Thursday, April 30, 2009

Everyday

Games 20 & 21 - Red Sox

Indians 9, Red Sox 8
Red Sox 6, Indians 5 (10)
Record: 14-7

As @beardoftruth eloquently noted on Twitter this morning, "And for an encore, Van Every will save 27 orphans from a burning building, while helping an old woman cross the street, making a quiche."

Yea, verily, boys and girls, I will learn one of these days to stop doubting this early-season Sox squadron's capability to manufacture good from bad. If the President had their turnaround skills, we'd all be driving American-made plug-in hybrids on the way to our $250,000/year jobs in the healthcare industry within a few weeks. The Sox managed to transform a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 last night, as Jonathan Van Every sparked a makeshift lineup by singling in a run during an 8th inning rally, clouting a 10th inning homer to provide the winning margin, and making several sparking plays in rightfield. Not bad for a late replacement for the banged-up J.D. Drew.

Kevin Youkilis joined Drew on the bench, leaving the Sox with a 7-9 of Jason Varitek, Van Every, and Nick Green. Murderer's Row, it wasn't. And with Jon Lester's command as fuzzy as his lastnamesake's memory of this weekend's events, it seemed as though the Sox were on their way to their first series loss in a fortnight. As has happened so many times with Terry Francona's squads, though, the Sox righted the ship, shut the Indians down, and chipped their way back. I'm used to it by now, I guess, but that doesn't make it any less fun.

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Game 21 - Mets

Marlins 4, Mets 3
Record: 9-12

Squandered starting pitching performance, blown save and a loss by the 'pen, wasted offensive opportunities, lack of clutch anything, manager questioned after the game about a decision, fans' malaise, losing to the Marlins, losing another series, guys in the lineup who have no business being guys in the lineup, wondering when the good Mets are going to show up?

Seen it. I don't really need to retype my thoughts, do I? Check out our back pages for that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

9-11 Is a Joke

Games 15 through 20 - Mets

Cardinals 12, Mets 8
Mets 4, Nationals 3
Mets 8, Nationals 2
Nationals 8, Mets 1
Mets 7, Marlins 1
Marlins 7, Mets 4
Record: 9-11

My insight has less depth than Rob's, since I saw not one frame of Metball whilst relaxing in the Crescent City. I caught scores of the first two victories over the Nats and nodded: as it should be. I read of Ollie Perez's further removal from anything related to a return on investment and shook my head. Taking two of three from the gNats is underachieving for just about any team.

David Wright's penchant for the whiff is going to new lengths; when your SO total approaches your Total Bases tally, things aren't quite clicking. My idea that he should take BP off Ollie Perez hasn't been met with much support. Most folks think Ollie would plunk Dee-Dub or at least get him swinging at wild pitches even more frequently. I sort felt like it might boost his confidence, and/or he'd hit a comebacker that would let Omar off the hook.

Carlos Delgado's hip. Luis Castillo's spasms. Alex Cora and Fernando Tatis getting more at-bats. The pen blowing up a la 2008 and prior. Groan.

Omir Santos. Santana throwing today. Sigh.

9-11 is embarrassing. Be better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don't Love Jesus

Games 16 through 19 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (11)
Red Sox 16, Yankees 11
Red Sox 4, Yankees 1
Red Sox 3, Indians 1
Record: 13-6

I just returned to the real world after a weekend spent celebrating the 40th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. You might forgive me, then, for placing Trombone Shorty, Amanda Shaw, Wilco, crawfish monica, Igor's, and Abita above the Red Sox for a few days. And the Sox seem to have done nearly as well as I did during my sabbatical, so it would seem to have been a banner weekend all the way around.

Whitney and I did manage to catch the final few frames of Sunday's game barside at Igor's, but even then, I confess to having been far more entertained by his jukebox selections than by the baseball. (Jacoby Ellsbury's baseline gamboling notwithstanding. That was pretty cool. And will likely get him a fastball in the ribs next weekend.)

My brain's still in the Big Easy, along with several million brain cells, so how 'bout we call it a wrap? The takeaway: New Orleans, awesome. Sox, playing awesome. Me, getting too old for this crap.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

House of Cards

Game 14 - Mets

Cardinals 5, Mets 2
Record: 6-8



The Saints Are Coming

Games 14 & 15 - Red Sox

Red Sox 10, Twins 1 (7)
Red Sox 7, Twins 3
Record: 9-6

New birth, rebirth, indeed. The green-trimmed togs and kelly caps donned by the Sox last night were ostensibly worn to celebrate Earth Day, but they may as well as been symbols of the Olde Towne Team's own renewal. Not much more than a week after being composted by the A's and Angels, the Sox find themselves riding a 7-game winning streak, bolstered by suddenly scorching sticks and the continued sterling performances of Tim Wakefield and the bullpen. And the loamy, fertile soil of Fenway Park. (Stretching it a bit there, perhaps?)

Wake became the oldest pitcher since Charlie Hough in the early 90s to hurl consecutive complete games, and even though yesterday's was of the 7-inning variety, it once again paid massive dividends later. The bullpen, completely rested in the first game, turned in 3 innings of hitless work in the nightcap, backing Brad Penny's good-enough 6 frames. Knock (green, healthy, living, carbon dioxide filtering) wood, but Ramon Ramirez, Takashi Saito/Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon sure look like game shorteners.

The bats stayed alive during yesterday's twinbill, as well, going long 4 times (Kevin Youkilis, Nick Green (!), Mike Lowell, and Jeff Bailey) and knocking both Minnesota starters out of the game short of the 5-inning mark. Papi ripped a pair of doubles on the day, continuing his own personal return from dormancy.

It's all enough to make a fellow breathe deep the clean, fresh air and feel alright with world.

Of course, the Yankees are coming to town tomorrow, a hypetacular pollutant that this correspondent doesn't need. And so I'm ignoring it.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Half of Team MLC is winging to New Orleans tomorrow to check out the Zephyrs and maybe catch some of JazzFest 2009. I may catch a Sox/Yanks score here or there, but it'll be coincidental, I assure you. Back next week with some largely unreadable, sleep-deprived ramblings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April Skies

Game 13 - Mets

Cardinals 6, Mets 4
Record: 6-7

Ah, the newness and freshness of springtime. Still stretching out and finding yourself in the embryonic stages of the baseball life cycle. Deep breaths of fresh air and the not-quite-dead-yet optimism of a new season.

Hoo, boy, is Jerry Manuel lucky these aren't the dog days of summer. He'd be doing a lot of updating on Monster.com today.

I'm not knee-jerkishly calling for Manuel's firing because of one game. One hideous, poorly played, head-in-their-Clavins winnable loss of a game. Much like shaving your head when you're going bald, I'm not sure it's a great idea, but I'd understand it. Jerry's just lucky he doesn't work for a certain unnamed owner whose name rhymes with Swine-tenor.

Where to begin? Omar's Choice, Oliver Perez, couldn't find the plate with a trail of bread crumbs and a series of Clue® cards, but he managed four scoreless. Then given a 4-0 lead (and remembering his allergy to lead), he couldn't get through the fifth inning, coughing it up.

Well, almost. Up 4-3 with the sacks juiced, the Mets called upon Casey Fossum to lead them out of the jam. Casey Fossum, lauded in yesteryear by my cohort across the aisle. Actually, yesteryear goes as far back as May 2003, when Rob wrote:
"Casey Fossum, clap clap clapclapclap."
Reasons for hope! If not hope, the expectation that this wouldn't happen:

Pitch 1: Ball
Pitch 2: Ball
Pitch 3: Ball
Pitch 4: Ball

. . . and I don't have the energy to describe in colorful language just how north, south, and wide of the zone these four pitches were.

4 to 4. Casey Fossum, catchthe, catchtheclap.

Then there's the fielding. Daniel Murphy, once described by at least one overeager blogger as "Golden Boy II", made another costly gaffe in left field -- one that directly led to the game-winning run. Now, one thing that might separate me from my fellow blogsmen and blogswomen is that I have been in precisely the preacarious position that the Murph found himself last night. Well-hit ball directly at you in left -- often described as the toughest ball to read, and it's exactly right. And I remember at least once that I charged in a few steps, only to realize what a pea had been struck. And I remember once in particular that I slipped on wet grass when I hit the brakes and landed flat on my back, a la young Daniel-san. I've been there, Danny Boy.

The thing is, it was softball. So the other thing is, we had four outfielders. The even other thing is, my good friend Cliff was playing left-center and had been playing alongside me for many moons, and he knew my tendencies, so he was on his horse from the crack of the bat. And he caught that ball, saving my ass.

Carlos Beltran, hamstrung by the fact that it was big league, big park baseball and too far away to save his comrade, did not catch that ball. I'm not sure he even ran in that direction; I don't remember. Teamsmanship doesn't seem to be one of this club's strong suits, as evidenced in . . .

~ segue ~

. . . baserunning! It was the topper on this night. Daniel-san was picked off in the 1st inning, a frame in which the Mets would eventually notch a few 2-out hits and plate a run. Ugh. Picked off by? Yadier Molina. Now punting into my groin, Carl Birdsong.

Several innings later, Murphy was waved home into an easy out by 3B coach Razor Shines. Razor's been pretty Bic-like thus far this year. His name is lots of fun, but here's hoping he doesn't seem quite so disposable as he does right now.

And then, the doozy. 8th inning, tie game, flyout to right, Beltran tags and advances, but the throw gets away. Razor sends him home, and Beltran races home, where there's a close play. Does he take out Molina so that millions of us could live vicariously through him and feel our bitterness melt away? No! Does he slide to avoid the tag! No! Does he run home, step on Molina's foot which is blocking the bag, get tagged out, and job back to the dugout??

Yeah. That's what he did.

Where was the on-deck batter? Animatedly flopping to the ground to indicate to Beltran that he should slide? No, apparently not. That's not what we do, so say the Mets. It was all fairly inexcusable. It's still spring, but Spring Training ended weeks ago. Come on.

And there it went. Leaked away like Beer 17 in a stadium urinal. This JV style of play is going undo Mr. Manuel if it continues. On the plus side, I have lots more to say when it happens! Enjoy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Sunny Side of the Street

Games 11 through 13 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Orioles 4
Red Sox 2, Orioles 1
Red Sox 12, Orioles 1
Record: 7-6

So many different ways to go with today's post. How 'bout we let you decide? Do you want to hear:

A) Yet another academic treatment of the Orioles' woes under Peter Angelos, to include various statements of my glee at defeating the toxic Greek's minions and mitigating sentiment regarding my affection for the O's franchise pre-Dark Ages, baseball-style and for Adam Jones, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis. Also, Dave Tremblay's hat.

B) A meditation on the joys of Patriots Day, chief among them 11:05 am baseball on a day when I was (coincidentally, honest) working from home.

C) Contrarian waffle/whining about Papi, who went 2-for-4 today with a triple(!) and a pair of ribbies, but didn't convince me. Yet.

D) Praise for Kevin Youkilis, off to a sizzling .469 start at the plate, and inspiration for Beard of Truth. You should click that link. It'll make you happy.

E) Praise for Justin Masterson, a very undersung and entirely critical component. The Young Master gave the Sox 5 1/3 very good innings in an emergency start today.

F) Praise for the entire Sox bullpen (not so fast there, Mr. Lopez), which has been sublime of late.

G) Disappointment at the Baseball Gods, for failing to go all the way yesterday and give Carl Pavano a victory.

H) Appreciation for the healing balm of a homestand, especially one kicked off with a set against the Orioles.

We're accepting write-in candidates, as well. We're nothing if not lazy bloggers of the people.

Nothing to Believe In

Game 12 - Mets

Brewers 4, Mets 2
Record: 6-6

According to wire reports, his Facebook page, Dear Diary, clubhouse interviews, Bill James, and my own personal opinion, here are

20 Things Jerry Manuel Doesn't Believe In:

1. Sasquatch
2. The Loch Ness Monster
3. Tipping more than 15%
4. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
5. Voodoo economics (the "trickle-down effect")
6. The Tooth Fairy
7. Scientology
8. "Beer before liquor, never sicker"
9. The death penalty
10. Coincidences
11. You have to wait 30 mins after eating before you can swim
12. Vampires
13. Ghost . . . as a Best Picture nomination-worthy film
14. That you should never split an infinitive
15. "that whole Punxsutawney Phil bullshit"
16. The Dark Side of the Moon matches up to The Wizard of Oz
17. If you shave it, it comes back thicker
18. Mallory Keaton never wore underpants on "Family Ties"
19. It's the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your index finger
20. Seersucker after Labor Day
21. Reincarnation
22. Long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days
23. The Godfather Part II as a better movie than The Godfather
24. The G-spot
25. The platoon advantage!

#25 became apparent before and during yesterday's game. I know Suppan has a slider that can -- when executed perfectly -- jam lefties a bit. I know you had to get Tatis some AB's so you "know" and don't just "think" he's got zippo in the tank. I know Sheff also needs his time. I get these things. And I get that some managers don't put an intensely high amount of stock in the whole "lefty hitters do better against righties and vice versa" phenomenon. (Also, some guys also think dinosaurs never existed because they're not in the Bible.)

But to bench the very hot (in the baseball way, TJ, you lout) Ryan Church, only to PH him against a long-arm lefty who K-ed him with little effort? To sit the startlingly decent switch-hitting Luis Castillo and give Tatis his first-ever action at 2B against a RHP? To ignore platoon advantage entirely -- to almost go intentionally against the grain, in fact -- and wonder why this lineup of sluggers could muster but a pair of runs against the reeling Brewers . . . well, that's something I am having a hard time believing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dr. Seuss

Games 10 & 11 - Mets

Mets 5, Brewers 4
Mets 1, Brewers 0
Record: 6-5

The Mets have pulled off a pair of impressive wins after I inspired the club with a Morris Buttermaker special to close my last post. I might have to dust off the DVD and dredge up some of his other rallying cries. In the meantime, the seasonable manufacturization of crucial runs late in the game to go alongside stalwart pitching performances . . . well, that there's a recipe for good times.

Of course, quite naturally, I saw neither of the past two games in real time. I recorded Friday night's action, then foolishly stayed up to watch. I peeked and knew the final score early, then cursed my DVR skills as the recording stopped with the game tied in the 8th. Poor play all around for this kid.

And then yesterday, what with it being a Saturday afternoon game and thanks to Rupert (Murdoch, not Holmes) and his empire of blackout (apparently this expression isn't reserved for my Friday night roundabouts), I was precluded from seeing any of it. I was left to witness my own dominance over Red Stripes instead of Johan Santana's mastery of Milwaukee's best. (I did tune in to the tail end of the Bombers game, can't-look-away train wreck style.)

But come 1:10 PM today, I'll be eschewing the bright, beautiful sunny afternoon here in southeastern VA for the couch and Game 3 of the series. Half-Nelson Figueroa is up in lieu of Pelfrey, and he's going against . . .

. . .

. . . Jeff Suppan. I do not like that Jeff Suppan.

I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, with a goat.
I would not like him in the rain.
I would not like him on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like him in a box.
I do not like him with a fox.
I do not like him in a house.
I do not like him with a mouse.
I do not like him here or there.
I do not like him ANYWHERE!

I do not like
that Jeff Suppan!


Oh, here's hoping my post-traumatic stress disorder doesn't come rushing back with images of a certain 2006 autumn night. That venue has vanished into the ether by now, but the memories were apparently constructed of a more permanent material.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Everyday Sunshine

Game 10 - Red Sox

Red Sox 10, Orioles 8
Record: 4-6

I really should spend a lot of time on last night's game; it was fairly epic, and I was exposed as a grumbly little bitch. It's such a glorious day here in Northern Virginia, though, that keyboard time really is criminal. So, the Cliff's Notes, then:

Brad Penny was awful, Sox went down, 7-0, in the second inning. I whined via text to Whitney. Sox climbed back slowly. Orioles gave and gave and gave, both in the field and on the mound. J.D. Drew was a stud, as were Jason Bay and Mike Lowell. Sox bullpen was even more studly, especially Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon.

Sox win. I'm an idiot. I'll make that trade every time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sky Blue Sky

Games 8 & 9 - Mets

Mets 7, Padres 2
Padres 6, Mets 5
Record: 4-5

If it weren't for some Opening Day charity from the Reds, each of the New York Mets' first three series would look like this:

Game 1: Lose a squeaker
Game 2: Win fairly convincingly
Game 3: Lose a squeaker

I'm no math major, but it seems to me that's a pattern not geared for success in the standings.

The good news: The losses are squeakers. The five losses were by six runs. Something falls in here, something gets through there, it's another story.

The bad news: Winning losable games versus losing winnable games is the difference between 1st place and 4th place. The Mets are in 4th place. (Thank the Lord for the Washington Nationals.)

Oh, and Pelf has tendinitis, Schneider's out for another game or two, John Maine didn't look as sharp, Nachos Bell Grande exacted a bit of revenge... again, Ron Darling wrote a book, Gary Sheffield is trouble on layaway, the Mets can't seem to come up with a timely hit (D-W's 3-run bomb the other night notwithstanding), and they keep losing close games.

Other than that, we're fine.

In truth, I'm not all that worried yet. Sure, if it keeps happening, I will be. But a good core of guys are hitting the ball very well. Other than Pelf, each starter's shown flashes of competence, if not brilliance. And the pen looks wholly different than it did a year ago. Plus, other than Sheff, I like this team all right. Eminently rootable. It's no Idiots or '93 Phils dirtbags, but I'm getting into them, and that makes a big difference night to night.

Brewers in town tonight . . . should anticipate a visit from me. Oh, and Milwaukee plays the Mets. You know what that means -- bad news for the Brewers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Everybody Wake Up

Game 9 - Red Sox

Red Sox 8, A's 2
Record: 3-6

Forgot to mention yesterday that I'm also thankful for Tim Wakefield, who recorded his 179th career victory yesterday, and has only his teammates to blame for falling 5 outs short of a no-hitter. If the Sox offense, so dormant heretofore, hadn't exploded for 6 runs in a 25-minute top of the 8th inning, it's a statistical near-certainty that Wake would've kept his rhythm and finished off the baffled A's. At least that's how I see it.

As it is, Wake's complete game was a godsend for a bullpen that threw 10 innings on Tuesday and has been bailing out ineffective starters at an alarming rate. So once again, we celebrate Timmy Wake (a picture of whom looks down upon me from my office bulletin board even as I type) for his oft-overlooked contributions. From this morning's Boston Globe: “I understand the circumstances of today,” Wakefield recalled telling his manager. “No matter what, don’t take me out.” Studly bastard.

The 8-run tidal wave marks a high-water mark for Sox bats this season, surpassing by 3 their previous best. The trio atop the lineup (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz) are carrying a combined .264/.238/.492 OBP/SLG/OPS line into the campaign's 10th game. Of the 3, only the reigning MVP is immune from a substantial amount of brow-knitting worry. For Ellsbury, it's a question of whether he'll ever be patient enough at the plate to justify playing him every day. For the sainted Papi, though, the growing fear is that he's done, completely fallen off the cliff from age and injury to his wrist. Even typing it makes me feel dirty and sad.

We're gonna forget we said that. Three cheers for Timmy Wake.

Shuffle Along

Games 5, 6 & 7 - Phillies

Phillies 8 Rocks 4
Phillies 7, Rocks 5
Phillies 9, gNats 8

Record: 4 wins, 3 losses
The first I can remember hearing Harry's voice was sometime in the dog days of summer 1979. By now, you probably have heard or read many accounts of the beloved voice of the Phillies and of NFL films. Many odes have been written in newspapers and blogs. Harry's face has popped up all over ESPN and the MLB Network along with another mortal baseball legend, Mark Fidrych. I have not much to add. Certainly there is nothing I can say better than Bill Conlin or Jayson Stark or any of the hundreds of Phillies who have been giving their Harry Kalas testimony these past few days. All I can say is this: During the summer of 1979, I discovered that you could pick up Phillies games from the opposite end of Pennsylvania on a little crappy transistor radio. I remember how quiet the broadcast booth was in comparison to the local blabbler mouths in Pittsburgh. Inning by inning, Harry and Whitey. Harry with the play-by-play and little else spoken. Whitey with an occasional observation that may or may not have been the product of his baseball wisdom.
Broadcasters, it has been said, are the voice of a team. For a kid who admires a team from afar, the broadcaster is the team.
So long Harry. May the Lord bless you and keep you and shine his light upon you in eternity.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

San Dimas High School Football Rules

Games 1-8: Yankees

Orioles 10, Yankees 5
Orioles 7, Yankees 5
Yankees 11, Orioles 2
Yankees 4, Royals 1
Yankees 6, Royals 1
Royals 6, Yankees 4
Devil Rays 15, Yankees 5
Yankees 7, Devil Rays 2

Record: 4-4

"Everything is different, but the same...things are more moderner than before...bigger, and yet smaller...it's computers..."

Thank you Ox for that stirring history report. Moving on, it's taken me quite awhile to ease into the 2009 New York Yankees season. But, after you suffer through my rambling prose (all 690 words of it) you might wish I had stayed away for good...

2009 Mancrush: This is easy. It's Nick "The BSD" Swisher. Not only has the guy been a force at the plate and a welcome addition to a locker room full of Stiffy Stiffersons (I'm looking at you George Posada), but did you see him pitch an inning of scoreless relief the other night? Gabe Kapler struck out for god's sake. Phil Eight Ball could take some lessons from Swish. I luv me some Nick Swisher more than I luv me some filet of fish. Which reminds me...

Give me back that filet of fish, give me that fish...

Rob, Josh Beckett is a little punk and you know it. I don't want to hear any noise from you about that pitch being a mistake or accidental. You're freaking kidding yourself if you don't think that was intentional. Now, that being said, I too would like to Sid Finch a fastball at Abreu's chin.

A.J. Burnett does not receive mancrush status from me, yet, (listen, I'm a married man, I'm not homosexual, but I am willing to learn) but if he keeps saving the rotation like he has during these first two starts I might have to stop hating him so much. I said might.

Speaking of the rotation, it sure would be nice if the Chairman could get a grip and stop giving up 7 runs in less than 2 innings. Creaky ole Pettitte and untested Joba (though he had a good start ruined by Joe Truth) already scare me enough in the 4 and 5 slots. I don't need C.M. Wang pulling a Left Eye on the rest of the starting staff.

Nick, wanted to send my condolences on the loss of Harry Kalas. Sure, the people of Philadelphia are slack jawed troglodytes, but I always enjoyed Kalas' work.

Whit, I cannot believe you have not brought up Jeremy Reed's hometown yet. Can you imagine Reed, Tatis and Rufus cramming into a phone booth to find Mrs. of Arc?

Give me back that filet of fish, give me that fish...

Cody Ransom, you are not the answer. God lord man, get a grip. You make Anderson Hernandez look like a gold glover out there.

Honestly, I should really hate this commercial. But I just can't. For some reason it makes me laugh every time. "Double Pits to Chesty!!!" Now, on the other hand, don't get me started on the goofy "money I could be saving with Geico" ads...how does a stack of bills with googly eyes get such a prime table at that fancy restaurant? That doesn't make sense at all. Only way that commercial could be saved is if the stack of bills asked "how much for the little girl and/or how much for the women?"

Let me help all our readers out today. If you are at Blockbuster, or updating your queue on Netflix, DO NOT under any circumstances rent "7 Pounds" with Will Smith. Unless of course you are a huge fan of 2 hour long, sappy, melodramatic organ donor snoozefests.

Once Brett Gardner gets a little more experience on the basepaths, watch out. That little bugger is faster than Speedy Gonzalez after three Sparks (yeah, they're banned here in the states, but I bet Speedy has a black market Sparks guy).

Hey, did you guys hear our President got a new dog? OMG THAT IS SO COOL. And important too, obviously, or why else would the Washington Post slap a huge dog pic on their front page.

Hideki Matsui appears to be aging faster than Donovan after he drank from the wrong cup.

West Coast

Games 7 & 8 - Red Sox

A's 8, Red Sox 2
A's 6, Red Sox 5 (12)
Record: 2-6

I have bountiful blessings for which to be thankful this morning. I'm not standing in the rain, holding tea bags and stomping my feet in incoherent rage at some perceived yet undefined government evil. My children are healthy. My aging automobile made it through another commute.

And the Red Sox are playing in California.

The latter may be the greatest blessing of all, for it means that I don't have to watch the trainwreck that April 2009 has become. Instead, I simply get up, take a shower, check the internet, read about another brutal loss, grunt a few times, and get on with my day.

Life could be worse.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Have Found Me a Home

Games 5 through 7 - Mets

Mets 8, Marlins 4
Marlins 2, Mets 1
Padres 6, Mets 5
Record: 3-4

It's Year 7 here at MLC, and by now every storyline, every theme of every post seems a bit like a repeat. Winnable losses? A staple of my complaints over the years. Early season disappointment? Seen it more times than I'd care to recount. Pedro Feliciano being a worthless heap of rubbish? Like a broken record.

But what's new today is Citi Field, a -- dare I get flowery -- magnificent backdrop to nine innings of the national pastime. I was somewhat of a mild defender of Shea in its twilight years, pointing to the memories rather than the decrepit framework that surrounded them. Yeah . . . this is much better. I can't wait to get my rear end up to Queens again to check it out in person. And I'll be showing up early to get a good look.

So, with our "number 2" starter living up to his name, with the outfield dropping flies like sailors in Amsterdam, with late-inning bats doing little to nothing . . . well, let's just focus on the new ballyard. Citi Field isn't decidedly different than some of the other modern marvels in Major League Baseball, but it has as much charm, quirk, and aesthetic appeal as about any I've seen. It will definitely add a little more incentive to tuning in and paying close attention -- and going to the game will be a much more enjoyable experience. Good stuff.


I'm very tempted to reverse course and offer an expletive-laced opinion of Feliciano and his balking in what held up as the winning run. But no. Not today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer

Game 6 - Red Sox

Angels 5, Red Sox 4
Record: 2-4

Mostly because I'm full on cheap drafts and exceedingly crappy oversalted "Tex-Mex" hotel food, I come here today to celebrate Josh Beckett. I'm glad he's on my favorite team. He's a cocksucker in the most positive sense of the word. Winning teams need cocksuckers, and the Sox have a few - Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis. Mayhaps they need a few more.

That said, would've been nice if Beckett had backed up his exquisite cocksuckery with a few clutch pitches. (I assume if you're reading this, you're aware of yesterday's bench-clearing festivities. And for the record, I'm quite agreed with the consensus that the Angels reaction was completely excusable given their collective mental state. I also have no problem with Beckett's actions, which may place me in the minority.) Bobby Abreu, for all his bendy softness, won against Beckett yesterday, and his 2-run single, in conjunction with the Sox' otherworldly inability to deliver in the clutch, doomed the Sox to another pisser of a loss.

More flinty cocksuckery, less clutch flailing, mmmkay?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Night

Games 4 & 5 - Red Sox

Angels 6, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 5, Angels 4

Record: 2-3


Time for a little game of true confessions, early-season style:

1. I have no idea why the Red Sox wore blue sox last night, though I assume it had something to do with the blue jerseys, which I thought were both fairly snappy and entirely inappropriate adorning the Boston Red Sox.

2. Apparently, Alan Thicke is my favorite Canadian. But Jason Bay (note clever Bay-related pun in tonight's post title) made a play for the crown this afternoon, slugging a pair of backbacons and scoring three times to give the Sox just enough to withstand a Hamelsian performance from Jonathan Papelbon. Paps needed 39 pitches to retire 4 Halos after relieving Ramon Ramirez in the 8th, finally getting Howie Kendrick to fly to right with bases loaded on the 10th pitch of the game's final at bat. Of note, Brad Penny pitched 6 decent to kinda strong innings in his Sox debut.

3. In point of fact, Michael J. Fox is my favorite Canadian.

4. In what may well be a first, or at least a first in my memory, I was sorta rooting for the Angels last night. I watched the opening ceremonies, including the Nick Adenhart tribute, and felt like a real dick rooting against them. When I woke up this morning and saw the score (because, c'mon, I'm not staying up for a 10:05 pm start, even on a Friday) I wasn't even a little upset.

5. I blame #4 above on the blue uniforms, mostly.

6. I didn't even know the Sox were televised this afternoon until Teejay posted a comment on another blog. I was watching The Masters.

7. After I realized the Sox were televised this afternoon, I watched one pitch of the game, saw Kevin Youkilis fly to right to end the top of the 6th, and then returned to The Masters.

8. I blame #7 above on the hangover from the blue uniforms, almost entirely.

9. As long as we got each other, we got the world spinning right in our hand. Baby you and me, we gotta be the luckiest dreamers who never quit dreaming. As long as we keep on givin, we can take anything that comes our way. Baby, rain or shine, all the time, we got each other, sharin' the laughter and love.

10. I typed nearly all of #9 from memory.

11. I just realized Nick was wondering about the blue hosiery in today's game, not last night's. It's a little known fact that the Red Sox haven't actually worn red socks in quite some time. They went to a red/blue stirrup combo in 1995. Since 2004, I can't recall seeing any red whatsoever. That said, I do like the updated/retro road grays.
Game 4 - Phillies

Rockies 10, Phillies 3
Record: 1 win, 3 losses

Hollywood Hamels got slapped around a mile above sea level last night. His ERA stands at an otherworldly 17.1. That'd make a nice scoring defense average for the Iggles but it's definitely very un-Hamels-like. True, the kid is only beginning his 4th season (and third April) and every pitcher eventually has an outing like this. Many of them at Coors Field. Hamels only chucked about 7 innings this spring because of a sore elbow and according to Philly.com, his velocity was hovering in the mid- to low-eighties. According to the same article, he had similar velocity last year in his opening game. The difference was that he faced the lowly Nats in '08 losing a 1-0 decision after going 8 innings. The Rocks, even sans Matt Holliday are a might bit offensive than the group of castoffs, has beens and never weres that populated the Washington roster last year.


Cole's not worried. Uncle Cholly says he's fairly concerned but no one is quite sure because Cholly's emotions are as tough to read as Dostoevsky. I won't worry. Not about the 1 and 3 start and not about the 4 crappy outings our starers have turned in so far. If we come to DC next week and have trouble swatting away gNats, then I'll worry.


Now onto other matters. Rob - can you explain why your team is sporting blue socks? Just curious.

Fisherman's Blues

Game 4 - Mets

Marlins 5, Mets 4

Record: 2-2


You know what's annoying? The Florida Marlins. From their stupid crap stadium to their stupid crap teal uniforms to their stupid crap baseball in south Florida in the summertime. They bother me a lot. Two World Series trophies in their first 11 years? Some say "impressive," I say "annoying." Pay your dues. Wayne Huizenga and his stupid crap Blockbuster money buying guys in '97, then selling them off. His fault? No, he just figured out how to beat the system. Annoying? Yes. Same deal in 2003/05. Ridiculous. Firing Joe Girardi? Stupid. Billy the Marlin? Crap. Jeff Conine? Okay, I like him. So what? Still a stupid crap team. Am I happy they beat the Yankees in 2003? You bet your sweet Jack McKeon-loving ass. They're still bothersome. Pesky. Annoying. They hang around and do nothing except beat the Mets all the time, knocking the Mets out of the playoffs at will after losing to crap teams like the Nationals most of the year. Or this year, making noise early on when they aren't going to do squat except beat the Mets when the Mets need to win. Just bugs me. Their low payroll successes a few years ago? Admirable. Their stupid crap owner, who was involved in one of the s-h-a-d-i-e-s-t wranglings in professional sports? Loser. Threatening to move the team to Vegas (oh, yeah) until Miami-Dade caved, changing the name to Miami Marlins, all that stupid crap. Annoying. That '97 championship team had Luis Castillo, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, Al Leiter, Livan Hernandez and other once or future Mets. And the Marlins seemed to get the best out of the same guys who could never win a title in Queens. Pisses me off. You gave us Mike Piazza? Well, I kind of love you for that. But not really. You were stupid to do it. Oh, and Hanley Ramirez showing every time out that he's so much better than Jose Reyes? Enough already. We get it. Just annoying at this point. So, Marlins pitchers have thrown four no-hitters in their 16+ years. The New York Mets, 47 years and counting: zero no-hitters. The first Marlins no-hitter? May 11 of their stupid crap 64-win inaugural year. Annoying. Who threw it? Yeah, Al Leiter. So irritating. Dan Uggla. Really good. Plays like a Tri-Lam in the All-Star Game when the NL needs him. Homers against the Mets again last night. Thanks, dude. Appreciate it. Your unsung youngsters play hungry and sharp against us. Ours play like scared weenie kids against you. Why? Because you're annoying. Stupid crap cheesy town with your crap 4,000 fans and your stupid pinstripes and did I mention the teal? Who's a Marlin fan? Please stand up. And be recognized as a stupid crap individual. Hey, Marlins, stop winning games like you did last night, last season, the one before that, and on and on. People might think you're good, and you're not. You're a stupid crap expansion (not the good kind) franchise, and you make me annoying when I have to spell it out. And when I do, I have to concede that there are quite a few elements I like about you, and dammit, you really do bug me. Knock it off. Stupid crap.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Relax

Game 3 - Red Sox
Rays 4, Red Sox 3
Record: 1-2


There's an almost laissez-faire vibe coming from Boston after the Sox' indifferent opening series with the Rays. When I say 'coming from Boston', I mean as interpreted from my perch 500 miles or so south of the Hub. And when I say 'laissez-faire', I mean it's way too early to get worked up about things. Does this mean I'm maturing, or just rationalizing?

Daisuke Matsuzaka combined his usual nibbly wildness with an uncharacteristic propensity for allowing longballs, walking three, hitting one, and giving up three homers, all in a tidy 100-pitch, 5 1/3 inning outing. All that, and the Sox had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. If nothing else, they kept me from having to actually do work.

In a quirk of scheduling, the Sox wing to California to face the heavy-hearted Angels in the Halos' first game after losing young Nick Adenhart in a tragic auto accident. Neither silliness nor somber fill-in-the-blank platitudes seem appropriate here, so we'll suffice it to wish Adenhart's family and those of the other victims some small comfort in what must be a nearly unbearable time.

Get Started, Start a Fire

Game 3 - Mets

Reds 8, Mets 6
Record: 2-1

Somewhere, doing something with someone (there's a decent chance it was in Leesburg, drinking beer with Rob, but my brain ain't so sharp these days) about a month ago, I could be heard whining:
I think the Mets are going to look back and kick themselves for cheaping out on Derek Lowe and settling for more Ollie. Especially now that Lowe went to "the Turkish bath house of state capitals."
One start is merely one line item on what (I hope) is a long stat sheet over the course of a season. But one start in, it's already hard to fathom that although it wasn't 100% "either/or" for those two guys in Omar's world, that's pretty much what it came down to this winter, and we may have landed the short straw.

Oliver Perez looked proficient at his craft right up until the point where the Mets spotted him 3 runs in Top 3. You see, young Ollie is allergic to lead (Pb). Might've been the paint in the house where he grew up. Let's hope this doesn't become a recurring line of would-be humor . . .

So yeah, he went all Mr. Hyde on us in the bottom of the 3rd, surrendering four runs just like that. Joey Votto's tater did the big damage, but as always, don't downplay the deleterious effect of the the two walks. 4-3, Reds.

Two innings later, tie game, more of the same. Walks, runs. New reliever Darren O'Day came in with a 6-4 deficit and a couple of Ollie's runners aboard and promptly issued a top o' the mornin' to ya to Edwin Encarnacion in the form of an HBP to load 'em up. Two batters later, the inimitable Paul Janish singled home a pair. 8-4, Reds.

The Mets did threaten, though their every rally was undone by GIDP's and cans of corn. At the end of the day, Ollie's 8 ER over 4 1/3 was not to be overcome. Four of his five free passes came around to score. And this is why there was deliberation over giving the guy $36M over three years.

Blame the WBC, Ollie. Blame whatever you want. Just be better. (Note: the "Be better" imploration worked for Pedro Feliciano, as he fanned the only two batter he faced yesterday. We're willing to try it again.)


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Game 2 - Red Sox

Rays 7, Red Sox 2
Record: 1-1

Deep Blue Something is the kindest sentiment I can muster for last night's home plate umpire, Bruce Davidson, by some measure (also quite certainly the most fey). Kill the ump sentiment is lame, to be sure, and Davidson's woeful performance aside, the Sox still have some 'splainin' to do, but the Sox offense played large portions of this game with one hand tied behind their collective backs.

No less a scholar than Rick Sutcliffe decried Davidson's inconceivably generous strike zone, refusing to suppress his disdain for the width of the plate as conceived by the performance artist in blue. I only watched the game's final 2 1/2 frames, stuck as I was entertaining my in-laws, but even in that short time the impact of the umpire's poor evening was obvious in the Sox' hitters tentative approach. Jed Lowrie's bases-loaded strikeout on a pitch up, up, and away after taking strike 2 on a pitch several inches wide was but one example.

In the end, though, meh. These things even out over a long season. Jon Lester still needs to keep Carlos Pena in the yard, and the Sox still need to muster more than 2 runs to win. Could be worse - I could be a C.M. Wang fan.

Afternoon baseball in Fenway today, and me with an internet connection. Huzzah.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ugly on the Outside

Game 2 - Mets

Mets 9, Reds 7
Record: 2-0

Wow, was that an eyesore. Remember when I used to blather on and on about winnable losses, losable wins, and snatching victory or defeat from the jaws of the other? Yeah, I'm back on that kick already, and we're just a few days into the season. Sorry. Tonight the Mets had no business coming away with a W. They blew chunks in several capacities, but the Reds handed this one to them like a Skyline Chili counter-girl handing over a Coney with the works.

Carlos Delgado seems to have picked up where he left off, 4-for-9 over the first two games with a 1st inning bomb tonight. He also seems destined to retain his title as worst defensive first baseman in the bigs. A bad bottom of the first for the Mets (the paragraph entitled "What Pelf Did" coming up) got worse on one of the shabbier attempts at a DP you'll see this side of Binghamton. Routine grounder to Castillo; slow flip to Reyes that just looked awkward; sloppy sling towards the general vicinity of Delgado; half-hearted slow lean towards the bounding ball as if extracting his cleat from the bag was like pulling a sand burr from a rag wool sock. Conversely, his overly quick cleat extraction from said bag in the agonizingly thorny bottom of the 9th inning cost the Mets again. DHelgado, 1B.

Mike Pelfrey had a rather bizarre night. How he managed to make it through five frames and actually notch a victory after his first inning disemboweling is puzzling. From the outset, he looked . . . what's the best way to put it . . . well, I'd call it either "thoroughly ill at ease" or "like a manure cart full of last week's dung." Immediately after Reds announcer Cowboy Brantley got done emphatically praising Pelfrey's usual control, the Mets' #2 starter couldn't find the plate with a GPS and a sherpa. And when he did . . . [trying to get MLC to treat me to some widgets where I could make some audio explosion noises here, but we're overbudget already]. But to his credit, he cooled off, never looking altogether groovular but putting up four goose eggs.

But when 2-0 became 4-2, Reds starter Edinson (The extra N is for "No way... he won 17 games last year??") Volquez settled into a groove, and things looked bad. A booted 6-4-3, however, enabled a 3-run Mets 5th, and a 7th inning Jay "Musta Had a Few" Bruce fall-down in right field gave the Mets just enough runs to build a lead they wouldn't blow.

Green/Putz/Rodriguez (not that guy who hangs around outside the urologist's office) weren't quite as infallible as in the opener. Each had a hand in nearly throwing back the game the Reds had coughed up. K-Rod channeled Johnny Franco, throwing almost nary a strike and relying on overaggressive swingers (like my dad did in the 70's) for the save. Made us sweat a bit, didn't you there, Frankie??

The whole night was poorly played, frustrating to watch, and always in question. But a win's a win, and I've seen the Mets squander roughly 70 or 80 of these in MLC's history. Salut.

Speaking of this blog, good to have the old gang back recapping games with vim and vigor. Congrats to Nick (on his fertile ways, not on his friggin' baseball team). Rob tells me TJ's on probation, but I think he'll come around. Game on, dudes.


Oh, and Pedro Feliciano: you're on notice. Yet again. Be better.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Games 1 through 3 - 2008 World Champions Phillies

Braves 4, Phils 1
Braves 4, Phils 0
Phils 12, Braves 11

My inaugural post of the 2008 season will be a mishmash of thoughts which may or may not be cohesive. Put money on "may not." It will likely confuse the reader much like how Iron Butterfly's anthem of 2 score years ago still perplexes my simple mind.

Leading off, I just want to warn our faithful readership that this will be the last time I refer to the beloved boys in red pinstripes as "2008 World Champion Phillies." I just wanted to get it in one time and be done with it. It is after all, a brand new day.

Batting second, my response to the Phils' typical 1 and 2 start comes straight outta the mouth of Alfred E. Nueman - "What, me worry?"

In the number 3 spot, it appears Bret Myers still pitches like a rookie. Dude, when will you trust your stuff?
Batting cleanup, Jamie Moyer still keeps you in the game. I will gladly take his performance from Tuesday all season long. I only ask that he goes 6.

Hitting in the 5 hole, Joe Blanton really looks like a plumber when he gets rocked. Today, he's Joe the Plumber.

In the sixth spot, Chase Utley's sooner than expected return is a pleasant surprise. If healthy, this could be the year he brings home the MVP.
The seventh spot concerns the newly acquired Raul Ibanez. Dude is already making me forget Pat the Bat.

At number 8, it's good to see RyHo starting off well. He came to camp fit, led the Grapefruit League in home runs and is off to a pretty good start. After last season's start, a pulse would be an improvement.

And in the 9 spot, Brad Lidge converted another save. Ho-hum.

I did not do predictions this year. I just don't think I am knowledgeable enough anymore. I suspect the Sox would be my pick to win the AL. The NL could be won by 7 teams. I seriously doubt the Phils have a repeat performance in them. I would not be surprised if they finished anywhere between 80 and 95 wins. Health, desire and of course, the competition from their improved and/or matured division brethren will have a lot to do with the Phils' ability to repeat.

I start off this season unlike any other time in my baseball conscious life. That is, I am satiated. I can watch games and not get torqued or twisted or otherwise bent. It's all gravy. I think I need this at this point of my life. 4 children, all 10 and under with #5 currently gestating (save your Catholic jokes, please) means I have less time to worry about my team.

I purchased MLB.TV which seems like a slam dunk, obvious choice over Extra Innings so I plan to watch a lot of ball but again, I am on cruise control and plan to enjoy this year. I hope I don't disappoint but I get the feeling you all have fallen asleep already.

Sorry dudes.

Short People

Game 1 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Rays 3
Record: 1-0

It may be possible for me to love Dustin Pedroia more than I currently do, but he'd have to pay my mortgage, marry one of my daughters, or do something commensurate. Imagine my delight then when the reigning AL MVP kicked off his 2009 campaign by hammering a James Shields fastball into the Monster seats. And when Josh Beckett resurrected Commander Kickass for 7 innings of 2-hit, 10 strikeout lethality, well, suffice it to say that this correspondent is pleased with the way the season began.

Hell, Jason Varitek homered. We really don't need to get much deeper into this, do we? Good, 'cause I feel like ever-lovin' shit. Whole mess of Nyquil and tormented sleep in my future. And, Lord willing, a Jon Lester anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better response.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fixing a Hole

Game 1 - Mets

Mets 2, Braves 1

Record: 1-0


Misery Loves Company's six Opening Days prior to today have featured more than one close game going the wrong way thanks to bullpen collapses, from a Sox nightmare at the Trop to Braden Looper spoiling Pedro's Met debut. Enough angst-inducing drama to make us wonder at the time if we actually had 162 games' worth of recaps in us.

With Omar Minaya's singular focus affixed to "improve the 'pen" this off-season, all eyes were on the Sean Green/J.J. Putz/Francisco Rodriguez trio today as the Mets clung to a 2-1 lead that should have been far more comfortable. I'd love for the nearly flawless outing the three newcomers delivered to be something of an omen for how it will go this year for the Mets. I'll settle for this Opening Day win.

Everything's relative, in fact. I can still remember rushing home from work to take in the Mets-Cubs opener early one April afternoon in 2003. A 15-2 drubbing that had me cursing the club from the very first frames. I dare say that one was a tone-setter. I also remember watching the aforementioned Loop Job from The Dubliner in 2005 -- a suitable setting for a year of much drinking due to the Mets.

So today, seeing Johan Santana impress on an afternoon when he didn't have his best command and Golden Boy II Daniel Murphy get it done at the plate and in the field was downright pleasant. Calm, soothing, and a fine way to usher in the '09 campaign. In truth, at this point I don't even remember what happened at the end of last season. It's washed away. (Nick: "Tap tap tap . . . hello, is this thing on?")

Oh, and right on cue, Murph and Ryan Church began their respective 2009's as if to say, "Tell me again about how the outfield corners needed Gary Sheffield so badly..." We'll see how Sheff works into that arrangement. I happen to like both of those guys out there. I can't tell how the much-publicized story of David Wright convincing Sheffield to come to the Mets is sitting with Murphy and Church, but for one day against a mediocre club, enough pieces worked to scratch out a win.

A win we'll surely need, since after many beers last night, I said the Mets would win 91 of them. Alrighty then.


P.S. Right now I still miss Endy, but that'll change if these new kids plug the holes we've had. Until then, godspeed, #10.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Like the Weather

What a cold and rainy day, indeed. In most of the Midwest and along the Eastern seaboard, apparently. As much as I didn't think I was that excited about baseball season, I watched the entire Braves/Phils game last night - probably enjoyed it more than Nick, as a matter of fact. And now, plans to waste an entire afternoon following the Sox and Rays scuttled.

For the record, and the real point of these few words, Whitney and I have settled on Red Sox (-5) as the margin for our annual Case Bet wager. I've got the Sox with 96 wins, and my sandbagging friend was convinced by fellow Metman Ad Hoc Jerry to raise his estimate from 88 to 91 postgame handshakes for his squad.

Roll the balls out, etc.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

I'm no Yankee fan, as you might have surmised, but even I send my well wishes to the legendary Bob Sheppard as he recovers from the bronchial infection that caused him to miss all of last season. If, as has been reported, the 98 year-old (!) Sheppard is forced to retire because of his illness, the game will be diminished for it, even if ever so slightly. He was as much a part of Yankee games as was the stadium, the pinstripes, and the ungodly greed and avarice of the owner. Here's hoping those pipes heal.

Oh, and I think we've got baseball next week. So that's pretty cool.