Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We do not need to buy seats from Fenway to keep in this house

So, a few weeks ago we decided we wanted tickets to this game, and we ended up with these lovely seats.* As it turned out, the Red Sox had a magic number of one that night, but they were going to have to get through the man whose name has been engraved on the Cy Young since April to clinch their postseason berth. And, while Wakefield's been money for us** all season, we were understandably less than confident about the offense. The Red Sox have had their problems scoring runs against good pitching all season, and visions of a heartbreaking 1-0 loss danced in our heads.

Tense game. Terribly tense game. Wonderfully tense game. The Sox got two runs while we were waiting in line for food, then Wake--with the help of some uncharacteristically sloppy defense--surrendered four runs in one inning, the fourth crossing the plate just as we returned to our seats. We ate, drank, explained the scoreboard to the guy from New Zealand behind us. The bullpen band played. We knocked on our chairs, danced to Coco's at-bat music, and watched as they managed to score three more runs, way more than we expected off Lee. They took that one run lead, and they clung to it. Cleveland kept putting runners on; the Red Sox kept squeaking out of it. The crowd spent more time on its feet than in their seats.

Top of the eight, bases loaded, two outs. Cue Wild Thing. Cue I'm Shipping up to Boston. Cue a first pitch ground-out, another Houdini moment. The game continued; the thin lead held into the ninth. Papelbon got the final batter to pop the ball up, and started jumping up and down while it was still in the air.

Then there was a big shouting, hugging dogpile on the field, which never gets even one bit old.

We rushed to get down close to the field while the team was partying in the dugout, and ended up right behind the home plate net. Bullpen pitchers emerged carrying tiny babies and champagne to spray. There was Kevin Youkilis with his cherubic blond child*** jogging around the bases. There were players being interviewed, all drunk and happy and grabbing each other. There was Papelbon hugging himself and gesturing to the crowd, strutting about in a belly shirt, and actually digging the bases up and giving them away to random fans.

And then Jason Varitek decided to greet every fan left in the park. Personally. He is the Captain, after all.

He made his way around starting at the dugout by first base, down to the area back of home plate, where he gave us the world's most gentle high fives. His eyes were crinkly. His hands were big and warm and surprisingly soft. He went all the way down to the left field corner before he rejoined his teammates for more back-slapping and lite-beer drinking in the middle of the diamond. We didn't manage to take pictures in our glee. He looks amazing in person. In real life.

We went to ten Sox games this year, and we sat through rain delays and heat waves, come-from-behind wins and inexplicable losses to the Orioles, Julio Lugo forgetting how to catch a batted ball as if the knowledge was surgically excised from his brain****, and Jed Lowrie learning to hit at Fenway. We sat through the lows and the highs of a very long season. And we know that as long as it was for us, it was longer, more arduous and stressful and punishing, for the guys on the field. There's been a lot of baseball.

So it's astounding, and wonderful, that the greatest moment***** we shared with them in person was the moment that confirmed we will see more baseball. The season won't end in September. We have another chance at the brass ring. And this isn't cause for exhaustion, it's cause for a champagne celebration. Big strong men cheered and hugged their teammates and danced with their children and, at Fenway Park on a suddenly warm autumn night, they reached out to us to share the joy.

Red Sox Win, the scoreboard said.

And we sang and danced all the way home.

*Sometimes, you buy tickets from the official site and end up standing on your head behind a pole somewhere in Medford. Sometimes, you end up with pretty awesome seats.

**By which we do, in fact, mean us, personally. If Wake only pitched while we were in attendance, he'd be 800-3 or something crazy like that.

***Is it weird or wrong to think they're extra cute because it's his fiancee's kid and not, biologically, his?

****Sigh. But it's mean to pick on a dude who's down with a nasty calf injury, so this is a mercy footnote.

*****We missed being at Jon Lester's no-hitter by one day! But we were at the crazy game with the 19-17 score. Definitely got several Broadway shows' worth of drama.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We do not have words that are not "woo" and "hoo" in this house

We were at Fenway tonight STOP Jason Varitek high-fived us STOP More when we smell less like champagne FULL STOP.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We do not seduce and destroy in this house

Apparently, the Red Sox are not in the business of distracting the New England masses from their "Matt Cassel is our quarterback" woes.* Unless, of course--and bear with us while we spin the crazy here--their cunning plan involves making September baseball so stressful and panic-inducing that we're all left far too cotton-brained and bleary to remember that there's a football team 'round these parts. In which case: mission accomplished, guys, thanks for playing the LOB and Relief Corps Failure Parade game (safe for all ages, available at K-Mart, comes with a special John Madden voiceover track)!

We'll be at Fenway on Friday, and we're hoping to relocate the mojo that allowed the home team to win in our presence on Monday night.** Jennifer's switching out her pretty Fenway desktop wallpaper as we speak; she took the picture herself, so it really pains her to admit that it is obviously a jinxy jinxer that jinxes, but facts must be faced. She put up the wallpaper Tuesday morning, and the Red Sox haven't won since.

And it's not just that they haven't won. It's that Papelbon blew a save; yes, yes, dude's human, blah de blah, nobody's perfect, but every time he blows a save it feels like the kitten you were playing with turned into a pissy mountain lion, slashed right through your arm, and destroyed your whole house while you called 911. It's that Beckett pitched a good game, the bullpen held it together for an insane number of innings, and the offense managed to do jack shit.

Of course, you could also look at it like this: Lester was awesome, Beckett was pretty fucking good for a guy in his second start after seeing the dreaded Dr. James Andrews, and most of the bullpen was lights out. We all expect Pap to bounce back, and, well, can anyone honestly say they didn't call Wednesday night's game once Timlin took the mound? We love the Admiral, don't get us wrong, but we do sometimes wish he was only around in some sort of coaching and/or hawk hunting capacity.

So, no, we're not freaking out (too much), because even in this demoralizing series, there are still positive signs indicating the potential for October kickassery. The postseason is the goal, and we all know that everything changes once you get there. Hell, the Sox had their problems with The The Angels Angels of Anaheim last season, but you wouldn't know it from the ALDS. So: get there. And anything's possible.

Plus, maybe you haven't heard, but Tampa Bay? Actually good at baseball these days.
Although we really wish Tom Seaver would show up and kick their asses for referring to themselves as amazin'.

*Full disclaimer: we aren't really Patriots fans, but we've reached a point in our sports fan development where we will say, without any irony, "hey, let's watch a football game today." This is a huge step for us. Y'all should be proud.

**Now, here's a question: should we wear the same jerseys we wore on Monday, even though they're completely not relevant to Friday's game (Lester and Varitek, neither of whom will be starting), or is that just crossing the line from serious sleep deprivation into full-on crazytown?***

***We tarried too long in writing up that experience. Here are the important highlights: Caroline got to shake hands with Johnny Pesky (!), our nearest neighbors were plotting to steal Coco Crisp from his wife, and a uniformed member of Boston's finest threatened to kick us out and relieve our benefactor of her season tickets if we refused to participate in the wave.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We do not make 11-year-old pop culture references in this house

Photo: David Butler/US Presswire

Dustin Pedroia is a shark with a frickin' laser beam attached to his head.

Okay, maybe he's more like an ill-tempered sea bass, or a red snapper. But the laser beam? It is definitely for real.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We do not give up the big inning in this house

A coworker called it, "a game you can tell your grandkids about." We're more apt to describe it as something we survived, barely, something we're still recovering from all these days later. A day so crazy we're still half-convinced Mikey Lowell successfully executed a double steal. We've tried a couple of times to piece together a narrative, to tell you all about Wally (not that one) and his stories and the 2004 World Series cup he brings with him to every game. We're pretty sure the sucker punch feeling of losing a 10-0 lead was the same whether you were at Fenway or sitting on your couch or at a bar, and we're just as sure that the sharp joy of Youk being Manny was just as universal. But Wally is one of a kind.

Tomorrow we're heading up to Portland to see Lars and Josh and all the little Sea Dogs. We're mostly hoping for a nice day: a good game and a chance to see all the Baby Sox before they're rookies of the year and pitching no-hitters up at Fenway, maybe even a win. We'll settle for no storms.*

*We may like pina coladas, but we're not quite as fond of getting caught in the rain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We do not know how to catch a fly with a chopstick in this house

"This is everything I have ever dreamed of. It has come true now and I'm going to the major leagues. It's ridiculous. I'm at a loss for words. I really don't know what to say about it. I'll be smiling forever now. This is just awesome. Awesome."

Wow, our button-making campaign, while still in its infancy,* was a complete and utter success. Charlie Zink toes the rubber on Tuesday, and we are just thrilled to death for him.

*Often referred to as the "my term paper's due in about fifteen minutes and all I've got is my name, the course number, and a haiku about cheese" stage.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We do not go back to the future in this house

No photo credit, Jennifer took this one all by herself.

While the big team struggles to sort out its business in Chicago*, and our current president is interrupting perfectly entertaining Olympic gymnastics to talk about--well, we're not sure what he's talking about, but the wildly incoherent closed captioning suggests it's a message he's sending to the Cheese People**--we bring you some notes from a day in the Future.

Futures at Fenway, naturally.

All the Lowell Spinners looked so tiny in their vest-y uniforms, none tinier than the pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. Stolmy Pimentel, besides having a name that's really fun to say, is a small Dominican pitcher who wears #45 and who pitched 5 effective innings while we revelled in the requisite Pedro Martinez flashbacks.

That picture at the top of this entry is Stolmy with his catcher, the baby-est of the baby catchers we saw on Saturday, one Tim "FedEx" Federowicz, late of UNC. We got to know FedEx thanks to a UNC fan friend of ours, during the College World Series, and what we hear is that he doesn't like to talk to pitchers, or be touched. What we saw with our own eyes was a couple of excellent throws to second to cut down basestealers, which may have kept the Spinners in the game.

Because it was a long game. We're talking 12 innings in total, with the Hudson Valley Renegades vacuuming up everything that flew into the outfield, capped with a walkoff single (while Fedex was on base, no less!). It was a long enough game that cries of "Come on, Deshaun" and "Get 'er done, Mitch!" rang out in our section, because we'd had time to learn everyone's name. It was a long enough game that the Spinners pitchers were seen out in the pirate pen, forming a baby bullpen band. Manny Delcarmen, watch your back: these kids have got soul.

In addition to the baby band's performance, we were happy to enjoy the minor-league entertainments between innings, like guys in sumo costumes, frisbee dogs, the giant toothbrush that ran the bases for undisclosed reasons***. A little girl seated in the row behind us summed it up perfectly, after a small child raced the Spinners mascot: "So when that kid raced the alligator, that was a commercial? No commercial's better than that."

As for the PawSox, it seems like the cream of that particular crop has either been called up to the big club or traded to the Pirates. And it cannot possibly surprise anyone who's been reading this blog at all that we're a little catcher-centric. So we were especially thrilled that while Dusty Brown was starting, George Kottaras was first-base coaching. Two wee catchers for the price of one! Actually, not so wee. We've always thought George was skinny, because we've always seen him standing near Brown or Varitek or Mirabelli. Turns out, he's a pretty good-sized guy, just not built like a brick house or a Mack truck. Or a brick house riding in a Mack truck.

Brown had a hard day behind the plate; he overthrew second base twice, but his game plan was definitely effective. David Pauley went a sassy seven innings--four hits, two runs, two walks, four strikeouts--and he had the Charlotte Knights guessing. Think the big club's putting the coffee on for him, in light of recent tragic events****? Because he was fun to watch, but we were sad not to see knuckleball fraternity member Charlie Zink on the mound. Is it time for us to start a campaign to get Zink called up? Should we get buttons made?

It was a really nice way to spend the day (and, okay, way too much of your money) at Fenway, not least because nobody at all stayed in their assigned seat and we ended up with a bettter view than we paid for. We also got to see our prospects gaze in awe at the Green Monster, and cut loose in the dugout to do the Chicken Dance. But the best part? Both home teams won. Our farm system, in fact, is undefeated in Futures play.

Now if only the young guns could teach their big brother team a thing or two. If they can't make the Red Sox win, maybe they can get them to do the Electric Slide.

*Is now an appropriate time for us to say that we're worried about our man Claybelline "Why Can'tcha Be True" Buchholz? Because, um, whatever he was doing last year, when he was the shiniest of the shiny, this ain't it. Maybe we need to run him through the dishwasher with some Electrasol.

**Actually, now that the words "Balco" and "Barry" and "Baball" have appeared, we're pretty sure they're discussing steroids. Which might be an interesting interview if, you know, it involved someone other than the President, who really ought to be more concerned about anything in the world more important than baball.

***It seems like some kind of clean base=clean teeth analogy was at play, but really, who are we to try and understand the mind of the Great Toothbrush?

****Okay, maybe Wakefield's sore shoulder does not quite rise to the Aristotelian standard for tragedy, but we're definitely crying in our official terrible lite beer of Major League Baseball. Come back soon, Wake, and come back strong.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We do not know why you say goodbye, we say hello in this house

And that happened. *

We're still processing. We still can't believe we'll never see Manny in the Monster, never see him in his oversized Red Sox home whites, never see him play the wall like he was born to it again. We're sad that it came to this, upset that the Manny who wanted to retire a Red Sox and bought Pedroia suits morphed into the Manny who tells anyone who'll listen about how the team doesn't deserve him. The Manny who shoved a man whose entire job is to make his life easier. The Manny who doesn't run out grounders and sits out games against the younger flamethrowers. Who, more than that, thinks that all of those things are perfectly okay. Manny being Manny always was a double-edged sword.

Still. We'd rather remember him as the guy who high-fived a fan in the middle of turning a double play. The man whose moon shot off K-Rod in last year's ALDS still hasn't landed. The man who beat up on Yankees pitching and always seemed to love playing baseball, who never seemed to forget that he was getting paid to play a game. Weird to think that he won't be patrolling left field the next time we go to Fenway.

We're just as sure this was the right move as we are that it was the wrong move, and that's all we have to say about that until we see it shake out.

GBMU (the last): Traded to Pittsburgh, where he'll hopefully get regular playing time with the big club and show the world why we love him so much.

*Here's the part where we wish Manny, Mossy, and Hansen all the best with their new teams. Good luck, guys, we'll miss you. **

**And here's the part where we say, "Welcome to Boston, Jason Bay," and brush up on our Canadian anthem skills.

Monday, July 28, 2008

We do not call it a comeback in this house

So. We promised we were going to blog, but tonight's game doesn't really inspire conversation. Still, isn't it nice to see our Papi back where he belongs? And isn't there--well, not much else nice to say?

We've used our boundless cunning* and vast network of insider connections** to infiltrate the Sox clubhouse and document some conversations that took place once the big man rejoined the band.

I. Overheard from the Bash Brothers
Papi: I cannot believe this. I leave you alone for a couple weeks and what do you do?
Manny: Hit a home run?
Papi: And what else?
Manny: Hit another home run real hard?
Papi: Manny...
Manny: It's not my fault Boston hates me! All I ever do is play baseball!
Papi: Sometimes what you do is, you don't play baseball.
Manny: ...Is this like when a tree falls in the woods?
Papi: No, it's like when we play a game and you sit in the clubhouse playing Star Wars on the WII.
Manny: But I hurt my knee and I'm a Sith Lord!
Papi: You been talkin' to Scott Boras too much.
Manny: Look, it's okay with me if Boston doesn't like Manny. My feelings ain't hurt. Sticks and stones don't break my bones.
Papi: ...
Manny: Manny can play baseball anywhere. Boston...Japan...Iraq...
Papi: Think abot this, Manny. They don't have baseball in Iraq 'cause they are too busy shooting each other with guns.
Manny: The moon, then.
Papi: They don't have baseball on the moon, either, 'cause they don't have air.
Manny: I'm gonna wear a spacesuit. I'm not dumb.
Papi: You got me there, man. Have fun on the moon, or...wherever. Just one thing, though.
Manny: I can get you a spacesuit too, don't worry.
Papi: No, no, listen. Fenway...Fenway keeps the Monster.
[They think about this for a minute. Manny looks up at the sky.]
Manny: Goodbye, moon! I got to stay in Boston!
Papi: It's one in the afternoon, Manny. That's the sun.
Manny: I know. That was a symbolic gesture to the heavens, much like the actions of the Biblical figure Job. You should read more.
Papi: ...
Manny: Did you say one o'clock? Time for juice and cookies!

II. Overheard, Talking About Practice, Practice, Man, We Talking About Practice
Papi: So what'd I miss?
Tek: Well, um, Manny wants a trade.
Papi: I know.
Tek: And Pap and his wife are expecting a baby.
Papi: I know that too, I was there.
Tek: ...What the dang--
Papi: When he told us, man, when he told us. You catchers got dirty minds.
Tek: We do not! I just didn't understand you there, man, 'cause I've been a little preoccupied, what with me bein' in the worst offensive slump in the history of mankind.
Papi: Yeah, what's that about?
Tek: I think my bat's allergic to leather.
Papi: Come here, come here. Watch me and copy what I do.
Tek: Copy what? The way you heal sick children with hugs? 'Cause that's pretty cool.
Papi: Man, just pay attention.
[Papi crushes a batting practice fastball into the bullpen.]
Papi: Now you.
Tek: Gotcha.
[Tek flies out to shallow center.]
Papi: No, no, no, no. I said copy me!
[Papi hits a ball directly into the red seat.]
Tek: Okay.
[Tek grounds it foul down the first base line.]
Papi: Why you playin'?
Tek: I don't know, Papi, why am I playin'? Please make me stop.
Papi: I show you one more time.
[Papi hits a ball over the monster, over I-95, over New Hampshire, and into Portland, Maine, where it lands in the outstretched glove of a grateful Sea Dog.]
Papi: You got it now?
Tek: Um, maybe if you show me that one again.
Papi: Hit a damn baseball!
[Tek hits a double high off the Monster.]
Papi: My work here is done! I gotta go, it's time for rounds at Children's Hospital.
[He dusts his hands off and walks away. Tek takes another cut and bounces a ground-rule double around Pesky's pole.]
Tek: There goes my hero.

Interlude: Another County Heard From
A-Rod: Hey, Papi! Remember that time we had dinner during the All-Star Break?
Papi: You mean last week?
A-Rod: That was awesome.***
Papi: It was okay.
A-Rod: We should do it again! We should bring our families! Actually, we should go on vacation together!
Papi: ...I'll let you sit next to me at PF Chang's if you be quiet.
A-Rod: You're my best friend!
Papi: You're buying.

III. Overheard via the Parents Television Council
Beckett: I'm fuckin' glad you're back, dude.
Papi: Thanks. Pass me a bottle of water?
Beckett: Hey, waiter! Bottle of water for the fuckin' man here!
[Justin Masterson looks confused.]
Papi: Never mind, I'm good.
Beckett: You sure? 'Cause I don't mind, I can make the rookies do whatever you need. I got 'em good and scared of me.
Papi: Umm...so how you been?
Beckett: Me? Great.
Papi: Yeah?
Beckett: Yeah. Executin' pitches.
Papi: Yeah?
Beckett: Yeah.
[Long pause.]
Beckett: I mean, I don't expect fifteen fuckin' runs every fuckin' time I pitch...
[Beckett sniffles. Papi nods.]
Beckett: I know it's my fuckin' job to throw fuckin' strikes, I know, but--
Papi: Hey.
Beckett: Two fuckin' runs, man, that's all I need is two--
[Beckett lets out a sob and is instantly folded into a hug of record-breaking size.]
Papi: It's okay. Papi still loves you.

In conclusion, overheard in all of Boston: BEAT L.A.!

*This is a lie. We don't really have that.

**Or those.

***The resemblance to a Chris Farley sketch here is purely coincidental. Rodriguez has never really gotten into Saturday Night Live. He does have a tape of that one time Jeter was on, though.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We do not blog about losers in this house

This blog is currently on strike until the Red Sox win a fucking game on the road.*

*We're actually just really stupidly busy in the real life sense, but the point remains. We'll be back next week, and we're looking forward to seeing Papi's smile (and swing) on our televisions when we return.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We do not sleep in this zzzzzz

So Papi's taking BP (seriously, repeat it with us: we want our Papi back!), and they're pulling an anti-Joba with Masterson, sending him back down to the farm to pitch out of the bullpen. In the meantime, Bailey's coming up to give us a better pinch-hitting option than Tek,* Dougie visited the Fens and announced that he's coaching his girls' coach-pitch team,** Lugo's still our starting shortstop, and someone needs to hold Manny accountable for some of the crap he's been pulling lately. That about sum things up?

But, look, for all the frustration of yet another road trip gone horribly wrong, for all the times we banged our heads against a wall when Tek came up in the ninth/the bullpen blew a lead/Manny watched a pitch straight down the middle/someone grounded into a double play/another man was left on base, at least our team hasn't resorted to having a catcher pitch. Yet. So it really could be much worse.

And, hey, the Devil Rays have to lose a game or two sometime, right? So all the Red Sox need to do is take care of their own business, try to combine some killer pitching and offense on the same night once in a while, and maybe invest in a few Scott Kazmir voodoo dolls. Just in case.

So repeat after us: it's only (almost) the ASB,*** it's only (almost) the ASB, it's only (almost) the ASB. And, as the great Kevin Millar once said, it's not time to jump off the Tobin Bridge just yet. Or at all. Ever.

Now let's get out there--or, rather, the guys who are actually on the team should get out there--and beat up on the Twins. Sure, they're good. Sure, their catcher can hit. Sure, they've got outfielders who can actually throw and a Canadian first baseman and a whole bunch of wonderful things we're really not all that educated about (mostly because, well, we don't particularly care). That's not the point. The point is this: this is Fenway, not the Metrodome, and it's time to win some games. For the good of our sanity, and the sanity of the greater New England, etc., area.****

*Look, we obviously love the guy, but we're not delusional: the dude couldn't hit a knuckleball-that-didn't-knuckle these days, and no way should he be hitting with the game on the line in the ninth. Not in Tampa Bay, not in New York, not in Boston.

**And to give Tek some tips on how to become a stud who hits bombs.

***It's entirely possible that we're actually excited about the All-Star Game this year. We're pretty sure it's because of those crazy Statues of Liberty and the insanity of the whole "Last Year of This Particular Yankee Stadium" thing.

****We refuse to call it "The Nation." For reasons.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We do not miss June in this house

Earlier this season, walking home from our regular Sunday Dunkin Donuts* run, an older gentleman--perhaps noting Caroline's Ramirez t-shirt, or maybe spotting Jennifer's ubiquitous cap--called out, "Hey, what's going on with your team?"**

We said, as one does, that we didn't know. That we hoped they'd figureout how to do what they were doing at Fenway in the Metrodome, at Comerica, in the Trop. We talked about our pitchers, and Manny'sswing, and the persistent awesomeness of Tim Wakefield. We talked about Tampa Bay.

He said, "Do you think they're for real?"

He said, "Because I think they are."

He said, "They remind me of my '67 Sox. The Impossible Dream, you know? Young, talented, fun to watch. They play to win. I think they're for real."

He told us that 1967 was his favorite summer of his life, not becausehis son was born that year but because of the Red Sox. Because of Yaz. Because of Dick Williams' managerial stylings. He still remembered who was on a strict diet, and whose ass got kicked on the way to glory. When he talked about the summer of '67, he sounded the way we young whippersnappers feel when we come across, say, VH1's "I Love The New Millennium: 2004" and freeze in our tracks, hoping for a glimpse of Bronson Arroyo.

It was still fresh. It was still present.

We said our farewells and started toward our apartment. The season was young, barely beginning, and anything was possible. Maybe for us, but maybe for the Rays; maybe for Toronto or Baltimore or, god forbid, even New York. Our coffees were getting lukewarm. We turned the corner onto our street.

*Tangentially, this Dunkin Donuts is currently papered with Papelbons, from the lifesize cutout in the corner to the poster on the wall where he looks like he's about to throw an iced coffee fastball. We're not sure whether we're supposed to be amused or intimidated. Probably we're supposed to buy stuff.

**Timestamp: one of the hellish road trips. Pick a road trip, any road trip.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We do not put the blame on you in this house

06/20/08: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4

Yeah, we were there.

We were there before and after the rain, there to watch the Celtics' duck boats get soaked and still there, a little damper, when they returned for the ceremonial first pitch. The Truth threw some high heat, but Jason Varitek couldn't handle the ball and had to chase it all they way to the backstop He managed to find the ball, though, and walked it back to the mound, where he shared a Captain to Captain handshake and a few hugs with his taller, lankier brethren.

That was pretty much the highlight of the evening. Well, that and Pap & Manny's music video debut. We seriously spent the entire time it was playing alternately staring, laughing, and turning to each other and saying, "That's so special, it's like riding the bus with Rosie O'Donnell's sister." If that video's not up for a MTV Music Video Award* next year, we're going to pitch a fit.

The game itself was mostly forgettable, if exciting enough in a give-and-take way. There was a bit of confusion in our section when loud cheers could be heard after a Cardinal home run; turns out there was a relatively large crowd of Cards fans in attendance, which just isn't something we're used to at Fenway. We've been spoiled, we know, but it was still a strange experience.

So, yes, there was a game. Wake was serviceable, if not great, and Oki continued to alternate moments of brilliance with moments of BP pitching. And then there was Aardsma. He's been frustrating this season, combining that fastball of his with an inability to throw strikes, but last night he was perfect. One-two-three strikeouts, beautiful strikeouts, and the baseball highlight of the evening by far. By that time, much of our section had cleared out (there were lots of families with small kids, and it was getting late), and we turned to each other and said, "We're glad we stayed, not just because it's right. Because we got to see that."

Let's not even mention today's game, okay? The PawSox are winning! Watch the PawSox hit home runs! Thrill as Jed Lowrie turns yet another double play! Do not think about Julio Lugo. Ignore him and he'll go away.

*Do those still even exist? The last time we saw a Video Music Award, it was being stolen from its rightful winner by a Beastie Boy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We do not know the name of the NBA championship trophy in this house*

Look, we are not huge Celtics fans (by which we mean this: we are not NBA fans, though since reading Let Me Tell You a Story we've maintained that the one team we'd root for would be Red's team). We're more college hoops people, to be perfectly honest, and women's college hoops at that (Big East represent), so it'd be a lie to say we've watched more than a few** regular season C's games this season. And it's not like we watched every post-season game, either.*** But, still, we--like so many others before us--have been sucked in by the drama and the "Beat LA!" chants at Fenway and the happiness on our Actual Celtics Fan friends' faces, and we were thrilled that the Celtics finally decided that, you know what, this historical comeback and trading off leads stuff was all fine and dandy, but it was time to stomp all over Not Jordan and his band of not-so-merry men.

So, yes, we too found ourselves giggling for joy when KG started screaming incoherently, and we're still not over the moment when he hugged Russell and said, "I hope we made you proud." Sports can be really amazing sometimes, you know? Congrats to the Celtics on number 17.

Moving on to the actual subject of the blog, we're heading down to Fenway on Friday, and while we're bummed that we won't get to see Albert Pujols in action, there's a part of us that's more than a little relieved that we won't get to see him go deep off our favorite knuckleballer north of Pawtucket, one Mr. Timothy Wakefield. We'd also been assuming our favorite Cardinal, Yadier Molina, won't be playing after sustaining a concussion--and holding onto the ball!--in that collision at the plate a few days ago, but we're really not sure of his status at the moment. Anyway, needless to say, we're excited. It'll be our first Wake start of the season, so here's hoping the knuckler will be all knuckley and Manny and Youk will be back in the lineup.

Coming soon: we talk stolen bases, ESPN, Jon Lester, and the direct statistical correlation between weddings and an increased workload with a decided lack of blogging. "This has been Sports Night on CSC"-- oh, wait, never mind.

*Naismith is something else, right?

**Translation: more than one. We watched part of a game when down in Florida for spring training, and a few minutes here and there, mostly while flipping channels or when we knew it was late enough in the game to actually matter. We're pretty sure that all adds up to one total game. Like we said: not big NBA people.

***Once the weather turned, however, Jennifer could follow the action by the shouting of her neighbors. It was kind of awesome.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

We do not accept that Oakland's pitching is actually that good in this house

05/23/08: Red Sox 3, Athletics 8
05/24/08: Red Sox 0, Athletics 3
05/25/08: Red Sox 3, Athletics 6

First, we'd like to thank Big Papi for ensuring that Jon Lester's was the only no-hitter this week. Call us selfish, call us sentimental, call us slightly tipsy after watching multiple hours of "hey, look, the Red Sox can't get a hit" theater, but we kind of wanted Jonny to retain sole Best Pitcher in the World bragging rights for the week.

Plus, you know, we actually wanted the Red Sox to win. Unfortunately, we didn't get that particular wish, and Jennifer's starting to think her latest no-hitter commemorative desktop wallpaper might be to blame.*

But, seriously, this insane home/road split thing is driving us batty. How can this be the same team? It's like, once they leave the friendly confines of Fenway Park, each and every player is replaced with Folgers crystals. Can you tell the difference? We sure can, and we'd like our real players back. Even after adding some cream and sugar, this instant stuff just isn't getting it done. Yes, the A's trio of starters** pitched good games. Yes, Wakefield had a pretty bad start, though at least he went deep enough to save the bullpen. No, Beckett wasn't at his best, but he also only gave up two runs and most other nights the story would be the way he minimized damage and managed to get the A's to strand most of their baserunners, not to mention the sexy, sexy Ks. Lester struggled, but, in the end, the offense didn't get it done (and the bullpen, Not Your Father's Javy Lopez, didn't hold it down).

It just defies explanation how this team can score eleven runs one day and struggle to put one across the board the next. Guys who were hitting everything in sight during the homestand are striking out and grounding into double plays left and right now that they're on the road ('Tek, we're kind of looking at you,*** even though we'll always love you best--what did you do during your two games off that has you looking like the guy we all worried about at the start of the season? We miss the guy who got two hits while catching a no-hitter, and we'd really like to see him back). At least Manny looked good today? He obviously put his day off to good use, and we're hopeful that whatever he discovered watching tape of himself won't come back anytime soon.

Next up: Seattle. Now, we know you guys have had your troubles at Safeco, but--no matter how much Caroline wishes this wasn't true--the Mariners aren't very good this season. In fact, they're almost epically bad. Of course, because the Red Sox always seem to luck out**** when it comes to pitching matchups, King Felix will be toeing the rubber for them the first game up, but we have faith that the Sox will find the missing bag of awesome en route to Washington. Either that, or Manny Being will remind them about the rules of hitting (after all, he just rediscovered them himself, right?), or Papi will pull out the old "bad-ass motherfuckers" speech. Whatever works. Just, please guys, win?

*It's either that or her Yankees-loving mother, who e-mailed to remark upon the fact that the Red Sox were doing well and the Yankees were not, thus setting off a whole chain of games in which the exact opposite has been true. Mothers: can't live with 'em, wouldn't be here without 'em, can't talk to 'em about baseball.

**We, like Tito, are thoroughly sick of seeing Harden on the mound, and Duchscherer, of course, pitched that gem of a one-hitter. Blanton didn't seem all that amazing, but he was certainly good enough to win (which, in the end, is all that counts), and we're willing to admit we were distracted by Clayton Kershaw's debut for the Dodgers on mlb.tv.

***We're also, of course, looking at Kevin "0-11" Youkilis, Jacoby "2-13" Ellsbury, Dust--eh, never mind, this is just getting depressing.

****For definitions of "luck" that involve, you know, facing every team's ace (who just happens to pitching "the game of his life" that particular night).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We do not say "no, no" in this house

(Reuters photo)

05/19/08: Royals 0, Red Sox 7

It was apparent early in tonight's game that Lester was pitching especially well. There's a sense about these things, a gradual build that led us from murmuring our appreciation for a ground ball out, to pumping our fists and calling Jacoby "baby," to holding our breath.

In the end, there, one of two things could have happened. We could've died of cardiac arrest and left nothing behind but debt and a memorial 5K, or Lester could've gotten the last out. It came down to the wire. Happily, we are not writing this from beyond the grave!

So, we don't think we can call this guy 'Little Jonny Lester' any longer. As Jason Varitek* pointed out in his postgame, Lester was a youngster and now he has become a man. A big man. Like Nolan Ryan. A man with a pretty line of zeroes floating behind him.

We salute you, Jon. Drink deep from the keg of glory, for today you are the best pitcher in the world.**

*We would be remiss in our duties as your local Tek fanatics if we didn't point out that this gives our beloved blogsake the record for most no-hitters caught by a single catcher. But he'd want us to remember that this is Jon Lester's moment. Still, congratulations, Captain Gameplan. This must be why Brian Cashman wanted to shoot you into space.

**Dennis Eckersley said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We do not approve of the rising price of stamps in this house

05/13/08: Red Sox 4, Orioles 5

Congratulations to the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.

Now that we've got that out of the way, and since it worked so well last time, a plea:

Dear Red Sox,

First of all, let us reiterate that we love you. We love you when you're executing pitches and we love you when you're decidedly not. We love you when you're scoring runs and making it look effortless, and we love you when you're grounding into double plays and stranding everyone on base. So there's that. We may threaten you and throw things and scream and curse up a storm, but that doesn't negate the love. Remember that.

So when we say, "Execute fucking pitches, Pap/Wake/Claybee/Becky," we say it with love. And the pain that comes from watching the other team knock one over the wall or hit another RBI single or laugh with Sean Casey at first base after drawing yet another walk. But there is love somewhere lurking beneath the profanities.

When we say, "Stop with the rally killing, Tek/Mikey/Manny," we say it with love. And the pain that comes from another GIDP or strikeout or failure to advance the runner. The pain that comes from losing. But also love.

When we say, "Oh, god, not another error, Lugo," we say it with pain. Though we haven't said that recently*, so it's probably just unnecessarily cruel for us to mention it here. Oh well. No one ever accused us of being nice.

When we say, "We miss B. Moss," we actually mean exactly what we're saying. And we're saying it with love. We're also saying that we want Theo to continue where we left off with the GBMU project.

And when we say, "Oh, fuck, what's wrong now?", we're freaking out because JD rolled over on his wrist or Coco disappeared (we've been watching without sound for a variety of complicated superstitious reasons that are obviously not working) and is that Youk in right?, but also because we love. And fear.** And love.

However, just because we'll still love you doesn't mean you should give up or anything crazy like that. Do not give in to our new no-longer-Devil Rays overlords, and rage, rage, rage against the stranding of runners in scoring position. In conclusion, please win tomorrow. Pretty please with a cherry on top, even. We promise to buy something shiny the next time we're at Fenway.***

The Ladies of Respect the Tek

*Look, we actually do want you to feel better, Lugey. We just don't particularly want to go through that whole thing where we don't expect routine plays to be made every single time a ball is hit in your direction. So, you know, it's a conundrum.

**There was a moment later in the game where it looked like Youk and Casey were going to collide. They didn't, of course, but we had a brief nightmarish flash of someone saying, "Now playing in right field, Kevin Cash." The loss seemed almost anti-climatic after that.

***Okay, fine, Jennifer's planning on getting a jersey anyway.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

We do not respect the dome in this house

Quick notes:

1. Joe Posnanski is a hero of ours*, and his comments about intentional walks beautifully articulate something we've always felt, namely, that in most situations that shit is lame. As kids, we always thought we just didn't understand the finer details of baseball strategy that made it logical to put an extra runner on base rather than face him. Now we understand enough of the finer details to sound like giant geeks in front of reasonable adults--and it turns out that sometimes, traditional baseball strategy is just kinda dumb.

2. We're looking to expand our blogroll, both inside of and outside of Red Sox Nation. So if anyone out there has a favorite baseball blog to pimp to us, whether it's your own or someone else's, please let us know in the comments. What's your essential daily reading?**

3. Please win tonight, Red Sox. We'll be your best friends. Okay?

*We started doing the asterisk thing independently before we knew of his writing; the fact that the Poz has a similar stylistic quirk to us is entirely coincidental. Of course, he does it much more gracefully. Buzz Bissinger would say it's because he's a professional.

**If you don't mind, ask your friends, neighbors, and random strangers on the Internet this question, and welcome them to this post to comment with their favorite sports bloggery. We're really looking to expand our horizons. Or just procrastinate more efficiently.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We do not understand why Jed Lowrie isn't the everyday shortstop in this house

05/07/08: Red Sox 9, Tigers 10

Oh, that kooky Julio Lugo. What a character.

Anyway, we're going to try to focus on the bright side a little here. The painful, crazy, "what the hell just happened?" loss allowed Jennifer to vent some of the work-related stress she's been carrying around all month, so, you know, Julio Lugo: still more expensive than therapy, but at least some one else is footing the bill.

And Dustin Pedroia is a pinch-hit RBI midget. Mikey Lowell is still Mikey Lowell. Youk is angry (and the new "Stud Who Hits Bombs," at least in our little corner of the universe). Tek isn't exactly hitting in Detroit, but that strike 'em out-throw 'em out in the eighth was a serious thing of beauty. We're sure there are other things buried in there (Julian Tavarez is still alive: who knew?), too, but the loss hangover has us in its grip.

Never mind that, for a while there, it didn't look like the Red Sox had a chance in hell of winning this one. We'd even resigned ourselves to the loss, repeating, "the worst we can do is split" whenever another Tiger got on base. The very fact that the Red Sox made a game of it, let alone took a brief lead, was an unexpected bright spot in a game that had all the beauty of a slugfest. An ugly, bloody, fight to the pain. So we're going to cling to that. We're going to remember the, "oh my god he- he did!" when Youk hit his second homer of the game; we're going to focus on out impromptu rendition of "guess who's back, back again? Mikey's back, tell a friend" when our muy caliente third baseman also decided to go yard.

Ninth inning? What ninth inning?

Honestly, as bright as the picture's been lately, what with the sweeping Tampa Bay* and the Papi and the Tim "Wonder" Wakefield, this bleak spot just stands out a little too much. The passionate lobbying of Boston fans got Mike Lowell a new contract**--do you think it can get Julio Lugo designated for assignment? Seriously, if we took up a collection at Fenway over the course of one three-game series, we bet we could raise enough to seriously offset his salary. Or maybe we can just borrow Manny's copy of The Secret, and use the power of positive thinking to make Lugey disappear.

We know what we'll focus on for our happy thought***: the flawlessly executed strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play that Okajima and Captain Fenway provided.

Please hold while we replay it mentally...

...yeah, that's the stuff that dreams are made of.

*We were at Fenway on May 2 for the cold rain and the Brandon Moss home run--if you were there, you probably heard us howling about how much we loved him. We wish him the best in his recovery from appendicitis. We bet he'll come back hitting like a tiger, and he's welcome to show us his scar anytime.

**Okay, not really, but if we as a society can pretend that our votes for President and American Idol count, we should be able to go with this one, too! Clap your hands if you believe!

***The other happy thought is that as we type this, Beckett is minutes away from starting. Here's hoping he ate his Wheaties and drank his mescaline!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We do not control the vertical in this house

04/29/08: Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 1

RCN and NESN conspired to keep us away from baseball-induced ulcers by refusing to broadcast last night's game until it was well underway. Therefore, we spent a good portion of last night watching an exhibition softball game between Team USA and the Oklahoma Sooners and imagining Jonathan Papelbon's rapture over watching Jennie Finch in the circle for Team USA. She's blonde, she's an amazing pitcher, and she wears short shorts with thigh high socks as her uniform. Obviously Pap is in love with her. And he won't hear you talking any smack about her, okay? Okay.

So, thanks, RCN, we missed most of last night's game. In fact, when the softball game ended, our NESN feed still wasn't working. We were forced to watch basketball. And not women's college basketball, a sport that we (like Manny Ramirez) respect and love. Oh, no, this was professional basketball. NBA basketball. Where's the fun in that?*

But luckily the blue screen of doom finally went away, and we were dropped head-first into a crazy pitchers' duel. And how proud are we of Little Jonny Lester**, who finally started throwing some first-pitch strikes and showing that will to win we all know he has? How awesome is our Second Base Midget***? What about that Youk fellow? And how thrilled are we that our Captain seems to have survived the flu, minus a few pounds that he hardly had to spare, and he's back behind the dish where he belongs? And did we mention Little Jonny Lester? And Pap, of course. It would've been nice for Lester to get a complete game, but we were starting to worry Pap would explode if he didn't get to throw.

Yeah, what a game. We assume. The last couple of innings were good baseball, at any rate. M-may we have some more, please?

GBMU for last night: one infield single against the Doc. Which is more than anyone not named Youkilis, Ramirez, or Varitek managed.

*Please do tell us where the fun is in that, if you happen to have its coordinates. As far as we can tell it retired around about the time Michael Jordan switched numbers. We like Kevin Garnett and everything, he seems like a good dude, but the actual games are just shy of NASCAR levels of boring.

**Who would likely kick our asses for continuing to refer to him as Little Jonny Lester, but we just can't help it. It's not his size or his talent level or even his age that causes it, necessarily; we don't think of Jose Reyes as a kid in the same way. Maybe we could convince him to take it as a compliment. We'll just tell him it's his blues musician name. Like Little Walter, or Blind Willie Fill-In-The-Blank.

***In the immortal words of one Vernon Wells, he is "Superman at second base." Our Infield Midget can totally beat up Toronto's Infield Midget.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

We do not watch Jamie Foxx movies in this house*

4/26/08: Red Sox 1, Devil Rays 2

Games like this are why wins and losses are bullshit statistics for a pitcher. Hats off to Clay tonight.

*Because we hate Rays.

Friday, April 11, 2008

We do not pay royalties to sing Happy Birthday in this house

36 candles on a chocolate cake for our favorite catcher and superhero, Jason Varitek! What does one get for the Cap'n who has everything, if one can't afford to buy him a sixth starter? We hope that the festivities included funny hats, handmade cards from the kids that left Tek covered in glitter all day, and a serenade from Manny Delcarmen's Bullpen Band. And that he came out the other side of all that in good fighting form.

Of course, we all know about the shiny new diamond ring he got this week. That's a hard act to follow.

We watched the opening ceremonies live, watched it on tape again, and might not be done yet. See, we're suckers for all things involving Mr. Johnny Pesky, the score from Jurassic Park, and/or Lord Stanley's Cup**, and we don't understand how anybody could face all three at once without shedding at least one single, perfect tear. Manny kissing Pesky on the cheek was the highlight in terms of unforgettable moments, but almost as sweet was the big smile on Okajima's face as he tried his ring on for the first time. And then of course there was Buckner's triumphant entrance (beautifully described at Cursed to First; if you haven't read that, go now and choke up all over again). We don't see the world through Cardinal-colored glasses, so we really don't get where Deadspin's coming from when they called it awkward. While we agree that most fans didn't have any grudge left against the B-man (see also: our secret Mets fandom), it was obvious that he was really moved by the reception, and it gave fans an opportunity to shower him with love and force the media to bury the hatchet as well.

Though we suppose it was a tiny bit awkward when the red-tailed hawk got an even bigger ovation. But funny-awkward, like The Office was before we stopped ever watching scripted television. Damn you, MLB.TV!

It's been nice to see the bats wake up a little tiny bit against El Tigres; very not nice to see Mike Lowell wounded in battle--now, were we just not paying enough attention in previous Aprils? Is it normal for every team to have at least three people on the disabled list, or is this year special?--and very strange, given the extremely gradual unfolding of this season, to have the first Sox-Yankees series suddenly upon us.***

It seems like only yesterday we were finagling our rotation so that Beckett was guaranteed to pitch against Roger Clemens, a torch-passing moment that's sort of lost its jazz since we learned way too much about Clemens' medical history and his nanny's swimwear. They're pretty much the same teams, though, minus a few pounds and plus a few extra hemp necklaces, and we can't help but wonder what it would be like if Epstein and Cashman were a little crazier and we were watching a Beckett-Santana duel (or a Santana-Wang duel) tonight. There would be blood, and not just on Roger's pants.

Our biggest wish for this particular series, honestly, is that there aren't any rainouts****. We'd prefer to avoid the Morgantastic, McCarverrific hype of a Yankees-Sox doubleheader late in the season. We won't be able to stand it. Our insurance doesn't cover the necessary medication, and they know us at the bars and won't let us run a tab.

*Featuring a new arrangement of the alt-classic "(He Gloved A-Rod In The Face) For Me", comp. B. Arroyo.

**Since we're on the subject, go Bruins (and, Jennifer would like to add, Devils).

***The last time we saw them, it was still called Legends Field, nobody had yet made Jonathan Papelbon try sushi, and we didn't realize that the Orioles were going to take a running leap at leading the division. Abner Doubleday, we're pretty sure, was still alive. And a new invention called "the wheel" was all the rage with the kids...

****The Sox have been lucky thus far with weather, while the Yankees have had drizzle following them around. Is it because Jeter lied when he was seventeen?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

We do not E6 (three times!) in this house

4/6/08: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 7

Notes on a Scandal:

1. Julio Lugo: now, we don't know stats, but doesn't it seem like his VORP is currently at, like, negative 500? Can we call up Jed Lowrie? Or, um, let Alex Cora play shortstop! Or, heck, let's call up Argenis Diaz from High-A Lancaster!

2. Toronto: our true AL East rivals. This series just confirmed something we've been suspecting for some time now.

3. Josh Beckett: we were worried when he came out throwing 98 in the first, not because we don't want him throwing hard but because we were concerned that he'd tire quickly. Which certainly seemed to be the case, control-wise, especially in the fifth. That said, he did better than his line will suggest, and we're nothing but thrilled to have him back in the rotation.

4. The 3, 4, and 5-hole hitters: need to step it up a notch, start hitting, get hot- whatever you want to call it, they need to do it.* And soon. Maybe finally coming home to Fenway will do the trick. We can only hope.

5. The bullpen: why bring in Manny in the Del just in time to face Frank Thomas with the bases loaded? (Okay, so that's more of a bullpen management question, but still. It seems like Beckett should've been pulled earlier or else allowed to face Thomas himself; bringing in MDC was rather a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom.)

6. The Big Snyde: we at Respect the Tek apologize for any and all jinxes, hexes, and/or curses we may have brought upon you when we mentioned that you looked good in the one spring training start of yours we saw. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors (unless you pitch against the Red Sox, in which case we wish you nothing of the sort).

7. "They were outplayed in almost every face of the game" -Jerry Remy: which leads to the question as to which facet of the game they were not outplayed in. We humbly submit that the Red Sox outplayed the Blue Jays in kickassedness of catchers and Papelbonness of Papelbons.

8. Tito: look, someone needs to get him his pullover back, stat, because obviously the loss of it is affecting his managerial skills. Not only was there was the whole bullpen issue mentioned above, but he kept Lugo in with 2 outs in the ninth and the tying run at the plate. Lugo! Who was 0-whatever in the game! When there were actually people on the bench! Does not compute.

9. The so-called bottom of the AL East: no, really, someone needs to get those memos out and fast, as Toronto's starting to get ideas. And the Orioles beat the Mariners. (The Bay Rays, alas, lost to the Yankees, so maybe the memo's on it's way?)

10. GBMU:** 1-4 with a walk and 2 rbi.

*Though Papi did have an RBI today. Which is more than we can say for Manny "GIDP" Ramirez (who at least played some defense, making that catch at the wall and giving us a false sense of optimism about the game for about 3.7 seconds).

**Gratuitous Brandon Moss Update.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We do not E3 in this house

4/5/08: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 10

It feels like someone forgot to hand out the annual memo that the AL East is supposed to be all about the Red Sox and Yankees* (and the Tortimore Bay O'Blue Rays, whoever, no one cares about them, they're just there so Bud Selig can pretend it isn't a two team division) this year. While the Red Sox bullpen's been busy tossing some BP to the Blue Jays, the Yankees have been busy dropping two to their new rivals the Bay Rays. The Orioles are, of course, still the Orioles.**

We knew it was going to be a bad game defensively when the pre-game show focused on the lack of errors on the year thus far. We knew it was going to be a bad game offensively because, well, have you watched any of the games so far? The Red Sox bats are not exactly firing on all cylinders, to cross our metaphors, and the Blue Jays pitchers really like to beat up on the Sox. (Speaking of the Blue Jays beating up on the Red Sox, we're still working on that post about the spring training boycott. No, really, we are.) But, wow, was there some... interesting... fielding out there today.

We're not worried. Yet. We're not freaking out. Yet. We told ourselves coming into this season that we'll be thrilled if the Red Sox come out of April at .500, and we're holding ourselves to that. We're trying to focus on the good things, the "JD Drew seems to be swinging the bat well" things and the "Cash isn't committing twenty passed balls" things, rather than the "Coco/Youk would've had that" things and the "maybe y'all need to practice calling for balls if you're just going to watch them drop between you" things. It's even kind of sort of maybe a little bit working.

And, hey, Josh Motherfuckin' Beckett is coming off the DL, ready to execute some fucking pitches.

April showers bring May flowers, y'all, just keep that in mind. And down in Pawtucket, the Moss is in bloom.***

*Early sample size, obviously, and April's schedule would be a bitch even without the Three Country Epic Road Trip of Doom. Still, this division has the potential to be pretty exciting, if not this year than next year. Good for baseball, but stressful for us.

**We still love you, Millar!

***He went 2-2 with a walk, cats and kittens, and that's all we're gonna say about that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coincidence? Or is Britsuzaka back again?

Hide the Sonic burgers, y'all.

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

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

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

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We do not tan, we burn, in this house

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

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

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

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

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

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

We almost didn't want the game to start.

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

"The Neeeeaaaaaayyy-tionnnn!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 22, 2008

We do not play Human Tetris in this house

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We do not hit bombs in this house

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

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We do not spring forward in this house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Unless one makes one's own.

***Shortstop is not a base, Dougie.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We do not sell rhymes by the gram in this house

A posh steakhouse in Ft. Myers, Florida. A table.

CHORUS of Baby Catchers*

VARITEK: We few, we happy few, we band of catchers--

DOUGIE FRESH: All right, stop! Collaborate and listen,
Dougie's back with my home run hittin'.
Wakefield throws a pitch that goes knuckle-y,
Killin' hitters dead like William F. Buckley.**
Will it be a strike? Yo, I should know
Into my glove it'll go.
To the extreme, I hit grand slams like Slim J.D.
Making pitchers cry all "Dude Looks Like a Lady."
Love it or leave it, I had to lose weight,
But you better be watching when I block home plate.
If you want a lobster, yo, they'll boil it
Tek's gonna pay, I'm'a go hit the toilet.

CHORUS: Deep deep Dougie.

VARITEK: Mirabelli--


CHORUS: Deep deep Dougie.

VARITEK: I need another drink.

*Because we're not sure who all were there, exactly. Or how to spell their names. Sorry, we're still hung over from Doug Mirabelli Appreciation Night.

**RIP, we suppose.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We do not have a Rocket in our pocket in this house


Pitchers and catchers are reporting for duty, and so are we!

How did we spend this offseason? Um, toning up, of course. Hey, these carpals didn't tunnel themselves. Also, we invested some time in pretending to care about the Celtics.

Honestly, even the most baseball-avid among us must admit that the off-season has been rather stifling. Santanagate dragged on long past its best-by date.* And as important as the Mitchell Report revelations were, they've been scrutinized to death. We believe the PED debate needs to move past Roger Clemens' bloodstained pants and his nanny's bikini to actually deal with current and future policy before we'll care enough to analyze it--so, between day jobs and the colds from hell and a sort of general winter malaise**, we've completely and utterly failed to blog. At all. Consider us deeply shamed. If it's any consolation, any posts would've been along the lines of, "hey, look what Center Field or Surviving Grady or Basegirl just said," so if you've kept up with them (and you have, right?) you should be fine.

In the spirit of starting fresh, here are five things we're ready to enjoy about the 2008 baseball season:

1. With Erik Bedard moving away from Baltimore, the Sox will see him much less frequently. And he'll be on the Mariners, a team we think of with deep fondness. This is as close to a perfect trade as we can imagine. It would only be better if the entire lineup of Los Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim decided to find their true calling in ballet.

2. Dustin Pedroia Year II: Midget's Revenge. If offseason reports are to believed, he is adding muscle and ego at an alarming rate. We can't wait to see the next round of great pitchers laid low by Mighty Mouse. Of course, we're also thrilled to see what Lester and Buchholz can do with a full and hopefully healthy*** season ahead of them, whether David Aardsma has the stuff to make it to the bullpen, how Sean Casey will fare, and what's left in our beloved Tim Wakefield's tank. But only one man on the 40-man roster has offered to take us to the gun show.

Petey, we're so ready for the ride.

3. We'll get to learn whether any of the young catchers in Tek's posse get a cup of coffee this year:

The sweetest dressing gang in pants.

Everyone in the Soxosphere has been running around all Henny-Penny about the fact that Tek doesn't have an heir apparent. But not us. We like George Kottaras and Ty Weeden; and we love Dusty Brown, who showed us a great arm at the Futures game last year, and looks like Rob Lowe's husky-but-still-hot brother. We'd love to see one of these guys get a chance on the big stage to prove the doubters wrong. And of course, if it's not to be, we will just have to send the posse above to challenge the Texas Rangers' catcher posse to a dance war for Saltalamacchia's soul.

4. Games. Like, every single day, new actual games. Scores. Standings. Goofy pictures of guys trying to slide into third or falling down underneath a pop-fly. Games we get to see at Fenway. Games on the radio. Games we sleep through 'cause they're in freakin' Japan. Games where Eric Gagne is facing us from the other team! Games where Papi will hit roundtrippers off which unfortunate Weaver brother dares to face him, and games where Papelbon will strike out Alex Rodriguez, or Kevin Millar, or a moose! Who could ask for anything more?

5. Live! In person! Spring training!

Yes, we are lucky. We're going to venture out of the pixelverse and into the really real world, for the very last week before the Red Sox fly east. We'll be attending three exhibition games, including one against the Yankees. We're both thrilled--it's a first time trip for both of us, so any Fort Myers or Tampa advice is welcomed. In return, we promise to do due diligence in our scouting. Any bloodstained pants will be reported post-haste.

We promise to actually do better keeping up with the blog, too. Because baseball, it left us in the winter, but today it came charging back, with chocolates and roses, with pitchers and catchers, with candy hearts reading "be mine" and T-shirts reading "do it now."

Welcome back.

*Though congrats are due to Omar Minaya and the Metsies for getting it done in the end (and for far less prospect-wise than anyone assumed possible). Now if only Pedro would step away from the cockfights...

**Not football-related. As a household, we are more interested in the recent revelation that Eli Manning and Jonathan Papelbon are duck-hunting buddies than in anything Manning might do in a game-type situation. Did...did they mean
Nintendo Duck Hunt? Do we dare to hope?

***Touch wood. Toss salt. Cross your fingers. Contact your dead relatives. Rub Barack Obama's head. Whatever you do for luck, and hope, and gratitude, take a moment and do it for Jonny Lester.