Monthly Archives: April 2007

Diary of a Mad Woman

(Photo from Boston.com)

Jorge Posada looks for some divine intervention.

Sometimes, I honestly think I’m bi-polar. This mostly happens during Sox/Yankees games – to the surprise of no one, I’m sure. But the range of emotions I go through during one of these interminable clashes (seriously, four hours? Keee-rist), is such that it’s really a wonder I’ve not been formally committed to a mental institution yet. I stress the “yet.”

Take, for instance, the flurry of text messages that flew between Annette and I during last night’s game.

Me (as Matsuzaka has what is becoming his customary inning of control issues): ::vomits::

Annette: Motherfucker. Fucking hell. (No one said we were ladies.)

Me: I knew I hated baseball.

Annette: Fuck this game. Fucking bloody fucking thousand pitch inning.

Me: Also, while we’re on the subject of things I hate: Julio Lugo.

Annette: I HAVE SO MUCH RAGE RIGHT NOW! THROW STRIKES, DAISUKE!

Me: FUCK JD DREW AND HIS NOT BEING TROT NIXON.

Annette: So much rage. I hate the Yankees with the fire of infinite suns.

Me: I’m giving it one more inning and then I’m turning it off if conditions don’t improve. It’s too damn early in the season to be this angry. (Pedroia comes to bat) Oh look, they let the bat boy hit. That’s nice.

Annette: Does his mother know he’s up this late?

Me: I am going to have a stern word with her about how to manage her child.

Annette: Ask her to talk to him about hitting singles and not long flyouts in pathetic home run attempts.

Me: I plan to.

Annette: Jeter misses! And the world rejoices!

Me (as JD Drew grounds out. AGAIN): He is so fired.

Annette: Mike Lowell is NOT fired though.

Me: Absolutely not.

Annette: And Tek’s thighs make Pettitte throw a wild pitch.

Me: The man is only human. I enjoy when Pettitte forgets to throw strikes. That is fun and good times for us all.

Annette: I enjoy that we chased him after just 4.2 innings.

Me: As do I. Immensely. Bullpen-palooza!

Annette: This game? Not dull.

Me: No. But I like Red Sox track meets!

Annette (after Lugo hits his first Red Sox home run): Huh. Lugo.

Me: Exactly. I am happy for the scoring but unhappy it was Lugo. (What did I say about bi-polar?) Also (Mientkiwicz falls into the photographers’ box): hee, Mientkiewicz.

Annette: I can still spell his name right too. Those were the days.

Me: I know, it’s reflexive.

Annette: I love David Ortiz. It can’t be said enough. He just makes me happy.

Me: That’s what he does, baby!

Annette: Timlin. God help us.

Me: Someone hold me.

Annette: Keee-rist. There is gambling and then there is gambling addiction. Timlin in a two run game AT NY is a cry for help.

Me: Honestly. Tito needs a Gamblers Anonymous meeting pronto. (Jeter is called out on a close play at second) Ha! Doesn’t quite work when you call yourself safe, Derek.

Annette: There will be a 47 page thread on nyyfans.com tomorrow about that call. There is a VAST umpiring conspiracy against them.

Me: Clearly. And totally warranted since they have NEVER been the beneficiaries of bullshit calls.

Annette: Never, ever, ever. Their suffering has been great these many years.

Me: And lo! The tears rained down from Mount Yankee!

Annette: And the Lord sayeth, I will give you these 26 rings but never shall a close call – like a phantom tag in a playoff game – go in your favor.

Me: And all gentlemen named Jeffrey shall fear death upon interference!

Annette: Lugo stole on a walk. Is that legal?

Me: Like that man concerns himself with legality.

Annette: True dat. This game is very wicked long.

Me: Doesn’t help that the umpire talks half an hour to make every call.

Annette: How do you not get Giambi out on a comebacker to the mound? That violates the laws of physics.

Me: If you’re gonna cheat by using the shift, it’s gonna need to work.

Annette: No kidding. But if the batter is a cheating ‘roid monkey, is the shift considered cheating or a mere leveling of the playing field?

Me: In that case, I think taking a Louisville Slugger to his patellas would be warranted.

Annette: If I were in charge, that would be an allowable event. Also, I’m starting to legitimately heart Okajima. We might have a legitimate setup man. MADNESS!

Me: Yes, he’s the fun, new Japanese toy that no one’s paying attention to.

Annette: Yay, Mikey Lowell extends his streak!

Me: You’re starting to see the hot now, aren’t you?

Annette: No, I still don’t see the hot. But I love him as a person. Also, Papelbon calls him “Mikey Lowell” and that cracks me up.

Me: Everything Papelbon says cracks me up. Every. Single. Word.

Annette: Ha! Crisp steals second! He delighted in unnerving Mo!

Me: Dude, if I’m a Yankee fan, I’m having a heart attack about this whole Rivera situation.

Annette: Dude, no kidding. It’s almost May and he’s not recorded a save.

Me: This game is never ending.

Annette: No. It’s not. That is true fact.

Me: We are going to die here. Bears are going to eat us.

Annette: Oh look, we won.

Me: How about that?

Annette then proceeded to send me the following email:

View photo of the dude the Sox are interested in. AND!!! His name is Fukudome. Fuk. U. Do. Me.”

Me: We must get him immediately. The potential for awesomeness is too great.

Annette: I know, right? I learned of this earlier today and immediately started dreaming of all the awesome t-shirts that could be made.

Me: He needs to bring his bear too. That must be in the contract.

Annette: Dude, we could put it in the vistors’ bullpen. How awesome would that be? I think he’s a corner outfielder. He could visit it during innings.

Me: Why don’t we run baseball again? This is GENIUS.

So basically, this is all to serve notice that, sometime soon, I’m probably going to go COMPLETELY off the deep end. But at least I’m taking friends with me.

Speaking of “off the deep end” can someone in the know tell me if Joe Torre is actually TRYING to get fired? It’s gotten to the point where the statement, “Torre’s not a good bullpen manager” can be considered an irresponsible understatement, like akin to calling the Hundred Years’ War a “kerfuffle.” I mean, I might be remembering incorrectly but I’m fairly certain the point of having an elite closer is to, you know, close out games that you’re actually winning. Not put him in for mop up duty in games you’re already losing by four. And then yanking him when he can’t get anyone out.

This also has the somewhat disturbing effect of making me feel something akin to sympathy for a member of the Yankees since Mariano Rivera is the ONLY Yankee who, if given the choice, I would take for my team, no questions asked. He appears to be a good guy and he’s the real deal, baseball-wise. But I’m really not sure what Joe’s doing with him now. Curious moves indeed.

That said, I remain a Sox fan so I’m going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

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Didn’t See That One Coming

(An artist’s rendering of Wily Mo Pena)

The thing is, Wily Mo just don’t like people talking shit about him. You see, when I got off the T this morning in Government Center, the gentlemen in the beat-up Sox cap selling newspapers was sharing his opinion with everyone who cared to listen. “The Sox needa new centafieldah. Wily Mo just ain’t gettin’ it done. Guy’s killin’ me at the plate.”

Wily Mo will thank you to keep your opinions to yourself, sir. But honestly, talk about unlikely heroes. Apparently, Wily Mo has suffered ten strikeouts in his previous sixteen at-bats prior to that grand slam. That is…not a healthy number. Anemic, actually. Consumptive, even. Most people, including Eck (and who’s going to argue with Eck? Certainly not me), were wondering why the slumping Wily Mo was even hitting in that situation. And that? Is why we’re going to Vegas and gambling with Tito.

But I mean, considering all that’s happened in the past few days, we are clearly in the end times. So Wily Mo hitting a grand slam isn’t really that surprising.

For instance, after yesterday’s (faux) drama about Gary Thorne and Schilling and bloody sock, etc, etc, Doug Mirabelli was evidently giving press conferences in the Sox locker room before the game to definitively state that he never said that Schilling faked the ankle injury. I mean, Doug Mirabelli is holding press conferences? We’re all gonna die.

And then there’s the matter of Josh Beckett winning his fifth straight start and finding himself in the company of Pedro Martinez and Babe Ruth as the only Sox pitchers to win five games in the month of April. That’s some lofty company there, brah. And I certainly hope that he realizes that, were it not for a brain fart on the part of Chris Ray, Beckett would be drowning the sorrow of his first loss of the season in half price PBR and Dave Matthews bootlegs.

I spent the third inning today coming up with new lyrics to Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” except in my version, I beat up Julio under the monkey bars and steal his lunch money.

Given Terry Francona’s penchant for snark, (i.e. his comments to Doug Mirabelli as reported by the Globe, “Can’t you just play every five days and not talk?,”) and Papelbon’s…Papelbon-ness, I would trade in a semi-important organ to witness a live conversation between them. Because you just know that Tito would spend the entire time making smart ass comments and Paps would take them all at face value. I mean, you’ve seen what happens when the boy wins bets. I’m not completely sure he understands the concept of sarcasm.

In the future, I think perhaps I will abstain from watching Sox/Orioles games with an Orioles fan. Because, um, yeah, they don’t find Wily Mo hitting an unlikely grand slam nearly as amusing as I do. It’s the kind of situation when you don’t really know what to say. I root for the Orioles 143 games out of the season. But the Sox are my boys. So I didn’t say anything. I just handed Marianne my laptop so she could commiserate with fellow Orioles fans. (Most of whom appear to be contemplating suicide). Sometimes, I guess, there’s just nothing to say.

The Yankees lost again with Phenom Philip Hughes on the mound. Isn’t “phenom” part of his given name now? I thought we had to call him that. Apparently, he’s the next Joe Montana. I realize it’s baseball but isn’t every highly touted prospect in every sport hyped as the next Joe Montana? I thought that was the rule. Anyway, the whole Hughes thing seem mildly desperate as the kid’s like…twelve, but hey, if the Yankees are desperate, that can only mean good things for the Sox.

Now, can someone tell me why Mike Lowell always looks so damn worried and Manny spent the entirety of today’s game looking like he smelled poo?

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Mike Lowell: Pimp


(A pimp is as a pimp does)

I have learned one thing from this game. Mike Lowell is a big Nelly fan. More specifically, Mike Lowell’s at-bat music for the rest of the season (or until he starts sucking) will be Nelly’s “Pimp Juice.”

Those of you who remember iTunes mojo will understand what I’m getting at. It wasn’t iTunes this time, I was testing out ring tones for my new cell phone. And yes, I was listening to Nelly tunes and I’ll thank you not to judge. (I ended up with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” because, well, because I’m me, and it’s sage advice), but apparently Mike Lowell responds to “Pimp Juice.” Look, I don’t make the rules. I just report the outcome.

As for outcomes, I enjoyed this one and will certainly take a win against the Orioles. Although, I must admit, the Orioles have become my second favorite team (this is entirely Marianne and Chris’s fault, and owes something to my own personal love affair with Nick Markakis), and I don’t wish them ill. I certainly enjoyed the “Fuck YOU, you’re not in the box and I’m throwing strikes, bitch” business that went down with Lugo and Cabrera because, yeah, you might’ve heard but, um, not a fan of Lugo. But a win is a win is a win.

It’s nice to see that Jerry Remy’s man crush on Alex Cora has continued unabated. And with good reason. And then there’s Schilling whose new haircut seems to be aiding him in the “pitching snappy” department. It would also be rather impossible for Schilling to look more like The Rick at this point which is mildly disturbing but the point remains.

Honestly, when David Ortiz has those ten or eleven pitch at bats, don’t you just feel like things are going to go his way? I think it all goes back to that ten pitch at bat against Esteban Loaiza in game five of the 2004 ALCS when Papi fouled off pitch after pitch before muscling one into short center for the game-winning RBI. It’s just…what he does, apparently. And I hate to sound overconfident about things because I’m anything but. But it’s Papi, man. If anyone’s gonna do it, it’s probably gonna be him.

Or Mike Lowell. Because: pimp juice.

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Pfffft


(Meet the 2007 Red Sox bullpen)

Let’s put it this way, long about the sixth inning, I started singing a rousing rendition of the song I just wrote that goes, “It’s a grand old track meet at the old ball yard.” I call it, “Clusterfuck (Tavarez Sonata).” Check for the single soon at Newbury Comics.

And speaking of music, I’ve taken to referring to the bullpen pitchers as “The Bullpen Boys” and have decided that one or all of them should enter any and all games to the tune of The Backstreet Boy’s seminal hit, “Backstreet’s Back” or perhaps NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Because – and you can argue with me but you’ll be wrong – there is no way the boys in that bullpen named Joel, JC and Brendan aren’t choreographing dance routines and watching Justin Timberlake concerts on the bullpen TV. Aside from the last few games, they haven’t had much to do so they’ve had to entertain themselves somehow. They’re just lamenting the fact that Lenny Dinardo isn’t around anymore since he really brought the boy band looks together. Of course, Dustin Pedroia is constantly trying to join by impressing them with his mad vertical leap and ability to carry a tune, barbershop quartet style, but the Boys have talked and they’re a little concerned about how his premature balding and lack of stature will affect the image of the band. It’s a tough life, this Bullpen Boy racket.

Also, Wily Mo reminds me of nothing so much as that puppy Marianne and I saw in Coolidge Corner earlier today who was brand new and clearly not in control of his big, gangly, puppy limbs. Like you can’t really get mad at the puppy for playing with the ball instead of throwing it into second like a capable baseball player. And I suspect you couldn’t really get mad at Wily Mo for getting nervous and peeing in the corner. But it’s going to take a larger newspaper wack to the nose with that one. Additionally, the owner of the puppy had clearly obtained said animal for the exact reason that it garnered him much attention from twenty-something girls as he was extremely willing to allow us to pet the puppy and generally remark on its cuteness. So that begs the question: if Wily Mo is a puppy, who’s wingdog is he?

Inquiring minds want to know. And on Julian Tavarez’s postgame press conference, we had this to say:

Marianne: He looks like…

Me: Freddy Krueger?

Marianne: Yeah and some kind of…jungle creature. I forget what they’re called.

Me: A lemur?

Marianne: YES.

So tomorrow we head to Baltimore for a bizarre two game series. Schilling vs. Cabrera. If the Sox play defense like they did today (or didn’t, rather) and the Orioles continue to play Boots-a-Ball, Scores-a-Run, it’s entirely possible that the whole series could be an exercise in futility.

Per Marianne, resident Orioles fan:

“But I thought…but you said…but don’t you usually…? YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO BE THERE! Where’s the ball?”

::four runs score, one batter realizes that the infielders are arguing with each other about who was supposed to cover second, Markakis is exchanging numbers with a sorority girl in right and the cast of thousands in left is distracted by the pretty patterns in the grass and the batter circles the bases again, scoring another run::

“Don’t forget,” Marianne reminded me, “Someone is contractually obligated to hit backup catcher Paul Bako in the face with something during the course of the game. It might be me.”

Of course, the series does promise some Kevin Millar shenanigans who is, as Marianne remarked, “looking more and more like Sammy Hagar every day.”

Don’t you love baseball?

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The Best and the Brightest


I don’t really want to talk about the game. It seemed pretty anti-climatic after this past weekend’s series. And with the Yankees and Orioles losing, things remain pretty much the same. But I did learn, while watching NESN, that author David Halberstam was killed this morning in a car crash.

It doesn’t seem particularly sports-related but Halberstam actually wrote many books on sports and athletes including “The Teammates,” “The Education of a Coach,” and “Summer of ’49.” Halberstam was a great writer, one of my favorites.

I met him once. Several years ago, right after the publication of “The Teammates,” Halberstam’s telling of the close, lifelong friendship between Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky, he gave a reading in Harvard Square. I went and I met Halberstam, DiMaggio, and Pesky briefly after the reading. Halberstam had just given the commencement address at my friend’s graduation from Tulane and I made sure to tell him how much she’d enjoyed it. He seemed genuinely touched and gracious. And then he laughed when Johnny Pesky told me I was cute.

Perhaps I am especially saddened because Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer before he turned 30, has always been someone I’ve admired. I read a collection of his essays “The Fifties” in high school and have enjoyed his work ever since. An unquestionable talent, I’ve always appreciated the way he turned sports journalism – often seen as frivolous – into something worthwhile and legitimate.

Halberstam was 73, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author or more than 20 books. But he was also a sports fan.

I seem to have picked up a lot of new readers lately, (Hi! Glad you’re here). I’m not sure where they came from or how they found me, but I’m glad they did. Now go read “The Teammates” and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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First-Hand Account

The following is an email sent to me by my former co-worker David. He was lucky enough to attend Friday night’s game.

The account you’re about to read is a real one.

::cue “Unsolved Mysteries” theme::

As it happens, I was at Friday night’s Sox-Yankees game. The one scripted by a TV writer, apparently. Because goddamn was that a crazy game to be at. Celebration. Panic. JD Drew having a completely futile great night at the plate. Coco Crisp nearly dying, and then SPRINGING back up over the wall. The sixth inning and seventh inning, pure dread. People were actually leaving. As if they’d learned NOTHING about the Red Sox and late innings. It really felt like we were doomed, but you JUST DON’T LEAVE. You don’t do that at Fenway. I don’t care where you parked.

And then, at the beginning of the bottom of the eighth, I mention, “Hey, if they climb back into this thing, it could come down to Papelbon vs. A-Rod,” not knowing that Papelbon wasn’t available for the game. The INSANE series of hits off of Rivera, and the sight of that ball beyond Doug Meintkiewicz’s reach, from the bat of OH MY GOD, Coco Crisp is a real professional baseball player all of the sudden. Alex Cora? I like him. I’ve always liked him, sort of the way I liked Dave McCarty. So this Alex Cora-driven game-winning RBI thing is a very nice thing. Like that Dave McCarty triple I’m so proud of, like he’s my buddy or something. The right field roof deck, above us, was shaking in a scary sort of way. I’d never looked up in previous moments like that, and I never will again. Thoughts of your mortality don’t mingle well with the excitement of the big inning.

And then Okajima. I was seated next to a Japanese man who was absolutely silent and calm through the whole game. He’d occasionally smile when a Yankees batter would strike out, but that was it. And then he heard me say, “That’s not Papelbon. Is it Piniero? No… no, I think it’s Okajima.” The dude SWIVELED and jumped from his chair. Seriously. The camera came out, and his smile was enormous. He told me, “Boston doesn’t know him. He’s stingy. He’ll be very good.”

That last out, you’d think it was an ALCS game, the way everybody at Fenway was acting, including me. Seriously. That was some exciting stuff.

Much less exciting, at least on the face of it: I’m going to Tuesday’s highly anticipated Tavarez/Halladay rematch. You know, America’s greatest pitching rivalry?

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Sweep!

So I woke up this morning furious with Manny. Completely furious. I think my first conscious thought was “Goddamn it, Manuel. I know you’re not paid for your defense but Christ, man, just because you hit a bomb doesn’t give you the right to hand out errors like they’re bobbleheads on promotion night.”

See, what had happened, near as I could figure, was that I went to bed, content in the Sox 3-game sweep of the Yankees and in the latest win against the one they call Chase Wright. But somewhere, in the not nearly enough hours of sleep I got, my brain twisted it around and I had a dream about the Sox hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs (talk about make believe), but that Manny also made a crucial late game error, misplayed a ball A-Rod hit into left and was responsible for the Sox losing the game and A-Rod being the hero and six more weeks of winter. But now, in the light of day, I see that didn’t happen. Right? But apparently Tek got in on the hit parade as well?

Now I know I’m dreaming.

But seriously, talk about heady stuff. I don’t know who this Chase Wright fellow is but I quite like him. He can stay. We might need another batting practice pitcher if Dougie’s arm gets tired. And speaking of Dougie, he and Tek now have the same number of home runs and Tek has raised his average to a quite respectable .265. See? All he needed was a little tough love.

As for the Yankees, was it me or did Joe Torre look like he was having a Big Think in the dugout there? Every time the camera cut to him – and that was often for the game was on Fox and it’s not a game on Fox without several shots of Joe Torre picking his nose – the man looked positively wracked with concentration. It’s April, Joe. Might be a bit too late to get out of this circus this season but I’m not sure throwing your starter into a game in relief is completely necessary. And yes, I know it was Pettitte’s throwing day and live batters are better and blah, blah, blah. I still think the move reeked of desperation.

Hey remember how when we got Josh Beckett everyone was annoyed that Mike Lowell came as part of the package deal? We envisioned him as some .180 hitting $9 million hole of black suck at third base? Years and years of “Buelly would’ve had it?” Yeah, I’d like to extend an official apology to Mike Lowell on behalf of Red Sox Nation. Our bad. You can stay. How’s that “I *heart* the Green Monster” tattoo coming along?

Good times, people. Good times. Be they real or imagined.

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