Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sod this for a bag of chips

Neil H is in the Bronx.

Andy Pettitte has just walked four guys in an inning after being given a two run lead.

This team is not fun to watch.

I am not staying up to watch this.

02:23 and out.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It is still early, but... SWEEEEEEP

It is still early, but it is better to sweep, than be swept!

I guess both teams will take positives from this weekend's series - the Sox from the fact that they won 3 straight (duh), the Yankees from the fact that they put up a pretty decent offensive output against the front 3 of the Sox rotation - both pretty fair points of view.

While I would rather the Sox had won all games by the same margin, but with the starters giving up a lot less runs, the fact of the matter is that the Yankee front 5 are going to put a lot of damage on a lot of teams. Looking back at the 3 games, the Sox front 3 didn't cover themselves in glory, but the team walks away with 3 wins - while the Yankees can rightly expect better pitching as the season progresses, I think Sox fans can equally expect better performances out of the front 3 when they next meet up with the Yanks. All of them had good spells in their performances, but the Yankees proved that if you make mistakes, they will, more often than not, hurt you. I guess we will find out next Friday what Matsuzaka learned from today's outing... and we will also see what the Yankees learned about him.

As an aside on Daisuke, I still think it is too early to know what we have - he has looked good at times in every outing, equally he has looked hittable at other times. I think that we need to bear in mind that everything is a first at the moment - the only first that wasn't really significant was the trip to Torornto - but we have had first outing, first home outing, first Yanks - Sox game, and next week, first start in the Bronx. Personally, I think it will be a couple of months before we get a really good feel for his capabilities.

While Yankee fans will draw comfort from their efforts this weekend, Sox fans should also draw comfort on the offensive side - going in to the series the Sox had scored 66 runs in 15 games (an average of 4.4 per game) and had too many guys hitting poorly - Youkilis, Ramirez, Varitek, Crisp and Pedroia were all hitting well below our expectations of them - and really only Drew hitting above expectations. So while they scored runs off Kartsens (7) and Wright (4), they also scored off the Yankees bullpen as well - and coming out of the series, you feel better about Ramirez, Varitek and Crisp, although one series shouldn't convince us that all of their issues are behind them.

Tonight's offensive highlight for the Sox were clearly the back to back to back to back home runs - hey no Sox blogger has ever been able to write about such an event before... even in the days before blogs we couldn't have written about it - always good to see something happen for the first time in team history (and believe me, it sounds just as great on the ESPN Deportes feed!), well as long as it something positive. I don't think from the graphics that ESPN put up that this has ever happened to the Yankees before, and I am guessing not too many Yankee fans were saying - cool, never seen that before!

Another positive out of the weekend - the bullpen.

On Friday, the bullpen went 2 innings, giving up a run, but highlighted by the performance of Okajima when Papelbon wasn't available. On Saturday, the pen went 2.1 innings, didn't give up a run, and with Papelbon available, the highlight may well have been another key out (Giambi) by Okajima, this time in the 7th. Tonight another 2 innings - allowing a Matsuzaka runner to score, but otherwise preserving the win. Worryingly, Francona went to the Okajima well again, and I wasnt surprised to see his weakest outing so far - a lot of high curves that he wasn't punished for.

Sadly, given the schedule, we can only enjoy the sweep for a week before we start all over again in the Bronx, and the pitching match-ups will not be so favorable for the Red Sox - though given how he has been pitching, I am not concerned that we have to throw Wakefield in against the Yankees, though I hate to think what that lineup could do to Tavares if he isn't on, or even if he is.

Neil M thinks that my angst in Yankee - Sox games is cringeworthy, but given the quality of the lineup, my Sox fearing head always thinks that the one big game changing hit is just one swing away. At least next week I will get to see one of the games in person (that Matsuzaka start on Friday night), and will be away adding stadiums 23 (Detroit) and 24 (Cleveland) to my list on the Saturday and Sunday, so he won't need to watch my type written angst in quite so much detail!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Did I call that or what?

The moment Vizciano walked Manny from an 0-2 count it was a no brainer defeat for the Bombers.

It is now 3:43 AM.

I am not overly amused.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I am guessing that not many of us watching baseball from the UK knew much about Jackie Robinson's role in US history before we got into baseball - the first time I had even heard his name was at Fenway, when a friendly Red Sox fan explained what the numbers were on the right-field grandstand roof.

To be honest, where I grew up, I didn't really think of racism as an issue - my parents were absolutely resolute in their view that everyone on this earth was created equal regardless of any characteristic that made them "different". I can vividly remember being dragged into the house for a stern talking to when I 'insulted' a school friend using a term when I had no idea what the word meant. Of all the many great lessons my parents taught me, the desire to give everyone credit for who they are, rather than any notion of what they are, is the one I am most proud of them for.

The reason I say that I didn't think racism was an issue, was that the ethnic population in the city I grew up in was very small, and I never witnessed any racism first hand. But with the benefit of hindsight, and a greater personal maturity, I am guessing that if you were to ask any member of the Indian or Pakistani community who were living in Dundee at that time, they most likely have a very different view of what they experienced at that time.

So my first knowledge of widespread racism came in a school class called Modern Studies, which, among other subjects, explored the civil rights movement in the US in the 1950's and 1960's. What struck me at the time, was that this was just 20 years before I was studying these events - which then, and now, seems like no time at all. For anyone who doesn't know about the civil rights movement in the US, please take the time to read some of the history, and the dignity of some of the people who led the fight for America to continue to strive for the belief that "all men are created equal".

Over at Joy of Sox, the important distinction is drawn - Jackie Robinson wasn't the first African-American to play in major league baseball because he was the first to be good enough - but man, was he good enough - many, many players before Robinson were good enough - he was the first to play because the baseball establishment had decided they would allow it.

The Red Sox did not play a proud part in the fight to integrate baseball - they were the last team to recruit an African-American player, some 12 years after Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Dodgers, and that legacy continued far beyond 1959. One player who can claim a proud role was Ted Williams - who highlighted the need for the Hall of Fame to consider the careers of Negro League players in his own induction speech.

It was amazing today to watch so many players wearing the #42 in tribute - and hopefully, the tribute will cause many people to ask questions about this incredible man, and the incredible strength he must have had to endure the open hatred he faced.

Her are some quick links:
You can also find out more about the work being done in his name at:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The first pitch

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Well that was how the first pitch looked from the front row of the Monster - and while it doesn't look like it in that photo, it did end up a strike 1.

The Sox did a lot of cool things to celebrate Daisuke's home debut - from announcing his spot in the lineup in Japanese to having the first pitch thrown out by the Consul General at the Japanese 'Consulate' in Boston - that, and quite a few ads in Japanese around the ground.

Wednesday was a cold night in Boston, but well worth the 6 hour round trip - it didn't quite end up in the Daisuke win that I had hoped to see, but it did end in the result I had predicted to guys in the office before I left. The lay off clearly hadn't impacted Felix in the way that it did Jeff Weaver the day before... well that and the talent issue.

First pitch was really quite spectacular - the above photo was a point and hope picture that worked well, as I didn't want to be staring at a view finder when I could watch the real thing. But man, a lot of flash bulbs were popping on that pitch... and throughout that Ichiro at bat... and all subsequent AB's between the two.

While the Monster is a great experience (although the Sox are now 0-2 when I am up there), it is not really the best place to get a real view of the detail of what the pitcher is doing - Daisuke didn't look that sharp, and first pitch strikes were a problem at times, which clearly isn't his standard way of pitching. He also seemed to fidget a bit on the mound early on, but that could have been a reflection of the cold rather than anything else. As anyone watching will know, he does have an interesting pitching motion - he rocks on the balls of his feet a few times before he starts his motion proper, and there really is a distinct pause in his delivery.

Felix really had a great outing - in the first 6 innings or so, there was very little contact indeed - after that, the Sox started getting the bat on ball, there were two sharply hit balls to 2nd in the 7th, but I really did think I was going to get to see my first no-hitter... and was really feeling pretty glum that it was the Sox that were going to be on the wrong end of it. But gritty JD Drew managed to get a ball out of the outfield and preserve a modicum of pride. I play in a Yahoo league with a team called King Felix is Real - on the early season evidence, you have to think the guy is right.

One last photo - a full Fenway panorama in the middle innings - the view from the Monster really is stunning.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Talk about bad base-running...

Not Yankees or Sox related but Carl Crawford is meant to be one of the elite players in this league.

Are we sure?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bruised Bum Boy Baffles Batters

Despite running off three hours sleep, I managed to stay up and witness the first win from Carl Pavano (1-0) since May 22, 2005. The Yankees righty gave up six hits over seven innings giving up a pair, in what was an excellent display.

The Yankees spotted Pavano an early lead, 3-0 before he stood on the mound and 5-0 before he returned for the second inning. Bobby Abreu had 4 RBIs and a HR, JoPo hit a two-run double that was misplayed in LF by Jason Kubel and A-Rod hit another shot to RF to make him the first Yankee ever to hit 5 HR in the first six games of a season.

Last night though in the dome showed for the first time this season what this club is capable of. Nice Defense all around the IF, solid pitching with the starter going deep and keeping the hitters off balance mixed in with jumping on the starter early.

In might just be one game but it is the first time this season we've not looked sloppy in any facit of the game - long may it continue!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Red Sox @ Rangers - A UK perspective

Over here in good old blighty - we get two games a week on Channel Five (as well as many including at least one a day on NASN) but the channel five shows have a studio instead of ad breaks whilst you guys get to hear 'this is ourrrrrrr country' for the 4186th time this year.

Anyway - last night I gave up on the game pretty early as I was tired but Tony Cottam didn't - and this UK based Astro fan did a Bill Simmonds-equse dsiary of what we witnessed last night.

It's well worth a read.

The week that was - Thoughts

After Neil H posted his thoughts on what we've seen in week one - I am following the crowd (well my colleague) and doing the same.

Firstly and most importantly - isn't it fantastic that baseball is back?

Secondly - Pavano, Pettitte, Mussina, Igawa, Rasnar - oh dear. It can only get better is what they say, it says a lot that our best outing came from Pavano, he had some shocking defense behind him and kept hitting off balance with his good change of speed. It wasn't great but it was most certainly solid and he led the staff this week. Things can only get better.

Thirdly - A-Rod. You can't help but like what you are seeing from the guy, his whole demenour seems to me to scream that he is more prepared to succeed than he is scared to fail. He's not going to keep up his awesome week one form all year but he just seems to have had that fear taken away. Also he is driving the ball with authority - see the ball - hit the ball - he is good enough that he doesn't have to try and out think the pitcher, just react to what is thrown at him.

Fourthly - Dice-K - His outing was sexy.

Fifthly - The Yankees OF. Melky looks terribly overmatched so far this season and Matsui is now on the DL. Damon should return tonight and I'd like to see Kevin Thompson get the start in LF - I just like that kid.

Finally in this update - for some unknown reason I was up at 6:18 local time this morning, so I fully doubt I'll get to see Carl Pavano got tonight - which is a slight disappointment.

A 2007 NYY Preview

Before the Yankees rotation stunk up the joint in the first week. I'd been going back and forth with an old friend about the Yankees in 2007. He has published the preview over in his blog which is linked to on the side of the page.

Read my rosy tinted thoughts on the Yanks - go on - you can laugh at me later.

Blogging live - top of the 9th... what do you do... what do you do?

Well here we go - Francona had said he would bring in Papelbon when the game needed saved, and that game needed saved right there, with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th.

So having pitched 2/3 of an inning, do you bring him back out?

Last year, no question.

This year... ah the joys of being the manager.

Presumably, he will pitch the 9th, the game still needs saved, and he has only thrown 5 pitches. He has only pitched once this season, and the Red Sox have an off day tomorrow, so logic says to me that he should pitch the 9th.

But if he needs a lot of pitches, or heaven forbid tweaks something in his arm, Terry is going to find out a lot of people aren't to keen on his management skills.

Of course, the hitters could save us all a lot of grief and put up a crooked number in the top of the 9th!

The end of week 1

Well the Sox have still to play tonight, but both our teams have 5 games in the books, and both are an equally unimpressive 2-3, which is good enough for joint second in the AL East behind the (ahem) pace-setting 3-2 Blue Jays.

Given that it is just one week it is hard to take too much from what we have seen, but given I have started writing for the first time in a while, I may as well chuck out any qualms over sample size, and jot down a few thoughts on the past week:
  • First off... why does everyone ignore sample size at this stage of the season? A-Rod flopped on Thursday, but was the hero on Saturday... the Mets were unbeatable on Friday, and error strewn a day later...
  • The Red Sox rotation did ok first time through - Schill gets the chance to redeem himself tonight, but more importantly, Beckett looked great in the cold, while it seems that Dice-K did not too bad. It is always disappointing not to win a Wake start when he only gives up 2 runs, and Tavares, well he did what we should really expect for a guy with a career era of 4.36, and era's of 4.52 and 5.39 in his two full season's of starting... but then I think we all hope that he is just holding a spot for this guy.
  • The Yankees rotation... well, not so good. Pavano went 4 1/3, giving up 4 earned; Pettitte only gave up 2 runs but lasted only 4 innings as his defense let him down, and it genuinely looked as if he had never pitched to Posada before in his life; Mussina gave up 6 runs in 4 innings to the Orioles; Igawa pitched poorly in his debut - he at least broke the 5 inning barrier, but gave up 7 innings doing so; then today, Rasner, in his season debut, was struck by the 4 inning bug - 4 1/3 and 5 earned. In its opening turn, the Yankees starters threw a total of 21 2/3 innings, requiring the bullpen to throw way, way too many pitches in the first week - aided by an inning of work in relief by Pettitte. The upside is, the rotation can't pitch like this week in, week out... it just can't... can it?
  • The Yankees saw a shortened series with the Rays, who looked like they do - very decent hitting and speed - the two Dukes HR were very impressive - but not so much on the pitching front... while the Orioles, despite spending money on their pen, looked the way the Orioles do, not so great hitting, and not so great pitching. In their first week, the Jays went 3-2 for first place, but an ugly outing for AJ is what will need watched in the week ahead.
  • Outside the East, the highlight has to be Cleveland's inability to get an opening day game in... called one out short of an official game, as the pitcher shook off signs from his catcher...
So anyway, Schilling has only managed one out of his first three hitters, and two very hard hit balls... is it time to worry yet?

Friday, April 06, 2007

That boy Dice-K - He is the real deal

The Red Sox half of the blog was in a meeting yesterday whilst Dice-K was making his debut so it's down to me to report on the performance of the player I drafted two years ago in the minor league section of a fantasy keeper draft - it turned out to be an inspired move.

However the Red Sox half of the blog will be sitting on the front row of the monster on Wednesday so I think he'll take missing his away debut and seeing his home one live from the monster.

As for Dice-K - well last night he looked every bit as good as advertised. His off speed stuff saw the Royals hitters missing by yards and they were kept very off balance. One thing about Dice-K's fastball though, Varitek will set up for it and Dice-K will pitch it straight into the glove. Several times yesterday I noticed Varitek not moving an inch and the ball going straight into the glove.

Another thing about his fastball - he kept it at the knees - a very good sign.

I think this kid could be just something special. I loved his make-up when you think about the pressure he was under and he just dealt and struck out ten Major League batters on his debut. Certainly the first time round the league I can't see him giving up too much and it'll be a question of how much the hitters adjust and then Dice-K re-adjusts that will determine how great a year he'll have.

E's are good, E's are they ain't

The Shamen and Ebeneezer Goode - that song wasn't about baseball.

Another ugly three error performance by the Bronx Bombers last night and this time they couldn't overcome their pathetic defense. On a cold and bitter night in the Bronx, Andy Pettitte made his return to the house that Ruth built but pitched poorly in his coming coming in Pinstripes.

The Yankees scored six but the Rays pushed seven people over the plate - the winning run coming from a Wild Pitch by Luis Vizciano (1-1). As you all know I love over here in the UK and games are in the early morning and I rarely close down my lappy before the end of a game but last time I did.

The Yankees were woefully sloppy and quite simply did not deserve to win that game. I closed it down at 7-6 and that is where the score stayed. Hopefully the trip to the twin cities and the dome will sort out the fielding (six errors in two games is just disgusting) but on the plus side - the pressure of a 162-0 season is off, so 161-1 it'll have to be.

Just an edit - we are playing Baltimore next - I got ahead of myself but have left it up there to show what an idiot I am.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

1-0 and 0-1

In a battle of the BP's - the Yankees out slugged the Devil Rays come opening day in the Bronx. Carl Pavano pitched ok but was hindered by three errors in the early innings before the Rays started to get to him in the fifth. Not a stellar outing by any means but it wasn't half as good as what his 4.1 inning outing looks like stats wise.

Brian Bruney, Sean Henn, Luis Vizciano (1-0), Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera combined to keep the Rays off the scoreboard for the final 4.2 innings - with Mo striking out all three men he faced. Every year you get those who state that Mariano isn't the best in the game, this year everyone is slurping at Joe Nathan's feet, before that it was Eric Gagne, but year in, year out, this guy pitches just amazing.

Offensively the Yankees scored nine runs and spread it out. Giambi brought from three, Jeter a couple as did A-Rod. The other runs came thanks to Bobby Abreu and a Jorge Posada shot the other way - the first Yankee HR of 2007.

A-Rod was booed early but got a curtain call late after hitting a two-run shot, but it was his SB that was his big moment. After getting on with a lazer shot past the Rays SS, A-Rod took off on the 0-1 pitch and in a bang-bang play at second was called safe. He came around to score on the next pitch as Giambi laced another single through the shift.

A good start for the Bombers all in all.

Oh and Schilling looked awful against the Royals, sadly though it is just one game and I doubt many would call Carlos Zambrano or Chris Carpenter done after their less than stellar opening outings.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Some 2007 Predictions - Neil M style

And now the Neil M version - more in depth look at the Yankees later today.

AL MVP - Ichiro

NL MVP - Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young - Johan Santana

NL Cy Young - Carlos Zambrano

AL RoY - Daisuke Matsuzaka

NL RoY - Chris B. Young

AL Manager of the Year - Mike Scioscia

NL Manager of the Year - Lou Piniella

MLB Highest BA - Ichiro

MLB most HR - Ryan Howard

MLB most RBIs - David Ortiz

MLB lowest ERA - Johan Santana

MLB most wins - Daisuke Matsuzaka

MLB most saves - Francisco Rodriguez

On what date will Big Barry to HR Champ? July 1st

Will we see a Perfect Game? No

Will we see a No hitter? No

Will anybody hit for the cycle? Yes

Where will Roger Clemens pitch? New York

Who will be the biggest name busted for drugs? Sammy Sosa

When will A-Rod publically trigger his clause? The day after the World Series ends

Will Joe Torre manage the Yankees in '08? No

Will Papelbon outshine D-K? No

Can Josh Hamilton win a starting job at some point this season? Yes

Will the Yanks and Sox have any bench clearing incidents? Yes

And finally...

Who will win it all? New York Yankees

Some 2007 Predictions - Neil H style

Some of the regular bog standard prediction questions and a few more just for fun...

AL MVP - Grady Sizemore

NL MVP - Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young - Johan Santana

NL Cy Young - Carlos Zambrano

AL RoY - Daisuke Matsuzaka

NL RoY - Stephen Drew (assuming he is still eligible?)

AL Manager of the Year - Terry Francona

NL Manager of the Year - Lou Piniella

MLB Highest BA - Miguel Cabrera

MLB most HR - Albert Pujols

MLB most RBIs - David Ortiz

MLB lowest ERA - Johan Santana

MLB most wins - Roy Halladay

MLB most saves - Francisco Rodriguez

On what date will Big Barry to HR Champ? June 18th

Will we see a Perfect Game? No

Will we see a No hitter? No

Will anybody hit for the cycle? Yes

Where will Roger Clemens pitch? New York

Who will be the biggest name busted for drugs? no big names

When will A-Rod publically trigger his clause? 12.00am, October 28th

Will Joe Torre manage the Yankees in '08? No

Will Papelbon outshine D-K? No

Can Josh Hamilton win a starting job at some point this season? Yes

Will the Yanks and Sox have any bench clearing incidents? No

And finally...

Who will win it all? Boston Red Sox