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Home  >  Red Sox Diary  >  2001  >  April

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Wednesday, April 4
Red Sox at Baltimore
Hideo Nomo vs. Sidney Ponson

After losing the first game in extra innings to the lowly Orioles, newcomer Hideo Nomo started for the Sox. He was more brilliant than anyone thought possible and by golly in the late innings he had a no-no going. We thought no-hitters were reserved for Pedro Martinez. We hadn't had a no-hitter since Dave Moorhead in 1965. But here was Nomo, who spoke little English, calmly mowing down the Orioles with the wild windup and unhittable stuff. Barely a ball was hit hard off of him. He almost lost it in the ninth with a shallow fly that Lansing caught up with. Then a shallow fly to O'Leary in left for the last out and it really was a no-hitter!

What hopes we have if Nomo can keep this up and Pedro wins his usual 18-20 games.

Red Sox 3 Orioles 0

Friday, April 6, 2001

Friday April 6
Devil Rays at Red Sox
Tomo Ohka vs. Ryan Rupe

The home opener was here after a disasterous opening series in Baltimore where they lost two extra inning games sandwiched around a no-hitter. With the Sox already trailing 3-0, Manny stepped up for his first Fenway at bat and on the first pitch thrown to him, he scorched one over the wall for a 3 run dinger.

The Sox blasted their way to an 11-4 win despite Ohka only going 4 innings. Wakefield went 3 good innings after the Sox had the game well in hand.

Red Sox 11 Tampa Bay 4

Friday, April 13, 2001

Friday, April 13
Yankees at Red Sox
El Duque Hernandez vs. Paxton Crawford

The first test for the Red Sox against the Yankees. It's a tie game well pitched 1-1 going into the 10th. The Sox put in Lowe who promptly gives up a run. The Yankees put in Rivera to seemingly win the game. However, the Sox get runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out, then a passed ball. Manny faces Rivera and shoots one through to center field to score both runners and the Red Sox win.

There is hope. The Yankees are not infallable. Rivera can be beaten.

Red Sox 3 Yankees 2

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Let Ďem Strike!!


I know this is an awful thing to say. We are on the verge of losing baseball for the
2002 season as we did in 1994. And I say, let 'em strike! Let them burn their fan base
and all of the good will built since the last disaster. My reasons to hope for a strike
are simple.

#1 Ė Red Sox Ė centric. The Sox are not going to win it this year. While itís nice to
see a winning team that plays in harmony, they are not strong enough to overtake the
Yankees (no one is). This will be another year of coming up short, and face it Ė just
making the playoffs wonít do it. Nothing less that a championship is going to be
satisfying.

#2 Ė Baseball is so horribly broken right now that a complete train wreck is the only way
to fix it. The completely broken economic system has created the Yankees against whoever
World Series every year, and half rest of the teams with no chance whatsoever. I will
take parity over this mess, even if it means sacrificing the Red Sox being in the upper
echelon.

First, what is wrong with baseball and its economic system? As a Red Sox fan, the easy
answer is Ė itís all the Yankeesí fault. Theyíre not playing by the rules. They just
buy a championship every year and if theyíd just stop doing it the Red Sox might have a
chance. If you are a Sox fan, donít tell me youíve havenít felt that way. But the
Yankees ARE playing by the rules. By the current system, the Yankees are welcome to go
to the buffet table every July and buy up any player they need. And because they got
beat in the 7th game last year, Steinbrenner is leaving nothing to chance this year.
Jason Giambi, Robin Ventura, and Rondell White before the season, and Raul Mondesi and
Jeff Weaver recently. Steinbrenner is going to make everyone pay for not winning it in
2001. Why? Because he can. Limitless local TV revenue and no limit on what he can
spend for players. No one can come close.

What is really wrong with the system is youíve got egomaniac owners with no real
commissioner who canít see beyond their own riches to agree on the common good of
baseball, and the playerís union that wonít give an inch because they know the owners
canít agree on anything and will cave eventually.

In my book, they owners need to get together and decide that parity is the only answer.
The rich owners need to sacrifice their annual advantage for the good of the game. They
need to agree on a set of principles that will level the playing field. I believe they
are revenue sharing (obviously) and (yes!) a salary cap. This luxury tax thing is never
going to go far enough. In order to get the salary cap which the players union will
never agree to, they need to unite completely and bust up the union. I canít believe Iím
saying this, as a liberal pro-labor Democrat all my life, but it needs to happen. Hard
working laborers who work for years and fight for small concessions have nothing in
common with this group of spoiled millionaires. This union needs to be set straight.
The only way to bust it is to go well into the 2003 season and get some high profile
stars to publically accept that a $10 million salary is really ok instead of $15
million. Why canít the owners just police their own salary impulses? Weíve had free
agency since the Ď70s and itís been proven that they canít. They're businessmen, but
they're also idiots who want to win in the worst way. There will always be some
foolish owner that will bid up the price on a free agent because they think they are one
free agent away from a championship. The only thing that stopped them was that foolish
farce of collusion in the mid Ď80s. The limit on salary has to be built into the rules
and be the same for the Yankees as it is for the Royals. This is how the NFL works. If
a team signs a free agent they will have to sacrifice some of the depth. If the Yankees
sign Giambi, and they lose Brosius, OíNeill, and Martinez, they wonít have cap room to
sign additional front line players.

What is going to happen? Not my scenerio Iím sure. The owners and Bud Selig do not have
the same idea on how to fix it, and with no leadership to bring them together, the
players will wait them out and weíll see no real changes. Too bad! I do think we'll see
a strike. And I say, lose 2002, lose 2003 if necessary but get it right this time!



Saturday, August 31, 2002

Strike Aftermath



Yesterday was Friday, August 30, a "historic" day in baseball history. It's not really
hyperbole to say that. The players and the owners have been bitter enemies as long as
I've been alive. Every 5 to 7 years, they've shut down the game for a period of time to
settle their differences. This time they didn't.

Before Friday, I came down completely on the owners' side. The players were a bunch of
rich spoiled babies who would stop at nothing to ensure their salaries go up. The game
was broken so horribly, that a long, messy strike might be the only way to fix the game I
love so much.

Well, the settlement came, hours before the deadline. And guess what? The players gave
back something. They agreed to a luxury tax which is somewhat meaningful, and additional
revenue sharing. It's not as strong as a hard salary cap, but it's something. And the
players agreed to steroid testing. They didn't have a leg to stand on for that one. The
players realized they'd be dumped on as the villians who wrecked baseball, and they
compromised. Now that the players gave back something, they're no longer the greedy low-
lifes we thought they were. And now we will see if additional competitive balance can be
achieved.

With as much competitive balance force in place as could be achieved (without a long
messy strike and breaking the union), now we'll see if money was the biggest issues in
teams succeeding. The Yankees, with all of their advantages, still have to go out and
win the games. The Oakland A's, with one of the smallest payrolls, have the best group
of 3 starters in recent memory, a huge key in post season play. And my beloved Red Sox,
with one of the top payrolls, two of the best starters in the game, and a terrific lineup
top to bottom, just can't seem to play up to their potential. This agreement will in the
next few years make it harder for the Yankees to dominate with money alone. But the key
will be whether teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City can become competitive again. I
certainly hope so.

And what about the fans? Hard-core fans like myself would have returned even if there
was a messy strike. I feel resentful that ticket prices are out of site and that the
greedy players and owners have little regard for the fans who pay for them. But I would
have come back. But many fans, especially young people, would have tuned out if there
was a strike. I think the players listened. They heard the fans screaming "not again!"
and they listened. They gave in a little to the owners so they could keep the fans. I
can't say the same for the owners yet (if we take the words of Bud as an indication).
They were so focused on beating the players this time that they showed no regard for the
fans. I hope in the healing process that both sides come together and start giving back
to the people that matter - the fans.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

YANKEES SUCK - NOT!



This "Yankees Suck" thing has gone too far. I know I'm alienating some Sox fans but I
just think it's dumb. I think it's dumb to chant "Yankees Suck" at a game against the
Blue Jays. Or to wear tee-shirts or to devote entire corners of the internet to a
statement that is completely at odds with the facts.

The Yankees are our nemesis no doubt. We root against them, we dislike their fans with a
passion, but we've got to respect them. This team has won 4 championships in 6 years.
This team has won how many championships to our NONE since 1918? They don't suck!

What's even harder is that this Yankees team is not as despiseable as previous Yankee
teams. Back in the 70's, they had Reggie Jackson, Thurmon Munson, Mickey Rivers, and
other deplorable characters. It was bitter hatred. Now with Derek Jeter, Bernie
Williams, Giambi, Mussina, these aren't bad guys. The noteable exception is Clemens, who
Sox fans love to hate. We deplore Steinbrenner for playing the owner game with limitless
revenue, clearly caring nothing for the quality of baseball but only his own interest in
dominating the post season. But the Yankees are good and they do home grow many of their
players, something the Red Sox will need to do a better job of.

What's more, the Yankees play good baseball and they know how to win. They take the
extra base, get the clutch hit, make the key defensive play. They know how to win big
games and they know the post season. The Sox could learn a few things watching the
Yankees play.

I just don't think it's useful to go on with this delusion that the Yankees suck. It
makes us look like idiots as fans. Maybe when we finally get the monkey off our backs
I'll be ok with it, but for now, let's see our team beat the Yankees one year before we
continue with this absurd statement of Yankees suck!

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Game 6 Ė From the City by the Bay



It is October 25, 1986. Tonight is the biggest night in a Red Sox fanís life. Tonight
the Sox face the Mets with a 3-2 lead in the World Series with Roger Clemens on the
mound. I find myself in San Francisco. Iíd signed up for a conference at Apple Computer
months before, never dreaming Iíd be away from Boston while my beloved Sox attempt to win
their first World Series in 68 years. Here I am in a city where life is going on
normally. Iím staying with two friends who arenít even baseball fans. Theyíd invited me
to a party where there was no television, and I politely decline. Instead, I wander out
at about 5:00 PM to seek out a bar where the game would be on. Iím sure Iíll meet up
with some transplanted New Englanders. Maybe Iíd meet some New Yorkers, too.

I find some hole in the wall, park myself at the bar in front of the TV, and have a
couple of beers as the Sox jump out to a 2-0 lead. I remember feeling frustrated, as
Rice couldnít score from 2nd on a double. 2-0 with Clemens was ok but not nearly
enough. I speak to anyone in the bar who is interested. There are only a few fans
there. It is 6:00 PM on a very warm October Saturday. Californians have better things
to do. Back east, where it is 9:00 and a chill was in the air, the game is everything
that matters tonight. In California, itís just another night.

Itís a pitcherís duel, as the Mets tie it, then the Sox go ahead 3-2 in the eighth. I
watch with some anxiety as they bring up Mike Greenwell to hit for Clemens, who comes out
of the game with a blister. That means Schiraldi no doubt. I have no idea the
controversy that would later persist. Ė did Clemens ask out of the game or did MacNamara
take him out. Weíll never know the truth. In any case, Schiraldi enters with that
frightened baby face, and I along with all of Red Sox nation watch in fear. Calvin, can
you give us a measly 6 outs? Thatís all we ask. No you canít. Itís not to be. The
tying run is in before you know it.

On to the 9th we go. The bar is filling up now. I meet a man from Sausalito. His
question to me is ďHow much money did you bet on the game? I bet $500.Ē ďNOTHING!Ē I
answer. ďThis isnít about money. This is life or death! If the Sox win this game, my
life will be fulfilled. Canít you understand that?Ē The Mets get two runners on
quickly. Iím chewing my nails to the bone. The guy from Sausalito tells me not to
worry. The Sox will come around. Howard Johnson botches a bunt situation, and the Mets
miraculously are kept off the board. Phew!

Itís the top of the 10th now. The bar is packed. Everyone is glued to the game and
screaming on every pitch. I think there are more Sox fans there Ďcause everyone wants to
see the Sox win after going hungry for 68 years. Marginal rookie Rick Aguilara (later a
premier stopper) comes in to pitch, and up comes Dave Henderson. His miraculous homer
defeated the Angels just two weeks ago. Crack! He hits one deep and, oh my God, itís
gone!! I can see it. The Sox are going to win the World Series. Iím screaming. The
whole place is screaming. The guy from Sausalito is there saying ďSee, I told you not to
worry.Ē Then Boggs doubles and Barrett singles and weíve got an insurance run. We canít
lose now. In my mind, Iím making plans to go to the rally in Boston on Wednesday. Iím
filled with an overwhelming joy like no other. The Sox fans are whooping it up. I am
high-fiving everyone I can see. I donít know a soul in this bar, but I feel like Iíve
shared a life experience with these people.

Now itís on to the bottom the 10th with the score 5-3. Schiraldi gets two quick outs,
and Sox fans are screaming. This is really happening. Thereís just one more out to go.
Iím minutes, perhaps seconds away from a moment that Iíll treasure forever. Gary Carter
singles. Kevin Mitchell singles. Ok, itís not going to be easy, but itís still well in
hand. Sox fans are quieting down now. It seems that Mets fans have suddenly shown up
and are making a lot of noise. Ray Knight is up, and heís quickly down 0-2. He looks
nervous. Címon. Get that one more strike and letís celebrate. Somehow, by sheer grit,
amidst all of the tension, Knight pokes a soft liner into center, scoring a run and
sending Mitchell to 3rd. Mets fans are revving it up now. Schiraldi canít shut the
door. Iím back to being nervous. MacNamara is too, and he takes out Schiraldi and
brings in Stanley to hopefully punch out Mookie Wilson and give the Sox the victory.
Weíve still got it. Weíve still got a 1 run lead and 1 more out. Then it happens. Itís
a pitch too far inside. Looks like it could be handled, but it goes off of Gedmanís
glove. I come crashing down to earth. My head is in a vice grip from all of the noise
from the Mets fans. Mitchell lumbers in with the tying run. Our precious two run lead
is gone. Wild pitch, they call. Are you kidding? Gedman should have handled it. Now
weíll have to wait until the next inning. But I know we can score another run. Just get
this last out, and weíll try our luck against Mets relievers.

The moment that follows is one that will live in infamy. To me, it is just the logical
conclusion of a strange inning. The game was tied, so there was no longer victory in the
grasp. But history would prove this to be a moment that would bring Sox fans to a point
of oblivion known by no one else. I can still hear Vin Sculley ringing in my ears.

ďLittle roller, along 1st, BEHIND THE BAG, IT GETS BY BUCKNER! HERE COMES KNIGHT
AND THE METS WIN IT!!Ē

The noise is deafening. Every Met fan in the world must have flown in directly from New
York to this little bar to torture me at that moment. I scream in despair, but no one
can hear. I know no one. I have no one to console me. There is no one to pat me on the
back. There is no one to hug. Iím alone. I canít remember a lower point in my life
before or since.

I walk out of the bar, away from the still ringing noise of the celebrating Mets fans. I
walk 8 blocks in the wrong direction before I realize I have to pull it together. I have
to go back to the party where my friends are, Ďcause I have nowhere else to go. After
about an hour of wandering, I finally reach the party, where Californians are having a
nice little get together. They ask ďWhy so sad? The Sox lost a series game? Are you
from Boston? Sorry to hear it. Who is pitching in game 7?Ē I couldnít bear it. Iím
thinking, ďThis was no time to be mellow! This is a disaster of epic proportions. I was
on the brink, and I may never get there again!Ē

The rest is history. I didnít sleep that night. Most Sox fans fell sleepless that
night. I heard there was quite a bit of damaged furniture back east that night. Even
though a night of rain gives us a start for Bruce Hurst in game 7, itís a foregone
conclusion. The Red Sox had brought their fans to the edge of a mountaintop, and dropped
us off a cliff. Yes, Cub fans have gone longer. Cardinal fans were robbed by an
umpireís call. But fans of the Boston Red Sox know pain like no other fans. Nothing
short of a World Series win will ever be satisfying after coming so close. The one
saving grace for Sox fans is weíve got each other. Every Sox fan old enough can remember
exactly where they were when the ball went through Bucknerís legs. And every Sox fan
lives to see the day where we get that 3rd out and celebrate a World Series victory.


Monday, October 20, 2003

2003 - That's a Wrap

I've spent a lot of time being sad about the 2003 playoff loss. Then it shifts to
anger. This team had the stuff to go on and win the World Series.

My anger will linger at Grady. After Jeter's hit it was clear Pedro didn't have anything
left. And Grady left him in for 3 long batters, to watch him give up 3 more hits. The
relievers had gotten us to game 7 in the ALCS why didn't he let the relievers finish the
job.

Other Red Sox goats have made physical errors - failure to hit a 90 MPH fastball in the
clutch, failure to get a glove down on a slow roller, throwing a meatball to Bucky Dent.
Even pinch hitting for Willoughby in '75 was a highly debateable decision. Grady's error
was one where he had plenty of time to think about it. No heat of the moment mistake
here. After Jeter's hit, certainly after Williams' hit, with a bullpen ready to go, he
had plenty of time to do the right thing. Anyone with a half decent knowledge of baseball
would have gone to the bullpen. This did not take a major league manager to make the
right decision here. This is no 2nd guess either.

Angry, hurt, heartbroken, it's painful being a Red Sox fan.

2003 will go down with the worst of Red Sox disaster years - Bucky Dent in '78, Bill
Buckner in '86, and Grady Little in 2003. Still this was an amazing year. They went the
whole season with a shaky bullpen and for large portions without a closer. They hit for
records in home runs and slugging. They had a spirit that would never give up. They
came back and won or almost won games they had no business being in. It's too bad it had
to end like this.

Moving on ...

On Grady, the decision not to remove Martinez proved what was already fairly clear to
most people who follow the Sox - Little is NOT a first rate manager. His field managing
skills are not top notch - I feel he can be consistently out-managed by the likes of
someone like Torre. A first rate manager does not go out and ASK the pitcher if he's got
anything left. His decision on a pitching change is made before the first step is made to
the mound. And importantly, his ability to MANAGE the players is not great. His ability
to be friends with the players is terrific, but that's not what we need. Why do I feel
like with someone like Torre, or LaRussa, or Baker - none of the Manny flaps would have
happened and a lot of the nonsense with Pedro (Pan Am games for instance) would not have
happened. Boston's managerial job is a difficult one and it requires a truly first rate
manager. I don't think Grady truly is that. He may be a first rate bench coach or minor
league manager, but he's not the guy to bring the Red Sox to the next level. Furthermore,
the last reason Grady must go is Red Sox nation will truly villify him if he's here next
season. This includes fans at Fenway, talk radio, and the press. You can say it doesn't
matter, that the players play and the manager does his job despite what the fans and the
press say - but if Grady is managing next year it WILL be a distraction.

The problem is - I don't know what first rate managers are available. But that shouldn't
be a factor. We know Grady is not the guy we've to to get the best available manager for
the job, and well before next season, so the players have a chance to mourn over it

On Pedro - Pedro is in the last year of his contract and his act is wearing thin. He is
still a great pitcher who barring injury (no sure thing) will win 15-20 games as a 7
inning pitcher. He's no longer dominant and he no longer can mow down hitters in the late
innings. He's going to want $18-20 M on a long term deal. I'd like to see them get real
value for him ala the Seattle Mariners trades of Griffey and Johnson. I don't think
they'll be able to re-sign him at appropriate value, and we'll be just giving him away to
the Yankees. We need to safely land him on another team which has the ability to re-sign
him (preferably in the National League) so he doesn't end up on the Yankees in 2005
because we know they have the money to sign him. If he goes into free agency after 2004
he's as good as being a Yankee. And all those fans who boo'ed him the other night will
just love having him on their side as they face the Red Sox 19 times a year.

This team has a lot of decisions to make. I'm sure the manager decision will come
quickly, and if they fire Grady which they should, they'll have the whole off-season to
replace him. Walker and Timlin are free agents and a few others who are arbitration
eligible. I'm sure they'll try to keep this team together as much as possible. I
continue to be concerned about trying to keep Pedro. But with so many others to try to
deal with after 2004 it may not be possible. Nomar, Lowe, and Varitek are all free
agents after 2004.

It will be an interesting off-season for sure. In this town, the Red Sox never get off
the front pages. To all the fans like myself who loved this 2003 team to death and got
kicked in the face at the end, we'll be back. It's like a never ending terrible
relationship. The more pain we endure, the more we dream of that wonderful feeling of
winning that World Series.