Category Archives: Sports

Boston Globe Smear Job Outtakes: Picked up pieces from Larry Lucchino’s office floor

Every master manipulator knows that successful spin control is a matter of quantity over quality. Not surprisingly, quite a few details were left out of the Boston Globe’s “Inside the Collapse” expose on the 2011 season.

They may have captured our hearts for months and won games at a dizzying pace for two-thirds of the season. But, seriously, these guys were absolutely incorrigible…

To wit, many story ideas that were work-shopped in those lush, think tank executive suites on Yawkey Way wound up on the cutting room floor, deemed far too perverse for public consumption—even amidst a full-fledged smear campaign:

After pounding grape soda with Jed Lowrie, D'Angelo Ortiz tries to crack a smile out of clubhouse recluse Jacoby Ellsbury (REUTERS).

Jed Lowrie: “I shared a can of grape soda with Big Papi’s little kid, D’Angelo, back in August…By the time batting practice rolled around, we were both too jittery to take any swings. My god, what a day.”

Jose Iglesias: “I’ve never seen The Cosby Show and, thus, have no direct knowledge of its impact on pop culture or the modern-day sitcom format. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Who’s Tom Werner?”

Scott Atchison: “I’m actually a 55-year-old man…”

Drew Sutton: “I gave Globe beat reporter Peter Abraham a pair of $300 headphones that I found sitting in my locker one day. I assumed they belonged to him because he never shuts up about the songs he listens to on his portable music player device.”

Alfredo Aceves: “I took showers in the clubhouse before and after games. Water conservation is for hippies.”

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: “That’s nothing. I specifically request double plastic bags when I buy stuff at the grocery store.”

Josh Reddick: “I told a couple reporters that I thought J.D. Drew was one of the most caring, hardest working veteran players on the team.”

Darnell McDonald: “I sat through an entire episode of NESN Daily…with the sound ON.”

Daniel Bard: “I got suckered into that Jordan’s Furniture Monster Hit promotion. You try staring at the same sign for four hours every night…”

Matt Albers: “I kept a stack of comic books out in the bullpen for those longer nights when every other reliever had already entered the game. Francona used to always tell me he was ‘saving’ me in case the game went 20-plus innings…None of our games ever went 20-plus innings.”

Lars Anderson: “I could lead you to 10 dead bodies buried in a storage shed near the Mexican border right now if I felt like it. Oh yeah, I also stole some canisters of Double Bubble out of the Fenway clubhouse for my own personal use.”

NOTE: The preceding anecdotes were provided to Fenway Pastoral by a nameless, faceless man who stands to profit monetarily by their legitimacy. Naturally, we scrambled to shed light on these facts as soon as possible. Our work here is clearly done.  

If 2011 Red Sox starting pitchers were alcoholic beverages…

John Lackey – Guinness: Heavy, overrated and a seemingly much more viable option in mid-March than on the Fourth of July.

Josh Beckett – Budweiser Select: Your run-of-the-mill Clydesdale-esque, chest-beating America-red-white-and-blue stalwart who has captured the minds of us New Englanders and our undeniable Puritan roots. If Puritans drank, they would have appreciated this as a high-end lager capable of delivering an entire region to the Promised Land (again). Or at least it’s pretty to think so.

Jon Lester – Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA: An aggressive, acquired taste deserving of its accolades that alternates between being either delightfully intense or unwelcome and bitter, depending on the circumstances. Don’t hang with this brew all nine innings unless you want to wake up with a sore upper body and significant memory loss.

Clay Buchholz – Jeremiah Weed: One of those non-beer concoctions aimed at teenagers who want to hang around friends who drink beer without feeling like an outcast. But, yeah, it gets people drunk and any style points are in the eye of the beholder.

Tim Wakefield – Pabst Blue Ribbon: Sometimes the quality of a beer is transcended by a deference to the past that lets the drinker overlook otherwise important attributes like ‘taste.’ A bar commands a certain respect by merely having Pabst on tap and available for purchase during those (hopefully) rare moments when the time is right.

Andrew Miller – Miller Chill: It works in that backwards kind of way. Like when big fat guys are nicknamed ‘Tiny’ or  ‘Slim.’ Plus, Bud Light Lime is probably more up Kyle Weiland’s alley.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – Olde English 800: You bought it in a moment of weakness because you figured you could use the attention. Now, as your buddies stand there snickering, all you can do is look at it and wonder what in the world you were thinking. Yet even after all that apprehension, you might as well drink it down until the bottom fifth gets warm. No one will think less of you if you just pour that last little bit out on the ground. It’s finished. Maybe buy something a little more practical next time?

Erik Bedard – Merlot: Talk about a headache not worth having…

Fenway Pastoral would have done the same exercise for relievers. But frankly, finding any humor in their situation right now would feel like a few shots of Somerville-produced vodka just rolling around in a weakened, compromised stomach that is just waiting for that pivotal, highly-public moment in which to evacuate its contents.

Sources: Tim Wakefield no longer plans to thank God when he wins No. 200

Is Tim Wakefield the victim of some sort of divine act of statistical balancing?

While largely an arbitrary and meaningless statistic, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s career wins total is evidently garnering a fair amount of attention from the heavens.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, Red Sox clubhouse insiders confirmed Monday that Wakefield no longer plans to publicly tip his cap to the heavens upon winning his 200th major league game because the 45-year-old is thoroughly convinced The Man Upstairs clearly has lost interest in further assisting him in his journey to accumulate a gaudy, round number of wins.

After his fifth failed attempt at 200 in Kansas City, Wakefield could be heard in the visiting team’s clubhouse muttering under his breath, “This is bullshit. This is bullshit…” over and over.

“I think this is probably His way of punishing Tim for his past wizardry. Those fluttering pitches can really take some ungodly dips and turns. Wake’s stuff really hasn’t looked any different over the last month, but clearly there is a higher power at work, especially when the bullpen comes in to try and polish off the game,” said one scout.

Wake’s next shot at 200 comes on Friday night at Fenway Park against the Oakland Athletics.

“Clearly, Tim’s on his own on this one,” observed another scout. “Really, though, who can blame Him? The guy’s a freaking sorcerer when that pitch is working.”

Indeed, Wake’s been defying the odds for years, going against what was ostensibly His Plan for Tim’s career to peter out as an outfielder in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system in the early 1990s. By developing the pitch, Wakefield followed the path of guys such as The Niekro Brothers and Charlie Hough–perfectly innocent former major leaguers who just so happen to have names that sound like they could have moonlighted as brutal serial killers.

A local historian: “If olde-tymey Puritans still lived in New England, they’d be Yankees fans…No way they’d root for a team with Tim on it. The initial settlers of Massachusetts were firm believers in long work days, fear of a higher power and violent pitching motions that put extreme stress on the shoulder and elbow. To them, the knuckleball would have been akin to sleeping for more than three hours each night. And, of course, the fact that a speedy man of Native American descent in center field tracks down many of the well-struck baseballs thrown by Wakefield would not have aided the pitcher’s cause if our forefathers had any say.”

Indeed, it appears that God has clearly enjoyed toying with Wakefield over his last five starts—even going as far as allowing him to take a no-hitter into the fourth inning in his last start at Fenway Park on August 3 against Cleveland. The first Indians hit was a 400-foot home run that landed in the visitor’s bullpen.

“Wake is just sick of it,” said one observer. “The mental anguish, the constant questions from reporters – he’s tired of it all.”

Still, some theologians believe the saga accentuates some important issues in the ongoing debate between the doctrines associated with intelligent design and Darwinism.

“This certainly gets down to the crux of the matter,” said one professor. “I would point out that Wakefield does have 177 career losses…So perhaps there is an equally strong argument that some mystic entity still has a say in where the knucklers flutter, so to speak. Maybe there is some sort of universal regression to the mean occurring right now. Or, maybe, we just need to come up with a better way to express the value of starting pitchers…”

Our City of Bruins…Jerseys

Oh, look: Everyone’s sick of Boston fans, again.

Complaining and debating the worthiness of groups of sports fans comes with the territory any time a city is vying for a title—long before any trophies are handed out or banners are raised. Things only get worse once a championship is in the books.

Frankly, it feels flattering to be scrutinized so closely, to be loathed for being momentarily happy, to be repeatedly recognized as torch-bearers of our forefathers, originators of a new pronunciation for the word ‘fuck.’

But really, all this self-aggrandizing psychoanalysis of Boston sports fans is tiresome.

Perhaps the most amusing of all the recent anti-Boston viewpoints came last week in Jonah Keri’s article for GQ in which he informed Bruins fans that the majority of North America was rooting for the Canucks. Setting aside what “majority” means in this case (more than 2 percent, hopefully?), the rant itself was a complete waste of a talented writer’s time as it took generalization (a largely inaccurate one at that) to an embarrassing extreme just to arrive at a painfully obvious point:

No one in Canada wants you to win, of course. Not when a Canadian team might bring the Cup back home for the first time in 18 years.

But U.S. hockey fans aren’t behind you either. There’s none of that (slightly weird) national pride here. Flyers fans hate Boston. Rangers fans hate Boston. Casual hockey fans in Boise or Mobile are, at best, indifferent about Boston.

Ultimately, Keri should have known that absolutely zero Bruins fans read GQ. They’re too busy picking fistfights with the guy who just cut them in line at Dunkin’ Donuts and settling old grudges from their days in Kindahgahten.

Speaking of which, Mr. Destructo laid out a well-written, deeply analytical piece about Boston’s “Dynastic Sports Paupers”:

What has made the Boston sports fan so exceptional and objectionable is the willingness to cloak bullying in the mantle of suffering — as if the kid who pinned you to the floor in gym class and whaled on your face kept sputtering out words between tears and rained-down blows, saying, “I hit you… because I resent… your wholeness… Violence is something… I learned… from my dad.”

Grantland’s Chris Jones went the other way with the hatred by essentially condemning Bruins fans as incapable of enjoying a Stanley Cup as much as any fan base in the entire country of championship-starved Canada:

Winning might not feel possible this broken-glass morning; it might feel as though Tim Thomas will be smiling at us through our television screens forever. But it must happen, even if it’s not for another 86 years. Some year, however distant from now, the Cup will be ours again. And however happy Boston felt last night, however happy that city feels this morning, we’ll feel that a thousand times more, and we’ll feel it together.

Let’s go Toronto. Let’s go Montreal. Let’s go Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary.

Let’s go Vancouver.

Let’s go Winnipeg.

Now, that is a prototype display of unjustified superiority that has repeatedly been projected onto the Boston fan base over the last decade-plus. (The odd paradox of the article’s primary sentiment somehow being both provincial and anti-provincial at the same time is another matter.)

The problem with all these discourses is that their authors clearly either, a) associate on a friendly, informal basis with people who root for these teams, or, b) willfully consume media expressing all those feelings they seem to so rabidly resent (in other words, they read Bill Simmons columns). Otherwise, how in the world do they have such in-depth knowledge of Bostonians’ inner feelings?

For example, Kissing Suzy Kolber took the easiest of routes in mocking the lowest common denominator by quoting Dan Shaughnessy’s front page story in the Boston Globe as definitive evidence that Boston fans are douches. The problem is that even some of the most despicable locals got tired of Shaughnessy’s act years ago. In fact, these days the sole utility of Curly-Haired Boyfriend’s columns is the unfailing ability to raise the cackles of people looking for reasons to dislike fans of Boston’s professional sports teams.

This isn’t to imply that Simmons is even approaching Shaughnessy levels. But is it even necessary to point out that a 40-year-old man who still watches MTV reality television doesn’t exactly speak for any sort of status quo?

The beauty of the modern media age is choice. Nobody is obligated to subscribe to the @SullysFackinBeantownBeatdown Twitter feed if they don’t feel like it. Nobody is obligated to tune into the local news to watch a bunch of yahoos pontificating on which of the recent titles feels most significant to them, personally. That is a painfully stupid debate to digest even when one resides in the same city and cheers for the same teams.

So, really, by all means, change the channel. Avert your eyes. Navigate away from any and all gushing columns about what a great ride it was for some fan base other than your own. Stop watching obnoxiously low-quality YouTube videos made by fans who don’t cheer for the same teams you do.

The Bruins parade is on Saturday and things could get pretty ugly. Some of the fans in this town are so jaded and spoiled that they didn’t even bother destroying any property on Wednesday night. In fact, some of the same people will probably wind up sitting in Fenway Park tomorrow night still wearing their brand new Tim Thomas jerseys.

Feeling Bruins Fans’ Pain: A Bostonian’s Guide to Proper Fan Righteousness

With the Bruins set to participate in the 2011 Stanton’s Cup Finale tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to extol the virtues of effectively admonishing idiotic bandwagon fans who are watching the team for the first time…as opposed to people like us, who began watching the B’s like two months earlier.

Geez, this kid gets AROUND...

As was the case with our mid-2000s Red Sox fan brethren, the resentment is justifiable and well-founded. Use these helpful tips to foil any party-crashers who are clearly at your local pub solely because they believe being shitfaced before the conclusion of the second quarter of a hockey match won’t be frowned upon like it is in the middle of January—a time when you and I can proudly say the team was already “firmly on our radar.”

-Memorize the roster from the relevant team’s previous flirtation with a championship…or buy a smartphone in which you can look up these facts on Wikipedia at a moment’s notice while pretending to urinate in the bathroom. When you are exiting the pisser, make sure it is not obvious you have been consulting your mobile device as your buddies will be highly suspicious of your sudden revelation that you were Reggie Lemelin’s biggest fan. If you sense your cover may be blown, quickly call attention to the fact that one of your pals never even bothered to check out the rack on that 40-year-old broad in the makeshift low-cut Andy Moog jersey.

-Go on the offensive. Like baseball, hockey is filled with a bunch of obscure, confusing rules that can quickly separate the hardcore fans from the latch-ons. A preemptive strike by which you challenge others’ understanding of key concepts such as “four checking” (an attack formation named after Bobby Orr) and “more men than is legally allowable on the ice at one time” (a rule the NHL just added two years ago) will help silence the true imposters before they can even think of questioning your commitment and understanding of the sport.

-Question others’ level of heartbreak following a crushing postseason collapse. Back before the Sox won it all, the gold standard for misery was either 1986 or 2003, depending on one’s age. Boston baseball fans who can’t work themselves up into a lather of tears over the discussion of those fateful collapses quickly prove themselves unworthy. For the Bruins, last year’s epic playoff failure against the Philadelphia Flyers provides a relevant litmus test for hardcore fans trying to weed out fair-weather fans. Make sure you never sway in your position that, although you were crushed, you always Believed with a capital Bruins logo “B” even after the team blew both a 3-0 series lead…and a 3-0 Game 7 lead. Remind people that you had your own “Believe” towels printed last summer well after everyone had already moved on to soccer.

-When necessary, bring into question the offending party’s sexual orientation in analyzing why they had not become fans sooner than last week. This tactic will wound the ego deeply and your position will be immediately bolstered by their unplanned defense of their manhood or womanhood. He (or she, as it were) will likely forget there is even a game going on altogether and you can be sure other patrons will take note of their misguided attention. Note that this technique can be transferred into any number of different situations in life in which you seek a quick resolution to an argument.

-Reference random games from the regular season. For example, if the Bruins fall behind despite outplaying the Canucks in the early going, have a list of games from the regular season in which the flow was frustratingly similar. This signals your clear devotion to the team from the very beginning of it all. No, the games referenced do not have to actually resemble the current game. But the newcomers won’t have the conviction to call you out on it. If they do, just point at the back of your jersey and tell them Ray Bourque wants you to “suck it.”

-Long outwardly for the good old days. Don’t be shy about vocalizing your displeasure at having to bump elbows with “fans” who don’t exhibit the proper level of hate for French Canadians. Adopt the stance that your deceased relatives would have never tolerated the level of sportsmanship that rules the sport of hockey these days and that all Canadian hockey players, other than the Canadian hockey players presently on the Bruins, are a bunch of fairies.

Our Stanford Cup Prediction: Bruins in 7…in a shootout.

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: Opening Day Edition

During spring training, a seemingly bored Clay multitasks, catching the baseball while also checking the stands for broads in halter tops. (Photo from CBS)

One-time prolific ladies’ man Clay Buchholz may have given up a jaw-dropping four home runs in his first start of the season, but the 26-year-old remains a frontline starter and key member of the Boston Red Sox. A few days before his second start of the season, the happily married father of a six-month old daughter was nice enough to take some time to impart some of his sage wisdom to a few readers while holed up in his hotel room during the final night of Boston’s first road trip of the 2011 season.

Clay,
The City of Boston’s licensing board recently green-lighted the widespread sale of mixed drinks at Fenway Park. Any thoughts?

Rebecca from Jamaica Plain

Becky, I’m all for it. But I’m happy they’re not going to let the ruffians in the bleachers anywhere near the sauce, because having a bunch of drunk broads flashing their breasts at me as I’m warming up in the bullpen can get kind of distracting. I would ask that ladies refrain from that kind of behavior until after the game, when I’m driving out of the parking lot on Van Ness St.

Clay,
This is difficult for me to discuss, but here goes: My daughter wants you to autograph one of her butt cheeks as her Sweet 16 birthday present. At first I told her ‘absolutely not,’ but the more I think about it, the better the idea sounds. It beats trying to impress the neighbors by buying her a new car and it’s definitely better than paying for her to get her belly button pierced or a trip to Cancun. Can you give me a ballpark estimate on how much dough your autograph on my daughter’s buttocks might set me back?

Roger from Natick

Roger, you sound like a good guy and it’s perfectly natural for you to be a little hesitant, but I’m glad you came around. I’m offering a number of different pricing tiers for the 2011 campaign:

The 2-Seamer Package ($29.95): A 30-second conversation (I don’t have to act interested) followed by a lightly pressed Body Autograph written with a medium ballpoint pen.

The 4-Seamer Package ($49.95): A two-minute Q&A session (I come up with the questions) and a Body Autograph written with a thin Sharpie.

The Slider ($69.95): A hands-on demonstration of various pitching grips, a two-minute conversation (I feign mild amusement) and a Body Autograph written in permanent marker.

The Curveball ($99.95): All of the above, only the Body Autograph is written in scented permanent marker. Oh yeah…and Jim Rice gets to watch while you give me a backrub.

And Roger, the prices are doubled if you insist on hovering over us to supervise.

Clay,
Do you have any fears that there are women out there who have incriminating text messages from you filed away that they might sell off for some quick money in a pinch?

Terry from Worcester

No, I don’t, Terry. I’ve always found that tactic a bit too blunt for my tastes. I’ll admit that back in my single days a few years ago I satisfied the occasional urge to send something a little risqué to some random dame. But I guess I was a lot smarter about it than Tiger Woods or Brett Favre—I’d wait until guys like Craig Hansen or Takashi Saito got into games in the later innings and use their phones in the clubhouse. I tried using Youkilis’ phone a few times, but the chicks always seemed to know it wasn’t Kevin.

Clay,
A friend of mine told me you used to date some ladies who worked in various capacities within the magazine industry and I’m wondering if you might help me make some connections in the field. I’m a married, stay-at-home mother of three children (ages 4, 7 and 9) and I sit around bored all day while my kids are at school. I figure a freelance gig might help me stay occupied during the day.

Marie from Reading

I’d be happy to help out, Marie. Just send me your resume and portfolio. Be sure to include standard information like your favorite song, secret talents, political views and the date of your most recent breast augmentation.

Click here to read the Thanksgiving edition of the Love Doctor Mailbag

Click here to read the Red Hot Summer edition of the Love Doctor Mailbag

Click here to read the Valentine’s Day edition of the Love Doctor Mailbag

Click here to read the October 2009 edition of the Love Doctor Mailbag

Peter Gammons tweets ‘P': WHAT DOES IT MEAN??

During supper time on the east coast Tuesday night, NESN baseball insider Peter Gammons posted on his @PGammo Twitter feed, in his usual sage yet cryptic style, ‘P’.

That’s it. P.

Thinking on this whole thing rationally after a tortured, sleepless night, there are really only a handful of explanations for the message, which will now be presented forth in a classic “polyletter,” “multiword” (if you will) written technique that we employ not to rival, but only to attempt to explain the meaning of Gammons’ post-postmodern, uber-brevity.

P Theory #1: Gammons was beginning to speculate on a possible landing spot for (P)ujols, Albert, baseball’s best player who also happens to be on a collision course with free agency and a $300 million contract this fall. However, his inside source got cold feet as he began clicking away on his Blackberry.

Back in the old days with the Boston Globe–when people read the paper’s Sunday Baseball Notes column unironically– Gammons had a knack for tossing conjecture out into the open for public consumption. If Twitter existed back when Peter was on the phone 20 hours each day during baseball season, talking to executives and insiders nonstop, just sending out the first letter of a last name would have been a pretty major deal.

P Theory #2: Peter is employing the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring methodology: Each day, baseball fans need to visit @PGammo on Twitter in order to obtain the next letter in the long, elaborate message. Who knows, tomorrow’s letter might be an ‘E’ and the day after could be a ‘D’, then an ‘R’, then an ‘O’……and then Peter would probably get sick of stringing everyone along like a goddamn maniac and just finish on Sunday with “will sign with the Red Sox and be ready to take over the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation by mid-June.” Note: For the WEEI listeners trying to read this blog, that first word fully spelled out is “Curt Schilling.”

P Theory #3: Peter flew back to Boston from Florida because he had front row seats for the Lady Gaga concert at the Garden Tuesday night and began describing something he saw as she strolled toward the edge of the stage: ‘P’… Then he thought better of it.

P Theory #4: The last theory is also the most far-fetched of all the P Thoeries set forth in this space. In some miraculous convergence of universal improbability, Peter did not lock his smart phone and, as it jostled around haphazardly in his suit jacket, the proper combination of buttons was somehow pressed, not only opening the Twitter application and signing into the @PGammo account, but also typing the capital letter ‘P’–which just so happens to be the first letter in either the first or last names of numerous prominent baseball stars who may or may not be rumored to be on the move this season, according to top baseball executives and industry insiders.

Now, you tell us who’s crazy…