Tag Archives: David Ortiz

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Aug. 30 – Sept. 5

Boston swept its three-game set against the Chicago White Sox last weekend and then took two of three from Detroit. The Sox capped off the week by handing the Yankees a demoralizing defeat in the first game of its four-game series in the Bronx. New York battled back from a 7-2 deficit to take a 8-7 lead before Mariano Rivera, who looks like he could pitch another 10 years, had a rare blown save.

Thanks to Tampa Bay’s struggles in Anaheim and Oakland, the Red Sox were able to increase their lead in the AL East to 6 ½ games. Boston’s lead over Detroit for the AL’s best record stands at three games. Despite the loss to Boston last night, the Yankees have seen their playoff odds increase 6.0 percentage points to 10% during the past week while Tampa’s West Coast slide has dropped its odds from about 86% to 74%, based on the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds page.

Boston Wins in 10 Innings In New York
The Red Sox appeared to be on their way to a fairly comfortable win Thursday night before the Yankees exploded for six runs in the 7th inning. If this game had been played a week ago, Boston may have lost. The Sox scratched out a run in the ninth off Rivera thanks to a two-out single from Mike Napoli, who was lifted for pinch-runner Quintin Berry, a speed-first guy who is a luxury that can only be afforded on a 40-man roster. Berry promptly stole second and moved to third after the throw short-hopped Captain Jetes and wound up in shallow left field.*

quintin berry takes 3rd

*Dennis Eckersley did his best John Madden in Super Bowl XXXVI impression by initially questioning why Berry would be stealing second base with two outs in the 9th inning. You can almost hear the instant NESN producers were in his ear and good old Eck quickly did the right thing by mentioning Dave Roberts.

The Yankees provided to final two blunders of the night: Alfonso Soriano insisted on stealing every base possible against Craig Breslow, leading to his pickoff trying to steal third with one out in the ninth. And with the game in the balance, Joe Girardi brought Joba Chamberlain in for the 10th inning. If Joe Girardi promises to continue using one of his worst relievers in high-leverage, late-innings spots, Boston fans ought to start routing for New York to sneak into the playoffs.

girardi is disappointed

Boston Peppers the Fenway Stands During Eight-HR Night
The Sox hit dingers all over the park on Wednesday night. Daniel Nava’s two-run home run in the 6th inning, one of eight home runs hit by the team, chose a hefty fan’s face as its landing pad. Sure, this poor woman getting a face-full of beer thanks to the jackass sitting next to her got all the attention. But the fallout for this guy over the past couple of days has probably been a lot worse…

David Ortiz Collects His 2,000th Hit
Big Papi doubled off Al Alburquerque on Wednesday night during a 6th inning in which the Red Sox batted around and scored eight runs to turn the rubber game against Detroit into a blowout. Ortiz would later hit a homer in the 8th inning to pace the Red Sox’s 20-4 victory.

Boston Makes Some Roster Moves
During a season in which the Red Sox have remained relatively healthy as a team throughout, the September roster moves were exactly what a fan hopes for – marginal acquisitions and call-ups that add depth rather than address serious holes. The Red Sox acquired utility infielder John McDonald from Philadelphia in one of those “ depth” moves that probably spells doom if the player actually sees any at-bats in October. As part of September roster expansion, the Sox also recalled youngsters Rubby de la Rosa and Ryan Lavarnway. Matt Thornton and Brandon Snyder were also activated off the disabled list.

Lester Outduels Scherzer
Jon Lester faced off against Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer on Tuesday night and came away victorious, 2-1. Lester allowed one run, struck out nine batters and walked none while Scherzer walked three Red Sox and gave up two runs. The game will undoubtedly be pointed to later this month by advocates of Lester as Boston’s Game 1 playoff starter (if the Sox have the luxury to align the rotation). The whole decision could hinge on who has the best Angry Face on the team:

lester angry

Boston Herald Photo

lackey angry espn

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Buchholz Sets A Return Date?
Clay Buchholz made his last rehab start on Thursday night, throwing 71 pitches and striking out five batters in 3 2/3 innings. Clay could be back on the mound for Boston as soon as Tuesday night, assuming the Red Sox are keeping him on a relatively normal throwing schedule.

Theo Decides to Give Daniel Bard Another Whirl
Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein claimed Daniel Bard off waivers Wednesday after Boston designated the embattled right-handed reliever for assignment.

USA Today Names A ‘Minor League Player of the Year’?
They do. And this year’s winner was Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts joins some fairly lofty company – Andruw Jones (twice!), Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton as well as former Red Sox Gabe Kapler (1998) and Josh Beckett (2001).

This Week in Boston Baseballing, July 26-August 1

Boston took two of three in Baltimore against the Orioles and then lost a heartbreaker to the Devil Rays, 2-1, in a make-up game as David Price once again pitched a gem at Fenway Park on Monday. The Sox swept a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners, reclaiming first place in the process and notching a couple of the most dramatic victories of the season. The last two wins included a 15-inning win Wednesday night followed by a six-run, ninth-inning rally on Thursday to cap off the sweep.

Boston Plays Its Longest Game of the 2013 Season 
Wednesday’s 5-4 win over Seattle was one of those games the media gushes over because it was gutsy(TM) and team-building. Don’t sleep on the significance of the bottom of the 15th inning hero being Stephen Drew only a day after shortstop understudy Jose Iglesias was traded to Chicago.

From BostonHerald.com

From BostonHerald.com

Particularly in the era of the Wild Card(s), these win carry an intangible cost that may not be all that worthwhile footing. Then again, for the sake of argument, if the Sox fell on their sword and had their relievers throw meatballs, the Mariners’ lineup is hapless enough at times to mess that up. NESN cameras caught the Fenway digital clock striking 12:00 and Don Orsillo delivered the line, “Welcome to Thursday,” which kind of felt cheesy at the time…

Then the Red Sox Scored Six Runs in the Ninth Inning On Thursday
A fantastic show of lineup depth resulted in yet another dramatic win for Boston. Everybody and their mother got a hit for the Sox in the bottom of the ninth facing Seattle’s bullpen. Boston also got a little help from Seattle’s interim manager, who forgot his lefties from his righties

The swing in win probability during the bottom of the ninth inning via Fangraphs:

Red Sox 8 Mariners 7

And here is the exact moment NESN’s Jenny Dell realizes that, yes, there was a camera trained on her when she took a few extracurricular squirts from the celebratory ice-water bath meant for Jonny Gomes. (Full video at Surviving Grady).

 Jenny Dell doused

Jake Peavy Comes to Boston
On Tuesday night, Jose Iglesias was replaced in the field in the eighth inning during Boston’s 8-2 win against Seattle. An hour or so later, reports came out that Iglesias would be sent to Detroit as part of a three-team deal that landed the Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. The move has been well-regarded by fans and media. It seems possible Boston, Chicago and Detroit will eventually see this transaction as a winner in retrospect.

Of course, if you’re a younger pup trying to make a name, you find a different angle: Enter Boston.com’s hard-hitting, bone-crunching, numbers-running Stats Driven analysis of the trade, in which some dude points out that Jake Peavy’s two playoff starts SIX AND SEVEN RESPECTIVE YEARS AGO constitute a “problematic playoff past” (alliterative and asinine all in one!). When you’re posting something on a blog called “Stats Driven” and you begin a sentence with “Obviously his 9⅔ in two starts is a tiny sample size...” you should immediately stop writing that sentence, get up from your computer, leave your dormitory and talk to your career adviser about finding a new major.

Big Papi Loses His Shit
David Ortiz’s dugout tantrum on Saturday night in Baltimore is pretty well-documented at this point. And it seems like a quaint afterthought in light of all that happened with the team over the next five days. Papi’s rage fell just short of earning him a suspension and ultimately, it was a no-harm, no-foul situation. And like a true superstar, he went 4-for-4 with a home run the following day. We’re not even going to bother showing the video here again because, really, it’s almost like it never happened at this point.

Daniel Nava Forgets to Play it Halfway, Loses His Shit, Gets Ejected…
Yet another Daniel Nava base-running gaffe put Jerry Meals in the position to not be in position to make an obvious call. Nava slid safely into home plate on a sacrifice fly that would have tied Monday night’s game at 2-2 in the ninth inning. Meals’ bad call robbed Nava a shot at redemption for an earlier mistake the hitter prior. On a long fly to right field, Nava putzed around with some kind of crow-hop in between second base and third base (closer to second) that resulted in his being stopped at third base even though the ball went over the right fielder’s head. Nava admitted his mistake after the game, as did Meals, who said from where he’d set up he could not see Nava’s foot hit the plate under the tag of Jose Molina.

MassLive.com got a great screenshot of the play from the NESN telecast:

Nava sliding into home

It’s hard not to like Nava, but he can’t afford to be bad at things like baserunning – particularly when he comes in as a pinch-runner in the late innings.

…And Then Redeems Himself A Few Nights Later
Nava capped off Thursday’s ninth-inning comeback with his line shot to center-field. It may have been a double or triple in its own right. But either way, it was enough to plate the winning run and ensure the team didn’t go into extra innings for a second straight night.

Frank Castillo Dies
The most bizarre piece of news during the past week was that former major league pitcher Frank Castillo drowned while swimming in a Phoenix lake on Sunday. The 44-year-old Castillo pitched for the Red Sox in 2001, 2002 and had a brief cameo in 2004. Watching pitchers like Castillo get by with smoke and mirrors can be an entertaining experience as a fan if you’re willing to embrace it. Castillo’s Red Sox tenure was poorly timed as fan angst probably reached a peak in volume during 2001/2002 as the team was being sold. Nevertheless, he took the ball and tried to make it work. Any true Boston fan should be able to respect that even if only in retrospect.

Frank Castillo

Roger Clemens Comes Back
The Texas Con Man made a surprise appearance at Fenway on Tuesday night as part of the team’s 25th Anniversary celebration of the 1988 “Morgan’s Miracle.” Other participants included Spike Owen, Dwight Evans, Joe Morgan and Oil Can Boyd. How great a week has it been for this team that Roger Clemens can set foot in Fenway and the whole thing is essentially a footnote?

Roger at Fenway 2013

John Henry Submits Independent Bid for The Boston Globe
Less than a year after he exited the futures trading business, news has emerged that John Henry may perhaps look to make a buck or two in the media business. There would be some pretty substantial conflicts of interest in the coverage of the Red Sox and, really, professional sports in general if Henry were to take control of the Globe. But frankly, the idea of owning a daily newspaper at all seems a bit quaint in this day and age, no? Are there any locally-based real estate developers out there that may be willing to convert a significant chunk of space on Morrissey Boulevard into, say, premium condominiums on the outskirts of a neighborhood that is gentrifying at an alarming rate?

NEWZ: David Ortiz using the word ‘shit’ a few times is news, say people who report news

In this darling video above posted on Comcast SportsNet, David Ortiz can be heard ranting, throwing a tantrum, if you will; lashing out at the media…his, wait a second, what in God’s name is everybody talking about: A rant isn’t supposed to be some calm exchange of questions and answers, as can be witnessed here–a rant is something that’s just completely uninhibited by the constraints of normal human interaction, it’s a one-sided diatribe that’s often expletive-filled and devoid of any structure or basic courtesy such as a pause allowing for a retort or a shorter pause or even some or any kind of a verbal comma or semicolon and it just runs on and on and becomes difficult to listen to after a period of time because the speaker has selfishly hijacked the proverbial conversational highway, if you will, effectively making it a one-way street for his, and only his, viewpoint on whatever the specific matter at hand happens to be, thus what is evident in this particular instance is about the farthest motherfucking thing from a rant or a hissy fit or a popping off of the mouth because, shit guys, even Steve Burton is edging his questions in here while all the while one Big Papi attempts to indulge “reporters” by pretending they aren’t human vultures and by speaking his mind ever so momentarily on his way to the batting cage, where he can hone the one and only skill Boston fans truly care about because, shit (there’s that word again), why in the world would anyone care whether he’s polite or even slightly resembling an adjusted, normal human being when it comes to microphones being shoved in his grill when all the dude might want to do is just go about his business without completely losing his shit all the time, which would be perfectly understandable given the current state of the coverage of a competing, contending ballclub and the apparent misunderstanding the local media has in regard to the meaning of certain words like ‘rant’ – not to mention other words such as ‘relevance’, ‘perspective’ or ‘tact’?

Red Sox preparing to offer near-record contract to David Ortiz’s son, D’Angelo

The 2011-2012 Hot Stove season will go down as one of fiscal austerity for the Boston Red Sox: Relative inactivity in the free agent market. The Marco Scutaro salary dump. Abandoned plans for a Fenway Sports Group-operated orphanage in Kenmore Square.

David Ortiz's 7-year-old son, D'Angelo, talks hitting with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers prior to the All-Star Game. (Getty Images)

However, baseball insiders claim that lost amidst the teeth-gnashing over the bewildering nickel-ing and dime-ing is the position of strength the team now stands in the D’Angelo Ortiz sweepstakes.

Son of current Sox DH David Ortiz, the 7-year-old Ortiz is already projecting toward future stardom, according to proprietary analytical systems utilized in Ben Cherington’s front office. Therefore, it makes sense for the team to lock up his peak years before he puts up meteoric statistics in Little League.

Sources say the money socked away from their offseason restraint will be invested in offshore capital-funded private equity funds and suspect pyramid schemes that will enable the team to offer “Little Papi” a record-sized contract that may approach $300 million.

Said one club mole, “We’ve been studying the market for the offspring of husky power hitters for years. Everybody loves David Ortiz. His home runs have helped lead this team to extraordinary success. After he’s retired, it won’t be long before we roll out Big Papi 2.0. D’Angelo will be given unhindered access to our batting cages and pitcher video analysis immediately. We’ve already asked him what type of design he wants for his iPad carrying case.”

D’Angelo’s birthday isn’t until July, meaning the younger Ortiz will spend the majority of the 2012 season at an ideal age for power development and pitch recognition training.

“If he were already 8 or 9 years old, we’d pare down the contract offer slightly. But with him being only 7 and a half, this isn’t the time to be stingy on the average annual value of the contract,” said a team accountant requesting anonymity.

Said one scout, “We are aware of his father’s body type and the likelihood he’ll develop similarly. But we believe we have identified a key market inefficiency that can be exploited by signing him to a mega-deal while he is in grade school. He can start immediately entertaining fans during batting practice and as he becomes major league-ready, we will start writing him into the lineup. This is one of those rare guaranteed returns on an investment.”

Analysts have debated about how to possibly reconcile a roster spot for a 7-year-old prospect. However, many believe D’Angelo Ortiz’s presence on the team may just be the only explanation for the puzzling absence of a viable everyday shortstop on the 40-man roster.

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.

Papelbonbon
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.

Five insanely stupid things that Tony Massarotti managed to work into one (online) column

Now that the embers are dying down in the media’s “David Ortiz vs. Mike Lowell” saga, Tony Massarotti is a bit strapped for true controversy. When that happens, there’s only one thing a Boston columnist and radio show host can do. Conjure another one up.

1. “Has Jacoby now become to the Sox what “Medical” Bill Cartwright once was to the New York Knicks? Is it Ellsbury – or DLsbury?”

Tony is off and running. Completely random cross-sport reference? Check. Lame attempt at nicknaming the player in question? Check. Implication that a certain player doesn’t want it bad enough to play hurt? I think we got a controversy brewing…

2. “Last year, during a rock-solid season in which Ellsbury batted .301, stole 70 bases, and played in 153 games, manager Terry Francona spoke of how Ellsbury was beginning to understand the “responsibility” of playing in the major leagues, which was a nice way of saying that Ellsbury had an obligation to his manager and teammates to play through minor issues and be in the lineup.”

Well, Tony. You’ve attributed one word (“responsibility”) to the Sox manager and then proceeded to explain, in your own words, what Terry Francona was actually saying about his outfielder. Want to know how many times Francona used the word “responsibility” when discussing Red Sox players last season? Over 900 times. Yeah, we made that number up. Just like you made up a read-between-the-lines explanation of a beyond-obscure quotation that Terry Francona may or may not have ever said.

3. “At the moment, nobody should dispute that Ellsbury is in some level of discomfort. The greater question concerns if and when he can play through it. Ellsbury already has said that he expects to deal with the problem all year – an alibi if he plays poorly, no doubt – and it is worth noting that he is 1 for 14 since coming off the disabled list.”

No, it’s not worth noting 14 at-bats. Tony learned nothing from the trials of Ortiz earlier this season in which the media waited even less than 14 at-bats (eight to be exact), before declaring something was wrong with Big Papi. Ellsbury did make a nice diving catch in center field last weekend in Philadelphia. But one catch is merely anecdotal. Fourteen at-bats, though? That’s plenty enough data to employ when trying to make a flawed argument.

4. “Ellsbury, of course, is merely 26. While it is always dangerous to wonder whether players are capable of playing through injuries – the Red Sox would be wise to remember the cases of both Scott Williamson and Matt Clement – the issue here is clearly much bigger. In the minds of the Sox – and others – Ellsbury has a reputation, something only he can be responsible for.”

Well, something for which only Ellsbury or any other jackass looking to fill out space in an online column can be responsible. Don’t end sentences with the word “for,” Tony. It makes you sound like you don’t really care about your readers. It hurts our feelings and makes us wonder if you’re really cut out to be a part-time writer.

5. “Earlier this month, Mike Lowell openly wondered whether he still had a role on the Red Sox, but at least Lowell’s remarks were motivated by the desire to play, something that hardly makes him different from the majority of athletes.

In Ellsbury’s case, the problem seems to be the opposite.

Does he want to play or doesn’t he?”

Back when Tony was trying to intimate that Ellsbury’s 2009 may have been an aberration in terms of playing time (153 games), he conveniently neglected to mention that Jacoby also played in 145 the year before, an up-and-down 2008 that was also his first full season in the majors. In 2007, he logged 528 plate appearances over 104 games in Triple AAA and in September as a member of the Red Sox. At the risk of sounding like some “pink hat in Camp Jacoby,” as Tony would say, it certainly seems like a guy who doesn’t want to play wouldn’t have, you know, played so much over the last three seasons. One could probably safely assume that had Ellsbury not collided with Adrian Beltre on a fluky play in Kansas City, he would again be on track for 600-plus plate appearances, a benchmark he reached in both of his first two full seasons in the major leagues.

Whatever Jacoby’s reputation may have been back in 2005 or 2006 is completely irrelevant now. People change and so do their reputations. For example, five years ago, some people may have accused Tony Massarotti of being a respectable writer who covered the Boston Red Sox. Opinions and outlooks can change.

A Few Things about the Jordan’s Furniture Monster (Hit) Scam

The sign in center field is just above bleacher section 40, just waiting to be peppered with tape-measure home runs as part of the Jordan’s Furniture Monster Hit promotion.

So any home run that hits that sign during a game means free furniture for anyone who made a purchase before the deadline?

Well, no. Not every home run is eligible—just those hit by Red Sox players…after July 15.

OK, that’s fine—nobody wants free furniture because Ramon Ramirez threw a flat fastball to Carlos Pena. The Red Sox have actually shown a decent amount of power thus far in 2010. And the ball carries well to center during the summer at Fenway. Home runs occasionally glance off the back wall behind section 40 from time to time. And that’s right where the sign is located. There’s a chance!!

Just a second there, Lloyd Christmas. The free furniture thing is limited to homers that hit the small baseball printed on the left-hand side of the sign…(The fine print: The hit will not be considered “direct” if it caroms off another object or is touched by a fan before hitting the baseball on sign.)

Oh.

Based on available data from Hit Tracker Online, 186 home runs were hit at Fenway Park in 2009 (about 2.30 per game). One of those homers landed in the vicinity of the Monster Hit sign. In 2008, two home runs out of 147 would have had Jordan’s insurers holding their breath. In 2007: three of 148. In 2006: three of 156.

Some of these home runs probably wouldn’t have even appeared as close as Hit Tracker’s scatter plots suggest. Nevertheless, in the most charitable scenario, there is a 1-2% possibility that any given home run has a chance of making a dent somewhere on the sign based on data from the last four years (9 dongs out of a total of 637 hit). But the actual area taken up by the baseball itself is probably something like 5% of the total sign’s space. So in reality, the promotion is akin to a blindfolded shot from half court at a Celtics game where just hitting the backboard would be an impressive accomplishment.

But the trouble isn’t solely that the probability of a “Monster Hit” begins with a decimal point followed by a bunch of zeroes. It could happen. The more glaring reality is that Jordan’s is preying on the dumbest subset of fans by enticing them to bet on the likelihood of a player hitting a specific spot on a sign over 430 feet from home plate at Fenway Park. The possible reward should be more interesting than free second-rate furniture.

So what would be a better reward for customers who buy furniture at Jordan’s based on the possibility that it will be free if someone hits the target?

It has to be something equally as far-fetched. It should be interesting and rewarding for everyone involved. Not just for those who purchased sofas and loveseats. It should universally atone for all the aggravation the company will put NESN viewers through with its incessant advertising spots. It should offset the mental pressure it puts on David Ortiz—Does the slugger’s homerless psyche really need to have a tiny home run target as a backdrop in center field?

It should also punish Jordan’s Furniture for being unoriginal. This promotion is a watered-down version of MasterCard’s long-running sponsorship of targets at the MLB All-Star Game home-run derby event.

At the very least, that guy in their ads should have to cut off his ponytail so that Jade McCarthy and Heidi Watney can use it as a French tickler while enthusiastically hooking up on a memory foam mattress while Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy provide a play-by-play analysis on live television.

Ortiz mashes his first home run of season, receives creepy letter from John Henry

BOSTON, Mass.–Through an exclusive club source, Fenway Pastoral has obtained text from a letter left inside David Ortiz’s locker following the Red Sox’ 8-3 victory Wednesday night. The letter was signed J. H. and is believed to be from lovestruck team owner John Henry.

Dear Papi,

Red Sox fans need a muse. Well, they don’t really. They don’t need nearly as much as they generally think they do. A man is greedy. Greedy for what he doesn’t think he has and what he thinks he wants.

We wouldn’t have won two World Championships without your charismatic presence pushing us. And your home runs were one of the most important byproducts.

So you will ask, “Why are you writing this?” Because your gorgeous, long-anticipated home run stroke in the fifth inning tonight gave a cool spin to this little blue planet from my vantage point.

Fenway feted your first home run of the season tonight and the skies opened. The sun emerged and created a giant rainbow between the city and the park. We were transfixed.

You only saw it if you were in the right place. I was in the right place when I noticed you.

Outside of our occasional, awkward on-field encounters after big wins, I barely know you. I don’t have any illusions about capturing your heart. But the world is brighter, better, lighter and warmer when an owner imbues a slugger he knows—even tabula rasa—with the attributes I believe reside in you. It’s the small things that ultimately matter. The subtle things.

I am honest. I don’t play games. And I see no reason not to say that I’ve been smitten by you and you’ve done this team a great service over the past seven years.

You’ve very innocently made our world brighter, better, lighter and warmer.

So thanks.

No response is necessary because a true Red Sox fan doesn’t need nearly as much as he thinks he does.

Amen, Mr. Henry. Amen.

Local man would sleep with Heidi Watney

CARVER, Mass. — In a small, working class town known mainly as the pimple on the hindquarters of Plymouth county, the early morning sun beats down onto the pale green vines that lay flat over one of Francis Flynn’s many cranberry bogs.

Sheared wooden stems protrude from the green expanse, top-layered with vines cut dead under one of Flynn’s tractors last fall—days after the final out was recorded in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in Tampa Bay.

After a brutal winter of ice, snow and sleet pelted, submerged and suffocated Flynn’s precious beds—on which cranberries will soon sleep—weeks of work are in store in order to prepare the fickle peat at the bottom of these marshy bogs before they are ready to reap a harvest of oblong diuretic red pellets. Tractors need to be serviced; weeds must be removed; beds must be fertilized. With his main assistant in court this morning after picking up a DUI early Saturday morning, Flynn, 38, is left to fend for himself on this chilly Monday morning.

Yet, gazing out over his bog while taking a long, deliberate swig of his 32-ounce Honey Dew coffee, Flynn only wants to talk about one thing.

“I would do Heidi Watney,” he says of NESN’s on-field reporter, when asked about the Boston nine’s prospects for the upcoming season. “I just want to get that outta the way right now. Anybody who the Captain would do, I would do. It’s as simple as that.”

After falling one game short of the World Series last fall, it appears Watney’s second year as team reporter will be a major storyline this spring and perhaps beyond as fans increasingly embrace her presence and impact on the team. Yet with the season opener closing in fast, it is a storyline that has fallen by the wayside.

“I was down at Sullivan’s Tap before the B’s game the other night. All anyone could talk about was ‘Tek’s ballpark adjusted OPP (sic), negative age 35-plus career arcs and batting average on balls put in play. I’m sick of talking about last year,” says Flynn. “The handwringing over offensive production? I don’t know, that ship sailed for me a long time ago.”

When Baseball Prospectus came out with its annual season projections in early February, Flynn admits being surprised there was no projection of “games worked” for Watney similar to the plate appearance forecasts BP provides for individual players. Once he took a closer look at the BP projections, however, Flynn put the omission into context.

“They (BP) got Youk batting .270 and Ortiz driving in only 89 ribs?,” he says. “Obviously anybody who thinks Lowell’s only gonna hit 15 dongs isn’t too much of an expert.”

He defers when asked to give his take on the durability questions about David Ortiz and Mike Lowell heading into the season. Indeed, other than his cranberry bogs, only one thing seemed to be on Flynn’s mind as spring training nears its conclusion.

“That kind of dirty blond hair and blue eyes? The sleeveless tops she wears on those hot, humid days at the park…Yeah, I’d say I’m a fan.”

The start of a Red Sox season is always exciting, especially for fans curious about the assimilation of key figures in the clubhouse. For younger prospects and rising stars, the sophomore season’s success or failure has become a cliché in itself.

“You look at a guy like Youk in 2005 or Dustin last year…the second full year in the league is always a big leap,” Flynn asserts. “I’m worried she may get a little too comfortable after last year. I hope she got some new outfits…”

Because of Watney’s late start last season (she did not begin reporting on games until May), the case can be made that this year will be more challenging as she attempts to prove she can survive a full season’s workload.

“She’s kind of like the guy who’s only had a few hundred at bats,” Flynn says. “The sample size may not be big enough yet to prove she’s the real deal. Like I said, though, I would do her. I’m a big fan.”

For lifelong Red Sox fans like Flynn, staying power is an important attribute for the on-field reporter position. The organization has become increasingly frustrated at what has become, in recent years, a turn-style spot in the order akin to shortstop. While the able-bodied Tina Cervasio was a solid temporary solution, her advanced age and fleeting dedication to the job motivated the Red Sox to find a younger, rising star who they could groom in their own image.

And for salt-of-the-earth fans like Flynn, Cervasio’s married status was somewhat unbecoming of an on-field reporter.

“Watching baseball has to be about more than just pitching, hitting and defense. I like seeing women on TV who I have a chance with,” says Flynn. “If I want to look at a girl I can’t sleep with, I’ll flip over to one of those MTV reality shows and pretend the flicker is acting up if my wife comes into the den.”

Count Flynn among the many Red Sox fans who believe NESN should televise more spring training contests in Florida. The station will air a total of nine games over the course of six weeks as the team prepares for the regular season.

“It’s really not enough for fans like me. I’m a diehard and after a 12-hour day out on the cranberry bog, all I want to do is crack a cold one and watch Heidi.”

Flynn also raised his concern that less televised games in March means Watney will be shaking off any residual rust at the beginning of April.

“If she’s bumbling around out there like Dustin in April 2007, they’re going to regret it.”

With this warning, Flynn reinserts his new camouflage Red Sox ‘hanging sox’ logo cap onto his head and excuses himself, heading back to his toolshed. He has fields to sow and his musings have left him behind on the day already as the 7 a.m. sunbeams have risen their way over the oak trees that surround Flynn’s bogs. If the weather cooperates and Flynn does his job right, his plants will yield red, pick-able berries in early October. The Red Sox may very well be in the playoffs by then. But all that is a long away for Flynn. The early spring preparation process must go on and the tail end of winter just got a little warmer for Flynn as he returns to work, thinking of easy-going summer nights.