The following guest post is by TooSoxy friend Andrew– in celebration of his new book. Want to check it out? Click here! Want YOUR writing on TooSoxy? Awesome. Because Lauren is busier than she’s ever been, and loves posting things she doesn’t have to write- particularly fan testimonials. EVERYONE loves a good fan testimonial. E-mail me for details- firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a funny thing this Red Sox fandom. There are good days, there are bad days, and then there are Red Sox days. Sometimes they all blend together.
I have been living in New York City for the last four years. Having been born in Portland, Maine (yes, I own a couple Sea Dawgs t-shirts) and growing up in the North End of Boston it is safe to say my sports interests did not mesh with the natives. So what do you do? You find a safe haven. A place of refuge. In Manhattan there were four such bars when I first moved here. There are now three. Places where you could wear your Sox hat, drink Harpoon, and let the provincial Boston accent slip out after a few drinks. Truly glorious mirages in a wasteland of Yankees/Giants/Jets/Rangers/Satan fans. But a funny thing has happened. Especially last year (even when the Sox were the best team in baseball – you do remember that don’t you?) the bars were not as full. Hell, one of them even closed down. The manager told me “The Sox fans just don’t come out like they used to.” I could see it. The fans just weren’t there.
Certainly there were the diehards, but the casual Sox fan (the ones who had their pink hats on in 2004) are no more. They have moved on to pink Tebow jerseys or Jeremy Lin shirts.
Let me tell you why my favorite Sox bar had to close: The Sox just haven’t been exciting. They are no longer a bunch of lovable idiots. They are no longer underdogs. They have a payroll the size of many countries’ GDP. They have cry babies. They have guys who don’t seem to give a frick*. They are a team that quit in September. They are a team that hasn’t made an ALCS since 2007. They are overpaid and overrated. They have been for the last four years.
So this is what I’m saying, Red Sox. Give me a reason to be excited. Give me Iglesias at shortstop. Let me see Bailey come in and light the world on fire. Let me see this so called team come together for something other than seventh inning stretch video game playing. Give me a reason. I don’t need much. But I’m going to tell you something; you guys need to get your act together because your TV ratings are down, fan moral is at an all-time low, and you guys are all driving Mercedes. It doesn’t sit well.
Hi, kids! Slammed at the new job and still need a bit to regroup… so, in the meantime, TooSoxy reader Sandra volunteered to give you a guest blog to read and supplement your Thursday! Be back soon- I promise! And I have not read Sox news AT ALL (killing me, but intentional), so you guys BETTER give me some good news… Roy Oswalt… don’t tell me… Cardinals? Don’t tell me…
The following is from Sandra Evans! Contact her at email@example.com! And fill the comments with reasons YOU became a Red Sox fan! Just being from Boston isn’t good enough, people. Give me passion! And, if you’re interested in guesting on TooSoxy, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Why I Became a Boston Red Sox Fan
I love the Boston Red Sox, and I’m not even from Boston. Heck, I’ve never even been to Boston. There are no Major League Baseball teams in the state where I grew up, so you just had to pick one from somewhere else. I chose the Red Sox.
Yes, it is true that I didn’t “jump on the bandwagon” until 2004, when the team won its first World Series since 1918. I wasn’t born into this fan following, so I even surprised myself when I became so obsessed with the culture.
I suppose my love for the team was really ignited because of the fans. I was lucky enough to attend game four of the 2004 World Series in St. Louis. At that point, I was just a fan of baseball and didn’t necessarily follow one particular team. The Red Sox fans were so much fun and extremely excited about the game. You could really get a sense of the passion they had for their team, so I decided to root for them. Not to mention, if they won the game, they would win the Series.
As we all know, they did win that game, and my friend and I followed up the night by going to a bar to celebrate. This is where I met some amazing Red Sox fans who told me why their team was the greatest baseball team in America. Normally, this wouldn’t faze me, but the way in which these fans told the history of their team really convinced me. This team has such an interesting history and tradition, and I wanted to be a part of that history.
I was told about the “Curse of the Bambino.” Which I already knew about, but didn’t realize how serious some fans were about it (the “curse” was broken that night). The fans reminisced about all the missed title chances, throwing out statistics and facts that were impressive. They spoke of the Yankees rivalry with intensity. I had never met people who were so loyal to their team.
In the end, it wasn’t the facts or statistics or history that made me a fan of the Boston Red Sox. I wanted to be a fan of this team, because I wanted to see them win for their lifelong hometown fans. These people love baseball and Boston, and when the Red Sox win, the whole city wins.
There may be other Major League baseball teams who have just as many (if not more) fans as the Boston Red Sox, but I doubt their fans are as passionate. Who wouldn’t want to support a team with fans like that of Boston? GO SOX!
Sandra Evans owns the website Sports Management Degrees. In her leisure time, she enjoys playing tennis and writing.
(Thanks to Jeff for submitting this lovely blog on his first time at Fenway. Got me thinking. What’s your earliest memory of Fenway?
Still at the beach, haven’t drowned. Hah. But I’ll definitely blog about my kayaking experience in the near future. Look for that. It’s a doozy.
Feel like guest bloggin’? E-mail me what you’ve got- email@example.com.)
Um…Hi. This is Jeff. Also known as “bickleyhouse.” I am not Soxy. Well…maybe I am somewhat “Soxy,”
but not “Too Soxy For My Shirt.” I am severely “insoxicated,” though. I write two blogs. One, called Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God, is a strictly
devotional blog. My other blog, called Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit is where I write about everything else, like Red Sox baseball. And Texas Rangers baseball, too, because I live 10 miles from Rangers ballpark.
I don’t even remember how I ran across Soxy’s blog. But I loved it as soon as I did. She is witty, funny, and somewhat insane. And possibly drunk, too. I have grown especially fond of her “live blogging” of Red Sox games, and actually got in on one while it was happening one night. And that event is what led
to this…me being a “guest blogger” on her blog, which is something I have never done before. So I’m very nervous. What does one do as a “guest blogger?” First, I think, one sings the praises of the person
for whom one is guest blogging. See above. I already did that. For sure, one should most definitely NOT criticize the favorite team of the blogger as one raging Pirates fan did. Pheh. This person actually thinks the Pirates’ stadium is better than Fenway Park! Pheh. I don’t even KNOW any Pirates fans. I know one Astros fan. Poor guy.
So…I have decided to simply describe the first time I ever laid eyes on Fenway Park, the Cathedral of Boston.
Quick background. I have never lived outside of Texas. Pity me. Especially right now, because we are in the middle of what is going to prove to be a record-breaking heat wave. We have had something like 36 consecutive days of 100+ temperature. The forecast over the next 10 days has nothing below 106! The previous record, set in 1980, was 42 days. I’m thinking we are going to beat that by at least 10 days. But I digress. As I said…never lived outside of Texas.
I’m an old guy…53 right now. So, in the mid-sixties, as a young boy, I began to love baseball. Having no team anywhere close to Mineral Wells, Texas (sure the Lastros were down in Houston), other than the Dallas/Fort Worth Spurs, who, if I’m not mistaken were in the Orioles farm system. In 1967, the Boston
Red Sox became The Impossible Dream Team. Carl Yastrzemski hit 44 home runs and won baseball’s triple crown. As of 2011, it is still the last time it has ever been won. Almost 50 years Yaz’s achievement has stood firm. Carl Yastrzemski became my hero that year, and remains so to this day. And my heart became glued to the Boston Red Sox, and remains so to this day. Understand, I do cheer for the Texas Rangers, and have ever since they came from Washington in 1972. Unless they are playing the Red Sox.
I have friends who think they can convert me and make me root for the Rangers over the Red Sox. Not gonna happen.
I cheered in my bedroom in 1975 when Carlton Fisk waved that ball over the fence in the World Series against the Reds. I screamed at my television when the Reds batter interfered with Fisk on a bunt (I think it was a bunt?) which should have been an out, but instead was the turning point of the series. (I
still think that was the best World Series ever, even though the Sox lost).
I wept when that ground ball went between Bill Buckner’s feet in the 1986 World Series against the Mets, resulting in yet another heartbreaking WS loss. Was this curse thing for real?
I almost gave up hope in 2004 when the Sox were down to the hated Evil Empire in the ALCS, 3-0.
Then, as we all know. That miracle happened. I remember standing in my living room, weeping tears
of joy when Foulke grabbed that slow grounder and tossed it to first base as the Sox swept the
Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years!
But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, and most of you have experienced these same emotions yourselves. Except for those of you who weren’t around in 1975, maybe. Back to what I said I was writing about.
My wife and I were celebrating our 15th anniversary in the year 2000. We planned an amazing trip to New England in early October, as our anniversary is on October 12. We flew into Newark, and drove straight to Mystic, Connecticut, where we visited the Mystic Seaport, ate Mystic Pizza, and even visited
the famous Foxwoods Casino. We stayed in there about 15 minutes. Heh. The next day, we drove up to Salem, Massachusetts, where we would spend our second night. Of course, we had to drive through Boston to get to Salem, and my wife had promised that we would try to find Fenway Park. But
we had stopped in Concord on the way, and visited a famous cemetery called Sleepy Hollow, where some famous authors are buried. We saw the graves of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then we found Walden Pond, which was one of the
most beautiful places I had ever seen up to that point in my life. As we finally approached Boston, we followed some signs, and got close, but then, the signs stopped, we got lost, and wound up driving right through downtown Boston. By this time, it was dark, and, miraculously, we got out of downtown on the
exact road we needed to be on to continue to Salem. Christi promised we could come back the next day and find it.
So we got to Salem, checked in, walked around…let me tell you something. Salem, Mass. Is spooky a couple weeks from Halloween!
The next day, before we moved on to Portland, Maine, we went back to Boston. We finally saw Fenway Park from the road, and I must confess, I was so excited, I almost couldn’t wait for the car to get parked before getting out. My heart was pounding. We arrived at the corner where the offices are, only to find
that there were no tours being done, due to ballpark renovations. I wasn’t that disappointed, because I was looking at Fenway Park! I walked up and touched the bricks. My wife took a picture of me touching Fenway Park. Then we walked up the sidewalk a little way, and found one of the gates open. There were a couple of old guys standing there talking. We just stood there and stared, and I’m sure my mouth was gaping open. One of the guys left and the other one looked over at us, smiled, and said, “Well, SAY something.” All I could say was, “Wow.” My wife explained to him how I had loved the Red Sox since the sixties and this was our first trip to Boston, etc. He pointed to one of the ramps that
led into the stands and said, “Go ahead. But DON’T go on the field.” “Yes, sir!” I said. We walked up the ramp. There, directly across the grass from me, was the Green Monster. I cried. Yes, I really did.
In fact, I’m shedding a couple of tears as I remember this and type it right now. It was one of the most glorious moments of my life, coming in behind my wedding to my wife, and the beginning of my life with Jesus. I took some pictures, but in 2000, we didn’t have a digital camera yet, and I’m not sure where they are, to be honest with you. The nice old man gave us a calendar on the way out. It was an amazing day. We finished up what would remain one of our best vacations ever and came back home. Since then, I have had the pleasure of seeing the Red Sox play the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park (on the very weekend that Jacoby Ellsbury made his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform), and then an entire series between the Sox and the Evil Empire the following year at Fenway Park.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get back or not. But it’s not a big deal. Because I’ve “been there and done that,” and will remember it until the day I die.
Thanks, Soxy, for giving me the opportunity to share this.
(The extra “s”s look ominous, don’t they? TooSoxy Dislclaimer: Lauren is on vacation. The following diatribe was submitted by Pirate Princess Jeb McRary in advance of Lauren’s departure. Lauren is not responsible for the content. She trusts her readers will “stick it to him” if Jeb is any way prickish in his writing. *Oh. And he wrote this like Thursday. Or Friday morning. When we were winning. I’m writing this Saturday. When we’re not. I hope that, by the time you read this, the Yankees have lost two games and we’re back at our rightful pinnacle. We are, right? If you have a guest-blog, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Not sure what my internet access is going to be- but it might make its way to your favorite sports blog. Um. Mine.)
Your worst nightmares have come true: The Pirate Princess has made his (her?) triumphant return! And by triumphant, I mean not triumphant at all. In case you didn’tnotice (and you probably didn’t) Pittsburgh has returned to their losing ways. Thanks to a poor offense that has finally reared its ugly head, some ill-timed bullpen miscues, managerial blunders and Secret Atlanta Braves fan and somehow-still-employed (sadly) umpire Jerry Meals, the Pirates are two games below .500 and 7 games out of first. The odds of a playoff berth are quite slim at this point. But no sour grapes from me! My goal at the start of the season was a .500 record and that’s still within reach. I can still dream.
But I’m not here to talk about the Pirates. I know my audience. I was asked to provide an “unbiased blog about who is going to be in the World Series.” And since I…
- Picked the Red Sox to win the World Series
- Don’t particularly care for the Red Sox
… who better than the Pirate Princess to provide some analysis?
I decided the best way to go about this was to break the Red Sox down into three components: Hitting, fielding and pitching. Revolutionary, I know! Most of you will probably be more familiar with your team’s strengths and shortcomings than I am but this is how someone who doesn’t follow Boston on a regular basis sees. Any data I use comes from Baseball Reference unless stated otherwise.
HITTING (The art of successfully making contact with a small white sphere)
This may come as a surprise to you, but Boston has a great deal of offensive firepower. I think Soxy already posted this article from the Wall Street Journal, but here it is again.
This article is actually combining players’ offensive performance and defensive performance. I can tell you that as of today that even if you exclude fielding performance, Boston STILL has FOUR players with a Wins Over Replacement (WAR) over 4.0. In case you’re not deeply ingrained in the field baseball sabermetrics, WAR is a metric that measures the number of additional wins a player provides a team over that team just playing a “replacement-level” player from AAA. Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Pedroia are all hitting the 4.0 level mark just on offense. Few teams in history have been so blessed to have four position players performing at such high levels, but it’s not like the rest of the Red Sox are scrubs. Ortiz, Saltalamacchia, and Reddick have also provided at least an additional WAR with their offensive production. This embarrassment of riches at the plate has allowed Boston to score more runs than any team in baseball this year. Boston has scored 602 runs this year. Only SIX other teams have even scored 500 runs this year. Out of those six, the Yankees look to be the only lock to be in the postseason. Toronto and Cincinnati won’t be there while Arizona, St. Louis, and Texas are currently locked in tough divisional races. Boston has looked to be by far the best offensive team in baseball this year.
Prognosis: Very strong
FIELDING (The art of not allowing people to touch flat white squares and/or pentagons)
Boston is not as dominant in fielding as they have been in hitting but they’re no slouches either. Pedroia’s fielding has provided more than 1 WAR while Ellsbury and Gonzalez are very close to the 1.0 WAR level. On a sidenote, Pedroia’s fielding and hitting combined currently makes him the second most valuable player in the American League (behind Jose Bautista) and third in all the majors (Matt Kemp). The rest of the team is a bit of a wash in the fielding department, but Boston still compares favorably to most teams. In fact, the only playoff contenders that compare favorably to Boston in fielding are Arizona, Cleveland, and the Angels. The good news is I doubt any of those teams make the postseason and even if they did, have too many other issues to be a serious World Series contender.
Prognosis: Very good
PITCHING (The art of throwing a small white sphere in such a way as to confuse and flummox the recipient)
If Boston fails to win the World Series this year, the odds are quite strong it’ll be because of their pitching. Boston ranks right around the average in MLB with their pitching staff. They’re not bad, but they’re not exemplary as they are in the hitting and fielding departments. What’s worse is that most of the other likely playoff teams are better and significantly so. Let’s use Baseball-Reference and see how Boston’s pitching ranks with some other key contenders.
Overall Pitching WAR:
San Francisco 16.4
So Boston’s pitching is providing around 3.3 less wins than the next lowest team in this sample. Boston is nearly 6.5 wins lower than the average of the other teams in the sample. Let’s break it out into relievers and starters.
Relief Pitching WAR
San Francisco 5.9
Boston isn’t particularly great at relief pitching, but they actually pass Texas on that metric. The average of the other teams in the sample two wins better than Boston. Let’s check starters.
Starting Pitching WAR
San Francisco 10.5
Boston trails every team in this sample by at least two wins and the average by more than 4.5 wins. It gets even more worrisome when you break the starting pitching out by individuals. Every single team in this sample has five started with a positive WAR except Boston. Boston has three: Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz. If Boston had used those three starters and pitched every other game with AAA-level talent, they would be expected to have three more wins than their current record.
This ignores the addition of Erik Bedard. If Bedard performs at the level he did with Seattle this year, Boston’s pitching staff has improved. But the problem is even if you put him in the rotation and cut Lester from the team, Boston’s pitching is STILL behind the Texas staff.
Prognosis: Danger Will Robinson
Overall Outlook (in which I make bold predictions that will come back to haunt me)
Even with the pitching issues, I still think Boston is the best team in the American League. They are a near-certain lock to be in the postseason and even though they’re tied with the Yankees, I expect Boston to win the division. But it is important that they win the division. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that home-field against Detroit and the Yankees is more conducive to a World Series appearance than being the away team against Texas and New York. If Boston fails to hold off New York for the AL East, I would probably pick against a Boston World Series appearance. I put the odds of Boston winning the division at around 60%. If they succeed, then I think Boston uses home-field advantage to win the ALCS. I picked San Francisco in the preseason to win the NL. I am ready to change that. Beltran will help but the offense is still going to be very weak. Even more concerning is that their vaunted pitching staff is not performing as well as Philly or Atlanta. Philadelphia has the best pitching staff in baseball and with the addition of Hunter Pence, the only NL team that can compete on offense is St. Louis. I predict a Boston-Philadelphia World Series. Boston will have the advantage on offense, but it’s going to be extremely difficult to score runs against the Halladay/Hamels/Lee triumvirate. As the NL won the All-Star Game this year, Philadelphia will also have home-field advantage. I think that’s too much for Boston to overcome.
Phillies in 6
I was told I had to say at least five nice things about the Red Sox. I think I already performed that task but just in case, here are five more:
The Red Sox were probably not responsible at all for yesterday’s terrible stock market sell-off.
No Red Sox players have been reported to be involved in any illegal high-stakes poker games involving cocaine use and/or violent thugs.
It’s been several weeks since David Ortiz looked like the worst fighter on the planet while playing Baltimore.
The Boston Red Sox had nothing to do with the death of Amy Winehouse.
To the best of my knowledge, the Boston Red Sox do not currently employ any child-murderers.
The Pirate Princess
TooSoxy friend Chris is doing something kind of spectacular. The 2011 Pan Mass Challenge. And he needs our help! And, unlike all those times we scream at Adrian Gonzalez to run to first instead of walk-jog- we can actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Wow. I wonder what that will feel like.
In Chris’ words:
The summer has definitely flown by and the Pan Mass Challenge has arrived. I will be departing, along with about 5300 of my closest cycling friends, from Sturbridge this Saturday to make the 111 mile trek to the Cape Cod Canal. … The Pan Mass Challenge is a fundraising event for the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The event aims to raise $34 million this year, and is the single largest fundraiser the Jimmy Fund puts together each year.
I am asking for your support in helping me raise these dollars that will help those battling cancer and their families. The ultimate goal is a cure for all forms of cancer, but in the meantime, the Jimmy Fund helps make the lives of these brave people a little easier.
No amount is too small or insignificant, and every dollar raised goes directly to this worthwhile cause. 100% of every rider raised donation will go to the Jimmy Fund.
To donate online, just visit: http://www.pmc.org/profile/CV0042 and click “Donate to my Ride.”
To donate $10 via text message, text PMC CV0042 to 20222 (don’t forget to reply “yes” to confirm the donation…you can do this up to four times to donate $40)
To donate via check, E-mail me directly and I will give you all the info you need.
This is a fantastic event and all of the riders and volunteers work extremely hard to make it the single largest fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund, accounting for more than half of its yearly donation total. Even if you don’t donate to my ride, donate to someone, as this is a cause truly worth supporting.
For those of you who don’t know Chris Villani, check out his blog HERE. He’s a swell guy. And it’s a swell cause.
So, speaking of swells… let’s make waves!
If you can’t donate ($5? It’s just $5. That’s a pack of cigarettes. And I hear those cause cancer), feel free to leave him words of encouragement. And spread the word…
So, since I’m out and about at work until the wee hours. And then starting work again at wee hour-thirty, Jeb (email@example.com) has graciously volunteered to guest blog today.
Jeb, I dub thee “Pirate Princess.”
I found this picture of Jeb on facebook. So you’ll know who’s blogging at you. If he gives you any trouble, make fun of his team in the comments section.
My name is Jeb and I’m a Pirates fan.
If you share my affliction, it’s been a long twenty years. The memories of Mazeroski, Clemente, The Lumber Company, We Are Family, and the Killer B’s are but distant memories. The Pirates have failed to put together a winning season since the tragic finale of the 1992 NLCS. Most seasons have ended without a hope of a postseason berth save the nearly-magical season of 1997. Not everyone has suffered with the fade into small-market hell. The owners of the Pirates have done quite well in collecting luxury taxes from the more successful clubs and refusing to use the funds to pay players they’ve spent developing through the minor league system.
But there is hope in the Steel City in 2011. Led by Andrew McCutcheon, the Pirates have more talent on their team in at least a decade. It is late June and the Bucs are still at .500 which is the latest in a season since at least 1999. Hopes are high as there is a possibility the losing skid could finally end in 2011. And dare we dream of a potential playoff berth? Pittsburgh is only a few games out in the NL Central so with a little luck (and St. Louis’s All-Universe Albert Pujols getting injured certainly classifies as “lucky”) anything could happen.
Of course, this isn’t my blog and there’s a reason why I’m making an appearance at “Too Soxy for my Shirt.” Because Red Sox Nation is descending upon the fair city of Pittsburgh!  Lauren is probably expecting a sweep because in her mind, the Pirates only exist as a farm club for the elites of MLB. WELL SHE IS DEAD WRONG! (Editor’s note: Lauren is NEVER wrong. She is super smart in all things and Jeb’s Pirates shall rue the day) I’ve prepared a Tale of the Tape to prepare us for this apocalyptic showdown.
|Stadium||Best in baseball||Decaying shitty dump||Pirates|
|Ill-fated construction projects||None I know about||Big Dig||Pirates|
|Recently caught criminals||None I know about||James Whitey Bulger||Pirates|
|World Series winning %||71.4%||63.6%||Pirates|
Well there you have it. The Pirates should easily romp over the Red Sox this weekend. (Editor’s note: Ha. Ha-ha. Ha, ha) Never mind the fact that I still think the Pirates are at least a year away from breaking the losing streak. Or the fact that I picked the Red Sox to win the World Series. (Editor’s note: Darn tootin’) Or the fact that that Red Sox Nation travels very well. Or the fact that the Pirates aren’t doing particularly well at home. Never mind all that trivia! I expect a Pirates sweep with an average margin of victory of around 7-8 runs. Go Pirates! Make Lauren cry and we’ll nourish ourselves off the salt of her tears! (Editor’s note: Hey! I think you just Posada-ed yourself with that closing comment, Jeb McRary)
 To illustrate how distant these memories are, there was actually a time where people were able to lump Bobby Bonilla with Barry Bonds in the same nickname and somehow keep from laughing hysterically.
 Fun fact: During the 1997 season, I attended the only extra-innings combined no-hitter in MLB history. Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon were the pitchers against the hated Houston Astros. And the game ended with a walkoff home run. And there were fireworks. It was a good night.
 Thus functioning as a highly profitable minor league ballclub. Check out this article published on Deadspin last year. http://deadspin.com/5615096/mlb-confidential-the-financial-documents-baseball-doesnt-want-you-to-see-part-1
 The days of Brian Giles and Jason Kendall.
 Hide your kids. Hide your wife.