Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 30: David Ortiz and Wife Heading for Splitsville

Remember what happen to Tiger Woods' after the infamous Thanksgiving night accident and the subsequent revelation of the philandering? His six-year, what seemed to be storybook marriage went up in flames along with his reputation and his golf game. In this case, it was obvious why Elin filed for divorce...because ewwww, just ewwww. How do you ever get over that?

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and his wife Tiffany are headed for divorce. Hopefully nothing that sordid will be divulged because I just can't think of Big Papi as a creepy skirt-chaser. The couple, who met while David was still in the minor leagues, has been married for nearly a decade. They have three kids—two daughters and a son, the popular D'Angelo, who's almost as famous as his daddy. Something tells me he's not going to turn into a deadbeat dad...not like he can hide!

When something like this happens, you can only hope that the disruption in his personal life doesn't also wreak havoc on the field. But according to all reports, the divorce is amicable, with both sides just "moving on" and Ortiz assures us that it won't affect his play. (It better not.)
"I'm going to separate things," Ortiz said. "Whatever is happening to me off the field is happening, but I try not to confuse that and bring that into my job. I know how to separate things. Personal life matters, and hopefully everybody respects that."
If his recent play is any indication of the impact the divorce is having on him, all I can say is they should've called it quits a long time ago. (Oh, sorry, just kidding!) Big Papi has been on fire—batting .516 in eight games since his return to the lineup.

It could be worse... you're name could be Tim Tebow. D'oh.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 29: Tebow is Released From TeJets

Hold on to your hats, football fans... the New York Jets have lost a key player today. Their A-#1 bench warmer, Tim Tebow, has officially been released by the team. Let's just say there will be some cold bums on that bench next season.

Is anyone really surprised at this news? The only surprise for me is that Mark Sanchez is still there. The writing was on the wall when the Jets drafted a QB last week. One of them was bound to be released, especially because the signing of draft selection Geno Smith gave them six quarterbacks. Pretty sure no NFL team needs even half that many. Just plain greedy if you ask me.

The chances of Tebow landing with another team in this league are pretty slim. No other NFL club has shown any interest in the former Florida Gators crybaby standout. And word on the street is he has an offer on the table from Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. The AFL might be just the place for him...

As a Patriots fan, I'm always curious to see what division rivals are doing in the off season, so it's going to be real interesting to see how the Jets QB situation unfolds. I'm not sure they can get much worse than the Sanchez/Tebow tandem.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 28: Big Papi is Back in Boston, Big Time!

I don't remember the last time I enjoyed watching the Red Sox so much...in April. I'm not sure if it's the added drama of playing for the city of Boston after what happened on Patriots Day, but whatever it is, I hope this current level of play doesn't end anytime soon. It's not often us Sox fans get to say the team they live and die with has the best record in baseball.


When the season started and David Ortiz wasn't in the lineup...you probably wondered, like me, what kind of pop the Papi-less team would have. I was pleasantly surprised, but I still longed for the presence or Ortiz—his veteran leadership, his never-ending smile and his strong love for the city for which he plays.

Since his return on April 20th, the Sox have won six games, including a weekend sweep of the Houston Astros. And Big Papi has made quite a splash—from his profane but heartfelt declaration to would-be terrorists of whose city Boston is, to sparking this team with not only his presence, but also his bat. Prior to the start of today's game, Ortiz was batting .519 in 27 at-bats, with 4 doubles, 2 home runs and 9 RBI—his OPS is a ridiculous 1.422.

Yeah, yeah... I know it will be impossible for him to keep up this kind of pace, but DAMN, isn't it fun to watch even if it's only just for right now?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 27: Raking Should Be Considered a Sport

Imagine the scene: two contestants, two rakes, a tarp and two giant piles of leaves. And just to make it interesting, a wind machine will sporadically produce gusts of air to really screw with you. The playing field must be completely devoid of any debris in order to be considered the victor. No judging necessary (I'm looking at year, figure skating) and the first player to dispose of their pile of leaves wins! Exciting, right?

Raking as a sport would fit nicely into the same arena as the lumberjack competitions. which just looks like a bunch of yard work to me... although it's not often that disposing of trees requires one to put said tree in a pond of water and participate in a log roll. That one's just frivolous.

Wondering why I'm asking? Mostly because I spent about three hours today raking. And I feel like what I imagine a football player feels like after a game. Or maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration since last time I checked, raking isn't a full contact activity. I would like to think I've reached professional status in all the  raking I've done over the years. If you could see the sheer volume of leaves my trees discard, you might wonder how I still function after raking them. Answer is: I don't.

When raking is made a sport...and accepted as an Olympic event, I will own that gold medal. I mean it has to be included some day, right? For crying out loud, there are people who sweep the ice in the Olympics! I guess we'll just need to come up with a fancy name for raking...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 26: Clay Buchholz: What a Difference A Year Makes!

After the horrific 2012 season the Red Sox had, you had to wonder if this team was going to ever come back from such bad juju. But they worked hard over the off-season to secure players they deemed "good clubhouse guys" and then you had to wonder if they were just going to call this year a rebuilding year. But then those "good clubhouse guys" gave us a little more and here we are, almost through the first month of the season and now you have to wonder if this team is for real.

I'm not going to lie, my biggest concern coming into 2013 was the pitching staff. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz anchoring the starting rotation, you could only hope they pulled their acts together over the winter and realize how much of a complete embarrassment this team was under the tutelage of that cretin, Bobby Valentine.

And what a difference a year makes!

Let's compare Clay Buchholz's stats—April 2012 vs. April 2013. After five starts this season, Buchholz is 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA, 37.2 innings pitched and 39 strikeouts. Opponents have hit a whopping .192 against the young right hander.

Flash back to last year at this time and it's a whole different story. After five starts, Clay was 3-1... ok, that's not too horrible, right? His ERA was 8.69...WHAT? And in 29 innings pitched, he gave up 28 earned runs and only struck out 16. Opponents teed off on his stuff, batting .331, including seven home runs. Geez... He was lucky to be 3-1.

I'm going to guess Buchholz is happy to see John Farrell back in Boston and that lunatic Valentine gone. I know I am! Now let's hope he can keep up the good work.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 25: Oooh, It's Drafty in Here.

Today is the day that every really sucky professional football team looks forward to—the first day of the NFL draft. It's that day when that team that finished 2-14 the previous season gets that warm, fuzzy feeling about signing a guy that's going to be the answer to their prayers, a solution to all their problems.

The last time the New England Patriots picked first was exactly 20 years ago, in the 1993 draft. You might remember the young quarterback they drafted #1—a junior from Washington State named Drew Bledsoe. It was on the heels of a horrific 1992 season where they joined the Seattle Seahawks as the worst teams in the NFL with a 2-14 record. Bledsoe's first season they did improve to 5-11, but it wasn't until they topped that AFC East in 1996 with an 11-5 record that Bledsoe was heralded as true leader. That was the best season he would have in New England before losing the starting job to Tom Brady.

Drew went on to have a respectable career with the Patriots. In 123 games started, he was 63-60 with a 56.3 completion percentage and 29,657 total passing yards. He threw 166 touchdowns and 138 interceptions. Bledsoe earned four trips to the Pro Bowl in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2002 and made it to the Super Bowl in 1996 where he was crushed by the Green Bay Packers. Just goes to show you exactly what kind of QB Tom Brady is...

I'm okay with the Patriots not having a #1 pick in the last two decades. It just means they didn't suck the most.

With the first pick of the 2013 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan.

And so it begins.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 24: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday and it wouldn't be complete if I didn't thank her for her part in this ridiculous rabbit hole of sports I've fallen down. You would think she'd see where I was headed and want to steer me in...say...the direction of make up and dresses and high heels...yeah, thanks for not doing that!

• Thanks for working retail when I was a kid so I could absorb all the sports knowledge from dad.

• Thanks for never trying to kill my love for the Red Sox...or Patriots.

• Thanks for always being open to watching baseball, football...or a golf tournament.

• Thanks for never making me wear a dress.

• Thanks for always keeping me outfitted in Sox gear and jeans.

• Thanks for never keeping me from joining the neighborhood boys for a game of home run derby.

• Thanks for always knowing exactly where my glove was.

• Thanks for never telling me I shouldn't take every loss so personally.

• Thanks for always spending Saturday mornings at the track meets if only to watch me run for just seconds.

• Thanks for never thinking I was a lunatic for crying when the Red Sox finally won in '04.

• Thanks for always supporting me in every sport I played, no matter how much I stunk.

• Thanks for never telling me to give it up...because I stunk.

• Thanks for always being the greatest mom a kid...teenager...adult could ever ask for.

I hope your day was amazing!

Love you,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 23: In case you were wondering about my predictions for the 2013 baseball season...

Normally I don't try to do predictions for a baseball season—especially where the Red Sox are concerned. You know, there's that whole thing where I think if I say out loud that they're going to have a good year, then they will most surely suck. Because I have that kind of power. But this year I was roped into putting my predictions on paper. WHAT? Hell... there's a case of Miller Lite on the line. I'm throwing caution to the wind!

Drum roll, please...

AL Winners
East:  Yankees (Only because I'm trying to jinx the hell out of them.)
Central:  Tigers
West:  Angels
Wild Card #1:  Rays
Wild Card #2:  Red Sox
AL MVP:  Mike Trout
AL Cy Young:  Felix Hernandez
AL Rookie:  Jackie Bradley Jr. (Ooops.)

NL Winners
East:  Nationals (Because Bryce Harper's fauxhawk says so!)
Central:  Reds
West:  Giants
Wild Card #1:  Cardinals
Wild Card #2:  Padres 
NL MVP:  Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young:  Clayton Kershaw

World Series
Angels vs. Nationals -- Angels as Champs (Not so sure about this one right now!)

Red Sox Superlatives (and other stuff)
Pitching MVP:  Clay Buchholz
Position MVP:  Dustin Pedroia
Disappointment:  Stephen Drew (Shocker.)
Big Papi's Return:  early June (Ok, I was way off on that one!)
Final Sox Record:  82 wins
Red Sox Make Playoffs?  YES

Red Sox Pitching
Clay Buchholz, 21-7
Jon Lester, 19-11
Felix Doubront, 14-10
Ryan Dempster, 11-14
Alan Webster, 8-7 (Because I have no confidence in Lackey!!)

And don't think I won't give up that case of beer in a heartbeat if it means the Red Sox make another trip to the World Series this year. I can't wait another 86 years!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 22: A Bat For a Good Cause

I think I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely love this Red Sox team. Love! Attitude, spirit, heart, guts, grit... just love. And the more I get to know some of the new guys, the more I can't help but love them a little more each day. This past week hasn't hurt their standing with me either—with so much sympathy and respect and tributes pouring out of several member of the team every day.

Photo courtesy of Will Middlebrooks Instagram
Whether it's Will Middlebrooks writing "Boston Strong" on his cleat, Jon Lester tweeting about the victims being on his mind during his performance last week, or Big Papi's heartfelt speech about whose city Boston really is—it has all been very inspiring.

Jonny Gomes took inspiration to a new level in the first game of yesterday's double header. On a suggestion by his agent, he had the names of the victims slain in (or as a result of) last Monday's tragedy, including MIT officer Sean Collier, engraved into the barrel of his bat. Of the four etched bats, Gomes used two in the game and plans to have the other two signed by the team and auctioned off to raise money. *sniff sniff*

It's too bad the bat didn't do more to help the Sox take at least one from the Royals on Sunday. Nothing sucks more than being swept in a double header.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 21: Sometimes the F-Word is Just So Necessary!

It was an emotional day at Fenway Park yesterday as the Boston Red Sox did their part to honor both the victims and the heroes in the Marathon bombing. The Sox donned special game day home jerseys where they replaced the familiar "Red Sox" with "Boston" and included a B Strong patch. And nearly everyone in the stands wore something that tied them to Beantown.

The poignant ceremony began with a tribute with photos of the Marathon...then the explosions...and then the chaos...all with the song "Hallelujah" accompanying it. It was hard to keep the lip from quivering. Then, victims of Monday's tragedy were invited out to throw the ceremonial first pitches while members of the Boston and Watertown police departments stood alongside.

An enormous American flag was dropped over the Green Monster and it was time for the national anthem. And for the second time in less than a week, I was reduced to tears as an entire stadium of over 35,000 Boston Strong joined together and sang.

As those involved in the pre game on-field ceremony began to file off, David Ortiz, fresh off the DL, took control of the microphone.
"All right," he said. "All right, Boston. This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor Menino, Gov. Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week."
And then, he hits us with this... (needless to say, I almost fell of my couch and I even needed to rewind to make sure I actually heard what I thought I heard!)

And the FCC agreed that in this case, there was no need for a fine. Smart people. No one could have said it any better!

Oh yeah, and the Sox won on a 3-run homer by Daniel Nava in the 8th inning—most certainly sparked by a surprise visit by Neil Diamond to help sing Sweet Caroline!

What a day!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 20: Big Papi is Back in Boston!

Fear not Red Sox Nation, the team's patriarch has returned to lead his family. That's right folks, David Ortiz completed his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket and will rejoin the team when they play the Kansas City Royals this afternoon. This will be the first home game for the Sox since Monday's devastating events in Boston—and since the capture of cockroach suspect #2—and will surely be emotional one for the team and the fans.

What better way to lift spirits than to see the wide smile of the heart and soul of the Red Sox lineup bounce out of the dugout for the pre-game warmups? Luckily, the team has not been suffering too much in his absence—getting off to a 11-4 start. But now, things just feel complete.

The unfortunate part is that someone needs to be sent down to the minors to free up space on the roster for Ortiz's return and it appears that unlucky soul will be Jackie Bradley Jr. It was only a matter of time. Since the season began, Bradley Jr. (who had been lights out in spring training) has not done well. After batting a whopping .419 in Fort Meyers, he has struggled so far in the regular season, managing only three hits in 31 at bats for an average of 0.097. Ouch. And 12 strikeouts. Double ouch.

Big Papi hasn't played in a game since August 24, 2012 after a persisting achilles injury sidelined the slugger. There was hope he would be healed and ready to rumble for opening day but that idea was quashed when he had trouble running the bases in Florida—something rather important in baseball. I'm sure Mike Napoli is looking forward to Papi's homecoming and the extra help he'll gain in the middle of the lineup.

Welcome home, Big Papi... welcome home!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 19: Boston Breathes a Sigh of Relief

Like most of New England and the country, I've been riveted to the news coverage since early this morning. I awoke to the reports of one Boston Marathon bombing suspect having been killed overnight and the second suspect on the lam. Although I live over 100 miles away, my guts clenched with every "this just in" I heard over the course of the day.

This one lowlife scrap of pond scum escaped police custody in the wee hours of this morning and led the city of Boston's authorities on a man hunt of epic proportions. This one 19-year-old douche bag who was worse than a dirty piece of chewed gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe, shut down the entire city of Boston for a whole day. This child-murdering pile of steaming rat shit forced an entire population to stay locked inside on a beautiful spring day and forced the Red Sox and Bruins to postpone games.

If you haven't seen the pictures of an eerily deserted Boston, click here. One of the creepiest things I've seen in a long time. And here you can see the views from inside and what Bostonians saw all day.

But now... that evil terrorist is in police custody and miraculously still alive. The authorities found him after someone saw some suspicious movement in a trailered boat. He was surrounded and taken after a couple hours and a few rounds of shots fired. Congratulations to the Boston Police Department and all the many other law enforcement agents that helped to get this dirty bastid.

I'm sure there are a lot of big, relieved sighs in Beantown. A lot of stomachs unclenching. A lot of stir crazy people taking to the streets to try and enjoy the last hours of the warm, spring weather. And I'm sure I'm not the only one happy to see this gunfire-riddled day end and peace restored for my friends to the south. Sleep well, Boston.

[I know this technically isn't a sports post, although I did mention the Sox and the Bruins, but I just thought it would be disrespectful to pretend like none of this ever happened.]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 17: Sweet Caroline... In Stereo!

If you've ever been to Fenway Park, you most certainly have heard Neil Diamond's popular ditty, 'Sweet Caroline' in the middle of the 8th inning. Hell, I bet you even did a little singing and dancing in your seat. It's definitely a Red Sox staple—like Dirty Water is their victory anthem. At times you might roll your eyes because you've heard the song a million times and why oh why must they play it again? But last night was a night you wanted to hear Neil.

Tuesday night, just a day after the horrifying events that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, baseball teams across the country lifted the city of Boston up on their shoulders with a touch of class. The tribute went viral and at just about every park across the country, it felt like Friendly Fenway. As a gesture of support, teams played 'Sweet Caroline' at their home stadiums.

It started earlier in the day on Tuesday when the arch rival New York Yankees announced they would play the pop tune during the third inning. And from the looks of the footage from the game, each and every Yankee cap-clad fan in the Bronx belted the tune at the top of their lungs. Even Neil himself was touched.

The Yankees weren't alone. The Cleveland Indians, who were hosting the Sox, played the number during the pregame. The Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, LA Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's—to name a few—all followed suit.
"I think it's a touch of class by, not only Cleveland, but every Major League city around baseball that has done something tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I saw the sign on the front of the facade at Yankee Stadium and I think the fact that they played 'Sweet Caroline' in the third inning there, I think it's a touch of class by all of Major League Baseball to acknowledge this."
After such a tragic day on Monday, this gesture by Major League Baseball was So Good, So Good, So Good! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 16: Stay Strong, Boston!

Patriots' Day... the unofficial kick-off to spring. A day off from work for some of us. Boston Marathon Monday. The Red Sox play at 11am. This year, Patriots' Day coincided with Jackie Robinson Day and it also happened to be a beautiful, sunny day, with bright blue skies.

A day that started so perfect, but ended so tragic. Sidewalks stained with blood, and a city reeling from an unprovoked attack. A city in shock.

I originally wanted to title this post, "People Suck." Someone is out there, hiding somewhere, someone so vile... so loathsome... so heinous... responsible for the death of three innocent bystanders, three fans just cheering on their friends and family to just hang in there—the finish line was in sight. Not to mention the more than 170 other casualties. But I couldn't give those deplorable monsters the satisfaction.

Instead, I'd rather focus on the people who come away from this day as heroes. The people who ran towards the blast to help rather than away from it. The people who broke down barriers to help the wounded. The people who sprung into action, applying dressings to wounds, and tourniquets to amputated limbs. The people who carried the injured away from danger. The people who contributed by rushing to donate blood.

This day will be yet another in our growing list of "where were you whens." I was doing yard work, enjoying my day off. And then I wasn't. It felt wrong to be happy when the images on the news coverage were so horrific.

Stay strong, Boston... you have a nation behind you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 15: Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

Some folks might dread April 15th... tax day. But if you're a baseball fan, you look forward to April 15 for it's meaning. April 15, 1947, the Opening Day of that season, marked Jackie Robinson's first season in the Major Leagues. Robinson's entrance into the league with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended about 80 years of baseball segregation. Since 2004, April 15th officially commemorates his service and contribution to the game.

And best of all... every player wears #42.

In 1962, Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and his #42 became the first number universally retired across all of baseball with the only players allowed to don those digits were those already wearing it and would continue in honor of Jackie. In 2013, only Yankees closer Mariano Rivera still sports 42.

Happy Jackie Robinson Day! 

Now I just need to find a couple hours to go see the movie...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 14: Is There Anything Better Than Sudden Death at the Masters?

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride... and finally, the Aussies make it to the altar. Adam Scott becomes the first Australian to don the Green Jacket after beating former Masters champion, Argentinian Angel Cabrera, in a sudden death playoff.

I'm a big fan of close golf tournaments. Nothing ups the yawn factor faster than a player running away from the pack. My whole family was riveted to the TV screen, pulling for the kid from Down Under to put it away. We groaned and cheered and cringed and then erupted when Adam sunk his final winning putt.

Tiger Woods, the favorite going into Augusta National, made a late surge on Sunday to get to -5, but it was a classic case of too little, too late and he finished tied for 4th. Woods never quite got back on track after he was given a two-stroke penalty after Friday's round for a bad spot.

In case you missed it:

Congratulations, Adam!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 13: Get Well Soon, Jerry Remy!

In late 2008, long-time Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy was diagnosed with lung cancer most likely caused by years of smoking. He had surgery in November of that year to remove a cancerous area on his lung and ended up suffering from complications from the surgery and the disease—infection, a bout with pneumonia and depression. He ended up missing a substantial portion of the 2009 Red Sox season.

I call 2009 the dark days of Red Sox broadcasting...

The RemDawg has been working in the broadcast booth for more than half my life and without him, games just aren't the same. I do love Don Orsillo, but you don't realize how important the color guy is until you have to listen to Dennis Eckersley talk about a "the cheese." I was hard to make it through that season—both for the torturous "cheese" talk and worrying that Jerry wouldn't ever make it back to the booth.

So imagine my shock when, in an interview with NESN, he revealed to Tom Caron that he had recently been treated for a relapse of lung cancer. Nooooooooooooooo! The doctors have been treating him with radiation and hopefully he won't have to have surgery again.
"And right now I'm fine," Jerry said. "I always told the fans of New England I would be honest with them if things health-wise with me where not great. I know the last couple of years I've missed some games not because of this, but because of regular colds, bronchitis, whatever it may be, and I always told the fans that I'd be honest with them and what I'd gone through. Last time I had cancer and depression. This time I've been diagnosed with cancer, but it's under control."
Unlike with his first bout, Jerry's spirits are high this time around.
"I'm very upbeat and positive about it," he said. "I don't have the same reaction to it I has last time. It was all very new to me last time. Being in close contact with my doctors is very important, very reassuring to me."
If you've been watching the Red Sox early on this season, it sounds like Jerry isn't planning on going anywhere anytime soon. He and Don are at the top of their game and seem to be having more fun this year than in recent seasons.

Get well soon, RemDawg! I'm not ready for life without you in the booth just yet.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 12: Happy Birthday, Dad!

You're probably wondering what my dad has to do with sports? Well probably just about everything for this fan. He taught me everything I know about baseball and football, and instilled in me a love for both games that has never waned.

If it wasn't for my dad... 
• I never would've been able to match the baseball team with its city when I was still in single digits. 
• I never would've been able to shag a fly ball... field a grounder... or hit a softball. 
• I never would've been able to keep up with the boys in a pick-up football game in the park. 

• I never would've been able to discuss first downs, touchdowns and smack downs without sounding too much like a girl.

• I never would've been able to talk about wall-ball doubles, Pesky-pole homers and a Green Monster without sounding like a lunatic.

• I never would've known who Steve Grogan, Tony Eason, Drew Bledsoe or Tom Brady were. (Ok, maybe Tom Brady!)

• I never would've loved Yaz, Rice, Lynn, Remy, Evans, Hobson, Fisk, Burleson or Fenway Park.

• I never would've experienced the bad, then good, then bad again Patriots' Super Bowl roller coaster ride.

• I never would've sat alone in my bed and cried in 2004 following the first World Series victory in 86 years.

• I never would've been ridiculously superstitious and think that my actions actually had an effect on the outcome of a game.

• I never would've passionately hated the Yankees and Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone.

• I never would've taken every win and loss personally.

• I never would've learned that you don't talk about the no hitter while the no hitter is in progress.

Not sure if I should thank you or smack you... Happy Birthday, Dad!!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 11: The Race for the Green Jacket Begins!

The 2013 Masters Golf Tournament starts today. Come on, even you golf haters can't resist the pomp and circumstance and the pretty flowers of Augusta National. It won't take long for me to become obsessed with the leaderboard this morning, even before everyone has teed off.

This year promises to be exciting with the resurgence of Tiger Woods and his recent reclamation of the #1 spot in the standings. Even if you hate him, you have to admit he makes the field that much more exciting. And if he's in the final pairing on Sunday afternoon, anything can happen.

Tiger has been stuck on 14 major wins since 2008 and hasn't donned the Green Jacket since 2005. I'm guessing he means business this year. At one time, most thought Tiger would shatter Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins but he's been shutout for the last six years. Now, their records are even. At 37, Woods has 14 wins in 60 majors. At the same age, Nicklaus had 14 wins in 60 majors.

So who will it be? Click here for the pairings and tee times for Round 1 and make your picks!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 10: Red Sox Sellout Streak in Jeopardy

The Boston Red Sox currently have the longest sellout streak in professional sports history... but most likely, not for much longer. The Sox believe that tonight's game against the Balitmore Orioles will end the run of selling out 820 consecutive games at Fenway Park.

Granted, a sellout at Fenway is much smaller than say a sellout at, say, someplace like Yankee Stadium. The last few years, Fenway tops out at around 37,000 for maximum capacity. Yankee Stadium holds just over 50,000. Then consider all the scalpers and tickets outlets and there's barely a ticket to be had at face value for your average fan.

We all knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. And sadly, it appears tonight is the night. There comes a point where the organization realizes that the failures over the past couple of seasons would eventually haunt them. Fans can only take so much abuse, and the 2012 season was like never ending Chinese water torture.

The sellout streak lasted almost a full 10 years. The 820 games, which includes the postseason, broke the previous record of 814 set by the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers late last season. Their streak of 794 regular season sellouts is also the longest in pro sports, crushing the previous mark of 455 set by the Cleveland Indians from 1995-2001.
"When we were playing, I think we just expected it [to be sold out] every night," said former Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. "Winning really sells seats, too. So we had some great runs there in the early 2000s until I retired. I'm just proud to be a part of it."
At least the streak finished the way it started—with a win. The Sox beat the Texas Rangers 12-3 on May 15, 2003 to begin the streak, and ended it with a 3-1 home opener win over the Orioles on April 8, 2013. The Red Sox won two American League pennants and two World Series Championships during the nearly 10 year run.

So what do you say, Red Sox? Let's start another streak next week!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 9: Congratulations, Louisville! Now Let's Get Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming...

If there's one sport I really don't enjoy, it's basketball—so this is probably the only post you'll see about the big orange ball. Watching a NBA game might be more torture for me than, well, actual torture. I do, however, enjoy the NCAA tournament. March Madness keeps me sane occupied while anxiously awaiting the Opening Day of baseball season. I found out this year, the tournament is much more fun if you've filled out your brackets. I totally forgot to do that this year...

Let's clarify what I actually mean by "enjoy" when I talk about NCAA basketball... it's turning on a game to find there are three minutes left in the game and the score is veeerrry close. If I come across a game still in its early stages, I turn it off. Weird, I know. If my brackets have completely crapped out, I will always root for the underdog. [Go Shockers!] A #1 seed winning the whole thing... boooooo-ring! Sorry, Mr. Pitino.

So now it's over and Louisville won. You kinda had to know they would win, especially with that gruesome injury to Kevin Ware. It was meant to be. Ask Wichita State... Was I the only one who got a little nervous seeing the replay of Ware cutting down the net? Yeah, send the guy with one good leg up the ladder with scissors. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Can we just get on with our regularly scheduled programs now? I'm having Blue Bloods withdrawal.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 8: Opening Day at Fenway Park... Check!

Committing to going to a baseball game in April is a lot like playing weather roulette. It could either be 40 degrees with a 30 mph wind like it was this past Saturday... or it could be 65 degrees with bright, sunshine-y blue skies like it was today. A perfect scenario for my very first Opening Day at Fenway Park.

Fans were asked to be in their seats by 1:30 for some special pre-game ceremonies that began by honoring a 60 year partnership between the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund with a performance by the Jimmy Fund chorus. Following the introductions of the two teams, there was a brief remembrance for both Johnny Pesky and former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver—who both passed away last year.

An American flag, covering the entire Green Monster was unfurled for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Jimmy Fund chorus. And what Opening Day would be complete without a flyover—this year by two vintage P-51 Mustangs from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation. From behind the giant flag emerged players and patients from the last several decades who made their way from the outfield in to the pitcher's mound to throw out the first pitches... Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek and Jim Rice were among those players. Of course, it made me teary. They always know how to make me cry.

The only thing that could make the day better was a win, which the Red Sox served up in dramatic fashion. The pitchers dueled for the first 6.5 innings—Clay Buchholz for the good guys and Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles. At this point, I figured the first team to score would win the game. Luckily, the Sox struck first.

You just knew good things were going to happen when Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom of the 7th with an infield single. Mike Napoli quickly followed with a line shot to the center field wall for double. The fans got a bit restless when Pedroia was held up at third, especially when Will Middlebrooks whiffed for the first out. Not to fear though, Daniel Nava smashed a 91 mph fastball over everything into a dumpster on Landsdowne Street.

Clay Buchholz was masterful, pitching seven innings of three-hit shutout ball, while striking out eight Orioles. He joins Jon Lester at 2-0 on this young season with an ERA of 0.64. Joel Hanrahan earned his third save, but it was not without drama. He gave up two hits in the top of the ninth, one a home run to Adam Jones to make us all hold our breath just a little bit.

All in all it was an amazing day!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 7: Some Not-So-Great Gronk News for the Patriots

Wes Welker is gone and now there's a problem with Rob Gronkowski. News on the New England Patriots front is not great where Gronk's arm is concerned. As we all know, Gronk broke his arm in Week 11 last season blocking on an extra point attempt. It was a stupid injury because, in my humble opinion, he shouldn't even have been on the field for a play like that.

Gronk finally made it back in the final week of the regular season and it appeared everything was A-OK. Outfitted with a kevlar protective cast, he then played in the AFC Championship game and that's when the wheels fell off the bus. In the first quarter, he fell on the injured arm, breaking it again just above where the original plate had been installed. And recently Gronkowski has been battling an infection at the sight where the second plate is located. If they can't get this thing cleared up soon, it may jeopardize Gronk's readiness for the fall.

Today, the Boston Herald reported on the current situation:
"Doctors treating Gronkowski will have to go back into the arm again to remove the plate and install a new one, but if they find more infected tissue, they would be unable to install the plate at that time. That would require another surgical procedure after the tissue around the injury is clear of infection and, sources confirmed, that would not give Gronkowski the required 10 weeks healing time to be ready for the season opener in September."
Am I the only one who wants to dope slap this kid for not taking this injury more seriously? I'm not saying that wrestling with his friends caused the infection, but you have to wonder if he had been more careful with his arm, if he would be having these problems. Or are we just going to find out that Rob Gronkowski is actually the JD Drew of the football world...? I really hope that's not the case. It's hard to think of someone that big being that fragile.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 6: Settle Down, Sister! It's Just a Foul Ball.

Really? You're going to get THAT excited about your boyfriend catching a foul ball? Obviously, this is your first baseball game. Get a grip, you're embarrassing me. And from the looks of it, he's embarrassed too. Cheers like that should be reserved for a home run, if you ask me.

Maybe the extreme excitement stems from the fact that Ian Kinsler hit the foul ball AND the fan who caught the foul ball was wearing an Ian Kinsler jersey? Could that be it? OH MA GAWD!

I think this might be a little bit of a I-know-I'm-on-TV-so-I'm-going-to-freak-out-like-a-lunatic-so-the-camera-stays-on-me situation. It didn't appear that he saved her from getting beaned by the ball, yet she acted like he just rescued her from being mauled by a hungry grizzly bear. Weirdo.

It would've been really funny if he gave the ball away.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 5: I Found Fido! Hey, I Found Fido!

This video is by no means new, but if you haven't seen it, you're in for a real treat. I was introduced to the wonderful world of Bad Lip Reading videos when they did a couple for the Twilight movies. But the NFL video might be the funniest one yet. I dare you to watch it just once.

I'd like to know what these guys are really saying because it looks SO much like what the dubbed over voice track is saying. Who thinks up this crap?


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 4: Bramendola - The Patriots New Power Couple

When Wes Welker left the New England Patriots for a higher altitude, I was distraught. That tough little guy held a special place in my heart. I loved his fearless attitude and the way he cut across the middle of the field with reckless abandon. I loved that he could get flattened by a linebacker twice his weight and spring back to his feet like I just tackled him. Others have tried to mimic his style, only to end up on the injury report the following week.

But now... He's gone... oh I, oh I, oh I, I'd better learn how to face it... He's gone...

His replacement, Danny Amendola, was a mystery to me. I've heard his name here and there but I knew very little about him. Of course, I had to do some research. I found out he's taller than Wes by two inches so he's basically yet another vertically challenged target for Tom Brady. He's younger than Wes by four years. So barring any horrific injuries, he should be around a little longer. And the interwebs tells me he's faster than Wes. His 40-yard-dash time is a whopping .07 seconds lower.

But can he catch a Tom Brady bullet that'll leave a dent in your shoulder pads? Looks like they've already started working on just that. The pair were spotted at USC earlier this week trying to cultivate that same QB to slot receiver magic.

Not that I'm not still pissed that Wes is gone, but I'm excited to see what Amendola brings to the table. And if he can keep up. Oh, and he's pretty easy on the eyes too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 3: Jackie Bradley Jr. Better Have Big Feet

I predict Jackie Bradley Jr. is going to make this Red Sox season a lot of fun to watch—especially if his Grapefruit League performance is any indication. In his first major league game, he stepped into the batter's box against CC Sabathia, fell to 0-2 in the count and battled back to draw a walk from the Yankees ace. Not bad for a 22-year-old who has never played a game at higher than the Double A level.

Bradley Jr. is the second youngest player to start in left field for the Red Sox. The youngest? A 21-year-old Carl Yastrzemski in 1961. How'd you like to follow in those footsteps? In case you're wondering, Yaz went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts in his very first at bat his rookie season.

Number eight didn't have the most awe-inspiring first year. He played 148 games, batting .266 with 11 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Who knew at that end of that season, Yaz's career would span 23 years, making the All-Star team 18 times, earning 7 Gold Gloves and winning the Triple Crown in 1967. It would be 35 years before another player would win the Triple Crown.

If those aren't some daunting shoes to fill... But chances are, JBJ won't be a left fielder for long. His natural position is center field, a spot that will almost certainly be vacated at the end of this season when Jacoby Ellsbury leaves in search of bigger money. But center field? I don't think Fred Lynn's shoes are much smaller. He didn't really do much his first year in 1975—just made the All-Star team, won Rookie of the Year, won the MVP and a Gold Glove.

Welcome to The Show, Jackie! You might just make me love the Sox again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 2: Jaromir Jagr Traded to Bruins

I feel like the Bruins getting Jaromir Jagr should be something to get excited about, right? Then I remembered it's 2013, not 1995. Why 1995, you ask? Jagr scored 62 goals in 1995. In his last two seasons, he has scored just a tad more than half that total. Plus he's almost my age at 41. I'm old, therefore he is old.

There are probably a lot of reasons the Bruins took the deal. They gave up practically nothing to get the NHL's all time European-born scorer. They lost out on the Jarome Iginla deal that was almost a sure thing. And guess what? (she asks, channeling her inner Dennis Rodman) Jagr actually has more points this season than Iginla. Huh? Looks like they got the better of the two wing-men — even if Jagr is old. 

In his first year in the NHL, I was still in college and not yet old enough to drink. Well, legally.

Good luck and welcome to Boston, Jaromir. (And my apologies for not getting the fancy accents in your name. If you know how to make that happen in Blogger, let me know.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 1: Baseball is Back!

Opening Day! I'm not sure there's a better day to start this journey—my attempt to post at least one entry about sports every day for a whole year. Yup, 365 days... 365 posts... 365 incredibly complex opinions about the sports world. I figure why not? I seem to always have lots to say about the subject.

Since baseball is #1 in my heart, it's only fitting that we start here. The Red Sox opened their 2013 season in New York against those dreaded Yankees. Although at this point, with all the injuries to key players, they're not so dreaded. And the Sox took full advantage of their depleted lineup by beating them 8-2 this afternoon. It was a satisfying drubbing. One that gave this Sox fan hope. And that's something that didn't exist in 2012. 

Today's game showed us something we haven't seen in a while. We saw a group of guys playing together. A group of guys that looked like the actually enjoyed each other. A group of guys that had chemistry. Sounds like a team to me! 

I have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this season. Don't let me down, boys!!

Baseball is back. This makes me wicked happy!