Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We do not see by the dawn's early light in this house

3/25/08: Red Sox 6, A's 5

Fire it up! One down, one hundred and sixty-one to go.

Something we'd planned to say in our next ST post was how well Brandon Moss had been hitting in the preseason, and how he looked very confident and comfortable at the plate to us, and how we were very encouraged and wished good things for him.*

Well, fortunately (kinda?) today's game went on long enough for those who woke up wide-eyed at 5 a.m. and those who snored until a more humane 8:00 to all share in the action. And this morning, Brandon Moss justified our love. In fact, since there are already swarms of men and women worshipping Jacoby Ellsbury, and not without provocation, let us be among the first on the Moss bandwagon.**

Meanwhile, we musn't neglect Manny, who clearly announced his return to Being by punishing Oakland for thinking they could pitch around Papi. Foolish Oakland! Even on the rare occasion when Papi isn't hitting well, an intentional walk is just a red flag to the baby bull. Don't think the Mantra Yoga has mellowed him out so much he won't kick your ass.

As for today's pitchers, we have a few comments, starting with the final inning and working our way back:

1. J. Paps, don't scare us like that. It isn't funny.

2. In some kind of fundamental, justice-in-the-universe way, it felt really nice to see Keith Foulke throw a good inning, even if it was against us. We wonder if he's campaigning to take Huston Street's job away. That might go beyond cosmic balance and into Bizarro World.

3. Last night, Britney Spears tried to ease her way back into the working world with a cameo on How I Met Your Mother. Today, Daisuke Matsuzaka made his return appearance in Japan. Both have been described as "not totally awful, but awkward and unpolished and ultimately irrelevant."***

Coincidence? Or is Britsuzaka back again?

Hide the Sonic burgers, y'all.

*While simultaneously wishing good things for Coco, Jacoby, Bobby Kielty, and Sean Casey. If it were up to us, there really would be no end to our bench.

**We've been thinking that Jacoby fans should call themselves Ells' Belles. Which we suppose would make us Mossy's Posse. Oh, this could get ugly real fast.

***However, only one of them left us whimpering, "Find the damn glove already."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We do not tan, we burn, in this house

Our Floridian journey began in Bradenton, as part of a crowd that was largely composed of Red Sox fans (though there were a few Pirates fans sprinkled throughout the park, it felt much more like a Red Sox home game). We watched some infielders at BP, made the prerequisite midget jokes, and vowed to buy some TCBY later that afternoon before heading over to our seats in right field.

Our starter* at McKechnie Field was Kyle Snyder, for whom this house harbors a soft spot--it's probably his curly locks. He's also got this endearing mannerism of shaking out his right hand, Fosse style, after each pitch. We were pretty impressed by the way the ball was coming out of his jazz hand. Only one walk and one hit in his three innings, and that just seems like a lot less than he was giving up last year, doesn't it? He seemed comfortable. Timlin and Breslow, alas, did not. It's a sad day for a Red Sox pitcher** when you're outperformed by Byung-Hyun Kim.

For Kim was there. Oh, yes. And don't think a collective shudder didn't go through the stands when he made his way to the mound. It even prompted a discussion in our section about useless players of decades past. Our immediate neighbors were rocking red caps from the 70s and were, apparently, very impressed with our knowledge of Sox past, present, and future. The fact that we could knowledgably discuss both Luis Tiant and Brandon Moss was a pleasant surprise to all of us.

Next up was Legends*** Field. Which is a seriously impressive park, spacious and landscaped and copiously water-fountained, although we question the wisdom of the ad wizards who made picnic tables out of dark blue metal and placed them in direct, blazing sunlight in right field. Nevertheless, we were undaunted. We marched into enemy territory with our heads held high, wearing our Youkilis and Papi t-shirts with pride.

And we continued marching directly to the bullpen to watch certain catchers go through their Respectable pregame routine.

A lot has been said about the condition Tek's in this season and how good he looks, by a variety of journalists who basically seem to want to make us feel a little bit better about our boundless love for the man. It was pretty amazing to see in person how hard he works--we're talking an extended series of stretches and lunges, a round of long toss that backed George Kottaras all the way out to deep center field, and a series of drills with Tuck that included pouncing on invisible, imaginary balls in the dirt. All this, and he was done in time to sign several autographs for small children before watching Bartolo Colon get loose (for all the good that did him). It was, in short, a fierce display of Captainosity.

We almost didn't want the game to start.

Our particular scalding hot picnic table was shared by several New York fans, including a family with two small children and a Brooklyn resident who was featured in Sports Illustrated because of the enormous Yankees tattoo on his forearm. His wife warned us when we sat down that they were "obnoxious fans," and there was no small amount of heckling over the course of the endless first inning. Oddly enough, none of Jimmy Tattoo-Times' taunts (many of which involved Papi and hot dogs) bothered us, because at least he was paying attention to who was at bat. The same could not be said for one soul a few rows back from us who limited his heckle to an efficient two words: "The Naaaaaay-tion." Repeat for nine innings, in an increasingly drunken Jim Carrey-esque whine.

"The Neeeeaaaaaayyy-tionnnn!"

Dude, couldn't you at least try to get an 18-1 chant* going? We're trying to be righteously insulted, but you're giving us nothing to work with.

We played another round of Who's Who with the Yankees fans ("No, that's Javy Lopez--no, not that Javy Lopez, although he did play for us a bit in aught-six, and by the way, are you guys still lugging Carl Pavano around?") and were grudgingly acknowledged as "okay...for Boston people." Maybe we had a mild case of sunstroke, but we felt the same way about them by the end of the day. It was a good way to experience the rivalry without stressing the end result of the game--we've got 162 more chances to get ulcers, after all.

We'll cover Fort Myers and the Workers' Uprising in our next post, and probably throw in some pictures as well. Viva la revolution!

*"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

**Or an Indians pitcher, if you're Breslow.

***At least on the day that we were there, it had not yet been renamed Steinbrenner Field. We really dodged a bullet.

****Jimmy Tattoo-Times did try and start this. His wife promptly shut him up by telling the world that they were Jets people.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We do not play Human Tetris in this house

When in the course of human events, two bloggers go to Florida in search of spring training with every intention of sharing their experiences with the internet-at-large, but one of them* forgets the power cord for her laptop, no blogging will get done.


Anyway, we're back in Boston now, huddled under blankets and space heaters a-blazing in an attempt to reacclimate to the cold,** and trying to describe our trip without resorting to, oh my god we saw Tek and he stretched and did blocking drills and stretched and played long toss oh my god. Which happened, of course, but was hardly the point. No, really. Stop laughing. So what was the point? We're not exactly sure, but we think it had something to do with spring statistics not mattering and getting burnt through our SPF 50.

Oh, the point was maybe that we have jetlag, even though we did not cross time zones, let alone take an 18 hour flight. Hence the continued radio silence. We're in the process of writing up our experiences (e.g. watching the world's shortest baseball strike), our questions (e.g.: why didn't we get to see a real starting pitcher?) and our insights (e.g.: it's so not fair that the Yankees' park is the only one that has an Outback Steakhouse snack stand). Expect a substantive post or three in the next 48 hours. We missed you, oh Internet, and all your works, and all your AP pictures of baseball players making goofy faces.

*Hint: her name rhymes with "Schmennifer" and she does not share a name with the ubiquitous Neil Diamond song played in the Tokyo Dome in the wee hours of this morning.

**Okay, fine, it's not really all that cold, but we got used to that 80F-and-sunny thing really quickly.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We do not hit bombs in this house

We at Respect the Tek are taking a break from our frantic last-minute laundry and housecleaning and CVS runs for more sunblock (and, oh yeah, doing our actual jobs) to say that we are deeply saddened at the end of the Doug Mirabelli Era in Boston. We are eating chicken parm tonight in your honor, Dougie, and if you're ever in our neck of the woods the drinks are on us.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We do not spring forward in this house

Be very very quiet. Josh Beckett's back muscles are sleeping.

As bad as it sounds (and the pessimist in us is thinking a month or six weeks), at least it's something we caught now rather than in the middle of the season. Everything's going to be fine, right? Our ace will recover, Dan Shaughnessy's hair will retain its natural curl, and the world will stay on its axis?

We wish we had someone to pat us on the shoulder and tell us it would be okay. We also wish we could just call off National Lampoon's Japanese Vacation. Really, since Beckett shouldn't go and Matsuzaka doesn't want to, can't we just send the PawSox and call it a day? We'd bet they could still thrash Oakland. And Mothra.

Nerves aside, we've been enjoying spring training so far, not necessarily because of the games themselves* as for the sudden flood of pictures and anecdotes, new things to argue about, and little nuggets of comedy gold. It's like running into an old friend for the first time in a year, and finding out that Manny Ramirez bought him a Rolex. Magic! Although honestly, our favorite part of that story isn't the Rolex but the fact that the Manny Being is buying Petey's suits. This is the greatest piece of haberdashery news ever. We can only imagine what it would be like to have his sense of style and his financial carelessness on our side. Maybe something like a combination of What Not To Wear and Snoop Dogg's Father Hood.

Dear Manny, while you're playing fashionista, can you get us a couple of Sox player shirts in feminine cuts that are not covered in pink, glitter, or the sticky fingerprints of Alyssa Milano? Because apparently those are impossible for us mere mortals to find, anywhere, at any price.**

Another thing about Manny, though, he played hooky on Photo Day for the third straight year, so he'll still be rocking the same old photo. If you haven't found time to page through all the pictures (or the new roster photos), let us sum it up quickly for you: Weird nose, serious business face, El Coco Salon and Day Spa, obviously stoned, missing a bottom lip, Captain, just needs to be stopped.

Our fear of Devern Hansack notwithstanding, we're off on our own Spring Training jaunt next week, catching the games on the 16th, 17th and 19th. There we will undertake some very important scouting, like whether Jon Lester can get his pitch counts down, whether Lowell and Youkilis figure to match their 2007 performances, and whether Tek actually has 9.7 body fat. You know, getting to the bottom of the real issues. We're going to attempt to take pictures and blog and all that useful stuff, but as you can tell by this crazy catch-all post, we may just flail around in indecision and love.

*It is wonderful to have baseball back on TV (or MLBTV, also known as the new crack cocaine), absent offense and Mirabelli baserunning blunders*** and all. But having victory back on the TV would not be an unwelcome development.

**Unless one makes one's own.

***Shortstop is not a base, Dougie.