Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Three Nights in Septober: A Week in Boston Sports

Loss #1: Toronto 8, Red Sox 7

At least the Red Sox made it interesting. Down 8-2 as we finished the last fist-pumping chorus of "Sweet Caroline," the Red Sox fought and clawed and clambered aboard a JD Drew home run to reach a respectable 8-7 score heading into the ninth. But that's getting ahead of ourselves a bit.

This game started with a bang of the wrong kind: a first pitch lead-off home run and the realization that we were sitting in front of the dude who felt the need to prove his mad baseball knowledge by commenting on every. freaking. pitch. Seriously. "Well, they should've gone inside there." "That changeup was too high." "He's teeing off on pitches away." And on and on and motherfucking on. Yeah, he's one of Those People You Meet at Fenway. No, we didn't test the efficiency of the security hotline on him.

We were in Lawyer Larry's seats for the first time since Tim Wakefield's magical start against the Rockies back in 2007, and we were at a possible clinching game for the second year in a row. We possibly got our hopes up a little, is what we're saying. Not enough to jinx things, we don't think, but a bit. We laughed over the fact that, for the first time in our shared game-attending history, the singers did a worse job with the Canadian anthem than the American one. We rolled our eyes when people near us said stupid things. We were ready. This was going to be The Game.

And then the game started, and little old Claybee couldn't keep the ball in the yard.

Before the game, during most of the game, and for a few hours afterward, we were pretty down on our Red Sox. They'd been losing to the Royals and were in the process of losing to the Jays, and they hadn't managed to clinch their division on their own turf. Not quite the 2007 Mets, that's true, but it didn't exactly fuel excitement. But then...they turned it on. They found their offense in one burst, and for a few minutes, even if it wasn't The Game, it was definitely The Team. The team that couldn't be eliminated in 2004 or 2007; the team that pushed their luck all the way to the breaking point in 2008, the team that will not quit until they've got a reason to hug and cheer and pour booze on the bullpen cop.

The park shook.

Called strike three. And we all went home.*

Loss #2: Toronto 12, Red Sox 0

We weren't no-hit!

Yeah, this one was a laugher from the moment they posted the lineup. Hell, from the time the Rangers lost to the Angels, thus clinching a playoff berth for the Red Sox and allowing our actual MLB players to have a closed-doors bacchanal that left everyone with a hangover the size of Big Papi's smile. To say we weren't expecting much would be an understatement. We figured we'd head out to the park, catch what might be Timmy Wakefield's very last start, and enjoy ourselves out in the bleachers with the rest of the crazies. No expectations. No stress. Just baseball.

Baseball against Roy Halladay. Right.

This loss was totally different than the Tuesday loss. For one thing, there was never so much as an inkling of false hope. For another thing, with our ALDS spot assured, all that energy that went to crossing fingers and knocking wood could be diverted to creative yelling. We told Joey Gathright he was our hero (this was after he broke up the no-hitter--before that we were loudly reminiscing about how we used to babysit him), and we reminded the Blue Jays that they're losers because they loooove artificial turf. We even got the guy in front of us to heckle Jose Bautista with lyrics by the Police. Of course, the highlight of the game was obviously Dusty Brown's major league pitching debut; sure, Mr. Autographed Brian Daubach Jersey couldn't believe we even knew who Brown is--never mind that we were the only people in the vicinity who could tell our Josh Reddicks from our Brian Andersons--but that didn't quell our enthusiasm. Dusty Brown, y'all. We've loved that kid since Sea Dogs times.

Dusty Brown

All that was worth the price of admission, and the price of the huge coffees we needed to stay warm, and even the complete-game shutout the Doc twirled at the PawSox. We don't think we've ever had a better time watching a game that was lost before it began.

Loss #3: Capitals 4, Bruins 1


Hockey’s back.

Yes, we are a Red Sox blog, but we are also Bruins fans and we decided that, you know what, we would never forgive ourselves for missing out on Opening Night at the TD Banknorth Fleet Center Garden. So we donned the Black and Gold and wandered out into the autumn night once more.

We were ready. Our fellow fans in the cheap seats were ready. Unfortunately, the Caps fan in the row in front of us and the guy whose shirt she was wearing--some dude named Ovechkin? Yeah, we don’t know either--were also ready. More ready, in fact, than the Bruins. Who looked like they were playing on your dad’s beer league team for most of the game.

Your dad’s over-50 beer league team.

So, yes, the game happened. We cheered, we yelled “Shoot the fucking puck already!”, we cheered some more. And while it would’ve been nice to actually win the home opener—or, hell, to at least make it a game—it’s so early in the season that we just can’t stress about it quite yet. The aforementioned Caps fan turned around as the second intermission drew to a close to tell us that our row was full of good fans. We're not sure if she meant it in a condescending manner or not, but she pointed out that we never gave up cheering for our team and actually seemed to know things. Like players' names. And what was going on. She was nice enough when she said it, but we can't help but think it was a touch condescending in the "aww, look at the little fans watching my team crush their team" sense.

Of course, she was sitting next to Tuukka Rask's boyfriend the entire game, so maybe she really did mean it.

Because, yes, we met Tuukka Rask's boyfriend. Or maybe he was the guy Tuukka Rask has a restraining order against. But his love for Tuukka is true, and strong, and obsessed with the butterfly style. Even when the game was still technically close--in score, if not in feel--he was calling for Julien to play Tuukka. "He's calm in net," he told everyone in the section, "Not like Thomas. Tall and calm and he doesn't flail around." At one point, we're pretty sure he broke into haiku:

Tuukka Rask always
Looks good when he makes a save.
I've seen him naked.

As confirmed Tim Thomas fans, we didn't share his passion. But three periods of watching our guys mishandle the puck while Alex Ovechkin did triple salchows around them was two point five periods too many. That's okay, though--the Bruins have plenty of time to get Big and Bad and figure out their problem, and we'll check back in with them as soon as we get out of playoff mode.

About playoff mode: Hell, yes! Playoff mode! We're ready to roll. We have our lucky shirts, and a selection of lucky socks, and a bottle of Absolut Boston (yes, we're that cheesy) to help us either celebrate or cope. We also have a Twitter, which you can see at left, and which we used to "liveblog," as the kids used to call it, the Twins/Tigers one-game playoff. We'll be posting a lot of things there that are shorter than this thing you're still reading. Follow us and we'll promise not to use the word 'tweet' as a noun.

*Except for Jason Bay. He went out for drinks with his agent. His agent! C'mon, Jay Bay, kick it up!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gagné Joke In 3... 2....

Look, here's the thing: we've watched more Mets baseball than is probably--okay, definitely--healthy over the past couple of years*, and we're just not sure that picking up anyone who has spent any time in their bullpen is a good idea. Hell, anyone who has ever been cared for by one of their trainers, anyone who played with them in spring training, anyone who has watched an entire Mets game this season is almost suspect at this point. After word that they ignored Johan Santana's** sore elbow for, oh, an entire season came out, how can any other organization trade for a Mets player without the lingering fear that they're getting some dude with post-concussion syndrome or a gimpy elbow or, hell, a severe case of baseballphobia?

Not that we have anything against Billy Wagner personally, of course. We don't actually know him. Sure, he's caused his share of heartache and pain, but so has every other relief pitcher in the history of ever. Mo blew the 2004 ALCS that time, and you won't find any Yankees fans who won't argue--at the top of their lungs, even, until you need to tell them to just "shut up, already, we know"--that he's the best closer to ever close a game. Pap's blown a few himself. Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage: no one has a 100% save rate, which means that they've all caused a bit of the old weeping and rending of the garments action.

And, fine, there are rumors that he's not the easiest guy to be around, though we're taking anything Schill says about someone else's personality with a grain of salt. But, hell, until he actually pisses one of our guys off, we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that front. Because, again, we don't know Billy Wagner, and we don't know anyone who does. Maybe if our dream of hanging out with David Wright and Jose Reyes is ever realized we'll get some of the juicy gossip, but in the meantime we're stuck with Jon Heyman and Buster Olney.

No, we're mostly scared because a) as with any former Mets player, the fear that said player's hand will fall off and run away is a legitimate one, and b) we was in the Mets bullpen that killed all winning during that horrible stretch we call the Post-Endy-Pre-K-Rod*** Period. Maybe he'll be okay? Sure, the move from the NL to the AL is the absolute wrong direction, as John Smoltz would tell us if he weren't so busy blaming his former Red Sox teammates for not noticing that he was tipping his pitches or whatever he's doing out there in St. Louis, and he's less than a year removed from the dreaded John of Tommy. And, fine, Papelbon's already calling him out, and there's been a bit of a war of words going on. But, you know, it's a contract year for Billy, so maybe he'll pull a Johnny Damon and hit a bunch of windtunnel-aiding home--or, erm, he'll kick ass and take names and get lefties out all night long. Who can say? If nothing else, we should--crossing all sorts of fingers--get some sort of draft picks out of these whole experiment, which will already rate it as more successful than our other failed reclamation projects these year.

Of course, ask us again after we find out who the hell the PTBNL are going to be. We've got us some baby baller woobies we don't want to see consigned to a life on the DL.

*Endy Chavez's Catch was the beginning of the end.

**Yes, that Johan Santana. The one they've got millions invested in. The one who--Jason Varitek's freakish ability to hit him aside--is a legitimate perennial Cy Young candidate. The one good starting pitcher they actually have. That Johan Santana.

***We still think K-Rod's overrated, by the way. Or at least not as good as he used to be. But signing him was at least some sort of acknowledgment by Omar Minaya that, hey, having one good starting pitcher doesn't really help if he doesn't pitch a complete game every time he's out on the mound.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Down the road and back again.

Since our neighborhood kids didn't make it to the Little League World Series, we figured we'd put those little punks--er, adorable cherubs--to work. So we recruited them to the official Respect The Tek Graphics Department (they're almost as well paid as our crack research staff). We asked them to document our feelings about Friday's and today's Sox/Yankees showdown, and we must say, they have worked wonders. Here come the pie charts, cut yourself a slice!

* For taking Justin Masterson from us. Bastards.

** For giving us Victor Martinez. Yay!

*** For being a friend.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jonathan Papelbon is why we need universal health care.

In between bullpen-related heart attacks last night, we were wondering why, exactly, the Red Sox reacquired Alex Gonzalez. You know, since it's obviously not because of his bat. Well, we couldn't let this question go unanswered. So we dug up the truth, and now we bring you the true reason for the Gonzalez acquisition: It's almost football season, and Nick Green needed to reassume his alternate identity as Wes Welker.

Respect the Tek: we do research so you don't have to.*

Now, about that game. All the cliches--a win is a win, even aces need luck sometimes, Jason Varitek is trying to steal Gary Tuck's job, mumblety-mumble--apply. We're especially grateful for this one, not only because The Hour Of The Doc is upon us, but because it might quiet one or two of the doom- and gloom-sayers out there. Look, guys, we know that this season has been hard to watch at times. We know that the Globe is trying to whip us all into a torch-bearing mob. Hey, we're all in trouble when the Herald is Boston's voice of reason.

But we also know that Youkilis' suspension weakened our lineup, that J. Bay and B. Papi are just starting to get their late summer legs under them, and that Pedroia is due for a Daddy Streak. We know that the pitching....well, okay, we don't have the answer to the pitching, just yet, but how can we look at Junichi Tazawa's tiny little childlike face and not feel the love? A lot of love, actually. And a little bit of hope. Maybe even enough to get us through six more weeks of baseball.

Nobody bitches and moans like a Red Sox fan.** But nobody rocks a stretch drive harder. So keep your torch in one hand, but keep the other one free for fistbumps. As last night proved, we can't lose 'em all.

And if we actually do, well, who's up for doing shots and singing a sad chorus of Kum-Ba-Yah?

*And yet we didn't bother to dig up pictures of Green and Welker. But you can trust us. Have we ever lied to you? Except for the 'research' thing?

**Keep on practicing, Mets and Cubs fans.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Beckett's world and we're living in it. Until he aces us.

Wednesday night, we met perhaps the rarest of the People You Meet at Fenway, the nice guy who, when noticing that he may be blocking the short chick who is kind of diagonally behind him in standing room says, "You tell me if I'm blocking your view at all, okay, and I'll move." (During the same game, we also spotted Dude in an Unadulterated Damon Jersey, multiple Kotsay shirts(?!?!), Guy in Babe Ruth Jersey, a custom Dom DiMaggio road jersey, and so much more. Definitely a successful outing to Fenway, people-watching style. And don't get us started on the security guys in our section--hi-lar-i-ous, people, and pretty much made of win.) Props to you, nice guy! We will always remember you and your nice guy ways!

Mostly, though, the night was memorable for Beckett Being Beckett. Which is to say: hot. Filthy. Nasty. Totally jinxed by those two yahoos--one of whom read Jennifer's twitter feed over her shoulder and wanted us to call Texas Gal over so he could tell her all about the superiority of the Sooners*--who kept saying, "Oh, hey, doesn't Beckett have a NO-HITTER going? Wonder if he's going to keep NO-HITTING them."

Sure, Mikey Lowell's third home run in two games was fun, as was the whole offense clicking on all cylinders (okay, fine, so the Tigers were featuring a bullpen guy because their actual starter went down with strep or whatever, but still; you have your delusions, we have ours), but Beckett's Beckettocity was the true star of the game. Yeah, he made those two mistakes, and the Tigers didn't miss them, but he was slicing and dicing through that lineup like they were the San Diego Padres.** It never felt like this was anything but his game. His field. His mound. And it took roughly four minutes for him to walk from that mound to the dugout. Now that is swagger.

This morning Jennifer's off to the land of Orioles, where she'll celebrate her birthday, Dustin Pedroia's, by watching Matt Wieters face off against Mike Napoli. Caroline's off to the land of, well, Red Sox and Yankees, true battlefield territory. We'll be back next week. Here's hoping the Red Sox grab some of the Fenway dirt and bring it with them to the Kingdom of Nolan Ryan.

*We didn't invite you, Texy, because we didn't want to deal with their crying and sniveling when you masterfully destroyed their wills to live. Sorry!

**Or whoever the most inept lineup in baseball is this week. Is it the Royals again? It's probably the Royals, isn't it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Newsflash: we won tonight's game. It's a miracle! Wake up your children!

The plan was simple: go to Fenway, watch some Red Sox prospects and a few major league retreads duke it out with the Orioles' prospects and organizational filler, and steadfastly ignore the major league scoreboard. And, hey, were it not for our perverse preoccupation with the outcome of the epic Barry Zito-Bronson Arroyo duel going down in the NL, we would've very probably succeeded. Still, Futures at Fenway is, bar none, one of our favorite baseball experiences every year, and even though we think it works better when the Lowell Spinners get the invite (no offense to the Paw Sox, but both they and the Norfolk Tides are littered with guys who were playing in the bigs only a few weeks ago), it was an awesome time yet again.

We sat in what we lovingly call the "rich people's seats," up close and personal with the visitors' on deck circle. We cheered for our favorites--no, they weren't all catchers, though we obviously shouted extra loud for Expo and Brownie--and avoided sunstroke due to a fortuitous combination of SPF 75 and some timely shadows. We decided that Ryan Kalish and Ryan Khoury should be best friends forever based on nothing more than their names. We ate ballpark food. We tried to keep score (an unfortunately timed bathroom run killed that plan), and we took a few pictures.

And we needed those simple pleasures, to remind us that baseball games aren't always the terrifying experiences that have happened to certain parent clubs in recent times.* Sometimes you can even sit through nine whole innings and still have enamel left on your teeth at the end.

Futures helped us to remember that, though baseball is famous for for its yesterdays--its segregated, dead-balled, spike-sharpened, mob-rigged, amphetamined and roid-raged yesterdays--there are always tomorrows. There are 21-year-old kids who get to hit a home run over the Green Monster, and keep that story forever. There's Josh Reddick making the most of things (and sacrificing his Mohawk in the process, oh, woe). There's tomorrow, and Junichi Tazawa's second chance to make a first impression.

And then there's the day after tomorrow, when we'll be back in the standing room saddle, resisting the siren song of frozen lemonade and cheering for the guys in the biggest, reddest socks of them all.** And reminding Dustin Pedroia that we expect to see a laser show. We may grow weary, but we never turn our backs on our boys.

Because we're afraid of getting hit with a line drive foul. That would hurt!

*Hey, as long as no one gets diagnosed with cancer, we're counting this season as better than 2006. Knock on wood!

**This means you, Tek.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An ode to sports radio

Oh no! The sky is falling! The Red Sox can't win! The Yankees can't lose! The Not-Devil Rays just swept the powerhouse Royals! Quick, Theo, make some moves! Before the world ends and we're stuck rooting for whichever team emerges from the NL Central!


Anyway, as we were saying, just because this Red Sox team is on track to win something like 99 games* doesn't mean they're not obviously horrible, flawed, and in need of a massive overhaul. We're here to provide some helpful tips for the front office. That is, if they're brave enough to take it.First of all, while watching the ESPN game tonight, we noticed that the Mets' starting pitcher just went down with a Doug Mirabelli baserunning injury. And they're still starting Alex Cora at shortstop. So, we thought, why not offer them something in a "Brad Penny plus Julio Lugo" package? The Mets don't have much in their farm system--Omar Minaya** said something about a flood. Or was that a drought? Oh, wait, it's a slavish adherence to Bud Selig's inane slotting system!--but, seriously, we don't expect much in exchange for those two. Send us a lower level prospect for Penny, and we'll send Lugo's full salary with him. Sure, it'll mean giving up on our dream of pretending Julio Lugo never actually existed, but we're willing to make that sacrifice.

Of course, that's not nearly enough. That's just housekeeping.

Next up, Theo needs to give the Blue Jays a call and offer the entire farm system for Roy Halladay. Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Dan Bard, Lars Anderson, and Casey Kelly not enough? Offer up Yamaico Navarro and Josh Reddick! Throw in Anthony Rizzo! Sure, the system's going to be pretty barren at the end of the day, but we'll have Roy Halladay. He'll pitch complete games every other day, saving both the bullpen and the rest of the starting rotation. Which'll be helpful because the step three involves calling the Indians to offer up Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen, and the rest of the farm system (crazy Star Wars uniforms and all) for Victor Martinez.

Oh, and get Hanley Ramirez back. Sure, it'll involve trading the rest of the team--minus our shiny new pitcher and C/DH/1B, of course-- with a pile of gold bars big enough to pay Jonathan Papelbon as much crazy money as his little heart desires, but it'll be worth it. Just picture it: a team entirely made up of Roy Halladay, Victor Martinez, and Hanley Ramirez.**** Unbeatable!

Of course, trading the future away for today doesn't work if our division rivals continue to do nothing but win, so Theo's going to have to invest in a bit of sabotage as well. Send someone into New Yankee to set up a giant fan that'll blow in from the infamous right field porch; hell, use Javier Lopez to do it. He can even wear that old gorilla suit Theo's got lying around in his closet as a disguise, and it'll be a way for him to earn his salary for the year. Javy should then fly south to disable all the cowbells in the Tampa Bay area; while he's there, he can also switch out Joe Maddon's glasses for ones with the wrong prescription. He'll spend all his time dealing with headaches and blurred vision instead of being the genius manager everyone tells us he is.

Luckily, the Red Sox don't have to travel to the west coast for the rest of the season, so we don't have to make up those subliminal messages for the team in attempt to convince them that they're on the east coast when they're really not. We're still working on the tapes that'll convince them that they're on natural grass under a beautiful summer sky when they're actually in domes, though.

*Yes, we are too lazy to look up the actual number. But, suffice it to say, it's high 90s. Trust us.

**Look, we know this is a Red Sox blog, but we feel compelled to point out that we could do a better job GMing the Mets than Minaya, armed only with a fondness for catchers and a beat up copy of Moneyball. This is perhaps a sign that Omar Minaya is very bad at his job.

**** And some guys from the Newark Bears. Apparently it's against the rules to field a team of only three players.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We've seen the lights go out on Broadway.

We were going to call Joe Posnanski out for lying to us about his Kansas City Royals and their ability to score runs, but, in all honesty, we're a little scared of him. Dude's bigger than us, tougher than us, meaner than us: he's the Big Red Machine* to our 1962 Mets. So even though he told us this is a team that struggles to score runs--patently a lie, based on our highly scientific one-game study, and possibly intended to lure us into a false sense of security--we are willing to accept that maybe, just maybe, he merely failed to recognize the awesome power of Ryan Freel and leave it at that. Because Joe Posnanski? So much better than us.** He's written a book! He's written more than one book! We've written a blog, and a half-assed one at that! So, no, we will not be calling Joe Posnanski out tonight.

Instead, we're going to call out Dude In The Pedroia T-Shirt With The Schilling Jersey Over It Sitting Two Rows In Front Of Us In Infield Grandstand Section 16, Who Came to Fenway Already Completely Drunk Out Of His Mind And Proceeded To Try To Get Everyone To Do The Wave In The Third Inning (And Was Completely Annoying And Loud In Other Ways, Too). Dude--can we call you Dude, for short?--even your buddy was trying to get you to chill out a little. Look, we appreciate your enthusiasm. After the Red Sox coughed up the lead, you were one of the people leading the "Let's Go Red Sox" and "Let's Go Kotsay" chants in our section. However, screaming "I'm leading this!" at other fans when they tried to start new chants was not cool. Not to mention the fact that you shouted every. single. thing. you. said. and there was a kid a few seats over from us who probably didn' t need to hear all of that.

We're also going to call out the fellow behind us who took the initiative, after just about every pitch of every at-bat, to announce the on-field situation to everyone in the greater Back Bay area. "Oh, man, it's THREE AND TWO!" Buddy, baseball is not a play, and you are not the narrator. And if it was a play, Red Sox baseball would not need you--it would need, instead, a show-stopping musical number with a full ensemble cast.



Oh, fine. It goes something like this:

Tek: One play more,
Another ball, another baserunner,
This never-ending road to October.
If A-Rod fouls off this pitch,
I'm gonna have to choke a bitch--
One play more!

Tito: The bullpen barely got through eight,
How will they pitch with bases loaded?

Tek: One play more!

Tito: The winning run is at the plate,
Someone check if my head's exploded.

Tek: One play more!

Pap: One more strike I got to throw,
[Fenway Faithful: Will he ever throw a fastball?]
Pap: Then I get to do my fistpumps!
[Fenway Faithful: His last slider didn't slide!]
Pap: Can't believe he called that low!
[Fenway Faithful: How the hell was that outside?]
Pap: I am gonna plonk the ump!

Infielders: One more play to win the game,
Drive the enemy from Fenway
Or else hide our heads in shame
Is it ball four or strike three?
[Fenway Faithful: The count is full! The end is near!]

Tek: One play more!

A-Rod: One more pitch to end the ballgame,
I will hit it with my bat,
It will land out in the bleachers--
Do these pants make me look fat?

Tek: One play more!

Orsillo: Bottom of the ninth, Fenway going mad,
Isn't this a good time for an Aflac ad?
Eckersley: That was easy cheese, that was lousy luck
If I was that pitcher, I'd be yelling--[BLEEP.]

Fielders: One more run means extra innings!
[Fenway Faithful: Live to fight another day]
Fielders: We have got to beat this team!
[Fenway Faithful: Did we mention, Jeter's gay?]
Fielders: There's the AL East for winning!
[Fenway Faithful: Do we curse or do we pray?]
Fielders: Do you hear the people scream?

Pap: I got my sign--here comes the ball!

Tek: One play more!

Tito: The bullpen barely got through eight--
Pap: One more strike I got to throw!
Orsillo: Bottom of the ninth, right here this is it--
Eckersley: If I was that pitcher, I'd be shouting--[BLEEP!]

Tek: This game has got to end someday, tomorrow we're at Tampa Bay--

All: This pitch is going to tell us who the playoff berth is for--
One more pitch,
One more play,
One play more!


**That being said, we did not steal the asterisk thing from him. We were into asterisks when they were still underground.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby, you're a big star now

So, this All-Star roster, it's amazingly inoffensive, right? Sure, there are a couple eyebrow-raising omissions, as always. Either the fans or Joe Maddon should damn well have made sure Ian Kinsler made the AL squad, and hey, even Charlie Manuel more or less admitted that Ryan Howard is there because he's popular, not because he's more worthy than a certain Kung Fu Panda out West.* But, by and large, it seems like the right people are going to be there in all the right places, with the double-play combination of Jeter and Pedroia once again freaking out a large chunk of the Eastern Seaboard.

The lack of ballot controversy leaves us free to focus all our energy on sighing happily in Tim Wakefield's direction. We have a documented fondness for the knuckleball and its practitioners, and for Wake** in particular, and we were horribly worried at Fenway on Friday night that a Fan Who Shall Remain Nameless had snatched Wake's All-Star chances right out of Youk's glove. We're so thrilled for the man. He's earned his spot--we've seen him start in person a few times this season, and for the vast majority of those innings, he was dealing--and it's also something he clearly values. Honestly, how can anyone sound so humble and endearing while basically saying, "I damn well deserve this recognition"? Wake should bottle that stuff, and send a six-pack to City Hall.

Our favorite part of this, the feel-good sports movie of the summer, is that Terry Francona attempted to psych Wake out by calling him into the office just as the team's other five all-stars (and we congratulate them, too, obviously) left with their packages. First of all, we imagine the look on both their faces was completely adorable. Secondly--

Hang on, packages? Brown paper packages, tied up with strings? Just what gifts does Bud Selig bestow on good little boys who make it to the Midsummer Sorta Kinda Classic? Here are our totally intrepid guesses:

  1. Free samples of the most commonly-advertised products on baseball telecasts. Guys who've been making All Stars for years must simply be swimming in Coors Light and smoothies from Sonic. And we don't even want to think about the Viagra stockpiles.
  2. A clue--one per player--to some sort of epic, Da Vinci Code-style scavenger hunt. Will the players be able to work together and find the hidden shards of Abner Doubleday's magical baseball bat? I guess we'll know if any albino monks show up. Or Tom Hanks.
  3. A flying bird hat. Hey, it's at the Cards' park, so it kind of fits. We just hope the All-Stars are careful about wearing these--they might get hunted by an overexcited Jonathan Papelbon.

Now that we've solved the mystery of the Suspicious Packages, we're settling in to watch the Return Of Nomahhh. We can't understand why there's any debate about how to react to his presence--if you're not applauding the guy for what he did here, you're doing it wrong.

Also, a word of advice that never gets old***: "Don't look directly at him! He's got a HEAHHHT MUHMUHHH!"

*And isn't Kung Fu Panda the best baseball nickname to come along in a long time? It's especially great when you forget about the movie, as history surely will, and just imagine it engraved on a plaque--or, more likely, popping up in searches in a few decades.

**Speaking of nicknames, we're not sure whether or not to be ashamed of this, but we occasionally think of him as "Eggs'n'Bakey."

***And that's the only time we'll ever say that about anything involving Jimmy Fallon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Easy as one-two-three, as simple as do-re-mi.*

We didn't plan to blog today. Up 10-1 in the 7th last night, we figured, "eh, this one's such a laugher, there won't be anything to say." Sure, we could write something about the time Jonathan Papelbon took it upon himself to teach his teammates to count to three,** going all Count from Sesame Street on their asses, but that one's definitely funnier when we do the voices. It doesn't quite translate to the written word. Up 10-5, we thought, "hmm, well at least it's--wait, fuck, another run! Okay, this isn't funny anymore."

A game as horrifically, transcendentally, amazingly, trainwreckingly bad as last night's game deserves--nay, demands--a detailed response from the blogosphere.*** As representatives of said imaginary land, that means us. We think.

At first, we were willing to write it off. Bad games happen, even to good teams. There are no extra points for style: the fact that we lost this one the way we did doesn't mean it counts for than your average 1-0 or 2-1 loss. But then we realized the truth. The truth is that there is obviously some sort of grand conspiracy going on here. Maybe there's a grassy knoll, maybe there's a Broadway musical; we're not 100% sure on all of the details, but we've definitely got some ideas.

1. It's the return of the Curse of the Bambino! No, really, hear us out: the Babe was born in Baltimore, right? And this game happened where? That's right! Baltimore! At Camden Yards, even, which is allegedly located at the exact same spot he was born lo those many years ago. Ergo, the Curse is back. Sorry, guys, this means Orioles fans are going to be chanting "11-10" at us for years to come.

2. The entire bullpen hates John Smoltz. Now, they'll try to deny it--"He's a surefire Hall of Famer," Masty'll say; "Who doesn't love Smotlz?" Okaji will ask (okay, he'd ask in Japanese, but we're the kind of stereotypical Americans who get by with some English, a couple of catchphrases in Spanish and French, and charm)--but the facts can't be denied. Smoltz pitched well yesterday, but the bullpen was in full-on sabotage mode. Never mind that Smoltz wasn't in line for the win anyway; little details like "facts" and "logic" merely get in the way of a brilliant conspiracy theory. Actually, that isn't even the biggest flaw in this theory, anyway. The biggest problem is the fact that Jonathan Papelbon would have to be in on the plan, and we all know he's got the memory of a non-memory-having thing. Like a goldfish. Or a cactus. A scene, if you'll indulge us:

PAP: He's always going on about his friend, Tiger Woods. 'My friend Tiger woods did this, my friend Tiger Woods did that.' You don't see me always bragging on 'my friend Eli Manning,' do you?
TEK: No, but that'd be dumb.
PAP: Ex--heeey, wait a--
TEK: Eli. I was insulting Eli.
PAP: Okay then. Wait, what were we talking about again?

...and end scene.

3. Picture it: Baltimore, 2009. A solitary figure stands atop a lonely light tower, peering into a long-range telescope. Every so often, he flickers a flashlight. Or one of those red laser pointer things. Back on the field, the Orioles batter reads the sign being transitted from on high and swings. He does not miss.

4. It was the power of The Wieters. He is Baseball Jesus, after all.

5. Perhaps you noticed, as we did, that when play resumed after the rain delay, Tek was no longer wearing the tall socks. It was jarring. It was strange. It was wrong. Of course, Tito pulled him not long after we made that observation, and it quickly slipped our minds. How could we overlook such an important wardrobe issue? Could Tek without tall socks be the hosiery version of Failhat? Let's hope this hypothesis is never again tested!

Luckily, it looks like the intrepid crew we call the Red Sox recognized all of the above signs and portents and took appropriate action late last night. A phone call was placed to one Kevin Millar, and he talked his former teammates and his ex-Marlin friends (and even Julio Lugo) through the appropriate curse-breaking rituals. Sure, Beckett's pitching was possibly affected by the copious amounts of Jack Daniels he was forced to drink--against his will, we're sure--to complete the ritual, but luckily the curse lifted just as the ninth inning rolled around.

So, yes, yesterday hurt. There's no sugarcoating it. But, hey, if the Red Sox win in extra innings and no one's there to see it because we're all stuck in our stupid offices cursing the IT gods in vain, it still kicks ass. And that's a fact.

*We've filled our obligatory Michael Jackson reference quota, so the world blog police can't come after us.

**PAP: All's I know is, you never see me doin' my fist-pumps before the third strike. That's three. Count 'em. Uno, dos, tres, quatorze.

***What a horrible word. We vote that we rename it "Goretopia," for the founder, inventer, and colonial conquerer of these here interwebs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination*

He warned us that some of his worst performances came when he was closing for the first time and returning to the rotation thereafter, but who among us wasn't secretly hoping for a dominant six innings out of Smoltz tonight? Oh well. We're not stressing this yet; a few more starts of a similar nature and we'll be calling for him to join Dice-K on the WBCDL, but for now we're going to assume it's some rust and that he'll shake it off over the next couple of weeks. Even in this, um, less than inspiring start, he had moments when you could see exactly why he's a no doubt hall of famer.** And then he'd give up another hit to Josh Bard.***

Too bad Jordan Zimmermann was consistently good. He's a seriously impressive kid.

Luckily, we took the first two games of the series, so we're actually okay with this loss. Winning is better--don't get us wrong! we like winning! we think it's kind of nifty keen!--but we still won the series. And that's the key. Sometimes you just need to tip your cap and move on to Atlanta.

In conclusion, you know a game's out of reach when Julio Lugo shows up. And promptly boots a grounder.

*RIP, Michael Jackson. And Farrah Fawcett.

**See also, the fifth inning.

***He really hates the Red Sox, doesn't he? Not that we can blame him.

The world shines as I cross the Macon County line

Okay, fine. We confess: we missed most of it. Jennifer had commuting problems* and was an hour late getting home; Caroline has to head out to Logan tomorrow morning and had to do some laundry, pack, and bake some delightful cookies to bring to the person she's staying with. And, of course, there was the College World Series** to watch. So, yes, we missed most of tonight's game. Over the course of a 162-game season, it's bound to happen from time to time. But we hear tell that Papi and Tek went yard, which thrills us, and that while Jonny Lester wasn't at his sharpest, he kept the team in the game. These are things that please us greatly.

Anyway, Caroline's heading down to Atlanta to do a little recon*** while Jennifer's stuck up here fighting the good fight against the rain and the MBTA, so if we don't manage to post anything over the next week, that'd be why. It has nothing at all to do with Jennifer's propensity to fall asleep in lieu of blogging or her complete inability to finish anything without another person to bounce ideas off of. We're going to try to write a post or two through a cunning use of Twitter, twine, and a stick of gum, but that may limit things to a one-liner or two rather than a fully thought out blog post of the quality you've come to expect from Respect the Tek.

We've got a couple of ideas percolating (or fermenting, if you'd prefer the alcohol metaphor, and we always prefer the alcohol metaphor), though, so once Caroline's safe and sound back in the land of socks that are crimson-ish in hue and quarterbacks with supermodel wives, we're totally going to do our best to bring you a quality blog-reading experience.

In the meantime, as always, go Red Sox!

*It's wet out, which means the buses are contractually obligated to run on their alternate super secret schedule of sucktitude.

**Congrats to the LSU Tigers! We were rooting for Pedroia's Sun Devils, but since they got knocked out before the final we were mostly rooting for a 3-game series.

***By which we mean that she's going to try to kidnap Brian McCann.

Friday, June 19, 2009

By and by, we'll defy a little bit of gravity

A spy deep in the heart of Braves territory informs us that even the Atlanta TV announcers disapprove of the Fail!hat.* This is important because, well, we're not sure why it's important. Possibly because we hate the hats? And obviously they're very, very, very unlucky. Made of fail, as it were. When something is so bad that even the opposing team's announcers are commenting on it, it's time for a change. Hey, look, if they won't send skip Dice-K's next couple (dozen) starts, the least the Red Sox can do is give up on this alternate hat experiment. If not for us, then for the children.

Because, yes, Dice-K happened. It was just as horrifyingly painful as every other Dice-K start this season, and we dipped into the alcohol and chocolate portion of our evening slightly--okay, much--earlier than we'd planned. Chocolate is awesome. Alcohol is awesome. A Dice-K start? Is not awesome. His stuff just does not look good this year. Even last year, when he was walking everyone and their father's cousin's old college roommate, his stuff had a way of looking relatively filthy once he had those bases nice and loaded. This year, though, it all looks flat. Hittable. Tasty and delicious and right down the middle of the plate for anyone who wants to go deep. He needs some time on the sunny beaches of Bermuda.** He needs to stop insisting that he's healthy, so he can go on the DL and do another rehab stint.

Of course, it's not as if his offense his helping him any. Pretty much everyone on the team looked lifeless at the plate--even Jason Bay, whose 2-run homer was a thing of parabolic beauty, seemed listless in other at-bats--and we refuse to believe that the Braves pitching is that good. We expect everyone to take some extra cuts with Mag tomorrow morning; Derek Lowe's starting, and we do not want to see people grounding into double plays without anyone on base.***

We also expect Tek to give out the Super Secret D. Lowe Scouting Report, Port City Roosters loyalty be damned. We want to see some runs on the board. And since Lowe is actually blogging about how much he still loves the Red Sox, we're sure he wouldn't mind helping us out by leaving a sinker or two up in the zone.

Oh, and Beckett? You're gonna go out there and kick some Braves ass, right? Lie to us if you have to.

*TM Texy. (Don't call it a hat-tip!)

**Sponsored by the Boston Red Sox. Which is probably great for business, but forced us to get "Kokomo" stuck in our heads. And now it's in yours. Sorry!

***If any team could manage it, the team we've seen the last two nights could. MLB history, baby!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How many fans got smacked with tape measures tonight?

"That's why Manny used to go in the Monster all the time, he was looking for Bobby Orr."
- Tom Caron

Jason Bay's in Canadian heaven and all's right with the world, since the Red Sox have clinched an absolutely mandatory series victory against the Marlins. That'll teach them not to give us back Hanley Ramirez for a song and a lobster roll.

Brad Penny didn't exactly take it to a new level against his former team, tonight, but since a line drive TRIED TO EAT HIM, we'll cut him some slack. A serviceable five innings and some solid bullpen work* adds up to a deserved 100th win. Frankly, every time The Eck mentioned that he was coming up on a possible milestone, we cringed at the jinx potential. After all, we've been inside History's Waiting Room too many times--remember tapping your toes and checking your watch as Manny Ramirez stalled out at 499 home runs?

What's that? You don't remember this Manny fellow?

Right, Hanley. Hanley Ramirez is who we're talking about.

Return him to our custody, Fish People, and nobody gets hurt.

*Notwithstanding Papelbon's new allergy to the one-two-three inning. What's that about? Is there a nasal spray for that?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lord Stanley had a pretty high alcohol tolerance

We've always had a religious objection to leaving a baseball game before the ninth inning. Using the slightly crazy logic of the superstitious baseball fan*, we suppose that means it's probably bad behavior to immediately change the channel when a game goes to extra innings. But that's what we did tonight, in order to catch the end of game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Apparently...there was more to the game? Something with a double play, Justin Masterson going multiple innings, also starring Julio Lugo as himself? We're sure it'll all make sense once we see the highlight reel.

Here's the thing, though: our hearts belong to baseball, but we can't deny that the sport we call hoc-key truly has the greatest championship trophy (and presentation) in all the world. As great as it is to watch the World Series trophy bob down Boylston Street, or see David Ortiz flash two fists' worth of double-BeDazzled rings, it's a little sad that baseball doesn't have a trophy as beautiful and historic as the Stanley Cup, or a ceremony as moving as the annual Hoistifying thereof. Here are some things baseball could do to capture some of that glory in some far-off October (or November):

1. Get a cup from some minor nobleman--Sir Sidney Ponson should suffice--and wait one hundred years for it to acquire the necessary historic patina. Note: we need something in metal, not something that comes with a Happy Meal. Plastic doesn't patina too well. (Just ask Pamela Anderson.)

2. In lieu of the individual skate-and-makeout-session part of the presentation, place the Ponson Cup in centerfield and allow the winning players to take turns hitting fungoes into it. Unfortunately, this might run a little slow where pitchers are concerned. And if it ever involves American Leaguers like Chien-Ming Wang and Bartolo Colon, well, it'll put a damper on the moment to see a guy put himself in traction.

3. Rename the MVP award after somebody and make it more wacky-looking, like the Conn Smythe trophy. It's not like baseball has a shortage of funny names, like Dazzy Vance or Rabbit Maranville, or hideous designs, like Tropicana Field or the failhat.

4. According to one of our favorite bits of NHL lore, it's bad luck for a player who's never won the Stanley Cup to touch it. Baseball should extend this tradition so that only world champions are allowed to look at the trophy; just picture the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. If that's a little harsh, we could go the Monty Python and the Holy Grail route instead, and taunt the losers in terrible French accents.

5. Take the very classy and very poignant handshake line. Replace 'handshake" with "conga." Replace "classy" with "champagne-soaked." Replace "poignant" with "gigglefit."

See that? We've solved problems Bud Selig didn't even know he had.

So it's with a sense of satisfaction (and congratulations to Jason Bay's Pittsburgh Penguins) that we're tucking ourselves in to watch the late replay of tonight's game. Our hearts are full of love for Jon Lester's amazing performance, but we might be able to make some room for Nick Green. And if nothing else, we need to confirm whether we were hallucinating when we thought we saw J.D. Drew smile.

*It's not our fault. Caroline happens to be descended from one of those people who routinely wears a Papelbon jersey to church.

Monday, June 8, 2009

We're rewriting the lyrics to "If You Seek Amy" for Britsuzaka.

It has often been said that Daisuke Matsuzaka is an enigma wrapped in a mystery shrouded in secrecy and covered in delicious bacon-y goodness. This is not news. This is not even some sort of cunning insight. This is just a fact, stated plainly and clearly (and by two people who have yet to eat dinner). After yesterday's so-called "game," we started wondering what, exactly, our options are regarding our most frustrating starter. The answer we came to may surprise you: Daisuke's not the problem, we are.

No, really, think about it.

Keep thinking.

Okay, think some more.

You know how people keep joking that, hey, maybe if the Red Sox wore commemorative Team Japan jerseys Daisuke would think he was pitching in the WBC and actually get hitters out? Well, it turns out that idea didn't fly with ownership, so we're moving on to the next best thing. Something we, the fans, can control without pesky things like Tom Werner's approval or Jason Varitek's glove getting in our way.

The answer is clearly more cheerleading. But none of this half-hearted "Let's Go Red Sox" stuff that always ends up out of sync before the first set of claps; we're talking section leaders, we're talking songs, we're talking a full brass band and a drumline. All that stuff they kept telling us about during last year's ill-advised around the world road trip. Instead of Fenway Park, we want Daisuke to think he's at the Tokyo Dome (or, at the very least, Tokyo Disneyland). Of course, we'll also need some volunteers willing to risk expulsion from their swanky seats in order to drape a giant Japanese flag over the Green Monster, but that's what fandom's all about. It's about sacrifices.* And beer. Possibly crazy superstitious rituals involving chickens &/or lima beans, but that's another post altogether.

Just imagine it: a crowd full of people waving banners, singing songs, and cheering in unison. We'll even provide a visitor's section near the third base dugout, for authenticity's sake.** It'll be amazing. Daisuke won't know what hit him, and we'll finally get to see that legendary gyroball of his. He'll never give up another run at Fenway; in fact, he'll be so spectactular at home that people will begin traveling with the team, turning opposing parks into Fenway West and Fenway Midwest and Fenway Sou--

Oh, wait. Never mind.

So what say you, Red Sox fans? Care to volunteer the first cheer? The first song?

*In fact, as the ultimate sacrifice, we are willing to skip out on work and fly over to Japan to do some recon on what, exactly, it would take to give Daisuke's every start a properly authentic Japanese feel. If everyone donates $1.00, we'll have the cash to do it by the 2013 All-Star Break.

**And not at all because we kept getting confused by the really loud Mets fans we were surrounded with on Memorial Day weekend.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Do be a beer drinker, don't be a beer spiller

The Respect the Tek Guide to Ballpark Etiquette, Fenway Edition

I. Before You Go: Pack Light, Pack Early, Pack Often

A. Bring a hoodie. Bring an unopened bottle of water. Bring ID if you're going to purchase alcohol. Bring a hat, and remove it during the national anthem. Bring your kids if you're prepared to cover their ears a lot. Bring your mom. Bring snacks (if you work for Fenway security and you're reading this, we personally never bring snacks). Bring a camera, just in case Jon Lester throws a perfect game or goes squirrel-hunting or something.

B. If you're not one of the poor fools who have to work until after five, head out to the park early. Watch some BP; if the Blue Jays are in town, yell, "Millar!" at random intervals. Take advantage of Fenway's Family Hour to eat twice as many Fenway Franks as you'd normally be able to afford.

II. To Sit or Not to Sit, and What to Do Once You Find Out Your Seat's Behind a Pole

A. If you are lucky enough to be chilling in standing room, cultivate a wide stance. Don't interpret your neighbor's foot touching yours as an invitation. This is not the men's room at Logan Airport.

B. Believe it or not, you can hold out until an inning's end or a pitching change before you get up and get another beer. You can. Really. Baseball has all these breaks built in. There is never an excuse to be getting out of seat 11 of 23 and getting in everyone's way in the middle of a full count. Unless you're having a medical emergency, in which case, the Beth Israel Deaconess medical center is behind Fenway Section Twelve. We know, for Remy told us so.

C. Sometimes it can be polite to climb up or down over one seat into an empty row in order to make your way to the aisle. But only if nobody is actually sitting in that seat. In related news, please keep your feet off other people's hats.

D. Ballgames are social experiences, and of course you should chat with the folks you're with, but remember there are things that the strangers five rows ahead of you don't need to hear. Like, say, the results of your paternity test. Save it for Maury, or at least keep your voice down. That goes for you, too, girl on cell phone for ninety percent of the evening.

E. If you're holding up a sign that says "Hit it Here," make sure your seats are in fair territory.

III. Fun and Games and Dance-Offs

A. Fans over the age of ten years are invited not to participate in The Wave.*

B. Sitting near season ticket holders? Ask if any of them have ever caught a foul ball. Chances are you'll hear some funny stories from the 70s.

C. This being New England, there's always a risk of long rain delays. Sure, you can just drink yourself silly until the game is resumed or called off--we're sure Larry Lucchino gets starry-eyed at the very thought of all those concession sales. But the poor man's rainy ballpark pastime? Jersey bingo! Find a good people-watching vantage point and see if you can spot T-shirts for every member of that day's starting lineup, for the twenty-five man roster or the entire 2004 Legion of Superheroes. Obscure players, of course, are worth bonus points. If you see a Gagne T-shirt, that's an automatic bingo. If you see an unmodified Johnny Damon jersey, you are actually at Yankee Stadium, and that's a whole different guide.

D. Try and applaud spectacular plays made by the visiting team; it's the classy thing to do. Please note that every play a shortstop makes is not "spectacular"--just unfamiliar.

IV. Thank You For Being A Friend: The People Of Fenway

A. There is an official scorer who attends Red Sox games and monitors the umpires' calls very closely. He's in the back of grandstand section 15, and while he may appear to be a very drunk guy with his hat on sideways, don't be fooled: he has a superior view of the game, and pinpoint accuracy, and that, dammit, was a strike!

B. Fenway is home to some of the most knowledgable fans in the whole wide baseball world. It's also home to some of those people who call WEEI shows and talk the crazy talk.** When someone sitting near you starts in on an illogical rant about how he'll never forgive Pedro Martinez for giving up that home run to Bucky Dent, don't bother trying to correct him. Instead, turn to his wife and roll your eyes. Chances are she's rolling her eyes too, and you'll make a new ballpark friend.

V. "Yankees Suck" Is Not As Cunning as You Think It Is

A. Heckling is an art. Or a science. Or maybe one of those artsy-sciency things, like baking pie or being A-Rod's agent. At any rate, heckling definitely has its own set of rules:

1. Know who is actually in the opposing team's lineup. Bellowing insults at Josh Hamilton is less than effective when he's on the disabled list. He probably can't hear you from the comfy couch, and everyone who can thinks you're dumb.

a. Okay, so it's always tempting to heckle A-Rod, but try to restrain yourself. The thing is, when you heckle A-Rod, even the opposing fans probably agree with you.*** Heckling should rile the enemy up, not create battlefield camaraderie! This is not a World War I movie!

2. Don't bring other sports into your insults. It's a mistake to assume that everyone roots for every team a city has. Miguel Cabrera probably isn't gonna cry into his (purely decorative) glove when you point out how bad the Lions suck.

3. Once you've picked your victim, try and come up with something to say other than his name. The whole "Daaaa-rryl," "Rawwww-ger," "Bar-toooooo-lo" thing is only cool if 37,000 people decide to join in. Alone, you're just an annoying sing-songy voice, and a good target for flying beer paraphernalia.

4. Here's when it's okay to boo or heckle your own team's players: Never. Period. After all, you want them to win. However, if you really want to tell certain guys how much they suck--we can't say his name, so we'll call him Lugio Julo--at least hold off until he's actually done something that costs the team a run. Unfortunately, you won't have to wait forever.

Print these guidelines out and follow them for a wonderful experience at Fenway Park. Or, if you prefer, make a paper airplane, write a threatening note, and try and fly it into C.C. Sabathia's eye. That way, you'll have a wonderful night in a holding cell, and we'll steal your seats.

*Especially not when it's the fifth inning and your team is down by several runs.

**Curt Schilling.

***We have seen a Yankees fan outside Fenway Park hold an A-Roid syringe, and snicker. And in short, we were afraid.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The curse of Nomar strikes again.

Dear Theo,

All we want for Christmas is a shortstop who can flash some leather and hit above the Mendoza line.

The Ladies of Respect the Tek

Friday, May 15, 2009

Giving away free stuff is a good way to make friends.

Now that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are over*, we can finally return to our semi-quasi-almost-regular coverage of our favorite baseball team and yours, those crazy LOB machines known as the Boston Red Sox. And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with a contest? That's right, folks, you heard it here first (and last, and all the times in between): we've got two spare standing room tickets to May 24's game versus the New York Mets, and we're going to give them to one of you! All you need to do is answer one silly little question (one that is answered within the annals of Respect the Tek), and we will send them right out to you.

The Question: What part of Josh Beckett's body is Jason Varitek?

The Prize: 2 Standing Room tickets to May 24's game against the New York Mets

Just answer the question in the comments, and if you're right** we'll contact you and figure out how to get the tickets to you.

*Crazy how they just canceled them like that, huh? All out of the blue and stuff? Weird.

**Or the only entrant, in which case you win by default. Awesome, huh?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In lieu of a real post, a list of things about this comedy of errors we're calling the 2009 baseball season.

1. Can we just say right here and for the record how much we love a J. Mast?

2. Fair warning: it's Stanley Cup Playoff time, so when there's a conflict between the Red Sox and the Bruins, this is the time of year we pick the Bruins. This is probably a good thing, since the upcoming epic Bruins/Habs showdown is helping us remain calm and quasi-sane through the rough patch the Red Sox are currently stumbling through.

3. You know what we don't love? The WBC. Sure, we were originally on board, if only so we could watch some Cuban ballplayers we might not otherwise see, but we were wrong. So wrong. Mere words can't express how very wrong we were. The WBC is evil.

4. Unpopular opinion time: we don't think the 6 game suspension MLB imposed on Josh Beckett is all that unfair. We're not thrilled with it, obviously, and we dislike the fact that MLB pretty much discounted what the umpiring crew--who were actually there, by the way--determined. But, still, intentionally or not, that ball sailed up toward Abreu's head, and Beckett sure as hell didn't help himself any by charging off the mound to confront him.*

5. Also, hilariously, Dave Magadan claims he found part of the offense's problem, i.e. that they're not taking as many pitches and are getting themselves out. We say "hilariously" because, well, it seems like twelve billion bloggers figured that one out before our illustrious hitting coach.

*No, JB, that does not mean you need to hug it out or anything. Just, you know, maybe--oh, who the hell are we kidding? He'll do it exactly the same way next time, and that is, in part, why we love him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

We've got two words for all of you out there: don't panic. We've taken care of it. We know, we know, you sat there Sunday too, watching as the Red Sox stranded runner after runner after runner after--well, you get the picture. You yelled at the TV. You slammed your head against things heads are not meant to be slammed against. You threw the remote. You crawled around on the floor looking for the battery that flew out of the back of the remote when it hit the floor. You replaced the battery in the remote. You turned the volume off. You turned the volume back on. All the little superstitions from last season came flying back, and by the time JD Drew struck out to the end the game you were in full post-season crazy mode.

Which is when we decided to take action. We got ice cream.

Okay, you might say, that all sounds well and good for you and your taste buds, but what's that got to do with baseball?

We're glad you asked. You see, we didn't get any old ice cream, we got magically delicious Red Sox ice cream.* Jennifer got a scoop of Rice DICE Kream, which will solve all of our pitching staff's woes: walk rates will plummet, HRA will cease and desist, WHIPs will be smaller than sprinkles. Everyone will strike out at least one batter per inning, and our entire staff will be in contention for the Cy Young. Caroline countered with some Very Berry Ellsbury in order to kick start the offense from the lead-off spot. Just because we're not going to give up anymore runs doesn't mean that we don't need to score any either, and everyone knows that the offense starts with getting the lead-off guy on base. So everyone's OPS is going to skyrocket; people are going to get on base, yes, but more importantly they're going to be driven home. No more trying to convince ourselves, "hey, at least they're getting on base." The Red Sox will score runs, their opponents won't, and we're going to win us some ballgames.

...of course, then the team announced that Jed Lowrie's going to the DL, and we have no real starting shortstop. So, you know, maybe we should panic a little? There's no ice cream for that.

This is gonna require cupcakes.

*There are obviously a lot of flavors they just haven't seen fit to release yet, like Drew's Bruised Georgia Peach. Call us, JP Licks! We will trade concepts for coupons!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MLB Network is ruining our lives.

Late last night or early this morning, in the middle of the ninth inning of a Padres-Brewers game*, the broadcast team started picking out shots of sleepy children clutching blankets in the crowd. The announcers cooed a little over the kids and their "woobies"--something they might snuggle to their chest and never put down for the first four years of their lives.

Then they said, unironically, that closer Heath Bell is the Padres' woobie.

This might be the best use of early childhood nonsense terminology since Bill Belichick's hoodie. Good call, Padres announcers.** However, since the inning was rife with defensive errors and Bell barely escaped blowing the save, we do have one caveat:

Dear Remy and Orsillo,

Raise the bar. Bring the cute. Tell us how John Smoltz is playing the proud parent in a pitching staff re-enactment of Make Way For Ducklings, with Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson trailing merrily after him.

Just don't tell Jonathan Papelbon he's anyone's woobie. It's too dangerous.

*Yes, we do stay up late watching meaningless spring training jousts between teams that we don't even care about. Thank god there's less than a week to go before the real season starts and we can get our baseball fix in more sane and sanitary ways.

**At least, we think they were the Friars' guys. We could be wrong. It was late, and they kept talking about Tony Gwynn and Tony Gwynn, Jr. until it all sounded like "Malkovich Malkovich."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Also, in the future, Robot Dice-K will thrive.

Yes, we promised you five Respect the Tek predictions every Friday until opening day, but we lied. This week, we have something even better. We have traveled to the future in our Tardis and brought back with us a few key quotes from Dustin Pedroia's future twitter account. (Yes, Dustin Pedroia will start twittering.* On July 14, 2009, if you want to be all specific about it, after he spends most of the All-Star festivities learning strange factoids about Barry Zito from Tim Lincecum.)

So, yes, we are late with this post. Our time machine malfunctioned slightly and we somehow skipped from Friday afternoon right until Sunday afternoon. We've been assured that this does happen occasionally, and that if the side effects don't go away in four hours, we should seek immediate medical attention. Anyway, on to Pedroia's Tweets of the Future:

1. @CCSabathia you suck! You got nothing! Next time we meet, that ball's going to be 95 mph going in and 200 mph going out!

2. "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"**

3. Hey everyone I suck and I'm a midget and Jon Papelbon could totally strike me out a million times in a row so ha.***

4. everyone singing we are the champions whole flight home gonna blow chunks

5. @JPapelbon sorry your kid isn't a better pitcher than you were and that my kid had to hit that laser off her tonight. Go ASU!

We could have brought back pages with his insults to opposing pitchers alone, and once Kevin Youkilis' facial hair gets its own account, the back-and-forth between them is going to be epic. We don't want to spoil these things for you, though, so we're not going to post them here. And, no, we can't tell you when, exactly, #4 is from; we can't even reveal exactly what it's in reference to. Maybe our most valuable gunslinger just gets really excited about the Mayor's Cup.

Meanwhile, back here in the normal timestream and the real world, we're t-minus eight days to Opening Day, and we don't even need 140 characters to say this: YAY!

*Will start tweeting? Will become a twitterererer? Whatever the ridiculous terminology, Dustin Pedroia's going to be amusing the nation, one bon mot at a time. Like Shaq. You know, if Shaq was a small white dude who can't dunk.

**Pedey doesn't attribute his quotes, but we do. That's Vince Lombardi.

***This update mysteriously disappeared about fifteen minutes after it first showed up. The tweet that went up next is too profane for us to repeat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How can I say goodbye to what we had? The good times outweighed the bad.

Remember how, after the end of the 2007 season, Curt Schilling left letters for certain teammates in their lockers?* Remember how Jason Varitek refused to read his because Schill wasn't officially retired and could very well re-sign with the Red Sox? (Okay, that one might be something we made up. We're not 100% sure. Just go with it.) Well, we like to imagine the following text message showed up on Tek's phone late last night:

Read the letter.**

All of which is our way of saying that Curt Schilling is many things, all of them contradictory, but for a while there he was ours. And, in some ways, he always will be. We will miss seeing him pitch every fifth day--even when we decidedly do not miss Tito keeping him in one inning too long--and we will always, always think of him standing on that mound in Yankee Stadium, ankle stapled together, silencing the ghosts.

Thank you, Schill. Have a wonderful retirement (and please do shut up).

*We'd link, but that would require actual effort, and we are vehemently anti-effort on Mondays.

**Or, you know, rd teh ltr. We wouldn't put it past Big Schill to use textspeak.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Josh Bard will look up and shout, "Save me." And we'll whisper, "No."

The Curse of Doug Mirabelli is alive and well and living in Fort Myers.

Just when we were starting to like Bard-o, too. Still, we're not gonna lie, we're excited that the PawSox Two are apparently getting an actual shot to win the gig. In fact, we're going to just throw this out there: we want a Kottaras-Brown backup catching tandem, people! Three catchers means we could, you know, pinch hit and double switch and all those National League tricks Bill James disapproves of so heartily. Make them uber-super-duper utility guys! Teach 'em to cover shortstop! Or throw a knuckleball! Heck, Dusty Brown was an outfielder once upon a time; we're sure all those innings crouched behind the plate haven't affected his ability to play right field when JD "Mr. Glass" Drew needs a day off.

So that's our cunning plan. Well, that or kidnapping Taylor Teagarden and telling everyone that he's Mark Wagner after extensive plastic surgery.

Anyway, it's time for some more 2009 predictions. We know you're all excited.

1. Jonathan Papelbon will hit a game-winning grand slam during interleague play.*

2. Julio Lugo will come back from his injury, and he will continue to play (almost**) as well as he did in spring training. Jed Lowrie will also continue to kick ass. This will be a great problem to have, no matter what you think about either player, and it will only make the team better.

3. We will never, ever, utter the words, "Man, I wish we'd signed Pudge Rodriguez." No disrespect to the future Hall of Famer, but there are plenty of other catchers we'll wish were on the Red Sox ahead of him. You can even strike Mauer and Martin from the list and end up with a strong Pudge-free top five.

4. Futures at Fenway will, once again, kick ass and take names. (What? We love FoF, okay, and we needed an excuse to point out that tickets go on sale this Saturday. Be there or be somewhere else. But somewhere else won't have baby baseball players taking each other's picture in front of the Green Monster while the Frisbee dogs run free.)

5. Every single team whose personnel have openly stated that they think they can be "the Rays of 2009" (We're looking at you, Reds, Pirates, and Orioles) will be bitterly disappointed. You know why Cinderella teams are interesting? Because they're really rare, like glass slippers. However, the national baseball media (now we're done looking at the Orioles, let's all turn our pointed gaze to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver) will keep this meme alive and anoint one of our lucky contenders "the Rays of 2009" around the all-star break--whoever it is, they will be instantly jinxed, and discover that they're the Rays of 1998-2008 instead.***

Tune in next week when we try to predict setlists for the bullpen band.

*Please ignore our footnote on this very issue from last week.

**Because no one actually hits .500, and we do not actually believe he will ever play error-free defense. This is not an insult, it is just reality.

***Or, dare we say it, the Devil Rays.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Robots eat old people's medicine for fuel.

All week, we've been puzzling over Daisuke Matsuzaka's stellar six-inning, no-walk, fewer-than-1,000 pitch performance in the World Baseball Classic. We've studied the tape closely* and come to the obvious conclusion:

Daisuke has been replaced by a robot.

Okay, our theory raises more questions than it answers. Like, when did AI get so advanced? Was Dice-K himself the mastermind behind Dice-3PO? Was it another nefarious World Baseball Classic plot like the one that's caused freak injuries to half the players on the Team USA roster**? Where is the real Dice-K now--lying on a beach somewhere with his beautiful wife, or strapped to a training table in front of a Clockwork Orange-type infinite loop of game tape?

We may not have all the answers, but we're pretty sure we're right about the robot part. Because a version of Matsuzaka who doesn't walk a single soul and tosses efficient ten-pitch innings around like they're Icelandic money? That is definitely something out of the Uncanny Valley.

Meanwhile, we're more than ready for real games, but the Greening of the Sox is a fun substitute. We particularly enjoyed the presence of an "actual" "leprechaun." It wasn't funny in and of itself, but it allowed David Ortiz to bring his Pedroia mockery to a new level. And Papi's given us so much joy in this life that anything which makes him smile is worth closing elementary schools, holding a parade, and drinking vile green beer.

Haters, please note that Jason Varitek was 2-3 from the left side, with a well-thwacked home run into the bargain. For Dave Magadan's next trick, he'll drive the snakes out of New England.

*That is, we watched it when it aired live, and even spent some of that time looking at the screen.

**We're still rooting for Cuba, but if the US makes it, we are sure David Wright's smiling face will make us feel better.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Oh, wow, time flies when you're under a deadline. Another Friday, another five predictions. These ones are short and to the point, just like us.*

1. We will mutter, "Man, I wish we'd signed Pedro" at least once this season. Possibly twice. No more than five times, though.

2. Lift the embargo! Free the Cuban ballplayers! (Okay, that one's not really a prediction, but c'mon. It's wrong and sad that the WBC is the only chance we'll ever have to see a majority of these guys. And it probably angers Mikey Lowell, too.)

3. Tom Glavine will--oh, wait, we did this one last year, and his BFF Smoltz is a Red Sox now. But Tom Glavine will still lose a ridiculous bet to John Smoltz this year, and he will have to do the chicken dance on the mound at Fenway Park.

4. "Yankees Suck" will be chanted inappropriately in the following circumstances: the Mets visit Fenway; the Red Sox visit Citi Field; the Nationals play the Braves; the Red Sox play the White Sox, who kind of look like the Yankees if you are squinting and/or drunk; the Bruins play the Rangers; Chuck Schumer gets into a fistfight with John Kerry on the steps of the Capitol. Actually, if that last one comes true, we promise to join in the chant.

5. Jonathan Papelbon will say something and Jason Varitek will tell him to shut up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Hopefully, soon, we'll manage to post something a bit more substantive, but we're not going to get carried away and try to predict our own kooky behavior. That way lies madness, after all. In closing, we're forwarding a little PSA from our first baseman and yours, a Mr. Kevin Youkilis. Youk would like to know why you're not all on a flight to catch Team USA's next game in Miami. He wants your support, people, to drown out the Puerto Rican voices in the crowd and to celebrate the baseball team of a land so free even a crazy closer can speak his mind without fear of retaliation.**

We know why we're not going, of course: we've got jobs, bills, and a tendency to root for the Netherlands or possibly Cuba. But we could be swayed on that last point. If we were to call out of work by command of the Greek God of Walks, would that count as a religious holiday?

*By which we mean that we are short, but very rarely to the point. Also that we forgot about this until mere moments ago.

**Okay, that's mostly because he's a relief pitcher in the AL who will never, ever, ever get to bat. You hear that, Papelbottom? Never.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Our Predictions Are Slightly More Accurate Than CNBC's

In an attempt to force ourselves to post something every week, no matter how inane, we are introducing a new feature here at Respect the Tek. Every Friday from now until opening day, we're going to bring you five random predictions for the 2009 MLB season, based entirely on box scores, an obsession with the MLB Network, random other blogs, silly conversations, and our favorite poems. These predictions will of course come with a money back guarantee and a free gift with purchase.* So, without further ado, we bring you Respect the Tek's First Five Predictions for the 2009 MLB Season.

1. Judging by his three hitless innings against the powerhouse Team USA on Wednesday, Matt Clement will not only stage a comeback this season, he will win the Cy Young. The Red Sox will face both Clement and the Doc in every single Blue Jays series this season.

2. Just going by the hype, PECOTA projections, MLB Network's 30 in 30, and the fact that the sun always shines just a little brighter when he's around, Matt Wieters is going to be the first baseball player ever to win the Rookie of the Year, MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Rolaids Relief Man, Comeback Player, and Kansas City Royals Pitcher of the Year. He will place second in the Cy Young balloting.

3. Tim Lincecum will continue to account for 2/3 of all San Francisco Giants wins.

4. Greg Maddux will wreak his revenge on Glavine and Smoltz for failing to retire so they could go into the Hall of Fame all together. Details of his cunning and evil plan remain sketchy, but Maddux was recently spotted in a Phoenix-area bar, petting a hairless cat and muttering about how Derek Lowe "works for us now."

5. On the eve of the last game of the World Baseball Classic, we will kidnap Yu Darvish and make him our own. That's "we" as in "we, Red Sox Nation," not "we," your intrepid bloggers.** This will give us the strongest rotation in Major League Baseball. It also means that Pedroia and Youkilis will have to fight their way back to the team. Guys, start practicing your Karate Kid moves now.

*The free gift is our charm and wit. No refunds or exchanges.

**Okay, actually, it's just us. But not for any prurient reason. We'll be his agents. Please leave your fifty million dollar opening bids in the comments.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day

Respect The Tek is a steroid-free zone. We are not writing under the influence of any blog-enhancing drugs. If you know where blog-enhancing drugs can be acquired, please kick some our way.

Honestly, though, we've reached our limit with steroid talk. We don't want to hear about it anymore, or care about it anymore. Oh, yes, we believe that roiding is cheating, and that there should be aggressive testing and harsh penalties in order to keep baseball safe for the likes of a certain Most Valuable Midget. We think that cracking down now is worthwhile, but trying to ferret out everyone who used during the long, sordid era when Major League Baseball was out having lunch and getting its nails done is pointless. At this point, it's sadly necessary to assume that more people did it than didn't, and that nobody is guaranteed clean*. And it's also true that there's always been cheating in baseball, Gaylord Perry, and that we've never been stat freaks**, so we can't get all worked up about 'purity of the numbers' arguments.

So, we humbly ask our fellow Red Sox fans to cool it with the A-Rod steroid heckling this season, because there are plenty of reasons to loathe the Yankees that are less likely to kick us in the karma.***

Moving to new business: Paps'n Cap'ns (and the rest of the pitchers and catchers) have reported to spring training as of yesterday--this is like Valentine's Day for those baseball fans among us who think that Cupid can totally suck it. We can't decide which is our favorite sign of the coming spring:

Ah, but who are we kidding? This right here is our favorite thing. Our favorite, damp, sinewy, glove-totin', oversized-shorts-wearin' thing.

Who needs truffles and diamonds? Our hearts are already full.

*We're divided on the subject of those who tested positive in 2003. We're dreading the spectre of all those names trickling out one by one and ruining a whole lot of days for a whole lot of people, but at the same time, it's not fair to compensate for one violation of confidentiality by doing it a hundred and three more times. Mainly, it all just makes us want to see Frank Thomas roll up on Bud Selig and the MLBPA and knock some heads.

**This is why Nate Silver will never hang out with us. (Yeah. This is why.)

***And no, making fun of Leigh Teixeira is not acceptable, either.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Truck Day!

It all started with the postseason. We'd write a couple of sentences, play around with them for a while, but in the end we'd erase every last word on the off chance it could in any way be construed as a jinx, a hex, bad luck. Healthy? No. Sane? Certainly not. But we couldn't help ourselves. What if our (admittedly brilliant) one-liner about grilled cheese sandwiches made Mikey Lowell's bad hip even worse? What if that comment about high fastballs made Pap blow a save? We couldn't risk it. Anyway, fast-forward to the off-season, which has featured a hot stove with a frightening similarity to our old electric stove at home: which is to say that it is cold, cold, cold, on fire, cold. And you know you should probably move your hand off that burner--hmm, that smells a little like burning flesh, doesn't it? wow, and it kind of hurts--but you just can't.

So we stopped posting. And kept not posting. And then we didn't post some more. And, as is the case with so many things in life, the longer you actively avoid doing something the easier it is to justify your decision.

But today we are back. We won't promise it's for good--it's entirely possible that tomorrow morning we will come up with a batshit crazy explanation for broken bats that involves the twenty-third sentence of this post that will drive us back into hibernation; hell, we put off posting this until after Tek passed his physical because we were afraid of, well, things we aren't going to mention because then they might happen--but hopefully for a little while. Maybe even until pitchers and catchers report.

Which brings us to our regularly scheduled programming on this fine Friday evening: catchers. As in: the Red Sox have pretty much failed to develop &/or trade for a catcher of the future (CoF), thus bringing us to this point in time when they had to overspend on a 37-year old in the hopes that Joe Mauer a) actually hits free agency (we're dubious, to say the least) and b) doesn't get scooped up by the Yankees. As in: look, we're not stupid. We know that Tek's bat speed has deteriorated to the point that he can't catch up to a Paul Byrd fastball, and he couldn't throw out Sean Casey stealing second most days. That said, we don't care. He's still our favorite. Maybe it's nostalgia, fond memories of the days when he'd glove A-Rod in the face in the morning and get a few hits in the evening. Maybe it's the thighs.* Maybe it's the fact that, to a man, the pitching staff went out of its way to casually mention that they wanted him back, and we always want Jonathan Papelbon to get what he wants.** But, no matter the reason, that's just the way it is. We all have our favorites: sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't. Joe Posnanski once wrote a post on this very subject (or was it someone else?), and were we less lazy &/or down for the count with the TD Banknorth Flu, we would search it out and link to it.

So, yes, before we get any further, we confess: we are happy Tek will be back, all logic and statistical analysis be damned. We are those people. (Of course, we are also those people who like to imagine that Andy MacPhail will go even more loco and hand us the Wieters for Daniel Bard,*** a Johnny Pesky autographed baseball, Julio Lugo, and a pack of chewing gum. What? It could totally happen.) We want Tek back, and we want a CoF to magically appear without costing us Clay Buchholz.**** We want Ted Williams to come back to life, a million dollars, and a pony.

We want this exchange to happen during spring training:

Tek: Hey, Salty.*****
Salty: Teach me all you know, Yoda.
Tek: Okay!
Salty: YAYS.
Tek: Now, the first thing you gotta know is that all our pitchers are insane. Especially Pap...

And so on and so forth, etc.

Mick Jagger would tell us that we can't always get what we want. He would tell us that maybe we'll get what we need. To this we say, "Hey, Mick, stick to the tight pants and dancing! Tell Charlie we love him! And, hey, you guys should tour again. We'd buy overpriced tickets in a heartbeat."

So, Theo, now that you've arranged for the first part of our little fantasy to come true, it's time to get the rest of it done. Call Texas &/or Arizona and convince them that the Red Sox prospect they really want in exchange for one of their catchers is a little-known RHP named Craig Hansen and forget to mention that he's no longer with the organization. Explain, very carefully, that you'd be willing to throw in Julio Lugo as a sign of good faith--free of cost, of course, ain't no one dumb enough to pick up that salary--and sweeten the pot with a couple of Fenway Franks. Offer up a free Pearl Jam concert if you have to, just get it done.

*We like to think we're above such abject objectification, but. Well. We're not. Deal with it.

**Unless what he wants involves hookers, blow, or anything else favored by the 1986 Mets.

***Codename: Hamlet. Think about it.

****Look, when your team acquired not only your long-time catcher/captain but also the dude who won all three clinching games the year they won the World Series for the first time in a gazillion years by trading away that year's Eric Gagne, well, you develop unrealistic expectations about how trades are supposed to work.

All glibness aside, however, we really are curious: who would you be willing to part with for a CoF? Does it differ if they catcher on offer is Saltalamacchia or Teagarden? Montero or someone else entirely? Inquiring minds want to know!

*****Feel free to substitute Teagarden, Montero, or your own personal favorite CoF flavor for Saltalamacchia. We've just had a soft spot for Salty for a while, is all, so we went with him. Also his name is fun. We here at Respect the Tek like fun names (We'll miss you, Coco Crisp! Have fun in Kansas City!).