At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Sox Under Sun Today, Set to Sweep Astros on Weekend

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 21, 2016

Astros Three

(McHugh, Fiers and Feldman to face Boston this weekend.)

It’s Thursday, April 21.  Sunny morning skies warm New England in anticipation of a beautiful day game at Fenway with the Rays facing their old mate and new Sox starting stud, David Price.

This a getaway day in the Bigs.  Subscribers to MLBTV may cheat the boss while grazing on day games in Atlanta (v LAD), Miami (v WAS), San Fran (AZ), Cleveland (SEA), Chicago-AL (LAA) and the aforementioned Tampa at Boston game.

Braves fans get a special treat.  Kershaw brings his 1.64 ERA and bustin’ curveball to Turner Field.

Reds fans see another Cy-worthy hurler under the sun with the gutty Jake Arieta (1.23 ERA) seeking to extend his record to 4-0.

So boot up the I-Pad and MLB At Bat.  Get a slice of your $109 annual investment.  Think about how much money you are saving versus taking a day off and paying $60 to sit wedged into a Fenway seat sized for Robert Reich.

I’ll keep an eye on the games but it is the Sox at Houston series this weekend that I am wondering about.

Houston is 5 – 10 and has lost 7 of their last 10.  Why are these early results for this team,  a fashionable prediction to make it to the playoffs, so poor thus far?

Let’s take a look at this mixed bag.

3x AS Jose Altuve (1 GG, 1 BA Champ) is batting .310 and leads the AL in SB’s with 7.  True rookie (1B) Tyler White is batting .340 with 5 dingers.  (Project that to 54 for the year, giddy Astro fans.)  Colby Rasmus (OF) and Carlos Correa (SS) are nice players that continue to perform better than their numbers.  Dallas Keuchel is pitching great with a 2-1 record and a 2.11 ERA, going almost 7 IP’s in each of 3 starts.  Closer Luke Gregerson has yet to allow a run in 5 appearances.  (WHIP 0.600).  Set up man Will Harris has been great out of the Pen.  (1.29 ERA).

All that said…..the last-place Astros are scoring an average of 3 runs per game in their 10 losses — and allowing 10 to be scored against them.  Altuve, White, Rasmus and Correa aside, the offense is weak, particularly in 3 lineup spots:  Jason Castro, Luis Valbuena and Carlos Gomez.  These guys are batting .189 combined with 0 HR’s and 7 runs scored.  They are not supposed to be .300 hitters, but their track records show they can contribute and have occasional power, too.

The Sox will get a big break by not having to face Keuchel this weekend.  The likely match-ups will be Colin McHugh (6.39 ERA) vs. Steven Wright (2.13) on Friday; Mike Fiers (6.48) vs. Buchholz (5.74) on Saturday; and Scott Feldman (4.11) versus a mystery starter for the Bostons on Sunday.

I love the Friday matchup.  31 year old knuckleballer Wright has turned in two of the best starts of the year.

I love the Saturday match up, too.  Buch is coming off a sterling start.  McHugh looks shaky.   Buch, as you know, is a Texan, just like Nolan Ryan.  McHugh is from Mt. Berry, GA, a town named for a woman known as the Sunday Lady of Possum Trot.  Yeah…you read that right.  This game is Nolan Ryan versus Possum Trot.  Fuhgettaboudit.

I even like the Sunday match-up.  Right off the bat, we get the pleasure of facing a known suspect in shaky Scott Feldman.  Somewhere on the gestaltic periphery of my memory I recall seeing Feldman taking several beatings, like a snake trying to fight off a mongoose in his days with the O’s.  Bring him.

Choosing the Sunday mystery starter should be easy, but it won’t be.  It’s been reported there are three choices:  Elias, Owens or Johnson, all now in Pawtucket.

Roenis Elias arrived in Boston in the 12-7-15 trade that sent Wade Miley to Seattle.  The 27 year old Cuban lefty has made 51 MLB starts in the last 2 seasons for the M’s, registering a 3.97 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP.  In 2 starts versus Houston in 2015, he went a combined 11 and two-thirds innings and allowed 2 earned runs.

Henry Owens is option number 2.  The 23 year old Huntington Beach (CA) lefty made 11 starts for the Sox in 2015, sported a 4.57 ERA and made very good starts against Detroit, KC, NYM, Toronto, and twice against Baltimore.

Brian Johnson is option #3.  The 25 year old lefty from Cocoa Beach (FL) has appeared in only one MLB game, having started against the Astros in Houston on 7-21-15.  In that game, BJ walked 4, allowed 3 hits, 4 ER and failed to baffle few batters.

Owens and Johnson are pitching well in Pawtucket while Elias has looked ineffective.

I’m on the fence.  If I was Farrell, I’d be drawn to Elias due to his longer MLB track record but might go with Owens because he’s going better in R.I. and his 2015 pitching in the bigs was often very good.

So, here’s my prediction:  The Sox go with Owens.  The Sox get good starts from Wright, Buch and the mystery man.  The Sox sweep 3 games in the Space City.

Go Sox.


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Bristol Blues Need Host Families For Players

Posted by athomeatfenway on May 31, 2015

Host Families Needed for Incoming Players

By Joe Boyle

The Bristol Blues this year have players from all over the country coming in. The Blues are still looking for host families for the 2015 campaign to accommodate these players while they are here from June 7th to Mid-August. Host families are not responsible for driving the players. If players do not have access to their own cars, we will have a player from within the area to escort them to and from practice.

For being a host family, you will receive a family pass for you and your whole family to come to Muzzy Field for all 28 home games, a small cash stipend, and an invitation to our host family party, special on-field recognition, and a free gift.

Questions regarding host families you can contact Ellen Zoppo-Sassu (, Rick Muntean ( or call 860.585.6696.

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Arms Race in the AL East

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 17, 2014

200 Inning & 254 K's ?

200 Inning & 254 K’s ?

If Baseball is 90% pitching and starting pitching represents about 70% of the hurling, then it must be so that the AL East, the best Division in MLB, will be won by the guys who take the mound in the first inning.

But which AL East team has the clear edge after the first 2 weeks of play? And which starters represent the best of the best?

Surely Cobb, Tillman, Tanaka, Kuroda, Pineda, Lester, Lackey and Peavey are presenting their teams with the most quality starts and/or dominating performances.

Those are the contenders for top AL East starter of 2014 so far.

If the season ended today and Boston & New York went to the postseason it is a certainty that Kuroda-Tanaka-Pineda and Lester-Lackey-Peavey would present formidable playoff rotations.

Don’t underestimate Tampa Bay’s 3 best starters, Cobb-Archer-Price,. They are clearly 3rd best but Price and Archer are capable of delivering more and probably will.

The tasty question is who is the top starter in the Division. Tasty, because the answer is Tanaka. He is distancing himself from the pack in a delightful way if you are a Yankee fan, and at an alarming rate if you are everyone else.

Tanaka leads the Division in K’s, IP, and fewest walks. His ERA is a sparkling 2.05. His strikeout rate per 9 innings is 11.45. That works out to 254 K’s if he throws 200 innings. If you have watched him pitch you know that of not for 1 or 2 mistakes he would have allowed no runs at all.

Pretty damn good start to a career, no?

Wait a second. There are 2 A-listers who have an even better ERA than Tanaka. Pineda sits at 1.00 this morning. And Chris Tillman is at a breathtaking 0.84.

What madness. They say that pitchers begin the season more ready than position players but these guys are hotter than hot.

Overall, the eight hurlers mentioned here are racking up innings, limiting hits, registering K’s and providing quality starts. They are definitely the best of the AL East so far.

Unless you consider Toronto’s Mark Buehrle, who is 3 – 0, 0.86 ERA and a WHIP of 0.90.


Go Sox.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, yankees | Leave a Comment »


Posted by athomeatfenway on April 16, 2014

Eric Gregg

Here’s a great quick read by a man who conjured smiles.

Working The Plate by Eric Gregg with Marty Appel. 1990, Morrow.

Almost any Umpire autobiography is likely to be interesting. They have much in common with the ballplayers. Travel. Teammates. The uncanny ability to block out distraction. And they have daily exposure to rookies, journeymen, superstars, and — major league managers.

There is plenty of inside stuff to share, and Mr. Gregg does it well. Even better, this is Gregg’s story of success. Gregg made it to the top in spite of growing up in a West Philly family that lost 2 children to drugs and street crime, and a third who became a career criminal.

Now how could a guy as sweet as the 350 pound Gregg come from a dysfunctional cauldron like that?

Gregg had charisma, my friends. Gregg was magnetic. He charmed and scuffled his way into Barney Dreary’s Florida umpire school as a kid. He moved through the minors in record time and began his MLB run at age 24. His personality brought him more than his share of commercials and PR jobs. Gregg was a winner.

His on field resume of historic games including the first night game at Wrigley, 2 Perfectos, the 1986 All Star Game., the historic Reds-Mets brawl of the same year, and the 1989 World Series Earthquake game.

One of my favorite passages in this book is when Gregg pays homage to Jackie Robinson, writing that all black men in the Game, himself included, owe Jackie a debt of gratitude. Further, Gregg expands on how the NL was years ahead of the AL when it came to signing blacks. He observes that of the 16 black HOF’ers (as of 1990), only Satchel Paige was signed by an American League Club. “The others all began in the National League – Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Roberto Clemente, Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Juan Marichal, Lou Brock, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan and Billy Williams.”

I would add that the American League’s failure to ink African Americans in the ‘50’s helped (at least in part) to make the National League the superior circuit in 18 of 19 All Star Games between ’63 and ’82.

In another favorite part of Mr. Gregg’s book he described Jose Canseco as a big guy, and so talented that he would likely dominate the next decade.

Might have happened had Jose’s muscles been as natural as Gregg’s girth.

Never intending to leave the Game, Gregg voluntarily resigned in ’99.

At the behest of his union, Gregg was one of 22 Umps that tendered their resignations to leverage a negotiation and were shocked when the MLB accepted. That occurred 9 years after Working The Plate was published.

Clearly, Eric Gregg loved the Game, was part of the Game, and could never really leave the Game.

Bud Selig refused to rehire Gregg even after 25 Members of Congress requested his reinstatement. That says something about MLB’s resolve to drop the unhealthy big man, whose weight approached 400 pounds frequently.

Oh yes, this book captures the moment when he umpired 3rd base and a hero sandwich had been anonymously left atop that sack for him.

And then there was the time that a player entertained the crowd at one of Eric’s games by stuffing pillows into his uniform and making out and safe calls at second base.

Good times.

Many fans will chuckle at the mention of Eric Gregg.

They are thinking of the big, fat guy who somehow umpired in the bigs for 22 seasons.

As is usually the case, if you know the man at all you have more respect than that.

He was a talented Umpire and a devoted family man.

He did not undervalue all the good things that life brought to him.

Mr. Gregg passed at age 55 after a stroke in 2006. He left behind a wife and 4 children.

Rest in Peace, Eric Gregg.

Thanks for representing Philly and adding some cheer to the Game.

Go Sox. And Happy Jackie Robinson Day to you.

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5 things to like about the Red Sox & this season, part 1.

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 19, 2014

Winning breeds much happiness, but it no longer sells all the tickets.

Winning breeds much happiness, but it no longer sells all the tickets.

TED AND PEDEY. Baseball fans know that Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 and no one has done it since. A less known fact is that Ted suffered a wrist injury in spring training that year. The injury may have caused Ted to dial down his plate aggressiveness, the result being improved selectivity and batting immortality.

Dustin Pedroia returns to Fenway this season after successful surgery to repair the thumb tendon he ripped when sliding into first base in Yankee Stadium on opening day. 2014 will be Pedey’s age 30 season. 1941 was Ted’s age 22 season, an incredible fact by itself.

The two men are dissimilar in many ways. Ted was from SoCal. Pedey is from NoCal. Pedey had 2 caring involved parents, one of them an amateur tennis champion, and Ted had a difficult upbringing by an absentee Mom. And so on.

But this may be the year Pedey dials it down like Ted. Like a great actor playing all of his scenes at the height of his intelligence, we may get Dustin’s best now. He is capable of a .350, 20, 120, with 100 runs and 30 SB’s, and that spells M-V-P #2.

Watch out for Pedey. This may be his big bounce back season.

THE SLIPPERY ONE ? Perhaps. I watched the NESN game cast on March 9 and saw a gentleman of Hispanic heritage picthing for the Sox, baffling Pittsburgh batters. His fastball came in on a slight drop, belt high, and then moved with a pronounced wiggle before it reached the batter. Could there have been a foreign substance on the ball? He repeated the pitch several times while trimming the Bucs. I only caught one inning and do not remember his name but after checking the box score I see it may have been Dionis/Daniel Hinojosa, or more likely, 38 year old Francisco Cordero. The same Codero with the 329 career saves. The Sox are wondering if Cordero can regain his old form, a la Grady Sizemore.

Big Ben is no doubt dreaming of the 49 Saves and a 2.13 ERA Mr. Cordero recorded for Texas in 2004.

Would a 38 year old has-been who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2012 (with a 19.80 ERA) pull a Gaylord Perry?

In a heartbeat.

INCREASED AVAILABILITY OF TICKETS. Gone are the days when the Sox sold every ticket offered including all Sox Packs at Christmas At Fenway in December. Gone are the days when there was a waiting list for group tickets. Step right up if you need 20 ducats or more to a single game.

Want Green Monster tickets on Opening Day? No problem. Tickets on the Monsta are available for $100 standing room and $700 in the first row. And they are available for much less on non-premium game dates. The new dynamic pricing for Monster Seats is a genius idea….and simultaneously ugly. But the point is that there was a time when these GM ticks would have been snapped up.

The Sox are being increasingly creative to monetize tickets. They need to be creative.

I believe tickets will be available at reduced prices later this year because after many fans walked away in 2012, not all of them walked back last year.

And that is going to be good for you and I, my friends.

FENWAY FOR 30 MORE YEARS. Someday the love affair will end but John Henry says the grand old park can remain playable until about 2044. If that comes to pass, my children and my children’s children should thank Osborne Engineering, the original architect, and the Henry/Werner/Lucchino group. The former designed a cutting edge (for 1912) property that was conceived for a second deck expansion, making the base sturdy enough to take 100 years of use. The latter have invested upwards of $150 million to conserve our home away from home.

The oldest current ballpark is Fenway, built in 1912. The next oldest is Wrigley, built in 1914. Third in line is Dodger Stadium….1962.

Let’s count our blessings.

ARE THE YANKEES ARE SET UP TO FAIL? Have you noticed a chippy attitude from Yankee fans of late? I have. The followers of the twisted cross believe their team has reloaded and is ready for championship #28. And they have reloaded. They have improved at catcher, center field, right field, and starting pitcher. But two problems remain. First, the Yankees lack depth — on the bench and in the bush leagues. Second, they are following a first ballot HOF closer with a dude who has never closed as a professional. The Yankees may certainly jump to 95 wins this season. But if Dave Roberts cannot follow Mariano Rivera effectively, they may win 85, and finish out of the post season again.

How delicious that would be.

Go Sox.

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Marty Barrett is still a winner

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 13, 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sorting out the Red Sox, vol. 1

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 9, 2014


The last time Brad Penny posted a 15.75 ERA he rebounded, becoming a World Champion with the Marlins.  Once again, 15.75 is his ERA, this time in Spring Training for the Royals, who released him today.  Brad was a subpar starter for Detroit in 2011.  He had a 6.11 ERA as a reliever in 2012 for San Fran, the same year he flamed out with the Fukuoka Hawks after one outing.  He got engaged to (another) dancer and got married in 2013, a year in which he did not pitch professionally.  He will be 36 in May and hasn’t delivered good value on a contract since 2010.   It might be time for the fun loving wide load to sit ringside at UFC bouts full time.  He made $50,000,000 in 13 MLB campaigns.  He can afford to retire.

For Sox fans, Brad was to 2009 what Paul Byrd was to 2008 and what John Burkett was to 2003.  He was a gift in the 5 hole. 

Farewell and bon voyage, big man.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will make $21 million over the next 3 seasons.  He must be feeling giddy.  He donned Jose Fernandez’s purple pants and uniform jersey for team warm ups, just for laughs. 21 million is $13 million more than he made in total during his first 5 years in MLB.  Yes, winning a Championship was berry, berry good for Salty. 

Expect him to go .246, 18 & 60 while catching 120 games per season for the Marlins.  Hopefully, he will improve at stopping pitches that are truly wild, and pitches that are just a little bit wild.  His lack of range behind the plate is what put him on the bench and David Ross in the starting role for the post season. 

Best of luck, Salty.  You deserve the paycheck.  We’ll catch you on the highlight reels.

Leah Hextall.  Sarah Davis.  Can’t NESN get some intelligent, great looking female on air talent that was born before 1980?

I’ll get over Jacoby Ellsbury becoming a Yankee.  But could he look a little less happy as he poses in pinstripes for the camera?  God, Jacoby.

Jake Peavy cut his finger and can’t catch the ball.  Buchholz needs to prove he can stay healthy and start more than 15 games.  Jon Lester is auditioning for a 6 year, $100 million dollar contract elsewhere.  Ryan Dempster is with his family, as he should be.  Felix isn’t fat and Lackey is our best returning starter.  I’m glad the rotation is all set.  (Not.)

Bryce Brentz, the 26 year old outfielder, has 3 HR’s in 7 games this March.  He leads the Sox in hits, runs, rbi and slugging.  But when it comes to being the next Daniel Nava (spare outfielder), Mr. Brentz doesn’t stand a chance.  Not against the born again Grady Sizemore, a.k.a. the human lottery ticket.  Nick Carfado gave Sizemore passing grades on all the early tests and the Sox are drooling.  4 years ago Sizemore could drive in 90 runs, steal 25 bases and score 100 times a season.  He garnered MVP votes in 4 seasons and owns one Gold Glove.   Brentz is competing against what Sizemore used to be.  And the delicious possibility that he can become great again.

Go Sox.

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The best Red Sox shortstop on roster is……Pedroia!

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 6, 2014

Pedey fields!

I admit to being a pathetic Red Sox fan who had a difficult moment this morning. 

Hartford Courant Sports Editor, Jeff Otterbein, gave us about 1200 words in today’s paper to describe the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.  He focused on 1978 to 2004.

I felt the dull twinge of 1978, the soul snuffing crush of 2003, and the overwhelming release of pain from 2004, all rushing to my brain in a teary surge.

I have this dead spot in my brain.  Only the Red Sox exist within it.  Inside this inner zone the sun is always shining, I am sitting behind the plate with my Mom and siblings and it is 1968.  This place is my second childhood home.

I am incapable of having a team other than my Sox fill my primary fan allegiance.  Sometimes I slip up in speech, meaning to say “UConn Huskies” and out comes “Red Sox”.  Or I go for my home town or high school team with the same result.  I have a Red Sox speech impediment.  Truly.

A 57 year old should be moved by much more serious subjects than the NYY-Boston saga.  But…’s very real for me.  And there is no doubt that I am not alone in my vulnerability.


As we count down the days until March 31, there is hope.  Hope for a 4th title to salve a  long & difficult fan history.  There is hope that this team can win 97 games again.  

Uehara is the biggest variable. If Koji cannot present a decent facsimile of his 2013 performance than the Sox are in trouble.  He looks good at the moment.

 I am not too worried about the starters or the middle relievers.  The absence of Ellsbury stings but the defense will be good and the offense will be almost as good as last year, I expect.

 It is concerning that Stephen Drew is gone.  He cleaned up messes for every Sox starting pitcher all year.  With SD gone, the best SS on the team is stationed (with 3 Gold Gloves) at second base.  Mr. Pedroia, the high school and college shortstop, could adapt to the 6 position quickly.  I expect he’d stun the baseball world at shortstop.  But he’s too small.  Too slow.  His arm might not be strong enough. (A High School Q.B.) All the stuff they have been saying about him since he was 8.  What bullshit.

 Xander Boegarts could hit a lightening bug over the CF wall.  He is an offensive dynamo with a laser quick bat.  He’s also a lot better 3rd baseman than he is a SS.

 Will Middlebrooks is a “7” with the glove at 3rd base.  But he might hit 30 HR.  That is why Stephen Drew is gone and Boegarts is at short.

 Among the possible outcomes is that the left side of the infield blows a few games and the improved infield offense wins a few.  In the balance of those games, they play .500 ball and fail to gain ground on an improved Yankee, Oriole or Ray team.  Not to mention a Blue Jay team that should be healthier.

I hope Mr. Cherrington guesses correctly.  I hope Middlebrooks stays healthy and fields his position adequately.  I hope Boegarts gets better with the glove in a hurry.

I hope the  Sox someday learn the value of a smooth fielding SS.

I am hoping.  Again.

4 in my L-I-F-E-T-I-M-E.

Here’s hoping.

Go Sox.

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Fenway Sleeps. Bring the Memories.

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 4, 2013


The snow isn’t on the Fenway infield quite yet but I am already thinking about what this season has been and has meant.

In late March, my cerebral friend and über Sox fan, Marc Wise, predicted about 75 wins for a very broken team coming off the sarcastic rule of Valentine.  Late in game 6 of the just concluded World Series, Marc tucked his new baby boy into his crib and sat back down to watch his team close out the Cardinals for the  championship.  Marc is rich indeed.

On April 1, when the Sox opened the season in the Bronx, I took the Metro North train from New Haven to new Yankee Stadium.  It was supposed to be an easy, streamlined in-and-out of NYC trip.  But it is still a cold, dirty amble to an overbuilt, impersonal concrete slab of a ballpark.  Greed rules.  The historic bones of a baseball shrine have been scattered.  Thank God we still have Fenway and Wrigley.

Speaking of opening day, Dustin Pedroia tore a thumb tendon sliding head first into 1st base that day.  He played injured all year.  He managed to register  .301, 9, 84, with 91 runs scored, playing in 160 games and leading the AL with 724 plate appearances…and won his second gold glove.  I pray that the little man stays healthy another 7 or 8 years.  Then we’ll see about Cooperstown.

The 2013 team threw dirt on the grave of the 2011 team and its legendary, gut wrenching collapse.  Beneath the surface of that soil lies the sadness surrounding Terry Francona’s departure and the bitter bile of Bobby Valentine’s hubris.  All is forgiven now.  I wish Tito good luck, and the same to Valentine’s bosses at Sacred Heart University.

Speaking of Valentine, how many revisions do you think his tell-all book has undergone ?  March 1 Draft Title: ” It wasn’t me; the Sox really suck!”. July 1 Draft Title:  “Even the Titanic started out well!”, and the Final Draft: ” I would have won it all if Cherrington had gotten me these guys!”

I was at Fenway on Opening Day, when Buchholz was brilliant and Daniel Nava, the player nobody wanted, hit a 3 run HR in the 7th to post a 3-1 win.

I was there on Patriots Day, when Napoli’s 9th inning wall ball double won it, 3-2, 90 or so minutes before two twisted boys detonated bombs near the finish line of the Marathon.  The T ride out of the city was somber.  Strangers looked each in the eyes and talked softly about what needed to be done.

David Ortiz’s unfortunate F Bomb on April 16 before the Fenway crowd, and a seemingly total lack of disapproval for it.

The leaving of Jose Iglesias, whose speed and fielding I adored.   The coming of  Xander Boegarts, who I saw hit a laser out of Hadlock Field in 2011, and who wears the “next great” tag.

The hard-to-watch on-camera awkwardness of Erin Andrews on the World Series broadcasts on Fox.  Heidi Watney is tip top and Rachel Nichols is almost as good as Heidi as an on-field reporter.  Andrews’ queerish self-awareness and odd interview questions make her a square peg in a round hole.  I can’t believe Fox prefers her to the others.

Fox broadcasters made a shallow & disconnected attempt to get a charge out of this championship being the first won in Boston since 1918.  It was an attempt to recall and reignite the emotional relief New England felt in 2004 when an 86 year drought ended.  It wasn’t the same.  It was poorly scripted.

The presence of Jonny Gomes, John Lester and others in Gillette Stadium for the Nov. 3 Pats vs. Steelers game was a master stroke, as was the observance at the Marathon finish line made the day before by the parading duck boats.

Fair thee well, Jacoby and Salty.  I’ll be rooting for you unless you put on pinstripes.

Congrats, Ben Cherrington.  Perhaps it was you who worked the magic that Theo got credit for in 2007.

Thanks again Larry.  I owe you.  Three times now.

Go Sox.

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The Papi Slam +1: These guys are human

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 18, 2013

UntitledI am going to make a strong effort to remember that MLB players are just people.   I saw something the other day that made me decide this.

The Papi Slam and victory in ALCS game 2 were rarified highs.  After the game I slept smiling ear-to-ear in a hotel 6 blocks from Fenway.  I snoozed  in a bed of dreams that made all my championship wishes seem possible.

The next morning I decided to walk past the new Yaz statue on Van Ness Street outside Fenway.  It was beautiful and sunny.  Yaz looked great.  So did his bronzed colleagues Ted, Johnny, Bobby and Dom.

There were busses lined up near the corner of Van Ness & Fenway, some labeled Player Bus 1, Player Bus 2, Staff Bus 1, etc..

It was approaching 10 a.m..  Looked like the team would soon be showing up to bus it to Logan, then fly to Motown for Game 3.

I stood with a flock of camera men and TV reporters behind a barrier near the first bus.  Before long, Fenway security placed another barrier behind us ensconcing me and the news folk in a media bullpen between the busses and the players entrance.

The fun soon started.  20 fans lined up in less proximate positions.  Everyone strained to identify the players in street clothes.  Easier said than done when trying to ID a part time player with one of many bushy beards.

Don Orsillo, NESN & MLB talent passed the gauntlet and received warm greetings.  Don drives a 2005 Volvo S60 just like my wife. 

Joe Castiglione walked through, sadly unrecognized by everyone but me, and that only at the last moment.

John Lackey, on foot, strode quickly into the ballpark , mute and surly.  He ignored my call of Go get ‘em, Johnny boy”.

Buchholz soon entered and like Lackey maintained a frozen façade that my Go Get ‘Em quips couldn’t break.

Shane Victorino came through and he too played the Ice King.

I decided to take a different approach with these young millionaires.

Jacoby Ellsbury, toting a drag bag and tailed by a red coated brunette, came briskly through the partition with eyes fixed straight ahead.  “Hey, Ells, GREAT GAME last night!”, I shouted.  Ellsbury looked squarely at me.  He face relaxed and broke into a beautiful smile.  “Thank you.”, he nodded, exuding joy and pride.  Don’t think for a minute that being gifted, young and rich makes you immune to the intoxication of making baseball history.

Pedroia soon scooted through.  “Great Game, Pedey!”, I yelled.  The Boston player with the biggest heart turned to me with a great big smile and said, “Thanks, man.”  He was really feeling it.

PedeyNo question about it.  When your team almost gets no-hit on Saturday, gets no-hit for 6 IP’s and down by 4 runs in the 8th on Sunday, and then pulls it out with 5 runs in the 8th and 9th to avoid going into a 2 games to 0 hole, you feel like your crew is writing one dramatic story.

The exposition goes back to Sept., 2011.  The Sox went 7-17 and were eliminated from the playoffs on the last day, frittering away a 9 game wild card lead.  Francona exited in shame.  Theo hauled ass to Chicago.  Valentine brought his special sarcasm to the mix.  A super storm of injuries hit the team and they went 69 – 93 in 2012.

Picked to finish 4th, these Sox have already written a terrific story with a 97 – 65 WL record.  Even their most loyal fans predicted  75 wins. 

This group of gritty Sox ground out a fairy tale turn around.

Dangling from the ledge of near-elimination on Sunday, they pulled out another crazy comeback.

It’s dramatic.  It will be talked about for decades.  The players know this.

More players arrived.  More softened and responded when praised for the great turn-around the prior evening.

Even the News people noticed and started to yell Great Game.

The scene took a turn for the worse when Jonny Gomes drove up in his uber truck, a big black behemoth with a dozen manufacturer decals.  Jonny’s wife popped out of the passenger side as Jonny rounded the front to her side.

“Why are you taking pictures of my wife?”, Jonny shouted at a TV reporter who had been tweeting photos of the arriving players.

Jonny Gomes, looking not at all chubby as he can look in his baggy uniform, stood ram rod straight, a stack of muscle and fuming testosterone, glaring at the reporter.

“I…..I was absolutely NOT shooting your wife.”, the newsman stammered.

“YES, YOU WERE!”, the outfielder said as he took 3 menacing steps toward the man.

“No, no.  I wasn’t.”, he offered, humbly and softly.

“100%!”, Gomes yelled, indicating his level of confidence that the reporter was a lying dirtbag.

“No, no…, look at the camera, look at my shots.  Your wife is not in them.”

For one stone silent moment Gomes stared at the scribe, seeming to weigh whether or not to pummel him.  Then Jonny Gomes picked up a baby carrier from his back seat, a wee one tucked inside, and walked silently away.

I later chatted with the reporter, congratulating him on getting Gomes to talk.  The tension gone, he offered to show me his photos to prove his innocence.  Still later, when I asked for copies of his shots, he mentioned he was also taking photos with his personal I Phone. 

Gomes may have been right.  Or maybe not.  But I’d like to think it was a simple misunderstanding.

One thing is for certain.  These players are human.  They soar with historic victory, and they bristle when they think that someone they love might be used.

They’re just folks.  I’ll remember that.

As always, I’ll be rooting for the Sox.  And I’ll be thinking about the people on that team.

Go Sox.


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