So...happy...Just look at this picture.
And this...no words for what this does to my heart after all that's happened...
Thank God. It's all I can say. Thank God we're still (mostly) together, thank God baseball is finally here.
Papelbon in '06!
Every time I think of the upcoming season and the Sox' chances, I feel a little apprehensive. What's it going to be like? Are the "New Look Sox" going to do well or are we going to have to accept this as a "rebuilding year"?
And then I remember that this is the year of Jonathan Papelbon, and I think, no matter how the Sox do overall, that's something I can get excited about. It's probably what I'm looking forward to seeing most this year, actually. Well, that and Keith Foulke and how he's going to do.
''Jon Papelbon," the 25-year-old said yesterday, extending his pitching hand to teammate Josh Beckett. There wasn't a Boston cameraman or photographer in sight at the Red Sox' minor league complex yesterday afternoon, and the instant when the pitchers made each other's acquaintance on Florida's west coast went undocumented. But the moment was a fascinating study of just how much power could be atop the Sox' rotation. (Chris Snow)
Goosebumps (and a great observation by Snow, who I'm really starting to warm to).
Also included in Snow's article was this picture, which...sigh:
Wonderful. I love this guy.
Jeff Horrigan reminds us of this Papelbon story:
Last spring, Baltimore pitcher Daniel Cabrera, who had riled up the Sox in a previous spring start, knocked down Kevin Youkilis with a pitch in the top of the fourth inning and drilled Jay Payton with another. Papelbon, who was facing major league hitters for the first time, went out in the bottom half and stood up for his side by throwing one high and tight to future Hall of Famer Sammy Sosa.
Sosa, who undoubtedly had not heard of Papelbon, was infuriated and took a step toward the pitcher, shouting and gesturing in anger. In an unforgettable moment, the 24-year-old stood his ground, didn’t flinch and met the slugger’s glare before umpires intervened.
Players lauded Papelbon, who didn’t need to be instructed to defend his teammates. Johnny Damon went so far as to say he thought the pitcher should be added to the 25-man roster immediately.
I think Beth may soon have a new binky.
Speaking of Josh Beckett and handshakes, this was my favorite highlight of Tito's recent Q & A:
I saw him in the clubhouse. I was actually in there icing my knee and he walked up and shook my hand and I was laughing ... my whole body shook. I mean, this kid is a strong kid. You know that but then when you finally meet him up close, it's like, 'Oh my goodness.' His hands are just monstrous. He's strong. It just kind of gives you confidence when you look at him and think, he's just such a strong kid.
Have I mentioned I still feel all warm and fuzzy whenever I hear or read anything from Tito? Well, I do.
Youkilis attempts to psychoanalyze the fans:
Youkilis has, he accepts, been more of a curiosity, and a likable curiosity, than anything else, and he's been that for what he views as three reasons.
''I get paid the least," he said. ''I have that going for me. If I do well it's, 'Good.' If I don't, well, it's, 'We're not paying him anything.' They can chant my name easily. And they miss Lou Merloni. I swear, it's because they miss Lou. They can't chant 'Louuuuu,' so they chant 'Youuuuk.' "
Oh, honey, no. You have it all wrong with the third reason. Personally, at least, I don't miss Lou Merloni in particular. More accurate would be that we enjoy having a player whose name chant sounds like "boo", whether it's "Lou", "Bru" or "Youk," or before that, "Dew" (Evans). Definitely not attributable to Lou Merloni in particular.
Also, give yourself some credit. We also like you because you say things like:
''I hope it comes out to 500 at-bats," Youkilis said. ''I'd love to have 500 at-bats in the major leagues."
How can you not root for someone who says something like that? We love anyone who seems to be in awe of the game similar to ours. We love anyone who's an underdog and who engages in a struggle we can relate to. We also love you because you're new, and you haven't fucked up yet or tipped your hat and called the Yankees your daddy.
Our New Old Ballpark
Photo from the ProJo baseball blog of the view from new seats high above the third base line:
Art Martone of Projo has an audio slideshow about all the Fenway renovations.
"He once killed a man with his feet"
Gorgeous interview with Mike Timlin:
Timlin said he has never shot anyone, or been shot himself.
''Not that close, anyway," he said. ''I've had some pellets rain on me. It scares you. But by that time, the guys who have shot were 30, 40 yards away when it comes down on you, by that point it's just like a little sprinkle of rocks.
''But it does happen. The guy [Whittington] could have been covered with solid orange, but when you're focused in on an animal . . .
''It happens more often than you think. Guys don't get shot, but guys have guns go off right here" -- Timlin points to a spot next to a visitor's noggin -- ''and your ears are ringing. Even though you've got earplugs, your ears are ringing."
Good God, he is endless fun. And speaking of endless fun, Red has written about Mike Timlin TWICE in the same WEEK, which is really almost too much for me. Here's the latest in his series of genius observations on everyone's favorite No. 50:
I love me some Timlin. The guy's got the heart of a lion and the sheer stompitude of a Wooly Mammoth. He also scares the ever-lovin' crap out of me, and I'm just watching the games on TV. I can only imgine what it's like to stand 90 feet away from the guy, knowing he's about to unleash the buckshot. It's like sitting in a dentist's chair and watching Ted Nugent waltz in, steel-tipped drills strapped to his chest. You just wanna grab your nuts and run.
But the more I hear from the guy in interviews, the more I wanna see Timlin outside of the cozy confines of a ballpark, where he's untethered by the puritanical bylaws of the Authority of Major League Baseball. I wanna see him lurking around the backwoods in his hunting gear, chasing pigeons, deer and Al Qaeda. I wanna see him manning the backyard barbecue with floppy oven mitts and a "Hump the Chef" apron. I wanna see him getting into heated discussions with a neighbor over easements and property lines. I wanna see him explaining yet another "flame thrower-related" incident to the local cops.
I swear, Surviving Grady could be changed tomorrow to "Red's Musings on the Personal Life of Mike Timlin" and I would not give a shit. Red also said earlier in the week, "Beth, you know whenever I write about MT, I'm thinking of you," which, squee! All I can say is keep it coming, my redheaded drunken Irish friend.
Further tidbits from Pitchers and Catchers day...
- David Riske is just pinchable.
- The focal point of this one is Coco Crisp, but there's also in-motion footage of the first picture above and a shot of Kevin Youkilis looking for all the world like the terrible offspring of Trot Nixon and Jesse Ventura.
Randy asked what the over/under is on Curt's weight loss. I'd say somewhere around 20 to 25 lbs. What do you think?
Please do also enjoy M.L. Carr's car dealership commercials.
Pedro's toe hurts. Yeah, too bad we're not still paying him $10M a year.
Craig Hansen on Boston and baseball culture:
Even though he spent only a couple of weeks in Boston last September, the Long Island native became well aware of the importance of the Sox to the natives after settling into a South End apartment over the winter.
“No matter what season it is, it’s always baseball season up there,” Hansen said. “Just going around town, it’s baseball this and baseball that. I went to a Celtics game and people were talking about baseball. It’s great. Living in New York, you get a little sense of how people love sports but Boston is a totally different world.”
And finally, I leave you with this thought, actually brought to my attention by YF:
The worst relieving corps in the AL last year, according to Baseball Prospectus's Expected Wins Added Over Replacement Level? Your Boston Red Sox! (Followed by KC, Tampa, Texas, and Baltimore.) That's not good company. How does this bode for 2006? We might note the obvious: the Sox pen sucked last year; it needs a big mprovement just to hit mediocrity. On the other hand, improvements have been made, and the team practically won the division last year with the suckiest bullpen in the league. So even a mild improvement is going to be a big advantage.