New York, New York

It has been a hectic week for me, to say the least. School is still getting back into swing after winter break, and I’m currently facing the first round of tests in the new term. Luckily, during this chaotic week nothing affecting me at all has happened in baseball. Or maybe un-luckily, as the offseason stretches on and on. Where are the hot stove news, the signings and the blockbuster trades?! Maybe it’s just me, but this has seemed to be a particularly uneventful offseason and it is really starting to hit me. At least pitchers and catchers are just around the corner.

Or maybe at the end of a long hallway. That’s a little more realistic for the way most baseball fans are feeling.

Due to the lack of baseball in my life, I’ve turned my attention to other sports, as well as other things. The NFL playoffs have also been relatively uneventful, with the only surprise so far being the New York Jets’ upset of the San Diego Chargers. Now that a New York team is once again on a quest for playoff domination, Boston fans can only stand and watch, since our Pats were dethroned in the first round by the Ravens. It’s a lot like last October, when we watched the Yankees defeat the Angels as we stood helplessly on the side. Now we’re here again, with no means to stop New York, helplessly on the side yet again.

While we still have basketball on our side, New York has calmly seized control of both the NFL and the MLB. Some may say that the Giants and the Jets still aren’t safely in consideration as the top teams year in and year out, but I would argue that they certainly are powerhouses. The Jets may be returning to their glory of earlier years, with a squad of young stars, and the Giants need work, but can certainly come back strong after a good offseason.

The Yankees are never not  in consideration as one of the top 5 teams in baseball, literally every year. The growing truth is that New York is on its way to surpassing nearly any city as the premiere American sports town, a title that many would agree Boston has held in the last decade. Unfortunately, New York has almost reached that state of total sports domination.  

While we Boston fans can do little to entirely stop NYC, we can certainly surpass them, and as the NFL season is over for us, we must turn our view to the upcoming MLB season. What better stage on which to overtake New York? After all, a little competition never hurt anybody!

We play 15 games vs. the Yankees in 2010, and we will have that many chances to show the world what we can do against them. I would say that a reasonable goal to set would be to win at least 10 of those games. Last year we started off unbelievably strong against the Yanks, but we fell apart when we really needed to beat them. We only added to the Yankees’ fantastic late season run as they pulled the lead in the AL East farther and farther from us. I don’t think we would have beaten them even if we had in fact beaten the Angels; they truly were unstoppable.

The Yankees are still one of the most talented all around teams in baseball. They have improved a great deal over this offseason, but so have we. If we can keep our cool and win the big games against the Yankees, I think the rest will work itself out. I have faith in my Sox.

However, I’m not a Yankee hater by any means. I consider myself a good sport and I try not to be a sore loser. I’ll leave it at “may the best team win.” We will see, New York, we will see.

 

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Drank (and Dice-K) Prove Unsuccessful

Earlier today, on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to try out the new “anti-energy” drink, “Drank”.

Drank is a unique drink because, unlike energy drinks, it is designed to help you relax, or “slow your roll,” as the company puts it. While I’m not sure exactly how they pull this off (and I probably don’t want to know), it’s an interesting idea and the beverage has become very popular, despite only one flavor having been released so far. Just like anyone, I’ve been taught and urged not to drink energy drinks, and I know that they are bad for you and result in some of the worst crashes you can get. I am always wary of health issues and I’m proud to say that I had only had one energy drink in my life so far (a green apple “Monster”, which was pretty awful).

However, I have had a very long week and I really felt the need for a little relaxation. After my disappointing effort in the first half of the year (grades-wise), I have stepped up my focus and I’m working harder. So, really, I don’t blame myself for needing to relax a little. The thing is, I probably could have done that without Drank. Anyways, back to my interesting afternoon.

I opened the can and tried my first sip of Drank. I had hoped for it to be good, and it was. The sugary grape taste was delicious, almost making you forget the immense amount of sugar you’re really consuming. I finished it over the course of about 45 minutes, and lay back to take a quick nap, or something along those lines. About 25 minutes after that, I began to feel my eyes drooping and I felt nice and relaxed. Unfortunately that’s really all it amounted to. The rest of this “experience” was one long yawn-fest and then a terrible stomach ache that I still have. My high hopes for Drank had crashed and burned, and I was left with a sour and disappointed feeling.

 
disappointed.jpg Therefore, I would not recommend this so-called “anti-energy” drink to anyone, unless you really need the sleep or something. But why am I writing this on a baseball blog?, you may wonder. Honestly, I didn’t really have much baseball-related stuff to write about, and I wanted to share my Drank adventure with you. But have no fear, for after much thought I have found a lame way to connect Drank and baseball.

I thought about the characteristics of Drank: it is something I had high hopes for, appeared to be good at first, and then failed miserably, along with much pain. Well, to me that sounds a little like Daisuke Matsuzaka’s 2009 season.

As Julia reminded me, I have forgotten to comment on the recent news about Dice-K and what we all thought was an injury developed early in the ’09 season and in the World Baseball Classic that kept Matsuzaka from returning to the form of his ’07 and ’08 seasons. Apparently it has recently been discovered that in fact that the injury happened before the WBC and that Dice-K neglected to clarify this with anyone in the Red Sox organization. Maybe this is one of those moments where you don’t really know what the guy was thinking, but it does annoy me a little that I had thought all along that this injury really couldn’t have been prevented, and in fact Matsuzaka has now said that he may have “stressed it too much.” I love the guy, but that’s pretty bad. I have high hopes once more for Matsuzaka’s 2010 season, in which he will hopefully rebound from ’09 and become one of our aces again.

Before I regret ever posting this ridiculous attempt on my part at connecting bad energy drinks and Daisuke Matsuzaka, I should go ahead and post it. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to blog during the weekend, but I’ll try to get at least one post done.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts for Haiti

All of you have heard about the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, no doubt. The images and news we have heard or seen on numerous websites and on the news each night are hard to bear. Seeing pictures of the wreckage and chaos the people of Haiti are living in really makes one stop and pause for a moment. When reading my favorite blogs yesterday, I saw that Jane Heller (Confessions of a She-Fan) had written an entry on the earthquake and was taking “a time-out for Haiti.” I thought this was a very admirable thing to do and I decided to write a Haiti-related post today (I hope you don’t mind me copying you, Jane).

This terrible news related to me especially because my younger brother is adopted from Haiti. Although my family is no longer in contact with his birth parents, there is the possibility that his grand-parents or relatives were seriously injured or worse in the earthquake (thankfully, the last we heard from his parents, they were living in Florida). My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all the Hatian-Americans who don’t know the fate of their relatives, but most especially to the residents of Haiti.

Despite the many troubles Haiti has encountered over the years, the country has produced some excellent athletes that have succeeded in several major sports in the United States. I feel that paying tribute to a few of my favorite Haitian athletes is a fitting sports-related gesture to the country in this difficult time.

Samuel Dalembert

samuel dalembert.jpg

Samuel Dalembert is a Hatian born professional basketball player. He currently plays center for the Philadelphia 76ers, and has put up respectable numbers during each of his 7 years in the NBA. He is most renowned for his excellent shot-blocking skills, averaging about 2 blocks per game. He is one of the top shot blockers in the game today, and is a force to be reckoned with when driving the lane. For the sake of space, I’ll provide you with links to two youtube clips showcasing Dalembert blocking two of the most powerful players in the NBA:

-Dalembert blocks Shaquille O’Neal twice

-Dalembert blocks Yao Ming twice

Dalembert is a player who has always been very well respected by his teammates and other players in the NBA. So far, the news from Haiti has been good for Dalembert, as he found out recently that his father survived the earthquake and is well. He is yet to hear from any other relatives. Best wishes to Dalembert, and good luck to him with the rest of his season.

Pierre Garcon

Pierre Garcon was born in New York, but has many relatives in Haiti. He is currently a wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts
pierre-garcon.jpg. Although Garcon served as a backup in his rookie year last season, he had hopes of getting more playing time coming in to the current NFL season. Due to an early season injury to second-string WR Anthony Gonzalez this year, Garcon was given the starting job as the #2 WR in Peyton Manning’s unstoppable passing attack. Garcon proved to be the perfect target for Manning, racking up great stats and helping the Colts earn the #1 AFC seed in the playoffs. The Colts play on Saturday in their first playoff game this year, and Garcon is listed as probable for that game, due to a thumb injury that has sidelined him for the past 2 weeks. Apparently Garcon has also received good news about his relatives so far, and now that my Patriots are out of the picture, I have no problem rooting for this young wide reciever to put on a show come Sunday. I hope you tune in to check him out as well, he is a phenomenal young player.

Reginal Simon

There are currently no Haitian players in the MLB,
Reginal%20Simon_JPG.jpgbut there are several up and coming prospects that hail from Haiti throughout the Minor Leagues. Although I was previously not familiar with any of these prospects (a list can be found here), Simon is described as “the most advanced” of the group by the MLB.com article I linked. He is a pitcher for the Williamsport Crosscutters, a class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Simon boasted a 4-4 record this past season, but went 5-0 with a 1.11 ER in the 2007 season. While I do not know of any news surrounding Simon’s relatives and his family, I hope that they are all well and that his career continues to be a succesful one. Maybe we’ll see him someday on the mound at Citizens Bank Park.

It’s too bad that there aren’t more Haitian baseball players, but at least there are a good deal of minor leaguers. The important thing to focus on, however, is the current news from Haiti. I ask you to keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

 

Jerseys Galore!

I was prompted to write this entry because of something overwhelming I noticed today. As I was walking through the halls, and going about my business, I couldn’t help but notice that just about every third kid was wearing some kind of sports jersey or shirt. Although this is not true of every day, it is undeniable that the jersey of your favorite player has become as integral to their sport as the jersey itself. With sports items becoming more and more popular, I thought it would be a cool idea for a blog entry to talk about why I love jerseys and why I think other people do.

Possibly the best part of jerseys is the team support and spirit they allow one to showcase to the world. Wearing the jersey of your team is a sign that you are a true fan, and that you really love your team. It is a matter of pride for many serious fans (and even players).

 

Wearing a jersey can also bring a sense of comradery and common loyalty to complete strangers. Imagine that you’re at a party with many people you don’t know, and you notice that some guy is wearing the same jersey as you. That’s a great conversation starter, and you may have found yourself a new friend, or at least someone to relate to. I’ve been high-fived by random people on the street on Red Sox gamedays in the Fenway area, just because I’m wearing a Sox jersey. I think one of the best aspects of wearing a jersey is this feeling of friendship and common support of one team that it brings. It is good to know that hundreds of other people are living and dying with the team just like you, and are wearing the same jersey as you.

Jerseys can also show humor and some are very funny. Some popular Red Sox favorites include:

The “BIG PAPI” shirt

 

 

Not exactly a jersey, but still an awesome shirt, it stands for Dice-K

One of my favorites, this is what Sox fans always cheer when Youkilis comes up to bat (little quote from “Moneyball” on this one too)

And whether it’s an official replica jersey or not, it doesn’t really matter, because the spirit and support is what counts. But why not discuss comfort, the essential factor in buying any clothing. Although some may not agree, I find jerseys to be some of the comfiest things to wear. There’s always the feeling of pride when wearing a jersey, but they are additionally comfortable to wear. Some of the comfiest items include:

Red Sox slippers

Boston Red Sox HIMO Slippers

Or how about a Red Sox snuggy?

But now I’ve strayed a little from jerseys, so to get back on track and finish up this post, I thought I could share one of my favorite “jersey stories.”

As a little kid, I became a huge Red Sox fan sometime during the 2002-03 season. Throughout my first year of loyalty to the Sox, I longed for a jersey to show my support and make me what I considered an “official member of Red Sox Nation”. It didn’t matter what player it was, I just wanted that Red Sox jersey. Finally, on my birthday (during the offseason, unfortunately), I was counting on receiving the jersey as a present. Trying to not get too excited so that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t get it, I came to the last present, without having found the jersey in one of those boxes yet. I opened it carefully, trying to hold back my excitement, and when I saw the flash of red and white, I burst into joy and jumped around cheering and holding my new Nomar Garciaparra jersey (it was a good choice on my mom’s part). Who would have ever thought that a simple cloth shirt could bring a smile to a kid’s face.

Finally back…

Wow. It has certainly been a long time since I was on MLBlogs and I have missed it a good deal. For some reason, I wanted to take a short break from blogging months ago, and it turned into a prolonged absence that I am only returning from now. According to the auto-saved entry that I was in the middle of writing before I stopped blogging, the last time I was on here was August 24, 2009. That says something about MLBlogs; my entry from nearly 6 months ago is still auto-saved. That’s not too shabby.

Because of school and activities and life in general, I forgot to get back on all this time, and every time I wanted to I put it off for another time (it kind of sounds like I’m talking about some kind of blogging depression). Nevertheless, I’m back now and I’m dedicated to get this blog back onto its feet. Back in August I had quite a few people reading my blog each day and I was always thrilled to see your comments and suggestions. I hope that some of you will read my blog again, I will definitely read yours. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in this blogging adventure, I’m happy to be back!

 

Offense 101

If I were to ever find myself in a position of teaching baseball offense to someone, I think I would use last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game as a model for my class.

Baseball is a game where scoring is pretty unpredictable. It’s very hard to know when there’s going to be a shutout,  or when, like last night, a team is going to score 20 runs. Offense can sometimes be misinterpreted due to this. Just because a team loses 2-1, it doesn’t mean that their offense wasn’t working. They clearly weren’t at their best, but who’s saying they didn’t leave the bases loaded in every inning? They failed to produce, but I think that loading the bases still counts for some sort of offense.

Because games like that (stranding the bases loaded so much) are rare, I would probably choose a clear offensive game for any example in my “class”.

Last night, was an unbelieveably clear, offensive game. Our starter, Brad Penny, left the game after 4 innings, already having allowed 8 runs. There is an ongoing problem with Penny that was clearly shown here. I’ll let you take a guess as to what this problem is with the help of this stat- He threw 89 pitches through 4 innings last night.

Yeah, Mr. Penny throws far too many pitches and therefore wears himself out ridiculously soon in the game. Sorry, but this is not the guy we want starting off a series like this.

Brad Penny wiped sweat from his face after the third run scored for the Yankees.

Our relievers didn’t fare much better against the torrent of hits the Yankees were bringing upon us. Michael Bowden came in and let up 7 runs in 2 innings, even worse (if you can believe it) than Penny had done.

Surprisingly, Takashi Saito, one of our relievers that has really struggled this season, produced one of the few really good innings in the game, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one.

The lead just kept building, even as our offense began to FINALLY produce. We scored 10 runs in the last 5 innings of the game, but the Yankees, already leading 6-1 before this point, scored 14 runs to match that. While 14-10 might have been a decent game for us, because of those early innings, the score was actually 20-11. Yes, 20 runs. The most the Yankees have ever scored against us.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira celebrated at the plate after both scored on a single by Jorge Posada in the first.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen live. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, they are (right now) just about the best possible example on how to run a baseball offense. They can hit (23 hits in the game), they hustle (8 doubles and a triple), they score (20 runs), and they wear a pitcher down (see “Brad Penny”).

Now before I get carried away, I’m going to have to stop getting so enthralled by the Yankee offense. And what can do this for me? A little Red Sox offense, please…

Kevin Youkillis welcomed Ellsbury home as he scored a ball hit by Victor Martinez in the first.

The Red Sox offense wasn’t so bad. Against most other teams, 11 runs wins a game. Lowell went 3-5, Pedroia went 2-5, and Ortiz went 2-4. Our offense was not nonexistent. It was just dwarfed by the superior offense of the Bronx Bombers. That pretty much spells out what we need to do tonight. We have to turn up the bats, crank off some hits, and outhit, outrun, and outscore the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that’ll lead to a win.

All this is not to say that the game didn’t have it’s bright points. Jerry Remy was back in the booth after an ongoing struggle with depression and lung cancer. Remy is my favorite broadcaster of all time, without a doubt, and I can’t even say how happy I am to see the man doing well and back doing what he is so good at.

Jerry Remy waved to the crowd from the broadcast booth after a standing ovation in the third inning.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one overjoyed to see the RemDawg back in business.

Ryan Drohan, John Porter, Jake Munroe, and Brian Brolin, all from the Roy Moore Lobster Company in Rockport, went beyond sign making in paying tribute to Jerry Remy. And the back of the shirts spelled D-A-W-G.

At the end of the night, about the only thing left standing at Fenway was this sign welcoming back broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Lorriann Watson, from Clinton, Maine, wanted to make sure Dennis Eckersley got a shout in with all the Jerry Remy hoopla going on. Missing from Watson's sign was any acknowledgment of the color commentary work done by Frank Viola during Remy's absence.

Not sure if we mentioned that there were a few signs welcoming back Jerry Remy at Fenway Park on Friday night. The crew from Randolph brought this one along.

There were so many 'Welcome back Jerry Remy' signs that this young fan resorted to neon green in order to stand out in the crowd.

The pictures go on…

It is great to see so much love and happiness in the stands for Remy. He deserves it!

Also, in the 1st inning, Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base to tie Tommy Harper’s Red Sox record of stolen bases in a season, at 54.

Ellsbury stole second base in the first inning to tie Tommy Harper's Red Sox record of 54 stolen bases in a season, as the ball bounced in front of Robinson Cano.

Jacoby is an ABSOLUTE speedster!

We know what we have to do. We can’t let this lead keep growing bigger and bigger. Now is the time to win! I still believe that we are as good as the Yankees, let’s prove it! So tonight, let’s duplicate the Yankees’ success and lead an offensive outburst of our own! GO SOX!! 

Dare I say… “SWEEP!”

An article today in the New York Times said, referring to the Yankees, “The team that the Red Sox outclassed in recent years is now surging. The Red Sox are not.”

I would agree with this statement about a week ago. But now, as the Red Sox are fresh off a sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays, I have to say that I beg to differ. If anything at all, the Red Sox are surging. And what better time to be surging than heading into a series with the Yankees.

Let’s review the Toronto series. We came into it with the mindset that taking 2/3 games in this series would be a success. While our current Wild-Card rivals, the Rangers, were over in Minnesota fighting in a slightly more difficult series, we could expect to take at least one game against Toronto, a pretty weak team at this stage in the season. However, while we could have played this series with the mindset that we are pretty much ensured at least one game and that we didn’t need to play hard, our boys still played like they meant it.

Our offense was on fire, outscoring the Jays 24-11 in the series, and our pitching was very good as well, holding the Jays to 1 run in each of the last 2 games.

As well as our excellent play, we even saw a little bit of fun in the dugout. Forget the depressed faces of the past few series, we were happy to be winning again. Even some of our more quiet stars shone, and everyone was happy to see this.

J.D. Drew was congratulated in the Red Sox dugout. He had four hits on the day.

I have to say that I am very happy and very proud with the way we played this past series, it seems that we have regained our offensive prowess and are ready to beat our rivals.

In other baseball news, a dead body was found yesterday on the Texas ranch owned by Chipper Jones’ family. Jones’ father says that “the man had entered the country from Mexico illegally and that the extreme heat and drought would have made it difficult for him to survive without food or water.” I found this a kind of wierd story and thought I should mention it…

We enjoyed the luxury of bringing out our own brooms against Toronto, but we have the most crucial series of the year thus far coming up. Let’s get out there and win!!

The Red Sox celebrated their win and three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.