Pitchers & Catchers Report to Ft. Myers

Monday, January 25, 2016

To DH Or Not To DH?

That is the question. For the National League anyway.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said that NL owners are beginning to warm to the idea of making the designated hitter part of the rules of the road in their league, thus making it universal throughout MLB.

MLB has a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union to negotiate by the end of 2016, and it looks like the DH has a possibility to become part of the National League will be high on that agenda.

Now the debate begins.

Many fans like the traditional NL style of pitchers hitting, no matter how bad they look at the plate, and they always point to the fact that it adds more "strategy" to the game.

I'm generally a "traditionalist" when it comes to baseball, but I am all in favor of the NL getting the DH. Interleague play appears to be part of MLB for good now, and it makes sense to bring the NL on board with it. It's always been unfair to AL teams to have their DHs sit in NL parks, especially come World Series time.

And let's face it, who really wants to see pitchers hit? With rare exceptions, most are near automatic outs (guys like Madison Bumgarner come along very rarely). Everyone knows how entertaining Bartolo Colon is at the plate, but he is another rare exception. Pitchers have suffered devastating injuries on the bases recently. Remember what happened to Adam Wainwright last year, tearing his Achilles, or Yankee pitcher Chien Ming Wang getting hurt running to the plate many years ago in Houston? (His career was never the same.)

For years I have heard NL fans asking when the AL was going get rid of the DH return to "traditional baseball." That will never happen, as the players union would never approve it, as it would turn a full time job into a part time one. And in the baseball world, can you name me another league in the world that DOES NOT use a DH? The only league I know that doesn't use it is Japan's Central League. Just about every other professional league in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia uses it, not to mention all minor leagues, colleges and high schools.

So a better question to ask these NL fans is: when is your league going to adopt the DH?

We may now have an answer to that question, and it may well be 2017.

And it's about time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Another Haunting Wide Left

Add another one to the litany of Minnesota Vikings tragedies.

So what does the Good Lord have against the Vikings? (At least no know-it-all, wiseass sportswriter has made up some kind of "curse" they are under. At least, not yet anyway.)

Blair Walsh missed a chip shot FG from 27 yards with 26 seconds left that would have given the Vikings their first postseason win since 2009, but it gave the Seattle Seahawks a 10-9 win.

Walsh simply shanked it to the left, and as soon as it left his foot it was going wide. (On NBC, Cris Collinsworth made a big deal that the laces on the ball were "in", but a close look at the video of Walsh's other field goals showed he made his second FG of the day, a 43-yarder that went right down the middle, had the laces "in." So please get off holder Jeff Locke's back, everyone.) It was later pointed out that Walsh planted his left foot too close to the ball, and that probably caused the shank.

Walsh was a standup guy afterwards, as he stood at his locker after the game and took the blame for the miss. He's a terrific kicker, as he led the NFL in field goals made with 34. He got a torrent of abuse on Twitter after the game from so-called "Vikings fans", which he doesn't deserve.

52,000 fans sat in below zero temperatures yesterday and saw another agonizing Vikings postseason loss. This brought back memories of 1998, and Gary Anderson's wide left in the NFC Championship game. He was perfect all season, and missed just one. THAT one. That loss to Atlanta is still the worst loss in franchise history. The Vikings had lost just once that year before the title game, and looked on the cusp to make history. They did, but for the wrong reasons.

Yesterday's loss left me with a similar feeling to when the Red Sox lost the 2003 ALCS to the Yankees on that home run by You Know Who. I went to Facebook and wrote this:

OK, Vikings. Let's trade for Curt Schilling, sign Keith Foulke, and win the whole f**king thing next year.

The Vikings had a season that few would have predicted they would have had. They won the NFC North on the final day from Green Bay with a tough, young defense. Adrian Peterson had an incredible bounce back year, winning the rushing title. Teddy Bridgewater continues to improve as a QB. I was hoping this would be a year they could possible sneak in as a Wild Card, but they did better than that. They are a team on the rise, and the future should only get brighter, as they move into a brand new ballpark. The Vikings played valiantly against what was a better team in Seattle, but not putting up any TDs and settling for field goals really hurt them in the end. But Walsh's 4th field goal could have erased all that. It didn't.

I've been a Vikings fan since 1972. I became a fan when Fran Tarkenton returned from the Giants, and loved the Purple People Eaters defense, playing in arctic conditions in December and January. I've been through the worst losses they've gone through. And I thought to myself last night, like I did after the Red Sox lost the 2003 ALCS, "do I still want to root for this team after everything they've put me though?"

The answer in both cases is: yes.

It's been 44 years now, it's too late to turn back now. I'm proud to be a fan of the Vikings, and will stick with them through thick and thin.

Just win the whole f**king thing next year. Please.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mike and Junior To Cooperstown


It was no big surprise that both Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame yesterday.

Of the 440 votes cast, Griffey got all but three. He broke Tom Seaver's record for the highest percentage of all-time, with 99.3%. I'm sure the three who didn't vote for him have good reasons for not putting him down. (I wonder if any of them kept him off with the idea that he was such a lock to get in they kept him off so they could vote for someone else not getting enough support. This happened a few times last year, and there's a great way to avoid this. Make the number of candidates you can vote for unlimited.)

On social media yesterday, I saw more than one knucklehead suggesting that those three voters who left him be stripped of their voting privileges. Why? They did nothing wrong, and violated none of the voting bylaws. Almost no one gets 100% of the vote in any election, unless you are Kim Jong Un.

Mike Piazza received 83% of the vote, and becomes the second Mets player to enter the Hall.

Jeff Bagwell finished third, with 71.6%. He came up just 15 votes shoprt of enshrinement, should be elected next year. Tim Raines was next with 69.8%, and has an excellent chance next year as well.

Trevor Hoffman had a strong first ballot showing, getting 67.3% of the vote, and Curt Schilling was right behind him. His support grew by over 13%, and he finished at 52.3%.

The Steroid Boys, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both increased their totals by more than 7% over 2015, but still have a long way to go. They both have six years left on the ballot, but neither cracked the 50% margin.

Old Friend Nomar Garciaparra got only 8 votes, or 1.8% of the vote on his second go-round, so he will no longer be considered by the writers.

Here are the complete vote totals from Wikipedia.

Griffey and Piazza will be inducted at Cooperstown on July 24th.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

If I Had a Ballot


The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results of the balloting tomorrow at 6 PM, and there are 32 candidates for induction this year.

I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and we get a vote every year as to who should go in at Cooperstown. On the actual ballot, the writers can vote for up to 10 candidates. (I think it should be unlimited, but that's another story.) Here are the ten I would vote for:

Ken Griffey Jr.
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Jeff Bagwell
Trevor Hoffman
Edgar Martinez
Curt Schilling
Alan Trammell
Lee Smith
Jeff Kent

Nope, no Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. It looks like their percentage this year will rise, as the ballots already made public seems to reflect that both will be around the 50% mark.

If I had an expanded ballot, I would have included both Mike Mussina and Larry Walker.

It looks like Griffey and Piazza are sure bets this year, based on the public ballots.

This is Nomar Garciaparra's second appearance on the ballot, and probably his last. He's gotten almost no public support, and it looks unlikely he'll get the 5% to continue next year. He barely survived last year, getting 5.5% of the vote. Like Don Mattingly, his career just flamed out too quickly, and that is a damn shame.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Happy 2016 to You All


This is my final post at The Mighty Quinn Media Machine for the year ending 2015. It's been a slower year than any year since I started writing this blog in 2006.

This is just my 94th post of the year (and 4,741st overall). The number is down considerably since I last did any Trivia earlier this year. I haven't landed a new gig yet, but I am still itching to get back in. (Once again, if anyone knows a bar in Manhattan that's looking for a new host, please do drop me a line at: jbq1462@hotmail.com. Thanks.)

It was also another off year for the Red Sox, so I wasn't writing as much had this been a championship year. And with the many improvements they've made since the 2015 season, I suspect I'll be writing more in 2016 about them.

I'll be ringing in the New Year in the comfort of my home, watching the Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners and The Odd Couple marathons on TV. Go to Times Square? No chance. Only three types of people go there on New Year's Eve: cops, tourists and pickpockets.

So let me wish you and yours all the best for 2016. Thanks always for supporting my blog, wherever in this world you hail from.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Hendu Dies at 57

I was terribly saddened to learn that 1986 Red Sox hero Dave Henderson died on Sunday at the age of 57.

He will be remembered by me forever for the two-out, two-strike blast he hit off the Angels' Donnie Moore in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS in Anaheim to give the Red Sox the lead, 6-5, and eventually drove in the game-winning run in the 11th inning to send the Sox on their way to the AL pennant. (He actually would have been a goat had the Red Sox lost Game 5. Totally forgotten is the ball that went off his glove hit by Bobby Grich in the 6th inning for a two-run home run that put the Angels ahead. Remember that?)

And who could forget the blast that started the top of the 10th inning at Shea Stadium in the World Series against the Mets in Game 6 of the World Series? (It's pictured above.) Had the Sox held on and won a statue surely would have been erected for Hendu in front of Fenway Park.

I was in the same place for both events: working at Tower Records in Greenwich Village, and I went crazy both times. Both are memories I will cherish forever (the first more than the second, obviously). And by an amazing coincidence, I was in store DJ booth for both blasts. (I was just turning the TVs back on after midnight after all the customers left the store, and saw Hendu's blast hit above the left field wall.)

Dave Henderson was traded by the Red Sox in 1987, and wound up winning a World Series in Oakland in 1989. He hit 25 home runs and made the All-Star team for the AL in 1991, and retired after playing in Kansas City in 1994. But he will always be remembered in Boston for his wide smile and joy for the game. And for two blasts that nearly brought the Red Sox and their fans to the Promised Land in 1986.

What I never realized was the Dave Henderson had a disabled son, and it was the biggest priority of his life for the last 28 years. He was profiled last year about it in the San Jose Mercury News.

Hendu suffered a massive heart attack yesterday, just one month after receiving a kidney transplant. My deepest sympathies to friends and family. He will be missed, and fondly remembered by Red Sox fans for his 1986 postseason heroics forever.

Godspeed Hendu.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas To You and Yours

I wish all of you out there wherever you are a happy and blessed Christmas.

Never forget the words said by the wonderful Linus Van Pelt:




 As the lovely Yule Log burns bright:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Red Sox Finally Honor Wade Boggs

The Red Sox announced yesterday that they will retire number 26 in honor of Hall of Famer Wade Boggs in 2016.

Interesting day they are retiring his number: May 26th. May is the fifth month, and third base, Boggs' position, is number 5 on your scoresheet. Coincidence? Hmmm...

It's been a mystery why it took the Red Sox so long to honor Boggs, who owns the highest batting average at Fenway Park of any player to play for the Red Sox (.369). He retired in 1999, and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2005. His move to the Yankees in 1993 miffed many in Boston (and especially seeing him on the horse after they won the World Series in 1996), but that was long ago. The Sox really had no interest in resigning him after he had a down year in 1992, hitting just .258. Their were whispers that he was washed up at the age of 34, and no one was banging down his door to sign him. The Yankees were one of the only teams interested, so he went there. The Sox immediately gave out number 26 to another player the next season.

Nick Cafardo wrote an interesting article in the Boston Globe about it, and seems to think it is may not be a coincidence that with Larry Lucchino leaving the Sox, management now felt is was time to honor Boggs.

Boggs becomes the ninth Red Sox player honored with his number retired by the team. Is Roger Clemens next?

Brock Holt, currently with number 26, will wear number 12 next season.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Felt Good To Be Doing Trivia Again

I had the distinct pleasure of doing a round of Trivia today for the first time in many months at the headquarters of HBO for a private gathering. And it sure felt good to be doing it again.

One of my old Trivia regulars from Professor Thom's, Dave, works for HBO, and sent me an email last week asking me if I'd be interested in doing some Trivia for him and many of his colleagues at HBO. I jumped at the chance, as I've been on the sidelines too long, and have been itching to find a new place to do it at.

I put together three categories: Classic TV Trivia, Movies Trivia, and HBO Trivia. I kept the questions more contemporary, and the last round called HBO Trivia would be questions based on TV shows, sports and specials seen on the network in its history.

Each category had ten questions, and we had six teams in a very nice conference room at HBO's midtown offices. We also had two teams join us via video conference from HBO's Seattle offices. That was definitely a first.

Most of the people playing were in their thirties and forties, a nice mixture of all different kinds of men and women. They were no prizes involves, just bragging rights inside the company.

There was definitely a feel of competition in the air, as there was plenty of trash talk going on, but all of it good-natured. It was a close game throughout, but the winning team ended up taking it by three points. (I didn't save my scoresheet, so apologize to everyone involved, including the winners, for not mentioning any team names.)

Unfortunately, due to time considerations, I could only do 5 of the HBO questions out of 10, but I will include the ones I did not ask in the following Q&A.

I want to thank Dave and everyone at HBO for making the day really special. I really enjoyed being with all of you, and I got some really nice feedback from many of the Trivia players afterwards.

If anyone out there wants to have a private Trivia party, please do contact me, as I am available to do so. You can email me at jbq1462@hotmail.com, and we can arrange something.

And of course, I am still looking for a new venue to do my Trivia Night, and if anyone knows a good establishment looking to start a new Trivia Night or just needs a new host, please do contact me at the above address. I'm just looking to get back in the Trivia saddle!!

OK, folks, here is the Q&A from earlier today, I'll include the answers at the end of the last round.

Classic TV Trivia
1. What rock band performs the opening theme to the TV series "The Big Bang Theory?"
2. What Saturday Night Live cast member left the show in 1994 after being in a record 153 shows?
3. What TV series was set in the year 2030 with the main character recounting events of his past to his children?
4. "The Regal Beagle" was the bar that characters from what 1970s/80s sitcom hung out at?
5. "I Want to Believe" was a phrase featured on a poster in what 1990s TV series?
6. "Venus Flytrap" and "Johnny Fever" were two characters on what 1990s sitcom?
7. Every episode of "Seinfeld" contains an image or reference to what superhero?
8. McKinley High School was one of the main settings on what 2010s TV series?
9. What current TV talk show almost singlehandedly made the term "truthiness" a word in the dictionary?
10. What legendary comedian was the first ever host of "Saturday Night Live" in 1975?

Movies Trivia
1. What TV actor had to reject the offer to follow Roger Moore in the 1980s to play James Bond because of his TV series commitments, but eventually did play Bond?
2. The 1985 book "Wiseguy" was eventually turned into a very successful 1990s film under what title?
3. What was Woody Allen's first film to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay?
4. "Mean Streets" and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" are two of the earliest films from what Oscar-winning director?
5. What actor or actress has been nominated for the most Academy Awards?
6. What was the highest-grossing film in the US in the decade of the 1980s?
7. The 1986 film "Platoon" was set during what war?
8. What city was featured in the films "Good Will Hunting", "A Civil Action" and "Field of Dreams?"
9. What Oscar-winning actor starred in the 1977 comedy "Slap Shot?"
10. In what NYC borough did the legendary car chase in the film "The French Connection" take place?

HBO Trivia
1. On the TV series "The Sopranos", which character killed Tony Blundetto, who was played by Steve Buscemi?
2. On "Boardwalk Empire", English actor Stephen Graham played what real-life American crime figure?
3. What future Oscar-winner appeared on all 56 episodes of the series "Oz?"
4. How many seasons did the show "Entourage" run for?
5. What NFL team, which had just come off a Super Bowl win, was the first one featured in the HBO series "Hard Knocks" in 2001?

Questions Not Used
6. George Carlin's first HBO special was filmed in 1977 at what West Coast university?
7. What baseball immortal was featured in an HBO documentary that debuted in 2009?
8. What comedian had a live HBO series that ran from 1994 to 2002?
9. What actor played "Mr. Big" on the HBO series "Sex and the City?"
10. What former baseball star caught a baby thrown from a burning building in one of the final episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm?"

Answers
Classic TV Trivia
1. Barenaked Ladies; 2. Phil Hartman; 3. "How I Met Your Mother;" 4. "Three's Company;" 5. "The X-Files;" 6. "WKRP In Cincinnati;" 7. Superman; 8. "Glee;" 9. Stephen Colbert; 10. George Carlin.

Movies Trivia
1. Pierce Brosnan; 2. "Goodfellas;" 3. "Annie Hall;" 4. Martin Scorsese; 5. Meryl Streep (19); 6. "ET"; 7. Vietnam War; 8. Boston; 9. Paul Newman; 10. Brooklyn.

HBO Trivia
1. Tony Soprano; 2. Al Capone; 3. J.K. Simmons; 4. eight; 5. Baltimore Ravens; 6. USC; 7. Ted Williams; 8. Dennis Miller; 9. Chris Noth; 10. Bill Buckner.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On the Outside Looking In, For Good

It's pretty clear to me that Pete Rose just doesn't get it.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred rejected his appeal for reinstatement this past Monday, and now it looks for all the world that Rose will not be elected to the Hall of Fame in his lifetime.

Rose signed an agreement with MLB back in 1989 after it was determined that had bet on baseball while he managed the Cincinnati Reds. Rose figured he'd sit out a year and would appeal to Commissioner Bart Giamatti to be brought back in baseball's good graces. But Giamatti suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after the ruling, and every commissioner that has followed him has denied Rose readmission into the game.

I caught part of that bizarre press conference he held in Las Vegas yesterday. Rose talked about how he is just a "recreational" gambler these days, and being in Las Vegas, the bets he makes aren't illegal. And he told this to Manfred when they met in New York last September.

That just left me shaking my head. Gambling has cost Rose dearly. Ruined his reputation and kept him out of the Hall of Fame. And he admits he is STILL gambling?

Manfred had no other choice but to deny Rose. He clearly has not turned away from what is baseball's mortal sin among their personnel. He had to show the commissioner that betting, even legally, is no longer part of his life. It's clear that just isn't the case.

Rose went the entirely wrong routs after he was suspended in 1989. He denied, denied, denied for 15 years. Took all of his fans for suckers. In the early 2000s, I was coming over to Rose's side and thought maybe it's time we take a serious look at possibly bringing him back. And then, Charlie Hustle goes and ruins it by finally admitting that he did indeed bet on baseball and other sports in 2004. And it was just to sell another "autobiography." Just to make another buck. That convinced me that Rose should be kept out until after he dies.

What Rose should have done after his suspension was admit the truth about his gambling, and go out and get help for it. Yes there would have been some short term consequences, but if he showed the public that his degenerate gambling was out of his life, public opinion would have turned in his favor.

And I believe he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame 20 years ago.

I keep hearing these comparisons to the PED users of the last couple of decades, but this has nothing to do with them. There was no penalty for those users back in the 1990s and early 2000s, and most of those alleged users are still eligible for the Hall of Fame. It's apples and oranges as far as I am concerned, a whole separate issue for another time.

What is troubling, and rather hypocritical, is the fact that MLB has an agreement with the betting site "DraftKings." Sure, MLB personnel are prohibited from making wagers there, but getting into bed with gambling sites, despite being legal in most states, seems to go against the integrity of the game that was tarnished by the Black Sox scandal of nearly a century ago. But, of course, there is money to be made.

Pete Rose will continue to plead his case to the American public about how he belongs in Cooperstown, and will now do that for the rest of his life, posing himself as a martyr. He did it all to himself, and made some terrible mistakes after all the evidence was mounted against him. He had a shot at a second chance years ago, but his ego wouldn't let him do it. Sorry, Pete, you get no sympathy from me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A Power Arm For the Pen

Dave Dombrowski struck again on Monday, as he sent Wade Miley to Seattle in a four-player deal that included reliever Carson Smith.


Also included in the deal was reliever Jonathan Aro going to the Mariners, with starting pitcher Roenis Elias coming to Boston.

Smith was very solid for the Mariners last year, going 70 innings and striking out 92. He posted a 2.31 ERA while going 2-5 in 70 games. He figures to be a solid setup man with Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Smith is 26 years old from Texas. Here's more about him.

Elias is a 27-year-old Cuban-born lefty (born in Guantanamo) who has started most of the last two seasons in Seattle. He was 5-8 with a 4.14 ERA in 2015, and figures to be a back-end of the rotation starter. He still has options left and most likely will begin 2016 at Pawtucket. His more about him.

Miley was probably the most tradeable of the Red Sox starters last year. He was an innings eater last year, nothing spectacular but consistent.

The good folks at Fangraphs seem to like this trade, and think Smith could be a bullpen ace down the road.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

A Heavy Price For an Ace

I would call this making a big splash, no?

Dave Dombrowski promised that the Red Sox would bring in a top starting pitching, and probably via free agency. And that's what he did, as the Sox agreed to a seven-year, $217 million deal with free agent David Price.

This is the biggest deal in baseball history ever given to a pitcher.

Rumors were flying yesterday that Price would land in St. Louis, and the Sox had started negotiating with free agent Zack Greinke. But it was apparent that Price was their man, and the Red Sox offer was $30 million more than what the Cardinals were offering.

In this megadeal, there is an opt-out clause for Price after three years. Price is 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 76 innings at Fenway Park lifetime.

It was quite apparent to anyone with eyes that the Red Sox needed a top draw starter for their rotation. This reminds me of December 1997, when the Sox were coming off a year when they had no clear ace of the pitching staff, and finished the year 78-84 (just like in 2015). So they traded for Pedro Martinez. While Pedro was four years younger than David Price, it made all the difference in the world as the Sox won the Wild Card in 1998. This move also takes the heat off Rick Porcello to be the ace, and can now move to the number two slot.

Yesterday's signing also proves what a big mistake the Sox made in lowballing Jon Lester in contract negotiations in 2014. Price is actually a year younger than Lester is now. They would have been overpaying Lester had they resigned him then, so overpaying Price is something they would had to have done anyway. While the Sox spent a truckload of money yesterday, they lost no draft picks in the signing, and get an ace without touching the core of their young players.

Dombrowski said after the 2015 season ended that there were three slots he had to fill this offseason: an ace (Price), a closer (Craig Kimbrel) and a fourth outfielder (Chris Young). He's done alright so far, but you have to think he is not yet finished. Another power arm in the pen maybe next, and trying to find a new home for Hanley Ramirez may also be a possibility. The Winter Meetings begin next Monday in Nashville.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dave Roberts Takes Over the Dodgers

Congratulations to 2004 Red Sox legend Dave Roberts, who will be named the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers today.

It came down to Roberts or Gabe Kapler, another 2004 Red Sox World Series champion player, who was the head of the Dodgers' farm system.

I have no use for the Dodgers really, but I am happy to see such a good baseball man get his shot to manage in the big leagues.

And it gives me the opportunity to repost this cool picture once again.

 Good luck, Dave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Next Stop, Cooperstown

David Ortiz announced today that the 2016 season will be his last in an MLB uniform.

And he did it on his 40th birthday.

I won't go over his incredible resume he built up over the last 13 seasons in a Red Sox uniform. It speaks for itself. He is simply the greatest postseason performer in franchise history, as well as the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history.

In my mind, the 2013 postseason he had will cement his place in the Hall of Fame. He put the Sox on his back and had a World Series that was one of the greatest any hitter has ever had. Remember when he held that impromptu team meeting in the Red Sox dugout in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, with the Sox trailing 2-1 in the Series and 2-1 in the game? (Pictured below.) Jonny Gomes hit a three-run shot that inning that put the Sox ahead to stay, and they never trailed in winning the next two games and another championship.





That is what a team leader does, and Papi has been an extraordinary one.

I don't expect him to get in on the first ballot, as there will be writers who will hold the fact he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. That should absolutely not preclude him from getting in. How many bad fielders are in the Hall but put up spectacular numbers? With rare exceptions like Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith, defense almost never enters into it when choosing the worthiness of a position player. It's about time these writers acknowledge that the DH has been part of the rules of the road in the AL for nearly half a century, and put the best ones like Papi and Edgar Martinez in. If relief pitchers can get in, why not DHs?

And then there will be those who will hold the alleged PED test he failed in 2003. Funny, how we still only know the names of three players from that list of 104 to this day, eh? Some writers will probably still hold that against him, but it shouldn't keep him out.

Papi is first eligible in January 2022. In my book, he's in. And his number 34 will be going up in right field at Fenway Park shortly after the 2016 season.

Here is the Large Father with some words about his coming retirement:






 And I wish you could play for 40 more years too, Papi.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Remodeling Begins With a Bang


Dave Dombrowski promised big changes to the Red Sox this off-season, and made a big splash last night.

The Sox acquired four-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres last night, for four prospects.

The Red Sox parted with blue chip outfielder Manuel Margot, who was at AA Portland in 2015. Also going in the trade were shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and left handed pitcher Logan Allen.

Margot and Guerra are both top ten prospects in the Red Sox system. Margot is the only one of three that played at AA or above last year. The Padres are rebuilding the farm system and trading away some high-priced talent after their 2015 plan went horribly wrong.

Kimbrel still as three years left on the deal he signed two years ago. It is also now clear the Red Sox are going the way the Kansas City Royals went, in having power arms at the end of the game. Koji Uehara will move back to the 8th inning (he was informed of the deal last night before it happened and is cool with his new role), with Junichi Tazawa going to the 7th.

Here's more on last night's deal from ESPN.

Well, the Sox got one of the game's elite closers without giving up any MLB talent, but had to trade one of their elite prospects. Gotta give to get.

More to come. Much more. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Helping Out One of Our Own

My good friend and Governor of Red Sox Nation for New York State, Chris Wertz, brought to my attention very worthy fundraising efforts that are being held for a member of Red Sox Nation named Sean Bunn.

Sean, who Governor of Red Sox Nation for North Carolina, is suffering from a form of cancer called Gliobastoma Multiforme. Sean's friends have held fundraisers to help him with his fight against cancer, and I am spreading the word so that fellow Red Sox fans can help, too. We wish Sean all the best and pray he beats this terrible scourge.

This is a Facebook post that went up the other day by Sean's friends, and explains how you can help:

As many of you may know, our good friend and fellow fan Sean Bunn has been battling cancer for the past several weeks. Many of you have reached out with your time and generosity to call, text, email, and support Sean in so many ways over these past few weeks and though he may not be able to respond to each one, he appreciates all of your kind words to him.

He is currently being seen by Duke battling a cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme, and he has had an operation already to remove a tumor the size of a baseball from his brain. It is a grade IV astrocytoma, a malignant, aggressive, and rare cancer with less than 200,000 cases in the US a year. It is not usually just a normal tumor, but it has many fingerlike tentacles that make it very difficult to remove. The tumors themselves are also very resistant to conventional therapies making it hard to treat. The brain is not able to repair itself that well, and is susceptible to damages from the conventional treatments.

The median survival for GBM is around 2-3 years with less aggressive types. Adults with more aggressive forms of the condition treated with chemo and radiation usually live around 14 months on average. However, 10% of that number do live 5 years or longer with treatment, and not only is the fantastic team at Duke fighting for Sean but a fellow member of Triangle Red Sox Nation has spent many years researching this disease and has provided Sean and his family with bountiful information and help.

Sean is currently at home with his family in Raleigh, and his family has been with him every day since his diagnosis. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy in a pill form everyday, and on Monday through Friday he does radiation treatment in Duke's Durham Hospital. He is also currently on leave from work.

He would also like to share with you all that he is having trouble seeing and speaking. He currently cannot see from the right of his nose, something that may not improve. This doesn't mean he isn't able to receive your messages of support and hope, and not only does he appreciate every one of your messages but his family does too. It truly means a lot to see the love from each and every one of you, and is a hand of support and compassion in this tough time.

Sean, his family and the doctors do not know what the future holds. Sean may be with us for just a little bit, signing a short-term contract with an Invitation to Spring Training, or he may sign a Multi-Year deal and be with the club for a long term contract. If anyone can stay positive and fight, it's our Gov'na.

A lot of you have reached out over the past few weeks and asked how you can help Sean. Here are a few ways...

First, we have a SeanStrong Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SeanStrongNC) where you can share your favorite Sean memories, send well wishes and follow all events. We'll email and post when events are but for now, put this on your calendar:

Sunday November 8th, the Triangle Red Sox Nation will be holding an event with our sister club the Triangle Patriots Fans. The Tri-Pats are hosting an event at the Backyard Bistro called the Boston Buffett Bunnraiser. The Bistro will have a buffet of Boston food favorites set up for folks to watch the Pats/Redskins game (and all the other 1pm games) with proceeds going to Sean.

Please RSVP at either the TRSN event page (www.meetup.com/triangleredsoxnation/events/226257421/) or .the Tri-Pats event page (www.meetup.com/Tri-Pats/events/222011724/). This will help us get an idea of how many folks will be coming, so please RSVP on just one or the other and not both so we don't have doubles.

EVERYONE is welcome, no matter who you cheer for, so spread the word & bring your friends! (There is also a facebook event you can share at www.facebook.com/events/997079786981814/.

Starting November 15th, we will be holding an auction where all proceeds raised will be going to Sean and his family. We’re in the final phase of getting items, so if you have access to any massages, restaurant gift certificates, photograph sessions, training sessions, golf outings, cigars, sports memorabilia, tickets...ANYTHING! Please contact me directly at soxfanbry@yahoo.com to find out more how you can help.

Some items we have so far are airline tickets, hotel and tickets to a Red Sox game in 2016, a Malcolm Butler signed football, a Big Papi signed baseball bat, a Carolina Hurricanes hockey stick signed by all the members of the 06-07 Stanley Cup team plus much, much more!

We are also gathering a list of folks to help bring food over to Sean and his family. Sean is on a strict diet that must be very low in salt and sugar. You can sign up to be on Steve Freedman’s list to do this on facebook for now at www.facebook.com/groups/1654879098115305/.

If you’d like to donate cash toward Sean’s medical bills, we have a site set up atwww.YouCaring.com/SeanStrongNC. All donations made through that site are tax deductible as we’re working with a local organization called BHM or Big Hearted Moms. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Back Up The Truck On February 10th

It's never too early to talk about the 2016 MLB season.

The Red Sox announced their 2016 Spring Training schedule yesterday. They will play their first games of 2016 with the traditional doubleheader against the college kids, Northeastern and Boston College, on February 29th. The first MLB game will be on March 2nd at Ft. Myers against the Twins.

The Sox play the National League champion Mets twice, the Yankees twice, and will close Spring Training on April 1 and 2 with games against the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Here's the complete schedule from NESN.

Truck Day is now officially February 10th, and pitchers and catchers will report on February 18th, with position players reporting on February 24th.

The Sox also exercised their option on Clay Buchholz for the 2016 season yesterday, and there are now two Red Sox heroes from the 2004 season in the running for the L.A. Dodgers managerial job: Dave Roberts and Gabe Kapler.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Best in the NL. Top Dogs In NYC.

If I had told you back in June that the New York Mets would still be playing baseball on November 2nd, what would you have thought? "Yeah, in Puerto Rico or one of the Winter Leagues?"

It was an amazing run for the Mets to get to play meaningful baseball this late in the season. I got to see my first ever World Series game live and in person this past Saturday night, as I sat in left field for Game 3. It was the thrill of a lifetime, as Citi Field was simply electric throughout most of the game.

A lot of things went right for the Mets to get where they were last night. They made a few shrewd trades, to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. Their main opposition in the NL East, the Washington Nationals, did not live up to expectations and faded badly.

The young pitching came through big time. The bullpen did very well, with Jeurys Familia becoming one of MLB's best closers. They took out the Dodgers in five games, and shut down a young and upcoming Cubs team in a four-game sweep.

I thought that if the Mets pitched as well in the World Series as they did in the NLCS it would be the Mets first championship since 1986.

But it was clear this was a determined and focused Kansas City Royals team. They beat the Houston Astros in a five game ALDS, and the Toronto Blue Jays in a six game ALCS. And they kept coming from behind to do it, with an amazing eight wins after falling behind in the postseason, a record since MLB went to the current playoff format in 1995.

Unfortunately for the Mets, they did not pitch lights out they way they did against the Cubs. Matt Harvey was only so-so in Game 1, and Jacob deGrom got lit up in Game 2. Noah Syndergaard was terrific in Game 3, and Steven Matz pitched five good innings in Game 4. The only otherwordly start was Harvey's amazing Game 5 performance. And Terry Collins was absolutely right letting him come out for the ninth inning with the 2-0 lead. He had retired the last six hitters without problem. Familia was struggling in this World Series, having blown two previous save opportunities. Harvey was clearly the best choice to start the ninth. You go with your best.

The Royals simply were not to be denied. Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain, who stole second. You can argue that Collins should have lifted him after the walk, as Eric Hosmer doubled Cain in to make it 2-1.

Familia got three ground outs, but the second one will be talked about for a long time. Hosmer raced in from third as David Wright fielded a grounder and threw to first, and Lucas Duda threw wildly home and it tied the score.

It was a battle of the bullpens, and you knew KC would win that one. Five runs in ninth gave them their second ever World Series title, 7-2. Salvador Perez was voted Series MVP.

This Series will be remembered for Daniel Murphy's error in Game 4 and Duda's wild throw in Game 5. But their offense was held in check, as the Mets hit just .193 in the five games. It should be remembered for a KC team that lost in the 2014 World Series in seven games, with the tying on third in the ninth in the final game. It was a brutal way to lose a World Series, but they came back this year and deserved this championship. They scored 51 runs in this postseason from the 7th inning on. That is pretty damn impressive. If the Mets terrific young starters couldn't stop this Royals team, nobody in the NL would have. They are worthy champions.

Mets fans are heartsick today, but they should hold their heads up high. The Mets are the top dogs in town again, and that is a good thing. (Who's that other team again?) Their future is bright, with a starting pitching staff that is the envy of MLB. The Mets will be back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Camden Yards Is MLB's Best Ballpark Experience Again

As we conclude this MLB season with the World Series, my friend Paul Swaney over at Stadium Journey has posted his end-of-season rankings of all the 30 MLB stadiums.

Paul puts together what he calls the "FANFARE" scale, and it is based on the following criteria:

Overall experience
Food and beverage
The fans
Neighborhood the park is located in
Access to the ballpark (which includes parking traffic, restrooms, handicapped access, etc.)
Overall return on investment

Readers also have their say and leave their ratings on how good MLB ballyards are.

This year's winner is no big surprise:  Oriole Park at Camden Yards, getting a perfect 5.0 rating.

Fenway Park finished fourth overall, and PNC Park in Pittsburgh was the highest ranked National League venue.

The AL Champion Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium finished in the middle of the pack at 16th, while Citi Field, home of the NL Champion Mets, was ranked near the bottom, at 27th.

Here is the complete rankings of all 30 ballparks.

My thanks to Paul for an interesting article. Check out his site for all kinds of articles about experiences at all kinds of pro and college sports teams.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

11 Years Ago Tonight

Where in the world has 11 years gone?

Does this ever get old?

Hell no.

Thanks always, 2004 World Series champions.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Amazing, Amazing, Amazing...

I never, ever would have predicted this.

Before the playoffs began, I picked the Mets to go to the World Series. I thought it would be a tough road, but if their pitching held up, I thought they'd have a good shot at making it to the Fall Classic.

I just didn't think they'd do it so dominantly.

The old Connie Mack adage certainly applies here: good pitching stops good hitting. And boy were the Mets pitchers throwing lights out. They allowed a terrific Cubs lineup just eight total runs in the four-game sweep. The young dynamic trio of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom were simply spectacular, living up to the hype that has surrounded them. The Cubs lineup simply destroyed the Cardinals in the NLDS, blasting 12 home runs against the team with the best record in baseball in a 3-1 series win. They hit just four home runs in the NLCS.

And what can you say about Daniel Murphy? A home run in six straight postseason games, a new record. Seven overall. Easily the NLCS MVP. He hit just 14 home runs in the regular season, but is becoming otherwordly in these playoffs, just when his team (and bank balance) will benefit most. He is a free agent after the season and will be high in demand when the World Series is over.

This Mets team reminds me so much of two other teams: the 2004 Red Sox and the 1969 Mets. Both teams won the World Series with incredible starting pitching, shutting down arguably the two best lineups in MLB in those years. And like in the 2004 World Series, the Mets were never trailing once in the four-game sweep.

Cubs fans are naturally depressed after seeing their team go down so meekly in a sweep (and not fulfilling the "Back to the Future II" prophecy). But take heart, fans of the North Side. This is an awesome Cubs team that won 97 games in the regular season. They are young and vibrant, and with some more pitching help, they could dominate in the NL for years to come. It's now been 107 years since the last Cubs title, but you may not have to wait much longer.

Back to the Mets. Game 6 of the ALCS between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays is tonight, and I still like KC to win it. But if you are in the Mets position, I think they'd rather face the Blue Jays. Both teams have awesome lineups, but the Royals' pitching is much better, especially the back end of their bullpen. If the Mets keep pitching the way they have, there will simply be no stopping them, no matter which team takes the AL pennant.

I'll leave the last words to the late, great Casey Stengel:

(With thanks to the good folks at The 7 Line Army for the photo.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good News About The Manager & RemDawg

The Red Sox revealed today that manager John Farrell's lymphoma has gone into remission, and he will likely return as manager in good health for the 2016 season.

The club had revealed on the final day of the 2015 season that Farrell would be back and that interim manager Torey Lovullo would return to his position of bench coach with a new two-year deal.

Farrell under went chemotherapy for two months after the diagnosis was made last August. Fortunately it was caught while in stage 1, and his chances for a complete recovery was excellent.

And the Red Sox also announced that Jerry Remy will return for his 29th season in the Red Sox TV booth. It will be his first season with Dave O'Brien, and he will work about 100 games.

Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons will work more games, and for some select games, there will be a three-man booth. Here's more from WEEI.

Glad to see the RemDawg returning for the 2016 season. After all the controversy about Don Orsillo's departure, and I'm happy to see Remy isn't being forced out either. And I'm also happy to see Eck getting more scheduled time in the NESN booth.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mets and Cubs & Jays and Royals

It's been a pretty entertaining postseason so far, even if the Red Sox are all currently home on the golf course.

It was nice to see the Yankees be the first team to go out in the postseason, losing to a scrappy Houston Astros team led by the all-but-certain 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.

The Astros went on to play an entertaining five-game series with the Kansas City Royals. They were just six outs from wrapping up a four-game ALDS series win. The Royals got off the deck from a 6-2 deficit with seven unanswered runs and a 9-6 win. I knew from then the Astros were finished, as KC won the finals, 7-2. They are back in the ALCS for the first time in back-to-back years since 1985.

Did any of you catch Game 5 of the ALDS between Toronto and Texas? And specifically the wild and wacky seventh inning? Like nothing I've ever seen before. Texas breaking a 2-2 tie with a run scoring from third on a return throw from catcher Russell Martin striking Shin-Soo Choo's bat and rolling out to third. That caused lots of consternation among the Blue Jays faithful, and lots of thrown objects on the field. A really dangerous situation.

I had a feeling that would rile up the Jays. The Rangers fell apart, committing three straight errors (haven't seen that in a long time), and the Jays capitalized on that, ending with Jose Bautista's three-run bomb and bat flip everyone ended up talking about. And if that wasn't enough, both benches emptied twice.

I'm betting most of the country is pulling for the Cubs, seeking their first title in 107 years. And they put on a power show against archrival St. Louis, dispatching the team with MLB's best record in just 4 games. The Cubs blasted 12 home runs, including a postseason record six in Game 3 alone.

And speaking of the Cubs and the 2015 postseason, this movie clip from Back to the Future Part II is getting lots of attention:

And as many of you know, the Mets are my favorite team in the NL, and they pulled out a gritty 3-2 win over Los Angeles to take their series in five-games. It featured reckless baserunning from Chase Utley (he'll see justice next season), but more importantly, it featured the clutch hitting of Daniel Murphy, who hit home runs off Clayton Kershaw (twice) and Zack Greinke. And he practically stole the Game 5 win all by himself, taking third base as it was left unattended after a walk to Lucas Duda with him on first.

Both League Championship Series are excellent matchups. The Blue Jays and Royals played for it in 1985, with KC moving on to win their only World Series. The Mets and Cubs have plenty of history together, the most famous being the Mets charging past them in 1969 to win the NL East and the World Series title that year. Both teams have excellent starting pitching, and the team that pitches will take it.

All four teams have gone a long time without a title: The Blue Jays since 1993, Mets since 1986, Royals 1985, and the Cubs famously (or infamously depending on your worldview) since 1908. If the Mets don't make it to the Series, we'll see history with the Cubs in for the first time since 1945.

I'm predicting it will be the Mets and Royals in this year's World Series. Enjoy the games, everyone.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Another Season Comes To a Close

The Red Sox 2015 season came to a close this past Sunday, and I thought I would take a few days before recording my impressions on this campaign.

It was a terrible disappointment. No other way to describe it. The AL East was not a strong division, and I thought 90 wins was not out of the question. I was only off by 12.

The two major free agent signings, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, were monumental busts. I was actually in favor of bringing in Sandoval, but I didn't want anything to do with Ramirez. A talented player for sure, but his reputation for being a dog in Miami and Los Angeles should have sworn the Sox away from him.

It was also another season when a bad early season losing skid sent the season spiraling. The high water mark was on April 21 when the Sox had a two-game lead, and fell under .500 to stay on May 3 at 12-13. The Red Sox didn't have an ace on their staff, a stopper to head off bad streaks. They paid the price for not getting Jon Lester back.

The bullpen was not a source of strength. Koji Uehara was terrific back in the closer role, but his wrist injury in August ended his season. Junichi Tazawa was overused and shut down in mid-September. Robbie Ross was up and down most of the year, but Alexi Ogando and Craig Breslow were terrible and probably won't be back in 2016.

It was a year of change. John Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma in mid-August, and left the team for treatment. Bench coach Torey Lovullo took over and went 28-20 to complete the season. The Sox announced that Farrell and Lovullo will be back in their old roles. They gave Lovullo a new two-year deal so that he wouldn't leave to another club, and also for insurance should Farrell have a relapse and have to leave again.

GM Ben Cherington will not return as Dave Dombrowski was named president of baseball operations in mid-August, and will be calling the shots from now on. Cherington departs with a 2013 World Series championship on resume, surrounded by last place finishes as well.

David Ortiz had his best season since 2006, hitting 37 home runs, 107 RBI, and belting his 500th home run against Tampa Bay on September 12th, and assuring him a Hall of Fame plaque after he retires.

As disappointing a season as this was, there is plenty of hope. The Sox look like they have a dynamic outfield for the future in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Betts showed he's a five tool player right now, and an emerging superstar. Bradley is a Gold Glove outfielder right now, and went on a tear in August after being brought back up. He cooled off in September but should get an opportunity to win a starting job next season. Castillo also was red hot in August, and showed signs he's ready to play full time. He's had injury problems, but like Bradley, will get a chance to be a regular in 2016.

Xander Bogaerts had a simply marvelous turnaround from his shaky 2014 first-full year. He has established himself as one of the premier shortstops in the American League, finishing second in the AL batting race at .320 and getting 196 hits. He played a confident shortstop, making just 11 errors all season. (He made 10 at short in 2014, playing in just 44 games there.) He is clearly one of the club's franchise players going forth.

Going into 2016, it is clear the Sox will need a top-of-the-rotation starter. David Price and Johnny Cueto will both be free agents and will garner plenty of attention, as both will be starting in the 2015 postseason. Eduardo Rodriguez was impressive since he was called up in mid-season, going 10-6, and figures to have a spot in the staff next year. Henry Owens went 4-4 and showed some great promise. Rick Porcello and Wade Miley had up and down campaigns, as did Joe Kelly. Miley was most consistent of the three, and Porcello and Kelly both benefited from trips to the disabled list and the minors, respectively. Kelly and Miley could be part of a deal over the winter, but Porcello, who signed a long term deal prior to 2015, figures to be back and would greatly benefit from a move down the rotation.

So, for 2016, I'm betting that Dave Dombrowski will have three priorities this winter:
1. Acquire a number one starter, either by trade or free agency.
2. Get two power arms for the bullpen to set up Koji Uehara.
3. Find a new home for Hanley Ramirez.

It won't be easy moving Hanley, but Dombrowski is the master of the three-team deal, and with the right trading partner (or partners), something might be worked out. The Sox will have to eat a good part of the three years still owed Ramirez, and probably won't get much back. But I think this is one of those "addition by subtraction" moves the Sox will try to make. He'll never play the outfield again, and trying him at first smells like another disaster, so trading him to an AL team looking for a DH might happen.

Anyway, that wraps up another Red Sox season. It was disappointing for all of us. But I am optimistic about this club going forward. Lots of young talent still in the minors, and at the MLB level.

Keep the faith, everyone. Our boys will be back better next year.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Don Orsillo Exits With Class

Don Orsillo did his final game for the Red Sox after 15 years yesterday. It's hard to believe he is moving on to the San Diego Padres now.

I wish I had gotten see the NESN broadcast on Sunday, but the MLB Extra Innings package gave us here in New York the Cleveland Indians feed of the finale instead. Very disappointing.

But there is a terrific 15-minute recap of the highlights of Don's goodbye to the fans, which includes 15 years worth of clips of him and Jerry Remy at their very best. Here it is, courtesy of Jared Carrabis and Barstool Sports. 

Allan at The Joy of Sox has a post of the Twitter clips of Sox players saluting Don, and a few others from yesterday's game.

Don was all class and professionalism to the very end. Thanks for 15 years, and it was such a pleasure to hear him call a game. Good luck on the Left Coast, Mr. Orsillo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Torey and Trivia: Perfect Together

I had the pleasure of being at the BLOHARDS meeting at the Yale Club yesterday, the second of luncheons they hold every year when the Red Sox come to town.

For those who are not in the know, the BLOHARDS are the Benevolent Loyal Order of Honorable Ancient Red Sox Diehard Sufferers of New York, which has been a shelter for Red Sox fans living in New York since the mid-1960s. I am a proud member and I do five Red Sox trivia questions every meeting (and they will appear at the end of this post) and give away prizes.

A special guest from the Sox usually attends, and this time it was Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. He was interviewed by WFAN radio host Ed Randall, who attends most of the meetings as well. Torey was very personable and articulate and Ed asked him questions about taking over as interim manager. It was also a very emotional subject for him, as when he talked about the day John Farrell let him know about his lymphoma diagnosis, Torey had to stop and compose himself. He has been a close confident of Farrell's for many years, serving as bench coach in Toronto as well as at Fenway.

I was impressed to learn that Lovullo does not occupy the manager's office at Fenway or even on the road, in a sign of his respect for John Farrell.

And I have to admit that I never knew that his father was once a producer on the 1960s/70s TV show "Hee Haw." Torey talked about hanging out with the cast as a kid, playing cards with star Roy Clark.

Torey Lovullo has impressed a lot of people since becoming interim manager on August 14th. If John Farrell is healthy enough to return next season, the Red Sox could end up losing Lovullo to another team looking for a permanent manager. (I can't help think of Bruce Arians, the NFL coach who did such a great job with the Colts a few years back after head coach Chuck Pagano left the team early in the season with a cancer diagnosis. When Pagano returned, Arians left for a permanent head coaching job in Arizona.)

I did the Red Sox trivia shortly after Torey left for Yankee Stadium. It's always fun to hit the 80 of so attendees with recent questions of the Red Sox past, and give away prizes. Here are the questions from Tuesday's luncheon (answers will follow below):

1. What former Red Sox pitcher recently picked up his 50th save of 2015?
2. Manny Ramirez hit his 500th home run in 2008 against what team?
3. What pitcher led the pennant-winning 1975 Red Sox in wins with 19?
4. Who is the only Red Sox shortstop to win a Gold Glove Award?
5. Who is the last Red Sox pitcher to throw 300 innings in a season?

I was impressed that I didn't have to give out any clues to help the crowd get a winning answer. BLOHARDS Transportation Secretary Ray Duffy concluded the day with a cool slideshow, which featured a nice tribute to the late Yogi Berra.

My thanks to Joe Cosgriff, Ray Duffy, Julie Powers Killian and Peter Collery of the BLOHARDS. They always put on a great luncheon, and I am always honored to be part of it.

The trivia answers are: 1. Mark Melancon; 2. Baltimore Orioles; 3. Rick Wise; 4. Rick Burleson (1979); 5. Luis Tiant ( 311 innings in 1974).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Closer and Closer to Break Even

The season maybe long gone, but the Red Sox continue to play like there's something still on the line.

Xander Bogaerts blasted his first grand slam in the 8th inning to give the Sox a come from behind 8-7 win over Tampa Bay at Fenway last night. Two things of significance came from the win: it pulled the Red Sox out of last place for the first time since back in June, and the club has officially bettered their record from 2014 with their 72nd win of the year.

Granted, neither is anything to shout from the hills for, but the Red Sox came playing the young guys, and they are coming through. Eduardo Rodriguez gave up three runs to Tampa Bay in the first inning before getting his first out, and it looked like he wouldn't be around long. But he settled down and went six innings without allowing another run.

Bogaerts continues to show why he is rapidly becoming the best all-around shortstop in the AL. He has made just nine errors this season, and is hitting over .350 for the month of September with 27 RBI. He has settled into the three-spot in the lineup, and is proving to be incredibly clutch. Coach Brian Butterfield says he has never seen a player make such an improvement to his game over the course of one year. Bogaerts looks confident both at the plate and in the field.

The Sox are now 22-13 with Torey Lovullo at the interim helm of the club. I must admit it was difficult watching this past weekend's series with the Blue Jays in Toronto, as the two Red Sox wins benefited the Yankees tremendously, but I am a Red Sox fan first, and it was great seeing them come from behind twice to win.

The Sox need to go 9-4 in their final 13 games to reach the .500 mark, and probably finish third. (They currently trail third place Baltimore by one game.) I am glad to see them finishing the year strong, and I am NOT one of these fans who think that they should finish as one of the bottom ten teams to protect their draft status next year. I am a fan of the team first, and a strong September could well be a portend for good things to come next year. The young guys are gaining valuable experience in what has been a lost year, even if the pressure is off.

I like what I'm seeing, and the future is bright. And the season could be made if the Red Sox go into the Bronx and hurt the Yankees playoff chances next week. We shall see.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Papi Joins The Half Thousand HR Club


David Ortiz hit two home runs last night at Tropicana Field in St. Pete in the Red Sox' 10-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, and became the 27th player ever to reach the 500 home run plateau.

He hit two solo shots off Matt Moore, and was greeted by a mob scene of his Red Sox teammates at the dugout.

Ortiz became the fourth player in a Red Sox uniform to hit a 500th home run, joining Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez. He is also the fourth player ever to hit 500 home runs who played for three World Series championship teams, joining Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson. Quite elite company.

This will absolutely cement his election to baseball's Hall of Fame. His resume speaks for itself. Papi will face the prejudice against him as being mostly a designated hitter. But how do you keep someone who has hit 500 home runs, is a nine-time All-Star, 3 World Series championships, World Series and ALCS MVP and holds just about every hitting record for a DH out?

You don't. It's a matter of when, not if, he gets in.

Congratulations, Large Father.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm The Lucky One

It's that day again.

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the worst day in American history, when nearly 3,000 innocent people were taken from us in the worst terrorist attacks on United States soil. You just have to say the date: September 11th.

As those of you who read my blog know, I honor my dear friend Joyce Carpeneto every year here. Joyce had the terrible misfortune to be on the 83rd floor of the North Tower that fateful morning, and she and 12 of her colleagues from General Telecom all perished. No trace of anyone who worked there has ever been found.

I will be at the ceremonies at the World Trade Center memorial on Friday morning, with many others who lost loved ones that day. I will go with my dear friend Deborah, who was also a close friend of Joyce. For us, it is like a holy day of obligation to be there. And I will be there every September 11th for the rest of my life.

I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me over the last few days offering good wishes to me and Deborah. Through my words, I have met so many wonderful people, and they are from all over our country. Their words of support and comfort have helped me so much, and I'll never be able to thank you all for that.

Please do say a prayer for those lost on September 11, 2001, and for those they left behind. This is the most difficult day of the year for most of them, and the specter of the attacks never goes away for them.

I am very blessed to have had Joyce Carpeneto as a part of my life. Our common bond was music, as we met as Tower Records employees when Joyce joined the Greenwich Village store in 1985. We worked together there, and at a subsidiary of the company called TRIP, and became good friends.

People who have read what I have written about Joyce told me over the years that "Joyce was lucky to have a friend like you." I always correct them.

I'm the lucky one.

As I do every year, I link my previous September 11 posts. Here they are, since my first in 2006:

2006: Forever Missed and Forever Loved
2007: Never Forget. Ever.
2008: We Can Be The Ones Who Remember
2009: The Most Sacred Of All Days
2010: 3000
2011: Ten Years After
2012: 11 Years
2013: No Other Place In The World I Could Be Today
2014: Always and Forever Family

With special thanks to Keith De Cesare from ArtAid, for creating the above "Never Forget" banner.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Cleveland, April 4th, 2016

MLB released its tentative 2016 schedule yesterday, and the Red Sox will open the season on the road (of course) against the Indians in Cleveland on April 4th. They will play three there, then play three in Toronto, and have their home opener against Baltimore on April 11th.

They will close the season at home against Toronto on October 2nd.

Looks like I'll be in San Diego on Labor Day, as the Red Sox will be there September 5-7.

Here's the complete schedule, with thanks to Allan at The Joy of Sox, who originally posted it. (Click to see the larger version):


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Live at the BBC


It's been quite a turnaround for the Red Sox since manager John Farrell left the club for health reasons.

On August 14th, Farrell announced he had lymphoma and would leave the team for the remainder of the 2015 season. The Red Sox stood at 50-64,  7 1/2 games out of fourth, and a last place finish seemed almost a certainty.

But under the stewardship of Torey Lovullo, the Sox have gone 15-8, and yesterday caught the Baltimore Orioles for fourth place. And they are now just two games behind Tampa Bay for third place, and have a series with the Rays in St. Pete this weekend.

It has a pleasure watching this Sox team in recent weeks. The best part of the turn around has been watching the exciting outfield trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo. Bradley had an historic day in the 22-10 wipeout of Seattle on August 15, getting five extra base hits in a game, including two home runs. His defense has no peer in the AL, and he is making a strong case that he has finally arrived, and should be a major player in the Sox outfield in 2016.

Mookie Betts has had a stellar year in center field. 13 home runs, 34 doubles, and 55 extra base hits. He made his presence known on Opening Day at Fenway, making an amazing catch, hitting a home run and showing off some daring base running. Safe to say he is a fixture and an untouchable in the Sox outfield for years to come.

Rusney Castillo got off to a slow start after his initial callup, but after Shane Victorino was traded at the dealine, he has taken over right field, and is currently hitting .284 with 5 HRs and 26 RBI. He's recently played left field, and has shown he can adapt to the position quickly. He's signed to a long term deal, so he will be in the Sox outfield for the foreseeable future as well.

The trio has been nicknamed "The BBC Outfield" (nothing to do with the British Broadcasting Company, just the first letter of each last name). The season may have been lost many months ago, but there is real reason to watch the Red Sox these days. I would consider both Betts and Xander Bogaerts as untouchable players, and I think you can add Blake Swihart to that list as well (and perhaps Bradley as well).

Swihart was forced on to the MLB roster as the numerous injuries to the backstops this season, and Swihart has done well handling the staff. He got off to a slow start, but has come on in recent weeks, capped by his game-winning inside-the-park home run at Citi Field in the 10th inning to beat the Mets. He's brought his average up to .289, and it will be interesting to see what the Sox do with their catching situation next year, when Christian Vazquez returns from Tommy John surgery.

So, the nucleus of the next great Red Sox team may very well be in place, and there will, of course, be many changes this winter, mostly on the pitching side. The club needs an ace, and the bullpen needs to be rebuilt. And Dave Dombrowski needs to decide what to do with Hanley Ramirez. (Hopefully he has a new address in 2016.)

Funny how nobody's talking about "three last place finishes in four years" any more. The Sox maybe long out of the 2015 race, but the youngsters are making this an interesting and exciting team to watch as 2015 closes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Great Night Out at Citi Field

It was a good weekend for the Red Sox in New York this one just past.

The one they spent in Queens.

I went to Friday night's game with approximately 200 members of the BLOHARDS, the New York-based Red Sox fan group. We sat in the left field stands, in section 134. We had a great few of the field (see above). I was pleasantly surprised to be sitting next to the actor Peter Riegert, best known as the character of Boon in the classic comedy "Animal House." I enjoyed talking baseball with him most of the night, and he is a knowledgeable Mets fan. (He's been to a BLOHARDS meeting a few years back, and has affection for the Sox.) I also had the pleasure of hanging with DJ Jim Monaghan, who I have known for many years and is a huge Sox fan. (Jim's best known for his days at WNEW-FM back in the 1980s, and today does a morning show on WDHA in New Jersey.) Many years ago, I wrote to him when he had two of the BLOHARDS on his radio show, the first time I had ever heard of the group.

It was basically a good-natured crowd at Citi Field on Friday. Lots of banter between the groups of both teams fans, but I didn't see any fights or threats of violence. (No, this wasn't the Bronx.) Some Red Sox fan tried to get a chant of "1986" going, but that went nowhere.

On the field, the Sox ran into a hot Mets team, who had just won 7 straight on the road, and were expanding their lead in the NL East. The Mets are my favorite NL team, so this was going to be a "conflicting" weekend. ( I just didn't want to see either team get swept.)

The Sox got a bit a of a shaky performance from Henry Owens, but got home runs from David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley and an odd inside-the-park job from Blake Swihart. (Replays looked like the ball cleared the line in the center field, but no replay necessary.) One thing we learned from Friday's game: Junichi Tazawa is NOT a closer. With a three-run lead in the 10th and two outs and nobody on, he promptly walked four in a row, and Torey Lovullo was forced to bring in Craig Breslow, which scared the delights out of all of us. But he got Yoenis Cespedes on a deep fly to center to wrap up the 6-4 Red Sox win.

Well, I've seen the Sox live twice this year: two wins. (The other being the Opening Day win against the Nationals.)

The Sox got another well-pitched game from Joe Kelly on Saturday (did I just write that?) in a 3-1 Red Sox win. Kelly won six games in August, in six starts. He's the first Sox pitcher to do that since Pedro Martinez turned the trick in 1999. Kelly has clearly turned his season around. But no, he's still not going to win the Cy Young Award.

The Mets won a back-and-forth affair on Sunday, which included Big Papi's 494th career home run. The Sox came back from behind twice, but the Mets pulled it out in the 8th to salvage the series.

The Sox continue to play well under the interim boss. They are 10-6 under Lovullo, and have won 4 of the 5 series they have played, with the other being a four-game split with Kansas City. Granted, the pressure to win is long gone, but they are certainly not tanking the season. They have suddenly become an exciting team to watch, as Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Blake Swihart and Xander Bogaerts are all red hot and leading the offense.

Getting back to .500 may not be realistic, as the Sox would have to go 21-11 in the remaining 32 games to reach that. But, they have nothing to lose, so you never know how the last month may turn out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Still Searching For a New Trivia Home

Hi again, Trivia players! It's your friendly neighborhood Trivia Master, John Quinn. It's been a while since I posted anything here about Trivia. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer. I am still looking for a new venue for my next Trivia Night. I talked to a couple of bars over the last few months, but nothing became of it. And last week, I thought I might have some good news to tell you all, but no luck.

I am anxious to get back in the Trivia business again, so I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any establishment that might be looking for a Trivia host. I prefer Manhattan, but I wouldn't mind hosting in my home borough of Brooklyn as well. So, if anyone has any ideas, please do let me know and send me an email at: jbq1462@hotmail.com. I miss all of you guys, with all the great support you have given me over the years. I hope we can all meet up again soon for another Trivia night. Be well, everyone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

O'Brien Replaces Orsillo & The Fans Aren't Happy

NESN moved quickly last night and named a replacement for the departing Don Orsillo: Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer Dave O'Brien.

Orsillo was at the end of his five-year contract with NESN, and the network chose not to bring him back. The fan reaction to his dismissal has been swift and ugly. Petitions have popped up on line, including this one from Change.org, which is at 12,000 and counting as I write this.

It's no reflection on O'Brien, who is generally well-liked by the fans. It's a condemnation of a decision that has left Red Sox fans stunned and shocked. It sounds like Orsillo did not have a good relationship with NESN programming head Joseph Marr, who made the move to let Orsillo walk.

Jerry Remy was visibly upset after last night's game about losing his broadcast partner, with tears in his eyes as he talked with reporters after the Red Sox' 5-4 loss in Chicago.

It sounds like the deal is done, and Don is gone. He gave the Sox fans 15 terrific years behind the mike. I will always appreciate his class and professionalism. And he won't be a free agent long.

Gordon Edes has a terrific take today on Don's Red Sox career here. Take the time and read it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don Orsillo's Leaving NESN

2015 is looking more and more like a changing of the guard for the Red Sox.

Larry Lucchino is leaving, Ben Cherington is departing, and John Farrell has temporarily left due to illness. And now, another long time Red Sox staple is going.

NESN and Don Orsillo are parting ways after this baseball season. The Dennis and Callahan Show reported this news early this morning. So far, no specific reason has been given for the move, as to whether this was NESN or Orsillo's doing.

Orsillo spent 15 years in the NESN booth, after doing Pawtucket Red Sox games. His first game in 2001 after replacing Sean McDonough was Hideo Nomo's no-hitter in Baltimore.

He and Jerry Remy still made watching the Red Sox games worth tuning in, despite the season turning into an utter crapfest early on. I'm betting that Don's next gig maybe a national baseball job, as he did playoff games on TBS over the last few years.

I wish Don well, and will remember one of his finer moments with NESN here, in April 2007:


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dombrowski Will Run the Show Now


I guess you might say the Red Sox won twice on Tuesday night.

During their 9-1 win over the Indians, Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo made a startling announcement as the 8th inning was underway, that the Red Sox had hired former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski as the new president of baseball operations, beginning immediately.

Current GM Ben Cherington was asked to stay on, but he declined, as Dombrowski will have the last word on all baseball decisions. Cherington will stay on with the transition until the end of the season.

Dombrowski has been the general manager of the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Tigers. His high point was winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997. He had been the GM in Detroit from 2002 until a couple of weeks ago, when the Tigers allowed him to move on. He rebuilt a Detroit club that lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003, and won the pennant in 2006.

Last night's announcement was a real surprise, as the most likely landing spots for Dombrowski figured to be either Toronto or the LA Angels. He will now be calling the shots, and has a huge job ahead of him turning the Red Sox fortunes around.

Cherington leaves with winning a World Series in 2013, but also what appears to be a third last-place finish. It was most likely he would fall on the sword for the moves the club made that badly backfired over the past year.

What this means for John Farrell is not clear, but you have to figure that if he is healthy enough to resume his managerial duties in 2016, he will be back. Letting him go during this offseason would be a disasterous PR move for the Sox. But Farrell will be under the microscope once the season begins.

Dombrowski also figures to bring in some of the people who worked for him in his other MLB positions. The new GM could be the recently hired Jerry DiPoto, who was LA Angels GM until he resigned earlier this year. Former Braves GM Frank Wren, who worked with Dombrowski for many years, has also been prominently mentioned for the job.

Dombrowski will be formerly introduced by the Red Sox this afternoon.

Let the 2016 season begin.