Formerly Felines for Anarchistic Green Democracies

A Bostonian at the University of Michigan.

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Spelling rant
Yankee Star Wars
A Tigers Comedy of Errors
How bad is Keith Foulke really?
Harry Potter and the Boston Red Sox
Bellhorn vs. Graffanino vs. Lamprey
Critiquing team slogans
Joey Harrington blogs a baseball game
Jason Varitek gets injured
Winter meetings fashion report
Mascot Rant #1
Mascot Rant #2

8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Day 1- Kevin Youkilis
Day 2- Brad Ausmus
Day 3- Al Levine
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Day 8- Gabe Kapler and Theo Epstein

the Story of Chanukah, Red Sox style
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Part II: rise of the Soxxabees
Part III: the rebellion begins!
Parts IV, V, and VI
Parts VII and VIII

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006  

Sadly, that is a photo that I myself took. Yes, I had the dubious priviledge to witness Clement's possible ticket to the DL, and certain ticket to mental anguish. Come to think of it, last season I was at the game where Wells drove his foot through a rabbit warren on the field or something and tweaked his ankle. I dislike this pattern.

The rest of the photos from the game can be found here and, y'know, go see. It's all very exciting. I had good seats, again, because my family loves me.

As for all the recent news I've conked out on due to The Internship and, uh, deranged sleeping hours. Let us see.

-Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth. I couldn't care less, and really the only thing I have to say about it is that I'm glad it happened in San Francisco, because at least then the only people who actually have an honest, uninhibited enthusiasm for the guy got their jollies in. They support him well enough, the least they deserved was to have the homer hit in their own house. And now let us never speak of him again.

-Oh wait, the best bit about Bonds' homer? He hit it off of.... *insert dramatic drumroll here* our very own BH Kim. This photos shows it happening, and Kim's pose cracks me up indefinitely. It's a great shot, by the way, really catches the moment at the perfect time. This is why I love Flickr.

-Freakin' Yankees. Here's what they're like. My brother just finished up his last regular season of high school tennis. They ended up splitting the conference title with our rival town, Marblehead. While my brother is happy that we won a share of the title (since Swampscott hadn't won it since cats know when), he was still bitter. As he put it, "We had the best team Swampscott's seen in ages and we still couldn't win it outright. Marblehead didn't even have their best team in years, and they still got a share."

And that's exactly what the Yankees are doing right now. They're not even fielding that great a team right now. Their pitchers are hurt, or hurting, or old, or some combination of the three. Their lineup is patched together from injuries and AAA callups. And I'm pretty sure they just tonight swiped first place in the division from us. The Sox, while I wouldn't go so far as to say were fielding their best team in ages, were running some pretty good people out there up until everyone decided to get injured like a week ago, and it was just enough to barely stay ahead.

That's bleedin' annoying, is what that is.

Congrats to Swampscott tennis, by the by. SEE WHAT A GOOD SISTER I AM

-Scott Sauerbeck hides in bushes! Scott Sauerbeck hides in bushes! It's a story to make you laugh and wince. I mean, it is hilarious, and it's not surprising that they all fool around, but I'm sure it's another thing entirely for his poor wife to have to hear about her husband driving around and crouching in bushes with drunken 28-year olds.

-Kyle Farnsworth threw a fastball during Monday's game that was so hard, it broke the laces on Posada's glove. Can you say MEEP?

-Jermaine Van Buren's delivery, and I feel like I've said this before, is the most violent damn thing I've seen in ages. It doesn't just look like it strains his arm when he throws, it looks like the whole limb is going to come unscrewed and fly off at the shoulder. I know Tigers fans were worrying about how allegedly violent Joel Zumaya's motion was/is, but compared to Van Buren I think Zoom even at his most wild was mere tiddlywinks. I can barely watch this guy pitch. It's like watching a car crash over and over and over again, occasionally, when NESN sees fit, in gory slow-motion.

-I maintain my stance on Gustavo Chacin, that being: he looks like a praying mantis, and his delivery is extraordinarily mantis-like, from the way he stands in his set position to the range of motion his arms go through over the course of the pitch.

Oh, and to the UMass Boston folk radio station that I have to listen to at work all day: tell your early afternoon lady DJ that it's pronounced shah-SEEN, not CHAY-sin. Because I understand that someone working at a college folk radio station is not going to be the biggest baseball fan ever, in all likelihood, but if you have the poor woman reading a promo for the game 20 times over the course of her show, it would be nice if she didn't embarrass herself every time she did so.

-Is Mike Timlin the most unexpected DLing ever or what? And if you say 'what', you lie. I didn't even know he was sore, let alone under consideration for the List of Woe. And do we know precisely what's wrong with him and I've just missed it? Bruising? Muscle tears? Ligament damage? Colony of beavers building a small inexplicable dam in his shoulder joint? Anyone?

-Manny Delcarmen! Kiddo! What happened? Did you get head lice? He had this glorious head of curls and now they're ALL GONE and it is shockingly sad. Someone needs to tell him that Youk isn't shaving his head as a fashion statement, he's doing so because he has incredibly bad male-pattern baldness and presumably it is less painful to go bald on your own terms than on those of your genes. Now, I'm not saying he should venture into post-concussion Damon territory or anything, but if he's capable of growing that hair, he should take advantage of it while he can.

If he did have head lice, I'm very sorry and wish him the speediest of recoveries from arthropod parasites.

-Reed Johnson has the weirdest freaking batting stance. He does a series of bat wiggles beforehand, then squats down very sharply, and then the weirdest bit. Right before he brings his bat around, his front leg kind of points forward and twitches around complexly. It's so bizarre looking and I can't help but think that it must throw his timing off something awful, but apparenly it's not too detrimental to his hittting. Or he wouldn't be on the team. Right?

-Clemens is allegedly going to Houston. Good. If we can't have him, you can't have him either! I bet Steinbrenner kills a chicken in rage.

-Coco's back, but suddnely Manny is hurting and Wily Mo is gone and Loretta got whacked in the foot last night and WHY ARE WE ALL BROKEN RIGHT NOW

-There were more of these, but I am tired. So. You are spared.

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12:34 AM

Friday, May 26, 2006  

This is so typical.

I've never been, in person, to a Red Sox/Yankees game in my life. And suddenly I had tickets to two in a row.

And then they go and lose both.

At least they were both (eventually) close games... it would've been incomparably depressing to sit through a Yankee blowout at Fenway. And the weather, although cool later in the game, was nice both nights. And the seats were really good both nights, and I was in really good company both nights. And it was LIVE BASEBALL at FENWAY PARK against the YANKEES so, you know, I have nothing in the world to complain about.

Anyways. The first game. That being Tuesday's Wakefield/Wright matchup.

I met up downtown with my cousins Beth and Leah, their friend Deb and her son Sam. Sam is a kid who has the uncanny ability to imitate the batting stance of any number of major leaguers, which naturally led to a discussion of stances and who batted left- or right-handed. Beth tried to imitate Ichiro's stance and nearly got it right, but she held the straw (bat) out horizontally, whereas Ichiro holds it vertically. I mention this only because it's something I always notice, and not just because I love Ichiro (preemptive 'shut up'). I think Daryl once said it reminded him of holding up a sword, but it's always unavoidably reminded me of an artist holding up their pencil, vertical and at the end of a fully extended arm, to gauge the proportions of a figure they're trying to draw. Every time I see Ichiro bat, it looks like he's judging to proportions of the pitcher. And I realize full well that 0.2 of you actually care about that, but I wanted to mention it anyhow.

As for Sam, well, to demonstrate for those of us who had not seen it before (me), he stood in a wide, solid stance, holding his hands together at a high angle to his head, slowly rotating them at the wrists.

I swear to cats, it was Jason Varitek, only significantly smaller.

He also does a dead-on Papi Face.

Those necessities dispensed with, we headed into the park.

Now, this being Fenway and all, the park is technically exactly as crowded for a Yankees game as it is for a Devil Rays game, because sold out is sold out. But just like at Michigan Stadium when Ohio State comes to town, the sold out big game crowd looks somehow larger than the sold out 'nonconference' game crowd. Maybe more people who have tickets actually show up (although, again, the no-shows at Fenway don't make a significant dent in the crowd even on a normal night) and maybe they manage to squeeze in a few more at the corners.

There is, however, a certain singlemindedness of purpose in the crowd. We're not just there to watch baseball. We're there to watch Red Sox/Yankees. We're there to (with a few exceptions) boo Johnny Damon. We're there to remind Sheffield (in his first game back from the DL) and Giambi (he didn't play in the first game, 'tho he did in the second one) that we know what they did and we haven't decided it's OK. We're there to make ARod's life a living hell.

So of course the very first thing that happened was Johnny Damon hitting a leadoff homerun.

Sort of put a damper on things. I don't think the crowd was ever quite the same after that, although Manny's homer perked people up a bit. But the loud, brash, excited nature of the park had beem tamped down, and the carefree attitude that allowed for multiple "Yankees suck!" chants the next night just wasn't really as present on Tuesday.

Early on, Jaret Wright fielded a ball with his stomach or something similar, causing the coaching staff and trainers to come charging out and the whole infield to come charging in, their usual Pavlovian response when Torre emerges from the dugout. Leah and I were pleased. Surely he was rattled now, all Matt Clement style (ooooo foreshadowing!), and the knuckleball's failure to locate would be rendered painless.

And, true, he only went 5 innings. It was the damndest thing, though. At no point did he look particularly dominant, but somehow he worked his way into something resembling a dominant outing. Four hits and two walks were left on the bases.

I know we do that every so often, that whole "not bringing runners around to score" thing, but it felt like we hadn't for a while and so it was a little shocking and painful to watch.

Gary Sheffield, fresh from his little rest, proceeded to go 2-for-4 on the night, much to the displeasure of everyone within a 20 mile radius of Fenway. There were the usual "Baaaaaalco" and "Steeeeeroids" chants, along with a new, more direct call: "YOU take STERoids!" *clap clap clapclapclap* Present tense too and everything. It's only a small alteration of a classic, but it cracks me up.

Later in the game it was with great joy that we watched Jon(athan) Papelbon strike the snot out of Sheffield. I know he's a free swinger to start with, but it's really impossible to not enjoy the sight of Sheffield swinging around so hard that he collapses back on his heels and hits nothing but air.

In fact Papelbon was one of the best bits of the whole game. The last time I saw him, he got his first loss, which kind of sucked at the time but we knew wasn't representative. Tuesday night was real Papelbonning. It was the kind of pitching that makes you sit back in your seat and go, "Awwww hell no!" in wonder. Which I did, naturally.

Our seats were down the third base side, right where Manny directs his glassy-eyed stare before every at-bat. Tons of people in the section (Leah included) stand and point at him and holler and Manny never ever bats an eyelash. I understand that he's often in his own little world of puppies and birthday cakes and rainbows, but you'd think he would notice that staring into the same section every time causes that section to go batshit insane.

Some other snippets from the game:

Leah: See if you can use your zoom to see who's sitting in the owner's box.
Me: No... no way...
Leah: What? Who is it?
And, it seems, Matt Cassel on the left. We saw Tommy leaning over to get someone, I think Curt Schilling, to sign a ball for him between innings.

Mike Myers came back. He was booed on Wednesday night, but not so much during this game, probably a sign of how sullen the crowd was. Although, personally speaking, I would never boo Mike Myers. They played Austin Powers music for him, which was a cute acknowledgement without resorting to the more appropriate entrance music of Halloween.


The opposite of ugh.

I took so many photos of The Farns. When it came down to it, I just couldn't help it. I'll insert another preemptive "shut up" here.

It was another solid night for Youk, who I have to admit is surpassing even my expectations of him right now.

And I must say, it was a ton of fun going to my first Sox/Yanks game with Leah, mostly because you know you're at a Sox/Yanks game. There was none of this "ho hum a baseball game I shall watch impassively" business. She was on her feet at the right times, giving Manny the double point or ARod the business. Although some members of the family had led me to believe that going to game with her was something like going to a game with a rabid wolverine, I found her to be no more embarassing than, well, me, and certainly less so than, oh, let's say a full third of the bleacher sections.

That's my altogether inadequate recap of the game. The rest of the photos are right here and I highly suggest you have a look because, as you may have been able to tell, the seats were fairly freaking awesome and I got some tolerable shots.

Photos and tales from Wednesday's game soon.

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12:55 PM

Tuesday, May 23, 2006  
A most glorious fact came to my attention tonight.

Watching the game, I saw a ball bounce past the Yankee leftfielder… the… the Yankee… leftfielder… the… who the devil is that?

Then it became clear.

You guys, the Yankees are playing Terrence Long in left field.

Terrence Long.

I mean, you know, last I heard, he was still drowning in the Kauffman Stadium fountains or something.

Seriously. Terrence Long, who had one sort of good year for San Diego because the National League hadn’t seen him in ages. Terrence Long, who was so aggressively mediocre that not even the Kansas City Royals felt any particular need to hang onto him. The Kansas City Royals, who right now are running people like Esteban German and Emil Brown out onto the field.

The Yankees, you guys, the proud and exalted New York Yankees franchise is grubbing in the scrub player heap like a wild hog rooting for mushrooms.

*insert obligatory reminder of what Mike Timlin does to wild hogs here*

Now, I identify myself as a fan much more strongly by positive impulses (the activities of the Red Sox (and Tigers)) than by negative impulses (the activities of the Yankees). But that does not mean that I will not take immense, wide-ranging joy from their sufferings. They have four pitchers on the DL… four! Octavio Dotel is allegedly coming of it in the realm of soon, but Chacon just went on, WOTS just had his shoulder surgically torn to bits, and Pavano has a permabruise on his rear or something.

Sheffield is out, Crosby is out, Matsui is missing an entire hand and is having a replacement fashioned out of silver metal as we speak, a la Harry Potter.

And those are just guys on the official DL. The Chinless Wonder has a sore back, and who knows how thoroughly that can heal during an active season for a catcher. The Farns has a sore lower back, something he pitched through at times last year with varying degrees of success. Damon has a cracked traitorous bone in his little traitorous foot. Small and Villone are about a month away from being severely and irreparably overworked. Bernie Williams is probably one giant mass of overly-ripe ache by now… he shouldn’t even be playing, this was supposed to be his year of occasional DH duty and graceful exit, and instead they’re asking him to hurl his withered husk of an outfielder’s body around out there like some, well, some AAA call-up.

And Randy Johnson? You know that boy ain’t right these days.

That isn’t to say, of course, that the Sox aren’t also banged up to some degree. David Wells has been a loud but absent member of the staff so far this season. Varitek’s most closely-coveted anatomy has been stiff and sore since the spring despite the sincere offers from every female (and no doubt many male) members of Red Sox Nation to help massage it out. Coco Crisp went down with what looked like a relatively minor break and stayed out with crystallized business in his viscera. Foulke has knees made of chicken gristle. Mike Holtz is on the DL which, um, right, well, I’m sure it’s severely detrimental to the team somehow or other.

And that’s just the thing. Both their corner outfielders go out and they’re throwing Melky Cabrera, a kid who needs more time at the AAA level and whose development is probably being horrifically stunted by this; the ghost of Bernie Williams; and Terrence freaking Long on the field. Our centerfielder breaks himself into a fine powder, and suddenly Wily Mo Pena is hitting .327 and lumbering around the outfield like he actually belongs there.

Pavano goes out early, and no one new really steps up. Wells goes out early, and Josh Beckett decides to be the next coming of dominant Schilling. Hell, Schilling decides to be the next coming of dominant Schilling.

I don’t even have to mention what Papelbon has done in the ‘stepping it up’ department.

The Yankees get injured, and they bring in people who are either too old or too inexperienced. The Red Sox seem to, at least for now, have a better handle on the situation. The guys who are stepping up are young, but not inexperienced—Beckett, Pena, Papelbon. The unexciting, not at all flashy offseason acquisitions are hitting .295 (Loretta, and admittedly with no power), .333 (Lowell, with power), and, uh, .197 (Gonzo, with, er, defense?).

Youks’ OBP is a very Greek god-like .424.

Even Little Alex Cora was getting fanwank from Jim Rice after the game today for being SO GODDAMN FUNDAMENTAL.

So, yeah, I’m going to relish this point in time a little bit. Because everyone’s falling apart some, but the Yankees are handling it with all the elegance of Arod if a dead sea lamprey were to be hurled into his shower stall while the Red Sox are trucking along.

Also, travel and weather and all that permitting, I’mGoingtotheGameTomorrowi.e.TodayEeeeeeeeee!

Oh, and I would just like to point out that Jake Peavy struck out 16 Braves in his outing tonight. And the Padres still lost.

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5:11 AM

Thursday, May 18, 2006  

Think of the knuckleball as the butterfly ball, and you'll see what I'm saying with that.

13 and 1 against these birds isn't half bad... it isn't even a quarter bad. But losing a game on a caught stealing situation, besides being completely weird for the Red Sox, is a terrible way to go. We can't be having that kind of thing going on. Imagine if DAVE ROBERTS had been sloppy.

Oh, and also? Look at this.

This is a male Baltimore oriole, Icterus galbula. I photographed him at Ware Pond in Marblehead. He can be 17 to 20 cm long and can weigh 0.99 to 1.48 oz. He likes wooded areas, preferring deciduous trees to coniferous.

This is a male Baltimore oriole, Homo sapiens fahey. Some AP photog shot him at Camden Yard in Baltimore. He is 6'2 and weighs 180 lbs (allegedly). He likes open fields. There is no information available about his tree preference.

Now look at those two orioles.

Who looks more capable of hitting the ball out of the park?

If you said Brandon Fahey, you are a filthy liar. As soon as we can figure out how to get a bat securely held by the avian oriole, it is going to look 1000% more like a power hitter than Brandon Fahey. So how the heck did he hit it out of the park? The mind, it boggles.

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2:40 PM

Monday, May 15, 2006  

Rainouts eat my brain. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.

What a bleedin' awful last few days. I had tickets for the Sunday game too, but when a state of emergency was declared I guess it was pretty clear that there wasn't going to be baseball played, although I was rather hoping to go and see Manny contentedly doggypaddling in three feet of standing water in the dugout with a pink bat in his mouth.

Of course it is just my luck to live in one of the hardest-hit areas. Schools all around are closing and half the roads are impassable... I don't know how I'm going to get to The Internship tomorrow, especially if the rain picks up again tonight. I drove in on Saturday and nearly gave myself a great big soaking wet zero-visibility heart attack. There are ducks swimming in my backyard. We do not have a pond in my backyard. At least, we didn't before.

So, anyways, I'm a bit behind, aren't I? I've been a little distracted by things like The Internship and THE DETROIT TIGERS OMFG WHAT. But not so distracted that I haven't noted the following:

-Matsui's injury, speaking as someone who has done endless damage to her wrists during a very unfortunately injury-prone past, was difficult to watch. It's not just that he very very obviously snapped his wrist, what got to me was the way that after his arm came up off the ground, his glove hand was dangling around on the end of it like a puppet with its strings cut. And then NESN decided it was necessary to show this to us A THOUSAND TIMES DURING THE COURSE OF THE BROADCAST, as if once wasn't BAD ENOUGH.

-Tanyon Sturtze is on the DL. Yaaaaaay. I didn't realize you could go on the DL for "pure suck", but I guess if you call it a sore shoulder you can go on the DL for anything these days.

-I understand why they pushed Friday's game through so hard. Everyone knew that the weekend was gonna be a wash, and making up two games in a series is hard enough, let alone three. But I still didn't have to like it. That said, Matt Clement was absolutely right to blame at least part of his troubles on himself and not on the weather, because Kameron Loe was pitching in the same weather and we all know how he looked.

-If you recall the BCRS NonSox and NonTigers List of Players to Shamelessly StatStalk During the Season, you'll recall that Kameron Loe is on it. Although it hurt to watch him baffle our batters, I still do like the guy, I can't help it. He's huge and doofy and when he drops down to that sidearm pitch and oooooo shiny. Plus the superhigh socks. Plus the fact that he HAS A 7 FOOT LONG BOA CONSTRICTOR NAMED ANGEL, whom he's had since he was 19. And I quote: Why did you name the snake Angel?

Loe: The name Angel came because people generally associate snakes with the devil, but she is very sweet and she has never hurt anybody. I bring her into the clubhouse every now and then for my teammates and their kids to look at and play with. Have any of your teammates been less than enthusiastic upon meeting Angel?

Loe: I think I got the biggest reaction from Alfonso Soriano. He didn't like her. He would stand around and look at her as if he was interested, but he did not want her anywhere near his personal space.

More of Loe on Angel:

Angel is pitcher Kameron Loe's 7-foot Columbian red-tailed boa constrictor. He has had her for about six years and she's a big hit among the Rangers, almost becoming their unofficial mascot.

"I'd like to watch her eat a Rally Monkey," Loe said.

Loe wraps up Angel in a bag and keeps her in his locker when he brings her to the ballpark. Otherwise she stays at his apartment.

"I let her run around the backyard," Loe said. "But I can't take her out for a walk on a leash."

For those of you who are interested, the Columbian red-tailed boa constrictor, Boa constrictor, is your standard boa, what most people are referring to coloquially when they say they have a boa constrictor. 7 feet is not too big for them, as they can be around 8 to 10 feet and the females are usually larger. They can live on average from 20 to 30 years if well cared for and are 'docile', although you wouldn't want them around your pet chihuahua.

In the wild their diet can consist of iguanas, birds, and monkeys, so Loe's comment about Angel eating a Rally Monkey is 100% of SCIENCE FACT. A Capuchin (the species of monkey that has shamefully produced the Rally Monkey) would probably be just about the right size for a snakey snack. In captivity I'm pretty sure they mostly are fed rats, since I highly doubt Loe is actually going out and getting iguanas and monkeys for her.

-Randy Johnson's slow collapse is rapidly becoming one of my favorite things to watch this season.

-If you haven't heard the Rick Sutcliffe drunken shenanigans yet, please go do so at once. The anecdotal tale of Bill Murray spying Mark Bellhorn across the clubhouse, shouting, "For-MER Cub-BIE" in a drunken voice and tackling him to the ground had me in hysterics.

-Joey Harrington is a Dolphin. My mind, it is blown. Expect the return of The Timid Joey Harrington I Keep in my Closet soon enough. I've already photoshopped his head onto a photo of someone swimming with dolphins.

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4:12 PM

Wednesday, May 10, 2006  

Mmm. Turtle soup, anyone?

What a win. I mean, it's one thing to win a game. It's another thing to win a game against the Yankees, in New York. And it's another thing ENTIRELY to win a game against the Yankees, in New York, with Randy Johnson stripped impotently from the mound while the entire crowd boos him and his visible salivary glands, and with A-Rod fumbling around the infield like a newborn baby deer.

I mean, come on now. We ALL know what the Sox do with newborn baby deer. Mike Timlin, hello.

The Moment, though, all decisive and whatnot, for all of us I think, was Alex Gonzalez' 3-run homer. It was not just a little pop that stayed up. He, as Remy so eloquently said, "golfed it". The ball was in the park, and then WHAM NO IT IS NOT. Just a tremendously powerful-looking shot, and you could see the same thing when Manny homered to leadoff an inning a bit later. But we expect that out of Manny. Manny and homeruns are hand in hand, skipping through the flowering fields, braiding daisy chains together, making Matt Clement's allergies act up. Gonzo? Gonzo is a GONEB kind of player: Glove Only, No Expected Bat. When he gets an extra base hit it's a marvel to me; this gigantic homerun? Blew a fuse in my brain.

Of course that's assuming my brain fuse hadn't been blown by the stroke commercial. The animation. Where the guy's face freezes and melts down and the woman's arm drifts and oh my god it's all in cartoon form with a song. Please tell me I am not the only one to have seen this and also not the only one to find it to be in incredibly poor taste somehow.

Bernie Williams got tossed from the game. Oh how I chortled. In all fairness, the ump had a very generous strikezone going there, and a lot of guys were obviously not agreeing with him, on both sides. But poor Bernie Ked 3 times, and then as he was walking away from the last one he flipped his batting helmet backwards towards home plate. It was about a ruler's length away from making Bernie the next Delmon Young. If all this had come from, I dunno, Giambi or A-Rod or even one of the kids, Cano or something, it would've been more ho hum, but Bernie's usually so mellow that it was just strange and hilarious.

Mike Lowell. Should just get "doubles" tattooed on his ass by now. Something like his last 8 consecutive hits have been doubles. Remy and Orsillo wondered if there was some kind of record.

The meltdown of Tanyon Sturtze: is there any more enjoyable disintegration to watch in baseball right now? He's been plugging his way towards the minors all season. And he just couldn't stop giving up runs here. At one point I thought they might actually have to dig into their pen and get someone else to finish it out.

And, possibly I'm missing some basic Yankee fact here, but why Melky Cabrera? Is his bat really that much more highly developed than that of Bubba Crosby? Because I know Crosby's deceptively young-looking-- he's actually a few months shy of 30, and therefore not what you'd call much of a prospect anymore. Cabrera is a few months shy of 22. Creepily enough, it turns out they have the same birthday-- and he's pretty much not going to be anything more than AAAA kinda guy, and he had that awful play last season where he, Sheffield, and the wall conspired to badly misplay a ball, but. But. From what I've seen, he's more polished in the field than Cabrera, which isn't HARD because Cabrera appears to SUCK LIKE A LAMPREY in the field, and his bat isn't particularly better or worse.

And they already had Crosby up with the big club. So why Melky, New York? Why?

I'm about to crash, but this story just showed up in my inbox and I can't let it pass.

It absolutely disgusts me to read that. Like the guy says, you sit in the bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium in Sox gear, you expect you're gonna hear it. And as many of those commenters say, I'm sure there are Sox fans who are just as bad as all that. But, and perhaps I'm naïve, I have never heard of ENTIRE SECTIONS at Fenway behaving like this. Localized idiots who can be very abusive and can 'detract from enjoyment of the game', the usual fare, yes. But this sounds so far above and away from anything anyone should experience at a ballpark that I half expect it to be written by a Michigan fan who ventured into the Horseshoe for an Ohio State football game.

The alleged behavior of the cops, as he describes it, is disturbing at best. I dearly hope there's some histrionic exaggeration there.

There are people commenting on that story saying, "well, it's the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, if you don't like it don't sit there". Holy freaking cats. What if some family wants to go to a game and all they can afford are bleacher seats? What if they love baseball and don't have the luxury or the choice of sitting somewhere other than in the bleachers? Are they saying kids should be exposed to that kind of behavior just because 'hey, that's where they're sitting, that's how it goes here'? That stuff shouldn't occur in any section of any ballpark. Or maybe the kids just shouldn't go at all, because hey, if you can't afford anything other than bleacher seats, you have no right to expect decent behavior.

I realize in my last post I was extolling the intensity of the rivalry and saying it shouldn't get watered down. But what this guy and his friends experienced is leaving 'intense baseball fan' territory and entering 'psychotic soccer fan' land. Even I get a kick out of some of the verbal taunts launched from the Yankee Stadium bleacher creatures, because hey, right back 'atcha when you're in our house. But this is, to put it simply, fucking ridiculous.

OK. Whatever. We won, we won big. We need to do it a couple more times, and it's the Moose tomorrow. The Moose troubles me. And then we've got Wake going, which is the ultimate baseball crapshoot.

Oh, one more thing. Did anyone else think that, with Beckett on the mound, Schilling looked all lonely standing by himself at the rail? I hardly noticed how inseparable they've become until they had to watch the game from different places.

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6:48 AM

Tuesday, May 09, 2006  

To everyone who complained about the Damon booing, and who will, with this upcoming series, continue to complain about Sox fans' treatment of him:

We're not Italian soccer fans. No one's thrown FLAMING FLARES at him. Until such time as this or a comparable event occurs, no one is allowed to say that Red Sox fans are overreacting. Because the Yankees are our rivals. RIVALS. Yes, SHOCKING. We are bloody lucky to be in the midst of one of the best rivalries in sports instead of trying to halfheartedly get our dander up for matchups with some mediocre team we're vaguely aware we're supposed to dislike. Can people stop pretending that the fans are not supposed to care about the rivalry? It's occasionally irrational and always passionate and it makes the sport WORTHWHILE AND INTERESTING instead of THE FLORIDA MARLINS.

Johnny Damon played well for the Red Sox. The people loved him. Johnny Damon was quoted as saying he would never play in New York. Johnny Damon signed with New York. The Yankees are rivals of the Red Sox. He was not traded to the Yankees, he signed with them of his own accord. The people hate him. I don't think that's unreasonable. I also don't think you can say a person deserves praise because of their past if they've done something nasty in the nearer present.

"But all he did was sign with New York! And back in Boston he won you a World Series! What a fickle city!" Indeed. And if he'd signed with, say, Toronto, we'd still be cheering him. He knows as well as anyone what the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry is, and he should know as well as anyone that Red Sox fans root for the laundry more than anything else. He made a decision, now he can marinate in it.

We're not overreacting. We're reacting exactly as we should. Anything less would be an insult to the rivalry and one of the most exciting aspects of the game; a game that, in much of the country, needs all the excitement it can get, quite frankly.

Anything more, and we'd be Italian soccer fans.

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4:44 PM

Saturday, May 06, 2006  

When Jerry Remy starts giggling and saying, "Here comes Doubles!" when you march up to bat, you know you've done a good thing.

Three doubles in one night. Plus the stolen base. Plus the defense. Plus OH MY GOD MY HEAD EXPLODED WHO THE HELL IS THIS IS THIS MIKE LOWELL WHAT?

And while we're on head-asplodey topics, what is up with Youks and the power, huh? That homerun the other night cleared the damn Monster, and tonight he jacked another one into the coveted green seats. Does he draw his power from his bald head? Is it perhaps like a solar panel?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who saw him sit down on the bench after his homer next to some coach or other, I wasn't paying very close attention, and then he bit the coach on the shoulder. Please tell me that someone else saw this or I'll think I've gone entirely mad, because to my eyes it appeared that Youks was momentarily mouthing the shoulder of one of his coaches and I don't think my brain can handle that.

After his homerun my dad and I were talking about Moneyball and how it worked out that only a couple of the players featured in it have played up to the expectations, Youks being one of them (Nick Swisher, damn his black little buckeye heart, being the other). Now, my copy of Moneyball is currently still packed away in a box that came back from Michigan with me, so I can't check all the names, but I remember Brant Colamarino, who was cited in the book as causing his coaches to say, "Colamarino has titties."

Now he's still buried in the A's farm system, but at least he's still a decent prospect... apparently he got himself in shape in '04 and had a great season, then got moved up to AAA in '05 and freaked out, so he's at that stage where his physical ability is there but his mental ability to harness it is in doubt. So he's OK, but he didn't turn out to be Nick Swisher. And the other name I mostly remember, Jeremy Brown... whatever happened to him? I don't even know if he's still with the A's. He could be dead. Anyways, I just thought it was interesting, in a "why the fuck do I know anything about Brant Colamarino" kind of way.

The ovation for Millar was a nice touch, and a gloriously marked contrast from the Damon 'greeting'. No one should be surprised by this. Johnny Damon declared he would never go to New York, then packed his cash bags and cut his hair and put on the pinstripes. Kevin Millar would've given his left nut to stay on the Sox, and you get the feeling if someone offered right now, he might very well still whip 'em out and welcome the scissors. One gets warmly cheered, one gets money jeeringly thrown at him like an inept dancer in a strip bar. All very clear and proper.

And of course Papelbon, with the save. It figures that the one game I went to was the one game where Papelbon didn't do his usual Papelbon thing, the one game where he didn't, if we were to make him into a verb, papelbon. Pissnuggets and all that. But what can you do?

It's also heartening that all this came off of Rodrigo Lopez, who's never been all that great but aways seems to be good when he faces the Sox, and seems to be awful when he faces the Yankees. A little fair is fair for later in the season, where he will no doubt revert to form.

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3:23 AM

Thursday, May 04, 2006  
As soon as the game Tuesday night was called, I heaved a cautious sigh of relief. Because, yeah, one game postponed is fine, but the Sox are never going to want to straight-up cancel two in a row if they can help it, and Wednesday's game was going to be my first Fenway outing of the season. A rainout also meant that instead of Halladay/Clement, a matchup I vaguely dreaded (visions of Matt Clement breaking down on the mound and sobbing hysterically dancing in my head... perhaps unfairly, but there nonetheless), we would get to see Halladay/Beckett, a much nicer duel.

The tarp was out on the field when we got there, and it was as misty as Nomar's eyes when he thinks back to his salad days with Boston, but it wasn't actually pouring and it was surprisingly not entirely freezing. I struggled to situate myself, a hotdog, a camera bag, a camera (complete with its own personal umbrella... don't ask. The lady at the concession stand near our seats thought it was the best thing she had ever seen, though), a program with scorecard and a pencil into the wee grandstand seats, reminding myself once again of how Fenway differs in many ways from Comerica. I badly need to find a way to streamline this sheer amount of STUFF before I go to another game. I also badly need a telephoto lens, but baby steps, baby steps.

Iain and Beth popped over to our section to say hi before the game, which was great, because you may not know this, but when bloggers meet it's a bit like Captain Planet. We all huddle up and and put our magic blogger power rings together and shout things like "love of the game!" (Iain), "quality writing!" (Beth), and "sarcastic juvenile humor!" (me). Amazing things happen when we do this, but I can't tell you about them unless you're a blogger, because it's a blogger secret. Let's just say it involves Bill Mueller and pants.

The Beckett/Halladay matchup wasn't necessarily the Battle of the Pitching Giants that it could have been, and, just like in the Yankee game, there were a lot of balls that seemed to die in the air and you got the feeling that the score could've been much messier on a warmer and drier night. Halladay didn't look at all like he did when I saw him last year; instead of dominating, he was grinding, and it showed in the 3-run second inning, where there were a grand total of zero extra-base hits. Just single after single after single, and rather a lot of screaming.

Beckett also suffered from the offense-by-water-torture approach in the second, walking Lyle Overbay, hitting Shea Hillenbrand with a pitch, walking Russ Adams, and then had to face the consequences when Aaron Hill made contact for a two-run double. Still, I hadn't seen him live before, so it was a bit of a treat in a pure pitching aesthetic sense, or something.

Manny looked great, pretty much consistently getting his bat on the ball and not seeming to worry too much about generating power. He singled twice, had a ground-rule double on fan interference (which I didn't see, so I can't say exactly what happened, and walked. The only out he made was on a pretty hard ball caught by Overbay at first. Manny the Scuffler of the start of the season has pretty much disappeared, as everyone in the universe who knows about baseball said would happen.

In fact I bet it went something like this--

Tito: Hey, uh, Manny? Manny, kiddo, you listenin'? Um. You been havin' some trouble makin' contact lately?
Manny: Hi coach look look!
*Manny points to Alex Gonzalez' locker, where he has tied the laces of all his cleats together in one giant lace knot*
Tito: Oh, uh, well, that's great Manny, you don't think Alex is gonna get mad?
Manny: No man, we besssss friends.
Tito: Right. So. About that hittin'.
Manny: Is not OK swing and miss?
Tito: Well, Manny, in a word, uh, no.
Manny: OK! Manny jus hit ball now, don got to go over Monster, jajaja?
Tito: That's really good, Manny, but you can't just say it, it's one thing to just say "I'm gonna hit" and it's another thing entire to go out there and
*Manny suddenly is batting .309 with an OBP of .449*
Manny: Yay!
Tito: .......
Alex Gonzalez: Time to run a bases fo'ard march Alex
*Alex Gonzalez has fallen flat on his face in the dirt*
Alex Gonzalez: Oh hell a shoe knot

And then there's Mike Lowell, Mike Lowell the Now Inexplicably Good. He was just so bad last season, and when Florida wouldn't let go of Beckett without also dumping Lowell and his contract off on someone, anyone, it really didn't endear him to me any. Right now he's batting .326/.382/.505, which clearly falls into WTF territory. I mean, he wasn't just bad last year, he was horrible, and it was that kind of slow struggling horrible that makes you think something dire has snapped in a guy and he's never going to regain his previous levels of production.

Last night he had 3 singles, one run, and 2 RBI. And he looked solid doing it, not flukey or anything of that nature. If Lowell manages to return to his pre-2005 form, and Beckett pans out anywhere near as promisingly as he has the potential to... well, we'll have to wait and see if Hanley turns into a giant superstar or not, won't we? But if he doesn't, this could turn into one hell of an attractive deal and we'll all be abasing ourselves at the holy feet of Theo again soon enough. Or Lowell could regress immediately after the All Star break and people will start showing up to the ballpark wearing paper masks with Bill Mueller's face printed on them.

Then there was this play, where Dustan Mohr, pinch hitting for Trotter, somehow managed to tangle himself up on his swing and end up ass-first in the dirt. It was kind of hard to tell exactly what had happened from the stands, and it just looked like BOOM, down he went. Of course my first instinct was to assume that horrible things had happened and every ligament in his lower body had simultaneously exploded. My dad's slightly more reasoned response was that the ground must be pretty slick, and he probably just lost his footing.

Still, it seems exactly the sort of play where you can, at the very least, twist the ever livin' osteocity out of your ankle. Plus it was mightily undiginified.

Hrm, what else from this game. Papelbon. I'm not concerned. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and yes it kind of sucks, but the game was so hard fought the whole way through that it's hard to be too discouraged. Plus I just watched the game tonight and he came right back out, one night later, and snagged himself an 11th save. The kid's got guts, and he'll be OK. He's one of those things you can really look forward to watching about the Sox this season. I think it's much more likely that he remains on fire than, say, Mike Lowell does.

The rest of the photos from the night are here, and there are at least a few good/interesting ones that I'm not posting up here because I'm evil like that. I do wish I had a better lens, so I apologize for the quality on some of 'em. For instance, that photo of Manny stroking AGon's cheek would be much better if it didn't also have the image quality of a piece of tissue paper steeped in coffee. But it's still a photo of Manny stroking AGon's cheek, and I suppose that's what counts, right?

A couple other quick things.

1) When did Alex Rios stop going by Alexis Rios? Because I still want to call him that, it's my natural instinct, and I have to keep checking myself. I'm pretty sure when I saw the Jays at Fenway last year he was still Alexis.

2) I had no idea Mike Lowell was born in Puerto Rico. Was that just me, dwelling in ignorance?

As an apology for not blogging often enough (soon to be remedied, I assure you), we will tonight close with a photo of the sorest and most beloved part of our captainly catcher.

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10:27 PM

Tuesday, May 02, 2006  
Yeah, so, uh, I'm home and, uh, omfgJohnnyDamonandDougieisbackandYankeesandPapiandPapelbonandomfgdead.

I don't really want to talk about the previous series, mostly because looking back on it is rather like looking back on the sheet of newspaper you put under your cat's litterbox. All I'll say is that we lost a series to Tampa Bay, freakin' Tampa Bay, and I know they're supposed to be marginally better right now, and I know they've given the Yankees hemhorroids too lately, and I know Scott Kazmir, despite whatever Curt might say on the matter, can sure as heck pitch.

But. The Devil Rays? Even the 9-6 win was awful. I was watching it thinking to myself, literally, "There's no way we can be this bad of a team." Yes we came back to win it, but it was still disgusting baseball and had me questioning all sorts of things, from the front office on down to the chemical composition of the pine tar used, and on up to the air currents around the roof of the Trop. It had me questioning whether I might not have been better off hanging out in Michigan a bit longer and watching the Tigers some more (when they bothered to televise the games, of course).

And then came today, against the Yankees. And the big news was that Doug Mirabelli had been retrieved from the farm system Padres, prompting me to grumble irritably about the fact that, instead of just signing him for cash (which we've got, you know, in principle) we had to trade away players for him. Stupid. Never shoulda got rid of him in the first place. Bard is fine, we weren't going to use him or the shattered wreck of his psyche anyways, but I'm steamed that our own inability to recognize how vital Dougie was to Wake resulted in us having to lose Cla Meredith, who would've lent himself to a plethora of awful name jokes, if nothing else.

I had the following (approximate) conversation with SG board denizen and fun chick Annette over AIM--

Annette: I just never realized how well they work together. Dougie and Wake are like peanut butter and jelly.
Me: I guess. And Josh Bard was like that awful apple butter stuff that everyone always says goes with jelly just as well, and in theory it should taste just as good and look similar and all that, but in reality it TASTES LIKE ASS.

Apparently Mirabelli only barely made the game, running into the park from a police van like 10 minutes before gametime. He was cutting things so close that they put his uniform in the van and he had to change in the car on the way from the airport to the park, prompting Remy to say, "Glad I wasn't in that car!" Considering all this, he played remarkably well, even if he did go 0-for-4 at the plate.

Other highlights of the game included:

-The money that came raining down on the centerfield warning track when Damon was out there. You have to be really, really, really bad to get Bostonians to chuck the wages of sin down on your offending head.

-The tops of the first three innings, which went like this: Damon flies out to Trotter. Jeter grounds out, Lowell to Youks. Giambi flies out to Pena. ARod walks. Matsui strikes out (looking a damn fool against the knuckler). Posada flies out to Trotter. Cano flies out to Pena. Cairo grounds out, Cora to Youks. Crosby singles. Crosby is thrown out at second trying to steal. You don't steal on Dougie in his first game back, bitch. Damon grounds out to Wake, who falls the hell over fielding it and covering first, making me panic mightily, but showing his awesome Wakeness by just bouncing back up. As tidy a first few innings as you could like.

-The picture-perfect pitchout that snagged Crosby at second base in the third inning. I repeat, you don't steal on Dougie in his first game back, bitch.

-Every time someone with a thick Boston accent said LORETTER instead of Loretta.

-The way I love when Jeter leans his torso backwards out of the box, as though the pitch is way inside and is in fact threatening his precious self, and the pitch is called a strike.

-Two older-looking ladies (by which I mean, older than me) holding up a sign that read "WE FLASH 4 REM-DAWG". Momentary horror. Then NESN zoomed in on their faces and it became evident that they were both wearing big sunglasses with frames that had flashing lights in them. Horror dissipates into glee.

-"Do they count like when the other team leaves the field and then you steal?" Jerry Remy, on the fact that Mirabelli had 2 stolen bases last season.

-Dashing to check on the Tigers game between innings and seeing that Bonderman went 8 scoreless, with 9 Ks. Jeremy Bonderman is better than you. 100% of FACT.

-The bottom of the 5th inning, period. It went like this: Cora bunts. Don and Remy praise the almight inning-starting gutsy scrappy buntarific bunt. I note that it is not all that and a bag of bunt chips, but it is in fact a pretty beautifully executed bunt. Youks singles. Loretta grounds into fielder's choice, Wang to ARod, Cora out at third. Ortiz singles. Manny singles, Youks scores. Trotter grounds out, Cano to Wang (covering first), Loretta scores. Lowell flies out to Matsui on the thousandth ball of the day killed by the in-flying winds. Four hits, two runs, and one very very sad young Yankees pitcher.

-Loretta's crazygood catch on a squealing Giambi liner to make the first out of the 6th inning.

-Whatever the hell that double play was in the top of the 8th. Giambi grounded out, 4-3, but it was weird because Youks dove for it and missed. Loretta for some reason was in position behind him and he dove for it, and came up with it. Someone he managed to scramble up off his face, and Youks scrambled up off his face and covered first and made the out. And then they looked over at secondbase, which was being tightly covered by Cora, so they threw the ball down there and Jeter dove back but not in time and he was out. So the play went 4-3-6. It was weird and complicated but awesome.

What I wonder is, if two guys had to drag themselves up off the turf just to make a play, how in the hell did Giambi not beat them out? Was he strolling nonchalantly down the basepath or something?

-The bottom of the 8th inning, where Aaron Small faced three batters and got a ground out, a walk, and a HBP (Youks, on the elbow... looked an awful stinger). WOTS pitched to one batter, and gave up a run-scoring single. Myers faced one batter and Ortiz hit it out of the park. Proctor came in and got the last two outs. 4 pitchers in one inning.

-The fact that Aaron Small looks about 5,000 times goofier with his ears sticking out all the time and no hat on.

-Don talks about Torre waking up in the middle of the night during the spring and having nightmares about Ortiz at the plate.
Remy, in response, says, "I woke up a couple times in the offseason, but I wasn't dreamin' about David."

-PAPELBON!!! (warning: don't click that link if you're at work and haven't got your headphones plugged in)

-The number of homeruns today: 1, by Papi, which is as it should be.

-The number of passed balls today: 0.

-The number of Ks thrown by a combined 5 Yankees pitchers today, over 8 innings of work: 1.

-The number of Ks thrown by Jonathan Papelbon today alone, over 1 inning of work: 2.

-The number of Ks thrown by Jeremy Bonderman today alone, over 8 innings of work: 9. (sorry. I can't help it)

-The number of times Ron Guidry had to go talk to his pitchers on the mound: 119,003

-Attitude about the team? Slightly better.

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3:01 AM

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