The cooler is chalk full this week as the Sox open a series in Baltimore. Let's open the chest up and see what's on ice:
- Best wishes to Barry and his Washington Academy Raiders football team as they have begun their pre-season workouts.
- Final thoughts on the Olympics. Thoroughly impressed with the spectacle that London put on, especially the opening ceremony. Great to see the good ole USA atop the medal count as well. As I posted on Twitter (@mcihusky) the bar has been set very high for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 after London and Beijing.
- After an 0fer first week in Fantasy Baseball, my team the Jenny's Dell's are quickly rising up to 4th place with a showdown rematch with Deacon Art's juggernaut this week. Watch out the sweaters are off and the Dell's are coming!
1. Everyone and their brother has written, posted, or Tweeted something about the passing of Johnny Pesky so the RSM would be remiss to not chim in with their own thoughts. Pesky was the epitome of a Red Sox. It will seem odd to not see Spring Training or opening day at Fenway with out #6 around. It will be interesting to see what the PR machine of the Sox have in store to honor Pesky when they return home. More on my favorite Johnny Paveskovich story later in the cooler.
2. During our impromptu chat, which is not posted on the site, last Thursday in Cleveland all of us at RSM wrote the Sox 2012 season off. However, I read today that the Orioles hold the 2nd wild card spot only 5.5 games ahead of the Sox. With the Sox rolling into Baltimore for 3 games, it is not out of the realm of possibility that with a sweep the Sox could still be in the wild card race heading into the weekend. Deacon Art near the All-Star break wrote about the difficult Sox schedule in the 2nd half, is it possible that schedule could help the Sox make the post-season? Currently Tampa and Baltimore are tied for the two wild card spots, Oakland is 0.5 games back, Detroit is 1.5 back, and the Angels are 2.5 back. The Sox play the Orioles 9 more times, the Devil Rays 6 more times, the Angels 6 times, and the A's 3 more times. Throw in 9 more with the Fighting Steinbrenners, 4 with the Royals, 3 in Seattle, and 6 more with Canada's team to complete the Sox schedule. Given the amount of games left with teams in front of them in the standings, I would like to retract my writing off of the Sox at least for the time being.
3. Andrew Bailey will make his return to the Red Sox tonight after pitching very effectively in Pawtucket. His return should help immensely an overworked and struggling bullpen. With September 1st quickly closing in the bullpen should also get some helpful arms with the return of Daniel Bard and perhaps Mark Prior, who has struggled of late, and Alex Wilson, among others. This boost to the bullpen could help the Sox make the push we have all been waiting and hoping for.
4. Just when it looked like the Sox were getting the best of the injury bug that has plagued this team the last 2 seasons, in an image reminiscent of Nomar in 2001, Willie Middle gets hit on the wrist and has his season ended pre-maturely. Throw in the complications that David Ortiz is having recovering from his heel injury and the Sox are back to the piecemeal line-ups they threw out in mid to late May, coincidentally when they perhaps played their best baseball. Let's hoping Ciriaco, Valencia, Podsednik, and Company can replicate that stretch. Of course the pitching was the key to that run, just as it will be for the remainder of the season.
5. Former GM and current Orioles GM Dan Duquette visited with Dennis & Callahan this morning to discuss the removal of Johnny Pesky from the dugout in 1997, which the Duke put on manager Jimy Williams, although Duquette himself moved Pesky into other duties. However, this was apparently another of Williams' "managers decision." Duquette to his credit did state that the situation could have been handled better. The Duke also said the difference between the Orioles success and the Sox struggles has been pitching. Thanks for that newsflash! The Sox are currently 26th in starters ERA, while the Orioles have a negative run differential they would make the post-season if it started today thanks to a solid bullpen, whom the Duke called the strength of the team. Let's hope the Sox pound the O's starters the next 3 nights to avoid said bullpen, and continue to build on the starts of Buchholz and Lester in Cleveland.
6. The highlight of Monday for me was this outstanding piece on Boston.com titled "VitaCoco presents: $#*! Dustin Pedroia says." The highlight for me was Cody Ross, he was extremely funny, just another reason the Sox need to bring the King of the Bat Flip back next year. See for yourself.
- After skipping last week, let's get back to more stories of my adventures to Fenway. This week takes us back to July of 2002. Myself and Barry traveled to Boston with my parents to take in the sites and the Sox vs. the Devil Rays. Most of you remember that in July of 2002 the most Sox of all, Teddy Ballgame passed away. The Sox PR machine didn't disappoint in their production to honor ole #9. We were fortunate that this tribute took place during our visit to Boston. During the off day Monday July 22nd the Sox opened Friendly Fenway to the masses to pay homage to Ted Williams. In the afternoon, fans got to enter Fenway through the garage door in CF and walk around the the warning track. We got the opportunity to look inside the scoreboard in LF, go into the visitors dugout, which has a bathroom at the end near the camera well, and into the RF seats near Pesky's Pole. Barry and I were photographed standing near the pole by a photographer from a local Massachusetts newspaper, I'm sure given our ugly mugs that one wound up on the cutting room floor. During the evening the Sox did their tribute extravaganza for Ted, which we also attended. You can actually watch this tribute as NESN televised it and later made a DVD of, if you can find a copy. The tribute was outstanding from our seats in the RF Boxes. Images of Ted Williams on the scoreboard in CF, hanging from and in the Monster, which was in it's final season without the Monster Seats. However, the best part of the tribute was when Sox past and present took their positions on the diamond in uniform to honor the Splendid Splinter. The 100 Anniversary of Fenway festivities were eerily reminiscent, however in 2002 the players came out of the Sox dugout. This is where my favorite Johnny Pesky memory comes from, as players took the field it was a who's who of Sox lore, but seeing Pesky in uniform sprinting to his SS position at age 82 with Barry laughing and repeatedly hitting me saying "Look at Johnny Pesky!" was the highlight of the night. The next night we returned to Fenway for the game vs. the Devil Rays, still officially named that then. This was the second game of a day-night doubleheader, which I didn't remember until I looked it up on Baseball Reference. The Sox took the day game 22-4 roughing up Tanyon Sturtze. In between games, rain fell in Boston causing the night cap to start late. This paid dividends for Barry and I as we were able to more a few rows behind home plate near the end of the game as fans left early to catch the T. Unfortunately the Sox wasted a solid D-Lowe performance as Ugueth Urbina gave up a 2 run double to Andy Sheets and a 3 run bomb in the 9th to Jared Sandberg in the 9th after Chris Haney loaded the bases to start the 9th. Jesus, the Devil Rays line-up was awful in 2002 and the Sox bullpen was too! A couple of highlights, we got to see Rickey Henderson in the Sox line-up, my boy Shea Hillenbrand had 2 hits, and we had fun shouting Dirty every time Rey Sanchez did something good for the Sox. Hey, we were in our 20's and imbibing as Barry pointed out in a chat this was our only trip to Fenway together after turning 21. After the game, Barry and I ventured to the Boston Beer Works where we say the most memorable note of the night, the passing of Ned Martin whom was present at the Ted Williams Tribute the night before. We were shocked at this news, however after a few more adult beverages we did what any reasonable 20 something Sox fan would do...we jokingly blamed ourselves for Ned Martin's death! Needless to say this was by far my most memorable trip to Fenway.
Until we re-fill the cooler next week!