Posts Tagged Baseball

Season Preview: Providence Sox

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports

This is the eleventh and final preview and it’s going to trip you out, man. Eleven is a great number. My craps shooting amigos will know that 11 is probably the best number at the table. It’s a winner on the come out but doesn’t sweep the line after the point is made. Everybody hollers out “Yo’leven”. That alone is enough to make 11 my favorite number, but there’s more.

I was born at 11:11 p.m. and all my life I’ve found myself compelled to look at the clock at exactly 11:11. Now I figured there’s a logic explanation for this. 11:11 is pretty memorable, especially on digital clocks, and probably I look at the clock all the time but consciously take note when it’s 11:11. Makes sense. You ever heard of this cat Uri Geller? He’s a fake psychic. Here’s a note from his website:

I started experiencing this rather bizarre occurrence when I was forty years old, at first I thought they were coincidences, I would stand with my back to a digital clock and something made me turn around and I would notice that the time would be 11:11. These incidents intensified I would be checked into hotel rooms on floor 11 room 1111. I started noticing these digits on computers, microwave ovens, cars, documents, etc. I decided to write about it on my website. I was immediately inundated by hundreds of emails from all around the world. Individuals were telling me their own 11:11 stories, almost always saying ‘I thought it only happened to me.’ It is difficult for me to decipher what this is all about but my intuition tells me its positive.

Weird, huh? Same experience. Turns out 11 is what numerologists call a master number. This is a powerful number for numerologists. It’s closely associated from psychics. I’ve always been a little bit psychic. In fact, from the time I was about 5 years old I had dreams about airplanes crashing. One morning I woke up very early, before the alarm went off, mechanically went to the tv as if compelled, turned it on and watched a plane swoop into the WTC. It was like watching a replay of the dream I’d had all my life. September 11. 9-11. Or 9+1+1=11. Trippy man. Real trippy.

So given this is my 11th preview, I figure this one is going to be highly prescient. I remember previewing this team early on and being unimpressed but the second impression has been more favorable. Hanley Ramirez is a do everything bona fide fantasy star. Morneau and Holliday have an all star track record. Holliday of course basks in the reflected glory of Fat Albert. Chase Headley and Howie Kendrick are both value picks that will contribute with Headley running a lot early on and Kendrick doing what everybody has always expected he would when healthy. Cameron Maybin is a perpetual waiting to break out guy and you add in Podsednik this is a team that will steal a lot of bases, score a lot of runs and pound the ball. There are 7 guys hitting over .300 so far this year and one hitting over .400 (Podsednik). Expect the averages to deflate a bit, but this team will be solid on the offensive side.

I really like the deal to pick up Tim Lincecum. He’s the kind of guy that, given two starts in a week, can pretty much dominate four categories. Randy Wells is an underrated compliment to Lincecum. There are too many pitchers here that don’t do enough to really help, though. Don’t expect Mike Pelfry to maintain his hot start. Jared Weaver seems to be legitimate, but I tend to wonder. Floyd, Aceves and Sean Marshall are taking up roster space. Carl Pavano remains Carl Pavano. That leave just Leo Nunez down there in the pen doing anything worthwhile and that will likely need to be addressed.

Prediction? You know I’d like to say 11th. Planned on it, in fact. But this team is a bit better than that. I think they’ll be in striking distance but just miss the playoffs.

That’s a wrap, Jacks. Have a great year everybody.


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Season Preview: Seattle Vaportrails

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports

By harsh necessity, Atlas supports the broad sky
on his head and unwearying arms,
at the earth’s limits, near the clear voiced Hesperides,
for his is the doom decreed for him
by Zeus the counselor.

The poet Hesiod wrote these lines about the Titan, Atlas, about two thousand years ago. Atlas fought with the Titans against the Olympians and when the Titans went down on a Zeus walk off home run, Zeus condemned him to hold up the heavens for all eternity. It’s unclear just what Albert Pujols did to deserve a similar fate, but he’ll be asked to hold up what chances the Vapes, one of FBB’s more successful franchise, will have this season. Now if that’s not a torturous segue, I don’t know what is, but hey this is my tenth one of these so cut me some slack.

It’s tough to tell what’s going on with the Vaportrails this year. It started with the drafting of Joe Nathan, an uncharacteristic gaff. Aaron Hill, the only second baseman on the roster, has been a ghostly inhabitant at the keystone with no replacement as he languishes on the DL. Bedard and Lidge currently occupy the DL spots but there’s no guarantee either will be contributors this year. Chone Figgins is off to a slow start. Ellsbury is nicked up. The bullpen features two shaky closers in Ryan Franklin and David Aardsma while Jose Mijares gives the Trails yet another player on the DL.

There are some nice pieces here. Vlad Guerrero was a shrewd pick and will probably contribute well above his 17th round draft slot. The roster is really outfield heavy with Victorino, Hawpe, Ludwick and Byrd all fighting for playing time. Danny Haren should provide solid numbers, at least through July, and Chris Carpenter is a true ace. Yovanni Gallardo has the stuff to be a third ace in this hand but he’s off to a slow start so far.
Buehrle and Lackey bring similar skill sets but the innings eater type sometimes can be more of a difference maker on the real diamond than in this game.

And yet, in spite of all the Vapes came roaring out of the gate and blew out the Dish in week one. Which brings us around to Pujols once again, who, like our friend Atlas, hoisted the team on his shoulders hitting more than half the home runs for the week, driving in a third of the team’s runs and scoring a quarter of them. As long as he’s around and healthy, the Vapes will be dangerous in any given week.

I just don’t think a one man team gets it done in this year’s league though and I’m not seeing enough in the complimentary players to be able to recommend Cloudie’s boys this year.

Prediction: Just miss the playoffs


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It’s Baseball Season! For the Joes Not the Pros!!

Yes, spring has sprung(sprang?) and once again I will be subjecting myself to pain on a weekly basis for yet another summer. I am back with the same team I was with last year in the Royal Rooters Baseball League.

We are “The Thunder”.

We were a ragged group of misfits thrown together last year as an expansion team in a league that didn’t have much room to expand, therefore we ended up with a pretty rough group of guys who lacked some skills on top of lacking some management leadership. We had a grand total of 1 team practice prior to the start of the season, and we played no warm up games for “spring training”.

We finished off last season with an abysmal record of 3-17 after losing our first 12 games to start off the season, by an average score of 15-3; Three of which were shutouts by 15 or more runs. Needless to say, we had some problems.

For the most part our problem was actually our pitching, we lacked any pitchers that could be considered a solid #1 or #2 option on the mound, and we suffered greatly because of this; Walks being the main culprit. This led to lots of runs and lots of time in the field compared to hitting, which wears everyone down and our offense suffered because of it.

A little over halfway through the year, a couple games after we actually got uniforms(although we never got hats) we had a change in the leadership of the team, along with the acquisition of some decent starting pitching. One definite ace for the team, and also one semi nutty guy who thought he was way better than he really was, but it was an improvement at least.

Our change in leadership was a combination of Alex taking over as the manager of the team, and myself picking up some of the slack with the little things like equipment and water for the games.

We managed to eek out 3 wins in our final 8 games, 2-0, 4-1, and 13-11. Somewhat of an improvement to say the least.

Now we come to winter, Alex was officially the new leader of the team as of the end of last season and he spent a great deal of time over the winter getting some new players for our team. We managed to find a new catcher, along with 5 new players who are all above average pitchers. This is combined with what has been referred to as “shedding deadwood”, which mostly consisted of players who were either terrible, never wanted to show up, showed up still drunk from the night before, or were just douchebags to their fellow teammates.

We also spent a great deal of time as a team over at the batting/fielding cages in Medford. Then we have also played a total of 5 spring training games to make sure we can work out some of the kinks.

I am disappointed that it appears as though I won’t be a starting player for the team, probably because I have been having some troubles hitting even though my fielding has been superb. It’s ok though because things do shift around during games and not everyone will make it to every game we play.

We have gone 3-1-1 in our spring training games; Yes, there are ties during spring training. This shows a remarkable level of improvement for us as a team and it lends to the thought that we aren’t just going to be a better team, we are going to be a team who is contending to win it all this year.

So look here for some updates on how our season is going, I am sure I will have plenty to talk about and either be seeking sympathy for poor play or boasting about how awesome our turn around has been.



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Welcome Back Youk and the Large Father!

Last night was a great game by the Red Sox.

The night started against the Blue Jays with the Red Sox sitting in 2nd place behind the Blue Jays by 2.5 games after a win the night before 2-1.

The rookie Cecil was pitching for the Jays and he was doing pretty well until the 3rd inning when Jason Varitek leads off the inning with a Home Run. Then Julio Lugo hits a double, gets to third on a bunt single by Jacoby and then scored when Pedroia hits into a double play. Followed up by Big Papi Ortiz striking out, the pit that is 3rd in the order continues to grow deeper.

It was a scary moment for Cecil though who laid himself out trying to catch the bunt popup by Jacoby. He landed really awkwardly and it was thought he might have injured his shoulder. As Eck said on the broadcast, it wasn’t a smart thing for a pitcher to try and do, but it was instinct to try to catch the ball and get the out. Fortunately he was alright and stayed in the game.

Boopie doopie doo… 4th inning was boring and then we come to the 5th inning. Jason Varitek is up at the plate to lead off the inning. POW, home run to lead off the inning for number 7 on the year.

Wait, What? Who? Jason Varitek just hit another home run? Jason Varitek is tied for 2nd on the team with 7 home runs for the season and it’s only May? Who is this guy and where was he last year?

So then things really started rolling after that. Lugo grounded out to 3rd, followed by a walk to Ellsbury. Pedroia steps into the box and drives a nice hard shot into right center for an easy stand up double while ellsbury tries to go first to home for the score. I am pretty sure he actually scored because I think the tag missed him, but with the angle for home plate umpire Marty Foster put him at a disadvantage, so it looked like Ellsbury was out. Pedroia then advanced to 3rd on the throw home.

So now Papi is at the plate and every stands up and gives him a standing ovation to show their support for him in this eternal slump that he appears to be in. Then… BOOM! He hits a home run into straight away center field!! The ball went over at about 370 feet! It may have barely made it over the fence, but who cares? It made it over the fence!! His first home run on 150 at bats dating back all the way to last year!! His teammates gave him the “rookie cold shoulder” when he went back to the dugout after trotting around the bases, but then surrounded him with hugs, high fives, and pats ont he head and back for the hit. He then took a moment to step to the top of the dugout stairs to wave his hat in thanks to the fans who were cheering him, even in the home run drought.

Why stop the train from rolling, right? Jason Bay followed him 2 batters later after a Kevin Youkilis single for his team leading 12th home run which sailed well over the Green Monster and bounced off cars in the garage accross the street. Then Mike Lowell followed up with a back to back shot over the left field fence as well which put the Red Sox in a comfortable 8-0 situation. Rocco Baldelli managed to hit a triple to left center but was stranded on base by Varitek who struck out to end the inning.

The game was a good one and the Red Sox have taken the first 2 games in a 3 game series with the Jays, I have high hopes for tonight in hopes of a clean sweep of the first series of the year. That would put the Red Sox 1/2 game off the Jays with 2 fewer wins, and 1 fewer loss.

Youk was back last night, went 3/5, and Lugo went 1/4 and is still above .300 with his average. Now if Lugo can keep this up and stop with all the on the field errors, then I might not mind him hanging around. I think he’s a good #9 hitter, so if he gets on base we don’t have a slow poke sitting in front of Jacoby who leads off the order.


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Congratulations to #14

Earlier today a great bit of news was released to the world by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

James Edward Rice, #14 on the Boston Red Sox for the entirely of his 16 seasons in Major League baseball was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

This was Jim’s final year of standard eligibility, if he had not been voted in with the 76.4% vote he received, then his only option to get into the Hall of Fame would have been via the Veterans Committee or buying a ticket at the door.

Also elected this year were Ricky Henderson(94.8%), and Joe Gordan(Veteran’s Committee).

I am happy to see that one of the great Red Sox players from the past has finally been recognized the way he was meant to be for his play over the years. I also look forward to meeting and congratulating him in person while at camp in February.

I also hope to be able to get a photo of me with both Jim and Yaz.


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Ahhh… Tradition…

The first Spring Training games took place today and Boston did it’s traditional games against local colleges, they opened up against BC and Northeastern today, and not surprisingly won both games, both shutouts, 24-0 and 15-0.

They were split squad games with some of the main players on both teams.

The Red Sox performed well and some good outings at the plate by some of the minor league guys, like Jeff Corsaletti(OF) and George Kottaras(C). Hopefully Kottaras will be consistent and be a good replacement for Varitek who I am guessing is going to be retiring in a year or two, since he turns 36 in a little over a month, his knees probably can’t hold up much longer, and well, his hitting just isn’t there anymore, great behind the plate, just not while standing at the plate.

Yes, they were playing against “only college” kids but I don’t see that as a big deal, you still need to hit the ball and swing well to do it right. Also, a large number of walks certainly helped which shows good patience on the part of the veterans who didn’t take the game too lightly.

Beckett picked up where he left off last year as well, only pitched 2 innings, but had 4 strikeouts, 1 fly out and 1 ground out with no walks. He spoke out after the game and was not too happy with his curveball, but hey, only the first game of spring training so plenty of time for things to shake out, and as we all know, Josh is one of his own harshest critics which is actually a really good thing as long as he only strives to improve instead of getting down on himself from a bad outing.


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Manny Being…. Yogi?

Quote from Manny Ramirez at Spring Training in response to the question,

“What’s it like to be here on time?”

“Hey, I am always on time, I may be late 2 years in a row, but I am always on time”



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Oh Manny… Why? Why did you do it?

Manny has now switched agents to that one guy who we all know and love!!!

Scot Boras, the dregs of the agent world and one of the people who we can definitely all blame for the outrageous salaries that we see sports stars making nowadays, a media whore like no other(except maybe Peyton Manning, but at least his is advertising something other than himself).

Also, not sure how to take Manny’s comments about the team picking up his options for ’09 and ’10. I know Manny has said he wants to play for a long time and be like Julio Franco(who is 50 this year and still looking to play) and I am not sure if the Sox should pick up his 20 million or not, it’s an iffy situation from my point of view. He is still a great player, and he is still worth having on a team, but is he worth 20 million? and would it be worth it to the team to over pay him with that 20 million to keep him off another team? Deep questions….

From Extra Bases on
Manny Ramirez is hiring Scott Boras as his agent, a friend of the Red Sox left fielder told Friday.

Sox GM Theo Epstein confirmed by email to that Ramirez informed him of the change within the last few days, according to the report.

It is unclear at the moment what the change means for the Red Sox. Boston has a $20 million team option on Ramirez for each of the next two seasons. Ramirez told reporters Thursday he would not demand the Sox pick up his options.

“They’re the ones who’ve got my options, it’s up to them to say, ‘OK, we’re going to pay,'” Ramírez said. “It’s not up to me to go into the office and demand a four-year deal, or whatever. I’m going to come here to play the game, finish my year. If they want me to come back, I’ll come back.

“I want to finish my career here, but it’s up to them. If that doesn’t happen, hey, I’ll go and play somewhere else. I know I can still play and what else can I say? It’s up to them. I’m not the one who writes the checks.”


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Things Not Too Hot For Trot

Ex-Red Sox player Trot Nixon has agreed to a minor league contract with Arizona Diamondbacks.

I guess the big payday wasn’t out there for him…

But feel free to bookmark this… I give him 2, maybe 3 years and he is back on the Sox as a bench player for backup and defense. Why you ask? Fans love him and the Sox will be able to get him for crazy cheap money at that point.


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What is that Smell?

What is that smell? You know you know it….

It’s the smell of fresh cut grass, the smell of hot dogs, cotton candy, pretzels, mustard(even if gross), popcorn and all those other smells, most of them good and some of them bad.

It’s springtime, which means baseball spring training!!!


or in the park as the case may technically be.

We come into Spring Training as a set of fans with high hopes for our team, they won the World Series last year for the 2nd time in 4 seasons, which for this team is something quite amazing. I personally thank the ownership for this, they have certainly put an emphasis on winning, not just on competing, and they actually appear to care about their investment, unlike the past ownership group of the Yawkeys and the Yawkey Trust.

I feel good about the chances for the team this year, with a high percentage of the team coming back, and a lot of young stars who look poised and hungry to win instead of laying back and enjoying the success they have had early.

Some high points so far:
– Manny on time to Spring Training
– Big Papi’s knee is in good shape, a little sore but no major problems
– Pitching staff is in good shape

Some low points so far:
– Schilling’s shoulder, pretty sure he is gonna be done for the season, but who knows?
– Coco Crisp, I like Coco, he is a walking WebGem producer, and while I wish there was a way to keep him and Jacoby, but  I don;t see that as viable, unless he really picks up the offense, he will likely go in trade for a good utility player, hopefully one with a strong bat.

I feel confident and I look forward to seeing how everything pans out, and hopefully we will see great things from this team this year.

I am hoping for no sophmore slump from Pedroia and an awesome rookie year from Jacoby Ellsbury.


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