Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 122: So the Red Sox Made a Trade Yesterday...

We all knew something was going to happen before the non-waiver trade deadline with the Red Sox, it was just the who and where and when we needed. And chances were it was going to be a pitcher. With Clay Buchholz's return timeframe somewhat foggy and some season-ending surgeries effecting the bullpen, Boston definitely needed to add another arm to the rotation.

Over the course of yesterday evening, Twitter was a buzz with rumors. Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn't in the lineup in Pawtucket so he must be involved in some deal. Would he be traded for Cliff Lee? Jake Peavy? But JBJ wasn't offered up in a trade...instead the Red Sox dealt shortstop, Jose Iglesias. Surprising considering his breakout offensively the year, but then again, not surprising considering his breakout offensively this year. With a plethora of middle infielders in the minors, if the Sox were ever planning to use Iglesias as trade bait, now is the time.

Last season, Iglesias had just 77 plate appearances in Boston and batted a lowly .118. His defense has always been spectacular... offense not so much. But he went out in the off-season and busted his ass and came into the 2013 season on fire. Before his recent slump, his batting average hovered in the .400 range. So obviously, his value was fairly high. And with stock in Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings, they could afford to lose Iglesias.

So last night, in a three-team, seven-player deal that included the Detroit Tigers, the Red Sox acquired right-hander Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox sent Jose Iglesias to the Tigers (who fear they'll need a shortstop should Jhonny Peralta be suspended in the Biogenesis investigation, according to ESPN.) The White Sox got Detroit's top power prospect, as well as three prospects from Boston. The Red Sox also got a right-handed reliever from Detroit who will be assigned to Pawtucket.

Confused yet? These multi-player, multi-team deals always baffle me. But after my initial shock, I've decided I'm good with the move... even though I do have a soft spot for players who come up through the system and play in Portland. And Jose certainly was fun to watch as he patrolled the left side of the infield. Good luck to you, kid.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 121: The Season of Sucky Umpiring

First, I thought I would mention that today, Day 121, marks the one third point (ok, it's actually 121.6666) of my quest to blog every day about sports for 365 straight days. What the hell? Do I really have this much time on my hands? There have been a few close calls — no wireless, out late, writer's block — but it wouldn't be sports without close calls. Ask the Red Sox about close calls...

The Red Sox and Rays met last night in a make-up game from a rain-out last week that was, yet again, a battle for first place. After Sunday's games — a win for the Sox and a loss for the Rays — Boston held a slim half game lead. A win on Monday would've given them a tiny bit more breathing room. But with reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price on the mound, the Sox would have to scrounge for runs.

Felix Doubront kept the team in the game giving up just two runs, and the Sox offense slowly scratched and clawed, getting a home run from Brandon Snyder in the sixth to cut the deficit in half. And then, in the eight inning, with Price lifted for a reliever, Ryan Lavarnway laced a one-out double. Daniel Nava came in as a pinch runner. Stephen Drew followed with another double that should've scored Nava, right? But Nava, unsure of whether or not the ball would be caught, got a case of the happy feet and when the ball dropped in, he could only manage to get to third. Dude? WTF?

But here's where the real shitshow started. The next batter, Brandon Snyder, lifted a fly ball to left and here comes Nava tagging up to score the tying run. Woohoo... oh wait... What? He's OUT??? Nava didn't think so... and John Farrell surely didn't think so (and was promptly ejected for saying just that)... and after the game, it looks like the home plate umpire, WHO MADE THE CALL, didn't think so either.

That's right folks, in a rare admittance of incompetence, umpire Jerry Meals admits to blowing the call. It's not like this was an important game or anything. Not like first place was on the line. Not like he couldn't have asked for some HELP!!!

This is where Major League Baseball epically fails—their complete refusal to admit that instant replay is a good thing!

I would like to enter into evidence, the video of last night's debacle at home plate:

Now did you happen to notice where umpire Jerry Meals was standing while trying to make the call? He has positioned himself BEHIND THE CATCHER. Now I'm no baseball genius but if I'm trying to see a play that's happening in front of the catcher, I'm thinking behind is not really a good vantage point. Maybe I'd like to stand to the side of the plate so I can see WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!

Also, can someone please tell me why these umpires are so opposed to asking for help? WHY? Is it some kind of power trip? Some kind of authority they want to hold over everyone on the field? Better to huddle up and make the right call then to be blow it and be hated by angry fans everywhere. (Obviously Jerry Meals doesn't follow Brazilian soccer.)

I've seen a ton of bad calls this season and I'm only watching one team so I can't imagine what's happening in other ballparks. Bud Selig needs to take a lesson from Roger Goodell. Instant replay will only strengthen the integrity of a game that is already under much scrutiny for its sluggish pace of play and rampant PED use. 

What if this was the Game 7 of the ALCS? Is MLB really going to let shitty umpiring decide who wins or loses a close game?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 120: I Love a Good Heart Warming Fan Story...

I read a couple of fan-related stories today—one that made me feel sort of warm and fuzzy inside and one that nearly reduced me to tears. Of course it doesn't take much to get my waterworks going... seriously. The warm and fuzziness comes on the heels of the Ryan Braun suspension in Milwaukee. I know if sounds weird, but bear with me. The other story has to do with a guy and his dad and the baseball bond they shared.

Let's begin in Wisconsin, America's Dairyland. The Milwaukee Brewers have been under the proverbial microscope the past couple of weeks with the recent suspension of their star player and colossal liar, Ryan Braun. The team has no chance of making the post season, and with Braun gone for the rest of the season, the Brewers stand to save just over $3 million dollars on his salary. Needless to say, the organization was looking for a way to apologize to their fans.

Nothing says "I'm sorry" like free stuff. The Brewers have developed a "Fans First" promotion that will run the month of August where every fan that comes to a game will receive a $10 voucher to be used at the concession stands. The vouchers will be valid through the end of the season. What better way to use Braun's salary—because if anyone owes the fans for being a stupid jerk, it's him. It's like drinks are on him for the rest of the season!

The tearjerker story comes out of Washington, DC. It's a story of Kent Wilson and his dad, Richard who had a pair of season tickets to Nationals Park, but only made it to Opening Day. They had bought the tickets knowing this was a possibility... you see, Richard was battling liver cancer and soon became too sick to make it to the Park.

After that first game, Kent made it a point to go to his dad's house to watch the games on television with him. On June 8th, Richard passed away. Kent couldn't bear to use the tickets without him so he decided to give them to family and friends and a few complete strangers. He put an ad on Craigslist:
If you'd like tickets for a game — completely free — shoot me a note. I would only ask that you enjoy the game and make sure the seats don't go to waste.
Once word got out about the tickets, many fans took advantage of Kent's generosity, while others would just send him notes thanking him for his thoughtfulness. And then the response became overwhelming with so many people missing out on the chance to get those tickets, so Kent went out and bought some more just so he could give them away.

That's the thing about baseball...very often it's that sporting event that you went to the first time with your dad. Completely understandable why he couldn't go without him. I would feel the same way.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 119: What Did that Phone Ever Do to You, Big Papi?

I guess I picked the wrong time during the Red Sox game last night to leave my parents' house and drive home. It appears I missed a few fireworks during the seventh inning. But the Red Sox had a comfortable 6-2 lead going into the seventh inning so everyone should be happy, right? Not so much...

The umpiring during this Sox-Orioles series has left a lot to be desired. If it annoys me as much as it does, I can only imagine how incensed the players must get. Multiple missed balls and strikes calls have marred the last few games. Kind of makes the idea of an electronic strike zone really attractive (right, dad?) That "strike zone" box they put up on the screen doesn't help matters much either—especially when a called ball was right down the middle. What the hell are these umps looking at?

In the not-so-happy seventh inning last night, David Ortiz took a high pitch on a 3-0 count and flipped the bat thinking it was ball four. The umpire called it a strike. Ortiz barked back, gesturing that the ball was high. But then Big Papi ended up striking out and that's when things took a turn for not-so-happy town. He continued to argue the earlier call even after he was back in the dugout. 

Teammates and coaches sprang into action, restraining him from not only going back out after the umpire, but trying to calm his escalating anger. He was really pissed off. I will admit, it kind of makes you chuckle watching Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino wrangle Ortiz—who had towers over both by more than six inches.

But then Big Papi brought the bullpen phone into the situation. I'm not sure if that phone had done something to offend him earlier in the game, or if it was just an innocent bystander. Whatever the case, the poor phone took the brunt of the rage. Ortiz proceeded to smash the phone with a bat, sending shrapnel flying around the dugout. He's lucky no one got hurt. Pedroia was nearly impaled by phone shreds which could've been very bad.

Needless to say, Ortiz was swiftly ejected from the game and could possibly face suspension by the league. Maybe that's what he needs to remind him that tempers should be kept in check and destroying things in anger is not going to be tolerated by MLB. Sure it will be a significant loss for the team if he does miss a few games, but the success of the Red Sox this season has been due largely in part by the lack of drama. And they need to get that attitude back.

In case you missed it, like I did...

Thankfully, there was some good news last night—the Sox did win 7-3! Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 118: Uh Oh. Red Sox Fall Out of First Place.

This was the day I had been dreading. On May 26th, the Red Sox were tied for first in the AL East with the Yankees and they had held that top position for two solid months—and at times, also owned the best record in baseball. But last night, it happened. They fell out of first place. But I knew it couldn't last forever. And maybe it's good to be the under dog. Maybe it's good to be the one breathing down the neck of first place. There's still a lot of ball to be played.

After losing two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays this week, they went into Baltimore just a half game up on the pack. Last night, Tampa crushed the Yankees, the O's shut out the Sox and now the Rays have the slim half game lead. On June 28th the Rays were seven games back but have since that date have lost a stingy three games. The Sox, posting just an 11-9 record so far this month, have watched their lead over the Rays slowly dwindle and now vanish.

The Rays' surge coupled with the Red Sox having a few guys struggling at the plate since the All-Star break, is not helping the situation. Dustin Pedroia is batting just .111, Jose Iglesias just .125 and Daniel Nava just .167 since the break, and these are three guys that have been on fire for most of the season. I really, really hope Pedroia doesn't have a case of I-got-a-big-contract-so-now-I-can-suck-and-still-get-paid. I have faith the little guy will snap out of it soon.

The offensive troubles often translate into pitching woes. Starters can give up three, four  or even five runs and, when the lineup is hot, that's been good enough for a win. But they've got some slumping bats so the offense isn't scoring as many runs and now those "good enough" starts are turning into losses. And it doesn't help that John Lackey's performance last night was a little lackluster—he gave up five earned runs and allowed three home runs. Blah.

Sometimes I think the All-Star break is a total rally killer. Sure, these guys deserve a few days off in the middle of the season, but it must be hard to carry the magic over to the next half. Where did the magic go??!

They have to win tonight. It's my birthday!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 117: Patriots' Training Camp is Now in Session

Today marked the first official day of the New England Patriots 2013 Training Camp...yay! There are 42 days until the season opener against the Buffalo Bills on September 8th and I'm ridiculously excited for football! With all that's happened over the offseason, it will be nice to get back to some sense of normalcy. But I'm also a little nervous about what will happen with the somewhat new and slightly depleted receiving core.

The Aaron Hernandez disaster has cast a bit of a dark cloud over the start of training camp, but from the looks of it, the coaches and players are eager to put it behind them and get on with playing some football. On Wednesday, Coach Bill Belichick gave us more than anyone thought he would, and yesterday was the Patriots' captains' turn. Obviously under a gag order on what they could and couldn't say, each player chose their words to the press carefully.

It has obviously been tough for the players to accept what has happened. It must be hard to think about the former teammate you thought you knew being a murder suspect—a guy with whom you spent most of every day of the football season. I'm sure Robert Kraft isn't the only guy who's feeling duped right about now.
“At some point you have to move forward and I think we as a team are doing that,” Tom Brady said. “The best part is really coming out to start the football season and talking about what the challenges we have ahead of us. Certainly it’s been a challenging offseason, but we’re going to try to move forward as best we know how."
Vince Wilfork told reporters about the sign on the locker room wall: "Put your team first and do your job." This was obviously advice that Aaron Hernandez didn't heed. His actions were selfish and reckless with no thought given to how murdering someone (or someones) would not only affect his life, but the future of a team to which he made a commitment.
"Camp has started," Wilfork said, "It's tough, but at the same time, we have to continue to do our jobs. To start training camp on a note like this is tough. We're not going to disrespect anything that's going on with the families, but we have to play football."
Brady insists the ongoing saga hasn't had any negative repercussions on the team's morale—which is good news. Training camp has officially started and there's business to be done. Important football business that will be executed without the help of the former tight end turned murderer.

It's now about the football. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 116: Bill Belichick Addresses Aaron Hernandez Situation

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is known to be a man of few words. Usually those few words tell us nothing we want to know. His answers are vague and his impertinent attitude towards members of the press is often frustrating—even to us regular folks who just want to know if an injury is going to keep a key player sidelined for the upcoming week.

He never gives a straight, clear answer in response to anything. And if he refuses to talk about a subject, there's not a reporter out there that can extract information from him. So you can imagine the predictions in the media world regarding his press conference this week on the upcoming season. It was his first meeting with the press since the Aaron Hernandez murder rap and no one could've been prepared for the bounty of information he offered up.

I'm sure the entire statement was carefully crafted by the massive public relations team the Patriots must employ. He didn't sway from the subject at hand, nor did he offer up anything we didn't already know or assume. But he spoke... and whether or not someone forced him to read this statement doesn't really matter. What matters is that Bill Belichick actually told us some stuff. And it sort of appeared like some of it actually came from the heart. (I wasn't sure he actually had one.)

If you missed it on Wednesday, here's the video. His actual statement lasts less than eight minutes... the rest are questions from the media.

So how many times this preseason do you think he'll need to say the line about refraining from "making comments about the ongoing judicial process?" I think a lot.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 115: Red Sox Lock Up Dustin Pedroia For A Long Time

Normally I'm not a fan of long-term deals in baseball. So much can happen to a player over the years to make him no longer worth the big money thrown at him in his prime. Look at Alex Rodriguez. They Yankees still owe him somewhere in the vicinity of $90 million and do you remember the last time you saw him play in a game? And who knows if he ever will again with the recent developments in the PED scandal.

If a player can get the big deal, it's great for them—provides security for the future. It also provides them with a comfort level that often makes them lazy and sucky. It's generally never good for the team.

When I heard the Red Sox offered Dustin Pedroia a contract extension that will keep him in Boston through the 2021 season, I was thrilled. According to ESPN Boston, Dustin Pedroia has officially become the first second baseman in Major League Baseball to cross the $100 million threshold—at least until Robinson Cano hits the free agent market.

Originally, it was reported the deal was seven years for $100 million, but the now it looks as if the Sox reworked the terms for next year which is the final year of his existing contract, making the new deal an eight-year, $110 million agreement.

Not bad for the little guy from northern California who is extremely pleased to be staying in Boston for the long haul.
"It was no-brainer to me. This is the place where they gave me an opportunity to play professional baseball," Pedroia said. "I want to make sure I do all I can to prove those people who took a chance on me right. I'm not here to set markets or do anything like that. I want to make sure the team I'm on wins more games than the other teams' second basemen. That's the way I look at it. Our job is to win games and that's what I play for."
This is a huge move for the Red Sox who have been burned numerous times on these huge multi-year contracts like Carl Crawford and JD Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka. But Pedroia... he's a special player. The grit and determination this guy plays with each and every game makes him one of the most enjoyable competitors in the league to watch. He rarely finishes a game with a clean uniform and he grows a killer beard.

The 29-year-old has been the Red Sox full-time second baseman since 2007. He's a career .303 hitter, and other than an injury-shortened year in 2010, has been fairly consistent at the plate and in the field every year. Pedroia was voted Rookie of the Year in 2007 and named the AL MVP in 2008. He has also been selected to the All-Star team four times and he won a Gold Glove in 2011.

If you ask me, this is one of the smartest moves the Red Sox have made in a long time. I do love to watch him play!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 114: Ryan Braun Can't Weasel His Way Out of This Suspension

Biogenesis might sound like the fictional, evil scientific lab center of a Robin Cook novel to some, but for the doping major league baseball player, Biogenesis is a little bit like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. The Miami-based rejuvenation clinic's true colors were revealed by a disgruntled employee who disclosed the real business—selling performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to an extensive list of MLB players.

In 2012, Milwaukee Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun successfully challenged a positive drug test and an impending 50-game suspension based on the chain of command of his urine sample in late 2011. Because the sample sat in someone's fridge for 48 hours before being sent off to the lab for testing, Braun claimed that the positive result was due to tampering. He won the appeal and the suspension was overturned. Flimsy accusations, but it worked.

Following the events of the sample misconduct, Braun gained the support of many peers and team brass. He insisted that he did not violate baseball's drug agreement and people believed him. The Brewers rewarded him with a hefty contract extension worth $145 million, keeping him in Milwaukee through the 2020 season. He thought he was invincible.

So you cheat, you lie and you get rewarded with millions? Awesome.

Finally... Braun's luck ran out this week as he became the first player to succumb to this recent scandal. He was suspended without pay for 65 games—basically the remainder of the season and post-season, if the Brewers get that far. Braun will lose out on nearly $4 million of his $9.61 million contract for the 2013 season. Ouch. Serves you right, cheater. Can we revoke his MVP award?

Good for MLB for cracking down on these cheating douchebags. I'm so sick of these lazy, doping athletes who try to take the easy way out. I'm sick of the lies and I'm sick of second guessing every successful baseball player, wondering in the back of my mind if this is all him or if he's using an HGH aid. It shouldn't have to be this way. Fans shouldn't have to be suspicious of every home run and every strike out.

I'm not stupid. I know even member of the Red Sox have been involved in PEDs at some point or another. You can't tell me Jacoby Ellsbury wasn't juicing in 2011—just look at his career home run totals and tell me that was all him. We know Manny was doing it. Maybe David Ortiz experimented too, although we may never know for sure. It all makes me sick.

More will fall in the coming days and weeks—most likely Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera to name a few. Seeing A-Rod go down might even be worth it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 113: Take That, Yankees!

I'm not to going to lie, I was slightly stressed out about this weekend series against the Yankees. With the Tampa Bay Rays nipping at the heels of the Sox in the standings, every win counts and they needed desperately to take advantage of the Yankees' struggles. And then, when the Red Sox won Friday night, I breathed just a little sigh of relief!

But Saturday, I was back to quaking in my boots after a tough loss. John Lackey pitched ok, but the four runs he gave up proved to be more than the Sox offense could overcome against Hiroki Kuroda. The usually peppy Boston bats were quiet and managed just two runs on seven hits. Tough break for Lackey who had pitched strong in his last several outings.

So Sunday...the rubber match...the Sunday night ESPN epic Red Sox vs. Yankees matchup. A seesaw battle of red vs. blue. When I went to bed, the Sox enjoyed a comfortable 7-3 lead. But really, what exactly is a comfortable lead when you're talking about the NYY? And then I woke up to my phone happily alerting me this morning of a victorious Boston team. It wasn't until a little later that I heard the gory details...eleven innings...4 hours and 46 minutes...and yet another walk-off win for the Sox on Mike Napoli's second round-tripper of the night!

After 100 games of the 2013 season, the Boston Red Sox, who finished last in the AL East with 69 wins in 2012, are 60-40 and continue to enjoy the most wins in the major leagues. The next four games will be the real test though, with the surging Rays coming into Fenway having won 20 of their last 24 games. Here I go, quaking in my boots again!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 112: Golf Ninja, Phil Mickelson, Wins First British Open.

I was sort of obsessed with the British Open this weekend. There was something about getting up and lounging around on the couch all morning watching this thing live that was very appealing. Probably because it was too hot to move on Saturday... and it was too cool this morning not to!

When any golf tournament is close, especially a major, it's so riveting because (like most sporting events) anything can happen. Just one missed fairway into the deep fescue, just one deep pot bunker, just one putt struck too firmly or just one gust of wind can knock a player down in an instant. Ask Tiger Woods or Lee Westwood or Hunter Mahan or Adam Scott—all of whom where in the hunt when the round started today.

They all had something to prove today. Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008 and he won The Open last in 2006. Adam Scott was desperate to quell the demons of 2012 when he blew a four shot lead with four holes to play, relinquishing the title to Ernie Els. Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan were both still in search of their first major win.

But Muirfield Golf Links in East Lothian, Scotland had other ideas. The course was nothing short of brutal over the four days. Warm, sunny weather dried out the fairways and greens making drives, and unfortunately putts, never-ending. Some golfers seemed to handle it well, others did not. Heading in to the final round, Lee Westwood enjoyed a two-shot lead at three under, but both Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan lurked two just shots back at -1. Phil Mickelson was tied for ninth at +2.

Who knew that the top of the leader board would become infected with a case of the yips today? By the ninth hole, Westwood had not hit one fairway off the tee and ended up with a +4 round for the day. And Tiger seemed to forget how to putt and settled for a +3 round... although he did remember how to swear, which the microphones picked up often. Phil Mickelson must have been wearing a hazmat suit because yips were nowhere to be found in his game today.

Mickelson started the day five shots off the lead. By the ninth hole, he had cut that deficit to three shots, birdying both par fives on the front. After bogeying the 10th hole, he put the pedal to the metal and quietly took full advantage of the problems the players behind him were having. He birdied four of the last six holes, including 17 and 18 to put the Championship out of reach and post a 66—the low score of the day. They were engraving his name on the Claret Jug before the final pairing had even finished.

Personally, I would've been happier with a multi-player sudden death, but that's mostly because I love sudden death in major golf championships, and also because I'm not the biggest Phil fan. Regardless, Congratulations Phil Mickelson on winning your first British Open!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 111: Oh Those British Open Bunkers!

Nothing strikes fear into me more than seeing my golf shot find its resting place in a big pile of sand. My confidence on the golf course on most days teeters between very little and almost none, and then you add in the stress of trying to get that little white ball out of the sand, all without ever letting your club touch the sand, and any shred of confidence that may have been present is now nowhere to be found. Yet... I continue to play.

So when I watch the professionals and their sand play, I often find myself in awe. And especially when it's British Open time. Those are some seriously effed up bunkers—evil, confidence-smashing, pot bunkers that would make me want to pick up my ball, call it a day and start drinking early. Yet, they continue to make incredible, acrobatic saves, which is why they get to do this as a day job and I don't.

One of my recent tee shots on a fairly easy par three landed in the green-side bunker. Now granted, it was scorching hot, I was hungry and exhausted, but it took me at least eight hacks to release that little ball from its sandy prison (and a lot of bad, bad words.) And then I see the shot Tiger Woods made in the second round yesterday and I just shake my head.

This year, at Muirfield in Scotland, it's almost impossible to keep yourself out of those villainous bunkers. With the rock hard fairways and greens, any ball that goes awry and manages to stay out of that knee high fescue, runs the risk of rolling and rolling and rolling and often funnels into one. I don't remember a tournament with so many bunker shots—and I've been studying them all so maybe I can learn a thing or two.

It does make me feel just a little better to see some players have problems...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 110: Second Half Kicks Off Tonight: A Red Sox-Yankees Preview.

I hope the Red Sox have taken advantage of their All-Star break and enjoyed some much deserved rest and relaxation because they're going to hit the ground running tonight. The second half of the season kicks off with a bang with a three game series at Fenway Park against the fourth place (but still dangerous) New York Yankees. This will be the first trip to Boston for the Yanks this season. And it won't get much easier after that with the Rays and Orioles up next.

So far 2013 has not been kind to the Yankees lineup. They're currently suffering from a number of key injuries including Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson. Derek Jeter came back from his injury just before the break, but immediately hurt himself again. And they're expecting Alex Rodriguez back in the lineup sometime next week—although I'm not sure anyone is very excited about that event.

The Red Sox currently have a six game lead over New York, but like the Yankees, kind of skidded into the break—both teams were 5-5 in their last 10 games. And in the six games these two teams played earlier in the season, the Sox have have a slight leg up having won four of them. While the Sox are second in the major leagues in team batting average with a .277, (the Yankees are 24th of 30 total teams), NY does have better overall pitching numbers so it could be a pretty even match up.

This series is important for both teams. The Sox will host the recently hot Tampa Bay Rays for four games next week and they don't need to go into the series still struggling. Especially because they head to Baltimore after that for three with the hard-hitting Orioles. And the Yanks certainly don't want to fall even further out of first place, so we could have a real battle this weekend!

Here's how the series looks for the pitching matchups:

Friday, July 19th @ 7:10pm
Felix Doubront (6-3, 3.91) vs. Andy Pettitte (7-6, 4.39)

Saturday, July 20th @ 4:05pm
John Lackey (7-6, 2.78) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 2.65)

Sunday, July 21st @ 8:05pm
Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58) vs. CC Sabathia (9-8, 4.07)

I don't have any predictions for this series, just hopes. I hope that John Lackey continues his domination on the mound. I hope that Jon Lester pulls his head out of his ass and pitches like we know he can. And I hope the offense picks up where it left off before the All-Star break because that's fun!

I also hope this heat breaks soon or I might melt before this game even starts.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 109: Classy All-Star Send-Off for Mo

Anyone who knows me even just a little bit, knows I hate the New York Yankees. Wait... hate is such a strong word. No, that's right, I hate them. Maybe that loathing has been genetically implanted—I do come from a long line of Red Sox fans. Names like Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone immediately trigger dry heaves and cold sweats. All this hostility and I'm married to a Yankees fan? It's a miracle one of us isn't missing.

Mariano Rivera has been playing for the Yankees for as long as the Yankee fan and I have been together so I've been forced to watch him play. I've been forced to watch him dominate. I've been forced to watch him embarrass. And I've been forced to admire him. He has performed and competed with class and graciousness over his 19 years in the major leagues—something you might not expect from one clad in pinstripes.

This week marked the final All-Star appearance for Mr. Rivera. His 13th trip to the mid-summer classic was just one of the many accolades in his illustrious career. His 638 saves and overall ERA of 2.20 are both tops in the major leagues. Rivera was an integral part of five of the Yankees 27 World Series Championships. Even in his final season at 43 years old, coming off a serious knee injury, he continues to dominate. How can you not admire this guy?

He entered the 2013 All-Star game in the eight inning to a completely vacant field—all the other players left the field, giving Rivera the spotlight and recognition he deserves.

Do you have a favorite Mariano Rivera moment? I do. October 17, 2004. Come on... what did you expect from a Sox fan?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 108: Those Rolling Stone Idiots Really Have No Clue

Rolling Stone magazine usually doesn't get mentioned much in a sports blog, but when the do something so utterly deplorable, it's sometimes necessary to discuss—even if it's not exactly sports-related. But it sort of is...

Usually one of the first things I do in the morning is scroll through my Facebook timeline to see what sort of hijinks went on overnight. This morning, what I found nearly knocked me off my feet. A posting by a local news station featured the cover photo of the newest issue of Rolling Stone. Now I'm sure this magazine has a whole team of editors and writers and publishers that sit around a table and discuss what musician, celebrity or notable news figure is going to be featured on the cover. Dr. Hook wrote a friggin' song about it so it must be a pretty important place to be. (You're humming the tune right now, aren't you?) So you would think that at least one of these people would have a speck of common sense, right? Wrong.

Rolling Stone decided to write a cover piece on the Boston Marathon bombing. Understandable. It's still a current topic—one that affected countless New Englanders. Many of the victims still struggle daily with their injuries. And there are those families that continue to mourn for those lost in this horrible tragedy. The magazine could've easily picked one of these stories to recount.

What about Richard family? Eight-year-old Martin, whose life was unfairly cut short by that black backpack. Or how about Martin's younger sister, Jane? The seven-year-old endured 39 days in the ICU at Boston's Children's Hospital, undergoing 12 surgeries on her amputated leg. And then there's Martin's mom, Denise, who is blind in one eye.

Maybe Rolling Stone readers would be interested in hearing about bombing victim, Jeff Bauman and the cowboy hat wearing Carlos Arredondo who heroically leapt into action after the blast, saving Jeff's life. Both of Jeff's legs were blown off yet he made the most miraculous recovery, being released from the hospital faster than any other amputee victim. Jeff now has a shiny new pair of legs he showed off before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

But they chose not to write about a victim. Instead, they elected to write about the demon behind this gruesome tragedy. They glorified and rockstarified this useless piece of shit, showcasing his diabolical face on the cover of a national magazine. A magazine that would be prominently displayed in the aisles of local stores across the country, and more importantly New England.

The face of this murdering savage would be staring at victim's families as they shopped at their local grocery store, book store or corner store. Thankfully, many local businesses and chains have boycotted this issue of Rolling Stone. Tedeschi Food Shops, CVS/pharmacy, Roche Bros., Stop and Shop, Cumberland Farms and Shaw's/Star Market have all opted to keep the offensive periodical off it's shelves.

I started to read the article titled: The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster. WTF? I barely made it through one page before I was forced to stop, the bile rising in the back of my throat. I was overwhelmed by disgust and outrage. I don't give a crap what kind of upbringing this asshole had, a shitty family does not give you the right to blow up innocent people... children! Take responsibility for your actions and stop making excuses for your evilness.

I refuse to link the story in this post. If you feel the need to read this steaming pile of vomit, you'll have to use the Google. I'm glad I haven't given that publication a dime of my paycheck since college. Rolling Stone is dead to me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 107: An Open Letter to the Pre All-Star Break Red Sox

Dear Red Sox,

You're probably wondering why I'm choosing the All-Star break to thank you for all the joy you've given me during the first half of the season. It's simple... if you suck right out of the gate after the break, at least you know I appreciated you when you were great! Not that I think you're going to flush it down the tubes, but you know... shit happens, so just in case...

I don't remember a year where I enjoyed watching you so much. Your enthusiasm, teamwork and sportsmanship throughout the first three and a half months have made me proud to be a Red Sox fan again. After that disaster last year, I wasn't sure what to expect—I'm not sure anyone was. It just goes to show you what a sane manager and a few good clubhouse guys will do for an organization. And getting rid of that trio of bad attitudes seemed to do wonders for your chemistry.

It's nice to see a group of guys who look happy to be playing baseball, who seem to genuinely like each other, and who don't give up even when the chips are down. Even when management has made roster and lineup changes, the whining (at least publicly) has not been present. I happen to make it to a game a few weeks ago and I didn't feel tortured staying until the end of the game. Even when you're behind, there's still that confidence that makes me feel like you can win every game.

Sure, you've had a couple of short losing streaks but nothing that gave me reason to worry too much. I do realize you can't win 'em all—even though that would be completely awesome, so I take the losses for what they're worth and look forward to the next win. I'm happy for the guys who are tearing it up at the plate and feel optimistic that those who are struggling will get their day in the sun. Even the players who seem to be floundering at times get their chance to contribute and often come through.

So I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for not making it agonizing to write about you this year. Thank you for making baseball fun again. Thank you for being a likeable and exciting team. And thank you for letting your fans feel like "worst to first" is an actual possibility.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 106: Singers Should Stick to Singing and Leave the Pitching to the Professionals.

The ceremonial first pitch. Just about every baseball team does it. Sometimes it's a celebrity... sometimes it's a well-known member of the community... and sometimes it's just a regular person. I like it when the regular folks take the mound. You know they've practiced—maybe even learned how to throw a curve to show off a bit. And they definitely seem to appreciate the opportunity.

Did you ever see Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park in May? This kid threw a perfect strike from his wheelchair. He might have practiced just a little. Plus, rumor has it that he got a few pointers from Pedro Martinez before his appearance. Just a feel good moment for everyone.

When teams ask popular singers to perform the first pitch honors, I'm sure they never know what to expect. It's obvious to everyone that the bad ones barely even know what direction to throw the ball. Didn't these people play T-ball as a kid? Little league baseball? Softball? Wiffle ball? Have they ever even thrown a rock?

My top three horrible throwers? Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, and the most recent addition to the list, Carly Rae Jepsen.

Evidently Justin didn't get out to the ball field too often as a tyke. Too busy working on his hair I guess. I'm suspicious of boys who can't throw a ball well.

Mariah Carey opted to go with some four inch heels for her appearance. Not a good idea. She's lucky she didn't twist an ankle. She's also lucky there wasn't a wardrobe malfunction with that jacket.

Carly Rae Jepsen needs either a lesson... or for no one to invite her to throw out a first pitch... ever again! Didn't she see the little man crouched behind the plate? That's where you aim.

Now here's a regular kid, throwing out the first pitch at an NLDS game. If no one told you he was blind, would you know? Take note, famous people, this is how it's done.

Much more entertaining and heartwarming than some overpaid celebrity, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 105: Red Sox Lead in AL East Slim Heading into Break

Today's game was an important one for the Red Sox. It would be the difference between finishing the west coast swing at .500 or at 6-4, taking two of the three series. And it would be the difference between heading into the All-Star break 2.5 games or 3.5 games up on the Tampa Bay Rays (who, by the way, have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games and are starting to scare me just a little bit.)

Well... the outcome was not good. After no-hitting the Oakland A's for six innings, Brandon Workman had a bit of trouble in the seventh giving up a game-tying two run homer. The Sox had a chance to go ahead in the top of the 11th but squandered a bases loaded situation and the A's took advantage and put the game away in bottom of that inning.

So basically the west coast was not especially kind of the boys of Boston. The Angels and the A's both took two of the three games. Only the Mariners weren't much of a challenge and the Sox took advantage scoring 34 runs, winning three of the four games.

As we head into the break, there are a few things to be concerned about—the major issue being the pitching staff. Clay Buchholz needs to get better and back into the form that got him to 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA before going out with a neck issue. Jon Lester... what the hell, Lester? By the middle of May he was 6-0 and now he's 8-6 which means he's won just two games since mid-May. Not good.

Felix Doubront is 6-3 and has won his last two decisions. He's a solid spot in the rotation but he only has nine decisions in 17 games. That's a hell of a lot of no decisions. John Lackey has picked up quite a bit of slack since Lester started sucking. Since mid-May, Lackey is 6-2 giving up four runs or less in each of those starts. And I can't even bring myself to look at Ryan Dempster's stats...

The Red Sox just picked up some bullpen help after Andrew Miller's injury turned out to be season-ending. Matt Thornton, formerly a Chicago White Sox reliever, joined the Red Sox over the weekend to add some lefty help to the pen. Thornton had a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances with Chicago. Hopefully today's performance was not a sign of what's to come as he took the loss.

Ok... so we've got four days of rest before the season resumes this Friday against the Yankees. Let's hope they take advantage and come back recharged and raring to go.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 104: Streakers and Urine Bombs at the Tour De France?

I'm not a fan of watching people ride their bikes which is why I'm always so confused by the large number of spectators for the Tour de France—and the endless hours of coverage on TV. I'm surprised I don't like it since there's always the possibility of a bloody multi-bike pile up, but I think the whole cheating/doping/lying about doping thing really turned me off. And even though Lance Armstrong is no longer involved, his douchebaggyness has lingering effects on the event.

According to DeadSpin, this year's Tour has had its share of crazy happenings—from spectators mooning the cameras to full frontal nudity to urine bombs. From the looks of this video, some people get so excited watching bike riding, they feel the need to do it totally naked. Totally weird but sadly true. (Don't blink, you'll miss it! He's right behind, and awkwardly close to the other whacko in the tight blue shorty shorts.)

I think if I was one of the riders, I'd be a bit uncomfortable with a completely naked dude (well, naked but wearing shoes) jogging along side of me. I imagine that type of thing would be pretty distracting. Although I'm quite impressed he was able to jog for as long as he did with his pants around his ankles. That's a recipe for disaster.

While the streaker thing is somewhat disturbing, I think the urine bomb made me laugh harder than anything. Unfortunately, there's no video but reports say that an onlooker tossed a container full of pee at Britain's Mark Cavendish earlier this week. At first Cavendish thought it was water, but realized it was piss from the taste. Seriously? Does someone actually know what urine tastes like? That's just gross.

Apparently Cavendish had crashed into another rider at the finish line the day before and fans took offense. They were booing and heckling him during the 11th stage this past Wednesday and the ugliness escalated when the urine bomb was launched at him from the crowd. When asked by the press how they knew what the substance was, a member of his team told the reporter, "Maybe you have to smell his jersey before you believe."

I guess he should be happy he was hit with #1 and not #2.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 103: Bruins Secure Some Big Names for Some Big Money

Shortly after the Boston Bruins' season ended, we saw some big name players depart—Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Andrew Ference and Jaromir Jagr. Then we saw some new big name players come in—Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla. Then everyone kept wondering what was going to happen with Tuukka Rask who had signed just a one year deal for the 2012-13 season as a sort of "let's see if this kid can man the pipes full-time."

Well, the answer to that question is obviously yes considering what Rask did not only in the shortened regular season, but also in the playoffs. And his hard work has paid off in the form of an eight-year, $56 million contract that will keep him with the Boston Bruins until he is 34. The contract sets him atop the NHL, joining Pekka Rinne of Nashville as the highest paid goalie in the league.

One of the big questions after Tim Thomas opted not to return to the net this past season was if Rask had the confidence and skill to get the Bruins to another Stanley Cup. He did, and while the team came up short in the end, it was little fault of the young goalie.

During the regular season, he posted a .929 save percentage with a 2.00 goals against average and recorded five shutouts. His postseason stats where even more impressive—his save percentage rose to .940 and his GAA dropped to 1.88. Not only that, but his impressive third round play against the Pittsburgh Penguins where he gave up just two goals in a four-game sweep was nothing short of phenomenal.

The Bruins also secured Patrice Bergeron with an eight-year contract extension worth $52 million this week, keeping him in black and gold until the 2021-22 season and most likely through the end of his hockey career. Bergeron said in an interview earlier this month that his goal was to be a lifelong Bruin.
“It would mean a lot,” Bergeron said on July 2. “That’s the goal since the beginning. It’s the team that believed in me when I was 18 and I was coming up. Now, it’s my home. I feel like it is. I love the city. I love the people. I definitely love the organization. It would mean a lot to me. Hopefully we can work something out.”
Some would say that had Bergeron opted to ride out his current three-year contract and hit the open market, he would've made more money but was willing to take a bit less to stay in the city he loves, with the team that took a chance on him as an 18-year-old. He had 10 goals and 22 assists in the 42 game 2012-13 season and stepped it up a notch in the postseason. Bergeron scored nine goals and six assists in 22 playoff games including two critical goals in the Game 7 rally against Toronto in the opening round. He scored both the tying goal in the third period as well as the winning goal in overtime to overcome a 4-1 deficit and win the game and the series.

Also, Bergeron is one tough son-of-a-bitch. This guy played most of the Stanley Cup finals with some type of injury that would keep most normal people off their feet for days. Torn rib cartilage, broken rib, separated shoulder and a punctured lung and never missed an entire game? That's insane. The big thing we have to worry about with Patrice is the concussions. He's had four in his career, one serious one in 2007 that ended his season.

It will be interesting to see how all the off-season changes shape this team going into the 2013-14 season. Hell, I might even have to start watching more than just the playoffs...maybe shed my "pink hat" status!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 102: Big Papi Reaches DH Milestone

David Ortiz loves Boston and Boston loves Big Papi. This is evident by his most recent contract with the Red Sox. At age 37, after his 2012 season was cut short by an achilles injury, the Sox acknowledged his years of hard work and commitment to this team with a two-year, $26 million contract that will keep him in Boston through 2014.

Some thought it was ridiculous—especially in an age where teams don't put much thought, importance or money into the DH position. In the 2008-2010 seasons, he experienced some of his lowest batting averages in a Red Sox uniform, but the team never gave up on him. They continued to see him as a valued member of the organization and rewarded him as such.

No one quite knew what this year would bring and if that hefty contract would come back to haunt the front office. Big Papi missed the first couple weeks of the season still trying to get that achilles back to fighting form and when he finally returned to the lineup less than a week after the Boston Marathon tragedy, he returned with a vengeance. For the remainder of the month of April, he broke out with 18 hits in nine games and a .500 average. Obviously it's impossible to continue that torrid pace, but his batting average has not dipped below .300 in the 73 games he's played this season.

Yesterday, David Ortiz reached yet another pinnacle in his long career—he became baseball's all-time leader in hits as a designated hitter, surpassing Harold Baines. He entered last night's game tied with Baines at 1,688 hits and with his two hits against the Mariners, took over the #1 spot with 1,690.

After his first hit of the night, a double to left-center to lead off the second, his accomplishment was posted on the video board and he was greeted with a standing ovation from the Mariners' fans. I wouldn't expect anything else from classy Seattle. He tipped his helmet to the fans, touched by the recognition. Ortiz also holds the top spot by a designated hitter for most runs scored, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits and RBIs.

This is your city, Big Papi, and it's going to be a sad day for Boston fans when your smiling face, big personality and intimidating bat are no longer part of the Red Sox lineup. But while you are still here... keep up the good work! Congratulations!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 101: And Aaron Hernandez Just Keeps Sinking Deeper

Lots of goings on in the Aaron Hernandez case this week—actually, lots of goings on that scream guilty! It's not looking good for the tattooed tight end with the recent revelations in his case. Documents in the case against Hernandez have been made public and it's pretty incriminating.

According to, a few of the facts released kind of make you wonder if he was even trying to hide the fact that he was a murderer.
• When investigators first told Hernandez they were “conducting a death investigation,” he slammed the door and then locked it, becoming “argumentative” with police when they first questioned him. 
 • Police say the cell phone found on the body of Odin Lloyd contained a text from Hernandez received on the morning of his death that read, “We still on”. 
• Hernandez also allegedly did not ask who had died.“Mr. Hernandez’s demeanor did not indicate any concern for the death of any person.” 
• According to police, Lloyd slept at Hernandez’s house two nights before he died.  
• A witness at the Rumor nightclub in Boston said Hernandez was present at the club two days before Odin’s death with a handgun in his waistband.  
• Police found multiple firearms on Hernandez’s property. 
The evidence is continuing to mount against the former Patriots' tight end and it will be interesting to see how his lawyers dig him out of this hole.

And just when you thought he couldn't be in more trouble, there's a report from TMZ that Hernandez actually admitted to shooting Odin Lloyd. It appears that one of his two cohorts, Carlos Ortiz, who is also in custody, told investigators that Ernest Wallace, the second of his pals, told Ortiz that Hernandez confessed to shooting Lloyd.

And yes... it is TMZ, so any news reported should be taken with a grain of salt, but I also saw the report on so there's that. I know I should be so quick to put the orange jumpsuit on Hernandez permanently—innocent until proven guilty, right? The fact that he didn't even ask who had been shot raises a big red flag...

But all in all, things are not looking too great for Hernandez and the likelihood of spending the rest of his life in an 8' x 10' cell is becoming more of a reality. But something tells me he'll fit in just fine in the Gen Pop.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 100: WAR - What is it Good For?

Some of these new fangled baseball stats often have me inquiring, "Who thinks this crap up?" And that's exactly what I thought when I first heard of WAR—or Wins Above Replacement. WAR was created by those Sabermetric geeks to try and wrap a players contributions to their team into one tidy statistic.

According to FanGraphs, WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?”

Check out FanGraphs. It has all the formulas on how to figure out a player's WAR stat, none of which I understand. It's more confusing than calculus. For position players, there are basically six components used to calculate WAR: batting runs, baserunning runs, runs added or lost due to grounding into double plays in double play situations, fielding runs, positional adjustment runs, and replacement level runs (based on playing time).

At the most basic level, only two components are used to calculate this stat for pitchers: runs allowed (both earned and unearned) and innings pitched. And for catchers, the fielding piece is calculated using stolen base runs saved (which basically gives the catcher credit for throwing out a runner and preventing the steal in the first place) and runs saved from passed pitches.

Confused yet? I sure am.

The cool thing about WAR is that it's pretty neutral—context, league and ballpark don't affect the numbers. So basically you can compare players from different years, leagues and teams and everyone is on the same playing field. But if you're a ballplayer, you definitely don't want to see your WAR in the negative numbers. That would be very bad. It basically means your team is probably better off if you just sat on the bench and contributed nothing at all.

If you're interested in reading more about WAR, click on over to here and here for all the ultra confusing facts and formulas. Maybe you'll even want to start calculating the numbers for your favorite team. You know... if you have a gazillion free hours you're looking to fill.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 99: Kraft and Patriots Feeling Duped.

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has finally broken his silence on the Aaron Hernandez situation. And guess what? He feels duped. Really? You've been paying a suspected three-time murderer and probably funded the murder weapon for this punk.

No one has a crystal ball (no, not even Bill Belichick) and could ever have predicted what kind of total criminal-in-the-making this kid would turn out to be. If all those other teams were passing on a tight end with this kind of talent, something was seriously wrong with him—and not just a bunch of failed drug tests. But Hernandez offered to take bi-weekly drug tests so why not trust him?

Essentially, Aaron Hernandez blew a whole lot of smoke up Kraft's ass and Kraft and the rest of Patriots front office fell for it... The former Patriot tight end claimed he wanted to be a role model for the Hispanic community. And that would probably make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside if he specified what type of role model because evidently, he really meant he wanted to encourage young Hispanics to join gangs and murder their friends.

According to an article in the Boston Globe, Kraft said, "No one in our organization was aware of any of these kind of connections. If it's true, I'm just shocked. Our whole organization has been duped."

The article also goes on to say that Hernandez "knew how to push (Kraft's) buttons." He was raised in New England and after he was drafted, he told Kraft his first Patriots jersey was a Drew Bledsoe jersey.

"He was a New England kid who was a Patriot. I thought it was cool," Kraft said.

After signing his big new contract extension that paid him $16 million guaranteed, but could be worth up to $40 million, Hernandez donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund. Kraft tried to give it back, but Hernandez wanted the foundation to have it.

So was Aaron Hernandez sincere in the things he said to Robert Kraft or was he just kissing his ass so that maybe there wouldn't be such a close eye on his every move? Or maybe Hernandez actually thought he could change his murdering ways and be the good kind of role model. How's that working out for you now, Aaron?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 98: So I Guess Soccer is Pretty Dangerous

***May contain graphic descriptions of really bad stuff so if violence bothers you, this might not be the post for you.***

I really thought that the whole Aaron Hernandez murder thing would be the most horrifying sports story I would hear about for a long time... and then came Brazilian soccer. This football tale could easily be the plot for a really scary movie—a tale I'm not sure even the sickest mind could make up and there have been some really effed up movie plots over the years.

The story takes place at an amateur Brazilian soccer match a little over a week ago. The characters involved include 20-year-old match referee Otavio da Silva and 31-year-old player Josenir Abreu. The referee (da Silva) issued a red card to the player (Abreu)—a normal soccer occurrence, right? Evidently Abreu took offense to the red card and began arguing with da Silva, refusing to leave the field.

Da Silva became incensed with the arguing and decided to take action in shutting the argumentative player up. The referee reportedly had a knife in his possession and began to repeatedly stab Abreu on the field. The player was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital later. Even if the story ends here, it's pretty disturbing, right? To think that a referee, the person who is charged with making sure the rules are being followed, could commit such a heinous act is frightening.

But here's where the story goes from horrifying to downright gruesome. Several spectators—most likely family and friends of the victim—rushed the field in response to the attack and brutally assaulted the referee. It was reported that the attackers stoned da Silva then quartered and decapitated him, subsequently hanging the referee's head on a stake. Huh?

I honestly can't wrap my head around the first crime, let alone the grisly act that followed. I'm sure there will be a lot of soccer players not too thrilled about traveling to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup next summer after this nightmare...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 97: Bruins Make More Roster Changes

I'm afraid I'm barely going to recognize the Boston Bruins next season. First they decide to let Andrew Ference and Jaromir Jagr go, then Nathan Horton opts not to return. And now, in what's being called "a blockbuster deal" with the Dallas Stars, the B's trade away Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and prospect Ryan Button for wingers Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser and prospects Joseph Morrow and Reilly Smith. Eriksson was the real attraction here. He has spent his entire seven year career with the Stars and scored 150 goals and 357 total points.

I know that there has been grumblings that Seguin is maybe focused a bit too much on the partying and not enough on the actual hockey so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. GM Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Globe last month that Seguin needed to be "more professional." If that isn't a sure sign that you're going bye-bye, I don't know what is. Being cocky just gets you traded.

It just seems odd that they would be so quick to give him a big fat contract just a couple years into his NHL career, without fully knowing his real potential. His production in the postseason left a lot to be desired—he scored just one goal in 22 games. Seguin could've been a dynamic force for the B's if he just could've kept his head in the game...and out of the bar.

Peverley was salary cap collateral damage with his $3.25 million slated for next season. And with his scoring slowly decreasing over the past couple years, it was inevitable that his time in Boston was coming to an end.

As if all that wasn't enough, the Bruins also signed Jarome Iginla yesterday to a one year, $1.8 million contract. I'm not sure how I feel about this deal since Boston evidently wasn't good enough for Iginla last season... what has changed? Huh, Iginla? Realize you might have made a slight error in choosing the Penguins to take you to the Stanley Cup? Of course, now I'm afraid he's going to be a jinx. What if he did choose Boston last year? Would the Penguins have gone to the Cup finals instead?

There's no doubt that Iginla will provide the Bruins with some much needed scoring. Over the last 11 seasons (not including this past strike-shortened season), he has scored 30 or more goals in each. Iginla has also led the NHL in goals scored twice in his career.

Ok, Bruins... I think I'm good with all of the above but if you even think about sending Milan Lucic away, you're dead to me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 96: For the Red Sox, There's No Place Like Home

What a difference a year makes! Last season I dreaded writing about the Red Sox. It was so... not fun. Finding new ways to say they sucked proved challenging. Recapping games often made me want to poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick... because that would be less painful. A root canal without novocaine would probably have been more fun than witnessing that Valentine-piloted shit show.

But this season is much more fun. I pinch myself to confirm that I, in fact, am not dreaming. But I'm also careful not to get too excited and jinx the whole shebang. I hate that my superstitious side doesn't let me have more fun. Jerk.

The latest nine-game homestand gives a glimpse into how well this team plays in friendly Fenway. Just like Dorothy says as she clicks her heels together—there's no place like home. They finished 8-1 after finishing a sweep of the San Diego Padres. The team averaged .349 at the plate with 12.1 hits and 5.7 runs per game. The Sox had 30 doubles and if you don't feel like doing the math, that comes out to 3.3 per game which is probably why the on base percentage hovered right around .400.

This got me wondering, as we approach the All-Star break, how they have fared at home since the season started. The answer? Pretty damn good. The Red Sox lead the Major Leagues in wins (31), doubles (127) and runs batted in (239). They also stand #2 behind the Detroit Tigers in total hits at home (464) and team batting average (.293).

Well then I just had to find out how they stood overall—home and away—in MLB. Again, they're #1 or tied for #1 in wins (tied with 53), doubles (197) and runs batted in (434). And again, second behind the Tigers in hits (834) and team average (.278).

When this season commenced, a big concern with the 2013 roster was their power. With the off-season signings, could they maintain the home run potential they had enjoyed in the past? Well... they're not great, but they don't totally suck either. They rank 11th overall with 89 and 12th at home with 44. But what they lack in power, they certainly make up for in timely hitting and base running smarts.

Now on to the West Coast and lots of late starts that I won't get to see. I would love nothing more than to head into the break holding on to that top spot in the AL East.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 95: Want to Know What Else Happened on July 4th?

Ahhhh... July 4th... the official kickoff to the summer—at least in the northeast! And with the arrival of the holiday, Mother Nature has decided to bless (or curse, depending on what you like) us with some hot, sunny weather for the four day weekend. Just a tad too hot for my liking and mowing the lawn and moving some rocks was not the best thing to do this morning.

In honor of Independence Day, I thought I'd give you a little bit of "what happened on this day" throughout Red Sox history. (All facts pulled from
1905:  With the A's scoring two runs in the 20th inning, Rube Waddell beats Cy Young and the Red Sox, 4-2 with each hurler pitching a complete game. 
1939:  In a slugfest at Shibe Park, Red Sox third baseman Jim Tabor hits two grand slams in the same game as well as a third home run in Boston's 18-12 victory over the A's. It's only the second time the feat has been accomplished, both coming in a game against the Philadelphia A's. 
1970:  Brothers Billy and Tony Conigliaro both hit home runs in the Red Sox's 5-1 victory over the Tribe at Fenway Park. The Boston outfielders become the eighth different set of siblings to have homered in the same game, a feat which has occurred only 13 times in major league history.  
2003:  In a 10-3 victory over New York, the Red Sox score all their runs with the long ball hitting a record seven home runs off the Yankees. Prior to those fireworks, the Bronx Bombers had given up six homers in a game four times including twice to Boston (1997 and 1977) and the Indians (1970).
2013: After finishing last in the AL East in 2012, the Red Sox can enjoy being tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the most wins in all of baseball. (I had to add this one!) 
Wishing you all a Safe and Happy July 4th!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 94: Dare I Call John Lackey the Current Ace?

At the start of this season, no one knew quite what the Red Sox pitching staff would bring. Especially after posting dismal stats in 2012 where they finished 27th out of 30 teams in the Major Leagues.  They concluded the season 69-93 with a team ERA of 4.70. Did I mention it was dismal?

Needless to say, this season, to date, they're a hell of a lot better. The team record is 51-34 with a 3.88 ERA, currently sitting #12 in baseball. In April alone, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Felix Doubront combined for a 12-0 record. And though Buchholz is currently on the DL, he still owns the best record on the team—an impressive 9-0 with a stingy 1.71 ERA.

Jon Lester had a tough May and struggled through a lot of June, but his record is nothing to be ashamed of at 8-4. The real surprise for me is John Lackey. After missing all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery, he struggled a bit through April and May, posting a 3-5 record. My expectations were low.

I'm not going to lie—I've never been a big fan of Lackey. I've always thought, in general, his attitude sucked and he consistently fails to impress me during his time here in Boston. Until this season. I'm not sure if it's the new elbow, the new manager or just a new all around attitude, but I'm seeing shades of the old John Lackey. The Lackey who scared the bejeeezus out of me when the Sox faced him. He has been the glue holding this rotation together while Buchholz recovers and Lester tries to pull himself together.

Lackey has won three of his last four starts and the no decision was crap—Andrew Bailey blew the save. Shocker. He has given up two runs or less in all four starts and struck out 27 total batters. His 2.81 ERA is second lowest of the starters behind Buchholz. Color me impressed. And that's saying a lot considering my pre-existing bad feelings for the big righty.

If Lackey can keep up the strong outings and Buchholz can get better (and stop sleeping wrong) and Lester can get rid of the yips, I'd say the Sox have a pretty good chance of continuing on their current path.

PS. Dear First Place Red Sox... Please, please, pleeeease don't blow it!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 93: Post Stanley Cup Bruins Not the Same

Next year's Boston Bruins team is going to look a little bit different than the skaters that hit the ice in 2013. And just when I was starting to get attached to these guys... you know, now that I'm a die hard hockey fan once again. *cough* pink hat *cough* Next year I'm going to try and watch more than just the playoffs, I promise.

Two players are leaving because they have no choice, while another is leaving on his own. I understand that if the Bruins don't want to re-sign a player, there's nothing anyone can do about it. But why would you willingly go after you've been to the Stanley Cup finals twice in three years? Damn the salary cap!

Andrew Ference has no choice. The hard-hitting defenseman came to the Bruins from Calgary in February of 2007. In his six seasons, he amassed 104 points in 373 regular-season games, and 21 points in 69 playoff games. Ference brought his professionalism, competitiveness and fierce loyalty to the Bruins locker room making him a valuable member of the club. And let's just say he excelled at retaliation and protecting his teammates. Click here for the Bleacher Report's tribute to Ference.

Jaromir Jagr didn't have a say in his future with Boston either. The 41-year-old future hall-of-famer was brought in mid-season at the trade deadline deal after the Jerome Iginla deal fell through. He scored no goals during the Playoffs and often looked exhausted. He suffered both hip and back injuries in the finals and is most likely looking for a big payday—something the Bruins are in no position to offer. I made fun of the decision to sign Jagr when it first happened, but he proved to be valuable at times in the playoffs.

The real surprise for me is definitely Nathan Horton's departure from the team. While his point production has been on a steady decline since he arrived in Boston, the winger generally kicked ass in the post season. The line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Horton was said by some to be one of the best lines in hockey—a line that combined for 23 goals and 41 assists in the 2013 postseason. During this past shortened regular season, Horton scored 22 total point but made up for it by piling up 19 points in the playoffs. That's a tough good-bye.

It's understandable that teams need to be sensitive to the salary cap, but it doesn't make losing great players any easier. Imagine if baseball had a cap...what would teams like the Yankees and Red Sox look like? Would we no longer see $100 million contracts? If so, I'm all for it!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 92: Aaron Hernandez Jersey Buyer's Remorse?

There are several reasons I never purposely purchase team gear with a player's name on the back. First of all, he might leave. Nothing bugs me more than someone wearing a t-shirt or jersey with the name of a player who now plays for another team. Youkilis and Beckett shirts should now be outlawed in Fenway Park. Just sayin. The only time I'm ok with it is if that player has retired while playing for the Red Sox. Yaz... ok. Ted Williams... ok. Jason Varitek... ok.

"Why you no want my jersey?"
Another reason is, and this might be the most important reason, that player might end up being a serial killer. I'm super excited I never bought or even thought about buying an Aaron Hernandez jersey. Not really a name I want emblazoned across my back. Kind of screams, "Hey, look at me, I love murderers!" Certain people out there will continue to wear their Hernandez jerseys, but I'm guessing those folks fall into one of the following groups: (a) Serial Killer, (b) Gang Banger, or (c) Dumbass.

The Patriots have provided a solution for anyone who purchased an Aaron Hernandez jersey back when he was a closet killer and now has an extreme case of buyer's remorse. This weekend (July 6-7), the New England Patriots have offered to exchange your tainted jersey for one of equal value at the Patriots Pro Shop.

If you can't get to the Pro Shop this weekend, have no fear... these suckers are selling like hotcakes on eBay. Really? One guy put his Hernandez jersey on the auction site hoping to get $50 and he ended up selling it for almost $230! And another guy got almost $290!! Since the NFL has discontinued the #81 Patriots jersey, collectors (or boneheads who just want to wear it for the shock value) have been willing to shell out some bucks to get one.

But some have gone just too far. After the Boston Globe reported of the inflated sale prices, one greedy jerk put a white (unsigned) jersey up on eBay for a whopping $4,000. No bids on that one yet. There is also a throwback Hernandez jersey (also unsigned) for the bargain "Buy It Now" price of $2,000. Seriously?

What kind of person buys this crap? Wait, I don't even want to know...