MLB All-Game at San Diego

Friday, May 20, 2016

30 Years Of Fenway

It was 30 years ago today that Yours Truly went to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game for the first time. It was the first of the 25 times I have been to the historic park on Yawkey Way.

It was May 20, 1986 and I was going to the Sox play the Minnesota Twins at the legendary ballyard. I was going for two days, going to the next night's game as well, and staying at the Howard Johnson's right near the park. I got the tickets in a way you can't get them today: from Ticketron (now TicketMaster) that I bought from the machine that was located inside the Tower Records store in Greenwich Village I worked in. And I think I bought them just a few days in advance.

The park was amazing to see live and in person for the first time. I remember walking down one of the ramps on the first base side, and seeing the Green Monster for the first time. It took my breath away. I had a seat on that side of the field. There wasn't a huge crowd at the Fens that night, with just over 20,000 on hand.

The Red Sox had just gone into first place in the AL East a few days earlier (and they would stay there the rest of the year). It was also a marquee matchup of pitchers: Roger Clemens vs. Frank Viola.

Clemens had just set the strikeout record three weeks earlier, and had a 6-0 record coming into the game. The first batter I ever saw in a game at Fenway Park is now in the Hall of Fame: Kirby Puckett (he was a leadoff hitter back then). He flied out to right field. The Red Sox exploded for 6 runs in the first, as the first six hitters all reached base and came in, and Viola was pulled before getting an out.

The Sox rolled up 9 runs in the first three innings, and it looked like the game was safely out of reach. But it was a tough night for Clemens, as he allowed Minnesota five runs in seven innings, including two home runs. He struck out only four. But the Sox offense had their hitting shoes on, and added four runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Wade Boggs came up with the Sox ahead 15-5 in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs, and was 5-for-5 on the night. The crowd was hoping he'd get his sixth hit, and he hit a line drive that went right through first baseman Mickey Hatcher's legs, with two more runs scoring. The scorer but "error" up on the board, and the crowd booed lustily.

Speaking of booing lustily, the Fenway Faithful did just that when Bob Stanley relieved Clemens to start the 8th. He promptly gave up a two-run shot to Gary Gaetti, and they wanted his blood. (I can only imagine how those denizens reacted to the grounder he gave up the following October at Shea.)

The Sox won it, 17-7. I remember after the game was over going back to my motel room and calling my dad in Brooklyn, telling him about the night. I summed it up like this: "Now I have an idea what it was like to see a game at Ebbets Field."

The next night was full of rain delays, but the Red Sox came from behind late and won, 3-2. Stanley pitched the ninth and got the save in that one, and through the final pitch shortly after 1 AM. There were about 200 people left in the park at the finish, including me. And I was standing right behind the Red Sox dugout when it concluded.

Through the glory that is Baseball Reference, I was able to check the game's boxscore. I came across a few other notable things.

Three future Hall of Famers played in this game: Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs and Jim Rice.
Three future Red Sox were playing on the Twins that night: Tom Brunansky, Gary Gaetti and Frank Viola.
One future general manager came in for Puckett after the game became a blowout: Billy Beane.
There were two future managers on the rosters of both teams: Don Baylor on the Sox, and Ron Washington on the Twins (who did not play).

It was an amazing night I'll never forget. They say "you never forget your first time." Certainly not at Fenway Park.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Hall of Fame Resume Keeps Growing

The legend of the Big Papi added a new chapter on Saturday.

David Ortiz saved the Red Sox' bacon for the upteenth time yesterday, as he tripled in the tying run in the ninth inning, and doubled in the game winner in the 11th as the Sox came from behind to beat the Houston Astros, 6-5 at Fenway.

It was an historic day for Big Papi. It was his 20th game-winning RBI from the 9th inning on (the so-called "walkoff" win), and he joined the elite club of being just the third player in history to get 600 doubles and 500 home runs in a career. (The others being Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds).

Papi also hit a double, a triple and a home run (which he did earlier in the game) in a game for the first time in his career. (He's never hit for the cycle.) He now has 10 home runs on the year, and is ending his storied career on an incredibly high note.

Once again, David Ortiz added to his Hall of Fame resume with a dramatic hit to win a game. He should be a mortal lock to enter Cooperstown in 2022. But still, I'll bet you he will NOT be elected on the first ballot, as there are idiots who will hold the fact he is "only" a designated hitter, so that should preclude him from election. (And don't get me started about that alleged PED crap.)

The overwhelming majority of position players in the Hall are there for their offensive production. There are a few who aren't, like great defensive players like Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith. They definitely belong, because they are the very best at their positions all-time. There are also great offensive players who were awful defensive players, like Reggie Jackson and Ralph Kiner. Nobody ever said they should be kept out because they were terrible in the field.

It's time for these muttonheads to come into the 21st century and acknowledge that great offensive players like Papi and Edgar Martinez belong in the Hall, even if they spent little time on the field.

OK, enough of that rant. (And I know I'll be ranting more and more about this in coming years.)

Jackie Bradley extended his hitting streak to 20 games in the win. And have we finally had enough of Clay Buchholz? Another poor start, as he put the Sox into a 5-2 hole in the second, giving up his second grand slam of 2016 to George Springer. With Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez both on rehab and due back shortly, the Sox have a serious question to answer about Buchholz. Do they do what the White Sox did with John Danks a couple of weeks ago and DFA him? He's leaving the team with little choice.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Can the Red Sox Play the A's More Often?

That was one hell of a lopsided series. It was historic, too.

The Red Sox hitters took the Oakland A's pitching staff out to the woodshed the last three nights.

The Sox scored 40 runs in 24 innings of offense. They scored 14, 13 and 13 runs in the three games, and it is the first time in franchise history the Sox scored 13 or more runs in three straight games. (And somehow, the Red Sox were trailing in two of the games, all before the third inning, that is.) And they put up crooked numbers throughout the series: 3 on Monday and 4 each on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jackie Bradley was the hitting star of the series, and currently the hottest hitter on the planet. He hit three home runs, drove in 13 (six in the first and third games). And he currently has the longest hitting streak in MLB right now, at 17 games. He went 10-for-18 in the series, from a guy batting in the nine hole. It maybe time to move JBJ up in the order.

Seemed like EVERYONE in the Red Sox lineup had their hitting shoes for this series, against an Oakland A's staff that has been bloodied and battered on the road trip they are currently on. (They gave up 11 runs in Baltimore on Sunday, for a mind-blowing 51 runs surrendered in four games.) The series may best be remembered for the 468-foot blast by Hanley Ramirez in the second game, which was the second longest home run of the year so far. (BTW, are you still worried about him playing first base? Haven't much from that crowd lately.)

You can say all you want about the Sox beating up on teams like the A's with such inferior pitching, but in the end, these are the games you need to stick in your pocket if you want to contend for a title. The struggling Houston Astros come in for four games this wekend, with Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel facing former Cy Young winner David Price.

I expect the scores to be a bit lower tonight, but the way these boys are hitting right now, who knows?

Monday, May 02, 2016

Schilling & Game 6 Cut By ESPN

Last night, ESPN broadcast the terrific 30 For 30 documentary special "Four Days In October," about the historic comeback the Sox pulled off in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. ESPN broadcasts it on their family of networks every once in a while, and for me it's always special because Yours Truly and my friends are in it.

But many fans noticed that the part when Curt Schilling and Game 6 comes around, was edited out. Who was just recently fired by ESPN for some controversial comments and Facebook postings he recently made? Yep, Schilling. Oh, what a coincidence.

ESPN explained after the fact that the girls softball game that preceded the show ran into its allotted time, and had to cut something. I understand showing a shorter version for time, but completely cutting out Game 6 is beyond stupid, and makes the network look real petty with the Schilling firing.

What they should have done was either joined it in progress (probably cutting out most or all of Game 4), cut out some of the "talking heads" or just not show the documentary at all.

Listen, ESPN produced the documentary, and can do what they like with it. But to cut out Game 6, arguably the most important game of the series that features the iconic "bloody sock," is really inane. (Plus that cuts most of the scenes with my friends and I as well!)

A friend of mine last night compared this editing to a "Soviet-style scrubbing" of the facts or person who they will no long acknowledge. Good comparison.

I saw this quote about it online this morning, and it sums it all up perfectly (Sorry I don't know exactly who said it): "You can say he is bad, mean, wrong, stupid, whatever, but you can't edit him out of an honest account of what happened in that series. Revisionism almost always goes too far, and if we excluded all the people who said stupid stuff at some point our history books would be two covers with no pages in between."

I can only imagine this will ramp up the war between Schilling and ESPN even more.

Don't ask me how you can leave the following scene out of "Four Days In October". ESPN doesn't want you to enjoy it, but here you can:

Back In First.

How I do love a weekend sweep by the Red Sox at Fenway. Especially when they do it to the rivals from the south.

And seeing that sign in center field at the end of each game all weekend.

A lot to love about this past weekend's domination of the Yankees. The Red Sox came from behind of Friday night, which concluded with David Ortiz' two run blast off Dellin Betances in the eighth inning. Henry Owens gutted out six innings, allowing two runs.

Saturday night was all Sox. Jackie Bradley hit two triples and a double, and the home team was off to the races. Rick Porcello extended his record to 5-0 with 7 shutout innings. If he is a legit number two starter now, it makes the Sox even more dangerous. He struck out six and walked just one. He was never in any real trouble against a slumping New York offense.

Sunday night was a very different story. It was another difficult game for David Price, as he allowed six runs to New York, but he went seven innings and spared the bullpen, as the Yankees had a 6-4 lead by the fifth. But another hallmark of this Red Sox team is their comeback prowess, and they tied the game in the fifth on Travis Shaw's two-run shot.

In the seventh, Christian Vazquez took Betances' first pitch (I thought this guy was supposed to be unhittable?) which was down the heart of the plate and hit it across Lansdowne Street to make it 8-6. And yes, New York Daily News, your beloved team WAS beaten by "someone named Christian Vazquez." (Remember that name while you're at it.)

New York got a run in the eighth on a wild pitch, but Craig Kimbrel had another 1-2-3 ninth to make it a sweep. David Price is now 4-0, but with an ERA just above 6.00.

The win last night puts the Sox one-half game in first place, as the Orioles lost to the White Sox in Baltimore yesterday. They are 15-10, five over .500 for the first time in 2016, and have won 6 of 7. Anyone else notice the Yankees are 8-15, last in the AL East and third -worst record in the AL? Yep, I know I'm not the only one.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Dougie Returns: 10 Years Later

It was 10 years ago today that one of the oddest and strangest moments in Red Sox history occurred: the Red Sox re-acquired catcher Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres for catcher Josh Bard and minor league pitcher Cla Meredith.

Tim Wakefield was scheduled to start for the Red Sox against the Yankees on May 1, 2006. (It was also the return of Johnny Damon to Fenway for the first time in a Yankee uniform.) Bard was having all kinds of trouble catching Wakefield's knuckleball, and in what looked like a panic move, GM Theo Epstein pulled off the trade, and had to get Mirabelli in time for the game that night from San Diego. It evolved into a police escort for Mirabelli when he landed in Boston, and he even had to change into his uniform in the back of the patrol car.

The incident from 2006 has been remembered on many sites this past weekend, including Sons of Sam Horn, Deadspin, and The Hardball Times. And many of these sites have linked the post I put up back in 2007 that has become by far the most watched post on my blog: "A Day In The Life of Doug Mirabelli. On Friday, I had over 1,500 hits on the my site, the most ever. And I thank them for it.

Here is the Hardball Times article, which gives a great breakdown on the entire trade and its aftermath.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Some More Random Thoughts

As April is concluding today, here are some more random thoughts to this Red Sox season.

The Sox are 13-10, 1 1/2 games behind first place Baltimore. The O's broke from the gate strong, winning their first seven, but have regressed since, and there clearly is no team head and shoulders above the rest.

The Red Sox are leading the AL in nearly every major team batting category: runs (118), hits (224), doubles (64), triples (7), total bases (356), batting average (.277), RBI (111), stolen bases (20), extra base hits (89) and on base percentage (.338). Curiously, they are at the bottom of the AL in home runs, with 18. This just shows they are winning games the old fashioned way and not relying on the home run ball, and that's a good thing. (Ironically, it took a David Ortiz two-run shot to beat New York last night.)

The pitching side of the ledger is obviously not as rosy so far. The Red Sox are currently 13th in overall team ERA (4.33), but lead the AL in strikeouts with 228. The Sox recently set an MLB record for strikeouts through 20 games with 210. (And it certainly helps that the strikeout totals in the game continue to increase at mind-blowing levels.)

You throw a challenge before Dustin Pedroia, he responds. More than one "expert" was questioning whether Pedey was truly on the downside of his career. While things can change in an awful hurry, Pedroia is currently eighth in the AL in batting at .323, and had a two-homer game earlier this week for the seventh time in his career. He continues to play a solid second base, making the occasional highlight-reel play.

I think it safe to say that Travis Shaw is making fans forget that the Red Sox ever signed Pablo Sandoval (who's he again?). Currently 14th in the AL in batting at .309, he has played a solid third base, gotten some clutch hits and I'm glad that John Farrell has stopped pinch hitting for him against lefties.

Rick Porcello goes for his fifth win tonight, and to become the third pitcher in MLB to go 5-0. After a shaky start to begin the year in Toronto, Porcello has given the Sox three quality starts since, the last being 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Braves. He's brought the ERA down to 3.51, and is striking out hitters at the best rate of his career. He is certainly making a case to be the Sox' number two starter behind David Price.

More to come in May...

Monday, April 25, 2016

One-Ninth Completed. Some Thoughts.

Three weeks of the regular season have been played, 18 games in total for the Red Sox. They are 9-9. That's exactly 1/9 of the season or 11% done.

Can't reach any firm conclusions about this team so far. But here are some random observations.

Hanley Ramirez has been far better at first base than anyone could have hoped to have imagined. I was at the opener at Fenway, and he made two Gold Glove-caliber plays, one on a wild throw he corralled, and a great over-the-shoulder grab he made down the first base line. I'm not saying he's in the elite of AL first basemen, but he's playing it like he's been there for years. And making everyone forget that disaster in left field last year. But just wait until the game that he makes a critical error that costs the Sox a game, and the wolves will be out howling again.

Craig Kimbrel threw another meatball to power hitter in the ninth inning last night, and blew the save, in a game the Sox came back and won. Kimbrel let the opener get away with his serving one up to Chris Davis of the Orioles. Is it me, or does Kimbrel not look comfortable out there? I fear shortly down the road we're going to hear: "The Red Sox placed closer Craig Kimbrel on the 15-day disabled list." Hope I'm wrong, but I've got a bad feeling here.

David Price has had a rough April, and got blasted by his former team the Tampa Bay Rays this past week. It's been pointed out that his worst month historically has been April. Fine, let's give him more time to see him right his ship. But it is disturbing to see him get knocked around by the club with the weakest offense in the AL.

Christian Vazquez looks like Yadier Molina behind the plate. He carries on like an old veteran and he has the respect of the pitching staff. He's not back to 100% yet following his Tommy John surgery from 2015, but he looks like a Gold Glover right now. But he looks terribly overmatched at the plate, and even struck out four times in one game this past week. I hope he gets the bat going.

John Farrell has made some questionable decisions since this season began. Why in the world does he EVER pinch hit for Travis Shaw? Shaw has picked up from where he left off last season, and hits lefties as well as righties. And his handling of the bullpen in the 12-8 loss against the Rays raised many eyebrows. The Sox being at .500 at this point is no disaster, as the AL East doesn't appear to be a strong division. But I felt the team needed a good start to put the last two miserable years behind them. And that goes especially for Farrell, who is back from his illness of last year. But you have to wonder how long his leash will be should the Sox struggle in the coming months. GM Dave Dombrowski certainly wasn't going to let Farrell go during the offseason, but now his team has to produce. Farrell isn't Dombrowski's guy, but he needs time to get the team moving in the right direction. I'm guessing if things still aren't right by the All-Star Game, a change could be coming.

Just some random thoughts. More to come later this week.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"The Arm"

A new book was just published by sportswriter Jeff Passan on a very serious subject in baseball. It's called "The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports", and it takes a long hard look at the arm injuries suffered by pitchers, especially the explosion in the number of Tommy John surgeries performed in recent years. Not just on MLB pitchers, but going all the way down to youngsters in high school.

The book is centered on two MLB pitchers, Daniel Hudson and Todd Coffey, and their struggles to make it back from Tommy John surgery, and in Hudson's case, multiple surgeries. It follows the pitchers' lives as they recover, and shows a very human side that most fans never think about.

The book goes into the history of the surgery, from Tommy John's injury in 1974 that was thought to have ended his career, to Dr. Frank Jobe's groundbreaking surgery and the particulars of how it changed baseball forever.

Passan points out that MLB teams spend $1.5 billion on pitchers every year, and nearly a third of that is lost to injury every year. Just about of those pitchers spend time on the disabled list.

Tommy John surgeries have become more and more frequent over the years, almost to the point it has become routine in baseball. But its frequency has become dangerously high, and it is now estimated that 56% of all the surgeries take place on teenagers. It has become an epidemic.

Passan also takes his readers into the world of youth baseball, both in the United States and Japan. They appear to be the major culprits in future Tommy John surgeries, as many of these kid pitchers are pitching year-round. Better regulation of that industry appears to be a possible solution, but the ways to do it are not entirely clear, as there are multi-million contracts to be won by the best pitching prospects.

It's truly a crisis in baseball as Passan points out. Pitchers are throwing harder and harder, and at younger and younger ages. But no matter what solutions become popular (like pitch counts, limiting starts and innings), it will always be a problem, as the arm was not designed for long term baseball throwing.

"The Arm" is a terrific read, and should be mandatory for youngsters seeking a career as a pitcher (and those with a vested interest in them) to check this book out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Sixth Opener at Fenway

I had a great time at Fenway Park yesterday for my sixth Opening Day game there with the BLOHARDS, the New York City-based Red Sox fan group I am proud to be a part of.

We went up in two buses, 110 of us, and sat in the right field grandstand in section 3. We were in fair territory, but we way up the grandstand, where no player could reach us with a home run.

The pregame ceremonies were very well done, which included a member of each of Boston's championship teams over the years: Ty Law of the Patriots, Bill Russell of the Celtics, Bobby Orr of the Bruins, and the man who was the focus of yesterday's ceremonies: David Ortiz.

The full season goodbye to Big Papi was on full display, as he got ovations throughout the day, especially in his first at-bat. But we were all surprised when his 15-tear-old daughter Alex came out and sang the National Anthem, and she did a magnificent job with her. She has quite a set of pipes for a young girl, and her dad looked like he was going to break down after she finished.

The Red Sox opened their first home game of 2016 with four singles off the Orioles' Yovani Gallardo, and it looked like the Sox were on their way, scoring three times. But David Price ran into all kinds of a trouble in the third, including a walk and hit batsman, and Mark Trumbo hit a three-run bomb to center, and the Sox were down 5-3.

The Sox tied it at 5 in the fourth on Jackie Bradley's double and an RBI groundout.

It was 6-6 in the ninth when Craig Kimbrel walked two batters and with two outs, Chris David hit a bomb into the centerfield bleachers to make it 9-6. (From my perspective I thought it was a long out, but when I saw Bradley turning around and looking up I knew it was big trouble.)

The Red Sox rallied for a run in the ninth (a Mookie Betts blast in the Monster seats), and had first and second with no outs and David Ortiz up. Here's the Hollywood ending for this Opening Day. "Just don't hit it on the ground" I thought to myself. And he hits it on the ground and Baltimore turns a DP. Hanley Ramirez struck out to end it.

A long bus ride back to New York followed, but I was still glad to go to the Palace of Baseball on Monday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The 2016 Season/Retirement Tour Starts With a Bang

The Red Sox need a fast start to the 2016 season, as every critic known to mankind kept harping on throughout the spring. They got a very good start to it yesterday.

With the temperatures at 34 degrees in Cleveland yesterday, and after the game was called off on Monday, the Red Sox and Indians sucked it up and went out there, with a brilliant matchup of aces: David Price and Corey Kluber taking the hill.

Price was brilliant in his Red Sox debut for six innings, allowing the Tribe two runs, striking out ten. The Red Sox struck first, with Mookie Betts going deep in the third inning with one on. The Indians tied the game in the fourth at 2-2, but the Sox went ahead to stay in the sixth, on an RBI single by Brock Holt and Travis Shaw scoring on a wild pitch.

The bullpen was stellar. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara pitched perfect seventh and eighth innings, and Craig Kimbrel allowed just a two-out walk in the ninth. It would have been a save situation, but the Sox expanded their lead in the ninth.

That was due to David Ortiz. Papi unloaded a two-run bomb to right field to get the Retirement Tour off with a bang. It was his fifth Opening Day home run, the most of any current player in MLB.

The combination of Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia, the two hitters in front of Ortiz, went 0-for-9 on the day, but Papi, Travis Shaw, Hanley Ramirez, Holt and Betts each had two hits apiece.

One thing players on both teams seemed in agreement with was the truly horrific strike zone home plate ump John Hirshbeck had. Players were barking at him all day, calling both inside and outside pitches strikes, and clearly missing some calls at the top and bottom of the zone.

Anyway, it was a good day for the Sox, and the three-game series with the Indians continues tonight and tomorrow night, both 6:05 PM starts. Clay Buchholz will try not to get hurt tonight, and Joe Kelly gets the nod on Thursday.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The 25 For 2016

The Red Sox set their Opening Day roster for the game with the Indians tomorrow in Cleveland, and here are the 25 players who will be on it:

Pitchers (12): Matt Barnes, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Tommy Layne, Rick Porcello, David Price, Noe Ramirez, Robbie Ross, Junichi Tazawa, Koju Uehara, Steven Wright.

Infielders (7): Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw.

Outfielders (4): Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Rusney Castillo, Chris Young.

Catchers (2); Ryan Hanigan, Blake Swihart.

On the DL (4): Eduardo Rodriguez, Carson Smith, Christian Vazquez, Brandon Workman.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Good Things Begin In Brooklyn

I was chatting with my Uncle Frank recently, and he told me an interesting story about the highly-touted Red Sox prospect Andrew Benintendi.

Benintendi went to the University of Arkansas and won the 2015 Golden Spikes Award as the NCAA's best player. The Sox made him their first round pick and seventh overall last year. He did not disappoint in his first year, splitting time between Lowell and Greenville, batting .313 with 11 home runs. He will probably begin this season at Portland in AA, and could be on the fast track to Fenway by next season. Benintendi is the number four ranked player in the Red Sox system.

My uncle has a similar love for the game of baseball that I do, except his is for the New York Yankees. (no worries, as we always got on well through the years.) And he is also cousins with the late, great sportswriter Phil Pepe, who recently passed unexpectedly a few months ago.

He told me that Benintendi, who is originally from Cincinnati, has a grandfather who was born in Brooklyn. He was a doctor during World War II, and after the war concluded he relocated to Ohio, where he started a family and had a successful practice. Dr. Benintendi is 83 years old and still living, retired in Ohio.

My uncle saw the name Benintendi and looked into it, as he knew a family that lived on his block in Brooklyn with that name, and he tracked down the Benintendi family in Ohio and discovered it was the same family he grew up with many years ago.

My uncle is also related to Dave Pepe, who was a 31st round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014 draft. Dave was born in West Caldwell, NJ and played for Bluefield in the Appalachian League last season.

My uncle tells me that both players' grandfathers knew each other in Brooklyn as they grew up on the same block, and their grandsons may one day play against each other in the big leagues.

Good luck to both players. As Ed Norton once said on "The Honeymooners" when asked where he lived, "The garden spot of the world, Brooklyn, USA." God bless the borough I was born and raised in, and always love when a nice story like this pops up.

Friday, March 18, 2016

"The Selling of the Babe"

Acres and acres of forests have been leveled in writing about the Red Sox by hundreds of authors down through the years. Many of turned out to be pretty pedestrian, and but some of grown to be revered over the years.

Historian Glenn Stout recently released a book called "The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend." I would definitely put this book in the latter category.

Stout previously has written two of my favorite Red Sox-themed books: "Fenway 1912" and "Red Sox Century" (with Richard Johnson). And I'll add "The Selling of the Babe" to make it a trio.

The book is centered around three important years in early Red Sox history: 1918, 1919 and 1920. Babe Ruth is the pivotal figure in those years, as the Sox won their fifth World Series title in their history in 1918 and the fourth of the decade. It is also the conversion of baseball to the Live Ball Era, which Ruth singlehandly pulled off.

Stout lays out some of the myths regarding Ruth, and how his legend was born upon the deal that sent him to New York. He states that since Ruth rarely went on the record himself (as he always had ghostwriters writing bios about him, and he never wrote anything himself), It's hard to distinguish myth from fact. Stout does a masterful job with his research, and you really get to know the man who singularly changed baseball forever, as the home runs he hit at a rate never before seen set the country on its collective ear.

And what I enjoyed the most about the book was the destruction of many of the myths regarding Ruth's sale to New York. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was NEVER going broke at any time (in fact he died a very rich man), and wanted to buy Fenway Park, which was owned by former Red Sox owner Joseph Lannin after he sold to the club to Frazee (and was already going into disrepair). Frazee had a cash flow problem, but wasn't about to declare bankruptcy. Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert was a beer baron, and with Prohibition coming in 1920 decided he had to make the Yankees his main source of income, and needed a star to compete with the rival New York Giants. And since five of the eight AL owners were against both Frazee and Ruppert, they had little choice but to deal among themselves. It was a perfect storm that led to Ruth heading to New York.

And forget that "No, No, Nanette" crap. It didn't reach Broadway until five years after Ruth left Boston.

I also found it interesting Stout talking about the Yankees "hoodoo", a term created by the media back when New York was a club that couldn't find a way to win an AL pennant, as something would always go wrong when they got close. How that changed when the Babe arrived in New York.

The book also is a defense of Frazee, as Stout points out that the majority of the deals between the Red Sox and Yankees were not "one-sided" at the time they were consummated, but on paper deals that would help both teams. It shoots down the "Rape of the Red Sox" the media has talked about all these years, not to mention the media-created "Curse of the Bambino". All I can say is: thank you for destroying that myth, Glenn.

Ruth is also shown to be a very self-centered prima donna who jumped the Red Sox twice in 1919 as fame went to his head. It was clear Frazee had had enough, and the deal for Ruth would solve most of his problems, and not just the cash flow ones.

So, if you are looking for any book that talks about stupid stuff like curses and that sort of thing, look elsewhere. Glenn Stout has written a terrific book that should be must reading for anyone who has an interest in the time when the Dead Ball Era became the Live Ball Era. And baseball would never, ever be the same again.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

10 Years. Still Here.

It was 10 years ago today that Yours Truly got into the blogging business, and "The Mighty Quinn Media Machine" was born.

It's been 4,750 posts since the start, and it's been a great ride. We've seen the Red Sox win two World Series in that time, hosted Trivia Nights in various places (still hoping to back on the horse soon), and still hoping to see the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl before I leave this earth.

I guess I'm most proud of how I have remembered my late friend Joyce here every September 11th.

I've met so many great people through this blog, and have gotten some wonderful and inspiring feedback from my posts. I have curtailed my writing here over the last few years, but I have no intention of ever stopping. You never know, it may actually pick up again as time goes on.

So my thanks to all of you who have made my blog a joy to write over the years. I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Red Sox Facts at The Remy Report FB Group

For those of you who are on Facebook (isn't that like the whole world these days?), you can now catch me every day at The Remy Report FB page.

Recently, I was chatting with John O'Rourke, who is good friends with Jerry Remy and runs his official site, The Remy Report, and the Facebook group of the same name.

John was kind enough to ask me if I would like to send him a Red Sox "Fact of the Day" type of thing for the Facebook group. I thought that would be fun, so John will post it there every morning for Red Sox fans to check out. It is called "The Remy Report: Today's Baseball Fact."

It will be facts from all aspects of Red Sox history, and also from MLB history from time to time. Here was my first Red Sox fact from earlier this week:

Please note that The Remy Report on Facebook is actually a closed group, so you will have to request to join it. But that shouldn't be a problem. I look forward to sending in a cool Red Sox fact every day, and my thanks to Jerry Remy and John O'Rourke for allowing me to be a part of their group.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Playing Pepper 2016: Boston Red Sox

I had the pleasure of being a part of group of Red Sox bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance who took part in  "Playing Pepper 2016: Boston Red Sox." A number of us were asked questions concerning the club for 2016 by Daniel Shoptaw, who runs the fine St. Louis Cardinals blog "C70 At The Bat."

Every year Daniel asks bloggers from all 30 teams questions about their teams chances for the upcoming season. This is the third straight year I have taken part.

My thanks to Daniel for letting me take part again. Here are the questions and my answers:

C70: What are your thoughts on the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do?

MQMM: New General Manager Dave Dombrowski certainly made some bold statements this past off season. Above and beyond anything else, the Red Sox needed an ace to anchor the starting staff. And they unquestionably solved that problem by signing David Price to a long term deal. Last season reminded me so much of 1997, as the Sox had just lost Roger Clemens and didn’t have an ace for the following season, and they staggered to a losing record. Then that off season, they traded for Pedro Martinez, who like Price, was a proven winner and Cy YoungAward winner elsewhere. It allowed the staff to shift, took the pressure off other pitchers, and Pedro began a streak of dominance rarely seen in baseball. I don’t know if Price will do that, but with him at the head of the class it takes the heat off the other starters.

Many so-called “experts” say the Sox “won” the off season, but they don’t award trophies for that (the Padres would have gotten that last year and look where they ended up). But I am definitely pleased with the moves they made, especially bolstering the bullpen, which was one of the team’s Achilles heels in 2015.
C70: There are a good number of new faces on this squad. Which one are you most excited about?
MQMM: I love the moves the Red Sox made in the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel is a flamethrower and one of MLB’s elite closers. They traded four prospects to San Diego to get him, and two were players who definitely looked like they could help the Sox down the road. But they were trading from strength, and I loved the deal. Koji Uehara will be 41 years old, and coming off an injury, so you don’t know how he’d be as the closer. I also liked the trade for Carson Smith from Seattle, as he very quietly had a solid season in the Seattle pen last year. The deals also takes the pressure off Junichi Tazawa, who has clearly been overused the last few years.
C70: Will the David Ortiz farewell tour threaten to overshadow what happens on the field?

MQMM: I don’t think so. He will be lauded during the year for his many accomplishments by friend and foe alike, and deservedly so. If the Sox are in a heated pennant race late in the year, it will take a backseat to the team, but if the Sox aren’t in the race, it will take on more significance.

C70: What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?

MQMM: All eyes will be on outfielders Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo, as they both made their cases late in the 2015 season that they should both be starting outfielders. Both need to get off to good starts. If either start slowly, Chris Young, Travis Shaw and Brock Holt would get more playing time in the outfield. This is especially true for Bradley, as 2016 could well be make-it-or-break-it for him.
And no doubt there is pressure on both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval after signing big free agent contracts last season and having less-than-stellar first seasons in Boston. Ramirez’ conversion to first base will be especially under the microscope. Sandoval showed up to camp this past weekend and all the talk was on his weight. He REALLY needs to get off to a good start in 2016.
C70: What’s your projection of the team’s record and where will they finish in the division?
MQMM: I think this team can win the AL East, and it will take at least 93 wins to do it. The Blue Jays will be formidable again, and I really think it will be a two-team race. So, I’ll go with 93-69 and first in the AL East for the Red Sox.
C70: Which team in the division do you most enjoy beating and how do you think you’ll fare against them in 2016?
MQMM: Who else? The Yankees. I see them fighting for third. They could give the Red Sox fits with their strong bullpen, but they could split the season series with the Red Sox in 2016.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Sox On NESN This Spring

Pitchers and catchers reporting day is today, and that means the spring is approaching soon.

Yesterday NESN released its schedule of games they will be showing this spring, and it is 16 games in total.

It will begin on February 29th, as they will be broadcasting the doubleheader against the college kids, Boston College and Northeastern. The first game against MLB teams will be on March 3rd, against the Minnesota Twins at 7 PM.

NESN will also be showing the two final games of the spring, when the Sox take on the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on April 1st and 2nd.

Here is the complete schedule of games to be shown on NESN:

Monday, February 29 Boston College (DH) 1:00 PM 
Monday, February 29 Northeastern (DH) 3:45 PM 
Thursday, March 3 at Minnesota  7:00 PM  
Saturday, March 5 at New York Yankees 1:00 PM 
Sunday, March 6 Baltimore 1:00 PM 
Saturday, March 12 Miami 1:00 PM  
Sunday, March 13 at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM 
Tuesday, March 15 New York Yankees  6:00 PM 
Wednesday, March 16 at Minnesota 7:00 PM 
Saturday, March 19 St. Louis 1:00 PM 
Sunday, March 20 at New York Mets 1:00 PM 
Friday, March 25 Pittsburgh 6:00 PM 
Saturday, March 26 at Baltimore 1:00 PM 
Sunday, March 27 Philadelphia 3:00 PM 
Friday, April 1 at Toronto  7:00 PM  
Saturday, April 2 at Toronto 1:00 PM

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

All Roads Lead to Ft. Myers

We are now on the back nine of winter, as the Truck will be leaving Fenway Park today.

A Happy and Blessed Truck Day to you all.

In case you are curious, on it will be the following (courtesy of Rob Bradford):

20,400 baseballs
— 1,100 bats
— 200 batting gloves
— 200 batting helmets
— 320 batting practice tops
— 160 white game jerseys
— 300 pairs of pants
— 400 T-shirts
— 400 pairs of socks
— 20 cases of bubble gum
— 60 cases of sunflower seeds

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

"This Is Your Brain On Sports"

I've read many baseball books in my life, on a various type of topics concerning my favorite sport. But I've never read one like "This Is Your Brain On Drugs: The Science of Underdogs, The Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn From the T-Shirt Cannon."

It was written by Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim (who recently co-wrote Al Michaels' "You Can't Make This Up" biography), along with psychologist Sam Sommers. They cover a plethora of topics you'd never probably think of, like why quarterbacks are (or aren't) the best looking players on a football team (and they back up their findings with statistics), why fans have an unhealthy obsession with t-shirt cannon shots at sporting events, and why athletes having sex before a big contest makes no difference to performance.

Yes, I've never read a book like this before.

I found it a rather entertaining read, and I knew there would be something in the section about rivalries in sports (and why they are necessary) about the Red Sox and Yankees. I always look for mistakes when it comes to that, and the one I found was that Enos Slaughter did not score the winning run of the 1946 World Series in the ninth inning (it was the eighth inning of Game 7). Small point, put I always look for these things, and did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Wertheim and Sommers cover a variety of sports, like boxing (why Floyd Mayweather makes untold millions and still feels disrespected) to tennis (Serena Williams' rivalry with Maria Sharapova). I did find their analysis of giving every kid a trophy to be spot on, as it only helps trophy sales throughout America.

"This Is Your Brain On Sports" is a very cerebral (sorry, I couldn't resist) look at professional sports, and I found it mostly a fun read.

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: 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, 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?"

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.