Category Archives: Sports

Papelbon Switches to Sanka

So much for January being a slow news month.

A source close to Fenway Pastoral confirmed today that Red Sox reliever and longtime Dunkin’ Donuts coffee pitchman Jonathan Papelbon has unofficially switched to the instant decaf alternative, Sanka.

Known to go entire relief appearances without blinking his eyes even once, Pap’s close friends cited health reasons for the change. Papelbon, who suffers from occasional migraine headaches, would like to cut his caffeine intake as part of his New Year’s resolution—the other parts presumably being an $11 million salary and some improvement in his ever-diminishing K/BB rate.

The news had executives at Boston ad agency Hill Holiday scrambling as it likely jeopardizes the firm’s much anticipated 2011 campaign, “Drink Dunkin’ Iced Coffee or else Jonathan Papelbon Will Sit On Your Face and Fart.”

Said one key employee working the account, “We’re not too worried yet, but ‘Drink Dunkin’ Iced Coffee or else Bobby Jenks Will Sit On Your Face and Fart’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.”

Red Sox executives sounded equally surprised and frustrated by Pap’s change of heart.

“One of the reasons we upgraded the bullpen bathroom facilities this offseason is because of all the coffee Jonathan was making his teammates drink out there,” said one front office source. “Caffeine is a natural diuretic.”

Closer-in-waiting Daniel Bard, meanwhile, spat out his Folgers upon hearing the news.

Fenway Pastoral will have more on this story as it develops.

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: Turkey Day Edition

The 2010 season will go down as the Year of Buchholz. Our boy Clay was able to hold his libido in check and finally harness his abilities and fulfill his immense potential as a front-line pitcher. Relatively new to married life, Clay is busy raising his three-month-old baby girl with his model wife, Lindsay Clubbine. Meanwhile, he is poised to become a perennial Cy Young contender and one of the aces of the Red Sox pitching staff for years to come.

A thankful Clay Buchholz hams it up for a photo while ensconced in a cornucopia of broads.

The 26-year-old righthander recently took a few minutes out of his offseason conditioning regimen to answer loyal Fenway Pastoral readers’ questions regarding everything from romance to child rearing to Turducken.

All those dirty diapers and drool and baby formula must really slow down your roll with the ladies, huh?

-Andrew from North Reading

Are you kidding me, dude? I could show up in full uniform at Boston Beer Works and I still wouldn’t be accosted by as many broads as when I walk down the street nowadays. It takes me about two hours to stroll even half a block through the park near my house. The cheek pinching, the tender caresses, the goo-goo-gaa-gaa talk—these dames just DO NOT seem to ever get enough of it. And it’s twice as bad if I have my daughter with me.

I’m 35 years old and married to who I thought was a great guy. But one of my single friends recently called my attention to a profile on Ashley Madison (the website that helps married men cheat on their wives anonymously) that looks an awful lot like it’s my husband. There is no way it is a coincidence. I’m not thinking divorce just yet, but what can I do to burn him back?

– Wendy from Chelsea

The subtle, mature thing to do is grab his credit card, hop online and buy yourself a J.D. Drew No. 7 jersey. Make sure to get the hand-stitched replica with the 2007 World Series champs patch on it. It costs like $500 bucks and it will absolutely infuriate him every time you wear it.

Is this Turducken craze for real? The whole concept seems kind of ridiculous.

– Mary from Winchester

I’m with you on this one, Mary. Wake me up when someone figures out how to incorporate some real game bird: road beef.

Does it make me less of a man if I don’t like eating the dark meat on a turkey?

-Keith from Billerica

Yes, Keith. Yes it does. You’re one of those people who busts out his golf umbrella the second after a couple of raindrops fall on you in the Fenway Park box seats, aren’t you?

Some people argue that basting a turkey isn’t completely necessary. Where do you stand in this debate?

-Troy from Weymouth

Are you serious, Troy? I’m not showing up at your house on Thanksgiving. Nobody wants to mess around with some tasteless, dried up bird. Basting is essential if you want to ensure that the turkey remains moist throughout the roasting process. After initially basting the raw bird during pre-oven prep, you have to continue applying flavor every 15 to 20 minutes so that it doesn’t dry out.

In your opinion, how long should foreplay last?

-Terry from Danvers

It should take the exact same amount of time to fully explain the infield fly rule to Jade McCarthy. No more, no less.

If you’re married, you can easily fit it all in between two of Daisuke’s pitches.

My girlfriend swears you pitch better when Jason Varitek is behind the plate than when Victor catches you. She says you look “more confident out there.” What should I do?

-Ben from Peabody

Break up with her and date a stripper.

Better Boston gentleman’s club: Centerfolds or The Glass Slipper?

-Joey from Plympton

That’s kid’s stuff, Joey. You might as well ask me who I like better: Derek Jeter or A-Rod. They’re both overpriced, overrated and tear through a bunch of women who look good from far but are far from good. Check out Vegas or Reno sometime…

When “making it rain” on stage at the gentleman’s club, what is the minimum acceptable denomination for currency?

-Albert from Topsfield

Al, you can’t make it rain with anything less than 100 individual bills, so you should make sure you can afford to withdraw that quantity from your bank account. One dollar bills are OK, but I would definitely mix in at least a few fives and tens in there if you ever plan on going back to that same establishment. Also, DO NOT pick up the cash once it’s hit the ground to try to prolong the confetti effect.

That’s all for now, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving.

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 last October’s edition of the Love Doctor Mailbag

Colour Commentary: Red Sox Hot Stove Analysis From Liverpool

O, dear brothers, surrounded by ignorant droogs interested only in footie, Your Humble Narrator across the pond just barely survived the most dreadful torture of a Sox-less World Series. Take pity, my dear friends, on the no doubt several thousand fools who viddied such senseless rubbish. (That wanker Edgar Renteria as MVP? A bloody travesty!)

Thank goodness for the great hot stove winter season, an orgy of free agent signings, arbitration offers/non-offers and key trade transactions. Our favourite baseball club in Boston shall no doubt be active.

It seems to me, dear brothers and sisters, that there are many issues confronting Lord Theo and his apprentices. In between fantastic visions of saddling that prime baboochka Heidi Watney with the old in-out, in-out, YHN has constructed a game plan of sorts for a successful winter.

Sir Ortise
Well pull down my knickers and twink my willy, the beloved designated swatter did not go zero-for-600 as some predicted in early April. Lord David’s rookers are a bit slower through the strike zone these days, but Your Humble Narrator modestly proposes extending Big Papi for no more than, say 15 million gollies ($21m US) for three more years. After which time, your narrator most enthusiastically volunteers to take the ageing man out to the nearest woodshed for proper burial.

Victour Martinez

How frightfully distressing all this talk of Jason Varitek’s potential return has been on Your Humble Narrator’s poor gutsalug. The team must simply rid itself of this bloke, everything from the horrific pop-disk at-bat musical introduction to his oozhasny discipline at the dish.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez is adequate behind the dish, adds insurance at first base, shows a mighty good swing and makes us all shite our knickers in laughter when he rubs Adrian Beltre’s incredibly irritable gulliver. And he can be signed for three years if the money is right. And he’s a good teammate. And Bob’s your uncle.

Dear brothers, I confess to many times this past season soiling my poor neezhnies when brother Pap took the hill. A most unfavourable feeling of nausea overtakes my innards when I think about an arbiter awarding this man more than 10 million gollies to continue twisting up my embattled knickers. A trade of Dropkick Pap for  perhaps one major-league ready player and some B-level prospects would greatly please YHN, who, I must state, never could love the boy after his mock on-field display of the dance of Satan himself: the Irish step. Ship him up—and out—of Boston.

The Corner Soomkas
My friends, first and third are two positions of extreme importance for any organisation, particularly as poor brother Youkilis’ stardom will likely be continuously challenged by high, tight pitches aimed at his gulliver. The wear and tear on the Greek God of Knocks leads YHN to believe first base is the place for his talents.

And what more need be said of Adrian Beltre, dear reader, than all the praise already heaped in local gazettas? His 2010 was the dog’s bollocks, which may just be a problem for Lord Theo when it comes to signing a fair-market deal. Nevertheless, YHN believes the rumpy pumpy marriage between Beltre and Fenway Park is one that could thrive for four more years.

Unless the veck wants something obscene like $13 million ($18m US) per year. In that case, he may kindly piss off and waste away his inconsequential final years somewhere else as we question his true commitment and openly root against him from afar.

Jayson Werth
Devote readers, a veteran player with postseason success (tied for the most NL home runs all time), a scraggly beard, dirty hat and hard, desirous look (white) will most certainly fit into this team bloody well if either Sir Victour or Lord Adrian defect elsewhere. Let’s say four years, $34m eurogollies ($48m US).

The Rotation
Welly, welly, well it does appear the future is mostly bright here. In addition to Master Lester, Brother Clay has become a top-class ace. It was clear his newly domesticated existence cleared his gulliver of the siren’s call of the strange, clearing his mind in order to perfect command of his fantastic change-up.

I believe the recent birth of a mini Clay will afford even less time for lubbilubbing with various dolled-up Hags of the Hub. A solid follow-up to this past season would be most agreeable.

John Lackey was certainly a one-man horrour show in 2010. But the righty has a swell, jagged set of teeth with which to grit as he continues to eat up innings for the club for the next—hang on one moment while I check this media guide—FOUR HONKING YEARS??!! Oh…oh my. You noble narrator will simply close his eyes when Lackey takes the hill. Oh, I simply must find a rubbish right away…

[This is several hours later, dear reader] YHN notes this veck Daisuke can’t be fagged to throw one pitch in less time than my old lady takes to fix her Earl Gray. He quite simply must be dispatched to a poorly run organization in the National League before YHN’s patience is tried.

That is all, for now, dear readers. Your horrid American businessmen, click-clacking away on Dingleberrys up in the Fenway pavilion seats, have officially exhausted the standard British sign off (“Cheers”). So YHN will instead leave with a simple ta ta.

Out Of Rightfield: Some Season Ticketholders Feeling Betrayed By 2011 Renovation Plans

As a season ticket-holder of box seats in the right-field corner,  Thomas Morrissey has not actually seen a pitch reach home plate during a game at Fenway Park in 12 years. Not that he could have ever cared any less.

Since 1999, Morrissey has made the long trek from his home in North Attleboro to Friendly Fenway for every home game. From the slightly elevated vantage point offered by his two seats in the right-field loge box just in front of grandstand Section 5, Morrissey proudly boasted to friends about his unrivaled view of the spacious patch of grassy real estate dutifully manned in recent years by the likes of Trot Nixon, J.D. Drew and Eric Hinske.

And, while beauty can sometimes be exclusive to the eye of the beholder, absolutely no one had a better view of the visiting team’s bullpen catcher.

“You can see the catchers giving practice signs to the pitchers and trying out new mitts, breaking them in,” Morrissey gushes. “Double-barreled action is the best. Just a barrage of 80 mile-per-hour warm-up pitches. Pop, pop, pop, pop. Back and forth. Sometimes in perfect unison.”

The glory days for Morrissey appear to have come to an abrupt, ever-so-cruel end. As recent photos on the Boston Globe website confirm, the Red Sox have torn up the lower seating bowl housing the right-field boxes and plan to re-pour the cement footing later this year before replacing the north-facing seats with chairs that will presumably* be angled to the west (i.e. oriented toward home plate).

*Fenway Pastoral is not currently owned by the same corporation as the Boston Red Sox and, thus, team officials declined (rudely) to provide final blueprints of the construction plan.

Adding insult to injury, the organization also has plans to install several high-definition video screens above the outfield bleachers.

“A lot of good that does me now that my seats will be facing home plate,” Morrissey bemoans. “What am I going to do? I have abnormally long femur bones to begin with and I’ll have to shift my entire body way off kilter just to see the video replays out in center. Ridiculous.”

Morrissey is holding out hope that he may be given an “obstructed view” discount on his seats now that he has to cock his head 30 degrees just to glimpse the visitor’s bullpen or centerfield scoreboard. But his level of optimism can be best described as hovering near a post-2003 ALCS level rather than some boyish Summer of ’67 “Impossible Dream.”

“All they ever show on television is the pitcher throwing to the catcher,” he reasons. “If I wanted to watch that for three-plus hours, I’d stay home. They shouldn’t be messing with local landmarks like this.”

While swiveling one’s neck in either direction as needed may sound like a perfectly reasonable compromise, 30-year season ticketholder Gretta Lebowicz advises against that technique.

“Back in the ‘80s, when I first got my right-field box seats, I was in and out of more chiropractors’ offices than Wade Boggs was in and out of hookers and KFC drive-thrus,” she estimates. “Your spine can only take so much. After a while, you realize you gotta pick one sightline and go with it.”

It’s been over 25 years since Nancy Cone saw a home run at the point of contact. Yet she, too, echoed the opinions of Lebowicz and Morrissey.

“They are just maiming history. Tom Yawkey and that guy Duffy, who they named the cliff after, would be rolling around in their graves if they could see it. Hopefully, the owners come to their senses and maintain the historic seating angles. Mayor Menino can’t let them get away with this.”

Hub Bids Another Superstar Adieu: Moss departure reeks of Manny trade

Now we wait, with bated breath, for the inevitable accounts of Moss’ last days in New England. Perhaps there is a Jack McCormick-like shoving incident that can be pointed to by revisionists as the impetus to a deal being consummated.

In-season trades of surefire Hall of Famers like Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez just don’t come to be all that often, particularly when the team trading away the superstar is a fair bet to make the postseason.

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: Of course it ended badly. Nothing would ever end if not on a down note.

The logical view from an impartial distance is that both the Manny and Moss deals were defensible in that they represented long-view business decisions. Both trades represented aging stars leaving town in the hopes of one last payday predicated as much on what he has done in the past as what he can be expected to do in the future.

But alas, here comes that old, familiar stench akin to the Ramirez 2008 Hatefest: The faulty perception that players like Moss and Manny have bad “attitudes” (Tony Massarotti comes right out and says it; on, Mike Reiss straddles his well-worn middle ground stance while still managing to imply “locker-room chemistry” issues.)

Over the years, the malcontent storyline has become stock language amongst local media. It is a fallback explanation that has become as lazy as the “Manny Being Manny” nonsense that was co-opted by some into “Randy Being Randy” when it became convenient. Before either ever stepped off a plane at Logan—Manny in 2001 and Moss in 2007—both were unfairly depicted as self-absorbed, over-privileged A-holes. It was never a matter of if pundits would turn on either player; it was just a question of when.

Moss’ press conference after Game 1 of the 2010 season was the latest case in point. When there’s a microphone in the room, You’re Damned if You Don’t, But You’re Almost Certainly More Damned if You Do. Shaquille O’Neal has played the media game deftly for years, but he better be taking notes.

Given the climate of coverage around here, what incentive do our professional teams have to dispel rumors of dissatisfaction and “cancerous” locker room behavior? Whispering into columnists’ ears about lack of effort is a transparent and foolish tactic, but team officials will continue to do it because there are always a few takers willing to ignore things like reality and game film.

Ironically, the Moss news came on the same day that The Sporting News released its “Best Sports City” rankings, which had Boston at Number 2. Presumably, TSN’s algorithm has been weighted heavily on the fact that Boston is relatively blessed with competitive teams and high-profile stars.

But it’s fair to question whether all the winning in this town has actually changed the negative perception that many athletes of past generations had of playing in Boston. The success of otherworldly players like Moss—and Manny and countless others before him—is almost impossible to enjoy in the moment, unabashedly, without worrying that their high statistical outputs would eventually lead to unfair expectations and trifling scrutiny within the media.

While it is as much a cliché to continuously blame the media for a star player’s “unfair” treatment, New England’s fanbase is certainly not at fault for either Moss’ or Manny’s deciding enough is enough.

Great athletes all have breaking points—it comes with the territory of eccentric, unique ability. It’s just a damn shame the guys with the microphones and notepads keep reinventing the need to test these thresholds.

Well-Connected Ken Burns Apparently Knows Only Two Red Sox Fans

OK, fine. Three if we count Little Timmy Barnicle, who is rumored to have learned George Carlin’s seven major curse words at a very early age.

We don’t want to sound ungrateful after Ken Burns’ Baseball: The Tenth Inning devoted a sizable chunk of its runtime to the 2004 World Series victory. The historical background and dramatic moments were captured about as accurately as possible. By and large, the segment did justice to truthfully depicting the significance of the win on the larger scale.

But, seriously: Mike Barnicle and Doris Kearns Goodwin?

Little Timmy Barnicle standing on his chair at Yankee Stadium??

Burns apparently wasn’t interested in finding a few other Sox fans willing to come out of the woodwork and go on record.

Yeah, we’re a really bashful bunch by nature…But a disgraced former Boston Globe columnist and a biased historian discussing their fan experience in 2004 wasn’t just increasingly tiresome, but also lazy for someone as respected as Burns.

Neither representative is heaped in loads of credibility. Both Barnicle and Goodwin have adamantly denied fairly obvious accusations of plaigiarism in the past.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn-born Goodwin is already in her second marriage in terms of team allegiances. Wait ‘Til Next Year may be applicable to the Red Sox, but the book focused on the Brooklyn Dodgers. She adopted the Sox as “her” team in the late ‘60s. Sure, she may look like she waited all 86 years for the Sox to bring home a championship, but she’s actually only 67 years old. Her fandom was self-chosen as a coherent adult and, thus, her depiction as a poor, tortured soul is somewhat disingenuous.

Barnicle? Well, before he was a talking head on MSNBC, he was the kind of newspaper columnist who fabricated stories about kids dying from cancer in order to inject dramatic effect into his pieces. That was a long time ago and perhaps the man’s turned over a new leaf. (There is absolutely positively no chance he played up the drama of watching the 2003 and 2004 Game 7s with his sons because cameras happened to be rolling in his face.)

Burns was content to just scratch the superficial surface of local fandom, regrettably managing to add yet more inertia to the unfortunate cliché of the Tortured / Maligned / Fatalistic Red Sox Fan. Spokesfans like Goodwin and Barnicle continue to spout their tired retrospective narratives of agony because that is what they believe people want to hear. It is a mindset that the media has projected onto Red Sox fans for decades and continues to be exacerbated by a handful of people who cannot stand to be ignored. Part of Burns’ job is to temper exaggeration in the name of historical context.

In the end, Barnicle’s anecdote about his 11-year-old son standing on his seat at the end of Game 7 in New York is telling not because it perfectly captures how it felt to be a Red Sox fan on that October night, but because father and son were surrounded by thousands of other elated people who were jumping just as high with joy. Unfortunately, when everyone is screaming at the top of their lungs, some people will do anything to stand out.

Red Sox officials plead with fans to exit playoff ticket virtual waiting rooms

It is beginning to look like this might not be the year. But the third-place blues of the local nine have not discouraged rabid Red Sox fans from flocking to infamous virtual waiting rooms (like the one pictured below) in the hopes of scoring coveted tickets to a ‘potential’ playoff showdown with the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays.

The sellout streak holds strong as Fenway Park continues to be packed to the gills this month despite Boston’s injury-derailed season, which is poised to end short of a playoff berth for the first time since 2006.

Fans like Tina from Shrewsbury do not appear fazed by the likelihood that it will all be over in less than two weeks.

“I’ve been refreshing browsers on all three of my family’s home computers,” she said Monday night—after Daisuke Matsuzaka’s lackluster five-walk performance in a 4-2 loss to the Orioles. “I figure the more computers I have going the better chance of getting tickets. People won’t be laughing when I’m drunkenly yelling at Evan Longoria from third-base box seats a month from now.”

Club employees are not certain how people continue to populate the virtual waiting areas accessible through the Web site. Some suspect that so-called “zombie links” from past years continue to somehow provide access to the mainframe servers, which has wreaked havoc on the operations of the site.

The initial puzzlement has quickly given way to annoyance.

“Fans: Please, for the love of Pedro, stop logging onto looking for playoff tickets. There are NO playoff tickets,” begged one official. “The added traffic is disrupting our ability to employ a skeleton staff for end-of-season site operations.”

It would appear that the eternally hopeful mentality of Red Sox Nation could make for a long winter.

“I’ve been calling the box office a few times a day just to check in on availability. You have to be vigilant and keep the faith,” advised David from Hanover. “I’ll never forget what happened in 2004, when I got World Series tickets ten minutes before first pitch.”

Standing just steps away from the day-of-game ticket window on Landsdowne Street, Paul from Yarmouth could be spotted rolling out a sleeping bag and using his iPhone to view his virtual waiting room status.

“Those guys who work in the box office hate me. They know I’m gonna be here every day until they release Sox-Yanks ALCS tickets,” he said. “The team holds back a certain number of seats to be sold the morning of each game and I’m gonna be here waiting when they do. Believe that.”

Club officials have resorted to asking local news outlets to repeat proclamations from earlier in the summer that the season is doomed. However, TV and radio hosts have declined thus far, reasoning that repeating their prognostications would be construed as overtly negative.

“Youk’s out…Pedroia’s out…Lackey and Beckett have been absolute disasters. I don’t know what else needs to happen,” lamented one top executive. “This sellout streak is nice, but maybe we’ve taken the whole thing a bit too far.”

On the (in)fluency of professional umpires

Es muy fácil: The Boston Red Sox lost their best hitter and fielder last night because some fill-in umpire named Dan Bellino don’t speak Spanish no good.

Bellino’s ignorance likely did not cost Boston a win. After all, the Sox were facing Felix Hernandez, who would be a frontrunner for the AL Cy Young if the season ended today (assuming the Boston media’s unhealthy obsession with Clay Buchholz’s win total and ERA has not spread into some kind of national pandemic).

On the other hand, Bellino did succeed in embarrassing the integrity of Major League Baseball—coincidentally, much like his crew chief (Joe West) has done so many times before.

In theory, the notion of a “human element” in baseball is a good thing. Unfortunately, kind of like the whole “bullpen-by-committee” idea, it is a concept that can too often be sabotaged if the right personnel are not in place. Bellino is just the latest example of too many umpires’ inherent desire to become part of the story. (There are some journalists in this town who often suffer a similar affliction.)

Bellino’s ignorance of what was actually transpiring on the field (two former teammates engaging in some fairly innocent trash-talk) injected a “human element” that has no business anywhere in America, particularly on a baseball diamond: cultural insensitivity.

The fact that Bellino wasn’t smart enough to realize Adrian Beltre wasn’t speaking to him as he took grounders at third base is bad. That Bellino did not or could not accept that he wasn’t part of the story, that Beltre and King Felix were merely engaging in some friendly jawing, is worse. And, on top of it all, that a 31-year-old, over-his-head, just-called-up, mercenary of a home plate umpire was not man enough to take the opportunity to correct his mistake is a downright embarrassment. (Beltre, for his part, hadn’t been ejected from a game since he was a Dodger six years ago.)

The precedent is set. (Bellino ought to understand this, as he actually holds a law degree.) An umpire may stand behind the veil of lingual ignorance if he feels the need to make a statement. Worse, unwritten code dictates that fellow members of the crew (Angel Hernandez) should stand by ejections, no matter how indefensible they may be. Both Bellino and Hernandez must have realized the error of Beltre’s ejection, as neither would provide Terry Francona with an explanation, whether spoken in English, Spanish or Pig Latin.

Given the demographics throughout professional baseball, both major league and minor league umpires should be required to speak Spanish beyond just recognizing cuss words when they are tossed around on the field. After all, their primary job is to communicate various decisions with the players and coaches on the field.

On occasions when someone a bit less…”cultured” must umpire home plate in a pinch, perhaps they could at least be reminded of their rightful place within the game.

The Youker Files: A trip to the farmer’s market

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

Somebody once told me that my thick, scraggly beard makes me look like I could be one of those trail-mix-eating, Dharma-bum environmentalists. After a Good Samaritan kindly peeled my tightly wrapped fingers, one by one, off of this person’s neck, I realized maybe the guy wasn’t totally wrong.

Thanks to my stupid thumb (and my recent return to bachelorhood), I’ve got plenty of extra time this summer. I could have sat at home feeling sorry for myself these last few weeks, but watching the guys toiling away for a playoff spot from the sidelines is frustrating enough as it is. And fighting off the temptation to swing a bat (doctor’s orders) is a daily challenge.

Luckily, farmer’s markets offer both an earth-friendly alternative to the wastefulness of supermarkets and also a great way to kill off lazy summer days leading up to night games. On top of that, people always say that mass-produced hummus is filled with so many poisonous toxins and preservatives that you’d be better off letting Julio Lugo cook you a post-game dinner without his washing his hands first.

Keeping all that in mind, I figured it was probably time for me to see what all the hype was about. Earlier this week, the depression of both an empty cupboard and an empty bed became too much to bear any longer. I grabbed the keys to my sports utility vehicle and headed toward the sticks.

I was surprised by the massive amount of people already jockeying for positioning in the parking lot when I arrived shortly after 10:30 a.m. (I could have gotten there a lot earlier, but I got caught up watching The Today Show while ironing some newly washed dress shirts. In the summertime, I have to change shirts a few times each day—otherwise I wind up smelling like a freshly diced Bermuda onion.)

It was already a fairly hot and humid day even for late morning, so I left the engine of my sports utility vehicle running in its parking spot with the air conditioning on full blast. (Again, the heat…) I locked the car using the remote button on the keychain and it felt like everyone at the farmer’s market was staring at me like I had just swung at a pitch in the dirt on a 3-and-0 count.

Flustered by the grisly stares, I accidentally threw away my keys along with the Styrofoam coffee cup and crumpled paper wrappers that had encased my Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich. I practically had to stick my entire arm into the parking lot dumpster to retrieve my keys out of the garbage, which smelled like a dead elephant had been stuffed with rotten vegetables and fed to Godzilla for his final meal before he evacuated all his bowels in the same trash container on the first day of one of those seven-day lemon cleanses. I recoiled and had to hold back several dry heaves.

For some reason, all this reminded me that I was all out of maple syrup, which I like to pour liberally on my challah French Toast. Now, everything would have been fine if they had capped the bottle using a normal twist-off top. But for some reason, the syrup people plugged the top with a flimsy cork-shaped contraption that wound up loosening and allowing most of the syrup to seep out and into my reusable tote bag, which I had originally gotten as part of a free gift package at some Museum of Science exhibit years ago while on a date with my ex-girlfriend.

The bag, which obviously held sentimental value to me, was ruined. Worse yet, when the syrup began dripping down my leg and onto my brand new Nike sneakers, the people at the stand gave me a look like I deserved all that was coming to me.

I could feel a burst of anger rising from deep within. I wanted to pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella and throw it as hard as I could at the large sign advertising farm-raised salmon. The soft, drippy cheese would have made a satisfyingly awesome mess. But, as always, I kept my emotions in check and moved on.

To replace my now ruined Museum of Science tote bag, I purchased a handmade sack that I could tell was at least 75% burlap even though the lady who made it claimed it was only 35%. I wasn’t in the mood to argue by this point, so I paid the lady $25 and moved on.

I had piled no more than 15 organic tomatoes into my new tote when the bottom stitching gave out. I couldn’t believe it. Dirtied and befouled from rolling on the grass, the tomatoes were inedible and I left them on the ground fertilizer to the barren, sun-scorched earth. For good measure, I ripped the remaining burlap stitching apart a la the Incredible Hulk, took a Sharpie out of my pocket, signed my autograph on each of the pieces and handed them to some frightened-looking children. (I think they may have gotten lost looking for the sugar-free candy booth.)

I was quite fed up by this point and it was clearly time for me to leave the farmer’s market. I decided to get some homemade gelato on my way back to my sport utility vehicle. Knowing my luck, I made sure to take a hefty supply of napkins (maybe 25 or 30, tops) with me in case the gelato began to melt down my whole-grain waffle cone. I ate the gelato as quickly as I could as the humidity seemed to instantly turn my cone into a dripping, liquid mess. Luckily, my napkins contained most of the mess and I only got a couple of drips on my white shirt. (Unfortunately, I have since learned that dried raspberry gelato is very difficult to wash out of synthetic cotton.)

I’d rate my overall experience at the farmer’s market as no higher than a C or C-plus. Oh well, I guess all-natural sweeteners, home-made berry jams, hand-churned dairy products and gluten-free pasta aren’t for everybody. I’ll try anything once, but on my way home from the farmer’s market, I bought enough Celeste frozen pizzas to last me until the end of the Mayan calendar. I have a feeling the zesty four cheeses of Mama Celeste will do just fine in providing me all the nutrients I need to come back strong and healthy in 2011.

The Jacoby Ellsbury Monologues

Whether they liked it or not, Boston sports talk radio listeners certainly got their fill of Jacoby Ellsbury conjecture over the past couple of months. Grumblings that the Red Sox outfielder is “soft” and took his sweet time returning from fractured ribs suffered in early April grew so frequent by July that it seemingly became accepted as the majority opinion.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is that stations such as WEEI and the Sports Hub don’t always have time to air all the callers waiting in the hold queue during the course of a day. As a service to its readers, Fenway Pastoral recently paid an undisclosed sum to WEEI, which in turn forwarded some listener calls our way. Some uncut highlights of caller rants have been transcribed below.

Fred from Norwell (on the car phone): I pay good money for season tickets in the center field bleachers so I can get a closer look at Jacoby Ellsbury. If I’m lucky, sometimes Jacoby Ellsbury will get close enough to the outfield wall that I can look down and see if he’s shaved or not that day. I was going to sell my tickets for September on StubHub, but now that Jacoby Ellsbury is back playing every day, I’m ready for the stretch run. The presence of Jacoby Ellsbury is a definite dealbreaker.

Alicia from Salem: I don’t know where all these people get off saying Jacoby Ellsbury stinks. People were so obsessed with Jacoby Ellsbury’s rib injury, as though his absence was literally the only reason the team went on a skid in July. A sore Jacoby Ellsbury isn’t going to be much help to anybody. Literally.

Robert from Walpole (on the car phone): I touched Jacoby Ellsbury once. It was so amazing! It was during the victory parade after the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. Jacoby Ellsbury was just kind of hanging himself out of a Duck Boat and I reached up from the crowd and gave him a congratulatory tap. It was a pretty special moment…It’s not every day that you get a chance to touch Jacoby Ellsbury. I didn’t wash my hands for a week afterward because they had that faint smell of Jacoby Ellsbury on them.

Jennifer from Concord: I don’t know why the naysayers can’t just let us enjoy Jacoby Ellsbury while he’s young and exciting. The way Jacoby Ellsbury contorts himself to make those catches in the outfield is amazing to watch. I added a DVR option to my cable plan so I can pause the TV and just stare at Jacoby Ellsbury in mid-air, doing his thing.

Ed from Barnstable: I still can’t eat a taco without thinking about Jacoby Ellsbury. I guess winning everyone in New England free Taco Bell doesn’t buy you as much understanding as I would have expected.