April 2006

Opener in Baltimore

It’s a dreary day here in Baltimore, but hopefully it will clear up by the first pitch. Camden Yards is one  of my favorite road spots in the league. It’s a short walk to the ballpark from the hotel, the press box is very low, so you feel like you’re right on top of the action and the crowd makes it feel more like a Red Sox home game than road game.

  Over the last several years, Red Sox fans have packed into Camden Yards for these Sox-O’s games. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or mid-week, or early spring, mid-summer or early fall. New England packs this place in droves.

The loudest I’ve ever heard it here was Curt Schilling’s first start in a Red Sox uniform in April, ’04. As Foulke got ready to close out the game, there were thousands of fans on their feet anticipating the last out. Seriously, i think it was every bit as loud as Fenway would be for the last out.

I can see why so many fans would come down here. There are a lot of good flight options from Boston, be it Airtran or Southwest. The stadium is cozy, just a great place to watch a game.

The Inner Harbor is a good place to walk around, with lots of shops and restaurants, etc. And with tickets so hard to come by at Fenway, it’s a good way for people to see the team live.

Let’s face it, this dynamic will change a little bit if the Orioles become a player again in the AL East. Once that happens, Orioles fans will start to protect their turf a little more and scoop up more of the available tickets.

In the meantime, expect this place to sound like Red Sox South this weekend.

  Clement against Cabrera. I like watching Cabrera pitch a lot. This guy throws hard, i mean, HARD. If he can polish up his repertoire, this guy could turn into a special pitcher one day. As for Clement, he’s sort of a forgotten man going into the season. I think he might thrive under that scenario.

Ciao,

Ian.

Here in Bird-land

Just so you don’t think the life of a baseball writer is all glamour, I woke up after a short night of sleep to catch my flight from Dallas to Baltimore and ended up sitting on the plane for close to two hours before takeoff. Supposedly there was some bad weather in Baltimore which held up the flight, but it couldn’t be nicer now.

I think i’ll do my laundry tonight. How is that for excitement? Hey, I’ve been on the road since Feb. 19, so some clean clothes are much needed.

No game tonight, so I’ll probably watch Pedro on the tube and maybe get some takeout Chinese food.

Ciao,

Ian.

Game 3 is in the books

Quite a game tonight. So many subplots. Beckett’s first start, and he comes through big-time.

Yet another clutch homer for Trot Nixon. He doesn’t hit that many home runs, but doesn’t it seem like it always counts when he does go deep?

  Great execution by Manny, Lowell and Varitek to cut down a play at the plate.

And then, the intriguing ninth when Terry Francona went to Papelbon instead of Foulke. It made perfect sense. Papelbon has been throwing lights out. Foulke was very shaky the other day and still trying to get back on his feet. So go with the guy who is throwing the best. It worked tonight.

It appears Tito will try to get Foulke a little confidence before completely throwing him into the fire.

I’ll talk to you from Baltimore.

Ian.

More Ortiz comedy

The media was in manager Terry  Francona’s office having a nice, quiet discussion about baseball when David Ortiz came ambling in, wearing a an eye patch.

"Tito, look at this right here, Manny came to the field wearing this. He said, ‘I got to get my eyes strong.’. I said, ‘you look like you were wearing that during the game too."

  Of course, Ramirez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Tuesday’s game.

  As Ortiz walked out of the room, Francona said, "That’s one of the best players in baseball right there."

It’s unclear if he was talking about Ortiz or Ramirez. The quote would have applied in either case :)

Game 3

It is Game 3 here in the heart of Texas and it’s a hot Texas day, appropriate weather for a Texan like Josh Beckett to make his first start in a Boston uniform.

  I’m going to make a prediction on Beckett tonight. Let’s see how close I come.

  7 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K’s; 115 pitches; 78 strikes.

  would anyone else like to chime in with a prediction?

  Ian.

Game 2, finale

Game 2 is in the books, and it is not one to remember. For the next few starts, all the attention is going to be on Josh Bard to see how he handles Wakefield’s knuckleball. That’s only natural.

Wakefield doesn’t seem to be too worried about it. In a classy move, he placed all the blame for Tuesday’s sloppy contest on himself, and not Bard. Doug Mirabelli made it look easy, but this was only Bard’s first crack in a real game. Wakefield has always struggled in Texas and doesn’t know why. Just one of those things, he thinks. Sunday in Baltimore should be a better indication.

In other news, it seems like Coco Crisp has been on base since the second he got to Spring Training. Three more hits on Tuesday, and his first stolen base. Fenway fans are going to love guy.

Until tomorrow — the official unveiling of Beckett — Ciao!

Ian.

Game 2, Part 3

Ameriquest Field in Texas has been a haunted house for poor Tim Wakefield over the years, and that was evident again tonight. You can usually tell with Wakefield right away if he’s in a groove, and he clearly wasn’t in this one. Josh Bard seemed so comfortable catching that knuckleball in Spring Training, but things fell apart early in this one.  Nine more outs left for the Red Sox, but this one is not looking so good. I’ll probably check in one more time after the game. At least everyone has Josh Beckett to look forward to tomorrow.

Legend of Big Papi

David Ortiz, as he often is in the quiet hours before a game, was in a playful mood Tuesday as he discussed some untold legends of Octobers past.

Game 6, 2003 ALCS, everyone remembers the Red Sox pulling off a semi-upset of Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to force Game 7. It was a day game, so Ortiz could have enjoyed a little bit of the NY night life that night if he so chose. Instead, his mind was filled with thoughts of Game 7 so he stayed in his hotel room and obsessed about the game. He gets to the ballpark for Game 7 and he’s mentally exhausted. Ortiz still goes deep off David Wells in the late innings, but as we all remember, the Sox lose a heartbreaker.

Fast forward one year later. Again, the Red Sox win Game 6 in the Bronx to Ortizforce Game 7. This time, Ortiz gets an offer to join some friends out on the town, he wanted to hear a Latin singer perform at a certain adult establishment. Ortiz recalls leaving said establishment at roughly 3 a.m., where a bunch of Yankee fans gleefully spotted him.

"They knew I was just crushing the wine in the back of the room and they said, ‘You’re the guy who’s going to beat the Yankees in Game 7?’… From that point on, I had it in my mind that I was going to hit a home run in my first at-bat."

Game 7 comes, Ortiz belts a two-run homer
( 350K) off Kevin Brown in the first inning. The rest is history as the Red Sox become the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to rally back from a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

Eighteen months later, Ortiz still loves the memory. It will probably never get old.

Game 2, Part 2

OK, my family and friends are now aware of my blog and my stepfather has kindly given me my first editing correction. Gauntlets are thrown down, not passed. Thank you Jeff.

Now on to the news of the day. Alex Cora is in the lineup, batting seventh and playing shortstop. the reason? it’s a matchup thing. Cora is 6-for-13 lifetime against Rangers starter Vincente Padilla. Alex Gonzalez is 3-for-20. Enuf said. Besides, Terry Francona wants to get as many of his reserves into the lineup early in the season as he can, so they don’t get rusty.

not much else going on in the pregame. Talk to you in a bit. time to hammer out those notes.

Ciao,

Ian.

Game 2

Redsoxopener I fancy myself as a pretty modern guy, so it’s about time I get with the times and start a blog. When Mark Feinsand, my counterpart on the Yankees beat, told me he was going to start a blog, I felt like the gauntlet had been passed. I need to keep that Red Sox-Yankees rivalry going, so I can’t let that fast-talking New Yorker one-up me, so here I go.

Opening Day went right according to script. But everyone knows the other 161 will be far more stressful.

Will Wakefield’s knuckleball be on tonight? We’ll find out soon enough. I’ll probably be back at you after the pre-game to key you in on any new developments.

For now, CIAO,

Ian.

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