Thursday, April 29, 2004

Smooth Sailing

This afternoon was our second shutout in a row: on Kim's first game of the season. Rumor has it Ortiz has a contract on the way (though the only article anyone seems to have found is in Spanish. Sorry). The bullpen has 30 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Despite a shaky start for Lowe, the Sox had a 7-run first inning off the Devil Rays to boost us a bit closer to our second straight series sweep. There's not much to say except... this is the kind of streak Sox fans live for.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Burks on DL

Burks has just been placed on the DL because he needs knee surgery. The obvious question is how this will affect our bench. Assuming our typical Nomar-Trot-DL lineup, our bench right now has been Crespo, McCarty, Mirabelli, and Burks. I am not much of a fan of this bench as it stands, so maybe this is what we need to shake it up. I think the obvious choice is to bring up Daubach (and reconcile ourselves to Ortiz batting a lot of LHPs). I still don't think this is enough; neither Crespo nor McCarty have impressed me despite their hot spring training records. Should we trade for a new utility infielder/ph? Should we bring up Dominique, who has also been hot? Should we just stick it out as is until at least Trot is here and we can send McCarty down?

It will seem like heaven when our bench is Kapler, Reese/Bellhorn, 'Belli, and someone else decent. Daubach seems likeliest.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sweet Sweep!

Better even than the Red Sox sweeping the Yankees in this series, better even than the fact that this happened in the Bronx, is the fact that we are now 6-1 against the Yankees this year. It's funny, I used to fear playing the Yankees, and most of the players seemed like threats coming up to the plate. Now their batting lineup is even better than ever before in the books, but I have no real fear facing them... it's like they have become this year's Tigers.

It's early yet... very early... but it feels nice.

Friday, April 23, 2004

You know you've been watching a lot of Sox when...

...you start talking about the same things as the broadcasters. It was funny; tonight was this uncanny situation where I would remark some statistic or observation about the Sox, and within a minute, the telecasters would comment on the same person or situation.

And I started to really notice the negatives about the tv too. That "Foxwoods" commercial, the minivan ad... I'm just glad they have stopped that baby shower McDonalds commercial. And the other thing that bothered me tonight was how they started showing brief ads during the commentating, and then they'd play the background music for about 20 seconds and covered up a few sentences of our announcers. It happened over and over again, and I am pretty sure that's the first time this season it's happened like that. I hope it's the last - but I suppose I should never expect a TV broadcast to become less commercial all of a sudden.

A few notes about the game itself:
What about that error? Charged to the second baseman Wilson, though it was clearly Sheffield's own fault that he dropped the ball. Apparently the scorer thought that it was because Wilson charged over there that Sheffield made the mistake. Uh-huh. Well, MLB.com shows the error to Sheffield, so I am suspecting that got corrected after the fact.
Contreras had another shoddy showing against the club that tried to buy him once. Last year he was 7-0 against all the other clubs, but 0-2 against the Sox. That seems to be a habit he's continuing in the first part of this year.
Lowe too is continuing a trend, albeit one he can't really control: run support. He has 7.7 runs per outing this year, similar to his over-7-runs of support for last year. If he brings down his ERA though, I'll be more willing to ignore this huge advantage when I evaluate him as a pitcher.
A-Rod got some boos tonight. Let's hope the offensive start-of-the-year slump for the Yankees lasts a while - at least for the rest of the series. And I wouldn't be too upset if A-Rod's lasted all year. Of course, he might just be following the valiant lead of Captain Jeetah, who is doing even worse.
Our defense really had it tonight - let's hope it stays that way, shall we? Bellhorn, Reese, and Damon all significantly contributed to the fact that we kept the Yankees to two runs.

And before I leave you, I will mention that Vasquez is going to start on Sunday. *laughs* No no, the Yankees aren't feeling any pressure at alllll....

Rematch match...

Lowe vs Contreras: slight advantage to Lowe, though whichever one improves more on their last shoddy performance has the real advantage.

Arroyo vs Brown: large advantage to Brown, though of course this is only "in the books," since clearly Arroyo won out last time. I am skeptical of the possibility of that happening again, but I can dream.

Martinez vs...?...: I think in any of the possible scenarios, the advantage is to Pedro. It's either to a very tired Vasquez on three days' rest, a Lieber rushed early out of the DL, an Osborne out of the 'pen, or a Graman who apparently is just awful. I'm curious what takes shape; it would be just like the Yankees - who have been abominably reactive this year - to put a guy they "trust" on after a short rest. In April.

I think the question is whether either team's offense is finally going to heat up to potential, really. Pitching beats hitting most of the time, but then both teams' offense seem to be caged beasts thus far, and all any starter needs is to be surprised by an offensive outbreak.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

AL East Thoughts

The Sox have climbed to the top of the AL East, so I thought might be an appropriate point to offer a few thoughts about the others in the division...

Blue Jays: I admit, they are not yet the threat that I imagined they would be. Things could certainly shape up for them, but right now is one of those times when I start to shake my head in wonder. On paper, these guys are damn good. Pitchers who are expected to shine (like CY young winner Halladay), batters who are consistently strong from year to year... but it's not happening. Yet.

Orioles: These guys have been off to a better start than I predicted. Oh, I expected their batting to be dominant and consistent, but I am surprised by the pretty decent quality of their pitchers thus far. I think that in addition to that they've been quite lucky, but who would have thought Javy Lopez would start out the season THIS strong? Not this watcher.

Devil Rays: These guys have done about as predicted (whew, that's one at least). I figured it would take a while for them to sink down in the AL East, and it has. They're not doing anything spectacular, but they have been pretty consistent and solid. They should give the lower part of our division a run for their money - they will likely end up last, but if this small sample is any indication, that's no guarentee.

Yankees: I admit that despite my occasional skepticism for the high A-Rod hopes, despite the logic that tells me it only makes sense he'd start out slowly, I have been a little surprised by just how slowly. Like the Jays, the Yankees have not yet met the potential they are granted on paper - but then, there are a lot of intangibles that might be bringing them down. And even the Captain of Intangibles (IE Jeter) might not be enough to bolster up his team right yet. Smarmy-smiling egotistical jerk.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I hate Fox TV...

...and tonight I remember why. They are obviously of the opinion that the Yankees are a better team, which leaks through constantly in their broadcasting. They played "Should I Stay or Should I Go Now" by the Clash during a lovely replay of Pedro's mistakes in The Game last year. They were rude to Tim Wakefield (who, I admit, is a favorite), though he took it well. They implied that the Sox would want Joe Torre if the Yankees let him go (er, we do have a manager, you know...). They called the game a game of mistakes - but I bet if the Yankees won, it would have been allllll skill.

Of course, we did have two guys drop routine fly outs... but those were made overly ridiculous.


I am angry, despite the fact the Sox beat the Yankees. That's saying something.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Hope springs eternal in the human breast...

There was something about Ortiz' walkoff homerun the other day that brought back my dormant hopes for this year. They're back. Even if logic and history oppose me, I must say that I feel like there's something that is going to carry us this year.

Damn, I am talking about intangibles... and the last thing I want to be is like New Yorkers talking about Jeter. I am also talking about the opposite of a curse, something more like a kind hand of fate that will carry us, despite our plethora of injuries and uncertainties, to the playoffs. Once we get there, I am not going to hazard a belief in much, but I would take our team (healthy, we hope, by that point) against anyone. Anyone.

...I've been away for a few days so I haven't been able to post. I'll be better now, I promise!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Pitcher's duel or homerun derby?

Pedro looked pretty vintage tonight, I'd say. Not his velocity - that I have stopped really considering - but in his command. 7 and 2/3 with 106 pitches; 7 ponchados and one earned run. I'm really happy. It certainly took a while for our bats to heat up, though - I am curious if this will be our problem over the course of this spring, while several of our regulars are either out or warming their way back in. LOBs weren't such a problem, but then, we weren't able to get many men on base at all. Still, we were batting against last year's CY; Halladay's legitimately a good pitcher that should be able to be at least a little dominant against any team.

A few random plusses: Bellhorn, Manny, and Ortiz picking up some home runs; Crespo's two infield hits, and Kapler's wonderful running catch early in the game. All in all, a game to be happy with.

Friday, April 09, 2004

A Win, A loss, a few notes...

Wednesday as you know was a commanding win, yesterday was a painful, slow loss. We could blame Bobby Jones, or we could blame our bats for barely coming alive and not producing runs when they did. Most notable yesterday was our painful offensive lineup, methinks. That and the failed bunt-on-the-third strike by Crespo - something I would call Francona's fault more than I would call it his. (Note to self: do not jump down new manager's throat. yet.)

Today is Arroyo against the Jays. Though the Blue Jays have been poor so far this season, I think they will be an interesting challenge for most of it - so today's game should be an interesting opportunity to gauge their prowess. I know that so far they've lost to Detroit of all teams... but count me one who's a little scared of their role in the AL east...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

That's More Like It...

We still left a load of men on base - proof we're not getting RBIs when we should yet -but I was happy overall with today's performance. Timlin did better (though he seemed to be throwing an unusual number of balls still) and Foulke and Embree were wonderful, and Schilling had a solid, shining first start in our uniform. I'm a bit worried about Millar - the last thing we need is one more injury - but otherwise, good game.

Wanted to note that everyone should check out this roundtable discussion at Red Sox Haven, of which I am a part. It reminded me that I never said anything about where I got the name for this blog. It came out of irritation with the old Yankee fallback joke:

"What's the difference between Fenway hotdogs and Yankee Hotdogs?"
"You can get Yankee hotdogs in October."

I am so used to hearing this tired joke that I have always pretended not to hear it and have come up with offputting, not always politically correct responses to the question in order to catch the dumb Yankee fans by surprise. And I thought I'd preempt the joke for once by naming my site after Fenway Hotdogs - which will, as Sox fans believe every year, be available this time in October.

Monday, April 05, 2004

1 down...

Well, Pedro's had his token shaky start of the year, and it just happened to be the first. Call me crazy, but I'm not panicking about his performance. I think the rest of the year will find him getting back to his more Pedro-y self - it won't always be so cold, and it won't always be the first start of the year.

If I were to call anything alarming, I think it would be the high LOB rate of 14. I remember a few years ago that that was one of the Sox's biggest problems: not producing runs out of our men on base. Still, I have to say that offense was in general better than I had feared even if it was worse than I had hoped. Other premature worries, though: the fact that Pokey bunted when he did - hopefully not the manager's call - which was just plain silly, and the extremely shaky outing by Timlin (43.something era...). Things to be glad about: Manny's very strong start, the generally good defense we saw, and the fact that this was the first game, all.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Opening Day

What is there to say beyond "only 5 hours"? Not so much. I do think tonight will be interesting because it will be a test of pitching vs batting, since clearly the Orioles are going into the game with a better lineup tonight and we are going in with a superior pitcher.

Let's hope good pitching really does beat good batting.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Rivalries are Easy.

I am understanding why SI would try the spin that they did in the article I posted yesterday. While it was a piece of trash meant mostly to elicit a response, it gained its ability to stand out particularly because so many other sources are driving the "rivalry" talk to death. You can't mention the Yankees without mentioning the Red Sox, nor the Sox without the Yankees. An example of this is a roundup of today's most notable media:

First we have Klapisch's article on the Sox-Yanks rivalry. Then Providence calls NY and Boston evenly matched teams, an easy position to take for a town between the "rivals," but I appreciate that the guy actually breaks it down position-by-position. Then, the Globe rehashes the rivalry without any real originality. At least there is some originality in creating a Blog that juxtaposes a Sox fan and a Yankees fan - an interesting read that capitalizes on this overdone tendency. But that's not all. People try to add a unique spin to an overdone theme; there's even an article specifically about Kevin Brown and Curt Schilling's supposed personal rivalry.

I hate the Yankees. Half of my entries, come to think of it, have mentioned them, and I don't want to be a hypocrit and bash the practice. I don't want to laud shotty journalism like yesterday's posted SI article. But if I were a journalist - I would be looking for a new spin. Quickly. If for no other reason than that I don't want to be caught in the crossfire.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Next week, this article will be in Sports Illustrated. I think it's a piece of journalistic trash written entirely to bash on a particular fan base in order to get money.

Maybe that's just me, but I don't think so.

I mean, I can see people contesting that Yankees and Red Sox rivalries consume too much media coverage. But asserting that it's no rivalry at all by digging in the number of times the Yankees have won is just ridiculous.

Tell me what you think.

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