May 31, 2004

Nomar 0-for-3 With Pawtucket. Nomar Garciaparra played shortstop for Pawtucket Sunday night, playing 4½ innings and going hitless in three at-bats against LHP Brandon Claussen.

1st inning: Swung at the game's first pitch and hit a one-hopper to shortstop and was thrown out. ... 3rd inning: Tried to check his swing on a 1-2 pitch and was called out by first-base umpire Mike Belin. ... 5th inning: Hit a routine grounder to short on a 2-0 pitch and was thrown out again.

He handled three chances: a ground ball hit right at him and two popups. On the second pop, he drifted out to short left field and was nearly run over by teammate Justin Sherrod, who dove to the ground about a foot behind Garciaparra's legs.

Nomar joked about offering at Claussen's first delivery. "I don't know what the over-under was that I'd swing at the first one." ... The game was delayed for 27 minutes because of thunderstorms and tornado warnings (PawSox announcer Andy Freed saw a twister just over the Ohio River beyond the left-field fence). Garciaparra was set to DH if the field was too wet. ... Reports from the Providence Journal, Boston Globe and Hartford Courant.
Fifty Games In. Although Trot Nixon and Nomar Garciaparra have yet to play a single inning and the team has been without Bill Mueller, Ellis Burks, Scott Williamson and Byung-Hyun Kim for various lengths of time, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball at 31-19 (a 100.44-win pace). I looked over my scorecards and picked out some of the best games:

May 30 (#50): Schilling, Embree and Foulke implode in the 8th inning and Seattle scores six times, taking a 7-5 lead. But Boston comes right back, tying the game in the bottom of the inning. Varitek singles, McCarty doubles, Damon hits a sac fly and Andy Dominique's first major league hit ties the game. McCarty then sends everyone home happy with a 2-run home run to center (on a 3-0 pitch; Boston hitters are now 8-for-8 after getting the green light) in the bottom of the 12th. Schilling had retired the first 17 Mariners, but by the end, it was a distant memory. Sox win 9-7.

May 7 (#29): Kansas City leads 6-2 going into the bottom of the 8th. After singles from Ramirez and Kapler, Mirabelli's hit and a throwing error close the gap to 6-4. In the 9th, Damon walks and Bellhorn belts a game-tying home run. Ramirez walks and with 2 outs, pinch-hitter Varitek lines a first-pitch double into the right field corner to win the game, 7-6.

April 11 (#7): Trailing Baltimore 4-1, Boston scores single runs in the 8th (Damon walks and scores on Millar's single) and 9th (Crespo doubles and scores on Damon's hit) before Ortiz belts a 2-run home run into the Monster seats in the 12th. Red Sox win 6-4.

April 16 (#9): Facing the Yankees for the first time since the ALCS, Boston nails Vazquez for 4 runs in the first inning. Damon reaches on an error, Mueller homers, Ramirez homers, Millar singles; Burks reaches on a force, takes second on a walk and scores on Jeter's error. Wakefield throws 7 strong innings and the Red Sox win 6-2.

April 24 (#17): Both the Yankees and Red Sox have numerous scoring chances in the Bronx before Boston finally comes out on top 3-2 in 12 innings. Ramirez begins the inning with a double, goes to third on a groundout, and after Millar is hit with a pitch, Manny scores on Bellhorn's sac fly. Timlin then retires the Yankees in order, capping 6 no-hit innings from the bullpen. (Boston has won 6 of its 7 games (so far) against New York.)

May 8 (#30): With me and roughly 250 other Sons of Sam Horn sitting in the right field stands, Schilling pitches a complete game (5 H, 0 BB, 8 K) against the Royals, winning 9-1. Pokey Reese hits 2 home runs (one an inside-the-parker to right). After the game, I get my scorecard autographed by Sam Horn himself.

May 11 (#33): In the home half of the 8th, trailing Cleveland 3-2, Ramirez and Varitek quickly make outs. But then Ortiz doubles off the wall. Mueller follows with another double to left to tie the game, Kapler singles and McCarty, fresh off the bench, lines a 2-run triple into the right field corner. Foulke sets Cleveland down in the 9th (with 2 K) and Boston wins 5-3.

April 29 (#21): After Lowe allows 2 runs in the top of the first (snapping the team's 32-inning scoreless streak), Boston explodes for 7 in the bottom half. The first 6 (and 8 of the first 9) batters reach safely. The inning is highlighted by Varitek's 3-run home run and Reese's two-run single. Boston finishes a doubleheader sweep 7-3.

April 25, 28 and 29 (#18-20): Three straight shutouts: 2-0 over New York (Pedro 7 IP, 4 H, 7 K), 6-0 over Tampa Bay (Schilling 7.1 IP, 5 H, 8 K) and 4-0 over Tampa Bay (Kim, 5 IP, 1 H).

May 15 (#37): Bronson Arroyo (overcoming the flu) throws 100 pitches in Toronto (8 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K). Youkilis makes his major league debut and homers in his second AB. Bellhorn and Ortiz also go deep and Boston wins 4-0.

[As far as worst games, there was April 8 (#4) when Bobby Jones walked four Orioles in the 13th inning, giving Baltimore a 3-2 win; May 13 (#35) when Toronto's 1-2-3 hitters (Hudson, Catalanotto, Wells) reached base in 14 of their 15 plate appearances, leading the Jays to a 12-6 win; and May 27 (#47) when Oakland routed the Sox at Fenway 15-2.]

May 30, 2004

McCarty Does Some Yard Work. Wow! Red Sox 9, Seattle 7 in 12 innings. Box.

A total team effort. I couldn't watch the game -- and have to wait until Tuesday to watch my tape -- so I'll concentrate on the offense and pitching (though from the SoSH game thread, I know Pokey made some fantastic plays (as usual) and McCarty and Crespo also helped out with their gloves):

Bellhorn: 2-5, 2 runs scored
Youkilis: 3-5, double, HBP, 3 runs scored
Ramirez: 1-4, double, 2 rbi
Varitek: 1-5, HBP, 2 runs scored
Millar: 2-2, double, walk
McCarty: 2-3, double, game-winning HR, 2 runs scored, 2 rbi
Dominique: 2-2 (his first 2 major league hits), game-tying rbi
Schilling: Retired the first 17 Mariners, 7.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R
Timlin: Scoreless 10th inning on 12 pitches
A. Martinez: 2 hitless innings (the 11th and 12th)

Keith Foulke blew a save for the first time this season in an ugly 8th inning. Seattle scored 6 times -- capped by an Ibanez's three-run home run -- to lead 7-5. But the Red Sox came back immediately against Hasegawa in the bottom half. Varitek singled on a 1-1 pitch. McCarty (who had gone in to play first base in the top of the inning) doubled on the first pitch he saw. Pinch-hitter Damon brought Varitek in with a sac fly and Andy Dominique (another pinch-hitter) singled in McCarty to tie the game.

The Yankees lost 7-6 in Tampa Bay, so the Red Sox reclaim first place by one-half game (and have baseball's best record). ... Nomar plays for Pawtucket tonight.
Is There a Worse Perversion Of The English Language Than "Friendly Fire"? According to an Army investigation, former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed by other US troops, not enemy fire. Sisyphus Shrugged: "I find it incredibly distasteful when supporters of the current administration try to shove [Tillman] up on a pedestal because he could have been rich instead. I haven't found any other area of political discourse where [they] think that it's honorable and righteous and patriotic to consider anything over profits."

Digby: "Like the Bush administration, [the New York Times] seem[s] to think that 'taking responsibility' means acting as if it was some vague and ephemeral 'somebody' who committed the act and then going on as if nothing happened. These are children's ethics."

"An internal Army report warned in November that Iraqis were being detained too long and without appropriate review in an immense U.S.-run prison system that failed to keep track of them, did not provide proper sanitation and medical care, was understaffed, and inappropriately mixed juveniles and adults." Good to see the "liberal" Washington Post giving this story the visbility it deserves -- on page A31.

AWOL shows off his souvenir. In time, Bush'll probably start believing he wrestled it away from Hussein himself. The pathetic fool has a bad case of penis-envy.

May 29, 2004

Good News! Nomar Garciaparra begins a rehab assignment with Pawtucket in Louisville tomorrow night. He will lead off and play four innings on both Sunday and Monday, then return to Boston for physical therapy. If all goes well, Nomar would join the PawSox in Toledo on Thursday. (More on his progress here.)

Terry Francona says that when Nomar returns, he may mix and match with his infielders. Garciaparra, Pokey Reese, Mark Bellhorn and Kevin Youkilis may rotate into three infield spots - second base, shortstop and third base - and sometimes at DH.

Bill Mueller's knee surgery yesterday was a success and he began his therapy today. Red Sox medical director Bill Morgan: "He had essentially a 20-30 minute procedure. There were no structural defects whatsoever. [The ligaments were] intact. His meniscal cartilage, the fiber cartilage, the knee was intact. He has some very mild degeneration of his patella joint, his kneecap. He has some arthritis, that part was shaved out just to get rid of the fibrillated tissue, which will help the symptoms to some degree. He did very well. He had no problems." ... Trot Nixon may begin his rehab assignment as early as next week and Scott Williamson is expected to begin throwing on the Red Sox next road trip.

Pedro Martinez struggled a bit last night, giving up a home run to Bret Boone in the 2nd and a leadoff double to Randy Winn in the 3rd; Winn later scored. In the 5th, Rich Aurilia homered, and after Pat Borders struck out, Winn doubled (again), Ichiro Suzuki singled and Scott Spiezio was hit by a pitch. A double steal put runners at second and third; the score was 4-1. ... But Pedro got Edgar Martinez swinging and Raul Ibanez on a pop to third. Francona: "That was the game, I thought, in the fifth. If they go up 6-1, it makes it tough."

Boston rallied for 5 runs in the bottom half of the inning. Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler doubled with one out. When Pokey Reese struck out, Joel Pineiro had two outs, a 4-2 lead and a man on second. But he couldn't close the door. He walked both Johnny Damon and Mark Bellhorn before David Ortiz bashed the first pitch he saw to right-center. It was Ortiz's 100th career home run and 2nd career grand slam. Ichiro: "It was just close enough for me not to get it. I want to say it was really close, but in that situation, it felt really far."

Martinez is now 13-0 against Seattle with a 1.30 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance (August 14, 1999).
Date     Site         IP  H ER BB  SO  Result

04-11-98 Fenway Park 9 2 0 2 12 Red Sox 5-0
05-12-99 Fenway Park 8 4 2 1 15 Red Sox 9-2
08-14-99 Fenway Park 4 3 1 1 6 Red Sox 13-2
09-04-99 Safeco Field 8 2 0 3 15 Red Sox 4-0
04-04-00 Safeco Field 7 2 0 2 11 Red Sox 2-0
08-02-00 Fenway Park 9 5 2 2 7 Red Sox 5-2
09-04-00 Safeco Field 8 6 1 1 11 Red Sox 5-1
05-01-01 Safeco Field 8 3 0 4 12 Red Sox 2-0
05-12-02 Safeco Field 8 4 1 3 12 Red Sox 10-4
05-18-02 Fenway Park 8 6 1 0 9 Red Sox 4-1
08-16-03 Safeco Field 7 3 1 3 7 Red Sox 5-1
08-25-02 Fenway Park 6 6 1 2 4 Red Sox 8-1
05-28-04 Fenway Park 7 8 4 0 9 Red Sox 8-4
Totals 97 54 14 24 130 1.30 ERA

May 28, 2004

The Glass Is Half-Full.
Michael Silverman is right: "The Red Sox are in first place, they had the best record in baseball at first pitch last night, their pitching staff is ranked at the top or in the top three of nearly every significant pitching category, and the offense can boast being one of the five best around. ... [S]omeone should state the obvious. Things are good right now. Stop and smell the flowers." ... The lineup is missing these two important pieces:
2003     AVG  #AL   OBP #AL   SLG  #AL

Nixon .306 13th .396 7th .578 5th
Nomar .301 16th .524 16th
In addition to winning the batting title last season, Bill Mueller (who is having knee surgery today) was 6th in OBP (.398) and 11th in SLG (.540). Kevin Millar is still slumping and Ellis Burks is out of action. But the team is currently 5th in runs scored, 2nd in on-base percentage (.001 behind Cleveland), 5th in slugging and 8th in batting average.

On the mound, Derek Lowe has a 6.22 ERA, Scott Williamson has been hurt, Pedro Martinez and Bronson Arroyo have been inconsistent and Byung-Hyun Kim (6.17) is on the DL and back in Korea. And yet, thanks to Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and a superb bullpen, the Red Sox are 1st in team ERA, 1st in fewest walks+hits per inning, 1st in opponents batting average (.241, .014 lower than Tampa Bay), 1st in opponent on-base (.313) and 1st in opponents slugging (.376).

The Red Sox are tied with Anaheim for the best record in baseball (29-18) -- and they have a ½-game lead on the Yankees, who are in Tampa Bay.

Martinez, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are assisting the relief effort in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where flooding has killed more than 800 people. ... The Red Sox are 7-for-7 when they swing at 3-and-0 pitches. Ortiz has been the most successful (3-3, with a double and home run); Ramirez, Brian Daubach, Jason Varitek and Doug Mirabelli are all 1-1.

Korea Times, quoting Byung-Hyun Kim: "I feel my shoulders, ankles and hips are not working properly, but not too seriously either. I will be here until I'm fully recovered." ... The Herald reports that "all signs point to [Nomar Garciaparra] beginning his 7-10 day rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket at Toledo sometime between June 3-6." ... A report on Trot Nixon from the Naples Daily News.

Weekend match-ups:

Tonight: Pedro Martinez (4-3, 3.68) -- Joel Pineiro (1-5, 5.43)
Saturday: Tim Wakefield (4-2, 3.21) -- Freddy Garcia (2-3, 2.71)
Sunday: Curt Schilling (6-3, 2.82) -- Ryan Franklin (2-4, 4.75)
"Wolf!" As John Ashcroft warns of "disturbing" intelligence that Al Qaeda is "almost ready to attack the United States," another administration official says: "There's no real new intelligence, and a lot of this has been out there already. There really is no significant change that would require us to change the alert level of the country." Ashcroft himself says there is no new information indicating when, where or how an attack might happen.

Could the administration be crying wolf to distract the public (yet again!) from Bush's dropping poll numbers, the 806 dead American soldiers and the ever-increasing reports of torture throughout Iraq? ... It turns out the Homeland Security department was shocked by Ashcroft's announcement and the Justice Department didn't bother to inform state and local police forces of any alleged threat. The FBI's field offices were also kept in the dark. ... And the seven people Ashcroft says pose a "clear and present" danger to the US? Newspaper links here indicate that several of them have been in custody for quite some time.

Remember back in May 2002, when the mainstream media first reported that the Bush administration had known of bin Laden's threats to hijack airplanes for terrorist activity? White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer admitted the terror warnings at that time were issued to change the subject. When asked if the warnings were to "raise the awareness [or] to arouse the American people to a new danger, Fleischer said: "[I]t was just more as a result of all the controversy that took place last week."

May 27, 2004

Notes 'N Things. Mark Bellhorn has played 43 games this season -- and he's either walked or struck out in every one of them. ... Andy Dominique enjoyed his debut. ... Gary and Daryle Ward are the first father and son combination to hit for the cycle. ... An announcement: " has acquired Boston Dirt Dogs, a popular Red Sox fan Web site, and will incorporate its content into's award-winning sports section in June." ... Manny Ramirez is The Sporting News' cover story.

BlogWatch: El Guapo's Ghost: "There doesn't seem to be any women that want to explore how Mark Bellhorn can hit 225 with an OBP of 400. If you know where they are located, please let me know." ... Fenway Hotdogs in October saw her first game at Fenway in 2 years; it was a good one. ... The House That Dewey Built was there also. ... Damn! So was Sports Retort. ... Musings from RSN has been silent for a month. ... Obey Pedro has also been on a sporadic schedule. ... RallyCuff is (like me) sick of seeing the sports media fawn over Ben Affleck as though he is The Grand High Exalted Mystic Red Sox Fan. ... Red Sox Haven looks at Keith Foulke. ... Top of the Ninth is writing letters to a certain Skydome waitress. ... All the cool Red Sox fans are addicted to The Soxaholix. ... A new blog: Surviving Grady.
With Blood Dripping From Their Hands ... Upon further review, the editors at the New York Times think they may not have been as "rigorous" in checking out some of the administration's claims about Iraq's alleged WMD. "In some cases, information ... was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge." ... The Times is sorry. ... Good comments from Left I on the News, Daily Kos and Slate (lots of helpful links at Slate). And don't miss the incomparable Get Your War On.

Kos: The idiot establishment media is playing along with Bush (as usual) and pretending that the 'handover' date has significance beyond the shuffling of a few legal documents. Fact is, nothing much will change. The decidedly non-liberal Wall Street Journal makes this clear as day."

I'm sure the Times et al. will continue to play along with this charade and then 'round about, oh, January 2006, they publish an Editors' Note stating that now they realize that they failed to apply basic journalistic practices to their reports on the "handover" claims of the Bush administration back in the summer of 2004. And the Times will once again say "sorry" and promise to do better next time.

May 26, 2004

Red Is The Color Of Love. Ed Cossette is in love. So am I. A Red Sox team that gets on base 31 times in 8 innings and waltzes to a 12-2 victory over a possible playoff opponent will always cause my heart to skip a beat.

Ed mentions the "deep throated, all encompassing crowd roar" we heard many times last night at Fenway Park. He's describing the "Yoooooouuuuuuk" chant for 3B Kevin Youkilis, but the noise I love most is what I hear a split-second after Manny Ramirez makes perfect contact with the baseball -- and the tiny white circle gets smaller and smaller against the dark sky. ... What is that roar? It's not clapping, really, and it's not screaming, though it includes both of those things. The roar seems to mimic the arc of the home run, as well as the fans themselves as they rise en masse out of their seats.

I tape the games on the weekend and usually watch them both on Mondays. Two days ago, I rewound and watched Ramirez's Saturday home run against Ted Lilly several times. And what I enjoyed most wasn't the home run -- though Manny's swing is a thing of beauty -- but the synchronization of the action on the field and the roar of more than 35,000 fans. The ball appeared to rise and sail on the strength of that roar.

Andy Dominique made his major league debut last night. He took over at first base in the top half of the 8th inning and here he was, coming to the plate in the bottom half. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and he quickly got ahead 2-0. Then the chant began -- "An-dy! An-dy! An-dy!" -- it was loud! -- and I'd be surprised if it didn't distract him a bit. He took two strikes and then waved at strike three. No matter. ... It was another glorious night at the ball park, three wonderful hours spent in the company of the team we love.

May 25, 2004

Shit. Bill Mueller will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday and will be out at least six weeks. Kevin Youkilis will be the regular third baseman and catcher/first baseman Andy Dominique was recalled from Pawtucket. ... Dirt Dog sums things up nicely.
Babe Ruth Learns To Walk. Dan McLaughlin, aka The Baseball Crank, is reading my book -- uh, excuse me, my "marvelous book" -- "Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox" and he has a few comments on Ruth's development from a part-timer who often hacked at the plate to an everyday player who walked an ungodly amount of times.

He divided Ruth's plate appearances into three sections: 1914-17, when he was a full-time pitcher who also pinch-hit from time to time; 1918, when he first began playing every day; and 1919-20, his first two years as a regular. ... The results?
(1) the rapid rise in Ruth's walk rate is a compelling testimony to how quickly fear of the Babe's power caused pitchers to work around him; and (2) the very quick improvement in both Ruth's BB and K rates shows what a quick study Ruth was. This wasn't a guy who gloried in waiting out the pitcher; Ruth learned to wait. And he learned that lesson in just a few years, while lesser players can take their whole careers to get the point.
Beginning in 1915 -- Ruth's rookie season with the Red Sox -- there were calls by the Boston sportswriters to have the young lefty play the outfield (he often played center field in spring training contests). His prowess as a slugger was immediately apparent to anyone who saw him. However, he did strike out a lot -- and that was one reason why Boston managers Rough Carrigan and Jack Barry did not give him any extra batting time.

From 1914-17, Ruth struck out 68 times in 368 at-bats, an average of one strikeout per 5.3 AB. By contrast, in 1917, Ty Cobb struck out once every 17.3 AB and Tris Speaker's rate was once every 37.4 AB. ... In 1918, despite having 100-175 fewer at-bats than most other regulars, Ruth still led the American League with 58 strikeouts. He also drew 58 walks; the St. Louis Browns walked him intentionally in five straight plate appearances over two days during the summer of 1918.

Ruth's patience also boosted his batting average. In 1923, he batted .393 and he won his only batting title the following season with a .378 mark. He hit over .370 six times and finished his career with a .342 batting average (tied for 8th all-time). ... Because there is absolutely nothing boring when it comes to Babe Ruth, let's look at his seasonal walk and strikeout totals:
Year  Gms   BB    K
1914    5    0    4
1915   42    9   23
1916   67   10   23
1917   52   12   18
1918   95   58   58
1919  130  101   58
1920  142  150   80  
1921  152  145   81
1922  110   84   80
1923  152  170   93
1924  153  142   81
1925   98   59   68
1926  152  144   76
1927  151  137   89
1928  154  137   87
1929  135   72   60
1930  145  136   61
1931  145  128   51
1932  133  130   62
1933  137  114   90
1934  125  104   63
1935   28   20   24
Tot  2503 2062 1330
From 1925 to 1934, Ruth had Lou Gehrig batting behind him, so I'm sure that didn't hurt. .. By the way, how in the hell did Gehrig get 175 RBI in 1927, 174 RBI in 1930 and 184 RBI in 1931 with Ruth hitting in front of him?
Kim: Second Opinion in South Korea. Bothered by back and hip injuries, Byung-Hyun Kim has gone home to South Korea to see a specialist. There is no timetable for his return. A lot of Red Sox fans don't like Kim, but I'm not one of them. However, I hope this situation is not taking a turn for the worst.

I agree with SoSHer Smiling Joe Hesketh's comments: "Kim was lights out in September last year after being lights out in June and July. He had a rough August that was a result of Grady flogging him like a horse; I've said it many times, check out Kim's 2003 game logs from his ESPN page, he was worked extremely hard and in groupings that would have just killed many other pitchers. In August, beginning August 13, Kim pitched in 14 of the next 20 games, just a ludicrous usage pattern. His strong September was a result of Gump actually giving him some time to rest at the beginning of the month ... and then when he was ready to go Gump mecilessly worked him again."

The logs bear this out. Kim pitched in 11 of 14 games from August 20 to September 3. Then he was rested, appearing in only two of Boston's next 11 games. The yo-yo usage returned when he was used in six of seven games. ... His September stats, however, were sterling: 49 batters in 13 innings, 6 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts. ... A list of the mistakes made by Tito's Predecessor would overload the Internet, but his misuse of Kim has to be up near the top.

Nomar Garciaparra held his 5th (and final) Nomar Bowl yesterday at Malden's Town Line Ten Pin. Teammates Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, Mark Bellhorn, Brian Daubach and Kevin Millar, as well as Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were there. Nomar's agent Arn Tellem said he believes Garciaparra will stay with Boston after this season. ... Nomar is expected to work out with his teammates before today's game, taking batting practice and grounders. ... With eight more plate appearances, Millar will trigger a $3.5 million option for 2005. ... Trot Nixon played his first game since April 29 last night, going 2-4 with a double. Nixon slid hard into second base on the double and seemed fine. He fielded no balls in right field. ... Picking on Jeter is fun.

RIP: Doug Pappas, 43, died last Thursday while hiking in Texas's Big Bend National Park. You can check out his excellent work at his "Busines of Baseball" blog and at Baseball Prospectus." More talk of his work is here. ... A review of Rob Bradford's "Chasing Steinbrenner," which details the 2003 struggles of the Red Sox and Blue Jays to toppling the Yankees. Has anyone read this book?

The Red Sox lead the AL with a 3.51 ERA. Oakland is second at 3.68. ... Two A's comment on Derek Lowe's alleged gesture at the end of last October's ALDS. Eric Chavez: "It was classless, but people sometimes do dumb things. I don't know if he regrets it, and I really don't care." Bobby Crosby: "I wasn't playing, but it made me upset ... I'm looking forward to going and stomping on them a little bit." ... San Francisco Chronicle: "As usual, Red Sox believe this year is really the year." ... SoSHer Jose Melendez has been offering his daily "Keys to the Game"; he outdoes himself today.

Tonight: Curt Schilling (5-3, 2.84) vs. Tim Hudson (5-1, 2.90)
Wednesday: Derek Lowe (3-4, 6.02) vs. Mark Redman (3-2, 3.60)
Thursday: Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 4.10) vs. Mark Mulder (5-2, 2.98)

May 24, 2004

Off Tonight; Oakland At Fenway Tomorrow. Tim Wakefield threw only 89 pitches through seven innings last night, but the demands of fatherhood had left him exhausted. "You see my eyes? I've been trying to help out my wife as much as I can. That's part of life. I have a beautiful son at home and a beautiful wife who has blessed me with this child. I labored there for a couple of innings. I'm just a little sleep-deprived right now." (Also here and here)

David Ortiz leads the AL with 18 doubles: "I kind of look like Johnny Damon, but in slow motion." (Also) ... Toronto starter Miguel Batista threw a whopping 94 pitches in three innings. ... Bill Mueller flew to Phoenix to get a second opinion on his sore right knee. Orthopedist David Zeman, who removed bone chips from Mueller's left knee in March 2002, will examine him. Some beat writers think a stint on the disabled list is likely. ... Trot Nixon will play three innings in right field in an extended spring training game today in Fort Myers, then DH for the rest of the game. ... Francona will use today's off day to give the starters an extra day of rest -- Schilling, Lowe and Arroyo against Oakland.
"The Photographs Are Us" Susan Sontag: "If there is something comparable to what these pictures show it would be some of the photographs of black victims of lynching taken between the 1880's and 1930's, which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib." ... A collection of those photographs/postcards can be seen here.

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal: "No matter how exalted the aims of the US in that war, in the final analysis it was a colonial war very similar to the wars conducted by the ex-colonial powers when they went out to conquer the rest of the world."

Flip -- Flop: "Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program ... by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million. ... The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million. ... In April, Secretary Thompson announced that the administration was awarding $3.1 million in grants to improve health care in rural areas of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico and New York. He did not mention that the administration was trying to cut the same rural health program by 72 percent, to $11.1 million next year, from $39.6 million."

Digby on you-know-who: "He's like a Japanese speaking actor playing a role in phonetic English. No matter how passionately he delivers the lines, the inflection and the rhythm are always off because he doesn't understand the language he's speaking."
Notes. Nick Cafardo's Sunday column has a lot on Derek Lowe's woes. "When I'm pitching from the windup, I'm fine. When I'm pitching from the stretch, I'm flying open. ... [The] ball flattens out and there's no sink. In that Tampa game [Wednesday], seven straight hits? I'd still be out there if they hadn't taken me out. ... I'd be scared to death if I knew I was mechanically right and this were happening to me, but I know there's something wrong with my mechanics, and if I find a way to correct it and stop doing it, I'll start pitching better." Lowe faces Oakland tomorrow night. ... Ellis Burks feels he's about two weeks away from being activated. ... Trot Nixon will start playing the outfield tonight in Fort Myers. ... And Francona says Ramiro Mendoza -- who? -- is making "sluggish progress." Whatever.

Also: Manny Ramirez made a personal pitch to Theo Epstein on behalf of Raul Mondesi. ... The Rockies have abandoned their experiment with a four-man rotation after only 15 days. The idea may not work for Colorado right now, but how can a team learn anything in only two weeks? ... For "[Tito's Predecessor] Appreciation Night," the independent league Brockton Rox planned to hand out "bobble-arm dolls" showing the Grinning Jackass signaling for a relief pitcher. However, the idea was scrapped after the Cubs, who currently employ the Moron, spoke out against the idea. ... "[Pedro] Martinez was in much better spirits last week in Florida, as demonstrated by his memorable nude 'rally time' dash through the clubhouse."

May 23, 2004

Various Sunday Things. Jody Reed and Tony Gwynn recall Pedro Martinez's start on June 3, 1995, when he retired the first 27 Padres he faced. ... Pedro altered his pregame routine and threw in the outfield more than a half-hour before his scheduled first pitch. That allowed him to reach 90 miles per hour in the first inning; he hit 92 in the third inning. ... Martinez's seven strikeouts moved him past Don Drysdale into 26th place on the all-time list (2,489).

Anastacio Martinez got credit for the win Friday night, in his major league debut. He retired the Blue Jays in order in the 7th on 9 pitches and was pulled after giving up a leadoff single in the 8th. Pedro: "I know him pretty well, I would say, and I'm very happy for him. This game is actually being televised in the Dominican and I'm pretty sure his family was happy to see him in my game."

Although he's on the 15-day DL, Scott Williamson says he is merely sore. "I could be pitching but just not as effectively as I'm capable. ... What I've got now is what every pitcher gets at some point in the season. ... I couldn't get on top of my fastball and my command was done. I couldn't get the ball down. It's not like guys have been hitting me. When I've given up runs, it's been from walks. That won't be a problem once I get this out." ... Ortiz, on Manny's mammoth, game-tying, two-run homer, that cleared the Monster seats and Lansdowne Street: "Man, I wouldn't be parking my car out there."

Trot Nixon was scheduled to begin playing right field in extended spring training games today. ... Art Davidson: "[Harvard senior] Mike Morgalis was spending a quiet evening in his dorm room Friday night when when he was asked a favor by his roommate. It wasn't to help him with a paper or borrow $10. Morgalis was asked if he was available to pitch the next day to Nomar Garciaparra."
It's Raining Pretzels. George W. Bush "suffered cuts and bruises early Saturday afternoon while mountain biking on his ranch. He was on the 16th mile of a 17-mile ride when he fell [and] suffered minor abrasions and scratches on his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand, and both knees." A White House spokesman: "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose. You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."

According to the Weather Channel website, Crawford, Texas hasn't had a drop of rain for over a week. More lies! ... There are unconfirmed reports that the bike was sent to Gitmo for questioning. ... And believe it or not, Bush said last week that Iraqis are ready to "take the training wheels off" and assume political power. Ha!
That'll Solve That Nasty Torture Problem. "Mobile phones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ... [A] "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

May 22, 2004

Outta Sight. Manny: "When I was in left field, I was thinking I wanted to hit one out because my mom and kids were here at the game. I got all of it." ... Boy did he ever. Micheal Nakamura came out of the pen to start the bottom of the 8th inning. The game was tied 5-5. Nakamura hung a 2-2 breaking ball and Manny crushed it. Looking at the replay, the ball just hung there, suspended in mid-air, belt-high, as if on an invisible tee, for a fraction of a second. Then it was gone. The blast gave the Red Sox the lead and sparked them to abuse four Toronto pitchers for 4 hits and 6 runs.

Bronson Arroyo wasn't sharp, but he kept the Sox in the game. After Josh Phelps opened the fourth inning with a solo home run, tying the game at 4-4, and Eric Hinske doubled, Arroyo retired the next three hitters, preventing further damage. Arroyo threw 96 pitches through six innings and I had no problem with him coming out for the 7th, facing the Blue Jays' 8-9-1 hitters. However, when he surreneed an 0-1 homer to the first batter, Simon Pond, it was time to make a move -- and Tito did. Mike Timlin retired the six batters he faced (on only 19 pitches) and Lenny "Everyday" DiNardo pitched a perfect 9th.

Tizzle: "I'm happy with the contract I have now and I'm even happier knowing I'm going to stick around these guys. This is a beautiful ballclub we have here. This is a good situation when you are still young and when you get the chance to play for ... a team that has the chance to win the World Series. ... I was getting advice from [Pedro], and he told me the best move you can ever make is to stick around this ballclub. He loves the attitude of the people here and he said, 'I recommend you stick around this ballclub.'" (Also here and here)

Damon on the tutoring and early literacy programs at the Boston Public Library: "I had a stuttering problem when I was young. I wasn't a great reader until I got past the third grade. The library system is great to go to get that kind of help. The library system is very dear to me." ... Kevin Youkilis experienced his first game at Fenway Park.

Scott Williamson was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Wednesday) with right elbow inflammation; an MRI showed no serious injury. Francona: "[T]wo weeks of inactivity is better than being gone for two months. We're confident that the 15 days is all it will take." ... An MRI on Bill Mueller's right knee showed mild patellar tendinitis, but he'll keep playing. ... Nomar Garciaparra will take batting practice and do some running for the next three days. After that, he'll face more live pitching.

Pedro/Ted Lilly at 7:05 pm.
Bush Lied About 9/11 Commission Meeting. On April 30, George W. Bush insisted he "answered every question" posed to him by the 9/11 Commission, adding that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales -- who was in attendance -- never advised him not to answer a question. It looks like Bush has been caught in yet another lie.

The Hill reports: "The Bush administration has refused to answer repeated requests from the Sept. 11 commission about who authorized flights of Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family, from the United States immediately after the attacks of 2001." Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton recently told a group of Democratic senators that "We don't know who authorized it. We've asked that question 50 times."

This matter could be cleared up immediately by checking the transcript of the Bush/Cheney session, except the White House insisted -- and the Commission agreed -- that no recording or transcript would be made.

May 21, 2004

Damon Shaves; Ortiz Signs; Williamson Disabled. A Jumbotron provides a view of this afternoon's beard-off at the Prudential Center. Johnny Damon says he began shaving at age six.

David Ortiz signed a $12.5 million, two-year contract extension this afternoon. Ortiz is making $4,587,500 this season. The extension will pay him $5.25 million next season and $6.5 million in 2006. There is a team option for $7.75 million in 2007 or a $750,000 buyout. ... Scott Williamson was put on the disabled list and Anastacio Martinez was called up from Pawtucket.
Tampa Bay 9, Boston 6. Derek Lowe fell apart in the 3rd inning, allowing seven straight hits -- and seven runs -- before being sent to the showers. As BDD says, the price goes down every day -- although at this rate, there won't even be an offer.

Tampa Bay's Victor Zambrano was worse, throwing 133 pitches in 4.2 innings, walking nine (a new Devil Rays record) and striking out eight. ... The Red Sox's first inning unfolded like this: BB, K, BB, K, BB, K. ... Boston did not hit a fair ball until Kevin Millar doubled (to the opposite field!) on Zambrano's 36th pitch. It took 14 batters (and 78 pitches) before the Red Sox hit 3 fair balls.

Staked to a 7-0 lead after three innings, Zambrano nearly threw it all away. In the fourth inning, he threw a whopping 45 pitches, walking four (2 with the bases loaded) and hitting a batter. He allowed three runs in that inning and three more in the fifth. That closed the gap to 7-6, but Boston managed only one single over the final 4.1 innings. And so Tampa Bay matched its longest winning streak of the season (one game). Box.

The Yankees won last night and lead the Red Sox by a half-game. Bronson Arroyo -- the anti-Lowe -- will right the ship tonight.
The Hurt Parade. Scott Williamson underwent an MRI on his right elbow on Thursday. He had received a cortisone shot earlier this month to deal with lingering tendinitis, but it flared up again Tuesday night. The club maintains the MRI is simply precautionary and hopes Williamson can return as early as tonight.

Bill Mueller was also sent back to Boston for tests on his right knee. He was examined by team physician Bill Morgan today and the Red Sox should know by tonight if a DL stint is necessary. ... Byung-Hyun Kim experienced minor back pain while pitching on Tuesday. Sean McAdam reports that the Sox are not as eager to get rid of Kim as some reports have indicated. Of course, trying to swing a decent deal now would be impossible; Kim's value is as low as it's ever been. McAdam quotes one scout as saying Kim "looked like he had the arm of a 40 year old."

Foulke Festival: In 19 appearances covering 22.1 innings, Keith Foulke has allowed only one run (April 17, Yankees, Boston was ahead 5-1 at the time); his ERA is 0.40. In his last 12 outings covering 13 innings, Foulke has walked two and struck out 15. Opponents are 3-42 against him (.071). ... Gordon Edes chats about Beltran, Williamson and Internet Sox sites. ... Art Martone on "Still, We Believe" (also here and here).

Johnny Damon shaved his beard this afternoon, but says it will return -- "quicker than you know. ... It's going to take about two weeks, but I'm going to keep it neater this time." ... Damon also clarified his comment that the team missed Nixon more than Garciaparra. "What I meant is that the guys were filling in better for Nomar than the guys filling in for Trot. With Trot out, I have a different outfield around me every day."

Starters for the Blue Jays series:
Friday: Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.53 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (4-4, 3.69)
Saturday: Pedro Martinez (4-3, 3.75) vs. Ted Lilly (2-2, 5.24)
Sunday: Tim Wakefield (3-2, 3.31) vs. Miguel Batista (2-3, 5.01)
The Sham Continues. Two members of the 9/11 Commission, including the Chairman, admit their questioning of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may have been too hagiographic. Jamie Gorelick was "disappointed in us in a way that I haven't been in the past ... We should have recognized the importance of asking the four or five critical factual questions, not wasting a lot of time in complementing the mayor." The New York Times noted the "conspicuously gentle questioning" of Giuliani: "Every question from the panel was framed with praise and expressions of gratitude. ... The commission opted not to confront Mr. Giuliani directly with its critical findings." The Times thought the Commission may have "retreat[ed] in the face of the Giuliani legend." ... Also: James Ridgeway of the Village Voice has written some excellent articles on the 9/11 investigation and timeline.
Release It All. More details: detainees being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers, sodomized with broomsticks, forced to retrieve their meals from toilets; an Army translator raping an Iraqi boy while a female soldier takes pictures; many videos, including one of a naked detainee smeared with shit. ... There are also claims that US guards have raped women detainees at several prisons, impregnating many of them. ... The wedding massacre: "American soldiers started to shoot us. They were shooting low on the ground and targeting us one by one."

NYT: "A series of Justice Department memorandums written in late 2001 and the first few months of 2002 were crucial in building a legal framework for United States officials to avoid complying with international laws and treaties on handling prisoners ... [The memos] provided arguments to keep United States officials from being charged with war crimes ... They were endorsed by top lawyers in the White House, the Pentagon and the vice president's office ..."

All of the pictures and videos must be released. Every last one of them. I will decide how much I want to see. This was done in my name. I've paid for this with my taxes. Let me see what I got for my money.

May 20, 2004

Wow! A Democrat Shows Some Spine! From the Department of the Fucking Obvious. Hey, Kerry, are you taking notes? ... House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: "Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he's not a leader. He's a person who has no judgment, no experience and no knowledge of the subjects that he has to decide upon. ... He has on his shoulders the deaths of many more troops, because he would not heed the advice of his own State Department ... Not to get personal about it, but the president's capacity to lead has never been there. In order to lead, you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none. ... He's gone. He's so gone."
Torture Update. The Pentagon can't keep its stories straight. ... UPI: "Efforts at the top level of the Bush administration ... to contain the Iraq prison torture scandal and limit the blame to a handful of enlisted soldiers and immediate senior officers have already failed." ... Another disc of pictures has surfaced; two new photos from Abu Ghraib have been released.

"[A] new war crime investigation will have to be initiated soon: allegations on the slaughter of Iraqi civilians during the siege of Falluja." ... Videotapes of guards beating prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are being provided to senate investigators. ... There are calls for a congressional probe into whether the Justice Department lied to the Supreme Court last month when it stated the US does not engage in torture.

Sgt. Samuel Provance claims intelligence officers were calling the shots at Abu Ghraib: "There's definitely a cover-up." ... Denver Post: "Pentagon records provide the clearest view yet of the US tactics used at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere to coax secrets from Iraqis." There are also multiple reports of soldiers abusing women and children.

US helicopter gunships and ground troops attacked what Iraqis said was a wedding celebration. Approxmiately 40 people were killed, "mainly women and children below the age of 12" according to the director of a nearby hospital. News footage showed a truck containing bloodied bodies, many wrapped in blankets, piled one atop the other. Several were those of children; one was decapitated."

Finally: The US has circulated a draft Security Council resolution to give US peacekeeping troops another one year exemption from prosecution by the world court at The Hague.

May 19, 2004

Wakefield's Whirlwind. "I wanted to win for my new son. Being a new father, I'm pretty excited about that. It's been a whirlwind. I'm still on cloud nine." The game ball was in his locker, next to a picture of days-old Trevor Stephen Wakefield. ... The victory was Wakefield's 105th with the Sox, tying him with Pedro Martinez and Lefty Grove for 8th place on the team's all-time list. He also pitched his 1,707th inning, tying Bob Stanley for 5th in team history.

Wakefield told catcher Doug Mirabelli that because of his hectic schedule the past few days he'd probably be relying on him more than usual in the early innings. Carl Crawford began the first inning with an infield single that Mark Bellhorn should have charged quickly. Bellhorn did hustle on a similar play in the 3rd and threw the speedy Crawford out. After the hit, Wakefield retired the next 13 Devil Rays (Crawford did come around to score (stolen base, fly to right, grounder to first)). Wakefield allowed singles to Brook Fordyce and Crawford to start the 6th, but pitched out of that jam with little trouble. ... Scott Williamson and Mike Timlin both looked a bit rusty, each allowing a run in their one inning of work.

Edes, Globe: "Sources inside and outside the club said yesterday that the Sox are actively shopping [Byung Hyun Kim], with one major league scout insisting that, depending on the deal, the Sox would be willing to eat part of Kim's two-year, $10 million contract. ... The Sox, according to one club source, are hopeful that Kim continues to improve, not to earn a return trip to Boston, but so the Sox can persuade somebody else to take him off their hands. ... One major league source with National League ties said the Diamondbacks reached a similar point last May, when they traded Kim to the Red Sox for Shea Hillenbrand. The Diamondbacks, the source said, also struggled with what they perceived to be Kim's immaturity, and his refusal to take advice, from the coaching staff or teammates, especially as it pertained to his workout routine."

Hohler, Globe: "More than eight weeks after they placed Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon on the 15-day disabled list, the Red Sox last night remained uncertain when either player will join the team. ... The length of the absences has stunned everyone involved because the injuries initially were considered relatively minor." ... The Pawtucket Times reported Garciaparra might begin his rehab this weekend in Rhode Island, but the team said he would be working out that day at Fenway. ... Trot Nixon played in an extended spring training game Monday and was pleased with how he felt afterwards. MLB says he's close to returning. It sounds like he'll be back before Nomar. ... On Monday, Ellis Burks took batting practice for the fourth straight day.

Michael Silverman of the Herald looks at Garciaparra, Varitek and Lowe and the free agent market (anonymous quotes from scouts and agents). ... Two pieces on Boston's sub-par fielding. ... Schilling and Martinez watch Johnson's perfect game. ... More on the Red Sox travel troubles. ... Thomas Boswell: "The Weird, Wacky World Of Baseball Injuries" ... San Francisco's Jason Schmidt threw 144 pitches in a complete game, one-hit, 1-0 victory over the Cubs. ... The Yankees managed only one hit after the 3rd inning and lost 1-0, in 11 innings, to the Angels. The Red Sox are back in first place.

May 18, 2004

Father Knows Best. Tim Wakefield allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings and the Red Sox scored five runs before making an out in the 7th inning and beat Tampa Bay 7-3. Manny Ramirez doubled twice, singled and walked; Bill Mueller went 3-4; Pokey Reese singled twice; and Mark Bellhorn belted a 3-run HR (one pitch after missing a home run that sailed foul past the right field pole). The Yankees are playing the Angels in Anaheim.
Randy Johnson Pitches Perfect Game. Box and recap. Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game. He's 40; Cy Young was 37 when he did it in 1904. Johnson is the 6th pitcher to throw a no-hitter in both leagues; he no-hit the Tigers while with Seattle on June 2, 1990. He also threw the first no-hitter in Seattle history and now he's thrown the first one for Arizona.

Johnson went to three balls on only one hitter -- Johnny Estrada in the second inning. Estrada fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches before going down swinging, one of 13 Atlanta strikeouts. ... It was the 17th perfect game and the 7th in the National League.

1st: Jesse Garcia (c) bunt grounded out first unassisted. Julio Franco (cc) struck out swinging. Chipper Jones (ssbb) struck out swinging.

2nd: Andruw Jones (sb) flied out to center. Johnny Estrada (bfsbffbfff) struck out swinging. JD Drew (sf) struck out swinging.

3rd: Mark DeRosa (b) flied out to right. Nick Green (cbcffffb) grounded out shortstop to first. Mike Hampton (cbcb) struck out swinging.

4th: Garcia (cf) struck out swinging. Franco (fs) flied out to center. CJones (bsc) struck out looking.

5th: AJones lined out to left. Estrada (fsfbff) flied out to right. Drew (bc) flied out to right.

6th: DeRosa (bc) grounded out third to first. Green (bfbsf) struck out swinging. Hampton (cbs) grounded out shortstop to first.

7th: Garcia (bff) struck out swinging. Franco (bsbf) grounded out second to first. CJones (bfsb) struck out swinging.

8th: AJones (fsb) flied out to center. Estrada (ffb) struck out swinging. Drew (sbf) grounded out second to first.

9th: DeRosa (bsf) grounded out second to first. Green (csbf) struck out looking. Eddie Perez hit for Hampton. Perez (sbfb) struck out swinging.
A Modern Crusade. "It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. ... [W]e're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios." Read.

Reminds me of what Bush said when Bob Woodward asked him how he thought history would judge the Iraq war? Bush: "We won't know. We'll all be dead."

May 17, 2004

Waiting and Pedro. Michael Silverman offers some anonymous quotes about waiting until the end of the season to decide whether to resign Martinez:

NL scout: "I wouldn't sign him until the season is almost over. Make him earn every cent. ... I think he's hurt and I have concerns about him. I'd look at that other crop of free agents and see who I could bring in."

AL scout: "He's not going to blow you away anymore and his secondary stuff is not as sharp anymore. He used to be the guy you'd build a club around -- he's not that guy anymore."

MLB executive not employed by the Red Sox: "I have real doubts about his arm but I have no doubts about the quality of his pitches. He still may be the best pitcher in baseball, it's just determining how much he's worth. ... [L]et's say it's $35, $40 or $45 million for three years and you get only 350 or 400 innings in that time -- you have to win the World Series with him to justify that. ... I've got no sense of the market with him. Everyone is assuming that the Yankees will be in on him because Steinbrenner is supposedly getting loopier than ever and if the Yankees don't win it this year, he wants one more championship before he dies and you know he likes signing ex-Red Sox."

The Boston media has been talking about Pedro being string in his last 3 starts (21 IP, 7 ER) so I looked at his game log:
Date Opp Score Dec  IP   H  R ER HR BB  K   W  L  IP    ERA  BAA

0404 BAL L 2-7 L 6.0 7 3 2 1 1 5 0 1 6.0 3.00 .269
0410 TOR W 4-1 W 7.2 4 1 1 1 2 7 1 1 13.2 1.98 .204
0415 BAL L 7-12 - 5.0 8 7 7 2 4 3 1 1 18.2 4.82 .250
0420 TOR W 4-2 W 7.0 5 2 1 0 2 6 2 1 25.2 3.86 .233
0425 NYY W 2-0 W 7.0 4 0 0 0 1 7 3 1 32.2 3.03 .219
0501 TEX L 5-8 L 4.0 9 6 6 1 1 3 3 2 36.2 4.17 .250
0506 CLE W 5-2 W 7.0 4 2 2 1 3 8 4 2 43.2 3.92 .238
0511 CLE W 5-3 - 7.0 5 2 2 0 2 11 4 2 50.2 3.73 .232
0516 TOR L 1-3 L 7.0 6 3 3 1 1 6 4 3 57.2 3.75 .231
Total 57.2 52 26 24 7 17 56
Martinez has had only two truly bad outings: April 15 and May 1. In every other start -- 7 out of 9 -- Pedro allowed 3 or fewer runs -- which should be good enough to give the Red Sox a shot at victory. However, run support for Pedro has been puny -- less than 4 runs per 9 innings. Martinez and the Red Sox have had the misfortune of going up against a very solid pitcher nearly every time out. In 8 of Martinez's 9 starts, Boston's batted against Halladay 3 times, Ponson and Sabathia twice, and Vazquez once.
Baghdad Burning. From an Iraqi woman's blog (May 7 entry): "People are seething with anger - the pictures of Abu Ghraib and the Brits in Basrah are everywhere. ... American and British politicians have the audacity to come on television with words like, 'True the people in Abu Ghraib are criminals, but ...' Everyone here in Iraq knows that there are thousands of innocent people detained. Some were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, while others were detained 'under suspicion'. In the New Iraq, it's 'guilty until proven innocent by some miracle of God'. ...

"I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid pictures. You've seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and children ... curse, scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with a boot over their head. You've seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You've seen them bomb cities and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using tanks and helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very shocking or appalling? ...

"I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can -- while it still looks like you have a choice. Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances -- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go."

Also: The truly insane Zell Miller compares prison abuse to showering after gym class (also here and here). ... An Ohio manufacturing plant that George W. Bush used last year as a backdrop to show how his economic polciies were working has shut down. ... Condoleezza Rice "has made a hobby of receiving memos/reports with dire information, and then doing absolutely nothing about them." ... The 9/11 Commission will be holding public hearings in New York City tomorrow and Wednesday.
Cesar Crespo. He has not walked in 59 plate appearances this season. I've always thought that an OBP below .300 is not acceptable for a major league player; Crespo's OBP is .196. ... I wondered how many 3-ball counts Crespo has seen. Checking his splits at ESPN, I counted only 58 PA -- and I found only one 3-ball count. ... I looked at my scorecards to double-check. I counted 60 PA, so while the totals do not match exactly, they give you a pretty good idea of how bad Crespo is. What follows is the number of times he put the ball into play (or struck out) on which counts:
     ESPN   Me

0-0 7 7
0-1 4 4
0-2 10 10
1-1 6 6
1-2 9 10
1-0 6 6
2-0 3 3
3-0 0 0
2-1 5 5
2-2 7 7
3-1 0 1
3-2 1 1
58 60
I found two 3-ball counts: a full count on April 11 and a 3-1 count on May 16. As we see, Crespo is usually hacking at the first pitch he sees or he's quickly in an 0-2 or 1-2 hole. ... Of course, Crespo isn't in Boston to hit. He plays a variety of positions -- and that is what he has done. But he has been shaky in the field as well, his dropped pop-up in the first inning on Saturday, being the latest example. ... Can't the Red Sox find a utility infielder who can muster a .200 on-base percentage?
"I Killed Innocent People For Our Government." An eye-opening Q&A with Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, a 12-year veteran. He was involved in the initial Iraq invasion and was honorably discharged last December 31. He's now back in his hometown of Waynsville, NC, where he spoke with Paul Rockwell of the Sacramento Bee:

Q: What experiences turned you against the war and made you leave the Marines?

A: I was in charge of a platoon that consists of machine gunners and missile men. Our job was to go into certain areas of the towns and secure the roadways. There was this one particular incident - and there's many more - the one that really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians. From all the intelligence reports we were getting, the cars were loaded down with suicide bombs or material. That's the rhetoric we received from intelligence. ... Every car that we lit up we were expecting ammunition to go off. But we never heard any. Well, this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman looked up at me and said: "Why did you kill my brother? We didn't do anything wrong." That hit me like a ton of bricks. ...

Q: The reports said the cars were loaded with explosives. In all the incidents did you find that to be the case?

A: Never. Not once. There were no secondary explosions. As a matter of fact, we lit up a rally after we heard a stray gunshot. On the outskirts of Baghdad. Near a military compound. There were demonstrators at the end of the street. They were young [6-10 kids] and they had no weapons. ... The order to shoot the demonstrators, I believe, came from senior government officials, including intelligence communities within the military and the U.S. government. ... M-16s, 50-cal. machine guns. ...

I am so glad I am talking with you, because I suppressed all of this. ... It's kind of therapy for me. Because it's something that I had repressed for a long time. ... It's starting to leak out about the civilian casualties that are taking place. The Iraqis know. I keep hearing reports from my Marine buddies inside that there were 200-something civilians killed in Fallujah. The military is scrambling right now to keep the raps on that. My understanding is Fallujah is just littered with civilian bodies. ...

Q: I would like to go back to the first incident, when the survivor asked why did you kill his brother. Was that the incident that pushed you over the edge, as you put it?

A: Oh, yeah. Later on I found out that was a typical day. I talked with my commanding officer after the incident. He came up to me and says: "Are you OK?" I said: "No, today is not a good day. We killed a bunch of civilians." He goes: "No, today was a good day." And when he said that, I said "Oh, my goodness, what the hell am I into?"

Q: Your feelings changed during the invasion. What was your state of mind before the invasion?

A: I was like every other troop. My president told me they got weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam threatened the free world, that he had all this might and could reach us anywhere. I just bought into the whole thing.

Q: What changed you?

A: The civilian casualties taking place. That was what made the difference. That was when I changed. ... I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it.

Q: What happened with your commanding officers? How did you deal with them?

A: There was an incident. It was right after the fall of Baghdad, when we went back down south. On the outskirts of Karbala, we had a morning meeting on the battle plan. I was not in a good mindset. All these things were going through my head - about what we were doing over there. About some of the things my troops were asking. I was holding it all inside. My lieutenant and I got into a conversation. The conversation was striking me wrong. And I lashed out. I looked at him and told him: "You know, I honestly feel that what we're doing is wrong over here. We're committing genocide." ... And I knew right then and there that my career was over. I was talking to my commanding officer. ... I've had an impeccable career. I chose to get out. And you know who I blame? I blame the president of the US. It's not the grunt. I blame the president because he said they had weapons of mass destruction. It was a lie.
And On The 21st Day, He Rested. Johnny Damon is "looking forward to getting home and jumping on my boat and fishing." ... Boat? You mean he doesn't just walk out onto the lake? (I have to get in my Son of God references before "Jesus Shaves" on the 21st.)

His teammates will similarly enjoy their first day without a game in nearly three weeks. Boston's last off-day was April 26 and since then -- "riddled with injuries and fatigue" -- they have gone 10-10 against Tampa Bay, Texas, Cleveland, Kansas City and Toronto. Kevin Millar: "This has been the worst travel I've ever seen. We've gotten into three cities at 4 in the morning or later." (Looks like Herald can't wait to panic.)

Damon suggests the team misses Trot Nixon more than Nomar Garciaparra: "We have a spot for Trot right away, but we're going to have to finagle the lineup a little bit to get Nomar back in there because Pokey and Bellhorn have done a great job. But I think we mostly miss Trot." I can't say I agree with this. It should be pretty easy to mix-and-match Reese and Bellhorn at 2B. ... Speaking of the disabled duo, Nomar played in another simulated game at Fenway yesterday and will be reevaluated today. Nixon is scheduled to DH in an extended spring training game today."

Bill Mueller will likely be back at 3B tomorrow night, but if the Red Sox continue to keep 14 position players (yes please!), which seems likely, Kevin Youkilis may stick around. ... He and fellow rookie Lenny DiNardo had to wear Hooters outfits through customs and the flight to Tampa. ... Cesar Crespo has not walked this year (56 plate appearances). ... Boston obtained outfielder Henri Stanley from the Padres for cash and assigned him to Pawtucket. Theo: "He's a guy we've had our eye on for a while. He's not off to a great start this year, but sometimes that's the time to get a player."

In Tampa Bay:

Tuesday: Tim Wakefield/Mark Hendrickson
Wednesday: Curt Schilling/Rob Bell
Thursday: Derek Lowe/Victor Zambrano

May 16, 2004

Text of 1791 Pittsfield Ordinance. Posted by John Thorn to SABR-L:

"#10 - Bylaw to prevent damage to new meeting house windows: no ball games within eighty yards of the building. At a legal Meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town of Pittsfield qualified to vote in Town Meetings, holden on Monday the fifth day of Sept 1791 __

"Voted, The following ByeLaw, for the Preservation of the Windows in the New Meeting House in said Town __ viz,

"Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town, shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Batball, Football, Cats, Fives or any other games played with Ball, within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House - And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid, shall for every Instance thereof, forfeit the Sum of five shillings to be recovered by Action of Debt brought before any Justice of the Peace to the Person who shall and prosecute therefor -

"And be it further ordained that in every Instance where any Minor shall be guilty of a Breach of this Law, his Parent, Master, Mistress or guardian shall forfeit the like Sum to be recovered in manner, and to the use aforesaid -"

(See also this.)

Also: From Baseline magazine: "Boston Red Sox: Backstop Your Business -- Keeping track of stats in the numbers-obsessed world of baseball is nothing new. But Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein has amassed a collection of personnel data other teams -- and corporate business managers -— can only dream about."
I Heart Bronson. Let me count the ways. He threw eight scoreless innings in Toronto on Saturday. He allowed only three hits and no walks and he tied a career high with six strikeouts. ... As Jerry Remy pointed out on NESN, Arroyo was aggressive on the mound, working quickly and going right after each batter. He did not nibble: 70 of his 100 pitches were strikes. He threw more than one ball to a batter only seven times and he fell behind a batter 2-0 only once -- Frank Catalanotto in the 1st inning.

Chris Gomez tripled to begin the bottom of the third. Arroyo struck out Orlando Hudson and then got Catalanotto on a liner to shortstop and Vernon Wells on a fly to right. ... In the 4th, Carlos Delgado was hit by a pitch and, after Josh Phelps flew out to right, took third on Eric Hinske's single. Arroyo buckled down and got Simon Pond to ground into a first-pitch double play. Inning over. Arroyo then retired the next 12 hitters. ... He was unperturbed by the scoring threats and focused solely on the man at the plate. In that regard, he was the anti-Lowe.

The afternoon's other big story was the major league debut of Kevin Youkilis. He homered to deep left in his 2nd at-bat. He got the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout, so he simply high-fived some imaginary teammates before sitting down on the bench. Then he was mobbed. Youkilis got the home run ball (thanks to Pedro Martinez providing a couple of autographed baseballs to the woman who caught it) and gave it to his parents, who were sitting two rows behind the Sox dugout.

Yook is the 7th Red Sox player to hit a homer in his first big league game, following Lefty Lefebvre (June 10, 1938), Ben Steiner (April 17, 1945), Eddie Pellagrini (April 22, 1946), Merl Combs (Sept. 12, 1947), Danny Sheaffer (April 9, 1987) and Sam Horn (July 25, 1987).

Doug Mirabelli on the day's events: "If you were looking for a negative, you couldn't find one ..." Capping the afternoon was Seattle's 13-7 victory in 13 inings in the Bronx. New York had several golden chances to win the game -- bases loaded, one out, and Jeter, Rodriguez and Giambi up in the bottom of the 9th and men on second and third with Matsui and Sierra up in the 12th -- but could not "find a way to win." ... Boston is back in first place.

Stuff: "Being Nomar" (a long feature in the Globe's maagzine). ... Tim and Stacy Wakefield became parents for the first time yesterday with the 2:20 pm birth of their son. ... The Herald's Karen Guregian chatted with Manny Ramirez in the center field grass. ... Bill Mueller will be out until at least Tuesday with inflammation in his right knee. ... Gordon Edes with some background on Lenny DiNardo, including his major league debut at Yankee Stadium. "It was really fun, something I'm going to tell my grandkids about. To be in the bullpen and hear them yell, 'DiNardo, you suck.' That's something I'm going to cherish. If you don't hear that, there's something wrong."

Pedro and Halladay at 1:05 pm.

May 15, 2004

The Greek God Of Walks. Kevin Youkilis (one of the heroes of Moneyball) was called up from Pawtucket. He will wear #20 and start at third base in his major league debut this afternoon. ... Man, that's a piss-poor lineup:

Damon cf
Bellhorn 2b
Ortiz 1b
Ramirez dh
Millar rf
McCarty lf
Mirabelli c
Youkilis 3b
Crespo ss

Remember when Jimy (or was it Tito's Predecessor; it's all become a blur) would bench Nomar and Manny in the same game rather than one of them one night and the other one the following game? ... I'm curious why Francona is sitting Varitek, Daubach and Pokey today.
Is Nomar's Injury More Serious Than Previously Announced? Boston Dirt Dogs reported yesterday that it had "learned through sources with direct, daily contact with Nomar Garciaparra and Victor Garciaparra, Nomar's uncle and private business manager, that the shortstop actually tore the sheath surrounding his achilles tendon," a much more serious injury than what has been reported by the Red Sox. BDD added that Nomar "will be back with the team the first week of June and will start rehabbing with the PawSox at the end of next week."

Theo Epstein quickly disputed the report. "As far as we know, the report is untrue. ... Nomar had some fluid buildup in the sheath due to tendinitis, but it was not torn." ... More Theo: "It's not an accurate report. The injury was as diagnosed. Early on, there was a fluid buildup in the area of the sheath but, no, there was no tear and there is no tear." ... While BDD stands by its report, the Globe quotes Victor Garciaparra as saying "There's no tear."

Epstein also said there was no truth to a Seattle report that Boston has discussed a three-way trade with the Mariners and Royals that would bring Carlos Beltran to Boston in exchange for Johnny Damon and Byung-Hyun Kim. Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi: "I don't know anything about it."

David Heuschkel asks a reasonable question: "Lenny DiNardo and Mark Malaska are the 11th and 12th pitchers on a 12-man staff. So why is manager Terry Francona using them in crucial situations when he has four quality relievers?" Heuschkel quotes Francona as saying (a) he had to go to the bullpen "early" and (b) "I just wanted to get to the top of the order" before bringing in Embree. DiNardo faced the 6-7-8-9 hitters before being pulled, so Francona clearly expected DiNardo to pitch the entire 6th inning.

Tito apparently learned from his mistake, because last night, with the game tied 3-3 and the bases loaded with Blue Jays in the 6th inning, Francona called on Embree, who needed only 4 pitches to snuff out the Toronto rally. ... "That saved the game for us right there," Francona said. Exactly! If Francona had applied that same logic back on May 9 (Royals) and May 13 (Toronto), Boston might be 23-13 rather than 21-15.

Elsewhere: Garciaparra is scheduled to play in simulated games this weekend. ... Ellis Burks took BP for the first time on Friday. ... Bill Mueller was scratched from Friday's lineup with inflammation in his right knee and will likely miss both games this weekend. ... Kim made his first Pawtucket start last night and allowed three runs and three hits in two innings. He struck out one, walked two and threw 46 pitches. (More game info and box score here.)

Good news: The Yankees will not be trading for Jose Vidro. He agreed to a 4-year, $30 million contract extension with the Expos on Friday. ... New York Post: The Red Sox are talking to Aaron Boone, who expects to be playing ball in August.

Bronson Arroyo returns to the rotation this afternoon. However, he has been battling the flu all week. "[I]f I feel healthy, I would think 100 [pitches] would be fine. But I don't know how I'm going to feel after I go out there and throw." ... He faces Pat Hentgen at 1:05 pm.

May 14, 2004

A Long At-Bat. In the 7th inning on Wednesday night, with Jason Grabowski on base, Alex Cora batted against Matt Clement:

Pitch 1 - Ball
Pitch 2 - Called Strike
Pitch 3 - Ball
Pitch 4 - Foul
Pitch 5 - Foul
Pitch 6 - Foul
Pitch 7 - Foul
Pitch 8 - Foul
Pitch 9 - Foul
Pitch 10 - Foul
Pitch 11 - Foul
Pitch 12 - Foul
Pitch 13 - Foul
Pitch 14 - Foul
Pitch 15 - Foul
Pitch 16 - Foul
Pitch 17 - Foul
Pitch 18 - Cora hits 2-run home run to right field.

Story and box.
18-Inning Circus. I worked some overtime this week, so I taped Wednesday's and Thursday's games. I watched them both this afternoon. Ugh.

The starters can't finish the first inning without giving up at least one run, the opposition is getting a lot of hits on supposed pitcher's counts, balls are falling between fielders in both fair and foul territory, errors are being committed on pick-off throws and line drives right at the outfielders, some of the hitters aren't running hard out of the box, situational hitting and working the count has seemingly gone out the window. Their travel schedule has been brutal. Is anything going right for the Red Sox these days?

And Francona's use of the bullpen has me worried. Last night, Toronto led 3-2 going into the bottom of the 6th. Curt Schilling was out of the game. Who was entrusted with keeping the game close? Lenny DiNardo. ... On NESN, Jerry Remy didn't criticize the move, but he did remark: "We've seen a great deal of Lenny DiNardo." Indeed -- the young lefty was also the first man out of the pen the previous night.

The 6th inning of a 3-2 game is not too early to go to the top arms in the pen. That means Timlin, Williamson, Embree, Arroyo and/or Foulke. ... DiNardo is either your last or next-to-last choice. He allowed a double, a groundout, a single and then committed a throwing error. All three of his baserunners later scored. Toronto scored five times in the inning and went on to win 12-6. Even if DiNardo had pitched a 1-2-3 inning, there is no justification for bring him in at that point.

And why is Francona using Scott Williamson like he's the dregs of the pen? He threw the 8th inning on Wednesday with Cleveland up 6-2; on Thursday, he faced three batters in the 7th with the Red Sox behind 8-6. ... Tonight? We have a ground ball pitcher working on turf. I fear we will see the Derek Lowe Face very early this evening.

Also: City officials in Pittsfield, Mass. have released a document they say shows baseball was being played in that town in the late 1700s. The evidence is a 1791 by-law to protect the windows in the town's new meeting house by banning anyone from playing ball within 80 yards of the building. "It's clear that not only was baseball played here in 1791, but it was rampant," said historian John Thorn. "It was rampant enough to have an ordinance against it." Before this, the earliest documentation was 1823.