Tagged: Jason Varitek

Interview from the Press Box; Amateur Scouting

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Continuing the tales of my baseball journey, Tuesday night was packed with even more adventures. The offensively slumping PawSox were finishing a series against the Durham Bulls (the AAA team for the Rays, as Michael told me). Mr. Steve Hyder was kind enough to meet with me that night, but this time, it wasn’t in an office. 

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I was invited to go up into the Press Box for the interview, which made me practically overflow with excitement. While I didn’t spend the entire game up there, it was a nice taste of what to expect for the future. Not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the seats that Mr. Hyder provided us with: once again, they were right behind home plate, and sitting there on the night that my resurfacing project, Clay Buchholz, is pitching is quite the treat. 
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Mr. Hyder is also a radio broadcaster for the PawSox, and just to remind you, he and Mr. Hoard are partners. Hyder is actually a Rhode Island native, so as you can imagine, he grew up as a Red Sox fan. I don’t have his exact words written down because a) I can’t write that fast and b) my handwriting is hideous. 
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1. Did you always know that you wanted to be a sports broadcaster? 

Hyder said that he actually got started a bit late, he didn’t always know that he wanted to do it. He actually received a bit of help from his partner, while he was down at Syracuse. 
2. What or who was your inspiration? 

His answer to this question was actually one of my favorites. He said that he was inspired by the movie ‘Field of Dreams’. The first time I ever saw that movie, it really moved me. That is the movie to use if you want to get your friends into baseball. The problem is, when I suggest it, none of them want to watch a movie about baseball. It is easy for me to see how that would inspire him to go into broadcasting. 
3. Growing up as a fan of the Red Sox, did you like and/or follow the Paw Sox? 
Hyder explained to me that it was different when he was growing up. No one really followed the prospects the way that they do today. I don’t know if people follow it the way that I do, but as he was explaining this to me, I could see that today, there is more of an emphasis on how they will impact the future. 
4. You must have witnessed a bunch of great moments growing up as a Sox fan. If you could broadcast one moment in Red Sox history, or baseball history, which would you pick? If you could interview anyone, who would it be? 

Hyder’s favorite player growing up was Carlton Fisk, so I’m sure you can imagine how excited he was during the 1975 World Series. He said that if he could interview anyone, that it would be Babe Ruth. That took me by surprise at first, considering the impact that Babe Ruth has had on Red Sox history. As he went on, it became more clear to me why he chose Ruth: Hyder said that he was an American icon, one of the most famous Americans in history, and that he would love to spend a couple of days just chatting with him. 
As I mature as a baseball fan, this isn’t as shocking. I know that if I want to work for MLB, I have to reduce my animosity towards the Yankees, and regard them with respect. Ever since I started this blog, this has happened, and now I am able to talk to fans of any team and have intelligent conversations, rather than the traditional “You Suck” type of conversations. 
5. What makes the Paw Sox unique from other minor league organizations? 

I asked this question because it seems that whenever players come up from our minor league system, it doesn’t take them long to adjust to the Major League level. It seems that there is an extra element in this organization, but it’s hard for anybody to put their finger on it. 
Both Hyder and Hoard admitted that they had no idea that Pedroia was going to be the MVP, and Hyder said that he could see that Youkilis would be a solid player, but he didn’t see him being what he is today. Although Hyder couldn’t put a finger on exactly what this extra element was, he said that a lot of other teams are modeling their systems after ours, which says something is special about the Paw Sox. 
6. Which PawSox players do you think will have a significant impact in the future and in which ways? 

Like Hoard, he could also see the potential in people like Bowden and Buchholz, as well as people like Bailey and Carter. However, sometimes there isn’t always a spot for guys even if they do have the potential. 
7. Do you ever make it down to Spring Training. What makes it special, how is it different? 

I absolutely loved his response to this one too, because he was actually able to relate it to something that I am very familiar with. He said that Spring Training is great because it’s like the first day back at school: you’re seeing everyone again, and there’s so much excitement for what this year could bring. 
8. Do you have any advice for an aspiring sportswriter or broadcaster? 

Like I mentioned earlier, Hyder actually got some help from Hoard to get into the industry, so he gave me the same advice that Hoard gave him: do absolutely everything you can to get in. 
Buchholz Breakdown
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It’s one thing to look at his record in the minors and say, “Wow, he’s doing so well this year, why don’t we bring him up?”. It’s another thing to watch his interview and either accuse him of wanting to be traded, or like Terry Francona, praise him for wanting to be in the big leagues. 
I’m not doing either of those things here. I was fortunate enough to see him pitch on Tuesday night in some ridiculously cold weather. Luckily, I had my new, oversized Paw Sox sweatshirt. 
While I am no scout, I think I have a pretty good knack for picking projects, and seeing the potential that each player has. I’d like to call myself an amateur scout. 
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The night before, I actually talked to some scouts. They were really nice, one of the guys had actually been doing it for 22 years. What they do is they get different Minor League assignments (to go see teams) and then they see five straight games. I was telling them how I love going to Spring Training and about my prospects/projects and what not, and they actually asked me who I liked. I told them who to watch out for. 
Anyway, if you looked at the box score of that game, you’d see that Buchholz had given up one run over six innings. Not bad, right? He exited to a lot of cheers, but probably not quite the standing ovation that Smoltz got last night for giving up one run over four innings. 
Still though, I wasn’t all that satisfied with Clay’s outing because I noticed some little things. If he can work on these things and fix them up, then he is going to be an absolute monster. 
The fact that he walked the first batter only bothered me a little bit because he started off throwing two beautiful strikes, and then got himself behind in the count. He was getting behind in counts throughout the night, and occasionally he would miss his spots. 
While this could have been blamed on the cold weather conditions, I don’t want to make up excuses for him, and I’m sure he doesn’t either. I noticed something a bit more concerning to me though, something that hurt him last year as well. 
He gets very frustrated after mistakes. I could see the frown plastered on his face after the home run he gave up. It is all mental with him. I think that he needs to learn to shake off his mistakes. Ramon Ramirez is a great example of that. That one outing of his when he gave up two home runs, his expression didn’t change. 
I said this with Lester, and I’ll say this with Buchholz too because they are both young pitchers. Buchholz needs to ignore the expectations that everyone has for him. The “he’s going to be so great” and “he is the future” expectations. He can’t get ahead of himself, he needs to focus on pitch by pitch, at-bt by at-bat, inning by inning. 
He just needs to be confident with himself too. He gave up a home run but so what? He can still have a nice outing. I said this about Josh Reddick when I first saw him in Spring Training. I was talking about hitting confidence, but regardless, after I said that he really picked up. I have no doubt that Buchholz has the potential to be part of our future, but he just has to focus on the game. 
I talked to Bowden about the mental aspect of the game as well. He says that he always tries to block everything out. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not– especially when he’s in the small ballpark and there’s the one, annoying, obnoxious fan. He said he never changes his stuff when he gets called up. I also asked him if there was a difference pitching against the White Sox and pitching against the Yankees. He said that the atmosphere was different because of the crazy rivalry when he was pitching against the Yankees, but other than that, he uses the same approach. 
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I also wanted to talk about Aaron Bates a little bit. He was just recently called up from AA-Portland, but he didn’t get a hit in either of the nights I was there. That obviously does not mean that we send him back down though. I think that there is an adjustment period with every level, and even Bowden said this (I swear I learned so much from this guy… more than I did in chemistry all year). Bates looks AAA material: he’s big, and he has a nice swing and makes good contact. The problem is that he still has that AA eye. My best friend, Marissa, has decided to make him her project. 
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I noticed something very interesting about Dusty Brown (from downtown of great renown…). He reminds me of Jason Varitek because of his great sense of surroundings. Varitek always knows where the play is, and I can notice that with Brown as well. I think that is one of the most important things with a catcher. 

Flares (Flair?) for the Dramatic

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The minute that my exam finished, I was so happy. The main reason being that I could finally get back to watching baseball. The fact that the Red Sox won the night before my exam, and the night of, really helps seal the deal for me. I mean, besides the fact that I forgot to mention the cotton gin in my DBQ (about the expansion of slavery), I think I did fine. 

Plus, the Sox finally won a series against the Rays. That took long enough. In a way, I miss the days where we could walk all over them, but in another sense, I do like the rivalry… a lot. Jason Varitek has been getting some nice, key hits, and it’s not like I need to mention Mr. Clutch-hitter (Jason Bay). You know, I’m sure he did this in Pittsburgh all the time, but with the whole media attention thing, I guess it went unnoticed. 
I’m still calling a home run every time Big Papi comes to bat, but each game he goes without one just represents how special the first one will be. I know he wants it, and I know it’s on his mind all the time, so I think he needs a sports psychologist. Calling Emily… 
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The Red Sox also did what they finally needed to do–letting Javier Lopez go. That guy has given me heart attacks ever since he came to the Red Sox, and this year it has gotten even worse. Every time he came in this year, it was basically saying, ‘We concede to you,’. Whether it be the various errors that result in walk-off wins, or maybe just blowing leads, it was time to go. 
This is the best thing the Red Sox have done since reacquiring Kason Gabbard (yeah, they do good things often). The bullpen is basically impeccable now. I am confident with everyone in there, even though Papelbon has been having a bit of a “flair for the dramatic” lately. Okay, I just lied… I’m not AS comfortable with Hunter Jones (maybe because I didn’t see him much during spring training), but he’s done alright. 
I was happy that the Sox brought up Daniel Bard. You guys should have seen him in spring training. He has a 100 mph fastball and posted a 0.00 ERA during spring training, and his stats aren’t half bad down in Triple AAA Pawtucket either. Speaking of which, I’m planning on visiting the PawSox this summer. I cannot wait. 
I didn’t even drink coffee to keep myself up for the West Coast game last night. I had taken a two hour nap (and thus, avoided homework) and was pretty much ready to go. Justin Masterson was all over the place, but his quote was so funny “A ball here, a ball there, a strike every once and a while”. So his control was a bit off, but he did manage to only give up two runs. 
I really thought that I was in for it when the Red Sox tied it at 3. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too late of a night, because I was still pretty tired. Luckily, Jason Varitek came through with a single, and Pap was to come in to close the ninth. 
This one was not as dramatic as the Mother’s Day save where he put two men on (who then advanced to second and third) and then struck the next three guys out. It was pretty epic. This one ended in a less dramatic fashion, but with the same results. 
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And a special shout out to Dom Dimaggio who passed away not so long ago. He was probably one of the most underrated players ever, but when your brother is Joe Dimaggio and your teammate is Ted Williams, what can you expect? I love the fact that he was called the “little professor” on the team. Dustin Pedroia kind of reminds me of him (or his build at least). Dom also holds the longest hitting streak in Red Sox history at 34 games. 
The Other 29 Teams that I keep up with 
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Ryan Zimmerman and his hitting streak, that’s gotta be great for the miserable Nats (no offense). But in all honesty, I don’t think he’ll catch Dimaggio. That record is going to last a long time. 
The ERAs under one? Zack Grienke and Johan Santana? I have basically awarded the Cy Young to the two of them already. And by the way, I’m not concerned with the lackluster performances that some of the Red Sox starters have been having because honestly, it’s pretty much been limited to one inning. 
If I remember correctly, Jon Lester started out (2-3) last season as well. And then he turned into “one of the best left handed pitchers in the game). 
And I would be remiss if I did not mention Albert Pujols. I think that he has the potential to win the Triple Crown. But how cool would it be if a Red Sox won it? Not because they’re my favorite team, but because the last person to win it was a Red Sox, in 1967…. Mr. Carl Yastrzemski. By the way, I think Yastrzemski should be a spelling bee word, it’s impossible to spell. 

Quick Update

I know, it has been a while. I know I didn’t even provide my recounts/experiences watching the first Yankees vs Red Sox series of the year. The reason(s) behind all of this is that I am in the process of studying for my United States History exams. I just took the subject test earlier today, so I don’t feel too guilty about blowing off studying to write this. 

Red Sox vs Yankees. 
This series was pretty much the exhibition of how most series between these two are. Though the Red Sox did sweep the Yankees, each game was close, and provided an adrenaline rush of a different kind. 
My friend, Kathleen, came over for the first one. It was really nice to have our top three pitchers go out against the Yankees. Ortiz warned Joba not to throw at Youkilis’ head, because Joba seems to have something against Kevin Youkilis. He has thrown at his head four times. And though Chamberlain avoided Youkilis’ head, he did hit Jason Varitek, who may look similar to Youkilis because of the beard. 
Jason Bay is establishing himself as the clutch hitter of our lineup. To help Mariano Rivera blow his twelfth career save against the Red Sox, Jason Bay hit a home run that just hit the top of the monster to tie the game. 
Kathleen called Youkilis’ shot to win the game– yes, the walk-off shot that I was craving. The next game was even longer than the first, and it didn’t even go into extra innings. I’m pretty sure Joba told AJ Burnett to hit Kevin Youkilis, so that he would not have to get into any skirmishes with Big Papi. Anyway, Mike Lowell was the hero of that game. 
But the hero of the series? That, my friends, would be Jacoby Ellsbury. We all know that Andy Petite has a wicked pickoff move to first base, one of the best in the majors. But the left hander wasn’t really expecting Jacoby Ellsbury to steal home with the bases loaded and two outs, and neither was Jorge Posada. But he did, and Fenway went absolutely insane. 
It was the first time a Red Sox had done that in ten years, and it was all over the highlight reels for the next few days. 
The winning streak was broken up in Clevland, thanks to an error by Javier Lopez. Javier Lopez was the antagonist of the series against Clevland. First, an error in the second game of the series so that Mark DeRosa scored from second. I was threatening to pull him off of my fantasy team. And in the last game of the series? Javy did so poorly that the Red Sox had to pull a Nick Swisher. Jonathan Van Every, who what would become the game winning home run in the first game of the series, had to come in and pitch. I’m pretty sure that he is going to be a late addition to my projects. He didn’t really play much in spring training because he either had a sprained ankle, or surgery. 
I really am sorry for the lack of updates, and I promise that this one will be more coherent tomorrow. I’m going to the Red Sox vs Rays tonight (four hour drive, woohoo!), and I hope to see Rays Renegade there!
Lots of pictures next entry! 

The Bullpen Savior, and Future Saviors

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They should call him the ‘bullpen savior’, Tim Wakefield that is. Not only does Jason Varitek get an off day when he pitches, but as of late, the bullpen has gotten one as well. No wonder the Red Sox picked up his option for this year. 

He may be one of the oldest guys on the team, but he is pretty durable. He is always able to go pretty deep into games whether he is effective or not. There are only a few instances when he has really short Dice-K like outings, but that’s when the knuckleball is completely missing the strike zone, or if the opposing team is able to time the knuckleball and… hit it.   
I like when the knuckleball is dancing, and I love that I can rely on it while I am at school. I wasn’t completely resourceless though. In English class, we were in the computer lab researching the background of a novel that we were about to read. 
Computers=internet=Red Sox. 
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I opened everything that I possibly could: the live box score, gameday, and MLB.TV. By the grace of God, both Gameday and MLB.TV were working (they weren’t the other days that I had tried it). Too bad I am inept when it comes to the school computers, so I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume down. I realized this when I heard a low mumbling coming from my computer, which happened to be MLB.TV. I quickly turned it off before my teacher could notice.
I watched the game on Gameday, and I received periodic text messages from my father as well. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to see Nick Green’s first homer of the season, since he is my project and all, but at least he finally hit it, and he wasn’t the only one.  
It only took us one day to sweep the Twins, and once again, one of my projects led the way. Jeff Bailey got the Sox to a 3-0 lead with a nice home run, in his first at-bat of the season, over the green monster. Yeah, that’s not Chris Carter, my other project. 
I’m pretty sad that Carter is being optioned to Triple-AAA Pawtucket. I feel like he didn’t get a fair chance. He only had five at-bats, four of which he struck out in. I know that isn’t very good, but if Papi says that we can’t judge him by fifty at-bats (believe me buddy, I don’t), then we can’t judge Carter in five. He didn’t even play in a full game this season. 
It’s not like we are getting short changed with Bailey though. There is a reason that he was the guy competing with Carter for the roster spot, and honestly, I would have been happy with either of them. Plus, Bailey is the veteran of the two… over 1,000 minor league games, and only 31 major league games. I know there’s no sympathy in baseball, but this guy has to be rewarded for what he has done, and I know what he is able to do. 
I’m just wondering why we couldn’t keep Carter. With Baldelli on the 15-Day DL with a hamstring problem, there’s no reason that the Sox couldn’t have Carter as the backup outfielder, and Bailey as the backup first baseman. That would have meant three projects on one team! The replacement could be a project though… perhaps Lars Anderson, though, I was thinking that he would be in AAA for at least a little while longer. Wakefield may be the bullpen savior, but my projects are in the process of becoming saviors themselves. 
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I bet you guys don’t know where I was July 16, 2007 because if you did, that would be incredibly creepy. I was at the Royals vs Red Sox game, at Fenway Park– the third Fenway Park experience of my life. A guy named Kason Gabbard was pitching that night, and I had never heard of him before that night. 
After that night, it was all about Kason Gabbard for me. He pitched a complete game shutout, and I was impressed. My project program was not established back then, but if it was, he would have been a late addition. 
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I bet some of you know where Kason Gabbard went by the trade deadline of that year. Texas. And who did the Red Sox get? Eric Gagne. Eric let-me-blow-a-save Gagne. I missed my Gabbard, and as soon as that trade happened, I said, “The Red Sox are going to regret this… he’s something special”
I lied. The Red Sox no longer have anything to regret because guess who’s back? Kason Gabbard! I know that he has struggled in Texas, but he is definitely a potential late addition project. 
Tonight is the night. The first Red Sox-Yankees game of the year, the thing that I have been waiting for–craving in fact. In honor of this sacred series, my math teacher did not give homework this weekend. In honor of this series, Julia and Scott are having an epic bet. And in honor of Julia, the Red Sox will win. 

Opening Week Thoughts

After Josh Beckett’s stellar performance on Opening Day, I was excited to see what the rest of the pitching staff was going to offer. I can’t say that I was thrilled with the three games that followed Josh Beckett’s, but I can say that I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. It is obvious that the Red Sox are still coming together as a whole, and transitioning from the Spring Training atmosphere to the regular season atmosphere. But as Kevin Youkilis pointed out, I’d rather be off to a slow start than have a bad finish. “There are bright things to come”. 

I was very excited for Wednesday’s game because I knew that it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Those always keep me on the edge of my seat, even if they are a bit nerve racking. It seems to me that Lester and Kazmir serve the same purpose on their respective teams– dominant lefties. Then again, when I was in Tampa last year I did see Kazmir pitch nine straight balls. It was quite a game until around the fifth inning where the Rays exploded for four runs. I bet Carlos Pena’s home run was pretty “deflating” as Jon Lester called it. I’m trying to remember the situation, but maybe he could have put Pena on instead of pitching to him at a 3-1 count. Then there was that really weird play where Jason Bartlett had that suicide safety squeeze or whatever you call it. Poor Lester looked so lost, but at least these looks of confusion are happening at the beginning of the season rather than the middle. 
Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez looked good that game, and Takashi Saito did alright after giving up that home run on the second pitch. As soon as he gave up that home run, I thought back to that game in 2007 where Okajima gave up a home run on his very first pitch. Frustrating for sure, but then he was completely dominant the rest of the season. Perhaps there will be a similar pattern to Saito’s performance this year. The main thing that I noted about Lester though was that he wasn’t really hitting his spots. He would shake off Varitek a lot and after the first two innings, the command just wasn’t really there. If I was a pitcher on the Red Sox, I wouldn’t shake off Varitek too much. He definitely knows what he’s doing. 
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The final game of the series offered another great matchup between Matt Garza and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I swear, Matt Garza looks and acts like a snake. His tongue is always out! Whenever Dice-K pitches, I’m always a nervous wreck. This time, it wasn’t because he walked the bases loaded, he only walked three. His command wasn’t really present and he gave up three home runs.
My incessant hunger became overwhelming as I watched this game, and I needed something to munch on. Eventually, dry roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds became available. Pretty good baseball food. The more nervous I became, the more inclined I was to munch, but for the most part I was able to restrain myself… until Justin Masterson loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth. Luckily, Jacoby Ellsbury squelched my anxiety as he made a beautiful running catch.
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The next night, the Red Sox played the Angels… the first game the Angels would be playing after the tragedy. That game, I wasn’t as compulsively rooting for the Red Sox as I usually do. I was comfortable with watching a good baseball game, and I was comfortable with the fact that the Red Sox lost. There were much bigger things going on that night than winning and losing. I did rush home though, and I was the one driving so it was a lot easier to put the pedal to the metal and run those yellow lights that may have been transitioning into red. I made myself coffee because I tend to have trouble staying awake for the West Coast games, especially in a dark room. 
It must have been hard for Jered Weaver to pitch that night. I didn’t even realize until after the game that Nick Adenhart was supposed to move in with him that Friday. Weaver had 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, and as he walked off the mound, he pointed to the sky. That was beyond baseball. 
Brad Penny started the next game (yesterday’s) and even though his command wasn’t totally there, he still looked pretty healthy, which made me happy. I started watching this game in the third inning because I was at my grandparents house and I didn’t really expect the game to be on TV. If Brad Penny was feeling healthy, than that’s pretty good news because he will be great to have on the rotation if he is healthy. His velocity was up there, so for a guy coming off the worst season of his career, I would say that he did pretty well.
The offense finally woke up during this game. After the very first game where almost everyone got a hit, a few people fell off the radar. Kevin Youkilis was basically on fire until yesterday (still hitting .526 though) and Jacoby was just starting to wake up and get on base. Unfortunately, Pedroia and Big Papi haven’t been producing much. Big Papi is definitely due to say the least. Jason Bay came out of the gate swinging so that has made me pretty happy. Especially for a guy who generally has a pretty crappy April. I think that Mike Lowell is starting to wake up too. And where is Jed Lowrie?? He had a monster Spring, and here I am waiting for him to transition. I hope that he and Papi have big days today. 
Jonathan Palebon gave me a heart attack in the bottom of the ninth inning. First the home run to Torii Hunter, and then the bases are loaded. My grandparents are laughing at me as I bury my face in my hands and peek through them. Howard Kendrick hit something like seven foul balls in a row. Papelbon claimed to be “giggling” but I sure wasn’t– not with the bases loaded. My mother came over wondering what was going on since I had promised her that it was one more out five minutes ago. 
“Are you bad luck?” I asked somewhat accusingly as she came over. Last time she was near the vicinity, Papelbon had walked a guy, and we were not walking in the tying run. Luckily, she wasn’t bad luck, and Papelbon miraculously got out of it. I was able to breathe again. 
Last game of the Red Sox vs Angels series coming on in a little while. Can’t wait to watch Beckett pitch again, and I kind of want to see Chris Carter in this game. 

Indescribable Feeling

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We had all waited a really long time, and I’m not sure about you guys, but in general I hate waiting. Baseball was worth the wait. Spring Training was the longest it had even been, but we waited. I didn’t realize how deprived I was. I guess the withdrawal symptoms simply subside after a while. But as soon as Fenway Park appeared on my television I let out a squeal, my eyes teared up, and a shot of adrenaline ran through me. I wish I could put what I was feeling into words, but I can’t. I think that we need to come up with a word that describes the feelings that baseball evokes in us, because I’m getting pretty frustrated without one. 

Feeling this way, it was tough watching the game on FSN rather than NESN. I didn’t get to watch the pre-game ceremonies, nor did I get to watch the reserves coming through the stands. 

I saw the starting lineup come through the stands, and I really liked the fact that they actually came through the stands. It made the baseball players seem more tangible even as baseball itself becomes less and less tangible. They all looked so happy to be there, but at the same time, they knew that they would be there since day one of Spring Training. I wanted to see the look on Chris Carter’s face, my project. He didn’t know that he was going to be there, so that must have been unreal for him. 
I had almost gone over to my friend’s house to watch the game, but I declined knowing that 
a) She doesn’t like baseball, and I didn’t want to force her to sit through a game for three hours. I can’t concentrate on converting people on Opening Day for obvious reasons.
 
b) I don’t really need my friends to see the way I am during a baseball game. They already think I’m obsessed, I don’t need them to think I’m crazy too. I was actually on the phone with one of them during Jason Bay’s first at-bat, and I was talking to them a bit absentmindedly. 
“THAT WAS NOT A STRIKE!” I suddenly called out (the ump had called it a ball, but a bit too slowly for my taste). My friend proceeded to laugh.
“Elizabeth, is anyone at your house?” she asked.
“No…” I replied
“So, you’re talking to yourself?”
“I’m talking to the umpire, Mindy!”
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When I watch baseball, I tend to be under the impression that I am the umpire, and that my calls are the right calls. I try and find ways of calling defensive interferences on the other team on routine groundouts, every Red Sox pitch is a strike. Don’t worry, when I’m watching other games, I can be completely objective. And I’m working on my “I-totally-control-every-aspect-of-the-game”. 
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Josh Beckett made me really happy [insert that non-existent word here]. I loved his first pitch strikes, and I loved his ability to work quickly through most of his innings. Ten strikeouts in seven innings. Do I have to say anything other than dominance? He helped the Red Sox show the Rays who’s boss. And speaking objectively as possible, I think that he had the best start out of all the pitchers on Opening Day. 
Overall, I was very happy with the Red Sox performance that day. Almost everyone in the lineup had a hit except for our dear leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury. I’m not TOO worried though. It’s not like he struck out every single time. He did get SOME wood on the ball, but it only went as far as Akinori Iwamura. I loved seeing Pedroia’s home run, but I was especially happy with Jason Varitek’s home run. As they were introducing the lineup, I loved hearing “and behind the plate, our captain, Jason Varitek”. 
After Papelbon wrapped that game up, I finally obliged and went to my friend’s house. 
“Elizabeth, you haven’t been out of your house for days!” she told me. It’s hard to handle the truth sometimes. 
“Andrea, Monday night, yesterday and today were all very sacred days!” 
“You’ve done nothing but watch baseball for the past two days! COME OVER!”. Well… the Marlins WERE leading the Nationals 8-0, so I didn’t feel that bad. 
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I did give them a fair warning at the end of February though. Like Jane, I do schedule everything around my team. And according to my friend, I’m planning my life around them. But she meant that in a good way because after all, I am planning to become a sports writer. 
So just because the Red Sox showed the Rays who’s boss yesterday, it doesn’t mean that tonight is going to be easy. I mean, we’ve got Lester vs Kazmir tonight, and Rocco will be making his first start in center field with the Red Sox. 

Baseball is Back

Although I am upset that the Rays vs Red Sox game was pushed tomorrow, it is only because I want my real Red Sox baseball back. Believe me, I don’t want Josh Beckett pitching in the rain. He’s already injury prone enough, and who knows, maybe blisters are more common in rainy conditions. Plus, this gives me a chance to provide an offensive breakdown of the Red Sox plus my thoughts on Opening Night/Day.

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Opening Day/Night
Okay, so I wasn’t at home when Brett Myers threw out the first pitch of the season. But I was listening to it on the radio as I tried to convince my mother to ignore the speed limit and stop signs. But I was able to see the first hit of the 2009 season– Chipper Jones’ single to left field. I witnessed the first home run of the season, and Jordan Schafer’s first home run ever… in his first at-bat in the major leagues. Little did I know that I was witnessing the first pitching gem of the 2009 season. I thought that Derek Lowe pitched beautifully, and I’m pretty sure that the Braves don’t regret signing him on as their ace. It made me miss him more than I already do, but I understand why the Red Sox didn’t go out and aggressively pursue him. 
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(credit: minor.mlblogs.com– great pic!!)
I got my hair cut today… and I made sure that my appointment was in the morning so I wouldn’t even miss Aaron Harang’s first pitch. I realized that I had gotten my hair cut the day after the Red Sox lost the ALCS. I was blinking back tears at the loss of the season, and the potential loss of Jason Varitek. And today, I was bouncing with optimism, until of course I found out that the Red Sox start would be postponed until tomorrow. Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy about baseball being back. I know, weird how I can remember that but not whether or not the bonds of carbon dioxide are polar. 
I have watched at least a part of every baseball game today, and as I write this I am listening the Cubs vs Astros game. I saw Johan Santana and Kevin Millwood pitch beautifully, I smiled as CC Sabathia struggled against the Orioles, and I saw the incredible Marlins game.
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Emilio Bonifacio had an inside the park home run… and he was so fast! The first inside the park home run on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Oh, and Hanley Ramirez… just my number one draft pick on my fantasy baseball team… hit a grand slam! 
A Brief Offensive Breakdown for the Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury: The thing with Jacoby is that his speed can really change the game. He went through some ups and downs last season, but overall he was pretty good for his first full season in the Majors. I think that he needs to be more confident at the plate, he watches a lot of pitches. And believe me he has a great eye and everything, but he could be a little more aggressive
Dustin Pedroia: I am completely confident that this guy can put up very similar numbers again this season. I can’t really critique much with him… he’s doing everything right. 
David Ortiz: The biggest question of course is: can he get healthy? I think so. In fact, I think his numbers will be similar to 2007. I think he feels a lot better this year, and he looks a lot more comfortable when he swings. I think that he also has to stop worrying about having another 30 HR bat behind him. The Red Sox aren’t about home runs this year, I think they’re going to go a bit more down the small ball route this year. 
Kevin Youkilis: Again, with Kevin Youkilis, there’s not much I can critique. He is an all around great ball player, and I love the way he approaches the game. Just one thing though… he could take it a little easier when he strikes out :). 
JD Drew: Drew had a great season last year, much better than the 2007 one. I said this a while ago, but I’m pretty sure his son was ill in 2007, and that probably distracted him a little bit (I don’t blame him). I’m pretty sure that his son recovered by 2008, and his numbers really improved. I’m very comfortable with having him in right field as well. 
Jason Bay: I’m not too concerned with Jason Bay either (I love not being concerned). He adjusted to Boston really nicely, and to October baseball as well. In fact, it looked natural for him. Opening Day shouldn’t phase him either :). 
Mike Lowell: I am very optimistic about Lowell. As I watched him throughout the Spring, that look of pain on his face was gone. Like Ortiz, he looked much more comfortable with his swing. And he’s really not that old… he’s only 34. I am very glad that the Red Sox decided to pass on Mark Teixeira. When he’s healthy, Lowell is not only a good hitter, but he can also make some crazy plays over at third. 
Jed Lowrie: I think I found him on Twitter… I think. Did you even happen to glance over his statistics this Spring? He was hitting the crap out of the ball, and oh yeah he hit a grand slam at Citi Field the other day. I think that confidence is key for him too since he is still young.
Jason Varitek: I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I had so much fun typing his name just then. It re-emphasizes the fact that he is back on the Red Sox. I think that his bad season last year wasn’t just because he is getting older. I am pretty sure that he was going through a divorce, and I’d guess that it wasn’t that easy. Now that it’s over, I am fairly confident that his stats will increase a little bit. And if he hits .220 again so what? I love having him behind the plate… his experience and knowledge are priceless.
Chris Carter: Now I know that the games against the Mets weren’t REAL games. But they were about as close to real games as you get. And in that game, Chris Carter did pretty well. I honestly think that he will provide better offense than Mark Kotsay will. 
Nick Green: Like Carter, I don’t think that Nick will be phased by the majors beca
use he has actually played in them for a significant amount of time. Granted he didn’t do that well, but he did have an impressive Spring. He is my project, therefore he will do well. 
George Kottaras: So he didn’t have the best offensive season last year in AAA. The fact of the matter is, he can catch a knuckleball, and he can throw to second pretty well. The Red Sox offense is pretty deep, we don’t need catchers who hit for really high batting averages. 
Rocco Baldelli: I really liked this acquisition. He is the perfect guy coming off the bench because I think any team would be lucky to have him as an everyday player if he could play everyday. Since he just can’t play everyday, being a player off the bench is exactly what he needs to do. This will allow him to stay healthy and maximize his skills. 
Overall, we have an offense that can match any team, and the lineup goes pretty deep. Obviously the guys to keep your eyes on are Lowell and Papi. As far as minor league players go, keep your eyes out for Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick (mainly Lars Anderson though). 
I can’t wait for our Opening Day tomorrow!