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As a Red Sox fan, I never really liked George Steinbrenner.
He created today’s version of my archenemy. I rarely, if ever, agreed with what
he said or did, and every time I would see him at Yankee Stadium in his
turtleneck and blue blazer, I would glare at the television screen, hoping he
would feel my hatred.
With that said, I am mourning his passing today.
I was at work at my summer internship in London when I
learned of the news. I was reading boston.com after returning from my lunch
break and saw a bright red “breaking news” bar flash across the top of my
screen. “George Steinbrenner suffers massive heart attack, in very critical
condition,” it said. I knew then that he was gone. Sure enough, no more than
ten minutes later, the news was updated with reports of his death.
I immediately texted all the Yankee fans in my contacts to
let them know. Although it was after lunch in London, it was still early morning
back home. When my boss came over to review my work, I asked him if he knew who
George Steinbrenner was. Baseball is about as popular as taxes here, but my
boss still knew who he was and was saddened to learn of his passing.
I am a Red Sox fan, but above all I am a fan of baseball,
and I would be blind not to recognize the impact Steinbrenner has had on the
sport since he bought the Yankees 37 years ago.
Steinbrenner was a man who jumped over hurdles in his youth
and blew through them in his adult life. He had an incredible amount of passion
and drive that he channeled into his penchant for winning, and much to my
chagrin, he was very successful at that. As a stubborn man who always voiced
his opinions, he often fought with players, managers, even the commissioner of
baseball. For all the money he spent, he was not immune to fines. He was
Because of Steinbrenner, Yankees fans have an entire
television channel devoted to their favorite team. Baseball fans have teams
offering players big money. Steinbrenner was the first to promote the idea of
shelling out fat checks in order to get quality players, and many blame him for
baseball’s lack of parity. He showed the Yankees how to win, and he showed the
world what it meant to be involved. His formula was no secret.
“Work as hard as you ask others to,” Steinbrenner once
said. “Strive for what you believe is right, no matter the odds. Learn that
mistakes can be the best teacher.”
Through his mistakes and his successes, Steinbrenner left a
mark on this world that will never and should never be forgotten – not even by
a Red Sox fan.
Ah Opening Day. It’s one of the best days of not just the baseball year, but the year in general. It’s the day that baseball starts again, and it’s the day when anything is still possible.
I’m lucky enough to go to college in Fenway’s backyard, and I was even more lucky this year to actually score tickets to Opening Night for $47. Yes, that’s right. $47. I even had seats for that price, and pretty good seats, too, right in the middle of the infield grandstand on the first base side of the field.
I had a great time even though I couldn’t eat anything since it’s still Passover. The Red Sox, of course, rallied to win the game, making my night pretty sweet. Here’s some of my assorted thoughts from the festivities.
- The improvements to Fenway this season are all very nice. The walkways in the grandstand seemed bigger and more even to me, which made getting to my seat nicer. I didn’t use the bathrooms, but my friend did, and he said they’re pretty cool. Behind home plate, the Red Sox built a new bathroom area away from the concession stands that is easier to get to. Apparently, the mens’ bathrooms have waterless urinals, and my friend said they were very nice. Behind home plate, the Red Sox revamped the concession stand at the top of the grandstand, and it’s now a lot less congested and completely open so it doesn’t get stuffy in there. I was able to get my $3.75 water much faster than usual.
- The 5-year-old Herb Brooks impressionist is my favorite small child ever. His performance absolutely blew my mind, and when he said “Screw em,” Fenway Park went nuts. Perhaps we should thank him for the Red Sox rally.
- I was once again reminded of how good Red Sox fans can be when Mike Lowell received the longest and loudest of the night. I know it’s tough for Lowell to be here, but I hope the fan appreciation makes it a little more bearable for him.
- Johnny Pesky tipped his cap to the Yankees when he was announced before the game, and the Yankees all tipped their caps back at him. It was a nice moment reflective of the history and respect in the game.
- Josh Beckett must have been overeager to ink his new 4 year deal after his outing last night. He could not get his curveball working at all. Let’s hope these early season jitters disappear soon.
- If I were a Yankees fan, I would be very concerned by the pitching staff. C.C. was good until he reached 90 pitches, and I wasn’t sure why Girardi took so long to pull him. That alone cost the Yankees a few runs. Then, when the Yankee bullpen came in, I got my answer. The relief pitching was horrific last night. There is nobody in that bullpen who intimidates me, Rivera included. The Yankees’ starting rotation isn’t so deep either.
- I was pleasantly surprised by how well Schoenweis pitched last night. When Tito brought him in, I thought he was waving the white flag. Let’s hope this continues.
- There’s no way Marco Scutaro is 5’10.
- The Red Sox lineup validated my theory that they will score more runs than people expect. While they don’t really have a big homerun bat (Ortiz is really slowing down), they have a lineup that can get singles and doubles and steal bases. Singles score runs too.
- I don’t understand why Steven Tyler chose to get so drunk before singing God Bless America. He was embarassing, staggering, and slurring. That was more of an awkward moment than a nice moment.
- Does Neil Diamond know how to sing anymore? He did a nice job saying Sweet Caroline, but his performance left me wanting the taped version instead.
- It sure was nice to go to an early baseball game in April and only have to put a sweatshirt on in the fourth inning.
- I can’t wait to see more from this team.
Apparently, the Yankees won their 27th World Series title last night. Me? I could really care less.
So what if the Yankees won? It isn’t as if it did not took huge sums of money for them to get where they needed to be in order to add to their ring totals. It’s not as if they beat the Red Sox in the postseason. It’s not as if they had the Red Sox’s number this year. Yes, I hate the Yankees, and because of that, I really don’t care that they won.
I believe this World Series was not a reflection on the organization as a whole (as it was for the 2003 Marlins, the 2005 Cardinals) and that the Yankees really didn’t have a huge effect on the Red Sox this season. This doesn’t say anything about the Yankees other than they have the ability to buy the players necessary (Matsui, Texieira, Sabathia, A-Rod) to win championships. That, to me, illustrates everything that is wrong about baseball right now.
Now, the Red Sox are not wholly innocent of baseball as a business. They pay big money for Ortiz, for Beckett, for J.D., for Daisuke. At the very core of the team, however, the Red Sox have home-grown talent. There would have been no 2007 title without Pedroia, Youkilis, Papelbon and Lester.
The Yankees have Jeter.
He is by far the best player of this generation of players, and he may well be one of the greatest of all times. Other than him, however, the Yankees do not have a core of home-grown talent that leads their team. Cabrera, Cano, Chamberlain, Gardner . . . they are all decent players, but they do not lead the team. They are not the difference between a championship-caliber team and a playoff-caliber team.
To be honest, I did not watch a whole lot of this World Series. It had no appeal to me. I knew the Yankees would win, and even if they didn’t, I did not care for the Phillies to repeat. How great would it have been for the sport if the Twins were playing the Rockies, or even the Dodgers to improve a low-key Series’ TV ratings?
I mean, Minnesota’s entire pay-roll would be consumed solely by A-Rod, Jeter and Matsui. What if 25 guys could play for that same amount of money on baseball’s biggest stage? How great would that be for the sport?
In the end, I guess it’s congratulations to the Yankees. On to another off season where both the Yankees AND the Red Sox will spend ridiculous sums of money on people who play a child’s game. On to the debate over Jason Bay, Varitek, Tim Wakefield and friends.
And guess what? In 365 days, it will be the Red Sox holding that trophy.
Have a good off-season everybody!
Last night the Red Sox and Yankees faced off in their 7th game of the season. For the 7th time, the Sox came out victorious.
I can’t say enough about Chien-Ming Wang and Nick Swisher. Thanks guys! Really appreciate your attempts to help the Red Sox win.
The Yankees have Wang on a 90 pitch pitch-count. This is really fabulous, especially since Wang can’t seem to make it to that many pitches. He gave it a good shot yesterday, and to his credit he did throw two 29 pitch innings in an attempt to get the 90 pitches in by the third
inning when he would no doubt be forcibly removed from the mound by Joe Girardi. Yet again though, Wang fell a little bit short. Girardi took him out (strangely enough, after a strikeout, NOT Mike Lowell’s home run) after 2 2/3 innings and 69 pitches.
Girardi brought in the man who was moved to the bullpen so that Wang could start, Phil Hughes. After this, the Yankees were able to keep up with the Sox for the rest of the night, and despite some pretty minor league fielding by Nick Swisher, the Red Sox were unable to break the way open the way they should have.
By the time Papelbon took the mound in the 9th, the score was 6-5 Red Sox.
Prior to play this week, I had predicted a Sox loss on Tuesday, a blow-out against Wang on Wednesday, and a close game Thursday. I also called Red Wings in 6 and a Lakers sweep, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a gambler.
Apparently, I should also be counting my blessings that Papelbon was able to pitch. Papelbon, for me, is the real story today.
On Monday night, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek held a joint charity poker tournament at Ned Devine’s Irish Pub. Wake and Tek have held a lot of charity events together for the foundation at the receiving end of Monday night’s affair, Pitching for Kids. It’s a great cause and a good thing to do on an off-day. What could go wrong?
Well, Papelbon somehow ended up with food poisoning from the pub. As far as I know, he was the only one that was sick. I have no clue what he could have possible eaten. Perhaps oysters or poker chips? I wouldn’t put it past him to eat either. Anyways, NESN caught him catching some shut-eye in the bullpen during Tuesday night’s shut-out. Papelbon wasn’t bored, he was just trying to keep dinner down. He was so sick that Sox doctors almost took him to the hospital Tuesday night for dehydration.
Luckily, Pap was able to keep his stomach together enough to earn his 15th save last night, albeit with some tense moments. That left the Red Sox 3 games away from capturing the season series against the new and “improved” Yankees. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Well, perhaps I could. I’m still saying we should sell Julio Lugo on Craigslist for cash.
images from 1. boston.com and 2. soxanddawgs.com
So I am just getting a chance to sit down now and update you all on my weekend. It has been a crazy few days, not helped by the fact that I have 2 (!) days of class left and a ton of work to do before then.
Anyways. As you all know, I got to go to the Red Sox/Yankees game on Friday. The last three innings of that game rocked – the rest? Not so much. Perhaps it was all the double plays or the wicked tight strike zone, I don’t know, but the game lacked that buzz typically present for rivalry weekends. Mark Texeira’s first at bat came and went without too much fanfare. He was booed, called sell-out, etc., but he didn’t get much more hatred from the fans than all the other Yankee players. Hopefully that was disappointing for him. Johnny Traitor and Joba the Hun were the biggest targets.
Our seats were great, obviously. Any seat in Fenway Park is automatically a great seat – you’re in Fenway Park. It’s a priviledge to be able to get there. We sat on the right field line about two sections towards home plate from the Pesky Pole and about 12 rows off the field. My dad and I had to keep our heads turned to the left for the entire game, so my neck muscles are still a bit sore, but it’s a nice reminder of the evening.
My favorite pitcher for the Sox, Jon Lester, was pitching against Joba. Jon didn’t pitch his best game – his pitch count got wicked high, wicked fast, but he pitched well enough to allow the Red Sox a chance to win.
Unfortunately, the Sox decided on Friday that they would have liked to ground into 27 double plays if it had been possible. Every rally through the first 8 innings was killed by a double play. The Sox had gathered a couple runs here and there – one of which was the result of Jacoby scoring from second on a passed ball – but they found themselves down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
I really didn’t think they would be able to come back. There were no signs of offensive life on the team, and Mariano Rivera was in with a 0.00 ERA. Yes, the Red Sox have had their way with Rivera since 2004, but Friday night didn’t seem like the night it would happen again. I was ready to be satisfied with the chance to even go to a Red Sox/Yankees game and make the best out of the loss.
Boy was I wrong.
Jason Bay came up with two outs in the ninth, Kevin Youkilis on base, and Mariano throwing decently well. He was our last hope, and he didn’t disappoint. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Bay knocked a 2-run home runs into centerfield, ruining Rivera’s perfect ERA and causing his first blown save of the year. It was sweet.
Papelbon came in for the tenth, and while he continued with the theme of the night and threw a ridiculous amount of balls, he was able to retire the side damage free and give the Sox another chance to win.
The Yankeees brought in Dimaso Marte for the bottom of the tenth. His ERA was somewhere around 18.63, so I was pretty sure the game was over at the point. Instead, Marte threw a 1-2-3 inning, bringing up Ramon Ramirez for the top of the 11th. Ramirez again pitched well (he’s been a nice pick up for the Sox), so in the middle of the 11th I turned to my father and said, “If the Red Sox want to win this game, they’ll have to win it now.”
So they did.
Marte stayed in for the 11th, and he retired David Ortiz. I was shocked that this guy had gone through some of our best hitters with his horrible ERA and gotten through scar free. That was about to end.
Kevin Youkilis came up to bat and sat on the first four pitches. The count was even at 2-2 when Marte threw his final pitch of the night. Youk swung and drove that ball to Landsdowne street, sending us all home quite happy.
I haven’t seen a walk-off win live since I went to Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. No baseball game will ever be able to top that – it was an amazing experience not only because we won, but because the atmosphere at Fenway that night was incredible. However, I was pretty psyched to get another chance to witness a walk-off, especially against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees.
The other huge event of my weekend came Saturday night, after the Red Sox and Yankees finished their ridiculously long, messy, 16-11 affair. Around 7 PM, Warren Towers apparently had an electrical fire.
Warren Towers is the biggest dorm in the United States. It’s the tri-tower building that lines Comm Ave in the shadow of Fenway Park. The three towers house 1800 students, most of whom are freshmen, and is always buzzing. The lights are constantly on, elevators constantly running, people constantly yelling and running around. On Saturday nights, the place is buzzing with the excitement of students who are getting ready to go out for the third and last night of the weekend.
Apparently, the transformer that powers Warren blew up sometime around the end of dinner, which goes from 4:30 – 8 PM. This caused the entire building to lose power and also shut off the vents in the dining hall, which meant that all the smoke from the grills had nowhere to go. The place immediately filled with smoke and all of the fire alarms started going off.
I don’t live in Warren, but I was getting texts and seeing facebook posts from friends saying that something was going on down there. As journalism majors, my friends and I were intrigued and wanted to see what was going on, so we headed down to Warren to meet up with our displaced friends and check out the action.
Warren was black. The only light in the buildings was the reflections of lights from other buildings. People were trapped in the elevators from when the power went out, so firemen were running in and out of the building with hatchets. Comm Ave was shut down from BU Central down past the COM building because it was filled with firetrucks trying to fix the mess.
My friends and I hung out with our Warren friends at the BU beach while we waited for word on whether or not they would be able to sleep there that night. It was actually pretty cool, because it was a nice, warm night and tons of kids were just hanging out at Marsh Plaza and the BU beach with friends. Most were sober for once, since a lot of the alcohol was stuck in Warren. People played frisbee, rock soccer, wiffleball or just hung out and talked while watching the lights of the firetrucks and police cars take care of business. I’m kind of glad Warren Towers blew up – it provided for a fun evening. Best of all, nobody was hurt in the process.
Today, the Red Sox are coming off their 11th straight victory. The team is looking so much better now than it did coming into the homestand: they’ve figured out their individual roles, the timing is getting better, they’re producing runs in both blow-out games and pitchers duels – things are going well right now. Obviously, this win streak won’t last forever. The
Sox HAVE to lose at some point, but at least for now we aren’t worrying about playing at least .500 baseball.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Jacoby Ellsbury. I have NEVER seen a straight-out steal of home ever in my life. I know he did it on purpose in honor of my birthday (which is today). Thanks Jacoby! That was awesome!
Red Sox versus Yankees. Fenway Park. NESN/YES. 7:10 PM.
I’ll be in the stands at Fenway tonight for my first game of the season and the first rivalry renewal of the season. Although I have been to a couple of Red Sox v. Yankees games in the postseason (Game 5 2004 ALCS!!!!) I have never been to a Red Sox/Yankees regular season game, and I certainly have never been to the first Red Sox/Yankees game of the season.
Teixeira is really going to hear it tonight. The Boston Globe was bored yesterday since we only had one sporting event going on (Go C’s!), so they’ve been trying to stir up drama about whether to boo Teixeira or not. This matter doesn’t even need to be suggested for debate. Teixeira will be booed and taunted mercilessly all night long tonight, and I’ll be screaming alongside the rest of the Fenway Faithful. Talk about a spoiled athlete who plays for the money and fame moreso than the game!
Joba Chamberlain will also get an earful tonight, especially if he continues his hatred against Youk. He’s been nothing but a goon in the eyes of Boston fans ever since he came up from the minors. Touted as the Yankees’ Golden Boy, he hasn’t done much to live up to these expectations. Reputations are nice, but if you don’t live up to them, you’ll find yourself alone by the side of the road in no time.
I’ll be back tomorrow with pictures and stories from my first regular season Yankees game. Until then, Yankees suck always and forever – GO SOX!
So the Yankees swoop in and overpay again. What a surprise.