Friday, June 30, 2006


"Textbook." Never thought I'd be saying those words about the Sox. For all my life the Sox have never been textbook. Not in the 2004 ALCS. Not even in the 2004 World Series. They are experts in creating that "holy shit" moment. That "Heathcliff Slocum" moment where they teetered on the brink of disaster.

Prior to 2004, the Sox were masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The proverbial "Michael Dukasises" of Major League Baseball. In 2006, that all changed.

What's different now? Well, Jon Papelbon is the major reason they are different. Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp, Curt Schilling version 2.0, Alex Gonzalez (who's starting to hit like a madman), Josh Beckett, a focused Manny Ramirez, also make the Sox different. For starters, every one of those guys (yes, even Manny) are the consumate professionals. I'll throw Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, Trot Nixon, Doug Mirabelli, and Gabe Kapler in there as well -- only those guys have always been professional and have always been reliable.

So why did I title this post "Textbook?" For one, the Sox -- or maybe I should start calling them the "un-Sox" -- executed against the baseball meaning of textbook last night. In addition to superb pitching (again), and phenomenal fielding (tied the MLB record for errorless game streak last night), there was one point in the 7th, 8th and 9th inning where everything went according to plan. Coco Crisp bunted his way on (monster catch in the 8th to save a run btw). He stole second. AGonz sacraficed him to third. Varitek sacrificed him home. And then Big Papi did what he does best -- he crushed the ball into the bleachers just to make sure the Sox didn't blow this one.

I don't even need to mention the fact that Jon "Money" Papelbon came in to close the door. This kid is all business. I can't opine enough about him. He's a younger version of Mo Rivera (yes, I'm prepared to officially make that statement now). Come to think of it, Jon Papelbon is "textbook".

Come on lucky number 13...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Morning Joe

Random baseball musings as the Sox win streak hits 10 games...
  • Our collective thoughts and prayers are with Peter Gammons who suffered a brain aneurysm on Tuesday. Look up the word "class" in the dictionary and Gammons picture appears next to it. His seminal Sunday morning "Notebook" format in the Boston Globe revolutionized the way baseball is covered. We wish you a speedy recovery Mr. Gammons.
  • Speaking of good writing, interesting article in today's Globe about our beloved slugger and recent walk off hero. Titled Thank Goodness for David Ortiz, the article begins "WHEN DAVID ORTIZ steps to the plate for the Boston Red Sox, you think about a bat connecting with a ball. You don't think about a fist connecting with a wife." A propos given some recent posts in this very blog.
  • JS -- love yesterday's post about Sox 2.0. Given the focus of my new job i.e all things Web 2.0, you make a clever point about how many of us are digesting our sports these days.
  • Glad to see the Nation cheer Pedro yesterday. It pissed me off when he left town and proceeded to act like a spoiled baby but it's easy to see that he was like a jilted lover -- it hurt him deeply that the Sox didn't try harder to keep him so he lashed out verbally to try and hurt back. I miss his pizazz and would love to see him end his career in a Sox uniform.
  • Was it just me or was there a touch of irony last night when Met's rookie left fielder, Lastings (great name), got turned around on Manny's fly ball to left field in the 4th inning? That was ugly.
  • I feel like an a-hole for saying this but how good does the Mike Lowell acquisition look right now. Not sure if you saw it but it looks like Bill Mueller (who is one of my favorite players btw) is done. Oh yeah, last time I checked Lowell was hitting .311 with 9 HRs and only 4 E's...
  • Two words: Jon Lester. Any doubt that this guy is the real deal? I didn't think so.
Time to grab that cup of coffee.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sox 2.0

OK. First off, it is just f'n weird to see Pedro sitting in another uniform, in the visitor's dugout, in Fenway. And nice job 'tek getting the clutch single with the bases's obviously just after the first inning.

They just gave Petey the standing O that he deserves. Good to see. The campaign to boo him on Dirtdogs was shameful.

Now flashback to yesterday. This is how I experienced the game.

1pm. I log onto Gameday and Gameday audio at my computer in my officle. "Watch" Gameday and listen to Troop and Castiglione in streaming audio with my headphones on.

2pm. I have to head over to a meeting with a lot of super-duper high-level execs (I'm there to support my boss with the tech aspect of her preso...yes, I'm a glorified A/V guy, or at least I play one on TV). My phone is vibrating in my pocket throughout the meeting. I know that it's my buddy, Jesse who is at the game, sending me text message updates. Because this is such a high level meeting I cannot easily text back and forth as I would like. However I finally have to sneak a few peaks.

5pm. Meeting over. I high-tail it back to my car. I listen on the radio as the game goes into extra innings.

5:30pm...ish. Coco doubles! As I pull into my driveway I'm listening to Gonzalez's at bat. I make a break for it and make it upstairs to my apartment and turn on the TV just as Youk comes up to bat. The rest as they say is history. Youk doubles in Coco. And Papi does what he always does. BTW, in all the Papi hype, the clutchness of the Youkilis hit is barely discussed yesterday and today, and I would say does not get the recognition it deserves. Without that hit the game is over and we lose.

Anyway. I felt like this way a very 2.0 way to experience the game. Online, through text messages, then on the radio, then on TV. I hit all the channels except the live one.

Parting note. Petey should still be on our team. Just doesn't feel right. No the Sox shouldn't have matched the Mets offer...they should've wrapped him up in the '03 offseason.

...back to your regularly scheduled programming.


PS This is our chat transcript. Kind of funny.

Jesse (6/26 10:53 am): Can u get away?
Jon (6/26 11:12 am): For game? Unfortunately not.
Jesse (6/26 1:48 pm): You have new Picture Mail!
Click Go/View to see now.
Jon (6/26 1:54 pm): Nice...i'd say fu, but i've done a lot of seat gloating myself lately.
Jesse (6/26 1:52 pm): Tru dat.
Jesse (6/26 3:03 pm): 5 straight unanswered runs in the 6th...S
Jesse (6/26 3:12 pm): 6 NIL, good guys.
Jesse (6/26 4:03 pm): Pap trying 2 preserve one run lead-brought him in in 8th.
Jon (6/26 4:42 pm): And?
Jesse (6/26 4:42 pm): Pap shit the bed: gave up his first dinger. Now into xtra innings...
Jesse (6/26 4:50 pm): This is excruciating.
Jon (6/26 5:06 pm): Anything?
Jesse (6/26 5:07 pm): Had 2 on with 1 out in bottom of 10th but Gonzo lined into double play. Top of 11th
Jon (6/26 5:14 pm): Urrrrgh!
Jon (6/26 5:52 pm): Cmon tek!
Jesse (6/26 5:49 pm): This is killing me
Jon (6/26 5:58 pm): Yooooooooooooooooooouk!!!!!!!!!
Jesse (6/26 5:55 pm): I AM DYING
Jon (6/26 6:16 pm): Bet that made the pain worth it.

Fellow Human Comradeship

Adawg, JS, you guys know me very well. So you also know that I would never speak the words that I titled this entry, so it's kind of a joke, but at the same time it fits perfect. Anyway, two things to say today and they both have to do with the people of Boston.

Youk and PAPI Baby! 'Nuff said. I do want to make note that without Youk's line drive to center, Papi doesn't get his change to come up to the plate and complete his usual deed of brightening the good people of Boston's day/night.

On that note, last night and this morning I've felt a sense of community in Boston that is oh-so-rare these days. It all started yesterday evening on the way home from work. I'm sitting in a long line of traffic trying to exit the Alewife T station listening to WEEI with the guilty pleasure that the sox are in extra innings from an afternoon game. The game would have been over in 9 innings had Tavares, Seanez, and whomever not blown a 6-run lead.

After hearing the news that Philly score in the 12th, I am not 'that' worried about it -- maybe I should be since we were up 6-0 earlier in the game. Anyway, as I pull out of the garage the sox come to the plate and things start looking up when Coco Crisp leads off the inning with a double. As I continue to sit parked in traffic, my man Youk comes to the plate and I just know he's going to drive in the run to tie it. Of course the next thing I know I hear: 'there's a long line driiiiiive hit hard...' and can't help but start to laugh as the pathfinder in front of me has TWO fists pumping up and out of his sunroof as it swerves into the right lane.

Obviously this guy (who still wears his 'Live Strong bracelet, and I wonder how his didn't break yet - I went through 4 in 2 months and then gave up when they were being resold on eBay for double-digit prices) is listening to the game and felt the same as me. So I speed up next to him, beep the horn and pump my fist back to him. We laugh cause we're one in the same - on the way home from another day at work, but feeling good about it, and more importantly about Youk and the fact that there's a good chance Papi is going to get his change to work his magic.

That's been my first sense of community in Boston in a while (outside of Fenway park at least), and a funny one.
It's not quite a Thursday, October 28, 2004 day (I know you all know what happened the night before) in Boston. But it almost has that ring to it - Papi does it 2 games in a row this week, sun's out and weather is perfect (you know what that means if you work in Boston for scenery). It's all good...

Should have known

I should know not to doubt someone who chooses the initials JS. Good to know the facts, and I agree with JS - totally classless. I remember when Wilfredo Cordero allegedly beat his wife. Did Sox fans wear wife beaters with his number on the shirt? No, they booed that ahole out of town.

Not Ironical

Just a quick one here: Monsieur Wife Beater was definitely not an ironical Sox fan being clever. He was sitting with about eight buddies all decked out in Phillies gear and high-fiving during every key Phillies moment (which fortunately there were few...and they mostly happened during the beginning of the game). We thought he might be ripping on Myers at first so he was under close observation from our crew...turned out he was a run-of-the-mill-dirt-bag-phillies-phuck.

...back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Monday, June 26, 2006

A-Bag vs. Papi

First -- props to JStro, JS, and Cog-slice for jumping in with some guest prose. Very much appreciated on this end. I got many a chuckle from the numerous rants and am starting to wonder if JS may have caused as much controversy with his "Myers wife-beater wearing Phillies fan" as the actual Brett Myers with his "alleged" domestic abuse.

What's my point? Nothing related to the prior paragraph (other than the fact that I promise to keep this short so that I don't undermine my little bro's virgin post following today's game). Listening to our local radio station driving home tonight, I was listening to the Red Sox flagship station, WEEI. One of of the talk show hosts mentioned that Ortiz' walk off RBI today tied him with A-Rod for the AL league lead. What? I mean, what?

Believe me, I like A-Rod just like the next guy (that's a lie, I actually hate A-Rod). However, this is the guy that is the queen of empty, late game HRs with the Yanks either up or down by 10 runs. Usually they are of the solo varietal. Apparently I got my facts wrong. 11 times this season A-bag's late inning anti-heroics actually meant something. Very surprising. Just wanted to point that out. Carry on...

If you ain't got no swing...

Quick comment before I start off - JS, is it possible that astute Red Sox fans, as a rip on Myers went out and scralled Myers number on a wife beater as a comment on Myers as a wife beater, and not in support of him? That sounds very much like a Red Sox fan. Don't know, wasn't there, don't know who they were cheering for. Hope that makes a difference in your view. If not...

Anyway, it is raining down here in DC. I know we haven't had anything like those folks up north, but it is that dreary weather that makes you want to sit inside, all wrapped up, drink cocoa, and watch the Notebook. Not really. But it does certainly take a bite out of you.

Speaking of DC, great town. Love it. Got a zoo right around the corner from my house. Restaurants down the street, cathedral up the street. What else could you want? When my new boy arrives (due in September) I will get his little ass to the zoo. I am hoping that will provide hours of entertainment. By the way, going to call my boy Little Papi, in honor of Big Papi who got a game winning hit. Again. Two blogs in a row, two big hits in a row? Big Papi is the man. So, it has been a long day - had to clean up my condo's flooded basement until 1 in the morning. So in a piss-poor mood today. Game certainly didn't help after Sox go up by six and Rudy, the big f'ing choke, comes in to almost give up an inside the park homer - INSIDE THE PARK HOMER - in Fenway, mind you. Got to give it to him though, when he f's up, he does it with style. I mean does Julian Tavarez and Rudy take turn sucking? Can they both not suck on the same day? Anyway, I digress. So the game wasn't helping my mood, especially after Crisp hits a leadoff double and they can't even move him over, for C's sake. Then money Youk comes up, then money Papi. I am liking this little streak of 9 games.

Here's hoping the streak continues, the fans cheer Martinez, then steal all his mangoes, and sweep the Mets.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Just got back from the game. Holy shnikees. Big Papi does it again. I actually said this to my buddy right before he smashed yet another walkoff home run. Unbelievable. And Papelbon. I know it's the name of the blog, but OMG, the guy is unbelievable. Down to 0.24. I remember being psyched in '04 when Foulke was just over 1.0.

BTW, could you tell on TV how many Phillies fans were there? It was insane. I finally felt like it must feel like in other parks when red sox nation invades. And getting the walkoff win felt like such a great big, satisfying FU to all of them that were there. I have to say I had extra animosity towards the visiting fans because of the Myers wife beating incident. There was a guy near us that was wearing an actual wife-beater with a hand-scrawled Myers #39 shirt. A wife beater. Hand scrawled. With Myers name. WTF? Is the guy a wife beating fan? I heard from another buddy who was in the bleachers that he saw a couple of other guys that were sporting the same thing. That's class Phillies fans. Real class.

Let's imagine for a second how this might happen. You're a Phillies fan. You've planned this trip for months. You fly in with your buddies (on Southwest of course) and on the night you arrive you hear on the news that your ace was seen repeatedly striking his wife and dragging her by the hair after she fell on the street. You are so inspired that you take out your wife-beater (you brought one of course...because you do have a lot, a lot of culture) and you hand-scrawl your wife-beating pitcher's name on your shirt. YOU SOBER UP. And you still think it's a good idea to wear your shirt to the game. Well phuck you, you phucking phuck. I'm so glad that you lost. And you had to suffer the kick in the dick that is the walk off home run when you're the visiting team.

One last item. The Phillies. What kind of name is that? It would be like if we were called the Boston, Bosties and we regularly faced off against our arch enemies the New York, New Yorkies. I guess they were idiots back in the day too, when they created the team. It's like a baby New Yorky.

Signing off. With a lot of pride for our team and a lot of hostility towards our opponents.

...back to your regularly scheduled programming.


PS I sat in our regular seats in the right field grandstands...and the wait service sucks compared to the EMC club. ;-)

PPS How great is this picture? Note the helmet.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Things that I know, but Can't Understand (a Random swing)

Although I like to think of myself as a rather organized guy most of the time (perhaps part of my metrosexuality, but that's another blog), this guest entry is rather random and unorganized. Something that might tug on my OCD while writing this, but I really don't think that crafting an outline ahead of time like a term paper is unnecessary and would cause such a blog to lose its luster.

Anyway, here are some things that I think about way too much and that I have definitions for, as well as scientific explanations for, and still can't understand fully. I never will be able to so don't bother trying.

'Selfishness' - Okay, so fundamentally being selfish is only thinking of yourself, being greedy, etc., etc. Usually a selfish act would involve not thinking of someone else and doing something to benefit you, perhaps it makes you feel good, makes your life easier in some shape or form. But the bottom line is that you do something for yourself because it makes you feel good. I would say that for the most part I am not a selfish guy at all. I really do live day-to-day by the 'do unto others as you would like done to you' as much as possible, and think about that all of the time. However I feel like this selfish label that so many people throw around is an infinite loop. Because I love to help out people, whether it's something small, or fairly significant - but the reason that I do it (in the end) is beacuase I like to and it makes me feel good. Here's an example to ponder: we've all been on the subway when a woman enters the train with a child - and comes to find just a single seat open, say its right next to you. Most of us would like to think that we'd get up and offer our seat for her to be able to sit with her child. Well, I am one of those people - and guess what, I'm an 'unselfish' person for that. She's probably thinking one of two things when I do so, and insist that she sits: 1. That I am unselfish, and a genuine nice guy and she is actually thankful for my offer, or 2. That I am trying to impress her to strike up a conversation, with the intention of getting her number, showing her what a 'real man' is later on that night, and then pretending that I'm going to call her the next day (okay I'm getting carried away, but not the point) so she barely whispers thank you and tried to slide right by me and take the aforementioned seat. Regardless of what she thinks, in the end I offered up my seat because it was the right thing to do, and I wanted to. But because it made me feel good to do it. Now, I'm not selfish because I did something to help her, but I did it because it made me feel good. So isn't that selfish in itself? Infinite loop in my book. I don't blame the asshole that didn't want to give up his seat for her, because we're both selfish in the end - somehow we both felt better for what we did. It was his choice to stay comfortable because he felt better that way, it was my choice to be uncomfortable because I felt better that way.

Planes Flying - Totally know that speed of the plane, wings catch air, blah blah blah, pick it up off the ground and its engines push it through the air, all of that crap. But I don't get it. This thing is held on the ground by gravity pretty damn hard, all of a sudden is 10k feet in the air for 6 hours, and is 3,000 miles away, perfectly touching down in San Diego from Boston. And the whole time in the air it's cruising along above everything going on down on the ground because it went really fast. I'm not explaining this the way that I wanted to, but I don't make much sense most of the time anyway.

Babies - Yes, I know how babies are made. Trust me, I know how babies are made. I actually made one myself once. I'll spare the drama that comes along with it. Chances are you know me and have heard 90% of it already anyway. BUT just like the plane thing, I will never be able to understand just how this happens. Without getting too graphic here, some 'liquid' touches a 'solid' and poof. Nine months later another life is born. Another life - that's a big damn deal. I get how it happens, but I really don't get it.

US/Ghana World Cup Ref - Sorry but outside of 6th grade sports I've never even blamed half of a game on a ref/umpire/official, etc. And I was a total jock for the majority of my life up until a year or two ago. The US/Ghana world cup game had a lot riding on it for sure. Both teams knew that the only way they could move on to the next round of the most watched sporting event in the world is if they win (and Italy does against the Czechs at the same time.) So it's just about half time and the referee calls a penaly kick for a foul that is barely, and I mean barely, tied to any physical contact. And it's in a situation where 80% of the time the offensive player will even setlle the ball in time to maybe get a shot onto the goal. Regardless, you've seen it. Ghana scored the penalty kick, and then plays the second half by packing their team into their side of the field so that the US will have minimal scoring oppt'y. Fair enough, I would have hoped the US would have done the same with a lead, knowing that its a must-win. The problem here is this completely unwarranted call to give the PK. It changed the entire game, and world cup. I won't play the 'everyone hates America whah, whah, whah..', card here, but what the hell is wrong with that picture? Does this guy blow the final whistle, shower up, head back to the hotel room with a 12-pack and order a dirty movie after the game and sit and laugh like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers on some power trip that he had. I know I'm getting carried away, and I have some personal ties to a player on the team (a good friend of mine who played awesome that day), but as the cliche went, 'get off your knees free, you just blew the game.'

Who's Catherine Wheel? - No, really, who is that? If the CD's that good maybe Adawg will burn me a copy or something.

SOX - Trying to get back onto the Big Papelbon them here with the Sox. First of all, great name for one - props to my man Ben for confusing Papi with Jon. I'm sure if he saw them standing next to one another he'd have no trouble telling them apart. Regardless, Papelbon should win ROY, and should be in serious conention for the, dare I say, Cy if he keeps this up. Guy is a gem. And I know that the plan may be to bring him into the starting rotation. I'll argue against that for selfish reasons. Why not have a 10-15 year Mariano Rivera back there to pull in with the hook? I know, probably not fair to him and not what he wants. But I had to work in some more selfishness to this entry. As the corniest commercial on TV says ' he's so intense on the mound' (if you've seen any commercial break on NESN in the past 3 months you know what I mean.) Another thought, I'm glad the sox are rolling right now, but let's have them keep it up when this interleagure crap is over. The Nationals suck, not against NY as JS sharply put, but they do. I liked seeing Lester handle them, it's great for the big league confidence of a rookie, but let's talk less about how well it went and more about how much it should carry over for the boys of summer.

Golf - I suck at it, but I love it. I can't think of anything that I've been so bad at and still managed to look forward to. I've always been a fierce competitor so I don't see the positive energy sticking to the sport by end of summer if I haven't improved significantly. Ideally I want to be playing with friends, for the bar tab after we play, or for a couple bucks per hole to make it fun. I'm not there yet, but I need to be. But looking forward to playing is pretty cool for now. Rest assured, it won't last long.

Over an Out.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Phantom 10th Run

Guest blogging for Mr. Strout today.

Well I had the pleasure of going to the game yesterday. Sat in the best seats I've ever had…and going out on a limb here, probably better than I will ever have again. My seat: Sec 2, Row 1, Seat 1. Yes for you Fenway die hards, it is the EMC club. Holy crap…it is another world up there. By far the best part is the wait service. No scrambling down to the beer line in between innings. Oh…and when you go to the men's room, of course they have the flat screen on the wall so you don't miss a pitch. Just make sure you don't get too distracted and whiz on your shoes.

I never watched a game from behind the glass, but I can guarantee that it's 900 times better now that the glass has been removed. A little bit of a different crowd up there with the wealthy and well connected (speaking of which, I'm neither…my buddy had the connec). The woman next to us had a rock on that I would estimate to be about 15 carats, and I'm guessing it was not cubic zirconia.

Now, to the game. Papi absolutely destroyed that ball that went out to dead center for the granny. Lester was incredible. So exciting to a.) finally see him in action and b.) see him living up to expectations. At the end of last season I was wishing that they would bring up all of the young studs at once. Papelbon and Hansen were up. Delcarmen was bouncing back and forth. I thought it would've been cool to also bring up Lester, Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez. It would've created a cool feeling in the club house with all of that youth and I thought all the young guns would've gained strength from each other, coming up all at once, together. Anyway good to see the core crop coming in now…and kicking ass.

OK. On another note, in the bottom of the 6th when we scored 4 runs…we should've had 5. How can I pick out something negative to dwell on, in the middle of a 6 game winning streak and a game where we won 9-3? I'm a life-long Sox fan, that's how. The play I'm talking about: Varitek's on second (had doubled), Lowell's on first (intentionally walked), and Crisp is up. Coco singles to center with plenty of room. Varitek's chugging hard, expecting to score and DeMarlo Hale STOPS HIM! What?!? Second base is scoring position for a reason. Because you can score on a single to the outfield.

Now, it's hard to complain about Hale after Dale Sveum got so many people gunned down last year. Hale is a god-send in comparison. No question. But he never sends anyone. With 2 outs you're supposed to take the risk. Especially with that lead. And especially with "light hitting" Alex Gonzalez coming up next (yes he's on a hot streak). Sure enough, Gonzo flies out. Inning over. Crisp robbed of an RBI. How egregious was this? The scorer in the Green Monster had already put up a 10 for the Sox…and then had to pull it down and replace it with the 9, where we stayed for the remainder of the night. I'm not kidding. That happened.

Alright. Rant over. It was an incredible game. We had a blast. Fenway was downright festive and Kenmore felt like Carnival after the game. I was so inspired I had to buy yet another Sox cap. The old school colors. Red with the blue brim. That's what they wore when I was growing up.
Wrapping up: The Nation is on cloud nine, The Nationals blow (except when they play the Spankees), and the National League is looking ever more the joke.

…back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Mixed Bag

Three things I want to cover in this post:
1) Jon Lester aka "JLes"
2) U.S. vs. Ghana/Italy vs. Czech Republic World Cup predictions
3) Catherine Wheel

Anyone need any more convincing that Jon Lester is the real deal after his 1 ER/10 strike out performance tonight? I didn't think so. This guy is a keeper.

World Cup
$10 says the U.S. beats Ghana 2-1 tomorrow and that Italy beats the Czech Republic by the same score. The net result = the U.S. advancing to play Brazil in the 2nd round. As much as I'm excited about the prospect of the U.S. making the round of 16, facing the Soccer Boys in the second round is not exactly something to cheer about. Trying to look at the bright side, Brazil has looked sloppy in the first few matches. Yes, they won all three of those matches but... I know, I'm grasping at straws. Next.

Catherine Wheel
I've been driving to work this week for the first time in 10 years. As a result, I've been able to listen to some of the CDs I don't normally get to listen to. One of those CDs is Catherine Wheel's "Happy Days." This has got to be one of the best yet least listened to albums of all time. Every time I dig it out and listen to it I can't help saying, "wow, I forgot what a great album this is," starting with God Inside My Head all the way to Fizzy Love. Not that the last song "Kill My Soul" isn't good, it just had the unfortunate fate of being 14 on a 13 track album.

The thing that gets me is that "Happy Days" is eleven years old. I remember listening to it at the same time that Alice and Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden were hitting their peak. Even then, I thought they stacked up pretty well. Case in point, I'll bet my left testicle that you've probably heard of the aforementioned three bands. Chances are that unless your my boy Joey Ng, you probably can't name one other song or album by CW. See, I told you.

So, how do these three things tie together? Good question. I guess the common denominator is that they're all good (outcomes and albums). How do you like them apples?

On that note, keep your eyes open for some guest posts the next few days...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Another Come from Ahead Loss

As promised in my blog's positioning statement, I do plan to occasionally talk about things other than baseball. Today's post will one of those occasions.

I started a new job yesterday. Big whoop, right? For me, it was a big deal because it was the first time in nearly ten years that I went somewhere other than 100 Summer Street, Boston to go to work. I've had a several weeks to get used to this concept so it wasn't as much of a shock to the system as it could have been, but it's going to take some getting used to.

For the last nine plus years, I've worked at Fidelity Investments. I spent the first half of my tenure in their internal ad agency and the second half working for retail marketing. All in all it was a great experience. Smart people, challenging projects, adequate resources to get your job done. All of those things made it easy to go to work for most of the time I was at Fidelity.

Yesterday that all changed. I took on a new role as the head of marketing for an up and coming company called SharedInsights. Based on my first day, I can already tell that it's going to be a blast. For one, not having to focus exclusively on financial services and all of its regulatory red tape, is a breath of fresh air. Second, there is something exhilarating about going from a 40,000 person company to a 40 person company.

You want to know one of the best things about my new job? There is a Starbucks down the street -- an unofficial requirement of going to SharedInsights. Good salary -- check. Benefits -- check. Starbucks within a 2 minute drive -- check. Call me crazy but I love good coffee. What's even better is that a) this new Starbucks has good talent and, b) they make really good coffee. Believe it or not, as much as Starbucks is a chain, their coffee varies dramatically from store to store. I won't bore you with any more detail than I already have but trust me when I tell you that making coffee is much more an art then a science. The Woburn Starbucks (at least for my first two visits) seem to get the "science" of making a great Americano.

One more brief digression as I wrap up this post. I liked what I saw from Kyle Snyder last night (last night's starting pitcher against the Phillies). I know it was only one start and the Sox did pick this guy up from the scrap heap known as the Kansas City Royals, but the guy seems to have good stuff. It wouldn't hurt if this guy turned out to be the 2005 Yank's version of Aaron Small or Shawn Chacon.

Speaking of the Yankees, my friend Jon and I were IM-ing last night as the Sox were wrapping up their fourth straight victory and he mentioned that the Bronx Bombers had another "come from ahead loss" last night. Maybe I was overtired but it made me laugh. I told him that I would mention it in my next post.

One parting thought... I think Manny is on the verge of doing some major damage over the few weeks. If he and Ortiz can get hot simultaneously, I can easily see the Sox ripping off 15 or so wins before the All Star break. It wouldn't hurt my feelings to see the Sox up 5-6 games on the Yankees and Blue Jays going into the break.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Future of the Franchise

In ten years, will you remember where you were on June 16th? I certainly will because that's the night we saw the future of the Sox rotation. If Josh Beckett can straighten himself out, we could have one of the most potent 1-2-3 starters in the league. Think Hudson, Mulder and Zito in 2003. Think Buerhle, Garland, and Contreras in 2005. Heck, think Clemens, Hurst, Boyd in 1986. The future looks good -- and it looks like it's going to be that way for a while.

What's the big deal you say? Jon Lester is the big deal. His first start last week against the Rangers was admirable. His start last night with the Sox in a "need to win" situation after a four game losing streak was awesome. I don't think the Atlanta Braves knew what to make of him. Looking at his line, and efficient 6.0 innings pitched, 1 ER, 5 strike outs and 3 BBs on 93 pitches was pretty darn impressive. This against a dangerous Atlanta team that boasts the likes of the brothers Jones (Andru and Chipper), a rejuvenated Edgar Renteria, Jeff Francoeur, Marcus Giles, and Matt Diaz.

So Lester is the first half of the equation, Papelbon is the other half. With any luck, we'll have Hanson closing by next spring and then a starting rotation that looks like this: Schilling, Wakefield, Beckett, Papelbon, and Lester. Not a bad 1-5, especially considering three of those starters are home grown (Schilling being the third).

I know it's early on and Lester has a grand total of 2 starts, 10 IP, and 1 decision under his belt, but I like what I see. This is on top of the fact that scouts and prognosticators i.e. Peter Gammons, drooling all over Lester's stuff. This also assumes that the Sox can slide Hanson (or someone) into the closer spot next year. With Big P. going 20 for 21 in save situations, it's tough to lose that insurance at the back of the pen.

Where was I on the night of June 16, the night we saw the future of the Sox? Sitting in the same place I will probably be sitting 10 years from now, in my living room watching the game. Watching the birth of a potential star, and the solidification of another star. Forgive me for getting excited but I have a feeling that this is the start of something great. Thanks Theo!

Friday, June 09, 2006

We Knew this Day Would Come

We found out tonight that J. Papelbon is not invincible. He's not going to save every game he comes into this year. He's not going to have a 0.01 ERA this season (although his ERA is still an anemic 0.30) but that's okay because he's human and a rookie I might add. Considering the fact that he blew his first save in 21 attempts, it's a nice consolation prize knowing that he came back and won the game (props to Msrs. Lowell and Ramirez). He also did it in dominant fashion, striking out the side in the 9th in the pouring rain.

Taking a step back, I'm somewhat in awe of the aura that has already enveloped Papelbon. In just a third of a season, he's become our Mo Rivera. I know I'm getting ahead of myself given Mo's impressive track record, not to mention World Series trophies, but my point is that he instills that kind of confidence. When Papelbon comes into a game, there's a collective sigh of relief from the Red Sox Nation. We ASSUME that Papelbon is going to come in and shut the door in any close game because he's done it -- and many cases with ease -- in 20 straight games.

On the flip side of that coin, what has happened to Randy Johnson? He has become the anti-dominant pitcher. To steal a line from Seinfeld, he's become bizarro Randy Johnson, giving up home runs like candy while striking out very few. Last night he coughed up six runs in four innings. I have to believe that somethings not right with the Big Unit because you don't go from being a 300 strike out/season guy to a mediocre pitcher who has trouble with the long ball almost overnight. I know the experts are saying that it's age catching up with him but I'm not buying it. He's either tipping his pitches or he's injured. I'm not an RJ fan in any way shape or form but you have to feel for the big dork. He comes to NYC to become their new pitching messiah and ends up falling short while collecting a tidy $16 million/year.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming... Why is that the Sox pick one pitcher every year that they just don't score runs for. Roger Clemens was the original benefactor of this dubious award. Then it was Pedro. Now it seems to be Wakefield, also a bizarro situation given his healthy run support over the last few years in Boston. My theory used to be that for guys like Clemens and Pedro, the Sox offense sort of felt like they could take the night off given the dominant pitching efforts they expected. I'm sure it didn't help that since both Rocket and Petey were aces, they (and the Red Sox offense) were usually facing off against the other teams ace. That's obviously not the case this year so it's truly hard to explain.

In spite of the quasi-lack of run support last night (thank goodness for Trot having a hot bat last night in a 4-4 effort), it was a nice win. It smelled like a potential loss after they jumped out to an early lead on Trot's three run dinger, only to see that lead dwindle in the third on Young's monster home run. You gotta love their defense (thanks Theo!) and a fairly solid bullpen. Last year, they would have lost this game but this is a different year with a different (uber) closer. Here's hoping that Papelbon can start another 20+ save streak today against the Rangers.

"Good Night and Good Luck"

Okay, it only took a week from the date that I started a blog called "Big Papelbon" for Big Papelbon to actually get into a game. I had started to write a post the other night noting this fact and opined that maybe I should have called my blog "Big Tavarez" or "Big Seanez" with the hopes that either would suffer a similar fate. Fortunately for me (or my initial post would have needed some serious revisions), I needed take no such action. Big Papelbon did pitch and did so quite admirally I might add.

This is a minor digression from my lead in paragraph but I can't help but wonder what's gotten into Sox radio announcers, Jerry Trupiano and Joe Castiglione. I was listening to the duo last night with my dad while working on my basement and I swear, they were announcing a game pre-2004. They couldn't mention enough times that Varitek had hit into an inning ending double play in the first inning with the bases loaded. They also mentioned a number of times that the Sox had had trouble scoring runs recently. Huh? Last time I checked, they scored five runs in Monday's blowout and eight the day before against Detroit. As luck would have it, they didn't seem to have any problems scoring any runs against the Yankees either that night (9-3).

The other thing that amused me about the about Trup and Joe C. during that same game was the number of times they shit on the Giambino. They mentioned no fewer than six times what a horrible defensive player he was. Any time a ball was hit to him and he fielded it, they acted genuinely surprised. I mean, Giambi isn't winning a gold gloves any time soon but it's not like hes makes an error EVERY time he touches the ball either. Not that I'm overly concerned since Giambi is one of my lesser favorite Yankees. At the very least though, they don't need to totally crucify the guy.

Getting back to my original topic (the reason I created this blog), we got a nice close out of Big P, even it wasn't for the save. Sometimes, those are the hardest games of all to pitch in considering you have a six run lead, you didn't really have expectations of coming into the game, and the Yankees bats -- three home runs aside -- looked pretty week all night.

It wouldn't be fair if I didn't also mention that we got a great game out of Schill. Other than the three splitters he left up in the zone, he looked pretty sharp all night. Even more important, he was efficient, something he's not normally known for (leads the league in pitches/batter). It's amazing to me that this guy is 9-2 (Sox are 11-2 in games he's started). That's not to say I'm surprised by his talent but more that it's nice to see him back to his dominant self after a somewhat miserable 2005 season where he stoically tried -- and sometimes succeeded -- to help the Sox any way he could.

On that note, good night and good luck...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tough Loss for Pauley

Man, that was a tough loss. Who knows, maybe this kid David Pauley is a keeper. He certainly didn't do any worse than Josh Beckett last night and he was a far cry better than he was against Toronto (in spite of the Sox eventually winning that game). It's too bad that Francona kept him in one inning too long. Between he and Jon Lester (who is rumored to be a Saturday's day game starter), the Sox may need look no further than their minor league system for support.

How about Melke Cabrera taking away Manny's potential game tying home in the 8th? I didn't see it but Joe C. and Trup made it out to be quite the amazing play. It's funny because as soon as they mentioned it, I immediately thought of a game about 3-4 years ago late in the season where Terrence Long took away a game winner by Manny in the 9th inning (at Fenway). Well, I wasn't alone because 10 seconds later, Joe Castiglione mentioned the exact same play. Great minds...

A random golf note which may seem out of place in this blog but hell, it's my blog so I can put whatever I damn well please in it! Anyway, I went out to the local range tonight to hit some balls. Normally, I hit about 70% of the balls pretty well and then hook/scuff/slice the rest. Tonight was different. My dad gave me a tip the other day that made an amazing difference. "Put most of your weight on your back foot", he said. You know what? Not only did I hit with much more consistency but I was crushing my driver. It probably added 25 yards to my game. Go dad!

On a closing note, since I decided to start a blog with the title "Big Papelbon" in it, Mr. Papelbon has yet to see any action in a game. Maybe I need to change the name of the blog to "Big Seanez" or "Big Tavarez". I certainly wouldn't mind seeing those guys less!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sinking Feeling

It's good when your starting pitcher only lasts 1 1/3 innings against the Yankees, right? Especially in the first game of a big series against the team only 1/2 game behind you in the loss column. Look at the bright side. Recent call up, Jermaine "Martin" VanBuren, just got the last two outs of the inning on deep fly balls after Beckett let up 7 runs in a row. I hate it when I get like this but when the Giambino stepped up to the plate with two men on and the score 5-2, I said to myself, "three run dinger". Next thing you know it was 8-2.

The thing about Beckett crapping the bed tonight is that the Yankees are on freakin' life support these days. I mean you want to talk about the walking wounded. Sheffield and Matsui are on the disabled list, Jeter has a bruised thumb, A-Rod and Giambi have the flu, Chacon has a bum leg, and Posada has a slightly torn hamstring. To top it all off, Mo Rivera has a bad back although he claims he's available if he's needed tonight.

Who knows, maybe this game will turn into a slug fest. I don't see the Sox getting more than two more runs off Mussina but the Yanks pen is definitely suspect, especially if Mo's not available. It would be poetic justice to have the Sox come back given how many times the Yanks have made late inning runs at other teams. And it's still early...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Go Sox!

Go Sox! Tough loss last night. I honestly thought they had another late inning rally in them, especially when Trot Nixon walked in the 9th. Oh well. While chatting with my dad this morning, we agreed that the Sox are built to be a second half team. They will most likely pick up a big bat before the trading deadline and then will either bring up Jon Lester/Craig Hansen and/or parlay some of their minor league gems into a starting pitcher.

As a Sox fan, you know that I always want to see the Yankees lose. So any opinion I throw about the Yankees will of course be tainted. However, I do see the Yanks running into problems in the second half. Other than Mo Rivera who is "the" uber-closer of MLB and maybe Kyle Farnsworth, the Yanks bullpen is definitely suspect. They also seem to be holding the starting rotation together with bandaids and paperclips (Msr. Messina excepted). The Sox have the same problem you say? Yes, except that the Yanks don't have much by way in bargaining chips. Bubba Crosby? Melke Cabrerera? I've heard that they have a couple of decent prospects at the Double AA level but I'm not sure that will be enough for a Barry Zito or D-Train.

My prediction for the Sox second half starting rotation (not that you'll be that surprised)? Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, somebody you don't even have on your radar from the national league, and Craig Hansen. No, they don't trade Clement. He ends up in the bullpen where he settles down and is the Sox option in the 6th or 7th inning as the bridge to Timlin, Foulke, and you guessed it, Big Papelbon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Virgin Post

Rationale Behind the Title
I've grown up with the internet. No, I'm not a Gen Y but I've lived with computers all my life. My dad was a computer programmer during the 70's and 80's. When I say he was a programmer, I'm talking "old school" and not just C++ "old school", but punch card and main frame "old school. As a result, I grew up knowing a thing or two about computers.

I remember writing rudimentary programs in Basic as early as 10 years old. I also remember playing Dungeons and Dragons on a dumb terminal, thermal paper streaming out the top of it, analog phone jammed into the back, providing a lightning fast 1.4 baud per second connection speed. But it didn't matter that the experience stunk -- it was fun!

Why am I telling you this? Because I've waited 37 years to write my first blog. I guess I can't beat myself up too much because there are still billions of people that don't have blogs. That's one of the reasons why I felt like it was time to get started.

So a quick note about the title of my blog. Anyone that considers themselves to be part of "Red Sox Nation" knows who David "Big Papi" Ortiz is. Actually, anyone that pays any attention to baseball knows who Ortiz is. He's been an all-world clutch hitter the last three years. Well, I have a 4 1/2 year old son that is just starting to catch on as a Sox fan. The other day, we were watching the Sox play the Yankees and Jon Papelbon, the Sox new uber-closer, comes in and shuts the door. My son points to Pabelbon and says, "Daddy, who is that." I said, "that's Jon Papelbon." He replies, "oh, Big Papelbon." I got a good chuckle out of that.

With a title like that, you're assuming this blog is going to be about the Red Sox, right? Well, it might be. I definitely plan to opine a bit about some of the finer points of the game. But please know that I get distracted easily and may drift in and out of other topics. On that note, you've just finished reading my "virgin" post.