Archive for February, 2008

The Boys Are Back In Town

Florida is the second best place to be a Red Sox fan, in the world, ever. Ideally, being able to go to Fenway Park day in and day out would be best, and I do long for the Fenway Park days of my life. Going to games on summer nights and taking the T into Kenmore Square is one of my favorite activities, hands down. But, if I can’t have the real deal, southwest Florida is a good second.

Yesterday I was able to watch the first pitches of Spring Training for the Red Sox in the beautiful City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. I had psyched up for this game, and baseball in general, for quite some time now, but yesterday had some icing on the cake. I awoke in the morning to what seemed like 25 missed calls from my Dad informing me that the World Series trophies would be on display at the park and available for photos. As you can tell by the photo section on the thefoulline.com, we took full advantage of the opportunity to take pics with the trophy of all trophies. I was so overjoyed, and showed it a little, that Dave and I ended up being tracked down by MLB.tv for an interview. (I like to think they recognized us from the thefoullline.com, but who knows?)

It was a beautiful day. Great weather, the trophies, baseball being back in action. It’s great. While we can’t embrace the warmth of Fenway on a summer night as much as we in Red Sox Nation South would like to, we DO have Spring Training to bask in, and 12 games at the Red Sox’s other home field, the Trop. So, welcome back, baseball. We’ve missed you.

It Was a Good Day

I knew today was going to be a good day. The weather was a perfect 65 degrees, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I had two tickets for the Red Sox/Boston College game in Fort Myers. I knew the game wasn’t going to be close, but Josh Beckett was penciled in to pitch the first two innings and I was hoping to see a couple of the Sox regulars get some playing time. The game started at 1:05 p.m. I planned on picking up Dylan at 10:00 for the hour-long drive down to the game. What transpired over the next three hours made this a day I won’t soon forget.

  • I get a call from Dylan. He tells me that his Dad has called him seven times this morning to tell him that the World Series trophy will be on display at City of Palms Park. Thank you, Wayne Hamilton!
  • Approximately five seconds after getting to Dylan’s, he suggests we hit Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. Brilliant!
  • Coffee in hand, we make world-record time down to Fort Myers.
  • 11:00 Arrive at the park.
  • 11:15 In line to get our pictures taken with the World Series trophies. That’s right, two trophies! They had the 2004 and 2007 trophies on display.
  • 11:30-11:40 Dylan and I mug for the cameras.
  • After the pictures, Dylan is showing me around the park when a camera crew stops us. Long story short, this is the camera crew from MLB’s This Week in Baseball. They told us that they had been taping us during our time with the trophies, and they wanted to interview us. We talk about what the World Series trophies mean to us, the Sox chances this year, blah blah blah. Like a couple of idiots, neither one of us thinks to mention thefoulline.com. Anyhow, we’ll keep an eye out for when we’re on TV and get the word out.
  • Five minutes later, we are checking out the Boston Red Sox team store when team owner Tom Werner and Boston mayor Tom Menino pop in. These guys are walking around doing a little shopping like a couple of regular guys. Something tells me they don’t need to use their Red Sox Nation discount card.
  • For those of you that have never been to City of Palms Park for a Red Sox game, you need to go. This was my first time, and the place is beautiful. It felt like I was at a Grateful Dead concert. Everyone was united, in a good mood and ready to cheer on the Sox. It truly is Red Sox Nation South. I can’t wait to go back.
  • 12:30 p.m. Lineups are posted. I was psyched to see the lineup Terry Francona put out there today. He played every projected starter, with the exception of Manny and J.D. Drew.
  • 1:00-1:30 Josh Beckett looked like he was in mid-season form for the two innings he pitched.
  • 1:15.35 – 1:15.43 I am now convinced that Jacoby Ellsbury is the fastest person in the world. He went from first base to home on a bloop hit from Dustin Pedroia quicker then anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • Kyle Snyder, Brandon Moss and Manny Delcarmen looked really good today.
  • Dylan and I were sitting behind the owner of The Penalty Box Irish pub in Providence R.I. If you’re ever up there, check it out. Mention Kevin for a free round.
  • For seven innings, B.C. was dominated. Even with the starters pulled and the no-name Sox playing, this game was a blowout.
  • 24-0. Ouch!
  • Even though it was a Spring Training game against an outmatched opponent, I thought Boston looked pretty good.
  • I can’t wait to get my picture taken with the 2008 W.S. trophy next year.

All the Right Moves

The Red Sox made a few smart moves yesterday. The first was a no-brainer, re-signing Terry Francona was long overdue. This guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Two World Series titles in four years is impressive, doing it in the pressure-cooker of Red Sox Nation is extraordinary. This guy is adored by his players and respected by all of Major League Baseball. He is truly one of the good guys in the game. When talking about the game’s great managers, Francona should be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony Larussa. Although his new contract is nothing to sneeze at, I really wish Theo Epstein made him the highest paid manager in the league.

The second move was signing 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract. Although Colon has had his share of injuries the last couple of years, he could be a decent insurance policy if any of the Sox pitchers gets injured. He won’t make the team coming out of Spring Training, but maybe he can get in shape in Triple A and make a difference when it’s time for the playoff push. This guy has won twenty games in a season twice. He hasn’t forgotten how to pitch. Let’s see how he does when he gets in shape and the Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell gets a hold of him. Either way, it’s a low-risk, low-cost, possibly high-reward scenario.

thefoulline.com updates

I want to remind everyone that there are still spots open for the inaugural thefoulline.com Fantasy Baseball league. Please spread the word to your friends and family and have them sign up. It should be a lot of fun. Thanks again to Matt McLaughlin for setting it up. To sweeten the deal, we are working on a prize package for the winning team consisting of original thefoulline.com merchandise. So if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.

Also, Dylan and I are heading down to Fort Myers on Thursday to watch the Red Sox play Boston College, and I’ll be taking some pictures to add to the site. I’m not an expert photographer, but I’m sure anything will be better than the glamour shots of ourselves that are on the site now. On a related subject, Dylan and I and couple friends of ours are “shipping up to Boston” for a few days in May to check out the Sox. Unfortunately the Kansas City Royals are in town while we’re up there, but any baseball at Fenway Park is good baseball.

Feels Like the First Time

Welcome to the new and improved thefoulline.com. After a successful and entertaining first year, we’ve decided to take our game up a notch and make some improvements. The new site includes the official thefoulline.com store, Dylan’s Corner of Awesomeness!, thefoulliners’ favorite links, pics, and of course plenty of Yankee bashing. If you have any suggestions or feedback on the new site, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We appreciate all of your support over the past year, and hope you enjoy.

~Dave

Movin’ Out

Thefoulline.com is moving this weekend from Blogger to WordPress. You’ll still find us at www.thefoulline.com, but if you’ve been using foulline.blogspot.com to get to us, you’ll need to update your bookmarks. If you subscribe to the RSS feed or get the posts by email, you won’t need to do anything to move with us. There will be some downtime as we make the move, but we expect to be back up with the new site within a day or two.

The new and improved* thefoulline.com will include video picks from Dylan, a photo gallery, links to our favorite sites and articles, and thefoulline.com shop featuring original t-shirt designs. And, of course, all the witty and insightful baseball commentary you’ve come to expect.

*Now with more sarcasm!

The State of Massachusetts

It has been 118 days since the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. Since then, we have been subjected to countless articles of Johan Santana speculation, the Roger Clemens Steroid Saga, and of course the Patriots cementing themselves into second place in the hearts of New England fans. But after a long winter, it’s time for the only season that truly matters.Baseball is back.

Enigmatic closer Jonathan Papelbon threw down the gauntlet last week when he declared the Red Sox as the team to beat this season. Although I appreciate his passion, I think the Sox are going to have their work cut out for them if they hope to defend their title.

I think this season for the Red Sox has the potential to go one of two ways. They could run away with the division, or they could have a really disappointing season. The way that the Sox are set up right now, it looks to me that they are one serious injury to any of their starting pitchers away from being in big trouble. The Sox do not have the depth that they’ve had in the past to sustain any long term injury. Also, what if Manny turns in another poor offensive performance this year? Can Mike Lowell carry the team for another year? Is Jacoby Ellsbury really the next Ted Williams? Can Boston rely on Lester and Buchholz as everyday contributors? Will Pedroia have a sophomore slump? Can Okajima still trick hitters with the oki-doke?I am not trying to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, but there should be some concerns on this team. Last year, the Yankees started slow and the Sox were able to build a big division lead, They always got the big hit when they needed it, and fortunately avoided any key injuries.

So were the Red Sox that good last year, or were they just luckier then the rest? With everyone else in the league gunning to knock off the champs, they are going to need to be both if they hope to repeat.

The Kids Are Alright

Let me start off by saying that I love the Boston Red Sox. I was raised by a dad who taught me to always support the Sox no matter what. And even though I don’t live in New England anymore, I’ve always followed the Sox and have tried to raise my two kids the same way.

I was too young to remember Bucky “effing” Dent’s homerun in 1978. I was in junior high when Bill Buckner broke my heart, and I still feel the stomach punch when Aaron Boone took Tim Wakefield deep in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. I have followed the Red Sox during their absolute worst. And after winning two of the last four World Series, I have seen them at their best. But the newest generation of Sox fans, my kids included, know nothing but happy times. Their Sox history is all about bloody socks, Big Papi homeruns, and champagne showers.

So I hope you can appreciate my concern when I say Boston may be in trouble this season. While Boston opted to keep last season’s roster intact, other teams in the American League have been loading up. The Red Sox will have their hands full with teams salivating at the thought of knocking the champs off the mountaintop.

Good teams in the league have got better. Detroit added two All Stars in Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim improved their defense with the addition of Torii Hunter, and the always tough Seattle Mariners improved their rotation with staff ace Eric Bedard. Add the Indians, the Blue Jays, and the damn Yankees to the mix, and this could be an uphill climb for Boston.

If the Sox stumble out of the gate this year, or if a key player gets injured, I hope Theo Epstein doesn’t hesitate to unload their young talent to acquire some All Stars to help keep this team on top.

But I don’t want him to do it for me, or my dad, or anyone else that believed in the Curse. I want him to do it for the kids. After all, they don’t know any other way.

Spring is in the air

I love Spring Training. The smell of freshly cut grass. The warm sun after another cold, gray winter. The beginning of an eight-month voyage with hopes of a World Series title. The stories of Roger Clemens’s butt abscesses.

I watched every minute of the congressional hearing yesterday from thefoulline.com headquarters and came up with a few opinions. First of all, Clemens is a liar. I’m not sure that there will ever be enough evidence to convict him for taking performance-enhancing drugs, but I have little doubt that he took them. I’m not going to get into the “he said, he said” stuff, but let’s take a look at a few highlights and observations.

  • Clemens’s legacy is obviously more important to him than his family. He tried to get his wife to take the fall for him. Be a real man and stand up for yourself.
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (D – MD) is my new favorite politician. During the hearings, Cummings owned Clemens. This guy was relentless on him. Unfortunately, with only ten minutes assigned to each congressman, Cummings ran out of time before he could get Clemens’s head to explode. I swear Clemens was three minutes away from pulling a Colonel Jessup and shouting, “You’re goddamn right I ordered the Code Red!” Fortunately for Clemens, the Congressman ran out of time, but it was close.
  • Roger Clemens is definitely on Barry Bonds*’s Christmas card list. Clemens is now the MLB poster boy for steroids. This is exactly what Bonds* needed to take the heat off.

Clemens is a lying, cheating scumbag. He may never be prosecuted, and we may never hear the truth from him, but his legacy will be tainted forever. There are no winners here.

Baseball is the greatest sport in the world. Kids playing Little League baseball need to learn from these players’ indiscretions and do their best to emulate the ballplayers that play the game the right way. Unfortunately, an All-Star team could be fielded with the names of players that have put their personal goals and egos ahead of the game. Guys like Bonds, Rose, Sosa, Giambi and now Clemens have done their best to disgrace the game. Society has already given these guys too much attention. It’s time to put these players on the back burner where they belong, and focus on all the great things the game of baseball has to offer.

A blessing in disguise

Yesterday when I read that Curt Schilling had an injured shoulder and was going to miss the first half of the season, I was pretty worried. I was hoping that Schill was going to have a solid final season in the major leagues and make a push for making the Hall of Fame someday. I was concerned that the Red Sox would miss his leadership. I wondered how the Red Sox rotation would fare with two young guns assuming a very important role. I was wondering if Theo Epstein blew it by not making a serious run at Johan Santana.

But then I came to my senses.

The Red Sox had the best rotation in baseball last year in spite of the elementary performance of Schilling. Schill came into spring training looking like a poor man’s Joba Chamberlain, and it showed with his injury. The once dominant fast-baller had morphed into a finesse pitcher with a weight problem. Hitters were no longer intimidated by him, which was evident by his 9-8 record. He couldn’t blow the pitches past the hitters and resorted to nibbling the corners. I was on the edge of my seat every time Schilling pitched last year, because he was always one pitch away from serving up a three run home-run. I had big hopes for Schilling this year. He seemed motivated to come to camp this year in better shape and erase the memories of his disappointing 2007 season.

With Schilling missing at least the first half of the season, this is the opportunity Clay Buchholz needs to prove why he is Boston’s top pitching prospect. Buchholz was dominant during his short stint with the Sox last year, but being that he is only 24 years old and still developing, the Sox will want to limit his innings this season. So maybe he can assume the #5 spot in the rotation until Schilling comes back, then go to a six-man rotation for the playoff run. This will give everyone a little rest and get them ready for the playoffs.

I still really like Boston’s rotation this year. Beckett will be Beckett and should chalk up another 20 wins. Dice K, with a season of experience under his belt, should take his game up a notch. Wakefield is always good for at least 12 wins. Then we have the always improving Jon Lester, and the wild card Clay Buchholz. If any of these guys falter, Boston will have some options. Kyle Snyder and Julian Tavarez are always available to start. There some kids in the minors worthy of a call-up. And if all else fails, Theo will make the deal to shore up the rotation.

We all know pitching wins games. We’ll soon see if the Sox have enough to defend their title.

Reversal of Fortune

Life as a New England sports fan has been so good lately, I’ve forgotten how bad crow tastes. Not so long ago, Boston was not the sports mecca that it is now. The Red Sox were perennial underachievers, the Celtics and the Bruins both sucked, and the Patriots were the underdog that suddenly won every important game. But in a cruel twist of fate, the sports world of a New Englander has done a 180. Now the Sox have won two World Series titles in four seasons, the Celtics are returning to glory with the additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and even the Bruins have regained the grittiness that was the staple of their glory years.

Which brings us to the Patriots.

After a season of dominating the league and breaking every offensive record in the NFL record books, the Pats had the opportunity for immortality. The chance for a perfect season. The chance to finally silence the old, crotchety bastards known as the 1972 Dolphins. The chance to be the first sports dynasty of the 21st century. Only this time, the Patriots looked over-matched, out-coached, out-muscled, and completely outplayed by the New York Giants. This was supposed to be a sure thing. I was thinking scores in the triple digits, Tom Coughlin stroking out on the sideline, Bill Belicheck smiling smugly in victory. Instead we witnessed Tom Brady doing his best Tony Romo impression, bringing his celebrity girlfriend to the biggest game in the history of the league. Has Brady not learned anything from Romo? It’s too hard to play a perfect game when you’re trying to impress your date. This is exactly the reason I never bring my supermodel girlfriend to work with me.

Now, I can take the Pats losing the Super Bowl. It’s not like they lost on a fluke play; they were dominated the entire game. New England was lucky to still be in it when Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown. What I am having trouble dealing with is the fact that it was a New York team that took the Patriots down.

This is our time to control the sports world. The Red Sox have made the Yankees their bitch the last couple of years, making them the second most important baseball team in New York. Now I have to put up with fair-weathered New York fans who are going to abandon their beloved Yankees to climb aboard the Giants bandwagon. If the Patriots had lost the Super Bowl to the Cowboys, Green Bay, or anyone else, I wouldn’t like it, but I would get over it a lot quicker then this. This feels like a simultaneous punch in the stomach along with finding out that your wife is sleeping around with Hank Steinbrenner. This one is going to take some time to get over.

My only salvation is knowing that the Pats have the 7th pick in the draft this year, which they’ll turn into nine draft picks that will totally revamp their aging defense. I do hope to see a repeat performance of this season’s offensive juggernaut next season, but something tells me that we may have seen the last days of Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth. I anticipate New England turning into a more run-oriented team and climbing onto the back of Laurence Maroney next year.

After a perfect regular season that was all for naught, I am going to try and take comfort in these three things: First of all, there are only two Manning brothers in the NFL, so there is no chance of a third Manning playing in the big game next year and winning the MVP. Secondly, there is a really good chance that some of the 1972 Dolphins are going to kick the bucket this year, so that will be a few less idiots to relive their glory days. And finally, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in just 11 days.

If this isn’t enough to heal the wounds from the Super Bowl loss, remember… A-Rod still sucks.

Go Sox