All-Star Game at Minnesota

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can't Spell Pineda Without "Pine"

On April 10th, Michael Pineda of the Yankees (pictured above, well, not really, but perhaps a "sneak peek" of him in his next start) was clearly using pine tar on his pitching hand (dirt, yeah right) in the win against the Red Sox, and basically got away with it. The Sox didn't make a big deal about, MLB did nothing: no fine, no suspension. They basically told him and his team: be discreet about using pine tar.

So last night he's facing the Sox again, this time at Fenway. The Red Sox score two in the first inning, and on the mound for the second, there is Pineda with an obvious slop of pine tar on his neck.

Talk about flaunting it. John Farrell had no choice to ask home plate ump Gerry Davis to check him. The ump discovered the pine tar, and showed Pineda the door.

Listen, we all know that some pitchers will use every kind of advantage on the mound. Many use foreign substances, but the unwritten rule is: don't make it obvious. Pineda claimed after the April 10th game that no one on the Yankees discussed the matter with him, but he has been proven to be a liar, as both Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild spoke to Pineda on more than one occasion about flaunting the pine tar for all to see.

And where were the Yankees last night as that second inning was happening? Didn't ANYONE see the stuff on his neck in the dugout? Or did they take the "Sgt. Schultz" approach: "I know nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing..."

Pineda is now looking at a minimum of a 10-game suspension. Is he the dumbest player in the majors right now?

Maybe sitting for 10 games will wake this guy up. Or maybe not. Perhaps he should sit down with legendary Cleveland Indians hurler Eddie Harris about the finer points of hiding the foreign substances:

 And the Red Sox went on to a 5-1 win over New York without Pineda, as John Lackey struck out 10 in going 8 innings.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weird Logic In Wally's World

During last night's opening game travesty at Fenway Park between the Red Sox and the Evil Empire (less said about that the better), I saw this on Twitter from the infamous New York writer Wallace Matthews:

Instead of booing Ellsbury, Fenway should be booing whoever made the decision not to bring him back

I responded to that asinine comment with this:

@ESPNNYYankees Sox weren't going to get into bidding war with NY over Ellsbury. Weren't going to give him a bad contract. Do your homework.

I got back this very condescending reply from Matthews:

lighten up, son. it's only a game

I decided I wasn't going to get into any name-calling with this jerk on Twitter. I just shrugged my shoulders and turned Twitter off. (BTW, I don't follow Matthews on Twitter. A friend retweeted the original post.)

You may remember this guy from the hatchet job he did on Tim Wakefield a number of years ago, when he criticized the legendary knuckleballer for how long his games went, when as it turned out the reverse was true. Or here in 2008 when he defended Roger Clemens.

Nobody ever said sportswriters were smart. But I will NOT criticize Red Sox management's decision to let Jacoby Ellsbury to walk away from the team. The Sox were not going to come anywhere near the bad contract the Yankees gave Ellsbury. (Is he REALLY worth 7 years at $22 million per?) Everyone knew he was leaving, with Jackie Bradley waiting in the wings. That is precisely the kind of deal that got the Red Sox in trouble three years ago. (Right now, the Sox have only ONE player on a long term deal, and that is Dustin Pedroia.) Ellsbury was going to get booed last night at Fenway. He put on the wrong laundry.

But Ellsbury never said he would never go to New York (like another center fielder who will remain nameless), and he made a business decision. So be it. The fans have every right to boo his return if they feel like it. Ellsbury had a good game last night. It was one game against his former club.

Let's see if Matthews still feels the same way the next time Ellsbury has to go for an MRI.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Believe In Easter Miracles

I think this game took about five years off my life.

It looked for sure the Red Sox were going to drop a Sunday night contest to the Orioles yesterday, as they fell behind 5-0 by the sixth inning, on a night when Jake Peavy didn't have it and the Sox were doing nothing yet again with runners in scoring position.

Jonny Gomes blasted a three-run shot into the Monster Seats to make it 5-3, and we had a game again.

The Sox added two in the seventh, one driven in my a David Ortiz single and an error at third on a grounder hit by Mike Napoli. But with the bases loaded and one out, they reverted to their old ways and left the runners stranded, and the game remained tied going into the bottom of the ninth.

With one out, Dustin Pedroia hit a ball off the top of the Monster that some fans touched leaning down, and after replay he had a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch and Papi was walked intentionally, Napoli was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, pinch hitter Mike Carp lined a shot to left that David Lough caught. He unwisely fired the ball way wide of home plate, as Pedroia went back to tag, but hesitated when the throw came in. He raced home as the Orioles scrambled to get the ball, and the Sox had an amazing come-from-behind win, 6-5.

This win reminded me of the never-say-die attitude of the 2013 championship team, something that seemed to be missing from this team so far. The Sox are now 9-10, and can get to back to .500 with a Patriots Day win to conclude the four-game series with the Orioles this morning.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

You Know What Happens When You Assume

John Farrell set a new record last night, one that will never be broken.

He challenged a call on the very first pitch of the game.

Nick Markakis hit a fly ball that landed just inches foul down the left field line. But ump Will Little called it fair. Farrell rightly called for the replay, and after a nearly four minute delay, the crew in NY upheld the decision.

From the still shot (courtesy of The Joy of Sox), it is clear the ball never touched the foul line. But it did kick up dirt that landed on the line. I can only guess they assumed the ball actually touched part of the line.

You know what happens when you assume. Ask Felix Unger:

And sure enough, Markakis scored on a single, and the Orioles went on to an 8-4 win.

MLB still has a serious problem with incompetent umpires, and now a replay system that can't get the calls correct. Very embarrassing.

The Red Sox continue to struggle with men in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded in the second, and left  two runners on in both the fourth and fifth innings. John Lackey was not sharp for a second straight outing, and the offense couldn't come to his rescue.

They are now 7-10. New York's loss in Tampa keeps the Sox three back.

Friday, April 18, 2014

At Least The Pitching Is Fun To Watch

The Red Sox concluded a 3-4 road trip in Chicago last night with another gritty win, 3-1 over the White Sox.

The Red Sox scoring runs is like trying to get blood from a stone these days, especially Wednesday night's 6-4, 14 inning win, when the Sox were given 15 walks by Chicago, and it took a position player giving up the final two runs for the Red Sox to claim victory.

The Red Sox are hitting .232 as a team in the first 16 games, and hit an anemic .183 on the seven-game road trip.

Jon Lester continues to be magnificent in April, as last night he allowed just 1 run over 8 innings. He retired the first 16 batters before giving up three hits and a 1-0 lead. (Which had been provided by Xander Bogaerts, who homered in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox first hit of the contest.) David Ross doubled in one run in the ninth, and Jonathan Herrera's bunt single with the bases loaded added on some insurance.

Koji Uehara returned after his short sabbatical with a stiff shoulder to get the save, allowing just a single in an uneventful ninth.

The pitching has kept the club afloat with this 7-9 start. Only one of the nine losses has been of the "blowout" variety (the 10-7 loss to Texas, which wasn't that close, as the Sox scored three in the ninth to make it cosmetically close), so there is cause for optimism.

There's just too much talent on this team to see them struggle this badly all season. They will also get Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks back shortly. They have also been playing mostly in colder weather, so the warmer temperatures should benefit the strugglers.

They return home to face Baltimore in a four-game series tonight that will conclude with the Patriot's Day game on Monday morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where Has All The Offense Gone?

The Red Sox offense continues to struggle, big time.

On a cold night in Chicago, Jake Peavy was terrific for six innings, just allowing an Adam Dunn home run. He was matched with somebody named Erik Johnson, who was even better, going seven innings and allowing just a Daniel Nava home run.

The Red Sox could get just three hits, and the few opportunities they had, they wasted yet again. 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. (Last I looked they were hitting less than .200 as team in RISP situations.) Right now, getting anyone home with a man on second or third is like pulling teeth.

Xander Bogaerts had probably the worst night of his career, striking out three times (including one with second and third and two outs), and bounced a grounder to first that allowed the winning run to score in the ninth for Chicago.

Another one of those nights that makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Especially when not one but two umps blow a check-swing call on the last batter that should have ended the ninth inning.

And Mike Napoli dislocated his ring finger on his left hand sliding into second in the ninth inning. Brutal to watch, but fortunately, nothing was broken and he is day-to-day.

Just what the Red Sox need: more injuries.

They are now 5-9, and have lost 8 of their last 11. The road trip has been especially brutal, with just 12 runs scores in 5 games, and they are hitting .183 in those games.

The pitching continues to be rather good, both in the pen and rotation. In only 3 of those games were the starters hit hard, and the other games were close, winnable games.

Obviously, things will change when the offense starts to click.

Let's just hope it is sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Bad Weekend, Injuries & 149 To Play

Yeah, I know, it's just 13 games.

The Red Sox sit at 5-8 on this Monday, having lost three of four in the Bronx this past weekend. With the exception of John Lackey's four home runs allowed on Saturday, the starting pitchers acquitted themselves well. The bullpen was equally as good.

But Koji Uehara missed the series, as he felt tightness in his shoulder on Friday, and Edward Mujica closed out that night's win. Koji said he felt better on Sunday, and he will be further evaluated in Boston today. The DL is still a possibility, as Koji is 38 years old and the team will rightly not push this early.

But the offense continues to be a problem, especially with runners on base. The Red Sox are just 11th out of 15 in total runs scored in the AL so far, and managed just 11 runs in the four game series. The leadoff spot is a big problem, and split between four different players, are hitting a combined .188.  Dustin Pedroia sat out last night's game with a sore wrist, and will be evaluated today in Boston. He hurt the wrist during the Milwaukee series, and has struggled since.

Shane Victorino will be the third of the trio of players in Boston today seeing the doctors, and if he gets the OK, he starts his rehab tomorrow in Portland. He could be activated for the Baltimore series this weekend if the hamstring is good to go.

The AL East is right now a logjam, with three teams tied for first, and the Red Sox in fifth place but just two games back.

Step back and away from the ledge, folks. 149 games to play. The White Sox are up next in Chicago on Tuesday. It's time for the last year's best offensive team to come alive.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Three-Ring Circus At The Yale Club

I had a blast at the BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club on Friday, as I did Ted Williams trivia and gave away prizes to winners.

Ben Bradlee Jr., who wrote the terrific book "The Kid," the most comprehensive book on the life of the Splendid Splinter, was on hand and chatted about some of the high points of his book. (That was the reason I did Ted trivia.)

Unfortunately, no Red Sox player was on hand, and I believe that is the third straight luncheon that no Sox player was able to come.

The Fenway PA announcer and poet laureate of the Red Sox, Dick Flavin, was there to regale us with some poetic stories, which included a funny bit about an encounter he had many years ago with Tommy Lasorda. Dick is truly amazing for a man of his advanced years, and real gentleman as well.

The slideshow featured everything from pictures of last November's trophy presentation, Jeter, Ellsbury and A-Rod bashing, and the current state of Red Sox Nation (which is good).

The highlight of the day was with "the closer", Red Sox VP of Public Relations, Dr. Charles Steinberg. Dr. Steinberg took questions for the audience about all things Red Sox. He talked extensively about the ring ceremony and Boston Fire Department, among many other things. But he also came wearing all three of his Red Sox World Series rings, as you can see above. Everyone crowded around Dr. Steinberg, including myself, to get a snapshot of his left hand.

One of the BLOHARDS said to him, "I bet you never thought you'd end up being a hand model, eh?"

A good time was had by all, and the next meeting will be September 4th back at the Yale Club.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

0-For-5 With 5 Ks? No Problem.

It was looking like the Red Sox were going to drop another home series on Wednesday, as the offense disappeared and the Sox were down 2-1 in the 8th inning to the Texas Rangers.

But they had a threat going, with two on and one out. But this season has been exceptionally frustrating so far, as it seems the Red Sox have either been leaving those runners there or banging into double plays like they are going out of style.

But David Ortiz was having none of that.

Reliever Neal Cotts came in, a lefty that Papi has had no end of trouble with. In six career at-bats against him, Ortiz has six plate appearances, with one walk and five strikeouts. So had had never even put a ball in play against this guy.

As soon as NESN put up that stat, I thought, "OK, that only means he's due."

Papi blasted a 1-1 inside fastball (not a good idea as Cotts was pitching him away the first two pitches) right down the line and it landed just inside the Pesky Pole for a three-run homer. 4-2 Sox. The umps took a look on replay and confirmed their decision.

Koji Uehara made it look easy with a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save, and the Sox took the series, instead of losing it, thanks to the Large Father. Jake Peavy was terrific for 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run and strikng out 7, but coming away with a no-decision.

Now it's off to New York for the latest War to End All Wars with the Yankees, and onetime Red Sox hero Jacoby Ellsbury.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

"They Called Me God"

I recently finished the first autobiography of an umpire I have ever read, and it was by Doug Harvey (with Peter Golenbock) called "They Called Me God."

Doug Harvey was the legendary umpire who worked in the National League from 1962-1992, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, just the ninth umpire so honored. Harvey is now 84 years old, and has been suffering from cancer, and hooked up with Golenbock to tell his life story.

One thing you have to say about Harvey is is that he was a man who was confident in his abilities, and had an incredible ego. (The book is subtitled "The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived." That, of course, is a subject for debate. But he was the best ump of his generation.) Harvey is very blunt in this book, and doesn't beat around the bush as far who he likes and doesn't care for.

And there's plenty of salty language mixed in as well.

It's clear Harvey had an incredible passion for the game of baseball and his profession. And as an umpire, he always let the players know who was in charge. ("You refer to me as "sir" or "Mr. Umpire" he told young players.) He rose quickly through the ranks of the minor leagues and became a National League ump in 1962. He gives his take on players, managers, coaches, his fellow umpires, and baseball commissioners. (Bud Selig probably won't care much for this book.)

Harvey claims to have never made a mistake in his 31 years of umpiring. While I find that hard to believe, I did find his take on some of the controversial plays he was involved with interesting. He was the third base ump when Johnny Roseboro was attacked by Juan Marichal in the bat incident in 1965, and was the home plate ump who called Lou Brock out at home in Game 5 of the 1968 World Series that turned the tide of that series in the Detroit Tigers favor.

Whenever a read a baseball history/biography book like this, I always look for factual errors, and I found a few here. Golenbock, who co-wrote that sloppy Johnny Damon book "Idiot" in 2005 (which had numerous embarrassing errors in it), made few here. The ones that jump out are when he wrote that the Mets won the 1969 NLCS in five games, when in fact they won in a three-game sweep; said that Doc Gooden faced Pete Rose when Pete was in Philadelphia, which is not possible, as Gooden came up to the Mets in 1984, and Rose was playing for the Expos that year; and stated that Jocko Conlan was the home plate ump for Don Larsen's prefect game in 1956, when it was in fact Babe Pinelli, who was umping his final game.

The book comes off as a series of loosely written anecdotes, without a meaningful structure. Harvey has certainly lived an interesting life as an ump in a crucial period of baseball history, but comes off as a bit of an egomaniac. He clearly wanted to air out some old grudges, with a few axes to grind with many he dealt with in the game.

If you are a fan of MLB in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, I'm sure you will find something to like in "They Called Me God." Doug Harvey lets the world know in no uncertain terms who he liked and didn't care much for. He probably wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

An Emotional Flag Raising at Fenway

I had the pleasure of being at Fenway on Friday for my first championship flag-raising and ring ceremony. (I love the fact that I have to use the term "first" in that sentence. Of three this past ten years.) I went up with the BLOHARDS on their bus trip, for the fourth time in the last five years. We sat in the right field grandstand, just to the foul side of the Pesky Pole.

It was cold, but everyone was really enjoying the ceremonies. The Boston Fire Department's Ladder 15 and Engine 33 members came out and assisted the Red Sox players, coaches and front people in raising the championship flag.It was quite an emotional moment.

Members of all four of Boston's sports teams came out of left field and assisted Mayor Marty Walsh in throwing out the first ball. Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell represented the other Red Sox title teams.

The biggest ovations of the day went to Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Jon Lester and David Ortiz, who got the last ring in the ceremony.

It was a good opener until the ninth inning, when Edward Mujica had absolutely nothing and gave up four runs and turned the day into a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee.

And last night wasn't much better. I was away all day but got home in time for the bottom of the 11th, as the pitcher once known as K-Rod struck the Red Sox out in order to give Milwaukee a second straight win, 7-6. Clay Buchholz was horrific, allowing 13 hits and 6 runs in less than 5 innings work.

Now they have to win today in order to salvage the series. That's no way for a team that raised a World Series championship flag this weekend to begin their home schedule.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

First of Many Wins To Come

David Ortiz and Mike Napoli powered home runs at Camden Yards last night, and John Lackey pitched six strong innings as the Red Sox cruised to a 6-2 win over Baltimore.

The bullpen pitched a solid three innings. Napoli had four RBI in the win. He also had a great response to President Obama screwing up his name at the White House ceremony on Tuesday, calling him "Na-po-li" instead of "Nap-o-li":

"I'll give him a mulligan. He'll get it right next year."

The Sox conclude their first series of the year tonight with Felix Doubront taking the mound.

And I'll be at Fenway for the opener on Friday, my fourth opener in five years.

Pictures will follow later in the weekend.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lester & Sizemore Were Sharp, But Waste Was Everywhere

There goes another undefeated season.

The Red Sox opened the defense of their 2013 World Series championship with a 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon.

Jon Lester was very good, allowing both runs in seven innings while striking out eight. The first pitch of the 7th inning to Nelson Cruz was lined into the left seats to break a 1-1 tie.

It was a frustrating day for the Red Sox, as they left runners everywhere: 12 in all. They 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

But it sure wasn't frustrating for Grady Sizemore, who got hits in first two at-bats, including a home run that tied the game in the fourth. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played in an MLB game since September 22, 2011.

The Sox had chances all day to score runs, especially in the 8th and 9th, and left two on in both innings, with Jackie Bradley looking at called third strike with first and second to end it.

The Red Sox do the obligatory thing that championship teams do and go to the White House today to meet the guy that runs the country. It's an off day today, and John Lackey faces the Orioles tomorrow night in Game 2 of the 2014 season.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Title Defense Starts

The Red Sox will begin the official defense of the 2013 World Series championship tomorrow at 3 PM in Baltimore. It will be the third time in my lifetime the Sox will go through a season being called "Defending World Series Champions."

I won't make any predictions regarding this season (I tried and failed badly last season so I've learned my lesson). I am quite optimistic about the Red Sox going back to the postseason this year, but of course many things have to go right for that to happen.

Anyway, the Sox cut down their roster yesterday, and here are the 25 players who will go north as defending champions, with six new additions (in italics) since the Sox won the 2013 Series:

Position Players
Infielders: Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jonathan Herrera
Outfielders: Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino
Catchers: A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross
DH: David Ortiz

Starters: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy
Relievers: Koju Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Brandon Workman, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano.

The Red Sox will play three in Baltimore, including Wednesday and Thursday nights, and will open the 2014 season on Friday afternoon at Fenway against Milwaukee and unfurl the championship flag. I will be on hand for it, and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's RemDawg's Call

Last weekend, a new firestorm erupted after the Boston Globe published a column about Jerry Remy's son Jared and his arrest for the murder of his girlfriend Jennifer Martel.

Eric Moskowitz' column is a history of the younger Remy's resume of drug abuse and his terrible history with women. It's a terribly disturbing account of a young man with enormous problems, and in many people's eyes, paints a picture of his father Jerry as nothing more than an enabler that led to the death of a young woman.

There have been calls for Remy to step away from Red Sox broadcasts permanently. He sat out from last August until the end of the season after his son's arrest, and it looked like he might never return. But earlier this year, Remy made the decision to return to the NESN booth, with the Red Sox brass' blessing.

It is a ticklish situation for all involved. Every Red Sox fan seems to have an opinion on the subject, and mine is very clear: it is totally Jerry Remy's call what he wants to do. If the Red Sox front office are fine with his calling games in 2014, I'm on board with that. If it appears too much for him to continue and he ultimately decides to walk away, I would respect that decision, too.

I've even heard someone in a column yesterday (I wish I could find the link) say that Remy's son's case could have a detrimental effect on the Red Sox as a team. Are you kidding me? Listen, I'm sure Remy is a respected man by most, if not all Red Sox players, and I'm sure they have offered their sympathy and support to him and to the Martel family in this terrible time in their lives. But the players are professionals, and have a job to do. I can't see this affecting the team in a negative way. Once the season begins, the emphasis will be on the team and baseball (unless some new firestorm pops up).

I won't go into whether Jerry Remy was a bad parent and enabled his son to the point where it led to the death of Jennifer Martel. I'm in no position to judge Jerry.

Baseball is Jerry Remy's life, and in this awful time for him and his family, it maybe the best thing for him. He'll never be the same RemDawg he was. Whether you like him or not, or think he shouldn't be calling games on NESN, it is not for us to decide. It is ultimately Jerry Remy's call.

I hope Jerry and his wife, along with the Martel family, can one day find peace.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Large and In Charge: Papi Staying Through 2015 (At Least)

Our 4500th post at The Mighty Quinn Media Machine is some good Red Sox news, and not entirely unexpected.

The Red Sox and David Ortiz came to an agreement that was announced yesterday that will keep the 2013 World Series MVP in Boston at least through the 2015 season.

This wasn't a big surprise, and most fans are pleased that the deal got done before the 2014 season begins. But let's face it, the Red Sox are really the only team Ortiz could sign with, as most AL teams are not going with a single DH anymore. Whining about his contract is his standard MO, so you knew a deal was on the horizon.

Better to have a Happy Papi than an angry one.

Papi's deal is for $16 million for 2015, and there is a club/vesting option for 2016, which automatically happens based on him reaching a certain number of plate appearances in 2015. There is also a club option for 2017.

It's a wise move for the Red Sox. They and Papi are both satisfied.

Now let's get an extension for Jon Lester.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two Former Sox Head The List of Irish HoF Candidates

My friends over at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant over on 33rd Street in Manhattan announced on Monday (St. Patrick's Day, of course) the candidates for the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. There are 13 in all.

Four current and former MLB players head the list: Derek Jeter (his mother is of Irish descent), Mike Sweeney, and two former Red Sox players: David Cone and Kevin Millar.

Three members of the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame are on the list: Oldtimers Roger Bresnahan and Big Ed Delahanty, and umpire Tom Gorman.

Two MLB managers were nominated: Joe McCarthy and Jack McKeon.

Two media members were nominated: sportswriter Hal McCoy and Mets broadcaster Ed Coleman.

The final two nominees are Bill Shea, the lawyer and executive who helped bring the National League back to New York in 1962 in the form of the Mets and their ballpark was named for him, and actor and rabid Chicago Cubs fan Bill Murray.

The Hall will be introducing a new award: the Pete Caldera-Duke Castiglione "I Didn't Know He Was Irish" Award, given to an honoree whose Irish roots are not well known.

Foley's will announce the new 2014 inductees next month.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scarves For The 96

This coming April 15th will mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool fans were killed at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

There will be all kinds of tributes to the lost Liverpool supporters (I'm looking forward to seeing ESPN's 30 For 30 special about the tragedy), and the club will be marking the day with a memorial service at Anfield.

And the club is asking supporters from around the world to send in scarves, regardless of team or sport, and the scarves that are sent in will form a "96" on the pitch during the service. You can also write a note with your donation in support of the Hillsborough families.

I will be sending in a Red Sox scarf I have in memory of those lost, from the club that is cousins with the great English side.

Here's more info about the tributes of April 15th.

If you'd like to send in a scarf to Liverpool FC, here is the address to send it to:

Hillsborough Scarves
20 Chapel Street
Liverpool L3 9AG
England, UK

The club requests that the scarves arrive by April 8th, so that they are assured of a place in the tribute.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"The Devil's Snake Curve: A Fan's Notes from Left Field"

I just finished reading a book called "The Devil's Snake Curve: A Fan's Notes From Left Field" by Josh Ostergaard, which is an interesting mix of baseball and political history.

Ostergaard, who grew up a Kansas City Royals fan in Kansas, looks at America's pastime through the lens of politics, mixing "colonialism, jingoism and capitalism."

I guess the key word in the title of the book is "left."

I don't usually talk about my political beliefs on this blog. Everyone is entitled to their politics, and Ostergaard's are clearly to the left of center. For me, I am very much an Independent. I like to think for myself. I've learned in life there are certain subjects I generally keep to myself. Politics falls into that category.

So, overall I have to admit I really didn't care that much for this book.

But it wasn't without its merits. Ostergaard talks extensively about his hatred for the Yankees, and really has it in for onetime owner Del Webb, who built the Japanese internment camps in Arizona during World War II. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner take their lumps in this book as well, and Ostergaard rips into the Yankees and their corporate image. Lots of Yankee bashing here, and that's never a bad thing. (Although I was disappointed to read that he was rooting for the Yankees during a 2009 ALCS game at Yankee Stadium.)

The book goes through baseball and America through the years, and touches on subjects like the treatment of American Indians, black Americans, Japanese Americans, the wars that America has been involved with through the 20th and 21st centuries, the steroid scandals, and much more.

If your politics veer off to the left, I think you will probably enjoy this book. Probably more than I did.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Eight Years Today

It was eight years ago today that Yours Truly decided to start writing this blog.

Where does the time disappear to?

I'm not writing as much as I did back when I first started The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, but I still do get quite a kick out of it when I do.

I have come to know so many wonderful people through my site, and I'm so appreciative to all of you who take time out of your day to check on my ramblings.

Here's to another great year here!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Thank You, Dr. Jobe

Earlier this past week, Dr. Frank Jobe, the surgeon and LA Dodgers doctor who created a revolutionary treatment for baseball players known as "Tommy John surgery," died at the age of 88.

Dr. Jobe, who was an Army medic in World War II and received a Bronze star after successfully escaping being captured by the Germans at the Siege of Bastone, became the Dodgers' team doctor in 1968 and served the club for nearly 50 years.

In 1974, Dodgers' pitcher Tommy John suffered was thought to have been a career-ending elbow injury during a game. Dr. Jobe used John as his "test patient" on a surgery he pioneered, taking a ligament from the wrist of his non-pitching arm, and placing it in the injured elbow. It was the first reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament, and Dr. Jobe gave it only a 5% chance of being successful.

After 18 months of rehab, Tommy John was back on a mound for the Dodgers in 1976. And he went on to pitch in MLB until his retirement in 1988. Dr. Jobe also pioneered reconstructive surgery on the throwing shoulder, which was first performed with success on Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser in 1990.

Today, Tommy John surgery patients now have a better than 92% chance of returning to MLB. It worked wonders on John Lackey, who had the surgery after the 2011 season, and was a completely new pitcher in leading the Red Sox to a 2013 World Series championship. (Every Red Sox fan should thank Dr. Jobe for that.)

The careers of countless pitchers have been saved by Dr. Jobe's procedure. Stars such as Stephen Strasburg, John Franco, Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Joe Nathan, David Wells and Brian Wilson have had TJ surgery and returned as good as they ever were. Can you imagine the quality of MLB had these stars been forced to quit if TJ surgery were not available?

My friend Joe pointed out the other day that when John Smoltz is elected to Hall of Fame (and it could be as soon as next year), he will be the first player inducted to Cooperstown who had Dr. Jobe's ground-breaking procedure. And I'm sure Smoltz won't forget mentioning him that day.

I am fully in agreement that Dr. Frank Jobe deserves his own plaque at Cooperstown. Like Curt Flood and Marvin Miller, what Dr. Jobe did for players off the field and their careers cannot be fully measured. His impact will be felt on the game for as long as baseball is played.

And for that, we thank you, Dr. Jobe. Godspeed, and my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The AAA Marlins Ain't Happy With The Sox

Many of you have probably heard about the recent hubbub about the Red Sox fielding less than an All-Star lineup on Thursday's spring training game in Jupiter, Florida against the Miami Marlins.

The Sox fielded just four players in the original lineup with any MLB experience, which is suppose to be the minimum for any Grapefruit League game. (It has been falsely reported the Sox fielded just two by many outlets.) The four players were Ryan Lavarnway, Jackie Bradley, Brandon Snyder and Allen Webster (the starting pitcher). The game ended in a scoreless tie when the rain came in the eighth inning.

This "scandal' has even been called "lineupgate" in some circles. (Can we please STOP using the suffix "gate" on everything that is allegedly a scandal? That crap is VERY annoying.)

Apparently, this really rubbed the Marlins brass the wrong way, and want the Red Sox fined for leaving all of their big stars back in Ft. Myers. GM Ben Cherington even issued an apology, but manager John Farrell would not.

If anyone should apologize, it's the Marlins management, who has abused its fan base time and again in its history. They increased prices for the midweek game, and I heard the highest price ticket was as much as $70. (Who pays that kind of money for a game that ultimately doesn't count when it is concluded?) And as it turned out, the majority of fans attending the game were dressed in Red Sox garb anyway.

The MLB lineup in Miami for the majority of the 2013 season was to say the least anemic, after they made that blockbuster deal with Toronto, sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and others to the Jays for a package of prospects. And previous to that, they traded arguably the best player in MLB, Miguel Cabrera, to Detroit for a bunch of prospects that didn't work out well for them. (Two of which, Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop, are in the Red Sox bullpen this year.)

Marlins management gets a brand new ballpark in Miami, and proceed to dismantle their team, to the consternation of those who call themselves Marlins fans. And they are angry at the Sox over sending over what they feel is a subpar Red Sox team in a game that means absolutely nothing.

Excuse me if I have to stop writing now, as I'm laughing too hard.

Here's a good take on this whole thing from Red Sox Monster.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs"

Two years ago, Fenway Park turned 100 years old, and there were celebrations marking the milestone anniversary of "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."

In 2014, the focus now turns to Wrigley Field, as the Chicago Cubs will honoring their famed ballyard with their 100th anniversary celebrations.

Pultizer Prize-winning sportswriter Ira Berkow has just put together a fine coffee table-style book called "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" in honor of this anniversary.

We all know about the Cubs and their star-crossed history, and this book covers all of those bases. (Sorry, I couldn't help but use that cliched term.) The book opens with a preface by Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood, and a foreword by retired US Supreme Court justice and lifelong Cubs fan John Paul Stevens.

Anything you can think of about the Cubs is covered in the book: the pennant-winning years, Babe Ruth's alleged "Called Shot", the nonsense about a "Billy Goat Curse", when lights came to the park in 1988, the failures of 1969 and 1984 when the Cubs looked on their way to the World Series, and of course, the 2003 Game 6 NLCS loss. (I really wanted a Red Sox-Cubs World Series that year. Just wasn't meant to be.)

Every great player who ever played for the Cubs gets the royal treatment, everyone from Gabby Hartnett to Ernie Banks to Sammy Sosa. I really enjoyed seeing the many great old black and white photos of Wrigley, back in the days when the Cubs were actually winning pennants. Colorful characters of their history like Bill Veeck and Harry Caray take center stage here. And there's a small section in the book on President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, on his take on the Cubs and Wrigley. (I don't think too many North Siders will enjoy it much.)

The other sports that have graced Wrigley are not forgotten, as the time the Chicago Bears called Wrigley home is remembered, along with the NHL Winter Classic that was played in 2009 there as well.

The book also has many interesting takes from their famous fans, from Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, George Will, Billy Corgan, Shecky Greene (wow, he's still alive!), and even Rod Blagojevich ( the former governor who is currently in slammer on corruption charges).

This absolutely the perfect book for the Cubs fan in your life. As a Red Sox fan, I have always had sympathy for the Cubs and their fans, and I have known a few in my life. Like us, they are fiercely loyal to their team, and this book drives that point home. I really hope I see the Cubs win a World Series in my lifetime. "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" is an enjoyable, but at the same time, a rather sad look back at one of America's most beloved sports teams.

Friday, February 28, 2014

March Begins Like a Lion As Sox Begin The Spring

February is coming to an end, and this brutal winter just goes on. It will be 20 degrees today, and it looks like yet more snow is coming early next week. Ugh.

At least baseball is back.

On a positive note, the Red Sox began their title defense with the usual Spring Training opening doubleheader against the college kids, defeating both Northeastern and Boston College in two seven-inning games by the identical score of 5-2. I don't think the Sox have ever lost to a college team in Florida, but I could be wrong about that.

It appears that the Red Sox weren't the first to come up with a "B Strong" logo, as a non-profit organization in Texas has a "B Strong" logo in honor of a young man who died in a skiing accident in 2007, and a foundation was started in his memory. Here's more about it.

There's going to be plenty of Red Sox baseball on TV and radio over the month of March, to wipe away those winter blues. Here is the complete schedule of where you can see or hear the Sox this month (with thanks to the Boston Red Sox Fan Page Facebook group for supplying the data):

March 2: Orioles
March 8: at Orioles
March 9: at Pirates
March 10: Rays
March 15: Phillies
March 16: at Rays
March 19 Pirates
March 20: Yankees
March 22: at Braves
March 23: Rays
March 25: at Rays
March 28: at Twins

March 17: Cardinals
March 18: at Yankees
March 20: Yankees

MLB Network
March 1: at Twins (8 p.m. tape delay)
March 13: at Twins
March 21 at Phillies
March 24 at Orioles (11 p.m. tape delay)

WEEI (93.7 FM unless noted)
March 1 at Twins
March 2: Orioles
March 8: Orioles
March 9: At Pirates
March 15: Phillies
March 16 at Rays
March 17: Cardinals (850-AM)
March 18: At Yankees (850-AM)
March 19: Pirates
March 20: Yankees
March 22: at Braves
March 23: Rays
March 27: Twins
March 29: Twins

Monday, February 24, 2014

"The Most Wonderful Week of the Year"

I recently finished reading an interesting book called "The Most Wonderful Week of the Year," by Roy Berger, about the life of a fantasy baseball camp player who played in three different fantasy camps over a four-year stretch.

I've never been to a fantasy baseball camp, as the price has always been a little too steep for me. And I guess the idea of playing with a bunch of overweight guys who never played in MLB taking on some retired veteran players never had much allure for me.

Roy Berger is a air-medical transport membership company based in Alabama, but grew up a Pittsburgh Pirates fan on Long Island. His great memory is of course, Bill Mazeroski's ninth inning home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series over a heavily favored Yankees team.

In 2010, Berger decided to give the fantasy baseball week a go, attending the Pirates fantasy camp in Bradenton, Florida. He had not played baseball at any level since the 1960s, and is a lefty first baseman. It was clearly a dream come true for Berger to be there, as his passion for the Pirates of the early 1960s comes through, as he meets such legendary Pittsburgh stars as Mazeroski, Vern Law, Bill Virdon and Steve Blass.

Berger breaks down his experiences at the camp day-by-day, game-by-game, and injury-by-injury.

The following year, Berger went to the Detroit Tigers camp at Lakeland. He had no connection to the club, but it was not nearly as great a week as was his experience at Bradenton. The rain made the week a tougher slog to get through, but Berger still comes across as having a great week living out his dream of playing ball with the veterans.

In 2012, Berger went to Yankees camp in Tampa. He explains in the book that he became a Yankees fan in the mid-1970s through his friendships he made with Yankee stars like Thurman Munson. Mickey Rivers and Ron Guidry in a racetrack he ran in suburban Boston. And I knew what was coming next: yep, plenty of anti-Red Sox stuff.

(I must correct you on a few points, Mr. Berger.The sweep the Yankees pulled off over the Red Sox in September 1978 was NOT "the catalyst to one of the greatest collapses in baseball history." As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, the YANKEES were the ones who gave away a 3 1/2 game lead with 12 games to go, and a 1 game lead with 1 game to go to conclude the regular season. Yes, it was a great comeback by the Yankees from where they were in mid-July, but it was an equally great comeback by the Sox in the final two weeks. Sorry, I couldn't let that go and had to get that off my chest. And also, the Yankee third baseman in 1978 was "Graig" Nettles, not "Craig" Nettles. Now back to our book review.)

Lots of glorification to being a Yankee fan in this book, and it took a lot for me to get through it. But I don't doubt Berger's love of the team and how much he enjoyed being there. He would also return to Bradenton for another tour of Pirates fantasy camp in 2013. At every one of his stops, he details the games he's played in, some of the regular guys he's played with, as well as the veterans he played with. It's clear that everyone there has had a great time, playing the game they love and sharing stories of their lives, wherever they hail from.

It is overall an enjoyable read, especially if you have ever wondered what it is like to play again guys who donned the MLB uniform for real.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Red Sox Bloggers Take On The 2014 Club

I am really pleased to be part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and also to have taken part in "Playing Pepper: Boston Red Sox 2014."

Daniel Shoptaw, who runs the fine Cardinals blog C70 At The Bat, asked a number of Red Sox bloggers their take on the upcoming Red Sox team for the 2014 season, and I was thrilled to have given my thoughts on the Red Sox' defense of their 2013 crown and many other issues around the club. He's been doing it since 2009, and does the other 29 clubs as well, but today it is the Sox bloggers who take their turn.

Seven other bloggers took part, such as Christine from Boston Red Thoughts, Allan from The Joy of Sox and Ruben from Red Sox Nation-Alberta. It's a long post, but definitely worth checking out to get our two cents. Go here to check it out.

My thanks to Daniel and his fine site for allowing us to give our opinion on the 2014 Red Sox, for whatever it's worth.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Logjam Solved: Dempster Won't Pitch in 2014

Ryan Dempster announced today he will not pitch for the Red Sox or in MLB in 2014, and more than likely has pitched his last game.

Dempster, 36, said he wanted to spend more time with his family and he's also got some physical reasons to step away. He's also walking away from $13.25 million, which comes off the Red Sox books.

It also solves the logjam of what to do with the six starters in the Red Sox rotation coming into Spring Training. There were all kinds of rumors about trading Dempster or John Lackey or Jake Peavy. Good thing the Sox waited patiently.

Dempster goes out with a World Series ring in 2013, and he pitched his last game in Game 1 of the World Series, pitching the ninth inning in Jon Lester's win.

But he will be forever remembered for one at-bat at Fenway last August 19th:

Good luck, Ryan, and thank you for 2013.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Title Defense Begins

Pitchers and catchers officially report to Ft. Myers today. Many players, including position players, are already in camp as I write this. The scene in Florida includes this:

Bring on the 2014 season. I'm sick of this winter. It can't come quick enough for me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Do You Regret Making "The Deal" Brian? Check.

This Sunday night at 8 PM, ESPN 30 For 30 Films will debut a short film called "The Deal", a 22-minute film about the greatest trade in Red Sox history that thankfully never happened: the Alex Rodriguez saga of December 2003.

It was directed by Nick and Colin Barnicle, and it chronicles the drama of Slappy not coming to Boston, and interviews many of the principals involved, such as Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Brian Cashman, John Hart (then the Texas GM), Gordon Edes, and many others.

Noticeably absent from the film are any current interviews with Rodriguez himself.

Couldn't help but laugh at all the "Curse of the Bambino" nonsense that's dragged up in this film.

If you can't see it on Sunday, why not watch it now? My friend Ian at has the video of the film there. Definitely go and check it out with this link.

And by the way, after "The Deal" airs on ESPN at 8 PM on Sunday, they will be showing "Four Days In October" again, just to keep you in a good mood for the upcoming season ahead.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just As I Predicted, Jeter Calls It a Career. The Tour Now Starts.

I called it.

Last year I told anyone who would listen that Derek Jeter was going to do EXACTLY what Mariano Rivera did last season: announce his retirement just prior to Spring Training in 2014 and then go on a year-long retirement tour. And sure enough, with pitchers and catchers set to report to most teams this weekend, Capt. Tange announced that 2014 will be his final season.

I don't begrudge Jeter doing exactly what Rivera did. He saw the way all MLB teams honored his teammate, so why shouldn't he do the same?

But if you thought Rivera's Retirement Tour was a bit insufferable towards the end, you ain't seen nothin' yet with this coming retirement circus.

And Jeter will conclude his career on September 28th at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, the Yankees final game of the season. Unless it means something (and I'm betting it won't), Jeter will likely play his last games in the Bronx among the home crowd before then, like Rivera did last year, and Ted Williams did in 1960.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Happy & Blessed Truck Day To You All

Spring is on the way. Today is Truck Day!

The Truck left Fenway Park today with tons of equipment on its journey down south to Fort Myers, signalling that the 2014 season is just around the corner. It can't come soon enough.

My buddy Ennis took in all the festivities from Fenway, and posted this pic of the Truck. I'm sure he won't mind if I share it with you.

Like all of you, I am bloody tired of this winter. I can't wait to hear "Defending World Series Champion Red Sox" said over and over again in 2014.

And you probably heard that the "Man Without a Country" Alex Rodriguez dropped his foolish lawsuit against MLB and the players union yesterday. It's too late for this guy anyway. He was all talk and no action. I still believe he has played his last MLB game. Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post has an excellent take on Slappy and his silly nonsense.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Going, Going, It Is Gone, Goodbye Ralph

I was deeply saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of a true New York icon, Ralph Kiner, at the age of 91.

Ralph was one of those people I can trace back to my earliest memories of my youth, watching Mets games on TV. He, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy were simply the best in the business and made watching Mets game fun, no matter where the team was in the standings.

He was best known as a Hall of Fame slugger during his career with the Pirates, Cubs and Indians. But here in New York, he was known as a voice to generations of Mets fans. And, of course, his endless malaprops, like calling Gary Carter "Gary Cooper." I think my favorite of all-time was the time he opened "Kiner's Korner" with "Hi, I'm Ralph Korner..." But we still loved Ralph.

He was font of baseball knowledge, and I loved when he and Lindsey Nelson would kill time during rain delays with his old baseball war stories. I'll never forget when he once talked about Branch Rickey, who ran the Cardinals, Dodgers and Pirates: "He had all the players, and all the money, and never let the two get together."

Ralph's passing is even sadder that he was an original Met, doing the games since the team's inception in 1962. And now, there are few connections to that time left.

SNY dedicated almost all their air time yesterday to his passing, and it was wonderful listening to people like Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Gary Cohen and Vin Scully reminisce about Ralph and his towering legacy.

All Mets fans lost a legend yesterday, as well as a friend.

Godspeed, Ralph. And thank you for the memories.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Clemens to Enter the Hall of Fame (No, Not the One In NY)

The Red Sox announced their Class of 2014 for the team's Hall of Fame: Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Joe Castiglione, and the one sure to cause plenty of controversy: Roger Clemens.

The four were chosen by an 16-person committee of media, club executives, and baseball historians.

We don't have to rehash anything about Clemens, as it is well-documented. Clemens has been seen at Fenway a number of times over the recent years, and appears to be building bridges with the team since his acrimonious exit by free agency in 1996.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets from the fans during the ceremony, of which a date has not yet been announced by the team.

In far more unsettling news, Curt Schilling announced Wednesday that he is suffering from cancer. He would not elaborate as to what the cancer is or how far along he is.

I wish all the best, and hope he wins this fight against this insidious disease.

Monday, February 03, 2014

At Least One Dubious Record Fell Yesterday

A big stinker of a Super Bowl on Sunday night: Seattle 43, Denver 8.

It was a bit depressing for me seeing Percy Harvin run back the opening kickoff of the second half for a TD.

And then seeing Tarvaris Jackson come in as QB and take the final snaps of the game to run out the clock as Seattle won the Super Bowl.

Heath Farwell leading Seattle's special teamers. Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator. (Sidney Rice at WR, but out injured.)

Seeing Pete Carroll win a Super Bowl as a head coach.

They are all ex-Vikings. (Carroll was an assistant coach in Minnesota from 1985-89 coaching the defensive backs before getting his first head coaching gig with the Jets. Bevell was OC with the Vikings a few years back.)

It's now been 37 years since the Vikings even appeared in a Super Bowl, and still no Vince Lombardi trophies still on the mantelpiece.

But, one dubious distinction was taken away from the Vikings yesterday (as well as the Buffalo Bills). They no longer hold the record for the most Super Bowls lost by any team. The Denver Broncos now hold that infamous title, with their 5th Super Bowl loss.

And even more depressing, Vikings fans: the first Las Vegas odds have the Vikings at 75-1 to win next season's Super Bowl. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars odds are longer at 100-1.

Bring on the baseball season.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

13 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers

As the whole world knows by now, it is Super Bowl Sunday.

Yeah, whatever.

The NFL Hype Machine is in overdrive, with two interminable weeks of nonsense leading up to tonight's Denver-Seattle clash. I will be alone at home, doing laundry with the TV tuned to the game.

And I put the game on at 6:30 PM, and not a second earlier. I spend the afternoon watching movies or TV shows I have DVR'd. As I write this (11:30 AM), Fox has already begun their pregame show, with rolling out as much nonsense they will try to connect to this.

Me, I watch the game, and that's it. No pregame, no halftime (I will watch an "Odd Couple" episode I DVR'd during the New Year's marathon WLNY had), and absolutely NO commercials. That crap gets WAY too much publicity, so I will channel surf during commercial breaks, going to a movie I will select before the game.

I'm badass old school when it comes to this day. All I care about is the game.

I do miss one thing about "Super Bowl Sunday." DJ Jonathan Schwartz, a devoted Red Sox fan, would dedicate one hour during his show on this day on WNEW-AM to nothing but old baseball highlights: great moments from the game's history, baseball-themed songs and a typical Red Sox broadcast from a game in the 1950s, 60s or 70s. It was something I always looked forward to, but Jonathan ended it a number of years back. I wish he would reconsider bringing that back some year.

13 days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Enjoy the game everyone.

UPDATE (6:15 PM): My friend Leah informed me on Facebook that Jonathan Schwartz did indeed do his "Salute To Baseball" earlier today on his afternoon radio show on WNYC today. Maybe next time I should really check to see if it were happening. A few years back, Jonathan didn't do it and he made it sound like he was retiring it. I have to admit I assumed he had retired it. You know what happens when you assume...

YET ANOTHER UPDATE (11:30 AM, 2/3): The "Salute To Baseball" show will be repeated online at on Tuesday, February 4th between 12 noon and 4 PM. Don't know when it is exactly, but I'll be tuning in.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Reminder From The Distant Past On 42nd & 5th

I was crossing 42nd Street on 5th Avenue in Manhattan yesterday, on what was a cold day in the big city. Right the middle of the street I looked over at the corner, and I couldn't believe my eyes as to who was about to cross the street in the opposite direction.

None other than legendary Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

No, I didn't yell any obscenities or throw anything at him. Or pull out my iPhone and snap a picture of him.  I really didn't have time to do any of these things. I was literally in the middle of the street with the light changing. Oh the missed opportunity...

He was busy chatting away with another person, and didn't notice the Red Sox hat or scarf I was wearing. If he looked right at me he couldn't have missed them.

I have to admit I smiled as he walked past me. I couldn't help but think how far the Red Sox had come since his Reign of Terror ended in October of 2012.

That season seems like it was 20 years ago, doesn't it? How would I react if I actually met Bobby Valentine in a social setting? I'd probably be gracious, and then slip into the conversation that I am a Red Sox fan. I bet his reaction would be priceless.

And in much better news, I got the word this morning that I will be going up to Fenway Park to see the championship flag raising and ring ceremony on Opening Day on April 4th with the BLOHARDS on their annual trip up to Boston.

Absolutely, positively, can't wait.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Every Last WS Out Since 1989 (And a Few Last Hits, Too)

So what do current MLB players Shane Victorino, Miguel Cabrera, David Murphy and Matt Carpenter all have in common?

They've all had the dubious distinction of making the final out in a World Series.

So here's a cool video I saw on NESN's website today, and a few of the clips should warm your heart, on what is a brutally cold day here in the Northeast.

It is of the last out made in every World Series since 1989. There was no last out made in the World Series played in 1993, 1997, and 2001, as they all ended with hits in the final game to end the Series. (And they are included here, too.)

And of course, there was no World Series played in 1994 at all. (The Series played in 1995 and 2005 are not included, as the author could not include them due to some complications in getting the video.)

Edgar Renteria has the unique distinction of being featured twice in this video, on both ends of the spectrum. He got the World Series-winning hit to end the 1997 World Series, but made the final out of the 2004 World Series (which we all have memorized).


Jerry Remy Returns For 2014

I honestly thought Jerry Remy would retire from announcing Red Sox games on NESN, due to all the health and personal problems he's gone through over the last few years.

But he announced on Monday that he will return to the booth for the 2014 season.

Remy left last August after his son Jared was charged with murdering his girl friend Jennifer Martel, who is the mother of his daughter. It was the right move for him at the time, as his attention should be focused on the tragedy he and his family are going through.

I am certainly fine with his coming back. It is his and NESN's decision to do so, and I'm sure most fans will be supportive of it, too.

Remy is being very supportive and sensitive to the Martel family, but I was surprised to hear that if his return upset the family that he would walk away from his broadcasting career. He has every right to return, and it's clear by what he said yesterday that needs to come back to the Red Sox to keep his mind occupied and away from the tragedy that has engulfed his family.

Here is a clip from WCVB, who spoke to Remy yesterday.

It will be interesting to see how Remy has changed since last August when he returns. I would bet some of the "frivolity" may be gone. But baseball is his life. Broadcasting is his life. I hope a return can be therapeutic for him.

I'm actually glad to hear Jerry Remy will be back in the NESN booth. I hope he and his family, along with the Martel family, can find some peace eventually through this trying time in their lives.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

45 Years Ago, From My Neck of the Woods

As we wait for the interminable two weeks before the Super Bowl happens, here is a cool YouTube clip I posted on Facebook recently.

I've lived in Brooklyn my entire life, and most of it in the section of Midwood. NBC used to have a studio right on the corner up the block from my house (it is now used for movies), and would film many TV shows there, the most famous being the first three seasons of "The Cosby Show." (It eventually moved to another studio in Queens.)

In 1968, there was a program called "The Kraft Music Hall", and they filmed a segment with legendary comedian Don Rickles walking on Avenue M, beginning with a stroll through the subway station. He encounters kids playing stickball, gets his watched lifted by a "passerby", grabs a hot dog and talks about the glory that is being in Brooklyn.

I nearly flipped when I encountered this clip. The avenue has changed just a bit, but for those of you who know this neighborhood, it is a walk down memory lane.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sizemore On The Comeback Trail

The Red Sox signed former Cleveland Indian outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal yesterday.

Sizemore has missed all of the last two seasons with various injuries, and that's been the story of his career. He's a three-time All-Star with two Gold Gloves. He was one of the AL's premier outfielders of the late 2000s before the injuries set in during the 2009 season.

For the Red Sox, it is a low risk, high reward type of move. He agreed to an MLB contract worth $750,000, with incentives that could reach $6 million. Jackie Bradley Jr. is the heir apparent for CF for the Red Sox, but Sizemore says that he is ready for Spring Training and will surely push Bradley for the job.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Great Unknown

Masahiro Tanaka made his decision on Wednesday, and will play in the Bronx. And for the next seven seasons as well.

The Yankees and Tanaka reached agreement on a 7-year, $155 million deal, with an opt-out clause after four years.

My first reaction: this contract is totally insane.

And I'm glad the Red Sox aren't the ones giving it to him.

Tanaka was 24-0 last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013. Impressive? Sure. But it was done in Japan, which is really like AAAA baseball (in-between AAA and MLB in America). I just don't see giving a seven-year deal, worth on average over $22 million per year (including the $20 million they have to pay the Japanese club) to a guy who has yet to throw a pitch in MLB.

Obviously the Yankees are doing this to bring Japanese fans into the ballpark and increase TV ratings, which will both happen for sure in 2014. The state of New York's pitching rotation meant that hey had to make some kind of big splash, and there wasn't a pitcher on the market this winter who was going to do that for them. They had to overpay, as they have an almost barren farm system, and were not going to make the playoffs without making a signing like this.

I'm glad the Red Sox did not get into a bidding war with New York over Tanaka. This is precisely the type of contract that got the Sox in trouble three years ago. But at least those onerous deals (Crawford, Beckett and Gonzalez) were for established MLB stars. Right now you have no idea what Masahiro Tanaka will turn out to be. Japanese players have had mixed success in the US. Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui had great success here, Hideo Nomo, Yu Darvish and Koji Uehara have been very good, but does anyone remember the hype when the Yankees signed Hideki Irabu? Or Kei Igawa? Their track record with Japanese pitchers leaves something to be desired.

Time will tell on Tanaka.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Roger Who?

The game show Jeopardy! had a baseball question the other day, and in my years of watching the show, their baseball questions generally aren't very hard.

This one stumped all three contestants.

It was about which ex-Red Sox pitcher, who won 354 games lifetime, didn't make the Hall of Fame in 2013. All three contestants were women, and obviously aren't big baseball fans.

Either that or The Texas Con Man is starting to fade from public consciousness.

My thanks to Fenway Refugees for originally posting this YouTube clip:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sunday Night Sleazefest

I think I needed a shower after watching that "60 Minutes" report on Alex Rodriguez' one-year suspension.

Everybody connected to it: Slappy, Tony Bosch, Bud Selig and MLB, all came off really sleazy. No "good guys" in this whole thing.

Now Slappy is suing both MLB and the MLB Players Association to block his suspension. It is highly improbable that a Federal judge will actually order an injunction to allow A-Rod to play in 2014.

Did you know that Slappy's 2014 baseball card was leaked to the press? Here it is (courtesy of Mad Magazine):

I would go back to collecting baseball cards just to get this one. BTW, do they still come with that pink gum inside?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Slappy Sits For One Year

As the whole baseball world knows, Alex Rodriguez will now sit out the entire 2014 season for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. The suspension was lowered by 49 games by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, from the original 211 games.

A lot of Red Sox fans were jumping for joy that A-Rod will sit out this entire upcoming season. Not me.

No, I haven't become an A-Rod fan. But I was hoping that he would be suspended for 50 or 100 games, as that would hurt the Yankees far more than a full year suspension would. Slappy's over the hill, and I would much rather see him clogging up a roster spot than sit all of 2014.

New York will save about $25 million now that Slappy will miss 2014. A shorter suspension would have put them on the hook for his 2014 salary, and further hamstrung their ability to add other players. They are still on the hook for the last three years of his deal, worth about $61 million. And you know A-Rod won't walk away from that money and retire. He will try to make it back in 2015, but honestly, how much could he have left after missing most of the previous two years, with two bad hips and being nearly 40 years old?

A-Rod and his handlers are threatening a Federal injunction to block this suspension, but don't bet on that happening. US courts rarely ever overturn these kind of suspensions that have been reached through collective bargaining. And besides, he would have testify in open court about his steroid past. If he gets caught committing perjury, he could face jail time.

BTW, A-Rod is still still eligible to participate at Spring Training beginning next month, and then will have to sit out the entire year. Can you imagine what kind of a circus that will be? Unless both parties come to some kind of an agreement beforehand, the Yankees can't legally bar him from coming, so be prepared for much more A-Rod nonsense when their players report to Tampa in February.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Cooperstown Calls Three First Timers

It was no surprise that three deserving MLB players were elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

All three were first-time candidates, and each made it easily. Maddux received the most votes, 97.2% of all votes, or 555. 16 writers did not vote for him. Lord knows why.

Craig Biggio missed election by just two votes, as he got 74.8%. That bodes well for him, as he should make it in next year. Mike Piazza finished fifth with 62.2%, and that was increase over his 2013 tally. I'm betting he's elected in the next couple of years.

Jack Morris failed in his 15th and final try at election, and his numbers actually dropped from last year. He was the most "hot button" candidate in this year's election, and will now have to wait until 2016 to be considered by the Veterans Committee.

Here is the complete list of the vote, courtesy of Baseball Reference

And as I thought would happen, both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens saw their numbers drop over the first-year tallies. No big surprise with the crowded field of quality candidates. The two combined did not add up to the 75% needed for election. It's clear that neither of them will be elected any time soon.

As far as the other "Steroid All-Stars" on the ballot, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's numbers continue to plummet, with McGwire down to 11% and Sosa at 7.2%. They will never, ever be enshrined.

And it officially ended for Rafael Palmeiro, as he got under the 5% cutoff with 4.4%. Palmeiro disappeared after he failed the drug test in 2005, and continues to be even further off the radar now.

The numbers went down considerably for Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, and Tim Raines. There will be a very strong first time class in 2015, which includes Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield. It's going to be a long road for guys like Schilling, Martinez and Raines, who I believe all deserve to be enshrined one day.

With the field being as crowded as it is for the next few years, I really thinking the Hall of Fame ballot should be expanded from voting for 10, to at least 12 or 15. Some want to make it unlimited, but I don't think they have to go that far.

Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, and they will be officially enshrined at Cooperstown on July 27th with managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Remarkable, Unexpected Gift of a Season

It's a brutally cold 10 degrees here in New York City. The dead of winter.

Pitchers and catchers report in just under six weeks from now. It can't come any quicker.

Here's something to warm all of you Red Sox fans out there: the 2013 season in a six-minute video played to the Dropkick Murphys version of the song "Tessie."

Stay warm everyone and enjoy:

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Dougie Post Does It Again

I noticed in the last few months of 2013 that the traffic to the blog here had dipped rather low, as I hadn't been writing that much.

But on the website, there was a thread about the Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey earlier this week, and a fan brought up Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield's old personal catcher with the Red Sox. And of course, he linked the "A Day In The Life Of Doug Mirabelli," which originally put up here in 2006.

And the traffic here just exploded. (BTW, I don't use SiteMeter any more, as they now give you almost no information that they used to. Anyone know what happened to them? I now use Clicky.) I had nearly 1,400 hits here on Friday, which is by far and away the most ever in the nearly eight year history of this blog.

It's Dougie to the rescue once again! (Remember when the Red Sox brought him back in 2006, and got him to Fenway in the police car?) Every time someone discovers my post on the Internet and puts it on a site, my numbers skyrocket, and I appreciate that. The Dougie post is by far the most popular thing I have ever posted on my site.

Thanks, Doug.

For those of you who have haven't read it, or just want a good laugh, just go here.

Friday, January 03, 2014

"The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams"

On New Year's Eve, I completed reading one of the bigger books I have ever read, the new biography of Ted Williams called "The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams."

It was written by Ben Bradlee Jr., who spent ten years researching the life of the great Hall of Famer, and absolutely left no stone unturned in this exhaustive biography, and it runs nearly 800 pages.

The book opens with the death of Ted, and his body shipped off to be frozen at Alcor in Arizona, which is ghoulish to say the least.

Every phase of the Splendid Splinter's life is examined, beginning with his birth in San Diego and his difficult upbringing by an uncaring father and a mother who was more concerned about saving souls with the Salvation Army. The book also examines in depth his Mexican roots, and Ted's fears about it being uncovered during his playing days.

He was definitely a lonely kid, and you seem to get idea he was most happy when he was alone. Baseball became his life as a youngster, and it was all-consuming passion. He was brash, and not afraid to let everyone know how great he was going to be. Cocky and arrogant, and it served him well in many respects of his life, but not in others.

His relationship with women was always volatile. He went through three marriages, and had numerous affairs in and after his playing days. He had three children, and had a difficult relationship with all of them, especially his son John-Henry.

Ted's five years in the military is especially fascinating. I never knew how upset he was about going back into the service again during the Korean War, and how behind the scenes he tried to get out of it, while publicly saying he was fine going back in.

The book gives the highlights and lowlights of Ted's career. The highs being 1941 when he hit .406, his home run in the All-Star Game that year, and one of his most proudest accomplishments: hitting .388 and winning the AL batting title in 1957 (which in many ways was a bigger thing than what he did in 1941, as Williams was 39 and at the end of the line). The lows being the loss to the Cardinals in 1946 World Series when he hit just .200, the playoff loss to the Indians in 1948 and the two losses to New York in 1949 that cost the Red Sox the AL pennant.

The book is chockful of tidbits I never knew about Ted's baseball career (like Ted being offered the Red Sox managerial job in 1954, the Tigers job in 1961, and the Yankees wanting to sign him as a pinch-hitter in 1961).

Ted's post-MLB career is looked at in incredible depth, from his becoming a Hall of Fame fisherman, to his return as Washington Senators manager, to his ultimately being looked after by his son John-Henry in his later years. John-Henry doesn't come off well in this book, and is made out to be a son who was looking to make every last buck out of his father's name. That may ultimately have led him to cryonics, where  a person can be frozen after death in the hope of one day being "revived." I found all of that to be rather unsettling, and brought back bad memories of when Ted and his name became a joke on late night television.

I definitely recommend the book, as it is the last word on one of MLB's greatest heroes. Ted Williams was complicated individual, and Ben Bradlee Jr. brings him back to life. The book is enthralling, and worth the time to read, even if you aren't a Red Sox fan.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Very Happy 2014 To You All

This is my 288th and final post on The Mighty Quinn Media Machine for 2013. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

It was a year for the ages to be a Red Sox fan, as our team came from last place in 2012 to shock the world and win their third World Series championship in ten years. It buried the failures of 2011 and 2012. It was simply magical, and it was the most emotional of three wins for me (yes, even more than 2004).

The team came off the rails in 2011, and it was successfully put back on by Ben Cherington, John Farrell and the entire 2013 club. Thank you Red Sox for an extraordinary year.

It was a miserable year to be a Minnesota Vikings fan, as the team regressed badly, especially at the QB position and on defense. The Vikings still have talent, and will have a new coach in 2014. Notre Dame also fell back a bit, to 9-4, but that was expected, as they lost a number of critical players on defense and had a much tougher schedule.

It was a year of transition for my Trivia Empire, as we left one in February, and another in November. As I write this, we have not settled on a new venue in Manhattan yet, but hope to have a new place soon. I thank all of you for supporting me and my Trivia Night, and I hope to see you all again soon in the new place.

It was not a good year overall for my background acting career, as I worked just four times all year. There's a lot of reasons why, and I won't go into it here. Let's just hope for more work in 2014.

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and I hope you all have a successful 2014. I have been writing less here as the years go on, but I still value my writing here and thank all of you who stop by here for whatever reason.

Thank you and God bless you all.