Sunday, March 27, 2005

Warming Out in The Bullpen

*writing from the homestead*

To all my b'loved readers-
I know I've been lacking in substantial posts lately.
Real life, in the form of schoolwork, has intruded, as has spring break. And for the next week or so I'll be safely ensconced in the comfy but slow-connection confines of Suburbia, NJ. So no long posts till then.
However, I'll make it up to you, I promise-next post will be a inning-by-inning blog of OPENING DAY (Hurrah!!!!!). With guest commentary by The Maternal Unit and The Sibling.
(I'll keep score and take notes and everything.)

Happy Easter, Passover, and Spring everybody.

CUIDADO!!!!!!! HALAMA!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Radatz and Robbie

Even though this time of year is baseball's rebirth, this week it seems to have gone hand in hand with a good amount of loss.

First, there is the tragic and too early death of beloved Sox relief pitcher Dick Radatz in a freak accident. Now, I am much, much too young to have ever seen Dick Radatz in action. And I feel ashamed to admit that I did not know who he was before this week. But from all I have read of him, he was a true Red Sock, the consummate relief ace, and a damn good baseball player. Anyone who could make Mickey Mantle shake in his boots at the plate deserves a metaphysical raising of the glass from me. And in this week where so much attention is being paid to what is wrong with baseball, it's nice to remember an exemplar of the era when so much went right with the sport. In the 60's and 70's, baseball was finally well on its way to being fully integrated, and saw great teams like the '67 Sox and the late 60s Orioles. Evem though it was a pitching heavy era, seeing the heydays of Koufax, Drysdale and Gibson, it also saw some of the greatest hitters, greatest players ever, in Mantle, Mays, Maris, Robinson (Brooks and Frank), and Aaron. The passing of the "Monster" makes us think about how far away we are from that era in which he played, and appreciate not just him, but his compatriots. One of the most mentioned images this week has been Radatz striking out Mantle one more time up in heaven. I really like that image.

The other loss, fortunately, is professional, and not personal, in the retirement of great 2B Roberto Alomar, afte 17 years in the majors.
Now, Robbie was on the far side of his glory days, toiling away in relative obscurity for the Devil Rays. Some might, sadly. remember him more for the John Hirschbeck incident than for anything else. But the Robbie Alomar I remember was the one I saw, as a 8 year old kid, batting in the 1993 World Series for the eventual champion Blue Jays. Back then, I couldn't tell you an infielder from an outfielder, a bunt from a grounder. One of my lasting memories is my mother drawing me a diagram of the field, explaining exactly how baseball worked. At the time, living in Central New Jersey, and since the Sox were nowhere near the playoffs, we were cheering for the Phillies. I was enamored by men with such names as "Wild Thing", Dykstra, Kruk. Yet, I distinctly remember very much liking this Roberto Alomar guy; he hit the ball well, and he was fun to watch in the field. I vaguely recall him hitting a very pretty SkyDome homer. Though I would not become a fervent fan 'til much later, that series initiated me into the mysteries of baseball, and Roberto Alomar was one of its shamans. He was a figure of my childhood, and his retirement, though it comes with a whimper and not with a bang, is a landmark to me.

My mother has been reminding me repeatedly, if I too often obsess about the exploits of 2004, that it's a new year now. That with baseball, no matter how much we glory in its past, we have to concentrate just as much as its future. The passing of the "Monster", and the retirement of Robbie Alomar, let us do both, really. They remind us of the past, and give us hope for the future.
Good luck Robbie Alomar, and godspeed, Dick Radatz.

Friday, March 18, 2005

I am An Idiot( And Not the Good Kind)

My post of a week ago?
How I didn't like basketball?
How it didn't have the rhythm, the battles, the emotion of baseball and football?

Um, I was full of shit.
Because I just watched the last few minutes of the #13 seed Vermont Catamounts knocking off fuckin' Syracuse in overtime.
That was one of the most amazing, beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
I was on my feet the whole time, bouncing around, cheering for the plucky little Vermonters. Even though them winning fucked up my bracket, because I had 'Cuse going to the FInal Four.But I don't care about that now.

Because David knocked off Goliath, and I was hooked on every three point shot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

We Love You, Tedy

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# 54 goes into the hospital again, for surgery to repair a hole in his heart which may have caused his stroke.

Allegedly, it's an outpatient procedure. But like the Patriots don't look past a single game, we don't underestimate surgery, of any kind. Everyone send out a little prayer for Tedy this week.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Strange things happen when 5 female Red Sox fans are stuck inside on a snowy March Saturday, with nothing to do but post to the Surviving Grady MB.

Like the creation of an entirely new multi-person blog devoted to forcing MLB to bring back the bullpen car.( Also to be found in the blogroll.)

Though Kristen and Amy and Hoo came up with the idea ( see the most recent post), and Sam is the Photoshop mistress, I have volunteered to write our fiery political rhetoric and possibly a new Shakesperean Red Sox play involving the ALCS with bullpen cars.

(Yes, you read that last sentence right.)


Friday, March 11, 2005

Music On The Turf, and Wars Writ Small


This is the most boring part of the sports year known to man. At least, if not known to man, known to me.

No football except the depressing "releasing Troy Brown" kind.
Baseball is far enough away from opening day to not have anything really significant going on, especially on a lucky and well-managed team such as the Sox where there are little, if any, serious roster questions going on. Yet, it's been long enough after pitchers and catchers to allow some of the glow to wear off. I love Dave McCarty, and I'm glad that it seems like he has a shot to make the 25-man, but I need more than that. So much that I'm really contemplating going down to Legends Field during the next Sox-Yankees tilt and starting a fight, just for the fun of it. "Hey Sheffield, Clement said your mother wears army boots!"

"But there's NCAA Mar-"
Don't. Just, don't.
I tried. I swear I have tried.
I have listened to the BC Eagles on the radio.
I have sat down and tried to watch NBA and college games on ESPN.
Hell, basketball is the one sport in which the Ivy League has even a shred of credibility, so you would think I could have gotten into it by following the Crimson.
But I just can't get into basketball.

Sure, I can enjoy the occasional buzzer-beater, or awesome looking alley-oop, or absolutely impossible dunk. I can appreciate the sport on an aesthetic level, and if I end up in sports journalism, I could probably cover a game competently.I can understand why people like it.

But it doesn't grab me the way that baseball or football does.

For one thing, it doesn't have the rhythm that those two sports do. Sure, it has a rhythm, but it's more like pop music, or easy listening. Sure it doesn't have the long pauses of baseball or football; yes I know, it has timeouts, but that's nothing like the half-innnings or the offense coming on the field.

Basketball doesn't have those long rests, but that means it also doesn't have the musical dynamics of baseball or football. It doesn't have the crescendoes of a long flyball, or the Hail Mary pass. It doesn't have the doesn't have the rough pizzicato of a defensive tackle, or the sudden chord of a well-pitched strikeout.

Also, and not to sound elitist or arrogant, it just seems too easy to me. Not that draining a 3 doesn't take tremendous skill, because I know it does. While basketball is a fencing match, football and baseball are really wars writ small.
I know it's an overused metaphor, but it's true. In football, you fight for every. single. yard.That's why you get 4 downs, because it is ( when done right) just that hard. And even when you do everything perfectly, sometimes it still doesn't work.

I hear the skeptics pipe up, "Well, yeah, but baseball's not like that." Watch a baseball game sometime, why don't you.
There isn't the obvious front, the line of scrimmage, to be sure. Yet, if you really watch a baseball game, there's a hundred different possible battles going on at once. The pitcher against the batter. The pitcher and the catcher against the baserunner. Most days, the pitcher against himself. The outfielder against the batter. The infielder against the runner sliding into second trying to break up a DP. The outfielder against the wind, the dome, and the idiots in the stands reaching out for a fly. And then there's the overall battle of sheer physical and mental will, which becomes especially apparent in extra-inning games. You don't think baseball can be brutally exhausting? Go back and look at Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada after Game 5.

Maybe I'll change my mind some day. It could happen. But for now, basketball just can't seem to give me the excruciating lows, and exquisite highs that baseball and footbal can.The anticipation. The emotion. Basketball is too fast, it's too casual, it's too unsatisfying. It'll never give me what I've gotten from baseball and football. The breath held while each deep 40-yarder spirals perfectly through the air towards the end zone. That sublime but beautiful terror that comes on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and 2 out. I experienced the pinnacle of that kind of emotion on October 20th, and October 27th, 2004, and while I may never feel like that again, at least I know it's a possibility. And that's what I love about it.


I'd like to update you all on the status of Rodney Harrison.
He had been whining heartily about the lack of sunlight and fresh air in my coat closet.
And I understand that being an athlete, he should be allowed to go out and play once in a while.
So, I relented. but only let him go out if he would go out in disguise, to fool the Belichick minions.
And he could only go to somewhere outside the continental US, because Belichick is just that wily.

From Rodney Harrison, bad-ass safety, to Rodney Harrison, bad-ass NFL Europe back judge.

I loved this comment from the beat writer of the article, Jeremy Solomon:

Rodney Harrison -- one of the most heavily fined players in the game thanks to his aggressive meetings with pass catchers -- passing judgment on defensive players' hits? (That sound you hear is the collective shriek of NFL receivers.)

Seriously though, it would be really fun down the line to see Rodney blowing the heck out his whistle at defensive backs' tackles. If only because you know he'll take 'em aside after the game and teach them how to do it with more style and class.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

We Few, We Happy Few

(With numerous, abject apologies to William Shakespeare)

Scene: Visitor's Clubhouse, Yankee Stadium, October 20, 2004

(The BOSTON RED SOX are gathered, done up in their equipment.)
(They look at the closed circuit TV, at the NEW YORK YANKEES taking batting practice)

MILLAR:Where is the Captain?
DAMON:He walks about the batting practice to view their lineup.
MUELLER: Of homerun power they have nearly 40 each.
LOWE: God's arm strike with us! Tis' fearful odds.
Pesky be with you, players, I'll to my mound.
If we no more play again together till Spring Training
Then joyfully, my kind pen-men, players all, adieu.
ORTIZ: Farewell, kind D-Lowe, pitch well today;
and yet do not think about it,
but be framed in the Good Lowe Face, and not the bad.
(LOWE exits RIGHT, to the BULLPEN)
(CAPTAIN TEK enters, unseen)
MUELLER: Oh that we had but one utility infielder of those players in MLB
that swing no bats today.
CAPTAIN TEK:What's he that wishes so?
My infield cousin Mueller? No, my fair Billy.
If we are meant to lose, we are enough that our Nation
May assign us blame; and if to win,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will, I pray thee wish not one LOOGY more.
By Teddy Ballgame, I am not covetous for incentive clauses
Nor doth I care who feeds upon my endorsements
But if it be a sin to covet wins,
I am the most offending man alive.
God's peace, I would not lose so great an honor
As one more costly free agent methinks would share from us.
Rather proclaim it presently through our clubhouse:
Tell him which hath no Achille's Heel for this fight
Let him be traded.
We would not lose in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to lose with us.
This day is called the Day of Game 7.
He that plays through this Game and come winning home
Will lift his glove up when this day is named
And smile him at the name of Game 7.
He that shall play this Game
Will yearly on this day man-hug his neighbors
And say "Tomorrow is Game 7's Day."
Hitting coaches forget, yet all shall be forgot
Yet he'll recall, with padded stats
What RBIs he drove in that Day. Then shall our names
Familiar in his mouth as Hall of Fame names:
Tek the Captain, Ramirez and Ortiz,
Mueller and Bellhorn, Lowe and Millar
Be in their chaws freshly remembered.
This story shall the Sox Fan teach his daughter
And October 20th shall ne'er go by
From this day till the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers
For he today that throws a ball today with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so demure
This day will brighten his condition
And players out in Oakland now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here
And hold their batting averages cheap whiles any speaks
That played with us upon Game 7's Day!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Come to the Dark Side....

A good part of this blog so far has been me mocking my beloved Red Sox caught in amusing photographic positions.
I figure, I'm a good Quaker, it's only fair that I return the favor.
A little bit of context:I am in a very strange musical organization known as the Harvard Pops Orchestra. Our most recent concert had the theme of stars and space, and thus we were playing the John Williams Star Wars Suite. Now, along with the music, we do skits and comedy in the concert too. Our music director posed the question, "Which one of the violins wants to be Darth Vader?" ( You see where this is going....)

These were taken by my roommate shortly before said concert. I assure you, I looked much sillier during the actual thing.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

And So It Begins...

It wasn't pretty.
And it was pretty routine.
And most of the usual suspects were gone by the 4th inning.

But it was baseball, it was the Sox winning, it was my favorite emotional rollercoaster back for another ride, and that's all that matters right now.

There were strikeouts, there were nifty outfield catches, and whattayouknow, there was even a homerun. (In other news, Youk has future competition for the "Fan Favorite Whose Name Sounds Like Boo When Chanted" in tonight's homerun hero, Shawn Wooten.) There were the comforting accents of Jerry Remy, the dulcet tones of Don Orsillo, and the paternal words of Trup' and Joe.

There were new guys to win my heart, in the form of Jay Payton, 4th outfielder extraordinaire, and hustling rookie Adam Stern. The team, the announcers, and even the fans knew that this game, in the grand scheme of things, didn't mean much. And yet there was Adam, trying to steal second. That, to me, is a good omen for the season to come.

There was even a little bit of drama, in new pitcher Denney Tomori giving up 2 9th inning runs, but sacking up and getting the save anyway.

There was the rhythm, the lulls, the highs, all the stuff that makes baseball a wonderful game.

And all of sudden, it's like I never left.


It's also very very good for my sports sanity that baseball is back, since the Patriots are doing their damnedest to make my head explode.

Now, I understand that there is a system , that Belichick knows what he's doing, that Law is aging and injured and expensive, that Patten and Andruzzi went for the money which they deserve for what they did for us. Even somewhere inside, rationally, I understand that despite all that Troy Brown does, all that Troy Brown is and represents, his cap number apparently does not mesh with a balanced all around team.

Doesn't mean that my inner 5-year-old isn't throwing a massive tantrum: "nononononononono! No take my toys away! I want my binky!"

I'll get over it. I got over Pedro with a minimum of irrational anger. Troy Brown, admittedly, will hurt a little more than the others; it might be like what we would have gone through had Varitek left. But I am ( mostly) an adult. I can deal.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go check on Rodney Harrison, who is staying in my coat closet until the financial thingie period is over. He will be well fed, and can use my computer, and can go visit McGinest and Seymour at Kristen's. But he ain't goin' near Gillette or Nantucket till training camp.

I may be mature, but I'm not that mature.