Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Type Of Red Loss Infuriates Me

I'm sure you know what type of loss I mean. For instance, last night in Boston, the home club held a 4-2 lead going into the seventh. It was too bad Matsuzaka had to leave with a stiff shoulder and I hope he'll be back for his next start. Bobby Jenks is called in by Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Bobby Jenks, or Junks, is fast becoming the Fenway fiend. He gave up two runs and three hits to give this one away. Here's how the Boston Globe's EXTRA BASES put it...

"After returning home from a 10-day road trip with a 6-3 record, the Red Sox began an 11-game homestand in an inauspicious manner, squandering a 4-2 lead in a 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners Friday night before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,845.
Jason Vargas (1-2) picked up the win in going seven innings while allowing four runs on eight hits. Bobby Jenks (1-2) absorbed the loss."

That's it from me for now. They play again today so you should check your local listings. I usually write this blog with a lot more enthusiasm but not today. For that, I'm sorry.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Boston Red Sox Finally Beat The O's, Thanks To Jon Lester

Thursday night' s game in Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland went according to plan, just as the first two should have. Boston beat the Birdies by a of score of 6-2 and Jon Lester remains undefeated against the team with a sterling record of 14-0. In eight innings, Jon allowed two runs on four hits, walking three and whiffing five. Lester was asked after the game what is it about pitching against Baltimore? He said...

“If I knew the answer to that, I’d do well against everybody. I just pitch well against this team. … I just really don’t know. I’m aware of the track record I have against them, but I don’t know how to explain it. I feel comfortable against them. I really like pitching here at this park, I’ve always felt good here.”

And Red Sox manager Tito Francona gave his assessment on his pitcher's performance...

“He threw his changeup about as good as he’s ever thrown. Some of those hitters, he really slowed them down. He was really good and he needed to be to give us enough time. He gave us a chance.”

Oh yes, he did and he knew his team was determined to take this contest. Today, Matsuzaka and the Mariners' Vargas will take the hill at Fenway Park. Enjoy the game tonight and don't watch TOO much coverage of the Royal wedding. For your own sanity.

Click on this post's title for more on our Sox and as always, BE WELL.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Red Sox Lose Second Straight To Orioles

The Boston Red Sox have now lost two in a row to the lowly Baltimore Orioles (sorry Faithy). Josh Beckett started and went six innings. He gave up four big runs. But the Sox tied it in the eighth on the strength of a Kevin Youkilis tater. It was 4-4 with Bard to come in and pitch the bottom of the eighth. He wasn't sharp and he misread one of catcher Jason Varitek's sign and the tie breaking run scored. It was ugly and the game was over after the ninth 5-4. What happened to Bard? Here he is...

“I was probably moving a little too fast. I probably needed to take my breath between pitches. I was yanking balls. All three hits were really bad missed locations. Physically, I was very ready to go. I just got ready as quick as I could. It took me a couple of minutes to relax, but it wasn’t quite enough.’’

I think you hit the nail on the head, Danny. Don't rush when you're on the mound. Keep your pace. Keep your rhythm and your arm action consistent. That's vital when you pitch a baseball for a living. Here's Boston manager Terry Francona...

“It turned in a hurry for us. We had been scrambling, not doing much offensively, not stringing anything together. Youkilis hits the home run and we get to Bard and it’s ‘Let’s go. It’s a tough loss. It hurts.”

Jon Lester goes for the Red Sox and he'll face Bergesen (0-3) in another 7:10am EDT start. We have to salvage one. Look at the AL East standings and you'll know what I mean.

I thank you once again for stopping into my little corner of baseball blogdom. I don't even know if that's a word! Click on this post's title for more on our Sox who will be home at Fenway tomorrow. As always, be careful out there and BE SAFE. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baltimore Beats The Red Sox 4-1

The Boston Red Sox arrived at the mid-east coast city of Batimore sometime Sunday night. I assume they enjoyed off-day Monday getting used to the time difference. Last night, Clay Buchholz struggled (understatement) over six and one third innings, throwing many pitches but not finding his "groove." He hasn't found it yet this year...but he will lock in and we'll see the Buch of last year. It's a delicate balance. Here's some of Boston Red Sox manager Tito Francona's words about his starter...

“He gave up a lot of hits but managed to stop the bleeding. Thought he threw some good off speed pitches, thought against some of their big righthanded hitters he wasn’t getting in as much as he needed to and let them extend their arms a bit. He bent but didn’t break. We just didn’t have a lot of offense going.’’

Buchholz was bested by O's starter Zach Britton. He's a rookie, a confident one who held the Sox to one run in six innings. His record is now 4-1 and he has just become the first Bird rookie to win four games. His ERA? A nifty 2.84. But that was yesterday, yesterday's gone. Gee, that's a song from the past. I think. OK, we have Josh Beckett going for us tonight. His backup for Thursday night? Jon Lester. The next two are essential potential wins. Yes, we're in good hands. Some crooked numbers on the scoreboard will abort the one game skid.

You can click on this post's title for more on last night's game but I'll understand if you choose not to. As always, my Constant Readers, BE WELL and God willing, I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's No Secret

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe semi-analyzed why the Boston Red Sox, after a 1-9 start, have gotten white hot. He talked to Pedey Pedroia about it and here is Pedey's reply...

“We’re playing good baseball. The pitching is better, the hitting is better and the defense is better. That’s it. There’s no secret."

Tony closed his great piece with these words...

"The Red Sox, it seems, have stabilized.

Soon, they may be ready to soar."

I'm ready to soar with them. Here are the details of the three game set with the Baltimore Birds...

Tue. 26 **at Bal 7:05 PM ET** NESN/MASN *C. Buchholz (1-2) vs. Z. Britton (3-1)
Wed. 27 **at Bal 7:05 PM ET** NESN/MASN *J. Beckett (2-1) vs. J. Guthrie (1-3)
Thu. 28 **at Bal 7:05 PM ET** NESN/MASN *J. Lester (2-1) vs. B. Bergesen (0-3)

I'm raising my glass (of skim milk) in hopes of another sweep. Have a great Tuesday, click on this post's title for more Sox stuff and as always, BE WELL. GO SOX!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boston's John Lackey Continues Red Sox Streak. Red Sox 7 LAA 0

For nine consecutive games, including yesterday's, Boston Red Sox starting pitchers have gone at least five innings and allowed FEWER than three runs. Their combined ERA over that stretch? 0.88. And the beat goes on. Sunday, John Lackey was finally all business, going eight scoreless innings and allowing only six hits and one walk. He was pitching against his former team, the LA Angels, who couldn't even begin to touch his offerings. Speak of the devil. Here he is...

“They came out swinging. Those guys know me and know I throw strikes. They were looking to get some hits early. I got fortunate, a couple of balls were hit hard to the outfield for some outs. Then I got into a rhythm and started getting some grounders and things started flowing a little bit. Sure, there’s definitely a sense of not wanting to be the guy to stop the streak. It’s a pretty good run, but it’s not unexpected. We’ve got some guys here with some pretty good track records.”

Red Sox manager Tito Francona, who is enjoying this nine game interlude of peace, justic and the American way, was short but sweetly succinct...

“I thought he was tremendous."

Hey Tito, I did too. And with the two game resurgance of Daisuke Matsuzaka, this quintet of Boston Red Sox starters, if they keep it up, may end up on the cover of SI magazine. There's a day off today as the team travels east to Baltimore for a three game set starting Tuesday. After that, it's home cooking. I'll have the pitching match-ups and game times in tomorrow morning's post. The Sox are still in third place, 3.5 out but five games behind the Yankees in the loss column. Quietly, the pin-stripers have kept winning but I like this Red Sox team. Their starting pitching is obviously top notch, as is the bullpen, they have a great defense to back those pitchers and the bats are starting to heat up, as well they should. With one day less than a week left in this month of April, it's gone from unbelievably bad to superb. I'll take superb anytime. Hands down.

I want to thank you for popping in and I hope you've been enjoying this stellar baseball from the team we love to love. Click on this post's title for more on everything Sox and as always and forever, BE WELL. KEEP IT GOING, SOX!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Matsuzaka Wows Again..HAPPY EASTER

Daisuke Matsuzaka has put together his second straight gem of a start, this time against the LA Angels. He pitched 8 innings and allowed zero runs and only one hit. He was saintlike for the second start in a row. His catcher, Jason Varitek, had these high words of praise for the Japanese pitcher who might have finally put it all together...

"He battled a little bit with his command early, but he was able to still make a completion pitch when he was battling. At other times he was executing pitches beautifully. He had a real good changeup that was able to slow down a lot of bats.”

After the game, he said he tried to use the same method and mind set as his last game, also a one hit wonder. It worked! Here's his third baseman, Kevin Youkilis, who had a great view of Daisuke's efforts...

“He was hitting his spots, and it looked like those guys weren’t feeling comfortable at the plate. When he goes out there and throws strikes and throws it where he wants to and get ahead, that’s what he can do.”

Boston has now won 7 in a row and 4 straight. What a turnaround! Let's hope John Lackey can keep it going this afternoon shortly after 3:30 pm EDT as he faces the 1-0 Palmer. Boston is only one half game behind the second place Toronto Blue Jays and 3.5 behind the often-rained out first place New York club. That's a whole lot better than 1-9. Great job.

Thanks for stopping in on this soon-to-be-warm, then rainy Easter Sunday. Click on this post's title for all the stories and videos of last night's action and as always, BE WELL. GO SOX.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'll Be Back On Sunday!

I was way under the weather yesterday afternoon and all night. Hence, no posts. I'm back to 65% and I will be back writing on Sunday. Thanks for your patiences. Hey, another win for those Sox!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Boston 4 LA Angels 2 (11)...Beckett Sharp, 'Pen Perfect

It was all good for the Boston Red Sox on the left coast last night as the Sox took game one of four by a score of 4-2. Josh Beckett shined again, not even giving up a hit until the sixth. It was a tight game throughout but Boston scored two big runs in the eleventh and Papelbon made them stand up for the win. Adrian Gonzalez was the author of those game winners with a double in that inning. Beckett went eight innings followed by Walker, Bard and Paps for an inning each. Boston left runners on base seemingly in every inning but in the end, they prevailed. Needless to say, I fell asleep in the seventh inning. The news was great this morning when I heard they had another win in the bag.

The two teams battle again tonight at 10pm EDT with Lester ready to face Haren. Let's take another from the Halos, please guys. Click on this post's title for more on the team and as always, BE WELL.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boston Red Sox Secure First Road Win In Oakland...5-3 Final Score

Good morning. I'm late for an early ( too early!) appointment but reliever Danny Bard saved the day for the Boston Red Sox Wednesday afternoon in Oakland. For brevity because I'm halfway out the front door, here's part of the Boston Globe article concentrated on DB. Thanks.

OAKLAND, Calif. —" Baseball has reached a point where every pitcher in the bullpen has been slapped with a title. There’s the closer, the set-up men, the lefty specialist, the long reliever. As the game proceeds, managers paint by numbers and drop relievers into their appointed slots. That lessens the chance of bruising egos or, worse, strategy being questioned.
Daniel Bard does not fit any of those definitions. Red Sox manager Terry Francona has the freedom to use the hard-throwing righthander when needed. That moment yesterday came in the sixth inning. The Sox had a three-run lead on the Oakland Athletics, but starting pitcher Clay Buchholz had loaded the bases with one out and was over 100 pitches. Bard sped through a dozen or so warm-up pitches, jogged to the mound, and ended the crisis in six pitches, striking out Cliff Pennington and getting Coco Crisp to pop to shortstop. The Sox went on to a 5-3 victory, their fourth in five games. Buchholz earned the win and Jonathan Papelbon ended up with a save. But it was Bard who locked down the team’s first road victory in eight tries this season. "That was the game right there,’’ said Francona. “You guys have heard me talk about it time and time again that the game can be won in the sixth or seventh. For me, that was it. He came in and stopped it.’’ Bard likes the sound of that.“My job is ‘intense middle relief,’ ’’ he said. “But that’s too much to say. Maybe you can call me ‘the stopper.’ ’’In college baseball, “closer’’ is a catch-all term for a team’s relief ace, the pitcher who comes in to snuff out rallies when needed. Bard’s younger brother, Luke, has that job at Georgia Tech. One of Bard’s best friends, Athletics prospect Andrew Carignan, had it at North Carolina when they played there. “In college, they don’t define the closer like they do in the big leagues,’’ Bard said. “That’s what I do now. It’s satisfying because you can impact the game. When they need me, I pitch. I just have to be ready.’’ Bard, an intellectually curious person, found a statistic on called Shutdowns and Meltdowns. It measures how a relief pitcher affects the ability of his team to win based on how much the statistical probability of victory changed when he was in the game. Bard was fourth in baseball with 38 Shutdown."

Keep it going, Danny. Paps looked great, too as the Boston Red Sox labor to get to 500. Keep the faith. Now, coming up is a four game set with the California Anaheim LA Angels. Here are your pitching match ups...

Thu. 21 at LAA** 10:05 PM ET NESN/FoxW **J. Beckett (2-1) vs. T. Chatwood (1-1)
Fri. 22 at LAA** 10:05 PM ET NESN/FoxW** J. Lester (1-1) vs. D. Haren (4-0)
Sat. 23 at LAA** 9:05 PM ET NESN/FoxW** D. Matsuzaka (1-2) vs. E. Santana (0-2)
Sun. 24 at LAA** 3:35 PM ET NESN/FoxW** J. Lackey (1-2) vs M. Palmer (1-0

I see three wins out of the four games but beware, I've been known to see things. Please don't forget to click on the title of this post for all the video highlights of the game. And do not forget...Jed Lowrie is STILL on fire! As always, be well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OAKLAND 5 Boston 0

That's zero. It was too late for me to watch or listen to the game but here, thanks to the Boston Globe's EXTRA BASES, is a perfect small encapsulation...

"John Lackey deserved a better fate. He allowed one run over six innings. But the Sox have been held scoreless in 20 consecutive innings on the road. They are 0-7 away from home this season and winless in nine consecutive road games dating back to last season. Brett Anderson pitched a gem (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K).

I guess you can't win 'em all, but that mini-run was SO great! I have a solution, easier said than done. Here it is. Hey guys, LET'S WIN SOME ROAD GAMES. If the bats ain't there, the fans despair. Click on the title of this post for more, please. As always, BE WELL.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Red Sox Ride Lowrie And Matsuzaka To Win #3 In A Row

Wow, was Daisuke Matsuzaka masterful yesterday at Fenway Park or what? He had something to show to his former pitching coach, John Farrell, who is now manager of the Jays. He sure did! The final score was Boston 9 Toronto 1, that single run coming in the ninth inning, a tater off Wakefield. But it didn't matter by then. Jed Lowrie hit two home runs, had four hits and raised his average to .533. He has 15 hits in his last 24 at bats. He'll be a mainstay in the Boston lineup for a long time to come. He said this about that batting average...

"I understand, but who cares? It's April 18. We've got a long season. You don't think about it. You just continue to do what you're doing and go out there and just let it happen."

Keep doing it, Jeddy. In all, Daisuke went a stellar seven innings and allowed only one hit and one free pass. I hope he can keep it up for most of the season but his history says that's doubtful. I hope he makes new history and makes it everyday. Remember, history...made every day.

It's off to the west coast to play a two game set with the Oakland A's. Here are your pitching matchups...

Tue. 19 at Oak** 10:05 PM ET NESN/CSCA** J. Lackey (1-1) vs. B. Anderson (0-1)
Wed. 20 at Oak** 3:35 PM ET NESN/CSCA** C. Buchholz (0-2) vs. G. Gonzalez (2-0)

That's all I have for you today. I have to go and have some routine (I hope) blood work and I want to be there first to avoid any backups. You can click on this post's title for more on the Sox, including the highlights, so enjoy! As always, BE WELL.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Red Sox Take Second In A Row...Carl Crawford's First Installment Of His Diary To The Fans (in full)

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 8-1 Sunday afternoon for their second victory in row. Can you say three? They'll try it again against the Jays this morning at 11am EDT in honor of Patriots Day. The dreaded Matsuzaka will be on the hill for the Red Sox so I'll be cringing at every pitch. Hey, who knows? Sometimes he pulls a rabbit from his sleeve. Other times, it's a dead duck. Heads it's a rabbit (we win!), tails it's a dead duck (we don't).

John Lester started yesterday. He had his troubles but he grinded through them. Here he is...

“I made some good pitches when I had to. Today wasn’t the best control day I ever had. Battled a few things out there with myself. Almost feeling a little too good at times and then kind of going back to not feeling so good. But it was a good win. Nothing’s changed. I didn’t invent a new pitch this year and guys are swinging at it. It’s the same stuff. It’s just executing when I have to.’’

He batted. He won. The Boston bats seem to be slowly coming around. Scoring 6 or more runs is good enough for almost any starter (exceptions so far...Matsuzaka and Lackey). They are are next two pitchers. Matz pitches today at the Fens and Lackey takes the hill for the first game with Oakland at Oakland. We shall see.

I have a treat for you. Please CLICK ON THIS POST'S TITLE. Our left fielder, Carl Crawford, off to a slow start, writes all about everything and asks us not to fret. He'll be fine. He writes to every of of us. Red Sox Nation. It's a must read. Click away and as always, BE WELL. Click, go ahead. Thanks.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Behind Josh Beckett, Red Sox Win

Agree with me before I type anything. OK? Josh Beckett looked like his old self, striking out guys with pinpoint control and being in command throughout his seven innings. Yes, he was THAT good. His ERA is back to a Beckett-like 1.80. He had all his pitches working. He was on top of his game. Bard and Papelbon finished with a goose egg each and voila, the Sox win! Here is Josh...

"I definitely pushed myself a little bit more. I definitely felt good today. That was one of the things where on a day game like today, where maybe the energy is down a little bit, that's a way of picking myself up. I think execution-wise and health-wise and everything, I definitely think my last two starts were a notch above what I was most of the year last year.

Make no mistake about it. This is the news ALL fans of the Boston Red Sox have been waiting to hear. Big-time. Now for Mr. Lackey. Hmmm. You're next, John. I'll leave it at that and we'll see you Monday on the left coast. And I'll see you, my Constant Readers, first thing Monday morning, if not before. Click on the post's title for more on the Sox and as always, BE WELL.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Day, Another Boston Red Sox Loss

The Boston Red Sox, desperate to start a winning streak of ANY kind, were defeated again by the Toronto Blue Jays by a 7-6 score Friday evening. It was a Clay Buchholz start. Clay was able to go 5 innings (6-7 is better), giving up 3 runs on 3 hits. He walked a bizarre (for him) five batters and struck out three. Aceves pitched a one-hit scoreless sixth and then trouble, big time trouble hit in the seventh. It was the suddenly awful Bobby Jenks who tried to pitch the important seventh but just flat out couldn't do it. Would you believe it was a four hit, four run one third of an inning for Jenks? Believe it. What do we do about Jenks, the latest hole in what has come to be a fragile 'pen? Here he is, talking about the Red Sox...

“We’re there now. We’re in a tough position. To come back right now, it’s going to take all year long. We need to get on it now. We need to turn this thing around.’’

Bobby Jenks, with a 2-10 record for Boston, that's going to be much easier said than done. But I'm hoping. Win four, lose one, win another four and lost another one and .500 will be in reach. Of course, every other team in the AL has that time span to improve their already good records. What I say is this. By June 1, let's be close and not mired in the basement. I don't like it down here! Dark, dank enclosed spaces with the smell of defeat, disease and death gives me the willies.

There's 1pm Fenway Park baseball this afternoon with Reyes and Beckett going at it. Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

UCONN's Kemba Walker Throws Out First Pitch At Yankee Stadium (With A Smile)

Star player of the University of Connecticut basketball team, guard Kemba Walker, who the whole country came to love during UCONN's run to the national championship, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the Yankees/Orioles game last night in the Bronx. In lieu of any Red Sox action from last night, here is an article from the Hartford Courant that will tell you all about Kemba's first time inside Yankee Stadium. Read on if you please...

NEW YORK —— "Kemba Walker grew up a couple of subway stops away, and he played basketball at Gauchos Gym, which is even closer. "I walked past it all the time," Walker said, "and it was like, 'Wow, that's Yankee Stadium,' and you know about all the history. But I never had the chance to go inside. I was always playing basketball."
Walker's first trip inside Yankee Stadium, the new one, was beyond a Bronx kid's wildest dreams — the Yankees were excited to see him. Walker came to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Yankees-Orioles game Wednesday night, and to share the moment with his teammates as the national champion UConn men's basketball team was honored.
"It's a special story," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who asked Walker to sign a baseball. "A Bronx kid. They mentioned several times on the telecast that he was from the Bronx and we all got excited, we started pulling for them."
The Yankees, many of whom played on the 2009 championship team or those that came earlier, had a champions' respect for UConn's accomplishment, winning 11 pressure-packed games in a row to win the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
"Kemba was fun to watch," CC Sabathia said, "the way he took over games, his will to win with the younger guys. It was like watching Derek Jeter, or Jorge Posada or Mariano Rivera, it makes [other players] feel you can't lose.."
Said Joba Chamberlain, "Kemba made everybody around him better, and then the other guys on that team stepped up when they had to." The Huskies arrived on the field at 5:20 p.m., while the Yankees were taking batting practice. Girardi saw that Roscoe Smith, who is from Baltimore, was wearing an Orioles hat. He quickly swiped it and put a Yankees hat in its place. But later, Girardi posed for a picture with Smith wearing his hometown team's cap. Jim Calhoun, devout Red Sox fan, did not make the trip, but the players and staffers stood behind the plate together and watched a video tribute to their championship run.
"It started with what they did in the Big East tournament," Girardi said. "Five games in five days? There has to be a mental toughness there. We watched Jeremy Lamb grow up before our eyes."
The players were introduced individually, then Jeter, the player Walker was most looking forward to meeting, and Curtis Granderson came out to greet the Huskies and shake hands when the video was over.
"They like sports," Walker said, "and the run we had — I don't care if you play basketball, baseball, or whatever, it was a tremendous run. For them to acknowledge us for what we did, it's cool. It's really cool."

I watched it on the the replays this morning and Kemba threw a pitch near the plate, just inside, from the actual mound. Like his 68 year old coach, Jim Calhoun, he threw from the actual mound, not in front of it by 10 or 15 feet. The smile on his face was infectiously brilliant. Some pinstripe fans yelled "go to the Knicks." That would be a dream for Kemba Walker, a native of the Bronx in the state of New York.

That's all I have for you today. The Boston Red Sox resume play, starting a four game series, including Monday's Patriots Day game with the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are the pitching particulars and everything else you need to know...

Fri. 15 Tor** 7:10 PM ET RSN/NESN** C. Buchholz (0-2) vs. B. Cecil (0-1)
Sat. 16 Tor**1:10 PM ET RSN/NESN** J. Beckett (1-1) vs. J. Reyes (0-1)
Sun. 17 Tor** 1:35 PM ET TBS/NESN** J. Lester (0-1) vs. J. Litsch (1-0)
Mon. 18 Tor** 11:05 AM ET RSN/NESN** D. Matsuzaka (0-2) vs. R. Romero (1-1)

Tuesday, Boston starts a three game set with Oakland out west. And yes, that's when we'll see John Lackey take the mound and try to right his ship, a vessel that's connected to all of us. That would be a big shot in the arm for his team. We can only hope. I have to run now but I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful, maybe wacky, weekend. Click on this post's title for more and as always, be well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rains Rescues The Boston Red Sox

Yes, I meant what the title of this post said. Not HAVING a game is better than another loss for the Boston Red Sox. Supreme under performer (at least with Boston) John Lackey, who was penciled in to be the Wednesday Red Sox starter, is being pushed back to the Tuesday game against the As of Oakland. Who decided that? The Red Sox pitching coach, Curt Young, did. Here he is...

“John’s got stuff. It’s just been about quality location in the strike zone. He’s been a guy that’s going to throw a lot of strikes and command is what makes guys good and it’s going to make him good. I’m sure he’s not real happy about it. The type of pitcher he is, he’s used to dominating, used to getting people out, used to being the guy who gives his team a chance to win every single game, and that’s what he’s got to get back to."

"He's got to get back to?" We, the members of Red Sox Nation, have not seen John Lackey yet. Not the REAL John Lackey with his overpowering pitches. Maybe someday? MAYBE TUESDAY!

Thanks for stopping in and click on that title for more on the Sox. As always, be well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Boston Red Sox Have Worst Record In MLB

This is getting very hard to take. Yet again, the Tampa Bays Rays defeated the deflated Boston Red Sox by a score of 3-2. It was a battle of aces and their ace, David Price, out pitched our ace, Jon Lester. Sox manager Tito Francona had this summation of what happened.

“We were facing one of the better guys in the league tonight, just like they were. We didn’t go into the game thinking we we’re going to knock him around the ballpark.”

They sure didn't! Jon Lester was asked this...what must the Red Sox do to turn their season around?

“We need a night like they had last night (Monday night). We need a night where we show up and just pound the baseball and we do everything right. We’re just not putting everything together. One night it’s the pitching. One night it’s the hitting. Some nights it’s both. Nothing right now is clicking for us.”

Jon, you're right on the money with your assessment. John Henry spent 161.4 million dollars for this kind of performance? I don't think that was his intent. The 2-9 start is totally shocking to every single member of Red Sox Nation, even one of the newest ones, Carl Crawford...

“Yes, it’s a little shocking. We definitely didn’t think we’d be in this position right now but since we are, we’ll just have to do what we have to do to get back on top. Yes, it’s a little shocking.’’

Hey Carl, I know you meant well but your/our team has never even had a share of first place except when all teams had a 0-0 record. A drastic turnaround starting today is highly necessary. The pitchers in the night game will be the so-far-woeful John Lackey ready to face Shields. It's a 7:10pm EDT Fenway Park start for the struggling Boston Red Sox. When they struggle, it seems as if I struggle. Sympathy pains? I have no idea but I want it to stop. NOW.

Thanks for stopping in on this Hump Day Wednesday, the day the slide to the weekend begins. Please click on this post's title for all the highlights you'd ever want and as always, BE WELL. 2-9? Let's turn it around, Boston. Now.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daisuke Matsuzaka Has A Monday Stinker...TB Rays 16 Boston Red Sox 5

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a tough start Monday evening as the NY Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox by a score of 16-5. Daiksuke threw 10 pitches in the first—all too hittable and all strikes. Remember, the Rays are the worst hitting club in the majors with a .163 batting average and they had scored only 20 runs. They almost matched that nine game total yesterday with 16 runs. Here's Red Sox manager Tito Francona as he talks about Matsuzaka's bad first inning...

“There was one walk and seven balls hit right on the barrel. We love when guys throw strikes, but there were balls middle-middle for seven hitters.”

Every ball was scorched. The second inning was even worse. In all, Daiksuke was only able to go 2 innings and gave up 7 runs on 8 hits, walking 2 and whiffing 2. The bullpen, especially Wakefield and Wheeler, was especially porous. All in all, the Sox made a weak hitting team look like the '27 Yankees. I turned the game off after the third frame. I was disgusted and couldn't take it anymore. Enough about Monday night at Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts. You know how much I love the Sox but this was too much to take.

Tonight, the two teams go at it again with Price ready to face Lester. Boston has to string some wins together, not play .500 ball. That's what happens when you have a record of 2-8. Only the Rays have a poorer AL East record. I hope it stays that way. Have a great Tuesday, click on this post's title for more on the Red Sox and as always, BE WELL.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Boston & Beckett Stifle Yankees 4-0

A small adjustment here, a minor change there and what do you get? I'll tell you...a spine-chillingly tremendous eight inning performance by Josh Beckett. Check out these numbers. He was able to go eight innings. He allowed zero runs, only two hits and walked only one. He retired the last fourteen batters in a row before Papelbon finished the game with a goose egg ninth. Beckett's pitch count was a paltry 102. We all have to hope he can keep this up. That was a great hitting Yankee lineup that Josh plowed through as if they were ghostly apparitions, wispy fumes of nothingness. Here's the Boston first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez...

“This game was big for a lot of reasons. We needed a win, we beat the Yankees and we won a series. But it starts with Josh. That was huge.’’

And here is the captain of the New York Yankees, the overrated Derek Jeter. Hey, at least he was being honest...

“He was probably as good today as we’ve seen him in quite some time. He’s always a challenge, but that’s as good as I’ve seen him since I don’t remember when.’’

I watched some of this game during periods engrossed in the goings on at the Masters and I knew Beckett had it. Let's hope he can keep it! If that happens it would just be Lackey and the other big question mark, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who have to get their acts together. Buchholz will be just fine. He signed an extension with the club yesterday. Good for him.

Today the Tampa Bay Rays, WITH Johnny Damon and without Manny Ramirez, come to Boston for the start of a three game set. Here are your pitching matchups...

Mon. 11 TB** 7:10 PM ET ESPN/NESN** D. Matsuzaka (0-1) vs. J. Hellickson (0-1)
Tue. 12 TB** 7:10 PM ET SUN/NESN** J. Lester (0-0) vs. D. Price (0-2)
Wed. 13 TB** 7:10 PM ET SUN/NESN** J. Lackey (1-1) vs. J. Shields (0-1)

In case you were wondering, yes, I STILL shudder when I see John Lackey's name on the pitching schedule. Since he joined the Sox, that's been the norm so why stop now? I can't wait for him to be an un-shudderingly trustworthy pitcher. That day will come...soon, as we make our run towards first place.

I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Wow, the Masters golf tournament really heated up yesterday and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially when Tiger made his charge. Yeah, I know the young guys in contention are relatively penniless compared to Mr. Woods but the drama of Tiger's charge was worth the price of admission alone.

I hope your weekend was a terrific one and I'm glad you stopped by on this before sunrise Monday. You can simply click on this post's title for more on the Beckett gem and as always, BE WELL. I'll see you soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Putrid Pitching Dooms Boston Red Sox

When it rains it pours, some say, and for the Boston Red Sox, it's pouring losses. Yesterday was no exception. The NY Yankees defeated the home club by a score of 9-4. Clay Buchholz, like John Lackey one day before him, stunk up the place we call Fenway Park, going 3 2/3 innings and allowing eight hits (!!) and five runs, walking three and whiffing two. It was a forgettable performance in every way imaginable. In fact, I wish I COULD forget it! Doubront and Aceves combined for the next 3 1/3 innings and they weren't much better, allowing another five runs, four of 'em earned. By that time the game was over but it was nice to see Timmy Wakefield pitch the last two innings without giving up anything. What's wrong with this club picked as a favorite before the 2011 season started? STARTING AND RELIEF PITCHING. Here's Pedey Pedroia on that somewhat sore subject...

“We’ve got to pitch better, man. The Yankees have a great offense but we gave up a lot of runs. It’s tough to score 10, you know what I mean? We’ll figure it out. We’ll come out tonight and keep playing. That’s what we’ve got to do. There’s really nothing you can say. We’ve just to play better. That’s it.’’

That's it. It's as simple as that. Eventually, the hitters will hit and the defense will catch. Maybe the pitchers will try pitching for a change. Nothing's working yet but it will. I'll wait until ALL the starters have had their first two or three turns in the rotation and then if more comments are needed, I'll be here to voice (type) them. That's a promise. Boston falls to 1-7 and plays the Yanks on the ESPN night game tonight. In a tough match up, CC Sabathia will try and gun down the struggling Josh Beckett. What a night to put together a great start, Josh. Make it happen. Please.

That's it for this still dark Sunday morning. It will be a day that promises to be 60 degrees F plus. Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to make it to the low 80s. MMMM, sounds great after the winter many of us just went through while cold, shivering and covered with the white stuff. Click on this post's title for more Red Sox coverage, my Constant Readers, and as always, BE WELL. GO SOX. Let's take two of three. We need to make taking two games out of three a steady habit. I know, I know...easier said than dome. We have to have faith. It's tough sometimes but I'm a determined guy. Up to a point. We're almost at that point.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Screen Legend Sidney Lumet Passes Away

Director Sidney Lumet has passed away at the age of 86. Here is the release...

NEW YORK - "Sidney Lumet, the award-winning director of such acclaimed films as "Network," "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "12 Angry Men," has died. He was 86., who began his career directing theater and then television, helmed countless big screen classics. His first film, "12 Angry Men," established him as a top director in 1957, while his 1970's hits "Serpico," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network" sealed his reputation as a screen legend. While he never won an Oscar for films he directed, in 2005 he was awarded an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Lumet worked with Hollywood's biggest names, including Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Al Pacino, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Robert Duvall, and Faye Dunaway."

Mr. Lumet, you had a hand in SO many tremendous film classics. You will be missed.

P.S. Red Sox down 8-4 to the pin-stripers. It doesn't look good for win # 2. Clay Buchholz was uncharacteristically shaky, much like Lackey. We need a solid number three starter as well as numbers two and four. Lackey, Buchholz and Beckett, STEP UP. Please. I didn't even mention Daisuke, did I? I can wait for that. After 6 frames, 8-4 Yankees.

Red Sox Win First...More Manny

The Boston Red Sox finally earned their first 2011 victory with a 9-6 win over the NY Yankees. John Lackey started for Boston and was, well, Lackey-like to a tee. He surrendered six (!) earned runs on seven hits over five long innings. The bullpen was used the exact way it was set up before the season started and it was perfect with Aceves, Jenks, Bard and Papelbon putting one inning each of goose eggs on the board and restoring some faith to all those who are members of Red Sox Nation. What a refreshing change! A win!! Here's Pedey Pedroia. He kick started his team to victory with three hits including an early solo home run into the wall seats...

"I just came in here thinking, 'We need to find a way to win. I don't care how we do it. I don't care if it's the ugliest win of all time. We need that win but we played great, man. It seems like guys were calm, weren't jumping at the ball. This is our park. We were on the road six days and we didn't get comfortable."

Today at 1pm EDT the two teams go at it again with Nova ready to face Buchholz. Another win would be sweet indeed. I also wanted to spend a minute or two typing about Manny Ramirez, cheater and quitter that he is. Confirmedly so. Anthony Castrovince, a columnist for mlb dot com, spoke of his Hall of Fame chances, among other things. Here's part of what he had to say...

"Perhaps it had to end this way. A bizarre capper to a career that, even in its low points, never lacked for intrigue. The Green Monster bathroom break, the faux pharyngitis, the uncashed checks stashed in his locker, the time he confused O.J. Simpson for Chad Ogea, the greatest catch of his career coming on an unwanted cutoff, the press conference in Espanol when everybody knows he speaks English ... these are the "Manny Being Manny" moments that combine with the numbers to make Ramirez one of baseball's most captivating figures. But Ramirez likely won't be a Hall of Famer. Because as he proved time and again, he played the game of baseball and the game of life by his own rules. And Manny's rules didn't always mesh with reality."

No, they sure didn't. Manny frittered away his chances to join the elite Hall of Famers. Hey, it was HIS choice, wasn't it. He was off to a slow start and maybe that's why he decided to go the PED route. Maybe he's been on them the entire off season. I'm just glad he was caught. That decision was pretty stupid Manny, wasn't it? But you've been making those kind of decisions your whole life. The Boston Red Sox did the smartest thing they could at the time when they jettisoned you from their ranks. Manny, you can't diss the owner of the ball club and quit on your team, all in a matter of days, and expect to remain unscathed or employed. Stay retired. Please. PLEASE!

Thank you once again for stopping in to my little corner of the blue nowhere. I appreciate every one of you and I invite you to click on this post's title for more on Mr. Ramirez courtesy of Yahoo sports dot com. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the 1pm game. We're going for two straight. CC goes tomorrow so today's contest is an important game to tuck away into the win column. As always, BE WELL

Friday, April 08, 2011

MANNY Retires. Why?

Was it just a bad start to the 2011 season or was it more? DRUGS?? Rumors swirl and MLB has made their feelings known. Here is their statement plus more...

"Tampa Bay Rays slugger Manny Ramirez told Major League Baseball today that he is retiring after being notified of an issue that arose under MLB’s drug policy. The commissioner’s office announced Ramirez’s decision in a statement, but did not say whether he tested positive for a banned substance. Ramirez previously served a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers."

"Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed."

Coward. Putz. Manny being Manny, I guess. MLB said it would have no further comment. NEITHER DO I. YET. More will be said about this by everyone starting in a couple of hours. Here on the east coast it's 5pm EDT.

Lackey's Lackey. Need I Say More? SOX WIN THEIR FIRST. Finally!

It took him five innings but John Lackey hasn't disappointed Yankee fans of all ages. Right now at sparklingly beautiful Fenway Park, it's Boston 6 NY 6. New York chipped away and Lackey was/has been very accommodating. What a shame. It's only the bottom of the fifth but Lacks is a terrible number two rotation guy. We waited through his BLAH first season with the Sox but I'm not in the mood to wait anymore. I guess we all have to. More later. This will be Boston's first win of the season...if. The waiting is the hardest part.

Click on this post's title for up to the second game info. Thanks. GO SOX.

Well, that was quick. A wall ball by Salty earns Boston their 7th run. Fingers crossed. Els makes the final out and we're officially through five trying to stay alive. The Sox 'pen will have to shine (for a change).

Now, it's 7-6 Boston as the crowd grew silent after hearing the Manny news. It's now entering the bottom of the seventh. Jenks did well in the top of the frame. 6 outs, one Boston bullpen...will that be a good mix? This year, who knows??

9-6 Good Guys going into the top of the 8th. Bard on the mound. It's been a while since we've seen Paps but I don't want to get ahead of the game, or myself. Yet. Two down, same score. Bard pitches a 1-2-3 8th. The Sox are coming up and then it'll be Paps time. 9-6.

OK, we're going into the top of the ninth with the Red Sox ahead 9-6. It's Paps time...for better or for worse. I have to think better. Here we go. Leadoff hitter Gardner whiffs on a blazing fastball. One down with Paps throwing strikes. Jeter strikes out on a nasty fastball. Teixeira at the plate. HE POPS OUT for the third and final out. Bard and Paps were spectacular, Wheeler too. Lackey? That's a horse of a different color. See you.

Boston Red Sox Rolling, Rolling Rolling...In Reverse

Yes, the Boston Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians. This time the score was 1-0 and the game ended on a controversial note. The umpire was right on top of the play at second, a play in which the Darnell McDonald was called out but the umpire had the best view of anyone in the stadium.'s over and so is the most forgettable 6 game road trip Boston has undertaken in recent memory. My goodness! Next up comes a heaping helping of NY Yankee fun. Here are the times and pitching match ups. All three games will be at Fenway Park...

Fri. 8 NYY 2:05 PM ET* YES/NESN** J. Lackey (0-1) vs. P. Hughes (0-1)
Sat. 9 NYY 1:10 PM ET* FOX** C. Buchholz (0-1) vs. I. Nova (1-0)
Sun. 10 NYY 8:05 PM ET* ESPN** J. Beckett (0-1) vs. C. Sabathia (0-0)

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis described his team's predicament perfectly. He said this...

“It can’t get any worse than this. There’s only one way to go, and that’s up.”

Scotty, beam us!! Have a great weekend as we await afternoon baseball from the Fens. You can click on this post's title for more on the mayhem that is Red Sox baseball circa 2011. Hideous mayhem. Have a great Friday and weekend. As always, BE SAFE.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Red Sox Stay Perfect At 0-5

The Boston Red Sox, smack dab in the middle of their worst start to a season in fifteen years (!!), lost to the Cleveland Indians by a score of 8-4. Their manager, Terry Francona, disgusted as we all are, said this...

"We’ve got to start acting like we’re a good team. We’ve got to find a way to win. I don’t think many of us are going to sleep. We might as well go ahead and play pretty soon.”

It's easy to understand these dire straits when you factor in that the pitching staff has an ERA of 8.32 and has given up 14 taters. 14!! How about the hitting. Believe me, it's not a pretty picture. The team batting average is a paltry .190/.275/.301 and they've only gone 7 for 40 with runners in scoring position. Pitiful. Youk, what do you have to say?

“I speak for myself. I’m probably one of the biggest problems around right now. I’ve got to play a lot better baseball."

We've been through the rotation winless and are back to Jon Lester once more in a noon game. I don't know what else to say except that maybe they can run the table this time as they go through the rotation again. It's hard to even write about the five 2011 games so far this season. Suffice it to say Matsuzaka started the latest monstrosity, going five innings and giving up three runs on six hits, three walks and two K's. He threw a whopping ninety six pitches in those five frames. Next, and listen when I say this, Dennys Reyes sauntered out to the mound. I wish he had stayed in the 'pen. ANYONE'S 'pen. He gave up three earned runs without getting a single out. “We wanted him to face maybe six, seven hitters. It was set up where we wanted him to face their lefties. But he was commanding so little," uttered Tito Francona. Say your goodbyes to him as soon as you can. Wheeler and Wakefield finished up this debacle in truly average fashion.

Today marks the final game in Cleveland before the home opener with the Yankees. It seems like a must game for Jon Lester, who will face Fausto Carmona. May the force be with them because they need all the help they can get. I just hope they can win this one before home cooking returns.

I wish you a tremendously terrific Thursday and upcoming weekend. You can click on this post's title for more of the ugly details and as always, BE WELL. Turn it around, guys. Starting today. Just do it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The University Of Connecticut Mens Basketball Team Wins NCAA Tournament, Beating Butler

The UCONN Huskies won the NCAA National Mens Basketball championship last night with defense. And then more defense. The Cinderella team, Butler, could not hold up that the swarming, suffocating Connecticut resolve. Just below this first paragraph, I'd like you to read the full article and watch the video with sound. I thank you. There's much to read and then all you have to do is click on this post's title.

HOUSTON — "Age versus youth. That was the prime storyline in advance of this national title game, where 68-year-old UConn coach Jim Calhoun would be matching wits with 34-year-old Butler coach Brad Stevens. It was presumed that Calhoun had seen everything in college basketball. He was born on May 10, 1942, in the third year of the NCAA tournament’s existence, and has played and coached in six different decades. And yet Calhoun’s third national championship was won by breaking a title-game record that was a year older than he is.

Calhoun found this out while standing on the court at Reliant Stadium, watching his young team — the one that began the year unranked, never lost a game on a neutral court, and won a national championship by going on an 11-0 run after March 8 — mug for cameras atop the podium. His right-hand man, George Blaney, no spring chicken himself, stood next to Calhoun and leaned in close, to speak above the din of the UConn band. Blaney was two years old when Wisconsin held Washington State to 21.5 percent in the 1941 title game, and that record had stood for 70 years, mostly because the quality of play in college basketball had improved immensely since then. Those were the dark ages, never to be replicated. Except in the Huskies’ 53-41 win over Butler, Wisconsin’s record was trumped.

“Under 20 percent,” Blaney said into Calhoun’s left ear. “Greatest [defensive] performance ever.”

They looked at each other, speechless after that, and moved to join their team on the podium. Calhoun was immensely proud of that number. When they retreated to the locker room after watching One Shining Moment, he stood before the team and played dumb, asking Blaney again, what did Butler shoot?

“Eighteen-point-eight percent,” was the answer.

Napier's pressure on Butler's point guards was a critical part of the game plan. (Richard Mackson/US PRESSWIRE)

Freshman point guard Shabazz Napier, the defensive sparkplug whom they inserted into the starting lineup at the beginning of the second half, and whose pressure was credited with preventing the Bulldogs’ offense from running at full speed, sat on the folding chair in front of his locker, in awe of that number.

“All I said was, ‘Damn’,” he recalled. “Actually, we all said ‘Damn.”

There is no disputing that this was among the ugliest title games of college basketball’s modern era, one that was 22-19 at halftime, and nearly had peach-basket jokes trending on Twitter. A wild NCAA tournament, with a Monday night that featured two surprise finalists, deserved a better ending. But to say there was no beauty in it would be wrong. As Calhoun said, “From a purist’s standpoint, you want to teach them defense, take a clip of both teams, and you’d see some terrific defense.” Indeed, the defensive masterpiece UConn put on could be used as an instructional tape for the next 70 years. It was a clinic on how to challenge shooters and fluster big men and take a precision offense out of its rhythm.

When pundits look back on this UConn title run, five, 10, 20 years from now, what will be remembered is the amazing way Kemba Walker put a young team on his back, and perhaps the way Calhoun rallied the unlikeliest of squads to a championship in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. But what was most shocking about this Monday night, seeing it live, was the way the greatest defensive performance in title-game history was keyed by a crew of freshmen, none of whom were five-star recruits.

UConn was slumping down the stretch in 2011, going from a 17-2 start to a 21-9 record heading into the Big East tournament, and Calhoun made a conscious decision to shift the focus of his practices. “We thought the best way to disguise our youth,” he said, “was to get better at defense every day.

“We would take literally 50 percent of practice on nothing but defense. Two-on-two, three-on-three, shell, five-on-five, retreat. That’s much more than almost any other team I’ve done.”

When it came time to hand out the defensive assignments for the Butler game, the Husky who drew the Bulldogs’ scoring star, Shelvin Mack, was a spindly, 6-foot-5 freshman: Jeremy Lamb. Mack had been unstoppable in the semifinal against VCU, scoring 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and he had a propensity for stepping up in big games. UConn’s game plan on Mack was to contest every shot, push him back off the three-point line, forcing him to drive the ball into the Huskies’ trees, and to “red,” or hard double-team him off of ball screens. It was a nice plan, but Mack had foiled many such plans in the past.

Monday night was different. As Mack pulled up for his first three-point attempt — and Butler’s first shot of the game — at the 19:25 mark, he appeared to have an open look. But he had never been guarded by someone with the wingspan of Lamb, who says his reach is 7-foot-1. He’s like Hakim Warrick in a backcourt package, and he flew at Mack in time to swat his shot away, sending an early message: There would be no easy threes in this game.

Asked to describe what happened with Mack after that, Lamb paused for a moment, and said, “I’m going to sit down.” He was exhausted after pouring all he had into holding the Butler guard to 4-of-15 shooting and 13 points. “Once I blocked his first shot,” Lamb said, “I think he was timid on the next couple, and there were a few times where I felt like he wanted to raise up, but didn’t, because he felt like I was there.”

Once UConn coaches realized — and realized quickly — that Lamb could handle Mack one-on-one, even off of screens, they made a key alteration to the defensive plan, calling off the “red” double-team. The ripple effect, according to Blaney, “is that then, they’re not able to get the ball ahead of you to the open man. That’s what you give up when you trap.”

Instead of throwing ahead to Matt Howard or Andrew Smith for good looks in the paint, the Bulldogs were forced to rotate the ball elsewhere, and unusual shooting candidates such as Chase Stigall became their primary long-range options. Stigall had scored five points in the whole tournament, but attempted 11 shots against UConn. “We thought, ‘If he’s taking those shots, we’re good to go,’” Napier said. “Because if Mack takes those shots, we’re through.”

While Lamb was locking up Mack, Napier was serving as the pressure man on Butler’s point guards in the second half, picking them up early and throwing their halfcourt sets out of whack. Calhoun told Napier at halftime, “This teams runs on you,” and assistant Andre LaFleur said the freshman guard got them off to a “gritty start” after the break. Blaney credited Napier’s extended pressure with keeping the Bulldogs pushed off of the three-point line, where they couldn’t get clear looks or quality post feeds to Howard.

The most improbable single-player line in Butler’s box score belonged to Howard, their hero of the tournament prior to the title game. He went 1-of-13 from the field, finishing with seven points, and his struggles in the lane were contagious: The Bulldogs went 3-of-31 as a whole from inside the arc. UConn’s secret against Howard, according to LaFleur, was to vary their looks by rotating a series of smaller, long “combo” forwards on him such as freshmen Roscoe Smith (who had four blocks) and Niels Giffey and sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDaniel.

Walker, in assessing his teammates’ interior D, used the curious combination of “long and lengthy,” saying, “I thought our inside game was a little bit too much for them. Alex, Charles, Jeremy, Roscoe, those guys, they’re extremely long and lengthy.”

As frustration mounted for Butler inside — center Andrew Smith was also 2-9, and seemingly incapable of finishing against Alex Oriakhi (four blocks) and Charles Okwandu — the Bulldogs began to take worse and worse shots from the perimeter and midrange. At the 16:46 mark of the second half, with Butler trailing 26-25, and having missed five straight attempts and committed a turnover, Stevens turned to his bench and appeared to say, “Our offense is awful.”

Three minutes later, a steal by Lamb and a dunk — the first dunk of the game, and the first dunk Butler had allowed in a title game in two years — put UConn up 31-26, and the Huskies only expanded their lead from there. It was a painful, painful night for the Butler offense, which went ice cold against an inspired D, and for the first time all tournament, had the pace dictated by its opponent. The Bulldogs typically rotate the ball so well that they always get open looks, but everything seemed to be contested. Nothing was coming easy.

And as UConn kept locking down on possession after possession, Calhoun became more and more animated on the sideline. Much had been written, before the Final Four, about the defensive stances the 34-year-old coach of VCU, Shaka Smart, would take while egging on his team, and Calhoun was viewed as a stoic grandfather in comparison. But here, Calhoun was chewing his gum at a furious pace, getting in crouches, waving his arms, ecstatic over the effort of the kids who would make him only the fifth coach with three or more titles in college basketball history.

UConn-Butler will not sell well on DVD among the general populace, nor will it warrant encore viewings on cable. But it will remain in the record books for a very long time, as the gold standard of defensive performances. Of the effort involved in that, Calhoun said, “To me, that’s beauty. That’s what this game should be about.”

Blaney, who has been alongside Calhoun for the past nine years, stood outside the Huskies’ locker room in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, explaining their guarding tactics — on ball-screens, on pushing out shooters, on helping in the post — but he said that ultimately, their success came down to one thing: “Coach makes people compete.”

A new question was raised, but Blaney stopped the questioner and said, “No — listen to that. Coach makes people compete.”

The legacy of Jim Calhoun will be discussed in the coming weeks and months, as he contemplates retirement, and considers leaving the program he built from scratch into a powerhouse on the highest of highs. This game may not have been what we all wanted, but one suspects it was what he wanted: A record proving that on the biggest stage of all, his unlikeliest of champions played defense unlike anyone."

Thank you, UCONN. We love you here in my state, your state. Forever. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??????

Monday, April 04, 2011

Notre Dame Ends UCONN's Season.

In lieu of any good play by the Red Sox (they lost again by a score of 5-1 are are underperforming immensely), I have to report that the UCONN women lost to a determined Notre Dame team. Maya Moore tried her best with 36 points but she couldn't do it all. She finishes her college UCONN career with 150 wins and 4 losses. Not bad, I say. This entire state of Connecticut loves her. Last night was her final appearance in a Connecticut uniform. I want you to click on this post's title to be zapped to the Hartford Courant's coverage of last night's contest, including video.

Oh, the Red Sox. I'll deal with them after tomorrow night's NCAA championship game between the Butler and UCONN men's teams, the FINAL TWO. As always, be well.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

More Starting Pitching Woes For Boston...UCONN Men Advance To Men's NCAA Championship Game

The Boston Red Sox are now proud owners of an 0-2 record after John Lackey was literally stomped to death in a 12-5 Boston loss. Six runs in the third inning for the American League Champion Texas Rangers put the game away. Lacky went only 3 2/3 innings and gave up 9 (!!) runs on 9 hits, whiffing three and walking two. It was a another disheartening start for another Red Sox pitcher. 'Nuff said. The two teams play one more time today out in hot Texas at 2pm EDT.

Now for some REAL fun. The biggest crowd in NCAA Tournament history, 75,421, watched it happen. The University of Connecticut mens basketball team earned the right to play Butler for the NCAA national championship. The game will be played Monday night. The final score last night ended up being about as close as it gets (unless you count ties). It was Connecticut 56 Kentucky 55. Oh yes, the Wildcats made this a close one (their coach is "never give up" John Calipari) but when Kentucky went down by four points with a couple seconds remaining, well, that was all she wrote. In fact, she stopped writing forever and started singing. Hence the phrase "when the fat lady sings." True story? You tell me. I know. You don't.

Tonight, the UCONN women plan to join their brothers-in-arms in the women's finals. They will play Notre Dame, a proud team who has lost to UCONN three times this year. It will be televised by ESPN at 6pm or so along with the other Final Four game to follow. If your TV is on ESPN around 6pm, you'll find the two games. It's Sunday. Don't worry, be happy. I'll be happy when (not if) the UCONN women win tonight. Nothing less will do. Don't forget to click on this post's title and as always, BE WELL. Type to you soon.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Boston Red Sox Letdown In Game One

The Boston Red Sox opened their 2011 campaign and there are not many, if any, good things I could mention about the game and the performance of my team. They were soundly beaten by the AL champs, the Texas Rangers, by a score of 9-5. Jon Lester started for the Red Sox and was unimpressive, giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three home runs and could not do what he wanted to do. His zip wasn't there. His velocity was missing. The movement on his pitches was almost nonexistent. Other than that, he was fabulous. Ha ha. The game was still close when Danny Bard entered in the eighth inning. He couldn't get three outs. Sickening. Here he is...

“It sucks to be the one to give it away, but I thought I made quality pitches all day. You’ve got to ignore the results sometime. Three inches to the left and that’s a foul ball and we’re having a different conversation. Nobody wants to start this way, but I think we’ll look back on this and be laughing in a couple of months.’’

Maybe in a few months Dan, but not now. The two teams play again tonight at 8pm EDT but they'll be going up against CBS coverage of the Final Four men's basketball tournament. That's where I'll be, rooting for the Connecticut Huskies. The Red Sox are an afterthought until Connecticut wins it all or is eliminated. That goes for the men's AND the women's teams.

I hope your weekend will be a good one. You can click on this post's title for more Sox coverage and as always, BE WELL. Go Sox. GO HUSKIES!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Lou Gorman 1929-2011

Sad news just came through literally seconds before the Boston Red Sox embark on their 2011 mission. Lou Gorman has passed. Here is the AP release...

BOSTON (AP)—"Former Boston Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, the architect of the team that came within one strike of winning the 1986 World Series, died early Friday morning after an illness of almost a year. He was 82. Gorman died peacefully at 1:50 a.m. surrounded by his family at Massachusetts General Hospital."

His nephew, Tom Dougherty, speaks as this news sinks in to all the members of Red Sox Nation...

“All he wanted to do was make it to Opening Day, and he made it. He lived a great life. And he was truly one of the nicest men you ever wanted to meet.”

I agree with Tom and I too shall miss the man who had the Boston Red Sox in his hands. His only aim? Improve this baseball team we all love as much as he did. Rest in peace, Lou. You will be missed on this Opening Day 2011. How fitting that you should bow out on the eve of a new Red Sox dream.

Click on the title of this post for more on Lou. Thanks and as always, BE WELL. I grieve.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Boys And Girls, Welcome To Baseball 2011. LET'S PLAY BALL!

So here we are. It's Friday April First, 2011, the day it all begins once again. What begins again? Baseball, that's what, and it looks like the Boston Red Sox have all the weapons to make a serious run at the world championship. That's a ways off but it should be a fun ride getting there. So strap yourselves in and get ready for all the joy and sadness one could imagine. That's baseball for you. Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein summed up spring training about as well as it can be summed up. Now it's time for the players to prove it on the field. Here's Theo...

“I think it was a good spring training as far as health. This is the position player core that we expected to break camp with. It’s a talented group. Ask us in six or seven months how happy we are. Right now, this is a group we believe in. We like the way they fit together and obviously there’s a lot of options and talent. This is the group we’re prepared to compete with in the toughest division in baseball.’’

Now it's time to hear from the manager of the Boston Red Sox, Terry "Tito" Francona...

“I don’t think we have just nine good players, I think we’ve got 25 guys and we’re going to use them. I asked guys to be patient, and make sure they understand what comes first are our team goals because we are going to use everybody. If you’re in a uniform and you’re not excited, you’ve got to get a different job. Along with it, there always comes a little bit of anxiety. You think you’re ready, you know you’re ready, but let’s go show you’re ready. I don’t care how many times you go through it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.’’

It's an unbelievable feeling to be less than 11 hours from the start of a brand new baseball season but that's exactly where we are. It will be Boston at Texas. Here are the pitching match ups for all three games...

Fri. 1 at 4:05 PM ET*** ESPN/FxSW ***Lester (0-0) vs. Wilson (0-0)
Sat. 2 at 8:05 PM ET*** NESN/FxSW*** Lackey (0-0) vs. Lewis (0-0)
Sun. 3 at Tex 2:05 PM ET*** NESN/FxSW*** Buchholz (0-0) vs. Harrison (0-0)

Enjoy this weekend trio of joy and make the rest of your weekend one to remember. I'll be watching ESPN starting at 4pm, hoping for Jon Lester and the boys with the bats to make a statement with plenty of crooked numbers on that Texas scoreboard. Enjoy the game if you have the chance. I'll be back in the morning, if not sooner, with a full wrap of what hopefully will be Lester's shining start. Please click on this post's title for more on the Red Sox season opener and as always, BE WELL. Oh, don't forget the FINAL FOUR. The men's and women's tournaments begin this weekend. Two games...winner take all times two.

Thanks for stopping in and I'll be back.