Saturday, May 02, 2009

Game Twenty Four: When the "Red Sox" number is bigger...

...than the "Other Guy" number, that's called a "Win."

Listen to me-two straight losses after 12 in a row, and suddenly I'm Mr. Sarcastic.

While the Garnettless Celtics are fighting for their playoff lives in Boston, playing Game Seven against the Bulls, the Red Sox are in Tampa, Tim Wakefield salvaging the series against the immortal Jeff Niemann.

After Boston reached Niemann for six early tallies, the feisty defending AL Champion Rays came right back with RBI hits from the Desperate Third Baseman and Pat the Bat to close the gap to 6-5. But Our Man Youk was there when we needed him, doubling in two runs and drawing a walk to force in another one, helping give Boston a 10-5 lead. The Okey Doke, New Guy RR, and Sensei Saito closed things up, a meaningless 9th inning run making the final 10-6.

Boston faces these pesky Fish again tomorrow afternoon, Brad "My ERA is larger than my hat size" Penny against Big Game James Shields.

In the basketball world, the Celtics, after going through a deeply memorable series with several multiple overtime games, look to have finally put the Bulls away, leading by seven inside of one minute to play. Boston, assuming they hang on, will face the Orlando Magic in the second round.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Reading Post

Books I've Read Recently

Neal Conan, "Play By Play"

NPR host leaves his job to take over play by play for a minor league team during a mini-midlife crisis. Midlife crisis? Baseball? I'm in. It was really well done, though-an interesting read and more than tangentially relevant.

Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, "The Yankee Years"

Made a bit of a fuss when it came out. Turned out to be a pretty good read, all in all. It does seem a bit hypocritical for Torre to go on and on about trust in a tell all book-but if he doesn't tell, there's no book. I liked reading it, but it was kind of creepy, too.

Seth Mnookin, "Feeding the Monster"

Kind of the inverse of "The Yankee Years"-much of the same time period, told from the Red Sox perspective. I had avoided this book for a while-it seemed like it was a little light on baseball, and more into the behind the scenes stuff-I didn't want to read about meetings and personal drama so much. But it was really more of a history of the team, going into a lot more detail, obviously, recently.

WP Kinsella, "Shoeless Joe"

A reread, after catching the end of the movie on TV. Still a winner.

Game Twenny Tree: OK, enough is enough...

Boston fell again in the Juice Box, dropping a 6-2 decision in Tampa tonight. The big blow was a grand slam by the Desperate Third Baseman off of Bat Masterson, but it's not like the rest of the offense covered itself in garlands-lots of LOB. Double Sigh.

Boston faces these Naughty Fish again tomorrow.

Red Sox Nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Tim Wakefield.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Game Twenty Two: Sometimes you're the windshield........

......sometimes you're the bug.

The Red Sox got flattened tonight, losing 13-0 to the Rays in Tampa. Matt Garza and Grant Balfour ONE HIT Boston, while Josh Beckett was battered again, not even escaping the fifth.


The Jeanne Questions

The lovely and talented Jeanne, who I knew back in the day, which, as Dane Cook tells us, was a Wednesday, decided to leave me a few questions.

I knew Jeanne 20 years ago. She will correct me if I'm wrong, no doubt, but it has to be close to that. Back then, she was utterly lovely, phenomenally talented, whip smart, and younger than me. She's still all those things, only neither of us is as young as we were then. Or, as Bob Dylan once put it, "we were so much older then-we're younger than that now."

So, then-Jeanne's questions:

"If you could only watch a single movie for the rest of your life, what would it

Ken Burns' "Baseball" is kind of cheating-it's like 18 hours long. You could call it one long movie, I guess. Assuming that's out of bounds, I would say something like "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" or maybe "A Few Good Men" or "Shawshank Redemption"-something that I have seen dozens of times and am not tired of. "Bull Durham", maybe.

"What was the hardest lesson you ever learned? Are you wiser or just sadder?"

You have to accept people for what they are, not what you would wish them to be. Not realizing that has wasted a lot of my time, and I am deeply sadder at some of the poor choices that resulted.

"Moneyball. No doubt you've read it. What's your take? On base it the most important stat?"

This is a misunderstanding, though a very common one, so I don't blame you for it. Moneyball was about exploiting inefficiencies in the baseball marketplace. OBP happened to be one thing that was undervalued at that time. It isn't anymore-hence no more inefficiencies to exploit. (Speculation is that the current one is defensive range-but since much of the work being done now is proprietary, no one really knows what the inefficiencies are these days.)

Bill James says that baseball statistics are simplifications of very complex realities. There is no "most important stat". There are bad stats, and good stats, and better stats. Batting average is a bad stat-not bad if it's all you have, but there are better ones. OBP is better than batting average. OPS (OBP plus slugging percentage) may be better than OBP. None of them give you an entire picture of a player or team's abilities.

Thanks for the questions, though!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Game Twenty One: Fit To Be Tied

After climbing out of a 5-0 hole, the Red Sox climbed into a tie with the Offensive Nicknames after 9, and in the top of the tenth, the new President of the Red Sox Players Who Sound Like US Presidents Club, Jonathan Van Every, clouted a homer to give Boston a 6-5 lead, which the Lord of The Dance locked down in the bottom half to push Boston to 14-7 on the year.

The Red Sox travel to Tampa now to take on those Naughty Fish.

Not Funny

This is actually a pretty insightful, slightly amusing article from, about how the modern age is making me misanthropic and miserable. I was misanthropic and miserable years before I bought a PC, but there are still some good points here.

(Ed. Note-I screwed up. THIS is the link to the article I meant.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Game Twenty: Oh,Javy. OH, Javy. OH, JAVY!

In Cleveland tonight, the Offensive Nicknames finally derailed the Red Sox machine, eking out a 9-8 win.

Boston took lead, after lead, after lead. (1-0, then 5-1, then 7-3, then 8-7.) Each time, the Offensive Nicknames tied the game. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, the Offensive Nickname Asdrubal Cabrera, with the winning run on second base, hit the ball hard between first and second. Boston's Kevin Youkilis made a fine backhand stop, turning and tossing the ball to the pitcher, Javy Lopez, covering first.

Mind you, this is a routine play. Youk had to make a pretty nice stop, but, in baseball terms, this is just a plain vanilla, same old same old kind of play. A starting pitcher might do this 2 or 3 times a game. A reliever who pitches regularly probably does it every week or ten days. When baseball teams go to spring training, this is one of the things they practice-and they do it for HOURS, just to make sure everyone has got it down pat. If you ever read an article about spring training, you'll probably read about pitchers complaining about having to do this.

Well, he dropped it.

(The Other) Javy Lopez just dropped the dang ball. He dropped it, the run scored, and the game was over.


A deflating way to end the win streak, and you can't win them all, as they say. But pah anyway.

Pah, I say. Fooey.

The Non Katie Questioning

The Ananda Girl asks:

"1. Who is your favorite author?"

Like the favorite musician question, at least a dozen acceptable answers. Right at this moment, detective author Robert B. Parker.

"2. What book has had an impact on your life?"

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In fact, time to go reread it again.

"3. What did you want to be when you were somewhere around 10 years old?"

I don't think there's any doubt-play professional baseball.

"4. Why do you hate your job?"

A combination of things. My talents are being wasted, the demands on my time are enormous, and the management is becoming increasingly clueless.

"5. What would you rather do?"

Dig graves.

Seriously, something where I could pour energy into a project and be appreciated for my skills.

"6. What is it like to watch the Red Sox in person?"


Seriously, it's a lovely park, but like any modern stadium, the price you have to pay to sit there is obscene.

And the thing about baseball is-some games can be dogs-absolute stinkers. It's hard to spend all that money and sit through a 12-3 loss.

"7. What foods will you not eat?"

The ones I should.

Seriously, I can't say there's anything I refuse to eat, really. I don't eat many vegetables.

"8.Am I understanding correctly... do you live in Yankee territory but follow the Red Sox?"

I'm more in Phillies territory than Yankees-but I'm a little south of the state capital, which has a Yankees farm team, so there is some Yankee fandom locally.

"9.If yes, does this ever present the possibility of bodily harm?"

No. You might tease a Yankee fan, but I can't imagine coming to blows over it. I wouldn't wear Sox gear to Yankee Stadium, though.

"10. What is your favorite music group? You seem to have diverse taste."

Different ones on different days. If I have to pick just one, it's Billy Joel.

Angela asks:

"What's your guilty pleasure?"

Tabletop baseball. That's when you take cards and dice and replay games and seasons of the past. It is the most nonproductive activity imaginable, yet I love every blessed moment I get to spend doing it.

Paulie Beernuts, who knows a thing or two about my guilty pleasure, asks:

"If Brad Penny throws another pitch for the Red Sox, and I decide to jump off the Tobin bridge, will you catch me or join me?"

Join you, absolutely. I'm a lousy swimmer.

But think about it, though-he could be Chase Wright.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Feel free to ask more if the mood strikes.

The Inquisition No One Expects

Wow-I am gratified to get so much response. First, from the amazing Miss K (, the questions and my answers:

"1. What's your favorite part of father-hood? Least favorite?"

When you get beyond the penny ante stuff-the expense, the day to day nagging-the least favorite is by far the responsibility-it is huge, crushing, and omnipresent. Like swine flu.

The favorite part is also, in a way, the same thing-it is nice to be needed, and depended on, and trusted. It's also horrible to be needed, and depended on, and trusting.

"2. If you were asked 25 years ago where you would be today, would you ever think you'd be where you were?"

No, I was relatively certain I would be an attorney or a newspaper reporter.

"3. Where did you get your love for sports from?"

I couldn't say, really. It's kind of like asking you where your sexual preference comes from-you can't imagine being any other way. I can't remember not caring about sports.

"4. Does your wife like sports?"

No. She's not a sports fan, but she follows along well enough to keep up. She hates football, though.

"5. How old are your children? (Do you even have more than one?)"

Just one. To paraphrase Bill Cosby, because we didn't want two. My son is 13.

"6. What are the most powerful lyrics you've ever heard?"

Similar to a lot of those "Top Five" Facebooky questions, you can answer this a lot of different ways. Tomorrow, I will have a completely different answer.

But right at this moment, it is:

"I survived on those long lonely days-
When it seemed I did not have a friend-
Cause all I needed was a little faith-
So I could catch my breath and face the world again-"

Billy Joel, "You're Only Human (Second Wind)"

"7. What's the most embarassing moment you've ever had?"

Lots and lots of candidates here. Right at this moment, I am thinking of my first day in middle school, being told by an older boy that the clothes I was wearing were stupid.

"8. Do you have any "Guilty Pleasure" music artists that you enjoy? (Other than Vanilla Ice)"

Well, Vanilla Ice, obviously.

I have always had an inordinate fondness for Tesla, a very forgettable heavy metal band from the 1980s.

"9. If you could say one thing to someone who has gone from your life for whatever reason, what would you say?"

I would tell her I'm sorry. I would tell her I treated her abominably. I would tell her I can't ever reverse what I did, but I would tell her that whatever pain it caused her, I have regretted it, even if only for a second, every single day since then.

"10. What color is the shirt you're wearing right now?"

Light blue.

More to come...

Open Season-It's Question Time!

Inspired by Katie (, I'd like to open the floor, so that you all fall through into the basement.


No, seriously, I'd like to open the questions. Ask me questions in the comments-anything you want-politics, art, philosophy, boxing, the Boxer Rebellion, dadaism, the importance of a good slugging percentage, truth, beauty, the sacrifice bunt, the infield fly rule-and I promise I will answer them.

I cannot promise the answers will be correct, accurate, serious, or even truthful. I cannot promise my answers will not result in bodily injury, or the death of millions because of swine flu. But I will answer them, each and every one.


Monday, April 27, 2009

...And another thing....

I forgot how full on GREAT this song is.

Monday Meme

Stealing from the marvelous Miss (, and because I don't really want to explore the seedier neighborhoods of my cortex at the moment, it's Monday Meme Time:

8 Things I am Looking Forward To:
1. The World Series
2. Having Some Free Time
3. An asteroid crashing into the Earth, killing us all
4. The coming solar storm in 2012 that's going to kill us all
5. The coming swine flu that's going to kill us all
6. The coming killer bees that are going to kill us all
7. The new Star Trek movie
8. New Replay Baseball seasons (

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1. Got annoyed
2. Went to work
3. Stayed too long at work
4. Blew my voice out singing along with James Hetfield
5. Played with Simon, too briefly
6. Watched the Red Sox finish their sweep of the Yankees
7. Got annoyed again
8. Blogged

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
1. Quit
2. Leave my job
3. Retire
4. Run away
5. Hide
6. Go into the Witness Protection Program
7. Turn invisible
8. Travel through time

8 Shows I Watch:
1. The West Wing
2. Whatever is on MLB Network
3. Whatever is on ESPN
4. Whatever is on the History Channel
5. The Colbert Report
6. South Park
7. The Sarah Connor Chronicles
8. The Daily Show

Game Nineteen: Eleventh Heaven

Boston slid into Cleveland and wrapped up their eleventh straight win, 3-1 over the Offensive Nicknames. After playing 8 innings to a 0-0 tie, Jason Bay knocked a 3 run homer in the ninth off of Kerry Wood to give Boston the advantage. Jonathan Papelbon struggled, but sealed the win in the bottom half of the ninth.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Game Eighteen: How Sweep It Is

Tonight in Boston, the Red Sox won their tenth straight after their woeful 2-6 start, completing the sweep of the Yankees, and of the entire homestand with a crisp 4-1 win. Bat Masterson started, handing the ball to the kiddie corps of Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden before Sensei Saito finished the job. Jacoby Ellsbury scored one of the runs with the ultra rare straight steal of home, the first one of those by a Bostonian in ten years.

Boston, 12-6 and one game out of first place, travels to the Mistake by the Lake tomorrow to take on Cleveland's American League Baseball Team With The Offensive Mascot.

Sometimes.... just have to f&*k s&*t up.

Very frustrating day. I drove home from work today, two hours late, screaming this song out the window as loud as I could. Consequently, I sound like Stevie Nicks with a cold, but I feel better. A little.