Podcasts of the Week Ending July 7

Podcast of the Week returns!  Here are five podcasts from the past week that I think are worth listening to.

The Memory Palace :: The Taking of Tom Sawyer Island

That time when the counterculture Yippies attempted a hostile takeover of the land.  Disneyland to be specific.  Except only about 200 of them showed and half of them were there for a goof. What a long strange monorail trip it’s been.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: red, white, and brew

Home brewing is a big thing these days, among a stereotypical group of white men, but has a long history in the United States among women, enslaved people, and immigrants.

WBUR The Artery :: Stacks Of Books, But Short On Cash: New England’s Public Libraries Face Funding Troubles

Libraries are used to tightening the belt financially, but in these days of Federal and state cuts they are facing unprecedented struggles.

DecodeDC :: DC History 101, Swamps and Scandals Then and Now

The history of Washington, DC, built on an actual swamp, and how the development of the city reflects the views of the ruling parties over time.

ESPN 30 for 30Yankees Suck

Here’s a new podcast based on ESPN’s successful television sports documentaries.  This episode covers the history of the notorious Red Sox fan chant and how a bunch of hardcore punks made a profitable business out of selling t-shirts emblazoned “Yankees Suck!”  Brings back good memories of late 90s Red Sox games.



Blogging from A to Z Challenge: N is for Ninth #atozchallenge

I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

“N” is for Ninth Inning.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel works on saving the Sox 4-3 Patriots Day game victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Photopost: Baseball, Rainbows, & Fireworks

On Saturday, my family spent 7 hours at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI and we didn’t even see a baseball game!  We started with a free on-field clinic for the kids with PawSox coaches and players as instructors.  Then we settled onto a blanket on the grassy berm in centerfield and waited for the game to start, the kids getting batting practice balls tossed to them by a Buffalo Bisons pitcher.  But just as the game was set to begin, a torrential downpour swept through, and we huddled under a tent with scores of other fans to wait it out.  A beautiful rainbow graced the heavens after the storm, but the field was flooded and it took a long time to determine if it would be safe to play.  The game was postponed, but the superhero-themed fireworks went ahead as scheduled. All in all, a dramatic day at the ballpark!


Book Review: Bambino by Tom Bruno

Author: Tom Bruno
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2012

The Curse of the Bambino is noted throughout New England as a reason why the Red Sox failed to win the World Series for 85 years.  But what if it was a literal curse cast by a demon who took the form of Babe Ruth.  That’s the premise of this horror novella that brings together a Fenway Park hot dog vendor, MIT professors, and a piano from the bottom of a pond to break the curse  for good.  It’s short and simple with a few flashes of humor.
Recommended booksThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King , The Technologists by Matthew Pearl and A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell
Rating: **1/2

Photopost: Red Sox at Fenway Park

My son Peter and I took in our first Red Sox game of the season on April 7th versus the Texas Rangers. While the 2013 champions have struggled early on, we were treated to a thrilling 5-1 victory. Yes, it was April baseball, as both teams had a passed ball and an error, and probably deserved some more errors. But a win’s a win. As an extra bonus, we received a David Ortiz bobblehead upon entering. And since Peter is now a member of Kid Nation, we were allowed to enter the ballpark early and watch the Red Sox batting practice from the Green Monster seats, which was pretty awesome.

Movie Review: Knuckleball! (2012)

Title: Knuckleball
Release Date: 18 September 2012
Director: Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg
Production Co: Break Thru Films and Major League Baseball Productions
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary | Sports | Baseball
Rating: ****

The knuckleball is baseball’s most enigmatic pitch.  Despite its name, it is thrown with the finger tips and unlike any other pitch it prevents the ball from rotating.  This makes the ball move in unpredictable ways that it make the knuckleball difficult to hit.  Yet that unpredictably has a way of coming back to haunt the pitcher, so there are few pitchers who risk using it.  This documentary follows the 2011 season of the only two knuckleball pitchers in Major League Baseball at that time: Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox (now retired) and R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets (now with the Toronto Blue Jays).  These are also two of my all-time favorite pitchers.  The documentary does a good job of explaining the mechanics of the knuckleball and how knuckleball pitchers are treated as an oddity in the baseball community.  It also has some excellent archival footage of the lives and careers of Wakefield and Dickey. If there’s one thing that could improve the movie is to not have so many talking heads and clips of baseball commentators repeating the same basic facts about the knuckleball and perhaps delve into the science and history of the pitch a bit more.

Red Sox are the 2013 World Series Champions

For the third time in ten years, the Red Sox are the World Series Champions.  I’ve watched the Red Sox play in four World Series in my lifetime, and although I rooted for the opposing team in 1986, I’ve been firmly behind the Red Sox in the most recent three.  The 2004 World Series saw the end of the drought of 86 years without a championship (despite coming close several times) and the 2007 team proved that it was not a fluke.  The 2013 championship seems all the more special because it proves the resilience of the team coming back from a losing season in 2012 and a bad finish the year before that.

I particularly enjoyed this season because my 6 y.o. son Peter is a big baseball fan and devoted to the Red Sox.  We attended five game this season – four at Fenway and one at Yankee Stadium – and the Red Sox won them all (Peter’s lifetime record is a remarkable 9-1).  We also listened to games as Peter drifted off to sleep each night, so I’ve found myself following the team and getting to know the players much better than I have in many years.  The World Series victory came the day before Halloween when Peter dressed as his favorite player, Stephen Drew, and two days before his 6th birthday.

On Saturday, I took Peter to see the Red Sox Rolling Rally in the morning and then we had his birthday party in the afternoon, perhaps the best day of his life.  The Duck Boat Parade was a joyous occasion, and it was great to see so many happy people filling the streets of Boston to celebrate just six months after the atrocities on Patriots Day.  While we watched from Tremont Street opposite Boston Common, there was a moving tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Boyslton Street.

Below are my pictures of the parade.  It was a fun day, and I hope we get to do it again.

Related Posts:

Football at Fenway

Last night, the beautiful game and a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark came together for the Fenway Football ChallengeCeltic Football Club of Glasgow and Sporting Clube de Portugal of Lisbon met for the first soccer game in Fenway Park since 1968.  I didn’t even hear of the event until Monday, but immediately found myself a ticket for this can’t-miss game once I heard of it.

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The Red Sox and the Fenway Park staff set up everything perfectly.  First, the choice of teams was inspired as it represented two of the Boston area’s largest ethnic groups the Portuguese and the Irish (while Celtic is a Scottish team they are strongly identified with Irish Catholics in Scotland, Ireland, and around the world).  I also like that they set up supporters’ sections for each team behind the goal lines.  I sat in the neutral section close to the Sporting supporters section and there were partisans of both sides all around me.  As a true neutral I rooted for a good game and for all the goals to be scored in the net near my seat.  As luck would have it, all but one goal would take place right in front of me.

The seating for the game was a bit awkward for soccer, although there are many seats at Fenway that are also awkward for baseball.  The pitch looked alarmingly small too.  There didn’t seem to be a midfield and goal kicks looked like they would soar into the opposing stands.  I read after the game that the field was only 98 meters long, short of the standard 110 meters.

I had an excellent front row seat just behind one of the corners in right field beyond the Pesky Pole.    The game was well-contested but scoreless until the 72 minute when Georgios Samaras (hirsutely reminiscent of Johnny Damon circa 2004) scored on a spot kick.  Hélder Postiga equalized on a gorgeous header at my end of the field ten minutes later.  That was the end of the game as far as FIFA was concerned but since they had a trophy to award the two teams participated in a penalty shootout.   All was even after five shooters per side, but then Sporting’s Liédson kicked the ball over the net and into the bullpen and Paul McGowan netted the winning goal for Celtic.

Other highlights of the game:

  • Both clubs wear a home uniform with horizontal green & white stripes.  While the Sporting players wore a navy & green away uniform, it was really hard to tell apart the fans in their replica jerseys.
  • The PA announcer introduced the starting forwards as “attackers.”  I liked that.
  • Fans were amused that the Celtic captain  is named Scott Brown, especially when he drew a yellow card.
  • Despite being a friendly there was some pushing and arguing during the match.
  • The Boston Pops played “The Star Spangled Banner” before the game.  They didn’t play the national anthems of Portugal and Scotland.  Does Scotland have a national anthem of its own?
  • Just before the game started they played “Shipping Up to Boston” on the PA system.  During the half they played “Sweet Caroline” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  After the game they played “Dirty Water” and “Tessie.”
  • The atmosphere was great but the teams’ supporters did not do European style football chants and songs.  Mostly they did variations on the Red Sox chant “Let’s Go Cel-tic!” Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

It was a fun night, and definitely should be the start of an annual tradition.  Perhaps Celtic can return to defend their title against a side from Brazil or Italy?  And maybe the Red Sox should play a baseball game at Celtic Park in Glasgow.  What I’d like even more though is if the New England Revolution build a soccer-specific stadium near public transportation in the Boston area.

Related Posts:

Fenway Park

Updating the out-of-town scoreboard is done by hand at Fenway
Updating the out-of-town scoreboard is done by hand at Fenway

On Sunday I attended my second Mets game of the month, this time a road game here at home in Boston.  It feels a bit odd to don my blue & orange hat for a trip to Fenway since I will root for the Red Sox against any other opponent.  Yet I’ve done it many times dating back to the Mets first interleague appearance in Boston back in 1998 and the games are among some of the most interesting I’ve ever seen.

Here are some highlights:

  • June 5, 1998 – Mets 9, Red Sox 2: Arguably Pedro Martinez’s worst game in his best season in that he allowed home runs to four Mets.  Martinez beaned the Mets new catcher Mike Piazza early on forcing him from the game but Piazza’s replacement Albert Castillo hit one of the home runs and scored two runs in the game.  Odd.
  • June 6, 1998 – Mets 1, Red Sox 0: The next day I didn’t have a ticket but walked up to Fenway and got one from a firefighter for $10.  You’ll never hear of anyone getting same day tickets anywhere near that price today.  Tim Wakefield pitched his heart out allowing only one hit, and lost. Brian McRae walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground out, and then scored on a balk.  And that was it! Crazy.
  • July 13, 2000 – Mets 3, Red Sox 4: Things looked good for the Mets at first as Bobby Jones of all people was able to keep pace with Pedro.  Later on odd things happened with Carl Everett and Dennis Cook (which would come to ahead two days later with a complete Everett meltdown).  A Melvin Mora error and some late-inning heroics by Brian Daubach off Armando Benitez gave the win the Red Sox.  Exciting game nonetheless.
  • June 27, 2006 – Mets 4, Red Sox 9: After a six year absence the Mets returned to Fenway on a day that was also the first time Pedro Martinez returned to Boston as a Met (and received a warm welcome when he pitched the next evening).  In a nice touch, the fans and players saluted the 1986 AL Champion Red Sox on the 20th anniversary of the year they lost the World Series to you-know-who.  There were a ton of home runs in this game, three for the Mets, but the Red Sox would score more runs by far.
  • June 29, 2006 – Mets 2, Red Sox 4: Curt Schilling pretty much shut down the Mets this evening.  This is the only occassion when I’ve encountered rude fans at Fenway as a trashy-looking woman and her teenage son shouted insults and threw peanuts at Mets fans in my sections (although for some reason they left me alone).  This game sewed up a sweep for the Sox and at the time it looked like they were bound for the postseason and the Mets were fading, but in the end it was the the Mets who reached the playoffs that season.

The grounds crew to the rescue!
The grounds crew to the rescue!

Sunday’s game was interesting as well partly because a thunderstorm pelted the field with rain and hail in first inning.  Fans ooh-ed and aah-ed as lighting struck buildings in nearby Back Bay.  I sat in the family section in left field near the Green Monster, safely ensconced under the roof.  So I had a good dry view of the heroic grounds crew as they rushed to get the already sodden field covered with a tarp.  It was also amusing to watch the people in the front rows evacuate their seats.  On the scoreboard they showed a video of a couple of guys lip-syncing Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it on the Rain” and dancing with the Wally the Green Monster in a rain slicker.  Turns out the “two guys” are Red Sox pitchers Jonathon Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen which further proves that I can never recognize athletes when not in uniform.  Anyhow, it’s pretty funny and you can watch it below:

When play resumed, things looked good for the Mets as they took a lead into the fifth inning and seemed in control of the game.  And then the Red Sox batters made mincemeat of the Mets bullpen – especially Brian Stokes – and just kept hitting and hitting and hitting.  Oh well, it turned out to be a lovely day and while some blokes lamely tried to heckle Gary Sheffield, I sat among some friendly fans.  Which is good because we’re all squished together in that special Fenway way.

Luis Castillo dances off second when things were going well for the Mets
Luis Castillo dances off second when things were going well for the Mets

I’ve been visiting Fenway Park pretty much every year since 1997, and it just gets bigger – more seats, more concourse, more concessions, and more ads (which add some nice color) – but the seats are still narrow as can be.  All the changes have been for the better improving what was already one of the best ballparks in baseball (although at least the Mets have something comparable now).  I look forward to going back for a game when I can root for the Sox.

More pictures from the game in my ballgames photo album.

A mound conference when things were going poorly for the Mets
A mound conference when things were going poorly for the Mets

Book Review: Becoming Manny by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg

When Manny Ramirez played in Boston, I enjoyed watching him play and always thought he got a raw deal from the Red Sox fans & media who accused him of being selfish, lazy, and disruptive (among other things I can’t print here).  I always got the sense that Manny was shy and just wanted to play baseball well and not deal with the stresses of public scrutiny, which I can find understandable.  Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger (2009) by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg confirms my understanding of Manny, although my esteem for him has fallen since he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (ill-timed for the release of this book as well).

Still this is a well-written and informative biography, especially the parts about Manny’s early years before he reached the major leagues.  Rhodes is a psychologists and offers some great insights through he lens of Manny Ramirez of children of immigrants, the extremes of poverty and strong community in inner-city neighborhoods, and the life of youth athletes.  There is a special emphasis on coaches teachers, and friends who mentor young athletes.  In Manny’s case there are older and wiser men to guide him through most of his life, most importantly Carlos “Macaco” Ferreira a Little League coach and lifelong friend.

Manny-lovers and more importantly Manny-haters should check this book out.  It’s an excellent example of baseball biography at it’s best.

Becoming Manny : inside the life of baseball’s most enigmatic slugger / Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009.
ISBN: 9781416577065
Description:304 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed.

Time Begins … and I almost missed it

One of the best observed … but not official … national holidays occurred this week, and I almost neglected to write about it.  I refer of course to my annual post waxing rhapsodic about Opening Day in Major League Baseball.  It’s a day of hope and possibility, and since my two favorite teams won yesterday and today, hope flourishes.  Since rain delayed Opening Day at Fenway until today I can also be excused for my delay.

I’m not one for hot stove league discussion, and Spring Training barely excites me, so opening day kind of snuck up on me.  I do feel ashamed that I didn’t watch a single of the World Baseball Classic because I really enjoyed the premiere edition of that international competition back in 2006.  I guess there are many things that kept me away from making dates with MLB TV on my computer.  But not any more.  I expect that my teams will be in the playoffs this fall and I will watch how they get there over the next months.

Here are my 2009 season predictions or as they should be more properly termed, wild guesses.  One need only look at my 2008 predictions to see that my magic ball is broken.  I only was correct for two of the division champions (although two other teams I picked made it in as wild card winners) and I confidently stated that the Detroit Tigers would be World Series Champions.  If only.

New York Chicago Los Angeles
Philadelphia (WC) Milwaukee San Francisco
Florida Cincinnati Colorado
Atlanta St. Louis Arizona
Washington Houston San Diego
* Pittsburgh
Boston Minnesota Los Angeles of Anaheim
Tampa Bay (WC) Cleveland Oakland
New York Chicago Texas
Toronto Detroit Seattle
Baltimore Kansas City

NL Division Series:  Cubs defeat Phillies, Mets defeat Los Angeles

AL Division Series: Angels defeat Rays, Red Sox defeat Twins

NL Championship Series: Mets defeat Cubs

AL Championship Series: Angels defeat Red Sox

World Series:  Mets defeat Angels

Play Ball!


The Old Ball Game

Looking through my links on my Boston Walking Tours post I came across listings in the Historic New England calendar for vintage baseball. I’ve long wanted to check out the historic reenactment of baseball as it was played in the 19th-century.  Much better than Civil War battles, in my humble opinion.

With a little web searching I learned that there are entire leagues of vintage baseball teams in the Boston area, and the most local team (meaning I could attend games by taking the T) is the Boston Colonials.  The Boston Colonials schedule is online at their blog.  I definitely need to check that out this summer.  I’m only saddened that I missed the game on Boston Common.

Speaking of old time baseball, the 15th Annual Old Time Baseball Game in Cambridge is coming up on August 21st. This is a fun event where two teams of mainly high school players with a few celebrities thrown in play a game under modern rules but with vintage-style uniforms from several Major and Minor league teams of the past century.  It’s something worth putting on your calendar.

It’s good to have options for baseball-viewing since Red Sox tickets are too expensive and too impossible to get.  I didn’t get to Fenway once last season and doubt I will this season.  However, if I do it will probably be for the great Futures at Fenway doubleheader on August 9th.  This event features the Sox triple-A farm team the Pawtucket Red Sox and short season single-a affiliate the Lowell Spinners each playing a game against opponents from their respective leagues.  I went to this a couple of years back and it’s a great family event.  All the charm and history of Fenway with the just plain fun of Minor League baseball.

Of course my real heart’s desire is to sneak up to Lowell to see the Spinners play the baby Mets from Brooklyn on Aug. 6-8 but we’ll have to see about that.

Red Sox are the 2007 World Series Champions


Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox on their sweeping victory over the Colorado Rockies to win their second World Series title in four years. It’s always nice when the home team wins. Things were different this year from 2004. That year Susan and I watched the game at a pub in Somerville and even though the Red Sox swept the Cardinals, that final game still felt very tense. The weight of history was on everyone’s backs, even a couple of interlopers from Connecticut and Michigan. This year since we’re on on the baby clock we listened to the game at home on the radio. The final game had an air of inevitability to it, but I’m sure was still a joy to the many young players on the Red Sox and long time fans who had many years of disappointments got to double their pleasure.

It is disappointing that the World Series was not more exciting from a pure baseball standpoint. One has to give a lot of credit to the Rockies for their exciting stretch drive, come-from-behind win over the Padres in the Wild Card playoff, and unprecedented 7-0 streak through the National League divisional champion series. As a National League partisan, I bristle at any suggestion that the NL Champions are of a lesser caliber, even when they were swept. I think it’s just that the Red Sox were just that good, the best team in baseball this season, and the deserving World Series Champions.

I also have to give credit to the great Rockies’ fans who cheered and chanted right to the end of game #4. That kind of spirit is actually what drew me to Mets fandom, since once-upon-a-time Mets fans would chant “Lets Go Mets” (unprompted by the PA) even when the team was down in the late innings. Judging by this September, I guess if the Mets had made it to the World Series this season and found themselves in the same circumstances as the Rockies, Shea Stadium would be full of booing and expletives shouted at the Mets. It’s nice that the spirit of “Ya Gotta Believe” lives on somewhere. Here’s another Mets’ fan view from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

It’s a credit to the Red Sox management and players that they’ve been able to win two championships so close together. They are a well-engineered team that play together well (and yes, also have a lot of money). I think this proves false the snarky comments that the 2006 Red Sox late season collapse was due to the team not keeping many of the veterans of 2004 (also a ray of optimism for fans of a certain team that collapsed in 2007 that 2008 may be brighter). It also is the death-knell to any talk of a curse and “wait ’til 2090” (although maybe the Red Sox can only win championships in the first two decades of a given century). As I wrote at the beginning of the season, the Red Sox from 1967-2003 were not a bad team but a very good team that somehow finished 2nd place to some johnny-come-latelies and suffered unlikely losses when they did make it to the postseason, while during the same period some less consistent franchises won 2-3 championships. I think the laws of probability have caught up with the Red Sox.

More Red Sox coverage:

  • Curt Schilling gives credit to God
  • People who bought furniture at Jordan’s Furniture last spring are getting their money back
  • The victory parade will be Tuesday at noon
    • Jonathon Papelbon will do his victory jig during the parade according to Mayor Menino: “He promised the people he would do the dance,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said today at a press conference at City Hall, “and he will do the dance.” It’s nice that he did not do on the Rockies home field.

And now there’s no more baseball.  It’s always hard to adjust to not having baseball games as part of the daily rhythmn of life.  Rogers Hornsby put it best:

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

The Red Sox Win The Pennant

Congratulations to the home town team (and hey now that I live in Boston proper, they are my home town team) on winning the American League pennant.  In their usual Red Sox manner they went down 3 games to 1 to the Indians before coming back to win it all (and you can see that I called it last Wednesday on Universal Hub).  After 7.5 innings of tense baseball action, the Sox stripped away all the drama and pounded the Indians 11-2.

Curt Schilling gives credit for the series win to Josh Beckett, the MVP of the series.

Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing pays tribute to the Cleveland Indians as worthy postseason players.

Now the Red Sox take on the Colorado Rockies who haven’t lost back-to-back games since about a week before the autumnal equinox (not to mention haven’t even played a game in over a week).  This should make for an exciting series which is desperately needed in this 2007 postseason of sweeps (excepting of course the ALCS).

I’ll be rooting for the Sox of course as my home town team, my favorite American League team, and 2nd-favorite team overall. I also want to the Red Sox win because of all the commentary after 2004 that said that they wouldn’t win again until 2090 and that they failed in 2006 because they got rid of their best players (as if Johnny Damon, Derek Lowe, and Kevin Millar were the only ones who could win a championship).  It was as if even though they broke the “curse” talk of the curse wouldn’t go away.  I’d like to see the curse die once and for all.  There are no curses in baseball.

Let’s go Red Sox!

Home Openers

The Mets began their 44th and penultimate season at Shea Stadium in a winter chill yesterday against division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies. After losing two games to the Braves they should have won, karmic reordering saw to it that the Mets defeated the Phillies despite doing everything in their power to lose. This includes John Maine pitching only 4.2 innings after allowing a home run a career high 6 walks. Then Willie Randolph headscratchingly leftAmbiorox Burgos in to pitch to MVP slugger Ryan Howard with two on and a base open (Howard took him deep). Somehow the Phillies fell apart in the late innings with an error, a wild pitch, poor relief pitching, and all around sloppy play to allow the Mets to turn the game into a laugher.

I have to admit that I took pleasure in Jimmy “We’re the team to beat in the NL East” Rollins’ error that opened the floodgates. This is the type of thing that could help create a deep-seeded rivalry between the two clubs and their fans. Major League Baseball has some great rivalries in the Red Sox-Yankees, Cubs-Cardinals, and Giants-Dodgers, but the Mets have never had a longstanding rivalry. There were some good times between the Mets and Cubs in 1969 & 1984 (how likely is that two franchises with histories of futility managed to have coinciding great years twice in a fifteen year period?), the Mets and Cardinals 1985-87, and the Mets and Braves on and off since 1997. By regional proximity though, the Phillies should be the Mets natural rival. Should the Phillies recover from their bad start this could be the start of something big. Even better would be the Mets, Phillies, and Nationals fighting a three-way battle year after year for NL East primacy (with the Mets finishing first each time, of course).

By the way, I found this awesome blog post that offers a Mets season preview from the perspective of Lou Reed.

Players of the game (I award up to ten points, maximum of 6 points to one player, distributed among the Mets players who had the biggest impact in the game):

Phillies 5, Mets 11: Box Score

  • Alou 1
  • Beltran 1
  • Delgado 2.5
  • Feliciano .50
  • Franco .50
  • LoDuca .50
  • Reyes 1.5
  • Smith .50
  • Valentin 1
  • Wagner .50
  • Wright .50

The Red Sox began their home season today with their 96th home opener at Fenway Park. I saw fans in their Red Sox gear on the T at 10 am, and I think the game was worth getting there early for.The day began with a salute to the Impossible Dream team that won the AL Pennant in 1967. That team was a big turning point in Red Sox history coming at a point when they were a cellar-dwelling franchise in decline. A lot of Boston’s reputation as a great sports’ town with die-hard Red Sox fans developed only in the last 40 years. During this time the Red Sox have an incredible record of consistency, finishing with a losing record only 4 times in that period, winning 90 games or more 11 times, finishing in 2nd place 12 times, winning the AL East title 5 times, playing in the post-season 11 times, and earning four American League pennants. I think the real statistical improbability is that the Red Sox have only one World Series Championship to show for their forty years of excellence while several woefully inconsistent franchises like the Marlins, Blue Jays, Twins, and yes, the Mets all have two in the same time period.

Today the Red Sox demolished the Mariners 14-3, and it wasn’t even that close. The Sox scored in each of the first 5 innings to build up a 13-1 lead. Surprisingly Big Papi wasn’t responsible for any home runs, extra base hits, or RBI’s in the smackdown. Josh Beckett saw to it that the big lead really wasn’t necessary by holding the Mariners to only 1 run and 2 hits over 7 innings with 8 strikeouts (including Ichiro 3 times!). Lots and lots of numbers means lots and lots of fun.

Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the mound for his Fenway debut tomorrow night. Can Boston withstand the hype?

The Bostonist today predicts five great ovations at Fenway this season and has this great shot of the Fenway seats for photo of the day.

That other team I follow

People who read this blog as one linked from Boston Blogs are probably saying “now wait just one minute…” after reading the past weeks series of Mets-related posts. Yes, I live in metro-Boston, and yes I am a lifelong Mets fans. And yes I root for the home town team too. I started following the Red Sox in 1997 about a year before I moved to the area and adopted them as my second-favorite team or favorite American League team.

I actually followed the Sox pretty obsessively through their World Series Championship season in 2004. Then in 2005 two things happened that made me less interested in Red Sox Nation. First, despite winning the World Series the whiny, defeatist, “we’re cursed” attitude did not fade away among lifelong Red Sox fans and the Boston sports media. I was particularly perturbed my the unfair and rather ungrateful treatment of Sox star slugger Manny Ramirez. Second and more vital, I started subscribing to MLB.TV and thus could watch Mets games at home for the first time in 15 years. Since MLB.TV blocks out local broadcasts it is actually now easier for me to follow the Mets than the Red Sox.

So this season is starting with a huge amount of hype for the Red Sox newly acquired pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka who led the Japanese team to victory in the World Baseball Classic last spring. I tuned into Thursday’s game on the radio for Matsuzaka’s first start as a Red Sox. First off, I miss Jerry “Waaaaay Back” Trupiano who was a lot more entertaining than the guy they got to replace him. On the other hand, at least the new guy’s voice is more distinctive from Joe Castiglione. Second, it was fun to hear about an exciting new pitcher dominating a game with ten strikeouts, even if it was against the lowly Kansas City Royals. Since Matsuzaka is universally known as Dice-K both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald went with the obvious headline of Dice-KKKKKKKKKK (as documented in the Bostonist).

Meanwhile in Metsville…

On Friday night I watched the Mets put a smackdown on a team that used to intimidate them in a place formerly known as the House of Horrors. Better yet, Oliver Perez pitched near flawlessly. In fact, he probably only left the game because the Mets batters made their half-inning go to long.

I missed Saturday’s game and seemingly coincidental the Mets four-game win streak to start the season came to an end. Alas, it was Tom Glavine who also broke the starting pitchers’ streak of allowing 1 earned run or less per game.

In the Easter Sunday afternoon finale, the Mets continued their earthward plummet by squandering a lead and leaving the population of a small city on base. It seems like old times in a bad way as the Mets struggle in the House of Horrors and the Braves are in first place in the NL East.

Players of the game (I award up to ten points, maximum of 6 points to one player, distributed among the Mets players who had the biggest impact in the game).

April 6: Mets 11, Braves 1

Box Score

  • Alou 1
  • Beltran 1
  • Green 1.5
  • Perez 3
  • Reyes 3
  • Wright .50

April 7: Mets 3, Braves 5

Box Score

  • Delgado 2
  • Glavine .50
  • Green 1.5
  • LoDuca 1.5
  • Reyes 1.5
  • Schoenweis 1

April 8: Mets 2, Braves 3

Box Score

  • Castro 2
  • Franco .50
  • Green 2
  • OHernandez 3
  • Reyes .50
  • Schoenweis .50
  • Wright .50

Funny Cuz It’s True Dept.

It tickles my funny bone when someone else makes an observation on a situation that is similar to my own.

This Unshelved strip takes on fibbers in the library. I’m pretty sure Unshelved has used that same punchline “We really just want the book back” before, but I can totally relate to being in a situation where a patron is prevaricating and I just don’t want to hear their story.

Meanwhile, Dustinland deals with luxury condos. Have you ever noticed that all condos these days are luxury? I’d really be happy to find a no-frills condo or a necessity condo myself.

EDIT. More funny cuz it’s true:  Eric Wilbur’s Boston Sports Blog on one of the great baseball cliches and other Opening Day absurdities.

Not true but still funny is the dream I had last night. I can’t remember all the details but I was at a backyard cookout and one of the guests was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Contrary to his public persona, Reznor was actually a pretty mellow, happy-go-lucky guy who kept running into the house to help out in the kitchen and pass around potato salad to other guests. Another part of the dream involved a former roommate of mine swinging from power lines like an acrobat (and not getting electrocuted) which greatly impressed Mia Hamm. And so my sleeping life continues to be more interesting than my conscious life.


There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to face the fact that their childhood heroes are fallible. Sure they always seem happy and humble in accepting the adoration of their fans. But there’s always that point where there head gets too big and they descend into debauchery and have their photos splashed across the tabloids. I mean we kind of expected this of Lindsay Lohan, but Mr. Met, how could you?

Mr. Met Gone Wild

Now, the PR spin is that Mr. Met was on Bourbon Street merely to promote the Mets new affiliation with the New Orleans Zephyrs AAA team. But I’ve been to the French Quarter. I look at the picture and I hear I Mr. Met shouting in a slurred voice, “Hey b*****, show us your t***!”

And that unsavory character with Mr. Met is Boudreaux D. Nutria.  I don’t think nutria are the type of element Mr. Met should be among. My mother-in-law once had a dream that Susan was trapped in a house surrounded by nutria. And Susan’s parents had to hire an old-time cowboy star to rescue Susan. But on the way my father-in-law and the cowboy star stopped for North Carolina barbecue. Now that may be a big tangent, but it tells you one thing: nutria are not to be trifled with!

The other heartbreaking aspect of all this is that the Norfolk Tides ran off with the Baltimore Orioles. During my years in Virginia, the Tides were my connection to baseball and the Mets. And now their 38-year affiliation is no more. I remember going to Tides games and watching up & coming players like Bobby Jones, Jason Isringhausen, Benny Agbayani, and Roberto Petagine.

I also attended the AAA All-Star Game at Norfolk’s Harbor Park in 1998. The day before the game there was a meet & greet autograph session with all the players. My favorite part was a little boy named Archer, about five years old, who was eagerly trying to track down Red Sox prospect Trot Nixon. Archer didn’t even like Red Sox, he just wanted to get the autograph for his grandfather. How heartwarming!

I’ve been fond of Trot Nixon ever since then because of Archer, not to mention that Nixon is a great player who hustles a lot. Trot & I ended up in Boston around the same time and he’s been a fan favorite all these years. But not anymore! Nixon is an Indian.

Oh, what a world, what a world. I think I’ll slink off to listen to some Morrisey albums and wallow in my disillusionment.

Blog Overlap

Now that I’ve started actually reading the blogs in my blogroll, I’m finding it interesting to see my interests represented in the least likely places.

For example, whoda thunk that Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog would contain a positive review of Battlestar Galactica?

Battlestar Ecclesiastica
by Johannes Wycliffe

In this boke of science ficcion, a man ycleped Wycliffe is the bishop of the gret chirche of Seynt Paules, the which is lyk vnto a mighty shippe and kan moue thurgh the voyde of the planetes. Al othir chirches on the earth haue ben destroyed by the deuil and his feendes, who haue taken on the visages of men and look exactlie lyk friares. Ther is a mighti ladye of feyth called Margery Starbaxter, who ys a loyal warryour for the chirche and sleyeth the friares. And eek ther ys a traytour named Belshazzar who doth see visions of a sexie friar yn his heed who telleth hym to betraye the goode folke of Seynt Paules. Sum oon nedeth to jump on this sucker and turne hit in to a series of television.

Similarily, Googling God is not the first place I’d expect to see a post on the 1986 Mets. I have to say it warms my heart to learn that Mike Hayes — whom I’ve grown fond of while listening to his work the Busted Halo podcast — states he’s a Mets fan.

I learned a little while back that Josh of Comics Curmudgeon is also a Mets fan. Perhaps that is the undiscovered connection among great bloggers everywhere: a love for the Mets. If so it makes for good tidings for my own efforts.

Complaints Choirs

I heard about this on PRI’s The World: Global Hit podcast. Basically people take all their complaints, set them to music, and then sing about them. You can read more about at the website Complaint Choirs of the World.

The trend of complaining seems to be suitable to gloomy places like Birmingham and Helsinki, but I do wonder about the singing history of those places. The Boston/Cambridge area is known for both endless complaining and sing-a-longs at the drop of the hat. I think a complaints choir is a perfect match. Well not to perfect, I mean nothings perfect, not in a world where the Red Sox can’t even sign Daisuke Matsuzaka without things going to hell, where the Big Dig will never be finished and if it is it will just leak and collapse, and we have to shovel our cars out of two feet of snow and Jesus feckin’ Christ did ya hear about….