Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 91: Let's Focus on the Good Stuff. Red Sox Take 3 of 4 from Jays!

Last week was full of bad stuff. Aaron Hernandez might be a serial killer. Doc Rivers left the Celtics—along with what felt like a bevy of star players. The Bruins didn't win the Stanley Cup. So I'm in need of a big pick-me-up and I know just the Boston team for the job.

The Red Sox took three of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays over the long weekend series. You might think that's no big deal—it is, in fact, the lowly, last place Jays. But if you've been paying attention to the other teams in the AL East this month, you would know that the Blue Jays recently had an 11 game win streak where the swept the Rangers, the Rockies and the Orioles. But in the last week, they've lost two of seven. (That's more like it.)

The first game of the series was taken handily by the Sox behind a strong pitching performance from Jon Lester and a seven run second inning. Nice to see Lester have a good game after he's sucked so much over the past month. I hope this gets him back on track.

Game two was more of a struggle behind Alan Webster. The rookie starter pitched four scoreless innings before surrendering three runs in the fifth and a run in the sixth. And then Andrew Bailey came in and gave up the game tying dinger, killing the kid's chance for a win... which made me really mad. In the bottom of the seventh, the evening's hero, Jonny Gomes, pinch hit with the bases loaded and drove in the go ahead run with a single. Then Jarod Saltalamacchia walked to drive in an insurance run and that's all she wrote.

The Sox lost game three in unspectacular fashion but bounced back this afternoon to take the final game of the series. They had a one run lead going into the ninth when new closer, Koji Uehara took the mound. Unfortunately, this time he screwed up and gave up the game tying homer to Jose Bautista, forcing the Sox to, once again, create some walk-off magic. And they did, scoring the winning run on an error by the first baseman on Shane Victorino's ground ball. Doesn't matter how they get long as the get the W.

So June is officially over and the Red Sox finished with a respectable 17-11 record for the month. They still have the best record in the American League and sit second in the majors in total wins behind (yes, still) the Pittsburgh Pirates. The San Diego Padres come to Fenway for a three game series before the Sox embark on a 10-game west coast swing heading into the All-Star break. I hate those 10:05 starts. I'm usually asleep before the second inning.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 90: These are a Few of My Favorite (Fenway) Things

Ahhhhh... a Friday night in late June at Fenway Park. Definitely not a bad way to spend a few hours. Every time I step foot onto Yawkey Way, I feel like a kid again—ridiculously excited to walk into the bustling concourse and up the ramp that reveals the field in all its green glory. As I sat there last night witnessing yet another hard-fought win by the Red Sox over the Blue Jays, I tried to pinpoint what makes this ballpark so special.

Maybe it's the history. The 101 year old Fenway Park is the oldest Major League ballpark still in operation. This park has been home to some of the greats like Babe, Ted, Yaz and Pedro. It has seen glorious championship celebrations in 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918 but wouldn't see another one for 86 years. It has seen dramatic home runs and no hitters and strike out records. And it has seen the ultimate in disappointment (but I won't go there, for all our sakes.)

Maybe it's all the green and the red and the blue. The meticulously maintained field... the Green Monster, the green fences surrounding the field. The one red seat in a sea of blue in the bleachers in honor of a Splendid Splinter. The Citgo sign. The blue Boston Strong logo fueling a team to try just a little bit harder because "This is our f---ing city."

Maybe it's the sounds. The man behind me explaining to his two small children each play as it happens... The food vendors pedaling their peeeeea-nuuuuuuts and haaaaaawt doggggggggs... The PA announcer's introduction of the batter at the plate... a "Let's Go Red Sox" cheer started somewhere in the right field corner that quickly spreads from section to section.

Maybe it's the smells—good or bad. Peanuts and popcorn and hot dogs and sausages and cotton candy and pizza and beer. The current temperature has quite a bit of an impact on whether those smells make you want to pig out or vomit. Just for the record, when you stuff yourself beyond capacity pre-game at Boston Beer Works, those smells have an adverse effect.

Maybe it's the closeness. By Major League ballpark standards, Fenway Park is not considered voluminous. Quite the contrary... while you never feel far from the action, you also never feel far from the person sitting next to you. Sometimes they're just too close. Like the fat guy who sat next to me for a few innings... and who also spilled over just a tiny bit into my seat.  *gag* Some might say there's not a bad seat in the house. But those people probably never sat in the right field corner, or behind a support beam.

Maybe it's the energy. While I'm not one to do the wave (call me a commie if you must), I love the fan participation in all parts of the game. Whether it's the guy next to me passionately singing the National Anthem... or the kids in the bleachers belting out Take Me Out to the Ballgame... or the slightly drunk, middle-aged ladies on the Green Monster dancing like nobody's watching to Sweet Caroline... it all makes me smile.

Or maybe it's just the passion. The love Sox fans have for their ball club, win or lose. How we live and die with every pitch, every swing of the bat, every deep fly ball, every diving catch... hoping that in the end, when the last out is made, the sweet sounds of the Standell's Dirty Water fill the park and send fans home with a smile on their face.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 89: Hey Guys! What About the Red Sox?

With all that's been happening in Boston sports the past few weeks, not much attention has been paid to the Red Sox. Sure... the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup and the Celtics just cleaned house in preparation for their rebuilding phase. Oh yeah... and then there's this thing going on with Aaron Hernandez. But the Red Sox are still in first place, folks—and they've officially passed the halfway point of the season!

The Sox lead the AL East by 3.5 games over the Orioles and continue to hold the second best record in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for the best. (Yes, I did say Pirates... are you as shocked as I am?) Over the last week alone, the top four in the lineup—Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia and Ortiz are ALL batting over .420 with 41 total hits. And Ellsbury and Victorino, after enduring early season slumps, are both inching closer to that .300 mark.

John Lackey had yet another great start against the Rockies earlier this week, notching his fifth win with a season high 12 strikeouts. Jon Lester also looked a lot better last night against the recently wicked hot Blue Jays after struggling through most of the month, but left the game when he jammed his hip early in the eighth. Oh dear. The bullpen still needs some work, but Koji Uehara appears to have settled nicely into the closer role. We shall see...

Last night's game was especially entertaining with the Sox sending 11 men to the dish in the second inning and scoring all seven of their runs. Magical, I tell you! The Toronto starter, who had currently gone 16+ innings without allowing an earned run, never finished the inning. If you went to bed soon after the second, you didn't miss much. That's the only scoring they did all night and fortunately, the Blue Jays couldn't catch up.

I've always been a glass half empty kinda girl when it comes to the Red Sox. For some reason, I just can't accept that they're actually good this season, especially when coming in to this year, no one had high hopes for them. Kudos to John Farrell for making it work! I'd really love to start believing in them again, but I'm afraid I might jinx it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 88: Aaron Hernandez is a Dumbass

I feel the need to rant a bit about the Aaron Hernandez situation. Actually, what is it with the NFL players in general and their brushes with the law? From Lawrence Taylor's taste for crack pipes and underage hookers, to Ray Lewis pinning a murder on his pals to save his own ass, to Michael Vick's despicable dog fighting ring, it's disgusting that these grown men can't properly conduct themselves in the presence of fame and fortune.

Over the years, you hear about the professional football players who screw up and get caught with drugs or smack their wives or, in some cases, are tried for killing their wives—who doesn't remember being glued to the television watching the police chase after the white Bronco and OJ Simpson? But this year, there seems to be a violence epidemic.

Since the Super Bowl earlier this year, reports say that 29 NFL players have been arrested. If you figure out the percentages, 29 out of 1,650+ players is only 1% and that might not be too bad if that was over the last decade or so... but this is in less than six months! Most of the charges fall under the assault and battery or drunk driving categories. And some are a lot more serious... *cough* Hernandez *cough*

I just don't get it—most of these guys have everything handed to them. THEY PLAY FOOTBALL FOR A JOB, for crying out loud! Aaron Hernandez signed a five-year, $37.5 million dollar contract extension with the New England Patriots less than a year ago. With the departure of Wes Welker and the injury to Rob Gronkowski, he had the opportunity to become Tom Brady's go-to guy, catch a bunch of passes and make a real name for himself. Dumb. Ass.

Hernandez had so much potential and he just pissed away because someone did something he didn't agree with? So your willing to throw away the fame and fortune for the thug life? Do murderers get paid more than football players? I don't understand how these morons think they're invincible and above the law. I don't understand how stupid someone can be to think that in this day and age of surveillance and cell phone videos they can get away with murder.

And now we find out Hernandez is also being investigated for ties to a double murder from last year? He really isn't too smart, is he?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 87: So I hear Aaron Hernandez is in some trouble...

Today was one of those days in the world of sports that just made my head spin. Today was also one of those days that having a full-time job bummed me out because all I really wanted to do was stare at the Twitter and the interwebs all day and just watch the news roll in. Today, some real shit went down.

It's been over a week since the brutal murder of semi-pro football player, Odin Lloyd and during that time there's been a ton of speculation, and even the false report of a warrant for Aaron Hernandez's arrest, but no actual action. Well today, we got finally go that action.

At approximately 8:45am, Aaron Hernandez was taken from his North Attleboro home in handcuffs. That part of the story didn't surprise me—especially since he had destroyed evidence soon after the discovery of Lloyd's body. I was expecting the arrest—at least for obstruction of justice. But unfortunately for Hernandez, with the handcuffs came more bad news. Less than two hours later, the Patriots announced the release of Hernandez. The Pats did the right thing. Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization, first and foremost, must protect the integrity of the team.

It wasn't until early afternoon that the actual charges were announced: first degree murder and five weapons charges. (What? One gun wasn't enough?) The criminal complaint against Hernandez, 23, states that:
"On 6/17/13, [he] did assault and beat Odin Lloyd with intent to murder such person, and by such assault and beating, did kill and murder such person."
Does "assault and beating" = shoot repeatedly? I know it's all "innocent until proven guilty" but if the verdict is guilty, the only uniform Hernandez will ever put on again will be prison-issued and possibly orange.

The Washington Post reported the supposed chain of events on the night in question.
Surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home showed him leaving with a gun, and he told someone in the house that he was upset and couldn’t trust anyone anymore, the prosecutor said.  
The three men picked up Lloyd at his home around 2:30 a.m., according to authorities. As they drove around in their rented car, they discussed what happened at the nightclub, and Lloyd started getting nervous, McCauley said.  
Lloyd texted his sister, “Did you see who I am with?” When she asked who, he answered, at 3:22 a.m., “NFL,” then, a minute later, he sent one final text: “Just so you know.”  
Within a few minutes, people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, McCauley said. Surveillance video showed the car going into a remote area of the industrial park and emerging four minutes later, the prosecutor said.  
A short time later, Hernandez returned to his house, and he and one of the other men were seen on his home surveillance system holding guns, McCauley said. Then the system stopped recording, according to the prosecutor.
The signs point to Hernandez being the mastermind of an execution where the victim was shot multiple times. He is currently being held without bail and, if convicted, faces life in prison without parole. He's 23 years old. That's a long friggin' time to be in the big house.

What is it with these NFL players lately? Since the Super Bowl, 29 players have been arrested. Is it too much money at a young age? Feelings of invincibility? Tiny brains? Steroid rage?

So who the hell is Tom Brady going to throw the damn ball to this season? Hernandez? No... murderer. Gronkowski? No... broken. Welker? No... gone. I don't know if he's worried yet, but I sure am.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 86: Well, Bruins Fans... The Fat Lady Has Sung.

It's been a sad day for Boston fans... last night the Bruins' incredible run at the Stanley Cup was cut short by 17 seconds. In those 17 seconds with less than two minutes left in the game, the Bruins went from the possibility of forcing a game seven, to watching the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate as Stanley Cup Champions on their home turf.

After playing 58 plus minutes of hard-fought hockey, the tying goal, scored by Bryan Bickell after the Hawks pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, deflated the B's. That slight deflation caused enough of a lag in their play to allow Chicago to score the go ahead and winning goal just 17 seconds later while Johnny Boychuk just stood there and watched.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who stared blankly at the television in disbelief as the seconds ticked off the clock, revealing the new Stanley Cup Champs. And even more traumatic was having to witness the Cup presentation pomp and circumstance on your home ice.

Both teams played an unbelievably tough series. Four of the six games were decided by one goal and three needed extra time, including a triple overtime event in game one. It was a heartbreaking loss, but at least the Bruins were beaten by the best team in the NHL, and not a bunch of schmucks. Like the Penguins.

The Chicago Blackhawks showed class and sportsmanship throughout a series that didn't always go their way. The cheap shots where scarce, even when they were being hammered consistently by the hard-hitting Bruins. My hat's off to the new Stanley Cup Champions—you were quite the formidable opponent.

And does anyone else love the handshake tradition at the end of a playoff series as much as I do? Such a gentlemanly ritual for such an aggressive group of men. I would love to hear what the say to each other... "Hey Tuukka, nice job, but at least now you can shave that half bald ferret off your chin now!"

On another note, I think it's about time to give out the second Big Balls Award. This time the honor goes to Patrice Bergeron. Patrice finished the playoffs while suffering through a broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder. Damn, hockey dudes are tough. Just one of those injuries would sideline a baseball player for an entire season.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 85: Dismal Days in Detroit for Red Sox

Look what happens when the Red Sox stink up the joint... I'm reduced to alliteration in my titles. I blame them. I'm not even sure where to start with this weekend series in Detroit. The Sox came into the four-game stint with the best record in baseball, but coughed up three of the four games and now... well, they've got company.

Thursday night was by far the most frustrating of the series. John Lackey pitched another outstanding game, allowing just two earned runs and striking out five in seven innings. Boston rallied for the go ahead run in the top of the eighth and looked pretty confident going into the bottom of the ninth with a slim one run lead. And then Andrew Bailey entered the game. And blew the save. Jerk.

The Red Sox bounced back on Friday night for an 17-hit, 10-run attack where Shane Victorino exploded with four hits and five RBI, including his third home run of the year. It was just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Jon Lester who hadn't won a game since May 15th. Both Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias had three hits in the offensive attack. Iglesias, by the way, is batting .426 this season. Guess he was tired of people crapping on his offensive skills.

Just when you thought the Sox had the Tigers figured out, they go and give up 10 runs and 15 hits. What the...? Detroit took full advantage of rookie Allen Webster's inexperience at the major league level, tagging him for four runs in the first. He lasted just 4.1 innings and the Red Sox offense never could climb out of that early hole. How could they when facing Max Scherzer? The 11-0 Max Scherzer...

But wait! There's still another game—they still have time to come away from the weekend with a split. And after Felix Doubront's shutout performance against the Rays in his last start, how could they lose? Well, I'll tell you... Andrew Miller gave up three runs in the eighth sparked by a controversial double that Daniel Nava caught but then dropped on the transfer. The umpires huddled up and called it a two base error which was just stupid. That was the end. Blerg.

So all in all it was a pretty sucky weekend. While the Red Sox still sit atop the AL East, it's a rather slim lead—just two games over the Orioles. But honestly... did you even think they would be in this position on June 24th? I certainly didn't.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 84: Bad News: Bruins Lose Game 5 and Patrice Bergeron.

How do the Bruins survive another game in this series without their heart and soul? Patrice Bergeron left game five early last night after playing just 49 seconds in the second period. There was no immediate indication that Bergeron was severely hurt, but the Bruins tweeted in the third period that he had been taken to an area hospital in an ambulance. The only good news on that is that he walked to the ambulance on his own.

When Bergeron gingerly skated off the ice early in the second period in last night's 3-1 loss then never came back on, you just knew it wasn't a good sign. While the Bruins did score their only goal in the third period after Bergeron's departure, he was sorely missed in the last minute of the game when the B's pulled Rask and added another attacker. He's the first guy you want out there—he has had three goals in the last two game.

The Boston Herald described what losing Bergeron does to his team perfectly. "With no Bergeron the Bruins would be minus their top goalscorer in the series, the No. 1 face-off man in the postseason, one of the strongest shutdown defensive forwards in the NHL, and a top penalty-killer."

Initial reports claim it's a leg injury, but that's all anyone is saying right now. I'm sure more information will be released later today but for now, there are a lot questions surrounding the future of Patrice in this series. And if the Bruins lose him for the rest of the series, game six is going to be a tough, uphill battle. Especially with the Blackhawks really stepping up both sides of their play the past couple nights.

If you missed the game last night, be happy. It wasn't pretty. Once again the Bruins were out-skated. There's a hint of desperation in the Hawks that has made them about two steps faster than any Boston skater. Chicago won the shots on goal battle 32-25, but it didn't feel like the Bruins had 25 shots. They had very few instances where there was someone in position for a rebound, making most of their scoring chances just one shot and done.

As with most of the games, the Bruins crushed the Hawks in the checking department (53-22) but how many times did a Boston player choose to take the body rather than the puck, leaving the puck up for grabs? And how many of those translated to scoring chances for Chicago? I have no idea...

Back to Boston we go for a critical game six on Monday. It's do or die for the Bruins and there's a strong chance they'll have to "do" without Patrice Bergeron.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 83: Andrew Bailey Has Biiiiiig Problems

The more I think about this whole Andrew Bailey situation, the more incredibly pissed off I get. A closer in baseball has one specific job—to save games. It's not rocket science... your team gets a lead, you come in for three measly outs in one stupid inning and all you need to do is to get those three batters out. Job done. Notch another save in your belt or your diary or wherever the hell you keep track of your accomplishments. It's pretty simple.

Don't get me wrong... I know that closers can't save every game and sometimes they get all out of whack. But in five attempts, blowing three of those saves is not acceptable. And that's exactly what Bailey has done in this last five outings. Over that stretch, he has posted a whopping 15.75 ERA while allowing a .444 opponents' batting average. He's also given up four home runs in less than two weeks—including that walk-off to Jhonny Peralta the other night that nearly pushed me off the ledge. If a closer can't close, he needs to be put sit down. 

Frankly, Bailey has done nothing of real value in the season and a half he's been in Boston. In his first year with the Sox—the dreaded 2012 season—he was injured for a good portion and recorded just six saves in 19 games with an exorbitant 7.04 ERA. This is the same guy who was named Rookie of the Year in 2009 after posting a rookie record 26 saves with a 1.84 ERA. Is it the pressure of pitching for Boston? I just don't get it.

It was obvious that the Red Sox didn't see him as their closer of the future. They went out and signed Joel Hanrahan to fill the shoes that never seemed to fit Bailey. But then again, the shoes left vacant by Jonathan Papelbon were pretty big. With Hanrahan as the ninth-inning guy, Bailey was positioned as a middle reliever. And then, not long after the season started, Hanrahan went down with a season-ending injury and Bailey is catapulted back into the closer role with a chance to really prove his worth.

Yeah... that didn't happen.

And now John Farrell is saddled with the decision of who put in this place because obviously, Bailey has the yips. If he were a golfer, he'd be slicing three out of every five tee shots. So the choices now for closer are Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara or Junichi Tazawa. Or do they go out and get someone? Is there even anyone for them to get?

Just please tell me it's not going to be closer by committee! I can't handle that again.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 82: It's Been a Wicked Wild Week in Sports

First of all... TGIF! Second of all... it's late and I may or may not have had a few beers. And third of all... holy cow, it has been a wild and wacky week in the world of sports. And with all that's happened, the Red Sox, who should be our focus this time of year, barely even make a blip on the sports news radar. Except their closer who has been stinking up the joint lately.

So without further ado, here's your wild weekly wrap up:
• Aaron Hernandez is a dumb ass. Do I really need to say any more? Expect him to be arrested any minute on obstruction of justice charges. And depending on what evidence they find—you know, evidence that Hernandez didn't destroy—it could be the difference between jail and, well, jail. Dumb. Ass. Can you even imagine how absolutely pissed off Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady must be right now? 
• The Miami Heat are the NBA Champions. Yawn. I don't like basketball and I don't care about Lebron James or the stupid Heat. Theoretically, if I liked this sport, I would've been obnoxiously rooting for the Spurs. This is the least exciting thing for me that has happened this week. 
• B-R-U-I-N-S. As much as I would've have loved to be up three games to one right now, it just didn't work out that way. The Bruins and Blackhawks are all square at two game a piece as the series shifts back to the Windy City. I'd be a freakin' liar if I said I wasn't worried. Especially after the six goals the Hawks scored in game four. But as long as the defense shows up for the next game, they should be ok. I hope. I'm getting anxiety just thinking about the game tomorrow night. 
• The Danny-Doc-KG saga. So Doc Rivers decides he may want to entertain the idea of coaching the LA Clippers. Oh and by the way, he's taking Kevin Garnett with him. And then he's not going. But then he might. Oh wait, now the deal is dead. The latest is Doc will take the weekend to decide his fate with the Celtics. I wish I cared. I don't. 
• And then we have the Red Sox. What can I say about the Red Sox? Well, they did take two of three from the Rays... and they've split the first two games of a four game series with the Tigers. Tonight's win coming on the back of a four-hit, five RBI game from Shane Victorino. But my real takeaway from this week: Andrew Bailey sucks. Three blown saves in five appearances. Sucks. The Sox need to find a new closer. The end.
See? Crazy week. I'm exhausted. Must rest up for the big Bruins game tomorrow night.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 81: So... Aaron Hernandez Has Got Some 'Splainin' to Do

When it comes to problem children, the New England Patriots, more often than not, will take that problem head on and fix it. Look at players like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss—not generally known for their glowing personalities, but both turned it around and had productive seasons under Bill Belichick. But sometimes problems can't be solved. Look at the Albert Haynesworth debacle or the Ochocinco failed experiment. Or maybe Bill's just losing his touch.

Photo from here.
Aaron Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft. Many teams shied away from Hernandez because of repeated failed drug tests in college and alleged gang affiliations. But that didn't deter the Pats who smugly thought they could fix yet another problem child. Well guess what? Once a punk, always a punk.

Now the punk is being investigated in a North Attleboro, Massachusetts murder investigation. When I first heard this news, I naively thought the report must be false. But the more I listened and read, the more I realized this kid is bad news.

It all started earlier this week when a body was found less than a mile from Hernandez's house. So what, right? Well, yeah... sure... but then a car recovered at the scene was found to be rented in tight end's name. Uh oh. That's not good. And then the police descended on the Hernandez residence to search the house on Tuesday.

Turns out, Hernandez knew the victim, Odin Lloyed—his girlfriend's sister was dating him, and it's been reported that the two men had hung out the night before the crime with two other men. Fox 25 in Boston divulged that the four men were seen leaving a bar together but only three returned to Hernandez's home. *cue suspenseful music*

Some of the latest reports have Aaron Hernandez destroying his home security system and his cell phone. If that doesn't scream guilty, I don't know what does. He may as well have scrawled 'guilty' across his forehead in Sharpie. Although he hasn't been named as an official suspect, there are reports out an he'll be arrested at some point for his involvement with the murder.

As if being tied to one crime isn't enough, Hernandez is also being sued by a man he SHOT in the EYE last February. The account of this one was a little suspicious. So he points a gun at this guy and it accidentally discharges and hits the guy's arm, then ricochets into to his eye and this isn't considered a crime?? I just don't get it. Didn't his mama warn him about shootin' someone's eye out?

It will be interesting to see how this thing unfolds both in a legal sense and within the Patriots organization. I should hope murder is grounds for revoking a player's contract—although Ray Lewis got away with it.  I would tell you to stay here for breaking news, but I'm pretty sure everyone knows I'm incapable of reporting this crap in a timely fashion.

Looks like the Patriots could be without both their star tight ends when the season opens in September. Well... there's always Tim Tebow. (And I just fell off my couch laughing hysterically.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 80: Best Walk-off Celebration Yet: The Helmet Punt

It was a long day but the Red Sox managed to sweep a doubleheader with the Rays yesterday. The first game was interrupted by a nearly three hour rain delay that just about cleared out the stadium—only a handful of loyal fans (who obviously had no where to be) stuck around.

A strong outing by Alfredo Aceves coupled with three RBI from David Oritz and Jacoby Ellsbury's three hit game made for a pretty easy 5-1 win in the first game—even if it did take over six hours to get 'er done. And Aceves, who lately has been yo-yo-ing between Boston and Pawtucket, put together a great outing giving up just one earned run on three hits in five innings. Me thinks the multiple demotions to Triple-A Pawtucket make Fettucini work harder... don't you?

Masterful pitching from Felix Doubront highlighted the night portion of the double header. Doubront pitched eight shut out innings in the longest outing of his career, scattering just three hits while striking out six. The lone scoring came on Daniel Nava's 10th home run of the season in the second inning... until the top of the ninth.

Andrew Bailey, who has had his issues this season, gave up the third home run in his last four outings to blow Doubront's chance for a win. How Felix doesn't punch Bailey right in the throat for that one, I'll never know. So the Sox were going to need some magic in the bottom of the ninth. They've been heavy on the magic this year... could they continue?

The inning started off with a five-pitch walk to Daniel Nava bringing up a struggling former Tampa Bay Ray, Jonny Gomes. The guy who was brought in primarily for his clubhouse presence (and his awesome beard which I'm pretty sure houses a family of field mice) is batting a lowly .209 in 53 games. But Gomes took the first pitch he saw deep to left field for the walk-off win.

Not only do I love a good walk-off, but I'm especially fond of the celebration that ensues at home plate when the walk-off-er arrives. In the past, it was referred to the Shredder—named for the state ones jersey was left in after the celebration. Almost all the players who have been a victim of this "praise" agree it's best if the helmet is removed. Gomes took care of his helmet as he came around third base with what is possibly the best walk-off celebration I've seen—an enthusiastic helmet punt that was probably as close as you can get to flipping your former team the bird without actually using your middle finger.

In case you missed it...

The Sox lost tonight but they still took two of three from the Rays. And they still sit atop the AL East with the second best record in baseball. Not bad for a bunch of ragtag ball players, right?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 79: Playoffs Really Bring Out My Superstitions

Hi, my name is Stacy and I'm ridiculously superstitious when it comes to sports. There... I've admitted I have a problem, now will I be cured? No? Shoot. I'm not sure there is a fix for what ails me.

In general, it's mostly small stuff... stuff that everybody knows. You never mention a no-hitter when you're watching one in progress. Don't talk about your quarterback's recent no-interception streak as he drop back to pass. And one my grandfather was famous for—if you start watching a game already in progress and your team is winning, but then they start losing after you start watching—CHANGE THE CHANNEL!! You're obviously bad luck.

However, when it comes to the post season, my superstitiousness kicks into high gear.

For example, during last night's Bruins game, I wore a particular pair of jeans through the first period and no one scored. But then I changed into my pajamas and BAM—the Bruins score two goals in the second. Daniel Paille, the game two hero, flipped one past Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead. And then Patrice Bergeron finished the scoring off a brilliant pass right across the crease from Jaromir Jagr.

Tuukka Rask held up his end of the ice, easily fending off the feeble attempts by the Blackhawks to score. Rask shut out the team that lost just seven games in the regular season, stopping all 28 shots. With defense like the B's have, he really had to do very little work. Impressive win...

So basically, I've set those pajamas aside and will be wearing them again tomorrow night because clearly, they're good luck. But here's my dilemma... do you think it's the combination of the jeans in the first period and the pajamas in the second and third periods that resulted in the win? Or were the jeans in the first bad luck and I saved the day by changing into the pajamas?

Or am I just a delusional weirdo? (Don't answer that.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 78: Sorry I Can't Come to the Blog Right Now, the Bruins are On.

I know I should probably be writing about a lot of different stuff today. There was a big series between the Red Sox and Orioles and some serious US Open golf on this weekend, so there's a plethora of subject matter from which to choose. So why is it all I can focus on is the two teams skating around a sheet of ice on my TV? Because it's the Cup, that's why!

I should be writing about how the Red Sox finally lost a series—a real heartbreaker of a weekend, losing three out of four to the Orioles. They started the weekend with a nice three and a half game lead over the O's. Now, just a slim one and a half game lead. Too close for comfort, if you ask me. I'm also starting to worry about Jon Lester. After jumping out to a strong 6-0 record in the first month plus of the season, he hasn't registered a W since May 15 and is now 6-4. What the hell?

I also should be writing about how the Merion Golf Club, called too short by many before the US Open started, completely kicked the asses of just about the entire field. Even the winner, Justin Rose, finished the tournament one over par. When was the last time you saw a major golf tournament with not one player posting a score under par? And poor Phil... second place again? Looks like he's got another bridesmaid dress to add to his collection. His closet must be getting real full!

But honestly, all I really want to write about is hockey hockey hockey because I've got Stanley Cup fever!! Wait... that's not right. I want to WATCH HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY! GO BRUINS!!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 77: Overtime Again... But This Time a Win For the Bruins (Phew!)

I'm sure I'm not the only one who breathed a huge sigh of relief at about 11:30pm last night when Daniel Paille beat Corey Crawford on the glove side. The Bruins and Blackhawks, for the second straight game, needed extra time to decide the winner. But game two had a much more enjoyable conclusion—not only did I get to bed before 1am, but the B's took game two on the road and head back to Boston with the series tied at one.

The Bruins were lucky they were even in the position to take this game to overtime after they came out sluggish in the first period. The Hawks out-skated, out-checked, out-hustled, outshot and outscored the lead-footed B's. In the first period alone, Chicago outshot Boston by an astounding 19-4, but only scored one goal on a wrist shot by Patrick Sharp about halfway through the period. Actually Patrick Sharp alone outshot the Bruins. It was slightly embarrassing.

So needless to say, the team should be buying Tuukka Rask a new car or something for keeping them in this game, saving 18 of 19 shots, most of which happened in a flurry at the front of the net. If it weren't for the quick reflexes of the young goalie, this game could've gotten real ugly, real early!

Coach Julien must have threatened some lives or families or something during the first intermission because the team came out like someone lit them on fire in the second. Every part of their game improved—they looked more in sync and managed to finally score. With five minutes left in the second period, Chris Kelly knocked a "juicy" rebound in over the right shoulder of Crawford for his first goal of the post season.

After a scoreless third period, the two teams, once again, headed into overtime. I'm not sure there's anything in sports that makes me more anxious than sudden-death overtime. I really should buy a defibrillator to have handy during these games because I feel like I'm going into heart failure. Although, I'm not sure defibrillating is something I can do to myself (I've usually been totally abandoned by the time overtime rolls around!)

Luckily, I didn't have to endure more than 13 minutes and 48 seconds of such torture, thanks to my hero, Daniel Paille, who scored the winning goal. The score was the result of hustle, the Blackhawk's inability to clear the puck from the zone and an amazingly crisp pass from Tyler Seguin. Thank the hockey gods for that one—going back to Boston down 0-2 is not my idea of fun.

Deep breath, Bruins fans. Back to Beantown we go!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 76: Happy 25th Anniversary, Bull Durham!

Bull Durham and I have something in common—25 years ago marked a milestone in both our lives. The movie, Bull Durham was released on June 15, 1988 and I graduated from high school sometime around that same date. Of course, I can't remember the exact date I graduated because hello... it was 25 years ago! I don't remember what I did 25 minutes ago.

It was not until several years later that I finally watched the movie and it still sits atop my list of all time favorite baseball movies. Actually, it would probably be close to the top of my favorite movies of any subject. There are many important lessons to be learned... like never shake off your catcher because most likely he's just vindictive enough to tell the batter what you're going to throw! Or how to properly use the word "lollygagger." And don't forget that candlesticks make a really great wedding present. Vital stuff.

To celebrate 25 years, here's a list of nine Bull Durham trivia facts you might not know as compiled by
1. Costner, Robbins, and Sarandon weren’t anybody’s first choice for the movie. For Costner’s aging minor-league catcher character Crash Davis, other actors who were considered included Harrison Ford, Kurt Russell, and Mel Gibson. Costner said yes first. For Robbins’ dim-bulb pitching phenom Nuke LaLoosh, the first choice was Charlie Sheen. But he’d just signed on to be in another baseball movie, Eight Men Out. As for Sarandon’s baseball groupie Annie Savoy, both Kim Basinger and Ellen Barkin passed first.  
2. In addition to wanting Sheen to play Nuke LaLoosh, the studio (Orion) was also keen on Breakfast Club star Anthony Michael Hall. But when director Ron Shelton and producer Mark Burg went to New York to meet with the actor, he not only showed up a half hour late, but hadn’t even read the script. “I thought Ron was going to shoot him,” says Burg. When Hall came back the following day, he said that he’d only read half of the script. When he heard that, Shelton had had enough. He got up and walked out.
3. The head of Orion, Mike Medavoy, apparently thought that Sarandon was too old for the part of Annie — and not funny enough either. So producer Thom Mount told the actress to buy a tight, tight dress that showed a lot of cleavage and then go into Medavoy’s office and lean over his desk for 30 minutes. Says Sarandon, “As a rule, most studio executives’ strong suit isn’t imagination… I definitely didn’t go in there in a T-shirt and jeans. I remember I had on an off-the-shoulder red-and-white-striped dress. It was very form-fitting. It was understood what I had to do.”  
4. A young choreographer named Paula Abdul was flown down to the Durham, North Carolina, set to teach Robbins some flashy moves for a scene where he dances at a bar. When she was done, she approached the director, Ron Shelton, and asked him what part he had for her in the film — she claimed she had been told by one of the producers that if she taught Robbins some moves, she be rewarded with a speaking part. Shelton apologized, but informed her there was no part. “She marched off screaming,” says Shelton.  
5. The name Crash Davis was actually based on a real baseball player from the 1940s. Shelton spotted the name in an old Carolina League record book, liked it, and used it. Then on the first day of filming he got a call from the real Crash Davis, who was still very much alive. Shelton invited him to the set, hoping that he could get the old timer’s okay to use the name in the film. Davis had one question about the Crash character for Shelton before he agreed to it. “Do I get the girl?” Shelton replied, “Yes! In fact, I’ll introduce you to the girl.” Sarandon charmed the heck out of him.  
6. When the filmmakers needed to fill the stadium stands with extras, they had a novel idea — they went to a Pink Floyd concert in nearby Chapel Hill and asked the band to invite the audience out to the ballpark afterwards. That may be why so many of them look a little hazy…and why there are so many Dark Side of the Moon T-shirts in the background. 
7. Everybody knows that Bull Durham is the movie where Robbins and Sarandon met and began a relationship that would last for the next 20 years. Well, not everybody. In fact, just about everyone on the set says they had no idea — except producer Burg. “It was obvious. You’d be sitting in the bar of the hotel, where almost everyone was staying except Susan. And Tim would be drinking with us and then say he was turning in and walk out to the parking lot and get in his rental car and head to Susan’s house.” But both Robbins and Sarandon insist that the relationship didn’t begin until after the film wrapped. Says Sarandon: “I mean, there was an attraction during the movie, and I could see something was changing from friendship to something else, but we both decided we would wait until we cleared up things in our lives.”  
8. The funniest scene in the movie was based on real life. “The candlesticks scene on the mound — I came up with that,” says Robert Wuhl, who played the team’s pitching coach. Apparently, a week before the film started shooting, Wuhl’s friend was getting married and he asked his wife what he should get as a gift. Her reply: Candlesticks always make a nice gift. Or find out where they’re registered and perhaps a nice place setting. Wuhl ad-libbed that line during a hilarious meeting on the pitcher’s mound in the film. The rest is history. And Wuhl says that ever since then, he’s never had to think hard about what to get someone as a gift.  
9. So whatever happened to Crash and Annie and Nuke? Robbins has a theory. “Well, I’d like to think that Crash and Annie ended up having a pretty good marriage and that they’re still together. And Nuke? I always thought that Nuke maybe had a flash in the majors and then blew out his arm and is now signing autographs at trade shows. But maybe you shouldn’t print that. That’s the kind of idea that leads to sequels.”
If the Bruins weren't on tonight, I might've celebrated by watching the movie for the eleventy millionth time! Happy Anniversary, Bull Durham!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 75: Friday Free For All - Weekly Roundup

I think Friday is the perfect time for a roundup of what's been happening this week. It's been a busy one in the sports world! The Red Sox are still plugging along, the Bruins have officially started their quest for the Stanley Cup, the Patriots signed Tim Tebow and the US Open is under way. WHAT?

If you read Balls through your email, you may have missed the new addition to the blog. Before I get into all the sports stuff... take a look at my new banner. Pretty sweet, right? That's what 12 weeks of an online Photoshop class will get you. That thing took me hours and hours and lots of referring back to those lessons that gave me fits, but I did it.  I've been patting myself on the back all week!

I'll admit, I haven't been too on top of what's been going on this week with the Red Sox, but they did manage to take two of three from the Rays earlier this week. And they continue to hang onto a slim lead in the AL East—2.5 games over the Orioles. So needless to say, this week's series with the O's is pretty damn important to the standings.

The Patriots have been rather quiet the past few months as they start to preparing for pre season activities. It's not really too surprising considering this Belichick-led team tries not to be too dramatic. But holy crap! They shocked Patriots nation with the announcement that they signed the former Bronco and Jet, Tim Tebow. Way to stay out of the spotlight, Bill.

We don't really need to relive that heartbreaking game one loss the Bruins suffered on Wednesday night —I'm still suffering from sleep deprivation from staying up until 1am to witness the triple overtime doozy. But tomorrow's another day and the B's have a chance to bounce back and even the series up before heading back to Boston.

And lastly, the US Open started this week in rainy PA at the Merion Golf Club. At 6,996 yards, Merion is considered short. But it's not playing short so far this week, mostly due to the wet weather. After the second round, only two players sit under par—including Phil Mickleson, who has never won the US Open, but has finished in second five times. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Should be a big weekend! Will the Sox win the series against the O's and hold on to first place? Can the B's rebound and take game two from Chicago? Could this be the year, Phil makes it to the altar? We shall see...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 74: Triple OT Loss = A Late Night and Major Grumpiness

I'm so delirious right now, I'm not sure I can really form a coherent thought... but I'll give it a try. What can I say about last night's game except, "holy crap!' What a way to kick off the Stanley Cup finals. This game, the fifth longest in Stanley Cup history, was exhausting and I was just laying on my couch. I can't even imagine what the guys who were actually out on the ice were feeling.

A game that started with the Bruins going up 2-0 on two wicked goals by Milan Lucic, quickly turned into one for the ages. The Blackhawks got one back a few minutes later to close the gap. When Patrice Bergeron clanked a slap shot off the back of the cage for the Bruins' third goal, I found myself wondering... hoping that strong defense would take over and shut the Hawks down.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Less than two minutes later, Chicago scored and here we were, a one goal game yet again. But the real gut punch game at 12:14 of the third period when Johnny Oduya (wanna dance) notched the tying goal on a deflection off Andrew Ference's skate. Nothing Tuukka Rask can do about that.

And once again... overtime. *sigh*

I can barely even talk about the overtimes. First overtime period—no score and a crippling injury to Nathan Horton (who is currently listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury.) Second overtime period—no score. My bedtime has long since passed and at this point, I'm in it for the long hall. WHO CAN GO TO BED DURING SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME?

The chances for both teams were plenty throughout the extra play—the Bruins especially. Their best chance was in 10 minutes into the third overtime when Kaspers Daugavins just needed to flick a forehand shot past Hawks goalie, Corey Crawford, but instead, tried to get cute with a backhand and ended up losing the puck. At one point, the camera caught him sitting on the bench, his head hanging low, disappointed at the missed chance to give his team the win.

One split decision gone wrong and the scoring chance was lost. And just two minutes later, the Blackhawks scored on a twice-deflected shot from just inside the blue line. Another one Rask had no chance at stopping. Other than those two fluke goals, Rask shined, making 59 saves in the 112 minute contest.

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty pissed off when that puck went in the net and I just realized it was 1:00am and I was still awake and the Bruins lost. Total bummer. But the B's have been here before. They were down two games to none in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, and we all remember what happened that year.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 73: How's that decision working for you now, Iginla?

Remember a few months ago when the Bruins were trying to pick up some extra fire power to help them down the stretch? And remember how they thought they were going to get Jarome Iginla to do just that? And then remember how Iginla pulled the rug out from underneath the Bruins by going to the Pittsburgh Penguins? Total douchey move.

So why did he pick the Penguins? I'm sure it wasn't because he had a crush on Sidney Crosby... noooooo... it was because he thought the Pens would be his best chance to win the Stanley Cup. He had his choice. He could've picked the B's or the Penguins. He obviously picked wrong and the Bruins thanked him by shutting him, along with many of his teammates, down.

Yeah... how's that decision working out for you now, Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla? (And yes, the interwebs tells me that IS his full name! I bet he gets writer's cramp signing autographs.)

Before the Eastern Conference finals started, I was convinced that the consolation signing of Jaromir Jagr would turn out to be a crap deal for the Bruins. He looked tired and old. After the four-game sweep, I will never say anything bad about Jagr ever again!

In game four, both players had an impact for the Bruins. Jagr was instrumental in digging the puck out at the blue line, keeping it in the zone, which eventually led to the Adam McQuaid goal. And Iginla helped out too. The puck glanced off of his stick, changing its direction slightly before it beat the Pittsburgh goalie for the winning (and only) point of the game.

And maybe it's just me, but I found it fitting (and a little funny) that Iginla took the last shot of the game. A shot that landed firmly in Tuukka Rask's glove for the final save of the series.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 72: Oh Ochocinco, I Hope You Look Good in Orange.

In case you missed it, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, the brainchild who legally changed his name to his jersey number (but then changed it back,) is in trouble with the law. Surprised?

The former Bengal star has been in a downward spiral for the past few years. Once upon a time in 2006, this six-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in receiving yards (1,369) and receiving yards per game (85.6) but is now considered a joke among many of his former football peers.

After leaving the comfort of the Ochocinco-friendly offense in Cincinnati, he was signed by the Patriots for $6 million for one year. And he completely sucked. He caught just 15 passes and scored one measly touchdown during the 2011 season—essentially being paid $400,000 per catch. When he was on the field, he proved to be more of a liability than anything, often running incorrect routes as if the playbook was written in Sandskrit.

Since leaving New England, Johnson and his somewhat unbalanced girlfriend/wife, Evelyn Lozada, have been in the spotlight, but never for anything good. Last year, shortly after they were married, Johnson was arrested for head-butting Lozada, she took out a restraining order against him, but then took it back. The marriage lasted one month.

Johnson was back in court on Monday for a parole violation and was about to be released on a plea deal until he playfully slapped his lawyers ass in appreciation for keeping him out of jail... aaaaand ended up getting 30 days. And rightfully so! What is wrong with this country when a guy can HEAD-BUTT his wife and get away with no jail time?

Ochocinco tweeted this on Monday... (he evidently also has a problem with punctuation.)

Watch the video to see Judge Kathleen McHugh open up a can of whoop ass on ol' Ocho-STINKO!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 71: Tebow to the Patriots? Say WHAT?

I heard some disturbing news this evening that actually made me look at the calendar. You know, to make sure it wasn't April Fools' Day. It's not, so I'm assuming this information I read on the interwebs is true. The New England Patriots have picked up a previously team-less Tim Tebow. I'm not quite sure I like the move, but in Bill I trust. Sort of.

The first order of business for Belichick is to have a mute button installed on Tebow. One of his downfalls is his eagerness to speak with the media and his lack of filtering what is and isn't appropriate to say. Bill keeps a tight leash on his players and doesn't let them give too much away. This is going to be hard for Tebow. They might need to practice his new Patriots-approved media responses with a shock collar just to make sure.

So what role is the ex-Bronco-Jet going to play with the Pats? Is he going to be strictly a back-up quarterback, and battle it out with Ryan Mallett for the #2 spot? Historically, Tebow has pretty much sucked under center—except for the brief six-game stretch in 2011 when he helped the Broncos make it into the post season. But that didn't last long...the Patriots made sure of that!

Or maybe Belichick will groom him to play some other offensive position. Backfield, perhaps? Tight end? Although Tebow insists he is a quarterback, I think he'll change his tune when Bill tells him differently. Maybe it's the Josh McDaniels connection that facilitated the move to acquire Tebow. McDaniels coached him in Denver—maybe he knows something the rest of us don't?

I can only hope this controversial deal ends up more like the Randy Moss end of the spectrum and not the Ochostinko end. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day 70: Red Sox Beat Up Angels Twice (And Now Will Be Going to Hell.)

Another tough team, another series won. Although their record doesn't exactly show it, the LA Angels have the means to be one scary lineup. Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols—it barely lets up batters one through nine. But that's if they're all on their game. Right now, not so much.

How much are they paying again for Hamilton to hit .212? (Which, just for the record, is below his weight.) Oh yeah, $133 million over five years... and to think the Red Sox actually tried to sign this dead beat. And Pujols? A career .322 hitter, is struggling this year, currently batting just .242. Ten years, $240 million and that's the production you get out of the big man?

I'm sure at some point this season, they'll all come around and click at the same time and go on some ridiculous tear where they start to sneak up on the AL West leaders. I hope so... I picked them to win the west. But for now, they're floundering just a bit.

When they trounced the Sox 9-5 in the first game of yesterday's double header, I was convinced the weekend was going to be a total washout. When will I learn? When is it going to sink into my fat head that this Sox team is like the Goonies—never say die. Boston came back in the night cap and turned the tables on the Angels behind yet another masterful outing from Clay Buchholz, who, by the way, is 9-0 with a still major league leading 1.71 ERA.

Today's game featured the long ball—giving LA a taste of its own medicine. David Ortiz hit his 13th of the season in the third with two guys on to break a 1-1 tie and give the Sox a lead they would never surrender. Jarod Saltalamacchia and Mike Carp followed with back-to-back solo shots in the sixth and then Salty struck again in the eight with a three-run homer to put the game firmly out of reach.

I'm telling ya... if the Sox can continue to take at least two out of three from these tough opponents, I'll be happier than a hobo with a hotdog. Although a sweep is aways preferred, naturally.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day 69: The Big, Bad Bruins are Playing for the Cup!

For four games, two species that normally don't share space in nature spent sixty minutes together in a battle of wills. And in the end, my predictions held true: bears eat penguins. I bet those cartoony looking little birds were a tasty snack.

Yeah...because it's the cup!
I really don't know else what to say. Last night's game, actually the entire Eastern Conference Final, had to be some of the best hockey I've ever seen. I was engrossed from the moment the puck was dropped. The stress level started high and just continued to grow throughout this back and forth, nail-biter of a contest.

When the game began, and Pittsburgh came out swinging, I thought for sure the Bruins were in for a world of trouble. The B's couldn't get anything going, constantly being mugged by a frenzied Penguin. But when Boston did control the puck, they looked calm and composed, while the Pens often looked crazed and desperate.

Once the Bruins finally scored early in the third period, I just knew that was it. I knew they would step up their defense, pester any Penguin carrying the puck, and Tuukka Rask, who played probably the best four game stretch of his career, would turn into a brick wall. You could almost see the frustration pouring off the opposing team. Pittsburgh's top 10 scorers in the regular season scored just two points in the four-game series. Rask stopped all but two shots and shut out arguably the best team in the NHL twice.

If you happened to miss the game, all you need to see is the last two minutes. The final minute, with Pittsburgh pulling their goalie and rushing six skaters, was quite possibly the longest minute of my life. See for yourself.

Chicago can clinch the West tonight. Bruins - Blackhawks? Bring it on!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 68: So You Walk Pedroia to Get to Big Papi? Really?

All I've heard over the past week is how difficult a stretch the Red Sox were coming up on in their schedule. The first place Texas Rangers, the big bats of the LA Angels, the AL East rival Rays and Orioles and then the Detroit Tigers. How will this scrappy team fare over the next couple of weeks? If taking two out of three from the Rangers is any indication, I think they'll do just fine.

The Texas Rangers led for most of last night's game, but those pesky Red Sox kept chipping away at the slim lead. After Texas went up 3-0 in the third inning, the Sox answered right back with an RBI double by Dustin Pedroia to bring them to within a run. At this point, I start to think this game is not out of reach. And the Sox were hitting the ball too—Rangers' pitchers were not fooling anyone.

In the seventh inning, the Sox tied up the game at three when Mike Napoli grounded out, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury. And it was still tied as the bottom of the ninth rolled around. Would we see some Fenway magic? Ok, boys... you can do this!

The ninth started with a lead-off double by Jonny Gomes (who, by the way, went 4-for-5 last night.) Gotta love it when the winning run is in scoring position with no outs. Then, with a lefty on the mound, the Rangers decided to walk Pedroia with first base open. On paper it may have seemed like a good idea since Pedroia has been on fire this season and happens to be hitting .380 against left handed pitchers. And with Big Papi on deck, you're looking at lefty vs. lefty and Ortiz is hitting just .250 against the south paws.

But what the Rangers failed to take into consideration was Papi's history with walk-offs—he has 19 walk-off hits (11 of those home runs) in his career with the Red Sox. Plus, there's no better way to piss off a slugger than to walk the half-pint in front of him. So in the baseball equivalent of the middle finger, Ortiz took the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for the game winner.

There's just nothing better than the celebration that ensues at home plate after a walk-off win. Except maybe a Bruins win in tonight's game four. Fingers crossed!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 67: Bruins. Enough Said.

If you've been locked in a walk-in freezer all day, you might not have heard that the Bruins beat the Penguins last night to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was one for the ages... an instant classic... an outstanding double overtime masterpiece. It was the hockey equivalent of a pitchers' duel—but instead of pitchers, it was goalies. Who would cave first? Not Tuukka!

It's a good thing the Bruins won that game because I would've been some pissed if I stayed up until 12:15am to see a loss. Thank you, Patrice Bergeron, for that. I usually go to bed before 10 most nights so keeping myself alert and occupied and upright was quite a chore—especially during those really long intermissions. But I did it. I beat the Sandman to see Bergeron beat Vokoun. And now the B's have the opportunity to win the series at home, and a chance to once again hoist Lord Stanley's chalice.

No words in existence could adequately recap what an amazing game these two teams played. The Penguins looked as if someone lit a fire under them, or maybe it was desperation. I think they look similar.

I've also decided this blog needs its own award that can be virtually handed out to some deserving athlete that has gone above and beyond. So without further ado, I would like to present the inaugural Big Balls Award to Boston forward, Gregory Campbell. Campbell threw himself in front of a Evgeni Malkin slap shot during a Pitt powerplay, broke his fibula and STILL continued to play for the remaining 45 seconds of the penalty. Holy shit, does this guy have guts or what?!

In case you missed it...

I can honestly say I might pass out from holding my breath Friday night if this is another close one. But now they've got to win it for Soupy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 66: Red Sox Score 17 in Rangers Rout. What? That's It?

I like a pitchers' duel just as much as the next girl but there's something to be said about an absolute drubbing. And that's just what the Red Sox gave the Texas Rangers last night as they trounced them 17-5. Yeah... maybe I like the ass kickings a bit more, but only when my team is the ass kicker.

Last night's game felt a little like a home run derby without the pomp and circumstance that surrounds an All Star game. There were seven total round trippers—four from the Red Sox and three from the Rangers. Perhaps the most memorable, Jackie Bradley Jr's first major league homer. Seriously though, it seemed like a lot more.

It was one of those games that the ball just fell into every gap and it looked more like batting practice than an actual game. Every starter in the line up had at least one hit—and only two had just one hit. The Sox had 13 extra base hits, including eight doubles, which sets a Rangers record for the most allowed in a game. David Ortiz hit a double and a legged out a triple in the high scoring second inning. He hasn't had a triple in two years.

The Red Sox scored a run in every inning but the 8th, including a six-run second and a four-run sixth. My offensive star of the game would have to be Stephen Drew. He went 4-for-5 with a single, two doubles and a home run and nine total bases. I wasn't excited about this Drew character when the Sox first signed him. I was afraid of the bad DNA and the possibility of a hangnail putting him on the 60 day DL, but this Drew seems to be a younger and more durable version. Thankfully.

While I do love a strong attack with the bats, I can't help but think, "Holy crap! Don't use all your runs up in one game!!" And from the looks of tonight's game, the runs are a little harder to come by.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 65: Is it Just Me or Do the Penguins Appear to Have Happy Feet?

I love playoff hockey. There's just nothing quite like it—the heart-pounding excitement where you're seriously on the edge of your seat, shifting and wincing with every pass and shot on goal. I've admitted in the past that I'm a total pink hat and don't watch many regular season games, but I can't get enough of the postseason. *whispers* Especially when the Bruins are playing like they are right now.

What makes this series against the Penguins even more fun is that the best regular season team in the Eastern Conference looks a little... off. Superstars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz have been silenced. And Crosby, Pittsburgh's leading scorer in the regular season, often looks like a lost puppy (with a really sad beard.) My biggest question coming into this series was how would Tuukka Rask handle the slick puck handlers. The answer? Quite well, thank you very much, allowing just one goal over the first two games of the series... on the road, no less.

The Bruins look determined. They look like a team and they're playing like a team. Their passing is accurate, their defense is solid and their puck handling intense. All four lines are contributing with the top six forwards scoring a robust eight goals in just two games—led by David Krejci who leads the NHL with 20 points in the playoffs and is a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe trophy.

On the other side of the puck, the Penguins look confused, sluggish and uncoordinated. And their goal tending leaves a lot to be desired. Word on the street is that both goalies suffered some serious sunburn on the back of their necks last night. You know, from that red light going on so much. If the Pittsburgh goalies can't pull their shit together, this team is in some serious trouble.

I don't watch enough hockey to hate other teams or players, but these Penguins really bug me. Maybe it's the crybaby look on Crosby's face when he doesn't get his way... I half expect him to throw himself onto the ice and execute a tantrum so spectacular, it would make a three year old envious.

Now we head back to Boston for games three and four. Go Bruins!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 64: Red Sox Take Two From Yankees Over Weekend. And Both Teams Are a Bunch of Scaredy Cats!

You know what was super fun this past weekend in the midst of the first official burst of steamy summer heat that rendered me utterly useless? Watching the Red Sox take two out of three from the Yankees in their house. Suh-weeeeet! The Sox are the lone inhabitants atop the AL East and the Yanks dropped to third place with the two losses.

After dropping the series opener, 4-1, I immediately went to that dark, pessimistic place where only bad things happen. Jon Lester has not had a win in his last three starts... I'll admit, I was worried. But then Saturday happened and the Sox exploded for 11 runs on 18 hits. And pitcher Felix Doubront tossed a beauty, allowing just one run on six hits over six innings. The offense went nuts sparked by Mike Napoli's third inning grand salami and round trippers from Daniel Nava and Stephen Drew.

Now the series is even going into Sunday night and the Sox have Clay Buchholz on the mound aiming for win #8. The weather is iffy, delaying the game about 45 minutes to start, so you had to wonder if they'd get a full nine innings in. I won't keep you guessing—they didn't. The game was called in the sixth after a three hour rain delay.

The good news is Boston was up 3-0 when that happened so they get the win, Buchholz goes to 8-0 and leads the major leagues with a stingy 1.62 ERA. Woohoo! *Snoopy Happy Dance*

But the most entertaining part of this game actually happened during the rain delay. Something that proves that baseball players are just pansies by nature. Grown men afraid of a little thunder... I giggle every time I watch it.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 63: Baseball Movies That Make Me Happy!

I can't bring myself to write about the Red Sox or the Bruins tonight in fear of jinxing them. *whispers* They both did so well last night... So instead, I'm going to treat you to a countdown of my most favorite baseball movies. I originally posted this over at Fenway Fatales in early 2012 so if it looks familiar... sorry.

Who doesn't love a movie about baseball? Ok... maybe there are some people who think it's a little like watching paint dry (and I am not friends with those people.) What is it about a baseball movies and this power they have over me? They make me laugh, cry, cheer, boo, and most importantly, they make me happy. Sure there may be ups and downs, but in the end, you're usually treated to a victory of some sort.

Let the countdown begin!

#5 - Field of Dreams: How many times have you heard someone say it? "If you build it, they will come." Years ago, ESPN compiled a list of the top 100 sports movie quotes - this was #11. When I hear it, I immediately picture a young Kevin Costner, hacking away at his cornfield to begin erecting his very own baseball diamond. What happens next kind of made me want to build my own baseball field. Give me chills just thinking about it. Come to think of it, it's been too long since I last saw this one. *runs off to Netflix queue*

#4 - For the Love of the Game: What can I say? It's got baseball, it's got romance, it's got Kevin Costner. What's not to love? I'm just a sucker for all of it. And I'm especially a sucker for a nail-biter of a ballgame with the possibility of not just a no hitter, but the holy grail for all pitchers - the perfect game. If I had any complaints about his movie, it would be Kelly Preston. She's just not one of my favorites.

#3 - A League of Their Own: "There's no crying in baseball!" possibly one of the all time greatest baseball movie quotes (and #7 on that really old ESPN list I mentioned above.) This is saying a lot since Bull Durham has its fair share of great quotes. This is the one baseball movie that makes me cry. And it usually happens at the end, when all those women gather at the Hall of Fame, and Dottie and Kit reunite...gets me every time. I love this movie so much because I'd like to think I would've totally tried out. Even though I can't hit a fast ball to save my life.

#2 - Fever Pitch: If Bull Durham was never made, this would be my all time favorite baseball movie. How could I not love it -- it's the Sox. And it's the Sox winning the freaking World Series. Plus my love for Jimmy Fallon runs deep. And evidently, the feeling is mutual since he is actually following me on Twitter. Yup, you heard right, Jimmy and I are total bffs. He even sent me a direct message. I'm sure if he gets wind that I'm bragging about it, he's totally going to dump my sorry ass. Shhhhh... don't tell, mkay?

#1 - Bull Durham: Looks like I'm not the only who thinks this is the best! The first time I watched this movie it was before the days of big screen TVs. I was home alone and I pulled the recliner really close to the TV to give it the appearance of being a big screen. See how crafty I am? I had my popcorn and soda and I watched. I watched and I drooled and I loved. Crash Davis might be the single sexiest baseball character ever to grace the silver screen. That Annie Savoy is one lucky lady. I aspire to be just like her some day! Well... maybe not now, but years ago I did! You know, BH (before husband.)

Well, there's my list. It was difficult to narrow it down to just 5 movies! Honorable mentions go out to Moneyball, The Natural and The Rookie. So what's your favorite baseball movie and what makes it so special?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 62: Finally... Playoff Hockey Returns!

It's bears versus birds. In any natural setting, the bears will win. Always. But in this case, it's a different kind of a matchup... one that doesn't generally happen in nature. Bruins versus Penguins. If they did live together, the penguins would be dead. A tasty snack for the mighty bear.

The NHL Eastern Conference Finals series starts tonight: Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins... in case you've been living under a rock for the past week. It's going to be an uphill battle for the B's. The Penguins finished the regular (albeit abbreviated) season atop the Eastern Conference with a 36-12 record. The Bruins finished with the fourth best record. See? Uphill.

These two teams have not met in the playoffs since 1992 when Pittsburgh swept Boston in four games on their way to eventually hoisting their second straight Stanley Cup. And the Bruins haven't beaten the Penguins in the post season since 1980. Wow... I don't even remember 1980.

Like the B's, Pittsburgh dispatched their second round opponent in just five games and have had a few extra days off to rest and recharge. But the Bruins are lucky to even be here after nearly falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round in seven games. With their new found spark after the dramatic come from behind win, they promise to be a worthy opponent for the tough Penguins.

How will the mid-season deals play into the series? Jarome Iginla almost came to Boston, but ended up with Pittsburgh. And then the Bruins end up with aging former Penguins star, Jaromir Jagr, who often looks like he's skating with cinderblocks tied to his legs. Both players have had long, successful careers, but I'm pretty sure we're going to find out quickly that the B's got the crap end of that deal.

Game one from Pittsburgh is tonight at 8pm. This should be interesting!