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Whatís Wrong with the Sox?

7.7.04:  What is wrong with these Sox? Well, after tonightís big win over their wild card rivals from Oakland, most people would say nothing. But donít let that 11-0 score fool you, this is the same team that lost two of three in Atlanta to the dismal Braves and we all know what happened in Yankee Stadium last weekend. We have a problem. However, maybe the bigger problem is, no one seems to know what is going wrong.

"There's no alternative but to show up [tonight] and try a little harder and hustle a little more and work a little harder," Bob Hohler quoted Sox manager Terry Francona as saying in Tuesdayís Boston Globe. "That's all we can do right now. We can talk about how frustrated we are, but we've got to play better, we've got to pitch better, we've got to manage better, we've got to coach better. We've got to do everything better."

Some of people have simple solutions. My mother thought they just have to try a little bit harder. Other local members of Red Sox Nation underlined the power of positive thinking. Right.
Jerry Remy put his Wally the Beanbag Buddy on his head, literally, hoping this rally cap-esqe move would work. And though it certainly worked last night, I wouldnít want Wally to be stuck upside down the rest of the season. So letís try to figure out just whatís been wrong with the Sox lately.

Maybe it is all these contracts coming up. If a short lifetime of watching sports has taught me anything, itís that an athletes mind is a very fragile thing. Usually, players respond very well in contract years, having career years in the interest of cashing in next off-season. Perhaps the pressure of proving their worth is proving too much for Trot, Nomar, Varitek, Lowe and Pedro? Then again, Nomar and Trot just got back, so we canít really judge their play and ĎTek is playing solid baseball. Pedro is Pedro is Pedro. So maybe the contract year pressure is getting to D-Lowe, but that really doesnít explain this teamís play lately.

Maybe they just arenít that good? Yeah, and maybe this team doesnít have a payroll over $125 MillionÖ

Maybe Bill James is not the second coming. Could Theo be wrong?

Just tonight, Eric Byrnesí speed saved a whole run all by itself in the third inning. Sure, it wouldnít really matter for the Aís, but the score was only 3-0 at that point: good thing it didnít get any worse. Manny smashed a liner to left that Byrnes dashed after and snagged. A few pitches later, Nomar rifled a ball down the third baseline, a surefire double. Byrnes to the rescue again: the speedy fielder scooped up the ball and pegged it into the infield, holding Nomar at first. If that isnít Byrnes patrolling beneath the Green Monster, Manny scores easily from second on Nomarís hit. However, thanks to Byrnesí speed, Nomar was stuck on first with one out and the inning fizzled. Now I do not want Byrnes on my team, we all remember the California Cry Baby and his antics in the ALDS last year, but maybe that traditional scout category, not favored by OPS-ites, speed, is important in this game. It sure looked mighty handy in the 3rd inning.

Maybe it is Mannyís defenseÖ nope. This guy has been stupendous in left field this year, playing defense as though he enjoys it. At least now, he understands that it is very necessary.

Maybe the Sox cannot win because they do not bunt, because they do not play old-fashioned baseball. See, you think that might work, like it does in little league, and then you see Johnny Damon square around in the fourth inning with men on first and second, in the midst of a 2-for-2 day against Barry Zito and try it. Damonís bunt went flying, luckily foul and out of catcher Damian Millerís reach. Yeah, letís stick to swinging the stick, boys.

You know, there is another explanation. Whatís really bringing down this Sox team, a team that is in fine position to challenge for

the Wild Card and really isnít dead in the division race either, are the dire, pessimistic, the sky-is-falling fans, who canít even enjoy a nice big win over the Aís in early July. Yeah, I guess thatís a possibility. A remote one at best though.

-- JJ Feigenbaum (still only 17)  

Behind Enemy Lines

7.3.05: I love New York City more than Boston. My reasons for that are many, but they have nothing to do with baseball. When it comes to that, I will never ever forget that I hung up a poster of the Impossible Dream team on my wall IN THE 1980s (I'm 30 now). I will never forget that I chucked into the trash my tape of Game Six. I will never forget that I caught an 8-4 Clemens victory over the Angels with a Rich Gedman grand slam when I made my way out to Anaheim at age 13 in 1986. I will never forget The Most Incredible Pitching Performance In History (Pedro from the bullpen vs. the Indians) and I will never forget that Aaron Boone's home run felt so inevitable.

And, though it was a regular mid-season matchup ... that the Sox couldn't hold on following Manny's shot the other night.

But I do know this ... Yankee fans love the Red Sox. How could they have this much fun without them ... and I think, how could we?

Despite all this, and despite the another-heartbreaking-loss against the Bravos, I honestly believe this and I don't care if they shatter my dreams (that's almost all the fun): The Boston Red Sox will win the World Series in 2004.

In a world such as we have, we Red Sox fans are a lucky breed. I was talking with a Yankee fan outside a party on 24th Street tonight ... he actually admitted that he hates the Red Sox more than he loves the Yankees. What kind of disturbed, negative attitude is this? Yes, I've been tempted and heard plenty from those (usually Mets) fans who hate the Yanks more than their own team, but what the hell is the point of an attitude like that?

All I'm saying is, it's a game. Let's not make the players so freaked out they can't play. Oh, and, adieu Nomar, you prodigal son.  -- Jay Campbell  


On Being a Sox fan in New York City

6.01.04: Iím a Boston boy. I was born at Mass General Hospital, have always lived within a five mile radius of Fenway Park. Iíve skipped school for the Patriotsí super bowl parade (twice), hung out near Fenway on a game night, even if I had no tickets, so as to not go through Sox withdrawal. All I know is Boston, and all I want to know is Boston.

Just this past fall, I went off to college in New York City. I was no longer living within a five mile radius of Fenway, I couldnít skip school to revel in my teamís victories. Not to mention, this all happened right in the midst of the 2003 Sox season. Sitting down at the TV in my dormís lounge and turning on Fox, I was joined by a couple friends and people from my hall. The Sox game was on. Now, back home, the Sox game was a sacred ritual, taking precedence over any other event, news, or distraction. My brother, father, and I would sit down in front of our antiquated TV, crack open a six of Sam, and take in every word the Rem-dog would say. We would keep the chatter for the commercials. There was an eleventh commandment in our household that explicitly stated, ďThou shalt not speak whilst the Sox game taketh place.Ē

Anyway, so there I was, in New York watching the sox game with a bunch of kids I just met. I sat down and focused according to the eleventh commandment, just as I had always done. It became apparent, however, that the kids I was with were not informed that there was an eleventh commandment, and therefore, out of the altruistic and benevolence of my own heart, I thought it my duty to inform them. ďShut the %#@! up! The game is on!Ē I turned back to the glowing screen. These kids were from Kansas, California, Indiana, and worst of all New York. They were all shocked. They couldnít understand my intensity for the game. I thought it normal to say the things I said, after all, that was the way it was always done. This is something bred into true Sox fans: undying, unfaltering, immovable intensity. I would point out stats, give my own perspective after every pitch, make the managerial decisions, play GM. I wanted to watch the Sox, they just wanted to watch T.V.

I found this especially true for New York baseball fans. That is not to say every Yankee fan is an idiot, but Iíve found that most are. Of the five kids I was watching the game with none could name the more than one person in the rotation, and together could put together only 2/5 of it, but seemed very familiar with the four digits 1-9-1-8. None of them knew any sort of history of the game, but they could say with distinction that Jeter is so much better than Nomar. I take my baseball very seriously, and this pissed me off. I couldnít keep my cool, and then launched into a tirade of statistics and history. Knowing their baseball knowledge was overmatched, they replied, ď1918 man, thatís all I gotta say.Ē

This kind of arrogance and baseless banter Iíve encountered by the Yankee fans have only made my Red Sox conviction stronger. Yeah, when the Sox lost in the ALCS I picked a fight with any Yankee fan in sight, I threw and took a couple blows, and spent the night asking myself and my friends back home, ďWhat the fuck just happened.Ē Being in New York for the 2003 season was difficult, but taught me that if I could live through that, I could probably live through anything.

Iím glad to be home for the summer in Boston, going into debt buying Sox tickets, kicking back a couple Sams and obeying the eleventh commandment.

Mikey G.


To: Gene Orza

12.18.03: Subject: Ever Hear of Opportunity Cost? Marginal Utility? Basic MicroEconomics? Let the player make the call.

Who are you to say what value is to a particular player? It is up to the individual player to determine what is of value, i.e. utility/satisfaction to him. If you are going to argue value you should brush up on basic Economic Principles. Not everything can be translated into a universal dollar value, marginal utility is a major factor. This factor is unique to each individual. Have you ever heard of opportunity cost or marginal utility? Probably not, I'll give you a quick review:

Opportunity Cost is the amount of other products that must be forgone or sacrificed to produce a unit of a product. Let's say a certain player would like to restructure a contract and forgo monetary or non-monetary benefits/compensation to play for a competitive ball club... this player obviously values the opportunity to win more than the maintaining the structure of the current contract. Therefore, this player's opportunity cost is whatever he is willing to forgo to play on a competitive team (which is equal or greater value).

Marginal Utility is the extra utility a consumer obtains from the
consumption of one additional unit of a resource; equal to the change in total utility divided by the change in the quantity consumed. Let's say, a certain player's current contract has great monetary benefit but very little marginal utility. If the marginal utility of the contract is low, then the value would also be low. This contract is not good for the player, and most likely not good for the organization that holds that contract.

PLEASE NOTE*** "In any specific time period, each buyer of a product will derive less satisfaction (or benefit, or utility) from each successive unit of the product consumed. That is, consumption is subject to diminishing marginal utility. And because successive units of a particular product yield less and less marginal utility, consumers will buy additional units only if the price of those units is progressively reduced." - Economics, McConnell & Brue 15th edition 2002
Money shouldn't be the end all when restructuring the contract, marginal utility holds more value than the dollar. If the player doesn't have satisfaction with the current contract, then it should be restructured until he is satisfied... then there is value.
- mcpilgrim


Will ANYONE Defend Nomar

I've lived in Massachusetts for my entire life. I actually grew up directly across the street from the pond into which Ruth supposedly tossed that piano, a 5 minute walk from his Sudbury farmhouse. I'm not one of these B.U. students from Iowa or Oregon who pretend to be rabid about the Sox for a couple years of college, then forget about it. I get insanely angry over a player's 6 game slump even when it comes after a 15 game hot streak, will instantly forget consistent performance after 1 costly at-bat or misplaced pitch, just let every other member of this deranged lot. And yet, sometimes even I can't figure Sox fans out.

Nomar deserves better than this, and everyone can feel free to smirk at the earnestness of that statement, made on behalf of someone I've never met. This isn't Manny Ramirez we're talking about here. This isn't Manny's far more presentable, far more lucid, far more advertizer friendly, but otherwise spiritual twin Alex Rodriguez we're talking about here. This is Nomar Garciaparra, a guy who's been in Sox uniform for his entire career, a guy who always played like he actually gave a damn about the city and the team when surrounded by guys who were the polar opposite of that--the Lansing's, the Bichette's, the Everett's, and about half a million other guys in that category--guys who after every season was over gave the fans the proverbial finger with their disinterest and disdain while Nomar literally thanked the fans.

Nomar's not a media guy. As far as I can tell, that's pretty much the only reason I can see why so many people are ready to see him shove off, or, perhaps more accurately, be shoved off. For a fanbase that claims to be baseball savvy, cerebral even, we must a pretty stupid in that case. On the one hand, we complain about the negativity and personal agenda of Dan-bleeping-Shaughnessy and countless other print, radio, and TV guys, and yet, the fact that many athletes don't like some or all of those guys either is taken as a personal insult by us. I'll say this much: in the parallel universe in which I were a Sox player, I wouldn't talk to Shaughnessy either.

And it's not even that Nomar doesn't speak to the media in the way that Pedro or Manny won't. He just speaks to the media poorly. He speaks in athlete-clichťs. He repeats himself. Perhaps I'm the only guy left on the planet who didn't realize he was being paid to be a quote machine as well as a baseball player. I guess, in the end, it's not that crazy: How Boston loves a personable, 2 year contract, .270 role player, and hates the long contract, always over .300 stars. We hated Williams, we hated Rice, we hated Clemens. Sure, us young guys know better then whoever dared roll their eyes at Teddy Ballgame back in the 40s. I wonder how long it will take for the next crop of young guys to know better than us?

Nomar will never tell a beat journalist "I'm fed up with my f-ing slump" just like he will never tell him "I really kicked the shit out of Mussina today!". He'll go on automatic pilot during those tedious post-game interviews, and that's fine with me. Perhaps I'm a bit biased, and forgive me for maligning the fine art of baseball "journalism", but in my view there have only been two post-baseball game articles ever written: the one where they win, and the one where they lose. So no, I don't hate Nomar for the "clichť issue" (it's an issue?), even if everyone else does.

I believe Garciaparra when he says he wants to be in Boston, when he says he wants to retire here. I believe, with the exception of Varitek, there's no one on the team I'd rather see finish up a Sox. Maybe this part is where I'm the hopeless optimist, but here it is: Because I believe he cares more about how the team does than his own glory, because outside of the media clichťs and an unquestionable lack of big-star persona he really wants to be here, and because for all the years that he's been on the team when none of the inflated-Duquette contracts gave a damn, he did. And none of these worthwhile qualities are true of Alex Rodriguez.

Sure, I know how it goes. We're desperate, DESPERATE for a World Series. We've got an A-list star, but on the horizon we see an "A" that's a little bigger, a little shinier (and a hell of a lot more expensive). And we want it. We'd throw our "A" off the back of a moving bus, because every year we don't win it all we go crazier. And I mean bad crazy, by the way.

Nomar's done nothing but fairly modestly play like hell for this team. Rodriguez has done nothing than leave a market that loved him to sign to the most obscene contract in the history of baseball for a team that somebody, SOMEBODY must have told him would be able to afford nothign else because of it. He's a player who owns at least 50% of the responsibility for sinking a franchise, but now wants out so can get a World Series ring. Maybe he could pawn it for another couple hundred million. Oh yeah, and his TV endorsements sure are awesome!

Unfortunately for us, Rodriguez isn't silently, almost amusingly crazy like Ramirez. He's a self-obsessed primadonna. He's also probably the best player in baseball. What we've got right now is one of the best players in baseball, and yes, I know that's not the same thing. But he's also a guy who on top of his incredible ability doesn't act like a superstar, doesn't ruin a clubhouse with his ego, and doesn't raise his nose at the utility guys like a certain famous shortstop in Arlington, TX is known to do.

We've got Nomar, a guy who's been the bright spot in some not so bright seasons in this town, a guy with a great work ethic, a guy who hates himself even more than we do when he's slumping, and a guy who other than being awkward in front of the cameras and when the notepads are out and the recorders are on, has done absolutely nothing worth being angry over, EVER. We want an upgrade that happens to be a self-obsessed, "how-are-my-stats-looking?", nouveau-Manny...more disgusting than the original because he knows what the fuck he did to baseball. Why? I guess because we're the Yankees now. Funny, I thought we hated them for reasons more than the fact they happened to have pinstripes on their jerseys. I'll say it--for reasons even more than the fact they've won so often. But because they've won so cheaply--in such an expensive way, ironically. Because they buy championships with a collection of scumbags! with high price tags who couldn't care less about anything other than their own personal glory (and endorsement deals). Maybe most players are like that. But Nomar isn't, if you you let yourself think about it for a second. So what now? Let's piss on him, not even tell him about it, then send him packing, because there's a new Evil Empire in town. Oh, how proud we should be.

- Andrew Golden, Brookline, MA


Do It Now

10.23.03:  the time has come. i am 45 years old. ive followed the same major league baseball team, the boston red sox, since i was a nine year old little leaguer... i love baseball so much more than football and basketball. i live in ohio. before the internet, i would listen to 1080am hartford for bits and pieces of a baseball game in between long minutes of just static. when the team goes west i lose hours of sleep waiting for final scores to come back to the east. now i dont do that, i watch mlb gamecast for hours every single night. i drive from ohio to fenway not for vacation, but just to see the red sox play. i've named my son after the best red sox player (when he was born) we had (his name is wade). i stayed up to watch to 3am in the morning to watch the red sox lose to the a's in the divisional series knowing full well that i had to get up at 5am the next morning to coach our high school golf team in the district golf tournament... i never even thought about going to bed before it ended... i deserve better than this! i deserve to see the red sox win it all... and i deserve to see that NOW! i dont want to hear, but the curse!... it's not the curse... it's because we're worse! i dont want to hear, be patient, the new owners will bring a winner. just give them time. mr. henry knew what product he was buying!... i deserve a winner and i deserve it now! would i take 4 losing seasons to bring in talent short term for a winner??? YOU BET YOUR SWEET BIPPY I WOULD!... why? i've suffered long and hard. because ive given the boston red sox EVERYTHING i have for 36 years... i deserve a winner now. if thats a better manager, get him in here. if thats a couple front line starters to compliment our awesome hitting attack.... get them here. im tired of watching steinbrenner beat us to the best players every year, there's no excuse for that. why, because i deserve a winner. this offseason the red sox ownership needs to take a long hard look at our needs and address them NOW... its time to beat the evil empire at its own game, because i deserve it. i deserve it, and i deserve it now, because i am one of the best fans in all of major league baseball. but that is NOT why i deserve it most and what REEEALLY makes me special. what make me special is that i am just an AVERAGE fan of the boston red sox, i know that when many read this, they could be writing the EXACT same things! they can add other things to 'why i deserve it'. what's special is that soooo many people in the red sox nation have as big as passion as i do. this isnt normal... this is a boston red sox fan. WE are a special nation and WE deserve as much back, or more, than what we put in to it... and we're not getting it. its time the red sox management and ownership do what ive done for 36 years and what WE'VE done as the red sox nation... GIVE IT EVERYTHING THEY'VE GOT! Cowboy up boys and do what it takes, but do it NOW.

Neal Graf
(just the average boston red sox fan)
Wauseon, OH


Tired of Latest Act

10.12.03:  I have been a Red Sox fan for 50 years now and I must view my opinion to you. While watching game 3, Bos/NY, with my children, grandchildren and friends, we were "all" totally disgusted with the totally lack of class on the part of Martinez when this "jerk" grabs a man in his 70's by the head and throws him to the ground. The group I watched the game with may have only consisted of 31 people but we all agreed, he may be a good pitcher but his actions don't warrant support from us. We all agree that we will no longer support the Red Sox until he is no longer on the team. He sets a terrible example for the young people of New England and there is "NO" excuse for his foul actions. If the Red Sox truly want to have a "high class organization then they "must" remove "bad" examples such as "Pedro Martinez" from the roster. I understand that he is under contract, but that contract is up in the near future and a trade for a better example to an honorable team such as the Red Sox we feel is a must.

Lets remove these types of people from professional sports and set a "good" example for the youngsters of New England. As said before, there is "no" excuse for what was seen on national television tonight. I sincerely hope you give me a reply to this e-mail, because as it stands, the Red Sox have lost 31 fans in my family alone. We have always loved and supported the Red Sox and hope in the future we will be able to again. I'm sure I speak for many other fans. Martinez has been a public relations problem in the past, and I'm sure, with his attitude, he will continue to be a problem in the future. He is a terrible example of a professional athlete. Please respond to this e-mail so we know where the organization stands.

Thank you,

Mullen Family & Friends
Merrimac, Mass.


A Vote for Grady

10.18.03:  Iím going to take the other side here. I was crushed when the Sox lost Game 7 the other night. I was screaming at the TV for Grady to give Pedro the hook. I was devastated when the game was tied and felt as if the chance of a lifetime had passed by. After reluctantly getting out of bed Friday morning, I decided to try and figure out why? Just why did Grady not make a move to the bullpen?

You know what I came up with when I removed my emotions? The blame for this loss falls three ways. First it goes to the offense whose inability to push across a run or two in the 4th inning kept the Yankees and their fans in the ball game. A 4th inning where the manager put on a flawless hit-and-run to knock the Fat Shit out of the game for good. Second, it falls on Pedro Martinez. It is hard to make the case that a pitcher of his ability is out of gas when:

He gets the first out of the inning.

Is up 0-2, yup one strike away from putting Jeter away (gives up the unforgivable
0-2 hit, Nixon misplayed the ball).

Is 2-2 on Bernie Williams, again one pitch away from putting him away (base hit).

Is up 0-2 on Matsui, again an inexcusable hit.

Is 2-2 on Ears, makes a good pitch and gives up the single/double.

Pedro, is inches away from getting guys out with two strikes and canít get it done. I would like to find out what the MLB avg. is for hitters hitting with two strikes, especially 0-2.

Lastly, we can all blame the Red Sox brass. Grady Little deserved a contract extension well before Game 7 of the ALCS. The failure by Theo and the boys forced Grady in a position to manage for his job. If you had the choice of Pedro Martinez or the Red Sox bullpen (who lets not forget, you got a ton of mileage out of this year and for 97% of the season was bad-at-best), who do you pick? I know who Iím going with.

If we are going to kill Grady for the loss, we must credit him for two 90+ win seasons, taking the Sox further than they have been in 17 years, creating a clubhouse that was a pleasure to read about this year, getting career years out of Nixon, Tek, Mueller, Ortiz, and Millar. I also have to give him credit for playing Trot, more than any other manager has against lefties. Remember Trot did ice game six with a bomb of a lefty

Big Dog, to be honest, I donít want to go down roads we have been down before. In Gradyís two years he has made consistent forward progress. I hate that the players on 99% of the teams in baseball dictate what goes on day-to-day, but the Sox finally found a guy that 25 millionaires truly respect and want to play for. I want whatís best for the Sox too, and I truly believe that Grady Little is that guy. I say that for one reason, they will be inspired to win one for the skip next year. He goes, you might lose the clubhouse next year and you canít fire the players.

If not Grady might I suggest something else that will make all of you guys happy? Theo can sit and the dugout and the Sox can use FOXís virtual manager and all of you can ďlog on and voteĒ for what decisions the manager of the Red Sox should make next year.  - DJ Greco


Nine Eleven

9.11.03: As I sit here in my office and reflect on the past two years, I decided to move my thoughts to something else....so, as I do daily, went to BDD.COM to read on yesterdays game. Of course I hit your tribute page first. I have spent the last 1/2 hour reading every name, city, country, occupation and company. Listed were people from all walks of life, lands near and far, ballet dancers to school teachers.....as depressing as this is, I became angry. Angry in the fact, a fact that has been pointed out many times mind you, the fact of the innocence of the victims. Although the Pentagon is a military target, the majority of people were murdered........murdered, not killed in action, or even just killed, murdered, cold blooded, calculated murder. We still fight the Taliban, hunt the terrorists every day and every night. We are relentless. We do not have an option. The problem is that most people in America do not care. I can tell you that THEY care, their entire life revolves around inflicting pain and suffering on the U.S. and its allies. They will continue until they are dead or their objectives have been completed. Two years removed from 9-11 and in my opinion the U.S. populace is same as it ever was, blind to the threat that still exists. I hope today everyone reads those names closely and reenergizes their resolve that we can only win this war on terrorism with a unified nation, for without that we will not succeed. We will win this, but with a price. Good men and women will sacrifice their life to stop it. And those people who do, who I support, say they would have it no other way. Specops, airborne, seals, CIA black ops......those are the UNITED STATES DIRT DOGS. Crazy, dedicated MF, those guys don't take a day off with a sore throat.

You guys have a great site, keep it up. Go Sox. See you in Octobah.

LCDR Paul Rynne
United States Navy
Member of Red Sox Nation


No Ill Will

8.22.03: Part of me still thinks there is more to this story than has been originally reported. Initial report - he called in. Kevin Shea follow-up - stomach, throat really not feeling well and spent whole day at hospital but we don't have a report with specifics because doctor Morgan has been with other patients and hasn't had time to talk to us, we will call back. Call back - not sure if it happened or not I was out of the car. From point of origin unknown to me - he has pharyngitis, which is supposedly pretty rare and pretty severe (at least judging from what I can tell and I am no doctor). LL and other Red Sox guy on late night say its strep throat, but its ab pain to worry about. To me, there's a lot up in the air in all of this.

Shea dumping all that info out there after the initial reaction looks to me to be spinning and trying to get out ahead of the story. I used to work in politics and I can tell you that's how you attempt to gain control and shape a story. I am not saying that is what is happening here. I don't claim to be a doctor, have knowledge of Pedro as a person, etc etc etc. If you told me that this happened to Player X, the day after he skipped the team photo, after the president of the team reportedly took some shots at him, when he was facing discipline for missing said photo, when he was taking heat for coming and going as he pleases, when he has a history of being a pretty temperamental guy, and when I saw him from 30 feet away goofing off in the dugout not even 9 hours before he was supposedly calling Grady, there could be unanswered questions in anyone's story. I am sorry this bothers the Pedro-walks-on-water crowd and further if it does not appear venomous for the Pedroisana-hole crowd, but this is just how I feel on this one. It will probably be nothing, but my mind is certainly not made up yet.

- Sean G.


Rally 'Round the Pennant

8.18.03: If youíre afraid of being disappointed, then maybe this is a good place to get off this ride. If youíre only here for the bandwagon and the triumphant parade, might I direct you to the Yankees, where youíll fit in with their legions of self-indulgent, Johnny-Come-Latelys. The Red Sox arenít the spoiled kids who get just what they want, but a team thick with flaws. You can cite the many August collapses, this yearís leaky defense, or a pitching staff with more coaster rides than your local Six Flags franchise. But their struggles mean something to me, reflecting the imperfections of life, the ups and downs, and the hope that lights the way. Unlike past editions whose nonchalant swan dives have pushed many past the point of patience, this team has character.

Like any party, there are the occasional blockheaded gaffes and lingering losers who seem to only scratch the surface of their potential, but I find a lot to love in them as well, whether itís Ramirez snapping out of a two week slump with a game-tying homer against a rival closer, comebacks on the fruit bat that once seemed impossible (though not so much lately, joy of joys), Ortizís late heroics, or Muellerís steadfast hitting prowess. Heck, Gump of late has even remembered he's got a bullpen and a good-fielding second-baseman. Sure Nomarís blown a couple golden opportunities the past couple weeks, and Lowe mystifies with his on-again, off-again talent, but no oneís without their faults in a game where success means failing two out of three times. The Yankees may be the only team with a worse defense than the Sox, and as a team the Aís donít even hit as well as whipping boy Todd Walker. Seattleís solid, but with the exception of that little foreigner and Ray Booneís kid, donít inspire much fear.

The Sox arenít overmatched, theyíre in a knock-down drag out brawl where they give as good as they get. It doesnít matter if you hate them for crossing you, so long as you take them back the next morning like a loyal lover, and embrace them for their failings, knowing they want this as bad as you. For the first time the front office seems to be pulling with them and not at cross-purposes, and after the ambivalences of the past regime, itís a refreshing change. We still have the best pitcher in the league, and Iíll take Peteyís heart when the game is on the line against anyone. For all his recent fallibility, I wonít forget the bases loaded K at 96 mph on his 128th pitch, and you shouldnít either.

We can go tit-for-tat on the reasons to doubt or believe, but donít forget this isnít a battle to death so much as a struggle for three invitations to the dance, with three other antagonists who arenít significantly better-looking than our beloved Sox. A lot can happen in eight weeks: Oakland was just a fractured finger from disappearing yesterday. Remember those first two games in New York in July? The Yankees looked punch-drunk like Tyson wondering who the hell Buster Douglas was. But even if we donít knock them out in the coming weeks, we can still get our title shot. Iím getting my moneyís worth, and Iím not pulling out. Letís rally round the flag folks, and ponder the wonders that surround us instead of fearing what may come.

And if you can muster the fortitude, show some faith. Perhaps itís even worth praying. But whatever you do, donít give up hope. Roseanne ainít sung yet. 

- C. Parker, Durham N.C.


This Time, This Year

7.20.03: Take a leap of faith with me Sox fans. Believe for me, for a moment, that this, this is the year. Dismiss from your mind the many times this team has disappointed you, and think about what it would mean to you if this, indeed, were The Year. Would you be able to say you enjoyed it? I know my compatriots in the coven of the miserable, myself included, have learned to take a perverse joy in the many ways that our team has failed for us in the past. You can still feel the ache of Schiraldiís shell-shocked face, the way you cursed as Lynn hit the wall, and the ball bounded toward the infield as Morgan circled the bases. You can probably still picture The Steamer in any of his many dagger jabs into your heart. What I am asking is for you to let this go, and just for a moment to embrace the thought, the idea that this is the year we will tell our friends, our children, and our grandchildren about. Will you honestly be able to laud this year, or will it only be a backward glance of joy? Would you tell them that you knew it, even as in your heart you know you waited for the moment when it all fell apart and you vented the years of ever-mounting frustration on our hapless nine?

Will you be willing to admit you moaned daily about Walkerís lack of range, Gumpís unfathomable moves or Ramirezís seemingly lackadaisical attitude during the year Casey finally drives home the winning run bringing happiness not pain to Mudville? Some of you are too far-gone for me to reach. The elation of Hendersonís one-hand, two-strike stab that bought Bucknerís chance for infamy is just a footnote in an album of muted bitterness. What I am asking you others, is for you to embrace the possibility, to give yourself over like New Yorkers for Ď69ís Amazing Mets, like I remember doing when Walpole Joe led this team on an amazing July run as Benzinger sprayed line drives like his bat were a hose.

We should love this team because they donít quit. At times they may infuriate, but they fight. The bullpen had more holes than O.J.ís story, but our green first-timer seems to have found the Bondo. Our pitching coach was essentially AWOL (admittedly, for very good reason), and seemingly against all odds, Theo found a talented mid-season replacement, and the pitchers have responded. Born dirt-dog Millar is here not Japan. After a year when our boys managed to win but a single one-run game the last three months of the season, theyíve repeatedly shown the resilience to bounce back in their final at-bat. Can we love this team? Can we banish the bad memories and jump on-board, not like the Gotham wagon-jumpers for whom the pennants and the rings are perceived as their god-given right, but as the underdog we followed through the dark days until the end, when our faith was finally vindicated? I think some of us can smell it, a change like the crispness of Fall, when the woods are alive with color. Tek and Nomar seem back on their pre-injury trajectory, and Nixon Ė despite the occasional lapse Ė is beginning to look like the hitter we could all see in him. David Ortiz Ė can I repeat that Ė DAVID ORTIZ is pummeling pitchers like no DH I can remember going back to Mike Easler. We even have a real closer Ė not Larry Anderson, not even the enigmatic Jeff Reardon, or that Campbell guy who picked the wrong year for his best moment. I am not asking you to believe in a democracy for Iraq or in the sanity of Michael Jackson, I am offering something you know in your bones to be possible. I am asking you to give over to the feeling that this might be it. Leave the doubts and recriminations for when the Fat Lady sings, and give this team your hope, your trust, and your heart. Because if you donít, you may have cheated yourself of the greatest summer in 85 years. Life goes forward, letís stop looking back, and be as the boy and girls we once were, who didnít know the misery of the world and only rejoiced in dreams that felt so close we refused to believe they wouldnít come true.

- C. Parker, Durham N.C.


Three Day Report Card

4.3.03: Trust me, Bill Mueller can bat 2nd or 8th or 9th. But no more lead-off, okay Grady? I actually make up eight or nine lineups before opening day every year. This year I did like 15. Never did I even come close to: Mueller 3b, Walker 2b, Nomar ss, Manny lf, Millar rf, Ortiz DH, Hillenbrand 1b, Varitek c, Jackson cf. Someone tell Grady he doesn't have to impress anybody. As Tommy Lasorda said to Kevin Hench "There's so many Latin players today you can't tell 'em apart."

You can't hide all the bad fielding, streaky hitters in the DH spot. Where are their defensive liabilities least exposed? Put the best defensive options out there first. Which probably means Hillenbrand should DH more. That's your every day lineup. Put your everyday lineup out there every day. Flip-flop Hillenbrand (atrocious fielder and decision maker/baseball player, trade bait), Ortiz (stone glove, immobile, a little pop?), Giambi (has a lot to prove and an opportunity), Mueller (Sure handed glove, contact hitter) at 1st base/3rd base/DH. Millar should play every day just for his goofy enthusiasm and hustle.

Trot (the less bulky version from last season is a step faster and safe at home probably winning the game probably saving our 9th inning reality series some dramatic arc) still looks pissed off, tight and can't hit lefties (platoon). There are a few obvious line-ups and there's no need for hunches. As time goes on give ab's to whomever is hot.

So Grady, here they are. Seven options for now:
 

1. vs. right handed pitcher I
Damon cf  l
Walker 2b l
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Millar 1b r
Hillenbrand dh r
Nixon rf l
Mueller 3b s
Varitek c s
 
5. vs. right handed pitcher  V
Damon cf l
Mueller 3b s
Nomar ss r
Manny dh r
Giambi lf l
Hillenbrand 1b r
Nixon rf l
Varitek c s
Walker 2b l
2. vs. right handed pitcher II
(more balance)

Damon cf l
Mueller 3b s
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Ortiz 1b l
Hillenbrand dh r
Nixon rf l
Walker 2b l
Varitek c s
6. vs. left handed pitcher I
Damon cf l
Mueller 3b s
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Millar 1b r
Hillenbrand dh r
Nixon rf l
Varitek c s
Walker 2b l
3. vs. right handed pitcher III
Damon cf l
Mueller 3b s
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Giambi 1b l
Hillenbrand dh r
Nixon rf l
Walker 2b l
Varitek c s
7. vs. left handed pitcher II
Damon cf l
Mueller 3b s
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Millar rf r
Hillenbrand 1b r
Giambi dh l
Varitek c s
Walker 2b l
4. vs. right handed pitcher IV
(Heavy lefties)

Damon cf l
Walker 2b l
Nomar ss r
Manny lf r
Giambi dh/1b l
Ortiz1b/dh l
Nixon rf l
Mueller 3b s
Varitek c s
 

- D-Dog


A Soldier's Story

As Nation Prepares for War, Marine Knows Meaning of Fenway Freedom, Meets The Nation, and Scores a Yankee Doodle Dandy

3.15.03 - From N.H.S., Newport, RI, U.S. Marine Corps - As we started out from Newport, R.I. on a blustery winter night, I knew this would be a night to remember. My buddy had told me WEEI was reporting that people were already showing up with Lawn chairs at 5:00 PM.

We got to the front of the line at about 9:00 PM and chatted with the McCormick brothers who were there...equipped with Natty Light, Java, sleeping bags, lawn chairs, and dressed from head to toe like Eskimo Chowderheads. Not more than 5 minutes after we arrived, so did the Channel 4 Sports Crew. They interviewed the McCormick brothers as a chant of "Yankees Suck" arose from the 30-or-so diehards that comprised the line. We were directly behind the brothers and thought we would make the news. Looking at my watch and the paltry size of the line I knew it was time to head over to the Cask and Flag to catch the Celts game and procure some fine Boston Lager.

As we sat there downing some suds and watching the Celts scrape by the Raptors while playing a litte pitch, we reminisced about our favorite Fenway Moments. Mine was probably a Mo Vaughn Grand Slam to win the game vs. the A's that prompted me to shell out 30 Beans for a Mo Jersey/T-Shirt upon leaving the Fens. When we walked into the Cask the Whole Bar gave me the "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Everyone is just so in tune with the Sox...it is really a special feeling in this town.

I had been in the Marines for the Past 5 years and Fenway Visits had come few and far between, but on this night, all my memories were as crisp and vivid as the Cask's waitresses high beams shining through her unusually tight blouse. The Nostalgia was thick... almost as thick as the Winter Ale and Guinness concoctions I was inhaling.

2:00 AM came and the Bar closed. My buddy had already left the Cask about a half hour earlier to get our lawn chairs and winter gear and get in line. I was feeling pretty good at this point, oblivious to the knifing cold that had driven some to actually zip there sleeping bags up completely and lay there in synthetic cocoons. The Line was up to about 200....(my buddy had us in at 121 and 122).

At this point I had not seen my buddy. My cell phone rang. It was he. He told me to look across the street. I spotted him with his cell phone in hand, I walked over to him and realized he was kneeling in a pool of his own vomit.....Ahhh Fenway Moments...even in the winter.

He showed me to our spot and I began talking Red Sox Folklore with some college girls and a couple of Gung Ho older fellas. After about an hour my feet became numb....1st stages of frostbite I thought to myself....but it didn't matter. This was Red Sox Nation at it's finest... screw the cold. Our mission was to Get Red Sox Yankee Tickets on the Monster....and that is what we were gonna do.

As I froze my ass off I looked up and down at the motley crew of Die Hards...All ages, ethnic persuasions, and gender. There was a Stick Ball game going on in the middle of the street, guys (including myself) chucking the football, and music Blaring from one of the Die Hards SUV's.

Kind Souls were coming around with Free Boxes of Dunkin Donuts Jo and Donuts. People were handing out free Monster Energy Drinks, or liquid Crack (I drank 5 of them!) But the one thing I couldn't get out of my head was how perfect this setting was. Besides the fact that my toes were about to turn black....it was perfect. This was a perfect microcosm of Red Sox Nation. It is more than just rooting for a team, it is a way of life. The Passion and devotion we have for our Sox is unmatched in Sports. I mean it was the Middle of the Winter, and if you had just seen these people...minus the winter gear...you would have thought it was June or July and they were waiting for the gates to open. There was no complaining...just banter of past, present, and future glory. Just the endless optimism that the start of every year in New England Brings....Maybe this will be the Year.

As the Sun came up the steady stream of people that had been filtering in all night had grown to a couple thousand. At about 7 O' Clock a roar arose from the front of the line...they were Handing out Wristbands so they could line us up again inside in an hour! This afforded us a chance to hit Dunkin and Mickey D's for Breakfast.

Once we got inside we were called up in increments of 25 to the .406 Club. Once inside we were treated to complimentary coffee by the Sox Brass. What a sight it was to see Fenway from that vantage Point. The Field was covered in Snow with Orange Cones marking the bases. The legendary scoreboard was torn apart, and the welders were on top of the Monster making our seats. What a view. I honestly got teary-eyed looking out at Old Glory. What a perfect setting. After we sat through Red Sox trivia Games where people were blurting out answers like Glenn Hoffman and Marc Sullivan to questions like Who is the Red Sox all Time RBI Leader? (hey..they were tired and cranky) it was time for my section to get the Tix!

I got 'em!  August 31st..front Row...Section ten.....Yanks/Red Sox....ESPN SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL! It was all worth it. As I saw the people who had braved the elements to get these tickets I felt a kinship with them I can't put into words... It is very special thing to be a Red Sox Fan...special indeed.

As I walked out into he Blinding Sun I was offered $150 a piece for my Yankee Tix... I almost wanted to slap the guy... see... that is what is wrong with fans these days. Don't they know it has nothing to do with money? It's about the game. You know, the crack of the bat, the smell of stale peanuts and watered down beer, it's about the Red Sox winning the Series and throwing a Party the likes of which has never been seen, it's about generations of Red Sox fans United on a freezing winter night to live the Red Sox Dream....it was baseball at it's purest and most innocent....For chrissakes, it's about loving the game of baseball...and loving the Boston Red Sox. Sorry sir... take the $150 and ..well you know.

As I left, tickets in hand, the line had stretched to nearly 3k! In Dunkin' Donuts I met up with a guy who had traveled with his son from Vermont and just got in line. I didn't have the heart to tell him he may be too late...I just smiled at him and said..Hey, you know what......"This Could be the Year."


The Nation Speaks 2001/2002


Wild Card Wannabees

AL Wild

W

L

GB

Oakland

46

36

---

Boston

45

37

1.0

Anaheim

44

39

2.5

Chicago

42

38

3.0

Tampa Bay

42

41

4.5

AL East

W

L

GB

New York

51

31

---

Boston

45

37

6.0

Tampa Bay

42

41

9.5

Toronto

38

46

14.0

Baltimore

36

45

15.0


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Right across from Fenway 19 Yawkey Way, Boston


The ďCurtís Pitch for ALSĒ program is a joint effort by Curt and Shonda Schilling, and The ALS Association Mass Chapter to strike out Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrigís Disease.

Curt and Shonda will be contributing $25,000 to The ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter, and they are asking fans to contribute as well. All proceeds will benefit research and patient services for those in Massachusetts affected by the disease. Program participants will receive different incentive prizes based on the dollar amount per strikeout that they pledge. Please click here to learn more about the program.

Schilling is Top Good Guy


The SHADE Foundation

The Curt and Shonda Schilling Melanoma Foundation of America welcomes Red Sox Nation to join in their fight to save future generations from melanoma, a potentially preventable skin cancer.


Get a Danny O Fenway Litho, as Seen in the Cooperstown Catalog


Chasing Steinbrenner

Exclusive excerpts on the Kevin Millar signing


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