Monthly Archives: May 2012

Jenny Dell’s request for Fenway Park PA announcer tryout has front office squirming

To the chagrin of both the Red Sox and NESN executives, Jenny Dell, seen in this NESN.com file photo doing her trademark pose, has thrust her hat into the ring of contestants vying to become Fenway’s next PA announcer.

The tall task of replacing the late Red Sox PA announcer Carl Beane continues Thursday night when Jon Meterparel of WEEI takes a shot at transforming his “Sports Flash” voice into a “Now Batting” baritone at the Fenway Park loudspeaker.

However, radio personalities are apparently not the only ones that believe they could become the next Beane or even, perhaps someday, the legendary Sherm Feller.

According to several organizational insiders, NESN on-field reporter Jenny Dell would also like to audition for the role.

Per decree by Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, tryouts are supposed to be by invitation only. However, Dell has made her expectations quite clear to enough people in the front office that Red Sox brass is becoming increasingly uncomfortable by the day with the prospect of giving her a flat-out ‘No Thank You.’

Dell, presumably tired of the immature catcalls and lecherous looks from perverts in the first-baseline box seats, likely views Beane’s vacant slot as her only ticket out of the stuffy confines of the camera well near Tarp Alley.

However, as one mole in the front office pointed out, “Let’s not be cruel about this or anything. But Jenny’s ‘Around the League’ reports can be a bit…laborious…”

Measuring his words carefully earlier this week, Lucchino seemed to agree. “We just aren’t sure that, how do I put this, her on-camera, um, charisma will appeal to people, you know…solely in an an an… aural sense.”

Said another official within the organization, “Look, everyone’s been real nice about this whole thing so far. We all watch her on NESN and gush over her conservatively managed beauty. And we’re happy she’s maintained a skin-to-shirt ratio that would make Nick Punto’s batting average look gaudy. But honestly, somebody’s going to have to man up on this and tell her the truth even if that means offending an employee of our sister company.”

So far, though, the prospect of turning Dell down has proven more difficult to carry out in practice than it sounds in theory.

“John Henry took her out to a nice dinner at Capital Grille the other night with the intention of politely saying no. We fed him this great euphemism about how you wouldn’t use your best outfielder as a designated hitter,” said one insider with knowledge of the proceedings. “But he got back to Fenway Park and couldn’t look anybody in the eye. He just had this, this stare. Then we found him several hours later in a trance just staring through a picture of the NESN logo like it was the Mona Lisa. Like all of a sudden he’s just mesmerized by the NESN logo? We have no idea what happened.”

Some members of the organization have come around to recognize the inevitability of Dell becoming the next Beane.

As one insider in the Dell camp points out, “In the early 1990s, the Red Sox replaced Sherm Feller with a woman (Lesley Sterling). Then, they had a few men do it. It’s time for a woman to take over again.”

Brainstorms are already in the works for the likelihood that the Red Sox eventually cave to Dell’s demands, including the idea of placing a camera in the PA announcer’s booth and filming Dell as she performs her duties throughout the game. “We’d likely condense footage from this ‘Booth Cam’ into a tidy 150-minute package that would be replayed on NESN during off-peak hours similiar to the Sox in Two wrap. One hundred and Fifty Minutes with Jenny Dell does have a ring to it. A high-definition DVD of highlights from the 2012 season could be in stores well before Christmas.”

One thing seems certain: Dell seems to have proven herself inseparable from the NESN microphone.

Observed one fan at Fenway on Wednesday night: “She carries that big old thing around with her everywhere huh? How can anyone think she was meant to be anything BUT Fenway’s PA gal? She is inseparable from the microphone. Go Jenny!”

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Red Sox brass close to moving ‘Sweet Caroline’ up in the order

USA Today photo.

The Boston Red Sox do not always prevail, but fans at Fenway Park always go home winners at the end of games thanks to the club’s iconic tradition of playing Neil Diamond’s classic ‘Sweet Caroline’ just before the bottom of the eighth inning.

Unfortunately, Red Sox batters and pitchers rank as some of the slowest in the league in terms of Pace, a fancy stat measuring how many seconds pitchers and hitters take to do stuff in between pitches. More often than not, the hallmark singalong moment seems to come at obscenely late hours of the night.

In response to prodding from a growing number of fans – including parents with young children, people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, NASCAR fans and psychopaths who actually respect Neil Diamond as an artist – the organization has begun researching the impact of moving the playing of ‘Sweet Caroline’ from the middle of the eighth inning to the end of the fifth inning.

“Per regulations of Major League Baseball, all games become official after the fifth inning is completed,” reasons one high-ranking member in the front office. “We’ve heard some of our fans have children that are having trouble concentrating in class the following day because they were at a Red Sox game that ran late the night before. We’ve also heard from many people who hold in bodily waste during games due to irrational fears about utilizing our restrooms facilities. Respecting all these various weirdos as much as we do as an organization, we believe this may be the solution to make everyone happy.”

While some members of the club were hesitant at first, the initiative’s proponents appealed to humanity’s basic core in arguing the cause.

Watch closely. While the image above may appear to be a still-shot of Daniel Bard, it is actually a real-time GIF animation of his pre-pitch routine.

“We sat a few people down in lounge chairs, strapped their limbs in place and wire-pronged open their eyelids a la Clockwork Orange. Then we made them watch Daniel Bard pitch with multiple runners on base,” explained one source. “Everyone quickly came around and once all the vomit and diarrhea was cleaned up, the idea of shifting ‘Sweet Caroline’ to the fifth inning seemed pretty inconsequential.”

(The technique was so effective, in fact, that MLB recently announced that Bard’s go-to pickoff “trick” move will be called a balk by all umpires – not just some! – beginning in 2013.)

It seems to be a unanimous belief internally that fans will submit to witnessing actual baseball during the first five innings if they know a sweet, sweet reward is just around the corner.

“But making people watch this ballclub for eight innings? I can’t believe we haven’t been under assault from all those hippie letter-writing organizations like Amnesty International…” said another club official. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that many fans would rather be waterboarded than watch Vicente Padilla pitch.”

Fans interviewed by Fenway Pastoral during the most recent homestand seemed to agree, although some have their reservations.

“I understand where the team is coming from, but I’m a big beer drinker and I can’t sing along with a fifth-inning buzz,” said Irene from Sudbury.

For those worried about a decrease in team concession sales, one club financial officer says there is no reason to fret.

“Yes, studies have shown most of our soft-serve ice cream is served between the sixth and eighth innings to people passing the time waiting for ‘Sweet Caroline’ by indulging in one of our famous helmet sundaes – the Red Sox logo is printed on a plastic helmet and it makes a great souvenir.”

But, the source went on, “We have sold the presentation rights of the fifth inning to John Hancock for a significant sum of money that will make up for the difference. So it will now be John Hancock presents The Fenway Fifth Inning Festivities Starring Sweet Caroline. I know, I know…it’s brief but catchy right?”

Even Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has fervently applauded the team’s diligence in researching such a landmark decision. “As a diehard Red Sox follower, I can understand the fans’ desire to be able to witness the halftime ceremonies in full. Baseball is not just about socking that ol’ pigskin over the Green Mammoth, but also about the pageantry. The ‘Sweet Caroline’ singalong is an integral part of that perfect evening watching Dusty Peters and company play in that jolly old sandbox, as Henry David Upton famously put it.”

The Youker Files: In which I accidentally fart during yoga class with Mrs. Youkilis-Brady

Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

While battling a bad back on the disabled list, Kevin Youkilis experienced an unconventional breakthrough that may save his career. (Photo from NESN.com).

As many of you probably already know, my spine has been a bit…embattled lately. The Red Sox put me on the disabled list last week and I’ve been enjoying watching Will Middlebrooks take his first round of major league at-bats. I bruised the poor kid up pretty good after he hit that grand slam on Sunday for his first major league home run. Just a ton of congratulatory punches and noogies and stuff.

But I gotta be honest. Not being out on the field battling with the guys is tough. I was just starting to feel like my swing was coming around and I could definitely feel one of those two-homer, nine-ribbie games coming any day when all of a sudden my lower back started barking at me.

My new wife, Tom Brady’s sister Julie, could tell I was in a bit of a funk. So she suggested I try to loosen my back up by going to this early-morning yoga class with her. I got pretty mad at her for assuming I was one of those effeminate, metrosexual meditation-type dudes and we had our first shouting match since getting hitched last month. Once it was over though, I realized the best way to smooth things over was to just agree to take the stupid class with her and smile my way through the stupid thing – I figured I’d take some of the pent-up aggression out on my pecs and do some incline bench presses in the weight room once it was over.

I’ve always despised the people who walk down the street with those rolled up yoga mats. It’s like, ‘C’mon, you really want everybody to know you’re going to meditate and all that, huh?’. Plus, they’re way too little to properly pad my body from the hard floor. I’m a big guy. So I borrowed one of those tri-folding floor mats from the Red Sox clubhouse. It’s about 20 square feet or so and I had to pull the back seat of my Range Rover down, but it wound up fitting just fine.

We got to the gym around 6 a.m. and I figured there wouldn’t be too many people in a class that early. But the room was chock-full and I was pretty happy I had brought my tri-fold mat. It gave me a little extra space and, after backing off some women who tried to overlay their roll-up mats on top of mine with a couple dirty looks, I was in the clear with enough room to maneuver without getting elbowed somewhere unsavory.

So anyway the class was a cinch at first. We were doing all these lame stretching and contortion techniques with our bodies. The instructor had a bunch of fancy names for them and I kind of freelanced a little bit since some of them were kind of ridiculous. Per team doctor’s orders, I’m not supposed to bend my knees past certain angles, twist myself into funny positions or sit on the ground like a dainty Lotus flower (OK, fine, that last rule is my own…). Also, some of the things they expected us to do were just plain crazy. I could tell just by the name of the Fetus and One-Legged King Pigeon positions that they weren’t anything I wanted to be a part of.

Overall, though, I thought things were moving along pretty well. I played along for some of the nuttier positions even though I felt a bit vulnerable–like some sort of wild female animal presenting herself to a male suitor in the jungle. (I mean, c’mon, laying on my stomach and grabbing my ankles from behind is a “bow posture”?)

I was seriously crushing the Crescent Moon position (picture me gloving a bad hop at third that almost bounces like three feet over my head, all the while I’m on one knee and bent slightly backward).

But, of course, bad luck just had to strike at that very moment.

I’d be lying if I told you I had any control over what happened next. The instructor kept telling us to listen to ourselves breathing. In. Out. In. Out. I could feel oxygen rushing through my veins and it felt like I could practically see carbon dioxide pouring out of me as I exhaled. It was a cleansing, Zen experience and all that stuff. It was like I had stepped out of my third-baseman’s physique and was sitting in a box seat, observing the shell of my inner soul reach a scraggly peak of utter consciousness by hitting a 500-foot home run off Roy Halladay.

I felt liberated and at complete ease with my baseball career. I couldn’t have imagined anything more soul-enhancing except maybe hitting a grand slam in the World Series to walkoff with the MVP trophy and pig-piling on home plate with all my teammates like a hoard of little kids and then dousing each other in gallons of champagne.

So yeah. It was feeling like a real poignant moment in my life.

And then…..well, I farted.

Try to be mature about it, you guys. I wish the rest of my yoga class could have been at least. Instead, all the women around me, including my lovely new wife, turned around and glared at me like I was some sort of inhuman piece of garbage. I know it didn’t exactly seep out gracefully, but there was no reason for people to get all emotional about the whole thing. I’ve never felt so low or embarrassed, especially once they started pointing and laughing.

It was like striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of the World Series on one of those just big, violent cuts that aims for the fences but ends up buried in the catcher’s mitt. I mean, I went from having images of hitting a baseball over everything on Landsdowne Street to swinging and missing at strike three and hearing one big Bronx cheer.

I guess that’s what farting in the middle of yoga class feels like. In just five short years, I’ve gone from being voted third in the 2008 AL MVP voting to getting snickered at by a bunch of trailmix-eating yoga chicks. I felt so disgraced that I pretended I was out of water and walked out of the room. I hid out in the far back corner of the weight room on one of the leg-press machines for a while but I was too distraught to put up more than a few hundred pounds.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the whole thing and I know I shouldn’t be ashamed. I reached a level of consciousness and bodily harmony that those girls just don’t understand. My mind feels so clear and my body has a brand new spring in it.

Hopefully, this little story clears up any lingering doubts of my ability. I’m not just telling you guys this because it’s a contract year and Middlebrooks is mashing the ball all over the field. When I get back out there, I’m going to murder major league pitching with my swing. I’m just mentally ready to outclass my opponents. And while my defensive first-step may be slower than in my prime, I can anticipate where the batter is going to hit the ball just using my new understanding of the universe. So maybe the whole experience wasn’t a waste time, you know?

Farting that day in yoga class seemed to just release all those negative toxins that weren’t doing my body any good. It may have been why my back was feeling so sore and inflexible in the first place.

So thank you to my lovely wife, Tom Brady’s sister. All you fans out there can forget about any third-base controversy. I’ve seen the light and you’ll see it too: I’ll be back on the field tattooing baseballs real soon.