Tag: red sox

Bartman and Boone

I can’t believe that it has been ten years since this happened.

Which also means that it has been ten years (plus two days) since this happened.

If neither of these cruel things happened, we (most probably) would have had a Cubs – Red Sox World Series in 2003. Remember, that this was before the Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004 and 2007. If Twitter existed back then, it would have exploded. The thought of the Cubs and their (then) 95 year World Series drought against the Red Sox and their (then) 85 year World Series drought was a baseball story line that even the most sadistic sports writer could not have conceived would ever actually happen. Would there have been any doubt that the series would have gone seven games? The despair of two tortured fan bases and the thought that one would continue to suffer for who knows how much longer would have played out before our eyes.

There was a nice piece in the Times about how Steve Bartman has basically lived a life of exile within the Chicagoland area. And in many ways, the fate of his beloved Cubs has followed him into a state of exile. In the 10 years since that mid October week in 2003, the two franchises have moved in radically different paths with the Sox winning 2 World Series and are close to making it to a 3rd, while the Cubs have only made it to the post season twice and in both cases, were unceremoniously swept in the League Divisional Series.

The Cubs now have new ownership and they even took Theo Epstein from the Sox in the hopes that his ‘magic’ (which some observant Sox fans may question) would rub off on the Cubs 105 year championship curse. If I were them, I would have Steve Bartman ride into Wrigley Field on a Billy Goat from center field, stop at home plate and shotgun a can of Old Style. If that doesn’t exorcise the demons of Clark and Addison, there is always next year!

Panoramics of Camden Yards

I was down in Baltimore earlier this week to catch the Red Sox play (and lose 2 of 3 to) the Orioles at Camden Yards. While there I took a tour of the ballpark and had the opportunity to take a ton of photos. I stitched together several from different angles to create the above panoramics.

Camden Yards From Field Level
Camden Yards – Field Level
Camden Yards From Left Field
Camden Yards – Left Field Club Level
Camden Yards Center Field
Camden Yards – Center Field

Coping With The Disaster

John Berman at ABC News offered up a great “out of office” notice for New England fans reeling from last night’s culmination of the Red Sox epic September collapse:

What is a Red Sox fan to do today? I hope to provide some practical assistance. Accordingly, below you will see my e-mail “out of office” reply. You are welcome to cut and paste it into your own. I find it weeds out some of the annoying correspondence I am getting.
—————
I am in the office, but filtering e-mails with the following warnings:
1) If you are NOT from a certain part of the country (New England), please be aware of the following:
– You are probably NOT as funny as you think you are.
– No, I don’t “have to admit it was an amazing game. I don’t have to admit anything. This is America, and I have amendments on my side.
– There is a good chance I already don’t like you.


2) If you are from the New England area:
– No, I can’t believe it either.
– No, I don’t want to talk about it.
– In fact, let’s never speak of this again. I’m filing it away with that Super Bowl, 1986, and that thing with the glittered indelible body paint.

Red Sox vs The World

Earlier, I was over at Flip Flop Fly In, the awesome site by Craig Robinson that has all sorts of baseball infographics. I was intrigued by one that compared the all time records of the White Sox and the Red Sox (a venerable battle of the, er, Soxes), and it got me thinking about how the Red Sox have done against other teams. So as Craig does, I headed over to Baseball Reference to check out the details and channel my inner Cliff Clavin.

Since 1901, the Red Sox have won a total of 8,877 games, while losing 8,270 (across AL and NL teams, although the vast majority of the games have obviously come against AL teams), giving them an all time winning percentage of .518. For comparison, that ranks the Sox 4th all time behind the Yankees (.568), the NY/SF Giants (.538), and the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers (.524) and basically tied with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Red Sox have had the most success against the Baltimore Orioles, winning 1,148 games against 930 losses, for a .552 winning percentage. Sadly, the Sox have had the least success against the Yankees, with 950 wins against 1,127 losses, or 177 games below .500.

What’s worse, the Yankees are one of only two AL teams who have scored more runs than the Sox in head to head competition. The Yanks are averaging 8% (0.39 more runs per game) more runs per game when playing the Sox.

On a relative basis, the Red Sox have had the most success against the Tampa Bay Rays, winning 60% of the game against them (139-92).

Surprisingly, the other AL team that has given the Red Sox trouble is the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are averaging 3% (0.14 RPG) more runs per game vs the Red Sox, and have beaten the Sox 1,019 times (vs. 956 wins by Boston).  The only other AL team that the Red Sox have a losing record against is, of all teams, the Kansas City Royals. The Royals hold a 2 game advantage over the Red Sox as of today, however the Red Sox have outscored them by about 5% on a per game basis.

The Red Sox have the most absolute wins against the Orioles, the Oakland A’s (1,053), and the Detroit Tigers (1,018). They are the only three teams who the Sox have won over 1,000 game against. The next closest team to the 1,000 win plateau is the aforementioned Indians.

So there you go, a quick synopsis of what the Red Sox have done against the American League since 1901. You can see the full grid of stats against all MLB teams here. I didn’t include NL teams as there are just not enough games played against that league, leaving the data a bit unstable since there were so few games to draw from. One item that was interesting within the set of NL teams was that the Sox have only played the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds 6 times each during the regular season.

Bruins Win Stanley Cup!

OK, I admit it. I am the epitome of a ‘front runner’/bandwagon/show up late to the party Bruins fan. I don’t think I watched a Bruins game all year until the playoffs. I’m the first to admit that I lost interest in the team and the sport of hockey.

Growing up in New England, I actually watched the Bruins as much as the Red Sox – Bruins teams that included Rick Middleton, Wayne Cashman, Ray Bourque, Terry O’Reilly, Peter McNab, Stan Jonathan, and on and on. So seeing them compete for the Cup and actually win it for the first time in almost 40 years just brought back a flood of childhood memories. Beyond that, watching this Stanley Cup Final series was just an amazing spectacle of hockey by both teams. Hockey gets a bad rap for being the “4th sport” in the US, but the athleticism and speed at which hockey players can do things on the ice is just amazing.

So now, as I look back at the past 10 years from a personal sports fan perspective, every single one of my teams that I regularly follow – Syracuse basketball (2003), the Red Sox (2004, 2007), the Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004), the Celtics (2008), and a certain hockey team that I irregularly follow – have won championships. Good times, good times!

Red Sox – Cubs

Super cool to see the Chicago Cubs playing the Red Sox at Fenway this weekend for the first time in 93 years. If the baseball Gods had not been so cruel back in 2003 – the year of Steve Bartman in Chicago and Aaron (F***ing) Boone in Boston – these two storied (and until this past decade, cursed) franchises would have met in the 2003 World Series. And then the world would have come to an end (until that time, neither team had won a World Series in pretty much forever).

I Want My Apple TV

Apple

Actually, I already have it. And I love it.

I’m bringing this up because Crunchgear reported that ATV has sold ~2 Million In about 7 months. Clearly I’m not alone.

What I’m liking is the on demand element of the service. Whatever I want to watch is only a few clicks away. Its seamlessly integrated with Netflix, YouTube and many of the top video podcasts out there. I can easily buy/rent movies from iTunes, although Netflix somewhat solves for that. And it enables me to connect to online services like Flickr and other “cloud” services. One big downfall has been the lack of support for “have to watch live” events like sports…but that was recently solved with MLB.TV and NBA League Pass announcing deals with Apple where you can stream any and all league games via Apple TV. For someone like me who’s a Red Sox/Celtics fan living in pseudo – enemy territory (New Jersey…but I do like the Knicks. Long story.), this is a huge win.

But what really pushes it further for me is the seamless integration with the iOS “ecosystem”. Drop a movie in iTunes, and you can easily stream it to your TV via ATV. Want to listen to your music in your TV room via your surround sound speakers, just navigate to your music library and hit play.

I’m not going to get all “tech pundit” on you and say you “have to get it”. Go get a Roku box if you prefer. But go try it. Its only around $100 for either ATV or Roku. You won’t be disappointed.

Thud

That’s the sound of the Red Sox after opening the 2011 season by getting slapped around and swept out of Texas by the Rangers. These games were not even close – the Sox got outplayed across the board. Here’s the overall line for the Rangers’ offense: 34 of 102 this weekend with 26 runs scored and 21 extra-base hits, 11 of them home runs. They also drew 10 walks. That’s a .333 Batting Average/.409 Slugging Percentage /.775 OBP line. All the concerns about John Lackey – they are very real (Thankfully, we didn’t see Josh Beckett along with Lackey).

Yes, there are still 159 games left in the season. Yes, it’s a little early to be jumping off bridges. But wow, did Texas make a statement this weekend.

Bing Crosby and The Kid

Teddy Ballgame

Over the weekend, there were two great vintage baseball stories in the NY Times.

The first was a profile of John Updike’s seminal baseball essay The Hub Bids Kid Adieu. The essay documented the famous last game that Ted Williams played for the Red Sox, when he hit a home run in his final at bat in the majors yet refused to acknowledge the crowd and the press as he rounded the bases for the final time. Over the years, Williams’ relationship with the Boston press and the Red Sox fan base was hardly cordial. The irony is that Updike was not even planning on being in attendance at that game:

Only 10,455 fans turned up to say goodbye to Williams, who was 42, hobbled by aches and pains. Among them, sitting behind third base, was 28-year-old John Updike, who had actually scheduled an adulterous assignation that day. But when he reached the woman’s apartment, on Beacon Hill, he found that he had been stood up: no one was home. “So I went, as promised, to the game” he wrote years later, “and my virtue was rewarded.”

If you have not read the original essay in the New Yorker, I highly recommend it.

An even more important story surfaced this weekend about Bing Crosby and his passion for the game of baseball. I was surprised to learn that Crosby was a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. His ownership spanned the 1960 season when the Pirates famously beat the NY Yankees in the seventh game of that series on Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning, game 7 home run. With Crosby’s hectic travel schedule due to his “day job”, he did not get to see his Pirates play as much as he would have liked. During the 1960 World Series, he was too nervous to watch the series so he traveled to France and listened to the game on wireless radio. So what else did he do? He recorded the broadcast!

He knew he would want to watch the game later “if his Pirates won” so he hired a company to record Game 7 by kinescope, an early relative of the DVR, filming off a television monitor. The five-reel set, found in December in Crosby’s home, is the only known complete copy of the game, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending home run to beat the Yankees, 10-9. It is considered one of the greatest games ever played.

Crosby, the singer and movie, radio and TV star, had more foresight than the television networks and stations, which erased or discarded nearly all of the Major League Baseball games they carried until the 1970s.

A canny preservationist of his own legacy, Crosby, who died in 1977, kept a half-century’s worth of records, tapes and films in the wine cellar turned vault in his Hillsborough, CA., home.

So for the first time in 50 years, the full broadcast of the famous 7th Game of the 1960 World Series will be able to be viewed in its entirety when its re-broadcast this October. I can’t wait and like Mr. Crosby, I’ll have to find a nice scotch on the rocks to enjoy during the broadcast

More Baseball Panoramics

In early June I went down to Baltimore and Washington DC and took in two games at Camden Yards and Nationals Park respectively. Two weeks ago I was in Boston at Fenway watching the Sox come back in the 9th inning to beat the Tigers and in the process created an additional panoramic of Fenway to add to my growing collection. So here are all three for your viewing pleasure. I guess the goal now is to take panoramics from every MLB stadium. Three down, twenty seven to go.

Nationals Park – Home of the Washington Nationals

Camden Yards – Home of the Baltimore Orioles

Fenway Park – Home of the Boston Red Sox

A Tale of Four Pitchers

This weekend, the Red Sox were down in the Bronx taking on the Yankees in a typical late August four game series. The teams split the series, with each team winning two games. But here is the interesting thing. The two winning pitchers for the Red Sox were Clay Buchholtz and John Lester, who combined earn about $4MM a year. The Red Sox losing pitchers were Josh Beckett and John Lackey, who combined make around $30MM a year. Now that’s NOT getting your money’s worth.

The Shortstop Curse

As I wake up from last weekend’s drubbing at the hands of the Yankees, and stare at the train wreck that the 2009 Red Sox season has become, I continue to be amazed at the comedy of errors that the Red Sox’ front office has made at the critical position of shortstop. Call it the “Curse of Orlando” or maybe the “Curse of Nomaaaah”. It is true that since that fateful trade deadline deal in 2004 that sent Nomar Garciaparra packing, the Red Sox have won two World Series (two more than I anticipated in my lifetime), and they have consistently been in the playoff hunt. You can’t argue with that success. However, when you “peel back the Onion” a bit, you see a concerning trend of decisions and moves, none more head scratching than the revolving door of underwhelming shortstops.

Most recently, they traded away their latest mistake, Julio Lugo, and have brought back 2006 re-tread Alex Gonzalez, a great fielder who can’t hit is way out of a paper bag. Since their magical run to the 2004 World Series, this is the list of shortstops they have run in and out of (and back in to) town:

2004 – Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese
2005 – Edgar Renteria, Alex Cora, Hanley Ramirez
2006 – Alex Gonzalez
2007 – Royce Clayton, Julio Lugo
2008 – Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie
2009 – Julio Lugo, Nick Green, Jed Lowrie, Alex Gonzalez

What’s most baffling to me is that all of this could have been avoided if they just signed Cabrera after the 2004 World Series for, if I recall, $25-30Mil over 3 or 4 years. I could not believe they did not do it then, and I still curse the decision. This inept judgment was made exponentially worse when they turned around and signed Edgar Renteria for 4 years/$40Mil, and he turned out to be a bust of epic proportions. A few years later, they did essentially the same thing (!!) by signing Julio Lugo to a 4 year/$36Mil contract, and he too was an epic bust. Renteria and Lugo combined have cost the Sox more than double what Cabrera would have cost. Through all of this, “OC” had, and continues to have, solid performance on the field and at the plate for Anaheim and Oakland. Instead of traipsing out 10+ different shortstops during that 3-4 year period, they could have had the steady “OC” there. Now we all know that Hanley Ramirez could have been that stud shortstop for the Sox, but he was traded away while Theo was walking out of Fenway in a gorilla costume, a deal that has been beneficial for both organizations but still always prompts the “what if” questions.

So as we slog through the dog days of August, and the Sox try to claw back into the Wild Card race, let’s hope that the three headed shortstop monster of Alex Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, and Nick Green can pull something out of their collective hat and help turn this thing around. I’m not holding my breath.

Manny Being Manny

As the Red Sox’ Manny Ramirez approaches the 500 HR plateau, the Boston Globe has a really interesting graphic demonstration of where Manny has hit all of his homeruns over the course of his career. When I look at this, the thing that impresses me the most and illustrates just what an amazing hitter he is, is the stunningly even distribution of his homeruns to the different parts of the field. It appears that there is a slight skew of his homers to left field, (which is logical being that he’s a right handed hitter) but it is only slight. Its just Manny being Manny.

The Curse of Big Papi

He almost got away with it. A construction worker on the new Yankee Stadium, who is a Red Sox fan, was snagged trying to bury a David “Big Papi” Ortiz Red Sox jersey under a service corridor within the new stadium. Somehow the jersey was found Saturday by two construction supervisors. No word yet if the body of Jimmy Hoffa was also found.