Category Archives: Red Sox

This Week in Boston Baseballing, April 4 – April 10

The Red Sox’s opening weekend at Fenway Park didn’t go so grand as the Brewers earned the first sweep for a road team in Boston since the Bobby Valentine regime. Boston took two of three against the Rangers thanks to David Ortiz’s heroics on Wednesday afternoon before losing 4-1 last night at in New York in Game 1 of 19 against the Yankees. Boston was 13-6 against the Yankees last season.

Michael Pineda Wasn’t In the Mood to Hide the Pine Tar
The Yankees righthander outdueled Clay Buchholz and rightly deserved to win as Boston’s offense was back to its mostly anemic ways Thursday night. However, all anyone will remember was that Pineda apparently submerged his hand in pine tar before spinning the gem.

The Internet and social media was all over it once NESN caught on in the third inning. A summary of images archived by Google in the last 24 hours for a search of “Michael Pineda”:

Pineda pinetar gallery

In the Herald, John Tomase wrote:

Publicly, most Red Sox hitters either feigned ignorance or said it had no impact on the game.

“Everybody uses pine tar in the league, it’s not a big deal,” slugger David Ortiz said. “What else?”

But privately, multiple players believed he crossed a line — one, for the sheer brazenness of apparently applying the substance with a trowel; and two, for throwing a slider they considered filthier during the first four innings than the final two, when he mysteriously cleaned up.

Oh John Tomase…you and your private conversations with unnamed sources.

JBJ Changes the Conversation In His Favor
Timely hitting and some smooth plays in the field has helped remind people that Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t chopped liver. He would have begun the season in Pawtucket if not for Shane Victorino’s injury, but he is proving to be all-around solid so far, leaving his struggles in spring training behind. He has options left and isn’t likely to stay up the whole season, but the outfield minus JBJ’s glove is considerably worse.

Yeah, Just Swing Away A.J…
Leaving aside the inexplicable dislike that A.J. Pierzynski seems to stir up in most everybody, the guy is an odd fit for the Red Sox. Clearly, he is just bridge to Boston’s tandem of young prospects, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez. Boston can’t just play the 38-year-old David Ross every night. So we’re left with A.J. Fucking Pierzynski, who separates himself from Boston’s organization-wide philosophy of plate discipline by swinging at goddamn everything.

Jon Couture wrote of Pierzynski:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out his second-inning double-play came on a ball he went reaching for across the plate. He strikes me as the kind of guy who, even hitting .300, is going to drive me crazy. (Please note, he’s not going to hit .300.) But yes, it was the only time he was retired in the game. And he had a great Sox-style nine-pitch at-bat in the seventh that ended with an infield single.

Slowly trying to accept A.J. Slowly.

Beautiful follow-through, AJ. Beautiful!

Fan Attendance At Fenway Park
The Red Sox are having a hard time getting another “sellout streak” up and running in the early going of 2014. The ballpark was 99.1% full for Opening Day last Friday based on ESPN’s definition of “full capacity.” The team hasn’t come any closer to a full-fledged sellout since. Fenway drew a little over 33,000 fans for the 4:05 p.m. start against Texas on Wednesday. Overall, the park has been about 90-95% full at best at the start of each game.

Fans are leaving early in droves, which isn’t all that remarkable considering the weather has been crisp for just about every game so far. Still, there is a clear reason the team has begun deploying profit-generating measures such as dynamic/variable ticket pricing and, for the first time in years, holding various minor league-style kitschy promotions like Toga Night.

 

Local Man’s Game Recap (Yankees 4, Red Sox 1)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass. – Look, I don’t wanna make accusatory statements against Miguel Pineda any more than the next guy. But something was up. Remy spotted it a mile away. And Johnny Farrell just sat on his hands while the game got outta control. I started getting some phone calls about it around the fourth inning. What’s that on his hand? Looks he’s been fisting a crank-shaft! Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Then all of a sudden he comes out for the fifth and it’s gone?

Let Clay Buchholz greaseball himself up like that and I can’t even imagine what he’d of done with it. Probably a no-hittar. Definitely a shutout and about 17 strikeouts just like Pedro back in 1999 in Yankee Stadium.

Just to be clear…I’m mainly insulted because “Pin-head-a” there had no sense of true espionage. Classless, brainless, but worst of all completely imaginationless.

So before you get your undergarments up into a big needless bunch of fabric, I’ll acknowledge the fact that yeah I’m sure some Sox pitchers have dabbled in the ol’ pinetar on the fararm bit before. Alls I’m asking for as a fan is some semblance of an effort to cover it up. That’s it. Otherwise, let’s just make it legal and stop with puttin on all these airs. You know what I mean?

Georgie Brett isn’t coming charging out of any dugouts these days. Nobody gives a damn. So let’s ALL bathe ourselves in pinetar and stick to everything and let the game be the game again.

Because let’s be honest with ourselves here. Buchholz lost it after the third inning. He didn’t have his A game. And Grady Sizemore’s chicken arm cost the team another run in the fifth inning. Jeter would have been gunned down by a mile with two outs on that single otherwise if he were tested by anything resembling a real throw.

But really, it didn’t matter. Pineda was better than Clay tonight. With substance or without (but, obviously with, OK?). So his wrist is all slippery and disgusting for no real good reason now. I ain’t all that sore about it honestly. Dan Nava hit a homer after a tough start to the season – I’ll take the moral victory where they come.

Next time out, let’s see what gives when we let both guys sprinkle his magic pixie dust on the ball and see how it plays out. That’s alls I’m saying from this neck of the woods.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 4, Rangers 2)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass. – David Ortiz, you old seadog, you. Papi’s still got it. All these years later. Just amazing.

I knocked off work on the bog in time to catch most of this one. As a little reward to myself, I drank about half of my week’s pay for these recaps, chased it with a bit of whiskey, told the old lady to stay off the landline for a minute and cranked up the modem so I could write this website.

Being directly frank and truthful, I can’t say whether that ball Ortiz hit today was fair or foul. But it doesn’t really matter. The umpires had no idea. Neither did Jerry Remy, he wouldn’t even say. But damn, that thing was high and deep and there’s gotta be some sort of benefit of the doubt given for hitting a baseball into the first stratosphere of space or piercing the o-zone layer or whatever part of heaven it was that David touched with that dinger.

I got to thinking and maybe it was the double-digit beers going through, but I started wondering, what if Mo Vaughn woulda done what Papi’s doing? If he’d been smart enough not to chase the money out in California’s LA land. Take Boston’s money instead. I can’t think of many guys who’ve thrived (except fa Ruth…) after they left town.

Here in Beantown, loyalty is rewarded. And that goes both ways. Ortiz is living proof when he hits these late-game bombs…just a gargantuan shot last night. Too bad guys like Mo leave town instead of staying here and basking in the glory that my man David’s getting now.

Oh well, no reason to think about old shit though. Why even bring it up, ya know?

The Sox got their first series win of the season. Now it’s time for New York. Ellsbury – you coulda been here for this…just like Mo.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Rangers 10, Red Sox 7)

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass – Well, that was ugly. Not exactly an open and shut beatdown since the Sox scored six runs in the last three innings. But that was close enough to an ass-reddening spanking irregardless.

Can’t make excuses. But tough conjuring together a solid lineup right now with Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks hurt. Yeah, it was real nice hearing all about this new guy Roberts and his hundreds of tattoos. Fantastic. How about tattooing a pitch or three next time Pierzynski gets on three times in front of ya? You know, the walks are good too and all but ya know it’s hard to look like much of a badass pipsqueaking your way down to first base after ball four.

Maybe a curtsy or incorporating the bat into some kind of baton routine would help out next time? I don’t know call me old-fashioned but if you’re new you should hit one off the wall in your Fenway debut. Always helps.

Finally. Someone’s gonna have to explain these NESN text polls that the broadcasters just insist on doing every game. I realize baseball’s having its moment with the hipsters right now. But this real-time “text your answer” shit is real-time stupid if ya catch my drift. The whole gimmick is about as lame as the day is long.

I recognize the fact that I’m in a grumpy mood because Doubront got shellacked tonight. But gimme a break. Wake me up when everyone’s close to finished being impressed with themselves for having a cell phone. In the meantime, I’m gonna tack on a little postscript to my nightly prayers asking for a pitcher’s duel in tomorrow’s rubber game.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Brewers 6, Red Sox 2)

CARVER, Mass. – Well, I guess the ring ceremony was nice. Otherwise, though, I’m at a loss for words for this game story here. First opening day loss at Fenway in a decade. Jack Peavy pitched his brains out tonight. Spewed his heart out all over the mound. He tossed a solid six, but the bats just weren’t backing the kid up tonight the way you hope.

And the bullpen…well they shat it all to hell.

Some hothead down at the bar was insisting the “J” in Mujica is silent and it nearly set me off. He was clearly antagonizing me since I was (correctly) going with the hard, balls-out “J” while cursing him out for giving up a bunch of loud noises in the 9th inning. I just hope this isn’t a case of some guy from the National League coming over and being intimidated by the bright lights of a real town like Boston. He’s gonna have to adjust real quick.

Danny Nava shouldn’t be hitting leadoff. Just saying.. Oh for four. This is going to be the issue of the season. We just don’t have that guy who can set the tone for the offense on a everyday kind of situation.

We’ve got Clay on the mound tonight so I think we’re in good hands. Hopefully the fans keep booing that weasel Ryan Brawny and giving him the full-on Canseco treatment.

 

This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 29 – April 3 The Sun Rises Up Behind Fenway Park

Boston plays its first game of the 2014 season at home this afternoon against Milwaukee. The regular season officially got underway on Monday afternoon in Baltimore. The Red Sox dropped the opener, 2-1, despite a strong opening day performance from Jon Lester. John Lackey got the Sox in the win column Wednesday night, giving the team a solid six innings as the team was paced by home runs by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. Boston kept it going last night thanks to some key work from the bullpen in picking up Felix Doubront in a 4-3 win that gave the Sox a series victory at Camden Yards to star the season.

The rest of the week looked like this:

Sizemore Hit a Home Run in his First Game

 

The Red Sox Visited President Obama
End of story, right? Nothing else to see here…Everybody’s already forgotten this even happened, it was that innocuous and uneventful. Right?

 

NESN Hired Steve Lyons to Its Studio Arsenal
Lyons is of course forever famous for dropping his pants to get some dirt out of his nether regions. Back when he played for Boston, his bag of tricks was a little more G-rated. (Bonus points for choosing a worthy victim for the hidden ball trick in the ever-unsportsmanlike Ozzie Guillen.)

 

An Old Fan Favorite Struggled
Jonathan Papelbon’s days as a closer may be coming to a painful close. His velocity is down, his control is getting worse and his shoulder seems to be falling apart. It wasn’t all that long ago Papelbon talked about following in Mariano Rivera’s footsteps. It’s looking as though he may do just that, only in a more cruelly literal sense.

Norman Rockwell Painting Will Be Open for Bidding

the rookie by rockwell

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 4, Orioles 3)

 CARVER, Mass. – Today felt like spring had finally arrived in my neck of the woods. I could hear the chirping birds. Smell the onset of dewy mornings. I woke up to bright, all-encompassing sunshine. It put a smile on my face. I drank a couple cups of Taster’s Choice and headed outside to get down to business on the cranberry bog.

After about an hour or so, I was feeling pretty good. That dull but welcomed hangover from celebrating the first win of the season with a couple double glasses of whiskey was beginning to lift.

And then all hell broke loose. A couple of high schoolers skipping out on gym class. Just a total blur. Some wine coolers. Some e-cigarettes. Some sort of sorry excuse for a prophylactic that could have doubled for an adequate plug-up for the leak in the tire of my ATV. These two sick hippies were getting busy right out in the middle of the back end of the bog. Probably high on goddamned  gangja bought at one of the many shady mary jane dens I’m positive have been springing up in this hell in a handbasket state.

It was a classic case of disregard for private property. Two stoners, enjoying the benefits of what they thought was Nature’s Motel Room or some shit. Some day South Shore cranberries will be extinct the same way bananas are on their way out. Don’t come crying to me because it’s all the rest of yous’ fault for raising your kids this way. I did my part.

Come to find out, I spent most of the morning cleaning up the trash left behind by those scoundrels. So I was ready for some baseball well before first pitch. And the Sox didn’t disappoint.

I continue to be impressed by this Alex Bogaerts. He just has a certain something that you can’t put your finger on. He wants it. More than Steve Drew ever did. (Guys named Steve are always bad news.) And that’s why they should give Drew’s World Series ring to charity tomorrow. A cancer survivor or a fireman or one of the founders of Aerosmith. Who’s that guy think he is just blowing off something like a ring ceremony? He’s worse than his brother. I’ve been saying it for years.

But moving on, Koji threw real well in the ninth. Real well. My buddy told me he just turned 39 years old but I think it’s obvious he’s lying. I believe he’s my long-lost 10-year-old son (there was a woman one night, down in East Bridgewater, a long time ago…I don’t want to talk about it).

We’re looking at a 2-1 record now. Boston is actually pretty good, just like I’ve been predicting back around Christmas. It’s early, but usually if you start out strong you kind of set the tone and carry through. Anything can happen I guess.

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 6, Orioles 2)

The Boston Globe recently announced that it will move all of its Red Sox content behind its online paywall. Not to worry, however: 43-year-old Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team.

Flynn watches nearly every game and recently signed an agreement to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

Now I know what it’s like to sit in a press box writing one of these things. My wife is sitting next to me main-lining Cape Codders and spouting verbal barbs my way. (She’s pissed cuz she’s missing the Duck Dynasty marathon on A&E.) She can drone on about diuretics and all that, but she drinks the cranberry juice to spite me. Me, I never touch the stuff. That would be like an accountant going home at the end of a hard day and charting equations. Cranberries may be responsible for my livelihood but they ain’t gonna have a say in my leisure.

Before I dive into my thoughts on the game tonight, my friend Joey down at the fish market told me about the Ortiz selfie with President Obama yesterday. I’m not happy about it. But that has nothing much to do with my political leanings or any personal problem with the man making some extra money as a cell phone salesman. My feeling is this: Grown men taking pictures together like that with a phone? Staged or not, I don’t care. That kind of thing is for teenagers prancing around the shopping mall. Maybe Ortiz and Obama can head over to the food court afterward and share an Orange Julius. Perfectly good day ruined with all that nonsense.

Tonight’s game is the way I like to see ‘em played out. Dusty had four hits and Nap hit a jack and had four runs batted in.

And how do ya like Lackey now, huh? You can sense he’s still got that same hunger and drive that made him so good last year. That cheating rat bastard Cruz hit another homer tonight, but Lack didn’t let it phase him. And I loved seeing that raw emotion on the mound – he was cussing swear words like a sailor you could tell. Haha.

And not for nothing, I love this Alexander Bogahts. For a guy who started out playing stickball down in the Caribbean, he’s got a wicked sense of the strike zone.

So these game summaries are pretty simple. I just covered all yous need to know. Sox are 1-1 on the year. The first win is always the toughest. It almost feels like a couple of W’s, to be honest with you. I’m gonna grab a taste of the bourbon I hide out back behind my shed now that the old lady’s passed out.

Things keep up like this and I might just take that ponytailed dweeb up on his free furniture deal over at Jordan’s.

Local man recaps the Red Sox Season Opener (Orioles 2, Red Sox 1) Paywall Free!

Last week, The Boston Globe announced a monumental decision to move all of its staff-produced Red Sox content behind its online paywall. Not to worry, however: 43-year-old Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred.

Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. He watches nearly every game and recently signed an agreement to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

CARVER, Mass. – Alright, my family’s been getting the Globe delivered to the house here since Dukakis was in diapers. This whole deal may be a little rough at first for awhile but I’m pretty familiar with this whole converted pyramid structure or whatever heck they call it. But this ain’t that hard right? I’m gonna put this box score into virtual words using a trusty Gateway desktop computer I purchased at the old Circuit City (rest in peace). (You want player quotes though you’ll have to go see about that on the tube.)

I don’t know how many of yous actually got to watch much of the Sox game live today. Normally, I’d have missed it because I’d be out on my cranberry bog yanking out the dead roots in preparation for the spring harvest. But the raw, rainy weather had me ready to knock off around 3 o’clock. Gametime.

Alls you really need to know, to conjure up an accurate picture of the season opener, is that if Jonny Lester keeps pitching like he did today, this team’s gonna win some ballgames.

I’ve been worried about my man Jonny most of the spring. His psyche can’t be all that stable after seeing Papi get that extension and he’s just sittin around twiddling his thumbs. But he took the ball on opening day and looked like he did in October. Eight punchados. One walk. Whaddya have to say to that? Not Pedro or anything but not bad.

He made a bad pitch to Cruz in the 7th, no doubt about that one. But yous don’t need me to tell you how Cruz was cheating a couple years back and he’s probably still got a lot of ill-gotten muscle from his time on the roids. And, no, I’m not talking about hemorrhoids. I can’t say I can wish those upon anyone. Then again, I’m am a Christian and I believe every man pays his penance one way or the other…especially since he had the nerve to hit one off Jonny.

Taking a quick gander at the box score here, I’m seeing Dan Nava had a tough day at the plate. That’ll happen from time to time. He was probably pressing extra seeing how he was the leadoff guy today. Lotta pressure. You put him further down the order and he just sneaks up on ya a bit more. I’ll cut him some slack. Obviously he’s gonna have a bit of work out in front of him to get that average up now. But overall though, this is probably the year he turns into an outfield version of Pedoria, all-star games and all that glory, or the team needs to give up. I’m not the one to say I suppose.

Yup, the Sox had their chances today but oh well. Can’t leave ten guys on base and expect that you’re gonna live to tell about it. Still, I expected Ortiz would hit a jack when he came up with two guys on late. I had the ending all written up on my computer but then had to delete it all and write this when he didn’t come through as expected.

So I’m thankful for the off day tomorrow. I need to get out ahead of some stuff on the bog so the damn Ocean Spray people don’t crawl up my ass again. (They already demoted me to “auxiliary supplier” which I guess is like getting sent down to the PawSawx.) Otherwise, I’ve got no chance of catching the Fenway opener on Friday afternoon.

Next up is Wednesday night, again in Baltimore. The beauty is there’s a new game – I can feel a win coming. And I’m never wrong.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 21 – 27

The Red Sox will head north this weekend in preparation for Opening Day in Baltimore on Monday. President Obama will meet with the team the next day to honor the 2013 World Champs. Things are about to get serious.

David Ortiz Might Play Until He’s 57 Years Old…
With the announcement of the latest iteration of a contract extension, the Red Sox and Big Papi have all but guaranteed that he will never wear another team’s uniform as a major league player ever again. The extension, um, extends in theory until 2017 if Ortiz hits certain playing-time escalators. A few years ago, Ortiz wasn’t all that difficult an out for left-handed pitchers. It would have seemed unlikely that Ortiz’s at-bat total had a chance to remain anywhere above 500 as he looked to be evolving into a platoon DH.

However, none other than Adrian Gonzalez has been credited with counseling Ortiz in his approach against southpaws, which is proving to be an important development considering how well Papi has done against lefties the last two seasons. Gonzalez was reported to be a malcontent while he was on the Red Sox and this latest news proves all the conjecture. Knowing the Sox are basically obligated to pay Ortiz as long as he wishes to keep playing, A-Gonz was clearly helping Ortiz out in order to continue to cost the team millions of dollars years even after he went back to the West Coast. Demonic!

Boston Lands Third on Forbes’ MLB Valuation List
Forbes pegs the Red Sox franchise with a current value of $1.5 billion. The Yankees place first at $2.5 billion and the Dodgers are second at $2.0 billion (which also, interestingly enough, matches LA’s projected payroll for the 2017 season at its current rate of growth…). Regional television deals in larger markets are significant factors in many of these numbers, not only for the country’s top TV markets in New York and LA but also in Boston. The Red Sox own an 80% stake in NESN, which significantly aids the team’s value. While ticket demand is on a relative downturn now that the team’s sellout streak has ended, Forbes notes that the Red Sox saw a 14% increase in ratings during the 2013 championship run.

Every Little Thing No Longer Alright in Victorinoland
Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” was a Fenway favorite last year as Shane Victorino’s walk-up at-bat music. However, MLB has now capped hitters’ walk-up music playtimes at a completely un-alright 15 seconds.

On the Sons of Sam Horn message board, “mikey lowell of the sandbox” does seem to offer a feasible answer to the problem:

I see a solution — just leave out the introductory verse and go straight to the sing-along chorus:

Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, (“This is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

Yes, the team could cut out the first 10 seconds or so of the song, but isn’t the build-up all part of the fun? It seems that no matter what happens, if Shane’s going good, Fenway fans are likely to serenade him during the at-bat even if the song isn’t playing.

The 2014 Red Sox Pocket Schedule
Last year, Fenway Pastoral provided a detailed history of various promotional pocket schedules released throughout the years during spring training. Ever the vehicles of optimism, pocket schedules provide a nice snapshot of how the team plans to advertise its product to the fan base. For example, team-designed pocket skeds distributed last year centered on bringing pride back to the city after the 2012 Bobby Valentine-Helmed Abortion. The whole 162 Chances to Restore the Faith thing worked out pretty well.

David Ortiz pocket sked 2014

Coming off a World Series victory, the team probably won’t need to get all that creative this year to drum up interest on a macro level. But moving tickets during afternoon games in early spring could be more challenging. The 2014 pocket schedule rallying cry speaks to that: “Any Game Can Be The Game.”

Indeed. Opening Day is less than 72 hours away.