Year of the Sox

Discussing and dissecting the Boston Red Sox

Year of the Sox Fenway Park during batting practice.

Sox skipper search stumped?

November 18th, 2011 by Mark · Red Sox

It’s chaos, I tell ya. Chaos!

Dan Shaughnessy’s blathering on Boston.com about the Sox search for a new manager being in chaos. This is the kind of stuff Shank eats up. But is the search in chaos? They never made Wave ‘Em In an offer; GM Ben Cherrington was overruled by the Trio (or Lord Larry alone). Anywho, Dale Sveum is now Theo’s manager in Chicago.

So, who’s left? The word now is that Bobby Valentine is a favorite, and there may be a couple of other stealth candidates.

Oy.

If Valentine’s stint as a color announcer on ESPN is any indication, we’ll be longing for the return of Grady Little by mid-April.

On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, this guy actually made me yearn for the keen insight of Joe Morgan. I missed hearing that every pitch was a cutter. Bobby, stick to your day job as director of public safety for Stamford, Conn.

Larry, Bobby's the one on your left.
Larry, Bobby’s the one on your left.

Unfortunately, though, it seems almost inevitable that the desultory search process here in Boston might end up with Valentine (Bobby, not Karen) as the only viable choice.

Maybe that’s why the candidates for the Sox job remind me of the Republican presidential field. In this case, BobbyValentine is Mitt Romney. Is there a Gingrich (or Cain, Perry, or Bachmann???) lying in the weeds waiting for a chance at the Sox job? It’s possible.

But Lucchino likes Valentine (again, Bobby, not Karen–although, who knows, he might be big Room 222 fan)–that’s been known for a while. So, there you go. The Anyone-But-Bobby-Lobby (of which I am a charter member) might be over before it began.

Come next fall, though, we’ll see what kind of shape ole Mitt and Bobby are in.

Mr. Lucchino will see you now.

Mr. Lucchino will see you now.

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The Pats loss and more serious things–like baseball

January 17th, 2011 by Mark · 2004, Red Sox

Dan Shaughnessy says that yesterday’s Pats loss to the Jets ranks alongside the Pats loss in the Super Bowl a few years ago and the Sox loss to the Yankees in 2003. But ol’ Shank has it wrong. This is, as Bill Maher might say, a false equivalency. Like saying Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann do the same thing. A loss in the second round of the NFL playoffs is nowhere near the equivalent of a Super Bowl loss for a previously undefeated team.

Unlike the Super Bowl a few years ago, the Pats were never in the game yesterday. It was a slow, painful descent into reality. Sure, losing to the Jets hurts. And it was a hugely disappointing way to end a season that was so promising. No doubt about that. But, please, this doesn’t rise to the level of the 2003 ALCS loss–when the Sox were leading Game 7 and blew it.

Go back to the way you felt after that loss in 2003. Think about it. It was a familiar feeling, yet it was unlike any pain I’ve felt as a Sox fan. Nothing in sports felt that bad. Offices were quiet, stunned, in a state of shock the next day. That loss had an aftertaste that lingered until the Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series a year later. Some people have never quite gotten over it.

Today I’m sure there’s some water cooler talk, some typical Monday morning quarterbacking.

Maybe I’m an optimist who’s looking at the great possibilities of the new Sox team. Maybe I’m not as big a fan of football as I think I am. But this loss will evaporate in fairly short order–certainly in time for opening day.

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It’s all about the pitching

May 7th, 2010 by Mark · 2004, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Home runs, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield

Pitching it is all about.I’m sitting at my keyboard listening to the Yankees shellac the Red Sox (it’s 9-2 now), so it got me thinking about pitching.

Josh Beckett was steady until the top of the 6th inning. That’s usually what does in a pitcher. The big inning. It certainly did Beckett in tonight.

With Dice-K, it’s often the second inning–although yesterday it was the first (although he managed to get through a few more innings).

It’s much better, though, to spread the runs over an entire game.

Look at this line for a Red Sox pitcher from a while back:

5.0 IP 8 H 7 R (6 HR) 7 ER 0 BB 2 SO

First of all, what manager in their right mind would leave a pitcher like that in a game for 5 innings (it wasn’t Grady)? Second, how the heck can you win that game? Third, what pitcher has the stones to go out for 5 innings and actually win that game?

I’ll give you some hints (no, it’s not the furry chap above). It was back in the heady days following the trade of Nomar in 2004. It was an away game. It was not Curt Schilling. Nor was it Pedro.

That’s right. Tim Wakefield authored that gem. Remember it? August 8, 2004 in Detroit. Six home runs from Detroit. And the Sox still won (and Wake got the W)–11-9.

Pitching can be ugly. But it’s best to spread out the ugliness. Six hits (or home runs) in an inning can be bad. Six hits (or home runs) spread out over several innings is something you can survive.

So, Josh and Dice-K, some advice: Go ahead, give up some runs. But don’t do it all in one inning.

(The score is now 10-2.)

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The next captain of the Red Sox

May 5th, 2010 by Mark · 2004, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

This is the best quote I’ve heard in a while (from future Sox captain Dustin Pedroia about David Ortiz):

“David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him.

He’s going to come out of it. He’s had 60 at-bats. A couple of years ago I had 60 at-bats and it was me hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me, too.

Then what happened?

Laser show.”

Dustin

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Vin Scully says so long to Ernie Harwell

May 5th, 2010 by Mark · 2004, Baseball

This is a beautiful eulogy that the great Vin Scully gave about Detroit legend Ernie Harwell, even as he called the balls and strikes in the Dodger game last night.

Here’s the text:

I have a problem and I hope you will understand and bear with me.

One of the finest men we have ever met and a great broadcaster, he’s in the Hall of Fame, Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Tigers for so many years, who started with the Dodgers broadcasting in 1948, passed away today.

The strike two pitch is outside, ball one.

But there’s a great story about Ernie, who came to the Dodgers in 1948 and ’49, then he went to the Giants, and then he was with the Detroit Tigers from 1960 to 1991, and from 1993 through 2002.

The pitch to Reed Johnson is down and away.

So I really want to salute him and at the same time I don’t want to get in the way of the ballgame, so see if we can possibly do both.

Two-and-two the count to [Reed] Johnson.

Before Ernie Harwell ever made it to the big leagues, he established a record, as Reed hits it foul down the line.

What happened was, in 1948, the Dodgers were in Pittsburgh on an off-day. Red Barber was going to play golf at the Pittsburgh Field Club, and instead he hemorrhaged and was rushed to an emergency hospital, and the Dodgers had one announcer — a good one — by the name of Connie Desmond. But one announcer with a full season ahead is pretty tough.

Two-two pitch is high, ball three.

Now, Branch Rickey, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers, had a friend by the name of Arthur Mann, who ran the Atlanta Crackers in the Sally league. So Branch Rickey called Arthur Mann and said, “I need your announcer.” And Arthur Mann said, “I need a catcher.”

Here’s the three-two pitch coming up to Reed Johnson. Fastball lifted back of first, down the line. A trio of Brewers, it’ll be the right fielder Corey Hart making the play, and we have one out.

So a deal was set up. The Dodgers sent a catcher, Clint Dapper, to Atlanta. And the Atlanta club sent Ernie Harwell to the Brooklyn Dodgers. So Ernie was the first and only baseball broadcaster to be involved in a trade.

He was such a lovely man, everybody loved Ernie, and eventually he just stole the hearts of everybody in Detroit and the state of Michigan, and for that matter anybody who loved baseball.

Russell Martin takes high, ball one, one and oh.

Ernie was blessed, I mean really blessed. He lived to be 91, and he was married for over 67 years, to the same lady by the name of Lulu.

There’s a ground ball to short. Up to get it is Escobar, takes care of Martin. So we have two down in the first inning.

Well, Ernie passed away just about two hours ago or thereabouts. I never could say God bless you to Ernie because God had blessed him indeed. And from what I heard, the last time I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, he was ready to go. He was totally and completely at peace. You and I should be that lucky.
So anyway, we say goodbye to Ernie today. Detroit’s in Minnesota. I wish they’d been at home, but they weren’t. And we have lost a very dear, gentle soul, Ernie Harwell.

Okay, two out, first inning, no score….

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Dave Roberts has lymphoma

May 3rd, 2010 by Mark · 2004, Dave Roberts

Dave makes the steal.
Dave Roberts, the reason why the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004–even without getting a hit–has lymphoma. But, according to AP, he has a good prognosis.

“I expect to beat this fully,” the AP reported Roberts telling journalists during a conference call Monday.

Dave Roberts beats the throw to second base
It’s hard to doubt Dave, who brings to mind maybe the most iconic moment in a Red Sox game ever.

Go ahead, argue with me (I know the moment wasn’t in the WS, but without it, they wouldn’t have gotten there), but it’s hard to find a more important play. It’s the biggest single moment ever for the Red Sox.

Bigger than Pudge coaxing that long ball around the left field foul pole.

Bigger than the bloody sock.

It’s simply the reason they won.

Dave, we’re with you. You’ll beat it just like you beat that throw from Jorge Posada.

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Red Sox Spring Training Day 4

March 12th, 2010 by Derek · 2004, Heidi Watney, Josh Beckett, Spring Training

The final (photos) installment from my Spring Training trip this year…will try to get some additional video up soon.  Click on Heidi to see the set.  The good weather continued for our final day in the Fort.  Again, it’s a bit early for much in the way of news.  The Sox won in dramatic walk-off fashion, and most of the starters were in (see the lineup card photo in the set).  Beckett looked

Cards vs Sox

YearoftheSox.com...Heidi's favorite blog. As far as you know.

solid in 3 innings of work, and most of the offense came late from the minor leaguers and non-roster invitees including a 3 run dong courtesy of my and Chad Northrup’s new favorite Iglesias, Jose “Don’t call me Julio” (the Red Sox top shortstop prospect).

Heidi Watney was also in the house to cover the event (and, frankly, to be seen I think). She was actually signing autographs. Welcome to the modern Red Sox marketing machine. We’re a long way from Bob Montgomery on TV 38.

If you do go down there, be sure to head out to the new(ish) centerfield bleachers. They’re not nearly as large or as nice as some others (Charlotte Sports Park where the Devil Rays train comes to mind), but it’s got a spacious concourse, dedicated food and beer stands (including Narragansett (*gag*) and Shipyard Export Ale on tap), and looks down right on top of the visiting bullpen where you can practically reach out and touch the visiting team’s starting battery as they warm up prior to game time (see the flickr set for a few photos of what that looks like). Unless you have tickets out there, you might not think to go out pre-game, but it’s worth doing.

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Spring Training 2010 Day 3

March 12th, 2010 by Derek · 2004, New York Yankees, Spring Training, Twins

More photos from Day 3 of the trip (click the photo to see the entire set on flickr), this time from the *gack* defending world champion New York Yankees’ trip to Hammond Stadium to play the Twins.  It was a beautiful day, finally seasonably warm after an extended cold snap (for Florida). Hammond stadium also features one very colorful beer vendor who will hawk his wares to visiting fans as [insert name of visiting team here] beers. So “Yankee beers” were being proffered

Yankees vs Twins

Surprised you can count that high...

throughout the game, along with the question when the sacks were juiced, “the BASES are loaded…how about YOU?!” Great stuff that you really only see at spring training or at minor league parks.

The Yankee faithful were there in great numbers, replete in their commemorative gear (reminding you not only that they’re world champs, but also how many times they’ve won over the years), sitting in better seats than the one they had tickets for until they got kicked out, and generally being ignored by their players.

That is, of course, until a Twins grand slam put them down 8-0 at which point they all rose as one to head for the exits in an impressive mass display of front-runnerism. It was a beautiful thing.

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Thanks, Nomar

March 10th, 2010 by Mark · 2004, Nomar

NomarWhen I learned Nomar was signing a one-day contract with the Sox so he could retire as a Sox player, I was suddenly flooded with great memories.

Remember his 30th birthday on July 23rd, 2002, when he hit 3 home runs against Tampa? That’s a highlight for me. Remember 2003 when he was struggling in the playoffs against he Yankees? He hit a triple (I think it was in game 6; I refuse to acknowledge game 7) and he stood on the third-base bag with the weight of the world off his shoulders.

Of course, most people remember the Nomar who stood alongside Jeter and A-Roid only a few short years ago–as an elite, future hall of famer. He’s not going to the hall of fame. But we can hold him in our memories–quirky at-bat rituals and all–and remember the good times, not the sullen guy who just wanted out.

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Report from the Fort Update

March 9th, 2010 by Derek · 2004, Uncategorized

Back in Boston after an abbreviated (and earlier than usual) trip this year down to Spring Training. During the trip I was hit by a pretty nasty stomach virus, but didn’t miss a game. It did cause some setbacks on the blogging front, but hey, I’m sure our loyal reader(s) is/are happy for whatever they can get from the dawn of the baseball season.

Lackey's First Outing as a Red Sox 4

Lackey brings it for the Red Sox now!

It’s still about a week before I usually go down for my first game (which is frankly a better time to go down as the starters are getting more playing time and you can get a better sense for how they’ll start the season…unless your a complete roto-nerd and you want to see how people with high uniform numbers look getting mowed down).

Plenty of photos on flickr from this day which you can view by clicking the photo of Lackey above or by following this link.

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