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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Wanna Babe Ruth Lunch Box? Red Sox History - in Images and T-Shirts

If you have a hankering to see wonderful collection of images from Red Sox and Fenway Park history (and the Celtics and Bruins also) or need a Babe Ruth Lunch box for your next sleep over at Grandma's, visit: http://www.cafeshops.com/bplonline - an online store from the Boston Public Library's special image collection series. They have dozens of great photos from Sox and the Park's history including many excellent photos of Ted Williams plus luminaries such as Harry Frazee, Lefty Grove, Calvin Coolidge, Johnny Pesky, Pinky Higgins, Mayor Curley, you get the picture - so to speak.

Also in the collection: neat reproductions from newspaper cartoons of the day - including one with withering condemnation of Frazee for selling Ruth to the hated New Yorkers after winning the Championship (they knew even then).

It is worth surfing through both the Red Sox and Fenway Park galleries, where you will find this gem:
1912 Atlas page showing the Boston American Base Ball Grounds, the Fenway Realty Trust original simple outline for Fenway Park...."Detail of Plate 33 of the 1912 Atlas for the City of Boston, Boston Proper and Back Bay, showing Fenway Park. Two sections of the grandstand and part of the bleachers visible. First year of Fenway Park."
Many of the photos are available as cards, mugs, T-Shirts, mousepads, lunch boxes, or coasters. So if you have wanted that Ted T-Shirt or the 1915 Babe on a lunch box, now it can be your very own.

This stuff isn't for everybody, but for baseball fans with a sense of history, this collection is worth the URL trip.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Yin and Yang of Manny; How Bad is Fox' Coverage?

Is there any doubt that Tim Wakefield is a gamer? A guy who says that a Yankees-Sox Series is “fun.” Seven innings, 1 ER vs. Sheffield, Giambi, A-Rod (looked foolish against the knuckler, didn’t he?), and oudueled mega-free agent Vasquez on a cold night. Tim plays very solid defense on the mound, BTW. You gotta love him. And quit asking him about Aaron Boone, please - the guy performed magnificently in the playoffs last year.

- Bill Mueller: snapping out of it, and how. This lineup has missed his key hits and OBP. Glad you are back Bill.

- Manny: A homer that’s not a homer - the one guy on either side who doesn't need a cheap HR or help getting one from the Umps. I also have sympathy for Manny: he is really a great slugger, but lacks the physical grace and ease, and defensive skills, of a Williams, Mays, or DiMaggio. Manny doesn't even look graceful trotting around the basepaths after one of his titanic HRs. And so when he makes an error, it is never just an error - it is an Ugly, ungraceful, brutally Ugly error.

- Baseball Mystery Question: Why is it that when a fielder makes an error, when the camera peers at the player afterwards, we always see him examining his glove - as if that was the source of the problem?

- Fox: Talk about ugly, revolting, agonizingly over-produced sports event coverage!…..Sigh. Where do I start? First, a new low in baseball broadcasting, and worthy of its own post - Scooter, the Fox baseball “tutor.” Buck and McCarver were obviously embarrassed to introduce this inane animated character, whose silly segments did no more to explain how a knuckler works than the announcing team. Second: I feel all puffed out, overstuffed with Foxian hype about the "03 ALCS, 1978/1986/1999/2003, ad nasuem, ad nasuem. It was also apparent that Buck and McCarver were embarrassed every time they production team forced them to again to regurgitate these stale, tired Sox history turds. More Fox production manure: online polls featuring “Yankee we hate the most (Jeter wasn't a selection BTW)."

The latest prayer of Red Sox Nation: on our knees hoping that Fox Sports gets to cover as few Yankees-Red Sox games as possible this season.
Here’s a poll: who do you hate more - the Yankees or Fox Sports?

Monday, April 12, 2004

I'm Lovin' It . . .

No, not McDonald's -- the Red Sox 7-game season.
Overtime games galore and some good wins, despite the rough start overall. It looks to me like one thing that did not change over the off season was their clubhouse will to win and support for one another. They have not given up once (okay, Francona may have punted using McCarty but I'd rather see him do that than overtax already overtaxed arms. Bye, Ramiro.) and yesterday's come-from-behind effort just reinforces for me the sense that these guys did not lose any of their intensity and, let me be one of the first to resurrect this, their Cowboy Up attitude. My highlights of the weekend - Kapler's catch, the hits by Crespo and Bellhorn, Pedro's performance, Ortiz's HR. There were certainly others. Schilling's abuse of his glove in the dugout was something I have not seen in a while from a Sox pitcher - just don't damage anything in the arm while you are doing it, okay, Curt?
We are in for another wild ride this year. I'm up for it.
Oh, and the first time I heard "cowboy up" was in the movie "Tears of the Sun," when Bruce Willis' character tells the people he is trying to save to "Cowboy the f**k up." I liked it as soon as I heard it.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

PawSox Deliver Twin Pitcher's Duels

Saturday's (4-10) scheduled DH at McCoy was a gem, despite the windy conditions. The PawSox won a pair - that's right - of 1-0 shutouts against the Buffalo Bisons (Cleveland). Though scheduled as two seven inning games as is the custom in the minors for Double Headers, Game 1 went nine innings as Buffalo's K. Denney (a name to remember?) struck out 10 PawSox and went six strong innings, allowed only 3 hits and one walk - but Pawtucket's Jamie Brown and Brian Hebson pitched seven matching innings, allowing only 4 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 7. In Game 2, John Stephens (1-0) went five strong innings, allowing only 2 hits, striking out 3, and walking nobody. The PawSox have an interesting mix of minor league veterans and prospects this year - and again managed by the excellent Buddy Bailey.
[Top Sox prospect Kevin Youkilis had a tough day; 1 for 7 with three K's.] Should be a good year at McCoy.
I did not join the Easter Egg hunt after the game BTW, despite press reports to the contrary.
- Congratulations to the NH Fisher Cats, winners of three of their first four games on the road, against a traditionally tough New Britain club. They play their home opener April 15th vs. Trenton.
- Um, guess I may have to eat some crow about Pedro being done, eh; it's early yet folks. Give me until the All-Star break anyway.
- Daubach's gone again, as the Sox have to replace ailing (again) Mendoza with Frank Castillo. Dauber says he'll go to Pawtucket if he clears waivers - look forward to it!
- This Red Sox lineup doesn't have as much punch as last year but don't you get the sense that the Defense is just much better?

Friday, April 09, 2004

A Big Mouth, or Just More Honest than Many?

You may not like him, but you have to agree that Curt Schilling is interesting and a character. Schilling seems to be willing to talk into any microphone put in front of him, and if there is none available, look for an outlet to speak his mind on the web - SOSH or anywhere else. I am not sure Schilling has ever tried his act in a media fishbowl like Boston - where he will likely be criticized for whatever he says - either by the fans of the press.
He makes some interesting points about the "Pedro Leaves Early" furor at Jim Rome's Web site - text and audio stream, http://www.jimrome.com/home/article/article.html, including seemingly calling the press liars for making stuff up, and takes a shot at the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy.

It ain't boring folks.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Honestly, I never felt bad in the first place unless . . .

you count being pissed off at the knee-jerk reactions of Boston media to the Pedro thing. Yeah, he left early on Monday. Yeah, it was wrong. No, he is not Oil Can Boyd. It may be too much to ask, but, RSN, get some perspective. Your current flame, Curt Schilling, whined perpetually to get out of Philadelphia because they were not winning, and I don't hear anyone calling him names. After six years, haven't you gotten some insight into Martinez? He is not perfect, he is arrogant (hey, remember Steve Carlton?), he is tempermental, he is demanding, a perfectionist, and still one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. Stop crying because he is not the best anymore, or does stupid things like leave early. Only one thing matters: if the players don't like it. When what he does pits him against them in the clubhouse (the only place it matters -- sorry, Shaughnessy, et al. you really are not players), then it matters.
Lowe, BTW, has a very similar line to Pedro's. Try bitching at the three or more times the Sox had two men on and no one scored on Sunday.
Anyway, get used to my defense of the players vs. the press. It's not that I side with the players unconditionally, but there needs to be some balance and I'm going to provide it.
BTW, Mac: Damon went 5-5 last night, most to the opposite field. Guess he heard you and the rest of the Nation -- as well as his hitting coach and probably manager and probably other players. I'll get on the players after they consistently screw up or hit slumps, etc., not after three games. Only pitchers can be taken apart after each game, IMO.
Oh, yeah. Game 1 of my son's JV season is Monday. No rain or snow, please.
Tim

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Just What the Doctor Ordered - For Now

There...............Feeling better? With good reason:
- Schilling is the horse we thought he was going to be. 90 - 94 mph, good fielding, tough. Maybe this is what's really eating Pedro.
- Damon: lose the hair, and drop down to eighth in the batting order until you can do something other than ground out to second or short.
- Do any of the Red Sox coaches know how to instruct Damon, Millar, et al. in the basics of calling for the ball in left and right center? Well, let's have a session before somebody gets seriously hurt - again.
- Burks: a Stolen base (Palmerio too)? Gotta love him.
- Wishful thinking: what if the Sox had the luck (or had the brains) to have kept both Burks and Schilling their entire careers in Boston?
- Francona: time to make this your team - or the backdoor to Theo's office will be busy all season long and your life will be hell.
- Foulke: Ok, we're breathing easier now.
TAFN (That's All For Now).
John

Monday, April 05, 2004

That River in Egypt............and Respect

The Nile, or Denial - that is the river Pedro is navigating right now. It's obvious to everyone but him: he's in denial about not being "The Best Pitcher in Baseball," anymore. Yes, it is very hard to accept when you have Pedro's mentality, aggressiveness, temperament, and reputation. But, sooner or later, it happens to everybody.
When you are "The Best Pitcher in Baseball," you can be petulant and whiney about every act of "dis-respect," from the club and the press and the fans. When you are just plain good or even average (heaven forbid), you have to follow the rules like everyone else, not leave the clubhouse early, talk to the press, and not hold out for $14M or $15M or $17.5M per year.
Pedro is earning $17.5M this year; he is no longer good enough to command that kind of money, but he doesn't realize it yet. The sooner he accepts that, the better off Pedro and the Sox will be - for this year anyway.
As for RSN, you have to accept it also. If Pedro leaves in '05, he leaves. I am pretty sure we can sign a strong free agent arm for $25M or $30M, or $35M.
And Pedro can go where he will be "respected."

Fisher Cats: 115,000 and Counting........

According to the Manchester Union Leader today, the AA Fisher Cats have already sold 115,000 tickets for the upcoming '04 season in the renovated Gill Stadium - which is slated to hold just over 4,000 people. The team will play a 71 game Eastern League home season, assuring the F'Cats will have an average attendance of at least 1,700 per game - and more likely 2,500 - 3,000, and outdrawing the Atlantic League's Nashua Pride - southern NH's other pro baseball team.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The Tao of Pokey

Lost the opener and looked bad doing it with 14 LOBs.
Observations on a freezing night at Camden:
- Pokey, Pokey, Pokey giveth, so far until: two walks (have to do at least that if your are hitting .250!), a very nice tag play at third with the Manny throw to get Melvin Mora.
- And why.....oh why was Pokey bunting with two outs - giving the Birds an easy way to close out another Sox threat. And of course, Pokey had to be lifted for a PH late in the game to get some offense, and substitute Crespo went in at short, and made an error. If Pokey can walk consistently, let's try him at leadoff - Damon grounding out is not a thrill anymore.
- Pedro: Why doesn't NESN have its pitching speed indicator onscreen this season - or will we see it when others are pitching? Note to RemDawg: get the network to display the pitch speed. And for Pedro: still lacking some control, and looks like 90 or 91 is now the tops. That probably won't get it done with the control he has right now.
- Bill Mueller: picks up where he left off last year. Why isn't he leading off?
- Kapler: looks like a strong fill-in for Nixon, with relief from Burks on occasion.
- Note to Curt Schilling: Help!!


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Official Zeitgeist Forecast: MLB

Time to belly up to the bar - (These are John's Predictions); I hate analysts who won't put their forecasts in writing, or do so with asterisks (like a few local radio talk show weasel hosts we know!). Here goes:
AL West: gotta go with Oakland - pitching wins, even without Foulke, in a weak division.
AL Central: KC - Tony Perez will find a way to win (a hunch).
AL East: Boston - despite an ineffective and struggling season from Pedro, Schilling and Arroyo step up.
AL Wild Card: Yankees - Vasquez wins 19 or 20 finally playing for a good team.
NL West: Arizona - Brenly finds a way, Randy still a horse when it counts.
NL Central: Cubs - Prior comes back, Bartman stays home.
NL East: Phils - even with Bowa, Millwood has a strong year.
NL Wild Card: Houston
NLCS: Cubs vs. Phils; Phils beat Cubs in seven - It was Dusty's fault last year, not Bartman's, and he'll fail again in the clutch.
ALCS: Boston vs. Oakland: Boston in six - Sox have too much all around for the A's.
WS: Red Sox vs. Phils: powerful Sox down gritty Phils in great seven game Series; lack of strong Pedro compensated by horse Schilling and stellar performances from Arroyo, Wakefield, Varitek.
Having won it all, Theo makes little effort to re-sign the Big Four in a weakened player salary market, but signs Varitek and Lowe.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Genuine Title Memories Only, Please

The Boston Globe reports that new Red Sox documentary about last year's team from now has a name: "Still, We Believe: The Red Sox Movie." Seven titles were put up for fan voting on redsox.com (more than 4,000 votes cast) and www.boston.com (3,750 votes cast).
I didn't vote: Here's why - Who cares what the title of the film or DVD is?
Why did the producers of the 2003 Red Sox highlight film solicit fan suggestions for a title? OK, it was a fun season, but THEY LOST THE ALCS, .....REMEMBER THAT? Is this just a marketing ploy to try and get publicity to help sell a film or DVD with a horrible ending, that otherwise no one would want? Or, getting a title acceptable to the fans so they can sell more of them - when selecting a title for a bittersweet story is a dicey prospect with grouchy Boston fans? We think so. Could you really watch it without gagging or puking at the end? (How about "Grady's Little Brain Has a Fart.")

I don't have any VHS tapes or DVDs with Red Sox memories of the 1986, 1978, or 1975 seasons - and don't want one either (except maybe Game 6, '75). I'll think about buying a documentary DVD if the Sox win it. Sox management must be getting jealous of the Patriots DVD TV ad: Yeah, it's great to run ads when you do win it - isn't it? So win it.