Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We do not condone violence against PDAs in this house

Three short monologues starring Jason Varitek.

I. Kason At The Rubber


[Jogs to mound.]

"Hey, Gabby. Deep breath. You can do this, I've seen you throw. Just find your confidence.Don't worry about the guy on first. Or second...or third.

Look, let's break it down to the basics, okay? Take a look at my mitt."

[Flexes glove hand. Gabbard flinches.]

"Hey, whoa, I'm not gonna--I only did that the one time, and A-Rod had it coming. Gabby, the mitt is not your enemy. The mitt is your friend. No, better. The mitt is your hot babysitter that you used to have a crush on, a couple years ago when you were in the sixth grade. All you care about in the world is this mitt here. And all you wanna do is make the mitt happy.

By which I mean, stop throwing at my shoe, okay?"

[Pats Gabbard on the shoulder.]

"No sweat, kid. You got 'em. Curveball inside this time.

All right, let's go."

II. Post-Game Post-Mortem

[Stomps into clubhouse.]

"Hey, Tito, who are we going to fire?

Well, I need you to fire somebody, so who's it gonna be? Can we fire the conditioning coach? Can we trade Gabby away right now for a nickel on the dollar and maybe get a new hairdresser for Coco? I don't care. I don't give one single goddamn, Tito. Someone's gotta pay. Someone's gotta pay tonight. We aren't hitting with men on base, and that little son of a bitch can't throw--

Of course I told him it was okay! What do you take me for? Forget it, I'm calling Theo Epstein. Gonna suspend my own no-trade clause and see if I can get my ass traded for Mark Buehrle. 'Cause it's the only thing I can do for this team at this point, that's why. Anybody got a phone?

Schill, what are you--are you blogging again? Gimme that Blackberry.

...Wait a second, you're--how many times have you voted for the All-Star Game? Thirty- what? That's just wrong, Curtis Montague Schilling. That is bad for our sport. And hey, what have you got my name on there for? Jorge Posada is having the best offensive year of his career! I'm batting .266! What the hell is wrong with you?

How do I make a call on this piece of shit?"


"Hi, Mr. Epstein? Mr. Epstein, it's Jason Varitek. We have a slight emergency here. A slight emergency known as incompetence. So if you're available... well, I guess you're not. Or maybe you're sleeping. I forget we're on Western time. Sorry to bother you, sir. Goodnight."

[Hangs up, stares at the Blackberry.]

"Walked in three fucking runs in the bottom of the first."

[Drops the Blackberry on the clubhouse floor, stomps on it hard, grabs a nearby bat and whales on it until it is in pieces. Schilling flinches.]

"Don't you look at me like that, old man, you just sit there on the D/L and...and be on the D/L. Put something on your shoulder. Heat that the fuck up.


Oh, five bucks for the swear jar? Yeah, okay. Actually, here's a ten. I'm gonna go tell that umpire what I think of him and his mother."

III. In The Air Tonight

"Hi, honey.

Well, it was a rough series. What can I say? Their pitchers just had some nasty stuff, and ours--well, our bullpen definitely didn't have their best stuff. I don't know, I thought my research was pretty good on this series, but it just didn't play out the way I expected. And I wasn't seeing the ball as well as I could have...

Thanks. I'll tell Dice and Pap you said that, too. That's real sweet of you.

No, you're right, no point worrying about it now. See you when we land. G'night."

[Hangs up. Gazes contemplatively out of plane window. Flips through binders with Tampa Bay scouting reports.]

"Hey, Dougie, you awake?"


"Guess that'd be a no. Man, I hate taking the red-eye."

[Picks up phone again and dials.]

"...Hey, Nomar? Tek. Heard a little rumor that you were playing third tonight. That's pretty cool, you know, because some old guys just retire or drift down to the minors. It's only real all-star guys like you that hang around even when they're basically being put out to pasture. You're a lot like Cal Ripken.

You know, in the sense that you and Cal Ripken are both old third basemen.

Call me when you get this, Nomy. Oh, and do you have Damon's new phone number? Because all I have is his new batting average, and I'd like to give him a ring. Just to say hi."

[Hangs up the phone. Smiles. Eventually, falls asleep.]

We do not know how to calculate VORP in this house

In our last post, we hinted that we'd be sharing our picks for the NL All-Star ballot. Well, we lied. Or, rather, our picks proved even more embarrassing than we'd previously thought, not to mention ungrounded in anything other than "ooh, Mets = pretty + totally annoying to George Steinbrenner." Just imagine either Jose Reyes or David Wright at every. single. position. With maybe a Chase Utley thrown in to redeem our credibility, or a Paul Lo Duca for comedic value and/or inappropriate thigh groping.*

Actually, no, there we go lying again. Obviously, we'd vote in Michael Barrett as catcher, based completely on his fighting prowess, and cast our hopes on a nice interleague donnybrook to break up the monotony of a game that means less than nothing. Wouldn't an All-Star bench-clearer be more exciting than actual play? We bet that someone entirely unlikely, perhaps Ichiro, would go berserker and fugue all over "innocently bystanding" Barry Bonds. Or Julio Franco would flip a circuit breaker and make Gary Sheffield eat his own shoe.

In other baseball news, we do not believe in Seattle.

Another lie. Of course we believe in Seattle: it's where the caramel macchiato comes from**, and it's on all the maps.

What we do not believe in is as follows: walking in runs, Kason Gabbard, or having a complete meltdown, Mike Timlin, or making us stay up late to watch the Captain try to rein in terrible pitches a yard away from the plate, entire Red Sox pitching staff***. We also don't believe in not scoring more runs than the other team, so, please, guys, for the love of peanuts and crackerjacks and pouring beer on the people in front of you in the bleachers, get on that.

Thank god that's the last 10 pm start we have for a while. Our bosses really haven't appreciated our new policy of falling asleep at our desks and unconsciously muttering Mark Buehrle's name into the keyboard.

*When you're a Met, you're a Met all the way,
From your first infield hit to your last double play!

**Possibly the "macchiato" part, at least, comes from Italy? Maybe Lo Duca or Mike Piazza could weigh in. Or fund a fact-finding mission. The sacrifices we're willing to make for accuracy in blogging, you have no idea.

***As usual, Josh Beckett exempted. Daisuke Bat-suzaka is about 50% exempted--we'll see what happens this afternoon.

Monday, June 25, 2007

We do not acknowledge Florida in this house

The All-Star Game generates nearly as much chatter and analysis as American Idol, and deserves to be taken much less seriously. About 74.3 percent less seriously, if you look at the statistics.* American Idol actually has an impact on our everyday lives, insofar as we still hear that stupid "Jesus Take The Wheel" song once a fortnight. But since we can't live All-Star season vicariously through Simon Cowell...

COWELL: Alex, it was a great performance--
[Shot of teary-eyed DEREK JETER wearing "A-Rod A-RMY" T-shirt in crowd]
COWELL: --If I closed my eyes! You look like a Portuguese cabaret singer!
[Boos from the audience.]
COWELL: I'm just being honest.

...We did vote. Repeatedly. But come on, if it wasn't a popularity contest, they wouldn't let you vote twenty-five times per e-mail address plus however many ballots you can scavenge off the bleacher seats. So these, and only these, were our guiding principles:

1. We don't feel obligated to vote for people who are definitely going to win, even if they clearly deserve it. Call this the "Ralph Nader 2000, if you lived in Boston" factor.
2. We sometimes vote against people we dislike rather than for people we like. Call this the "Ralph Nader 2000, if you lived in Miami" factor.
3. We vote with our hearts first, the stats second, and then we just close our eyes and poke at the person whose name we recognize best.

Without further ado, because we're fresh out of ado, here is our 2007 AL ballot.

1st Base
Probable Winner: David Ortiz
Most Deserving: Ortiz
We Voted For: Kevin Youkilis

You know why Papi hasn't hit up to his previous home run pace? Nobody is throwing him pitches! Pitchers be hatin'; Papi still be postin' a 1.027 OPS. During this season's insanely long bout of interleague play, he even made a nice pick or two at first (and we think it's stupid not having a DH slot, anyway; it's not like the All-Stars are about the Purity Of The Game Of Base-Ball). Of course, we knew Papi would coast to the All-Star Game on his Clooneyesque reserves of charm, so we wrote in the Greek God of Blogs. He's having as good a season as last year's MVP** and still finds time to play horsey with Manny Ramirez.

2nd Base
Probable Winner: Placido Polanco
Most Deserving: Polanco
We Voted For: Polanco and Dustin Pedroia

Everyone agrees that Polanco deserves the position, although taking a glance at B.J. Upton's numbers is rather confusing, but he plays for the nonexistent Tampa Bay Devil Rays*** so who cares? So each of us voted for Polanco some and Pedroia some, since Our Little Man Dusty is having a comparably impressive year (he's a lock to go All-State!).

Probable Winner: Derek Jeter
Most Deserving: Orlando Cabrera
We Voted For: Cabrera, and also everyone who is neither Jeter nor Julio Lugo

Cabrera is similar offensively and much better defensively (4 errors is better than 11, no?). And his biggest selling point? He's not Admiral Calm-Eyed Deke.**** He got the bulk of our votes, but we threw a couple each to Yuniesky Betancourt (Mariners love, plus he's got a hell of a life story), Carlos Guillen (fear), and Miguel Tejada (we pity the fool who tries to play actual baseball for the Orioles, we do, we pity the fool).

3rd Base
Probable Winner: Alex Rodriguez
Most Deserving: Rodriguez
We Voted For: Mike Lowell

Look, A-Rod is the best player in baseball right now, and we have no problem acknowledging that. We think sometimes the fans and media are unfair to him; his personal life should be his business and no one else's, and the fact that he hasn't won a World Series doesn't mean he isn't a stunning and committed ballplayer. That said, he's also whiny, annoying, and prone to the occasional bush-league move, and we can respect him all day long and still not punch a little hole next to his name.

While he may fade down the stretch, Iron Mike currently has excellent numbers.

Probable Winner: Ivan Rodriguez
Most Deserving: Jorge Posada
We Voted For: Jason Varitek

Who would've thought this would be the most competitive category? It defies logic. Posada's offensive pace is bound to taper off, but for the first half of 2007 there's hardly anyone hitting better in any position. Rodriguez is a hotshot offensively and defensively, catching one of the strongest rotations in baseball. There are underrated younger competitors: Victor Martinez has a filthy-dirty number of RBIS; Joe Mauer's batting .319 and hasn't let a ball get past him once this season.

Yeah. Hi. Did you look at the name of the blog?

If we were to try and justify it statistically, we would note that Varitek has a lower CERA and fewer successful stolen bases than either Posada or Pudge, but we aren't. We're voting with our hearts. And the hearts of Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon and Curt Schilling, and all those great big grown men who get starry-eyed when they talk about Captain Fenway. We don't expect him to win, don't even need him to win, but we voted for him with every one of our mumblety-mumble ballots.

Jason Varitek. Early and often.

Probable Winners: Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki
Most Deserving: Guerrero, Suzuki, Magglio Ordonez
We Voted For: Suzuki, Ordonez, Nick Swisher

Manny doesn't wanna go to the All-Star game. Manny wants to throw a big three-day party instead, with girls dancing on the bar and Julian Tavarez smoking a bowl underneath it. Manny wants to grill some burgers--he has a grill, maybe you've heard about it--and invite all his teammates over, except maybe Curt Schilling 'cause he doesn't know how to get down, and play a lot of Outkast and maybe put the game on just to cheer for Papi and/or Youk.

Stop voting for him, people, it's just mean. And it's ridiculous that Ordonez, who is literally hitting better than anyone in the game, can't crack the top three here. Here's hoping for a groundswell.

We can't explain why we voted for Nick Swisher instead of Guerrero, except for some kind of impossibly powerful Moneyball hangover, a lingering fondness that began during last year's playoffs, and the fact that The The Angels Angels of Anaheim are among our least favorite teams (they hang out down there with the Yankees, Indians, and Braves; we're busy girls).

In conclusion, this is a bunch of hooey. We've handled it with the mindfulness it deserves.

Let's all go vote for the ESPYs!

*The statistics here are the same ones we used to plan our voting strategy; specifically, well, almost none. Wait until you see how astute we were with the NL.

**Justin Morneau is still a monster, though, and he's surely playing hard--he crashed into someone so hard at home plate that he started coughing up blood. Baseball is so much cooler than football.

***Seriously, you expect us to believe that there is a team called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Piffle. And I'm a big fan of the Schenectady Flying Dutchmen.

****TM Fire Joe Morgan.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We do not wear our sunglasses at night in this house.

06/22/07: Red Sox 2, Padres 1

Dear Daisuke Matsuzaka,

We're onto you.

Some of us back here on the East Coast were pretty stressed out last night by your entrance. I mean, we may not be as well versed in the strategic intricacies of pitching as some folks, but--walking the bases loaded with nobody out in the first inning? We happen to know that's not good. Doubleplusungood, is what that is. It was giving us agita, and we're too young for agita. Plus, it's not even a real medical condition.

That was a long first inning, especially for a late game. Long enough for us to go from laughing at the Padres retro uniforms* to debating theoretical issues--Is multiple personality disorder contagious via air, and has Curt Schilling's bloviating transmitted it around our bullpen?--to flailing in outrage. Long enough for "Come on, Dice, you got him, baby" to give way to, "Look how frustrated Tek is! He's like, get Wakefield in there to pitch this bastard! It can't be any worse!"

Getting out of that with only one run** was a gift, as they say, a fluke. "Damn, we got lucky," we told one another at the end. "This is going to be a horrible night."

We're kind of sorry about all those things we said.

Because after that first ninety minutes or however long that inning was, we saw what you did. You found your control. You found the Captain's mitt, which you had apparently not noticed earlier in all the confusion. Sure, you got into a couple more jams, but held it together and got the big strikeouts--nine of them, and some of them were of the big, exciting K variety, the kind that make a pitcher look truly masterful. We couldn't really relax and enjoy it after three leadoff walks, but in retrospect, a fine performance.

You do this a lot, Daisuke. The one scary inning, surrounded by dominance.

It can't be an accident. It can't be a coincidence.

Okay, it totally could be, but we suspect that instead, this is your strategy. You have an agenda here, don't you? You're creating a false sense of security for your opponents***. An illusion of fatal vulnerability. It works so well that even Tek and John Farrell are worrying their pretty heads about you. You're a terrifyingly inconsistent pitcher in those single the same way that Bruce Wayne is an airheaded playboy dilletante. And you're putting us through all this drama just for the climactic moment when you rip off the mask, reveal your true powers, steel up and shut your opponents the hell down.

Daisuke, Dice-K, darling...

Are you Batman?

We promise we won't tell.

* HA. HA. HA.

See the bands of orange and gold, so bright they caused NESN to melt down into a puddle of technical difficulties? With the weird font on the front that's less baseball and more Kirby's Adventure? Have you ever dropped acid to celebrate Thanksgiving? We think we have, now.

**That one run was batted in by new acquisition Michael Barrett, forever known in this house as "The dude who coldcocked AJ Pierzynski." We admit, we are vaguely hoping he'll see fit to lay a beatdown on one of his own teammates during this series. Or attempt one against a Red Sox pitcher and see how fast Tek takes him down.

***This theory would also explain why we keep avoiding letting him pitch against the Yankees. Element of surprise!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We do not intentionally walk the Captain in this house.

06/20/07: Red Sox 11, Braves 0

Today, Julian Tavarez pitched seven confusingly awesome shut-out innings (though he didn't bowl any balls to first or beanball any hecklers, more's the pity), five different guys (Drew, Crisp, Ortiz, Ramirez, Hinske) hit home runs, 11 total runs were scored, so of course we're going to talk about Jason Varitek. (What, are you surprised? Please, take a moment, visit with the title of the blog.)

First of all, he's been intentionally walked more times this season than David Ortiz. True fact. Twice in this series alone. Which, don't get us wrong, we love our Captain, but if you were the Braves, judging by what you've seen in this series from Coco Crisp and Jason Varitek, who would you intentionally walk and to whom would you pitch?

Let's look at the numbers for this series as of the start of tonight's game:

Jason Varitek: 2 SO, 1 BB, 2 H, 1 R, 0 RBI, 0 HR,
Coco Crisp: 1 SO, 0 BB, 5 H, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR.

Right, so if you picked pitching to Tek and hoping to get that last out before Coco "I've already hit 2 homers so far this series, but, hey, I'm sure those were just flukes, man, trust me" Crisp gets up to bat...Congratulations! You are not the Braves. You probably didn't just have a pile of runs scored against you.

(Unless you're the Yankees.)

But we said we were going to talk about the Captain, and, gosh darn it, let's talk about the Captain. He was intentionally walked, struck out twice (and didn't look too happy with some of the ump's calls in the process*), and hit a single tonight. He also managed to look mighty fine doing so (and maybe one day we'll give up all semblance of serious blogging and just rhapsodize about our love of his old school socks, his uniform, his thighs, his face, his eyes, his [censored]). We have a magnet of him on our fridge, which has nothing at all to do with tonight's game but everything to do with our complete and utter lack of objectivity when it comes to this man.

It's entirely possible that we cheered when he got his hit tonight. It's also possible that we clapped. And when he was forced out at third on a Julio Lugo single, and he took off his batting helmet and looked so disappointed in himself, it is entirely possible that we wanted to...give him a hug? Bake him cookies? Make sure he knows Boston loves him unconditionally? All of the above?

Tek back in the dugout after getting forced out at third, a dramatic reenactment:

FRANCONA: It's okay, Jason.
VARITEK: How was I supposed to know that Lugey was going to actually get a hit?
VARITEK: I was sure he was going to pop out.

VARITEK looks sad and sits down. Various members of the team come up to him to console him. Nobody goes to console JULIO LUGO.


In conclusion, a great game, and not just because we won. It's also because we're back to a two digit lead in the AL East, at least for one night, and we're enjoying that while we can.

*Hey, what was with Brian McCann twice calling time-out after Beckett was already winding up in Game 2? Is that allowed? Is there a word for "opposite of balk"? Or an appropriate penalty, like an automatic strike or maybe the pitcher gets to spit his gum out in your hair?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We do not flash Doug Mirabelli in this house

It seems right to start a new blog out on a positive note, so let's talk about last night's game rather than tonight's (so far).

(Please note that there is an implicit 'knock on wood' following any sentence ever posted here.)

06/12/07: Rockies 1, Red Sox 2

Lawyer Larry: "Do you like baseball?"
Jennifer: [flashing Papelbon bracelet] "Yes?"
Lawyer Larry: "Do you want tic--"
Jennifer: "Okay!"
Lawyer Larry: "--kets to tonight's game?"

Yes, yes we did. Bless you, Lawyer Larry, and your thirty-year-old season tickets. These are by far the best seats we've ever had at Fenway. In fact, they're the best seats either of us has ever had to a baseball game, and one of us used to weekend at the Kingdome, back in what the kids no longer call "the day."

Fast-forward a few hours. We've purchased our Pedroia* and Youkilis T-shirts, changed into them in the middle of Yawkey Way, and elbowed our way to seats twenty freakin' rows behind home plate, looking straight down the third base line. This is so unbelievably lucky that we spent much of the game pinching ourselves, and are still braced for the inevitable karmic ass-kicking to come (see also: tonight's game).

We sat down just in time for Tim Wakefield's first pitch. From our truly, truly, truly outrageous vantage point, we had a better view of the famous knuckleball than Jason Varitek ever wants to have.** You know how you always read that it dances? Yeah, it does that.

Caroline: "It is the Shakira of pitches."
Jennifer: "It's sexy, curvy, and it knows how to move."
Caroline: "It makes a man want to speak Spanish."
Jennifer: "..."
Caroline: "Too far with that metaphor?"

Though the score does not indicate as much, the Red Sox actually did have at-bats in the game along with the pitching. You know what's even more fun to watch than a knuckleball? Kevin Youkilis. Youk and his batting stance that makes him look like a maniacal lumberjack. A maniacal lumberjack with an equally maniacal ferret attached to his face. As with the knuckleball, Youk's stance looks cool on NESN but is even more entertaining in three dimensions. Like it or not, it's been the offensive highlight of recent games.

Things we didn't yell at batters, even though we wanted to:
"Yoouuuk, update your bloooog!"
"Dustin isn't slow, he just has tiny little legs!"
"Dougie's going deep tonight!" (Okay, we said it, but we didn't yell it.)

Things we did yell:
At Mike Lowell: "We like you better than Todd Helton!"
At Todd Helton: "We like Mike Lowell better than you!"
At Manny, during an intentional walk: "You don't have to swing at bad pitches, you should only swing at good pitches!"

And then Papelbon happened.

We say "happened" because the boy came on like a force of nature, with the aura of confidence and the thousand-yard, kid-from-Firestarter stare. It's funny how it can be totally apparent that a pitcher has full command--J.Pap's fastballs were like the Concorde to Tim Wakefield's Dodge Dart--and yet that didn't stop us and 37,000 of our newest best friends from holding our breath for all three beautiful, beautiful outs.

Caroline consented to sing along with her namesake song for once***, and Jennifer defeated the jinx her Yankee-fan mother placed upon her by witnessing her first Fenway victory.

In a word (and this is a pretty long post for us to be all "in-a-word" at the end, but welcome to the monkey house): blogworthy.

*We're pretty sure the people at the souvenir store had not even heard of Dustin Pedroia. Caroline hereby claims her T-shirt as the first of its kind, unless someone produces photographic evidence to the contrary, and probably even then.

**Though Jason "O Captain Our Captain" Varitek did come out and play catch with Wakefield between innings while Doug "E. Fresh" Mirabelli suited back up, and, lo, there was much rejoicing. And much of it was Not Safe For Work.

***Curse you, Neil Diamond. One day we will meet in battle. Neither can live while the other survives!