We took Sammy back to Futures at Fenway this year, and brought along his friend, Timmy, who lives across the street. We got there in the 5th inning of the first game, between the Lowell Spinners and the Hudson Valley Renegade. The game went into extra innings, with a walk-off victory by the Spinners, so we only lasted until the 5th inning of the second game. That one was between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Charlotte Knights, and happily, the PawSox had the game well in hand when we left.
Emma and Marjorie Bartlett, Sammy’s friends from school, were also at the game. They came to visit us for a little while, and we joined them in their seats by third base for a while as well. We were sitting right behind home plate, in the field boxes, and next to the radar guy. Don’t think we’ll ever get to sit there for a real Sox game, so I’m glad we had the opportunity.
The boys had a blast, and we’re glad Timmy could join us. I don’t think either of them needed to eat again for a week, after the hot dogs, Cracker Jack, ice cream, cotton candy, popcorn, and peanuts.
Fire Joe Morgan, one of my favorite places on the web, has long been a closed forum, run by a group of anonymous sports/baseball/Red Sox fans. It’s still closed, but as of Tuesday the editors have decided to be anonymous no longer. The most prolific (and in my mind, the best) writer of the bunch, Ken Tremendous, is apparently Michael Schur, a writer and producer for The Office, and formerly a writer for Saturday Night Live. I’ve learned that he’s married to Regis Philbin’s daughter (also a writer for Saturday Night Live and The O.C.), did really, really well at Harvard, and before that went to Hall High School in West Hartford. Who knows, my mom might have taught him career education when he was a kid, sending him on the path to fame and fortune.
So, there you go. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that he’s a professional (and highly successful) comedy writer, since his posts are so damn funny.
For the second time in four years, the Red Sox are getting ready to parade through the city to celebrate a World Series victory. Sammy isn’t even five, and he only knows the Sox as winners.
In 2004, we were shocked and amazed, as well as gratified, that the Sox had finally broken a string of near misses and failures that had characterized the team for generations. There’s always a fair amount of luck in baseball, but the 2004 team was blessed with a bunch of it. When Dave Roberts stole second, it was a damn close play, and he could just as easily have been called out. End of story. But he wasn’t called out, and it wasn’t the end of the story.
In 2007, there was a fair amount of luck too, but I think this was a better team. It’s certainly a team that is better built for long-term success, which makes the prospect of next year all the more exciting. They absolutely dominated this postseason, with the greatest run differentials ever — 99-46 overall, and 29-10 against the Rockies. They say that great pitching beats great hitting, but great pitching and great hitting will overpower anybody.
What made it possible is that, with the exception of two and a half games against Cleveland, everybody played to their potential. Everybody clicked at the same time. J.D Drew and Julio Lugo played like the players they are supposed to be, Beckett was unbelievable, Ortiz and Manny were Ortiz and Manny. Up and down the lineup, everybody produced, not least the rookies, Pedroia and Ellsbury. There’s nobody more deserving of the World Series MVP than Mike Lowell, but it could just as easily have been given to Jacoby Ellsbury. There’s so much more that could be said, but a lot of people with more time on their hands have probably said it already.
I know momentum is only as good as your next starter, but things sure do look better today than they did a couple of days ago. Beckett was brilliant again — eight innings, 11 strikeouts, one run (in the first inning). And the starting lineup delivered. Everybody got a hit except for Coco Crisp, and even he got on base because of an error and came around to score. Manny had the longest single you’ll ever see, courtesy of the yellow line at the top of the right field wall. Speedster Kevin Youkilis managed a triple, a homer, and a walk. They did hit into two more double plays, tying an LCS record of ten, but the rest of the offense made up for it.
The Cy Young votes are already in, since they are strictly based on regular season performance, and nobody really knows whether it’s going to be Sabathia or Beckett who wins. Their records and ERA were pretty similar, but Sabathia pitched about 40 more innings. Many people seem to think that will give him the edge. Right now, those extra 40 innings seem to have taken away his edge in the postseason. He’s had three bad starts, looking tired and frustrated, while Beckett has been even better than he was all year. In his 3 playoff starts, Becket is 3-0, his ERA is 1.17, he’s pitched 23 innings and had 26 strikeouts, with only one walk. Opponents are batting .160 against him. Meanwhile, Sabathia is 1-2, with an ERA of 8.80, he’s pitched 15.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and 13 walks, and the Yankees and Red Sox have hit .350 against him. If he ends up with the Cy Young, it’ll look pretty silly.
In any case, there will be baseball on Saturday night, and I can’t wait to see what Schilling can do.
One series, that is. Now we have to get through the Indians or Yankees…it was looking like the former until the Yankees pulled ahead 8-3 in tonight’s game. I’m torn about how I want this to end. While part of me really wants the Yankees to get swept, another part of me wants this to go to five before the Yankees go down, so Cleveland is worn out and we don’t have to see Sabathia on Friday night.
In any case, things couldn’t have gone much better for the Sox. After watching Manny hit the ball halfway to the moon on Friday night (actually Saturday morning), we got to see Schilling be his usual postseason self, pitching seven shutout innings. It looked like the Angels would go the entire series having scored in only one inning, but then Francona decided to bring in Gagne for the ninth. “Nine runs” appears to be the answer to the question, “How big a lead do you need before you feel safe bringing in Eric Gagne?” Even two grand slams would still leave some wiggle room. And of course, after a quick double, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly, the shutout was gone and the score was 9-1. Happily, Gagne was able to end it soon after that, meaning that the most unreliable setup man on the team got to be on the mound when the Sox completed the sweep. There’s definitely something wrong with that picture, but I’m not going to complain too much.
The magic number is now eight, and I can’t wait until Friday night.
What a way to start the playoffs. In four career postseason starts, Josh Beckett now has three complete game shutouts, and he managed this one with eight strikeouts, no walks, and only four hits (none of them for extra bases). After giving up a lead-off single, he proceeded to retire the next 19 batters. He was consistently throwing two-seam and four-seam fastballs at 96-98 mph, and throwing his curve ball for strikes.
And he had great defense behind him. Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury both made outstanding catches in the outfield, and Lowell made a great diving stop in the third that we had to see in replay because TBS was still showing commercials when the inning started.
And on the other side, John Lackey didn’t miss a lot of bats. Kevin Youkilis (now tied with Manny Ramirez for Sammy’s favorite player) got his first postseason hit in the first inning, a home run that turned out to be the only run the Sox would need. Big Papi continued to demonstrate that he’s back in fine form, hitting a two-run shot in the third. And two batters later, Mike Lowell drove in another run to top it off.
Not bad, eh? I like it.
On Saturday we went to the new Natick Collection, formerly known as the Natick Mall, to check out what the marketing folks are calling the Newbury Street of the western suburbs. I wouldn’t go so far as to agree with that (although they do have a Tommy Bahama store!). Still, our opinion was greatly enhanced when Jennifer called me from the shoe department at Nordstrom to tell me that Kevin Youkilis was there, signing autographs. Sammy and I tore ourselves away from the island lifestyle and headed over to wait in line.
This was, of course, the day after the Sox had clinched the division, so we imagine that Kevin may have been sporting a bit of a hangover. Still, he was perfectly nice, and seemed pleased to sign Sammy’s Portland Sea Dogs hat. It was the only thing we had on us worth signing (it was that or our grocery list), but luckily, he actually played for the Sea Dogs in their first season as a Red Sox affiliate. He also seemed grateful when Sammy told him that he should win a Gold Glove some day.
Not a bad deal for a chance encounter in the shoe department.
This was back at the beginning of June, but man, it’s still funny.
Here’s the link to YouTube if the video doesn’t display here.
We went to our first (and probably only) Red Sox game of the season last night, and we picked a good one. The Sox have been in a bit of a slide recently, while the Yankees have been pretty much unstoppable. There has been much concern in Red Sox Nation, and after a great performance by Tim Wakefield the night before, we needed another from Jon Lester. It was going to be a feel-good experience regardless, since it was Lester’s first Fenway appearance since being diagnosed with cancer last August. Still, he’s been having trouble with his pitch counts, and Tampa Bay was countering with Scott Kazmir, whose personal mission seems to be to beat the Sox whenever he gets the chance. Things did not look good, especially when Lester walked the first batter.
Then he settled down, and left after seven innings having given up two hits, just the one walk, and one run (on a sacrifice fly). Only problem was, the Sox couldn’t get anything off of Kazmir, and it was looking like a 1-0 loss, or worse. Then Timlin got us out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and Gagne came in to pitch the ninth. Naturally, he was booed, but he struck out the side (giving up a harmless double), the boos turned to cheers, and we were at the bottom of the ninth.
Late-inning heroics have been the hallmark of this team for the last few years, but they’ve been few and far between this year. The only time the Sox have won when losing after eight innings (in 41 chances) was back on Mother’s Day. Still, we believed, or at least hoped. Things looked bleak when Manny struck out, but then Lowell came in and hit one over the Green Monster and the game was tied. One out later, Varitek hit a ground rule double, Coco Crisp got to 3-2, hit a ball into right field and drove home Varitek for the winning run. Cue the high fives, the cheers, and the kind of joy that has been conspicuously absent on a team with the best winning percentage in baseball.
And, of course, throughout the game we got to watch the scoreboard as the numbers kept rising for the Orioles and staying at 0 for the Yankees. Final score there was 12-0. Nice.