At home at fenway

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

Archive for September, 2008

90 wins

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 20, 2008

Sept. 19, 2008

A place within Red Sox Nation sans Yankee fans. 

Suffield, Ct

 

 

April was cold...but the team got hot.
April was cold…but the team got hot.
 

The Sox defeated Toronto on the road, 4-3 tonight, bringing their record to 90 W – 63 L.

 

For the second year in a row.   For the 6th time in 7 years.

 

This campaign hasn’t been a day at the beach.  But it has been the inspiration for many reflections.

 

Here are a few random ones:

 

Papelbon is fallable.  He hasn’t many clean consecutive appearances.  Opponents say he shows signs of fatigue.

 

The big man has begun to break down.  It’s inevitable.  God made that body for protecting a Queen or President, not running the bases and sliding into home.  I’m going to enjoy watching David while we have him.

 

Red Sox Ownership believes that one should always behave in a courteous fashion.  Even when Manny Ramirez was just begging for a suspension.  He should have been sent home without pay and left to stew until after the season was over.  The Sox would have given the union a good fight.

 

Pedroia is a mini-Michael.  He’s a talented freak. 

Pedroia is nearing cult figure status in Boston. 

 

In Baseball, mediocrity is good because it adds up over six months.  The Sox were not terrific throughout this year.  They won a few more than they lost every month from March through the end of July, then got hot in August.

 

A no-no doesn’t necessarily mean much.  Buch, godspeed and good luck in the Arizona Fall League.  Soxaholics saw the no-hitter as foreshadowing a long career and a bag full of Cy Young trophies. Well, we’ve all gotten past those expectations by now. Clay, you need a few moments of Zen.  The desert is the perfect place for that.  Check out Sedona.

 

 

4 good starting pitchers make up for lengthy patches of dismal hitting.  I think that one is self-explanatory.

 

Knuckle ballers will never get the respect they deserve despite significant heroics.  It is how bad Wake looks (3 or 4 starts a year) that prejudices the crowd.  They forget about the other 28 outings.  Many fans abhor the extreme bad beyond rationality.

 

Fenway continues to be cleaned, painted, sandblasted and spiffed up.  And it’s dandy !

 

Fenway continues to need a major, major o-v-e-r-h-a-u-l !  May it begin by correcting the orientation of seats in Grandstand 3, 4, 5, and 6, and the Right Field Boxes in sections 88 through 92.  Untwist our necks.  Let the healing to begin.

 

Sean Casey looks like a Dentist.  An Insurance Salesman.  A Civil Engineer.

 

We are seeing the results of the greatest BoSox minor league production in history.  Lester, Masterson, Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Cash, Bowden, and Delcarmon.  This is unprecedented.

 

Keeping Jon Lester has more than worked out.  I would have traded him with two prospects for Santana.  I thought he’d never make the leap he made this year.  Wrong.

 

Unthinkable though it was on Oct.17, 2003, we now have a chance to triple the pleasure in this golden era of Red Sox Baseball.  2004, 2007…2008.  Unthinkable.

 

Dan Duquette continues to be regularly and wrongfully ignored by the Sox.  Remember Varitek and Lowe for Heathcliff Slocomb ?

 

Jed Lowrie is way better than Julio Lugo.

 

Jason Bay is just compensation.

 

Manny was as great a hitter as he was a loveable cartoon character.

 

The Yankees have little left to motivate them other than beating down the BoSox on Sept. 26 – 28.

 

Paul Byrd is to 2008 what John Burkett was to 2003.  A #5 when needed, but never intended for the post-season.  Burkett always started when I went to Fenway in 2003 and he would just flumox batters for 4 innings, sometimes for 5.  Then he’d just give it up.

 

John Burkett
Age before beauty: John Burkett

Some fans drive a hundred miles to see a game at Fenway, then sleep in their car so they can wake up and see another Red Sox home game the next day.  I kid you not.

 

It hurts to see Eric Hinske, former BoSox Super Sub, star for the Rays.

 

10 hits in a game at the right time create 10 runs.  10 hits at the wrong times create none.  Funny game.

 

Come the postseason, it is best to miss the team that had your number all season.  Like missing the Yankees in 2007.  Maybe — like missing the Rays in 2008.

 

Nothing curtails the demand for BoSox tickets.  Not gas prices, home heating fuel, declining home sales, growing unemployment, the collapse of Financial giants.  Nothing yet.

 

Hats off to Naomi Calder and the BoSox for finding creative ways to spread the ticket opportunities around so fans get a shot at them.  This week’s lottery for post-season tickets made thousands of fans happy.  One post-season game in October makes up for a summer with no trips to Beantown.

 

Hats off to Lou Gorman, classy guy that he is, for repping the Sox with intelligence and wit where ever he is met.  I’d like to have a cup of coffee with Lou and his Fenway office mate, Bill James.

 

Terry Francona’s stress level would decline without the unrelenting crush of Boston fandom.  Once you see it up close, you realize how rude fans can be.

 

Soxaholics are passionate when in Baltimore, Phoenix, Tampa, etc..  But we’ve gone over the top at times with loud and bullying demonstrations about how dominant we are.  And the local papers have referred to us as a traveling circus.  We need to be respectful of the houses and traditions of others.  We represent the teams of Young, Williams, Ruth, Ortiz, Yaz, Tony C..  We give till it hurts to the Jimmy Fund and the Red Cross.  We represent Triumph over Tragedy.  Our sell out streak is 5 years running.  Sox fans are the classiest in Baseball.  We should show we understand the traditions of other teams and show respect.  This isn’t the NFL.

There are places to stand and watch the game that are not standing room, but with a better view than all of Fenway’s bad seats.

 

 

“Parts is Parts”, said the venerable Frank Perdue when speaking of thighs and legs.  It sure takes a lot of parts to win a pennant.

 

True:  A giant two-legged beer cup ran in the 2008 Boston Marathon.

 

True:  4 B.U. Students carrying a sofa ran in the 2008 Boston Marathon.

 

Obviously True:  Spectators were drunk by 10 a.m. while watching the 2008 Boston Marathon.

 

 

There are 9 games left.  Let’s take 6 !

 

 

 

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Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Matsuzaka | 2 Comments »

Ortiz & Youkilis add to tradition

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 8, 2008

 

(AP) Dick Whipple photo

(AP) Dick Whipple photo

 
 
 
 
 

 

The 1901 Boston Americans

 

On May 2, 1901, Boston beat Philly on the road by a score of 23 to 12. 

Boston scored 9  in the 2nd and 10  in the third as 22 batted, with 7 BB,10 hits, 3 triples.

 

This was a special team, created with great care by the brains behind the new league.

 

Ban Johnson set up teams for his new American League in Boston, Philly and Chicago as he believed the AL could not succeed without stealing market share from the NL in these cities.

 

Led by HOF 3rd Baseman and manager Jimmy Collins, 1st Baseman Buck Freeman, CF

 

 Chick Stahl, and HOFer Cy Young, The Boston Americans hit more HR’s than any AL team (37), featured a regular lineup in which every man stole 20 or more bases, yielded the fewest runs scored, and struck out the most opposing batters.

 

Jimmy Collins (3rd B), Freddy Parent (SS), Hobe Ferris (2nd B), Buck Freeman (1st B), Lou

 

 Criger (C), Tommy Dowd (LF), Chick Stahl (CF) and Charley Hemphill (RF) backed up

 starting pitcher Winford Kellum on opening day, which they lost to John McGraw’s

 Baltimore team. 

 

1901 was a fascinating campaign. 

 

Right from the start, the Americans outdrew their  in-town rivals Boston Braves.  The Americans outdrew the Braves approximately 300,000 to 160,000.

 

9,000 fans at the Grounds was a common event. 

 

By May 10, Boston was short on pitching and in 5th place.  Collins made some clever roster

 

 moves, including signing YMCA pitcher George Winter, who was a temporary wonder. 

 

By June 21, Boston had won 15 of 16 games, was tied for 2nd, and had knocked Chicago

 out of first.

 

Aided by a remarkable 49-20 record at home at the brand new Huntington Ave. Grounds, the Americans were soon in a tie for first.

 

But when Collins soon went to a 3-man rotation of Young-Lewis-Winter, the Sox faded. 

 

They were in the mix until Aug. 25, when a 4-2 loss to Cleveland was marred by an attack on Umpire Pongo Joe Cantillion.  50 or more Sox rooters were outraged over Pongo Joe’s calls and attempted a physical beating after the game.  Stahl pulled Cantillion out of the mess and ushered him to safety.

 

The loss to Cleveland came when Boston was just a half game out of first.  The Cantillion incident signaled the initial slide out of contention.

 

In the end, Boston would finish 4 games out of first.

 

Just like the 1950 team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1950 Boston Red Sox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 29, 1950.  By the time the second inning was over, 21 total runs had been scored and the Sox led 14-7.  The succession of unending base hits and walks saw nine pitchers giving up 39 hits and 21 bases on balls.

 

What a Red Sox line up ! 

 

DiMaggio (CF), Goodman (3rd B), Williams (LF), Stephens (ss), Dropo (1st B), Zarilla (RF), Doerr (2nd B), Batts (C), backing up Stobbs, the starting pitcher.

 

The hero of the day was Ted Williams.  His 9th inning double drove in the record breaking run.  He hit the only HR of the game, his 24th  of the year.  He drove in 6 runs, making his total 80 RBI through 69 games.

 

Williams was on the greatest power tear of his life.  At this pace he could finish with 54 HR’s and 179 RBI.  He could challenge Gehrig and Ruth’s respective RBI and HR season records.

 

Williams would break his elbow less than 2 weeks later, crashing into the wall to pull down a Ralph Kiner fly at the All Star Game.

 

Ted would miss the next 10 weeks and hit just 5 more HR’s.

 

This team would finish a very respectable 94 W – 60 L.  They would lead the AL in batting at .302, Slugging at .464, Runs scored at 1,027, Doubles with 287, Fielding at .981.

 

Despite losing Ted, the team kept winning without him.  Walt Dropo was the ROY, and Walt tied Vern Stephens for the Al RBI title with 144.  Doerr and Pesky had fine seasons.   Billy Godman led the AL in batting with .354.

 

The team liked home cooking, too, with a 55 – 22 record at Fenway.

 

The Yankees went 8 – 4 in the final 12 games of the season while the Sox went 5 – 7, sealing their fate.

 

Our guys had entered the middle part of the vast 86-year span of mishaps and suffering.

 

God help us.

 

 

 

 

The 2008 Boston Red Sox

 

Lowrie rounds third

Lowrie rounds third

 

August 12, 2008.  Big Papi hits TWO 3-run HR’s in the first inning.  Sox lead 10-0 after 1 inning.

 

Sox starter Charlie Zink, the knuckle baller from Pawtucket, lost his edge while waiting for the long offensive inning to end.  No longer in the groove, he yielded 7 quick runs. 

 

The next 5 Sox pitchers would yield 10 more.

 

Sox 12- 2.

 

Sox 12 – 10.

 

Rangers 12- 14.

 

Dustin Pedroia, who went 5 for 6 and scored 5 runs, drove in Ellsbury in the 8th, and then Youkilis drove in the last 2 runs with his second HR of the game.

 

Sox 19- 17.

 

What an extraordinary comeback.

 

This team showed little speed in that game with just 3 SB’s. 

 

But speed is a hallmark of this team, just as it was in 1901.

 

Crisp and Ellsbury have game changing speed.

 

Pedroia, who defies expectations in so many ways, steals efficiently and hustles on the bases with nut busting effort.

 

Lowrie, Bay, and Kotsay are fleet, smart base runners.

 

There is enough power in the middle with Papi and Youk…or Papi and Bay….or Papi and Lowell.  Take your choice.

 

No insult to Lugo, but with Julio out of the picture, fielding is also this team’s hallmark.   Bay, Crisp & Ellsbury are the most exciting outfield trio in years.  The infield and catcher positions are solid.  There could be three gold gloves for our guys this year:  Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkilis.

 

Today the Sox got a great start out of Paul Byrd.  Starting pitching has been the leading strength of this team all year.  You get a quality start 67% of the time from Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester and Wakefield

 

(Yes, Wakefield !)

 

 

As the Sox took their 6th consecutive series today with a win in Arlington, the table was set for a strong finish.

 

20 games left.  6 games on the road.  14 at home.

 

The Sox are 1.5 games behind Tampa, almost assured of the wild card and closing in on a Division title.  

 

Despite no Manny Ramirez.

 

Like the 1950 Red Sox, the 2008 edition lost its best hitter in July.

 

Like the 1901 Bostons, the 2008 edition has speed, pitching and power.

 

Unlike either of these two teams of history, the 2008 Boston Red Sox are a team of destiny.

 

3 Championships in this golden era of Red Sox baseball ?

 

I’m feeling it.  Are you feelin’ what I’m feelin’ ?

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Youkilis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Dear Kevin: I’ve been Missing Youk

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 2, 2008

Sept. 1, 2008

 

 

Kevin Youkilis is  feeling better and playing tonight.  He rebounded from a 24-48 hour bug that kept him out for the last two games of the ChiSox series.  We missed him yesterday.

 

Phew !  Just in time for September baseball and the pennant drive.

 

Though the buzz has justifiably been about Dustin Pedroia lately, Youk’s stats rival the American League’s elite this year.

 

In the AL, Kevin ranks:

 

4th in OPS at .953

5th in B.A. @ .318

6th in slugging @ .565

7th in RBI @ 94

8th in OBP w .388

9th in doubles @ 36

 

 

He’s a key for his team’s success.

 

The Sox are 38-12 in games when Youk had an rbi.

 

The Sox have a winning pct. of .597 when he’s playing, and .417  when he is not.

 

Hey, we really need this guy !!!

 

A NEW YOUK

 

Youk’s career BA through July 1 is .314      and just .240 career the rest of the way.

 

 

Kevin’s has a .326 BA since July 1 this year.

 

Even more enlightening, he batted .351 in August.

 

Even before this dramatic 2nd half improvement, there was already so much to like about this guy.  He gets his uniform dirty filthy.  He hits, he walks.  He’s an OBP trophy.  He crowds the plate, gets his share of HBP’s, but never backs off.  He’s tough.    He’s the best fielding first baseman in baseball history, surpassing Stuffy McInnis and Steve Garvey.   Sure footed and smart, he’s a bulky combination of intellect and grace.

 

The second half batting excellence is a new achievement.

 

If Youk has found personal inspiration and focus that took him to the next level, let us celebrate, Soxaholics.

 

If it is just that he’s now 29, the year a man hits his physical peak in life, let us reap the benefits and think about the parade route for October.

 

I’ll take it.

 

Perhaps the break will do him good.  Ted Williams chipped an ankle bone in Spring 1941, thus missing the first few weeks of the season.  He batted .406 that year.

 

I’m hoping Kevin’s 2-day bout with the flu, which started on Ted’s 90th birthday, foreshadows a September to remember for the bearded one.

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis, RED SOX, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

Dustin Pedroia MVP needs a little breathing room

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 1, 2008

 

Fenway Park

Aug. 30 & 31, 2008

 

The air in Fenway Park had to be a little suffocating for Dustin Pedroia.  His  team was down by 2 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Ellsbury took a lead off third.  Pinch runner Coco Crisp stood on second.

 

The crowd was chanting. MVP.  MVP.  MVP.

 

For the third day in a row.

 

MVP.  MVP.  MVP.

 

The chant rang out on this most claustrophobic day of August.  150,000 college students and parents clogged Storrow Drive and the Mass Pike.  This is college move-in day.  Tens of thousands of cars jammed the Big Dig, heading in and out of Boston.  This was Labor Day Weekend.  Cars were stalled and dormitory bookcases were hefted all over the City.

 

There was bright sunshine outside.  But Dustin Pedroia stood in the 4 p.m. shadows cast over the batter’s box, trying to pick up Bobby Jenks’ pitches.

 

Wakefield and Delcarmen pitched well.  The Sox squandered offensive opportunities.  With a walk and a single from Ellsbury & Ortiz, the Sox were a swing away from a walk-off victory in the bottom of the 9th.

 

The little engine that could was at bat.

 

The smallest MVP could he be — since Nellie Fox 49 years ago.

 

Jenks fed Dustin two 91 mph sliders.  The count was 1-1.

 

Jenks hurled a slider down. Pedroia hit it off the end of the bat, lifting a weak flyner to left for the last out. 

 

Just missed.

 

The wolf was at the door.  The children and the grandmother were eaten.

 

No storybook moment this day. 

 

The crowd went home a little sad and emotional.

 

Sadness over no sweep.

 

Anxiety that the Twins and Rays would win —  and gain.

 

Fear that our lack of timely hitting would rear its ugly head as we enter September.  The month when winners become Money.

 

 

What more do we want from Pedroia ?

 

The Little Guy heads all American League batters in three categories:  Batting @ .326;  Hits @ 183, and Runs Scored @ 106;

 

He is third in doubles with 43.

 

He leads the League in healthy attitude.  No conceit or arrogance.

 

He busted down the line yesterday with a flat out hustle that would have exploded Manny Ramirez’s hamstrings.

 

The team needs him to stay healthy.  We need him to keep doing what he has been doing.

 

I hesitate to chant and put any added pressure on him.

 

 

 

The ChiSox are an entertaining bunch

 

As the crowd belted out a robust “Sweet Caroline”, Nick Swisher pumped his fist with the bugs on the “bum, bum, bum” in Neil Diamond’s melody.  Swisher displayed good nature despite being harassed by two bad apples the day before.

 

In the first after Pedroia singled to reach base for the 11th consecutive at bat, Chicago’s Ozzie Guillen offered to award Dustin the ball.  Ozzie’s got a sense of humor, what with telling the Press he is more concerned with Pedroia than Big Papi these days.

 

Lastly, Orlando Cabrera reverentially doffed his batting helmet to Ellsbury after the Centerfielder robbed him of a double with a heroic catch this weekend.  Orlando’s tongue was in his cheek as he feigned subordination to the fleet flycatcher.

 

The White Sox are an interesting bunch.   And they hit the ball like hell.  What a line up !   The Sox staff did a hell of a job holding them down, especially Quentin.

 

Hats off to Jim Thome, who homered, tying Mantle with career #536 on Sunday.  He powered Chicago to the 4-2 win on Sunday.   Note that the clutch Chicago batsmen scored ALL four of their runs with 2 out.  UGG !

 

 

Posted in Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »