Friday, September 12, 2008

We Reign/They Rayn

Wake dominates! Eight innings of shutout ball--just what we needed with two games tomorrow. Lowrie and Papi with ribbies, and Cash with a three-dollar dong.

Rays and Yanks rained out in The Bronx and like us, they will play a doubleheader tomorrow.

So we're two back, and each team will play two games tomorrow. So we could go to bed Saturday night tied for first! The Yanks have to do their part, though...they came through last time against the Satan Beams, can they do it again now that they're completely done?

I will be at game one. It's a make-up game which I had tickets to. (That non-game's photo gallery is here.) 12:35 start. I'll have to get up pretty early to get there for 10:35 gates--hopefully at least one team takes BP outside. Look for the only guy in the Monster Seats at 10:38, that'll be me!

[Update, 10:35 PM: With Drew missing game after game after game, I was just gonna bring up how if it were Manny, people would by now be joking about how his twelfth grandma died or whatever. And just now, incredibly, Tito announces that Drew's grandma DID die! And that he probably wasn't gonna play tonight, but grandma put him over the top. Anyway, the point is, all this crap people used to say about Manny happens to every other player. A key difference is, if you actually look at the numbers, you see that Manny played more than most of his teammates year after year. I've never been able to put together the millions of thoughts I've had about this Manny thing, but someone in the media infuriates me almost every day about it. I even heard one guy say I "should be appalled" at Manny for putting up such great numbers in LA. No, I should be appalled that the Red Sox traded one of the best and most feared hitters in the game for...antics, was it?]

Book Update And My Latest Invention

The latest book news involves talk of printers shipping to distributors and other fun technical stuff like that. What that means is it should actually be in your hands soon! Remember, whatever the official "pub date" ends up being--that doesn't necessarily mean you can't get the book until then. Amazon shows October 12th--but if things go well it could be shipped to bookstores before then. The key is, since we're close to actually having copies of the final product in our hands, we can start to reschedule earlier events that we had to, ahem, delay since the release got delayed. I know you want specifics--I'll post them as soon as I can! And maybe you can come out and meet us at a reading or a signing. We've got some fun stuff planned. In the meantime, you can still pre-order. And if you're new and don't know what the hell I'm talking about, the book is Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery, written by myself and my mother, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith.

Okay, now for my big idea. I think this is a good one, and as far as I know, this is finally one where I'm saying it before someone else thinks of it. You know how every letter in a font looks the same? Even in wackier fonts, like those "kids' handwriting" fonts, they go for the appearance of just some random kid's sloppy writing, but every time I see that, I can't help but notice that every B is the same, every E is the same, etc. Which to me is completely contrary to what a font like that should be about. In fact, those aren't supposed to look like print at all, but like a person actually wrote it out with a pen. But only a robot person would make every T or every Q the same as all their other ones. So my idea is this: A font with 1,000 different versions of each letter/character. They'd all look essentially the same--as if written by one human--but with very slight variations. When you type the E key, it randomly generates one of the 1,000 Es for you. So every sentence looks like it was written out by hand. You could even get into having the spacing between letters change verrry slightly, to give it a more real feel. You could even personalize it! You write a 1,000 of each letter, and they all get fed into the font. Or write 10,000 of each. People could go to this crazy font store, write out as many of each character as they want, and the thing would electronically capture each one and give you back your own personalized handwriting font. So you could write an email or do a flier or whatever on the computer, and it would come out exactly as if you had written in out in your own handwriting.

(Of course, I recommend just getting a pen and actually writing it. But people will buy anything.)

So, can anyone make this happen? Or direct me to someone who can? Or just do it yourself? Look, you can keep the money you make from it, just skim, say, 20,000 dollars off the top each year and send it to me in unmarked bills every December.

[Example of a "kid font." They call this one "Andy." I'm sorry, but if I know Andy, he'd never write a story and have every single M look IDENTICAL to all the others. They do give you a variation or two on some letters, but nothing like what I'm proposing.]

Yanks' '08 Failure Not As Fun As Their Usual Kind

Just another "Yanks are done" article from Lupica.

Other shady Yankee stuff here.

Random fact of the day that I discovered (with some help): Since July 4th, 1907, the Chicago Cubs have won exactly the same amount of games as they've lost.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Fiterman Hall still stands. Some want it demolished, but others are fighting for it. Save Fitey!

(Fiterman Hall is the official partiallydestroyed building of RSF/PT. See my other posts on it, starting here, with links below the second photo.)


"Base Ball" mentioned in English diary in 1755!

Hank still talkin' out his ass, as if all teams haven't had to deal with injuries--many with worse injury problems than the Yanks. God, I hope they get eliminated in Yankee Stadium's final game.

Twins lose to KC in extras, so we're 5.5 up, 6 in the loss, for the WC, with 17 to play.

John Shelby: I Am Your Density

On Monday, I took this picture of Orioles' first base coach John Shelby at Fenway Park. Maybe it was because he was a player when I was little. Maybe it was because those Orioles' numbers and individually-sewn letters are just so bright and chunky. Maybe it was because he was the closest person on the field to me.

Then last night I start trying to find a player who made outs that involved all nine defensive positions in one game, as described here. Today I was only half-heartedly checking some game logs, looking for the elusive "niner," when I came across this 22-inning Dodgers-Astros game from June 3rd, 1989. John Shelby: 0 for 10 with two Ks. "How cool (relatively to world events) would it be if Shelby did it," I thought, remembering back to the picture. The strikeouts take care of the catcher's putouts. Then I started going through his at bats: A flyout to left. A third to second fielder's choice. A flyout to right. Already that's 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9, with several at bats left. It's getting exciting! In the 12th, he grounds out to short, taking care of 3 and 6. (Assists and putouts count, if I didn't make that clear before.) He only needs a 1 and an 8 (pitcher and center field). In the 15th he strikes out. In the 17th he again grounds to short. Still waiting on 1 and 8. In the 20th, he flies to center! Only needs to involve the pitcher now. Last at bat, in the 22nd...he flies to center again. And a nation falls silent. The Astros won in in the bottom half, leaving Shelby one position short of the holy grail.

But wait! I check through all his at bats again. In the third inning, with Shelby on second after reaching on the fielder's choice and stealing a base, we see:

"Knepper threw a wild pitch [Murray scored, Shelby out at home (catcher to pitcher)]"

Shelby tried to score from second on a wild pitch! And was put out! By the pitcher! Shelby made outs which involved all nine positions in one game.

Little did I know this when I took the picture.

[Note: Joy of Sox points out that the fielder's choice put someone else out, not Shelby. But Shelby hit the ball,an out was made, and the third and second basemen were involved in the play. I'm counting it. I wouldn't count it if Shelby was put out on the basepaths on someone else's batted ball--but the wild pitch counts because it was his own out, with no ball put in play by another hitter. Plus, come on, how long is it gonna take me to find another guy who did this? Who I took a picture of a few days earlier??]

Two Things To Take Your Mind Off It

1. Last night during the game in the JoS thread, fellow Providencer "phil" said "At least Bay didn't hit for the shitty cycle tonight (K, force out, fly out, double play)."

That got me thinking: Has anyone ever made an out to every position on the field? Getting exactly nine at bats and popping out in order to the pitcher, catcher, first baseman, etc., has never been done. Not even out of order. That's a guess, but I'm making it. But that led me to my real project: Has anyone's outs in a single game involved all nine defensive positions?

So, if you hit into a 4-6-3 double play, fly out to left and have a runner thrown out at home trying to tag up and score, hit into a fielder's choice, pitcher to third, fly out to center and right in one game, that would be:


All positions, 1-9, would be used. As you see here, this seems pretty possible, and in only five plate appearances no less. But it's hard to do. I started checking long games and looking at guys that went 1 for 10 or 0 for 8. The most I'd come across were guys who used 7 of the 9 positions in their outs.

But! After streaming my results through maniacal 2 AM emails to JoyBoy himself, he pointed out to me that strikeouts count as putouts by the catcher. I hadn't even thought of that. In fact, I'd been looking for guys with the least Ks, thinking those balls not hit in play are meaningless to my quest. So some of those 7 guys may have actually been 8 guys. But still no 9-ers. If anyone finds one, please let me know!

2. This one's really for me: Last night I found out that my playoff tickets are ready to purchase! Part of my 10-Game Plan is one first round playoff game. This year, it looks like I'll be at home game one. Once again they've kicked me over to the grandstand, as they can't reserve the exact seats you have for your plan, which for me are bleacher seats. And that stinks because I have to pay the GS price, which is 20 bucks more for round one this year. Why can't they relocate me to upper bleachers?!

Anyway, since I bought the plan in its first year, 2004, here are my playoff results:

2004: I get ALDS home game 2. Papi wins the series for us in home game 1. (Game 3.) I'm thinking, Oh well, but at the last minute I check the rules and see that if your game isn't played but the team's still alive, you're given a chance to buy an ALCS game! We get home game 2 for that. Now you must be thinking, the first two games were at Yankee Stadium, so "home game 2" would be Game 4--the Dave Roberts game! Nope. Home game one was rained out. Making "home game 2" series Game 3: The 19-8 Yankee win, before their walls came crumbling down. But it was cool to see my first-ever playoff game.

2005: I get home game 2 again. Sweet! A sweep of Chicago and I go to the ALCS again! But no. We are instead swept by Chicago, ending the series after home game 1 (Game 3). My money is refunded. But enjoy the fees you kept, Red Sox! Maybe get Drew a new chair with better back support.

2006: I don't remember which game they gave me, but we didn't make the playoffs anyway.

2007: I get home game 2 (series Game 2)--the Manny walkoff game!

2008: the classic "?"

14 Inning Loss

If there was no wild card, I'd be talking about how heartbreaking it is that we were three outs from first place, and now we're 2.5 out--but we're still up 5 in the wild card with 17 to play. And we still have three head-to-head with the Rays anyway. And them winning this series (their first since '99 at Fenway) didn't exactly show that the Rays are superior to us. We could handle 'em in a playoff series.

You know, I kind of hope the Twins keep the pressure on us*. I wanna have a pennant race. There's never a pennant race because the team that doesn't win always gets the wild card. It continues to ruin baseball.**

*I can afford to be willy-nilly with what I wish for--we've won two of the last four World Series!

**I've hated it since it began. I didn't say "I hate it and I WON'T be happy if and when the Red Sox benefit from it." I just said "I hate it."

***I know I didn't put a triple asterisk above, but I still just have to say that the home and first base umpires in this game should all be fired without a hearing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Angels Win West, Expose Secrets

Would-be hackers like myself love it when a team clinches something. It means you can go to the mlb shop, tinker with the web addresses of championship gear, and find all the other items that commemorate things that haven't happened yet--or won't at all.

Here we see the Devil Rays division champs coin. Now, of course, they do this stuff just to have it ready if and when the thing happens. But in this case, I found only a division champs coin for the Rays, and only a wild card coin for the Sox. Go screw, MLB. (They've got a division champs coin ready for both the Twins and White Sox. Same with Cubs/Brewers, Mets/Phils, and DBacks/Dodgers. They must have set up these pages a few days ago, and felt Tampa had locked it up, yet thought those other divisions were still undecided. Better get to work on the Red Sox division champs coin--THAT NO ONE WILL BUY ANYWAY.)

Sox 1, TB 1 in the 5th...

Papelbon High School Dance Video

Find it all here. Funny stuff.

Fenway's Dimensions All The Way Around

If you click on "view larger map" below this map, then zoom in a couple of times, and read the key at left, you'll know what I'm talking about below. (Sorry, I ran out of markers and had to start using combs and stuff.)

View Larger Map

Okay, last night Lou Merloni was talking about a deep fly ball to right field that one of the Devil Rays hit. It was to the left of the 380 marker. Lou said "that's 390 out there." Okay, 380 to the right edge of the visitors' bullpen, you go a little toward center, where the ball was hit, that's about 390. Wrong! I'd looked at this earlier on Google Maps (you can draw lines and it shows the distance in feet) and was kind of surprised that all along that right field fence, the distance from home plate didn't vary that much. In fact, as you go toward center, the distance gets shorter and shorter (down to 375-ish at the green pushpin) until the middle of the bullpens, then starts getting longer again, but only back to about 383 at the point the wall juts out at the triangle (purple-ish marker), reaching it's farthest point from home, 420 feet at the top of the triangle.

So I guess they put that 380 mark in that spot (blue flag) because that's about the farthest point from home plate betweeen Pesky's Pole and the middle of the home bullpen (the bullpen closer to center).

It's also interesting to see how the left field distances start going up very slowly as you go along the Monster, but gradually speed up. That first mark I made (light blue teardrop) is 320, only 10 feet more than the 310 distance down the line (yellow wrench), but then the distances between 330 and 340, 350 and 360, etc, get very short, out to the 379 marker. Then you can see the distance to straightaway center--under 400 feet. I did my best starting my lines right on home plate and ending them right at the walls, so they are not exact, but close.

*Lou may have just meant to say 380--but surely plenty of people assumed the distance went UP as you went from right toward center, so that just gave me an excuse to post this.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Deity Damn It

I remember watching the game on Sunday and seeing Pap come in with a big lead right before a huge series and wondering why. So tonight was his third game in a row, and he didn't have it. A great bottom-8, two out comeback on a Bay dong wasted.

You know what I blame, don't you? The stupid new camera angle! After a week of no cable, followed by a road series, followed by a view from the bleachers, I turned the game on tonight and was immediately disappointed, having forgot about the "new" (or "evil") camera angle. I watched from a cloud, thinking every fly ball was a home run, especially Papi's in the ninth.

But a win tomorrow means we won the series and closed to within a half-game. And since the wild card is ruining yet another great division race, it doesn't matter much anyway, since both teams are already in.

Wow, the Jays have won 10 in a row. Perfect. They'll be ready to be cooled off this weekend. Four games, with the doubleheader on Saturday. And the Rays will be playing the Yanks, who better be trying like they were last time against Tampa.

456 In A Row: Sox Vs. Tampa, September 8th, 2008

The big day arrives. Last off-season, knowing Fenway was within a year of breaking the Indians' record of 455 consecutive sellouts, I looked at the tentative 2008 schedule, counted out the days, and found that September 3rd would be the day of sellout #456. I also noted that one rainout that was re-scheduled for after the 3rd would mean the next home game, the 8th (my freakin' birf-day!) would become the record-setting day. I got tickets to the 3rd, and then my 10-game plan arrived, and I found out it gave me the 8th. Sure enough, there was a rainout, and 9/8/2008 became the magic day. Above, Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant, and David Pauley greet me at the door.

I'd found out a few days before that players would be greeting fans at the gate, so once I shook Dewey's hand five seconds after Gate B opened up, and told him I watched him growing up, I started running around to the other gates to see who I could see. Above, Mike Timlin inside Gate A.

Another shot of Timlin.

Over at that gate on Lansdowne that doesn't look like and therefore gets almost no traffic, it's Manny Delcarmen and Chris Smith. As I thought, it was pretty much just pitchers, as the hitters were taking batting practice at the time.

Now going through the "seating bowl" toward another gate, I see Gordon Edes doing some work.

Now over at Gate D, I see a bunch of fans crowding around someone who was seated. I knew who it had to be--Johnny Pesky.

If you haven't been to Fenway since pre-2004, you should know that once the gates open, Yawkey Way becomes part of Fenway Park. Walking along Yawkey, suddenly Tim Wakefield is cruising past me. He must've been greeting at Gate A and was now getting an escort back inside.

As was Devern Hansack.

At the outdoor portion of Gate A, it's the owners, and Joe Castiglione. I also heard Remy had been there.

A better shot of Larry and Joe Castig. Joe was handing out these "ticket"-looking commemorative cards. So I went up to him and got one. I also talked to him about our book for a little bit.

John Henry. [Update: I'm just noticing now that must be Ken Burns (you'll see more of him below) talking to Henry. It's also funny how those Cubs fans were probably very impressed: "the owners greet you at the door!"]

Having covered all the gates, I started repeating them to see if any new people had come out. Nope, still Timlin. And if anyone had been at the centerfield gate, I missed them. I'd guess Oki and Lopez. Then again, where were Beckett and Dice-K and Byrd?

Walking around underneath, I'm suddenly behind Amalie Benjamin. Taking pics under there is never easy with the weird lighting. But it always makes for a cool effect. Amalie's green dress is at left.

Then I'm going up the new staircase from Yawkey Way to the top of the grandstand, and who do I see seemingly filming a documentary, but Ken Burns! Whatever this doc is of, I have to be in it, because I kept walking in front of the cameras. On purpose.

Down at field level. Zimmer with my birthday on the board.

Joe Morgan in Autograph Alley. Morgan Magic of '88 is probably the most underrated of the successful Red Sox seasons. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though I was 12. I got to go to Morgan's first two games, the doubleheader vs. KC.

Burnsie with his crew. I like how Burns himself kept looking through the lens to set up his shots. I'd think by now he just phones it in, but no.

Lou Merloni on Yawkey Way, with TC.

Burnsie surveying the scene.

Sean McAdam. It just seemed like every person who could possibly be there was there, for this first key stretch-drive series.

Heidi Watney on the field.

The Rays enjoying their final days in first place?

The big day, for me and for Fenway.

Pretty much same caption.

Beautiful September day. September is not fall, it's summer. Until the 21st or whatever.

This ringmaster dude would later sing the anthem. I didn't realize Kapstein was in the background until now. Earlier, I'd walked by Jeremy and said hi and chatted with him a bit. I never really told you all about the time my mom and I got to have a little meeting with him while "researching" our book. It was partly because it turned out we had a connection to him--my dad's good friend went to school with him, and partly because of our publisher getting us a little Fenway tour. Once the book comes out, I'll describe that scene.

Dick Vitale just went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and sat next to the Sox dugout on this night. At this point, I spotted Empy and we talked for a while. She said a friend of hers asked her if she'd heard of this new Red Sox mystery book coming out. Good sign! Empy also had just happened to buy an extra program, and gave it to me for my birthday, continuing the crazy destiny of this day.

Pretty good sign.

Man, hose technology has come a long way.

Finally out at "the seats." The Great Space Coaster, aka your 2008 Boston Red Sox.

Fenway was thanking us ten ways to Tuesday, and played a nice little video. I snapped this shot right when they showed the Varitek-Arod thing.

Timlin had to save Papi from getting hit. It's always dangerous when multiple people throw out first balls simultaneously. They brought out a woman whose family has had season tickets at Fenway since 1935!

The fan-greeting crew and bullpen band.

When the Sox took the field, they all threw out autographed balls to the crowd. I thought I had no shot, but then the bullpen guys started tossing them. I saw Okajima looking up my way, some 30 rows back, and he wound up and fired. He actually threw it past me, toward the grandstand....

The ball slammed off the side of the roof, and fell into the alley between bleachers and grandstand. Since my seats are literally the last ones over on the edge of the bleachers, I can look down there. The ball just missed a girl's head, bounced once, and finally this dude thought to grab it, probably having no idea where it came from, since you can't hear the PA down there. Here's a blurry shot of him inspecting the ball.

The game's about to start, and who do I see heading for seats right near me? The guy! You know, the "I LIKE BASEBALL" guy.

See? Three rows in front, and three seats over. What are the odds? He again brought out the Britney and the Tom Cruise signs, as well as the classic ILB. I really wanted to interview him or have him do a video spot for my blog, but I didn't.

Fenway at dusk.

The right field light tower above me.

We scored three in the first, capped off by this Bay dong. At this point, Kim finally arrives (she came separately from work), bringing me a veggie dog from Spike's. Great hot dog buns at that place. It was my first time eating their food.

Lester. The guy is just masterful. No runs given up by him, yet again. It was still 3-0 all the way to the 8th.

And he comes out, tipping his cap. Papelbon came in with the tying run up in the eighth and two out, and struck out Baldelli, in a very playoff-y environment. I thought people would leave early with school being back in, but people knew how key this series was. It was packed and crazy until the end. Ken Burns got a real show.

I got into a position where I could get right out of there when the win was secured, behind section one near that wide staricase.

And Papelbon gets the save, goin' a little nuts. Great win! A half game back....

Now two quick shots from before the game: A new thing at Fenway--little championship logos from each World Series-winning season, near the players' parking lot:

Sneak Preview And Grape Nuts And Society

Phull photo gallery in the morning. For now, here's a pic from Yawkey Way on the very special night. Just random folks. Fans. Who helped break the consecutive sellout streak. And that's all it is. Or is it??!!?!?!?!

Hey, by the way, if you've watched any baseball games on ESPN Gamecast, you've probably noticed that Grape Nuts is really trying to piss me off with their new slogan, "It is what it is." I guess their point is that a lot of products claim to be something they're not. But GN are just that, GN. Despite that there are no grapes or nuts in them. That's where the "comedy" comes in. Ah, marketing. I watched the video on their website which contains more of this "comedy." It's this dude talking about the cereal in a comic way that, for me, drives the final nail through the coffin of a certain nebulous genre of comedy. It's like when Juliana Hatfield put out that "Heart" video.* I remember picking up Chan from the airport late one night on one of his college breaks, and watching TV back at my house. That video came on (this was probably 1995), and Chan looked at all the people in the exercise class decked out in their ironic, thrift store-esque but actually very expensive clothing, and, always wary of fads, as I am, said, "this whole style is just...out the door!" Chan doesn't say much, but what he does say is usually pretty profound. I can just imagine Hatfield saying, "we'll just use my friends as actors, and they can wear their own clothes," and some record "exec" saying, "Okay, sure...but, actually, why don't we send them into 'wardrobe' to get some outfits that are even more 'alternative' and 'grungy,'--we've spent thousands of dollars and hired consultants to get these clothes perfect. In fact, I think after I quit this job I'll open a shitty** store and call it Urban Outfitters."

Anyway, if you go to no grapes no nuts dot com, you'll either see what I mean, or think I'm nuts. No, grapes. Sorry, that's a Chan-ish joke.

*I do kind of like the tune, especially when the guitar kicks in and when she puts the third syllable into "heart" for the final chorus: "A heaaa-ahh-art."

**I don't wanna get into a whole big thing, but I just can't take it anymore. Come on feel the Illinoise! Oohhh, hiLARious... 30 bucks. Yes. I must pay... Look, I've got plenty of thrift store shirts: "Jim Grote 1985 2nd Annual Billfish Tournament," "The Baldknobbers Show, Ozark, Missouri," "1980 Moscow Olympics on NBC," "I Survived the Great Chicago Blizzard." But they were actually bought at thrift stores for a dollar, are old, and are funny because they weren't meant to be funny. Not because they appear as if they weren't meant to be funny. And also, when I wear mine, I know nobody else has it. It's unique, not Unique (TM).

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