At home at fenway

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

Archive for the ‘Dustin Pedroia’ Category

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 !

 

 

 

Advertisements

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 »

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 »

Michael Bowden impresses with Win #1

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 31, 2008

Aug. 30, 2008

Fenway Park

 

All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.

 

 

Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.

 

Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).

 

Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant. 

 

 

Bowden did not have it easy.

 

He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year. 

 

The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them. 

 

Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.

 

Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion.  After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play.  5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.

 

Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night.   He wouldn’t go unmolested.  But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.

 

In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center.  It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36.  Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.

 

With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt.   Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.

 

The 2nd inning damage was 1 run.  Ramirez was stranded on second.  Bowden kept his cool.

 

Bowden gave up one more run this day.  That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple.  Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple.  He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it.  Not an easy catch potentially.  A great try by the centerfielder.

 

Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia.  1 run.

 

Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing.  He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches. 

 

Power Against Power

 

Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving. 

 

Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth.  After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not. 

 

On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.

 

Power against power. 

 

Quentin couldn’t catch up to it. 

 

Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch.   Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.

 

Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble.  He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.

 

He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.

 

 

More than a fastball

 

At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing.  His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions.  Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph).  He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.

 

Licking His Chops

 

Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th.   He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight.  Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row.  He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away.  He smirked, but said nothing.

 

Bowden gets an A+ for cool.  He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count.  He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.    

 

He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases. 

 

We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.  

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2

 

Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’  90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Matsuzaka, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, NESN, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield, Uncategorized, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

THE RAIN, CHARLEY ZINK, AND YOUKALIS Sox 19, Rangers 17. Nuf ced ?

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 16, 2008

Tue., Aug. 12 at Fenway

 

 

A 10 run 1st inning with two 3-run HR’s by Ortiz. 

 

Are we done ?

 

Sox Rookie Knuckler savaged.  Cannot hold 10 run lead. 

 

You good now ?

 

1st inning:  Sox 10, Rangers 0.

3rd inning:  Sox 12, Rangers 2.

5th inning:  Sox 14, Rangers 10.

7th inning:  Sox 15, Rangers 16.

8th inning:  Sox 19, Rangers 16.

 

Do we need to go further?

 

**********

 

Rain threatened at 4 p.m.   The Fenway auto-receptionist informed callers “that the possibility of a rain delay or postponement was unknown, and that all ticket office personnel would be ignorant about game status, so hang up the damn phone, watch the road, or get back to work, but stop obsessing.  And get here early.  Our beer is still value priced at $7.50.”

 

Rain ?

 

Bullsheet.

 

The drive from Connecticut on the Mass Pike was balmy, except for a shower in Worcester.

 

Bright sunshine heated the Boston sidewalks on the hopeful walk from O’Leary’s on Beacon Street to Yawkey Way.

 

Endless HOPE.

 

Hoping to stay dry on the RF Roof.

 

Hoping Zink’s in the pink.  That Zink no stink.

 

Hoping the Manny-less Sox will hit, & that the Bullpen will be steady.

 

Hoping the home-heavy schedule will help propel Boston to the AL East Title.

 

**********

 

The Right Field Roof Boxes are fabulous – and old.  Installed in 1946, these seats (RF Roof sec. 21 to 43) are located in front of Conigliaro’s Corner, and in between the Budweiser Roof Deck and the Pavilion level seats.  Sitting in this section, I saw Dwight Evans crash a bullpen HR on-the-line in 1988.  The vantage point is virtually equal to the Monster seats and lower in cost at (just) $50.

 

Rodolfo, Fenway usher extraordinaire, escaped from Cuba in 1966.  Rodolfo is often asked if he is Italian because of his thick, possibly Mediterranean-sounding accent.  But he is Cuban, and proud of it.  He stands about 5’6”, a solid 180 lbs.. He leads RF Roof ticket holders to their appointed seats and shoos away random gawkers who freeload on the walkway at the back of his turf.  He is in charge.  He keeps the scene orderly and polite.  This 82-year-old fireplug could pass for late-60’s.

 

Rodolfo started as a Fenway usher in 1974 and never left.  He put in over 25 years in the Left Field and Home Plate Grandstand before moving to the Roof a few years ago.

 

Rodolfo has seen nearly every major event in Sox history over 34 years.  That includes Fisk’s Game 6 HR, Dent’s 1978 playoff game HR with the illegal bat, and the 2004 & 2007 World Series. 

 

Harper, Yaz, Fisk, Lynne, Rice, Tiant, Clemens, Boggs, Pedro, Manny, Nomar.  The only thing he missed was Yaz’s last game.  He chose to vacation in Hawaii instead.  Not a bad trade off.

 

Before the 2004 season, his faith waned.  He seriously doubted the Sox would ever win a World Championship.

 

I can’t blame him.

 

There is still a hole in my soul made by Aaron Boone.  And Little Lee’s words ring in my ears, “Take him out !  Take Pedro out !  What’s Grady doing !?”

 

Rodolfo didn’t lose faith completely and he didn’t quit his gig.  Thus, when 20 or more Fenway employees with 25+ years of service were honored last month, Rodolfo was among them.  Lunch, photos, and the presentation of a 2007 Championship ring to every one of these long term Sox staffers.

 

Rodolfo readily admits the old owners were not as generous.  They were cheap.  They didn’t care.

 

Present ownership is so much smarter than the old regime.  They know New England’s Soxaholism is limitless and gold-plated.  They know guys and gals like Rodolfo are like rubies and sapphires, smaller gems that complement their crown jewel, Fenway Park.

 

**********

 

 

Charlie Zink faced Ian Kinsler, the first opposing batter of his MLB career.  2 knucklers and a change induced a pop fly to Jason Bay, standing at the warning track in left.  Michael Young than fouled out to Youk near first. 

 

The 3rd out was recorded as Pedroia stabbed a sharp grounder.

 

running right and fired to first, beating by half a step the current AL RBI leader, Josh Hamilton.

 

Then, in the bottom of the first, powered by TWO 3-run HR’s by the Large Father, the Sox established a 10 – 0 lead.

 

Sox fans across the RF Roofboxes high-fived and screamed as Ump Laz Diaz twirled his pointer, indicating that Papi should touch them all for the second time in the same inning.

 

Fat dumb and satisfied, the Fenway Faithful prepared to start The Wave, swill more beer, and dance to Dirty Water.

 

It would be a short night.

 

Not.

 

**********

 

Charlie Zink pitched a clean first and a clean fourth.  He was constantly in trouble otherwise.

 

He recorded his first K (swinging) on a 1 and 2 count to Milton Bradley. 

 

He gave up his first hit to Marlon Byrd in the 2nd, a sharp grounder between Pedroia & Youk. 

 

Dustin could not reach it.

 

The Rangers hit “Z” sharply and with regularity in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th.

 

There was not much mystery to Charlie.  He gave up 7 singles, 3 doubles, and 1 walk while securing

 

7 outs in those 3 innings.  He never made it out of the 5th.

 

So much for HOPE. 

 

Zink not in the pink.  Zink stink. 

 

Sorry, Charlie.

 

Then, before you could say “Rudy Seanez is back with his little red gasoline can”, David Aardsma and Manny Del Carmon yielded 7 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, and a Youkilis error – all in just 1-and-two-thirds-innings of mischief. 

 

Counting the run given up by Javier Lopez while he passed the baton from Zink to Aardsma,  fortune was reversed — AT THE END OF 6 COMPLETE, SOX 14 – RANGERS 15 !!!!

 

The fans who were dancing a jig earlier were now perplexed and deflated.

 

**********

 

 

Fortunately, Okajima came in and shut the Rangers down for 2.1 IP, providing the solid bridge to Pap.

 

God Bless Okajima.  In 14 appearances since June 29, he has yielded one earned run.  He’s been rock solid.

 

He got us through the top of the 8th

 

Then in our half of that inning, Ellsbury Walked

 

Pedroia doubled.

 

Ortiz walked.

 

Youkalis homered.

 

Big Bang Bop – Sox 19 – Rangers 16.

 

Pap in.  Rangers score one.  Game over.

 

**********

 

36 runs tied an AL record for most runs scored in a game, originally set in 1950 between the Sox and the A’s.

 

**********

 

Fans from California and Ohio were abundant.  Folks are stopping by to take in the Fenway atmosphere as they pass through on business and on premeditated Boston-NYC Baseball pilgrimages.

 

**********

 

I continue to see evidence that the Sox are cleaning & painting the infrastructure  — perhaps even replacing seats — during road trips.  The Firm’s rehabilitative efforts are silent and unrelenting.

 

**********

 

I’m getting concerned about Tampa Bay.  The Rays have lost Percival, Crawford and Longoria.  And they continue to win !

 

**********

 

First team to 90 wins has the advantage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice, RED SOX, Texas Rangers, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

DRAGGING MANNY THROUGH THE DIRT ON JASON BAY DAY

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Jayson acknoweledges the crowd during first AB

Jayson acknoweledges the crowd during first AB

It was Jason Bay Day.  His First Day of Issue as a Red Sox Rock Star.

 

Let’s have a hearty welcome for This Lion of British Columbia. 

 

This Gonzagian.  This Cape Cod Leaguer.

 

The Man Who Really Makes It The Bay State. 

 

He was greeted warmly on his first day at Fenway, while Manny was dragged through the dirt.

 

***

 

Mark, the life-long, 50-something lifetime Sox fan from Springfield leaned forward in his chair at O’Learys and said, “The bottom line is that Manny makes $20 Million per year and should act like he wants to play the game.  Period.”  Mark is a reserved person, with a serene quality that’s appropriate for a thinker, designer, architect, all of which he is.

 

His wife, Sue was exhausted from walking in Boston’s toxic humidity on this blue sky & sunny day, Jason Bay’s First Day. 

 

Sue was running on empty, had said little from her perch on O’Leary’s oak chair.  But the Manny discussion roused her.   “That’s right !  He should just shut up and play !”.

 

Nothing raises the emotions of educated & proper New Englanders like being abandoned by the object of their love.

 

You heard about Casper Milktoast, the mild mannered Dentist from Everett who drilled his lover’s eyeballs out of their sockets after learning that girlfriend had been trysting in wine country ?  Same thing.  Exact same thing. 

Content and in love one minute.  Out of sorts the next.

 

Such was life with our Manny.

 

On this day, Fri., August 1, Jason Bay Day, there was a lovely ballgame.  Played first under a stunning blue sky, then under warm and gleaming Fenway lights, it was a classic.  A tale of few runs, stranded runners, stalwart pitchers, and minor details.

 

Hey !  Did anyone notice that the bedrock in the bleachers has been sandblasted and sealed ?  Gone are the mustard stains of 1973, when Yastrzemski hit the wall and I dropped my hot dog.

 

And the bleacher seats in section 43 are ALL NEW.  A little wider than the old model, smooth and supple.  I pity those poor bastards squeezed into the tight blue wood grandstand seats that saw Ted Williams play.

 

***

 

On Jason Bay Day, BoSox Ace Tim Wakefield mixed his variable-speed knuckler with a curve and a not-so-fast fastball ball.  37,832 watched Wake strike out, ground out and pop up the A’s with ease.  Then he put two men on in the top of the 7th, when the other Manny, he of South Boston, came in to finish.

 

It was Wake’s 16th Quality Start.  He leads the starting staff in these. 

Tim has delivered a QS in 70% of his mound appearances.  Which also leads the team.

 

Justin Duchscherer, who the Sox once traded to get Doug Mirabelli, was equal to Wakefield.  He gave up one run over six easy innings, stranding 7 Red Sox runners.  He was masterful, although he did hit Jason Bay with a pitch on Jason Bay day.

 

***

 

Jason entered the Rock Star strata during the lineup announcement, when his name was met with lusty cheering.  That emotion was heard again repeatedly when he made a sliding catch, a running catch, walked, was HBP, tripled in the 12th.

 

Bay scored the only two Red Sox runs of the game, the second of which ended the game when he crossed home plate on Jed Lowrie’s chopper single.

 

Every time he stepped on the field, every time his name was mentioned, the love & cheers of thousands poured out into this peaceful, harmonious night.

 

He took a ball.   Cheers !

He took a strike.  Bullsheet !

He is hit by a pitch.  AWLLRIGHTJASON,WAYTOGETHIM !

 

***

The A’s were vanquished in the 12th  when Bay tripled and Lowrie drove him in.

 

But the defeat of the night occurred when two small boys walked down the bleacher stairs of sec. 43, side-by-side, rope in hand, dragging the jersey of Manny Ramirez, former Red Sox player, over the sandblasted bedrock, through the recently deposited dirt and spit and kettle corn of the Fenway Park bleachers.

 

And that was a poignant comment.

 

What ?  You didn’t like playing for us here in Boston ?  You made $20 Million a year and won two World Championships while we held you in our heart, cherishing your cartoonish child-like nature as much as your freakish hitting ability ?

 

You couldn’t make that work ?

 

Well, screw you Manny Ramirez.  You broke our hearts.  Screw you, and the Dodgers, too.

 

We don’t need you.  No siree, not on this peaceful, harmonious night.

 

***

Ever the marketing savants, the Sox offered Jason Bay Jersey T-Shirts for sale.  They sold DOZENS on Jason Bay Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

FOR THE RECORD

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Fri., July 25    Joba outduels Beckett  1-0

 

Sat. July 26    Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3

 

Sun. July 27   Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

KEEP MANNY RAMIREZ IN BOSTON – WHERE HE BELONGS !

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 31, 2008

Manny wants to be traded.  That’s what he says today, July 31, as of 12:50 PM EST.

 

Who knows what he’ll be saying @ 4:01 PM EST, when the trading deadline occurs.

 

Manny does not want the Sox to renew his contract for 2009.

 

Manny believes he can get a multi-year deal that will guarantee his employment from 2009 through 2012, when he turns 40.

 

Bottom line, Manny does not like being renewable on a year-by-year basis.

 

Manny wants the security & megabucks he believes he has coming.

 

With his fan popularity, national reputation, 500+ HR’s, history in three World Series, and incredible good looks, Manny suspects he’ll get an $80 Million 4-year contract. 

 

He’s misjudging his market value. 

 

He is 36. His offense is declining. His defense is fair. He has baggage.  He shoved to the ground down a 68-year-old employee.  He swung his fist inexplicably at Youkilis.  He took off games with lame excuses.  He took off games against tough pitchers.  He did not run out grounders. He talked trash about team ownership. 

 

He won’t get what he thinks he is worth.  But someone will pay his $60 Mill for 4 years.  $65 Mill —  tops.

 

The Sox should move quickly this afternoon.  First by tearing up his two option years and replacing it with a 4-year $65 Million contract with performance incentives.

 

Make it so that Manny can go from earning a base of $16.25 Million a year to total annual pay of $25 Million IF he plays in 150 games, bats .300, and gets 100 RBI annually.   Stagger it.  Be creative.

 

Manny has done much for Soxaholics. He has earned this.  He’s hit in the clutch.  He’s made David Ortiz more productive.

 

He is everyone’s favorite player.

 

At most — He is the entire show on some days.

 

At worse – he is a major player in this show.

 

And make no mistake  — this is show business.

 

Let’s overlook the fact he a spoiled flake.  The Nation and the Team have managed to be flexible with Manny over 8 years of this stuff.  Let’s be loyal.  Keep him in Boston where he belongs.

 

 

 

 

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

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN SHOULD BE OH K

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 26, 2008

As we head into this late-July Red Sox Yankee confrontation at Fenway,anticipation over pitching is high. 

 
 

 

Beckett v. Chamberlain on Friday. Wakefield v. Petitte on Saturday. Lester v. Ponson on Sunday. No contest this weekend ? As El Tiante would say, Bullsheet.

Friday’s game will be very tough, featuring two pitchers who are their team’s present and future. Joba Chamberlain is 23 and could have anchor the Yankee starters for the next decade. Beckett, the star of the 2003 & 2007 World Series Championship teams is but 28 years old. This sensational match up is between one established star hurler and a newcomer upon whose shoulders rests the Yankee’s ability to compete with the Sox and Rays. We could see 5 or 6 years of this match up. I’d like to see the Sox smack Joba around to teach the newbie some humility. But it ain’t gonna happen. (Last year, I kept shaking my head with his every appearance and asked, “when is someone going to kick this guy’s ass ? And it didn’t happen. ) Joba can bring it, and he has an aggressive, winning attitude. If he has the composure, expect a 0 – 2 loss to the Yankees. If Beckett matches him, expect a scoreless tie when he leaves in the 7th, and a 1 – 0 bullpen victory for the Sox.

Saturday ? Wakefield is the Sox statistical ACE this year with 14 Quality Starts. He will defeat the Yankees 7 – 4.

On Sunday, The Sox are highly likely to win with Lester. Not just because the lefty is focused and imperturbable. The 5th spot in the Yankees rotation is still TBD, with the portly Ponson the best spare part available. I expect a 4 – 0 Sox win on Sunday. Easy pickings.

Hitting won’t be in the spot light this weekend. Which is counterintuitive given that the Large Father is Back. Given that Pedroia and Youk are hot. Given that The Yankee hitters have propelled their team from last to 3rd in 10 weeks.

But this weekend will be about the letter K.

286 batters have been K’d by Boston’s 3 starters. 220 by the Yankee trio. 506 K’s to date.

We may see 40 more this weekend.

-Karl Cicitto 
 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Josh Beckett, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Terry Francona | 1 Comment »

Red Sox Ace: Tim Wakefield at the all star break

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2008

There has been much debate about which Red Sox starter is the Ace in Beantown:  Wakefield, Beckett, Lester or Matsuzaka.

 

UM….I guess Wakfefield doesn’t fit into the discussion too much.  That 68 mph flutter ball and his advancing age does NOT get much love.

 

Well…….. 

 

The “Ace” is an imaginary designation which doesn’t mean much beyond bestowing extra praise and pressure on a player.

 

But for the fun of it, I’ll take a shot at it.

 

Let’s start by looking at the starting staff overall – and then focusing on just the four guys who have made 71 of the team’s 96 starts.

 

The team ERA for all Sox starting pitchers is a combined 3.77 before the man from Tokyo makes the Sox’s last pre-All Star break start today.

 

3.77 ? 

 

Soxaholics, let us not ever, ever complain about our starters this year.    Heck, we’ve had stretches of the inverted — 7.33.

 

Our motto used to be, “We’re good, we’ve got enough pitching.”.  

The Yankees motto was, “You can never have enough pitching.”.

 

Wow.

 

Our world is upside down.  Cats sleeping with dogs.  Hank Steinbrenner admitting he’s brash.  The Rays and Cubs in first place.

 

The Sox are just one small step from pitching dominance akin the Orioles of the late sixties-early seventies.

 

Dear God, grant us one decent middle reliever, load him up with a nasty sinker, a change and a slider, and make his name Justin Masterson.

 

This season is making me dizzy.

 

But  — back to the question at hand — who is the Ace ?

 

Wakefield’s made 19 starts, 13 quality starts, with a 3.60 ERA.  Team 9W-10L.

 

Beckett’s made 17 starts, 11 quality starts, with a 3.93 ERA.  Team 10W-7L.

 

Lester’s made 20 starts, 11 quality start, with a 3.38 ERA. Team 13W-7L.

 

Matsuzaka’s made 15 starts, 10 quality starts, with a 2.84 ERA. Team 12W-3L.

 

I go by quality starts, i.e., a start in which the pitcher goes 5 to 7 innings, hangs up a game ERA that is below 4.00, and thus gives his team a good chance to win.

 

Immediately, Tim Wakefield becomes the default Ace.  He’s got the most quality starts, a very respectable ERA, and you can throw out the team 9W-10L record when he starts because wins and losses do not reflect the quality of pitching.  W’s and L’s are all about the team performance.

 

Besides, if we went by wins and losses only, we’d have to evaluate who Julio Lugo has screwed more with his poor fielding.  The guy has almost as many errors as he does RBI.

 

And, if we were going by W’s, Matsuzaka walks away as the Ace by virtue of his 12W-3L team record.  The team just consistently outscores the competition when Matsuzaka is walking the tightrope, getting out of jam after jam.

 

Run support per start is very close among these 4 guys — Matsuzaka at 5.33 Runs per start, Beckett at 5.82,  Lester 5.1,  and Wake 5.2.

 

And that closeness in average run support is matched by closeness in percent-of-quality starts among Wake, Beckett and Dice Kay.  (Range:  65% to 68% quality.)

 

 

Translation:  You get about the same chance of a quality start whether it is Wake, Beckett or Matsuzaka who starts. 

 

So, there is no real Ace.   

 

My hair-splitting & inconsequential vote at the break for Sox Ace thus goes to the 41 year old (turns 42 on Aug. 2) senior citizen of the staff.   He’s the most boring starter, throwing the 68 mph knuckler 85% of the time, mixing it w an 80 mph slow, uh, I mean, fastball.  He gets my vote by virtue of having accumulated 2 more quality starts than anyone else.

 

Had Matsuzaka not missed 4 starts he may have eclipsed Wake in quality starts. 

 

In the long run, this Race to Be Ace may turn out in Matsuzaka’s favor.  It’s a long season and we’re only 59.8% done.

 

Then again, Dice Kay’s high pitch counts could produce a fatigued arm by Labor day.

 

What do you think ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Matsuzaka, RED SOX, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »