At home at fenway

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Archive for the ‘Dustin Pedroia’ Category

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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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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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.


Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury | Leave a Comment »

Distracted, Disgraced and Down

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 21, 2011

Do the Sox and Pedey have the will to win, as suggested by this week’s cover of Boston Baseball?

18 hours have passed since last night’s collapse and I am starting to regain my balance.

I feel like I was hit on the head with a wiffle ball bat, poked in the ribs, rolled over and fanny whacked.

18 hours ago Daniel Bard took a 1 run lead into the 8th inning vs. Baltimore and went Single – K – Single against 3 batters, followed  by Papelbon’s K-Single-Double against the next 3 guys.  4 hits in 6 AB’s for 3 runs scored and a blown lead.

And another lost game. 

On a night when Boston could have plumped their wildcard lead from 2 games to 3, the Sox got another poor start and a bullpen fire to boot.  Erik Bedard lasted only 2 2/3 IP, yielding 4 runs, 1 ER, 5 Hits, and 2 BB.  Bard and Pap’s 3 runs allowed was more than the O’s needed to win, 7 – 5.

The Sox had come back from a 4 run deficit and nursed a lead from the 5th to the 8th inning.  The team was perfectly set up to have Bard & Pap turn out the lights.  That’s what really hurts.  The longer this slide goes on, the more creative the Sox seem to be at finding a way to lose.

So, do the Sox and Pedey have the will to win ?

I’m thinking NOT.

If distraction is an indication of defeat, then they are already defeated.  Reddick dropped a routine liner which led to 4 unearned runs in the 3rd inning last night. 

That one distracted play could have foretold the outcome.  But the Reddick botch wasn’t sufficient.  The Bullpen came through and coughed up the victory.

If you think you are done, well, you are.  And you will find a way to lose.

So now the time comes to frame the September Slide in a historical context.

Where does a team that lost a 9 game Wild Card lead held on September 1 fit in among Baseball’s greatest collapses ?

The 1964 Phillies had a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left in the season.  They lost 10 in a row and finished tied for second.  That’s tough to top.

The 2007 Mets had a 7 game lead with 17 games remaining.  They lost 11 of 16, and finished in second by 1 game on the last day of the season when their ace, Tom Glavine, melted down.  They’ve been losing ever since.

The 1995 Angels led by 11.5 games on Aug. 9, then went 12-27 in their final 39 games ending in a tie with the Mariners.  Randy Johnson zotzed them 9 – 1, booting them onto the list of ignominy. 

My 1978 Red Sox led by 14 in July and still held a 7.5-game lead with 32 games remaining. They lost 14-of-17, then charged back with eight straight wins to force a 1 game playoff with the Yankees.  And then, Bucky Dent.

The 1951 Dodgers had a 13.5 game lead on Aug. 11.  They went a respectable 26-22 after that date, but the Giants won 37 out of their final 44 games, tying the Dodgers on the final day. The Giants won a 3 game playoff punctuated by the Shot Heard Round The World.

The 2011 Boston Red Sox were thought able enough to win 105 games by many with their loaded pitching staff, hardy hitters, and newly acquired studs.  They rebounded from a dreadful 2 W – 10 L start, captured first place and had a seemingly insurmountable 9 game lead in the Wild Card on Sept. 1.  Their starting pitching fell into a funk, the bullpen burst into flames, and the fielding errors were many  as the Sox lost 13 of 17 in September.  With the Wildcard lead down to 2 with 7 games left, their starting pitchers recorded an ERA of 8.97 as the Sox lost all 7 games by a combined score of 56 to 21.  Tampa took the Wild Card by 3 games.

I made that last part up.

And if it does happen, I’d put the 2011 Sox right there with the others mentioned above.  Maybe not the worst of the worst.  But definitely adrift somewhere between the others, feeling around in the dark for another win, unsure of how really bad they themselves are.

I should not watch the game tonight.  But I cannot look away.

Posted in BASEBALL, Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | 2 Comments »

S.I.: Pedroia in the mold of Puckett & Morgan

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 12, 2011

Tom Verducci appeared on WEEI Wednesday morning to promote his cover story about Dustin Pedroia in the August 15 issue of Sports Illustrated.  4 hours later I was persuading a magazine vendor to find the cello bundle of SI’s on his dolly and sell me one of his new Pedroias.  I had to consume it.

He complied.  And I consumed.  So now I’m telling you straight up — You must go get it right now.  Go !

What else but excellence would you expect from Verducci ?  A baseball insider on MLB TV programming (MLB Tonight, Hot Stove and Front Burner), he is also SI’s Senior Baseball Writer.  He arrived at the magazine in 1993 after 10 years with Newsday.  A Penn State graduate and a New Jersey native, Verducci was an athlete himself.  He caught the winning TD pass for Seton Hall Prep for the N.J. High School Football Championship, 1978.

The perfect guy to write the Pedroia story has been stressing one thing about the Little Man since hitting the airwaves to promote it:  Pedroia is undersold.  Dustin is widely recognized as an overachieving midget but does not get the credit he deserves for having skills.

Which is what Red Sox scouts were telling Theo right up to the point at which they drafted him in 2004.  To paraphrase:  He’s a great player but he has no skills…he’s great..We just wish he had some skills.

The 29 other MLB teams also thought he had no skills and used 64 earlier picks on other kids, Justin Verlander arguably the best among them.

Suppressing their gut to choose someone else, the Sox took the Little Man, besting 29 teams, especially the Twins, who had 6 picks before Boston took Pedey.

Verducci paints a picture of Dustin as the antsy, fast talking nut-buster; if his team is a flock of sheep then he is a spunky corgi circling them, yammering away and keeping them together.

He gives everyone a hard time, including Tito.  A bar owner sent Pedey an expensive bottle (he doesn’t drink) and he offered it to Francona, yelling, “Hey, Tito!……I got something for you. Drink this before the game. We’re trying to win tonight and this might help you manage!”

A couple of golden nuggets:

“He is the patron saint of the vertically, muscularly and follicularly challenged.”

Verducci quotes Ozzie Guillen: “I love that little guy.  It looks like he escaped from Cirque Du Soleil and they put a uniform on him.”

Verducci holds up the unflattering comments, the funny ones, the rude ones, and reveals them as the tributes they are.

He says Pedroia is not an undersized and big hearted player in the way of a David Eckstein.  He is a small but singularly talented ballplayer as in the cases of Joe Morgan and Kirby Puckett.

And speaking of HOF’ers, when matching Pedroia’s career OPS to second baseman in the HOF, Dustin ranks only behind Jackie Robinson, Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri.

Among non-HOF’ers, his OPS ranks only behind Chase Utley and George Grantham.

So in the 135 seasons of major league baseball, Dustin ranks behind only 5 second basemen for getting on base and slugging combined.

I hear a Hall-bound train a coming.


Do not miss the article.  Best thing on Pedroia in quite some time.


George “Boots” Grantham (1900 – 1954) played from 1920 to 1934.  His career stats of .302 BA, 105 HR’s, 722 RBI are powered by 8 consecutive seasons in which he batted .300 or higher.  He played 3 seasons with the Cubs before being shipped to the Bucs in 1925 in the deal that brought Charlie Grimm and Rabbit Maranville to the Windy City.  Were he alive today, Boots could tell what it was like to play against Babe Ruth, who he watched up close in the 1927 Series.  Ruth batted .400 in that Series.  Boots wasn’t so bad himself, earning a .364 average in the Series.


Tom Verducci arrested my attention in March 2005 with a Spring Training cover story about the Toronto Blue Jays.  He did the George Plimpton thing, suiting up and drilling with the Jays.  Here is how he describes his uniform in that 6-year-old article:

“I feel the fit and drape of my uniform, a major league uniform, my amazing technicolor dreamcoat. Gray pants, belted tightly, black-mesh jersey with TORONTO in metallic silver above the stylized Blue Jays logo on the left breast and a shimmering silver number 2 on my back. Never can I remember the sky bluer, the grass greener, the sun brighter.”

I love it.

They say Verducci really arrived when in 1995 his cover story on the Dead End Kids of Baseball tracked the trials and travels of Strawberry and Gooden.

He is the co-author of THE YANKEE YEARS with Joe Torre, which is also well worth your time.

The writer has skills.

Happy reading !

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Dustin Pedroia : Hear the Proud Papa on WEEI

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 24, 2009

Baby Dylan meets George Kotteras in locker room during 2009 rookie hazing

Sometimes serious, sometimes poking fun, Dustin Pedroia  entertains WEEI audiences every Saturday on WEEI’s The Laser Show, hosted by Mut & Bradford.

Here’s a sampling from the Dec. 19, 12 and 5th shows..

On what’s happening with son Dylan, who born on August 18.

“I went to the store yesterday and bought him a bat.  He’s already swinging it.  It’s one of those bats for 6 month olds.  He’s 4 months old and he’s already raking with it.  I want to tell you guys a quick story….he was sleeping and he’s starting to roll over, so I heard him on the baby monitor, and I got all nervous, so I go to his crib and he’s got the baby monitor in his hands above his head like he’s bench pressing it, and I’m like, This is awesome. So, I say, hey man, what are you doing ? And he throws the baby monitor at me.  He threw it left handed, though, so I had to start him over, put it in his right hand and had him throw it again.  So, we (Dylan & I) are ruining the baby monitor trying to play catch at 3 in the morning.  He’s getting big.  He’s starting to understand it.  He’s a couple of months away from starting to take ground balls.”

On the Mike Lowell trade that was pending at that time:

“He is one of the closest guys to me on the team…a guy everyone looks up to…a huge clubhouse presence…what he’s done on the field speaks for itself.  He’s played through injuries…he’s made me a better player every year….he’s been my best friend…he’ll be missed (if he leaves.)……I remember my rookie year when  I was just trying to figure things out, get some hits, and I had gotten real close to batting .300, and Mikey looked at me and said, You’re turning yourself into a good player.  Don’t ever stop.  When you get two hits in a game, you’re always going for number 3.  When you get 3 hits, you’re always going for number 4. He had never really talked to me like that before.  He meant business.  He wanted me to be better, and he thought I could be.”

On his own physical condition & stature:

“I am close to looking like Pocket Hercules, the bodybuilder, the guy who’s 4 ft 6” and lifts 700 pounds…yeah, that’s me.  We still have 10 weeks to go before we put the finishing touches on the masterpiece, by the time I get to Fort Meyers, oh yeah, believe it, I’m going to be ready…..(I’ll be) tipping the scales at 168….but it’s a strong 168.”

On Marco Scutaro, starting shortstop for 2010:

“Last year, the (great) year that he had, he was all over us, he killed us all year, always on base, always scoring runs and making great defensive plays…he robbed me a few times and I was like Man, you have got to be kidding me…guys like that frustrate the other team….you hate playing against him, if that guy is on your team you have to love to have him….I’m glad he’s on our side now and I know he’s going to help us win a ton of games.”

On his own value for Fantasy League pickers:

“I see myself going in the first round.  I know that everyone is saying that I had a down year, that my numbers weren’t close to when I had my MVP season, but guess what ?  We are going to get back to that (year in 2008), Fantasy Team Owners.  So tell your friends, First Round, Let’s Rock, we’re ready to win this year.”

On the bat he swings:

“I actually started out with a C243, which is cut similar to an aluminum bat, but I just go on feel and I’ve used the S318 for the last 3 years.  At the beginning of 2009, I used an R161 which has a thicker handle, but I ended up going back to an S318.  You just need to go with whatever bat feels comfortable in your hands.  The more you hit with a bat, the better it feels.”

On what the Sox need for 2010:

“Our first priority in the off season is to sign Jason Bay.  He’s been a huge part of our team the last year and a half, he’s gotten some big hits, he’s a huge bat in our lineup, he takes pressure off a lot of guys.”

On Big Papa in 2009 and 2010:

“David just got off to a real slow start…but if you look at his numbers after the first two months they are some of the best in the major leagues…if you look at his last four months there isn’t a guy who hit as many HR’s or drove in as many runs in the major leagues…I saw him at Torri Hunter’s charity event in Arizona and he just said, I’m ready to start early, I don’t want to get off to a slow start and have to play catch up the whole year, because that is mentally draining….he’ll be the first one to tell you that there were a lot of things that got under his skin last year, and starting slow was the biggest one of them.”

On playing in Beantown:

“The Red Sox drafted me and I want to play here my whole career.  That’s obviously a goal for me.  That’s where I want to be.”

On Jacoby Ellsbury — off the field:

“He’s a great guy.  It takes sometime to open him up, and that’s part of my job, I’m all over him all of the time, trying to open him up, have some fun, put a smile on his face.  Once he starts, he gives it right back.  He’s just a normal guy.  Likes to have fun, loves to play baseball, loves to win.  He’s obviously an exciting player and he’s just coming into his own.”


I asked my wife if she had bought me a baseball present for Christmas and she replied, “Oh, I never think of baseball in the off season.”

I don’t understand how that can happen.

Perhaps you, too, are looking for added ways to enjoy the hot stove league.

To enjoy more of DP’s bright and fun loving personality, tune into WEEI on Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.   The broadcasts are also available on the station web-site.  Follow the link below to the Dec. 19 broadcast:

The real Pocket Hercules

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Dustin to Dylan Pedroia: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 25, 2009

Dustin and Kelli have something better than a Championship.

Dustin and Kelli have something better than a Championship.

You delivered a Championship and the ROY Award in your first year.

You won the A.L. MVP Award in your second.

What do you do for an encore  ?

If you are Dustin Pedroia and your wife, Kelli, you top it all and have a little baby on August 18.

You go immediately on a tear, batting .476 with 5 runs, 4 RBI and 2 stolen bases in the next 5 games.  You prove the continuum of life itself will drive you.

Maybe Dustin’s streak foreshadows good things for Dylan’s own baseball career.

No doubt, Dustin is even now thinking about what he will teach Dylan, what words he will use to inspire him, push him.

There are many reasons for optimism here.

Little Dylan Pedroia has the same birthday as  Roberto Clemente.

Forgetting for a moment that Denis Leary, Fat Lever and Masta Killa also were born on August 18, I would say that Dylan’s birthday definitely improves his chances of going pro.

And Dylan’s gene pool is up to the challenge.  Grandpa was a fine ballplayer.

Grandma, who was an amateur tennis champion in her teens, is the genetic map to Dustin’s tremendous eye-hand coordination and competitiveness.

Dylan may have a shot.

The precedents of multi-generation MLB’ers are multiple.

There have been over 100 Father-Son combinations, including, but not limited to:  Max and Hal Lanier, Todd & Randy Hundley, Jim & Queenie O’Rourke, Connie & Earle Mack, Tito & Terry Francona, Jim and Mike Hegan, The Bagbys, The Armas men, The Stottlemyres, The Alomars, The Alous, The Barfields, and The Bannisters, The Sislers and The Gwynns.

Then there are the ones you know by their first names.

Barry and Bobby. They combined for 1,094 HR’s, 4,891 hits, 975 stolen bases and 10,000 tons of ego.  Not counting  Barry’s cousin, Reggie Jackson.

Cecil & Prince. Will they challenge the Bonds family ?  They sit at 466 HR’s and are in no way related to Fielder Jones of the 1906 White Sox.

Yogi & Dale.  One’s a chortler.  The other’s a snortler.  One’s got MVP’s, the other has  DUI’s.  One snaps off the quick lines, the other snarfs up the white ones.

Sorry, Yogi.  You’re 84.   You don’t need to hear this.

Junior and his Dad. They combined (to date) with 776 HR’s, 4,892 Hits, and 2,664 RBI.  They are friends with Stan Musial.  Ken, Sr.  all but invented the infield hit.    They’ve never offended anyone.  And they have one more hit than the Bonds family.  I love these guys.

Whatever the future holds, a few things are certain.

Barry Bonds will not hear from his Dad again.  Bobby passed in 2003.

Prince and Cecil no longer speak, either.  Prince cut off Dad when he took $200,000 of his $1.4 Million signing bonus in 2002.

Whatever Yogi might say to Dale, you can trust that it will be said with  humor and honesty.

It’s impossible to know what Dustin may say to Dylan one day.  But one thing is certain.

Dylan will never hear his father say, “Sorry, son, but you’re too small to do that.”

Posted in Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Dustin Pedroia : His Coaches know why he is MVP

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 31, 2008


This post was written one week before Dustin Pedroia was announced as the winner of  the 2008 Al MVP Award.

Artists paint and musicians compose.  Artists do their thang.  It comes from inside.  Who knows why. Only those closest to Dustin Pedroia know what is driving him to be the competitive, overachieving pride of Woodland, California.

Something burns inside Pedroia.

Don’t take my word for it.  Read what his Woodland High School Coaches & A.D. have to say……


The Woodland Athletic Director

JOHN MORELLI is the current AD at Woodland H.S. in Woodland, California and knew Pedroia even earlier.   John recalls that in Jr. High, Dustin played shortstop, may have pitched his first year, showed versatility, and shined like a star throughout his entire youth career.

Pedroia is a 2001 graduate of Woodland High School where he was a three-time All-Delta League selection, never hit below .445, and captured league MVP honors.  He took All State and area honors multiple times.

Woodland is a farming community of under 60,000 residents located west of Sacramento.

Woodlanders read the Bee, but more often read the Daily Democrat.  High school kids read The Orange Peal.  Their farms produce corn, wheat, sunflower —  and tomatoes that end up in your ketchup bottle.
Mr.Morelli has seen the current Red Sox second baseman & MVP-contender play occasionally on regular TV.  John does not have cable, which gives him a Thoreau-like balance most of us lack.

When John thinks of Dustin’s MVP possibilities he says that it’s just plain fantastic to have a young man from Woodland succeeding in MLB on the highest level.
John says the MVP talk comes up in the faculty lounges, at the football games, the volleyball games, and elsewhere around Woodland.

John says Dustin has raised Woodland’s profile & made everyone proud.  It’s not every day a Woodland kid hits the pro’s, although the town was made proud by Tony Torcato.  Torcato batted .298 in 43 Games as a lefty corner outfielder for The SF Giants between 2002 and 2005.

John says Dustin stood out from the start.  When bombardment was played in gym class, the teachers marveled at how Pedroia did simultaneously avoid a ball, catch a ball, and throw yet another ball to knock a player out.  ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Dustin’s coordination is so good that John Morelli was comfortable challenging him against a team of 5.

5 vs. 1.

Bombardment, in John’s opinion, is a good measuring tool and Dustin was one of the very best.

He never lost.

John says the scuttlebutt on Dustin in H.S. is just what it was in MLB, …he’s awful small, he hits well, he makes no errors, he reads situations well, he  runs well, he goes 110% all the time ……but it’s doubtful he will make it due to size…..

Based on what John Morelli knows of Pedroia’s 2008 performance and the competition for the award this year, the MVP has certainly been earned by DP in John’s mind.  He can’t imagine someone else taking it away.


The Woodland Assistant Coach

FELIX CASTILLO is the current Baseball Coach at Woodland.  He served as Assistant Coach when Dustin was there.  To Felix, Pedroia is a character guy.

Felix believes Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed due to his mental approach.  He has the talent, but he also has a contagious will to win.  Pedroia gets a team going in the right direction.  Anytime you can get a leader with his type of confidence and toughness it will be passed to his team mates.

With regard for the MVP consideration, Felix feels Pedroia’s numbers speak for themselves.  And when you consider that Manny Ramirez departed on July 31, it is even more remarkable how far Pedroia took the BoSox.  “I believe he’s got to be the guy who takes the MVP.”, says Castillo.

Felix suspects that what enables Dustin to perform above his limits is character. To paraphrase Felix:  It’s his confidence. He rises to the occasion, has mental confidence, Superstar guts.  Pedroia is driven only by winning so he plays with enthusiasm, and he never gets beat.  If he gets no hits in a game, he considers it a fluke.  And he’s big in a game 7 situation.

Felix touts Pedroia’s defense as phenomenal, endowed with incredible hand-eye, without great speed but with great range, has a knack for making plays you don’t see often, certainly deserving a Gold Glove Award this year.

How does Felix feel about Dustin as an MVP candidate ?  “It couldn’t  happen to a better guy.”
Felix’s best memory of a Pedroia performance is the famous Clovis game.  Rob Rinaldi will share the details next…….


The Baseball Coach

ROB RINALDI, Baseball Coach when Dustin was at Woodland, is eloquent about Dustin’s MVP credentials:  “Clearly I’m not objective…he should win…he’s a difference  maker in so many ways…..he’s an iron man while others get hurt…guys in the clubhouse see it and respect it…. He works long pitch counts and has the fire everyday……..last (rookie) year they were going to have him bat 9th and play defense and he went way above and beyond expectations….”

Rinaldi coached Dustin’s older brother, Brett.  Little Dustin came to Brett’s High School practices as a Little Leaguer.  As he took BP with the older boys, “he thought he was as good as the varsity guys, he wanted it at the same speed, and hit liners all over the field.  He was a Switch then, dabbling as a lefty hitter.”

Rob recalls that Dustin was the Quarterback of the Freshman Football team.  As a QB, Pedroia couldn’t run, but was a great leader.  Dustin broke his leg on the gridiron, so severely broke it that Dustin didn’t join Frosh Baseball until mid-year, and then he played hobbled.

Even hobbled, it took just two games for Rob to realize that Pedroia was the best among many good baseball players.  The injury ended Dustin’s football career and pre-empted one as a basketball point guard, another position at another sport for which he showed promise.

Outstanding among the memories at Woodland High was Dustin’s performance in a game against Clovis at the 2001 National Classic, the biggest High School Baseball Tournament of them all.  Clovis had already won two mythical National titles & were inherently regarded with respect.  Clovis had an extremely talented shortstop that Rinaldi had coached in camp the prior year.  All year long, Rinaldi told Pedroia that the Clovis shortstop was of the highest caliber, building up the kid for 12 months until the day Clovis and Woodland checked into the same hotel before playing in the National Classic Consolation Game.  Rinaldi said that when Pedroia learned the Clovis shortstop was in the house he blurted, “Which guy is he ? Go get him right now. I want to take grounders in the parking lot against him.”

The competitive fires burn with this guy.

Rob recalls that the Clovis kid had a great game.  But the game Pedroia had was singular.  First, Dustin put his team up 1-0 to the shock of the other team by scoring on a tag up from 3rd on a foul pop caught in front of one of the dugouts.  Who the tags up and beats a throw from 90 feet ?  A heady play. Next, with Woodland down 3-1 in the top of the 7th (and final) inning,  Pedroia hits a 3-run homer to create a 4-3 lead.   Last, in the field for the final 3 outs in the bottom of the 7th, Dustin starts a difficult double play, and then registers the 3rd out, closing out Clovis.

He was going to find a way to win.

He was going to show that Clovis kid who was better.

Rob makes the point that while Pedroia is the picture of competitiveness on the field, away from the field he is a great guy….no conceit or arrogance.

Bring him to Boston.  Let him do his thang.  Before you know it, he’ll be running the place.

The College Coach

ASU's Pat Murphy

ASU's Pat Murphy

I regret to say that schedules didn’t permit ASU Coach PAT MURPHY to speak with me, but Murphy graciously answered a few questions by email.

Question: Why is it Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed ?

Coach Murphy: Because his belief system is the best.

Question: What are your thoughts about Pedroia getting MVP consideration this year ?

Coach Murphy: He will win it.
Question: What is the most memorable performance or event involving Pedroia at ASU ?

Coach Murphy: Not just one! He was awesome for 3 years, every day.

A FEW QUESTIONS THAT REPEAT AND REPEAT is repeatedly asked several questions about Dustin Pedroia.  The questions pertain to Dustin’s ethnicity, and the specs of the bat he swings.  Here are some reactions from the Coaches.


There’s a mystery about Dustin’s lumber.  Listed at 5’9”, assumed widely to be 5’6” tall, his bat looks disproportionately large for a small player.  With his height in dispute, speculation on bat specs become uncertain, too.

The Coaches, who should know better than anyone, made educated guesses.

Felix Castillo:  32 or 33 inches long weighing 30 oz.
Rob Rinaldi: 32.5 inches long weighing 31 oz.
Coach Murphy: 33 ½ inches in length, weighing 31 oz

Based on a little inside info from Rob, I’ll bet on the Rinaldi answer.


We get questions like “Is Dustin Pedroia Italian ?” every week presumably from fans who are Italian themselves and hope to confirm they share the same heritage.  In various conversations with Woodland folk who know Dustin, the speculation is that he is of Spanish, and/or Portugese and/or Italian heritage.

He’s the quintessential American then, isn’t he ?

Well, that clears it up.  Doesn’t it ?


Josh Hamilton had a terrific year.  He topped Dustin in RBI, homers, triples, BB, Slugging & striking out.  Dustin beat Hamilton in B.A., Hits, Runs, doubles, stolen bases, sacrefice hits and to the bad side, grounding into double plays..  The Stats:

Hamilton played for team without a pitching staff.

Dustin carried a team that suffered a frequent lack of timely hitting.  He fueled the Sox after Manny left.

Hamilton is a basher, and basher’s get the benefit of the doubt with MVP voters.

Hamilton’s personal story is one of addiction-recovery and religous-discovery over the 3 years.

Pedroia’s personal story is one of achieving beyond all expectations for a lifetime.

Hamilton is worthy of MVP votes.

But he’s no Dustin Pedroia.

What we see with Pedroia is like what we saw with Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn lacked the body and speed to be a HOFer & Batting King, but he sure did do it.

Pedroia may be in the process of defining the post-steroid All Star.  We’ll soon find out. His canvas is just partially completed.

Although none of his Coaches can be charged with impartiality, they are nonetheless correct.

The little guy has got to be the MVP.


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ALCS: Playing with house money

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 19, 2008



Oct. 19 6:00 PM EST






Three-quarters of my Red Sox cronies had tickets to an ALCS game at Fenway. 


We were drooling on Monday morning, Oct. 13.


The Sox had split two in Tampa.  Negating the Ray’s home field advantage was a tremendous plus.   Now, our little Connecticut group would be there for the first two Fenway games.


Cassidy and I would bring the mojo on Monday and we’d go ahead 2 to 1 in games.


Nick and Mike would be there to curse the Rays on Tuesday, giving the Sox a commanding 3 to 1 lead.


Oh, brother.


Cassidy and I rolled into Boston before noon on the 13th. 



The service at Legal Seafood was an A+.  The coincidental placement of 5 Rays fans at the table next to us was wonderful.  These Tampa-ites (Tampaneans ?) were primarily male and of middle age.  One of them was loud, slightly boastful, but non-controversial.  He probably hadn’t been a Rays fan for more than two weeks and hadn’t learned any zingers.



Much warmer in Tampa.

Much warmer in Tampa.

At 2 p.m., we conversed with the media photogs near the visitors on-deck circle.  These photogs are knowledgeable sports fans.  They knew Hinske was off the roster but was traveling with the Rays.  They knew that the Rays were a distant fourth at home to SEC Football, the NFL and the NBA.  They knew that their last minute addition to the press entourage meant their newspapers were trying to save a buck.



And there 20 feet from us was Joe Maddon, peering from behind the portable batting cage during BP.   He looked relaxed and confident, hands tucked into the pockets of his hoodie.  Joe exuded nonchalance in the festive post season atmosphere.


But what was Maddon thinking ?  And what did he know ?


Like us, did he think that anything could happen ?


You’ve got to admire this guy.  He’s clever, bright, and not pre-packaged.  Manager of the Year.


AT 4 p.m., we settled into our seats in bleacher 42, on the aisle.


In the top of the first, Lester fired two 94 mph fastballs to Iwamura, inducing a ground out to Cora at short. Upton grounded unassisted to Kotsay at 1st on another fastball.


Pena then flew out to Ellsbury in center on another heater.


Oh, boy, I thought.  Three outs on 4 pitches.  Lester is in no-hitter form today.  I wiped the drool off my UConn jacket.


I continued to salivate in the bottom of the first when Pedroia hit a wall ball double off Garza on a 1-2 fastball.


The drooling soon stopped.   We didn’t score.  Then, in the top of the 3rd,  Upton and Longoria jacked homeruns into a 17 mph wind and the Monster. 


Those bashes came shortly after “Tek stranded two runners in scoring position the prior inning.

 The ‘Tek strikeout was hard to watch.

Garza turned his heater up to 97 mph just for the old catcher.


Our recurrent lack of clutch hitting was followed by fearless, confident swinging by the Rays’.


The Rays scored 4 times in the third after scratching out one earlier run in the second.  End of 3, we were down 5 – zip.


Garza would allow runners every inning he pitched but would allow no runs.  That’s the  price we paid for not getting to him early when we had the chance.


Lester would pitch until there were two gone in the sixth and yield no more runs.


The Fenway crowd was as quiet as a church mouse by the end of the 4th inning.  And cold.  BY the 6th, it was C-O-L-D. 


I have been here for some bitter losses including season-enders, but I have NEVER EVER heard the Fenway crowd silently contained before.


 Byrd came in later and gave up 4 more runs and the outcome was 9-1.


The next night, Nick and Mike watched Wakefield, one of the best pitchers in Sox history, throw grapefruits as if in batting practice.  A 13-4 laugher gave the Rays the commanding 3 -1 lead in games.


Surely, the youngsters from Tampa were staging a coup.


The life was sucked right out of the crowd.

 What This Series Has Now Come to Be

We think we know the Rays.  But, they are still becoming what they are — right before our eyes.


These two teams are so evenly matched there is no way to see a clear favorite. 


And now the Sox have erased the Rays’ 3-1 advantage at home when they triumphed in games 5 and 6.

Pummeled in games 3 & 4.  Victors in games 5 & 6.


Anything can happen.   When we went down in those first two games at Fenway, we all but lost the ALCS.  When we came within 7 outs of losing the Series before rallying on Thursday, we had pushed all of our chips in.  And had lost.


The Rays lacked the killer instinct.


The Sox are steady poker players.


We are playing with house money now.


And anything can happen.  







Posted in ALCS, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Matsuzaka | Leave a Comment »

Prediction: Sox stun Angels in ALDS Sweep

Posted by athomeatfenway on October 1, 2008



Lester, Beckett, Wakefield Star


Oct. 1, 2008

6 p.m. EST

Red Sox Nation

Suffield, Ct.



Game 1:  3-1 Sox

Game 2:  5-4 Sox

Game 3:  6-3 Sox



On the early eve of the ALDS, the Sox do not have the Angels exactly where they want them.


The National Media is leading with the injury angle.  The Sox are banged up and the Angels are not.  Thus, with the Angels taking 8 of 9 from us this year, Vladimir & Co. must be the better team.


The Vegas odds makers agree.  The BoSox are solid underdogs in the first two games.  Lackey and Santana have the edge.


Fortunately, it all will not come down to who has the fewest injured players.  It will come down to what the healthy players do on the field.


Momentum.  Chemistry.  Motivation.  That’s what it’s all about. 


And Parts.  You got to have the parts.




The Sox are lucky to be catching Lackey and Santana at home.


Lackey’s ERA away is 3.23.  At home it is  4.29.  Lackey’s ERA against lefties is 2.59.   And 5.07 against righties.  With 3 switch hitters in our line up, we can send 6 righty hitters.  Make that seven if Lowell plays.  Also consider that 4 of Lackey’s last 5 starts have been less than quality.    I like getting Lackey now in Anaheim.


Santana has been excellent in 3 of his last 5 starts.  But he got spanked in the two sub-par starts by the Rangers and the Yankees, both of whom have star studded line-ups that can generate runs. Just like us.  (Yes, just like us  — when we are getting timely hitting.)


And both of those September beat downs of Santana came in ANAHEIM. 


Santana excelled in September against Seattle (twice) and Detroit, teams that both finished last in their division.


Media Hype Distraction


The talk around the Cali baseball scene is about a potential Highway Series between the Angels and Dodgers.


Today an LA Times columnist is shouting, “MANNY KNOWS HOW TO HAVE FUN, AND HE KNOWS HOW TO WIN !”


Hollywood ?  Mannywood.


Mike Golic joined the pickers picking Dodgers vs. Angels today.


Thank you, electronic media, for underestimating the Sox, moving the discussion to a context that will never happen, and lowering expectations.  The injured Sox are flying a little lower on the radar.


Great.  Let these visions dance in Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick’s heads.


Meanwhile, David Ortiz is thinking, “Now we gotta do what we can do.”.


I think that David means We are bad muddafukas. We throw an adrenaline switch when we reach the playoffs.  We become the creature. Then we do what we can do.



 Let the media paint the Sox with defeat.  Go ahead.




It is dangerous to underestimate the Angels.  One flight around their depth chart reveals a proficient MLB hitter at every non-pitching position except catcher, where Jeff Mathis bats 30 points lower than Jason Veritek.


Whoa, what a line up of hitters.  Hunter, Guerrero, Teixeira, Kendrick, Aybar, Figgins, Anderson.  Mathis.


These hitters should be feared on the same level as the White Sox, Yankees and Rangers in terms of pure hitting talent.


Shit.  These guys are good.



Then again….


Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Youk, Bay, Casey, Lowrie, Tek, and Crisp.


If anyone doesn’t believe our 9 is as good as their 9, they need to calm down.


They have a little more outfield pop than us.  We have potential gold glovers to offset that.


Let’s call it a draw.


Momentum Case:  Them


Who-is-hot and who-is-not is a huge factor.


The Angels won 17 of 26 games in September, a sterling .654 win pct. in the final month.


9 of those wins came against last place clubs and 4 more came against a team without a pitching staff  Texas.


The Seattle wins point up the fact that the Angels play in the weakest Division in the A.L..  They were the only AL West team that won more than they lost.


In September, they were 12-5 against the West, and 5-4 against the other divisions.


Think they’d have won 100 games if they had to play the Yankees, Jays & Rays a total 57 times ?



Momentum Case:  Us


The Sox in Sept. were 16 – 10.   We drilled Baltimore and Texas.  We played up to the Rays’ level in Tampa but lost two heartbreakers and a 3-game series down there, 2-1.  Then we lost a Series 2-1 again to the Rays the following week.



We won 5 of 8 series in the month, dropping the aforementioned two to Tampa and the last rain-marred Yankee series.


We were 4-3 the last week of the season.


We were 12 W – 8 L against teams with .500 or better records.  5-1 with teams under .500.


It was a very good month in black and white.


The feel and the touch of it was, however, much better than that.  Our middle relief hiccupped against the Rays, turning an 18-8 month into 16-10.  We could been heading into the playoffs having won 11 of 12 series that stretched from August into September.


And we were red hot in August.


That’s a damn strong case for momentum before we even throw the mojo switch.


“Now we gotta do what we can do.”.



Head to Head




April 22 to 24

  • Pauley, our worse starter, starts and we win 7-6.  How ironic.
  • Lester is subpar on 4 days rest spotting up for a flu struck Dice-K, we lose 4-6
  • Masterson makes his MLB debut w a GEM, but DelCarmon and Lopez blow it, yielding 4 runs, we lose 5-7


July 18 to 20

  • Buchholz continues to fall apart, gives 8 runs, we lose 3-11.
  • Beckett pitches a complete game GEM, but gives up a homer, a seeing eye single & a dying quail in the 7th…we lose 2-4.
  • Wakefield gives a quality start, but we suffer a lack of timely hitting, out-stranding the Angels 7 – 2 in LOB’s, and we lose 3-5.


July 28 to 30

  • Matsuzaka, who would lose only twice all season, gives up two HR’s scoring 5 runs to take the L as the gopher ball takes us down 5-7.  Dice K would go on to yield only 12 HR’s all season, at a rate of about 1 HR every 3 games.
  • Buchholz continues to distintigrate, allowing 6 runs in 6 innings.  Pedroia singles and Youk HR’s in the 9th to break up Lackey’s no-no. We lose 2-6.
  • Beckett is awful.  We commit 4 errors. We lose 2-9.



Let’s Be Bullish !


Fellow Soxaholics, let’s expect nothing less than a terrific two games in L.A., and let’s expect to win.


The peculiarities of the nine games against the Angels this year were aberrations.


Aberrations.   Dammit.


We’ll kick their arses.  A sweep, I say.







Posted in ALCS, angels, BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, Los Angeles Angels, RED SOX, World Series | 1 Comment »