Friday, December 28, 2007

We do not pirate media in this house*

Usually the awesome picture posts are the province of Out In Centerfield, and usually we don't, er, loot Boston Dirt Dogs for content, but this bears repeating:

Photo: Gene Duncan

Varitek going capitán al capitán against Hook.

Well, considering the bullpen is the Black Pearl, it was only a matter of time. Still, the Jack Sparrow hat/wig really puts this over the top.

We eagerly await spring training, when Tek will have to explain to the pitching staff that, no, this doesn't mean they're allowed to use swords and pistols against the Detroit Tigers this year, and, yes, his wife is still laughing at him.

*Please tell the RIAA we said so.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We do not believe that Grandma got run over by a reindeer in this house

Were we the kind of people who actually send out holiday cards, rather than the kind of people who just talk about it on the internet and never manage to get cards printed (let alone mailed) before Opening Day, these are the holiday cards we'd send:

Watch what you say, now,
'cause Jonathan Papelbon
believes in Santa.

As the voices in Pap's head would say, dance when the spirit moves you, always keep the eggnog flowing, and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate 'em. Hopefully we'll get back into posting semi-regularly once the insanity of the season passes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We do not go a-wassailing in this house

Oh, hi! We've been terribly lackadaisical about posting, obviously. Here, in a nutshell, are the riveting thoughts we've failed to write down:

1. Don't trade Ellsbury! No, wait, don't trade Lester! No, wait, don't trade anyone! Just screw the 25-man roster, issue all our pitchers the same uniform number, and convince everybody that Lester and Santana are the same guy.*

2. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year--since this blog's namesake will, as far as we are concerned, be forever young--but someday, the Texas Rangers will put the Saltalamacchia in the basket, or they will get the hose.

3. The Tigers are going to be scary this year, so much so that they might be able to stand it even if Jeremy Bonderman does keep wetting his pants on the mound. Our fond friends the Mets will also be scary, in a much less pleasant way. And is anyone else out there falling in love with the ragtag, felonious crew that is your 2008 Washington Nationals?

4. The Virtual Waiting Room: brilliant loyalty test/torture device, or brilliantest loyalty test/torture device?**

5. What can we give you, oh patient reader, for the holiday season?

Well, we have an answer for that last one. Finally!

The Bullpen Band T-Shirt is available!

Pick one up and show your pride in Manuelito, The Admiral, El Snyde Grande, and of course, This Year In Closers, Jonathan Papelbon. We're not making any money off 'em, but if you like them, or you have an idea for something else you'd like the logo slapped on, please leave a comment and make us feel pretty.

We'll be posting our holiday card images soon, as well, but in the meantime, don't forget to stop by Center Field and enjoy Texas Gal's highly awesome Advent calendar. Twenty-five days of Sox videos, links, and above all, pictures that are just crying out for lolcat captions.*** What is not to love?

*It's the mirrors.

**We're pretty sure we were able to get tickets, but the VWR claimed the package was sold out hours before it let us buy. So we may simply end up throwing ourselves bodily through Gate E some Friday night this spring.

***Curt Schilling: he's in ur dugout, writin ur emo lyrics.

Friday, November 23, 2007

We do not remain lucid within our food coma in this house

We hope you're all having a lovely Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Mikey Lowell Contract Week of Joy. Our own celebratory plans were foiled by the MLB's lawyers and the folks at CafePress. Do any of you fine folks know a sneaky alternative where we could possibly get Manny Delcarmen's Bullpen Band T-shirts printed? Because the design's ready to rock, but apparently the name is taboo. Check with us if you have suggestions or questions. We want to make the magic happen!

Anyway, in lieu of jersey-knit gifts or deep hot stove analysis (we're getting a little scared of the "The Angels" Angels of Anaheim; is that just us?), we give you an excerpt from Robert B. Parker's novel Hundred-Dollar Baby, page 182 in the mass-market paperback:

"Is there anything you believe in?" I said.

"My wife," Belson said.

I nodded.

"Anything else?" I said.

"Maybe Jason Varitek."

He ate a third of his donut and drank some coffee.

"That's probably enough," I said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We do not know a hawk from a handsaw in this house

Old Business:

We've been easing our way into the offseason by downloading classic games from iTunes, and so far we've watched Game 6 of the 2003 World Series--we were too busy hating baseball and all its works and all its empty promises to properly appreciate the dominance of young Josh Beckett* at the time--and Roger Clemens' 1986 twenty-strikeout game. It's a lot of fun. For the record, Baby Beckett and Baby Rocket really do have extremely similar stances, Miguel Cabrera really was a svelte young thing, and the Mariners really did used to wear wide, gold-striped elastic belts. Next stop for our Tardis: 1965 and Sandy Koufax.

Also, we know we're behind, 'cause we haven't said anything since Mikey Lowell failed to sign on the dotted by the deadline.** It's hard to keep up with all the rumors and denials of rumors and noncommittal comments, even if we limit ourselves to Nick Cafardo's mad flailing as our main source of news. No rumor too random to bite your nails over, huh? And how come there's no news on Mike Timlin?

New Business:

Well, tonight Buster Olney claimed on SportsCenter that he expected Lowell to make a decision within 72 hours. So that'll make the weekend interesting, since nothing else is going in baseball news at all.

Oh, and we heard something about Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez? We heard that they're forming some kind of wacky Harlem Globetrotter exhibition team together, with a $300 million dollar payroll and George Mitchell as the GM? The Alcatraz Sharks, or something? Bright orange uniforms? Do we have that information right? It's not like ESPN is talking about it at all.

Rodriguez and Bonds have had their parallel storylines going all year, with these great Shakespearean overtones. They are men of great talent and power brought low by ego and greed; they're everywhere and yet they seem elusive, surrounded by myths and mockery.*** We should be fascinated. And we would be fascinated to find out what actually goes on in their heads, if they'd like to step to the corner of the stage and begin the monologue. But as long as they have agents and lawyers, that will never happen. And we just don't want to read, hear, or watch any more of Keith Law and Murray Chass and freakin' Charles Barkley pontificating about Barry's or Alex's issues. We're over it.

Unless there is going to be swordfighting, in which case we are there. With bells on.

*He shakes off Pudge Rodriguez like forty-seven times, to no apparent ill effect. Further evidence for our totally intangible case that Jason Varitek is magic.

**We support the Papel-blog's NDRaPRSFftEMRSoML effort and are definitely all for the emotionally motivated re-signing of Mike Lowell, but we could never be club members because we are not normally discerning, rational or pragmatic. Not like you couldn't tell.

***Also, we once read a scholarly analysis proving that King Lear could really rake.

Monday, November 12, 2007

We do not have to be 5'9" to ride in this house

Thank you, Baseball Writers Association, for doing the right thing by Dustin Pedroia. We really weren't looking forward to going around breaking all your kneecaps if you'd voted for Delmon Young. Though, with the holidays coming, we could've used the frequent flier miles.

Congratulations, Monsieur Le Destroya. We will try to talk more about your fantastic gameplay and less about how Papi could carry you around in his pocket like a kangaroo does a joey.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled obsessive refreshing of Extra Bases for even a glimmer of a Lowell update.

ETA: Cursed to First has a delightfully eloquent post about Pedroia's many splendors. And now to bed, and dream of four-year contracts.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We do not rely on reality in this house

Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are being put on Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder-strengthening program and likely will visit with Josh Beckett to see how he performs his routine. The Sox will have a minicamp after Thanksgiving to go over the strength program . . .
- The Boston Globe, 11/08/2007

When the Writers Guild of America went on strike, it initiated a sequence of events that will have a domino effect on America's viewing audiences . . . A long strike could alter the landscape of network television by dictating an even greater reliance on reality and game shows.
- The Baltimore Sun, 11/08/2007

Our motto here at the Herradura is: 'Hunt and Live Safely - Teach the Children'.
- Official website of Josh Beckett's ranch.

This is the most perfect, most stormiest perfect storm. Ever.

In fact, The Real World: Herradura Ranch will clearly be the finest program of fall sweeps. Particularly the very! special! Thanksgiving episode where Beckett and Buchholz help Papelbon learn the poignant life lesson that there is a difference between "moose" and "male deer." You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll even grow a little. You'll wonder who the hell invited Kevin Millar.

Other exciting programming options (call us, Les Moonves! We're not union!):

Extreme Home Wakeover:
Tim Wakefield shows up at the homes of folks in need, helps them rebuild, and teaches them the Zen of the knuckleball. Children cheer, parents weep, Jordan's Furniture gets a whole lotta product placement. Each week's episode features a bonus Doug Mirabelli segment: "Chicken Parm for the Soul."

America's Next Top Set-Up Man:
Papelbon: "There are five excellent pitchers standing before me, but I only hold four baseball cards in my hands. The pitcher whose name I don't call will have to return to the clubhouse, clean out his locker, and go immediately to the National League or Japan or somewhere. Of course you know about our prizes: a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, your own music video on NESN, and one free ride on Manny's pet unicorn. Now I'm going to introduce our judges: Dennis Eckersley, one of the world's first closers; John Farrell, noted pitching coach; and catching diva extraordinaire, Captain Jason Varitek."
Varitek: "...What the hell did you just say?"
Papelbon: "Okay. The first name I'm going to call is..."

The Amazing Race, Literally:
It's just Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis running across New England on foot and yelling trash talk at each other. That's it. You know you would watch!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We do not go gently into that good offseason in this house

All week we've been recovering, trying to catch up on sleep and our day jobs and all the things we've just straight up neglected since postseason baseball began, lo, a month ago. Doesn't it seem like it took forever in a temporal sense, but also like there wasn't nearly enough baseball? Shouldn't Josh Beckett be warming up for something right now, and wouldn't we all brave the newly chilly weather to watch him throw one more game? Shouldn't Jason Varitek be strategizing with his binders while Mike Timlin strategizes with his parrot? Can't we play three more games and keep the World Series sweep at the same time?

No? The laws of physics, baseball, and Suffolk County prevent it? Damn. It's going to be a long cold winter. But we've got our love to keep us warm.*

And you know who we love right now? Yeah. Him. And everyone else.

How about two guys not on the World Series roster: Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez? Polar opposites, right? The journeyman and the elder statesman. The Red Bull-chugging rubber arm and the reliable starter with the crazy knuckleball. The guy who lets Manny pet him on the head and the guy who keeps Doug Mirabelli as a pet. In spite of their shaky moments, we wouldn't have had much of a season if these guys hadn't been regularly reliable and occasionally spectacular--think of Wake's slick eight-inning outing against Rockies 1.0, or Tavvy's gorgeous relief innings on September 12th. We're delighted the club's picked up the options on these two. Imagining the team without Wake breaks our heart. And Tavvy may just be trade bait, but if not, well, our two baby starters could probably use the backup.**

Speaking of baby starters, we really love Jon Lester right now. We hope he's kickin' back on a couch somewhere, working on his fantasy football team, enjoying the first days of a pain-free, laid-back, regular-guy offseason. He'll have fun shooting deer with Bucky and Becky, and do some running and some weights and whatever it is pitchers do to hone their control. And that's it. And that makes us every bit as happy as knowing he'll come back to a ring ceremony.

How great is it gonna be, when spring rolls around, to see the eight 2004 veterans doubling their bling and their fun? It'll only be topped when Pedroia struts up from the dugout. We loved that boy back in April when he was barely hitting his weight, and only that much because he's a midget. We used to call him the best Little League 2B ever, then JV, and finally a varsity letter man. Now, having proven that he's more talented than he is cute and gritty, our Petey will get a shiny new band of gold to symbolize his triumph. He'll immediately pick a fight with Youk about whose is bigger.

We love Bobby Kielty, too. It'll be good to see him back for the party, and sad that he won't be in a Sox uniform.

Do we really even need to note that we've been breaking into spontaneous "RE-sign LOW-ell" chants*** all week long? We didn't think so.

When we look back in a year or two, this Series, and this season, will seem like they went pretty smoothly--a first-place team for more than five months rolled to a dominant and decisive World Series victory, stalwart veterans and shiny rookies and all. But we watched more closely, and know better. We had Eric Gagne ruin our birthdays. We watched a weakened lineup**** play down the stretch in September while the Yankees were mashing the ball all over the boroughs. We endured three miserable games in Detroit after the All-Star Break and three in Toronto in September, lost to Texas and Baltimore and Tampa Bay, suffered scoring droughts, costly injuries, and a fatigued bullpen tossing batting practice to Cleveland in the 13th inning of Game Two. We should remember all those things. Remember the headaches--our own and Papelbon's--and the ulcers we developed every time Daisuke Bat-suzaka walked the bases loaded. We should remember that the honorable Rockies fought to within one run in three of the four World Series games, making for a little bit of old-fashioned New England pearl-clutching before the town's best Irish dancer slammed the door.

Why hold on to the stress and pain along with the love and glory? Because it all goes to prove the point: our team could make all those mistakes, from the front office to Manny throwing his helmet, and still post dominant numbers across the board. Our team didn't quit until the last out, didn't fear momentum shifts, didn't panic, and David Ortiz made sure they never forgot their bad motherfucker-hood. Don't lose sight of how close they came to falling apart--that's how strong they were, to face that down and lock in and succeed.

This year, they were just that good.

Thank you, Red Sox. Don't stay away too long. What will we do without you?*****

*And T-shirts. T-shirts to keep us warm AND express our love. Thanks for letting us know you're interested--you guys rock, and they will be here very soon.

**Kind of hard to believe that six months ago we were freaking out about Josh Beckett's "avulsion", no? And did they ever define that made-up word to our satisfaction?

***We hope that by this point, Theo is hearing those chants in his head even when it's silent. "Sky Cries Lowell." "I Dream of Mikey with the Crooked Brown Goatee."

****Seriously, we'll miss Eric Hinske but we won't miss seeing him at first base. Maybe he and his awesome tattoos will turn up on a TLC reality show.

*****Next on Respect the Tek, a conversation between Todd Helton and Peyton Manning:
"I know, right? Fuckin' Boston!"

Monday, October 29, 2007

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to OH HELL YEAH

(Globe staff photo.)

Thoughts to follow, when we can think again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

We do not drink Coors in this house

Thoughts We Thunk During Game 3 of the 2007 World Series:

1. The towel-twirling? Still pretty annoying. We've thought so whenever we've encountered them during this post-season--including the NLCS, which, in all honesty, we had no real opinions on other than a vague idea that late October baseball in Denver sounded cold*--so it's not just the Post-Cleveland Stress Syndrome talking here.

2. That Tulowitzki kid's a pretty damned fine shortstop, isn't he?**

3. Daisuke! With the hitting! We love to see an American League pitcher overcome his bafflement--"why is the ball coming at me?"--to give himslf run support. The fact that he wore his little jacket on the basepaths elevated it from fun to fabulous.

4. Were Caroline to design a Manny Delcarmen Band tour T-shirt, you'd all buy one, right?

5. John Farrell's been talking up Jason Varitek like crazy lately. In every interview we've seen/read/heard with him lately, he's all, "no, really, you can't overemphasize what he means to our pitching staff." We have concluded that this means that John Farrell is totally on board with our "Get Varitek as Pitching Coach When He Retires" plan. Viva!

6. Javier Lopez: still not a lefty specialist. Still not recording any outs. May still be good looking, but we were too busy hiding our eyes.

7. Dancing for Mike Timlin is a great source of cardiovascular exercise.

8. Yelling, "Catch that! Stop them! OMGWTF!" and smacking yourself repeatedly in the forehead also gets your heart rate up. As does yelling, "OH FUCK YOU FUCK YOU SO HARD, MATT HOLLIDAY!" when he hits a three-run homer (look, the combination of that and the towels and the no fucking outs might've lead to some crazy Cleveland flashbacks, okay?). These are obviously the sort of cardiovascular activities that lead directly into cardiac arrest, however, and they are not recommended by any primary care physician with a license.

9. Our rookies: let us show you them.

10. Mikey Lowell really did steal third there, right? I mean, we weren't hallucinating that or anything, were we?

11. Tim McCarver thinks Jason Varitek should be a sergeant major in the army. Or maybe he thinks Varitek is actually in the army. Silly McCarver. Everyone knows that Superman works alone.

12. No, really, our rookies. We want them to continue their little "anything you can hit, I can hit harder" game in the one-two spots for the remainder of the series and for years to come. They should also feel free to incorporate tap dancing.

*Nine out of ten Youks agree!

**Look, we know we've all said that about pretty much every opposing SS we've faced this season (with the exception of Jeter, who is, contrary to McCarver's belief, not a very good defensive SS), but in this particular case it's actually true, even though he could probably stand to cut down a bit on the Jeter Jump. That said, we give Lugo full props for some amazing defensive plays in this game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We do not dance without moving our arms in this house*

Jonathan Papelbon has seen the 2004 footage and he knows exactly what happens next. He was getting ready for it all night long.

We confess, we were scared it wouldn't happen, what with the record-setting number of double plays and the untimely return of Julio Lugo's Baseball Blooper Escapades. We were making mental notes of questionable managerial decisions, in case we needed to post our objections here in excruciating detail. Even when Petey-Pie's home run put us up 5-2, we kept reminding ourselves that stranger things have happened, that no lead is safe until the last out is recorded, that goddammit, if you assume you are winning, you're setting yourself up to get hurt.

Well, that's over for now--until Wednesday.

All that is gone and replaced by joy--until Wednesday.

The nerves will come back, but the important point here is, we have a Wednesday.

And we have a Dustin Pedroia--as early adopters, we salute Julio Lugo for pointing out, "That little midget's the man!" We have a Kevin Youkilis, and isn't Billy Beane just eating his heart out? We have a Papi, we have a Manny, we have a Tek--Josh Beckett's "backbone"--who takes a running leap into Papelbon's arms, because this is our tradition, now. This is what we play for.

All those bloggers who talk about Red Sox fans losing their identity are missing one simple yet apparently elusive fact: this team just kicks too much ass not to love. Post-curse reversal, now the Red Sox are just awesome, both in terms of quantifiable athletic skill and in terms of goggles and hugs and Riverdances.

We vote for Keith Foulke to throw out the 2007 World Series first pitch.

See you then.

*We'd fall down.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We do not believe Jacoby Ellsbury when he says he isn't offended by the mascot . . . in this house

10/16/07: Red Sox 3, Indians 7

Notes on a scandal:

1. No, really, what was the point of showing the Aaron Boone HR from 2003 before the game?

2. First, the disclaimer: Jennifer admits that she has crazy psychological reasons for disliking the Team from Cleveland and is no way unbiased when talking about them.* Second, the question: if you were a Cleveland fan, would you carry a giant sparkly cut-out of the mascot as a sign or would you want to distance yourself from that particular symbol of the team due to it, you know, being pretty fucking offensive? Let's not even get into the Chief Wahoo face paint.

3. Bright sides: the back-to-back-to-back home runs, Jon Lester pitched well, Jason Varitek can't blame himself for the loss.

4. Less-than-bright sides: the fifth inning, grounding into double plays, the fifth inning, stranding people on base, the fifth inning, shots of sad Wakefield, the fifth inning, a complete inability to string together runs, popping out on the first pitch, the fifth inning, losing.

5. If 2003 was Cowboy Up and the 2004 squad were the Idiots, does that make the 2007 Red Sox the Sybils?

* For comparison purposes, let's just say that for her losing to Cleveland is roughly equivalent to losing to the Yankees if you're a normal Red Sox fan. Chat logs from the series thus far feature such highlights as, "I hate them, I really really hate them", "I think...Grady Sizemore might be my Derek Jeter", and "I am trying to at least be happy for the children, but then the players show up in their racist hats and play good baseball and make me want to cry."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

We do not have a clipboard of fun in this house

10/13/07: Indians 13, Red Sox 6

We were really hoping for the Redemption Arc. When Eric Gagné came in in the 11th, ball in hand and determination in his eyes (which we knew thanks to FOX's freaky obsession with the dramatic close-up), we were hoping that this could be the moment he turned it all around, saved the day, and inspired us all to go out and buy his jerseys. It was going to be epic, a thing of legend, a tale for the ages. And he even struck the first batter out, which had to be an auspicious sign, right?

Yeah, it was late. We were tired, and possibly delusional. It was the Epic Tragedy Arc all along.

Eric Gagné, take a page from your fellow countryman Dave Coulier and, "Cut. It. Out."

Yeah, you know how bad the jokes on Full House were? This is how bad the 11th inning went for the Red Sox. It's Stephanie driving her dad's car into the kitchen, or everyone thinking that DJ drank a beer at the school dance. This was a good beginning that went horribly wrong, like Tanner Family Fun Night--and much like Tanner Family Fun Night, it will end with everybody walking the plank.

But as every half-hour is leavened by the brilliant comic timing of Kimmy Gibbler, at least there are things to take solace in. We learned that our guys can hit Fausto Carmona and drive him from the game as quickly as Cleveland got to a pitcher twice his age. And like the raw animal magnetism of Jesse Katsopolis, there was plenty of sex appeal provided by Mikey and Manny and the long ball. Not to mention that there's something we'll always treasure about the sight of Manny's third bases-loaded walk in two days. That's what we call not swinging at bad pitches.

Come to think of it, maybe last night's tragedy arc is really just part one of a very special two-part episode. The series is tied at 1-1, and there's still plenty of time left for us all to learn a life lesson, enjoy a group hug, and chuckle as Jonathan Papelbon says something precocious ("You're in BIG TROUBLE, Grady Sizemore!").

That's how it's going to end, right, guys?

Monday, October 8, 2007

We do not pimp our home runs in this house

It turns out that it's much easier for us to blog about the bad things--leaving everyone and their mother on base, grounding into double plays, leaving a starter in just one batter too long--than the good things. Like, and this is just off the top of our heads here, sweeping the ALDS against The The Angels Angels of Anaheim through a combination of sexy pitching, sexy long ball, and even more sexy pitching just to finish things off right.

Oh, we admit it, we doubted. We are doubting doubters who doubt. We doubted game 3 starter Curtis Montague Schilling v. 2.0, we doubted the team's ability to generate any sort of offense (we are still shocked that they didn't manage to lose game 2, to be perfectly honest, and considering the NyQuil™ haze through which Jennifer watched it, she's still not convinced that Manny's beautiful walkoff homer wasn't some sort of drug-induced hallucination), we doubted everything and then we doubted everything some more. We were wrong. This is a good thing.

But the man Jonathan Papelbon calls The Big Daddy not only brought his A game, he brought the drama and the fist-pumps. Papi and Manny went back-to-back for the first time this season. And, even more surprising to our minds, they managed to string together seven runs in the eighth without hitting a home run. We could do a complete play-by-play here, analyze the ways the pitching managed to keep the Angels from their running game and wax poetic about Manny's swing, but we're sure you all saw what happened. We're sure you all watched the same post-game interviews we did, heard Schill call Tek "flawless" and praise all the work John Farrell did with him this season, heard Coco call Schill "a student of the game," saw (and were afraid of) Cinco Ocho's crazy crazy eyes. We don't have to tell you what you already know.

So, yes, we doubted. We paced and knocked on wood and had minor cardiac episodes every time an Angel got on base. We'd say we'll never do it again, but there's another game on Friday and we're Red Sox fans. Worrying and doubting and second-guessing and beer are all in our blood.

But, for now, we'll just raise our glasses in a short toast before settling in to see whether or not Joe Torre loses his job tonight.

Guys, here's to making it hard for us to blog. Feel free to do it again anytime.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

We do not hold grudges in this house

The embargo on substantive posts continues (y'all, we have head colds and overpowering superstitions, and if you look over at the sidebar, better men and women have it covered). But we have a couple of notes:
  • Manny Ramirez, you are forgiven for the first eight innings of last night's game.
  • Jason Varitek, we ain't mad at ya for going 0-4, since the Globe brought this to our attention:
    "I remember when I came to the clubhouse today," Ramírez told Mota, "Varitek told me, 'Hey, you can't leave Boston without a home run.' I said, 'You know it.'
    Excellent game plan, sir.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, you are forgiven for putting your pants back on.
  • J.D. Drew, you are forgiven for not being Stephen Drew.
  • As far as we're concerned, David Ortiz has never done anything wrong, or we'd forgive him, too.
  • And, oh, Josh Beckett, for your Game 1 performance, we forgive you five to six bad relationship and/or facial hair choices. Don't make us regret it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We do not call Dionne Warwick in this house

We have not been able to find it within ourselves to write a playoff preview post, for several reasons. Firstly, there are too many unanswerable questions (Ten pitchers, yet Kevin Cash and Doug Mirabelli are on the roster? Can someone explain this with small words and visual aids? The comments section is waiting for you!), and secondly, we are pretty sure anything we say or do would cause an irrevocable jinx. Also, we still haven't fully recovered from Jonathan Papelbon's hangover.

So instead, at this last hour of the last day before the drama begins, let's skip ahead a few pages in the calendar....

2008 Baseball Predictions

- The Cubs start off strong in defense of their division title, but tank when Lou Piniella takes up Transcendental Meditation and starts greeting umpires with garlands of flowers.*

- Tom Glavine returns to the Braves for his swan song; unfortunately, he spends most of the year playing poker with John Smoltz, and ends his season early by falling off Smoltzie's roof. To add insult to injury, Smoltz still makes him finish the gutters.

- Mike Timlin retires, but still hangs out in the Red Sox bullpen. During the first Sox game in New York, he kills all of Yankee Stadium's squirrels and roasts them on a spit.

- Ken Griffey, Jr. hits his 600th home run and is mercifully removed for a pinch runner.

- Johan Santana will be traded to the Mets for a payroll-shaking salary. Come opening day, his pitching hand will fall off and walk away like Thing in the Addams Family.

- Noting that the Colorado Rockies' improbable success followed after the team dedicated itself to Christian morality, the Washington Nationals convert, as a group, to the Rastafarian faith. Wily Mo Pena bats .500 and is named the league MVP.**

- Curt Schilling shocks the world by dropping his bid for a new contract in order to run for President of the United States. (He's working on a 20-point lead in the polls in October, but blows it by shaking off Jason Varitek.)

- Torii Hunter to the Yankees, Melky Cabrera to the Twins, Johnny Damon to a shopping cart in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.

- The Kansas City Royals win 145 games, dominating all challengers in unprecedented fashion. Unfortunately, no one is paying enough attention to remember which division they're in, and the playoffs go on without them.

- Not to be outdone by C.C. Sabathia's tattoo (his own name, on his back, uniform style), Josh Beckett has Nolan Ryan's name tattooed on his back. He also lodges a complaint with Major League Baseball when he discovers he's not allowed to pitch topless.***

*Lou Piniella is the Walrus. Terry Francona is the Eggman. Goo goo g'joob.

**His AL counterpart is the Triple Crown winning Kevin Millar.

***Which is nothing compared to Papelbon's protest about the oppression of the pantsless in American public life. Seriously, theses will be written.

Friday, September 28, 2007

We do not learn our lesson well in this house

9/27/07: Twins 5, Red Sox 4

One of us was at the game last night and one of us was at home watching (or, at least, watching as soon as it became clear that "The Office" is no longer must-see TV). The following conversation is reconstructed from post-game
text messages and kitchen table analysis, minus a whole lot of "oh my God" and "why?"

Caroline: /gently thwaps Beckett upside his head.

[half an hour later]: /violently thwaps Beckett upside his head.

At least I got to see a Tek homer? Also, I apologize to all other fans for daring to go to another Beckett start. I get it, he hates me, I'll never go to one of his starts again.

Yeah, I'm sure you could see Tek moving arond behind the plate from where you were sitting, 'cause Becky was not throwing the ball anywhere in the vicinity of where Tek was setting up. Almost like he was intentionally avoiding the glove, and why would you do that? I mean, apart from A) being A-Rod, or B) hating us, since you'd think he likes his teammates more than he hates us.

What he apparently likes is throwing BP fastballs. In hitter's counts. Over and over. And over. Again.

And that throwing error? Like to have killed me, or at least driven me into the arms of Michael Scott.

Oh, God. That was when I knew I was being punished for returning to Fenway after Papi gave us such a great send-off. Message received, okay, baseball gods and mean girls?

I guess at least it was a close game where we got beat by a good closer. We know that other teams don't inherently suck because they can't get hits off Papelbon, right? (Of course, Paps says, "Hell, yeah, they suck!" and fist-pumps, but then, he's not exactly a member of Mensa.)

Jennifer: Still, there were Twins fans on the T. A whole family of them, even. Ew. I pay too much for a Charlie Card to ride next to Twins fans.

Caroline: Ew. That sucks. Does not suck: Jason Varitek. Okay, he's not Papi and you can't put the whole team on his back, but a monster home run and the strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP?

Jennifer: Yes! That was pretty great to see! Of course, then he assisted in the suicide of the ninth-inning rally. For which he is obviously beating himself up plenty. Five bucks says he tells NESN he "got himself out."*

Caroline: At least he didn't make two outs on that, Mike Lowell. I was actually sitting in front of the TV thinking, "Captain, if you really, really need to strike out, just do that, babe." Because it could have been more painful.

Jennifer: I just had to explain to a Yankee-rooting coworker who thinks all the Red Sox are ugly and horrible that Mike Lowell may be last night's GIDP king but he is still, as officially sanctioned by People Magazine, muy sexy.

Caroline: It's nice to educate people on baseball fundamentals. You make a good ambassador.

Jennifer: Great, where are my free tickets?

Caroline: Not so fast. For an actual Red Sox Nation government position, you'll have to wait until after the election. And the recount.** But then maybe Remy will consider your resume and assign you a diplomatic post somewhere.

Jennifer: Please, not Philadelphia. I'm allergic to Phanatics.

*He didn't actually say that, but "Personally, I didn't--wasn't able to get the job done" is close enough that one of us owes the other one a fiver. If that man stubbed his toe he would probably apologize for not seeing the floor well.

**It's a funny feeling, but this whole "Tim Russert moderates the presidential debate" thing has us understanding, with deep shame, what makes other baseball fans hate us. Yet, at the same time, we're still extremely amused by Remdawg's attempts to use a history of Dodgers fandom to Swift-Boat Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We do not hunt for Red October in this house

9/22/07: Red Sox 8, Devil Rays 6

The TROP. Visitor's clubhouse. Doors closed to the media.

The goddamned playoff-bound BOSTON RED SOX (!)
George, a MOUSE

[Enter the team.]

LOWELL: Hey, put a chain on the door--otherwise Tina Cervasio might chew her way in.

HINSKE: That's a bad thing?

LOWELL: You need to get out more.

VARITEK: Does everyone have some champagne? Good. Guys, at this time I think it'd be appropriate to make a little toast--

RAMIREZ: To being Manny! [Raises glass, pulls oblique muscle.] Ow. Not to being Manny.

TIMLIN: To our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

YOUKILIS: Seriously? I'm sitting right next to you.

TIMLIN: [Passes Youkilis a Chick tract and a cigar.]

PAPELBON: Um, I wanna make a toast to the Cap'n, 'cause he hit a roundtripper, and more importantly, he kicks ass, which you can tell 'cause he's my catcher and I kick so much ass. [Fist-pump.] Oh, and I hope the Yankees get attacked by robot dogs.

VARITEK: Paps, that's enough.

PAPELBON: Or robot mooses.


PAPELBON: 'Kay, I'm done. [Downs champagne.]

VARITEK: Well, that was all very entertainin', but I have a couple things to say. [Raises glass.] First off, good game tonight. We played good baseball. That's important. That's what we have to keep doing for the rest of the season. And, you know, into October.

[Everyone cheers.]

VARITEK: It's real nice to be in this position, but don't forget that this is just the beginning. We worked hard all year and we want the division. We want home-field advantage. We, uh--well, we want bragging rights.

[Everyone cheers louder. Pedroia jumps up and swings around on the ceiling fan.]

VARITEK: Guys, seriously. Let's not get carried away. And Schill, let Beckett up outta the ice bucket already. He's turning blue.

[Beckett emerges from the ice bucket with a stream of obscenities which not even this blog can reveal.]

VARITEK: We deserve to celebrate. We've come a long way. But we still need to keep our eyes on a higher goal--

[Pedroia flies off the ceiling fan and roundhouse kicks Varitek in the chest protector. Since he weighs about 130 pounds, he bounces off and lands on his ass at Varitek's feet.]

PEDROIA: Soccer sucks!*


[Drinking commences.]

VARITEK: [sits down in the corner with a sigh.] Well, I hope they can at least behave in front of people.

MOUSE: Squeak.**

VARITEK: Yeah. [He grins.] Why start now?


*We at Respect the Tek do not share this opinion. We respect soccer, too. Maybe we should make a blog called Respect the Wambach.

**Translation: "Whatever. I was told this party would have cheese."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We do not want to have to say, "we told you so" in this house

9/17/07: Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 6
9/18/07: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 4

What did we say about Eric Gagné?

Okay, fine, Jason Varitek tells us "we need him," and normally that'd be enough for us. Normally, we'd say, "fine, let's stop calling J.D. Drew 'Nancy' and start trying to cheer him on." Normally, we'd say, "well, Tek says some of those balls were borderline and with another umpire might've been called strikes, so obviously Eric Gagné is not a ticking time bomb on the mound." But "normally" flew out the window a few losses back, and we are reeling. Of course, judging from the video footage, so is our captain.

In other news, we may not have mentioned it, but in our spare time we also root for the Mets. It's been a long stretch, is what we're saying. A painful stretch. A stretch in which we've watched our beloved pirate gang falter and our captain struggle at the plate, a stretch in which Pedro Martinez* pitched a commanding six innings only to have it tossed aside by a continually shaky Mets bullpen. A stretch that makes us way too excited about tonight's season opener of America's Next Top Model, we tell you what.

Look, we get that Manny's Being Injured and that, without him, the team is not at full offensive strength. We get that Joe Torre's Operation: Take Out the Youk finally came to fruition with one pitch from Chien-Ming Wang, thus leaving us with Eric Hinske** at first. We get that everyone's tired, we get that the Blue Jays are much better than you'd think from looking at their record, we get that the Canadian National Anthem has some sort of hypnotic suggestion in it that makes our guys unable to win ballgames. That said, raid Tavvy's cooler of Red Bulls, guys, and put some earplugs in whenever someone starts to sing, "O Canada! Our home and native land!." Get out there and play. Get out there and win.

*Stay tuned for our Guide to People You Meet at Fenway, featuring Angry Dude Who Can't Forgive Pedro Martinez for Giving Up that Homer to Aaron Boone in 2003 Because Pedro Destroyed Said Angry Dude's Hopes and Dreams and Possibly Even His Ability to Have Children and Cool Woman Who Said, "Um, Wasn't That Wakefield?" and Agreed With Us That Wake Is Totally The Man.

**We actually love Eric Hinske, but we'd rather Youkilis at first than anyone else at this point.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We do not leave games early in this house

9/7/07: Devil Rays 4, Red Sox 5

This is going to be hard for us to blog about in any coherent way, because how do you reduce the ecstasy of a perfect Fenway Park experience to words on a screen? (Unless you are Beth, who channeled it perfectly.)

I. Pre-Game

For once in our sweet, short lives, we made it to Fenway in time for batting practice, a fun ritual elevated by two sightings: 1) Manny's first live BP since the oblique strain, and 2) Save: J. Papelbon filming the latest Friendly's Scoop. Naturally, the latter drew us down close to the field* and we got to hear him rant about how Tito is a cheatin' manager who better watch his back (we admit to being paralyzed with fear for a moment before realizing he was talking about fantasy football).

Plus, we can now provide a tantalizing sneak peek of future Scoops: Paps inaudibly interviewed Manny Delcarmen and then audibly botched saying his own name three times in a row while taping the intro. So our new favorite saying is, "This is Jonathan Papa-blah-blah." Okay, it's not that handy as favorite sayings go, not as easy to drop into conversation as a Seinfeld reference, but love will find a way.

Jonathan Papelbon: oh, he's real, and he's spectacular.

II. Unsung Heroes

Jon Lester's first-inning peccadilloes definitely gave us chills. And nausea. You know, vague symptoms like Mike Lowell's.** Credit where it's due--once he got out of the inning, even though he continued to terrify us and rack up the pitch count like a pinball score, he didn't allow another run. But this is not a story about starting pitching and its desertion of the greater Boston area. This is not a story about shame.

This is the story of Julian Tavarez and his Moste Merrie Pirate Companie. When Lester departed in the 4th, a tourist standing near us asked, "Are we clapping because he did a good job, or clapping because they're taking him out?" We patiently explained that it was a little of both, and a little bit because we were scared of what might happen once Tavvy had the ball. But he got a quick out to end the inning and followed it with a pair of 1-2-3 innings at lightning speed. The tone of conversation in our little bit of grandstand changed from, "Oh dear, Tavvy time" to "Julian Tavarez, bitches and gentlemen!" He got a standing O for his trouble, and there was no mistaking the intent; that was love.

Daddy Delcarmen and Okajima-Okey-Dokey were both reassuringly effective, and we expected Okajima back to begin the ninth, but then the opening chords of "Wild Thing"*** blared out, and that's when the game really turned around. Papelbon jogged in and paused, prayerfully, on the edge of the infield, and the feeling began to spread through the stands that Francona was doing the right thing**** by sending in Mr. C. Ocho, save or no save. As hapless as the Sox had seemed to that point, the game suddenly seemed to be ours for the taking.

III. Mr. Clutch Is Back

When Papi hit one over the bullpens in the fourth and made the score 4-3, we said to ourselves, "Well, if nothing comes out of this game but the scarring humiliation of losing a home series to a team that wears vests, at least we got to see a classic Ortiz home run." We had several innings to think about what a nice memory that would be, and how we'd hold onto it through the long dark teatime of the off-night. We were prepared. Maybe even resigned.

Then Lugo drew the walk to lead off the ninth, and we started to wonder.

Papi comes to the plate, one on, one out, and of course every one of our 37,000 friends is thinking it.***** But we're all hedging our bets, reminding ourselves that Papi's already blasted in the few runs we have, and we can't expect him to actually single-handedly carry the team. We're thinking that a double would be really nice; that even a long single that got Lugo to third would give us a solid shot at tying the thing up. We're remembering Coco knocking Tek around from second a month ago off the very pitcher we see before us, and we're on our feet hoping that at least it doesn't end here with a double play.

The count goes to 3-1 and we figure they'll just throw him another ball and try to make Youk ground into a double play. But this is not a story about double plays.

Papi hits the ball about a mile in the air, and it just stays up there, floating, doing some kind of crazy dance, with all of us craning our necks and holding our breath to see where it might come down. From our vantage point (and apparently Tito's) it looks like it'll make the seats, but possibly fall foul. (We didn't realize until we saw NESN's replay that the ball was so close to catchable.)

Finally the ball drops, and drops, and disappears. For a split second, nobody is sure where it landed, or maybe nobody's sure they can trust what their eyes tell them they just saw.

Nobody relaxes until we realize that Lugo and Papi are running the bases, and the rest of the Sox are leaping the dugout fence to meet them at home plate.

Pandemonium. "Dirty Water." Hugs. High-fives. Beer. Magic.

This is a story about baseball. In baseball, one swing of the bat can clear away three and a half hours of doubt and depression. In baseball, a bullpen that keeps a stuffed parrot as a mascot can pull together for what really should be credited as a combined win. In baseball, there's no such thing as running out of time.

The moral of the story is that we love our Papi and he loves us.

Sweet dreams.

*Here, have a crappy cell phone picture.

**"Activity from both ends." Ugh. Thanks for sharing, Tito.

***Which are also the opening chords of "Louie, Louie." They are actually the exact same song.

****And that's an unfamiliar feeling in any game which features Eric Hinske at first base.

*****Okay, maybe not every one. We did spot a grand total of two people wearing Devil Ray gear. But we can't say for sure that they weren't being ironic.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

We do not negotiate with headhunters in this house

9/6/07: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6
9/7/07: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0
9/8/07: Red Sox 5, Orioles 11
9/9/07: Red Sox 3, Orioles 2

Hey, Boston, we're officially done with the Os for the season! Everybody set your Kevin Millar phasers back to "gently stun."

Four notes on a four-game series:

1. One of these games is not like the others. One of these games just doesn't belong.

2. Seriously, not to dwell on the single loss, but Dice-K's performance was on par with Britney Spears' trainwreck on the MTV Video Music Awards tonight. Sure, we weren't expecting perfection, but we also weren't expecting a deer-in-the-headlights gaze, slow-motion movements, and the overall sense that the star of the show had abandoned all hope.*

Britsuzaka, get yourself to some kind of "wellness clinic." We're all pulling for you. We hear Bronson Arroyo is already arranging the benefit concert.

3. After being rattled by Toronto, the bullpen was lights out at Fenway South. With the exception of Tavvy (and seriously, they've gotta stop listening to him when he claims he can throw with a two-minute warning and a Red Bull--or else, hook the man up to a Red Bull I.V.)**, our bullpen band did not give up a single run in these four games. Even though we spend a lot of this space giving love to Paps and Oki and dancing for Mike Timlin,*** we sometimes take it for granted. It's nice to pay as much attention to their "routine" dominance as to their rare mistakes. It's nice to see question marks like Lopez and Snyder and bullpen newbie Buchholz shutting down everyone in their path, and even nicer to see Paps getting his save on with an efficient-yet-badass dozen pitches. Can they all win the Cy Young together and share custody?****

4. The bottom of our order stepped it up this series. The Man Papelbon Calls Cap'n came through twice in key late-inning situations, and today he even took a little extra time out for sexy defense; Coco Crisp had a homer, tall socks, and today's game-winning hit. Even J.D. Drew (not technically in the bottom third of our order, but let's not beat around the .383 SLG) contributed, with the bat and on the basepaths. We really want to be pulling for Slim J.D., at least until such time as we have the wherewithal to actually buy the team and start auctioning contracts off on eBay. This week he made our lives easier.

Of course, it's always easy to root for Tek. The hard part is watching him strike out and make a face like he'll never forgive himself, and unfortunately we had to see that a bunch this series.***** We hope he's taking comfort, post-Orioles, in what he did accomplish. And figuring out which of his gloves will best fit Britsuzaka's face.

You know. Tough love.

*They also did about the same amount of lip-synching.

**Someone should also tell Tavvy not to try and be the voice of reason in any sort of fight situation. Did you see him approach the mound to talk to crazed Daniel Cabrera? Did you, also, expect him to pull a shank from his sweatband? When he didn't, weren't we all the tiniest bit disappointed?

***Yes, it still works. Bam-a-lam!

****Can they also have a Grammy? Come on, whatever they were playing, it must be better than the award-winning "My Humps."

*****Blame the umpire, Tek! Mike Lowell totally has your back.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

We do not have anywhere to run in this house

Once again, actual baseball has foiled our plans to blog about something fantastic and trivial.

Original plan: A "Welcome Back, Kotter"-themed tribute to Doug Mirabelli. (Now starring J.D. Drew as Horshack!)*

Instead, one studly at-bat into the game, we got the first fifteen seconds of this:

Kevin Millar played the Morey Amsterdam role.

Get well soon, Mr. E. Fresh! Next up on Respect the Tek: if you take the good, you take the bad, indeed, if you take them both, what do you have?**

*Drew is a very old and respected name. It means, the baserunners are dying.

**Survey says: A) the facts of life, B) a lot of brain cells wasted on Nick at Nite, or C) Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

We do not say "no" in this house*

We intended to take it easy on the baseball this weekend, and we were planning a whole post about the team's imaginary expedition to see The Simpsons Movie, with Mirabelli smuggling epic quantities of food into the theater for everybody (Tek: "Dougie, I'm sorry but I just don't want chicken parm that's been in your pants, okay?") and Papelbon throwing Skittles at Mr. Burns.

And then Clay Buchholz had to come and distract us from the funny with actual baseball.

Thanks, Clay.

No, seriously, thanks. From the heart. We'll post more about the game tomorrow when the giddiness subsides. For now, Clay, just let us know--do you want a drink, or a baby, or anything?

*Until after the final out is official and the pitcher's celebrating with a nice mug of hot cocoa and a story--no, two stories--before bedtime.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We do not let young pitchers near the Rocket in this house

8/28/07: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3
8/29/07: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
8/30/07: Yankees 5, Red Sox 0

Okay, so that hurt. In a variety of ways.* We can analyze it to death (Dice-K and Beckett both pitching into the seventh when even we could see that it was a bad idea? Manny being broken? the Yankees discovering pitching and defense to supplement their crazy offense?), we can weep and scream and crawl under the covers until Thanksgiving, we can stick our fingers in our ears and pretend like the pennant race isn't going to be just that-- a race. Or we can face reality, recognize that the season isn't over--for either the Red Sox or the Yankees** or, hell, the St. Louis Cardinals, if only because everyone else in that division decided to start losing, too--and hope and pray and do all those crazy superstitious things we do that the Red Sox remember how to hit,*** how to run, how to pitch, how to field, how to play the game we all love.

Moving on. There's another game tomorrow. And the day after that. Play ball, guys.


*Can we just take this opportunity to please remind opposing pitchers to stop hitting Pedroia already? Let's not even get into the fact that Joba Chamberlain apparently got a standing ovation for trying--and failing, thank whatever deities you believe in--to bean Youk in the head. We say "apparently" because we were both at work today, and while this means that we were at least spared the horror of actually watching the game go down, it also means that we only know what we've read on the internet. Jennifer's Yankees-lovin' mother reports from behind enemy lines that Joba looked "really, really sorry and young" in his post-game press-conference and that she "felt bad for him because the umpires clearly overreacted." We report that we could really care less, and that this is your brain on Roger Clemens.

**And, seriously, thanks so much to all those people who said, "oh, the Red Sox have pretty much clinched it." Really. Because no way was that a jinx or anything.

***By "remember how to hit," what we actually mean is, "finally learn how to hit consistently."

Monday, August 27, 2007

We do not stain the game in this house

Idle questions for an idle day: What's the over/under on a bench-clearing brawl in the Beckett/Clemens game on Wednesday?

Will the brawl actually start before the game, when Beckett walks up to Clemens and says, "Dude, you were my idol when I was, like, nine," and Clemens replies, "Get off my lawn, punk"?

How many hit-by-pitches does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop?

Friday, August 24, 2007

We do not blame it on the rain in this house

Sorry we've been such terrible bloggers. As you can see, we've been out to lunch.*

08/24/07: White Sox 3, Red Sox 11; White Sox 1, Red Sox 10

Thanks to the rains on the plains, neither of us was able to watch the rain-delayed opening bout of the Hosiery Hostilities, only monitoring the scoreboards through the entirely unsurreptitious workplace use of CBS Sportsline's live scoreboard. This means that we didn't get to watch Jason Varitek's homer until the replay much later. Now, granted, we've watched it a half-dozen times apiece, with the added bonus that MLB's clip has the call by the entirely downtrodden White Sox announcers.** And it is spectacular. As were Papi's and Youk's blasts later on in the night, especially Youk, who may or may not actually have hit that ball with his spectacular slump-busting chin.***

Still, we feel deprived. Actually, we were kind of wondering whether Tek would catch Game 2 instead of Game 1, given that Kevin "Rules Everything Around Me" Cash was already slated for today's Wakefield start. We're sure the idea crossed the pitchers' minds, too...

BECKETT: Tek, you're catchin' my start, right?
SCHILLING: The hell he is.
BECKETT: The hell he ain't. I called dibs.
VARITEK: J.B., it's up to Tito. Also, you can't call dibs on me.
BECKETT: Don't worry, Tek, it's just a saying.
SCHILLING: He pointed at you across the field during spring training and said, "Mine."
BECKETT: So you admit I have dibs!
VARITEK: There are no dibs!
BECKETT: Listen, you and me, we've got a game plan. Curt can come up with his own game plan. He's smart like that. I'm dumb as a fuckin' rock. Everyone knows that.
SCHILLING: ...He makes a point.
VARITEK: It's up. to. Tito.
BECKETT: Hey, Tito! [points to Varitek] Mine!

And then they all lived happily ever after. Or at least for twelve hours that Ozzie Guillen will never get back.

Finally, since Mike Lowell mentioned the use of Google in the latest Friendly's Scoop w/Jonathan Papelbon, we feel compelled to leave him a note in case he does Google himself and somehow end up perusing our illustrious site.

Dear Mike Lowell,

You're definitely muy sexy, as you correctly pointed out to Cinco Ocho, and you don't need the Just-For-Men. And if you ever get tired of playing baseball, well, we think the sports world definitely needs the equivalent of the Daily Show--we respectfully submit that SportsSnarker Featuring Mike Lowell would be a high point in broadcast TV history, particularly if you retain one Cinco Ocho as a correspondent. Make it so, number 25!

Peace, love, and empathy,
The girls of Respect The Tek

*Yes, we each signed up for Red Sox Kid Nation under the flimsiest of false pretenses. Yes, we did it for Lunch: J. Papelbon (2). Though we might also use the ice cream coupons. Is that evil?

**As much as Don and Jerry can sometimes annoy, with their mascot fixation and their relentless plugging of Red Sox Nation (TM) paraphernalia, at least they muster up some nonpartisan baseball enthusiasm for great plays, regardless of who makes them. They're not ridiculous homers; they applaud the game as it happens, and nothing Jerry Remy has ever said, not even about "exploding chest hair" is as irksome as every third word out of Tim McCarver. Did we mention we're watching today's game on Fox, and they're using Coldplay as incidental music? Coldplay? In 2007?

***To be perfectly honest, we were happy about the wins, but positively giddy that both Varitek and Youkilis whipped out the offensive production. Victory is sweet, but when you see how hard they've been pushing themselves, and punishing themselves, and it finally pays off, seeing them smile is sweeter. Goatees and all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

We do not sing "Happy Birthday" in this house*

08/17/07: Angels 7, Red Sox 5

Dear Dustin Pedroia,

People born on
August 17 are totally the best kind of people.** Rock on with your home run hitting self, and congratulations on making the varsity squad!

Jennifer, Respect the Tek

Dear Eric Gagné,

Why did you ruin Jennifer's and Dustin's birthdays?***

Okay, look, intellectually we realize that you did not lose last night's game all on your own. Plenty of people contributed. Julio Lugo gave up a run through the power of his seventy-gazillionth error**** of the season. The offense, with the obvious exception of that beautiful eighth inning rally, was anemic at best. Manny in the Dell gave up two runs in his inning of relief; without those runs, the three runs you handed out send us into extra innings rather than bitching our way out of the ballpark and planning ways to get you deported back to Canada. But, see, you're an easy scapegoat. You came into the game with a lead, and left with a loss, and we're sorry if it makes you want to cry over a nice helping of poutine, but we blame you.

We're not going to boo you (it reflects badly on all of us, the fans, not to mention the fact that we personally find it... tacky? rude to the other players on the field? annoying? all of the above?), and we're certainly not going to throw things at you, but we're not exactly going to feel comfortable seeing you trudge out to the mound with anything less than a 20-run cushion and three guys warming up behind you. Three guys minimum.

In conclusion, no, really, why did you ruin the Jimmy Fund's day? Did you not get the Lowell-Lester fuck cancer memo?

No Love,
The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Terry Francona,

Mike Timlin, Kyle Snyder, Julian "Batshit" Tavarez: three people we would've felt more comfortable seeing in the top of the ninth with a one-run lead. Hell, three people we would've preferred to see after Gagné gave up his first run and very obviously did not have his A (or B, or C, or even F) game. Send Beckett back out there, he'll close out his own fucking game. Send Wake, he'll do it. Hell, send Jim Flippin' Belushi out there with some water balloons, a pair of night-vision goggles, and a pack of Big League Chew. Just do not, we repeat, do not send out Eric Gagné.

Look, we know you like to give your players a chance. It's your thing. We get that. But there is a difference between giving a guy a shot and sending in someone who has, in his short time with the Red Sox going into last night's game, given up seven runs in three innings***** when the team has a one-run lead. It just does not make sense. There's trust, and then there's whatever this was, and whatever this was loses us ballgames. We hate to say it, but facts are facts, and Eric Gagné is a free agent at the end of the season and there is no excuse for you coddling him like this. And we get it: this was just the sort of situation for which Gagné was originally acquired, blah blah blah, adjustment period, rah rah he can do it. However--and, again, we don't mean to be crass here--he's floundering. He's not getting it done. It's mid-August, not spring training, and this is not the time to be campaigning for Happy Good Time Feel Good Camp counselor of the year.

The ejection was fun, though. Next time, try swinging a base over your head and then seeing how far you can toss it.

No Love,
The Girls of Respect the Tek

P.S. The answer last night, by the way, was Mike Timlin. We're, like, 102.4% sure about that one.******

Dear Kevin Youkilis,

Thank you for adding a little bit of extra pizazz to that devastating ninth inning, but, please, we beg of you, do not actually kill the umpires. And, yes, it was totally a foul tip.

The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Wily Mo Pena,

We wish you all the best with the Washington Nationals. May you get tons of playing time and learn to recognize breaking balls and develop into the kick-ass player Papi tells us you have the potential to be. It's not like the Nationals have a whole lot to lose by giving you a fair shake. Watch out for Dmitri Young!

The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Doug Mirabelli,

Get well soon.

Tim Wakefield and the Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Captain Varitek,

You, sir,
are our hero.

Semper fidelis
The Girls of Respect the Tek

*Because we do not have the money to pay those pesky royalty fees.

**Jorge Posada would be the exception that proves the rule. Caroline, on the other hand, shares her birthday with Mary Lou Retton and Neil Diamond, and Respect the Tek greatly regrets this.

***Followed by seventy-gazillion and one.

****Slight exaggeration. We do not allow Eric Gagné
to dictate our fates in such a manner. Plus, there was still ice cream. And a win in the day game. And we may have acquired, under false-ish pretenses, Jonathan Papelbon lunchboxes.

*****Yes, yes, if you look at his record (and how we hate having to look at his record), he also pitched two scoreless innings during this period, but that is not the point.

******We had a feeling.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We do not hit the road, Jack, in this house

We are not in denial.

We're not denying that the Sox played some alarmingly bad baseball during this road trip, including abysmal pitching, embarrassing defense, and incomprehensible bullpen management (you know who you are). But we're pretty sure every other Red Sox site in the world will handle that discussion for us. Just picture us participating in the collective forehead-slap, waving our "Impeach Gagné" signs, and chanting along with everyone else in the Nation, "The sky is falling!"

Instead of making ourselves feel even worse about the narrowing division lead, we thought we'd try and get our focus away from losing and flailing and failing. The scoreboard and the standings don't tell the whole story. Here's a countdown of the things that, win or lose, make us happy about Red Sox baseball in 2007.

5. Jonathan Papelbon: how is he real? He throws like a mofo, scares opposing batters, but off the field, he's an overgrown puppy dog, clamoring for attention and correcting Josh Beckett's grammar. He is the guy who can't handle losing at cribbage on the team plane. He's the guy who calls his manager a father figure and calls himself Cinco Ocho. Just when we start to think we might have made him up in our heads, we turn around and there he is, pumping his fist and calling Beckett a "mulligan."* Oh, Jonathan, we applaud you--clap your hands if you believe in closers!--and we hope you never change.

4. This team may not be quite as balls-out silly as the '04 squad, but they're damned entertaining in some surprising ways. For starters, even without some of the pure power-hitting we've come to expect, it's fun to watch them terrorize opponents with sheer plate discipline. It's especially fun when a struggling pitcher intentionally walks Varitek only to be tagged by Coco Crisp, or, even better, when said pitcher goes from struggling to completely baffled and walks in a run. We don't have numbers handy**, but we've seen this enough over the course of the year to learn to love it. Plus, it's definitely fun to yell, "Good eye!" from the cheap seats.

That's just one example of the unconventional ways this team's found to kick ass. How about Coco being Ichiro in centerfield? How about Josh Beckett cheering for Coco being Ichiro, and alternately venting his unutterable rage on innocent coolers, benches, and reporters that cross his path? How about Mike Timlin coming back and bringing new weapons--only figurative, we hope--to the bullpen, along with surprising strength from Okajima and Delcarmen? How about Dougie going deep? This team has survived injuries to its starting aces, and sub-Mendoza performances in the first half by key players. They've survived moose attacks. They've survived the continuing, soul-sucking presence of Dan Shaughnessy. They've survived cancer.

In a season where Bonds, A-Rod and Glavine made history***, Kerry Wood and Rick Ankiel staged comebacks that nobody ever thought would happen, and there are approximately 27 teams in the wild card races, the Red Sox remain the least boring team in baseball.

3. Our first, second, and third basemen. 3-4-5. The hot corners plus one. It's sort of shocking and awesome to think about how much of our team's offense has come from Youkilis, Lowell and Pedroia. All three are batting above .300 as of this writing; the lowest OPS in the bunch is Petey's more-than-respectable .840. They've also been defensive rock stars.**** Few things are sexier than Mikey flicking a ground ball over to Youk's waiting glove like they've rigged up their own private zip-line. Except possibly Pedroia leaping around like a Californian jumping bean and magically transforming a single into a double play.

There's also the small issue of their completely terrific personalities. We've seen 'em in the field, at the plate, and chilling with Tina Cervasio and/or Jonathan Papelbon; we feel like we know them, and to paraphrase Margaret Cho's memorable routine: There's the sweet one, the smart one...and then there's the Youk.

Watching these guys play for the season to date has been a treat. Here's hoping Theo "Yoko" Epstein doesn't break up the band next year.

2. Stumbles and all, the season so far really hasn't been bad. Remember that the Yankees were supposed to be leading the division all along? Remember that time our boys hit four home runs, back to back to back to back? Remember that we sent six guys to the All Star Game and have spent a good part of the summer debating which of our three Rookie Of The Year candidates is having the best season? Last season the Red Sox limped to third place in the AL East. This season, despite injuries and illnesses and an oddly grueling schedule and Julian "Batshit But Beloved" Tavarez as a starter through the All-Star Break, the Red Sox maintained a division lead all season (knock frantically on wood until your knuckles are as bruised as ours), a lead which is still the biggest in baseball.

No matter what happens with the rest of the season, whether we end up in a division race or a wild card race or even if we never win another game, we've gotten a much better ride than we expected. Definitely a much better ride than, say, Oakland fans (sorry, you three) have gotten after their team won the division last year. And it's true that some guys haven't produced at the level we might like, especially considering their salaries, but nobody on our team is Barry Zito.

Regardless of the eventual outcome (knock on splinters), we'd still take the 2007 Red Sox over the 2007 anybody-elses.

Sure, the Bronx may be burning again these days, but ladies and gentlemen, the Fens are still en fuego.

1. The Captain. We have one. He fought back from injuries for us. Behind the plate, he's a rock. Harvey Keitel would say he has a gun. His bat still has some pop left in it. He wears ice that beeps. All his pitchers are madly in love with him.

Nobody works harder. Nobody prepares better. Nobody has more binders.

One day he and Gabe Kapler will co-manage the Red Sox. And we will say, "We told you so!" But for the time being, we'll just watch Tek give everything he has to each pitch, watch him get spitting mad at himself when he strikes out on one of those high fastballs he can't resist, and listen to him demur the credit for one of his own home runs by praising the opposing pitcher. He's so completely committed to his team that it makes us proud to be on his side. We fully realize how embarrassed he'd be to hear us say this, but Jason Varitek could pretty much make baseball worthwhile all by his lonesome.

Forty-four games are left, just about a quarter of the regular season. It's too late to jump off the crazy train. Play ball, guys. We'll be with you.

*Papelbon is really, really obsessed with Josh Beckett. This can only lead to good things, like competitive awesome pitching, and possibly a home run derby. Or a wizards' duel.

**If you're joining our show already in progress, you might not realize this, but we virtually never have numbers handy. And we're writing this on the Internet, which is where numbers come from! But we did go to the trouble to look this one up: we have the second highest OBP in baseball, and have taken the most walks. Sing it with us: not too shabby!

***We don't want to give ourselves too much credit for reversing their karma, but--we guess you're welcome, guys. Please send checks and/or money orders to the home office.

****We're not excusing Mike Lowell's inexplicably numerous errors, but the 95% of the time when he isn't playing double-A defense, he's lights out. Big points to whoever took away his Just For Men.

Friday, August 3, 2007

We do not think, therefore we are not in this house

Scene: A drawing room in Second Empire style. A massive bronze bust of Babe Ruth stands on the mantelpiece.

BONDS: [enters, accompanied by A-ROD] So here we are.

A-ROD: Yeah. Waiting for history.

BONDS: Pass me that copy of Highlights?

A-ROD: Sure. I got Redbook.

[They read.]

BONDS: [laughing] Oh, Gallant. You so crazy.

GLAVINE: [enters, slamming the door.] This is ridiculous--they keep cancelling my appointment!

BONDS: Oh, crap, a paparazzi. [A-ROD hides his magazine.] Look, how many times do I have to say this? There are way worse killers in the world than steroids! Like Voldemort!

GLAVINE: I'm not a paparazzi.

A-ROD: Don't listen to him, Barry! I've seen him around New York! He's here to ruin our family lives!

GLAVINE: I play for the Mets.

A-ROD: The what now?

GLAVINE: I've been in the game for years. I was a World Series MVP. I pitched to you both this season, for Chrissakes. I even gave up a home run to Barry.

BONDS: Nope, not ringing a bell.

A-ROD: Anyway, how did a pitcher get into history's waiting room? Mr. Torre always says that pitching doesn't count.

GLAVINE: Right. Well, I've been going for my 300th win for about a month.

[BONDS and A-ROD exchange smirks.]

BONDS: 300? That is a tiny number, man.

GLAVINE: Oh, yeah? So is one. Which is exactly how many home runs you have not hit in your last thirty-something at-bats. [A-ROD snickers.] What are you laughing at, Slappy? You're not getting it done either. I haven't seen you swinging this badly since...well, October.

A-ROD: [flinging himself down on a chaise longue] Why is it so haaaard?

BONDS: I've been wondering about that, actually. It's so weird, but that one last roundtripper can seem harder than hitting the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds--

[GLAVINE pretends to vomit into a potted ficus.]

BONDS: --and hundreds and hundreds that came before.

GLAVINE: I hate to agree with you, but it does feel that way. It's kind of ironic.

A-ROD: It's like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife.

BONDS: Why is that one home run--

GLAVINE: Two for you, actually.

BONDS: --So hard to come by?

A-ROD: It's not fair! What have I done to deserve this? Nothing! That's what! All I've ever done is play by the rules! Unlike some people.

BONDS: Hey, what the hell, man?

A-ROD: No offense, Barry. I mean, I am glad that your giant head got everyone in the game to stop hating me, but we all know--

BONDS: Oh, and you never did anything wrong? Listen, when your closet's clean, then come clean mine.

A-ROD: I don't know what you're talking about!

BONDS: Sure. And I thought that stuff was flaxseed oil!

GLAVINE: [pretending to cough] Cheater.

A-ROD: [turns pale] I will have you know that Derek is a valuable teammate of mine and nothing more!

GLAVINE: ...Actually, that was for Barry.

BONDS: Hey, man, I ain't even know Derek all that well.

GLAVINE: No, I--forget it. You know, maybe it is karma, though. We've all done things that didn't exactly help the game of baseball. We've all put money ahead of the sport--

A-ROD: Don't be ridiculous, Mr. Met. Pitchers don't get paid.

GLAVINE: [blinks] Roger Clemens?

A-ROD: He's not a pitcher, he's a Yankee!

GLAVINE: My point is, we've all done things that tarnish our public image. Me, I once cost the game a whole season and thousands of fans, and also killed the Montreal Expos. Although, really, it was more like putting them to sleep. Now, we've been lucky enough to keep playing and persevere to the point that all three of us are just about to reach these amazing milestones. Maybe it's a struggle because karma is kicking our asses until we remember that baseball has given us more than we could ever give back.

[Silence as all three contemplate this.]

GLAVINE: And also, my bullpen sucks.

BONDS: And bitches aren't throwing me anything over the plate.

A-ROD: And I lost my binky.

GLAVINE: Nuts to this existential stuff. I'm gonna go beat the snot out of Guillermo Mota.


BONDS: You mean we can just walk out of here? Sweet, I have someplace to be.

A-ROD: Yeah, don't you have a game tonight?

BONDS: Nah, fool, Sanford & Son is on.

[BONDS exits, then returns to take his copy of Highlights For Kids! Magazine. Exit BONDS, for good this time.]

A-ROD: [looking around the empty room.] You know, I've learned something today. When we focus only on the milestone numbers, we forget so many wonderful things about baseball. Like the loving support of our teammates. And making tons and tons of money. And elbowing people in the crotch at second base. The paparazzi can't take that away from me, no matter how hard they try!

[Exit A-ROD, pursued by a bear.]

Friday, July 27, 2007

We do not go to sleep to dream in this house

Great game tonight, but it's too late at night for a substantive post. We simply wish to note that ESPN just showed Barry Bonds hitting a pop fly, and the SportsCenter talking head said:

"That would have been a home run if they were playing in a silo."

We don't have the keen insight of the Fire Joe Morgan fellows, so we will simply post that without comment. And stare at it.

Like a zen koan.

Om, shantih, shantih, om...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

We do not stop to smell the roses in this house

07/25/07: Red Sox 0, Indians 1

Picture it: Cleveland, OH, last night, an anonymous bar somewhere. C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett are doing tequila shots like there's no tomorrow, playing a rousing game of, "no, my team did a worse job of helping me get my 14th win," and getting completely and utterly trashed. Then they go out and get tattoos of their dogs' faces on their pitching arms. Okay, no, not really, but isn't it fun to imagine?

Less fun, of course, was last night's game. The pitching was stupendous. Out of this world. A thing of beauty to behold.* Unfortunately for us, this was true on both sides, and the Red Sox completely botched up each and every chance they had to score a run. Seriously, inquiring minds want to know: what was with that action? Let's break it down, what if? moment by what the fuck? moment.

1. The Coco Crisp Slow-Down in the Sixth: Remdawg made a point of telling us, over and over again, that Coco must've slowed down when approaching home because Manny forgot to tell him whether or not to slide. While taunting us with the replay. Again and again and again, until we spent more time yelling, "Shut up, Remdawg! Are you trying to get us to commit Seppuku?" than hitting ourselves in the forehead. So at least he saved us from possible brain injuries? All we can say is, well, it confused the heck out of us (he was running, full speed, and then he was jogging? and then trying to run again? no, really, someone explain it to us), and it was certainly a costly and emotionally scarring play. And it was somehow entirely Manny Ramirez's fault.**

2. The Botched Hit-and-Run in the Eighth: Jason Varitek is not going to stop Alex Cora's face with his glove because he has moved beyond that sort of thing, and it is very bad for our sport. That said, there may be multi-colored signal flashcards in Cora's immediate future. And by "may be," what we mean is, "they are already in Alex Cora's bag, and he has a quiz on them on Friday."

3. The Strikeout of Dustin Pedroia in the Ninth: We include this mostly because that last "strike" sure looked like a ball to us. Also because we wanted to make a point of addressing all opposing pitchers, past and future, with a few friendly words of advice: yes, Petey is small, but he is also tough (remember when he stopped Cinco Ocho from killing an umpire?), and if you continue to hit him with pitches he will fuck your shit up.

Of course, there was also the fact that, until Coco Crisp hit his single in the sixth, Fausto Carmona of the Awesomely Named Carmonas and the Absolutely Filthy Pitching was throwing a no-hitter. When the Red Sox finally managed to hit him, they were held to singles, and when you're not running the bases well, singles just ain't gonna cut it. Neither are walks. And while we're normally huge fans of plate discipline and getting on base however possible, last night's game made us pray for nothing less than a well hit home run, because that was apparently the only way the Red Sox could've managed to get on the board. And Carmona wasn't allowing any of that. Not in his house.***

In other news, we're busy singing, "la la la" and sticking our fingers in our ears until the trade deadline has safely passed. Teixeira? What's that, a new brand of Mexican beer?

*Josh Beckett has 99 problems, but a pitch ain't one.

**As is war, famine, pestilence, global warming, moldy bread, and tofurkey. Manny also plays too shallow, and there are allegations that he may or may not have a grill which may or may not be for sale and which may or may not even work. There are also those who claim that his uniform is too big. If you have any additional information regarding the Infamous Manny "C'est Manny" Ramirez, please contact our home office.

***Disclaimer: The Cleveland Indians are Jennifer's official baseball nemesis. Yes, she hates them more than the Yankees.**** Deal with it. So admitting that, yes, Fausto Carmona not only beat us down and made us cry last night, but that he did so by kicking ass and taking names, is no mean feat. In fact, it sort of burns. Like swallowing acid.

****Don't worry, Caroline is handling the Yankees Hatin' for the household just fine.