What a night!!!!
May 4, 2010

Rasheed Wallace scores 17 points? The offensively challenged Red Sox score 17 runs? The Bruins Milan Lucic, who hadn’t scored a goal in nearly a month and a half, scored the game winner with less than 3 minutes left?

All true! And all nearly unbelievable. OK, Lucic is believable, but The Red Sox and Rasheed? C’mon. It’s got to be a night remembered for a long, long time. And All 3 games were on national television so it was a night for New Englanders nation wide to unite.

Rasheed Wallace, who all season long has been a bust, stepped up big time, Finally, to help the Celtics get out to a 25 point lead at Cleveland on their way to an 18 point win over LeBron and the Cavs.

The Red Sox scored more runs in Monday nights win than they had scored in their last 5 games combined. This could be exactly what gets the Red Sox going. At the very least it got Mike Lowell, whose 4 hits raised his average 78 points, and LD Drew, who raised his about 30 points, going.

The Red Sox play again on Tuesday night. The Bruins play again on Wednesday night but on Friday night all 3 teams again play on the same night with the Celtics at home against the Cavs. What can these 3 teams possibly do for an encore. You can bet New Englanders everywhere will be watching.

-MD

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Anticlimactic
September 30, 2009

There’s no other way to describe tonight’s bizarre scene at Fenway Park. It didn’t help that despite a valiant comeback, the Red Sox lost AGAIN to Toronto (and the streak is now at 5). The Blue Jays were just teeing off on Clay Buchholz, and David Ortiz shouldn’t be too happy at dogging it down the line, allowing Kevin Millar of all people to turn an allegedly acrobatic double play. But that’s besides the point – the Sox LOST.

This was like a bizarro 2007, where the Red Sox won their game and then waited out the Yankees loss to Baltimore before celebrating their AL East title. Only this time, the Red Sox lost, and then had to wait around for Texas to lose to the AAA team the Angels fielded in Anaheim. Many of the players stuck around, although many of them, Pedroia and Bay included, told us they left and spent some time with family before coming back for the final innings of the game that wrapped up around 12:45 AM eastern. David Ortiz joked that he was going to a bar and expected some free drinks while he watched the game.

We went upstairs to the press box and watched ourselves, and sure enough Texas lost. But unlike 2007, there would be no delayed champagne celebration, no communing with fans (who had long since gone home). The clubhouse was closed, and despite hearing the thumping hip hop beats in the background, and the occasional champagne-soaked clubhouse attendant sneak out, we didn’t really get a glimpse of what was going on.

Instead, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, and Mr. Old Hat Tim Wakefield (who may be making his final major league start Wednesday night) came out to briefly chat with us in a very-low key manner, save for some Papelbon party jokes (which were later proved to be unfounded – we watched him pull out of the Fenway garage and drive off around 1:30 AM, kind of early for someone Mike Lowell described as “probably in a thong right now with goggles and drinking Budweiser.” Maybe he knows the best closer is a well-rested one).

It’s not so much that only a few players came out. There are few things more fun than running into a champagne soaked locker room and interviewing jubliant players as they rain booze down upon you. It’s the pinnacle of sporting events, even if you’re a team with 2 recent World Series titles essentially celebrating finishing in fourth place.

In years past, the Sox have defended (and it’s a good point) their Wild Card clinching celebrations by saying it’s more a celebration of surviving a brutally long season and making it to the postseason, an accomplishment in and of itself. Maybe tonight’s closed door affair is an acknowledgement from the team that this is old hat – they’ve been here before, and they are supposed to be here now, so really, this isn’t cause for a massive celebration, rather, a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.

And so we went home dry tonight. Not such a bad thing, but it could have been better.

–SI

Who Are Those Guys?
September 30, 2009

You may have noticed the hilarious “fan umpires” sitting two rows behind home plate during Tuesday’s Red Sox game. They are actually cult heroes on the big league circuit these days. Toronto Stock Exchange traders Joe Farrell and Tim Williams are Blue Jays season ticket holders who got ahold of some legit umpiring gear and travel the baseball world calling balls and strikes along with the real umpire.

These guys are 100% the real deal. They have actual equipment, including spare balls, a brush for home plate, and a clicker to keep track of the count. There is a great write-up (with video) on their exploits here. They’ve even been featured on ESPN.

In a game where the Blue Jays were pounding the Sox for 7 of the 9 innings, these guys provided some much needed comic relief. I snapped this picture of them after the game, but only after waiting about 20 minutes for seemingly every fan in the ballpark to take a picture with them!

–SI

crazy umpire guys

David Ortiz Day
July 30, 2009

On a day that David Ortiz will never forget for all the wrong reasons, he managed to take a page out of his clutch hitting history to hit a game winning 3 run home run…he hit it in the 6th inning, but it still turned out to be the winning runs overcoming a 5-3 deficit on the way to a 8-5 win.

Now the bad news which you know by now- David Ortiz tested positive in 2003 for performance enhancing drugs. Despite Theo Epstein’s post game comments in which he said that he was blindsided by this and as much as you love David Ortiz, can you truly be surprised at this news? His home run totals since 2002 have gone from 20 to 31 to 41 to 47 and then a Red Sox record 54 in 2006. Now Ortiz also has had alot more opportunities to hit home runs as his at bats  went up from just 412 plus 43 walks to a career high 601 in 2005 with 102 walks which is 248 more chances. Red Sox fans want to believe that Ortiz did not get unnatural help.

Now after today’s game and after Ortiz issued a statement saying that he is going to look into this positive test, he faced the media. 99% of athletes would have snuck out a back door, but Ortiz faced the music. He really had no answers other than to say that he was going to look into it.

It is curious that Ortiz was not told about his positive test until today, by a writer, who found out from a lawyer, 6 years after the fact. 6 years? Do fans really care? I’d say a little, and there are alot of disappointed fans but but most of them share the philosophy of  Raiders owner Al Davis when he uttered his now famous saying of  “Just win baby”.

Red Sox fans biggest concern is that Ortiz’s production has gone down, from 54 Home Runs in ’06 to 35 home runs in ’07 to just 23 Home Runs in an injury riddled ’08. And the nature of last years injury is the alarming issue. Skeptics say that it is the kind of injury suffered by former steroid users. And then there is this years awful start. His resurgence in the last month and a half has him at 14 Home Runs with the realistic projection of 20-25 Hrs for the season which would be another decidedly down year for Ortiz who just 3 years ago hit 54 Home Runs.

It’s been a day that has Red Sox fans asking alot of questions. I’m sure David Ortiz has a few questions of his own. I’m not sure the answers are going to make anybody feel any better.

-MD

Bruins, Red Sox, etc
April 3, 2009

With last night’s 2-1 win as more evidence, the Bruins, after a 2-3 week slump,  appear to be regaining their game at just the right time with the playoffs just 2 weeks away. This can only signal entertaining and energetic times ahead for New Englanders.

Many of you are too young to remember when the Bruins owned this town, but there are Bruins fans everywhere ready to erupt and once again take control of this region. The best example of this diehard Bruins fandom was last year when the Bruins beat the Canadiens in game 6 of their playoff series (in one of the best hockey games in this area in 30 years) and people were honking their car horns outside of the garden like their team had just won it all.

If anyone group deserves a chance to celebrate with their team, it is Bruins fans. A trip deep into the playoffs should give then exactly that and with 5 wins in a row the Bruins have virtually assured themselves of home ice throughout the playoffs, at least thru the Eastern Conference.

Red Sox- We are now just 3 days away from opening day (well, the scheduled opening day since weather forecasts are not very promising for Monday).  Opening day itself is a bit overrated except that it is another major sign that spring and summer and warmer temperatures are close.

Yesterday I took a quick tour of Fenway and while there are no major differences, I’ve got to say that the resealing, resurfacing of the area beind home plate from dugout to dugout gives Fenway a much needed cleaner newer look. Now what about the team?

If this team can avoid major injuries, they should be able to navigate their way to the playoffs. Theo Epstein has effectively built this team for the playoffs with 3 tremendous starting pitchers in Josh Becket, Daisuke and Jon Lester, along with insurance in Brad Penny and John Smoltz. This alone should give Red Sox fans optimism for another fun summer extending into October.

Celtics- Just 2 1/2 weeks until the real season, the playoffs, begins. And it cannot get here soon enough. It’s a great time to be a sports fan here in New England.

Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics
February 11, 2009

Yes, all 3 professional teams are now on the radar since Red Sox Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow with their 1st official workout scheduled for Saturday- and Channel 5 and Mike Lynch will be one of the only stations covering it each night.

OK, enough about the Red Sox-starting tomorrow you are going to see and hear plenty from Mike Lynch both on all of our newscasts and in this blog with pictures, so let’s talk about the Celtics.

Big Road trip for the C’s (longest of year) as they are gone for 2 and half weeks with 6 road games-5 against teams with winning records. They start with New Orleans tonight and Dallas tomorrow before the all-star break. They may get a huge break tonight as the Hornets all-star Chris Paul is questionable with a strained groin and their starting center Tyson Chandler has missed the last 11 games with a sprained ankle.

And the Bruins-disappointing performance last night against the Sharks, even tho they are a very good team, but aren’t the Bruins supposed to be as good (or better?). The B’s now head out on their own long road trip -5 games in 10 days, so we’ll see how (or if) they bounce back from last night’s 5-2 loss to San Jose.

Meanwhile we wait, wait for the pictures of warmth and baseball players from Fort Myers as Opening day is now just 54 days away.

-MD

Are You Surprised?
December 23, 2008

As I expertly predicted to everyone in the office weeks ago, the Yankees jumped in at the last minute and stole Mark Teixeira from the Red Sox.

ESPN reports the deal is for 8 years and more than $170 million.

(Funny anecdote – our friends at the ABC station in Washington DC just called, asking if they could get a feed of any Mark Teixeira news we might get. I had to break it to them that he picked the Yankees!)

This brings to mind the Carlos Beltran situation from 2005. The story goes that Beltran and Scott Boras called the Yankees and said they would sign for 6 years, $96 million… even though they had the Mets 7-year offer worth $115 million on the table. The Yankees didn’t bite (a move they regretted) and the Mets got their man, albeit with the inferiority complex that comes with not being the first choice.

The Red Sox have to be kicking themselves right now. If John Henry hadn’t sent that e-mail and ponied up a measly $5 million or so (chump change for the Sox) they could have had their man.

So Manny Ramirez, what are you doing next summer?

–SI

Pedroia signs 6 yr deal
December 3, 2008

The Red Sox have relieved themselves of alot of headaches, which could have included a nasty holdout (or 2), by committing 40 million dollars to Dustin Pedroia over the next 6 seasons, with a club option for the 7th year (2015).

After winning the MVP award, Pedroia had the hammer in contract negotiations. Tho he wouldn’t be available for arbitration for 2 more years, when he would have commanded a 4-5 million dollar a year salary, and then 2 years after that free agency would have garnered him 7-9 million dollars a year, he is going to start receiving those big salaries now, which includes a BIG signing bonus in the 2 million dollar range.

Pedroia, this coming season, would have received a generous salary increase from $457,000. to over a million dollars year. Now he will get a little more than that along with his signing bonus. Not bad for a 5 foot 7 inch guy who people doubted all thru his career. Now, Pedroia is laughing all the way to the bank.
-MD

Great pitching does Sox in
October 20, 2008

Jon Lester pitched very well, but unfortunately for Red Sox fans he just didn’t pitch as well as Tampa’s Matt Garza and so the Red Sox are home and the rays are on to the World Series.

Let’s face facts, the Rays were a better team, maybe just barely, but there much better health makes them a better shot to win it all than the Red Sox.

I still maintian that the Red Sox, considering their health woes, overacheived, exceeding realistic expectations.

So now what? what do you do with Varitek (you offer him about 3-4 mill a year for 2 years)? and another pitcher(Jake peavy, CC Sabathia)? and another power hitter? Big questions that need to be answered by Theo Epstein this off-season, an off season that seems to get shorter and shorter every year. We’ll be talking about the Red Sox in some form or fashion on a weekly basis. They are New England’s obesssion, and they will continue to be our obsession.

-MD

Playing “Devil’s” Advocate
October 18, 2008

After communing with some friends in the Tampa Bay area, I’ve formulated these thoughts about Thursday’s historic game from the Rays perspective…

– Gabe Gross should be taken out for defensive purposes EVERY TIME. I could have caught Pedroia’s single and on Crisp’s hit, nailed Kotsay at the plate. He wasn’t even around third when Gross got the ball. That throw was embarassing. Plus, he mysteriously pulled his glove down from J.D. Drew’s game-winning line drive (why was his first step in?). It looked like a catchable ball, as did the Kotsay double misplayed by B.J. Upton. The hottest player in baseball appeared to loaf just a bit after that one… does anyone doubt that Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, Coco Crisp, or Willie Mays Hayes would have caught that?

– Dan Wheeler choked big time, but Joe Maddon shouldn’t have left him out there. Howell should have come on to face Ortiz after seeing how Wheeler had started. But even then, once it was apparent he didn’t have anything, why not at least bring in Chad Bradford, who was seemingly warming up for four innings? That crazy submarine motion would have at least made the Red Sox hitters a bit uncomfortable.

– I guarantee you see Maddon “think out of the box” and bring in flamethrowing rookie phenom David Price if tonight’s game is close. If rookie Justin Masterson can develop ice in his veins in a crucial playoff game, this kid should be able to as well. Besides, Balfour, Wheeler, and Howell are probably heavily sedated after that game.

But remember this good point brought up by Peter Gammons. All anyone remembers from the 1975 World Series is Carlton Fisk’s improbable home run to win Game 6 and “crush the hearts” of the Cincinnati Reds. And yet who won the Series? And what about 2001, when Byung-Hung Kim blew back to back games at Yankee Stadium for the Diamondbacks… who came back to win that series?

Sometimes these “crushing” defeats aren’t as crushing as they seem. We’ll see how the young Rays (and the “experienced” Red Sox) respond tonight. This will be fun.

–SI