Category Archives: Red Sox

Scrollable Photo Gallery: Recognitions of the Beauty that is Hanley Ramirez’s Left Field

If there is anything in the baseball world that is so obviously wrong, it has been Hanley Ramirez’s first three months in left field for the Boston Red Sox. For those unimaginative Red Sox fans out there still growling over the reality that the team probably isn’t winning the World Series, the only thing left to say is, Why so serious?

There is a growing contingent of observers (we’d estimate roughly 90% of the media; maybe 25% of fans) proving to be dead inside, who want to take it all away from us. They want to kill the laughter – they want HanRam and his bulky contract gone. They want the Red Sox to swallow a chunk of the deal and essentially pay one of the most entertaining players in baseball to DH for some other club. They say, “Cut bait now or pay the price later! He’s a clubhouse chemistry nightmare!”

They are what is wrong with modern professional sporting culture. If this is what this team is going to be, why not keep letting HanRam do what he does? Keep him where he is, in this awkward angular space, creating offense with his glove, teaching us all the joy of laughter during a season otherwise destined to be wrought with despair.

Red Sox fans ecstatic they’ll no longer have to sneak contraband veggies into Fenway Park

Fenway Farms photo

Photograph from @FreshNewEngland

Season ticket-holder Edith Coakley knows the feeling all too well. The nervous anticipation, ticket in hand, as she nears a turnstile to enter Boston’s baseball cathedral, Fenway Park on many a warm summer’s day.

It should be a feeling of excitement and euphoria. Instead, all she can do is fret anxiously as the gate attendant goes through her canvas carryall. Don’t find the eggplant, please. For the love of God, take away my carrots, but stay away from the eggplant. 

“I find the ballpark food options to be a bit too predictable,” Coakley explains. “So I’ve been bringing in my own vegetables for years. Fresh cherry tomatoes that you can pop in your mouth instead of stale Cracker Jacks or peanuts. Trust me, on a hot summer’s day, munching down crispy cucumber dices is so much more refreshing than eating some $5 frankfurter that’s been soaking in lukewarm toilet water for the past four hours.”

Her wisdom may be far from conventional, but the organization has finally caught on. The ballpark vegetable craze is no longer mere fad, limited to the over-industrious, enterprising health-nut minority.

Earlier this week, the team announced that this season will serve as the inaugural year for “Fenway Farms,” an on-site vegetable garden that will grow all the family favorite herbs and vegetables: green beans, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, pea shoots, parsley, oregano, cilantro, mint and countless other edibles.

Fenway Farms rendering

Homegrown products from Fenway Farms will be sold at concession stands and used as ingredients in food offerings. The team will also donate some beans and leaves to local needy school children.

For most fans such as Coakley, this is welcome news.

“No more weird glances when I pull a big-ass squash out of the front of my half-unbuttoned Nomar Garciparra jersey!” she rejoices.

As Loraine Smith from Seekonk put it, “Raw vegetables chock full of vitamins and a revamped Sox lineup chock full of raw power. What more can we ask for as Boston fans?”

John Hammond from Wellesley: “Some people are saying kale is just having its moment right now. That it’s a fad. That it’s a fluke or whatever. Well guess what, people said the same thing about David Ortiz in 2003.”

head of lettuce

One club official also confirmed to Fenway Pastoral that there is serious charity auction potential with Fenway Farms. “We have some stuff up our sleeves. For example, fans may enjoy our plan to sell to the highest bidder all heads of lettuce resembling Mark Bellhorn. These will become instant collector’s items and a portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Jimmy Fund.”

Fenway Farms is a worthy endeavor indeed. However, as with everything good in life there are drawbacks. As part of the team’s plan to enter the lucrative farmer’s market industry, it confirmed it will be forced to crack down on fans that continue to insist on bringing outside veggies  into the park on gameday.

“We cannot have unauthorized contraband cauliflower and cukes floating around the bleachers,” said one club official. “It will compromise our business model and I think fans will hopefully understand and accept that.”

Unfortunately, with Opening Day looming on Monday, some fans are planning to fight back.

“These damn big government liberal hippies want to control my every move. This is Agricultural Big Brother gone mad,” said Pete James of Hanson. “I have a right to choose where I acquire and consume my veggies. This is un-American and wrong. So long as this is still the U.S. of A., I plan on chopping my own broccoli fresh in the comfort of my grandstand seat. I’d just like to see them come try to stop me.”

Ray Holtz from Framingham: “This is your garden variety capitalistic get-rich quick scheme. Entice a captive audience with delicious vegetables and make them pay an exorbitant mark-up. Seen it a thousand times. John Henry is just lining his pockets with the money he prints and you just know he’s keeping his pretty fancy boy self trim and his bowels regular with all that free kale.”

The Youker Files: Going AWOL from Cubs camp in Arizona to wave this new penis size study in Terry Francona’s face

Former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis played in the major leagues from 2004-2013 before spending last year in Japan. He announced his retirement last fall and subsequently took a job with Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs as a special assistant.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for years, you guys.

Scientists finally did it. I’m sure we’re all aware of the fact that back when Terry Francona was my coach with the Red Sox, he made some incredibly insensitive remarks about my penis length. He didn’t exactly term it that way, but we all know what he meant. He said I wasn’t a Greek god of anything because he’d apparently stole a few glances of my hog while I was in the locker room. Just ignorant.

So yeah yeah yeah, he was obviously kidding around. But that kind of colorful quote is the thing media types run with. I’ve never lived it down.

Until now.

I’ll admit, when I first glanced at the story my heart sank. See, the first article I read off the Internet earlier this week was from some British newspaper in England and numbers like 13 and 11 jumped off the computer screen at me. The pit of my stomach burned with a flurry of feelings I can’t even describe.

I guess my new boss Theo Epstein caught wind that I was moping around the Chicago Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa (Arizona). All of a sudden I got a little sticky note inside my locker saying he wanted to see me. Now, I’ve seen the movie Major League about 40,000 times so this slip hanging in my locker scared the hell out of me.

I’m glad I didn’t barge into his office and tear the sticky into a thousand little pieces like I planned at first. Theo sat me down and explained something to me in layman’s terms – chiefly, the whole metric system.

Let me just say first off I don’t get Europe – why do they have to reinvent the wheel and fix things that ain’t broken? They can’t just use inches?

But I’m getting off track here.

Theo’s math lesson was a lot confusing and I stopped paying attention after a while, but not before doing a little math with Boy Wonder and figuring something out – Terry shortchanged me and it was time to formally seek his apology.

Now, mind you, I haven’t been a special assistant for the Cubs for very long. Less than a month, counting weekends and some personal time. I’m not really sure I’ve accrued a hell of a lot of vaca.

But Terry Francona’s Indians do their spring training stuff in Goodyear, Arizona – only about 45 minutes west of the Cubs’ facility. So I thought the best course of action would be to steal off for a few hours (it wouldn’t take long – I’d bring a fully printed, professionally bound copy of the penis study and wave it mockingly in Tito’s face). And to be stealth about it, I’d take a rental car and leave my car safely parked at the Cubs’ stadium, hence saving the trouble of having to take a day off yet also maintaining the appearance I was putting in my due time at the office so to speak. For all the Cubs knew, I was teaching my patented upper-hand bat grip slide to a youngster working on his swing timing.

So anyway I got lucky on Wednesday – the Indians were playing the Reds. As a Cincy kid from way back in the day, I figured this was probably a sign that this was my time to strike.

The ride was a breeze – rented a Jeep so that in case things didn’t go well with Terry I could do a little off-roading in the desert somewhere and blow off some of the inevitable steam.

Anyway, I encountered a couple of things of note in the parking lot once I got to Goodyear. The first was some inconsiderate goonball who had taken up two spaces in the garage with a compact car. I wasn’t about to let that go so I ripped a page from the large binder I had with the penis study in it. I figured the thing was so long-winded I could spare a page. I wrote out a long, detailed note to the guy about what a jerk he was to take up a space – what if somebody missed the ballgame looking for a spot because this guy decided he needed two? Et cetera et cetera.

I thought with that minor hurdle out of the way, I’d be able to walk into the Indians locker room and find Tito, show him the evidence about my normal-size member, and drive on back to the Cubs grinning ear to ear for getting the last laugh a decade later.

Unfortunately, I was accosted by several rabid fans in the parking lot. ‘You’re Kevin freaking Youkilis! Hey Kevin, sign me something!’ All these people were just swarming me. I could barely breathe.

The little kids all had hats and gloves and baseballs they wanted signed – lots of Reds fans from Ohio who remember me from my Cincy days. Really flattering and they were all begging me to come out of retirement and whatnot. Told ’em I’d think about it. Can’t say no to kids, you know?

The problem was I couldn’t leave some of the cute ladies who were also fighting for my attention, asking for my autograph. Only none of these girls had anything for me to sign – they didn’t have balls or pennants or my 2004 Red Sox rookie card or any of the typical stuff I expect my true fans to carry on their person. They were real pushy and none of them had a Sharpie either so I couldn’t just sign their breasts or buttocks and be on my way. (Some women like it when I just sign Yoooouk right across the cleavage.)

These chicks were so ill-prepared, but I’ve been turning over a new leaf and mellowing out big time now that I’m retired and married to Tom Brady’s sister. I’m a simple man and don’t want any trouble. So being the people person I am, I ripped some pages from my penis study binder that I had printed for Terry and signed Kevin Youkilis a dozen times and sent them off on their way.

Well, I’m sure you can tell where this is all going, tragically, by now. By the time I made my way to the clubhouse and asked for Terry, I realized basically all of the pages that proved my point about society’s misconceptions about the male hog were gone. The entire meat of the report – missing. Scattered about on car windshields and folded into purses of fickle female fans.

Ugh.

When Tito finally walked out of the clubhouse, he saw me holding the binder and began pointing and laughing hysterically. It was awful. I was in the height of my shame.

I dropped the binder and went after him the same way I did Rick Porcello a few years back. I didn’t care. I was steamed. I was going full bore right at him and was gonna tackle him when out of nowhere my former teammate Mike Aviles cut me off and chipped me off my route. Apparently, he didn’t care much for me during the time we were both in Boston in 2011 and we exchanged some mutual feelings of dislike. I’m glad the other guys there pulled me out of there and restrained me before I completely punked him.

After that, an executive from the Cleveland organization asked me not so politely to leave. What a long lonely walk back to the Jeep. The entire drive back to Mesa, all I could see was that image of Terry Francona pointing and laughing at me. Just a horrible feeling. So bad I forgot to even stop in the desert – I was too depressed for off-roading. Wasn’t up for sighting cacti – I’d dealt with enough pricks for one day. (Specifically, I’d bumped into a cactus grabbing a soda at a gas station and it left some pock-like marks.

So yeah, that’s about it. It’s unfortunate I had to pull a Schilling and take to the Internet. But awareness is important and I’m glad I didn’t back down to his bullying. I guess this beef with Terry Francona talking about my weenie is just going to continue onward into the abyss. So it goes.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to my new role as a special assistant with the Cubs. It’s gonna be like old times – Chicago even signed Manny Ramirez to some sort of a mentor role. I think they probably see the two of us as a good cop (me), bad cop (Manny) kind of dynamic.

On Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan tackling the tired ‘Us (media) vs. Them (athletes)’ conundrum

Hamburger Helper proctology

Bob Ryan is semi-retired and don’t get us wrong, it’s nice to have him around. Surely, The Boston Globe feels the same way. He only shows up sporadically in the sports pages these days, but – usually – seeing his byline is a welcome one since the level of discourse from local columnists isn’t really all that insightful. An opinion coming from him still means something.

But if Sunday’s column is all he’s got left to say, maybe the dynamics of modern sports coverage have passed him by.

From his column entitled Why do media need to talk to athletes?

Now, I will acknowledge that far too many of the postgame encounters are banal and pointless. Really good, juicy, informative quotes are always in short supply. But when writers are facing hideous nighttime deadlines, those boring, obvious, and repetitive quotes are needed in order to fill space and make that deadline. I call them the journalistic equivalent of Hamburger Helper. There are times a writer cannot live without them.

We’re glad Bob used the Hamburger Helper analogy here, because it disproves the point he hopes he is making. Speaking in culinary terms, Hamburger Helper is the lazy way out, a cheap and unhealthy, MSG-laden and preservatives-filled alternative to actually cooking a meal using fresh ingredients, a detailed recipe and a moderate level of skill that goes beyond a pan on top of a stove. If one fancies oneself as even a novice chef, Hamburger Helper is a joke.

In short, you’re a pretty shitty cook if the best you can do is Hamburger Helper.

Just the same – you’re a pretty shitty professional writer if you can’t produce a game story on deadline without use of a couple pithy one-liners from an athlete coming down from the throes of competition.

If you are a reporter or a columnist writing about a sports team, and you cannot do your job without the benefit of what Ryan here admits is pure fluff, pure filler, then you have no business calling yourself a professional writer. Deadlines be damned, particularly in a world in which TV and the Internet render any post-game quote stale by the time it appears in print or even a website an hour later. The time it takes to take an elevator from the press box to the locker room is ample time to come up with a couple more grafs of original material that is pertinent to the game that has just concluded.

If you are a Red Sox beat writer and you need David Ortiz to personally tell you that the pitch he hit for walk-off home run was a fastball, then maybe writing about baseball isn’t your meal ticket after all – unless you want to subsist on Hamburger Helper the rest of your life.

The tragedy here is Bob Ryan was better than this over the course of his career as a beat reporter. He didn’t (and doesn’t now) truly need any of the banal material from athletes he claims a reporter does to make a story better. That is what makes this kind of column all the more puzzling and sad. Maybe Ryan really believes many of his fellow writers cannot live without the ever-so-lazy use of quotes. But after 40-plus years in the business he should know better than most by now that readers certainly can live without them. And that’s all that should matter.

Scrollable Photo Gallery: 2015 Red Sox Spring Training, Week 1

Thus begins the quest to go from worst to first….(with a little bit of jorts and plaid cargo shorts sprinkled in between).

The middle of the order:

K.F. Panda takes some cuts:

Rusney Castillo shows off his Mohawk Hairlines.

Hopefully Han-Ram isn’t too influenced by that potty-mouthed Papi (the guy used the word “shit” earlier this week! Again!):

Boston’s No.1 prospect gets acquainted with Wade Miley:

Former Sox catcher Jason Varitek teaching his protege youngsters Swihart and Christian Vazquez the delicate art of roaming the outfield menacingly:

Strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora, giving the media the universal signal to settle the fuck down about various players’ weight with five weeks to go until the first game that counts:

Cone drills!

Koji Uehara defies the Florida heat in long sleeves.

Craig Breslow using his glove to catch a baseball.

No. 1 starter Clay Buchholz:

Sandoval, enjoying the unbridled good vibes only the optimism of late-February can bring.

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: Seizing the Reigns Edition

Buchholz at Baseball Academy

Veteran right-handed starter Clay Buchholz enters his ninth season with Boston as one of several potential front-end rotation candidates. He is the longest tenured pitcher on the Red Sox and has logged nearly as many innings (915) in a Boston uniform as all of the other pitchers on the team’s 40-man roster combined (970).

As such, the former ladies’ man is now a mentor of sorts for younger players. Even though his swinging bachelor days are behind him, the wealth of knowledge he gathered along the way has made him a Yoda-level sage when it comes to matters of love and relationships.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Clay sat down to answer a few readers’ questions earlier this week.

Clay,

With Valentine’s Day coming up, are you going to take some extra precautions to make sure sexually explicit photos of your wife Lindsay that are meant for your eyes only don’t fall into the hands of cyber-hackers again?

– George from Wellfleet

Boy was my face red after that whole thing, George. This is the first time I’ve really talked about this, but I’m sure incidents of sexting will spike what with V-Day coming up and all. So a little social and technological awareness may be beneficial to some. I’m sure everyone knows by now that my wife, bless her soul, occasionally sends me some photos of herself that I can look at while I’m alone eating room service in my hotel room during those long road trips in the middle of the summer. Unfortunately, they wound up in some wrong hands last year. The real embarrassing part of what happened for me was the hour-long lecture Lindsay and I got from Mr. Lucchino regarding the risky nature of habitual digital erotica. He said he was just looking out for our safety, but I thought it was a little over the line when he asked me if there were any reciprocating photos floating around that the team would need to scrub from the Internet. Damn! Thanks for making it weird, Larry.

Clay,

The Boston sports scene is swimming with rising stars who may make the leap to local sex symbol, following the trails you blazed back in the mid-and-late-aughts. Who’s winning the race right now?

– Greg from Kingston

Julian Edelman seems to be carrying the torch pretty well right now, Greg. I tip my cap to him. But he’s still making some dire mistakes, surprisingly. For example, there are some compromising photos that recently surfaced of Edelman in some “morning after” type situations. Falling asleep in a broad’s bed is a written invitation to winding up on some strange’s Twitter feed, Tinder or Pinterest page. Maybe the dude just hit the drinks with a bit too much verve and passed out. But back in my day, I was always careful to cover my tracks. I wiped fingerprints, paid off limo drivers, ripped up receipts, deleted files on phones, etc. I’ve “confiscated” rolls upon rolls upon rolls of film taken on dames’ cameras that otherwise would have been destined for the Internet. Instead, they’re all disintegrating at the bottom of the Charles River. That’s how I rolled, Greg.

Edelman at Harvard

Anyway, Edelman is a bit too preppy to pull off the party animal thing. Meeting broads at a Harvard party pre-stocked with BU sorority chicks is basically cheating the system. Gronkowski’s seems more spontaneous and is probably a bit more akin to my style, which leads me to the next question this week.

Clay,

How is it that there is Rob Gronkowski fan fiction erotica out there but nothing like that for you?

– Shelley from Plympton

Shelley, there is a lot of absurd, fantasy-based lit out there. I guess this whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing has something to do with it. I’m not at liberty to say who the publisher is, but I was approached about a Fifty Shades of Clay sort of spinoff not too long ago. I read some samples from the book and it sounded pretty unexciting and underwhelming. Most of the letters I receive from female Red Sox fans are far racier than that drivel. I’m not ready to compromise my personal brand with an inferior product.

Gronk gross pose

Clay,

Don’t you think the team ought to be trying to get that No. 1 guy for the starting rotation?

– Myra from Millis

I’m insulted Myra. The depth chart on RedSox.com has MY name and headshot listed next to that No. 1 slot. Check it out – the front and center of it all. Sorta nerve-wracking but I think I’m ready.

2015 Red Sox depth chart
Why would that pic of my face be there if I weren’t the head honcho? Fine print says not subject to approval by the Red Sox, but it’s good enough for me. I’m already long-tossing at 150 feet, so these other guys they brought in are going to see what’s up down here in FLA.

Thanks for the questions, guys. See you all at Spring Training.

Local man: Where Gronk ranks on list of most prolific beer drinkers in Boston sports history

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass.–I know everybody in the New England area is all up in arms over how cool it was that Rob Gronkowski chugged a few beers while on the Pats’ victory parade route yesterday. It’s amazing what a couple Natty lites’ll do for ya rep. The guy is a freaking hero for what he did this year. And he obviously knows how to have a good time.

Gronk chug

But I gotta say right now honestly and truly – Gronk has got a ways to go to become a party legend in my town. A long way.

Unknot yah panties and let me explain.

Let’s start off with the most obvious problem with annotating Gronk with the Greatest Boston Boozehound of All Time monikker. He can’t even burn a candle near Wade Boggs. We all know by now how much Wade drank back in the ‘80s. A buddy of mine taped that episode of Always Sunny in Philly with him in it and there was an entire storyline about Boggs and how he’d drink about two thirty racks on airplanes. Think about that – an entire episode of a TV show, aired two decades after he retires, talking about how much Wade Boggs could drink.

Wade on Always Sunny

Not for nothing but those 50 to 60 beer estimates people talk about are real numbers. They stood the test of time. And Wade’s drinking came from a lonely, dark, disturbing, and depraved place Rob’ll probably never have to deal with. Boggs didn’t pound beers while celebrating any World Series titles by rolling down a duck boat on Boylston Street. He was sneaking them on road trips, in his hotel rooms and in the clubhouse to quell his constant need for sex. Wade wasn’t dancing on stage at some nightclub with broads hangin off his arms like Gronk. He was drawing the shades in some seedy hotel to – lemme not get too graphic here – throw a quick one into a married woman.

Put it this way. We all knew he slammed ’em back when he was a Red Sox, but the only visual evidence Wade liked the sauce was in cartoon form. That’s frigging eerie.

Wade Boggs in a bar
So while I don’t doubt Rob parties harder than Wade did, let’s not get carried away by a few token acts of shotgunning. Wade treated every Marriott and Hilton room he stayed in from sea to foaming sea like it was his own private Duck Boat parade with beers.

There are a few other guys that’ve passed through town that could probably drink Gronkowski under the table.

Larry Bird? That guy drank like a fish and played 82 games a season, not 16. That’s a lot more running and it’s a lot harder to sneak a quick puke in during a timeout on a basketball court. Larry was the first (of many) high-profile stars to tell Dan Shaughnessy to fuck off because Shank wouldn’t stop asking him about some bar fight he got in.

The Boston Bruins, 1970-present. There’s a big difference between a fun drunk and a mean drunk. Guess who’s who when you talk about comparing Rob with just about any Broon?

Orr drinking from the Stanley Cup

Other guys – hmm, let’s see. A guy named Carl Yastrzemski from this here Miller Lite ad. You calling Yaz a liar?

And let’s not forget Bobby Lobel, Channel 4 sportscaster extraordinaire. The entire CBS network couldn’t have supplied enough on-air make-up to hide that guy’s gin blossoms. But he always kept it ultra professional and was always real functional. By the end of his career he got smart – he just started doing his shows in bars. Made things easier I bet.

Koji Uehara. That’s right! Koji. We totally sure this guy doesn’t have some sort of stomach of steel like his Japanese brethren who are always winning those hot dog eating contests?

Koji beer ad

Some former Sox pitchers from a few years back? Yeah, guh, think I heard a thing or two about that. The horror. And well, hell, even Jonny Gomes was publicly treating beer cans like footballs a year and a half before Gronk was able to get around to it. Just saying – this is not open and shut. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.

jonny-gomes beers

In closing, I just wanna say Rob’s great. Love the guy to death. But let’s make the guy pay his dues here. He’s been here for five years. The guy’s got a chance to be a legend, but longevity and durability count. Let’s hold off on naming any tunnels after him just yet and see how quickly this guy gets back at it once that hangover sets in.

Lifelong Massachusetts resident Francis Flynn and site contributor is an avid Boston sports fan. He is known for his affinity for Heidi Watney and his occasional game stories. Flynn has agreed to take time out from his life’s work maintaining his cranberry bog to answer one pressing question per week for Fenway Pastoral.