34 results found for “red sox”

Game-Used

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Since the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, I’ve received a fair number of emails from the team pitching all sorts of swag. This one really made me laugh.

First off, as the 2001 Seattle Mariners know, regular season wins don’t mean much once the playoffs start. Once the regular season ended, the Red Sox magic number became 119 wins. They hit that goal, and thus, the 108 regular season wins no longer mean too much.

That’s not the truly goofy part of this email, however. Instead, it’s this line:

Oo, game-used dirt! How enticing! And yet, how can I be sure it really is game-used dirt? I don’t want to be fooled by any fake dirt, or even Major League Baseball field dirt that wasn’t game-used. Can Major League Baseball allay my fears?

Fortunately, they can. I know, thanks to the last gift my father gave me before he died. As you can see below, the cover of the 2013 Red Sox World Series Champions book includes a small bit of “Authenticated World Series™ Dirt”, with a hologram sticker and everything. You probably thought there were no dirt authenticators, but you were wrong.

I don’t think my dad bought this expressly for the dirt. Still, now I’ll always be left to wonder.

This Baseball Thing Might Catch on, Thanks to Mookie Betts 

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is very, very good. Yesterday, he finished off a World Series championship season (go Sox!) by winning a much-deserved MVP award. Grant Brisbee broke it down.

If you’re fan of baseball, or even just a fan of drama, do yourself the favor of taking a few minutes to watch Mookie Betts’ incredible at-bat from a game back on July 12th. The Sox had won 9 straight at the time, but were losing to the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in the 4th. Mookie came up with the two outs, but the bases loaded. 13 pitches later, the situation was quite different.

The whole thing is worth a watch in real-time, and I love so much about it. Color commentator Dennis Eckersley’s urging that it was “time to party” set a tone for the rest of the season. Mookie’s’ jubilation when he finally connected is deeply human, as is the fact the he almost tripped while starting his well-earned trip around the bases. Even Eck’s simple home run call of “Yaaaaaaaay!” is perfect. Seriously, just watch, and enjoy a smile.

He Took Magic Johnson’s Share of the Team 

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Last night, the Boston Red Sox claimed the 2018 World Series crown with their 119th win of the season. They took down the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games, and 35-year-old journeyman Steve Pearce helped lead the way. Though he was raised in Florida, Pearce actually grew up a die-hard Red Sox fan. After playing for six other teams since breaking into the big leagues in 2007, Pearce finally wound up with Boston via a mid-season trade this year. Now, he’s lived out the dream of kids everywhere by winning a championship with his favorite team. His offensive line for the World Series (including a .333 average, 3 HRs, 1 2B, and 8 RBIs) was dominant enough to earn him MVP honors. Not too shabby.

For a time last night, however, he had even more.

He also owns the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and is the new mayor of Los Angeles.

Pearce’s Wikipedia page was briefly updated/vandalized, to state that he owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. Really, it wasn’t wrong.

Graceful Like a Gazelle 

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Last night, in the second game of the World Series, Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benetendi made a spectacular catch:


Oh, Baltimore…

Naturally, the Boston Globe sought out a professional ballet dancer to comment on Benetendi’s form.

A Pip of a Ninth Inning 

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Grant Brisbee does some fantastic baseball writing over at SBNation. Previously, his column was inside-jokily-named “Grant Land”. Now, it has the equally insider-and-stupid-but-amusing name of “This Week in Dumb, Beautiful Baseball”. Brisbee does an admirable job of exploring why fans love the game, while also pointing out its many absurdities.

Today, he examined last night’s game pitting my hometown Red Sox against the New York Yankees. Brisbee’s summary of the Yankees’ near-comeback is the closest thing to being there I’ve yet read. An excerpt:

[crowd noise intensifies]

Now the tying run is on first and the winning run is at the plate.

[crowd noise is mostly barfing at this point, just extremely violent retching]

The first pitch from Kimbrel hits Neil Walker. Now the tying run is on second and the winning run is on first.

[there is no crowd noise. there is only the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth]

I was in the Bronx last night, and that bottom of the ninth is easily the most nervous I’ve ever been at a ballgame. Side note, did you know that Yankee Stadium tends to attract a lot of Yankees fans, and they get extremely loud when their team starts coming back?

It was 14 minutes of perfect, hilarious, dumb baseball, unless you cared about the Yankees or Red Sox, in which case it was the worst 14 minutes of your life.

That’s just about right. But when it was over, man did it feel good.


Victory, Relief
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Musical Mind Games

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

If you’re a baseball fan, you’re probably familiar with walk-up songs. For those who don’t know, when a batter for the home team comes to the plate, a brief portion of a song will play over the stadium’s public address system. The crowd gets a little pumped up, the player gets a little pumped up, and an artist gets a little money in their pocket.

Walk-up songs are (usually) chosen by the players themselves, offering a small means of self-expression. Players often select a song from a favorite artist, or something with a particularly good beat or line. Three-time World Series champ David Ortiz often came to the plate accompanied by DJ Khaled’s boastful track “All I Do Is Win”. For a time, Xander Bogaerts used DMX’s tremendously appropriate “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” to indicate that he was gon’ give it to the opposing team..

I’ve long contemplated what I’ll select as my own walk-up song when I get called up to the big leagues. I might opt for a straightforward pick like the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero”. There’s also DJ Danger Mouse’s great rap/pop Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up of “Encore”, which could appeal to multiple generations. Even a powerful instrumental beat like John Frusciante’s “Murderers” could work well.

However, after much consideration, I’ve settled on very different route. Rather than using a powerful song to put my opponent on their heels, I’ll instead throw them off their game by selecting the most ridiculous walk-up song I can come up. When I stride up to the plate to “It’s Raining Men”, the crowd’s gonna love it, and the opposing team is going to be completely out of whack. Or how about Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, best known as the theme from Titanic?

🎶 Neeeear…Faaaar…wherever yoooou aaaare 🎶

In early 1998, that massively overplayed piece of garbage got stuck in every American’s head, and there was a small, but measureable, decline in national productivity. The same result with surely occur for the opposing team, resulting in substantially diminished performances.1

Putting It in Practice

Alas, at 35, the odds that you’ll see me in a major league baseball game are admittedly dwindling. Recently, however, the idea has been given some real-world testing. This past Sunday, following an injury, Red Sox utility player Brock Holt (BROCK HOLT!) entered a Sox–Rays game in the late innings. The Red Sox had been sluggish all day, and with a score of 2-7, the game felt out of reach. However, when Holt’s new walk-up song, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” played throughout Fenway Park, everything changed.

Though Holt himself flew to left for the second out of the inning, the Red Sox rallied to score 6 runs before the 8th was over. This gave them an 8-7 lead which they held on to for the win. It all began immediately after Holt’s at bat, when Whitney declared her eternal love.

After the game, sportswriters took notice of what had occurred:

[First baseman Mitch] Moreland was on deck when Whitney blared throughout Fenway.

“I know what the reaction was in the stadium,” Moreland said. “So that really set the tone to get the inning going right there. It was pretty cool.”

Holt said he thinks he even saw Rays reliever Matt Andriese laugh.

“I think that’s kind of what got us going in that inning with Whitney,” Holt joked.

Of course, a single at-bat may seem like a very small sample size, but this was just the beginning of a statistically-significant trend.2 On April 10th, Holt’s use of Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” powered the Sox to a 14-1 drubbing of the New York Yankees.

Interestingly, Holt himself has no hits in 5 plate appearances while using Whitney Houston as a walk-up. However, in innings when he’s come up to bat, the Red Sox have scored a massive 19 runs. Here’s a complete look breakdown at the power thus far provided by Mrs. Houston’s music:

April 8th – Boston Red Sox 8, Tampa Bay Rays 7

  • 8th inning: The Red Sox rallied to score 6 runs after Holt flied to left for the second out of the inning.

April 10th – Boston Red Sox 14, New York Yankees 1

  • 2nd inning: The Red Sox scored 3 runs after Holt struck out looking for the first out of the inning.

  • 4th inning: The Red Sox tallied 1 run after Holt was again called out on strikes for the first out of the inning.

  • 6th inning (First plate appearance): Following a lead-off ground out from Holt for the first out of the inning, the Red Sox plated 4 runs. They batted around, bringing Holt up a second time in the inning, this time with the bases loaded.

  • 6th inning (Second plate appearance): Brock Holt walked (his first and only non-out) with the bases loaded, driving in 1 run. After that, the Red Sox scored 4 additional runs on a subsequent grand slam.

Conclusion

Over an extremely statistically significant two games3 using Whitney Houston for walk-up music, Brock Holt (BROCK HOLT!) has a final line of 0-4, with a walk and an RBI. However, the Red Sox have a ridiculous total of 19 runs in innings when Whitney gets played.

You just can’t argue with results. Science has proven that an intimidating walk-up song is nowhere near as effective as a ridiculous walk-up song.


Footnotes:

  1. My teammates and I will don ear plugs to avoid this issue. The fans will have to accept my apologies, knowing that their suffering is a small price to pay for a W. ↩︎

  2. Not actually statistically significant ↩︎

  3. Still no ↩︎

The Other Boston Marathon 

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

I’ve run marathons, long-distance road relays, and races, often in goofy costumes. I’m also an enormous fan of the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway Park. Despite all that, this still sounds like the most miserable event in the world to me.

261

Monday, April 24th, 2017

In 1967, when the Boston Marathon was only open to men, Kathrine Switzer registered for it under the name “K.V. Switzer”. Despite a now-infamous attempt by race organizer Jock Semple to pull her out of the race, Switzer finished her run and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with an official race bib, numbered 261.1 Her actions that day, and for years to follow, paved the way for women in both running and athletics in general.2


Jock Semple accosting Kathrine Switzer mid-race in 1967
[Photo credit: Boston Herald via Runner’s World]

This year, Switzer returned to Boston to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of her first run. The race has grown by almost two orders of magnitude since 1967, and it now includes not just a women’s division, but divisions for push rim wheelchairs, visually impaired/blind runners, and those who are mobility impaired. Switzer helped lead the way for all of this. She’s now 70 years old, but in addition to throwing out the first pitch for the Red Sox game on Sunday and signaling the start of the women’s elite race on Monday, she also found time to actually run the marathon again.

She did so while again wearing her very first number: 261.


Switzer completing the 2017 Boston Marathon
[Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP via Boston Globe]

That number will now be retired. No one else will ever wear number 261 in the Boston Marathon, and that’s just right.


Footnotes:

  1. A year earlier, Bobbi Gibb ran the Boston Marathon unofficially, marking her as the first woman to complete the race. She should certainly not be overlooked. In fact, Gibb is a three-time champion, with the Boston Athletic Association retroactively honoring her as the women’s race winner for the years 1966, 1967, and 1968. Let there be no doubt that Bobbi Gibb kicks ass too.↩︎

  2. This post might just as easily be called “Kathrine Switzer Kicks Ass”, to make it clear that it’s part of that illustrious collection. ↩︎

That’s Not What Free Means

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Last week, I wanted to watch the baseball playoffs. A pair of games were on the MLB Network, a station I’d not watched before. I eventually located it in the mammoth and glacial guide full of channels for which I have no use, but when I tuned in, I was confronted with this message:

Free w/ Subscription: This program can be viewed free as part of a subscription package.

What the hell is that? “Free with Subscription” is an entirely content-free statement. They don’t even have the sense to hide the “with subscription” in a footnote. This magazine is free with a paid subscription to this magazine! These three eggs are free with purchase of a dozen eggs. Hell, this car is free with purchase of…this car!

Sooner or later, I’m going to be able to watch the Red Sox without having cable, and I’m going to have decent alternatives for Internet access. When that day finally comes, you can bet I’m going to spend $5 and have Comcast’s cord cut forever.

Done Him Wrong

Monday, October 5th, 2015

For fifteen years, Don Orsillo has been a constant during Red Sox TV broadcasts. He’s a top-notch play-by-play man, able to both call a great game with ease, and liven up dull blowouts. During his tenure at NESN with his partner Jerry Remy, the Sox won three championships, and he called countless highlight moments. For boneheaded reasons as-yet-unexplained, the Red Sox opted not to renew his contract. When word of this leaked back in August, as the Sox began to close out a miserable season, fans were incensed. We remain so. Nevertheless, what was done was done, and Orsillo has now called his final game as a Red Sox broadcaster.

Yet through it all, Orsillo has remained a consummate professional. In a final speech to Red Sox fans, Orsillo was as classy as ever.

I’ve been asked many times over the last six weeks how I would like to be remembered. To be remembered at all is enough for me.

Don is landing on his feet in San Diego, and good for him. Good as well for the folks who will be enjoying his future broadcasts with the Padres. But while Don was too gracious to do anything but leave the team and management out of his final thanks, it must be stated that he was treated incredibly poorly. Orsillo was a great broadcaster for a decade and a half, and he will be sorely missed. Let this be one more tribute to a man who has been an integral part of the Red Sox baseball experience since 2001.

And if this post is only of passing interest to most folks, that’s alright. Give the “Here Comes The Pizza” tale a read to experience the kind of fun the tandem of Orsillo and Remy shared with viewers.