Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday Musings, April 26 (Saturday Edition)

Today is draft day in the NFL. Interestingly, in spite of this being one of the deeper drafts in recent years, few of the top 10 draftees are household names. In fact, unless you follow college football religiously, you may not know any of the top picks with the possible exceptions of Mssrs. Ryan (BC) and McFadden (Arkansas).

The big question in my mind is do the Patriots sit tight and pick at number at number 7? Or do they trade down in the draft and pick up two later round number ones. My money is on the latter but who knows - it's hard to read the minds of football savants Pioli and Belichick.

Onto this weeks musings...
  • * It's too early to get too high or too low with the Red Sox but these last few games are killing me. Last night's 5-4 loss to the D-Rays was one of those losses that you could see coming. The Sox couldn't get out of their own way leaving 10 guys on base and hitting into double play after double play. The guy that is really killing the Sox right now is Ortiz. Because he's done so much over the last few years, we should all be willing to cut him a season's worth of slack. But if he can't get it together, something has to be done - not sure what that "something" is but maybe a few games on the bench or a move into the 6-9 slot in the line up.
  • * Props to the Bruins for proving me wrong. The showed some serious testicular fortitude by making their series against Montreal interesting. It would have been very cool if they could have knocked off the Habs but honestly, the B's had too many injuries/shortcomings to go deep into the playoffs. Not a bad season all in all.
  • * The Pistons can't be feeling good about being down 2-1 to the Sixers right now. My guess is that Detroit will come back and win the series but instead of a 4-0 sweep, they need to go at least six games. Loving the Celts being up 2-0 (and hopefully 3-0 after tonight).
  • * Speaking of love, how smart is Theo Epstein looking right now with young stud after young stud coming up through the minor league system. Justin Masterson looked phenomenal in his surprise outing the other day. Jed Lowrie is delivering "as advertised" and that's in addition to already solid citizens like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Bucholtz and Jon Papelbon.
Many more thoughts but if I want to get this post out today, I've got to keep it short and sweet. What's on your mind this week?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A convert---finally!

The start of the season and every team has a shot, anything can happen. This year is no different. Evidence- the Royals swept Detroit to start the year. The Royals! After a dozen games, Baltimore is in first and the Sox in the cellar. Imagine that? Obviously, there’s a long way to go in the season. But for me, the season doesn’t really start until the first Red Sox Yankees series. That’s when it’s time to get serious. But this year, things are different. I have finally converted. After growing up in NY and living 20 years in Boston, I have finally kicked my addiction to New York laundry. Of course, I had to move 3000 miles away to do that. It wasn't easy. But more on that later.

It’s not that I haven’t tried before. I’ve been in enough kick the Yankee habit 12 step programs to recognize the absurdity of it all. My family, friends, and co-workers all rooting for the Sox, and me watching the game alone in another room. These last few years, I’ve channeled my grandfather and his Brooklyn Bums as I would say, “wait ‘til next year”. For 20 years, I’ve admitted that I can’t control my addiction of Yankee fandom and recognized that there was a greater power (Big Papi?, Beckett?, no, definitely not Schilling) that could give me the strength.

Having lived in the area for so long, I knew the history of the players, the front office, the reporters, and Fenway itself. I gobbled it all up, I really was a fan, just not for your team. In fact, I probably knew more about the Olde Towne Team than the Yankees. But for every endearing Coke bottle sign, Wade Boggs chicken recipe, Mike Gimbel hiring, Manny being Manny event and every thing else, I would still root for the team from the Bronx.

I knew the nastiness first hand, too. The Jeter su*ks calls, Larry and the evil empire, the A-Rod blonde wigs, Pedro and Who’s your daddy, the awful comments on sports radio and beer thrown on me in the bleachers. And all of that was just one day at Fenway! No, Boston fans are not nice to New Yorkers. In fairness, I never had a problem at Yankee Stadium. But then Yankee fans treat every other team equally--- poorly. They don’t discriminate.

As a sports fan, I devoured every Shaughnessy Curse of the Bambino and Boston is better than New York article with disgust. Even though the crude inside jokes on the Big Show annoyed me, I listened. I watched and read, but from the sidelines, never crossing to the other side.

So how does a leopard change its spots. And why after so many years. The answer is in the distance. Living in Seattle for 3 years, my passion for baseball hasn’t diminished, but my exposure to the passionate has. Our caffeine obsessed, slacker culture has dialed things down. I watch the games, check the stats, but things are less intense. I am immune to the behaviors that used to bother me and turn me off. And that is how I found the will to convert. By not hearing the offensive arrogance, I can love the team for what it is. Now I can enjoy the games with my kids, my friends and share the joy. I don’t cheer for Jeter anymore, but then you won’t hear me saying Jeter su*ks either.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Musings, April 11

Not a great week but not a bad week either for the Sox. The got smoked in Toronto but we'll chalk that up to sleep deprivation and being travel weary. We got a picture perfect performance from the Dice Man on Tuesday, an egg from Lester on Wednesday and a "last man standing" game last night out of the ageless Timmy Wakefield.

I'm eager to see how the Sox stack up against the Yanks this weekend although it's way too early to really worry much about who wins and loses. Unfortunately, the weather forecast does not look promising. I'm going to assume that Sunday's game will probably be a washout - let's hope that doesn't end up being a doubleheader at the end of September when neither team needs an extra game.

Here are my five musings for the day (feel free to add your own):
  1. Sox need to start looking for one or two more arms for the bullpen. I feel pretty good about Delcarmen although he's been Jekyl & Hyde so far. Obviously Papelbon is picking up where he left off and Okajima looks like he'll be closer to 1st half of 2008 than 2nd half. Beyond that, yikes. I know their getting Timlin back soon (not sure how excited I really am about that as much as I love Mike). Beyond that, it's pray for rain right now.
  2. Has the real J. D. Drew finally come to play for the Red Sox? Last I checked, he was hitting .440, 2 HRs and an OPS of .893 - WOW! I could be the typical asshole Sox fan and make a snide comment about it being just about time for him to go on the DL. I'll refrain.
  3. Speaking of DL, having to sit Mike Lowell for two weeks hurts. It hurts less with Sean Casey here and Youkilis at third but I like having Casey as a back up/late in the game substitute option much better.
  4. It's hard to remember that Jon Lester is only 24 and should have some of his best years still ahead of him. He has moments of brilliance (game four of the 2007 World Series), especially with his nasty curve. Then there's his penchant for walks. I really hope that someone like Schilling will sit him down and tell him to cut the crap about nibbling with his pitches vs. just throwing it and letting hitters hit. That's why the Sox have great defensive outfielders like Manny Ramirez... umm, wait. Retract that. Maybe walks aren't that bad after all.
  5. Is it me or does it feel like Schilling being out of the starting rotation has a compounding effect. Before every game, I keep wondering when are our really good pitchers going to be out there. Yeah, we've got Beckett (in spite of his bad back/hip) and Dice K has stepped up his game (although he's still a number three in my mind) and then we have Lester, Bucholtz and Wakefield. Don't get me wrong, I like all those guys but I'd feel much better if we had a rotation of Beckett, Schilling, Dice K, Lester and Wakefield (imagine how good Santana would look right now penciled in at no. 2)!
One major annoyance that I can't help but mention (anyone following me on Twitter knows what I'm talking about). Why the hell do you put your most popular team (Red Sox) vs. one of MLB's other favorites to win it all (Tigers) on a freaking local access channel so that you can air a Bruins' playoff game on NESN? Really? This seemed like a good idea? Probably not after the Sox won 12-6 while the Bruins got smoked 4-1 (big surprise) in their first of what will be four straight losses to the Habs. Grrrrrrr!

That's all I got for now. What am I missing? Anyone else excited for the NBA playoffs to start? Anything short of the Eastern Conference Finals for the Celts this year will be a major dissapointment. No pressure though. Getting a little excited about the NFL draft. Dying to know if the Pats keep their lottery pick or trade down instead...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Banner Day

After a long, sleepy winter that saw the heart breaking loss of the Pats to the Giants and the rebirth of the Celtics (and to some degree, Bruins) it's time to rekindle the passion on Big Papelbon. Yesterday's picture perfect home opener seems to be the perfect time to kick things off.

Highlights of yesterday's game/ceremony included:
  • * Unfurling of the 2007 banner on the Green Monster - not dissimilar to what the Sox did in 2004. Hell, it worked then, why not now?
  • * A trotting out of the other Boston greats (Celts, Pats, Bruins) to help the Beaneaters celebrate their big day.
  • * Handing out of the rings as players walked down the temporary red carpet
  • * The big surprise (and classy touch) of having Bill Buckner throwing out the first pitch - this is worthy of a separate blog post but I'll save that for another day. I'll say two things about this move: 1) good for him - shows what a good guy he truly is after enduring twenty years of humiliation and hate 2) good for the Sox - let's get all the ghosts behind us!
  • * Oh yeah, the Sox won behind timely hitting and another stellar outing by the Dice man. Hard to believe that Detroit is now 0-7 after all the fanfare about their kick ass starting lineup and rotation. It's a long season though, I'm quite sure they'll turn it around soon.
  • * Even better? The Yanks lost to the suddenly mighty Kansas City Royals. Last year I would have felt really good saying this. This year, it almost feels a little petty... Nah, still feels pretty good!
The biggest take away from this early season game was that the Sox looked a little more like themselves. I'm quite sure that the 13 day, three country tour de force completely wiped them out - how could it not? To that end, the Sox looked lackluster against Toronto (who will be good this year UNTIL the usual injury bug sidelines Halladay, Burnett, Big Hurt, etc.) so it was nice to see the team that we expected back on the field.

The other early win is that Dice K is looking to play a big role in the starting pitching in 2008. After laying an egg in Japan, he came on for two stellar performances in Oakland and now Boston. The stat that jumps out at me most? 16Ks! I know, I know, it's early in the season but even so, it's good to see him fooling batters in his sophmore season.

Did you get to watch yesterday's game? If so, what was your biggest highlight?

Let the chatter on Big P begin!