Friday, October 31, 2008

trick or treat!

just tossing a few childhood Halloween rememberies around in my mind the last few days...

...there would always be a few little treats & a card from "the Head Spook" waiting for us when we woke up in the morning. the Head Spook had very shaky, scary handwriting too! round orange plastic jack-o-lantern bucket with the black plastic handle for trick-or-treating. no pillowcase or "characters" for my bucket! grandparents' neighbors across the street, the Downs family, had the best driveway. it was long & it wound its way from the road to their front door. Mrs Downs would answer the door always wearing her sword-through-the-head headband and she would make us come into the foyer as she called Mr Downs so they could admire our costumes.

...the skeleton that sat on the bench in Aunt Freida & Uncle Fred's breezeway (my Gram's brother and sister-in-law who lived two house up the street from my Gram's house).

...the year Dad took us out wearing furry orange monster hands & a tail. he put them on, on the sly, and told us he was turning into a monster! i was a little scared--but the fun, delicious kind of scared!

...the night always ended in a stop at Aunt El & Uncle Will's for treats (my Gram's sister and brother-in-law who lived on the other side of "the Hill"). we would get apples from Minor's Farm where Uncle Will worked and baggies filled with goodies as we warmed up from the cool night (or dried out from walking in the rain). Aunt El & Uncle Will would always paint their sliders with Halloween images & spooky words; i would stand in front of the sliders, taking it all in, then would peek between the painted designs, marveling at the view we couldn't see from Gram's house through all the trees.

... watching "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" on tv. i would always hide my face while the Headless Horseman chased Ichabod Crane through Sleepy Hollow, but couldn't resist peeking through my fingers as he hurled his jack-o-lantern head at Ichabod.

...the scary-faced ceramic jack-o-lantern Dad put out every year. i think that may have been one of my very favorite holiday decorations.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

here we are again.

Tek, our Cap'n, filed for free angency today, the first day players eligible for free agency were allowed to do so. for the next fifteen days, the Sox have exclusive rights to talk to Tek before the other 29 teams can begin making bids if they have an interest. it wasn't a noteworthy season for Tek, offensively, but i keep coming back to this selection from "Dynasty" and recalling all that the Captain brings to the plate with him, regardless of his batting average. i know that baseball is a business, but in a day where loyalty is rare, i think there are some players that deserve the respect of retiring with the team of which they are the very soul... especially when players like Tek are as rare as that loyalty. this isn't just about a favorite player, nor is it just about the lack of available catchers, whether by free agency or trade. sometimes in a loved one's waning days, you make a place for them to go out surrounded by those who love them best, in the place where they are happiest... be that literally or figuratively... not because it's easy for anyone but because it is as much about respect and compassion as anything else. bring him back, Theo. find a way...
Indeed, Jason Varitek was that rare player whom everyone respected, from reporters to teammates to team executives to fans. He was a professional in every sense of the word....By the time the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Varitek's importance was indisputable. Managers and coaches raved about his work ethic, commitment to detail, thorough preparation. In 2001, when the Red Sox ultimately unraveled in a season that led to the firing of manager Jimy Williams, a season-ending injury to Varitek was seen by many as more damning than injuries to either Nomar Garciaparra or Pedro Martinez. Without the latter two, the Red Sox continued to have some success. But once Varitek was lost to a broken elbow--an injury he suffered while diving into the on-deck circle to catch a foul pop-up in a game the Red Sox were winning by a landslide--it was as if the team's spinal cord had been ripped out. (Any suggestion that the events were unrelated was destroyed in 2006, when Varitek was lost to a knee injury and the team similarly came unglued.)

Varitek's injury was symbolic, a fact that was duly noted. Though he could just as easily have let the ball drop at no cost to the Red Sox, he made the play. Jason Varitek had one speed.

After protracted negotiations with agent Scott Boras, the Red Sox and the player came to terms, just before Christmas, on a four-year, $40 million contract. Though the Red Sox privately had been feeding the media information about how the productivity of catchers plummeted after their 35th birthday--Varitek would turn 33 in early April 2005--the club uncharacteristically caved in and gave Varitek four years. Boras, who had been seeking a five-year contract and was known to shoot for the moon, showed similar deference to his client and budged some, making it seem as if everyone knew that Jason Varitek wanted to remain in Boston, and that both sides would make some sacrifices as a result.

While many media members questioned whether the Red Sox bid against themselves in the negotiations, they badly missed the point. Jason Varitek was vital to the on-field and off-field succes of the Red Sox. The Red Sox had to keep him.

"We could not be happier. It's not every day that you're lucky enough to find a player who embodies everything you want your franchise to be," Epstein said at the Varitek signing.
"When you're lucky enough to have that player, you don't let him get away. You lock him away for as long as you can and you make him the rock of your franchise."
(Tony Massorotti, "Dynasty")


i've been waiting for this...

i was hoping to use this a little sooner--like, oh say, the ALCS--but this will do. after six months of being subjected to the stupid "Feel... the heat!" chant they use at Rays games that has infiltrated my tv and radio through commercials, finally *I* get to say:

(Boston Dirt Dogs)
oh & Joe? playing the injury card now? that just sounds like excuses. c'mon. the Sox played the second half of the season through Game Seven of the ALCS with guys who had body parts falling off and were being held together by some combination of duct tape, twine & sheer guts. guys who had to be forcibly dragged from the field, insisting they could still play as they we benched or placed on the DL against their will. and not once did i hear them blame the way their season ended on injuries. they were disappointed but acknowledged that they'd been outplayed by the better team. whining about how hurt your team was just makes you look whiny. but then again, Tampa played this whole season with a chip on its shoulder, so why should it be any different now, huh?

enough about you.

congraulations 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies!

i have no clue how Brad Lidge's arm survived that heap of men led by Ryan Howard on top of him, drilling it into the ground. it's a good thing he won't be needing to use it for pitching for the next (long long long) three and a half months.

ps. WHAT was the deal with the earflaps??


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

eat, drink & be spooky!

it just occured to me, as i was thinking about Halloween and enjoying the brisk Autumn weather we've been getting the last few days (highs in the mid-70s but lows in the 40s!), and deciding that this might be a great weekend to venture over to Disney, that i never shared my *last* trip to Disney! ::slaps forehead::

i started off at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival. this year's theme is...

my first stop was Barcelona, Spain!

i tried the chilled tomato & garlic soup, and the seared tuna loin with spicy red pepper coulis and a piece of garlic herb ciabatta bread.

next up, New Dehli, India...

...for something sweet & refreshing: mango mousse!

and finally, San Francisco--one of the two U.S. cities featured this year (the other is New Orleans)...

...for a roasted beet salad with goat cheese with their recommended wine, Rosenblum Cellars Kathy's Cuvee Viognier.

there were *so* many yummy menu items to choose from! i had a really hard time picking. you can see the rest of the photos--along with photos of the menus for each country--in my Epcot 2008 album (it's all my Epcot photos for the whole year though).

EPCOT (2008)

and then i wandered over to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the Halloween decorations.

which leaves the remaining dilemma: do i visit Animal Kingdom this weekend, which i haven't done in a while, especially with cooler weather making the animals more active? do i head back to Epcot for another spin around the Food & Wine Festival (it runs through November 9)? do i hit Magic Kingdom one more time before the Halloween decorations come down? decisions, decisions...


Friday, October 24, 2008

Take5 Tuesday: October 24, 2008

hosted here

a wee bit behind. catching up.

1. 5 things you like about halloween.
baby costumes (hilarious!). pumpkins. candy in bite-size form. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! ghosts (the decorative variety only, please).

2. 5 things you don’t like about halloween.
damaging mischeif. people who do things to the treats that force us to be suspicious of every piece of candy in a child's loot. running out of candy too quickly. teenage kids/young adults that throw on nothing more than a mask with their regular clothes & think that qualifies as a costume. jack-o-lanterns that rot too quickly.

3. 5 of your favorite kinds of candy.
(staying with strictly Halloween candy here.) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. M&Ms. Twix. York Peppermint Patties. Hershey Bars.

4. 5 things you like that most people don’t.
organizing things. balancing my checkbook. history. grocery shopping. waking up early. (ok, that was much harder than i anticipated!)

5. 5 things you don’t like that most people do.
the show "Heroes". coffee. parties. roller coasters. pretty much any movie that ends up with a "cult following" (like "Clerks," for example).


Friday Fill-in: October 24, 2008

Friday Fill-in #95

1. Right now, I'm feeling a little sad that baseball is almost over for the year, but other than that, pretty content, all things considered.
2. curled up on a comfy couch, with a blanket, a mug of hot apple cider, some reading material & something to watch on tv, in a place with real Autumn is where I want to be.
3. How does one justify making many mean-spirited remarks yet acting wounded & offended when someone else dares voice an opposing opinion?
4. making to-do lists keeps me on track.
5. Please don't tell me how i feel.
6. seeing Disney dressed up for Christmas fills me with joy.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hopefully catching up on Season Two of Dexter so i can start watching the new episodes gathering on my DVR, tomorrow my plans include indoor activities instead of going to WDW since it's going to be rainy and Sunday, I want to win my Fantasy Football match-ups for a change!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And I Quote: October 22, 2008

"I don't know if I want to take time away....This game is kind of crazy. I laugh when people say it winds down. No, it comes to a crashing halt. You're going 100 miles an hour and then it's over. You either won or you lost and it's hard to understand."
(Terry Francona)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And I Quote: October 21, 2008

Did you have a big plate of crazy for lunch?!
(Miranda Hobbes on Sex & the City)


Monday, October 20, 2008

you can take the girl out of New England, but you'd have to kill her to get her to switch baseball caps.

disappointed? sure. what real fan doesn't want their team to be the victor? but also realistic. just the fact that the Sox beat the Angels, which, at least on paper, should have been difficult to accomplish, and then scratched & clawed their way to even get to a sixth ALCS game, never mind a seventh is something i am enormously proud of. this team did the one thing i asked of them:

you may go down, but go down fighting. never say die. that is all that i ask.

and fight they did. they did not get obliterated--though they may feel that way right now. Lester pitched a game he likely would have won in many other cases and i am pleased with what he gave, especially having pitched more this season than ever before in his life. that boy has nowhere to go but up. and they went out featuring the one thing that killed them all season: they left the bases loaded in the 8th without a single run crossing the plate. but at least they were getting on, trying.

now it is time to heal. no, not for me, and not for any true Sox fan. in a post-2004/2007 era, Sox fans have no more left to be healed. i am talking about the guys. i'm talking about whatever is ailing Josh Beckett and Big Papi's wrist and Mike Lowell's bum hip--be well in surgery today, oh favorite player of mine! and each & every one of them with their aches & pains & dog-tired muscles. get rested, boys. get strong. there is mending of bodies & some paperwork (i'm watching you, Epstein!) to be done now. in just four short months (that feels more like eternity at the moment), you will be back for a fresh start & we will all be waiting for you with excited cheers. you gave us one hell of a season & there's no other colors i would ever wear above yours.

ps. Lugo? that healing part? and the part about being ready in the Spring? that wasn't directed at you. you may just continue your Matt Clement vacation. or feel free to shop yourself around.

pps. dear bandwagon fans: this is your stop. GET. OFF. you should feel right at home here in Tampa, where eighty percent of that crowd didn't even realize we were playing baseball until August. and those of you tucking away your Boston gear in favor of some sporting sunshines? pppfffttt!

ppps. speaking of Rays "fans." you don't get to whine about how long you've been waiting for this. two months is nothing over the course of a baseball season. you don't get to feel justified before you've ever even watched a complete 162 games. (no joke, i have had "fans" say to me: this is great. i don't know how you watch this stuff for six months every year, but i will definitely tune in every August! uhhhh... right. you do that. that Rays cap come in pink?) there are plenty of other fans i have sympathy for, remembering clearly how it feels to actually *wait* and *endure*. Cubs fans. Orioles fans. Giants, Pirates, Indians, Royals, Padres fans. teams & fans that have been waiting & wishing since before you even had a team to ignore root for in St Pete. in fact, if you go back through my blog archives, you will see i have been hating the Rays for years longer than all but about fifteen of you even knew they existed.

pppps. i do not, under any circumstances, have to be happy for the Rays nor root for them in the World Series. i bleed red & i now root Phillies for the duration of the 2008 season. and i hope Matt Garza slips in a puddle of his own spittle on the mound and falls flat on his ass. (ahhh... that felt good.) now, if you'll excuse me, i have two days to get familiar with the Philadelphia lineup.


i miss my Gram today =(

February 4, 1917 - October 20, 2001

I will see you
In the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you
In the sound of the waves
I will know you
When we come as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave

("Sand and Water," Beth Neilsen Chapman)


Sunday, October 19, 2008

And I Quote: September 19, 2008

“It's designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything is new again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops, and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
(A. Bartlett Giamatti)


techincal difficulties

it's no secret, at this point, that TBS had a power outage in Atlanta at the start of Game Six last night that caused them to miss covering the first inning or so. thankfully, i had radio access, so i didn't miss a single pitch of what would turn out to be another great game.

Josh Beckett gutted out whatever physical ailment is troubling him--and after watching the way he pitched last night, i am now convinced that it *is* physical & not mental. he didn't have his heat but man, did he work his curve ball, gritting his teeth & locating. he may have given up two solo home runs, but the damage was minimal and easily remedied by the Boston bats, who came together with some timely hitting of their own, including a homer to left and a sac fly for Youk, a scorching double for Papi off Howell and Varitek finally--finally!--going deep to right-center. Jeemer made the first appearance from the pen in relief of the Commander, pitching two strong innings. Justin Masterson wiggled out of trouble. and Papelbon is back to being the trusty lights-out closer we had been accustomed to seeing. so the Game Six stats for the Sox proved correct: they were locked in and their 4-2 win forced a Game Seven.

really the only technical difficulties for Beckett were more related to someone else's technical difficulties than his own: a ball fouled off Tek's bat in the second inning into the home plate umpire eventually resulted in a delay of game when he needed to leave & be replaced. the unconventional break in activity may have cut Beckett's five-inning outing a little shorter than it might have been. but Beckett did his part to hand it over to the bullpen and the umpire will be ok.

the *real* technical difficulties came from Tampa last night. Big Game James met Bigger Game Beckett and came up short. the steady-til-now Rays relievers seem to have been figured out by the waking Boston bats. the Rays couldn't muster a come-from-behind offense like they had so many times at home in 2008, taking big hacking swings that either missed or popped up. and as the Sox took the lead back each time, what appeared to be a desperation-driven defense started making mistakes. as quickly as things were coming together for Boston, they were falling apart for Tampa.

now who's to say if it was just an uncharacteristically bad game for the Rays (and no, i still can't believe i am typing that without it dripping in sarcasm) or if the Sox historic Game Five comeback--and their all-too-well-known by now ability to surge back to life just when things seem most bleak--has gotten inside the heads of the young Tampa players, despite Maddon's best efforts to prevent that from happening? i guess tonight we'll find out.

we'll find out if the Rays really can put yesterday behind them and play only for today. we'll find out if the Sox can pull this off again. we'll find out if Lestah can overcome his mediocre record at the Trop, while we keep hoping, as Sox fans, that it isn't likely he will have poor starts, back-to-back. i would be lying if i said i wasn't terrified of this game. i live here. i've heard, *believe* me, i've heard how the Rays just won't quit. it's difficult to draw the line between a healthy respect for one's opponent and being accused of having no faith in my team, to believe in all that they have shown me they can do and be accused of being too arrogant. i hope that i am enough of it all that i can just be seen as a die hard fan of the team i love, filled with an equal balance of hope, fear, excitement & gratitude.

this is it. tonight, someone's season ends. tonight, everyone has a reason to be proud but only one group of us will have a reason to laugh with joy as their team packs their bags for the World Series. for either the Rays or the Red Sox, there will be no tomorrow.

do or die. no room for error.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

champagne on ice

they say that baseball is the intelligent man's sport. it's funny because i always felt like football was more difficult to understand. not the basic premise but all the freaking subtleties. after watching for years, i still can't tell you what the difference is between "encroachment," "off sides" and a "false start", or where defensive interference crosses the line, morphing into offensive interference. but baseball? it has always made sense to me. i think the intelligence part comes into play when a spectator looks at the game & only sees the obvious, but misses all the games within the game. it is nothing short of a work of art, a game that can be won or lost, not just on the field, but in any number of ways.

the season is long. baseball is not for the faint of heart or the weak of spirit. and if the 162-game marathon isn't enough to wear you down, if you're lucky--*very* lucky--you can extend the race with a series of up to three wind sprints. where we are right now is the second of the possible three. my guess is that as a Sox fan, you too experienced quite the cardio workout Thursday night. talk about awesome. and yet we know that there is still so much left to accomplish. to proceed to Game Seven, the Sox *must* win tonight. not just win, but win against a (shockingly) formidable opponent on their own (artificial) turf, a place the Sox have not been, shall we say, at their best. if i didn't know better, i would think the Yankees had dressed up early for Halloween, because this series feels more like a trip to the Bronx than one to Tampa.

at any rate, the statistics show the Sox have a shot at this. they say that the Sox are at their best in an ALCS Game Six, winning all seven times they have been faced with this particular challenge since 1903, four times at Fenway and three on the road. what's more, in reaching Game Seven, they even have a better than .500 record of winning the series (winning four ALCS and losing three) and finding themselves headed to the World Series. we use these numbers as our reassurance, though i suspect we would disregard them if they were not in our favor. either way, tonight we will watch with bated breath & accelerated heart rates & through-the-roof blood pressure, willing the team we love to fight with all they have to live another day.

we all have our rituals. some are in place from seasons past, some we've adopted more recently. i had almost forgotten about my 2007 ritual but was thankfully reminded of it prior to Game Five:

and i can tell you i will be watching it today as well. all doing our part to shift the molecules of the universe in favor of the boys from Boston.

i can't help but wonder what the outcome of this game will be. i know what i *want* it to be. i also know that this team is not the same teams that have done this in recent past, but are they ever? even with familiar faces, the details of the season can never be identical. the players are older, there are new pieces mixed in with the pre-existing ones, there are hot streaks & slumps & injuries to consider. but always the drive to win is there. the drive that never sees this team giving up. on Thursday, they had the roar of the home crowd urging them on, but tonight in enemy territory, filled with the never ending clanging of so many cowbells, they will need to dig deep & find that extra drive within. it is that drive that makes me believe there is a chance.

so much was made of the Rays shuffling their pitching around. Maddon was everything from called a genius to being accused of hurting his team with over-thinking. the one thing i couldn't shake was that, with your foot on the throat of your opponent, you don't give them even an inch. you certainly don't breathe even an extra ounce of life into them. and you *definitely* don't allow a team like the Red Sox, now infamous for their ability to come back to life, a taste of victory to whet their appetite.

The Joy of Sox essentially echoed my own thoughts: "Joe Maddon has altered his pitching rotation, not to go for the kill in Game 5, but to set his team up for a better Game 6 matchup. Big mistake, Joe. Big. Tito the Assassin knows that when you have your target lined up in your sights, you f***ing fire. You don't stop and check if your shoelaces are tied."

i was reading on Wednesday's off day: "The last 16 times that an ALCS went to 3 games to 1 in the series, 12 times the team with the 3-1 advantage has gone on to win the series. Three times the other team has reeled off three straight wins to take the series. The 16th time is this season's playoff scenario. The three teams to pull off the unlikely three-game heist of the ALCS you ask? The Red Sox...all three times. In 1986, 2004 and then last season after falling down by a 3-1 deficit to the Cleveland Indians." (Hacks With Haggs)

and then yesterday morning, back at The Joy of Sox: "Tampa Bay was seven outs away from the American League pennant -- and the Red Sox were down by seven runs. The Rays recorded only six of those outs -- and the Red Sox scored eight times to complete the greatest comeback by any team facing elimination and the second biggest comeback in post-season/World Series history and send this ALCS back to Florida."

at the Seventh Inning Stretch of Thursday night's game, i began my bargaining with the Sox, via Twitter:
(10:56pm) ok Sox. how about we just not get shut out? i want to see one more Sox run before we say good night.
(11:05pm) hey now! that was a pretty hit, Coco.
(11:08pm) Sox on the board! thank you Pedroia!
[Rays 7 Sox 1 -- Pedroia brought Lowrie home on a double]
(11:11pm) PAPI!!!!!!!
[Rays 7 Sox 4 -- long overdue 3-run bomb by Ortiz]
(11:14pm) if they go down tonight, they go down fighting. never say die and that is all that i ask of them.
(11:29pm) now THAT is what i call pitching with authority! there's the Papelbon i was missing!
(11:32pm) Pedroia just looked so intense in the dugout, i fear he was chewing his own teeth.
(11:33pm) JD DREW!!!!!!!
[Rays 7 Sox 6 -- 2-run homer for JD Drew]
(11:37pm) i. can't. breathe.
(11:46pm) what a battle by Coco
(11:48pm) TIE. GAME.
[Rays 7 Sox 7 -- Coco brings Kotsay home]
(11:58pm) i think i just swallowed my own tongue
(12:05am) appreciate the bunt attempt Papi!
(12:12am) i am rocking Tito-style now. wonder how many other Sox fans are doing the same...
[Youk reaches second on an error for Longoria]
[Sox 8 Rays 7 -- Youk scores on a JD Drew walkoff ground rule double]
at which point madness & mayhem & revelry exploded in Fenway and across the World Wide Web in a giant ripple effect.

"I’ve never seen a group so happy to get on a plane at 1:30 in the morning in my life," said Francona. (Boston Herald) so much was made of the Red Sox "long trip back to Boston after such a heartbreaking loss at the Trop" in Game Two, but Maddon insists that the return trip was not nearly so traumatic for his team. all i know is that the Sox had to come back in one of the biggest come-from-behind wins in baseball history and if that doesn't fire a team up & give them some momentum, i don't know what does.

i'm taking nothing for granted. that ranges from assuming the Sox gave their final drops of life to win Game Five, leaving nothing in the tank for Game Six all the way to resting too heavily on the laurels of historic comebacks achieved in years gone by and thinking, even for a fleeting moment, that they mean anything here in *this* ALCS. the fact is that i have no idea what will go down in the Juice Box tonight--will Beckett's struggles continue or did the team find a way to inspire him to fight through whatever has been plaguing him? we just don't know until they play the game. but i will tell you this: i am grateful for every day of October baseball that i see my team play, knowing that there are other fans whose choices are to forego baseball all together or watch someone else's team play for a shot at the hardware. and i will tell you that i am proud of the way this team keeps playing ball, whether i see one more game or six more, and i will *be* proud of them, regardless of the outcome Saturday evening. and i will tell you, above all, that i believe, that this team makes me believe, in the possibility of improbability.

as i finally tried to fight off the rush of adrenaline to sleep, an hour after the game ended with its against-all-odds conclusion, i thought to myself:
we play one more. so keep that champagne on ice. there will be no going-to-the-World-Series celebration tonight. not in our house. not on our field. not where we make our magic.

tonight? we play.


Friday, October 17, 2008

And I Quote: October 17, 2008

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
(Marcel Proust)



i have more to say, but right now i am still doing a Papelbonian jig of pure delight. i'll be back but that game last night deserves to be celebrated.

in the mean time, have you gotten your questions in? time's a-tickin'!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

And I Quote: October 16, 2008

"We choose to go to the moon and fall behind in the ALCS and these othah things not because they are easy, but because they are hahd."

so the famous Citgo sign over Fenway Park caught fire yesterday and lots of folks are saying it's an omen that the Sox will crash & burn tonight. *i* say that the boys are so fired up that the very architecture of Fenway is catching flame.

believe. and enjoy baseball.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And I Quote: October 15, 2008

"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip."
(J.M. Barrie)


anatomy of a post season

it happens to me every year. i bottom out. i'm not talking about the games that strike fear in me over the course of a season, because c'mon, the likes of guys like Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia demand the respect of fear. i'm talking about the dwindling days of a baseball season, when the end is imminent. i hit rock bottom. it's something of a rite of passage for me, each season, and i have to say it just once. "the season is coming to an end." i have to say it out loud, feel the sadness that it brings, just for a moment.

maybe it seems as though, with a 3-1 deficit and every remaining ALCS contest an elimination game, i am giving up. maybe that seems unforgivable, after what we witnessed as Red Sox fans in 2004. and again in 2007. maybe it seems as though my faith in the inconceivable is subpar. but hear me out.

i *need* to do this. i have been watching baseball--and specifically Red Sox baseball--since before i have memory. it is so deeply entrenched in who i am that i can't remember a time without it. in fact, i was hearing these games in utero. from the moment i had eardrums & could register sound, i have had the vibrations of Red Sox baseball in my head. and what came before 2004 is something that i don't *want* to forget. i don't want to forget what it is to lose, to not be in contention year after year. i don't want to expect it. or worse, become complacent. because with remembrance comes appreciation for what can be accomplished, and how hard-fought that battle can be. and so every season, just once, i have to feel that crushing defeat one more time.

and then? then, i bounce back. i am refreshed from the singular act of releasing the demon from my gut. i have faced, in my mind, the worst that can happen. and now i can sit back & enjoy again. perhaps i will be enjoying the amazing feat of a Red Sox team that can come back from a huge deficit when they are pinned to the wall, not once, not twice, but three times. the fact that 2004 happened at all is reason enough to believe until the final out is recorded in Boston's season. but if they can't? if they can't rally back? i want to have faced the sadness and be able to enjoy the last game. i want to soak in the sounds of a ball cracking off a bat and the THWACK! of a ball slapping into a glove. i want to see the Green Monster and hear the last strains of Sweet Caroline as we come back from commercial. i want clap along to the "let's go Red Sox" chants rising up from Fenway Park and call YOOOOOUK as he steps to the plate. i want to savor the communion between pitcher & catcher as the signs are flashed & the pitcher winds up. i want to capture a mental snapshot of a diving catch, a crisply turned double play and a wall-ball double. because i just cannot get enough of this.

because my real sadness is not in defeat. no, i am proud of my boys and i wouldn't get up & walk out of a baseball game in the sixth inning, nor would i boo any man in Boston whites, not for any reason. no matter what the outcome of their season, the fact that they make it to October is a gift to me, as a fan, every time it happens. my real sadness lies in the realization that even if things play out perfectly, even if they end their season spraying champagne and hoisting the trophy overhead, the fact is that the season is ending, sooner rather than later. the promise of Spring has long since passed into endless Summer, at which point time seems to speed up.

so each year when i say "their season is ending," in part i am mentally padding myself, just in case, but what i am really doing is mourning the end of another season and the coming of a long Winter. whether we go out as World Champions or having given it our best shot, the inevitable is fast approaching. there will be a four month lack of baseball and i will begin counting days until February, when my boys gather up their boxes of equipment and make the trek to Spring & sunshine.

even though i am sad, there is still one more day. and the hope of maybe one more day after that. one thing the Red Sox have taught me is that it isn't over until it's actually over. and always, there comes again the promise of Spring.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the readers take the wheel: October 2008

all right, faithful few. it's been a good long while since i gave you the floor.

so how about it? wanna fire away some questions at me? something you've been dying to know wondered on occasion, that i either haven't covered or you couldn't uncover in the archives?

i'll give you through Friday & then you'll get your answers over the weekend.

disclaimer: i retain the right to decide what's off limits. for instance: i am not disclosing my actual location, revealing anything extremely personal in nature (don't give me that look, you know what i mean) or acknowledging any inappropriate questions.

ok, this is your chance... GO!


Ten on Tuesday: October 14, 2008

today's topic (10 Bands/Artists that Remind You of High School) drew a big zero for me (not sure if i don't remember or just refuse to) so i'm doing the last two which i've kept on ice:

10 Things That Scare You/Freak You Out

1. cockroaches.
2. BIG spiders.
3. Chip Caray's eyebrows.
4. the thought of relying on my online bank statement without actually balancing my paper-and-pencil check register.
5. Josh Beckett's 2008 post-season starts.
6. vampires.
7. the way people drive in the state of Florida.
8. the government.
9. earthquakes.
10. a knife or fork scraping across a plate.

10 Great/Awful Things About Television Today

1. (great) DVR.
2. (awful) the media. sports, news entertainment, paparazzi. all of it.
3. (great) MLB Extra Innings.
4. (awful) commercials for Cialis, Viagra, etc every 90 seconds.
5. (great) that Miller High Life commercial, the one at the baseball game.
6. (awful) reality tv -- why won't it die already?? they will make a show about *anything* now & call it reality tv.
7. (great) the return of last year's new shows: Samantha Who? Private Practice. Lipstick Jungle.
8. (awful) the cancellation of Cane and Men In Trees.
9. (great) this year's new show that i *love*: Fringe.
10. (awful) the last season of Boston Legal. =(



dear Tito,

Ellsbury, bench.
Coco, lineup.

thank you.



Monday, October 13, 2008

instilling fear in their hearts

it's what we've come to expect of Josh Beckett in the post season. dominance. intimidation. nerves of steel. veins filled with ice water. command & excellence. all somehow kicked up a notch from the regular season performances. a look of fear in the opponent, no matter how hard they try to hide it. like a wild animal, the prey not wanting to let its fear show. but it always does.

when the calendar reads October & the Fenway seats are filled with fans in heavier coats, their breath puffing out in clouds, only the beer & the coursing adrenaline keeping them warm in the chilly Autumn night--Josh Beckett is the man you want to see taking the ball.

at least, that's how it used to be.

i haven't seen this Josh Beckett since last October. what i've seen is a shell of this Beckett making his starts. instead of a smoldering stare cast in at the batter, a hint of a sneer tugging at the corners of his mouth, eyes on fire, now he appears deadened. gone are the swagger as he takes the field & again when he departs, replaced with all the foot-dragging of a man being led to execution. no more the furious glare at Tito should he dare to make the trip to the mound with the intention of collecting the ball, now met with resignation as Beckett walks back to the dugout to slump on the bench, dejected. i cannot even remember the last time i saw him take his anger out on the dugout equipment in a fit of self-directed rage or when he last jawed at the batter, challenging him, taunting him, laughing with his eyes if not his mouth or that i read of a curse-studded post-game press conference, littered with more beeps than actually words.

i miss him. i miss this Josh Beckett who pitched instead of nibbled, who oozed confidence instead of hanging his head, who challenged with defiance anyone who dared step foot in that batter's box & try to own his real estate at home plate. i miss the Josh Beckett who would have perhaps paid the Rays back for Balfour's thumping of JD Drew the night before, or at the very least sent a message with some chin music of his own. i keep reading article after article filled with Beckett insisting he feels fine, that there is no underlying medical cause for the last outing, but that doesn't give explanation for this entire season, and i would almost rather there be some injury than to believe that the problem lies in the more ambiguous realm of his mind. it seems to be deeper than just a sore oblique or a lingering elbow concern, because i watch our other wounded, as they fight through frustrating at-bats or are relegated to hanging on the dugout railing, yet still look invested in the games, cheering, leaping up to pound the back of a teammate, fists pumped in excitement. but in Beckett, i see nothing but disinterest, as if the light has simply gone out.

i could wring my hands anxiously after Saturday's defeat, but in fact, the Sox did the one thing i really wanted to see this past weekend: they left Tampa with at least one win. and they head back to Boston, claiming home field advantage, behind Jon Lester. and in a devastating loss--because no matter how much baseball remains to be played, those extra-inning losses are always somehow more painful to swallow--i saw life & spark in the Sox. i saw the offense battle back each time, in a place that has been nothing if not a thorn in their side since the middle of *last* season. i saw a team unwilling to go down without a fight, regardless of the time or the frustrations or the aching parts. i saw a defense that would not quit & relief pitching that picked the perfect time to show life. (Mike Timlin aside, and even then, i hold Tito partially responsible for putting him in & then leaving him there too long.) i saw something that gave me hope. this afternoon, i have every reason to believe they will once again deliver another mark in the win column. they make me *want* to believe.

my biggest fear is the possibility of a Game Six. i do not know this Josh Beckett. and now it is *our* hearts in which he strikes fear.


Friday, October 10, 2008

just sayin'...

i mean, i wasn't able to get tickets to the games, so all i'm saying is...

a couple of Sox wins would be nice this weekend.

since it's my birthday weekend & all.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

And I Quote: October 9, 2008

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
(Kahlil Gibran)


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sing Along: October 8, 2009

Since the moment I spotted you,
Like walking round with little wings on my shoes
My stomach's filled with the butterflies...

And it's alright
Bouncing round from cloud to cloud
I got the feeling like I'm never going to come down
If I said I didn't like it then you know I'd lied

Everytime I try to talk to you
I get tongue-tied
Turns out that everything I say to you
Comes out wrong and never comes out right

So I'll say 'why don't you and I get together

And take on the world
And be together forever
Heads we will and tails we'll try again'
So I say 'why don't you and I hold each other

And fly to the moon
And straight on to heaven
Cause without you they're never going to let me in'
("Why Don't You and I," Santana featuring Chad Kroeger)


while she lay sleeping

Monday night, Jon Lester left the game after seven innings with a 2-0 lead. in the eighth inning, the Angels tied the game. after two late West Coast games during the week, and a five-hour-nineteen-minute twelve-inning loss the night before, i was almost delirious. even pacing was no longer effective at keeping me awake. so when the Angels plated those two runs, i had visions of another drawn out extra innings affair. and i cracked. i was no longer enjoying something i live for all Spring & Summer. i turned off my tv & crawled into bed, knowing that whatever would be, would have to be without my pacing & one-sided dialogue with the television.

don't get me wrong. it's not that i gave up or no longer cared. i gave my attention for all but a handful of the 162 games the Sox played in 2008. there is no questioning my team loyalty. and i actually had confidence in a Sox victory on a Lester start night. my giving up was purely physiological. my eyes literally were unable to stay open.

and so it came to pass that when three Red Sox--players not even on the opening day roster: Bay, Kotsay & Lowrie--orchestrated a vintage Sox walkoff victory, i was already peacefully asleep for an inning & a half. i dreamt of a Josh Beckett we haven't witnessed since this time last season. and i awoke to a replay on ESPN of Jason Bay sliding home on a Jed Lowrie single, followed by the two players being engulfed by a sea of celebratory teammates. let me tell you, it was just as exhilirating the morning after, based on the benefit of having experienced the thrill of a hard-fought win in the past.

i love my boys. i look forward to each game with anticipation. i spend the long long Winter counting down the days until they begin stretching their limbs & playing catch in the Florida sunshine in preparation for a new season. and i breathe Red Sox for six months of each year, seven if i am so lucky. but every so often i need to bid them good night, trusting that i will open my eyes to a final score in their favor. i fell asleep Monday night, wearing my Sox t-shirt and the Red Sox Nation bracelet still on my wrist.

now we march forward into my worst nightmare: win-or-go-home ball against my personal nemesis. many of you will feel disappointment if things do not go well in the dimly lit Juice Box, but few of you will have to face the aftermath on your tv, on your radio, from your co-workers (many of whom hadn't ever watched an inning of baseball prior to May of this year), day after day. it is an added element to my fear. for me... there would be no escape from the gloating over the "loyal fanbase" of Maddon's retro glasses; the abomination of all unholy matings of a mascot; that infernal cowbell; the foolish Ray-hawk (oh yes, it DOES have a name); and names like BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Dioner Navarro, Akinori Iwamura, Jonny Gomes and Evan Longoria. it would be my personal hell realized.

in an effort to be a reformed Sox fan after 2004 and 2007, i will simply remind myself of the positives: that the Rays have not yet faced October Sox, a different breed, a more fierce competitor. one with experience at this time of year. one with a starting pitcher who has yet to surrender an earned run to an Autumn opponent. when the doubts about this matchup creep in, i remind myself of what the 2004 Red Sox taught me:

also? i expect to have methods of heavy sedation close at hand. just in case my mind needs numbing. i may be glassy-eyed on my couch, but i only allow myself one night of tuning out before the final out is recorded.

three wins accomplished. eight more to go. eyes on the prize.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

promised photos: part 4 of 4

these were from the September series. never in a million years did i think the Sox would come back to Tampa for October baseball. but with botn Tampa & Boston leading their respective ALDS series 2-0, it's looking like that is exactly what will happen. i may need sedation...

From Sox @ Rays (September 15, 2008)


Snapshot From Along the Broken Road: September 2008

photo of me:

1) current candle scents: Sun & Sand. Autumn Leaves.

2) what i am currently reading: "America Alone" by Mark Steyn.

3) newest music i added my playlist: no new tunes. listening to the ones i have.

4) movies i saw: Brick. Soylent Green. License to Wed. Notorious. Then She Found Me. Tombstone. Must Love Dogs. Office Space. Burn After Reading. Because I Said So.

5) something yummy i made this month: salmon with a lemon butter sauce with steamed peas and wild & brown rice. sounds elaborate but i can't even share a recipe, it was that simple. i bought the fish ready to cook from the seafood counter! (sometimes the easy "cop out" cooking tastes sooo good though, purely because it was so effortless!)

6) the last place i ate out: Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

7) something that made me cry: i hate disappointing people.

8) something that made me laugh: "The uhhh...uhhhh... The uhhh uhhh uhhh..." (had to be there but definitely funny!)

9) something i looked forward to this month: va. ca. tion.

10) something i am thankful for: a hint of cooler weather. pretty soon, i will be reminded why i put up with hurricane watches & extreme humidity!

11) something i want to remember about this month: how to actually eat with chopsticks. this skill may have to be refreshed at regular intervals.

12) a photo i took this month:

my home away from home...


little bits of happy: October 5, 2008

happiness is a fresh cut & highlights.

ahhh... much better!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

the icing

when i fell asleep last night, the Sox were down 1-0 in the fifth inning, the sole run given up the unearned result of a Jed Lowrie misplay. and you know what? i would still choose Lowrie over Lugo every time. not only was that just his third error for the season (sometimes the equivalent of one *game* for E6--and Lowrie's two regular season errors came at third base, not short), but it's easy to forget the kid is barely even a rookie. i have no doubt he was a little jittery from adrenaline & nerves. it was less than ideal to allow the resourceful Angels to strike first, but i just can't be upset with him when his contributions in the field since the All Star Break have helped to make this game even possible.

i woke up this morning, refreshed & ready to watch the second half of the game. the sixth inning brought a 2-run homer from JayBay, after he had been frustrated by Lackey's impressive breaking ball, swinging wildly for strikeouts in his first two at-bats. and in the bottom half, Lester struck out the side, proving once again that the deeper he gets into the game, the more he gets locked in. if you don't get to Jon Lester early, when you get your opportunities before he settles in, the chances dwindle with every pitch he makes. that kid is pumped full of Vitamin Awesome or something, because instead of getting tired, he just gets stronger as the pitch count grows.

do you know what blows my mind? at the beginning of this season, the mere thought of Lester's starts made me cringe. i have more respect for this kid now than i would have ever imagined possible.

a beautiful seven-inning performance. all four of his pitches working for him, captained by the sharp mind of his catcher, as he flashed the signs. 117 pitches, seven Ks & he was still in the mid-90s on the radar gun, with gas in the tank. unbelievable.

the eighth inning had the ball put in Masterson's hand. he struggled just a bit, but got himself out of it, and again i have to marvel at these babies we're putting out there on the field, who despite the hiccups, are finding ways to come through. Ellsbury threw himself onto the ground, diving for a great catch that denied the Angels a leadoff runner through eight innings. (in fact, the Angels would not get even one leadoff man on base in this entire game.) *this* is what we need to accomplish against a team like Anaheim if we want to make the ALCS! and Vlad, pushing for third on a ball hit by Hunter that fell beyond Youk's reach, was tagged out when Youk snagged the ball & was back on his feet in one swift motion, the ball blazing like a bullet right into Lowell's glove for the tag out.

two more runs, manufactured by smart, aggressive base-running, as opposed to the long ball the Sox have relied on in the past, in the top of the ninth. a Lowrie single, a perfect Tek sac bunt & a speedy Ellsbury single allowed Lowrie to erase the Angels run placed on his shoulders. Ellsbury stole second, was aggressive enough to advance on a Pedroia grounder back to the mound, then scored on a Papi hit up the middle, padding the score nicely for a Papelbon entrance (insurance i am not ungrateful for at this point in the season, recalling all too well that i *can't* recall the last clean inning from our closer). and here we are, playing Angel-style baseball against them successfully.

the Sox come out on top on the road, after all the media babble about Lester's road record versus his dominating Fenway presence and the sky-is-falling attitude about Josh Beckett not pitching in Game One.

the talking heads droning on & on about the Sox Manny-deficit and its potential post season effects and it's Jason Bay going deep for the game-winning runs.

i don't feel safe yet though. i need to know that The Commander is going to be healthy, both in Game Three and beyond, as well as blazing hot with his trademark October fury. i need to know that JD Drew will be well long enough to relocate his swing, patrol right field and make it through the next few weeks (though we do have more resources for the outfield, my faith in Coco restored in September, than we do in starting pitching depth).

and mostly i say a prayer every time i see Mike Lowell at the plate or manning third base, lest we forget our limping third baseman's 2007 MVP contributions. this series is far from over, and it's Matsuzaka's Friday night start that worries me against the Angels & their small ball mentality, especially with the number of opposing base runners that he has been known to allow.

but this win was the perfect start to the ALCS series. it went better than i would have predicted, if i had succombed to the media's fretting, yet i had a good feeling going into this game for some reason, and it proved correct. (an aside: is it me? or does Chip Caray sound like he tries to channel Joe Buck when he announces a game? it's almost as if he listens to tape of The Ultimate Sportshole, trying to perfectly mimic his voice. it's kind of creepy actually. thank God he doesn't have the attitude that goes with it. yet.)

the icing, though, is what i woke up to this morning on my clock radio alarm. the local radio station was just wrapping up the news with "baseball that is actually important starts tonight in Tampa." (they didn't even give any of the scores from Wednesday's three games, and while i wouldn't expect it in the regular season, in the post season, these games deserve a mention. all of them.) but then they revealed the only thing that could have made my morning better. there is a season-long joke that i share with my inner-baseball-circle, which was born of every Dioner Navarro at-bat for the Rays that we were subjected to. it goes something like this: Dioner is not a name. well, the Rays printed up their AL East Champions (excuse me while i gag just a bit) t-shirts for distribution... and on the back, where the team roster is printed... ::pauses, gasping in laughter:: is the name... DONOR Navarro!! oh, sweet justice!

may the Rays play with the same lack of attention to the game as the t-shirt printers gave to the shirts they allowed out the door for sale. may Mike Lowell (and all our other key players) make it through the post season with all their parts attached & operating. may the Sox continue to play ball like they did last night. and may the Other Sox rain down fire & brimstome at the Juice Box this afternoon, as has been my mantra since Chicago gutted out a win in their do-or-die tiebreaker Tuesday night.

one win down. ten more to go.

(photos of Bay and Lester from the Boston Globe and Lowell from Yahoo! Sports)


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