Braves Snap Four-Game Skid Against Sox

Red Sox Lose A Nail-Bitter In Atlanta

The Boston Red Sox were unable to complete a series sweep of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday as rookie pitcher, Tommy Hanson, led the Braves to a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox at Turner Field.

Hanson pitched six innings of scoreless ball and recieved help from Chipper Jones and Garrett Anderson in the form of the long ball as the two solo homeruns were all that Atlanta would need in game three of their series with Boston.

Brad Penny was on the mound for Boston as the hefty righthander continued his success, even while recording a loss, as Penny (6-3) threw six innings of two-run ball while striking out two but giving up the two solo-blasts.  

David Ortiz continued his hitting pace as the Boston slugger has registered at least one hit in six of his last seven games.  Big Papi went 1-for-4 on the afternoon against Atlanta. Jason Varitek drove in the only run for Boston with an RBI single in the ninth inning to bring home Kevin Youkilis.  

The Red Sox head to Baltimore on Monday with the local nine squaring off against the Orioles at Camden Yards.  Jon Lester will be on the hill for Boston facing Jason Berken of the O’s.
(AP Photo)

Fenway Will Always Be Faithful to Big Papi

Sometimes, faith is rewarded.
David Ortiz taught us that. When things looked darkest, he swaggered up to the batter’s box, spit into his hands, clapped them together with the authority of Zeus unleashing a roll of thunder and proceeded to stroke the ball high and deep into the night, and out of Fenway Park. It was October 2004 and we were down 3 games to none in the ALCS to the New York Yankees, the game was tied in the 12th. This was not an unfamiliar situation, the pain and horror of 2003 was still fresh in our minds. Things looked darker than dark, we all know the story, we all remember that nauseating pit of fear in our stomachs as once again the Red Sox were well on their way to ripping our hearts out. David Ortiz took one swing and set the wheels of destiny in motion. Those were the days when even Superman and Chuck Norris wore Big Papi pajamas to bed at night.
There has been a lot of baseball played since those fateful days in 2004. For the most part, he cruised through the next few seasons, swatting 47 home runs and driving in a league leading 148 RBIs in 2005, leading the league in with 54 home runs and 137 in 2006, and hitting a career high .332 with another league leading statistic of an OBP of .445 in 2007. During these years he was a perennial All Star and MVP candidate. The Red Sox won another World Series in 2007 and life was pretty sweet for David Ortiz in Boston. Heading out of the 2007 season he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. After an unusually slow start in 2008, and a wrist injury that eventually needed surgery as well, it was clear he was not going to provide his usual game changing presence. He began to struggle and we were worried about this new Papi, but we managed to write it off to the injuries and had hopes for a brighter 2009. Unfortunately, 2009 did not start well for David Ortiz.
Just how bad was it? The beginning of the season (through May 31) saw a batting average of under .200, 48 strikouts in 208 at bats, only 18 RBIs, no home runs. The press started getting snarky, there were allusions to Mo Vaughn’s sudden decline and Jim Rice in the 80s, and there were speculations about Ortiz’s real age. It was said Big Papi had turned into Big Pop-Up. A home run on May 20 gave us hope. Fenway gave him a standing ovation and demanded a curtain call. The relief was palpable, but short lived. For the next two weeks Ortiz continued to struggle, he was dropped to 6th in the batting order, Boston fans walked a tight line between blind hope and total despair. June arrived and it was looking pretty bleak. However, hard work, determination and a little faith paid off.  Big Papi started to look like his old self again, batting .310 so far in the month of June, hitting 6 homers and driving in 16 runs.  We can cautiously say he’s turned the corner, he seems to have recovered his timing at the plate and a little bit of his swagger. Hopefully he continues on this path.
The most remarkable thing in all of this is we never stopped trying to believe in David Ortiz. Sure, we had our doubts about his ability to come back, but the fans rallied behind him, cheering him up to the plate for each at bat, and simply going quiet after each failure. No one knows how long this incredible patience would have lasted, and it was a result of the appreciation for everything David Ortiz has given us in the past, it made me proud to be a Red Sox fan. It is not often a player gets a free pass in Boston. In fact, it’s pretty much never. If you don’t perform, we generally decide we don’t like you and we get a little nasty, sometimes a lot nasty. The Red Sox, as an organization and usually with us fans in tow, have a history of running previously beloved star players out of town (see also: Garciaparra, Nomar). Things could have gotten ugly, watching Papi try to hit earlier this year was a frustrating, disappointing and depressing experience for everyone. It would have been easy for him to blame the past injuries, claim to be hurt again, and take the back door out of town. Luckily for us, David Ortiz seems to have rewarded our faith once again, nobody wanted to see Big Papi go down that way.

Patriots Training Camp Announced

The New England Patriots have announced that their 2009 training camp will open to the public on July 30.  

With Tom Brady back on the field, Patriots fans will be excited to see if Terrific Tom can return to his 2007 form.  Also, with  Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor in camp, fans will get to see some new faces in a familiar uniform.

What Will The Celtics Do?

Pivotal Off-Season For Danny Ainge and Celtics

At the conclusion of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, it was clear who the better team was.

The Orlando Magic.  

The problem for Danny Ainge and the Celtics was that they had no Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe, as both players were not healthy and unable to suit up for the series.  That’s neither here nor there now and what matters is that the Boston Celtics have some key decisions to make during the summer about what the future holds for this intriguing squad.

With Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau locked up for next season, the coaching staff is all set. However, there have been trade rumors circling involving the names of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Kendrick Perkins in the past couple of weeks, specifically with the players being traded in some type of package to the Phoenix Suns or Minnesota Timberwolves.  

Whether these rumors are true or are in fact just, rumors, is uncertain at this point.  That doesn’t stop us from considering the options.  If Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics decide to trade an aging Ray Allen, it would not necessarily mean the Celtics are getting any worse. Allen’s contract ends at the end of the 2009-2010 season as he will be the first member of the Big Three out of Boston (if he chooses not to re-sign).  If the C’s landed themselves a younger shooting guard or forward in a trade for Allen, it may set themselves up for more success in the long run while sacrificing a better chance at the title next season.  However, a trade involving Rondo and Perkins would create a huge hole at the center and point guard position. The two youngsters have blossomed in the past two seasons and are on the verge of stardom. Replacing either would be tough especially with a limited number of resources.

However, if the Celtics worked a trade to land All-Star Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa and the 14 overall pick from the Suns for Rondo and Allen, maybe the Green should consider such a whopping swap.  Boston would obviously need to find a ball-handling point guard for the short-term and the future with the lose of Rondo, but the acquisition of Stoudemire could create of the most feared and dynamic front courts in the history of the NBA.  With Perkins, Garnett, and Stoudemire, the Celtics would dominate the post and boards.  Also, Doc Rivers would be afforded the ability to rest Garnett more and prolong his career in Boston and the NBA.

Boston could also wheel the 14th overall pick from the Suns to another team for a point guard or other area of weakness.  The possibilities are endless for the Celtics executive but fans urge extreme caution to Ainge when wheeling and dealing such big pieces to the puzzle.


Dice-K put on 15 Day Disabled List

The Boston Red Sox placed right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a mild shoulder strain, a day after the team announced it would hold Dice-K out of his next start.

But manager Terry Francona said before the Red Sox game that this likely wouldn’t be a quick fix.

“It’s not going to be a two-week DL thing,” Francona said, according to the Boston Globe. “We have a lot of work ahead of us to get him back to being Daisuke.”-Full Story

Bruins Receive Some Hardware

B’s Leave Las Vegas With Some Awards

The Boston Bruins were in Las Vegas on Thursday for the NHL awards ceremony and three Bruins went home with decorated accolades.  

Tim Thomas, Zhendo Chara, and Claude Julien all recieved awards for being tops at their position in 2009.  Thomas won the Vezina Trohpy which goes to the top goaltender.  Chara won the Norris Trohpy which goes to the leagues top defenseman and coach Julien was honored with the Jack Adams Awarad which goes to the NHL’s top coach.

In a 2008-2009 season that gave Boston fans lots to cheer about and lots to look forward to next year, it’s nice to know that some Bruins were honored for their astounding success on the ice this past season.

Takashi Saito To Be Traded?

Japanese Right-Hander Gaining Interest

The Boston Red Sox made it a point this past offseason to stockpile their pitching, and in particular, their bullpen.  With a plethora of arms in the starting rotation and bullpen, should Theo Epstein and the Red Sox pull the trigger on a trade that would send Takashi Saito out of Boston?

According to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, Saito has gained interest from several teams throughout the league.  With Brad Penny on the trading block already, would it make sense for the Sox to trade a reliable reliever as well?

Only if it makes the team better.

Rumors have it that Saito has been linked to the Rangers in a deal that would send the Japanese right-hander to Texas for first basemen Hank Blalock.  With the 39-year-old relegated to backup closing duty and occasional setup man, the Sox don’t really need Saito. What the Red Sox may need is a bat off the bench or a corner infielder who can take some pressure off of the middle of the lineup.

Blalock, a 28-year-old, has spent his entire career at Texas battling injuries and inconsistency.  However, the switch-hitter can play both third and first base and possess a high slugging percentage.  Blalock is a career .273 hitter with 140 HRs.  If the Sox felt the need to add an extra bat, he would fit the profile especially if David Ortiz cannot snap out of his season-long slump.

Saito won’t be in Boston long as the right-hander is near retirement.  So a trade that would swap Saito with Blalock may not be only be of good interest for the Sox in the present, it may also help them down the road (like if Mike Lowell left after 2010 or Lars Anderson didn’t pan out).  

Boston may have a stockpile of pitching and the Sox obviously have some needs offensively and defensively.  So, maybe instead of trading away a streaking Brad Penny, Boston should look to a less important piece and part ways with Saito for the betterment of the present Red Sox and the future Red Sox.

What To Do, What To Do…

  What Are Boston’s Plans For John Smoltz?

In Major League Baseball, it is thought that pitching and defense wins championships. Hitting is just an added bonus.  So with John Smoltz set to return to the majors and most likely in the Red Sox starting rotation, is it safe to assume that Boston has too much starting pitching?

Nah, it can’t be.  Can it?

Truth be told, Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox find themselves in a healthy predicament.  Boston potentially has seven quality starters (I cringe to use quality in regards to Dice-K) that could be used in their five-man rotation.  Terry Francona has his five starters now with Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Wakefield, and Penny, with the possible additions of Smoltz and Buchholz.  Most teams in the league would love to have three of these seven pitchers to set up their rotation, luckily for the Sox, they have all seven.

For the time being.

There are many options, courses of action, and possibilities that linger with this situation. One thing is for certain, however, and it’s that John Smoltz will be a starting pitcher for Boston.  The Red Sox signed Smoltz for the postseason but the veteran wants to get his feet wet before September and October, and all signs indicate that Smoltz is ready to pitch. Terry Francona is set to address the pitching situation tomorrow, so Sox fans have one more day to speculate on the decided course of action.

Some possible solutions go as follows:

1) The Sox trade Brad Penny in hopes of inserting Smoltz into the rotation while also solving a need at shortstop or DH.  

2) The Sox relegate Daisuke Matsuzaka to the bullpen, minor leagues, or DL in hopes of freeing up a spot in the rotation and solving Dice-K’s woes.

3) The Sox put Tim Wakefield in the bullpen, instead of Dice-K.  This one seems like the most logical but alternatively is the worse.  Wakefield has pitched well all season long and it would make no sense to punish one of your best starters.  Also, the guy would run through a brick wall for the Red Sox, so to ask him to sit in the bullpen for the rest of the season would not only be rude, it could be considered unlawful in the eyes of the baseball gods.

Time will only tell what the Red Sox brass decides to do.  Things could happen as early as today or by July 31st.  If the Sox wait for the latter, it could only help their chances at having the problem fix itself or having other teams become more desperate at acquiring one of their extra pieces.    

Oh what to do, what to do.

Boston Has New York’s Number

Red Sox Extend Winning Streak Against Yankees

Whether its the Celtics over the Knicks, the Patriots over the Jets (I had to leave out the Giants), or the Bruins over the Rangers, Boston sports teams have New York’s number. On Wednesday night, it was no different as the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 6-5 as Boston has now won their eighth straight game, dating back to last year, against the Bronx Bombers.

Hold off on the Frank Sinatra music.

New York, New York has failed to beat Boston in it’s last eight tries as the Sox took the AL East lead last night with a Tim Wakefield victory.  Wakefield (8-3) improved to 5-0 at home this season, pitching six innings allowing three runs off of eight hits with two strikeouts.  

Boston’s knuckleballer has struggled against New York over his career, going 11-17 against the pinstripes but on Wednesday he had the knuckleball dancing to Sweet Caroline and Shipping Up To Boston.  Jonathan Papelbon closed the door on the Yanks in the ninth with a Jorge Posada flyout to Jason Bay to record his 15th save of the season.  

Mark Teixeira made things interesting in the final innings with a home run off of Ramon Ramirez as the lefty slugger is hitting .376 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs in his last 30 games.  

I guess the sure-handed first basemen is living up to his $161 million contract.

Nonetheless, the Sox will look to sweep the dreaded Yankees tonight at Fenway with Brad Penny facing CC Sabathia.

(AP Photo)

Someone Give This Guy A Black Eye

Idiot Yankee fan tosses grass seed in Fenway that he says is “Yankee Stadium” grass seed. 

I am not sure how you take grass seed, put it in a package with a Yankees logo on it and call it Yankee Stadium grass seed.  Someone explain that logic to me!

Track this guy down, tie him up, and feed him Fenway Park dirt until he gags.

His name is Ian Ferris and he is from Shelburne VT

Full Story

The Yankees Are Coming To Fenway

                  Red Sox Host AL East Leading Yankees

It may only be June, but the New York Yankees are coming to town with a one game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, so this series still packs a lot of punch.

With the best rivalry in sports being at Fenway Park for three games, the Sox will be looking to take back the division lead with a series sweep of the dreaded Yankees.  The first game of the series won’t disappoint as Josh Beckett squares off against A.J. Burnett on Tuesday.

Red Sox fans will also have their first opportunity to show Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeria, and CC Sabathia how they really feel about them this week with the Bronx Bombers in town. Both the Yanks and Sox are playing well of late so this series should be a good parameter for which team has the upper-hand thus far in 2009.

These three games should be fun. Enjoy baseball fans.