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Football is a game for men- tough men.  Unlike many American males, I don’t lie to myself and others.  I could not play that game professionally.  It requires a physical toughness that I lack.  It also requires an emotional toughness that I am familiar with as a pastor.  In football, you have to deal with the emotional aspects of the game- remaining consistent when there are great hills and valleys.  Remaining stable in the face of constant obstacles.

Enter Jay Culter, the pouting All-Pro.  Jay can’t seem to understand that Pro Football is a business.  The goal is two-fold: compete to win the SuperBowl consistently, and make lots of money in the process.  The closer you are to the first, the easier it is for a team to accomplish the second.  As a result, the business-side, just like the game-side, is not easy on a person’s ego.  During the game, fans might boo you.  And during the off-season you might be linked with trade rumors.

Jay can’t imagine that the Broncos might entertain offers for a QB that 1. his new coach knows, and 2. had a better QB rating than he did.  Yes, Cutler had a record setting season.  But his team folded in the crunch (Cassel’s team when on a strong run that would have earned them a playoff spot in most divisions).  As QB, some of that falls on his shoulders.

But Cutler is pouting and demanding a trade- feeling so unwanted.  He’s is proving that they should have traded him.  First, he lacks the mental/emotional toughness required to flourish in professional football.  Trade possibilities have sent him into an epic, public freefall.  He just gave fans on other cities ammo with which to bait him and boo him.  Second, he is more concerned with himself than team.  This doesn’t sit well with any associated with the Patriots and their success over the course of this decade.  Individuals play, but only teams can win.  Teams are made of people who believe “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one” to quote the fictitious Spock from The Wrath of Kahn.  Cutler is focused on himself.  Not a good sign.  He demands his ego get stroked instead of submitting his ego to the needs of his team.  He also refuses to see that a few teams WERE really interested in him (I’m not sure why at this point).

Jay needs to take his meltdown where it belongs- behind closed doors- or no team will want him, including the one he’s on.  And while he’s there he may want to invest in some Daniel Goleman books on emotional intelligence.

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Pedroia Strikes it Big


The little big man for the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, has now seen the payoff for all the hard work and stellar play.  The Red Sox have locked him up for 6 years.  He’ll get $40.5 million over that time frame.  The Red Sox get a hard-working, inspiring sparkplug who puts up some pretty significant numbers.  He’s one guy that won’t be moving on soon.  With a revolving door at shortstop, Theo has solidified the other middle infield position.  And you have to wonder how long it will be before a “C” is sown onto his uniform to go along with the 2007 A.L. Rookie of the Year award & World Series champion ring, and his 2008 A.L. Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and MVP awards.

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Remains to be Seen       Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Remains to be Seen Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

A second Red Sox post in 2 days?  Yes, because the Hot Stove is overheating!

Coco Crisp is now a Kansas City Royal (sorry, dude).  I’ll miss his superb defense despite his weak arm.  Obviously Theo and Terry think Jacoby will make the necessary adjustments to return much better next season after going through some disappointing slumps this season.

Ramon Ramirez is now a Red Sox.  He pitched well in relief for the Royals last year with a 2.64 ERA and 70 Ks in just over 71 innings of work, giving up only 2 HRs (a key stat).  He can help solidify that Red Sox bullpen which struggled before Justin Masterson joined it.  The Sox may have plans to return Justin to the rotation (I wrote this before reading the Buzz).  But maybe not…

Reports are that the Sox are making a run at A.J. Burnett, a John Henry favorite from his days as Marlins’ owner.  This may trigger a bidding war, which may be exactly what the Red Sox want (though the Yankees may return the favor over Teixeira).  I’m not sure why the Sox want him.  He’s often injured and can’t seem to put it together despite having great stuff.  Without ‘Tek, this would be an even riskier move.  I’m not so wild about this.

Nothing yet on the rumored trade of Julio Lugo to the Tigers for an equally bad contract on a pitcher.

Tony Mazzarotti thinks the Red Sox will offer Mark Teixeira the biggest contract in Red Sox history.  The Red Sox want him.  Afterall, they once drafted him.  He is productive, patient, a great defender and a great clubhouse guy who can lead.  In other words- Manny without the baggage.  This is why they didn’t pick up Manny’s option- they’d rather spend $20 million on a guy who is younger and low maintenance.  They might not get him, but it won’t be for a lack of effort and resources.  Both teams remain mum on Teixeira.  They want to work behind the scenes, much like the Yankees did with Damon.  That’s how Theo likes things too.  The Yankees have far more to spend, even if they drop $150 million on pitching.

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Reason to Smile         Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Reason to Smile Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Dustin Pedroia’s professional career so far.

  • May 2007- fans want rookie Dustin Pedroia benched for lack of production.
  • 2007- World Series Champion
  • 2007- A.L. Rookie of the Year
  • 2008- One win away from the 2008 World Series.
  • 2008- Golden Glove Award: best fielder at his position in the A.L.
  • 2008- Silver Slugger Award: best hitter at his position in the A.L.
  • 2008- A.L. MVP

Not a bad way to begin your professional career.  Perhaps Dustin is the new Derek Jeter, without the glitz and girlfriends.  I’m talking the guy who makes a team go, who works hard and is just plain a winner.

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We Red Sox fans have gotten a bit spoiled in the last few years.  With much better teams, they’ve won a few more Gold Glove awards than in years past.  Dustin Pedroia became the first Red Sox second baseman to win the award since 1972.  Yep, 36 years.

Dustin had more errors (6 to 4) and a slightly lower fielding percentage than the A’s Mark Ellis (.992 to .993).  But he also had 165 more chances than Ellis.  He made great strides in the second half of the season.  Remember, this guy moved to 2nd base not too long ago after playing shortstop most of his life.  That reminds me of Youk, who played 3rd most of his life before having to learn 1st in the big leagues.

Speaking of Youk, he didn’t repeat at first base.  I’ve never thought of Carlos Pena as an outstanding defender- but he’s made improvements.  Better than Youk?  Doubt it, but Kevin spent a fair amount of time at 3rd this season due to Mike Lowell’s injury.  So I completely understand the choice of Pena over Youk.  This is not like last year when I thought Coco got robbed.

Dustin has a good mindset about this.

“I really didn’t think much about it,” Pedroia said on a conference call. “I was kind of still a little upset after the way the season ended, watching the World Series. I’m definitely excited. I’ve been getting text messages all day.”

Here’s hoping this is the first in a number of them for Mighty Mouse.  But he might not be done with awards this season- as he is one of the leading candidates for the AL MVP.  And just think, in May of 2007 most people thought this guy wouldn’t make it in the majors and were ready to give up on him.

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First it was Tom Brady.  His knee injury ended his season and their hopes for a return to the Super Bowl.  Prior to Monday’s game it was announced that Laurence Maroney was done for the year with a shoulder injury. His injury is not as crippling to the team since they have plenty of running backs.  If Sammy Morris did a bigger number on his knee than he did on the Bronco’s defense (racking up 138 yards in the FIRST HALF), then New England is in trouble.  But if he bounces back, Jordan comes back, and they don’t have to rely on an undrafted rookie free agent, the Patriots’ running game can still be very productive.  That means that Matt Cassel can be productive despite his superb ability to take a sack instead of dumping the ball off.

During the game Rodney Harrison was carted off the field.  Word today is a torn quadriceps, and he’s done for the season- and perhaps his career.

Football is a brutal sport.  The Patriots are not the only team to suffer so many season-ending injuries.  They can quickly put a cap on championship hopes (unless that player is Jeremy Shockey).  There are no guarantees in life, and especially in sports.  Injuries are part of the game, and affect the outcome of many a game or season.  They humble us, or should.  They display the fleeting nature of life, and the precarious nature of success.  They also provide obstacles that can build character, or reveal weakness of character.  Injuries also allow someone else the opportunity to rise to the occasion (think Tom Brady or Lou Gehrig).  Life is just as unpredictable of those sports we follow.

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He doesn’t put up the most spectacular stats.  But J.D. Drew just happens to come thru at the right time.  Bad back or no bad back.  His grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS last year.  His key home run against the Angels this year.  His power surge while Big Papi was on the DL this year.

Last night was just unbelievable.  I was getting ready to turn off the game and hit the hay.  I was going to give the Red Sox one last half inning.  After a whole series of utter futility with RISP, Pedroia came up with an RBI hit that opened the floodgates.  Papi cleared the bases with a long overdue home run.

In the 8th it was Crisp’s lengthy at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch, that finally resulted in an RBI single to tie the game.

In between Papi and Coco, you had Drew driving a rocket into the right field seats to drive in 2.  Then, after walking Bay to get to Drew (and the lefty on lefty match up) Drew got his 5th hit in 8 tries (if I remember right) off Howell to win the game.

He gets paid a good chunk of money.  He’s not flashy, but he plays great defense in right field.  And he gets important hits (leading the Sox in game winning hits this season).  Here’s hoping that Drew and Papi have rediscovered their swing, and that last night was not a fluke.

The young, resilient Tampa Bay Rays are confident they have what it takes to close out Boston in the AL championship series.

In fact, they find it humorous anyone would believe the team’s psyche might have been irreparably damaged when the Red Sox kept their pennant hopes alive with the second-biggest comeback in postseason history. …

Thursday night’s loss is the type of defeat that might destroy some teams. But the Rays have rebounded from difficult situations all season and believe they have the makeup to complete the job against Boston.

I’m sure the 2003 A’s, 2004 Yankees and 2007 Indians all thought the same thing.  They all thought there was no way the Red Sox could beat them.  This is not any of those teams.  No Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Manny etc.  Now there is no Lowell, and Beckett is hurt too.  I can understand their confidence- they are a good team and the Red Sox are a damaged team.  Sometimes things happen like we think they will, and sometimes strange things happen.  I’m hoping for the strange things.

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Globe staff/Jim Davis

Globe staff/Jim Davis

I was nearly jumping for joy with them after an exciting final 2 innings to last night’s game.  Jon Lester continues to build a reputation as a money pitcher, throwing 7 shutout innings that was nearly wasted by a spent bullpen.

Francona made an uncharacteristic mistake, I think, by pulling Okajima.  Another walk, a passed ball and Hunter’s timely hit tied that game.  Maybe Okalima would have surrendered a home run.  I don’t know.  But I didn’t like it then.

After Shields got the heart of our line up out in the 8th, I thought it was going to be another marathon session.  That is until the Angels had a man on 3rd in the 9th.  An incredible play by the Captain to end the threat.  Yes, a bit controversial- but the ball was knocked out by the ground, not the tag.  Like Cal Ripken, it would be interesting to see what the rule book actually states.  I think they made a reasonable call- but I am biased.  [what is different here from a play at the plate is that Varitek clearly had possession & control of the ball prior to the tag- he’d run 90 feet with it.  in a play at the plate, the action happens so fast the ump can’t be sure if the catcher has control of the ball until after the play is done.  if ESPN asked for my opinion to refute their ‘expert analysts’, I suspect they might go ‘hmmm, hadn’t thought of that.’]

It seemed like the Angels got a break on that ground rule double by Bay.  Especially when Teixeira grabbed that screaming line drive down the line.  But another Red Sox rookie came through as Lowrie dumped a single into right field so Bay could get home.  Awesome ending (unless you cheer for the Angels).

Now the Rays- a solid, gutsy team.  When the Rays won the regular season series the Sox were struggling with injuries to Lowell, Drew & Beckett.  Yes, Longoria and Crawford were out too.  What I didn’t know until yesterday was that Drew led the Sox with game-winning RBI, despite missing a good chunk of the season to back injuries.  His effortless defense, combined with that, gives him an edge of Crawford (a player I really like).

So now we see who is better- the battered Sox who just dispatched the team with the best record in baseball, or the upstarts who eliminated a one dimensional team in the White Sox.  Make no mistake- the Rays can win this series.  They are good enough and deep enough.  They got rid of the clubhouse distractions and have lots of character guys who also play very well.  This is no lopsided series.  The Rays have the Red Sox’ respect.

I think the Red Sox will win due to the intangibles.  It is not just having been there before- but succeeding there before.  They’ve developed a great system of scouting teams and prepping players that pays dividends in the playoffs.  They have a few days to put together a game plan they can execute.  That gives them an edge- not a guarantee, but an edge.  It should be fun to watch.

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For hours last night I was wondering what in the world the Angels have to do to actually beat the Red Sox in the post season.  Look at that stat sheet and it should have been a blow out, not a 12-inning barn burner.

The Red Sox should NOT have been in that game.  Beckett was atrocious, but they were only down by 1 thanks to an outfield gaffe with 2 outs that enabled Jacoby to get the 1st 3 RBI single in post-season play.

The Red Sox had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, but failed.  Pedroia has struggled offensively this series.  He’s hitting that ball hard, but not finding any gaps.  If he starts to hit, we’re in good shape.

Lowell, on the other hand, looks like he needs Francona to sit him.  It’s painful watching him out there.  He’s got a huge heart and wants to compete, but those injuries have hobbled him significantly.  It is time for him to sit, putting Kotsay at first.

I was really hoping to seal the deal so Lester could start the next series (in Tampa?).  But if they do play in Tampa, Wake has a good history in the dome so maybe he should start Game 1.  But first the Sox have to beat the Angels.  They are a very good team, so it is not a guarantee.  But only a few teams have won a series after being down 0-2.  The Sox have the confidence to not panic at this point.  And the with Lester pitching in the friendly confines of Fenway, they have a good shot at finishing the series up tonight.

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Photo by Reuters

Photo by Reuters

Yes, I stayed up well past midnight, though I nearly fell asleep at 9.  I was in the intermediate state where I’m semi-conscious and snoring, but don’t realize it.  This is much to CavWife’s consternation.  I went to bed after Big Papi’s single in the 9th gave the Red Sox another insurance run.  I was confident enough in Papelbon to head to bed.

Keys to the Game

  • Jon Lester– he struggled early but worked his way out of trouble repeatedly.  A rare Jed Lowrie error on what would have been the 3rd out allowed the Angels to score their only run.  Since Lackey was shutting the Sox down, it looked like it may have been enough.  But Lester got better as the game wore on, getting his last 7 batters out.  He was still throwing a mid-high 90’s fastball after 100 pitches.  He continues on the path of establishing himself as an ace.
  • Jason Bay– after striking out twice, Jason got the Sox first hit with a man on base, driving a Lackey mistake into the left field seats to give the Red Sox the lead in the 6th.  He was 2-4 with 2 extra base hits in his first professional playoff game.  No jitters here!
  • Angels’ 8th Inning
  1. Jason Ellsbury made a fantastic catch to start the inning.  The Angels get that hit and the inning could have had a different outcome.  He saved rookie Justin Masterson from a messy situation.  His performance at the plate, and basepaths certainly didn’t hurt matters.  With Ellsbury on track the Red Sox are dangerous.
  2. Vlad moved like he was 300.  He moves like he is in constant pain.  As he sat on first base I was hoping this would be to our advantage.  It did when he tried to take 3rd on Hunter’s bloop single.
  3. Youkilis traps the bloop single and comes up throwing.  It was a great play by Youk to minimize the damage (probably a bit of luck too).  He didn’t give up on the play, and was able to throw out  the creeky Vlad at 3rd by 15 feet.  This kept Masterson out of a serious jam.

Though the Angels dominated the season series, the Red Sox continued their playoff domination of the Angels.  They have now won 10 straight against the Angels dating back to 1986.  They beat them in ’86, ’04 and ’07 on their way to the World Series.  But this series is NOT over- the Angels are a very good team.

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Danny, please smile.  You brought home #17!

This is a happy occasion, let's not quibble about who voted for whom.

I really love this picture.  Like many a Celtic fan, I’ve been frustrated from nearly 20 years.  When I grew up, the Celtics were expected to prevail, and the Sox to fail.  Then the world turned upside down- slowly. 

This seemed so unlikely after the draft lottery fiasco.  But Trader Danny (why the glum face, Danny?) was able to work his plan by trading those chips he’d accumulated into KG and Ray Allen.  Suddenly he had free agents wanting to come to Boston for a chance to be part of something special.  This photo is for all of us who suffer all those many years.

From a CelticsBlog interview Wyc said this:

8. Do you have any untold, behind-the-scenes stories to share with us?   Perhaps something about the KG trade or the Italy trip or even the playoffs?

The first time I saw KG carefully examine each of our 16 championship banners, I knew we were going to likely hang a 17th one. Then he turned to me and promised me we would get number 17. That was unforgettable. Then, I saw KG, Paul and Ray running wind sprints at 8:30 am in early September last year…they were already bonded together and focused. It is a great feeling knowing you are the favorites to win a world championship.

The main players still have the same attitude.  They are working hard already rather than being satisfied with a taste of success.  Go for 2!

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It has been a miserable season for the Red Sox in terms of injuries.  They have been hit hard from the very beginning of the season as Beckett had a back issue.  Those who’ve missed time include Big Papi, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Lugo (thankfully), Dice-K, Wake, Colon (the low-risk gamble didn’t really pay off).

But the Red Sox STILL made the playoffs.  Putting the season in context, I’m content with winning the Wild Card.  The Rays had a great season, and despite some significant injuries, held on to win the division.  They almost had the best record in the AL.  But the Sox did suffer far more significant injuries to key keys.

And now they limp into the playoffs, possibly to be decimated by the Angels just like the White Sox destroyed them in 2005.  Lowell’s hip is still bothering him, and that affects not just his fielding but also his hitting.  Lowell is an important part of this team.  He’ll try to play, but we’ll see if he can deliver. 

J.D. Drew MIGHT be okay.  As someone who has had a bad back the last few years, you just never know how it will feel.  If it holds up, he could be an important contributing member of the squad- like in last year’s playoff drive.

Lugo had another setback, which allows Lowrie to have an opportunity to shine.  We won’t miss he of the weak bat and suspect defense.

Papi’s wrist is still a huge question mark.  It is a day-by-day thing.  When your big bat has such issues it doesn’t bode well.

(more…)

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If anyone can find a way to motivate the Patriots after losing Tom Brady to a knee injury (torn ACL & MCL), it is the Master of the Mind Games, Bill Belichick.

These are just the right tools a guy like Coach B needs to motivate a team- they hate you, they think you’re done.  You thought the Patriots were angry after “Spy Gate”, expect them to take this personally.  Tom Brady is their leader, friend and face of the franchise.  I expect most of them to rise to the occasion.  If that translates into victories remains to be seen.  But the opportunity is there.

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While I was on vacation, my dad gifted me with Dan Shaughnessy’s book Reversing the Curse: Inside the History-Making Red Sox Championship Season.  It is one of the MANY books to be written about the 2004 World Series Champions.  This book was actually written as the season progressed, and like the movie Fever Pitch, had the good fortune to be completed with the Sox actually winning the Series for the first time since 1918.

Dan Shaughnessy is an interesting figure in Boston sports.  He grew up in New England (not to far from where I grew up) so he loves Boston sports teams.  The down side is that he is incredibly cynical about Boston sports.  He’s seemingly omnipresent, but his presence is not necessarily a welcome one.  To his credit, he seems to actually show up in the locker rooms to talk to guys rather than hiding in the safe confines of his office after a particularly acerbic piece.  As a result, he is not as endearing a figure to people like me as, say, Bob Ryan or Peter Gammons (why doesn’t he have a book on this????).

The book covers the series from the horrific end, for Sox fans, of the 2003 ALDS.  It covers what happened then and how that event set up the changes that took place in the off season.  After chapters on both of those, he goes month by month to cover the season’s ups and downs.  He uses a nearly conversational-style, often changing time frames which can be confusing.  But he also offers some quick biographical sketches of some of the key figures, like Johnny Damon, David Ortiz etc.

Being CHB, he does not gloss over the various dramas that did inflict the team that season- Nomar’s nearly eternal pout, Pedro’s Dominican Diva act while trying to negotiate via the press, Manny Being Disruptive etc.  He also includes some “insider” information, such as Nomar being informed of the “Trade We Rejoice Never Happened” (that would be Manny for A-Fraud) as it happened.  His public shock and dismay was a sham.

At times the book is burdened by Dan’s cynicism.  He can’t let “the bag job”, as he refers to the Henry-Werner group’s purchase of the team, go.  It is wearisome at times.  But this does not outweigh the many positives of the book.  Nor do the quotes of players using profanity (not a book for the kiddies, folks).

As the Sox rallied to defeat the Yankees I found myself crying all over again.  Who could know that when the Yankees didn’t put them away, the Sox would not just win 4 in a row, but 8.  Kevin Millar was spot on that night.

He also covered some of the more immediate changes that took place after winning the World Series.  I caused me to ponder- what if they had signed Orlando Caberra as I’d wanted.  No Rent-a-Wreck and the wasted 2005 season.  No overpaying Julio Lugo for his weak offense and mastery of committing errors.  The Sox would be well-positioned for Jed Lowry to take over the shortstop position.  Orlando provided steady, often spectacular defense, and enough offense.

Either way… this book is a must for the Red Sox fan.  He writes as one of us, but with more behind the scenes knowledge than one of us.  Even if you don’t like CHB, you’ll appreciate his book.  After all, it has a happy ending.

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After going 0-4 in the preseason without any snaps taken by the NFL’s 2007 MVP Tom Brady, the Patriots (and their fans) greatest fear was an injury to their quarterback.

Photo by Jim Davis of Globe staff

Photo by Jim Davis of Globe staff

That didn’t take long.  On their second series a defender rolled up on his left leg while he was completing a pass to Randy Moss.  Out, gone, start praying people.  One sports injury expert, Will Carroll, suspects it is his PCL.  Strain or torn, who knows.

Amazingly, the Patriots pulled off a victory without their leader (17-10).  They benefit from a weak schedule early on, so perhaps they can remain competitive while Tom’s knee heals.

Update: Multiple sources are saying it’s a torn ACL, and Tom is done for the season.  They reportedly have FA QB Chris Simms coming in tomorrow.  That’ll be quite the drop off!  This could be quite the long season.

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After just 1 loss some of th Rays’ fans were panicing.  Now that they have lost 4 out of 5 games, and their lead is merely 2 games (with the Red Sox still to play tonight), they must be lining up to jump off the bridge.

I heard some talk radio guys whining about Red Sox fans this week.  That we are now acting even more entitled than the Yankees’ fans.  I didn’t hear the context.  I suppose success does create expectaions.  When your team has never had a winning season before … you can be a bit defensive and envious.

Very excited that both Beckett and Lowell played well in their first games back from the DL.  The Red Sox have adjusted well to the recent rash of injuries.  And there have been plenty.  They didn’t give up, but have continued to play well.  Good news as well that they seem to have cured their road issues from earlier in the season.  Dustin Pedroia has been quite impressive, showing that size does not matter when it comes to playing baseball.  He’s been the everyday player to lead the team everyday.  You can’t say enough about how important he has become to this squad.

Not only are the Sox closing in on the Rays, but the Angels as well.  It would be great to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  This should make for an exciting 3+ weeks as we move to the end of the regular season.

Update: The Sox failed to capitalize.  But the Rays have given them another chance on Sunday- so far the Sox are up 2-0 midway through the game.

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For a team in the midst of a playoff hunt, injuries are not very helpful.  Injuries have been an issue for the Red Sox all season long.  The latest batch of injuries had Josh Beckett, J.D. Drew and Sean Casey all visiting the doctor today.

Despite the injuries, the Red Sox have weathered the storm okay.  They haven’t gained ground on the Rays, but they haven’t lost ground either.  Theo has made some waiver wire moves to support the team in the face of injuries picking up Paul Byrd and Mark Kotsay.

The Sox got good news on the Josh Beckett front.  He’ll rest another week, and should start again next Friday.  This is quite important.  They could make a playoff push without Drew.  They can probably get to the playoffs without Beckett, but to win in the playoffs without Beckett and Schilling would be near impossible.  I’m not sure I can trust Dice-K in the playoffs yet.  But Beckett and Lester provide 2 great performers that could carry the Sox staff in the playoffs.  Take out Josh, and it is probably one and done.

Jason Bay has been a fantastic addition for the Sox.  His production has exceeded Manny’s while with Boston this year.  Speaking of Manny, I don’t think he’s missed a game or gone to the doctor with that injured knee.  In fact, he’s been hitting great and running out plays, even stealing a base, like all is well.  Certainly leads one to believe he was faking it like in previous years’ hamstring issues.  I’m glad the Diva is gone.  He had some great years in Boston, but he was unreliable.  Imagine what his numbers would be if he gave a consistently good effort?

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Yaz in his final year

Yaz in his final year

Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is recuperating after a triple bypass.

#8 is the last man to ever win the Triple Crown in the magical ’67 season (giving birth to Red Sox Nation).  It was a different era because .326, 44 HR and 121 RBIs won’t get you far these days.  But that magical September push for the pennant was amazing.  I was too young to have any memory of the Impossible Dream season, but watched Yaz play from the mid-70’s until he retired in 1983.

He’s not always remembered outside of New England, but there is a reason he holds a special place in the heart of all who are part of Red Sox Nation.

Yastrzemski was elected to the Hall on the first ballot in 1989. He has often shied away from celebrity and rarely made public appearances, but drew a big ovation when he threw out the first ball before Game 1 of last year’s World Series, won by Boston in a four-game sweep over Colorado.

Yaz finished with 452 career home runs and 1,844 RBIs. He had 3,419 lifetime hits and batted .285. He also won seven Gold Gloves, expertly playing the caroms off the Green Monster.

Yastrzemski is one of five former Red Sox players to have his number retired by the team. His No. 8 is painted on the facing of the right field grandstands at Fenway, along with those of Williams, Carlton Fisk, Bobby Doerr and Joe Cronin.

All the best to one of the greats!

Ted & Yaz (Globe file photo)

Ted & Yaz (Globe file photo)

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It was a different week.  My brothers-in-law were away on a missions trip to Mississippi.  Not as much male interaction.  ESPN and ESPN 2 have not been available on the cable the last 5-6 days, so I’m suffering from the DTs.  I was also slowed down by a summer cold that started with sniffles => sore throat => running nose => cough.  A real pleasure.

I Need a Dentist

I Need a Dentist

On Wednesday and Friday we went to the Word of Life Ranch to visit the petting zoo.  The kids loved it.  They had goats, sheep, llamas (in desperate need of dental work), chickens, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.  CavGirl’s priceless comment- “They’re stinky.  They need a bath.”  We were also able to spend time in the fort playground.  I pushed the kids on the tire swing, and they enjoyed the slides.  On Wednesday’s trip we had lunch at the WoL campground with some friends of CavWife who still work at Word of Life.  Both trips ended with rain shortening the stay.

Radio station options way up here are limited.  So for both rides to Schroon Lake, we ‘enjoyed’ the worst of the 80’s.  Lots of bad flashbacks, so I’m surprised we didn’t crash the SUV.  I hadn’t heard “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for many years, and heard it 2 times this past week.  Sigh.

CavParents arrived Thursday and stayed until Saturday.  They skipped the petting zoo.  Don’t blame them- smelly animals and poop-covered shoes.  It got pretty noisy around here though with up to 11 cousins running around.  Sometimes they played well together, and other times …. not quite.  The rainy week didn’t help matters.  CavBoy and his youngest cousin here are getting along famously.  Just like Frick & Frack now that she is feeling better.  This is good since CavGirl is able to enjoy her older cousins.  He doesn’t feel as left out now.

Friday night we all got together for dinner at Aunt Jane’s place at the bottom of the hill.  Mom’s lasaugna with meatballs & sausage, and Bernie’s eggplant parmesian (I passed on the eggplant) followed by ice cream.

Saturday I helped my sister-in-law work on their new home near the bottom of the hill.  I spackled over the screws in the drywall, helped move in some furniture, and helped with some staining of the trim.

On Sunday I preached at Calvary Bible Church in Wevertown.  I ended up choosing a shortened version of my sermon on adoption from Ephesians.  It went well.

I’m antsy … I want to become a productive member of society again.  Still no progress on any fronts.  It can eat at you if you have too much time on your hands, which, by definition, you do.

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Frank McCourt continues his attempt to build Boston West.  He often gets Sox players past their prime.  He also had a former manager until he realized too late that Grady Little may be a great guy but not the best manager.

Today, they traded for Manny Ramirez who has worn out his welcome in Beantown.

The Red Sox paid quite the price to be done with Manny.  They pick up the rest of his salary for the year.  Reports have them also sending out Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to the Pirates in the 3-team trade.  I liked Moss, but he didn’t seem to have a place on the Red Sox.  He’ll get the shot he deserves with the Pirates.  Hansen needed a change of location (Orel Hershiser’s analysis of his mechanical issues the other night was great by the way).  The Pirates made out like bandits because they also picked up Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.  They got ripped off by the Yankees, so they made the Sox and Dodgers pay.

So far all the Sox receive is Jason Bay.  That can’t be all.  Really… Theo, you had to do better than that, right?  Otherwise the Dodgers and Pirates really took advantage of their need to dump Manny and his bad attitude. 

This is addition through subtraction in my view.  Bay should benefit from being surrounded by better hitters, and may slide nicely into the 5 spot.  Putting him right behind Ortiz may put too much pressure on the new guy.

Update: After Manny hit into a double play to end the Dodgers’ attempt to win, and Bay scored both Sox runs in a win we have this interesting tidbit from Gordon Edes:

Of all the Manny moments in Boston, the last ranks as one of the most confounding. Within an hour after Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein informed Manny Ramírez he had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday, Ramírez’s agent, Scott Boras, called the Sox back, according to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations. If the Sox dropped the option years on his contract – which they had agreed to do if they traded him – Boras said Ramírez would not be a problem the rest of the season.

For the Sox, the source said, Ramírez’s pledge of good behavior only served as a tacit admission that his disruptive conduct of the last couple of weeks had been calculated, and they had had good cause to suspect more was in the offing if they did not trade him. The Sox told him thanks but no thanks, what was done was done, and pack plenty of sunscreen.

And I missed this little part of Manny Being Nefarious.

“We were in a bit of a difficult circumstance and we made something good of it,” said Epstein, who was in Anaheim two weeks ago when Ramírez balked at boarding the bus taking the team to the airport and a flight to Seattle.

“I heard about that,” Varitek said. “I didn’t see it.”

The acts, and words, of defiance seemed to multiply quickly thereafter.

I’m guessing that makes the Dodgers’ fans really excited.  Manny really didn’t want to go there- all a show, just like the last few weeks.  Manny reveals himself to be a petulent, greedy man.  He’s also a man who thinks of no one but himself- consistently avoiding opportunities to reach out to fans, especially the Jimmy Fund kids.  This taints the fond memories I have of him as a ball player.  Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived -IMO- was notoriously self-centered, but was a big supporter of the Jimmy Fund and baseball camps/clinics for kids.  Manny … not even close.

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