The Long Hot Summer

As the early weeks of September descend around us and baseball enters the home stretch, I come back to the blogsphere here on MLB with both heavy heart and spark of optimism. It has been a frustrating summer for the Sox and we all know the song and dance routine by now. Decimated by injuries, haunted by poor relief pitching, unlucky in love and devoid of identity, the 2010 Red Sox will be a study in lost potential. Playing in baseball’s best division has not helped obviously ( they do own the ALs 4th best record and could win 90 games) as we all knew the Yanks and Rays would be tough to beat. Since June 21 when the Sox were 43-28 and a mere .5 game out of first place, the team has gone 35-34. The series in Colorado (written about so eloquently by Rockpile Ranter and myself and mysteriously one of my last entries prior to know? am I a curse? oh please! the agony!) seemed to be the beginning of the slide into mediocrity. Oh the injuries you might yell. I felt every stinking foul ball off the foot that I saw. Has there ever been more of this by one team in a season? I sear I saw hobbling Sox players game after game shanking them off the insteps. Get Dave Magadan on the phone. Too many foul balls is a sign of some kind of hitting malfunction, right? I also watched the countless games handed away in the 7th and 8th and 9th by the bullpen. The .500 ballplayed against the leagues doormats (Mariners, orioles, Indians, Royals) has not helped either. Let’s face it. The questions posed at season’s beginning are the ones that proved unanswered and the most critical to the success of the this team – outfield, relief pitching, esp. We are now playing our AAA team and have been for most of the year and Igotta say, I like what I see. There is tons of potential here in MacDonald, Kalish, Nava, Anderson, Reddick et al. The Sox will never be the team to go fire sale and save $$ and field a team like this. The fans would not allow it and the AL East would tilt on it’s side in a power shift. The thought is interesting however. Very interesting.

While I am not quite ready to throw in the towel on 2010 (mostly because our starting pitching has the ability to keep us in this thing til the end), I cannot help but look to 2011 and imagine what will transpire in the offseason. Ortiz? Gone? Beltre? Staying? Lowell? Retiring? The youth? Trade bait? Free Agents? Who’s coming? The outfield? A big Q?

It has been a long hot summer and the way MLB is these days, it won’t end anytime soon.

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Friday Night Fight redux

batman.jpg                               “I’m not the only one of the caped crusader fan club watching the sky

                                           for mankind’s friend.”                                  The Clash “Atom Tan”

 

The Sox stumble into Toronto tonight for what most Soxists are considering a must win. The Jays have slid into the 4th place hole, 11 games out, and the Sox need to show up in Toronto and make a staement with Ws. The sweep in Tampa was a painful deja vu. It was like staring into the sun over and over expecting it not to burn evertime. The series seemingly rejuvenated the Rays and allowed them to emerge from the curbstone, dust off the poly and remember they are contenders. The 3 games played out as scripted and the images on the telly were like some kind of absurdist reality show (oxmoron, I know). The Sox season began in such fashion and despite the May and June hot streak, July has been a clunker and with the All Star break looming, the importance of the 3 gamne set in Toronto is HUGE if we are to keep pace.

 

Alas, the deck seems to be stacked:

  • injuries? we gots ’em.
  • Cliff Lee? the yanks are gonna gets ’em
  • Sox bullpen? how green was my valley? (in 2007)
  • trade deadline moves? no words I’ve heard 

I have faith in things unseen which is why I love baseball. It is irrational. It is mystical. It is like party politics in America. As the summer broiler heats up and we all rise closer to the flame, the baseball season continues to simmer in it’s juices, a sweet and sour, ripening bowl of flavors and spit. The ultimate side dish for your summer harvest. Without baseball, summer is all about sweating without purpose, burning without a salve, oceans without the waves.  I’m heading back to New Englnad in 3 weeks for the yearly summer vaction with family. Into the belly of the Sox Nation we go with hopes aplenty for some glorious baseball achievement. It would not be summer without this. Red Sox 2010 will ultimately come down to getting the pieces put back together, players stepping to their potential and a whole lot of luck. I can work with these ingredients.

 

Lester goes tonight and needs to stop the bleeding from the hill. While the pitching in Tampa was not terrible, it got no favors from the offense. Put the bats in first class and get them ready to rock the dome. Go Sox! 

 

San Francisco’s Doomed

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In my mind (shaped by kulture), San Francisco is a dirty, sinister place. The beauty of the Golden Gate and the picturesque hills dotted with trolleys and the sweeping vistas of the bay and the Pacific Ocean is overrun by images Dirty Harry, Bullit,  Escape From Alcatraz, The Streets of San Francisco (Malden was a tough guy!), and the Old Candlestick Park (a prison in it’s own right). To me, San Francisco is still a seedy port town full of unsavory characters who would slit your throat in the foggy night. Fitting neatly into this POV and (also into my recent blog theme of rock music) is the fact that San Francisco was also home to the great semi-unknown 1970’s punk rock band CRIME. Donning cop uniforms and bashing out 3 chord rockers like “Hot Wire My Heart”, “Murder by Guitar”, “I Stupid Anyway” and “San Francisco’s Doomed”, Crime were a truly great rock band and totally unhip for the West Coast scene at the time (still suffering from a psychedelic hangover). The recorded output is limited to a few rehearsal sessions as they never “properly” recorded. In hindsight this is probably a good thing since the songs go for the jugular and the rough mixes and performances only add to the overall punch in throat. Personally I like the music of the outsider and raw, visceral performances get to the essence of what rock is all about. I wonder if CRIME (Frankie Fix and Johnny Strike, Ron the Ripper and Hank Rank)were Giants fans? Was the doomed reference to the 1976-77 Giants? A .500 team with great names – McCovey, Madlock, Montefusco, Murcer,etc.- these Gianst had the unfortunate task of matching up to the great Dodgers team of that time. Damn LA!  Maybe CRIME wore their unforms to Candlestick and watched their beloved Giants slug it out. I can only wish that punk rock and baseball were so linked.

 

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 The Sox get a series win in San Fran and after the grueling set in Colorado, you have to be happy with the results. It came at a cost however as Pedroia, Buccholz, and Martinez all went down with injuries. The Sox have been facing this type of adversity all season but this current rash will be tough to combat. They also finished the weekend in sole position of second place in the AL East, 2 games behind the Yanks who pulled an improbable win out in the 9th and 10th innings last night against the Dodgers. Damn LA! Get it together and help us out!

The Lester/Lincecum match up on Sunday turned into a non-event if you don the Giants black and orange. Lincecum lasted only 3 innings and Lester went to distance giving up only one run. San Francisco might well be doomed this season if they can’t get their offense in gear. This has been and will be their Achilles Heel all year. Their great pitching staff will need runs to get wins. The NL West – up for grabs as usual – has no clear front runner as of June 28. The Dodgers are flat, the Padres and Ginats inconsistent, the Rockies still searching. San Francisco might be doomed but then again so might the rest of the division.

We get the Rays again on Tuesday who are 3-7 in their last ten and could quickly fade into Blue Jays-esque 4th place with a proper pounding from the Sox. Welcome back to Fenway and let’s get a good streak going before the All Star break! Go Ahead Rays, Make My Day!

 

 

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Journey to the End of the Night

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“Make a miracle D, pump the (HR) lyrical” 
 

 

 
 
 
 
The Sox/Rox series fatigued me. Fatigue in the way a Yankees’ series rips at the insides and wears you out. From attending Tuesday night’s game to watching the long games on Wednesday and Thursday, I have not hung so much of my mortal coil on stinking baseball games since the 2004 playoffs.
 
” There is no tyrant like a brain”
                                             Celine (Journey to the End of the Night)
 
The Sox and Rox put together an entertaining 3 game set and not until Dustin Pedroia stepped to the rescue in game 3, did Sox fans attempt to breath easy. The 5-5, 3 HR performance was heroic and while the bullpen seemed intent on letting the sweep happen, Dustin P refused the thought at every at bat. Francona trotted Papelbon back out for the 10th for his redemption shot and he delivered finally after letting 2 previous leads evaporate into the frenzy of Coors Field.
 
“I warn you that when the princes of this world start loving you it means they are going to grind you up into battle sausage.”
                                                          Celine (Journey to the End of the Night)
 
The third game was a 5 hr marathon that seemed like a tragedy/comedy combo plate in 3 acts. The Sox fans who took over Coors in a show of Red Sox Nation power undoubtedly felt the slings and arrows of the great game. Rockpile Ranter noted the show of Soxism in his blog of Tuesday’s game but it was not until the final out and a Thursday night W, did this faction of loyalists finally have something to cheer about. I am glad the Sox leave Coors with a modest win. I am also happy that the Rox had sell out stadiums to play in front of. The team deserves this every night and should Rox Nation ever materialize, perhaps they too could generate the same buzz across MLB when they play. Colorado is strangely still Broncos focused. “Give me Rockies or Give me Death” should be the battle cry. Hopefully I get to return to Coors in October for the real showdown. If this series is any indication, it would be thrilling ride. 
                                           
 
 

 

ROX OFF!

EXILE ON BLAKE ST

Feel so hypnotized, can’t describe the scene.

Its all mesmerized all that inside me.

The sunshine bores the daylights out of me.

Chasing shadows moonlight mystery.

Headed for the overload,

Splattered on the dirty road,

Kick me like you’ve kicked before,

I can’t even feel the pain no more.


And I only get my rocks off while I’m dreaming,

I only get my rocks off while I’m sleeping.

“Rocks Off” Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones re-issued their 1972 masterpiece EXILE ON MAIN ST last month,giving us a fresh listen to their classic tunes. In this age of the back story, it’s interesting to hear how the whole recording thing went down too- the Stones escape England to a French countryside manor, assemble a remote studio and slug it out, jamming day and night while Keith Richards got his blood changed (urban legend, truth or consequence?) and probably rose from the dead a handful of times. The record is a classic, full of dirt blues and sentiments and is the sound of the world’s most popular band at the time, in exile. I love it. It is the music of the someone on the outside looking in. “Rocks Off” is the ripping lead track, busting hell out the gate and setting the tone for a roller coaster of rock greatness..

Tuesday night at Coors Field felt a lot like this for me. A little EXILE ON BLAKE ST perhaps. While these Rockies are not the Rolling Stones of baseball, they are the outsiders looking in, trying to make their move in the NL West. A bit of a swagger and rhythm and guts with a bit a flash when you look close. They are a team to embrace and hang onto for the ride (if this is what you dig – and WHY should thee not??) especially when the Boston Red Sox roll into town!

Let’s get it straight, I am a Sox fan to the core but these Rox are compelling and totally worthy of my fancy. I dig the idea of the “home” team and coming to terms with the Rockies relates to me finally coming to terms to living in CO (long story – some other time). It helps that they are in the NL too.  As part of a previously mentioned plan, Rockpile Ranter (D) and I agreed to attend the game and blog each others team. I love this stuff because I love baseball. It is more to me than a game. It is a reflection of so many things that life hands you. It is a marker of time. It is a mirror to gaze into – abstractly, lazily, intently, lovingly,etc, take your pick – and see yourself in a new light. Players become heroes and victims, outcomes are equal parts skill and luck,the lights, the stadiums – surreal and totally cool  when you let the magic work. Of course, hoards of Boston fans can kill the buzz (15,000 or so can make it seem like you at Fenway) for the locals, but it’s good for biz and and a sell-out is a sell-out. Plus the Sox were visiting for the first time since 2007 and we all know how that series ended. Payback is on everyone’s mind but it’s only June and there is lots of ball to play. For the Rox this series could emerge as a defining moment in their early season. For the Sox, it is the chance to continue their hot play and keep pace in the suddenly tight AL East. For the fans, it is the opportunity to indulge in rooting for their teams and connecting to the meanings of the game. Whatever those meanings are, I leave it up to you.

The Rockies throw Chacin against Lester and for the most part the game is well-played and somewhat low key. The Sox squander 2 bases loaded opportunities and the Rox strike for a run against Lester on a Helton RBI. The Sox line-up has been on fire as of late but the bats are not here tonight and the Rox are patient and confident and seem to be ready for the A list Red Sox team. 

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Rocker and Ranter

D and I met prior during the Sox BP (sorry – Batting Rehersal) and confer about just how the hell we are going to tackle this blogging challenge. He has caught his 100th ball courtesy of an un-identified Sox swinger. Great start for his blog effort since snagging balls is his thing. He has his camera ready to go and is poised for some classic Ranter style. For me, Coors Field feels a bit intimidating tonight. Maybe it’s the sea of Sox shirts. Maybe it’s the blazing 90+ degree heat. Maybe it’s the fender bender that I got in in Coors Lot B parking the damn car (Hey kids – always look before you blindly open the door when you are parked in tight spots. Hey parents – PAY ATTENTION!!! Hey parking lot attendant – don’t wave me into a spot like a maniac and then take off for the next vehicle before everyone is safe. The lots here are like parking at a ski resort but stoned lot attendants at A-Basin make far better guides!)) Maybe it’s the fact that while I am psyched to see the game and write about it through Rox Eyes, I am uneasy about turning the tables. I have not seen a live Sox game since 2004 and I committed to THIS??  I settle in with with E and D and J in our right field seats and decide to soak up the atmosphere. This is what it is all about; indulge in dogs and beers and snacks, talk some smack with the my fellow watchers and we’re grooving.

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  E and D and J

As the game progresses and the sun goes down and it finally cools off, I ponder a myriad of relevant and slightly irrelevant topics; will this series mirror the 2004 3 game set where the Rox won the first 2 and lost the 3rd and the Sox ended up rolling to WS #1? Will the Rox get something going as a team and make the summer special for CO? Will the Yanks and Rays falter in their respective IL series and will the Sox sneak into first? Will Geico screw me and raise my premiums? When will tatoo culture finally stop and when did America become so tacky and lacking style? Why is there something every half inning to “entertain” the fans (do you really care what little colored motorcycle wins the race to Coors on the JumboTron)? I suppose you could call it “Ad Infinitum”. I try on the Rockies goggles and see a really good team standing tall against the Sox. There are flashes of the excitement they generated in previous seasons and I find myself committing to returning to Coors to cheer them on. Hopefully against a NL West team in Sept, charging towards the playoffs and post season baseball.

The game ends in favor of the Rox (2-1) courtesy of a late insurance run on a left field flare, a walk and a strange ghost hopping grounder over Scutaro’s head. The Sox get one in the top of the 9th and Coors sighs a collective sigh of relief at the final out and everyone shuffles out into the night – Sox and Rox fans  – Exiles on Blake St. The hometowners looking for sign of their season and the “visitors” trying to re-connect to their hometowns and their memories. Rox off indeed. Damn I love this game.

Sox and Rox

The Sox are coming to Colorado this week and I’ll be attending the game with my family on Tuesday night.We get to see Lester throw and witness the Sox in the midst of a great string of baseball. I will also be undertaking a blogging challenge with the RockPileRanter where he will blog Sox and I will blog Rox on Tuesday night.Should be fun and interesting. I got a new digital camera for the night to snap some choice shots.

Because I will be adopting the Rox for the next post, I thought it appropriate and pertinent to get a few licks in prior to Tuesday.While I actually root for the Rox as my NL team, the return to Coors Field for the Sox will bring that sweet 2007 sweep back into focus. The last time the Sox occupied space on the diamond at Coors was in pigpile WS celebration. Maybe the Rox will remember that and bring their A game. With Tulo out and the Rox pitching (sans Ubaldo) not really holding it together,we’ll see how my Rox show up against my Sox.

It’s going to be a great night and I’m psyched to be going to the game with my kids and fiance. it’s officially summer.Don’t drink the Coors beer.

See you Wed!!! 

Heeeeeeeere’s Manny

 

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    “I miss yous guys this much”


It’s been quite a solid Sox juggernaut tearing up Major League Baseball these past few weeks. It’s like ” Wow! We have us a baseball season to get fired up for!” I back-arrowed my way through past blog entries (something akin to page turning me thinks) and read my previous thoughts (??) on this team. Like many of my Sox brethren, I had dugouts full of doubts if this season would materialize for the Red Sox before the Yanks and Rays ran away with it all. There were many an entry that reeked of despair yet at the core was an odor of hope. What a lovely smell and now, what a fabulous Red Sox spring we are having! Stop and smell the flowers because right now they are sweet!

The Dodgers and Sox are finishing up their 3 game interleague series tonight at Fenway and the Sox have taken the first 2 with some potent offense, timely pitching and contributions up and down the order. This is winning Sox baseball and has been the recipe to the recent success. Manny returned to Fenway on Friday and was booed (although NESN said there were equal parts cheers and jeers). From my spot in the foothills, the jeers drowned out the cheers. Personally, I was glad to see Manny back at Fenway. He was a great Red Sox player during his tenure in Boston. He is a professional hitter. He is a future Hall of Famer. He is a freak. I don’t quite get those folks who got caught up in the media-generated Mannywood stuff a few years ago. Sure, he probably brought some of it on himself, but if you want drama like that, go watch the Surreal Housewives of Orange County. Manny lives there now (but I think he also still has his little trailer home in Florida too).
The Sox/Dodgers series really should be a bit more exciting. There is not the same backstory as the Celts/Lakers (not sure I could stand hearing more of that garbage and Manny is no Kobe- thank god) and the LA/Boston thing does not really translate into interleague baseball. Still,the Dodgers are supposed to be NL royalty. Is it just me, or does the NL really not stand up to the AL?  They seem to play lazyball over there. Torre as Dodgers manager seems like a step backwards. The Dodgers seem to believe their own hype. I guess the LA effect has to manifest somewhere??? Whereas the Sox are now a team on a mission, playing in the best division in MLB, the Dodgers are chilling their way through a NL West season that is equal parts surfing and girl watching  to jogging out an infield grounder. The series should be much better for them LA blueboys. Tonight’s game at Fenway (attended by my Dad, Brother in Law and nephew) could be a classic Manny Night!.National TV. Not much to compete against for the sports remote handlers. Manny kind of quiet in first 2 games despite a HR in game 2. Could be a classic or just another Sox grind out W in their recent trend and we pull ahead of the Rays into second behind themYanks.

Go Manny. Go Sox.