It ain’t over ’til it’s over

I hate Dane Cook. I don’t think he’s funny. But I agree with him, there is only one October. I also like to think that there is only one November, one April, etc., etc. The Major League playoffs is the one event in all of sports that consistently delivers. What’s so great about the playoffs is you can never count a team out. No matter what the game count is, until you’ve won four it’s still anybody’s game.

Behind solid pitching and an offense that can score in bunches, Boston rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit to knock off the Cleveland Indians. It’s easy to compare this team to the 2004 World Series Champions. Both teams never say die and play hard until the final out.

In game seven last night, Dice K may have quieted the critics for a little while at least. Dice K came out of the gates smoking. He pounded his fastball and kept the Indians off balance with his off-speed stuff. The first three innings he was awesome. The fourth and fifth innings, Dice K allowed a couple of baserunners but was able to minimize the damage. He performed well last night. Let’s hope his new-found confidence will carry over to the World Series.

Speaking of confidence, is there anyone playing with more confidence than Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis right now? Pedroia is the Little Engine That Could. This guy goes up to the plate and just lets it rip. His two-run home run was the difference maker last night. He followed that up with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. Pedroia thrives under pressure. Not too bad for a rookie.

Youkilis is scary. The way he looks. The sweat constantly pouring off his head. The intensity that he plays with every game. Youkilis was the one guy in the Sox lineup that was consistent through out the ALCS. He batted .425 and had four home runs. These two guys have been the catalysts in rejuvenating the Boston offense. As the stage gets bigger, these two play better.

What makes this victory so special is not only the way the Red Sox came back, but the competition they did it against. The Cleveland Indians are a great team. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They have a great lineup of young talent that never quits. They are a classy organization with passionate fans. They will build off this loss. I’m sure they’ll be back in the playoffs for many years to come.

The Red Sox are firing on all cylinders right now. The starting pitching has come around, featuring two of the best playoff pitchers of all time. The Sox offense has been scary, with everybody contributing. And the bullpen has been lights out. They will be facing a Rockies team that has won 21 out of the last 22 games. Of course, all of these wins came against the Junior Varsity that is known as the National League. Let’s hope the eight days off and the four inches of snow in Colorado have cooled them off.

Talk is cheap

This isn’t time for a rah-rah speech. The Sox have the home crowd and the momentum. Boston has come back before. They will do it again.
Enjoy the Videos!

And one more for good measure.

The Sox win tonight, the series is over.

Go Sox! quick hits

After a few days at Disney World with the family I am back at thefoulline headquarters ready for Game 5. It’s game time, so this is going to be quick.

  • Manny is an idiot. His comments contradict what every Boston fan is thinking. Every year matters. See my post Manny being Manny from September 4th for more thoughts on him.
  • Signs your team and its fans are surprised they made the MLB playoffs
    1. Coming up with a stupid slogan. Example: “Rocktober.” I know that Colorado was amazed they made the playoffs with five no-name pitchers and a starting 9 that couldn’t be picked out of a police line-up, but this is really the best they could come up with? How about this one instead: Colorado Rockies: If we were in the AL, we would be watching the playoffs.
    2. Free towels to every fan that attends the game. Example: Cleveland’s “It’s Tribe Time Now.” This is without a doubt the dumbest thing they could have put on a free towel. It would make more sense for the Cleveland Indians owners to not only supply a towel to their fans but some soap and shampoo as well. This might help the bugs from swarming all of their stinky fans again.
  • If Fox Sports shows that moron in the outfield playing the drum another hundred times tonight, I am flying to Ohio and punching that guy in the face. How does this guy play the Wizard Master in his bi-weekly Dungeons & Dragons game and still have time to play the drums at every Indians game? Oh, I know. I’m betting that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.
  • How great is it to be a Red Sox fan? Down 3 games to 1 and nobody has pushed the panic button. Four years ago, people all over New England would be on suicide watch. Now, we are like, “they’ve been there before, they can come back.”

That’s all for now. I will be back first thing in the morning for the Game 6 preview.

Go Sox!

Keeping the Faith, Part 2

The Red Sox have dug themselves into a nice hole, now down 3-1 to the Indians. But I am not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. Before you start calling me a disillusioned idiot, let’s consider a few things. First of all, with the exception of game one, the Red Sox offense has been missing in action. Boston has made some ordinary pitchers look like Sandy Koufax. I have to believe that the Boston coaching staff is going to working their butts off to correct whatever has caused the Sox bats to go cold. Also, the Sox have proven they can put up bunches of runs and can go on a winning streak of their own.

We also have Josh Beckett pitching game 5 Thursday night. We all know what he can do in the playoffs. I still agree with Francona not to start Beckett last night. He can’t pitch every game. The Sox need someone else to step up and pitch a decent game.

This reminds me of Kevin Millar in the 2004 playoffs against the Yankees. Boston was down 3-0 in the series, with Derek Lowe set to pitch game 4. Millar warned the Yankees, “Don’t let us win this game, because if we do, we have Schilling, then Pedro, then anything can happen in game 7.” This holds true now. Beckett wins Thursday. Followed by Schilling in Game 6, and then anything can happen in game 7.

The clock is ticking, but there is still time to turn this thing around. Keep the faith.

Go Sox!

Keeping the faith

The Red Sox are going to be limping around the bases tonight after repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot over and over again in game 3. The Sox were primed to put a big number on the scoreboard in the early innings last night, but instead they stranded 7 runners in the first two innings.

This was of course followed by David Ortiz getting hit by a ball hit by Man-Ram, killing another rally. I haven’t seen a runner get hit by a ball since I was 10 years old playing little league baseball. This was a stupid base running error.

The Sox left 12 runners on base last night. I don’t care who you are playing, if you leave runners on base you lose the game. A team like Cleveland will capitalize on team’s mistakes and make them pay.

This brings me to Dice K. I keep telling myself that he is a rookie and he will get better. I might be in denial. He looked really good for the first three innings. His fastball had some pop to it, and he was getting a lot of strikeouts. Unfortunately, this drove up his pitch count and wore him out. Like many games this season, the 5th inning has been Dice K’s kryptonite. For some reason this inning has killed him all year. This guy had the reputation of not only being a big game pitcher, but a guy that could throw 130 pitches in a game. He has shown that he can throw about 75 in the major leagues before wearing down. I still believe that he will get better. I just wish it had started last night.

A couple of quick thoughts about tonight’s game. I wholeheartedly agree with Terry Francona to save Beckett for Game 5. Pitchers throwing on three days’ rest don’t win in the playoffs. This has been proven over and over again. This is not the time for Boston to get desperate. They are are in a 2-1 hole. This is not the end of the series by any stretch of the imagination. They have proven and will prove again that they can come back in the playoffs. Let’s not panic. Keep the faith.

Also, let’s find a way to get Jacoby Ellsbury into the lineup. I don’t care if he takes Coco’s spot or J.D.’s spot. Heck, I don’t care if he catches. This guy has provided a spark for the Sox since being called up. Let’s give him the chance to start a fire.

Interesting pitching match-up tonight. Old Man River vs. Father Time. This could be a great pitchers’ duel. Or it could turn into a beer league softball game. Either way it promises to be interesting.

Go Sox!

Game 3 buzz

Big game in Cleveland tonight. Dice K is hoping to rebound from his ordinary performance against Anaheim in the ALDS. Cleveland, for some odd reason, is going with Jake Westbrook. I haven’t been this excited about a possible Boston rout since John Lackey pitched at Fenway.

Cleveland is a patient team that jumps on the fastball and can pile on runs. With Dice K on the mound, they are sure to get a healthy dose of off-speed pitches that paint the outside corner. Dice K doesn’t need to go out tonight and throw a no-hitter. He needs to play his game and mix up his pitches. If he pitches decent, the Red Sox will win.

Jake Westbrook, on the other hand, might be the worst game-three starter in the ALCS since the Red Sox started Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd in 1986. Westbrook gave up 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings against a mediocre team calling themselves the Yankees. Boston needs to get on this guy early in the game. This will keep the always-loud Cleveland fans quiet. And when the Indians resort to releasing another swarm of Lake Erie midges on the Sox, it will be too late.

Cleveland rocks

Well… that’s five hours of my life that I will never get back. Thank you, Eric Gagne and Javy Lopez. The Sox losing by a touchdown in 11 innings was not what I envisioned for Game 2. This was supposed to be a duel between two big-game starting pitchers. Runs were supposed to be at a premium. Instead we saw two very patient teams at the plate and 19 runs on the scoreboard.

Both teams did a great job of not chasing pitches outside the strike zone, and they were forcing Schilling and Carmona to beat them. We all know how that ended up. Both pitchers lasted less than 5 innings, and this game became a battle of the bullpens. For 4 innings, both teams’ bullpens were on cruise control. It was like every pitcher that came into the game transformed into Mariano Rivera (the good one of 4 years ago, not the sucky one of recent memory) to shut down both teams’ hitters.

This was lining up perfectly for a dramatic 2004ish sequence to end the game. Bottom of the ninth inning, 2 outs. Pedroia draws a walk. Ellsbury comes in to pinch run and steals second base. Youkilis comes to bat with a runner in scoring position. This was supposed to be followed by a line drive into right field. Sox win. Instead, Youk battles for about 47 pitches and ends up smacking a line drive right at Grady Sizemore to end the inning.

Two things bothered me about this AB. First, Youk needed to play for the base hit. He needed to shorten his swing and just make decent contact. Instead he does a full out gorilla swing and drives it right at Sizemore. The second thing was that Sizemore did a cheesy fake dive to catch this ball. He was going all out to make it onto SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays of the Day. Just catch the ball and get off the damn field.

This was of course followed by Gagne and Lopez making their grand entrances in the most important inning of the series. For me, this was like watching two cars speeding right at each other. I knew it wasn’t going to end well for either one, but strangely I couldn’t look away at the impending collision. We all know what happened next. Gagne gets our hopes up with a quick strikeout. This is the point when I actually thought for a second that Gagne might pitch a decent inning for once. Poof! End of the illusion. A single to Sizemore and a walk to Asdrubal “I have too many consonants in my first name” Cabrera, and Gagne is out of the game. He now has the rest of the night free to scare the children of Boston with his nasty facial hair. Lopez enters and gives up a quick RBI single to Nixon. The flood gates open, and a close, hard-fought game turns into a blowout.

A wise man once wrote, “Said woman take it slow, It’ll work itself out fine. All we need is just a little patience.” O.K. that was Axl Rose, but the point is, I’m out of patience with Gagne. He has been given every opportunity to succeed and has failed miserably every time. Gagne, you were welcomed to the jungle… you can leave now. ALCS analysis

It’s hard to get too excited about the Boston Red Sox playing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. How do we root against these guys? The Indians play hard. They have some great pitchers and some legitimate All-Stars. They have loyal fans. And they are not the Yankees.

But, it’s the playoffs. Winner goes to the World Series. Time to leave it all out on the field. And it’s time to show Cleveland why Boston has, and will always have, the better team and more passionate fans. Boston fans have been way too quiet prior to this series. If the Yankees were coming to town, Sox fans would already have been on a four-day bender of cheap beer and trash talk. The question I have is this: Why show any restraint against this team and their fans? Let’s make this the most hostile environment they have ever played in. Boston has been in this position before and as recently as 2004. Heck, every home game at Fenway has a playoff feel to it. This whole experience is new to the Indians. They are young and primed to be overwhelmed by the playoff atmosphere. The Sox and their fans need to make the most of this home-field advantage and start the series with a sweep of the first two games.

The Indians have a young lineup featuring the always-dangerous Grady Sizemore. This guy is a complete five-tool player. Mix in Travis Hafner, Ryan Garko, and the ageless wonder Kenny Lofton and you have a team that can hurt you in many ways. Cleveland is coming off a big series with New York where they smacked the Yankees around. They played well in that series, getting great performances by Fausto Carmona and the Lake Erie Midges, but let’s be honest: the Yankees sucked. They definitely did not play like the team that went on a tear after the All Star break. How bad was it for the Yankees? Derek Jeter batted .176 and hit into 3 double plays. This guy is supposed to be Mr. October, and he looked more like A-Rod than A-Rod. Anytime you can beat New York 3 out of 4 games it’s impressive. The Indians are a good team, but they are positioned for a letdown.

Let’s look at the game one starters: Josh Beckett vs. C.C. Sabathia

These are two 27-year-old potential Cy Young winners who have carried their teams and been the aces of their respective staffs. The difference between the two is that Beckett is smarter, more fiery, and is a past World Series MVP. Beckett has already thrown three complete-game shutouts in the playoffs during his career. That is the second most EVER! Beckett lives for these games.

C.C. Sabathia is a big pitcher. When I say big, I mean FAT. This guy is 6’5″, 250 lbs. He should be playing tight-end for the Browns. Have you seen this guy lately? Hat crooked on his head, pants that look like they are used to cover the Goodyear blimp. He does not look like a professional athlete. I wonder if C.C. stands for Chocolate Cake.

I break down the rest of the match-ups like this:

Offense: Papi, Lowell, and a resurgent Manny vs. Sizemore, Hafner, and Garko. Advantage, Boston.

Speed: Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp vs. Grady Sizemore and Kenny Lofton. Slight edge to Cleveland.

Team Defense: Coco, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell, and Varitek vs. Sizemore, Peralta, and Garko. Edge Boston.

Starting pitching: Beckett, Schilling, and Dice K vs. Sabathia, Carmona and Westbrook. I want to see how Chocolate Cake and Carmona do on the big stage. Slight Edge to Boston.

Bullpen: Borowski vs. Papelbon. Borowski has been effective all year long, but he doesn’t intimidate anybody. Papelbon is the best closer in baseball. Advantage Boston.

There you have it. Boston will outclass, out-pitch and outperform Cleveland this series. They have the clutch performers and the experience on their side.

Remember you heard it here first.

The icing on the cake

Here’s a Roger Clemens post from Dylan. I know that you’ll all enjoy it.

I love icing on cakes, it’s so delicious, it takes something that is already so tasty and enjoyable, and just ups the ante. As I sat, watching the Yankees get swept out of the Playoffs after putting everything they had into the last few months of the season, I was happy. But, then someone spread on the icing. It was announced during the game, that if the Yankees had won, Roger Clemens would be sat for the rest of the playoffs and the always mean Ron Villone would take his spot.

Ron Villone? Are you serious? Who is Ron Villone? Well, he has just a little bit more experience in the bigs then Moonlight Graham did in Field of Dreams. He’s made a whopping two postseason appearances. I did the research on the guy, and I was actually somewhat impressed, for someone I haven’t heard too much from, his stats are, well decent. But this Rocket Roger Clemens, the “greatest” pitcher of all time, reduced to a run-of-the mill pitcher, replaced by a more run-of-the mill guy in Ron Burgundy or whatever his name was. Point I’m making is this, we have FINALLY seen the last of Clemens. The all time active leader in wins, strikeouts, crappy cell phone adds, and being a dirty money grabbing whore, is done for.

I picture Clemens as that older duck on Ducktales that swims in the giant pool of gold coins. I’ve been sick of this guy ever since he first signed with New York, but the past few seasons have been ridiculous. Not wanting to travel with the team, a bazillion dollars for the half season he was willing to pitch, and he still can’t buy a cell phone that doesn’t get dropped calls, the commercial sucked anyways. Clemens, you’re a sellout and a money grubbing non-team player. Here at thefoulline, we’d like to say farewell to old money bags. Watching Roger, the hope of the team after the all star break, be replaced in third inning of game three was great, but seeing Ron Villone replace him for the playoffs, well, Roger that’s one thing you can’t put a price tag on.

A tale of two cities

When you think of Boston, thoughts of clam chowder, Paul Revere, and the Boston Pops come to mind. The city nicknamed Beantown is rich in sports history, home to the Bruins, Sox and Celtics. All of these teams have had ups and downs in their histories but have each won multiple championships. Names like Russell, Orr, Williams, Bird, Yastremski, Esposito, and Havlicek are ingrained in New England sports fans’ heads from the time they are born. These are just a few of the legends that have graced the Boston sports scene over the years. Memories of Havlicek stealing the ball, Doug Flutie’s hail mary and Carlton Fisks’s home run are some of the most famous highlights in the history of sports. But with the good comes the bad, and we also remember Bill Buckner forgetting how to field a ground ball, Magic Johnson’s baby hook, and Bucky @#$%ing Dent. This city’s fans have suffered (and celebrated) with these teams and are some of the most dedicated fans in the world.

When you think of Cleveland, thoughts of polish pierogi, Drew Carey, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can be found somewhere deep in your memory, if you think real hard and maybe Google “stuff Cleveland is known for.” Cleveland is nicknamed “the mistake on the lake” and is home to the Cavaliers, Browns, and Indians. Cleveland has been in a bit of a sports drought over the years, but who can remember forget 1964, when the Browns won the (pre-Super Bowl) NFL championship, the last major sports title to come to Cleveland. Or 1994, when the spectacular Cleveland Crunch dominated the National Professional Soccer League, bringing a long awaited title to Cleveland. Names like Jim Brown, Bob Feller, and Lebron James have graced the Ohio sports scene. But like any major city, Cleveland has experienced its share of disappointment. There aren’t enough The Drew Carey Show reruns to make you forget The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot and Red Right 88. This city’s fans have suffered (and suffered) over the years, but still remain some of the most passionate fans on the planet.

This should be an exciting series. Both teams have quality pitching and exciting lineups. Let’s hope the Red Sox can add one more year to Cleveland’s suffering. After all they’ve gotten used to it.

Red Sox in 6