Pitchers & Catchers Report to Ft. Myers

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dave Roberts Takes Over the Dodgers

Congratulations to 2004 Red Sox legend Dave Roberts, who will be named the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers today.

It came down to Roberts or Gabe Kapler, another 2004 Red Sox World Series champion player, who was the head of the Dodgers' farm system.

I have no use for the Dodgers really, but I am happy to see such a good baseball man get his shot to manage in the big leagues.

And it gives me the opportunity to repost this cool picture once again.

 Good luck, Dave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Next Stop, Cooperstown

David Ortiz announced today that the 2016 season will be his last in an MLB uniform.

And he did it on his 40th birthday.

I won't go over his incredible resume he built up over the last 13 seasons in a Red Sox uniform. It speaks for itself. He is simply the greatest postseason performer in franchise history, as well as the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history.

In my mind, the 2013 postseason he had will cement his place in the Hall of Fame. He put the Sox on his back and had a World Series that was one of the greatest any hitter has ever had. Remember when he held that impromptu team meeting in the Red Sox dugout in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, with the Sox trailing 2-1 in the Series and 2-1 in the game? (Pictured below.) Jonny Gomes hit a three-run shot that inning that put the Sox ahead to stay, and they never trailed in winning the next two games and another championship.

That is what a team leader does, and Papi has been an extraordinary one.

I don't expect him to get in on the first ballot, as there will be writers who will hold the fact he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. That should absolutely not preclude him from getting in. How many bad fielders are in the Hall but put up spectacular numbers? With rare exceptions like Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith, defense almost never enters into it when choosing the worthiness of a position player. It's about time these writers acknowledge that the DH has been part of the rules of the road in the AL for nearly half a century, and put the best ones like Papi and Edgar Martinez in. If relief pitchers can get in, why not DHs?

And then there will be those who will hold the alleged PED test he failed in 2003. Funny, how we still only know the names of three players from that list of 104 to this day, eh? Some writers will probably still hold that against him, but it shouldn't keep him out.

Papi is first eligible in January 2022. In my book, he's in. And his number 34 will be going up in right field at Fenway Park shortly after the 2016 season.

Here is the Large Father with some words about his coming retirement:

 And I wish you could play for 40 more years too, Papi.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Remodeling Begins With a Bang

Dave Dombrowski promised big changes to the Red Sox this off-season, and made a big splash last night.

The Sox acquired four-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres last night, for four prospects.

The Red Sox parted with blue chip outfielder Manuel Margot, who was at AA Portland in 2015. Also going in the trade were shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and left handed pitcher Logan Allen.

Margot and Guerra are both top ten prospects in the Red Sox system. Margot is the only one of three that played at AA or above last year. The Padres are rebuilding the farm system and trading away some high-priced talent after their 2015 plan went horribly wrong.

Kimbrel still as three years left on the deal he signed two years ago. It is also now clear the Red Sox are going the way the Kansas City Royals went, in having power arms at the end of the game. Koji Uehara will move back to the 8th inning (he was informed of the deal last night before it happened and is cool with his new role), with Junichi Tazawa going to the 7th.

Here's more on last night's deal from ESPN.

Well, the Sox got one of the game's elite closers without giving up any MLB talent, but had to trade one of their elite prospects. Gotta give to get.

More to come. Much more. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Helping Out One of Our Own

My good friend and Governor of Red Sox Nation for New York State, Chris Wertz, brought to my attention very worthy fundraising efforts that are being held for a member of Red Sox Nation named Sean Bunn.

Sean, who Governor of Red Sox Nation for North Carolina, is suffering from a form of cancer called Gliobastoma Multiforme. Sean's friends have held fundraisers to help him with his fight against cancer, and I am spreading the word so that fellow Red Sox fans can help, too. We wish Sean all the best and pray he beats this terrible scourge.

This is a Facebook post that went up the other day by Sean's friends, and explains how you can help:

As many of you may know, our good friend and fellow fan Sean Bunn has been battling cancer for the past several weeks. Many of you have reached out with your time and generosity to call, text, email, and support Sean in so many ways over these past few weeks and though he may not be able to respond to each one, he appreciates all of your kind words to him.

He is currently being seen by Duke battling a cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme, and he has had an operation already to remove a tumor the size of a baseball from his brain. It is a grade IV astrocytoma, a malignant, aggressive, and rare cancer with less than 200,000 cases in the US a year. It is not usually just a normal tumor, but it has many fingerlike tentacles that make it very difficult to remove. The tumors themselves are also very resistant to conventional therapies making it hard to treat. The brain is not able to repair itself that well, and is susceptible to damages from the conventional treatments.

The median survival for GBM is around 2-3 years with less aggressive types. Adults with more aggressive forms of the condition treated with chemo and radiation usually live around 14 months on average. However, 10% of that number do live 5 years or longer with treatment, and not only is the fantastic team at Duke fighting for Sean but a fellow member of Triangle Red Sox Nation has spent many years researching this disease and has provided Sean and his family with bountiful information and help.

Sean is currently at home with his family in Raleigh, and his family has been with him every day since his diagnosis. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy in a pill form everyday, and on Monday through Friday he does radiation treatment in Duke's Durham Hospital. He is also currently on leave from work.

He would also like to share with you all that he is having trouble seeing and speaking. He currently cannot see from the right of his nose, something that may not improve. This doesn't mean he isn't able to receive your messages of support and hope, and not only does he appreciate every one of your messages but his family does too. It truly means a lot to see the love from each and every one of you, and is a hand of support and compassion in this tough time.

Sean, his family and the doctors do not know what the future holds. Sean may be with us for just a little bit, signing a short-term contract with an Invitation to Spring Training, or he may sign a Multi-Year deal and be with the club for a long term contract. If anyone can stay positive and fight, it's our Gov'na.

A lot of you have reached out over the past few weeks and asked how you can help Sean. Here are a few ways...

First, we have a SeanStrong Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SeanStrongNC) where you can share your favorite Sean memories, send well wishes and follow all events. We'll email and post when events are but for now, put this on your calendar:

Sunday November 8th, the Triangle Red Sox Nation will be holding an event with our sister club the Triangle Patriots Fans. The Tri-Pats are hosting an event at the Backyard Bistro called the Boston Buffett Bunnraiser. The Bistro will have a buffet of Boston food favorites set up for folks to watch the Pats/Redskins game (and all the other 1pm games) with proceeds going to Sean.

Please RSVP at either the TRSN event page (www.meetup.com/triangleredsoxnation/events/226257421/) or .the Tri-Pats event page (www.meetup.com/Tri-Pats/events/222011724/). This will help us get an idea of how many folks will be coming, so please RSVP on just one or the other and not both so we don't have doubles.

EVERYONE is welcome, no matter who you cheer for, so spread the word & bring your friends! (There is also a facebook event you can share at www.facebook.com/events/997079786981814/.

Starting November 15th, we will be holding an auction where all proceeds raised will be going to Sean and his family. We’re in the final phase of getting items, so if you have access to any massages, restaurant gift certificates, photograph sessions, training sessions, golf outings, cigars, sports memorabilia, tickets...ANYTHING! Please contact me directly at soxfanbry@yahoo.com to find out more how you can help.

Some items we have so far are airline tickets, hotel and tickets to a Red Sox game in 2016, a Malcolm Butler signed football, a Big Papi signed baseball bat, a Carolina Hurricanes hockey stick signed by all the members of the 06-07 Stanley Cup team plus much, much more!

We are also gathering a list of folks to help bring food over to Sean and his family. Sean is on a strict diet that must be very low in salt and sugar. You can sign up to be on Steve Freedman’s list to do this on facebook for now at www.facebook.com/groups/1654879098115305/.

If you’d like to donate cash toward Sean’s medical bills, we have a site set up atwww.YouCaring.com/SeanStrongNC. All donations made through that site are tax deductible as we’re working with a local organization called BHM or Big Hearted Moms. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Back Up The Truck On February 10th

It's never too early to talk about the 2016 MLB season.

The Red Sox announced their 2016 Spring Training schedule yesterday. They will play their first games of 2016 with the traditional doubleheader against the college kids, Northeastern and Boston College, on February 29th. The first MLB game will be on March 2nd at Ft. Myers against the Twins.

The Sox play the National League champion Mets twice, the Yankees twice, and will close Spring Training on April 1 and 2 with games against the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Here's the complete schedule from NESN.

Truck Day is now officially February 10th, and pitchers and catchers will report on February 18th, with position players reporting on February 24th.

The Sox also exercised their option on Clay Buchholz for the 2016 season yesterday, and there are now two Red Sox heroes from the 2004 season in the running for the L.A. Dodgers managerial job: Dave Roberts and Gabe Kapler.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Best in the NL. Top Dogs In NYC.

If I had told you back in June that the New York Mets would still be playing baseball on November 2nd, what would you have thought? "Yeah, in Puerto Rico or one of the Winter Leagues?"

It was an amazing run for the Mets to get to play meaningful baseball this late in the season. I got to see my first ever World Series game live and in person this past Saturday night, as I sat in left field for Game 3. It was the thrill of a lifetime, as Citi Field was simply electric throughout most of the game.

A lot of things went right for the Mets to get where they were last night. They made a few shrewd trades, to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Their main opposition in the NL East, the Washington Nationals, did not live up to expectations and faded badly.

The young pitching came through big time. The bullpen did very well, with Jeurys Familia becoming one of MLB's best closers. They took out the Dodgers in five games, and shut down a young and upcoming Cubs team in a four-game sweep.

I thought that if the Mets pitched as well in the World Series as they did in the NLCS it would be the Mets first championship since 1986.

But it was clear this was a determined and focused Kansas City Royals team. They beat the Houston Astros in a five game ALDS, and the Toronto Blue Jays in a six game ALCS. And they kept coming from behind to do it, with an amazing eight wins after falling behind in the postseason, a record since MLB went to the current playoff format in 1995.

Unfortunately for the Mets, they did not pitch lights out they way they did against the Cubs. Matt Harvey was only so-so in Game 1, and Jacob deGrom got lit up in Game 2. Noah Syndergaard was terrific in Game 3, and Steven Matz pitched five good innings in Game 4. The only otherwordly start was Harvey's amazing Game 5 performance. And Terry Collins was absolutely right letting him come out for the ninth inning with the 2-0 lead. He had retired the last six hitters without problem. Familia was struggling in this World Series, having blown two previous save opportunities. Harvey was clearly the best choice to start the ninth. You go with your best.

The Royals simply were not to be denied. Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain, who stole second. You can argue that Collins should have lifted him after the walk, as Eric Hosmer doubled Cain in to make it 2-1.

Familia got three ground outs, but the second one will be talked about for a long time. Hosmer raced in from third as David Wright fielded a grounder and threw to first, and Lucas Duda threw wildly home and it tied the score.

It was a battle of the bullpens, and you knew KC would win that one. Five runs in ninth gave them their second ever World Series title, 7-2. Salvador Perez was voted Series MVP.

This Series will be remembered for Daniel Murphy's error in Game 4 and Duda's wild throw in Game 5. But their offense was held in check, as the Mets hit just .193 in the five games. It should be remembered for a KC team that lost in the 2014 World Series in seven games, with the tying on third in the ninth in the final game. It was a brutal way to lose a World Series, but they came back this year and deserved this championship. They scored 51 runs in this postseason from the 7th inning on. That is pretty damn impressive. If the Mets terrific young starters couldn't stop this Royals team, nobody in the NL would have. They are worthy champions.

Mets fans are heartsick today, but they should hold their heads up high. The Mets are the top dogs in town again, and that is a good thing. (Who's that other team again?) Their future is bright, with a starting pitching staff that is the envy of MLB. The Mets will be back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Camden Yards Is MLB's Best Ballpark Experience Again

As we conclude this MLB season with the World Series, my friend Paul Swaney over at Stadium Journey has posted his end-of-season rankings of all the 30 MLB stadiums.

Paul puts together what he calls the "FANFARE" scale, and it is based on the following criteria:

Overall experience
Food and beverage
The fans
Neighborhood the park is located in
Access to the ballpark (which includes parking traffic, restrooms, handicapped access, etc.)
Overall return on investment

Readers also have their say and leave their ratings on how good MLB ballyards are.

This year's winner is no big surprise:  Oriole Park at Camden Yards, getting a perfect 5.0 rating.

Fenway Park finished fourth overall, and PNC Park in Pittsburgh was the highest ranked National League venue.

The AL Champion Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium finished in the middle of the pack at 16th, while Citi Field, home of the NL Champion Mets, was ranked near the bottom, at 27th.

Here is the complete rankings of all 30 ballparks.

My thanks to Paul for an interesting article. Check out his site for all kinds of articles about experiences at all kinds of pro and college sports teams.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

11 Years Ago Tonight

Where in the world has 11 years gone?

Does this ever get old?

Hell no.

Thanks always, 2004 World Series champions.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Amazing, Amazing, Amazing...

I never, ever would have predicted this.

Before the playoffs began, I picked the Mets to go to the World Series. I thought it would be a tough road, but if their pitching held up, I thought they'd have a good shot at making it to the Fall Classic.

I just didn't think they'd do it so dominantly.

The old Connie Mack adage certainly applies here: good pitching stops good hitting. And boy were the Mets pitchers throwing lights out. They allowed a terrific Cubs lineup just eight total runs in the four-game sweep. The young dynamic trio of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom were simply spectacular, living up to the hype that has surrounded them. The Cubs lineup simply destroyed the Cardinals in the NLDS, blasting 12 home runs against the team with the best record in baseball in a 3-1 series win. They hit just four home runs in the NLCS.

And what can you say about Daniel Murphy? A home run in six straight postseason games, a new record. Seven overall. Easily the NLCS MVP. He hit just 14 home runs in the regular season, but is becoming otherwordly in these playoffs, just when his team (and bank balance) will benefit most. He is a free agent after the season and will be high in demand when the World Series is over.

This Mets team reminds me so much of two other teams: the 2004 Red Sox and the 1969 Mets. Both teams won the World Series with incredible starting pitching, shutting down arguably the two best lineups in MLB in those years. And like in the 2004 World Series, the Mets were never trailing once in the four-game sweep.

Cubs fans are naturally depressed after seeing their team go down so meekly in a sweep (and not fulfilling the "Back to the Future II" prophecy). But take heart, fans of the North Side. This is an awesome Cubs team that won 97 games in the regular season. They are young and vibrant, and with some more pitching help, they could dominate in the NL for years to come. It's now been 107 years since the last Cubs title, but you may not have to wait much longer.

Back to the Mets. Game 6 of the ALCS between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays is tonight, and I still like KC to win it. But if you are in the Mets position, I think they'd rather face the Blue Jays. Both teams have awesome lineups, but the Royals' pitching is much better, especially the back end of their bullpen. If the Mets keep pitching the way they have, there will simply be no stopping them, no matter which team takes the AL pennant.

I'll leave the last words to the late, great Casey Stengel:

(With thanks to the good folks at The 7 Line Army for the photo.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good News About The Manager & RemDawg

The Red Sox revealed today that manager John Farrell's lymphoma has gone into remission, and he will likely return as manager in good health for the 2016 season.

The club had revealed on the final day of the 2015 season that Farrell would be back and that interim manager Torey Lovullo would return to his position of bench coach with a new two-year deal.

Farrell under went chemotherapy for two months after the diagnosis was made last August. Fortunately it was caught while in stage 1, and his chances for a complete recovery was excellent.

And the Red Sox also announced that Jerry Remy will return for his 29th season in the Red Sox TV booth. It will be his first season with Dave O'Brien, and he will work about 100 games.

Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons will work more games, and for some select games, there will be a three-man booth. Here's more from WEEI.

Glad to see the RemDawg returning for the 2016 season. After all the controversy about Don Orsillo's departure, and I'm happy to see Remy isn't being forced out either. And I'm also happy to see Eck getting more scheduled time in the NESN booth.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mets and Cubs & Jays and Royals

It's been a pretty entertaining postseason so far, even if the Red Sox are all currently home on the golf course.

It was nice to see the Yankees be the first team to go out in the postseason, losing to a scrappy Houston Astros team led by the all-but-certain 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.

The Astros went on to play an entertaining five-game series with the Kansas City Royals. They were just six outs from wrapping up a four-game ALDS series win. The Royals got off the deck from a 6-2 deficit with seven unanswered runs and a 9-6 win. I knew from then the Astros were finished, as KC won the finals, 7-2. They are back in the ALCS for the first time in back-to-back years since 1985.

Did any of you catch Game 5 of the ALDS between Toronto and Texas? And specifically the wild and wacky seventh inning? Like nothing I've ever seen before. Texas breaking a 2-2 tie with a run scoring from third on a return throw from catcher Russell Martin striking Shin-Soo Choo's bat and rolling out to third. That caused lots of consternation among the Blue Jays faithful, and lots of thrown objects on the field. A really dangerous situation.

I had a feeling that would rile up the Jays. The Rangers fell apart, committing three straight errors (haven't seen that in a long time), and the Jays capitalized on that, ending with Jose Bautista's three-run bomb and bat flip everyone ended up talking about. And if that wasn't enough, both benches emptied twice.

I'm betting most of the country is pulling for the Cubs, seeking their first title in 107 years. And they put on a power show against archrival St. Louis, dispatching the team with MLB's best record in just 4 games. The Cubs blasted 12 home runs, including a postseason record six in Game 3 alone.

And speaking of the Cubs and the 2015 postseason, this movie clip from Back to the Future Part II is getting lots of attention:

And as many of you know, the Mets are my favorite team in the NL, and they pulled out a gritty 3-2 win over Los Angeles to take their series in five-games. It featured reckless baserunning from Chase Utley (he'll see justice next season), but more importantly, it featured the clutch hitting of Daniel Murphy, who hit home runs off Clayton Kershaw (twice) and Zack Greinke. And he practically stole the Game 5 win all by himself, taking third base as it was left unattended after a walk to Lucas Duda with him on first.

Both League Championship Series are excellent matchups. The Blue Jays and Royals played for it in 1985, with KC moving on to win their only World Series. The Mets and Cubs have plenty of history together, the most famous being the Mets charging past them in 1969 to win the NL East and the World Series title that year. Both teams have excellent starting pitching, and the team that pitches will take it.

All four teams have gone a long time without a title: The Blue Jays since 1993, Mets since 1986, Royals 1985, and the Cubs famously (or infamously depending on your worldview) since 1908. If the Mets don't make it to the Series, we'll see history with the Cubs in for the first time since 1945.

I'm predicting it will be the Mets and Royals in this year's World Series. Enjoy the games, everyone.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Another Season Comes To a Close

The Red Sox 2015 season came to a close this past Sunday, and I thought I would take a few days before recording my impressions on this campaign.

It was a terrible disappointment. No other way to describe it. The AL East was not a strong division, and I thought 90 wins was not out of the question. I was only off by 12.

The two major free agent signings, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, were monumental busts. I was actually in favor of bringing in Sandoval, but I didn't want anything to do with Ramirez. A talented player for sure, but his reputation for being a dog in Miami and Los Angeles should have sworn the Sox away from him.

It was also another season when a bad early season losing skid sent the season spiraling. The high water mark was on April 21 when the Sox had a two-game lead, and fell under .500 to stay on May 3 at 12-13. The Red Sox didn't have an ace on their staff, a stopper to head off bad streaks. They paid the price for not getting Jon Lester back.

The bullpen was not a source of strength. Koji Uehara was terrific back in the closer role, but his wrist injury in August ended his season. Junichi Tazawa was overused and shut down in mid-September. Robbie Ross was up and down most of the year, but Alexi Ogando and Craig Breslow were terrible and probably won't be back in 2016.

It was a year of change. John Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma in mid-August, and left the team for treatment. Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over and went 28-20 to complete the season. The Sox announced that Farrell and Lovullo will be back in their old roles. They gave Lovullo a new two-year deal so that he wouldn't leave to another club, and also for insurance should Farrell have a relapse and have to leave again.

GM Ben Cherington will not return as Dave Dombrowski was named president of baseball operations in mid-August, and will be calling the shots from now on. Cherington departs with a 2013 World Series championship on resume, surrounded by last place finishes as well.

David Ortiz had his best season since 2006, hitting 37 home runs, 107 RBI, and belting his 500th home run against Tampa Bay on September 12th, and assuring him a Hall of Fame plaque after he retires.

As disappointing a season as this was, there is plenty of hope. The Sox look like they have a dynamic outfield for the future in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Betts showed he's a five tool player right now, and an emerging superstar. Bradley is a Gold Glove outfielder right now, and went on a tear in August after being brought back up. He cooled off in September but should get an opportunity to win a starting job next season. Castillo also was red hot in August, and showed signs he's ready to play full time. He's had injury problems, but like Bradley, will get a chance to be a regular in 2016.

Xander Bogaerts had a simply marvelous turnaround from his shaky 2014 first-full year. He has established himself as one of the premier shortstops in the American League, finishing second in the AL batting race at .320 and getting 196 hits. He played a confident shortstop, making just 11 errors all season. (He made 10 at short in 2014, playing in just 44 games there.) He is clearly one of the club's franchise players going forth.

Going into 2016, it is clear the Sox will need a top-of-the-rotation starter. David Price and Johnny Cueto will both be free agents and will garner plenty of attention, as both will be starting in the 2015 postseason. Eduardo Rodriguez was impressive since he was called up in mid-season, going 10-6, and figures to have a spot in the staff next year. Henry Owens went 4-4 and showed some great promise. Rick Porcello and Wade Miley had up and down campaigns, as did Joe Kelly. Miley was most consistent of the three, and Porcello and Kelly both benefited from trips to the disabled list and the minors, respectively. Kelly and Miley could be part of a deal over the winter, but Porcello, who signed a long term deal prior to 2015, figures to be back and would greatly benefit from a move down the rotation.

So, for 2016, I'm betting that Dave Dombrowski will have three priorities this winter:
1. Acquire a number one starter, either by trade or free agency.
2. Get two power arms for the bullpen to set up Koji Uehara.
3. Find a new home for Hanley Ramirez.

It won't be easy moving Hanley, but Dombrowski is the master of the three-team deal, and with the right trading partner (or partners), something might be worked out. The Sox will have to eat a good part of the three years still owed Ramirez, and probably won't get much back. But I think this is one of those "addition by subtraction" moves the Sox will try to make. He'll never play the outfield again, and trying him at first smells like another disaster, so trading him to an AL team looking for a DH might happen.

Anyway, that wraps up another Red Sox season. It was disappointing for all of us. But I am optimistic about this club going forward. Lots of young talent still in the minors, and at the MLB level.

Keep the faith, everyone. Our boys will be back better next year.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Don Orsillo Exits With Class

Don Orsillo did his final game for the Red Sox after 15 years yesterday. It's hard to believe he is moving on to the San Diego Padres now.

I wish I had gotten see the NESN broadcast on Sunday, but the MLB Extra Innings package gave us here in New York the Cleveland Indians feed of the finale instead. Very disappointing.

But there is a terrific 15-minute recap of the highlights of Don's goodbye to the fans, which includes 15 years worth of clips of him and Jerry Remy at their very best. Here it is, courtesy of Jared Carrabis and Barstool Sports. 

Allan at The Joy of Sox has a post of the Twitter clips of Sox players saluting Don, and a few others from yesterday's game.

Don was all class and professionalism to the very end. Thanks for 15 years, and it was such a pleasure to hear him call a game. Good luck on the Left Coast, Mr. Orsillo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Torey and Trivia: Perfect Together

I had the pleasure of being at the BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club yesterday, the second of luncheons they hold every year when the Red Sox come to town.

For those who are not in the know, the BLOHARDS are the Benevolent Loyal Order of Honorable Ancient Red Sox Diehard Sufferers of New York, which has been a shelter for Red Sox fans living in New York since the mid-1960s. I am a proud member and I do five Red Sox trivia questions every meeting (and they will appear at the end of this post) and give away prizes.

A special guest from the Sox usually attends, and this time it was Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. He was interviewed by WFAN radio host Ed Randall, who attends most of the meetings as well. Torey was very personable and articulate and Ed asked him questions about taking over as interim manager. It was also a very emotional subject for him, as when he talked about the day John Farrell let him know about his lymphoma diagnosis, Torey had to stop and compose himself. He has been a close confident of Farrell's for many years, serving as bench coach in Toronto as well as at Fenway.

I was impressed to learn that Lovullo does not occupy the manager's office at Fenway or even on the road, in a sign of his respect for John Farrell.

And I have to admit that I never knew that his father was once a producer on the 1960s/70s TV show "Hee Haw." Torey talked about hanging out with the cast as a kid, playing cards with star Roy Clark.

Torey Lovullo has impressed a lot of people since becoming interim manager on August 14th. If John Farrell is healthy enough to return next season, the Red Sox could end up losing Lovullo to another team looking for a permanent manager. (I can't help think of Bruce Arians, the NFL coach who did such a great job with the Colts a few years back after head coach Chuck Pagano left the team early in the season with a cancer diagnosis. When Pagano returned, Arians left for a permanent head coaching job in Arizona.)

I did the Red Sox trivia shortly after Torey left for Yankee Stadium. It's always fun to hit the 80 of so attendees with recent questions of the Red Sox past, and give away prizes. Here are the questions from Tuesday's luncheon (answers will follow below):

1. What former Red Sox pitcher recently picked up his 50th save of 2015?
2. Manny Ramirez hit his 500th home run in 2008 against what team?
3. What pitcher led the pennant-winning 1975 Red Sox in wins with 19?
4. Who is the only Red Sox shortstop to win a Gold Glove Award?
5. Who is the last Red Sox pitcher to throw 300 innings in a season?

I was impressed that I didn't have to give out any clues to help the crowd get a winning answer. BLOHARDS Transportation Secretary Ray Duffy concluded the day with a cool slideshow, which featured a nice tribute to the late Yogi Berra.

My thanks to Joe Cosgriff, Ray Duffy, Julie Powers Killian and Peter Collery of the BLOHARDS. They always put on a great luncheon, and I am always honored to be part of it.

The trivia answers are: 1. Mark Melancon; 2. Baltimore Orioles; 3. Rick Wise; 4. Rick Burleson (1979); 5. Luis Tiant ( 311 innings in 1974).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Closer and Closer to Break Even

The season maybe long gone, but the Red Sox continue to play like there's something still on the line.

Xander Bogaerts blasted his first grand slam in the 8th inning to give the Sox a come from behind 8-7 win over Tampa Bay at Fenway last night. Two things of significance came from the win: it pulled the Red Sox out of last place for the first time since back in June, and the club has officially bettered their record from 2014 with their 72nd win of the year.

Granted, neither is anything to shout from the hills for, but the Red Sox came playing the young guys, and they are coming through. Eduardo Rodriguez gave up three runs to Tampa Bay in the first inning before getting his first out, and it looked like he wouldn't be around long. But he settled down and went six innings without allowing another run.

Bogaerts continues to show why he is rapidly becoming the best all-around shortstop in the AL. He has made just nine errors this season, and is hitting over .350 for the month of September with 27 RBI. He has settled into the three-spot in the lineup, and is proving to be incredibly clutch. Coach Brian Butterfield says he has never seen a player make such an improvement to his game over the course of one year. Bogaerts looks confident both at the plate and in the field.

The Sox are now 22-13 with Torey Lovullo at the interim helm of the club. I must admit it was difficult watching this past weekend's series with the Blue Jays in Toronto, as the two Red Sox wins benefited the Yankees tremendously, but I am a Red Sox fan first, and it was great seeing them come from behind twice to win.

The Sox need to go 9-4 in their final 13 games to reach the .500 mark, and probably finish third. (They currently trail third place Baltimore by one game.) I am glad to see them finishing the year strong, and I am NOT one of these fans who think that they should finish as one of the bottom ten teams to protect their draft status next year. I am a fan of the team first, and a strong September could well be a portend for good things to come next year. The young guys are gaining valuable experience in what has been a lost year, even if the pressure is off.

I like what I'm seeing, and the future is bright. And the season could be made if the Red Sox go into the Bronx and hurt the Yankees playoff chances next week. We shall see.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Papi Joins The Half Thousand HR Club

David Ortiz hit two home runs last night at Tropicana Field in St. Pete in the Red Sox' 10-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, and became the 27th player ever to reach the 500 home run plateau.

He hit two solo shots off Matt Moore, and was greeted by a mob scene of his Red Sox teammates at the dugout.

Ortiz became the fourth player in a Red Sox uniform to hit a 500th home run, joining Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez. He is also the fourth player ever to hit 500 home runs who played for three World Series championship teams, joining Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson. Quite elite company.

This will absolutely cement his election to baseball's Hall of Fame. His resume speaks for itself. Papi will face the prejudice against him as being mostly a designated hitter. But how do you keep someone who has hit 500 home runs, is a nine-time All-Star, 3 World Series championships, World Series and ALCS MVP and holds just about every hitting record for a DH out?

You don't. It's a matter of when, not if, he gets in.

Congratulations, Large Father.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm The Lucky One

It's that day again.

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the worst day in American history, when nearly 3,000 innocent people were taken from us in the worst terrorist attacks on United States soil. You just have to say the date: September 11th.

As those of you who read my blog know, I honor my dear friend Joyce Carpeneto every year here. Joyce had the terrible misfortune to be on the 83rd floor of the North Tower that fateful morning, and she and 12 of her colleagues from General Telecom all perished. No trace of anyone who worked there has ever been found.

I will be at the ceremonies at the World Trade Center memorial on Friday morning, with many others who lost loved ones that day. I will go with my dear friend Deborah, who was also a close friend of Joyce. For us, it is like a holy day of obligation to be there. And I will be there every September 11th for the rest of my life.

I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me over the last few days offering good wishes to me and Deborah. Through my words, I have met so many wonderful people, and they are from all over our country. Their words of support and comfort have helped me so much, and I'll never be able to thank you all for that.

Please do say a prayer for those lost on September 11, 2001, and for those they left behind. This is the most difficult day of the year for most of them, and the specter of the attacks never goes away for them.

I am very blessed to have had Joyce Carpeneto as a part of my life. Our common bond was music, as we met as Tower Records employees when Joyce joined the Greenwich Village store in 1985. We worked together there, and at a subsidiary of the company called TRIP, and became good friends.

People who have read what I have written about Joyce told me over the years that "Joyce was lucky to have a friend like you." I always correct them.

I'm the lucky one.

As I do every year, I link my previous September 11 posts. Here they are, since my first in 2006:

2006: Forever Missed and Forever Loved
2007: Never Forget. Ever.
2008: We Can Be The Ones Who Remember
2009: The Most Sacred Of All Days
2010: 3000
2011: Ten Years After
2012: 11 Years
2013: No Other Place In The World I Could Be Today
2014: Always and Forever Family

With special thanks to Keith De Cesare from ArtAid, for creating the above "Never Forget" banner.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Cleveland, April 4th, 2016

MLB released its tentative 2016 schedule yesterday, and the Red Sox will open the season on the road (of course) against the Indians in Cleveland on April 4th. They will play three there, then play three in Toronto, and have their home opener against Baltimore on April 11th.

They will close the season at home against Toronto on October 2nd.

Looks like I'll be in San Diego on Labor Day, as the Red Sox will be there September 5-7.

Here's the complete schedule, with thanks to Allan at The Joy of Sox, who originally posted it. (Click to see the larger version):

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Live at the BBC

It's been quite a turnaround for the Red Sox since manager John Farrell left the club for health reasons.

On August 14th, Farrell announced he had lymphoma and would leave the team for the remainder of the 2015 season. The Red Sox stood at 50-64,  7 1/2 games out of fourth, and a last place finish seemed almost a certainty.

But under the stewardship of Torey Lovullo, the Sox have gone 15-8, and yesterday caught the Baltimore Orioles for fourth place. And they are now just two games behind Tampa Bay for third place, and have a series with the Rays in St. Pete this weekend.

It has a pleasure watching this Sox team in recent weeks. The best part of the turn around has been watching the exciting outfield trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Bradley had an historic day in the 22-10 wipeout of Seattle on August 15, getting five extra base hits in a game, including two home runs. His defense has no peer in the AL, and he is making a strong case that he has finally arrived, and should be a major player in the Sox outfield in 2016.

Mookie Betts has had a stellar year in center field. 13 home runs, 34 doubles, and 55 extra base hits. He made his presence known on Opening Day at Fenway, making an amazing catch, hitting a home run and showing off some daring base running. Safe to say he is a fixture and an untouchable in the Sox outfield for years to come.

Rusney Castillo got off to a slow start after his initial callup, but after Shane Victorino was traded at the dealine, he has taken over right field, and is currently hitting .284 with 5 HRs and 26 RBI. He's recently played left field, and has shown he can adapt to the position quickly. He's signed to a long term deal, so he will be in the Sox outfield for the foreseeable future as well.

The trio has been nicknamed "The BBC Outfield" (nothing to do with the British Broadcasting Company, just the first letter of each last name). The season may have been lost many months ago, but there is real reason to watch the Red Sox these days. I would consider both Betts and Xander Bogaerts as untouchable players, and I think you can add Blake Swihart to that list as well (and perhaps Bradley as well).

Swihart was forced on to the MLB roster as the numerous injuries to the backstops this season, and Swihart has done well handling the staff. He got off to a slow start, but has come on in recent weeks, capped by his game-winning inside-the-park home run at Citi Field in the 10th inning to beat the Mets. He's brought his average up to .289, and it will be interesting to see what the Sox do with their catching situation next year, when Christian Vazquez returns from Tommy John surgery.

So, the nucleus of the next great Red Sox team may very well be in place, and there will, of course, be many changes this winter, mostly on the pitching side. The club needs an ace, and the bullpen needs to be rebuilt. And Dave Dombrowski needs to decide what to do with Hanley Ramirez. (Hopefully he has a new address in 2016.)

Funny how nobody's talking about "three last place finishes in four years" any more. The Sox maybe long out of the 2015 race, but the youngsters are making this an interesting and exciting team to watch as 2015 closes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Great Night Out at Citi Field

It was a good weekend for the Red Sox in New York this one just past.

The one they spent in Queens.

I went to Friday night's game with approximately 200 members of the BLOHARDS, the New York-based Red Sox fan group. We sat in the left field stands, in section 134. We had a great few of the field (see above). I was pleasantly surprised to be sitting next to the actor Peter Riegert, best known as the character of Boon in the classic comedy "Animal House." I enjoyed talking baseball with him most of the night, and he is a knowledgeable Mets fan. (He's been to a BLOHARDS meeting a few years back, and has affection for the Sox.) I also had the pleasure of hanging with DJ Jim Monaghan, who I have known for many years and is a huge Sox fan. (Jim's best known for his days at WNEW-FM back in the 1980s, and today does a morning show on WDHA in New Jersey.) Many years ago, I wrote to him when he had two of the BLOHARDS on his radio show, the first time I had ever heard of the group.

It was basically a good-natured crowd at Citi Field on Friday. Lots of banter between the groups of both teams fans, but I didn't see any fights or threats of violence. (No, this wasn't the Bronx.) Some Red Sox fan tried to get a chant of "1986" going, but that went nowhere.

On the field, the Sox ran into a hot Mets team, who had just won 7 straight on the road, and were expanding their lead in the NL East. The Mets are my favorite NL team, so this was going to be a "conflicting" weekend. ( I just didn't want to see either team get swept.)

The Sox got a bit a of a shaky performance from Henry Owens, but got home runs from David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley and an odd inside-the-park job from Blake Swihart. (Replays looked like the ball cleared the line in the center field, but no replay necessary.) One thing we learned from Friday's game: Junichi Tazawa is NOT a closer. With a three-run lead in the 10th and two outs and nobody on, he promptly walked four in a row, and Torey Lovullo was forced to bring in Craig Breslow, which scared the delights out of all of us. But he got Yoenis Cespedes on a deep fly to center to wrap up the 6-4 Red Sox win.

Well, I've seen the Sox live twice this year: two wins. (The other being the Opening Day win against the Nationals.)

The Sox got another well-pitched game from Joe Kelly on Saturday (did I just write that?) in a 3-1 Red Sox win. Kelly won six games in August, in six starts. He's the first Sox pitcher to do that since Pedro Martinez turned the trick in 1999. Kelly has clearly turned his season around. But no, he's still not going to win the Cy Young Award.

The Mets won a back-and-forth affair on Sunday, which included Big Papi's 494th career home run. The Sox came back from behind twice, but the Mets pulled it out in the 8th to salvage the series.

The Sox continue to play well under the interim boss. They are 10-6 under Lovullo, and have won 4 of the 5 series they have played, with the other being a four-game split with Kansas City. Granted, the pressure to win is long gone, but they are certainly not tanking the season. They have suddenly become an exciting team to watch, as Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts are all red hot and leading the offense.

Getting back to .500 may not be realistic, as the Sox would have to go 21-11 in the remaining 32 games to reach that. But, they have nothing to lose, so you never know how the last month may turn out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Still Searching For a New Trivia Home

Hi again, Trivia players! It's your friendly neighborhood Trivia Master, John Quinn. It's been a while since I posted anything here about Trivia. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer. I am still looking for a new venue for my next Trivia Night. I talked to a couple of bars over the last few months, but nothing became of it. And last week, I thought I might have some good news to tell you all, but no luck.

I am anxious to get back in the Trivia business again, so I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any establishment that might be looking for a Trivia host. I prefer Manhattan, but I wouldn't mind hosting in my home borough of Brooklyn as well. So, if anyone has any ideas, please do let me know and send me an email at: jbq1462@hotmail.com. I miss all of you guys, with all the great support you have given me over the years. I hope we can all meet up again soon for another Trivia night. Be well, everyone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

O'Brien Replaces Orsillo & The Fans Aren't Happy

NESN moved quickly last night and named a replacement for the departing Don Orsillo: Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer Dave O'Brien.

Orsillo was at the end of his five-year contract with NESN, and the network chose not to bring him back. The fan reaction to his dismissal has been swift and ugly. Petitions have popped up on line, including this one from Change.org, which is at 12,000 and counting as I write this.

It's no reflection on O'Brien, who is generally well-liked by the fans. It's a condemnation of a decision that has left Red Sox fans stunned and shocked. It sounds like Orsillo did not have a good relationship with NESN programming head Joseph Marr, who made the move to let Orsillo walk.

Jerry Remy was visibly upset after last night's game about losing his broadcast partner, with tears in his eyes as he talked with reporters after the Red Sox' 5-4 loss in Chicago.

It sounds like the deal is done, and Don is gone. He gave the Sox fans 15 terrific years behind the mike. I will always appreciate his class and professionalism. And he won't be a free agent long.

Gordon Edes has a terrific take today on Don's Red Sox career here. Take the time and read it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don Orsillo's Leaving NESN

2015 is looking more and more like a changing of the guard for the Red Sox.

Larry Lucchino is leaving, Ben Cherington is departing, and John Farrell has temporarily left due to illness. And now, another long time Red Sox staple is going.

NESN and Don Orsillo are parting ways after this baseball season. The Dennis and Callahan Show reported this news early this morning. So far, no specific reason has been given for the move, as to whether this was NESN or Orsillo's doing.

Orsillo spent 15 years in the NESN booth, after doing Pawtucket Red Sox games. His first game in 2001 after replacing Sean McDonough was Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in Baltimore.

He and Jerry Remy still made watching the Red Sox games worth tuning in, despite the season turning into an utter crapfest early on. I'm betting that Don's next gig maybe a national baseball job, as he did playoff games on TBS over the last few years.

I wish Don well, and will remember one of his finer moments with NESN here, in April 2007:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dombrowski Will Run the Show Now

I guess you might say the Red Sox won twice on Tuesday night.

During their 9-1 win over the Indians, Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo made a startling announcement as the 8th inning was underway, that the Red Sox had hired former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski as the new president of baseball operations, beginning immediately.

Current GM Ben Cherington was asked to stay on, but he declined, as Dombrowski will have the last word on all baseball decisions. Cherington will stay on with the transition until the end of the season.

Dombrowski has been the general manager of the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Tigers. His high point was winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997. He had been the GM in Detroit from 2002 until a couple of weeks ago, when the Tigers allowed him to move on. He rebuilt a Detroit club that lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003, and won the pennant in 2006.

Last night's announcement was a real surprise, as the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski figured to be either Toronto or the LA Angels. He will now be calling the shots, and has a huge job ahead of him turning the Red Sox fortunes around.

Cherington leaves with winning a World Series in 2013, but also what appears to be a third last-place finish. It was most likely he would fall on the sword for the moves the club made that badly backfired over the past year.

What this means for John Farrell is not clear, but you have to figure that if he is healthy enough to resume his managerial duties in 2016, he will be back. Letting him go during this offseason would be a disasterous PR move for the Sox. But Farrell will be under the microscope once the season begins.

Dombrowski also figures to bring in some of the people who worked for him in his other MLB positions. The new GM could be the recently hired Jerry DiPoto, who was LA Angels GM until he resigned earlier this year. Former Braves GM Frank Wren, who worked with Dombrowski for many years, has also been prominently mentioned for the job.

Dombrowski will be formerly introduced by the Red Sox this afternoon.

Let the 2016 season begin.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Historic Day For Bradley

I sure haven't written a lot of positive stuff about the Red Sox in what has been a lost year of 2015.

But the offense has put up some historic numbers the last two days against the Seattle Mariners. If I had told you before Saturday's game that the Red Sox would give up 10 runs in a game that was started by Felix Hernandez, what would you figure, a 10-1 or 10-2 loss, right?

The Sox absolutely pummeled Hernandez, who gave up 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

After getting 15 runs on Friday, the Sox topped that on Saturday and more. And Jackie Bradley Jr. made a clear statement that he is finally an MLB hitter, going 5-for-6, with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI, and scored five times. Bradley became the first Red Sox hitter ever to get five extra base hits in one game. (Nope, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice nor Jimmie Foxx ever did that.)

Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts both had four hits, and Bogaerts became the first MLB player this year to get four hits in a game six times. Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Brock Holt each had three hits. The Sox in total had 26 hits, first time they reached that number in a game since 2005.

The combined 37 runs in two games is the most the Sox collected in back-to-back games since they set the unbreakable record of 49 runs in two games against the St. Louis Browns in 1950. (They scored 20 in the first game, and then game back the next day to set the record of 29 in a game that stood until the Texas Rangers scored 30 a few years ago in Baltimore.)

The 22 runs the Sox scored was the most since that memorable night against the Florida Marlins when the Sox scored 25 runs, including 14 in the first inning.

The best part of yesterday as been the continued smoking hot hitting of Bradley. Since his huge day last Sunday in Detroit, he has gone 13-for-22 with 3 HR, 13 RBI and 9 extra base hits.

Wade Miley was terrific in going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs. But even in garbage time, the bullpen pitched like garbage, allowing eight runs even up by 17 runs. Priority One next season will be putting together a reliable pen.

And by the way, is it a coincidence that the Red Sox have come alive with two incredible games from the offense and starting staff after the news of John Farrell's lymphoma? Just asking...

I'll wrap this up by pointing out that yesterday's win was the Red Sox first on August 15th since 1997. You may have heard about the so-called "Ben Affleck Curse," the fact the Sox have not won on that day since his film "Good Will Hunting" came out, and August 15th is the actor's birthday.

Good, another made-up "curse" bites the dust. CHB will have to hang his hat on another "curse" he'll undoubtably make up to sell more books.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Prayers For The Skipper

How many times have you and I as Red Sox fans thought, "Boy, it just can't get any worse?"

I thought that on Wednesday afternoon, after the Red Sox were swept by the worst team in MLB, the Miami Marlins, and gave up a 10-run inning to them in the process.

But nothing could compare to the news that came out on Friday afternoon.

John Farrell announced during his daily press conference that he has been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma, which was caught while he was having hernia surgery last weekend in Detroit. The hernia may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the lymphoma was caught in the curable stage.

Farrell has stepped away from the Red Sox for the rest of the season, and will begin chemotherapy on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. Bench coach Torey Lovullo will take over the team as interim manager for the balance of 2015.

Farrell is just 53 years old (7 months younger than I am). The news hit the Red Sox team hard, and David Ortiz later said that Hanley Ramirez was in tears when he broke the news to him.

We can only offer the Red Sox skipper our thoughts and prayers, and he gets through chemoptherapy with good health. Hope to see him back on the field in 2016.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Happy Trails to Mike Napoli & His Badass Beard

The Red Sox continued their dismantling yesterday, sending 2013 champion Mike Napoli back to Texas for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We thank him for what Dave O'Brien once called "the unexpected gift of a season" that the 2013 year and championship was.

Nap and his badass beard will never be forgotten.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Lucchino Departs at Season's End

Love him or hate him, Larry Lucchino left his mark on the Red Sox.

Lucchino is stepping away from his role as president and CEO of the Red Sox when this season ends. He'll be replaced by current vice-president and COO Sam Kennedy, who was brought to the Red Sox as a intern by Lucchino in 2002.

Lucchino leaves a mixed legacy in Boston, but far more on the positive side. After stints in Baltimore and San Diego, where he helped develop both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Petco Park, he joined the Red Sox with John Henry and Tom Werner when the club was sold in 2001.

When I hear his name, I'll always think of the way he turned up the rivalry with the Yankees by calling them "The Evil Empire" in 2003. He was instrumental in bringing in Theo Epstein as GM for the Red Sox in 2002, and was also responsible for Theo leaving Fenway in a gorilla suit and his temporary resignation in 2005. Lucchino could rub people the wrong way, and come off as meddlesome and a bit of a tyrant at times.

And also don't forget, he was the one who wanted Bobby Valentine as manager in 2012.

But the shining stars on his Red Sox resume are the three championships the Sox won in 2004, 2007 and 2013. And the renovation of Fenway Park was also on his watch, making the park a far more livable and watchable place to watch a game.

Larry also showed up many years ago at a BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club, and actually came off as a rather friendly individual.

I can remember years ago Red Sox fans who were totally disgusted with Lucchino's meddling and wondering when he'd be gone as team president. Conspiracy theorists are already speculating as to whether Lucchino is taking the fall for the Red Sox' awful last couple of seasons. According to Gordon Edes at ESPN, it sounds like Lucchino was phasing his role down for the last couple of seasons, and the team did not want to lose Sam Kennedy to another organization. (He had been wooed by the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs about a president position.)

Changes within the Red Sox continue, and I didn't see this one coming. I wish Larry Lucchino well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shane Exits With Class

The dismantling of the Red Sox began in earnest on Monday, as Shane Victorino was traded to the LA Angels for utility infielder Josh Rutledge.

The Flyin' Hawaiian stamped his name into Red Sox legend with two enormous hits that will forever be remembered: the 2013 Game 6 ALCS home run that put the Red Sox ahead to stay against Detroit, and the triple that cleared the bases against St. Louis in Game 6 of the World Series.

Injuries have derailed the last two seasons for Victorino, and now he moves to a contender in Anaheim.

And Shane leaves the Red Sox with class:

All the best Shane, and I'll never hear this song again without thinking of you:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thanks For The Memories, Pedro

We all know this has been a lost season for the Red Sox, and the less said and written about this on-going travesty, the better.

Today, before many thousands of fans at Cooperstown, NY, Pedro Martinez will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz. All four men are indeed worthy of induction.

The festivities will be broadcast on MLB Network at 1:30 PM today. I will be watching, and listening to what should be an entertaining speech Pedro is sure to give.

Pedro will also have his number 45 retired by the Red Sox this coming Tuesday night before the game at Fenway with the White Sox. That is sure to be fun as well.

Fans have been posting their favorite Pedro moments and games on Facebook over the course of the last few days. I had the pleasure to be at Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS at Fenway, where Pedro beat the Yankees and Roger Clemens, 12-1. He was simply dominant that night, and it being a postseason game, meant so much more. That is my favorite memory of him with me being in the building.

But my favorite of all is what I call the best pitched game I have ever seen.

On September 10, 1999, Pedro and the Sox faces New York at Yankee Stadium. The Sox were still in the race for the AL east title, trailing the Yankees by 6 1/2 games with 21 to go. Pedro hit Chuck Knoblauch, the first batter, and he was caught stealing. In the second inning, Chili Davis hit a shot into the right field bleachers to make it 1-0 New York.

Little did anyone realize that Davis would be the last Yankee to reach base.

Mike Stanley hit a two-run homer in the 6th, and Jose Offerman had an RBI single in the ninth to give Pedro all the offensive support he'd need.

In the bottom of the fourth, Bernie Williams grounded out to third. Of the remaining 15 batters Pedro faced, 12 would strike out, 2 would foul out, and Scott Brosius will lead off the sixth by flying out to left. That was the last fair ball the Yankees would hit in that game.

It was sheer dominance. Seeing the Dominican fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers putting up Ks and rooting Pedro and the Sox home to victory was simply surreal. Pedro was knocking down the Yankees like bowling pins, and they had their "A" team out there that night. (And would win the World Series the following month.)

It still is the best game I have ever seen (and I saw it on TV; wish I could have been there live).

Congratulations to Pedro on the well-earned trip to immortality today.

Here are the edited highlights from that night. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Say Goodbye To Hollywood & The 2015 Season

I had a bad feeling about the Red Sox after that last game against the Yankees before the All-Star break.

The Sox had been playing going into that final game, and needed to win it to take the series. New York won, 8-6. And it left me with the feeling that they were going to come out flat in Anaheim. I just didn't think it was going to be THIS bad.

I looked at the schedule and saw the first ten games after the break with three contenders: LA Angels, Houston and Detroit. It was 10 games, and figured the Red Sox needed to go at least 7-3 if they had any hope of getting back in the race, and 4-3 on the opening 7-game road trip.

Both are impossible now. The first ever four game sweep in Anaheim by the Angels over the Sox put that to rest, and pretty much any hope the Red Sox had given their fans after a decent three-week stretch in late June and early July.

The numbers are simply putrid.

The Sox scored just 4 runs in 36 innings in the four games, the first time since 1965 they scored as few as four runs in a four-game series. They never had the lead in any of the four, and the last three runs were scored in garbage time of the final game. Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez went a combined 0-for-44. With the exception of Wade Miley's brilliant 7 innings on Friday, the starters were awful. LA outscored them 22-4. They ran into a hot Angels team, who are now in first place in the AL West, having won 15 of 18. Take nothing away from their starters, who were brilliant in the four game sweep.

The Sox bats were still in the All-Star break. What does that say about the motivation on this team? Not very much. They are now 42-51, 9 games behind New York in the AL East, and are tied with Seattle for the worst record in the American League.

I was waiting until the White Sox series next week to see whether the Red Sox were buyers or sellers for the July 31st trade deadline. Now, it's pretty clear. They are absolutely sellers. I think even the most cockeyed optimist of fans realizes that now.

Time to put together a plan for 2016.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Take a Break. Then Improve the Pitching.

Back in early April, if I had said to you that between the Red Sox and Yankees, one team would be 48-40 in first place, and the other 42-47 in fifth place, who would you have put where?

Yep, me too.

That the first half of the 2015 season has been a major disappointment for the Red Sox is not any startling news. The front office rolled the dice with the pitching staff and it has mostly come up lemons. Justin Masterson has been a complete flop, Joe Kelly is starting in AAA (maybe he should be relieving in Boston?), and Wade Miley has been too wildly inconsistent. Clay Buchholz has returned yet again to the DL, but Eduardo Rodriguez has shown real promise. And we'll see stud rookie lefthander Brian Johnson for the first time shortly after the break.

The bullpen? Yikes. No one trustworthy other than Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.

If New York wins 88 games (the pace they are on right now), the Sox would have to go 47-26 in order to pass them. A tall order to say the least.

It's pretty clear that if the Red Sox are still withing shouting distance of first place by July 31, the pitching needs major improvement. Who to go after? That is still to be determined, and the bidding wars for those available will get going soon. Buchholz' loss makes getting a quality starter even more important than ever.

The offense got it cranking in June and early July. They have played more like they were advertised, and the fact the Sox went 15-9 to conclude the first half is testament to that. And it appears Dustin Pedroia will return to the lineup this weekend in Anaheim.

Losing the last series to New York this past weekend hurts, as 4 1/2 back and winning a series from your first-place rivals sounds a whole lot better than being 6 1/2 back. I can't say my optimism is overflowing for the second half beginning, as the Sox start it off with seven games against the two-best teams in AL West, the LA Angels and Houston Astros, both on the road.

I would recommend most fans take a break from this frustrating season for a few days. While the math doesn't say the Red Sox are done by any stretch, there's little room for error as the second half begins. A bad road trip could make the Sox sellers by July 31st. We'll just have to see.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Race Gets Tighter

It's starting to get interesting for the Red Sox in the AL East.

The Red Sox swept two games from the Miami Marlins, and have now won four games in a row for the first time in 2015. The 6-3 win last night means the Sox have won nine of their last twelve, and thirteen of their last twenty. On June 20th, they were 10 games back. Today, they sit just 5 games behind New York, and 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in fourth. No one in front of them has played better than .500 ball over the last 10 days, and the Sox have taken advantage of that.

Last night's win was important mainly for Rick Porcello, who has been absolutely awful. Of all the pitchers who qualify for the ERA title race in the AL, Porcello was dead last at 6.08 going into last night's game.

Porcello was very good, going six innings and allowing just two earned runs. His ERA with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate is noticeably lower, and this was his his first start since Hanigan returned from his injury.

And very quietly, Koji Uehara seems to have regained his 2013 form. He was once again 1-2-3 in the ninth, and he has now allowed just one base runner in the last 29 he has faced, compiling 21 saves.

Now, the Evil Empire returns to Boston this weekend, in the first important series with New York in quite some time. It is the last series before the All-Star break, so the Sox can end the first half on a high note by taking this three-game set.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Is That Light I See Ahead In This Tunnel?

Well, all of a sudden, guess who the hottest team in the AL East is?

Yes, your Boston Red Sox.

The Sox took 2 of 3 from the AL West-leading Houston Astros at Fenway this past weekend. (Easily could have been a sweep if not for some bad base running and some questionable bullpen moves.) They've won three consecutive series, and 12 of their last 19 games. They are averaging 5.5 runs per game over that 19-game stretch, best in MLB.

Granted, the division is not strong at all. I wouldn't get too overly excited just yet. The Red Sox still trail New York by 6 games, and fourth place Toronto by four games. But no one ahead of them is hot right now, and no one appears ready to pull away from the pack.

But the signs are pointing in the right direction. The Sox have just five games left before the All-Star break: 2 with Miami and three with New York, all at Fenway.

BTW, a really odd thing happened yesterday. As David Ortiz played first base in an AL game for the first time since 2006 (Mike Napoli is THAT bad at the plate right now), not one putout was recorded at first base, the first time ever in team history that has happened.

And on the subject of Papi at first base, I don't think it's a bad thing to see him at first base a little more often. It allows Hanley Ramirez to DH, as he is no stellar outfielder. But Ortiz is not the butcher at first base he's made out to be. The last time he made an error at first was in 2009. (Granted that is only 28 regular season games since 2010, and doesn't include the World Series games he's played in, which he actually played flawless defense.) Sure, he's no Gold Glover by any stretch of the imagination, but putting him there once in a while might help. He would be exposed if he played first regularly. But Hanley Ramirez in left scares me a lot more.

Yes, put Papi on first base, and no one wants to throw the ball to him. Very odd.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Halfway There

They're teasing us again.

The Red Sox hit the halfway point of the 2015 season last night, with a 12-6 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto. They had the biggest first inning of the season, scoring 8 runs off a rookie named Matt Boyd, who faced seven hitters, and they all scored. (And how many of you were like me, thinking Wade Miley was going to give away that big lead in the 2nd?) David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez hit back-to-back home runs in that inning. It was a glimpse of a Red Sox team we thought we'd be seeing a lot more of 2015.

Last night was Game 81 of the 2015 season. The Sox conclude the first half at 37-44, six games out of first place, five games out of second. They ended it winning 5 of 7 on the road trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Once again, the Red Sox are fortunate that there is no strong team in the AL East. Right now, the top four teams are separated by just one game in the standings. The Red Sox are the only fifth-place team that is not double-digits out of first place.

So, is there hope? The math may say yes, but this team still has to play consistently well, especially inside their division, to have a chance. And the month of July is no cakewalk. They play six games with Houston, three with New York, four with the LA Angels, three with Detroit, and one with Tampa Bay (to end the month), all teams with playoff aspirations. The Sox went 14-14 in June. Nothing to shout about, but it was much better than the awful May they had, where they finished a putrid 10-19.

The trading deadline is four weeks away, so are the Red Sox buyers or sellers? I would have to say now it maybe too early to tell. It will really depend on where they stand the morning of July 31st. There are really only seven teams right now who appear to be completely out of it right now (PHI, CIN, MIL, SEA, OAK, CHW and COL).

This holiday weekend's series at Fenway with the surprising AL West-leading Houston Astros will tell us a lot about where the Red Sox are heading right now, and if they can carry some of that newly built momentum home against a playoff contender. I'm not loaded with optimism, but things look a lot better than they did after losing 2 of 3 to Baltimore last week. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Look To The Future Now

It's time to look at the future. Time to play the kids.

I wasn't jumping for joy with the week the Red Sox had last week. They split four games with the Atlanta Braves, and then went to Kansas City and took two of three from the defending AL champion Royals, with the last game being a convincing 13-2 win. The Sox had also been awoken at the plate, having a team .294 batting average for the month of June, best in MLB.

But my fears were confirmed when they returned to Fenway and dropped two of three to division rival Baltimore. The Sox are now an abysmal 11-22 against the AL East (and they have a winning record outside the division), and 4-9 against the Orioles.

On May 31st, the Sox stood at 22-29, 4 games back in the AL East. I took a look at the schedule for June, and it appeared to be favorable to the Sox, with most of their opponents at or below .500. They had 28 games this month, and I figured they needed to go at least 16-12 in order to get back to some respectability and try to get back in the AL East race.

That now officially won't happen with yesterday's loss, as they are now 10-13 with five games remaining in June. I think even the most cockeyed of Red Sox optimists realize it just isn't happening in 2015, and Dustin Pedroia heading for the DL just adds to the misery.

Time for the Sox to turn the page on 2015 and look to next year. Jackie Bradley Jr. returned from Pawtucket yesterday, where he was having a terrific year and went 2-for-4 at the plate and threw out a runner at home in the ninth inning. Time to put Bradley in right field and leave him there. For the player's own well-being, they should see what he can do the rest of the way, and make a decision on him: keep him or trade him.

Eduardo Rodriguez got rapped around the second time through the Baltimore order yesterday, after retiring the first 10 hitters he faced. But the kid is still the goods, and will be a top-notch starter in year's to come. He is someone you can build a future rotation around. He's taking his lumps, but that is expected. He'll be an All-Star sooner rather than later. And we should be seeing the much-heralded Brian Johnson called up for a start shortly. He is 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA at Pawtucket.

Joe Kelly, who in March predicted he'd win the Cy Young Award this year, was sent down to AAA yesterday after yet another rocky start. He still has terrific stuff at times, and I can see him being the future closer of the Red Sox. He maybe one of those guys who is better suited to a one or two inning role in 2016.

The Sox will obviously be sellers on July 31. They have a few pieces they can move, like Mike Napoli for instance (although they won't get much for him). Quite frankly, they are stuck with guys like Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello. The future is with guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley. They'll be worth coming out to see when the standings say the Red Sox as a group aren't worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


No, I'm not talking about the latest Red Sox loss. (And the less said and written on that subject, the better.)

I'm talking about those new hats that MLB will debut for this year's All-Star Game. My first question about them is: why a new hat?

One of the special parts about baseball's All-Star Game (there aren't many left to be honest) is that each player wears his complete regular-season uniform, where as in other sports all-star games they all have to wear the same uniform, due to the nature of the sport. (And they usually are nothing to write home about anyway.)

I can only think of one reason: money. Something else for MLB to promote and make money off of. They could at least put together something a little more pleasing to the eye, and almost classic, like the hats the Pittsburgh Pirates wore on occasion in the 1970s (see above). I always thought they were pretty cool.

I know, I'm a traditionalist, and I'm guessing in the world today that is not looked upon as a good thing. But MLB could have come up with something far better than what they debuted yesterday. And of course, why do the players need to wear something special at the All-Star Game anyway? The "special" rapidly disappeared a long time ago.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bad Times Don't Diminish 2013

Times are bad, folks.

No use in recapping a truly awful weekend, as most of you either saw it or heard about it.

The AL East is now a four-team race, as the others are either playing well or in a position to make a run. (Remember how everyone was calling the division the worst in MLB? It is now the only division with four teams at .500 or better.) The Red Sox are the lone exception, now five games out of fourth place, and they are the second-worst team in the AL. And falling fast.

And now the question must be asked: will the Red Sox lose 100 games this year? Not out of the question, after the recent putrid displays of baseball I've recently seen.

I'm no longer angry. All my anger is used up. I'm just numb.

Bad trades, bad free agent signings, bad contract extensions. An unholy mess. Will John Farrell and/or Ben Cherington survive the season? It's looking more doubtful by the day.

And to conclude. I love these so-called "fans" (and so-called "pundits") who now want to practically disregard the 2013 World Series championship as either a "fluke" or an "aberration." It was neither. You DO NOT win 108 games and a title on just luck. And certainly not on a "fluke." A lot of things went very right in 2013. And the Sox earned their 2013 championship. That is forever. That cannot be changed. EVER.

It has been sandwiched around some bad teams. That's a fact, too. It seems to me a lot of these "critics" seem to forget the really "bad old days" of the early 1990s, when a championship seemed like an elusive dream that we might never see in our lifetimes, as the Sox were mired in mediocrity. But we did. Three times in this century. That should never, ever be lost in what is a team that has gone completely off the tracks.

Yeah, times are bad. Very bad. But remember there have been some very good times in the recent past. Nothing changes that, even if some want to harp on the negatives since 2011.

The Sox won it all in 2013, just two years ago. Deal with it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

As The Season Circles The Drain

So much for getting the season back on the right track.

The Red Sox sweep over the Oakland A's last week proved to be an aberration, as they promptly got swept in Baltimore. And it wasn't pretty.

Eduardo Rodriguez is the best thing I can say about this team right now. He was stellar in his third MLB start on Tuesday night, going six innings and allowing no runs, while striking out seven. He deserved a win, but naturally the offense couldn't be bothered to make an appearance, and the Orioles won, 1-0, and on a wild pitch that scored the only run.

And the next night was no better, as Baltimore won again, 5-2. Rick Porcello, who is being paid like an ace but sure isn't pitching like one, and allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. The offense was gone by the sixth inning, as the last nine men went down feebly in order to end the game.

Last night completed Baltimore's sweep, 6-5. Wade Miley had absolutely nothing, giving up five runs, including three home runs, in four innings. And then had the nerve to question John Farrell over being removed at that point. The offense showed some life in the top of the fourth, getting three runs, which included a two-run double by Pablo Sandoval. it was 4-3 and Miley proceeded to give up a bomb of a HR to Manny Machado. Miley didn't have a clean inning. Farrell had no choice.

Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons had plenty to say about this mess afterwards:

It now leaves the Red Sox back in last place, at 27-34, seven games behind New York. And now, one of MLB's hottest teams, the Toronto Blue Jays, come to Fenway on an eight-game winning streak.

So, when do NFL training camps open again?