Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Winter took the day off today, and I was finally able to take the munchkins outside to play. Rakes belly flopped onto Ciera's skateboard in the road, over adjusted just a tad, and did quite the face plant on the pavement. Meanwhile, Ciera is somehow riding her bike, skateboarding, and roller blading seemingly at the same time, while Angie and I chased the newly walking Trot every which way but loose.
Still, it was nice to just get outdoors for the first time in months it seems. Of course, we ended the playtime the way we usually do: we had a catch. Ciera has loved doing this since she was 3, which is Rakes age now, and I alternate throwing to each one. I don't know how such a simple thing is so much fun, it just is. When it's just Ciera and I, she tells me what she did that day, or which rotten little boy chased her around the playground (I keep all boys names she mentions in a secret book in case I need it in a few years), or what she saw on TV that day. Somehow, just throwing a ball back and forth makes me feel even closer to her.
Rakes and I are going to spend a lot of evenings playing catch, I can already tell. He loves for me to "play baseball" with him, which is basically batting practice. For a 3 year old, he's pretty good at it: his focus is our biggest problem! A plane goes by, or he sees a butterfly, and it's ADD time. I can't wait until he turns 5 and we can sign him up for T-Ball, but I am going to have to break him of his "Big Papi pimping" every time he gets ahold of one!
Winter gave us a peek at spring today, the Sox are in Florida getting ready for 2007, and the first Spring Training game is Wednesday night, with Schill on the hill. Before long, the season's gonna start, my blood pressure will go up, and we'll be outside every evening having a catch.
It don't get much better than that.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Coco Crisp has hair now. So does The Papelbot, but his looks like he should be singing lead for Flock of Seagulls. Kevin Youkilis looks like a thinner version of David Wells, and the Red Sox, apparently, signed some guy from Japan. I know this because all of a sudden, there are 1,000 Japanese reporters wandering around camp trying to take pictures of Matsuzaka going to the bathroom.
Spring Training is the weirdest time: all of us fans are excited about baseball being back, and the players, for the most part, just want to get their work in so they can make their tee times. It's kind of like Christmas time at school for Ciera: she's at school, but she's not really working. She watches a lot of videos, does basic work, but not too much serious stuff gets done. Don't get me wrong, guys are getting their timing down, building up arm strength, getting into that final level of fitness they need to for the season. For the most part though, 90% of the guys are ready to go. Wily Mo hit a moon shot and broke his bat in BP today for Pete's sake: I think he's close to ready.
Schilling has learned some Japanese, and is proudly speaking it to anyone who will listen. I compared Rakes to Millar a while back: he's got a little Schilling in him too. Smart, opinionated, loud, and almost NEVER stops talking. Tek was fist bumping Dice K and Papi and JD Drew are due soon. Meanwhile, on the Manny front, his spokesperson, Crazy Julian says Manny is taking care of his sick mother and will arrive March 1st. Poor lady, she always seems to get afflicted with some type of sickness right when camp opens. Weird.
First game: a week from tomorrow vs. the Twins.
Let's get it on.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
After a long winter of ear infections,and a three year old who seems to be copying the daily life of Dennis the Menace, things are looking up. My daughter is 8 going on 18, and my wife, who despite having the patience of Job dealing with all the things that happen daily to a stay at home Mom, is just one of my stupid comments away from using my head as a pinata. Even so, the sun is shining.
I've been self employed for the last 14 years and have to make quarterly payments of my estimated taxes. My accountant called yesterday, and for the first time EVER, I'm getting a refund. Not just a federal refund, but a state as well. The fact that I made less, have a higher mortgage, and get mugged by my health insurance company every month is not going to take away my joy at this unexpected windfall.
I spent 2 hours watching NESN videos on Spring Training last night, and finally made it to bed around 1 this morning. Am I certifiable? Yes. I blabbered on and on to Angie this morning about what Tito and Theo said in their 20 minute press conference, even though they are more tight lipped than the Bush administration about anything important, and basically said nothing in that 20 minutes. Did not care. It was baseball.
Down in FL, pitchers are throwing, guys are running, and Schill is talking 90 miles a minute to anyone who will listen. Any day now, Manny will come skipping into camp, grinning and pointing, and the man hugs will commence. Inside, I'm doing a happy jig.
Because baseball, finally, is here.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Beckett, you're my BOY! (Saying it just the way Will Farrell did in Old School to the old guy). Baseball is finally back, as Beckett, along with Jonathan Papelbon, and if you look real close, at the far right of the picture, Jon Lester all are in Florida for Spring Training. It's great to see these young guys showing up 4 days before they have to, showing how much they are ready to strap it on and get after it. Lester, in particular: if you don't know, he was diagnosed with Lymphoma during the season last year, and had to stop playing to get treatment. From all accounts, he is in good health and ready to go. Whether he makes the team out of camp is irrelevant: the fact he is THERE is the story. Even Matsuzaka showed up today around noon, playing a little long toss in the outfield.
It seems like it's been forever since the Sox played: the end of the season was bizarre, to say the least. After a 3 1/2 hour rain delay, Devern Hansack, a Double A call up throws a no hitter through 5 innings, then with the rain coming down again, they call the game. Talk about going out with a whimper, not a bang. Weird ending to a weird year: First place until the 5 game series known forever to me as "The Yankee Massacre". It was right at this point the boys resembled more of a M.A.S.H. unit than a ball club, with a rash of injuries so big and so bizarre, you could almost image Big Stein holding a Red Sox doll in his lap and driving pins into it.
Now, I feel like my kids do on Christmas morning, or the way Ciera feels on the first day of school. I feel like Red on his way to finally meet up with Andy in Mexico in Shawshank: I almost cannot contain my sheer giddiness that the season is right around the corner. I've got a lot I want to do this season: I'm gonna try to score at least 3 games a week, teach Rakes how to throw a knuckle ball, and keep working with Ciera on her catching. I have to get my chair ready for the last 4 innings of each game for when I sit on the edge, rocking back and forth like Dustin Hoffman in "Rain man", muttering to myself. Gonna take the kids, wife, brother-in-law Scott, and whoever else wants to come down to Greenville, S.C. to see Gabe and the Greenville Drive this summer. And of course, Mattie and I take our annual trip to Camden Yards to catch a few games in September.
My buddy Shawn is a Yankee fan, who even though he would never admit it, KNOWS Papi deserved the MVP instead of Slappy McBluelips. He's a good guy, even though his baseball team is a legion of Satan, and he and I can actually talk about the game and our teams without arguing. (Although after the GREATEST CHOKE IN SPORTS HISTORY in 2004, he would not answer his phone for 5 days. Hard to argue with yourself.). He told me the other day that the Red Sox actually had him worried about this year. To get a Yankee fan to even half way admit the Sox are on his radar is a major accomplishment, so I feel good! I have a good feeling about this year.
Sunday, February 18th is the day. The day everyone is expected in camp. I, for one, can't wait. My wife, however, is not so excited. She realizes that in about 45 days, she loses the main tv for roughly 6 months. I told her it was all right, she was married to me, and that should be reward enough on it's own! Her response? The universal symbol for "We're number 1!" Although it's normally done with the index finger, not the middle one.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Blew a gasket today: not in my car, but in my brain. It was the perfect storm of my allergies playing havoc with me, potty training a 3 year old boy, the 10 month old cutting his top teeth, and the latest all time classic from Hillary Duff coming out of my daughters bedroom that started the ball rolling. After changing the 3 year olds clothes for the 6th time in 4 hours, I went off like Mt. Saint Helen's. After apologizing to my boy, I realized that I can sometimes look like I favor my daughter over him, because very rarely do I have to raise my voice to her. She has her moments, but for the most part Rakes is my "strong willed" child. By the way, "strong willed" is just a nice way to say "stubborn as a mule". I love all three of my children the same, and made a promise to myself today to try to show that with how I treat them individually.
The Boston Globe is doing a survey on who people's favorite Red Sox are at each position. Now, I don't have any favorites when it comes to my kids, but I do with the Sox. So, instead of voting at the Globe website, I thought I'd list them here.
Catcher: It came down to Fisk or Varitek, and as good as Fisk was, I gotta go with Tek. Gold glove, Silver Slugger, catcher on the WS champ, and last, but not least, the guy who shoved his glove in Slappy's face.
First Base: Bill Buckner was my choice. He was a great player for so many years and gets remembered for being the goat in 86 vs. the Mets. Number one, he shoulda been pulled for a defensive replacement, and number two, even if he caught that ball, he never would have beat Mookie to first. Almost went for Millar here for sheer comedy alone, but decided his habit of hitting into more rally killing DP's at the worst time possible could not be overlooked.
Second base: Remdawg. Almost went with Bellhorn here, just because the guy was CLUTCH in 04, especially in the playoffs. When he hit that 3 run bomb in Yankee stadium and on his way to first gave the Manny point to the dugout: classic. Jerry Remy is a Red Sox institution though, and he and Don Orsillo broadcasting the Sox games are comedy of the highest order.
Shortstop: Nomar hands down. Rico Petrocelli was before my time, and you can't really compare Rick Burleson to Nomie. For awhile there, everyone thought Nomar would end up being better than Jeter or A Rod, but injuries and attitude brought him down. Traded to the Cubs at the trading deadline in 04, he now plays 1B for the Dodgers and had a good year last year. Nomar was one of the best in the game before the injuries though, and had he not gotten hurt, most likely would still be in Boston.
Third Base: Boggs, Hobson, Mueller? I went with The Professional, Billy Mueller. He played tough, hard third base while he was here, hit the walk off HR off Rivera in the earlier mentioned Tek/Slappy fight game, and was on the WS champs. I know, I know, Boggs is in the HOF and was one of the greatest hitters of his time. The image of him riding around on a horse, wearing pinstripes, and crying for joy in Yankee Stadium is burned in my mind, however, so Boggs can go screw.
Left Field: Since Teddy Ballgame was before my time, I gotta go with Manny. Remember, I said favorite player, not the BEST player. With Manny you get one of the greatest hitters ever for power, average, run production, on base pctg, etc.. as well as one of the all time characters EVER. Manny makes me laugh at least 5 times a game, and seems like a 10 year old in a mans body. Sorta like Tom Hanks in "Big".
Center Field: Freddie Lynn. One of the first players I can remember just making me go WOW as a kid, and I still can't figure out why he never turned into a Hall of Famer. This would have been Damon had he not sold his soul for 30 pieces of Silver to the Yankees. And 5 years from now, it may be him. Because at the end of the day, people will barely remember Damon played for the Yankees: he'll be remembered as the long haired bearded leader of the band of idiots who won it all.
Right Field: I named my son after him, so there should be no doubt. Christopher Trotman Nixon, we are gonna miss you. I hope you do great in Cleveland, and get back to Boston where you belong real soon.
Relief Pitcher: Rich Garces. Anytime a massively overweight guy with a huge gut, stick arms, short legs, and no rear end gives HIMSELF the nickname "El Guapo", which means "The handsome one" it's all right by me. That whole idea, by the way, comes from Bill Simmons so I can't take credit for it. But it's true.
Starting Pitcher: Roger, Petey, or Schill. I think Roger quit on the team his last 2 years, and then went on to win 4 Cy Youngs so as much as I still like Roger, I say no. Pedro was the best in the game for a remarkable 3 years in the late 90's-early 2000's, and before blowing his arm out pitching for the Mets last year, was still one of the best in the game. Plus, he was an absolute riot on days he was not pitching with the stuff he did in the dugout. But I gotta go with Schill as my favorite, which if you've read this blog, you already know how I feel about Curt.
Just like my kids, I love all the guys. Unlike my kids, I love a few of them a little bit more.
Ciera, Rakes, and Trot. Your Dad loves you all very much.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
I'm experiencing what "real" writers call writers block, so just a few random questions and comments tonight.
Like, why is the man in this picture going to play RF for Cleveland this year, when the guy we signed for $70 million has been his virtual clone the last 3 years?
Why does your wife get mad when she uses a new recipe for dinner and ask you if you like it, but you say "It's not my favorite"?
When your 3 year old utters these words: "Do I still have my diaper on?" Get his Mom. STAT.
When the house is so quiet you hear crickets chirping, find said 3 year old ASAP. Be prepared for anything.
When your 10 month old is learning to walk, DO NOT make any sudden movements: if you do, very LOUD crying will soon follow.
Why do they call where you park your car a driveway, and where you drive your car a parkway?
If you ask you 8 year old daughter how her day went, be prepared for the verbal equivalent of "War and Peace".
Finally, Don't ever reveal to your family members you have a blog. They COMPLETELY take over!
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Dan Shaughnessy is a egotistical, self-absorbed, rabble rousing, pot stirring idiot. This guy writes a book 20 years ago blaming all the Red Sox struggles over the years on the fact they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Forget the fact Ruth was a womanizing drunk who gave both the manager and owner constant grief. Forget the fact that Ruth wanted out. Forget the fact that Ruth, only a good player at the time, not the great one he would become, was known more for his pitching than his bat. Nah- the Red Sox sucked and never won the World Series was because of a CURSE.
And what does Mr. Serious Journalist do after the 2004 championship year? He writes another book telling us this time the curse, still real mind you, was reversed. If you ever read his column, most of the time he writes about the Red Sox, it's always something negative. He criticizes management, or ownership, or the player. After the 2005 season, he wrote a column on the fractured relationship between G.M. Theo Epstien and club President Larry Lucchino, causing Epstein to resign as G.M., only to change his mind after owner John Henry put a band-aid on the fighting. Obviously people like Shaughnessy because he still has his job, and is a featured writer for the top paper in New England. And Red Sox fans, especially ones who live in Boston, don't ever seem like they are happy unless they are in misery. So I understand the guys appeal, I just don't happen to like it.
This time he has really cranked my chain. He's going after Curt Schilling for seeking a contract extension for 2008. Schilling has asked for his contract to be extended for 1 year, at his 2007 price of $13 million per year. Sure, the fact that Curt is saying if it's not done by April 1 and he won't negotiate during the season bothers me. I don't like the timing of it, but if that's the way he feels, that's the way he feels. Speaking his mind has never been a problem for Schilling his whole career, and that's a big reason why Schilling is a either you love him or you hate him kind of guy. Guess which way I feel.
See, for me, what Schilling did in 2004 gets him a free pass for life with me. Not only did he swagger into town like John Wayne at high noon, he embraced playing in Boston like no athlete in recent memory. Unlike other players, Schilling GETS it. He talks to the writers, the fans, the radio and tv people. Passionate, loyal, and yeah, cocky is how you can describe Schilling. To be a great athlete, you have to be all three and more. Tough and team first are others. And after winning 21 games in '04, Schilling starts Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Angels that year and gets the win. In the 7th inning of that game he came off the mound to field a ground ball and came up limping. Turns out to be a dislocated ankle tendon.
Flash forward to Game 1 of the ALCS vs. the Yankees. Schilling looks nothing like the flame throwing, spittin', cussin' ace he's been all year. The Yankees are up 6-0 before the 3rd inning is over, Schillings out of the game, and every Red Sox fan feels like fate just kicked them square in the marbles. Down 3 games to none, everybody living in a civilized country knows what happens: they go on to win it all. They don't do that without what Schilling did in game 5 of that series or game 2 of the World Series. With stitches, Super glue, and rubber bands holding that tendon in place, with blood seeping out through his sock, Schilling manned up and gave the team 7 and 6 innings respectively. Through intense pain and damage to his body, he sacked up and mowed 'em down, knowing he was putting his next season, even career, in jeopardy.
He missed the early part of 2005, struggled as the closer for a time, then sorta bounced back to finish up OK. Last year, he won 16 games, went 6 innings or more each start, and along with Josh Beckett was one of the only 2 pitchers the team could count on all year. At nearly 40 years old, a time when most pitchers his age are in the bullpen or retired.
So yeah, I have no problem with Schilling getting paid for one more year. At 40 he is still better than 90% of pitchers playing today. I'm sure he saw all the monopoly money being tossed around this off season and realized he could get paid. It's not that Schilling is a bad guy either: he is very active in finding a cure for Lou Gherig disease, as well as several other charities. He's a loyal husband and father, which if you've read this blog, is a characteristic and example I try to live by.
Give him one more year. Pay him not for what he'll do in '07, for what he did in '04.
Stupid computer problems have kept me from posting since Tuesday. I get a update from Microsoft to download on Wednesday, so like a idiot, I download it. It was some new toolbar that for some reason would not let me sign on to post, so I un-download it. (Yes, I realize that is probably not the correct term, but since it's a small miracle I can actually navigate this blog, just let it go.)
Anyway, I'm happy to say that with my brother in law Keith's help, I'm up and running again so my family members have a new post with which to insult me in the comment section. So have at it guys!
February 16th is the day pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the Red Sox. I feel like Red in Shawshank Redemption when he gets paroled and is on his way to Mexico to meet up with Andy: I'm so excited I almost can't contain myself. When the season ended in October, with the Sox in 3rd place, I felt kind of lost and sad. As the winter goes on, the sadness sort of goes away, replaced by a little emptiness. Now, with Spring Training so close, I'm excited and anxious to get it going again. I feel like Ciera and Rakes on Christmas morning, or Trot when he sees his bottle when he's hungry, like I want to jump out of my skin. I'll clarify that in saying I'm not squealing at the top of my lungs, crying, or drooling. OK, I AM drooling just a little, but that's OK.
2007 is gonna be exciting for me. On paper, the Sox look like an elite team again. With Matsuzaka and the Papelbot joining Schill, Beckett, and Wake in the rotation the staff looks as strong as any ones. And with JD Drew, if he can stay healthy, hitting 5th and giving Manny some protection, the lineup should be banging out runs at the 04-05 pace.
Baby Trot is starting to walk, and imagining the trouble he and Rakes will get in is, in it's own way, exciting. They are growing up and are gonna have a lot of fun together over the course of the year. Ciera will turn 9 and start 4th grade this year. And in December, me and my best friend will be married 15 years. How she has not smothered me with a pillow while I sleep is one of life's great mysteries, but somehow she has put up with me all this time.
I've got a feeling that 2007 is gonna be a good year. For the Sox and for me.