Saturday, April 03, 2004

Googled. The Sox are going to offer roster spots to non-roster invitees Brian Daubach and David McCarty who we know. They are also offering roster spots to Cesar Crespo and Bobby Jones, with whom we're less familiar. So let's do what anyone does before a blind date these days...google them.

Googling "Cesar Crespo" returns lots of information on Crespo the ballplayer. His espn.com player card, baseball-reference.com and CBS.SportsLine.com profiles. Scroll through the less relevant searches and you determine that Crespo is a ballplayer (or at least has a ballplayer's name). Results from the Grapefruit league scoreboard, articles from minor league programs, references to him on baseball blogs. I couldn't find much else about Crespo.

Googling "Bobby Jones" is another story entirely. Besides, at first I'm not even sure which Bobby Jones is going to be wearing a Sox uniform this year. Is it Bobby J. Jones who last pitched for San Diego in 2002? Or Bobby M. Jones who last pitched...for San Diego in 2002? The first two google results are similarly confusing:

Bobby Jones Gospel. The official website of the artist and his Bobby Jones Gospel television and radio show.

Bobby Jones, golfer. Bobby Jones (1902 - 1971). Born Atlanta, Georgia, Jones is remembered as the epitome of golfing talent.

Okay, with a little fact checking I figure out that we're talking about Bobby M. Jones, but then the next response is Bobby J. Jones, who, the bio tells me, is older and taller than Bobby M. Jones.

So I google Bobby M. Jones and halfway through the search results get the information I want. One quote on what to expect from our newest dirtdog, Bobby M. Jones. Royals assistant general manager for player personnel Muzzy Jackson said of Jones last summer, "his command is a little erratic. But he's a guy who, if he gets on a roll, could help us."

Opening Day is tomorrow. Hope springs eternal.


Wednesday, March 31, 2004

You must take the MARC train. To Baltimore, that is, for the Sox opening series if you live in DC like me. Unless you want to pay a fortune at the pump. Have you noticed?

If someone lurking out there can explain OPEC, energy policy in general, and how the price of crude oil isn't actually a function of supply and demand, please post a comment. Every so often, this becomes a hot topic and I'm terribly confused. And they say energy policy will be a hot topic in the election.

By the way, anyone see the new Bush ad attacking Kerry on his gas tax position? It begins:

"Some people have wacky ideas.
Like taxing gasoline more so people drive less."

Okay. Raising the tax on gasoline will encourage people to drive less. That's not a wacky idea at all. Whether or not it's a good idea is debatable. Is it too much to ask that Bush starts debating ideas instead of telling us how to think?

A film about us. A documentary on the 2003 season from the makers of Spellbound? Read about it here. Damn, this will be harder to watch than The Passion. And we can vote on a name for the film here.

Monday, March 29, 2004

October 16, 2003. As the season begins at 5 am tomorrow morning, let me start by saying this: one of the greatest things about growing up in New England is that you're baptized in the Church of the Red Sox. Loving the Red Sox is as distinctively New England as Plymouth Rock or lobster or covered bridges or Billy Bulger. There are very few New Englanders I know who missed a game through out last year's pennant race, during the division series (despite the ungodly west coast game times), and, of course, in the ALCS. I now live in Washington, DC, but was raised in Worcester. I did the logical thing in July -- shelled out $150 so I could see Sox games via Comcast -- because this was going to be the year.

Of course, I didn't really ever believe. Sure I sounded confident. I'm one of those rare, optimistic Sox fans. When the home town team was 5 1/2 back in the division and 3 1/2 back in the Wild Card in mid-August I was optimistic. The newly naturalized Red Sox national, Sam Dettmann, would write me emails regarding "GDRS" (God Damn Red Sox) after a tough loss, but I would remain confident, resolute. Williamson and Kim would anchor the bullpen; Walker would break out of his slump; Manny would behave and play regularly; Grady would make all of the right calls. This would be the year. But deep down I knew it wasn't. Here's why, and I mean this very sincerely:

My superstitions are not yet fool proof.

In 1986, when the Sox were down 3-2 to the California Angels, my father (who grew up a Tigers fan in Detroit by the way) gave me a quarter round about the 8th inning. The Sox were trailing miserably. Dad left the room in disgust or indifference (I don't remember which) and said, "If they win, you can keep the quarter." Looking for some lucky charm in the 25 cent piece, I balanced it on my nose for the next hour or so. In that time, Donnie Moore gave up back to back home runs to Don Baylor and Dave Henderson. The Red Sox went on to victory in games six and seven, and advanced to the World Series. I was 25 cents richer.

In World Series games 6 and 7 against the Mets, my folks sent me to bed with the Sox in the lead, more concerned that I was rested for 3rd grade the next day than securing the Red Sox first championship in 68 years. I'm convinced that the Sox lost both games because I wasn't up to watch. I'm equally sure that the Mets won because a young boy in Queens was allowed to stay up past his bed time to watch his miserable team pull out two breath-taking victories.

I found a 1986 U.S. quarter dollar during game four of the Oakland series and used it as a substitute for the one that nearly made John McNamara's boys heroes 17 years ago. I clutched it in my fist or balanced it on my nose during the most crucial parts of the game; the lucky quarter stand-in gave Ortiz the strength to drive in a couple of runs in game four and helped Loew strike out a couple of Oaklanders in the 9th inning of game five.

The quarter remained balanced atop my Ted Williams autographed baseball during the first six games against the Yankees. Then, when Nixon homered in the middle innings of game seven, I leapt to my feet and the quarter tumbled off the Teddy-ballgame baseball. Reflecting on this sequence of events later, I realized that this was when all hell broke loose.

I began wondering about my superstitions.

I was wearing tan pants on Thursday night. During all other Sox victories against the Yanks I had been wearing blue jeans. Considering this, I was sure that the Sox would blow the game in the latter innings because of my foolish choice of trousers.

Then I realized I was drinking Becks beer rather than Budweiser; while the Red Sox beat Clemens on Memorial Day as I drank Becks, Bud had gotten us through game six. Had I made a terrible mistake in beer selection?

In the middle of the eighth, I got up to use the bathroom. As I closed the door, the shower curtain fell crashing to the floor. Clearly this was a bad sign. Frantically, I tried to reposition the curtain rod, only to fail again and again. I gave up as the bottom of the eighth began, and, of course, with the shower curtain lying on the bathroom floor, the Yankees scored three times off Pedro Martinez en rout to a victory in 11 innings. (Three days later, I finally replaced the curtain rod and the Yanks lost to the Marlins).

Round about October if the Red Sox are playing, I'll go absolutely batty. In October, I believe that everything I do has an impact on the outcome of the games. Then, after inevitable defeat, I look back on all of these ridiculous superstitions, and decide that I'm fucking nuts.

Once that's over with, I can wash my red socks. And start eating dinner before nine. And rest both feet on the ottoman during the home-half of an inning...

I'll pick up new superstitions this year. This year will be the year. I know it. I'm sure of it. I'll take the Vegas odds, what ever they are.

God bless Red Sox Nation. God help me.

Play ball.

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