At home at fenway

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

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Sox Under Sun Today, Set to Sweep Astros on Weekend

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 21, 2016

Astros Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s take a look at this mixed bag.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Sox.

 

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Bristol Blues Need Host Families For Players

Posted by athomeatfenway on May 31, 2015

Host Families Needed for Incoming Players

By Joe Boyle

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

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

Questions regarding host families you can contact Ellen Zoppo-Sassu (ellenzoppo@bristol.gov), Rick Muntean (rick@bristolbluesbaseball.com) or call 860.585.6696.

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Headin’ Home with The Babe

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 13, 2011

Gotta get one bugaboo about Babe Ruth out of the way right now.

There is one point in this 1920 silent film when Babe is seated at dinner with his Mom and little sister, Pig Tails.  To paraphrase the next frame, “Babe came home every night because in Haverlock there wasn’t anything else to do.”  (Haverlock is his fictitious hometown)

After reading an adult history of the Bambino, it’s hard to imagine the real George Herman Ruth coming home at all.

The Captain of the Cathouses, the Pasha of Putytang, the Amir of Alcohol, the Sultan of Swat, Sweat & Suds……cast in a sanitized role ?

That is like casting Jose Canseco as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.  See the Southern Gentleman with boa constrictor, recreational drugs on the night table, with mirrors over the bed in his Plantation House.

If you don’t understand, please read Leigh Montville’s The Big Bam and Jessica Canseco’s Juicy as soon as possible.

OK, then.  Babe as the Country Innocent stopped me in my tracks.  Just sayin’.

This movie depicts Babe’s rise from small town loser to major league slugger.  The youngster has few social skills.   But his golden heart is devoted to his family, pets and overall good behavior.  Now, this isn’t a narrative about the Bambino.  It’s entirely fictitious.  The Yankees are never mentioned, nor the Sox, nor Baltimore, nor Brother Mathias nor anything else relating to the real Babe.  It’s just Babe playing a Bumpkin who happens to be named Babe, who happens to hit baseballs so far he ends up playing in the Polo Grounds.

SABR folk and baseball historians will feel rewarded with a screening of Headin’ Home.  Babe was 25 when this flick was released.  He looks every bit of the 6’ 2” 215 pound he is listed at on baseball-reference.com.  This was the year that Ruth registered a .376 B.A., 54 HR and 137 RBI.  He walked 150 times.  He scored 158 runs.  He registered a 1.379 OPS, the highest of his career.  And he did it all in 142 games.   He is tall, broad shouldered, slim waisted and barrel chested.

The shots of the Polo Grounds are brief but inspiring.  Deadball era dudes with straw skimmers fill the ornate boxes that front the upper deck. The crowd is wild.  The long gone skyline of Coogan’s Bluff looms.  The teams walk to the clubhouse in Centerfield after Babe’s dinger, verifying they are where you thought they were.  Clubhouses in Center.

The plot is maple syrup.  Babe lives with Maw and Pigtails and their pup in Haverlock.  Si Tobin, local tycoon, has a wayward son and a beautiful daughter that Babe would like to court if he only could find the words.  A huckster comes to town and weasels his way onto the Haverlock baseball team and into the heart of Si’s beautiful daughter.  The huckster blocks Babe from a roster spot on the Haverlock 9.  Ruth suits up for the opposing team, smacks a home run that travels 7 blocks, and is signed to a big league contract.  But before he reports to the MLB, Ruth breaks the Huckster’s spell over Si’s daughter and returns the wayward son to his home.  Next, we jump cut to the Babe smashing a walk-off grand slam in the Polo Grounds.  He has made good as a Big Leaguer. And he has saved the family pooch from the dog catcher in the process.

The Piano work is masterful.  The film is remarkably intact.

By the end of this hokey film the question is just how big a celebrity was the Babe that this film was produced even before he transformed the Big Apple into a perennial Champion?

The answer:  He was already huge.

On Jan. 6, the sale of Ruth was reported in the papers, which detailed that Babe had declined a 3-year, $10,000 per year contract with the Sox, insisting on twice that much.

By mid-July, he surpassed his MLB record of 29 HR’s in a season and the idea of Ruth hitting 50 HR’s was electrifying. 

The Aug. 15, 1920 edition of The Hartford Courant asked, “Will Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record Compare With Those of Old-Time Diamond Stars?”.

The film debuted on Sept. 19, 1920 — 10 days before the 1920 season ended.  Thus, the movie was shot during Ruth’s record breaking season. 

Not unlike how the Beatles made A Hard Day’s Night and released it the same year they made their conquest of America & the World.  (1964)

That’s how big the Babe was.  Beatles big.  John-Paul-George-And-Ringo Big.

He will never again wear the scrubbed down halo of the chaste hero, but there is no denying he was a top pop icon by the time he left Boston.  So the film attests.

REEL BASEBALL:  1899 to 1926.  Featuring Headin’ Home starring Babe Ruth.  Available for under $15.00 all over the internet.

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In Memorium: A Red Sox Fan & a Man to respect.

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 12, 2010

Bill Calhoun at O’Leary’s on Beacon.

Read Bill’s obituary by clicking here. Assist Bill’s children:   unclebilly.org/ Play in Bill’s Golf Classic:  click here.

Bill Calhoun.  UConn grad.  Husband.  Father of 4 kids ages 1,4,5 and 6.  Hard Wired Red Sox Fan.

Passed very suddenly at age 47.

Bill Calhoun, who brightened every room he walked into with biting wit, optimism, and unmatchable baseball acumen.

Bill’s last game attended at Fenway was the last game of the 2009 playoffs, when the Angels got to Papelbon in the 9th.  That day was a scramble for Bill.  He met his pal, Dave, in Maine in the morning. They planned to sail Dave’s boat from Maine to Boston.    There next occurred a comedy of errors.  Whether the sea or the boat did not cooperate, I do not know, but Bill reached Grandstand 4 two minutes before the Anthem.

Bill had tried to squeeze a sailing expedition and a playoff game into one day.

Not unusual for Bill.  He squeezed the maximum out of his work, friendships, and family every day.

Bill and his wingmen drove from Hartford to Fenway 15x a year in the regular season.  He was the excursion master.  He showed the rest of us how to slink in and out of town without stress and without paying for parking.  He made O’Leary’s at 1010 Beacon Street in Brookline the rally point for a draft and a meal, just a 10 minute walk to Fenway.

It was never enough to enter a Red Sox conversation with Bill just knowing the recent scores, the starting lineup, and who was streaking.  Bill knew the BoSox depth chart, and who was in the pipeline in Pawtucket , Portland & Lowell.

He was a staunch supporter of J.D. Drew, instructing complainers to look at Drew’s numbers before they ranted.

He viewed Jason Bay with respect, but without reverence.  “His batting average drops 35 points from July to August, and do you think he would change his approach ?  Nope.  Same old Jay Bay.”

Bill admired Kevin Youkilis ‘s heart and devotion as much as he admire his bat and his glove work.

Bill was only 4 years old in 1967 when the Sox ignited New England, but he remembered it.

He was 12 when Rice, Lynn and Tiant led the Super Sox to the World Series, and that 1975 team held a special place in Bill’s heart.  Especially Dwight Evans.

Bill never blamed Buckner for Game 6.

Bill never scalped his Red Sox tickets.

Bill shared his tickets with friends and family.

He would say, “What do you mean you can’t get tickets ?.  I’ve got tickets.  That means you’ve got tickets.”

Bill lived for the Sox.  He was also a lifetime fan of the UConn Huskies, N.Y. Giants and Hartford Whalers.  But his Soxaholism was on a deeper level.

He had a 15-game pack in the Coke Deck.

He always made it to Opening Day.

He had to be present for ALL playoff home games, scrambling to fill in the dates that his 15-pack status did not allow him.

It is incomprehensible that this friendly Bear of a Man is not with us for Spring Training.  As the water cooler chat today surrounds ownership’s welcoming back of Nomar into the fold, and as we inch toward Opening Day without Beckett under contract, there is a void.

Bill would have had a lot to say about all these things.

And we miss him.

As heartbreaking as that is to his friends, his wife and small children miss him much more.

Bill’s obituary is elegant and rich.  You can read it by clicking here.

Very Basic Details on the fund that has been created to assist Bill’s children can be read at:   unclebilly.org/

Rest in Peace, Bill.  It was an honor to know you.

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Kheli Dube REVS it up @ Gillette

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 25, 2009

Dube's hat trick was a work of art.

Dube's hat trick was a work of art.

I was on a mission to become soccer savvy.

My day job required that I study the New England Revolution, question being how to bring more Soccer Fans from their homes in Connecticut to see the Rev, a mere 60 to 90 minute drive away.

I wanted, as Jimi might say in this August of Woodstock reprised, to become experienced.

The drive from Hartford was easy.  I-84 to Rt. 90 to Rt. 495.  Check.

The ambiance was immediately festive.  500 were tailgating in the West parking lot with shade, grills and chilled drinks.  Check.

The crowd was small but enthusiastic.  12,000 fans.  Still better than a Pittsburgh Pirates or a KC Royals home game.    Check.

Crowd demos as expected.  30% manic young soccer dudes.  70% families with kids under 12.  Check.

 

Here we were at beautiful, shiny Gillette Stadium, which is literally adjacent to a giant Bass Pro Shop, el grande Christmas Tree Shop, a new Renaissance hotel, a hospital, a multi-screen movie theater, and the bars, shops and restaurants of Patriot Place.

 

Settling into my seat in row 3, sec. 108, behind the REV bench, I felt the optimistic mood of eternal youth that summer brings.  Scented sun block wafted everywhere.  The sun melted the well-tanned Mom seated in front of me.  Everyone grooved to an unknown techo rapper.  We watched warm ups, and faded blissfully into one mass of soccer-loving humanity.

The 22 oz. Sam Adams didn’t hurt, either.

The REVS did crazy footwork warm ups that looked exhausting before the game, a game in which the players would run unabatedly for two 45 minute periods with only 3 TOTAL substitutions.

The fellow seated next to me, a soccer veteran named Jason, explained that without the intense warm ups, the players would tank 15 minutes into the game.  The warm ups crank  the release of endorphins that would tide them until they could slip into a freezing halftime ice-bath.

What does Jason like about Soccer ? 

“It’s AWESOME”, said the 26-year-old Dad from Somerville.  “Other Sports have athletes that are specialized.  Kickers in the NFL.  Relief pitchers and Designated Hitters in Baseball. Soccer Players are much better athletes.  They play the entire 90 minutes.   And after you watch Soccer for a while, you start to appreciate how they play together, you see the entire field and understand how a play is supposed to evolve, where the passes should go.  When the play works, it is fantastic.  When it fails, it’s like seeing a flower stepped on.”

Nine minutes into the game, the Rev scored.  Lightening fast, a defensive midfielder stole, passed to a striker who almost goaled, and then REV #11, Kheli Dube, stole and goaled in a heart-racing split second.

The crowd exploded.  Fireworks erupted.  New England militia men in 3-cornered hats fired their black powder muskets.  It was T-H-U-N-D-E-R-O-U-S.

Kheli Dube, formerly of Zimbabwe, gave the crowd a remarkable treat this day.  He scored at 9 minutes, 29 minutes, and 66 minutes, pulling off a rare soccer hat trick.

Jason said we were getting our money’s worth.

********

Kheli Dube is a star on the rise.  Quick and skillful, he was a scoring leader scorer at Coastal Carolina.  He’s a diaper dandy, in just his second professional season.  In 2008, he led all MLS rookies in goals and assists.   After all five of his goals in 2008, he conducted a traditional Zulu dance toward the closest corner flag.  After performing the dance for the first time, he noted that it was an homage to his mother’s South African roots, the Zulu tribe’s homeland.  Dube was one of three finalists for 2008 MLS Gatorade Rookie of the Year

********

I learned a few things this day.  “A breakaway is the equivalent of a haymaker.”

I heard some new expressions.  “You’re a traffic cone, a traffic cone !!!”

I puzzled over the eccentricities.  “The officials have determined that 4 minutes will be added to the first period.”

And, at one point, my eyes popped over the unthinkable, when I saw that the game clock runs backwards.

Near the end of the game, I walked to the top of the lower bowl, a coveted seating section in Gillette that most of us will never access during a Patriots game, and headed to the Sam Adams stand where I bought my beer.  The stand was manned by the same two attractive ladies who had told me 30 minutes before the game that I was their “first  and best” beer customer of the day.  Before I could reach their kiosk, one of these gals sprinted up to me and apologized for putting too much of a head on the beer they sold me earlier.   She asked me if I still had my cup, because she would make up for the bad pour with a freebie.

Pinch me.

********

Great customer service.  $20, $30 & $40 tickets.  Wonderful sporting experience.  Home team on a streak.  A rare hat trick.  Fireworks.  Black powder musket fire.

What more could you want ?

********

Jason recommends that you watch international Soccer action on http://www.eplmatches.com

The REVS next home game is Saturday, August 29 vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.

For tickets or more information, go to  http://www.revolutionsoccer.net

REVs and kids take the field pre-game.

REVs and kids take the field pre-game.

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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 »

Peter Gammons: Beyond the Sixth Game. Into the future without Yaz.

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 6, 2008

 

 

 

Gammons book a must-read

Gammons book a must-read

  

Beyond the Sixth Game.  What’s Happened to Baseball Since The Greatest Game in World Series History. By Peter Gammons.  Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

Do you remember when you first realized that the Size-XXL Dominican Gentleman with the big smile was a Red Sox ?

The Red Sox team that already had Manny, Nomar, ‘Tek, Pedro, Millar, Mueller, Lowe & Foulke. ?

Felt pretty good, didn’t it, Red Sox Fans ?

For the Fenway Faithful, things become aligned in a special way every decade or two.

Sox fans of a certain vintage got a similar high 33 years ago after looking in the sports section and seeing TWO Red Sox players, unknown, right smack in Baseball’s Top 10 Al Hitter list !  Jeesus ! What’s going on here, we thought.

It came to pass that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were young blue chippers sent by the Baseball Gods and Dick O’Connell, to join Yaz, Rico, Spaceman, and the best Red Sox pitcher ever – Luis Tiant.

Euphoria set in.   The Sox were LOADED and could win several pennants !

If you can relate, or if you just want to dig a little into an intriguing baseball book, Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game is for you.  Gammons has captured the Red Sox of 1975 to 1983, a team history backed up to the late Sixties for perspective.

Gammons peppered this book with golden nuggets.

Here are a few of my favorites –

Rick “Tall Boy” Jones’ claim to fame came in high school, when he was suspended with 3 members of the Lynard Skynard band, caught by gym teacher Leonard Skinner.

Carlton Fisk, a well rounded New England boy who could fight; on 8-1-73, he pinned Gene Michael to the ground with his left hand while he pounded Munson with his right.

Dennis Eckersley, a cocky & talented 23-year-old, who had his own language, offering batters ‘cheese for their kitchen, and a yakker for their kudo.”

George Scott, rugged 1st sacker, who, when asked about what he thought about Biafra, said, “I never faced the muddafuka, but by the 3rd time I do face him, I’ll hit a tater.”.

The Rooster, Rick Burleson, commenting on the Sox collapse of 1978, “….the abuse we must be prepared to take for the entire winter, we richly deserve.”.

Luis Tiant, a pitcher for the ages, on the Sox brilliant run to force the 1-game playoff of ’78, “If we lose today, it will be over my dead body. …bleep those guys who want to throw in the towel.”.

There are funny & touching details on Yaz through the various stages of his career, and much on how he handled his farewell weekend.  For anyone who was at Fenway on Oct. 1 or 2, 1983, this book is meant for you to read.

Gammons measures the Sox over 9 seasons.  The Sox rose.   They promised a dynasty.  They failed to adjust to changing times.  They won a pennant, nearly won one more, then slid into mediocrity & their first losing record in 17 years.  They enjoyed an historic influx of young talent and then released, traded away and otherwise squandered the talent, as the front office lost their way in an ownership battle.

Among the leading factors in the decline was Jean Yawkey.  Why would the aging doyen prefer to sell the Sox to two jokers with $400,000 on hand rather than to men with $14 Million in cash-money ?

The Yawkeys take the brunt of the criticism for mismanaging the Sox.

In 1965, Tom Yawkey replace old drinking pal Pinky Higgins with Dick O’Connell as G.M.  Dick O’Connell designed the regeneration of the Sox from ’67 to ’75.

And when Jean Yawkey and the Sullivan/LeRoux team fired O’Connell in 1977, a costly series of stupid decisions ensued, resulting in the departure of Fisk, Lynn, Lee, Carbo, and Tiant.

  

Dick O'Connell earned respect & grattitude.

Dick O

 The Sox pushed away pitching, said goodbye to their bench strength, and hoped that the salary spiral caused by free agency would correct itself.  Meanwhile, they hung back, stayed out of the bidding, and waited for the market to cool down.

They led us into the Valley of Mediocrity.

But where there is pain, there is also JOY.  You can’t go wrong reading BEYOND THE SIXTH GAME.

 

Younger fans will better understand the burden endured by more experienced ones.  Older fans will smile with the memory of quirky talents, and the long dark road that ultimately led home.

 

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Gammons book a must read

Gammons book a must read

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Bill Lee, Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Peter Gammons, RED SOX, roger clemens, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

ROGER CLEMENS GOES DOWN !

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 15, 2008

It wasn’t easy watching the Congressional hearing yesterday. The man was a near lock for the HOF before he went to the needle.  The man struck out 20 in a game  — twice !  The Man won multiple Cy Youngs.  The Man was a hoss.   And now, the hoss is at a loss for a ticket to Cooperstown.  Permanently.

It wasn’t MacNamee who landed the telling blow, though.  It was Andy Pettitte and his wife.

The hearings resonated with prior scandals.  I couldn’t help but think that Brian MacNamee is to Roger Clemens, as Paul Janszen is to Pete Rose, and as Greg Anderson is to Bobby Bonds.  A self-centered star using an enabler to break the rules.   

There’s an ugly societal dymanic that allows the Superstar to bulldoze the rules while getting the benefit of the doubt.  We could be a bit more careful with our adoration, trying to focus it on the Phil Rizzutto’s, Dustin Pedroia’s, Gene Tenace’s, Jorge Posada’s  and Troy Tulowitzki’s of this world.  Give me a skinny player who can play over his head.  Or a slightly chubbed-out Tony Gwynn look-alike.  I’m starting to look sideways at anybody with an acutely mesomorphic build.  And we’ve got a few on my beloved Red Sox.

May Roger, Debbie and the four K’s accept the truth in short order, admit what has happened, and find peace in the support that will flow.  There’s really no point in being vindictive.

That said — I’m afraid that The Rocket has dishonored the game enough to be permanently barred from the HOF.

 I have complete faith that the BBWAA will never elect Roger.  I am somewhat old school in these matters; I want Clemens, Rose, Bonds & McGwire BARRED from the HOF.  But the BBWAA is way, way beyond old school.  The scribes have memories like elephants.  There’s no chance Roger gets in.

 It’s a sad day for Baseball.  But, we fans will move on and flourish.

I trust that Baeball has not been entirely depleted of its Good Guys.  I believe, as you may, that money has not corrupted every Player and Owner – but, surely has corrupted many.  I believe, as you may, that people that have been raised to have Integrity can earn the bucks and play legit and clean for the love of the game, honoring the life lessons, moved by the remarkable way that Baseball connects us, teaches us.   Folks like you who care about the game deeply are the very proof that Baseball will cleanse itself and survive.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, congress, RED SOX, roger clemens, steroids, Uncategorized, yankees | Leave a Comment »

Congrats to the G Men !

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 4, 2008

No team more deserves their Super Bowl victory than the 2007 NY Giants because they succeeded in doing what everyone knew was the key to beating the Patriots:  They took out Tom Brady.  They hurried him, sacked him, knocked him down and reduced him to a third of his normal  point production.

The Giants do not have a great offense.  But you don’t need one when your defense plays “like a pack of wild dogs”, to borrow a vintage quip from Lawrence Taylor.

God Bless the downtrodden Giants fans who winced all week long when enduring the 38-20 and 52-14 predictions from the sports intelligentsia.  In a poignant coincidence, yesterday’s Catholic Mass featured the Sermon on the Mount, which includes the passage that the meek shall inherit the Earth.  And that, fellow and sister Sports fans, is exactly what happened in Phoenix yesterday.  NY Giant fans were the meek all week, having capped their emotions & expectations, girding against a predicted catastrophe.  But the superior-team-by-consensus looked old, slow, ragged, and disrupted against the brutal NY defense. 

Now Patriots fans must contemplate the downside of their dynastic curve.

Congratulations, Giants fans !  Your boys pulled off a historic stunner. 

Posted in eli manning, Football, new england patriots, new york giants, Superbowl, tom brady, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Patriots v Giants : Only one way to beat the Pats

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 27, 2007

Pats fans  have much to be grateful  for.    An unequalled season from Brady.  A receiving corps that is the deepest in NFL history.  The offense may be based on the pass, but Faulk, Maroney & Co. have contributed many of their 1,557 yards just when needed.  

Turnovers are rare.  Records are falling. The Defense is the 4th best in the NFL.

Patriots fans are cranked up and over-the-top.  New England is thinking all-Patriots, all-the-time. 

It’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.

That’s what I’ve been repeating for the last 6 weeks.  And with good reason.  If you remember the 1985 Bears, you’ll recall how invinceable they looked before they went down.  The Bears were scary-good in a way the Patriots could never be.  Those Bears had a defense that destroyed everything in its path with style and a smile.

I did not expect the Patriots to get this far.  A little bad luck like a a high ankle sprain to you-know-who is all that it would take to give the Pats their first defeat.   

But they are here.  They win big.  They win the close ones.  They are unlikely to  lose this Sunday against a Giant team that has already clinched a playoff spot.  And once they reach the post-season, they won’t lose because they know they’ll be preparing their place in History next to the ’72 Dolphins.

 You know they’ll find a way to win it all.  If they get past the Giants.

It all comes down to Brady staying in the game.    There is zero depth behind Brady — with Matt Cassel and Matt Gutierrez .  The two Matt’s have garnered nearly no NFL experience since leaving USC and Idaho State, respectively. 

Cassel spent all of his time at USC as a backup behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. 

Gutierrez led Idaho State to a 1-7 record after transferring from Michigan, where he tore a labrum. 

The ’72 Dolphins had Earl Morrall.

One head-rattling sack and the Pats could suddenly have the same offensive efficiency as the Chicago Bears.

Tom Brady has missed ZERO games since week #2 of the 2001 season.  ZERO absences in his first 7 seasons.  By comparison, Dan Marino missed 4 games, and Joe Montana missed 9 in their first 7 years.

Is the injury clock ticking on Tom ?    He is almost too good to be true.  Here’s hoping he keeps his streak going and rises above all the physical shots he is taking.   You may have noticed, he’s been getting whacked.   The Giants have 42 sacks and three players high among the league leaders. Brady’s demise is the opposition’s most viable blueprint for victory.  He is the target.

We’ll all be watching for the record breaking touchdown passes.  But the story of the season could be seen by watching how Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Kopen, Stephen Neal, and Nick Kaczur protect their Q.B. against Strahan, Umenyiora and Tuck.

Posted in bill belichick, eli manning, giants, new england patriots, new york giants, patriots, tom brady, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »