Rantings and ravings from an admitted fan (as in fanatic!) of the Boston Red Sox. Updated only occasionally, but with my take on recent developments in Red Sox Nation. Updated more frequently during the end of the regular season and playoffs (hopefully).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The (Don't Call Me Devil) Rays

So the Sox were swept in a 3-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays this week.

FULL DISCLOSURE ALERT: I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, about 6 miles from where the Rays play at Tropicana Field. Of course, this was before there was a baseball team, and when I lived there the "World's Largest Shuffleboard Court" (as the Trop was called in those days) was used as bait to get teams to relocate to Florida. All that happened when I lived there was the White Sox used St. Petersburg as the "other suitor " to get new Comiskey built, and the Giants used St. Petersburg as the "other suitor" to get PacBell or whatever they're calling the ballpark in San Francisco these days. But after I moved away, MLB gracioiusly awarded Tampa Bay an expansion ballclub, and the Devil Rays were born. It was such big news, my brother and I flew down to take our parents to the first game in franchise history (pictured here).

But since I never lived there while the Devil Rays existed, I never had much of a chance to root, root root for the home team. Besides, they have been nothing to write home about in their first decade of existence, finishing in last place in the AL East in nine of the last 10 years. Let's face it, the Devil Rays have been the laughing stock of baseball for the past decade.

This year, with some nice young players, really good team chemistry, decent pitching a fine manager, the Rays (they've now dropped the "Devil" from their name) are playing the best baseball in the league if you believe the records. Their three-game sweep of the Sox this week was a "statement" to the rest of the league that they are, indeed, for real.

So why am I not happy for my hometown team?

Well, there are a few reasons. The nasty rivalry with the Red Sox is a big reason. If my Red Sox don't get along with a team, I'm naturally not going to like them. But I'd have to say the biggest reason I can't stand the Rays is their announcer, Dwayne Staats. I find this gentleman to be -- hmm, how can I put this politely? -- an asshole.

How in the name of Dewon Brazelton can this guy be so arrogant when he announces for the Rays? It's the Rays!!! -- note above, nine last-place finishes in 10 years, and this guy sounds like they've been dominating baseballf for a decade. I just don't get the arrogance all of a sudden because they've pulled 1/2 of a season out of their collective you-know-whats??? These guys are gaining on the White Sox for the title of "Announcers who make you want to shoot your friggin' television."

As I've said before, I live outside of Philadelphia and watch my Sox on the MLB "Extra Innings" package, and they usually give you the home team's feed. Since the Sox were in St. Pete this week, I was stuck with two gut-wrenching games of listening to Dwayne talk about how Zeus almighty came down from Mt. Olympus and populated the Rays organization with baseball geniuses (or is that genia? geni?). I know the announcers work for the team, but he takes it to a new level. At least Don Orsillo and Rem Dog keep it real -- and if one of the Sox screws up, they'll talk about it. I admit my bias, but I feel like they call a nice, even-handed game, which is pretty much all you can ask out of an announcer.

Staats even committed to ultimate broadcaster's sin by making himself the story last week for his comments on MLB reducing Coco Crisp's suspension, saying that other baseball teams "served at the pleasure of the Red Sox." I don't even know what that means, but I don't know the meaning of most of the babblings from this man.

Thank goodness the Wednesday Game 3 was on ESPN, so I actually enjoyed the telecast -- though not the result on the field.

Sure, some of this is sour grapes. I don't like trailing the Rays in the standings, even though I secretly think it's a good thing for baseball to have someone besides the Red Sox or Yankees leading the AL East for a week or two. So let the Rays have their moment, as they are on a nice roll. Hell, I'll even give them July, and then it's back to reality! :-)

But while they are having their moment, can someone please throw a muzzle on that pompous jerk in the booth

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sox in Philly

Had the rare treat of seeing the Sox in person twice this week as they were in town to play an inter-league game against the Phillies. My "Sox Curse" is officially over, as they split the two games I saw (they used to always lose when I went in person, but lately they've been winning a lot more games when I'm there -- probably because they've been winning a lot more games lately, period, but let me have my fantasies). I had the unbelievable privilege of seeing Jon Lester pitch on Tuesday night, and wow! He's just got unbelievable stuff. With the movement on his fastball, it's no wonder he pitched a no-hitter. He baffled the Phils for seven shutout innings, and then Okajima and Papelbon finished up (textbook stuff).

Sad news this morning that Schilling is going to have season-ending and possibly career-threatening shoulder surgery. I can't say as I'm surprised by this, as I never counted on him pitching this year. If it is truly the end of his career, he will go down in history as one of the most clutch postseason pitchers of all time (I'm including his work with the Phillies in '93 as well as his stint with the D-Backs). But his performance in 2004 and the 'bloody sock' is the stuff of legends, appropriately so in Red Sox nation. Sure, he can be a self-centered jerk, and it's all about him, but the guy could sure as heck pitch. Isn't that what it's all about for the fans? With apologies to Mitch Williams, I'll take the mouth and the personality as long as you can bring it like he did every fifth day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Too good to be true?

You might think after two titles in four years that a fan of the Red Sox would stop being paranoid and just enjoy the success, but after an 86-year drought, you'd be forgiven for holding on to feelings of anxiety about the Sox' chances.

But the way the team is playing, it's almost too good to be true. There have been a couple of instances this season where I thought a game was lost, but the Sox found a way to pull out a victory (two games in Cleveland come to mind), and a few escapes in the four-game sweep of Texas over the weekend also qualify, especially Sunday's comeback.

But last night's series opener against those Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was the biggest example yet. On a night when Josh Beckett was scratched from his scheduled start with a neck problem, and both Jason Varitek and Manny Delcarmen were out with the flu, all signs pointed to a rough night at Fenway.

The Sox called up David Pauley from Pawtucket to take Beckett's start, and the Angels quickly figured out that if they wait for the sinker-baller to get a pitch up, they were in business. It didn't look good.

But Jacoby Ellsbury hit two home runs, and the Sox rallied for a 7-6 victory in a game they probably should have lost. Too good to be true? Maybe. But this team is so solid, words like "dynasty" are starting to creep into my mind. With Big Papi in an early-season slump and Mike Lowell on the DL -- not to mention the fact that Curt Schilling might not pitch an inning this year -- the Sox have found a way to grab first place in the loaded AL East. Will the other shoe ever drop? Should I even be thinking about that? The way this team is playing and the "embarrassment of riches" success tell me that I should not.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Championship rings, Buckner

It was a great day at Fenway yesterday. Opening Day, the sun was shining, and the Sox picked up their championship rings from the '07 title.

But the big headline of the day, for me, was the long-overdue return of one Bill Buckner. The "goat" of the 1986 World Series threw out the first pitch (to my boyhood hero, Dwight Evans), and got a warm ovation from the Fenway crowd.

My reaction: it's about damn time!!!

It's easy to forgive and forget Buckner after the glory of two titles in the past four seasons, but I ask why it took two titles and 22 years for this to happen? I was as upset as anyone on that October night in 1986 when Mookie Wilson's grounder went through Buckner's legs to end Game 6, but ... THIS JUST IN ... Buckner did not cost the team the world series! The fact that he has been villified, ostracized, and (of his own doing) banished out west is just plain wrong. There is a long laundry list of things that cost the Sox Game 6 against the Mets, among them:

  • Clemens asking (depending on who you believe) to come out of the game becuase of a sore finger

  • Bob Stanley's wild pitch

  • The above-mentioned steamer not covering the bag, so they probably wouldn't have gotten the speedy Mookie Wilson anyway at first

  • This was Game 6 -- people forget they had a LEAD in Game 7

  • And last, but certainly not least, is the biggest one of all. Manager John McNamara not using Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement at first base as he had done ALL SEASON. That's right, Buckner shouldn't have even been in the game at that point. His bad knees, and the fact that Stapes was just a better defensive player overall should have all contributed to McNamara sticking with his game plan and putting in Stapleton.

But alas, all that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and the title was lost, leaving us 18 more years of misery to suffer as a Nation. All that being said, it STILL wasn't Buckner's fault.

I'm so glad he returned to Fenway, and judging from his emotional news conference you can tell that the events of 1986 still haunt him. The guy was an unbelievable player, and you could argue that the Sox wouldn't have made the '86 series without him.

It's sad that it took all this success to welcome him back with open arms, but at least it's done. Welcome back, Billy Buck!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Training 08

I just can't wait for the season to start -- should be another good one. Sure, there are questions about pitching (the Sox just put Schilling on the 60-day DL, and I honestly don't expect him to pitch even one inning for the Sox in '08), but the lineup is basically unchanged since last year, and that's a good thing.

Saddened today to learn of the release of Doug Mirabelli. I loved his role with the team as Wake's catcher, but he just didn't put up any numbers last year.

And I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of this trip to Japan to start the season. I'm all for exhibition and for spreading the game throughout the world, but that's a LOOONG way to go to play two games that count. Oh well, I'm not too concerned about it. Perhaps its the sight of the Yankees feeling that they have to slide into second with their spikes up and then have a bench-clearing brawl with the Devil Rays that has me, hmm, shall we say, feeling good. Not cocky, mind you, but feeling good.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nice timing

I think it’s a terrific irony that this blog, dedicated to the Red Sox and their success, experienced technical difficulties around the time of the World Series. As a result, all my posts from the conclusion of the ALCS and throughout the World Series have been wiped out.  Since I write these things directly within the Blogger software, I don’t have a record of these posts, and I don’t think it’s worth it to try to re-create them.  Suffice it to say that I’m a pretty happy camper these days, what with two World Championships within a four-year span.


It’s a little weird, I must admit, this recent success. You don’t just throw off 86 years of misery like that (snapping fingers) and *expect* to start winning, do you?  Well apparently, if you’re a member of Red Sox Nation, you should have. In hindsight, this 2007 team showed no signs of a letdown from the time spring training broke until the last Papelbon fastball for the clinching strikeout.  But it’s funny how many times I thought to myself – “Oh sh*t, this is it,” or “Here come the Yankees.”  In reality, the Yankees could be on the verge of imploding (and no Joe Torre to steady the ship), and the Sox won with a huge contribution from young talent like Papelbon, Pedroia, Lester, and the stone-cold-lock-future-all-star Jacoby Ellsbury.  Sure, they need to sign Lowell, but this team is going to be solid for years to come. I think it’s a little early to use the “D” word (no, not donuts, dynasty), but let’s admit that it wouldn’t be surprising at this point to see multiple titles come from this crew. As Torre showed – and correctly said – it’s a crapshoot when you get to the postseason, so you never know, but this group will be heard from again, no question.


Go Sox!


Friday, October 19, 2007


Just when they needed it, the Sox got a dominating (DOMINATING!) performance from Josh Beckett tonight in Game 5 vs. Cleveland. Beckett was absolutely masterful, and didn't allow the Indians even a whiff of a chance of success. He even got in Kenny Lofton's face when Lofton thought a strike was a ball and dropped his bat. Beckett wouldn't have any of it, and yelled something at Lofton after he popped up. Lofton then had a few words back to Beckett (I don't think they were trading recipes) as he headed for the dugout. Pretty soon the umpire was out, both benches emptied, and the bullpens came charging in from right field. But it was a typical baseball fight -- lots of testosterone, no punches thrown, and cooler heads prevail in the end.

The Fox broadcasters were livid with Manny Ramirez for not legging out what *he thought* was a home run - on a play where Papi scored all the way from first base, Manny ended up standing on first and calling for time out. They make a good point, but they also fail to realize that every citizen of Red Sox Nation will take this behavior from Manny. What we casually chalk up as "Manny Being Manny" is actually some pretty flaky and sometimes poor behavior that, by anyone else, would probably get you disciplined or fined by your coach. But with Manny, people just shake their heads and say, "That's Manny." Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the guy can hit the cover off the ball, consistently, and hardly ever comes up small when his team needs him. Just maybe.