Tagged: Terry Francona

Post Trade Deadline Analyses

I think that I have realized something about myself during the summers, and perhaps you all have too: I don’t have too much time to blog during summer vacation. I am fortunate enough to do a lot during the summers, and whether I’m at camp, or on a family vacation, I don’t have good quality time to compose a thoughtful blog, so I apologize for that. 

I wish I had been a more active blogger during the trade deadline, and the days following it, but I was in Maine, removed from electronics and mlb.tv and just appreciating nature. However, there was a radio that was available, and every night we would sit in the living room and listen to the Red Sox. It was such a different perspective for me, because I have always been provided with the luxury of watching baseball on TV, on a computer, or my favorite location: in person. I really loved listening to it on the radio, it was a different way of seeing… or maybe hearing baseball. 
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So the trade deadline came and went, and if you remember my last entry (which was quite a while ago), I thought that it would be best if the Red Sox had just quietly backed out of the trade deadline, and make do with what they have. Retrospectively, the trades that were made, most importantly the Victor Martinez one, was quite necessary. I had said that shortstop and catcher were our weakest positions, and we have vastly improved that situation (mainly the catcher one). 
The problem for me was that I was very hesitant to give away any of our star prospects, but all-star catchers like Victor Martinez don’t come cheap. In order to improve a weaker aspect of the team, we had to take from probably our strongest aspect of the team: the bullpen. It was hard to part with Justin Masterson because I saw so much potential in him, but I think that in order for a team to be good, they need to be proportional. 
The Red Sox had a stellar, almost impeccable bullpen, but the offense was slumping and not scoring runs. A bullpen cannot be effective if it does not have runs to protect. Thus, the Red Sox were disproportional in that sense. Without Justin Masterson, our bullpen is without a doubt weakened. Masterson was a guy that could go many innings when our starters didn’t do their jobs; he could thrive in the starting rotation as well. Is our bullpen still legitimate? Absolutely. Is our starting rotation still legitimate? Absolutely. Is our offense improved? Yes, and that is exactly what we needed. 
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That expression: “We hardly knew ya” can seriously apply to the Adam LaRoche situation, but I am satisfied with the solid defensive abilities of Casey Kotchman. It seems that the Red Sox have an abundance of first basemen now considering that Victor Martinez is a man of may occupations and can play first base. This makes Terry Francona’s job as a manager a bit more difficult, and the lineup is not as predictable as it used to be. It means that some players’ playing time will be less, and not everyone may be happy with that. Guys like Kevin Youkilis pout when they have the day off, and he’d rather play left field than sit on the bench. As a baseball fan, I think you have to love that mentality that a player wants to help his team every single day, even if you don’t like Kevin Youkilis’ personality. 
I think that one of the biggest questions the Red Sox face will come when Tim Wakefield returns from the disabled list. I have not fully educated myself on Victor Martinez’s capabilities, but I am wondering if he is educated in the art of catching a knuckleball. I am not a very big George Kottaras fan because for me, his only use is the fact that he can catch Tim Wakefield (and not that well), and his offensive abilities are mediocre at best. If Victor Martinez can catch a knuckleball, then I think George Kottaras is no longer needed. 
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I like the acquisition of Alex Gonzalez as a defensive shortstop since Jed Lowrie is on the disabled list. It’s funny how there have been a turn of events since the start of the season: the Red Sox went from having three shortstops to one. It’s nice to see Gonzalez back in a Red Sox uniform since he was a wonderful defensive shortstop in 2006. A question that will come soon is: What will be the next move when Jed Lowrie returns? 
Going back to the pitching situation, I found out that John Smoltz was designated for assignment while I was on my trip. I have a lot of respect for John Smoltz, and what he has done over the course of his career. It is unfortunate that he didn’t do what the Red Sox hoped he would. I think that the acquisition during the offseason was a very wise one. It was very similar to what the Red Sox hoped Curt Schilling would have done in 2008. Unfortunately, neither of them worked out, but the incentives for signing them were obvious. 
I haven’t forgotten about Dice-K either, and the comments that he issued about the Red Sox pitching procedures. I don’t think that he was right, but I’m going to go for a little empathy here. He was phenomenal when he was in Japan, and he was very good his first two years with the Red Sox. There is obviously some gray areas when it comes to training. Dice-K has his way, and the Red Sox have their way. Dice-K should have trained better for the 2009 season, the World Baseball Classic was not the way to go because technically, that is the true World Series, and it has a playoff atmosphere. Dice-K didn’t have the more lax spring training that others went through. He went from the 2008 playoffs to pre-season 2009 playoffs. I think that he has to accept responsibility for that, and conform (for now) to what the Red Sox want him to do. 
By the way, while I was on my trip I was lucky enough to have some baseball experiences. I have some analyses on the Portland Sea Dogs to share with you, and some great pictures from the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Back, yet not at peace.

There is only one time of year, and one place on Earth that I can deal with being separated from nightly Boston Red Sox games, and the continuous MLB Network. That place was, as I explained in my previous (and by previous, I mean a month ago) post, California. Although the state itself does not constitute my isolation (considering the fact that there are five baseball teams in that state, I would hope not) the summer program that I attended to did. 

As usual, it surpassed my expectations, and being isolated from the incessant updates of pop culture, baseball, and oh yes, world events is actually a nice change. I have mentioned before that I live in a baseball bubble, but for me this program is a utopian bubble. It is the only place that I can truly be myself, and people accept me for it. Granted at Fenway Park, I am undoubtedly accepted as a Red Sox fan, but it is nice to be accepted in a place where not everyone is a Red Sox fan, or a baseball fan for that matter. 
My friends actually wanted to listen to me talk about the Red Sox and baseball, even if they had no previous knowledge of it whatsoever. One of the best friends that I made there, Caroline, did not even know what a grand slam was before we had our little talk. By the end of our two, short weeks together, she was throwing pennies from the year 1986 on the ground because they are cursed. 
This made me truly happy that I could bring a smile to someone’s face just by talking about baseball. It made me realize even more that this is exactly what I want to do with my life. While I would love to convert everyone into a Red Sox fan, I think it is more important to appreciate the beauty of baseball. 
She truly appreciated that passion that I have for it, and she told me she wished “she could love anything as much as I love baseball”. I hope that others will be able to see this when they talk to me. 
Considering I have been gone for a month, I have missed out on a lot. As I was leaving, Dice-K was on his way out of the rotation, and I was trying to come up with a creative injury for his trip to the DL. 
I remember getting updated about John Smoltz’s first start, I was on my way to dinner at Lagunita (the cafeteria at Stanford). I knew he was starting against the Nationals, which is a very nice team to start against for that transition period (from the minors to the majors) considering the Nationals remind me of a minor league team. I was notified that the score was 9-1, Nationals. 
My first thought was, “Have the Nationals even scored nine runs in a game before?” I actually wasn’t angry with Smoltz. I understand the whole need for an adjustment period after talking to my good friend Michael. Even though he is a 20+ year veteran, I was really delving into my empathetic side. 
For his next few starts, I was probably too busy reading about cultural relativism, how altruism and morality don’t exist, or maybe some form of ekphrasis. One of the first games that I watched upon my return was the opening game of the series against the Rangers. 
Our lack of an offense was cruising along nicely for a while, before John Smoltz decided to give up three home runs in one inning, which is quite the rarity for someone of his stature. I was already experiencing separation anxiety/book camp withdrawal, so this did not add to my chipper mood. 
I screamed at my computer screen for the first time in about a month, and yielded more profane tweets than ever before. Generally, I don’t question Terry Francona’s moves, but I thought Smoltz was taken out a little late. I was quite happy to be reunited with Justin Masterson though. I think he was holding a small grudge against my absence considering his ERA was near 5.00. 
The offense seemed to be fine in my absence, I don’t know why they’re acting up now. Big Papi really resurged, and if I need to close my eyes while he is at-bat, then I’ll do it. I’m sad to see that Jason Bay’s average has plummeted, and that Drew and Varitek are in slumps. 
I found it interesting that when Jeff Bailey went on the DL, that Aaron Bates was called up instead of Chris Carter. Aaron Bates is an imminent project of mine, and like Josh Reddick, he is an automatic project for next Spring. Believe me I saw the potential his first two nights in Triple-A Pawtucket. I am just a bit perplexed as to why we are bringing someone up to the Majors who has just barely adjusted to Triple-A. As I said before, when he came up, he had a Triple-A swing with a Double-A eye. I think Chris Carter needs to be given another chance, but I would advise everyone to keep their eye on Bates. 
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Speaking of projects, I have to tell you all how thrilled I am to see Buchholz back on the Red Sox for an extended period of time. I was very pleased to see that his first performance this year went well. I know his numbers imply that he has been tearing up Triple-A but he, like Jon Lester, is one of those guys that needs to focus on every single pitch, not the final outcome. He needs to not get frustrated by his mistakes too. If he gives up a home run, fine, but just move on. I think that Ramon Ramirez does a great job of doing that. However, I do not expect Buchholz to be performing perfectly. He is still very well entitled to that adjustment period. 

Shipping Up to Boston

The song that signals Jonathan Papelbon’s entrance into a game at Fenway Park can also be applied to what I did the other day. I did not fly up to Boston like I normally do. Nor did I literally “ship” up to Boston (though I thinkthat we all wish that we were ‘on a boat’). In fact, I drove up to Boston.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with a map of the continental United States can tell you that it is not a short drive. We trekked through some serious torrential downpours. I’m pretty sure that the storms came down form DC and Atlanta. I only say that because I know that those games were delayed Thursday night because of rain. We basically spent 28 straight hours in the car making stops for food, and rest stops to take a quick nap.

As far as the agenda goes for the week, I’m pretty excited. On Monday and Tuesday, I will be going down to Pawtuket to see some PawSox games. The thing is, I won’t just be getting there two hours early for autographs this time. I’ll be getting two hours early because Dan Hoard and Steve Hyder, a radio broadcaster and a beat writer for the PawSox, have agreed to let me interview them. I look forward to interviewing them about their careers as well as what they see as far as the future goes.

I think a lot of people disregard minor league baseball because it is seemingly insignificant and it is full of raw, not-yet-perfected talent.. Admittedly, I used to be that way too. But once you go to a few Spring Training games, and you see the kind of work these guys do, and the mentality that they approach the game with, you really being to appreciate that aspect of the game.

Plus, as you watch it, you have to realize that you might be looking at the next Josh Beckett, the next Jonathan Papelbon or the next Dustin Pedroia. Maybe it’s just because I’m the “future blog of the Red Sox” that I’m interested in the “future of the Red Sox” because I want to know who I’ll be writing about (hopefully), but I think that these guys are the real deal.

So even though the Sox cooled down a bit during the middle of May and towards the end, they are begining to turn it around thanks to Terry Francona’s brilliance when it comes to the everyday lineup. Plus the fact that the starting rotation is starting to come together.

Slowly but surely, Big Papi is starting to come out of his funk. I think that the most impressive part of this entire situation is the perpetual support that he is receiving from Red Sox fans. I know that there is a lot of “underground” criticism, which there should be, but every time he comes up to the plate, I hear cheers. Only in Boston. When Mark Teixeira got off to his terrible start in April, he was getting booed in New York.

It’s not like Boston is the paragon of mercy though. I hear vicious complaints about Julio Lugo everyday. So why aren’t fans becoming hostile towards Papi? Personally, I think it’s because we can never forget what he did for us in 2004. If it wasn’t for him, I honestly believe that we would not have broken the curse. His formidable bat, and his clutch hitting was such an essential part. We cannot just abandon our love for him after what he did for urs.

Anyway, I’m starting to like this lineup. It’s weird not seeing Ellsbury at the top because he seems like the prototypical leadoff guy: consistent bat, speed, run scorer. The problem was the lack of that at the bottom of the order, which was why we weren’t scoring runs. And while I’m generally a supporter of the Youkilis-Drew punch, I enjoy Bay hitting in the four hole.

I’ve talked about Bay being Mr. Dependable and the new Mr. Clutch-Hitter, but it’s not like he just came out of no where. His numbers were quite comparable during his Pittsburgh years, it’s just that Pittsburgh doesn’t get the kind of media attention that it deserves. I know that they just aren’t that good, and that they just traded away Nate McLouth, but they deserve attention. They’ve got that young, raw talent that I like. Maybe I’ll start calling it future talent.

I am also thrilled that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are starting to have consistently solid outings. They both flirted with no-hitters quite recently (in fact, Lester was flirting with a perfect game). I’m done with flirting though, it’s time to court that perfect game! Lester’s ERA and record is not truly indicative of how his year has been, though. Like I’ve said, it’s just been that one annoying inning that has ruined the first part of his season.

Recently, Lester has been having the kind of outings that everyone said that he was going to have. I think our little talk really paid off: he is concentrating on making each and every pitch. And have you seen the number of strikeouts that he has been racking up? 12 K’s in 6 innings and then 11 in 7 I believe was the last one. And Josh Beckett has just been dominant his past few starts. It is all coming together now. All we have to do is get Dice-K away from these mediocre outings. I have no complaints about Wakefield– only praise for his durability. As for Brad Penny, what can I say? The guy has a winning record. I don’t like him very much because I think he only has decent outings, if that, and he just gets very lucky with the run support.

I think that covers what I haven’t been covering as often, and I am sorry for my lack of presence. I think you’ll like the next few entries though. My friend will be guest blogging and writing a “Top Ten Reasons Never to Watch or Go To a Baseball Game with Elizabeth’. I will also be blogging about the PawSox game and the Yankee vs Red Sox game I will be attending on Thursday night.

The Competition Within the Starting Rotation

Friends, I have discovered something, and I feel the need to share it with you: The Boston Red Sox starting rotation is playing a game. 

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No, not cribbage, but Dustin Pedroia and Terry Francona play that almost everyday. Dustin always loses, and he doesn’t like losing; so I guess he takes it out on the field with his hits, diving plays, and sprawl/slides into first base.
The game that our starting rotation is playing is more of a competition: Who can screw up the most in one inning. Josh Beckett is in last place right now, he only gave up four runs in the fourth yesterday, and still came out with the lead. 
My sources have yet to get back to me, but I asked them if relinquishing the lead is in the rules. Apparently, Dice-K thought so. You all remember him giving up five runs in the first inning and relinquishing the lead. 
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Brad Penny is the winner oft his week’s edition of the game. He gave up seven runs in the second inning on Friday night. It looked pretty bleak after that, but the bottom of the second inning rekindled hope. Our offense has finally awakened. JD Drew and Jason Bay were definitely the highlights of that game. I mean, coming back from a 7-0 deficit? The last time we did that…
And our bullpen wasn’t half bad either, in fact, they were great! I love how Manny Delcarmen can go two or three innings, that is quite helpful. Ramon Ramirez picked up his first win, and Papelbon had a great ninth. Our poor bullpen has been working so hard lately. I think the game needs to end. Brad Penny is the winner. 
I was watching the Marlins game as well, and both games actually ended within seconds of each other. Both Papelbon and Lindstrom struck out their victims. 
The second game of the series, I was unable to watch. I actually went to the movies with my friends… yes… I went out during a baseball game. Crazy. Well, I wasn’t totally resourceless. I got periodic updates from my father on what was going on. 
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Kevin Youkilis had a monster game, I think he’s going to change that third place to first place for the MVP. Or at least he wants to. The guy almost hit for the cycle, and hasn’t that been done three times already this year? That’s pretty cool. I heard that Kubes of the Twins did it, and also Orlando Hudson (fantasy team.. yay!!) and Ian Kinsler did it also. 
Once again, this game is evidence that our offense is finally waking up. But my biggest fear is Big Papi. 
I really am wondering what is up with him. My father and I have speculated that his timing is all off, and he’s just not the formidable hitter he was of say, 2004. I miss that fear that he would instill in pitchers when he would come up in the ninth inning with a tied score. I want that to come back. 
I think I may need to ask Emily about this one, because she is going into sports psychology. You all know what happened with Manny last season, and I don’t really want to talk about it. 
But I think that most of us could tell that Papi and Manny were pretty much best friends. They were a fearsome 3-4 combo, and they would kind of keep each other going. 
Manny seems to be a selfish person, he doesn’t care about us Red Sox fans… believe me, we loved him too! But Papi is a very caring person, and us Red Sox fans care about him! I think his hitting drought can be partially blamed on the absence of Manny Ramirez. 
Papi has even mentioned that he would like to have some more protection, and 30 HR type of guy… but this year our offense is catered more towards small ball (or at least I think so). I have decided to make some lineup changes… well one. 
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. JASON BAY 
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. JD Drew
6. Big Papi
7. Mike Lowell
8. Jason Varitek
9. NIck Green
I might try this because Jason Bay has been hitting really well lately, and I really like the Youkilis-Drew punch. If not, I would put Drew third, Youk fourth, Papi fifth, and keep Bay at sixth. I don’t really know though. 
The Red Sox game just started, and Jon Lester just struck out Brian Roberts. Jon, the competition between the rotation is over. 

Reporting Live from City of Palms Park

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It is pretty obvious to me why Spring Training is held in a place like Florida. In March, the weather is absolutely beautiful, and yesterday was no exception. The forecast predicted a sunny day with a high of 80 degrees, and a low of 63 degrees. My father and I left the house at 8:30 in the morning, drove for two and a half hours through the flat and uneventful landscape of Florida, and finally arrived in Fort Myers around 11 am. Little did I know that batting practice started two and a half hours before the game rather than the accustomed two hours. My pictures are unfortunately too big to share and I don’t know how to make them smaller. 

Like Fenway Park, City of Palms park also offers a nice “tunnel experience”. As you turn into the seating sections, you have to walk up a few stairs, and all you can see is the beautiful blue sky, and as you walk out, the baseball diamond presents itself. City of Palms Park provides a different type of atmosphere than Fenway Park does. It is much more “intimate”, as Kathleen, one of the Red Sox fans I met put it. Everywhere that you sit it feels like you have a great view, even if you’re not in the lower bowl. 
The Red Sox dugout is actually on the third base line, which is odd, because generally home teams are on the first base line and visiting teams are on the third base line. I walked over to the place where a couple of other Red Sox fans were standing. It was a fenced off area next to the dugout that extended down the left field line. Northeastern University was having batting practice, but the time went quickly as I began to socialize with a few Red Sox fans. 
If it was not for them, I would not have realized something very, very important. Johnny Pesky was sitting just above the fence, and anyone could go get an autograph. I have no idea what my heart did when I heard those words, but some kind of palpitation is probably the appropriate diagnosis. I walked up the stairs, my hands shaking a bit, and I told myself not to become hysterical. I walked over slowly, said hello, and asked for an autograph. 
“Sure!” He said happily as he took my ball and sharpie from my hand. He also agreed to take a picture with me. He was SO nice and friendly, and he gave me a hug and a kiss on my cheek. Words cannot describe how incredible it was to meet a Red Sox legend– appropriate too considering that I dedicated my latest ranking to him. 
I walked back down as others began to come over asking for his autograph and continued to socialize with the Red Sox fans. I love you all here on the blogosphere, but it was nice to finally have someone to talk to face to face about the Red Sox and what happened last season and what we think about this year. Finally, a few of the Red Sox started filing into the dugout: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Terry Francona, Kevin Youkilis, and Lars Anderson were among the first few who were hanging out in the dugout. 
I was standing near this girl, who looked about my age and we decided to start respectfully calling the players names to see if they would come over. Starting pitcher Kris Johnson came out first, and even though we called to him, he nicely explained to us that he had to warm up. At least he responded to us. 
We then started calling out to Dustin, who smiled and gave us a wave, and Jacoby who smiled and waved from the dugout. I was pretty much in shock when I saw Kevin Youkilis– the Youk Fu is gone! He doesn’t have a beard anymore. He didn’t look over to us, which is understandable because I’m pretty sure that he blocks everything out before the game. 
We waited for a little while longer, and Wally the Green Monster came over so I was able to get his autograph. Then, right when it was about time for the game, the players started coming back. Most of them went straight to the dugout, but Jacoby stopped and started signing but on the other side of where I was. There was no way I would be able to get over there since there was already a cluster of people. I was happy enough that he waved to me. Lars Anderson also came over, much closer to where I was, so I tried to squeeze my way through. He literally reached into the crowd and grabbed my ball to sign it. He gets to be my project. 
The lineup for the game was as follow:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis 1B
4. Lars Anderson DH 
5. Jed Lowrie SS
6. Angel Chavez 3B
7. Josh Bard C
8. Zach Daeges LF
9. Josh Reddick RF
SP: Kris Johnson
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Kris Johnson gave up only one hit over two innings, and struck out three. The hit came in the top of the first inning and it was a triple to Josh Gustafson. 
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out in the first inning and Kevin Youkilis struck out (I watched him on the way back to the dugout and he didn’t break anything!!!). Pedroia, Anderson and Lowrie got on, and Angel Chavez, a third-base prospect hit a grand slam! He had really nice form as well. Josh Bard also hit a home run that inning and he hit a long ball later, but it wasn’t far enough to be a home run. He was definitely getting some wood on it, which is nice to see. The most important thing for him is to work on throwing guys down at second, especially if he is going to be catching Wakefield. 
I didn’t know that Luis Tiant was in the dugout, and he has a gigantic white mustache that kind of makes him look like a walrus. He was the one that suggested that the Red Sox sign Charlie Zink (whom I did not see play in either game). 
I noticed that Jacoby is watching more pitches, and even though he grounded out twice (in one inning), the fact that he is being patient is great, and his eye is improving even more if that’s possible. 
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I was impressed with Angel Chavez’s fielding, it was completely solid. He had an incredible game as he hit another home run later in the game. 
I noticed that Jed Lowrie swings that bad pitches sometimes, which he can easily work on, but he had a great bases clearing double and his fielding was solid. He made a great first impression on me for ’09. 
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Dustin Richardson, a pitching prospect, came in to pitch and he had great mechanics, he throws hard, and he has good command. A little more fine tuning in the minors and I could see him coming up– that is, if we EVER need help for pitching. 
Zach Daeges, who played left field, had a very weird stance, his back foot is entirely out of the box. He did get a nice double though, so maybe it works for him. 
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Josh Reddick, who you may remember from the Minnesota game, takes too many pitches, he needs more confidence, but he did have a nice hit as well. 
Pedroia and Youk had nice cuts, and Ellsbury ripped a tripple into left-center field which could have been an inside the park home run at the speed he was going, but he was stopped by the third base coach. It was his first extra base hit of the Grapefruit League season. 
I was lucky enough to see Junichi Tazawa pitch, which was what I was hoping for because I wanted to see how he was. In two beautiful innings of relief, he struck out four, and walked one. He has a fast delivery, and some nice breaking balls! 
Felix Doubront, another Red Sox pitcher posted a great 1-2-3 inning. 
Game 2
I could have gone to a nice dinner at this Italian place called Carrabba’s, an Italian place where I heard that a lot of Red Sox players go. Instead, I opted to go back to the park 2.5 hours early to try and get autographs. As I was walking in, I was pretty much alone and not many people were there. I saw Big Papi talking to a few guys on the Reds, but I didn’t want to interrupt him so I continued walking. Then I saw Jason Varitek all alone on the field and I tried to open my mouth to say something, but nothing came out! I didn’t want to disturb him anyway.
This time I brought water so I wouldn’t get as dehydrated as I did last time. I waved to Varitek who acknowledged my presence but did not wave. What the heck do I say to a guy who is all alone? The Red Sox were up for batting practice, and let me tell you, Big Papi looked great. He looked a lot more comfortable in his swing, and he was hitting some long balls. 
I became the official yeller to the players. I wasn’t as intimidated yelling to the minor leaguers because I assumed that they would want to sign for us. I first yelled to Nick Green who looked, and came right over to us! He signed my ball first :). 
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Then Heidi Watney of NESN came over and started talking to us! She was so nice to us, and she was just asking how we were. Before she left, I felt I had to ask, “Any advice for an aspiring Sports Writer?” I saw someone motion to her in the dugout so I thought he wouldn’t respond but she told him to wait a second and answered my question. 
“Intern,” she said. And then she told me about where she interned and how she got into the business. I am so glad that I asked her. 
We waved to Terry Francona as he came back into the dugout and he smiled and waved back but didn’t stop to sign. I socialized with some more Red Sox fans, including Kathleen and Karen who I ended up talking to the entire night! I also talked to this nine year old girl who was dying for a Big Papi autograph but was happy enough with what we got. We looked up all the minor leaguers numbers who we didn’t know and started calling to them.
About 30 minutes before the game, Clay Buchholz was in the dugout. ‘Clay!’ we yelled, he looked up, smiled and waved, and then went back to his mental routine. I didn’t yell again because I wanted to allow him to mentally prepare– after all, we remember what happened last year. 
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We then yelled at Chris Carter, who smiled waved, and came right over! He signed my ball first again! He was so sweet! Big Papi and Lugo waved to us, and as everyone was coming back, I climbed on to the ledge so I could hold my arm out longer. Lugo was coming down the line signing and as I held my arm out, Gil Velazquez came right over to me and signed!
‘Good luck tonight!’ I said, he smiled and said, ‘Thank you,’. Julio Lugo then signed my ball right after! After he signed, I yelled again at Chris Carter!
‘Hi Chris!!’ he laughed a little and waved, and on his way back in the dugout, I yelled ‘Good luck tonight Chris!’. He smiled again and semi-tipped his cap at me. I’m pretty sure that we are best friends now. 
I said goodbye to all of my new Red Sox fan friends, and walked back over to my section with Kathleen and Karen, who were sitting with us. 
The lineup was as follows:
1. Julio Lugo SS
2. Brad Wilkerson CF
3. David Ortiz DH
4. JD Drew RF
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Jason Varitek C 🙂 
7. Chris Carter 1B
8. Nick Green 3B
9. Gil Velazquez 2B 
Lugo had two nice hits and looked great defensively, so he ALSO made a great impression on me. Wilkerson had a great home run and a double. Papi, Drew and Bay were looking great and collected a few nice hits. Jason Varitek had a bases clearing double and looked great behind the plate. 
Chris Carter, my new friend, had some nice plays at first, and had a nice double. Nick Green played well at first and collected two hits. One down the third base line and a great infield single! Gil Velazquez had two nice hits and played a great game at second base. These three guys looked great. 
Pitching:
Clay Buchholz pitched two innings of one hit ball with one strikeout. The only problems I see is that he gets behind in the count sometimes, and he had too many 3-2 counts. His changeup could be improved as well. 
Ramon Ramirez had nice control, gets great distance off the rubber, has a quick delivery and had a great strike out when the count was 3-2. The only thing I see is that he needs to work on pitching around the strikezone. 
Javy Lopez, as Red Sox fans know, is either totally on or totally off. He looked more like the “off” guy as he didn’t shut down the side. Manny Delcarmen had a nice inning and Billy Traber actually didn’t give up any runs! He does have to work on his control though. Daniel Bard also closed out the ninth nicely with a strikeout. 
More to come tomorrow! I would like to concentrate on the Red Sox vs Twins match up now. 0-0 in the 6th! Great game on MLB Network. 
I’m sending pictures to Julia, do you want some? E-mail me
-Elizabeth

A Year in Review

Well to start off, I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas. Santa brought me some wonderful Red Sox artifacts to decorate my room and car with. I’m pretty sure my room looks like a mini-Red Sox gift shop, which is perfectly fine with me, and not a big surprise to my friends. As far as my car goes, I’m pretty sure people will know who drives it when I park near my school next year (if possible). So if anyone is seeking vengeance on me, all they have to do is look for the Red Sox license plate. And now, to salvage the lack of baseball, I have the amazing 2007 Red Sox playoff run (and special moments). That might be able to carry me through to Spring Training (or at least another week to it). 

Anyway, when I was on the Sox site yesterday, Aiden Gonzalez posted a nice Red Sox Year in Review type article highlighting the major events of each month. Here are some of my favorite memories from each month of 2008.
January:
I’m pretty sure it was January when the Sox were in the Johan Santana sweepstakes with the Mets. I was so nervous during that because I really didn’t want Johan Santana. Sure he’s an incredible pitcher and what not, but we would’ve had to give up guys like Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Jacoby Ellsbury. Think about how much that would’ve changed the season without those guys! Lester wouldn’t have become the ace of the Red Sox, there wouldn’t have been that beautiful no-no on May 19; Justin Masterson wouldn’t have been able to give the Red Sox life in the late innings of the tight playoff games; and we wouldn’t have the future star center fielder on the Red Sox, who makes incredible catches almost on a daily basis, and can steal any time. 
February:
The Sox signed Youkilis to that one year $3 million dollar deal during this month. That was a relief for sure seeing that he finished third in the MVP voting, batted an incredible .312, and was so helpful when he showed his versatility when he moved to third base. I sure hope that the Sox can sign him to a long term contract. 
Also, one of the most important men during every game, Terry Francona, received a three-year contract extension with options for the next two years. 
During this month the Sox also signed the good guy Sean Casey, who gave us laughs when he tripped over second base, then crawled back; Bobby Kielty, who made an incredible catch during one of the Spring Training games I was at; and Bartolo Colon, who wasn’t much of a help at all. 
March:
The beautiful Spring Training month, in which I was lucky enough to go to two glorious games at City of Palms Park. I met some really great people, and after the games, I would walk down to the player’s parking lot to try and get an autograph. I only got one, but I ran out into the middle of the street to stop Jed Lowrie’s car! It was at these Spring Training games that I knew that Jed Lowrie would come up and be a great help to the Red Sox. It was also at the first Spring Training game I went to that Beckett first started having back spasms. 
April
Tokyo Dome.jpg
One word: Japan! Those games were not at the most convenient times. I made the mistake of getting up at 5:30 am because I thought there would be pre-game. Apparently not. I remember the first game perfectly, at school we had assembly, but a few of my friends and I were sitting in the very back on my friend Nick’s iPhone, watching Game Day very intensly. We had to hush ourselves when Brandon Moss hit the home run and when Manny Ramirez hit the double. Then, we all ran to the closest room with cable (conveniently my next classroom) and watched the game. I led the five minute rebellion in which I refused to let class begin until the last out was recorded. 
A couple of good games I was reminded of while reading this article was the ninth inning go-ahead home run in Clevland by Manny, battling back from five runs to beat the Rangers 6-5, and Youk’s walk off single that ended Roy Halladay’s shutout. 
One thing I remember quite vividly was when David Ortiz came up with the bases loaded in that Rangers game, and I called it. I knew he would come out of the slump right then and there, placement and everything.
May
Jon Lester.jpg
Where to begin but Lester’s beautiful no hitter against the Royals on May 19? I was studying for my finals (while watching the game of course) but when I realized it in the seventh inning, I put the books away, to see one of the most beautiful performances of the year. The Sox won on my birthday in a late West Coast game (which I stayed up for of course even though I had finals the next day), and Manny hit number 500 at my little get together with some friends. 
June
Coco Crisp Fight.jpg
I was away for the last half of June at camp, but I was able to see Jacoby break the rookie record for steals, and see half of JD Drew’s incredible month, and of course most memorably, the Coco Crisp fight. I had seen things get heated the night before, with Iwamura, and I knew that as soon as Shields hit Coco (purposefully of course) that Coco would go after him. 
July
We all saw Josh Hamilton’s memorable Home Run Derby which was absolutely incredible. And we all saw the All-Star game, appropriately at Yankee Stadium. Did any of you get to go? It was so nice to see JD Drew be named the MVP of the All-Star game for helping to lead the American League to victory. Probably the saddest part of July for me, was the Manny Ramirez trade. I was upset at him for being a d-bag the past couple of weeks, but I still loved him to death. He still waved to me at Fenway Park, and he was still Manny! I found out when I arrived at my cousin’s house in Delaware, I didn’t cry though– I was in shock, and I realized that it had kind of been inevitable. 
August
Jason Bay.jpg
I came to love Jason Bay. I remember the walk-off run he scored in his first game, and the home run he hit in his second.He
was really a team player and I loved that about him. I hope the Sox sign him to a long contract. The injuries hit hard this month: Lowell, Drew, Wakefield (even though it was the best month of the season), and Lester got AL Pitcher of the Month honors.
September
My favorite part of this month was September 15. My father and I took the second half of the day off, drove four and a half hours to Tampa to see the Red Sox and Rays. It was nice to see the Red Sox win. What I found funny is that upon walking in, Sweet Caroline was playing! So of course the cluster of Red Sox fans were belting Sweet Caroline! We got back at 3 in the morning, and I had to take a Geometry test the next day. It was all worth it though. 
On September 23, a win against the Indians, the Sox assured themselves a playoff spot, which is always special to watch, and even though we didn’t win the division, the Wild Card was just as good. 
October
JD Drew.jpg
“There’s only one October!” as October Gonzo puts it. This was the month I joined MLBlogs, and I’m sure glad that I did. I’ve met so many great people (more on that next entry). One of my favorite parts of the year, the high stress playoffs! I was in the Bahamas with my friend for the first two games, but luckily we got the games in our room, so I was up late watching them of course. I remember I fell asleep during Game 3 with a broom, and watching the magical Game 4. Jason Varitek making that beautiful play down the third base line, the suicide squeeze, Jed’s walk-off single, and Jason Bay sliding into home! That was so exciting.
The ALCS was even more stressful. Dice-K pitched beautifully at the Trop in Game 1, but it went downhill during Games 2-4. I was so scared during Game 5, especially when it was 7-0. But as soon as Pedroia got that first RBI, I knew. And we all know the miracle that happened. Game 7 was somewhat of a disappointment, but it was still a beautiful season. 
November
Pedroia snagged a couple of awards: a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and the AL MVP Honors. A great first two seasons for him. Coco Crisp was also dealt to the Royals, and I miss his feistiness, but I think we all knew that Jacoby is the future. The Sox also picked up Wake’s option, and signed Wes Littleton. Jacoby Ellsbury finished third in ROY voting, and Francona finished fourth in the manager of the year award. 
December
Pedroia got his six year contract extension, which was a very happy day in RSN seeing that Pedroia essentially “embodies a Red Sox player” as Epstein put it, and Junichi Tazawa was signed. 
It was a great year for the Red Sox, and I hope 2009 is as well! 

Looks like the Sox bullpen can get the job done…

Game 6 isn’t going to be remembered for some spectacular, unbelievable feat like Curt Schilling’s bloody sock of 2004, or Pedro’s six innings of hitless relief in 1999. Josh Beckett pitched through five laborious innings, but with his lack of perfection, it was pretty damn good for what it’s worth. Everyone is so proud of him, or everyone should be. After starting out rough for the Sox this post season, he really turned it around for this start giving up only four hits (two of them home runs: one to BJ Upton, and one to Jason Bartlett). Stupid TBS decided to have a power problem that forced me to endure 15 minutes of ‘The Steve Harvey Show’. Watching it on gameday just isn’t the same, no matter how fancy they try and make it.I’m hoping that TBS is forbidden from further broadcasting crucial MLB games. The early deficit was no problem for the Red Sox. The RBI machine, Kevin Youkilis belted a solo home run in the top of the second inning to even it up. Barlett’s throwing error proved crucial once again when it allowed Dustin Pedroia to get on base in the next inning. Big Papi then hit a double putting runners on second and third for Kevin Youkilis. Kevin Youkilis grounded into a fielder’s choice, but it did score Dustin Pedroia. Youk always does his job doesn’t he? Now, after going 0-for-14 in this ALCS, I knew it was time for Jason Varitek. When he got up to the plate in the sixth inning (was it?) I knew. I don’t even know how, but I knew. I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind. I called his shot, placement and everything. And it was our captain that broke the tie. It was then an RBI single by David Ortiz that gave us a much needed insurance run. Not that any lead was at all comfortable.

I knew that Terry Francona would do some kind of combination with Okajima, Masterson and Papelbon. It would either be M.O.P. (mop ’em up!) or O.M.P (Oh my Papelbon!!!). Okajima, once again, came through for us as that “hero in the dark” and with eight outs to go, it seemed like the Rays were in a similar situation that the Sox were in only two nights ago, with a much smaller deficit. But it was the Red Sox bullpen that was able to hold onto it. I swear, Terry Francona loves Justin Masterson, but who wouldn’t? He was in AA early this year and now he’s our eighth inning man? Even though he got two men on quickly, John Farrell came out and calmed him down, and Masterson was all strikes from there! Jonathan Papelbon came in and pitched a solid ninth, but you could tell he didn’t have his normal stuff when his fastball peaked at 93 mph. It worked though! And now, once again, it’s time for game 7.
I’m happy that Terry Francona is going to be giving Jon Lester the ball. We’ve got to ignore what happened in Game 3 and just focus on Game 7. I think that it was the fact that everyone was so confident in Lester, the fact that everyone had already chalked up a win for him, I think it just got to his head. He’s still a young guy, and the key here, is to not let his emotions get the best of him. As for Matt Garza, the key for him is to get him really pissed off. Start fouling off on purpose, start bunting, stealing, whatever. If we can get a run or two in the first inning, Garza will go sooner. I think Garza gets over confident too. In Game 5 at Fenway he was joking around and shushing the crowd, as if he had already opened the bottles of champagne. But boy was he in for a surprise. I think the Rays are still going to have that ‘deer caught in headlights look’. Pena thinks that they’re due for a turn around, but they already had their peak. The Red Sox are still riding their turn around, and they’re not stopping yet. I believe in Jon Lester. I don’t care about his last start, and he said that last year is irrelevant too (although he has pitched in a clinching game). And he’s absolutely right. He just needs to focus on this game. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. It’s time for Game 7, it’s not time to say: oh we’re making that same comeback like we did in ’04 and ’07. No. If you focus on the past, then you definitely will never progress. It’s nice to think about, and it still leaves me a little bleary eyed, but you’ve got to focus on the present. You can’t even think about the future for that matter. If you focus on advancing to the World Series, then you’re not gonna win Game 7. You’ve got to build the bridge before you cross it. We’ve got to focus not only on making Matt Garza royally pissed off, we’ve got to focus on winning every inning, and concentrate on winning every pitch, and for Jon Lester, he’s got to focus on executing every pitch. This is not going to be easy, it never is. The Sox have a lot of momentum going into this game, but that does not mean that it’s over. 
This just in (5:21pm) Terry Francona has announced the lineup:
1. Coco Crisp (CF)
2. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
3. David Ortiz (DH)
4. Kevin Youkilis (3B)
5. JD Drew (RF)
6. Jason Bay (LF)
7. Mark Kotsay (1B)
8. Jason Varitek (C)
9. Alex Cora (SS)
Jon Lester (SP)
I’m fine with everyone in this lineup, except for Alex Cora. But, I trust Terry Francona, so I’m not gonna question his decisions. Jed didn’t help us produce last night, or the night before, so it’s time to give someone else a chance. I have a good feeling about Jason Bay tonight!
I believe in everyone in this lineup, I believe in Terry Francona’s decision. 
It’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be epic. I believe that the Red Sox can win this game!
-Elizabeth