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.