April 30, 2005

Red Sox Blog Nation Speaks

Brian at Friendly Fenway has posted his second batch of questions and answers from various Red Sox bloggers about how things are going this season. ... Read it here. (The first one is here.)

He also writes quick and informative wrapups/updates of Boston's minor league teams. His April 26 entry is a great example.

G22: Rangers 7, Red Sox 2

Pathetic. Sleepwalking in the outfield, hacking away early in the count right up to the very end, and a bit of bonehead managing. Oh, it was a great night in Arlington.

Miscommunication between Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in left center led to a Texas run in the first inning. Boston took the lead back in the fourth. Ramirez and David Ortiz both walked with two outs and Kevin Millar tripled to right center to bring them in.

After a leadoff double in the second inning, Tim Wakefield retired the next 12 batters. In the sixth, he ran into trouble. Dave Dellucci singled and after getting the next two Rangers, Hank Blalock singled, tying the game. Then Alfonso Soriano belted a flat knuckleball to deep left and Texas led 4-2.

Brad Mills, who will be filling in for Terry Francona for the entire series, goofed when he pulled Wakefield and brought in Mike Myers with one out in the seventh. Dellucci was up with a man on second. Seeing Myers, Buck Showalter sent up a right-handed hitter. Chad Allen then singled the runner home -- righties are now 4-for-4 against Myers this year.

The Boston bats were absent against Chan Ho Park and Ron Mahay. How absent?

Five of the nine Red Sox batters did not hit the ball out of the infield: Ramirez, Ortiz, Edgar Renteria, Bill Mueller and Ramon Vazquez.

Boston had only three hits: Damon's single to begin the game (an infield hit deflected off Park to the shortstop, whose throw was a little too late), Millar's triple in the fourth (which hit solidly off the top of Gary Matthews's glove in right center and was catchable) and Doug Mirabelli's single in the fifth (which Matthews, sliding in shallow right, probably should have caught). Bah.

Tim Bausher was called up Thursday, threw in the Sox pen during last night's game and was sent back to Pawtucket. With Mark Bellhorn now having flu-like symptoms, Kevin Youkilis will be in Texas this evening. In a dozen games with the PawSox, Youkilis batted .227 (10-for-44) with eight walks. ... (P.S. Bausher's agent is Billy Martin, Jr.)

John Halama pitched the eighth inning, allowing three hits and two runs. He also let Blalock get a huge jump in stealing second. Should be fun watching him in Detroit on Monday.

Wade Miller had another successful rehab start on Thursday night: five scoreless innings against Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He allowed five hits (two of them infield squibs) and two walks. He will make one more AAA start, Tuesday against Rochester, and then join the Red Sox. He could make his debut on May 8 against Seattle.

Every suspended Red Sock and Devil Ray was also fined $3,000, although Piniella's fine was knocked down to $2,500. Ortiz and Singleton were each fined $500.

In the Bronx, both Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson pitched complete games last night, as Toronto won 2-0 in a zippy 2:08. The Yankees are 9-14, only the second time during Joe Torre's tenure the team has been five games below .500 (they were 5-10 on April 17, 1997).

Bronson Arroyo / Pedro Astacio at 8:00.

April 29, 2005

"Yankee Bob" Has Spoken

Unless appealed, all suspensions begin tonight.
Terry Francona   3 games
Bronson Arroyo 6 games
Trot Nixon 2 games

Lou Piniella 3 games
Dewon Brazelton 5 games
Lance Carter 5 games
The above six were also fined an undisclosed amount of money, as were David Ortiz and Chris Singleton.

It all seems a bit much to me (especially the fines to Tiz and Singleton), though I realize the length of Arroyo's and Brazelton's suspensions are to guarantee they each miss a start.

One lesson I learned today:
Yell at, and take maybe four steps towards, a pitcher who threw deliberately at your head = A fine

Get brushed by a fan (maybe) while fielding a ball and, before throwing the ball back to the infield, turn and try to punch that fan with both hands = No fine (and be showered with praise for your restraint)
Thanks, Bob.

Boston Herald Predictions

Thanks to a fellow SoSH member, I now have the Globe and Herald from the day after the Opening Day Ring Ceremonies. And in the Herald, I found the sportswriters' predictions:
Massarotti Yankees Red Sox Atlanta Yankees
Buckley Yankees Red Sox Atlanta Red Sox
Horrigan Yankees Red Sox Atlanta Atlanta
Silverman Yankees Red Sox Marlins Yankees
All four writers picked the Twins in the Central and the Angels in the West. Horrigan picked the Twins to win the AL pennant.

April 28, 2005

Why I Spent $10.50 To See Fever Pitch

Jimmy Fallon was supposed to be reading my book in bed at the beginning of one scene (#91, actually), right after the "fingers-in-my-ears-so-I-don't-hear-the-Red-Sox-score" scene with Drew Barrymore's parents. ... That scene didn't make the final cut. Boo.

However, I did see the book twice: (1) across the room on Fallon's night table early in the movie and (2) on his dresser in the scene after Barrymore calls him from Paris saying she is not pregnant (the book is in the lower left of the screen, though you can't read the actual words on the cover).

What else can I tell you?

FP is a formulaic romantic comedy. I chuckled at two or three of the lines, but I'll be damned if I can remember them now. Fenway Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and seeing game footage from non-traditional angles was cool. The game that prompts the main characters' relationship crisis didn't actually happen, which was bad, because there is a fair amount of actual 2004 game footage in the movie. (Of course, only certifiable Red Sox fans would notice.)

Couldn't one of the season-ticket-holding fans have said that the Curse is bullshit, since most serious Red Sox fans believe that? Barrymore's character has a really cute dog, but she has a non-stop work schedule, so who walks it?

My advice? Wait for the DVD.

Who Starts Tuesday?

"It never fails," Terry Francona said. "Whenever you think you have enough pitching or too much pitching, you're probably fooling yourself."

Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Clement will pitch in Texas and John Halama will start Monday in Detroit. The question is who gets the ball on Tuesday. There's not a consensus in the papers and an announcement is expected later today.

Most reports tap Jeremi Gonzalez, who has started for the Cubs and Devil Rays. Gonzalez threw six innings (one run, three hits) on Tuesday. It could be Lenny DiNardo, who threw five scoreless innings for Pawtucket before being recalled. Abe Alvarez has an outside shot. ... The Red Sox will (wisely) stay with twelve pitchers.

Devil Rays reliever Trever Miller jumps into the Piniella-Schilling spat: "You couldn't hear anybody else over Schilling [yapping during the bench-clearing incidents]. He was berating our manager, our ownership, all the way to our waterboys. He was kind of contradicting himself yelling at us and telling us how to play the game when he's going out there stirring the pot and being immature about it. So I find that ironic and pretty sad, especially for a guy that has all that time in the game."

Keith Foulke wants more work. "I could talk until I'm blue in the face. I'm physically healthy. I've got no excuses. I need to pitch three or four times a week. ... I feel great. My shoulder feels incredible. ... You guys see the playoffs last year? You guys remember how I talked all last year about the more I pitch the better I am. Any more questions?"

Francona agrees. "I think his past history is we do use him frequently. The last three days in Tampa Bay some crazy things happened. He'll pitch a lot. He's better when he pitches. We know that." ... With Halama and an AAA arm starting over the next few weeks, the pen should be plenty busy.

Off to see Fever Pitch today.

April 27, 2005

69 Hours To Stew

This afternoon's game with Baltimore was rained out. It will not be made up on the off-day tomorrow, so from the last out Tuesday to the first pitch in Texas on Friday, there will be a gap of sixty-nine hours with no Red Sox baseball. Lots of time to figure out the starting rotation for the next few weeks.

Curt Schilling knew something was wrong with his ankle when he threw a pitch to Travis Lee during the sixth inning on Saturday. Lee looked at two strikes and then hit a two-run double that gave Tampa its 6-5 margin of victory. "The ankle bone was just not ready to take the force I put on it the other day. ... [T]here was a very legitimate possibility that we could break the bone and the season would be done."

What makes very little sense is that after Lee's double, Schilling stayed in the game and threw 21 more pitches, finishing the sixth and pitching the seventh. Also, Schilling says, "I think it was the hardest pitch I had thrown all year, and I was really trying to reach back and throw the ball." Does that mean that he'd been holding back, afraid to really test the ankle?

Red Sox medical director Thomas Gill said Wells "will benefit from a period of rest and rehabilitation. Currently, there is no exact time frame for his return [Francona was quoted as saying 4-6 weeks]. We expect him to be able to maintain his fitness activities and baseball training throughout the period of his rehab." Fitness activities?

Fun With Numbers: Last night's crowd of 35,670 was the largest for a regular season game at Fenway Park since September 28, 1990. ... The last time the Red Sox allowed 20 hits was July 24, 2003, when the Devil Rays had 21. ... Keith Foulke has allowed 20 base runners in nine appearances, covering 10 innings. His ERA ballooned to 7.20.

Schilling: When you're playing a team with a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played, there's problems. ... Lou's trying to make his team be a bunch of tough guys, and the telling sign is when the players on that team are saying, 'This is why we lose a hundred games a year, because this idiot makes us do stuff like this.' They were saying this on the field.

Piniella: I think he should just concern himself with pitching and not worry about what other managers do or don't do. ... I know exactly how the game should be played, and why. Quite frankly, I'm disappointed in his comments, very disappointed in his comments. ... Go talk to the players. I don't think they'd say that. I know you wouldn't get one to say that.
No shit, Lou. None of your players are going on the record calling you an idiot.

This Is No Good

Curt Schilling (7.13 ERA) will join David Wells on the disabled list. He'll miss at least two weeks with a bruised right ankle.

It's the same ankle he had surgery on this winter, but Theo Epstein said the current bruising was higher on the ankle and may not be related.

April 26, 2005

G21: Orioles 11, Red Sox 8

Shit. Matt Clement couldn't hold leads of 5-1 and 8-3, allowing 12 hits and seven runs in 4.2 innings. Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada each had four hits. Keith Foulke, entrusted with an 8-7 lead in the eighth, coughed it up, allowing two two-run home runs before getting a second out.

Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez was not much better than Clement. He had allowed only five earned runs in his last four starts combined against Boston. He gave up that many runs in the second inning. But his teammates got him off the hook.

Manny Ramirez had three hits and five RBI for Boston, including a line drive three-run home run into the Monster seats that chased Lopez, but a quarter of Orioles relievers shut the Sox out after the fourth inning. Johnny Damon remained hot, with two doubles, and Bill Mueller, back in the lineup, reached base three times in five trips.

The Orioles hold a three-game lead over the Red Sox in the East. Wakefield goes in a 1:00 game Wednesday afternoon.

Wells On DL (That Didn't Take Long)

David Wells was placed on the 15-day disabled list after spraining his right foot last night. He could be out as long as a month. John Halama will start next Tuesday at Detroit and Lenny DiNardo was recalled to replace Halama in the pen. ... Hurry up, Wade Miller!

I would have liked Kevin Youkilis to be recalled, but maybe Bill Mueller, who pinch-hit last night, is ready to return. The Sox have really been caught short by Mueller's bug. He hasn't started since last Wednesday, but it hasn't been serious enough for a full DL stint.

"Babe Ruth Plays The Field"

The Yankees vs. Red Sox Reader is a new compilation of writings on the Rivalry. Contributors include Roger Angell, Peter Gammons, David Halberstam, Thomas Boswell, Bill Lee ... and me.

My short piece recounts the days before Babe Ruth's first game as a position player. He played first base and batted sixth for Boston on May 6, 1918. He went 2-for-4 with a home run, but the Red Sox lost to the Yankees 10-3 at the Polo Grounds. Earlier that week, the Yankees' offer of more than $100,000 for Ruth was turned down.

G20: Orioles 8, Red Sox 4

It wasn't as bad as Saturday's loss to Tampa, but last night's game against the first-place Orioles was nearly as annoying. I mean, Bruce Chen ... again?

Yet, like Red at Surviving Grady, the frustration is not sticking. I watch the boneheaded baserunning, the rally-ending GIDPs and strikeouts, the bullpen meltdowns and I get pissed, but the anger passes much quicker than usual. However, it is not even May yet. We'll see how long this pseudo-honeymoon lasts.

David Wells struggled -- allowing the team's first first-inning run of the season, then giving away Boston's brief lead with two more runs in the second and three in the fourth. He left the game in the fourth with what was termed a "sprained foot." Tony Massarotti of the Herald hints that this might be part of an ongoing condition, noting that "there have been rumblings about Wells having some sort of foot ailment since spring training." ... In the seventh, Matt Mantei twisted his ankle while backing up third base, but x-rays showed no structural damage.

Continuing with the injury theme, both the Globe and Herald notebooks catalogue Kevin Millar's HBP bruises. One account says "his right leg is black and blue, knee to ankle," while the other describes it as "an ugly, yellow, red and purple bruise from his right knee to his lower calf ... the seam mark from the baseball was visible." Ouch.

Bill Mueller remains too sick to start, but he did pinch-hit in the ninth inning. Wade Miller will pitch Thursday for Pawtucket; his scheduled rehab start last weekend with Portland was rained out.

If you've been thinking the Sox have been burned a lot by opposing #9 hitters, you're right. According to statistician Chuck Waseleski, the ninth spot had the highest batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.420), slugging percentage (.597), and most home runs (4) of any spot in the lineup against the Sox. Geronimo Gil, batting at the bottom of the Orioles' order last night, went 0-for-4.

With three singles last night, Johnny Damon now has four consecutive multi-hit games (11-for-17) and has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games. He isn't hitting the middle innings, however:

Innings 1-3 .361 (13-for-36)
Innings 4-6 .095 ( 2-for-21)
Innings 7-9 .583 (14-for-24)
The Red Sox have added the AL East standings to the scoreboard on The Wall. On the days the Yankees have been tied with the Devil Rays for last place, the two cities have been listed alphabetically, as they are in the newspaper, so New York is above Tampa Bay. I was hoping the Sox would go ahead and put the Yankees below the Rays because it looks better -- and is still accurate. Last night, they did!

Matt Clement / Rodrigo Lopez at 7:00.

April 25, 2005

Drill Bits

Lengthy discussion at SoSH. A recap of the weekend:

Top of 2nd: Kazmir hits Millar (near knee).
Top of 5th: Kazmir hits Manny (outside of front leg; almost behind him).
Bot of 6th: Wakefield hits Gomes (leadoff batter; Boston trailed 3-1).
Bot of 8th: Mantei throws wildly to Huff and inside to Gonzalez (TB announcers felt he was headhunting; looked wild to me).
Bot of 7th: Schilling hits Crawford (2 out, bases empty).
Top of 8th: McClung hits Millar (leadoff batter; Tampa ahead 6-5; unintentional?).
Bot of 6th: Arroyo hits Huff (front leg, by knee; possible retaliation for Saturday).
Top of 7th: Carter throws behind Ramirez (Manny homers on the next pitch).
Top of 7th: Carter throws at Ortiz's head (4th pitch after Manny's HR).
Bot of 7th: Arroyo hits Singleton (obvious retaliation).
To me, everything seemed above board and according to whatever "settle-it-on-the-field/unwritten rules" exist in the game -- except for Carter's pitch at Ortiz's head.

This is merely the latest episode in the Sox-Rays beanball rivalry. On August 29, 2000, Pedro Martinez hit Gerald Williams. Before that game was over, eight Devil Rays were ejected, Brian Daubach suffered a hyper-extended elbow and Lou Merloni received a concussion.

On May 5, 2002, Ryan Rupe hit Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand. Then Trot Nixon's bat flew out of his hands towards the mound after a swing. Sox pitcher Frank Castillo hit Randy Wynn. Suspensions: Castillo (five games) and Nixon (four). On July 18, Tanyon Sturtze hit Manny Ramirez and Castillo hit Brent Abernathy. Both pitchers were fined. Esteban Yan plunked Ramirez later in the game, but was neither ejected nor fined. On September 9, Derek Lowe was tossed after hitting Felix Escalona for the second time. The following day, Tampa's Lee Gardner was ejected for hitting Merloni.

Dewon Brazelton: "I'm embarrassed I got thrown out of the ballgame. Normally when you go out there, it's a song and dance, but in this case ... we had just had two really hard-fought games and sometimes emotion gets the best of you. I'm an educated fellow, but that was uneducated. I really have more class than that."

David Ortiz on Lou Piniella: "This is a game, everyone is professional here and everyone needs to act professional. Sometimes watching TV, their manager [is] going off on their pitching just because they make a mistake. I never saw that before, you know what I'm saying? That tells you, sometimes everything starts up because of him."

And here I thought it had been all Hal McRae's fault. ... The St. Petersburg Times has two stories, as does the Tampa Tribune (here and here).

Manny Ramirez was named AL Player of the Week. In seven games, he batted .364, with four home runs, 10 RBI, eight runs scored, 24 total bases and a 1.091 slugging percentage. Since the award began in 1990, Ramirez has won it 12 times, second only to Frank Thomas of the White Sox (13). ... Last week, the Red Sox and Yankees both won Monday, lost Tuesday, won Wednesday and Thursday, lost Friday and Saturday, and won Sunday.

Baltimore at Fenway:
Tonight: David Wells / Bruce Chen, 7:00
Tuesday: Matt Clement / Rodrigo Lopez, 7:00
Wednesday: Tim Wakefield / Daniel Cabrera, 1:00

April 24, 2005

G19: Red Sox 11, Devil Rays 3

Ian Browne (redsox.com):
In the bottom of the sixth, Sox starter Bronson Arroyo hit Aubrey Huff with a pitch, setting off what was about to become a very eventful afternoon. Home plate umpire Ted Barrett went out to talk to Arroyo, but no warnings were issued.

Then, in the top of the seventh, Devil Rays reliever Lance Carter threw a pitch behind Manny Ramirez. Warnings were issued to both sides, and Ramirez got the ultimate revenge on the very next pitch, clubbing Carter's meaty fastball over the wall in left to give the Sox a 5-2 lead. Ortiz stepped up next, and the first pitch from Carter sailed over his head, causing both benches to empty. Rays catcher Toby Hall wrapped Ortiz up. Carter and Rays manager Lou Piniella were both ejected, which was automatic with the warning in place. Nixon was also ejected, as he went toward the mound and pointed at Carter. Rays right-hander Dewon Brazelton, who jawed with Nixon, was thrown out as well.

On the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, Arroyo hit Chris Singleton, leading to his ejection, and that of manager Terry Francona. Though the benches emptied again, things stayed calm ...
There is also a five-minute video clip at the link above, showing Carter throwing at Manny and Ortiz and the ensuing scuffle. Nixon looks ready to chew nails.

After things settled down, Boston sent 12 batters to the plate in the eighth, scoring six times. Jay Payton, who took over for Nixon in right field, hit a grand slam.

One Sox blogger has already weighed in.

G18: Devil Rays 6, Red Sox 5

Curt Schilling did not mince words: "This was a game we should not have lost. ... I made every mistake I could make at the wrong possible times. ... It was a pathetic display of pitching all around."

Following along in the SoSH game thread, it sounded like Schilling had decent location most of the time, but lacked his usual velocity and couldn't put hitters away. The pitches he left over the plate -- coming in at only 88-90 -- were belted all over the lot. In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, he allowed three singles, two doubles, one triple and one home run. Tampa scored five runs in that span, coming back from a 4-1 deficit.

Boston held an early 4-0 lead -- six of their first 10 batters reached base -- and were set to cruise to victory, but the Devil Rays chipped away steadily in the middle innings. The bullpen quartet of Casey Fossum, Seth McClung, Trever Miller and Lance Carter shut Boston down in the final four innings, allowing only one hit, one walk and one HBP (Millar again).

David Ortiz whacked two long solo home runs, measured at 432 and 455 feet. The second one -- the longest homer hit at Tropicana Field -- landed four rows shy of the back wall in right field.

Alan Embree was cool about Eduardo Perez's post-home run reaction. "I know Eddy. It wasn't anything directed at me. I played against him at several levels. He's a good guy." ... Wade Miller's start for Portland (A) was rained out yesterday, so he'll pitch the first game of a doubleheader today.

Johnny Damon on Scott Kazmir: "I think that kid's going to be the next best thing. I still can't believe the Mets traded him. I mean, every scout said, 'This guy's a can't-miss.' He showed it and I don't think he had his good stuff, either. He was still good enough to shut down a good offense like ours."

Good news from the Bronx: The Yankees lost to the Rangers 10-2, falling into last place. Their 7-11 record is their worst start since 1997 -- the last year they did not win the AL East. Brian Cashman: "Right now you feel like you're Pig Pen because you've got the dirt cloud following you."

Jaret Wright left yesterday's game with an injured shoulder and was immediately put him on the disabled list, but that didn't stop Yankee fans from booing him off the field. ... It sounds like Steinbrenner is itching to fire someone. ... Bob Klapisch looks at the 2005 Yankees and is reminded of the 1965 club -- a team that got real old real fast.

Bill Mueller should be back today. ... Bronson Arroyo / Hideo Nomo at 2:15.

April 23, 2005

G17: Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 4

Did Eduardo Perez get all of that one? Yoinks.

Pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth after Boston had rallied for two runs to tie the game at 4-4, Perez blasted a high fastball from Alan Embree off the "D" ring catwalk for a Devil Rays victory. It was Embree's only pitch of the game.

Terry Francona planned to have Embree face two batters (Sanchez and Crawford), then go with Mike Timlin. Lou Piniella sent up Perez -- who homered twice off another lefty, Randy Johnson, earlier in the week. Embree was obligated to face at least one batter -- and Perez tagged him.

The home run ruined what was a nice comeback. Boston trailed Scott Kazmir 4-1 after seven innings, but rallied against the Rays pen with one in the eighth -- Manny Ramirez tripled and scored on Kevin Millar's single -- and two in the ninth. Facing Danys Baez, Trot Nixon walked and Mark Bellhorn doubled him home. Ramon Vazquez, again filling in for the still-sick Bill Mueller, bunted Bellhorn to third. Johnny Damon's single through the infield into right brought in the tying run. Unfortunately, Edgar Renteria lined out to the pitcher and Damon was doubled off first to end the inning.

Again, Extra Innings denied me NESN. The Fox Sports Network duo of Joe Magrane and Dewayne Staats was horrible. In the bottom of the eighth, Matt Mantei had trouble finding the strike zone (to put it charitably). He allowed an infield single, then walked two batters, and threw a wild pitch (Jason Varitek saved a few others).

Because Kazmir had hit two Red Sox batters earlier, the announcers were accusing Mantei of headhunting -- a colossally stupid observation. They figured Mantei was thinking: "My team's losing 4-2 in the 8th, I've loaded the bases, now I'll hit someone to make it 5-2." ... When Baez walked Nixon to start the ninth, the announcers were hoping that Baez would avoid "answering" Mantei's close pitches.

Will Perez hear any chin music for his bat-flip and dugout-point after the home run? Schilling / Waechter at 6:15.

Also: Check out The Boston Blogger.

April 22, 2005

G16: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0

Eighteen bagels -- served up by David Wells, Blaine Neal, Matt Clement and Keith Foulke.

Baltimore began the brief two-game series hitting .295. They had scored 77 runs in their last 11 games. The Red Sox staff, in sweeping the series 8-0 and 1-0, held the Birds to a paltry .190 (12-for-63) average.

Clement allowed eight hits, but only four of them left the infield. After giving up two infield hits with two outs in the eighth, he got Sammy Sosa on a tapper back to the mound. Foulke gave up a one-out double in the ninth, but retire Jay Gibbons and BJ Surhoff on routine fly outs to close it out.

Rodrigo Lopez was as tough on the Sox as usual -- he was 3-1, 1.78 against Boston last year. Like Clement, Lopez pitched eight innings. After Boston scored in the second inning, they were able to get only one runner to second base. The only runner Baltimore got to third all night was Palmeiro, who was thrown out at the plate to end the fourth.

In his last two starts, Clement is throwing a much higher percentage of his pitches for strikes. He was quick to give credit to Jason Varitek. "He comes with a great game plan. It's just fun to throw to somebody like that. I've never been around somebody like that in my career." In the past seven games, Boston starters have posted a 1.13 ERA (48 innings, six earned runs). Overall, the starters' 3.15 ERA is second in the AL. ... David Wells is the first Red Sox lefty to start in back-to-back shutouts since Bruce Hurst in May 1987.

Kevin Millar was in the middle of things last night. He began the second inning with a double off the left field wall. He went to third on a throwing error by Miguel Tejada and scored on Ramon Vazquez's ground out. Then, when Palmeiro tried to score from first on Jay Gibbons's double to right, Millar was the relay man on a 9-3-2 play at the plate.

Terry Francona found out before the game that hitting coach Ron Jackson had been suspended for "excessive arguing" by reading it online. That was the game against the Yankees in which umpire Greg Gibbons said he read Jackson's lips in the Red Sox dugout -- he admitted he didn't hear Jackson -- and tossed him. Coaches cannot appeal suspensions, so Jackson was absent last night. Jay Payton was seen in the dugout wearing Jackson's uniform (with a bunch of towels stuffed underneath) and toting a clipboard.

Pedro Martinez has a sterling 2.17 ERA in 29 innings (four starts) this season, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 38-4. Last night in Florida, he pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits. At one point he threw 18 consecutive strikes. ... Derek Lowe has a 1.27 ERA in 28.1 inning for LA.

The first-place Red Sox (10-6) are in Tampa Bay:
Friday: Tim Wakefield / Scott Kazmir, 7:15
Saturday: Curt Schilling / Doug Waechter, 6:15
Sunday: Bronson Arroyo / Hideo Nomo, 2:15

April 21, 2005


Anyone can comment here -- and disagreements are fine. If you are a troll, however, your posts will be deleted. This is my blog, not a public forum. Anything does not go. Calling me an asshole in all CAPS most certainly does not go.

Deleting meritless posts does not mean I'm running my blog -- as one anonymous idiot who had his comments zapped claimed -- "like Hitler ran Germany."

G15: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

It's getting easier to watch David Wells in a Red Sox jersey. His four starts:
              IP    H   R  BB   K   ERA
Starts 1-2 10.2 19 10 1 8 8.44
Starts 3-4 15 9 0 1 8 0.00
25.2 28 10 2 16 3.51
Wells wanted to pitch a complete game, but after a long top of the ninth -- three Sox walks and a pitching change -- Wells was a little stiff and Francona gave the final inning to Blaine Neal. Tito: "My heart was wanting to send him out there for the ninth, but my head won out."

Wells allowed only three singles: Sammy Sosa in the second, Javy Lopez in the fifth and Luis Matos in the sixth. His only walk was Brian Roberts in the sixth (Wells also snapped Roberts's 14-game hitting streak). Wells retired the side in order in five of his eight innings. The win left Boston (9-6) in a tie with the Orioles for first place.

Bruce Chen was equally effective -- for four innings. Boston scored the game's first run on Chen's bases-loaded balk in the fifth; they also made Chen throw 33 pitches in that inning. Jason Varitek's three-run home run in the sixth provided a 4-0 cushion. ... Manny Ramirez reached base in all four of his plate appearances: two walks, double, single.

Wade Miller's next rehab appearance will be Saturday afternoon in Portland (AA). He's hoping to throw about 90 pitches. After that, he expects to pitch for Pawtucket (AAA), then make his Red Sox debut either May 3 in Detroit or May 8 at home against Seattle. ... Curt Schilling watched some video with Dave Wallace and thinks he found a flaw in his delivery.

The last word(s) on the Sheffield/House incident belong to the Globe's Bob Ryan.

Last night was one of those rare evenings when EI didn't give me the NESN feed. Orioles announcers Fred Manfra and Jim Palmer weren't bad -- Manfra often sounded exactly like Jon Miller, same observations delivered with the same cadences -- but I need Jerry and Don tonight.

Matt Clement / Rodrigo Lopez at 7:00.

April 20, 2005

"an effort to extricate himself from the situation and to avoid further abuse"

Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield won't be punished for his role in a scuffle with fans at Fenway Park last week. ...

"We do not condone any interaction between fans and players whether initiated by either fans or players," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I am pleased that Gary Sheffield showed restraint in not overreacting to the improper and clearly aggressive action of the fan in question."

The commissioner's office said Watson concluded the fan reached over the barrier near the right-field corner during the April 14 game in Boston and "struck Sheffield on the head as he was attempting to field a ball in play."

"Sheffield in response swung his arms in an effort to extricate himself from the situation and to avoid further abuse, then completed the play and returned to confront the fan," the statement said. "At that time no further altercation occurred, Red Sox security stepped in promptly and order was restored. Under the circumstances, Bob Watson concluded that discipline for Sheffield was not warranted."
Will MLB release the video that shows this altercation, because I don't think anyone has seen it yet.

Surprising decision from the former Yankees general manager. And Selig is a riot: "We don't condone any interactions .... uh ... except this one."

ESPN: "Nomo Drops AL Champs To 5-9"

ESPN believes the Yankees won the 2004 pennant. ... Boston Dirt Dogs has a screen shot. ... The headline now reads: "Nomo Drops Yankees to 5-9."

Sorry, ESPN, wishing won't make it so.

Manny Was Pulled Because Of Quad

Manny Ramirez was not lifted last night for defense. Francona: "His quad is bothering him. It was bothering him [Monday]. When he said he needs to go ice it, that's the thing to do. We didn't take him out for defense. That was health-related." ... Ramirez should play tonight.

After signing Wakefield to an extension, the Sox are in no hurry to have further discussions with any of the other potential free agents (Damon, Mueller, Millar and Timlin).

Theo on Wade Miller: "He got stronger as the game went on, with command of his fastball, he touched 93, he sat on 89-90, he had good breaking stuff." Miller will be with the team in Baltimore and is set to pitch again on Saturday, either for Wilmington (A) or Portland (AA).

Boston police are seeking misdemeanor criminal charges against the two fans involved in the Sheffield scuffle.

Tonight: David Wells / Bruce Chen, 7:00
Thursday: Matt Clement / Rodrigo Lopez, 7:00

G14: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3

Frustrating -- no patience for most of the game against Halladay, an Embree-Foulke bullpen meltdown, a few second-guessing opportunities. On the plus side, Arroyo pitched well and we saw another Manny moonshot -- this one cleared the left field light tower.

Arroyo allowed two two-out singles in the first and second innings, but kept Toronto off the board. He allowed a game-tying home run to Koskie in the sixth, but posted a nice line: 7-8-1-1-3-103.

Halladay cruised through the first six innings, throwing only 56 pitches. Ramirez destroyed his 10th pitch, driving it over one of the light towers and into the parking garage across Landsdowne Street. It bounced once in the garage and landed down on the railroad tracks that run along the Mass Pike. Manny's last five hits have been home runs.

That first-inning homer gave Boston a 1-0 lead until Koskie's HR tied it. Halladay actually had a three-pitch inning in the fourth. Nixon singled, Ramirez hit into a double play and Ortiz tapped back to the mound. If the first two guys are out on two pitches, you almost always see the third guy take at least a couple, if only to give his own pitcher an opportunity to get a drink of water. Not this time.

Halladay ran into trouble in the seventh. With one out, he walked Ramirez on four pitches and gave up a home run to deep right to Ortiz. Millar was hit with a pitch and David McCarty pinch-ran. He also took over at first base in the top of the eighth. At the same time, Francona pulled Ramirez, sending Jay Payton to left field.

If Manny wasn't hurt, this was a highly questionable decision. Boston held a two-run lead with two innings to play, and Manny's spot was guaranteed to come up again -- he would be the 5th batter in the 8th. Alan Embree relieved Arroyo in the eighth and in five pitches gave up a single to Koskie and a game-tying home run to dead center to Vernon Wells.

In the bottom of the eighth, Halladay retired Vazquez and Bellhorn, but allowed a single to Damon, balked him to second and wild pitched him to third. Toronto decided to walk Nixon intentionally (the count was 3-2) and pitch to ... Payton. Manny's understudy popped up the first pitch to left to end the inning.

Keith Foulke allowed the go-ahead run in the ninth. After hitting Catalanotto and walking Zaun, Foulke gave up singles to Hillenband (a runner was thrown out at the plate) and Koskie. 4-3 Blue Jays.

The Red Sox rallied against Miguel Batista in the bottom of the ninth. After Ortiz flew to the track in left, McCarty singled to deep short. Renteria flew to left, but Varitek's single to left center put McCarty on third. But that was as far as he got, as Vazquez hit an 0-2 pitch to Wells in center.

You could second guess Francona for bringing in Embree in the eighth -- should Foulke have pitched two innings, having been off yesterday? However, I think those criticisms would be off-base because (a) Embree has been quite good and (b) Foulke gave the game away anyway.

Rather than fault Tito's use of the pen, I'd bitch about taking Manny out of the game and the entire team's failure to work the count against Halladay. Boston hit zero two-strike fouls in the first six innings. Halladay's pitch count by innings: 15-10-10 3-9-9 27-17: 100.

Until the seventh, the Red Sox had only two base runners: Manny's home run and Nixon's single leading off the fourth. Trot was erased on a double play on the very next pitch.

Good news from the Bronx, however, as Tampa Bay scored six runs off Randy Johnson (5.13 ERA) and beat the Yankees 6-2. Eduardo Perez hit two home runs for the Rays. ... Brian Roberts led the Orioles to an 8-4 win over the Tigers.

Boston visits Camden Yards at 7:00 tonight, with Wells facing Bruce Chen, who threw a complete game four-hitter at the Yankees in his last start.

April 19, 2005

Wakefield Signs Extension

Tim Wakefield signed an extension for 2006 today that contains club options for 2007 and beyond. According to the Globe, "the contract will remain in effect as long as the Red Sox continue to exercise their yearly option."

An annual, open-ended club option? In a way, it reminds me of contracts under the reserve clause, but there are huge differences here. First, Wakefield was a part of the negotiations and agreed to the arrangement. Second, he's not shackled to an unfair contract in the prime of his career. Third, he clearly wants to pitch for the Red Sox as long as he remains in major league baseball. It's also not a huge amount of money from the club's standpoint.

Wakefield will earn $4 million next season (performance bonuses could boost that to $5.25 million). Theo Epstein said the deal "virtually guarantees Wake will retire as a Boston Red Sox, which is fitting. In the long, proud history of this franchise, few men have brought greater honor to the uniform."

Crack Up In The Sun, Lose It In the Shade

Trot Nixon on losing fly balls in the sun:
No one understands it. They think just because you have on a pair of glasses you should be able to catch the ball, but when you have a high sky and the ball gets in the sun, you can't see anything. Maybe what the scorers should do is grab a glove and come down here, take some fly balls in the sun, then they'll know what we're dealing with.
Standing in the right field stands during afternoon batting practice at Fenway can be a little scary. Often times, balls crushed by left handed hitters crash into the section almost without warning, like incoming mortal shells. I sometimes wonder how anything gets caught out there. ... And thinking of blind grabs at the ball in the sun, fuck you Lou Piniella.

The Herald has the full text of Chris House's statement. In part:
I had no intention to make contact with Mr. Sheffield, and I do not believe contact occurred. It is ridiculous for anyone to even suggest that I punched him or even attempted to. I was shocked and disappointed by his reaction and I thank Red Sox security and Boston Police for quickly coming to my assistance. Fan interference was not called, but I was asked to leave the park, which I did without resistance.
I believe House will also be interviewed on Boston radio today -- check out BDD this evening for that.

Wade Miller pitched five innings for Wilmington (A) last night. He allowed six hits (including a leadoff home run), struck out six, and walked none. He threw 67 pitches, 47 for strikes. ... The 13-run inning was the biggest for the Yankees since June 21, 1945, when they scored 13 in the fifth inning of a 14-4 win at Boston. It was only the third time in history New York has scored 13 times in an inning and the first at Yankee Stadium. ... The Boss's pep talk didn't work on Jaret Wright (10.05 ERA), however. He was slapped around for 11 hits, three walks and eight runs in 5.1 innings, but got credit for the win.

Arroyo / Halladay at 7:00.

April 18, 2005

Yankees Score 13 in Second Inning

The Fear of George is a powerful motivator!
Matsui (cbbbc) walked.
Rodriguez (s) homered to left, Matsui and Rodriguez scored.
Giambi (cb) doubled to center.
Posada grounded out first to pitcher, Giambi to third.
Martinez (bcffb) singled to right, Giambi scored, Martinez to second on error by right fielder.
Womack (cb) singled to shallow right, Martinez to third.
Jeter (cffbb) singled to right center, fielded by RF, Martinez scored, Womack to third.
Williams (b) singled to right, Womack scored, Jeter to second.
Sheffield singled to left center, fielded by LF, Jeter scored, Williams to second.
Matsui (b) singled to right, Williams to third, Sheffield to second.
Rodriguez (cfb) doubled to deep left, Williams and Sheffield scored, Matsui to third.
Carter relieved Bell.
Giambi (iii) intentionally walked.
Posada (bc) singled to right, Matsui scored, Rodriguez to third, Giambi to second.
Martinez (bbbc) Martinez homered to right, Rodriguez, Giambi, Posada and Martinez scored.
Womack (cfbb) grounded out shortstop to first.
Jeter (bsbb) walked.
Williams flied out to right.
13 Runs, 11 Hits, 1 Error
Final: Yankees 19-8. ... New York fans shouldn't get too confident -- bad things happen to the Yankees after they win games by that score.

G13: Red Sox 12, Blue Jays 7

An unconventional Patriots' Day game this morning-afternoon, played in a lengthy 3:41.

Nineteen runs, 32 hits, three balls dropped in left field because of the bright sun, a 40-pitch second inning from Curt Schilling (but no runs scored), another two home runs from Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon robbing Alex Rios of a home run down by the Pesky Pole (as the fans kept their hands to themselves), Shea Hillenbrand reaching base in all five plate appearances...

Schilling threw 118 pitches in only five innings (16-40-15-24-23), though he did strike out ten Jays. Francona went to his bullpen too much, I thought. He could have let John Halama go more than one inning (he threw 11 pitches in the sixth) and could have stayed with Matt Mantei with two outs in the seventh rather than burning both Mike Myers and Mike Timlin when Toronto went to its pinch-hitters.

Manny's second-inning rocket off Dave Bush may still be traveling. It made his two homers on Friday look like wind-aided pop-ups. His homer in the sixth just cleared the left field wall, bouncing back onto the field. There was little doubt about its legitimacy, but the umpires needed to confer before giving a definitive ruling. Jays manager John Gibbons disagreed and was ejected.

Mark Bellhorn hit his sixth double of the year in the third, after the Jays foolishly walked Bill Mueller (2-for-2 with the BBI and HBP) to load the bases. Trot Nixon had a couple of hits and two RBI from the #2 spot.

With the strong starting pitching and the bushels of runs since the middle of last week, it really feels like the Red Sox are unstoppable. A few losses down the road will straighten me out nice and quick, but right now, everything is fun. ... With the win, Boston moves into second place, bumping the Jays to third.

Dan Shaughnessy seems to share in the sunniness, calling Fenway Park "the happiest place on Earth. ... [H]ome games have become festivals of cheer and celebration. The anger and agony of seasons past is gone." But as we know, happiness in the Nation is castor oil to the CHB, who must resort to petty insults. Thus, Schilling's 11:00 am start "probably took [the pitcher] away from his little website friends late last night, but everyone's got to make sacrifices."

Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican has an idea: A six-man rotation. ... The Nixon/Payton platoon is working well.

NESN Trivia this afternoon: Who hit the first grand slam against the Blue Jays? Answer: Carlton Fisk, September 6, 1977. Don Orsillo mentioned that Fisk hit it off Mike Darr. That name sounded familiar. I had done some research into one-game players many years ago and Darr was one of them.

Darr's start that Tuesday night against the Red Sox at Exhibition Stadium was his only major league appearance. He started and lasted only 1.1 innings, allowing three hits, four walks and five runs. Play-by-play:
Red Sox 1st: Burleson singled. Doyle flied out center. Lynn walked, Burleson to second. Yastrzemski flied out to left, Burleson to third. Rice hit by pitch, Lynn to second. Fisk homered, Burleson, Lynn, Rice and Fisk scored. Carbo walked. Hobson struck out.

Red Sox 2nd: Miller walked. Burleson flied out to right. Doyle singled to right, Miller to third. Lynn walked, Doyle to second. Murphy relieved Darr. Yastrzemski hit a sacrifice fly to left, Miller scored. Rice grounded out shortstop to first.
Boston won 11-2 behind Bill Lee (though both teams had 11 hits). Fisk hit a three-run homer later in the game and finished with seven RBI. ... Darr's son, also named Mike Darr, a Padres outfielder, died in a car accident during spring training 2002.

Re Steinbrenner's Burst of Hot Air: Dave Anderson of the Times: "His timing might be perfect. Of the Yankees' next 13 games, 11 will be at the Stadium, beginning tonight against the Devil Rays. When the Yankees do turn it around, as a team with all that talent surely will, Steinbrenner can take full credit for having lighted the fire under them." ... Newsday's Ken Davidoff: "You get what you overpay for, Boss."

Lou Piniella is also sounding a bit testy. How tough was Matt Clement? "I guess he was tough. Ask our hitters. You people ask the manager like he's supposed to know everything. If I knew everything, we wouldn't be getting our ass beat every night." ... Asked about Scott Kazmir's performance against the Sox, Piniella barked: "I don't know, Son. Go look at the [expletive] charts. They'll tell you about him. I don't know. You people ask the same [expletive] questions every day - every [expletive] day. What else we got?"

The latest on Sheffgate: The Red Sox have revoked Chris House's season tickets for 2005 and prohibited the fan who spilled beer on Sheffield from buying tickets for the rest of the season.

April 17, 2005

G12: Red Sox 3, Devil Rays 1

Tim Wakefield pitched six innings and a three-spot in the third gave Boston a Sunday afternoon win and a three-game sweep of the Devil Rays. Edgar Renteria opened the inning with a home run to center (just to the right of the triangle) and Jay Payton singled home David Ortiz and Kevin Millar a bit later.

Wakefield departed after 100 pitches and Matt Mantei, Alan Embree and Keith Foulke finished up, allowing only one base runner in the final three innings (an HBP by Mantei). Wakefield struck out five batters, upping his Red Sox career total to 1,343. He passed Cy Young on the all-time Sox list and now trails only Roger Clemens (2,590) and Pedro Martinez (1,683).

Wakefield also kept Boston's streak of not allowing its opponents a first-inning run intact. Carl Crawford began the game with a double. Julio Lugo was safe on a bunt single and stole second, giving Tampa runners on second and third and no outs. Wakefield struck out Alex Sanchez, got Aubrey Huff to line out to first and struck out Josh Phelps.

In the second inning, Tampa took a brief 1-0 lead when Travis Lee doubled and scored on Crawford's two-out single. That was the Devil Rays' last hit of the day, however.

Baltimore beat the Yankees 8-4 and Texas beat Toronto 6-5, so the Orioles are now in first place, one game ahead of Boston. New York and Tampa Bay are both four games out. ... Yes, checking standings after two weeks is silly, and as Yankee fans will (now) be quick to tell you, championships are not won in April!

Early game against the Blue Jays tomorrow: 11:00 am (Schilling vs. Dave Bush).

George Is Gettin' Upset

After the Yankees lost this afternoon to Baltimore -- their fourth consecutive loss and eighth in ten games, George Steinbrenner released this statement:
Enough is enough. I am bitterly disappointed as I'm sure all Yankee fans are by the lack of performance by our team. It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk. They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around.
SoSHer switchhitter33: "Awww, come on Georgie. It's not that bad a funk. It's not like you've never lost 4 in a row before."

New York (4-8) begins a two-game series on Monday with the Devil Rays (4-8) -- The Battle for the Cellar.

G11: Red Sox 6, Devil Rays 2

Or: Manny Ramirez 6, Devil Rays 2.

Ramirez hit two home runs last night -- a two-run shot in the third and a grand slam in the fourth -- both off of Dewan Brazelton. The slam was Ramirez's 18th, tying him with Willie McCovey for third place on the all-time list behind Lou Gehrig (23) and Eddie Murray (19). It was also Manny's 40th multi-homer game.

That should silence anyone silly enough to think Manny was in some kind of prolonged slump. "They're thinking about sending me to Pawtucket," Ramirez joked to the Globe before the game. Tito: "If that's our biggest concern - Is Manny going to hit? - we're going to be in pretty darn good shape."

Matt Clement pitched seven strong inning, showing much better control than in his previous two starts. He threw only two balls to the first eight hitters in the Tampa lineup -- and one of those was his first pitch of the game. He allowed seven hits -- three in a row scored Tampa's first run in the second -- and struck out six.

At the bottom of Tampa's lineup, Alex Gonzalez went 4-for-4. The 7-8-9 spots in the order collected seven of Tampa's 10 hits. ... The Red Sox are the only team that has not allowed a first-inning run. ... Bob Hohler looks at the rampant use of amphetamines.

Baltimore battered New York's bullpen in a five-run seventh yesterday, beating the Yankees 7-6. New York has lost five of its last six games and shares last place with the Devil Rays. Both teams are 4-7.

Tim Wakefield / Scott Kazmir at 2:00. Wakefield needs four strikeouts to pass Cy Young for third on the all-time Red Sox list (he has 1,338 now).

Sheffield Apologists Continue To Apologize

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Sheffield exhibited "commendable restraint" and "good, old-fashioned common sense." He believes baseball should use this incident as a "shining example of ... how well its players have learned how to defuse these situations." Burwell explains away Sheffield's attempts to punch the fan as "human nature" and a "defense mechanism."

Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun: "Sheffield deserves credit for collecting himself before the incident became really ugly. He reacted viscerally to the Boston fan who took a swipe at him when he was fielding a ball at Fenway Park on Thursday night, but all he did was push the guy away and then glare at him."

George King of the New York Post typed this sentence: "Sheffield could be fined for extending his arms toward House."

A few writers are asking what's the big deal?

Lenny Megliola: "I'm not taking either guy off the hook, but geez, was it that big of a story? ESPN went crazy with it, summoning panel discussions of such a dire nature you would have thought national security was at stake. Talk shows, and not just WEEI, turned the incident into a crusade on ballpark etiquette, beer sales, security and prevention of cruelty to ballplayers."

John Tomase called the play a "freak occurrence" and not "the fall of civilization. ... I'm not sure Sheffield deserves all the plaudits he's received for showing such restraint, considering it took half the Yankees roster to restrain him. But whatever. He didn't go into the stands. ... Had the incident occurred between two teams other than the Sox and Yankees, it probably wouldn't have caused such an inflamed reaction."

Conflicting reports:
Times: "The Boston Police Department does not plan to take action against the fan who swiped Gary Sheffield in the face at Fenway Park on Thursday. ... Asked if the police considered the case closed, [Officer Mike] McCarthy said, "It was never open, actually.""

Post: "[T]he Boston police [are] seeking a judge to sign an arrest warrant for Chris House..."
There will be no ruling from "Yankee Bob" Watson until at least Tuesday.

April 16, 2005

Jeter: The Second Coming of Jackie Robinson

I'm a Red Sox fan, so I'm genetically predisposed to hate Derek Jeter, but what the fuck is this garbage? And on the anniversary of Robinson's first major league game? WTF? ... Seriously, WTF?

I swear that what follows is in the article:
Jeter closest we have to modern-day Jackie
Gary Gillette, ESPN

When we look around for a modern-day Jackie Robinson, one player stands out: Derek Jeter. In many ways, the parallels between the careers of these two great middle infielders are striking. Here's a look:

* Both were highly touted amateur athletes, though segregation and World War II delayed Robinson's debut till age 28.

* Both Robinson and Jeter came to the majors with high-profile teams in New York City.

* Both played key defensive positions ...

* Both players made immediate impacts as rookies -- on their teams, on their cities and on their leagues.

* Both men were acknowledged leaders on their clubs, even though they played with many veterans who were much older. ...

* Both hit for high average ...

* Both infielders had good power for their positions ...

* Both ballplayers were smart, disciplined hitters with excellent on-base percentages ...

* Much like Robinson, Jeter has speed, power and a burning desire to win.

* Both had good speed, stole bases at a high rate, and were heads-up baserunners. ...

* Aside from their individual attributes, both Robinson and Jeter led their clubs into dynastic eras. ...

* Both were big men for their positions and their times. ...

* Both players were durable ...

* Both men were fearless on the diamond. Robinson, of course, had to contend with vicious racial slurs and the constant threats of fisticuffs. In a much more genteel era, Jeter doesn't face the same level of danger, though his headfirst, full-speed dive into the seats at Yankee Stadium last July showed the extent of his physical courage. ...
The lead-in is here.

This is what passes for journalism at ESPN. And it's located in the section you have to PAY to read! What professional writer would turn in this crap? And what professional editor -- at the most famous sports website in the world -- would print it?!?


Yeah and I'm a modern-day Walt Whitman.

Wait a minute ... I am! Here's a look:
* Whitman lived in Brooklyn. When I first moved to New York City, I lived in Brooklyn.

* Whitman lived in New York City when it was believed to be the world's greatest city. I lived in New York City when it was believed to be the world's greatest city.

* We both wrote about sports for newspapers -- and we both loved baseball.

* Whitman is thought by at least one person to be an early blogger. You are reading my blog. Right now!

* Whitman self-published "Leaves of Grass"; I self-published my book.

* Whitman "spent time studying great works of literature in the libraries of New York City." Me, too.

* Whitman is recognized as one of the greatest writers this country has ever produced. While I'm not so well-known or highly-regarded, I have sometimes thought it would be pretty cool if I was.
Can there be any doubt? I am the Whitman of the 21st Century.

G10: Red Sox 10, Devil Rays 0

As I wrote last night's lineup into my scoresheet, I thought That is a great lineup. It won't be long before they start scoring runs in big bunches. ... Nope, not long at all. Maybe thirty minutes.

Boston battered Hideo Nomo for seven runs in the second inning, en route to a 10-0 Friday night whitewash of the Devil Rays. One of the three hits in the inning (Nomo walked four) was a grand slam by David Ortiz, a line shot down the right field line.

Nomo threw 46 pitches in the inning and was actually left in to start the third. Only after Edgar Renteria tripled and scored on an error and Jason Varitek singled was he pulled. Former Sox lefty Casey Fossum came in and pitched very well, allowing only one hit and two walks in four innings. It was his first appearance against his former team.

On the home side, David Wells pitched seven solid innings in his Fenway debut. He allowed the leadoff man to reach in the second, fourth and sixth innings, but no Tampa runner reached third base all night. Matt Mantei and John Halama each pitched an inning of relief.

It looks like Edgar Renteria has relaxed. He singled and tripled and made two nice plays in the field, leaping and throwing on a double play in the second and spearing Carl Crawford's line drive before it went into center field in the third. ... Mark Bellhorn had two doubles and a walk in four trips and pinch-hitter David McCarty singled in the final two runs in the seventh.

The Orioles also had a seven-run inning last night -- against the Yankees. Bruce Chen -- another former Sock -- pitched a complete game, four-hitter as Baltimore won 8-1.

It was a great night for complete games. Out in Los Angeles, Derek Lowe allowed only three soft singles in a 4-0 blanking of San Diego. Lowe also drove in two runs. ... Aaron Heilman pitched a one-hitter for the Mets -- giving up an infield hit in the fourth -- as New York beat Florida 4-0.

According to Newsday, Gary Sheffield "answered questions about the incident for nearly 10 minutes [but] wouldn't say what he thought of the play after watching the replay Friday for the first time." Sheffield: "I didn't know all that took place in that short period of time. You've got to look at the tape. You have to pass your own judgment. I can't sit here and try to convince you one way or another." ... Either Sheffield is less confident that he was actually struck by the fan or simply doesn't want to (or was advised not to) talk about this anymore. Or both.

MLB opened an investigation into the incident, which should be complete by early next week. Torre said he would be surprised if Sheffield received a suspension. The Post's George King said that sources have told him there will be no suspension.

Speaking of Torre, Filip Bondy of the Daily News calls bullshit on the Yankee manager's version of events: "The gravest transgression at Fenway on Thursday had not been the inadvertent collision between a Boston fan's arm and Gary Sheffield's face in right field. The real misdemeanor was gross exaggeration, arguably downright fabrication, by Torre himself. The Yankee manager was guiltier than anyone in this matter of distorting the facts, creating a furor and possibly inciting worse incidents in the future. ... Torre should have known better yesterday, calmed things down a bit, yet he would not backtrack."

Trot Nixon: "I'm not upset with our fans. But now it's something I'm gonna have to deal with when we go back to New York." Dan Shaughnessy writes: "Nixon will probably need his batting helmet and rain gear the next time he backs up to the right-field wall" in the Bronx. ... Thankfully, we know that if Nixon ends up near the Yankee Stadium stands and is brushed (or thinks he is brushed) by a fan and attempts to punch the Yankee fan with both hands, all the pinstriped yahoos saying Sheffield did the right thing and showed admirable restraint will immediately rush to Nixon's defense with similar comments. ... Right?

Wade Miller makes his second rehab start Monday in Wilmington, NC, and will join the Red Sox in Baltimore on Wednesday. ... The Daily News reports that the lawyers for New York city and state and the Yankees are completing a "memorandum of understanding" for a new "retro" ballpark in the Bronx. The proposed new park would hold about 7,000 fewer fans that the current Yankee Stadium does. Meanwhile, Fenway continues to expand.

By the way, anyone else out there keep score at home, either while watching TV or listening to the radio?

April 15, 2005

Upon Further Review

After watching a six-minute clip from NESN at mlb.com (here), I think that the fan did intentionally touch Sheffield, though not very hard, almost slyly, knowing he was on camera. It's awfully hard to come up with another motive for his movements. There is no way he was trying to reach for the baseball -- and he wasn't trying to prevent his friend from reaching for it either.

It was interesting that as Sheffield is turning to throw the ball back to the infield, after taking a swing at the fan, the guy in the red jacket is cheering and pumping his fist in celebration. He isn't surprised at all by Sheffield's reaction. ... Also a guy in the second row (on the left side of the screen, behind the two women in the front row) flicks his cup of beer on Sheffield as the right fielder tries to punch the fan.

Lost in all of this is that the Red Sox won the game despite some of the worst home-plate umpiring you'll ever see. Edgar Renteria drove in three runs with a home run and a double, Varitek also drove in three with a triple and home run, Johnny Damon scored twice, and Jay Payton hit a two-run homer. ... Keith Foulke struggled in the ninth, loading the bases on a double and two walks, throwing 34 pitches (he threw 53 in his two innings of work).

More On The Sheffield Incident

The morning papers quote fans who were also in Section 86 last night. (Hey, you think a certain columnist might have made something of "Section 86" had Boston not won the World Series last year? Just wondering ...) The fan who allegedly made contact with Gary Sheffield is Chris House.

Chris Lyons (sitting nearby): "[House] definitely tried to hit him. You could tell. And right away, Gary looked up and went nuts."

Helen Lambropolous (one of two women closest to the play): "[House] was reaching for the ball. When the ball came down here they may have rubbed against each other. [Sheffield] screamed, 'Don't you touch me!' when he came back."

Linda Annese (the other woman): "My gut feeling from watching [House] was that it wasn't malicious at all. He was clearly going for the ball and not taking a swing at [Sheffield]."

Keith Whamond (sitting directly behind House): "Everybody was just going for the ball as it was banging around. Sheffield said, 'Don't [expletive] punch me. He kept saying, 'This guy tried to punch me.' Nothing malicious happened out here. They both went for the ball."

Matt Donovan (sitting two seats away from House): "Sheffield was being a thug. He yelled '--- you, you mother!' and I thought he was going to hit him."

Brian Giguere (sat two rows back): "[House] was never going for the player, he was trying for the ball. They just connected when he was reaching."

Jodi Ingerbritson (House's fiancee): "He just said he was going for the ball. He's been a season ticket-holder for a lot of years and he's always careful not to interfere with the ball."

House: "I'm not going to say anything till [today]."

Boston Dirt Dogs has info from WEEI's callers about the drunken state of House and his friends. If there is any news about this in Boston, BDD'll have it first. ... Denton of Surviving Grady was sitting in Section 89: "The fan was trying to knock Sheffield's cap off, instead hitting him in the mouth. ... Sheffield's reaction was justified when he tried to punch the 'fan'. ... The woman in the next seat did not douse Sheffield with a beer. The man one seat to her left absolutely and intentionally did throw his beer at Sheffield."

Some Sheffield quotes:
I don't know if he punched me or not. I almost snapped. It could've been worse if I didn't hold my composure.

I felt it. It felt like my lip busted. I tried to continue with the play.

I just felt like I was getting hit in the mouth, and I couldn't take it. ... He hit me, and I reacted.

It felt like a hand hit me in the mouth, but I have to look at the tape.

From the print edition of New York Times: "Sheffield said he did not "throw no punch or nothing..." (web link omits the direct quote)
Steve Buckley of the Herald wrote that Joe Torre is "often the voice of reason in these matters," but notes that right after saying the fan took "a cheap shot," the Yankee manager "admitted that not only could he not see the play from the third base dugout, but that he had yet to see a replay." ... Torre: "I was just too far away. I wasn't even aware anything had happened until some younger eyes told me." ... Torre also made multiple references to a fan coming onto the field. "Somebody came out of the stands and whacked Shef, that's basically what happened."

Bob Klapisch (Bergen Record) can't make up his mind: "... near-brawl between Gary Sheffield and a fan who struck the right fielder in the face ... Sheffield took a glancing blow from a fan ... [never saw] the blow that struck him squarely on the mouth."

John Harper (Daily News) has a greater grasp on reality:
Sheffield didn't show as much restraint as he was trying to tell everyone last night, after his incident with a fan at Fenway Park. ... [E]ven though Sheffield maintained that he didn't throw a punch, the tape shows that he took a full-blown swipe at the fan, before he even threw the ball back into the infield. ... How hard [the fan] hit [Sheffield] was hard to tell, and certainly it didn't look like it was as hard as Sheffield indicated, when he said he "got punched in the mouth."
Jon Heyman (Newsday) says Sheffield "became so unglued ... violent response was a stark overreaction to a fan's clumsiness. ... The fan reached over the wall in an apparent attempt to gather the $9 baseball and nicked the $13-million-a-year Sheffield's face instead, sending the outfielder over the edge. ... Sheffield needs to be punished, too. Ten games is about right."

The covers of the New York tabloids: Daily News and the Post! ... Even after seeing the replay dozens of times, there is no consensus at SoSH about what happened.

Francona on Papa Jack's ejection: "The explanation I got was he could read [Jackson's] lips. That [expletive] guy can't even see a ball in front of him. That was a [expletive] answer." ... Schilling on Gibson: "His own crew doesn't even like him."

Varitek played the game with a fever of 102. ... More on the bias over at Al-Yankzeera. ... Did Alex Rodriguez save a kid's life on Newbury Street yesterday? The story apparently originated from Slappy himself and has more holes than the Yankee infield.

Wade Miller pitched 4.2 innings (73 pitches) for Greenville (A) on Wednesday. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out four. He'll make somewhere between two and four more starts -- including next Monday with Class A Wilmington -- before being activated. Francona: "From the reports we got, innings two and four were good and one and three were so-so. ... He had a good breaking ball and his velocity was up to 90." The Globe notes that the Red Sox have also reworked Miller's mechanics.

Devil Rays Match-Ups:
Friday: David Wells / Hideo Nomo - 7:00
Saturday: Matt Clement / Dewon Brazelton - 7:00
Sunday: Tim Wakefield / Scott Kazmir - 2:00

April 14, 2005

G9: Red Sox 8, Yankees 5

What I saw: Varitek's extra-base hit rattled around the right field corner. Instead of trying to cut it off, Sheffield waited for it to roll along the wall to him. One fan in a red jacket was reaching down for the ball and another fan (in a blue jacket) was trying to pushing him back from the play.

I assume Blue Jacket knew that if Red Jacket touched the ball, it would be a ground rule double, but if he didn't, Varitek had a shot at a triple. So as Blue Jacket was reaching down and over to push Red Jacket out of the way, he may have brushed Sheffield, who was just about to field the ball.

Sheffield got the ball, but before throwing it back to the infield, he turned and swung both hands at Blue Jacket. After getting rid of the ball -- Varitek did get a triple -- Sheffield whirled around again, ready to fight. Fortunately, all of the fans along the wall had backed off, Sheffield remained on his side of the stands and a security guy raced over from the bullpen to keep order. The fan was ejected from the park, but I don't think he was arrested.

Sheffield: "I just felt something hit me in the mouth. I don't know if he hit me or not, it felt like it. I thought my lip was busted. ... To get punched in the mouth, you don't expect that in a baseball game."

Except you didn't say you were punched. In fact, you're not even sure you were hit. ... I'm sure the fans were giving it to Sheffield all night, which doesn't help matters, but I've yet to see a replay that showed any intentional contact between a fan and Sheffield, let alone an actual punch. Photos.

G8: Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

Bad Tito. Curt Schilling looked sharp in his first four innings last night, throwing in the low 90s with impeccable control. But the Yankees were fouling off a lot of pitches, so he was working a little harder than normal.

In the fifth, he was clearly tiring. Jason Giambi led off with a single and Tino Martinez doubled him to third. After Bernie Williams popped to short left, Tony Womack walked and Derek Jeter singled. That tied the game at 1-1. Gary Sheffield hit a sacrifice fly to center and it was 2-1, New York. Schilling finished the inning by striking out Hideki Matsui, but his pitch count was now 94.

In the bottom of the fifth, Trot Nixon's solo home run into the Red Sox bullpen re-tied the game, but there was no action in the Boston bullpen. Schilling came out for the fifth and lasted only four batters. Jorge Posada singled and Giambi homered to deep right. Only after Martinez grounded out did Mike Timlin get up.

When Williams homered to right center on Schilling's 108th pitch, Tito finally went to the pen -- which had been fully rested thanks to the day off on Tuesday. Christ. The quartet of Timlin, Blaine Neal, Mike Myers and John Halama kept the Yankees off the board after that, but the Boston bats were silent.

The Red Sox really should have had about six runs by the time Schilling's night was over. It seemed like Jaret Wright was in constant trouble, the Sox only a hit or two away from grabbing a sizeable lead. Wright went to a three-ball count on the first six batters in the third -- he walked three in that inning while throwing 35 pitches -- but the Red Sox scored only once and left the bases loaded. After Wright's five innings, Boston did nothing with Tanyon Sturtze, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera.

I missed watching it live, but Kevin Millar tripped and fell coming out of the dugout in the first inning last night. Sarah has a screen shot. ... Kevin Youkilis was sent down to Pawtucket when Schilling was activated. He still has options and with only one off-day over the next month, Francona wanted to go with 12 pitchers. ... So don't be afraid to use them, Tito.

Bronson Arroyo / Randy Johnson at 7:00 tonight.

April 13, 2005

Everybody Hates A-Rod

Have you seen the new Speed Stick commercial starring Alex Rodriguez? Someone at SoSH posted a screen shot of the end of the commercial -- there's a stadium light tower in the distance and you can see an unmistakable "E-5" in the lights.

I saw the commercial a few days ago and remember thinking the lights looked a little weird, but didn't really take much note. ... Gotta be the work of a Red Sox fan!

Sour Grapes

From today's Soxaholix:

Remembah the good old days when hack sports columnists who were suffering writer's block would dip into the old "Red Sox fans are such whiners" or "Red Sox fans identify themselves with pain and loss" bin of cliched storylines?
Yep, but now it's all a scramble to come up with a new hackneyed mail-it-in column and it seems all they've can derive is the "you're annoying us with being so cocky and happy."
They are referring to two ESPN columns: "86 Things We Hate About You" and "Red Sox Overload." There have been others, scattered across the nation's newspapers. ... Do not click on these links -- they are presented for illustrative purposes only.

Schilling: "I'm ready. It's been a long time, a lot of months. I'm nervous. I'm very nervous. It's the start of the year. We're home. It's the Yankees. I'm very nervous." ... To make room on the roster for Schilling, Blaine Neal will likely be designated for assignment.

In New York, the Post's Mike Vaccaro: "[P]anic may be a premature reaction. But concern, deep concern, seems an appropriate alternative, even this early in the season." Back page.

The Schedule: 15 games in the next 15 days, a day off (April 28), then 13 games in 13 days. Once the Yankees series has been played and the New York blackout is lifted, I'll be getting my nightly dose of NESN. The season has truly begun.

Just A Little Jealous

Posted on Sons of Sam Horn:

Johnny Damon was signing copies of his book last night at Borders in Braintree. He had his World Series ring with him and was letting fans put it on and take pictures of themselves wearing it. ... Derek Lowe apparently did the same thing at Sonny McLeans, a Red Sox bar in Santa Monica, after he flew back to California after the ceremony.


April 12, 2005

The View From New York

Everything And More

Johnny Pesky: "This tops everything ... I'm glad I was alive for this. This is like being reborn."

Damon: "It's better than my wedding ring. You can always get wedding rings."

E-Rod: "I think I'm becoming a cult hero in Boston. I don't want that. I don't want that at all."

Mariano Rivera: "I didn't know they loved me so much here. It was nice. I enjoyed it. ... What was I going to do? Get upset and start throwing baseballs at people? You just roll with it."

ESPN seemed desperate to create controversy where none existed. John Kruk and Harold Reynolds spent a good deal of time saying they were shocked that Derek Lowe (and to a lesser extent Dave Roberts) wore Red Sox shirts when they received their rings. Both players are now employed by other teams, so they apparently dissed their new teammates by wearing those shirts for 15 minutes. ... I heard no mention of Ramiro Mendoza, who also wore his Red Sox jersey, even though he is currently under contract to the Yankees. Perhaps I missed it.

The ceremony was marred only by Terry Cashman (he wrote the horrible "Talkin' Baseball" song), who sang what was quite possibly the worst song in the history of ever. The Globe's Eric Wilbur called the song "pathetically and painfully awful. It was so bad that as the pennant was being raised in center field, fans were rather quiet. The pinnacle moment of all this, and we've got Terry Cashman. The Yankees had to be embarrassed for everyone involved in this one. Ugh." The song included these lines:
Raise the flag, the Curse is over,
The Babe don't live here anymore.
To my surprise, Red Sox management was okay with the Ruth Curse theme. Wilbur notes that fans entering Fenway received signs that read, "I got you Babe." He also reports that you can now buy a Red Sox Rally Monkey. Noooooooooooooooo ...

The Times' Richard Sandomir reports that "the Yankee-centric myopia of the YES Network reached a fascinating level of absurdity yesterday in a pregame show that virtually ignored the sight of the Boston Red Sox receiving their World Series rings. Oh, it was discussed, but not seen live. During Kimberly Jones's 5-minute-24-second report from Fenway Park, the camera never showed the ceremony, live or on tape." ... Steve Zipay of Newsday calls YES's behavior "a bush-league move."

After the rather sedate atmosphere of Monday's win, I think the crowd will be back to normal on Wednesday night. Curt Schilling opposes Jaret Wright.

April 11, 2005

G7: Red Sox 8, Yankees 1

A perfect afternoon. I was able to watch the pre-game ceremonies via a NESN broadcast on my laptop -- which was a godsend since ESPN was utterly useless. The Baseball Tonight broadcast showed scattered clips -- a lot less than I expected -- and even then the four anchors insisted on blabbing idiotically, thus ruining the moment.

Wakefield pitched seven strong innings, Mantei looked better than usual, Foulke pitched a perfect ninth (great, use him in an 8-1 game, but not a 3-3 tie), Mirabelli hit an early bomb off of Mussina, Millar and Nixon both had two-rbi hits and Renteria banged a double in his final at-bat.

Various SoSHers were at the game and have posted pictures here.

The 1918 Red Sox Never Got Their Rings

On this glorious day, here's a look back at why the 1918 Red Sox are the only team to have never received World Series emblems (or rings) from major league baseball. From my book on the 1918 team:
For much of the [1910s], each member of the World Series champion team had received between $3,000 and $4,000, often as much or more than his annual salary. The National Commission [a three-man body consisting of the two league presidents and Reds owner August Herrmann] decided this was too much money, and during the winter of 1917–18, they sought ways to reduce the players' profits. ... The Commission ended up adopting [AL president] Ban Johnson's suggestion of awarding a share to each of the top four teams in both leagues. ... The Sporting News reported that the players didn't need to be involved in the decision, because they "always have been hungry for money." ...

[Based on previous years] the 1918 winning and losing shares would be $1,835 and $1,215, respectively. In January, the Commission had announced a per-player cap of $2,000 and $1,400 for the World Series participants, anticipating 1918 revenues would be higher than the previous year's. But they had changed the distribution plan without considering either the war's effect on game attendance or the reduced ticket prices.
Most players, writers and fans believed the $2,000–$1,400 figures were guaranteed. How and when the truth about the revenue plan emerged is unclear, but on the train from Chicago to Boston after Game 3, the players figured a best-case scenario would be $1,200 for the winners and $800 for the losers, but the final numbers might fall as low as $900 and $600.

Representatives from both the Red Sox and Cubs tried meeting with the Commission, but nothing was arranged until the morning of Game 5. At that meeting, the player reps, led by Boston captain and right fielder Harry Hooper proposed a compromise of $1,500 and $1,000.
Herrmann said he would review the matter and make his final decision before that afternoon's game. Then, after a quick word with Commission secretary John Bruce, Herrmann corrected himself: his decision would come after the game, around 5:30 p.m. He told the players not to worry and promised them the right thing would be done.

"Well then," Hooper cracked, "I suppose we shall have to throw ourselves upon your tender mercies." With that, the players left. Hooper's sarcasm went right over the Commission's collective head. As one reporter noted, speaking of Herrmann and Johnson, "the thick-headed Czar of the triumvirate and his man Friday interpreted the speech as a backdown" and spread the news that the players had surrendered.
The Commission members went off to a celebratory lunch. At Fenway, however, the players decided they would not wait until 5:30 pm. They wanted an answer now -- and they would simply stay in their locker rooms and wait until the Commission showed up and rendered a final decision.
Johnson and Garry Herrmann didn't arrive at Fenway until five minutes before the game was scheduled to start (they had also almost missed the start of Game Four). ... At first, Johnson and Herrmann refused to meet with the players at all, and as much as 30 minutes passed before the two Commission members made their way to the umpires' dressing room, off the Red Sox's locker room. Hooper, Mann, a few other players, some reporters and "not a few fans" were packed inside the "tiny, little, super-heated coop." ...

Hooper took one look at Johnson and instantly knew that the meeting would not go smoothly. The American League president was holding on tightly to Herrmann's and Heydler's shoulders, undoubtedly to keep from falling over. Johnson was "pretty well oiled" and Herrmann appeared more than a little tipsy as well.

The American League president's penchant for getting intoxicated at the World Series was no secret. Sportswriter Fred Lieb had been covering baseball since 1911 and he couldn't recall a single game at which Johnson was sober. Stories of Johnson's tippling were legion. He once urinated in an elevator after a league banquet, much to the dismay of the lift's operator. On another night, Johnson staggered back to the hotel and up to his room. When he turned on the light, he found a man sleeping in his bed. Johnson had the right room number — but the wrong hotel.
Johnson babbled to the players before breaking down into tears, begging them to play (that evening, one of Boston's smaller papers printed what amounted to a near transcription of Johnson's hilarious ramblings). Discussions with Johnson were useless and the players could hear the anxious crowd outside. A majority of players wanted to call off the Series, but it was eventually decided they would play. Johnson told Hooper that no action would be taken against the players for the delay. ... By October, however, the AL president had sobered up.
[He] announced that as punishment for the players' one-hour delay before Game Five, the Commission was withholding the traditional championship emblems, which were similar to lapel pins and the equivalent of modern-day World Series rings. In 1916, the Commission had also tried to withhold the Red Sox's emblems because of a barnstorming tour. After intense criticism, they reversed the decision, but fined each player $100, the approximate value of the emblems. This time, however, the Commission wasn't backing down. ...

Shortly before Christmas, each Red Sox player received a letter from John Heydler informing him that he would not receive an emblem "owing to the disgraceful conduct of the players in the strike during the Series."

At the American League meeting in December, Ban Johnson was asked about his promise to Harry Hooper that the Red Sox players would not be punished for their Game Five delay. Johnson denied having said it. As a show of thanks that winter, Harry Frazee presented several of his players with pocket watches engraved with their names and the words "RED SOX 1918 CHAMPIONS."
Several Red Sox players petitioned the Commission -- outfielder George Whiteman wrote many letters over the next few years -- for the emblems. There were rumors that they were hidden away in a safe in the AL president's office. Harry Hooper met with every Commissioner from Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Bowie Kuhn in an attempt to get the Red Sox players (or their families) their rightful emblems. Every Commissioner told Hooper there was nothing he could do.

On the 75th anniversary of that infamous season, the Red Sox held a ceremony at Fenway Park, at which they handed out emblems to the descendants of more than a dozen of the 1918 players. Unfortunately, no member of the 1918 team was still alive -- the last player, third baseman Fred Thomas, had died in 1986.