Clay Buchholz: Head games

Clay BuchholzOkay, let’s cut to the chase shall we? Clay Buchholz has been absolutely horrendous this season, no arguing that. Last season, Clay came out of the gates strong and it seemed nothing could slow him down. Then a mid season injury struck, he came back and still pitched solid down the stretch for the Sox. Playoff time was a bit of a different story for Buchholz. You could tell in his few postseason starts that Clay wasn’t the same, he labored to get through a solid 5 innings for the most part. That was okay though, we knew that maybe he was still a little banged up, but at least he was keeping the team in position to win. It seemed easy to think that he just needed the offseason to recover and he’d be back at the top of his form that we’ve expected since that no hitter in 2007.

Now the story that is coming out after his recent shelling down in Atlanta is that the right hander lost 7 pounds during his outing?? I’m sorry Farrell, but I don’t think I can believe that utter nonsense. On top of that, it seems that poor Clay has hyperextended his knee and has landed back on the DL. Seriously? The problem with Clay isn’t just his body, it’s the fact that he’s the softest guy on the staff. He needs to be coddled like a baby after he sucks. There has always been a reason for a poor effort by Clay, never that he just didn’t have it. So it comes as no shock to me that Clay has another poor outing and of course lands back on the DL.

Sorry Clay, at the top of your game you’re a great pitcher, but when will that be? Your seasons are so up and down from year to year, you always have an excuse. We HATE excuses in Boston. You’ll probably go on to have a decent career, but I don’t think it’s a path the Red Sox should take.

After this season Boston should look to part ways for good with Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox put up with antics from guys like Manny Ramirez for one reason, he was an elite player. Clay is a good pitcher when he’s on, but why should we have to put up with him and his buddies sleeping over at Fenway Park because he can’t walk/drive a mile to his house? That would have been fine, but Clay got absolutely hammered on the mound on Patriot’s Day. This leaves us no option to wonder what actually went on at Fenway that night? The Red Sox need consistency on the mound and they just aren’t going to get it right now with Clay Buchholz.

It seems that the Red Sox will always need to worry what’s going on inside Clay’s head.

Two Boston Traditions: One City, One Heart

Boston Traditions

Boston is woven out of a fabric of a long and rich shared history; for those moments that belong to more than just a few of us, they are part of a history where recollections are shared. They belong not to individuals, but to all of Boston—indeed to all of New England. That’s part of what makes us different: who we are.

July 4th on the Esplanade, high school football on Thanksgiving, the Public Garden, hot summer days on Cape beaches, the MFA, the Pats, Celts, and B’s— we love and treasure them all. But of all our traditions, none shines brighter or more vividly than the Red Sox, or as we Bostonians say, the Sawwx. Once called the only common religion in New England, their sermons are publicly announced every day from April to October, with the rapt attention of a six state congregation attentively listening.

The Boston Marathon, more than a century old, who among us has not run in it, knew somebody who did, or cheered the athletes on. How many of us have not walked down from Fenway after the 11:00AM Monday morning game to cheer the runners on. Who does not mark the third Monday of each April by the words, “Marathon Day. Hey, Sox at 11:00 too!!”

And if there has always been some momentary crossover of these two great Boston traditions, in the year 2013, they truly intersected. In the wake of the pain, sorrow and shock of the Marathon bombings, it remained for a 6′ 3″ slugger from the Dominican Republic who called Boston home, to begin to give voice to our feelings. We all know what he said by now—most of us by heart. But what might David Ortiz have really meant? I think he was talking in part directly to the perpetrators.

To me anyway, what he was saying was “Is that all you got?”

You think you can knock Boston out with a couple of bombs? No way.

Then I think he was speaking to all of us. Scared, frustrated, and angry, the entire city was on lockdown. We were captives in our own homes and communities.

Ortiz said, “Be strong,” words now part of the national lexicon. I think what he may have meant was be strong together. Like a team. Like teammates. We are all sharing this.

So many suffered so much: the families and friends of the four who passed, and those who were maimed and so senselessly injured. But the juxtaposition of the stunning courage shown by first responders, ordinary citizens and the injured battling their way back seemed again to scream out.

“Is that all you got?”

As the spring turned to summer and then summer to fall, through every single action on and off the field, the 2013 Red Sox seemed to evolve into a proxy for how New England felt. We would never forget, and the Sox sought not to have us remember, but rather to honor. The ceremonies, hospital visits, observances and of course, how they played. Whenever it seemed they were down and out—they came back.

“Is that all you got?”

During the winter, thoughts started to turn to today’s Marathon. What would security be like? Surely the organizers would tighten down on scope and size. Guess what? They actually are allowing 9,000 more runners!

“Is that all you got?”

The horror and losses of Marathon Day 2013 will always be with us, but I think I know with great precision the exact moment when we stopped looking entirely backward, and began to look forward with hope and promise. Once again Boylston Street was lined with millions, surrounding this time not runners, but duck boats. When Johnny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia jumped off of theirs to place the World Series Championship trophy on the Marathon finish line, among the real heroes of that long-ago spring day, who did not take a deeper swallow?

“Is that all you got?”

In memory of: Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier

Fenway Park: the Most Expensive Ballpark to Attend

fenway park

Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park is America’s most iconic park for more reasons than one. First and foremost, it’s a historical landmark. The oldest baseball stadium in the nation, Fenway was constructed April 12, 1912 – the same day the Titanic went down. It’s also the most sought after, not only because Boston has a slew of winning teams, but also because of its history. Although that may be, it is, bar none, the most expensive to attend. You may want to think about taking out a loan if you really are considering fighting the odds and taking your family to a Sunday afternoon game.

According to an earlier study by Team Marketing report, 2011, Fenway Park takes the cake in terms of expenses. Numbers were based on taking a family of four ‘out to the ballgame’. On average, spending money on four adult tickets ($53.38 each), two small soft drinks, two small draft beers ($7.25 each), four regular size hot dogs ($4.50 each), parking for one car ($27.00), two game programs and two of the least expensive adjustable caps ($20.00 each ) is a grand total of slightly less than $339.00! Ouch! That’s a large hole in the wallet!

Beer on tap in general is not the cheapest to buy at any stadium, but statistics show draft beer at Fenway is considerably higher than any beer at any other stadium. At $0.60 an ounce it is by far the most expensive.

Popularity rules out all odds when it comes to attending a ballgame at Fenway Park. With three World Series victories in a decade, the Red Sox are, no doubt, a popular team across the board (and nation).  Everyone seems to want a piece of them up close and personal. Yes, you could invite friends over, grab a six pack of beer, and deck yourself out in Pedroia and Buchholz paraphernalia and watch the game from afar, I guess, but it won’t be the same as attending a live game. So my suggestion to you is if you want to save a little money, arrive early and down some beers at the nearest bar like Cask ‘n’ Flagon or Jerry Remy’s; dust off those old 1980’s Sox’ hats and don’t bother spending money on new ones; pay for standing only seats (that is if you don’t have kids. It may get a little rowdy in those parts), and take public transportation. The green line is moments away from all gates to the park. It’s doable. I will tell you from my experiences last season. I did all that was aforementioned (granted I went to many of the games by myself), it wasn’t more than $70.00!  I plan on doing exactly the same as this season draws near.

World Series Games 1 and 2

World Series Games 1 and 2

Lester v. Wainright in Game 1 of the World Series

World Series Games 1 and 2 could not have been more different.

Wednesday night, during Game 1, the Red Sox made the game of baseball look all too easy; game 2 not so much. St. Louis pitcher Michael Wacha silenced Boston bats, and defense lacked the crisp plays that we saw in Game 1. The silver lining, and statistic, is that 11 of the last 13 teams that won Game 1 of the Fall Classic, went on to win the World Series.

During Game 1, the hits came in the form of home runs and doubles leading to RBIs. Jon Lester pitched his level best, wavering a bit in his final inning with a perceivable reduction in efficacy. The defense turned plays, the best of which was a double play with the bases loaded late in the game. The toss went to home plate and then to first base. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals played defense worse than your local, pee-wee little league team. I have never seen so many botched plays. It got kind of comical for those of us who are Red Sox fans.

Turning to Game 2, it was offensive role reversal. John Lackey never seems to get the run support that he deserves. Craig Breslow followed him only to give up more hits and runs. I just don’t get why people think Breslow is so great. I feel like I am the only one that has little confidence in him. For some reason fans overlook the games where he pitches poorly.

There were many “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’ ” moments in Game 2. The Sox could have showed more plate patience. Then again, Wacha proved himself a formidable force despite his youth. Stephen Drew should be able to bunt. Nava could have come off the bench earlier for Drew. The game was a forgone conclusion by the time they put him in to pinch hit in the 9th inning.

I feel disappointed. I’m ready for Game 3; let’s just hope Jake Peavy is too. We all know how much I love Jake Peavy.

:: Eye roll and audible sigh ::

Give him five innings John, and then put in Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa, and finally Koji.

What are your thoughts as the Sox head to St. Louis?

Fenway Fanatics

Fenway Fanatics

A new book has just been released, “Fenway Fanatics” by Greg Pearson, and I had the opportunity to get the down low.  Last week, I interviewed Greg over the phone from his home in Wisconsin. In his book, he writes of 50 Red Sox fans and their stories. Although I have yet to read it cover to cover, I can begin to sum it up for you in this one post.

Greg Pearson grew up in a small town in Connecticut with his brother, sister, mother and father.  His parents were not Red Sox fans, nor were they baseball fans.  In fact, his father could tell you more about NFL stats than the latest in baseball.  It was a mystery as to how Greg and his brother became fans of the all-mighty team, let alone baseball, but they did, and because of it their parents’ love for the sport and the team grew.  When Greg was six, his family took a trip to Boston to the famed Fenway Park.  I remember him telling me in our interview (an embarrassment to say the least), that he cried when his mother told him they were going to take the trip.  It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford it, but in Greg’s mind that’s what it came out to be.  It was against Kansas City.  The Red Sox lost 2-0.  Despite their loss, Greg instantly fell in love with the ballpark and remained a Red Sox fan.  His mother, dissatisfied with the result, took Greg back the next day.  They won that game.

It’s pretty hard being a Red Sox fan in Wisconsin where the only stadium is in Milwaukee, where Greg, at times, catches a Brewer’s game.  Although that may be, he entitles himself one Red Sox game a season (at least) where he travels to the nearest ballpark to catch site of his favorite players.

The 300 page collection of short stories, “Fenway Fanatics” tells of the stories behind 50 Red Sox fans of all ages.  These aren’t just random picks he collected from fans who say they are fans, off the street (well, maybe some), but these are fans with heart and dedication.  One couple, for instance, postponed their child’s birth so they could attend opening day.  Another comes all the way from the UK where baseball is barely spoken of, and yet another is of a woman who was very ill.  She requested all the attendees at her funeral wear Red Sox gear.  Of course, they did. She is the last story of the 50.

“Fenway Fanatics” can be purchased on Amazon and in local bookstores.  If you want a good, easy read about genuine people with genuine, heartfelt stories about their experiences and fondest memories of being a Red Sox fan, I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Although I am only two chapters into it, I have already laughed out loud, cried inside and have been awed by the energy each person relays as they tell their tale.

Rain Delay Sends Tampa Bay back to Fenway

Tampa Bay vs. Boston

Forget about their day off, the Sox had a game to play, Monday, July 29.  Thursday night, July 25, the Sox and the Rays were scheduled to play at Fenway.  Due to rain, it was postponed until further notice.  Well, Monday came and the teams were back in action.  Both teams were scheduled for a day off.  It appeared that wouldn’t be happening unless there was another rain out which, at the time I was writing, the skies were blue and it didn’t seem possible.

Another important game was ahead of the two teams. After all, the Rays were trailing the Sox by 1/2 a game. In fact, if it weren’t for Tampa’s loss, Sunday, July 21,  they would be in the number one seat and the Sox would take second.   The two teams went neck and neck Monday evening, July 29.   With records standing at  (63-43) and (62-43), Red Sox, Rays, this game was crucial for the Sox to remain in the number one seat in the AL East Division.  I hope everyone was watching!

Felix Dubront took to the mound Monday evening, even though he drew a loss against the Rays in previous events at the Fenway stadium. Was this a situation where we fans should have been frightful of? Based on Dubront’s stats I didn’t think so.  Despite the loss, in retrospect, we can see he remains solid on the mound. Throughout the season, Dubront has allowed 27 hits and 12 earned runs, and has struck out 103 over 112 innings; this in return for a 7-4 record with a 3.78 ERA.  David Price, on the other hand, the starting pitcher for Tampa Bay Monday evening, is also a stellar performer even after coming back from the DL.  In retrospect, he has allowed 96 hits and 40 earned runs while striking out 76 over 96 innings; this in return for a 5-5 record and 3.75 ERA. So there were two really impressive pitchers on the mound Monday night, for both teams.  Who would prevail and who would go down with a loss? The Sox needed a big win.  After all, it was quite a fright to be in second for that one painstaking moment….

The saga continues in the following post, “Bad Call Sends Boston Back”

The Red Sox remained at home this past week with games against the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks.