rout cut the Yankees' AL East lead down to 3 games.

Dial-up problems have forced me to post from the library in Stoneridge, New York. And thanks to its cable connection, I can check the daily stories. ... Art Martone says the Red Sox have had a much tougher schedule than the Yankees this season. ... The Red Sox will wage an all-out battle for the East division crown. Boston is 8-5 against New York so far this season, holding them to a .240 batting average (only the Devil Rays have a lower average against the Sox (.224)). ... With two days off to rest his shoulder, David Ortiz should be ready to go tonight, but it is not certain.

Garry Sheffield will get two cortisone shots in his left shoulder tomorrow night. Although Sheffield missed three games (June 22-24) the last time he had a shot, New York has a day off on Thursday, and he believes he'll be ready for the Red Sox series on Friday. Sheffield said he did not know why the Yankees were not flying their team physician to Kansas City to inject Sheffield earlier.

Pitchers for the Tampa Bay series:

Tuesday: Pedro Martinez (16-5, 3.44) vs. Scott Kazmir (1-1, 5.63), 7:05 pm
Wednesday: Tim Wakefield (11-9, 4.64) vs. Dewon Brazelton (6-7, 4.33), 7:05 pm
Thursday: Curt Schilling (19-6, 3.35) vs. Mark Hendrickson (8-14, 4.93), 7:05 pm

And then the Yankees ....

September 13, 2004

Dateline: Accord, New York. Off this morning for a house in the Catskills, where I'll be stuck with deathly-slow dial-up, but will have the Extra Innings package. So for the next two weeks, expect game recaps and thoughts related thereto, but probably little else.

Seattle 2, Boston 0: Do other teams' bats go ice-cold more often than they logically should and make bad/unknown pitchers like Gil Meche and Bobby Madritsch look like Cy Young Jr.? ... Boston had its chances to score, but couldn't get a single run home. The Red Sox -- who fell to 3½ games back in the East, but lead the wild card by 5 games -- are off tonight and the Yankees are in Kansas City.

September 12, 2004

Fun with Numbers. The Red Sox have won 22 of their last 25 games (and 25 of 30 and 28 of 34). They are 30-9 since the Nomar trade and have not lost on consecutive days since Orlando Cabrera joined the team. ... If Bronson Arroyo wins another game, Boston will have five pitchers with 10 or more victories for the first time since 1977 and only the 12th time in team history. The records right now: Curt Schilling (19-6), Pedro Martinez (16-5), Derek Lowe (14-10), Tim Wakefield (11-9) and Arroyo (9-9).

Schilling will try for his 20th win on Thursday at Fenway against Tampa Bay, meaning that contrary to what I wrote this morning, he will not face the Yankees next weekend. Now the Sox starters in that series look like Arroyo, Lowe and Pedro. ... Lowe will likely have three Gold Glove winners in the infield today: Doug Mientkiewicz, Pokey Reese and Orlando Cabrera. Trot Nixon is also expected in the starting lineup.

Sean McAdam writes that the Red Sox rotation is tentatively set for the rest of the season Martinez will pitch the final game in Tampa on September 29, followed by Wakefield on October 1, Schilling and Arroyo in the October 2 doubleheader and Lowe on October 3, the last game of the season. That would give Martinez the ALDS Game 1 start on Tuesday, October 5, with five days rest."
Sweet Dreams. The late nights of the west coast trip kinda wore me out. However, I do not have a regular 9-to-5 job to get up for in the morning, so my sleepiness means only one thing: I am old and lame. ... But Game #141 -- a 9-0 whitewash of the Mariners -- was highly satisfying (or "outstanding" in the parlance of Don Orsillo) regardless of its starting time.

Bronson Arroyo allowed only 4 hits (and 0 walks) over 7 innings. His only jam was in the third, when Greg Dobbs and Dan Wilson began the inning with singles. Arroyo kept the ball in the infield, getting a strikeout, a force play and another groundout. He retired 10 Mariners in a row from the 4th to the 7th.

Manny Ramirez clubbed his 41st home run in the first inning. He also made two very good catches (ending the 4th and in the 9th), leaping to snare fly balls down the line and near the stands in foul territory. Manny is the living embodiment of the mild-mannered comic book superhero. ... In the 5th, Johnny Damon hit a 2-run double and Mark Bellhorn hit a 2-run homer on successive pitches. That upped the Red Sox lead from 3-0 to 7-0. With two outs in the 9th, Boston added two more runs on a single, double and 3 walks.

Mike Timlin was put in a hole when he began the 8th when two errors by Orlando Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis put runners on 1st and 2nd. But a force play and a 6-4-3 double play ended the inning. Alan Embree allowed a 2-out double in the 9th before striking out Orlando's brother Jolbert to end the game at 12:53 am.

I'm sure Terry Francona is sleeping better these days. Boston's margins of victory in its last 5 wins have all been comfortable -- 8-3, 7-1, 8-3, 13-2, 9-0 -- which has allowed Tito to pull his starters on his own schedule and with reasonable pitch counts and rotate pitchers out of the bullpen as they need work.

In Baltimore, Orlando Hernandez and the Yankees won 5-3. Who would have thought he'd be New York's pitching savior? The Yankees' 2½-game lead in the East is mostly (solely?) due to his 8-0, 2.49 record. He has been virtually untouchable at home this year, going 5-0, 1.85 in 6 starts, holding batters to a pathetic .208/.269/.319. He will face the Red Sox (and Curt Schilling) in the Bronx this Friday night. ... Anaheim lost to the White Sox 13-6 and fell 6 games behind the Sox in the wild card race.

Leiber/Daniel Cabrera at 1:35 pm and Lowe/Meche at 4:05 pm.

September 11, 2004

The Faces of 1,000 Soldiers. Truthout: "Iraq was not a threat to the United States, or to any of their neighbors. ... There are no weapons of mass destruction of any kind in Iraq. There were no connections whatsoever between Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and the attacks of September 11. The men and women whose faces fill the page below were not told this. They were, in fact, told the exact opposite. They raised their hands and took the oath, they donned their uniform and picked up their weapon, they boarded a plane and flew far from home, and they died. They were doing their duty, and they believed their President. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell and the members of this administration have much to answer for." ... Also here.

At times like this -- when I think about the 1,000+ Americans sent to slaughter and the tens of thousands of innocent people also murdered -- I wish I believed in hell.
Extra Notes. Byung-Hyun Kim probably will not return this season. Theo: "We're focused on getting him back on track for 2005. We're laying out a plan from this day to the first day in spring training." ... Terry Francona says Pokey Reese will be used mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement at second base. ... Tito on Arroyo's blond cornrows: "I looked at Bronson yesterday and I thought he'd lost his mind. It's the first time I ever looked in the mirror and was glad I was bald." ... Kevin Millar's latest t-shirt slogan? "Tell 'em we're coming" on the front and "And hell is coming with us ... Cowboy Up" on the back.

In Friday's Herald, Tony Massarotti looked at Johnny Damon's performance during the team's recent surge. Updating part of his article to include the last two games: "Since Aug. 16, when the Red Sox began a stretch during which they had posted a 21-3, Damon has served as the team's leadoff hitter on 19 occasions. In his first at-bat of those contests, Damon has gone 10-for-17 with a pair of walks and twice reached on errors. He has been on base 14 times and scored 12 runs. During that span, the Red Sox have outscored their opponents in the first inning by the overwhelming margin of 33-8."
Pitching In. Last night's 13-2 rout of the Mariners was truly a team effort. Everyone in the starting lineup either got a hit or scored a run (7 of the 9 hitters did both). In the 6th and 7th innings, Boston sent a total of 19 men to the plate, scoring 5 and 6 runs, respectively. Manny Ramirez's second home run of the game -- and 17th career grand slam -- capped the scoring. The lineup at the beginning and end of the game:
     Beginning          End

Damon cf Kapler cf
Bellhorn 2b Reese ss
Ramirez lf Hyzdu lf
Ortiz dh Ortiz dh
Varitek c Nixon rf
Millar 1b Mientkiewicz 1b
Cabrera ss Gutierrez 2b
Mueller 3b Youkilis 3b
Roberts rf Mirabelli c
Ramirez and Ortiz homered in the same game for the 12th time, setting a new club record (11 for Ted Williams/Jimmie Foxx in 1940 and Jim Rice/George Scott in 1977). ... Curt Schilling threw 7 innings, retiring his last 11 batters without allowing the ball to be hit out of the infield. He has not walked a batter in his last five starts. ... Scott Williamson pitched the 9th inning, walking one batter, striking out one and getting two groundouts; he threw 7 balls and 7 strikes. His velocity was only in the high 80s, but I'm assuming he wasn't pushing himself to the limit.

Elsewhere: The Yankee pitching staff melted down in Baltimore last night and New York lost 14-8. Vazquez couldn't get out of the third inning -- issuing two walks and a HBP, all with the bases loaded -- as the Orioles scored 8 times. Loaiza was also hit hard in relief. The lead in the East is back down to 2½. ... Anaheim beat the White Sox 7-5 to remain 5 games back in the wild card race. They also moved to within one game of first place in the West because Oakland lost to Cleveland 4-3 in 12 innings. ... Texas beat Toronto, but I'm going to leave them out of my playoff picture because they are 5 games behind in the West and 9 games back in the wild card.


Cleveland (Sabathia 11-9, 3.98) at Oakland (Harden 9-6, 3.98), 4:05 pm
Yankees (Hernandez 7-0, 2.62) at Baltimore (Ponson 10-13, 5.37), 4:35 pm
White Sox (Grilli 1-1, 6.48) at Anaheim (Sele 8-2, 4.77), 10:05 pm
Boston (Arroyo 8-9, 4.23) at Seattle (Moyer 6-10, 4.87), 10:05 pm
Third Anniversary. Please read "The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11" at Jeff Wells's Rigorous Intuition blog.

This past Thursday, I attended "The Omission Hearings" a day-long event held in Manhattan by the 9/11 Citizens' Commission. A list of people who spoke is here. One aspect of the disaster that I have done very little reading on is the environmental impact of the buildings' collapse, so the testimony of Jenna Orkin, co-founder of the World Trade Center Environmental Organization, was nothing short of mind-blowing.

There are dozens of books out there about 9/11 and its myriad tangents and there will be dozens more. But for the average person, there is perhaps no better source for 9/11 information that Paul Thompson's "The Terror Timeline" (and I would say that even if I hadn't written some of the book's entries and co-written an article with the author). All of the information in the book (and more (plus links to the thousands of news articles cited)) can be found here. ... The book could fairly accurately be subtitled "Everything You Know About 9/11 Is Wrong."

I should also point out the existence of the 9/11 Omissions Dossier -- which will point out all the contradictions, distortions and outright lies in the farcical report issued by the 9/11 Commission.

September 10, 2004

Pedro Is Dreaming. "I can't wait for these next few weeks. I've been through a lot (in seven years with Boston) and I know not to get my hopes up but man, we are more balanced and confident than I've ever seen. Everything is how it's supposed to be at the end of the season. Just like you dream. Only now the dream feels real."
Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living. -- Anias Nin
Schilling/Franklin in Seattle at 10 pm tonight.

September 6, 2004

What. An. Idiot. How can anyone with an IQ higher than his/her shoe size think this man (who may have snorted cocaine at Camp David) is qualified for anything?

Today's quote: "We got an issue in America. Too many good docs are gettin' out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their -- their love with women all across this country." Watch the video. ... An instant classic.
Go West, Young Men. After a 9-1 homestand, the Red Sox are out west for the week, beginning a 3-game set in Oakland and then playing 4 games in Seattle. Only a 5-2 record (or better) will make me happy. After that, they fly home to face the Devil Rays before consecutive weekend series with the Yankees.

New York avoided being swept by the Orioles yesterday, as they mounted a 9th-inning rally that featured 4 walks and a wild pitch. That's what I call a gift, especially after Rivera wiggled out of a 1st-and-3rd-nobody-out jam in the top half. The 9th inning (with abbreviations for ball, called, swinging and foul):
Baltimore: Surhoff singled to center. Raines ran for Surhoff. Gibbons singled to left, Raines to third. Bigbie (cfbb) struck out swinging. Roberts (bcbf) grounded out to second, Gibbons to second. Newhan bunt grounded out to pitcher.

New York: Jeter (bbb) walked. Williams (bb - Jeter to second on wild pitch) sacrificed to pitcher, Jeter to third. Sheffield (iii) intentionally walked. Rodriguez (iii) intentionally walked, Sheffield to second. Posada (cbsbb) walked, Jeter scored.
Julio threw 21 pitches, only (yikes!) 3 for strikes. For the record, I would not have issued both intentional walks. I would have pitched to Rodriguez.

While Posada has grounded into the most DPs in the AL, he also has the highest OBP on the Yankees -- and Julio had no margin for error. Before Posada stepped in, Julio had thrown 15 pitches and the only strike was the sac bunt. ... I don't think this strategy ever worked when Tito's Predecessor tried it; in fact, I think Posada drew one of the game-winning walks against the Sox.

So the Yankees avoided having their lead cut to 1½, but it had nothing to do with their bats (plus their closer faltered (again)). If they had lost, it would have been possible for the Red Sox to be tied for first place at the end of today, because New York plays an actual single-admission doubleheader, part of a five-game series with Tampa Bay.

Francona on Schilling: "I battled sending him out there in the ninth. His pitch count was fine. If we had gotten another run, I think I probably would have taken him out. Wally [pitching coach Dave Wallace] was probably in favor [of taking him out earlier], just to save some bullets. But he was throwing so well." ... So 6-1 wasn't big enough? If Francona thinks anyone in the bullpen cannot hold a 5-run lead in the 9th inning, they shouldn't be on the team. Simple as that.

It looks like Trot Nixon and Pokey Reese will be activated during this road trip. Nixon will play today in Pawtucket's final regular season game and is expected to take BP against Scott Williamson after flying out west. Francona said Nixon will play RF (not DH) when he's in the lineup. ... I'm very curious to hear how Williamson throws. RHP Pedro Astacio will also join the club in Oakland. ... After sitting out his third straight game, Johnny Damon hopes to play tonight: "I could've played [Sunday], but I know I would've hurt the team. ... I didn't realize how such a little part of your body could hurt your game."

Lenny Megliola: "With the Yankees and Orioles tied at 3-3 in the ninth, the fans came up with a Fenway first, a chorus of 'Let's Go Orioles!' ... And when the '3' was yanked from the scoreboard the fans began booing even before the '4' was posted next to NY, indicating a Yankees win. That's how it is in Fenway when September games have meaning. Scoreboard numbers get booed before they're slipped into the slot."

Dave Roberts: "I think the fans would rather see the Yankees lose than us win. They get more satisfaction out of it." ... It might seem that way at times, Dave, but it isn't true. You'll find that out over the next seven weeks.

Tonight: Bronson Arroyo (7-9, 4.24) vs. Barry Zito (10-9, 4.58), 10 pm
Tuesday: Derek Lowe (13-10, 5.15) vs. Mark Redman (10-10, 4.50), 10 pm
Wednesday: Pedro Martinez (15-5, 3.55) vs. Tim Hudson (11-4, 2.95), 10 pm
Gloating In Three Parts. (1) Karen Guregian says we should take some time and gloat that we (and not New York) have Curt Schilling. In winning his fifth straight start yesterday, Schilling is now 9-3, 3.10 following a Red Sox loss (6-0, 2.33 in his last 6 such starts).

(2) There were three seasons in which Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig each batted over .300 with 40+ home runs and 100+ RBI. The last time was in 1931:
         AVG  HR  RBI

Ruth .373 46 163
Gehrig .341 46 184
As Steve Buckley reports, it hasn't happened in the American League since. It could happen this year:
         AVG  HR  RBI

Ortiz .302 35 118
Ramirez .316 37 110
P.S. I've always wondered how in the hell Gehrig got so many RBI batting after Ruth.

(3) Gordon Edes, with stat info from Chuck Waseleski: "Starting pitchers who have faced the Sox this season are 32-64 with a 6.17 ERA, the highest in the majors and three-quarters of a run worse than anyone else (the Yankees are 5.43). At Fenway, opposing starters are a staggering 14-38, with an ERA of 6.83. ... Mark Buerhle of the White Sox is the only opposition starter this season who has pitched at least seven innings on Yawkey Way and come away with a victory. Home and away, opposing starters have gone seven or more against the Sox just 17 times in 135 games, the fewest in the majors. The Giants and Astros are next at 35, more than twice as many times as the Sox."

September 5, 2004

9/11 Coverup. In a new book -- "Intelligence Matters" -- set to be published Tuesday, Senator Bob Graham says two of the 9/11 hijackers had a support network in the US that included agents of the Saudi government. ... Graham, the co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that oversaw the 9/11 investigation on Capitol Hill, says there was "an attempted coverup" by the Bush administration and FBI to block any investigation into that relationship.

More from Newsweek and Uggabugga, who rightly notes that a lot of this information was reported more than a year ago. ... I hope it makes more of a splash this time around.
The Expert On Voter Fraud. In his recent acceptance speech, George Bush praised Afghanistan for registering more people to vote than are actually eligible to vote in that country. Bush has made this false claim (i.e., lie) before. Matthew Yglesias notes: "What we're seeing isn't an unprecedented outpouring of democratic enthusiasm, it's massive fraud."

Three words that Bush did not say during his speech? Osama. bin. Laden.
Loyalty. Francona on sticking with Wakefield yesterday: "If you ask any manager that's ever had a knuckleball pitcher, (it's) the hardest - because of their unique style - to figure out when to get him out. ... Wake can find it, lose it, find it so fast. I think he'd probably say the same thing. And the runs he sometimes gives up happen quickly. ... He's been so good for so long, and this year, I think one of the worst things I can do is not be patient enough. Because he does find it so often and he's so successful. I think he deserves the patience."

While I disagreed with Francona's slow hook in the 7th inning, what he says makes sense -- to a point. However, at this stage of the season, I'm not sure how much "deserved patience" is warranted when every game is crucial. Holding the line and preventing further runs when you are behind and doing everything to win the game must take precedence.

Tito considered having Damon pinch-hit for Mientkiewicz in the ninth yesterday, but decided against it. Tito said that if Mientkiewicz had reached base, Varitek would have batted for Roberts. Even though Roberts singled, I think Varitek should have hit in that inning anyway. ... If all goes well with Trot Nixon with Pawtucket today, he could join the team in Oakland and perhaps play in Seattle. ... Pedro Astacio allowed one run and one hit in five innings for the PawSox on Friday. He could also be joining the club very soon.

Gordon Edes looks at Manny's MVP chances this year and notes that the preliminary 2005 schedule has the Red Sox opening the season in New York, playing their home opener against the Yankees and ending the season playing the Yankees. ... However, Sean McAdam reports that the Sox have objected to various parts of the schedule, including opening against the Yankees. Boston ends the spring with two exhibition games against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix and are loath to fly back East for their opener.

Yankees News: Kevin "I Fought The Wall, And The Wall Won" Brown will be out of action at least 3 weeks -- which makes it unlikely that he'll pitch before the season ends. Would Torre use a roster spot and bring him back during the ALDS? Brad Halsey replaces Brown in the rotation. ... A West Coast scout who's been tracking the Yankees for the past three weeks tells the Herald's Howard Bryant: "I'll tell you one thing, if this team (Boston) catches the Yankees, they'll blow right past them, and the Yankees won't retake them. No way." ... Early in the Yankee radio broadcast today, John Sterling said: "The playoffs are not a lock."

September 4, 2004

Cursor down (or click) and vote in the poll if you haven't done so already.

Rangers 8, Red Sox 6. Unlike Nigel Tufnel's amp, the Red Sox winning streak doesn't go to 11. Texas starter Chris "Cy" Young shut down the Sox for nearly six innings and a sleepy Terry Francona left Tim Wakefield in the game too long. Although the Red Sox stormed back against the Texas pen with 5 runs in the 7th (a Bellhorn grand slam and an Ortiz solo blast), they were in too deep of a hole to begin with.

Good news: Sidney Ponson threw a 2-hit, complete game shutout against the Yankees. The Orioles ripped Mariano Rivera for 4 runs in the 9th inning and won 7-0. ... The big story from this afternoon was not that Boston failed to take advantage of another Yankees loss, but that the Yankees did not capitalize on a rare Red Sox loss. The East margin remains at 2½.

One again Wakefield was average. After a quick, 8-pitch first inning, the first six Rangers reached base in the 2nd (single, single, HBP, single, FC, single) and Texas led 3-0. In the 4th, Rod Barajas hit a 2-run homer. Wakefield calmed down after that, retiring 7 of the next 8 batters and although he had thrown only 87 pitches through 6 innings, he had not been sharp.

You could make the case that Wakefield should not have begun the 7th inning. Or if he did, Tito should have had the bullpen up and ready. Texas led 5-1 at that point and Boston could not afford to fall any further behind.

Barajas began the inning with a single, then Eric Young walked on 5 pitches. No movement from Francona. Michael Young took a ball and then blasted a three-run home run to left. Texas 8-1. Now Francona came out to make the move. ... Wakefield certainly deserves blame for allowing the many base runners and runs, but as manager, Francona must keep the game as close as possible, to give his hitters as good a chance to rally as possible. He failed to do that today.

Mop-up man Terry Adams got out of the inning (although he did make an error). With one out in the bottom half, Jeff Nelson (who had finished up the 6th) walked Mirabelli. With the crowd howling at him, he then walked Mientkiewicz and he walked Roberts. Ron Mahay took over and allowed a grand slam to Mark Bellhorn. It was 8-5. After Manny grounded out, Ortiz clubbed his 34th home run of the year -- and Boston was within two runs with two innings of hitting left to go.

I was surprised to see Adams pitching in the 8th. This was not a mop-up situation anymore. Brian Jordan singled to start the inning. Where was Tito? Kevin Mench singled. Where was Tito? Laynce Nix popped up a bunt for the first out. Where was Tito? ... Ah, here he comes. Mendoza retired the next two batters to end the threat.

Doug Brocail retired Boston in order in the 8th (Cabrera foul pop, Mueller grounder deflected from pitcher to 2B, and Mirabelli caught looking). Francisco Cordero struck out Mientkiewicz to start the 9th. I expected Varitek would bat for Roberts, but Francona did not make the switch. Roberts ended up lining a single into center. Bellhorn was now the tying run, but on a 3-2 pitch, he grounded to second base, where Soriano began a double play that ended the game.

Judging from the game thread, Soriano did not tag Roberts -- reminding many of Tim Tschida's 1999 ALCS call involving Knoblauch/Offerman -- but apparently Roberts was called out for leaving the baseline.

In this crucial 9-game stretch against Anaheim, Texas and Oakland, the Red Sox are now 4-1 -- which is pretty damn good. I only wish that Francona would understand that this offense can come back from big deficits and he shouldn't throw in the towel quite so early (or often).

Back in the early innings when it was 3-1 (and even 5-1), I felt the game was far from over. That feeling from 2003 -- that every game is winnable -- has finally returned. This game did nothing to dampen it.

Tomorrow: Schilling vs. Ryan Drese.

September 3, 2004

John Kerry Called It -- It's 2½!! Pedro Martinez threw 7 shutout innings (4 hits, 9 strikeouts) and Manny Ramirez and Bill Mueller hit solo home runs as Boston took the first game from Texas 2-0. It was the Red Sox 10th straight win (and 11th straight at home); they have won 16 of their last 17 and 19 of 22. ... They also did it without David Ortiz and Johnny Damon in the lineup. The lead in the East has not been this small since June 11.

In the Bronx, Baltimore beat the Yankees 3-1. Closer Jorge Julio struck out A-Rod, Matsui and Posada in the bottom of the 9th, thus sending George Steinbrenner scurrying around for more inspirational messages to read to his fighting men tomorrow morning. ... The bigger news came during Joe Torre's post-game conference when it was announced that tonight's starter Kevin Brown had punched a clubhouse wall after being pulled and broken his left (non-throwing) hand. There is no word on how long he will be out.

You know -- I'm getting pretty ... fucking ... giddy.
George Steinbrenner Has Lost His Mind. After the Yankees suffered the worst loss in franchise history -- a 22-0 rout to Cleveland on Tuesday night (own the broadcast today!) -- the Yankees principal owner placed motivational messages around Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to inspire his players.

When asked why he posted the messages -- "Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win" and "When the going gets tough, the tough get goin'" (and music by Billy Ocean?!?) -- Steinbrenner issued a statement: "I wanted to show the fans that we have the same courage and the same attitudes all New Yorkers have had in fighting back from that terrible episode on 9/11. New Yorkers never give up and the Yankees never give up."

Rebounding from a loss in a baseball game and dealing with the murder of nearly 3,000 people and the destruction of the World Trade Center towers -- yeah, George, I can see the similarities. ... The man has no tact, no class and no shame.

Also: A reader at Boston Dirt Dogs notes that John Kerry said the Red Sox had closed to within 2.5 games of the Yankees the other night. If Kerry said this -- no link is provided -- he clearly misspoke, because Boston is 3.5 games behind. ... I found it amusing that a website openly endorsing George "Catastrophic Success" Bush is making fun of anyone's way of speaking or apparent slips of the tongue.

September 2, 2004

Red Sox Sweep Angels! Color me impressed. Even with Ortiz out of the lineup with a sore shoulder, Manny going 0-5 (with 3 strikeouts (all looking)) and 14 men left on base in the first 7 innings, Boston still made a 4-3 third inning lead stand up as Thursday night's final score.

Derek Lowe shocked me by sticking around for 7.1 innings and 115 pitches. He settled down and allowed only 3 hits after the first two innings. Francona managed the bullpen perfectly, bringing in Mike Myers for one out in the 8th and letting Keith Foulke get the final four outs.

Damon reached base four times (3 hits and a walk), Bellhorn and Dave Roberts both doubled twice (Millar and Mientkiewicz each had one double) and Mueller hit a solo home run. Roberts also atoned for an error in the 4th inning, running in and making a face-first diving catch, starting a 9-6 double play to also erase the runner he allowed to reach.

In the top of the 9th, Manny's quick play in the corner held Glaus to a leadoff single. On the first pitch to Kennedy, Varitek threw Glaus out at second. Kennedy then struck out and pinch-hitter DaVanon popped to short to end the game.

Other scores:
New York 9, Cleveland 1
Oakland 4, Chicago 2
Minnesota 2, Texas 0

Boston remains 3.5 behind the Yankees, but now leads Anaheim by 4.5 and Texas by 6 in the wild card. The Rangers open a series at Fenway tomorrow night. ... Pedro v. Way Back Wasdin.
Boys Keep Swinging. The Red Sox scored four times in the opening frame for the second straight night -- Damon beat out an infield single, Bellhorn doubled him home, Ramirez walked on 4 pitches and Ortiz singled Bellhorn home; after hard fly balls to left from Varitek and Millar (sac fly), Cabrera tripled into the triangle to bring Ortiz around. 4-0. ... In New York, Cleveland scored a run in the top of the 1st. ... The evening ended well -- though it was not a completely smooth ride and the Yankees did rally to win.

Bronson Arroyo gave two runs back in the second and after Boston went up 5-2, he allowed Anaheim to tie the game in the 3rd before departing after 19 batters and 68 pitches. Mike Myers, fresh off his grand slam debacle of the night before, got Ersatd on a little dribbler in front of the plate to end the rally. As a LOOGY (Lefty, One-Out GuY), Myers is here for one reason -- to get LH batters out. So Tito tempted fate by bringing him back out to face some RH hitters in the 4th inning. Myers retired Guerrero on a tapper back to the mound (whew!) and got Anderson to pop to short. After he walked Guillen on four pitches, Francona went to Terry Adams. (It turns out Mendoza had a groin problem and was unavailable.)

Adams got the last out in the 4th and put zeroes on the board for the 5th and 6th. He allowed only a hit and a walk in 2.1 innings and was helped by Varitek throwing out Kennedy at 3rd and Figgins at 2nd -- both in the 5th inning. ... During that time, Boston pounded Aaron Sele and Scot Shields.

4th: With one out, Damon doubled, Bellhorn doubled, Manny singled and Ortiz hit a sac fly. Boston 7-5.

5th: Millar opened with a single, Cabrera doubled, Mueller singled and Roberts hit a sac fly. Boston 9-5.

6th: Manny walked, Ortiz struck out, Varitek singled, Millar hit a long 3-run homer to left. Boston 12-5.

Mike Timlin stumbled in the 7th, allowing a single and a double. I guess he needs the pressure to do his job. He got the next three outs in the infield, but did allow a run. He allowed a second run in the 8th on a walk to Eckstein and Guerrero's double, but Alan Embree got the final out of the inning with his one pitch of the night. Curtis Leskanic worked the ninth.

In the Bronx, home runs by Posada and Olerud gave New York 3 runs in the 4th, and although Mariano Rivera allowed a leadoff double in the top of the 9th (bringing the tying run to the plate), the Yankees held on to win 5-3. The White Sox beat Oakland 5-4 with a run in the last of the 9th, and Minnesota beat Texas 4-2. ... So Boston still trails New York by 3.5 and the wild card chase looks like this:
Boston   78  53 .595   --

Anaheim 75 57 .568 3.5
Texas 73 58 .557 5.0
Nice. Lowe/Colon at 7:00 pm.
What The Hell Is Wrong With ESPN? They made the Angels/Red Sox game their early game, so it was blacked out on both MLB.TV and Extra Innings. But then because they are waiting for a press conference about Kobe Bryant, they don't show the top of the first inning.

The network finally gives up and switches to the baseball game, but keeps warning us they will cut away when the conference begins. ... And with impeccable timing, right after Bellhorn's double in the 4th gave the Red Sox a 6-5 lead, we got left in the dark. ESPN stayed away long enough to miss three batters (Manny, Ortiz, Varitek) and an Anaheim pitching change. The broadcast resumed with the bottom of the 4th.

Doesn't the ESPN-News channel exist solely to show this kind of shit? (By the way, ESPN2 showed the 2004 World Cup of Hockey through all of this.) Plus, with all the lead-up blather from HQ in Bristol, we knew exactly what would be said at the news conference.

If ESPN doesn't want to show baseball, that's fine. But it should show the game it agreed to show on another channel or lift the blackout.

September 1, 2004

Visions Of October - A Poll. I was discussing the 2004 playoffs with Laura, my YLP (who has been impressed by the Red Sox's recent surge), last night. She asked me if it would be easier for Boston to not play the Yankees in the ALCS. I said it might be easier, but the ALCS would then lack (for me) that extra level of intensity and satisfaction.

And while that would mean there was the horrific possibility of losing a second straight ALCS to New York, I would take that risk. ... And assuming that one World Series championship is all I will get to enjoy, in my mind, the Red Sox have to defeat the Yankees to make it as enjoyable as possible. But maybe I'm nuts. So ...
Of the following three scenarios, which would you prefer?

Red Sox win AL East, Yankees miss playoffs.
Red Sox advance to ALCS, but Yankees do not.
Red Sox and Yankees meet in ALCS.

New York Fishwrap. A few snips.

Joel Sherman, New York Post: "It could have been worse. Actually, no, it couldn't have. This was about more than the Yankees being crushed 22-0 by the Indians last night. ... This was supposed to be the week the Yankees feasted against inferior foes at home while the Red Sox, well, became the Red Sox again. Instead, ... Boston is going positively 1978 Yankees on the Yankees. And the Yanks are going positively Mets."

Ken Davidoff, Newsday: "Jaw-droppingly ugly. Historically ugly. ... Steinbrenner held general manager Brian Cashman and other front-office members for nearly an hour after the game. He offered no comment to reporters upon his departure from the Stadium. ... Yankees starting pitchers have recorded only one victory in the team's last 16 games."

New York Daily News: "Moments after The Boss was driven off, Cashman and Trost walked out of the Stadium press entrance looking as if they had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. Cashman was ashen, the bags under his eyes even larger than normal. ... Now with the AL East lead evaporating daily, Steinbrenner may be gearing up for the mother of all tantrums."

Mark Herrmann, Newsday (while expressing doubts about the Yankees pitchers): "The Yankees have been through enough Septembers to know this is no time to panic. They aren't flummoxed by the Boston Red Sox, who have cut a 10½-game lead to 3½. ... This is going to sound weird, but the Yankees shouldn't be worried about the Red Sox. Even last night, it is hard not to see the Yankees not winning the American League East. Their lineup is too good, their schedule is too favorable (19 games at home this month) for them not to win it."
Nearly Half Of New Yorkers Believe US Leaders Knew Of 9/11 Plot In Advance. Zogby: "On the eve of a Republican National Convention invoking 9/11 symbols, sound bytes and imagery, half (49.3%) of New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens overall say that some of our leaders "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act," according to the poll conducted by Zogby International ...

Despite the acute legal and political implications of this accusation, nearly 30% of registered Republicans and over 38% of those who described themselves as "very conservative" supported the claim. The charge found very high support among adults under 30 (62.8%), African-Americans (62.5%), Hispanics (60.1%), Asians (59.4%), and "Born Again" Evangelical Christians (47.9%)."
There's Something Happening Here. Yesterday, Art Martone shared his thoughts on the Red Sox resurgence. He closed with this:
And, again, just be thankful it's been the Red Sox taking huge bites out of the Yankees' first-place lead, and not the other way around. ... Think you'd be hearing the words "curse" a few times? Think you'd be reminded of Babe Ruth and Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner once or twice? Think it would be a chance for Yankee fans to crow about their infinite superiority over the Sox ...

Yet there's almost no talk of the Sox completing the charge and taking down the Yankees ... which would be regarded as a given if it was the Yanks who were the hunters and the Sox the hunted. Why? Because -- most people believe -- the Red Sox never beat the Yankees. It's not true, but ... who needs the truth when you've got a stereotype to embrace? A simple answer to a complex question. Almost as simple as saying something won't happen because it's never happened before.
True enough. And last night, things got a little closer in the standings. The back page of today's New York Post -- suitable for framing: