Stand Up To Cancer Takes Over Game Four

The Red Sox took Game Four 4-2 tonight to level the 2013 World Series at 2 games apiece. As awesome as the game was, I do want to take a second to appreciate the work of the “Stand Up to Cancer” organization. Their moment of silence with every fan, player, coach and everyone else in the Busch Stadium ballpark taking a moment to appreciate someone who they know who battled cancer was truly awe inspiring. I have no problem admitting that while the actual baseball game I was intending to watch already had me as an emotional wreck, the moment right before the start of the sixth inning took me over the edge as I remembered my father and everything that he did for me in his too short life. It was nine years ago tonight that I woke his ass up to ask him what he thought of manager Terry Francona when I came home from celebrating the Red Sox 2004 Championship, and of all the moments since his passing in 2009 I know tonight was one that would have hit him hardest since we also lost his sister JoAnne to that awful disease.

I hit two home runs in my first game back playing when we lost my aunt JoAnne back in 2002, and I know my old man has played a part in this incredible Red Sox run this season, but please take a moment to think about the people who’ve meant the most in your life because cancer fucking sucks.

Game Five is tomorrow night and I’ll try to recap the actual baseball before the game tomorrow, but let us all remember what is really important.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

World Series Games 2 and 3 Recap

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

The last two World Series games can be defined by a couple of defensive miscues from an unlikely source (Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Don’t worry Red Sox fans, I refuse to post the jarring videos of the errant throws ending up in left field, but let’s just say that I am extremely glad that David Ross is back in the lineup this evening. This is not the time of year that Tom Emanski’s name should be getting these type of mentions, but in this series where one play can truly be pointed to as the reason the outcomes have gone the way they have it is about time that the Sox play another clean game.

Game Four — Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97). 8 PM, Fox. Be there.

NVRQT: Jon Lester & The Sox Take Game One

Love that World Series patch on Jon Lester's sleeve.

Love that World Series patch on Jon Lester’s sleeve.


Take a bow, Johnny Lester. With his 7 2/3 inning, 5 hit, no runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeout performance in tonight’s Game One, Lester joined the great Bob Gibson as the only two pitchers with 7+ innings pitched with no runs, 1 walk and 8+ strikeouts in Game One of the Fall Classic. Also of note, he became just the 60th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to make 10 or more postseason starts, and his earned run average in those 10 starts now sits at third all-time at 2.07, just ahead of another pitcher familiar to Red Sox fans in Curt Schilling.

Kozma will forever wonder what would have happened if he made this catch.

Kozma will forever wonder what would have happened if he made this catch.

As great as Lester was, and don’t get me wrong he was the player of the game, the Red Sox capitalized on every Cardinals mistake this evening to take the first game of the 2013 World Series. It started early after a botched pretty routine double play ball misfielded by Pete Kozma in the first inning that led to the inning being extended and Mike Napoli taking advantage with a 3-run beard tugging double to jump out to an early lead. The normally sure fielding Kozma (who is the Cardinals best defensive option at the position) would make another error later in the game, and the Red Sox fans in attendance also couldn’t help but laugh when Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina let another easy popup fall between them to allow Stephen Drew to reach base.

While the Cardinals looked sloppy at every turn this evening, the Red Sox thoroughly outplayed and outclassed them for all nine innings. With the exception of Matt Holliday’s absolute bomb to dampen Ryan Dempster’s World Series debut, the only other Cardinal player who even looked like he wanted to win tonight was former Seminole Shane Robinson who earned the start in center field and was later moved to right field to replace Carlos Beltran who bruised his ribs robbing what would have been another Big Papi grand slam (it still went for a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-0). Ortiz got his revenge later (again the 7th inning) with a 408 foot blast to right-center field that also scored Dustin Pedroia to make the score 7-0 and place the game more out of reach.

Tonight’s final was 8-1 Red Sox, with Game Two scheduled for the same place and time tomorrow evening. Tomorrow, Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA this year) will face John Lackey (a deceptive 10-13, 3.52 ERA) in a game that basically will become a do-or-die game for Mike Matheny’s Cardinals.

Down by the river…

2013 World Series: Red Sox vs. Cardinals

web-world-series-2013

It’s October 23rd and Johnny Lester is taking the hill tonight. That means it’s a good night in Red Sox Nation. If you didn’t already know, tonight is the first game of 109th World Series as the American League Champion Boston Red Sox take on a familiar foe in the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. These two teams met in the Series that changed the way the vast majority of Boston fans saw not only sports but life in general back in 2004 with the Red Sox completing a clean sweep of the Red Birds, and while New England is hoping for a repeat performance it probably won’t be that easy this time around. I know I haven’t written too much about this team this year, instead choosing to just sit back and enjoy the “Road to Redemption”, but tonight I would like to preview this series position by position for you to enjoy.

Starting Pitching: Advantage St. Louis

22 year old Michael Wacha is quickly making himself a household name. (

22 year old Michael Wacha is quickly making himself a household name.

Yes, the Red Sox have one of their best starting rotations in years. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, and surprisingly John Lackey have all had great years. Add in Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales who have all seen time in the rotation but now reside in the bullpen and you probably have the third best starting pitchers in baseball. As you probably noticed from last series, the Tigers starters are just as good if not better, and unfortunately it will be more of the same this week as St. Louis has some outstanding young arms to go with their proven talents. 31 year old Adam Wainwright takes the ball opposite Jon Lester tonight and then you will see some of the finest up-and-coming studs in the game with Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, and everybody’s favorite Michael Wacha as this series plays out.

Bullpen: Advantage Boston
Part of the Red Sox approach in the Tigers series was to up the pitch count of the starting pitchers in an effort to get to the weaker bullpen at Jim Leyland’s disposal. That approach will not work against the St. Louis Cardinals as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, John Axford, Edward Mujica and company are almost as good as the Cardinals starting pitching. Things don’t get much easier in the late innings with these guys on the mound, but thankfully the same can be said of the Red Sox relievers as of late. As Dennis Eckersley pointed out late in the season, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara is the Craig Kimbrel of the American League and has been lights out this year (he’s allowed only 33 hits in 74.1 innings with a 1.09 ERA). In bridging the gap between starting pitchers and Koji the Sox have the aforementioned starters turned relievers, as well as Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and Brandon Workman who have all surpassed expectations this year.

Catcher: Advantage St. Louis
Yadier Molina is a guy known much more for his defense and his work behind the plate than he is as an offensive weapon, but to his credit he did hit 12 home runs and drive in 80 runs during the regular season. The Red Sox counter Molina with a platoon of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, but let’s face it: they are not part of the Molina pedigree of catchers.

David Ortiz ALCS Game 2 Grand Slam provided this awesome moment.

David Ortiz ALCS Game 2 Grand Slam provided this awesome moment.

First Base/Designated Hitter: Advantage Boston
With no designated hitter allowed at Busch Stadium, Big Papi will be forced to play the field for at least one of the games in St. Louis. While he only played six games defensively this year he is more than adequate as a first baseman and his athleticism will surprise you on at least one play during his stint in the field. Platooning with Ortiz is Mike Napoli who is looking to improve on his .350 World Series batting average (in 7 games against these same Cardinals in 2011 as a member of the Rangers). The Cardinals counter with Matt Adams and a banged up Allen Craig who are both excellent in their own right, but again face the facts, they are not Ortiz in October.

Second Base: Push
The Cardinals have a great feel good story in Matt Carpenter who worked his way to the Major Leagues as a utility player after being selected in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Carpenter had a great year, batting .318 with 11 homers and 78 runs batted in, but the Sox are just as strong with their All-Star second baseman too. Dustin Pedroia is one of the leaders in the Boston clubhouse, and his .301 average and .370 OBP were huge in setting the table for the power hitters in the Red Sox lineup all season and will be a major factor during the World Series.

Short Stop: Advantage Boston
To be honest, the short stop position is probably the weakest on the field for both teams in the World Series. The Cardinals employ Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, while Boston has used primarily Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts to play the 6-hole. All four of these guys are very serviceable ballplayers, but none really have the “it” or “wow” factor that makes you think they will decide the series. Now that I write that, Xander Bogaerts may have his breakout performance, and that would be quite all right with me.

David Freese was awarded the 2011 World Series MVP.

David Freese was awarded the 2011 World Series MVP.

Third Base: Advantage St. Louis
The Cardinals have used their own version of Mr. October, David Freese, as well as Matt Carpenter and the just mentioned Daniel Descalso to man the hot corner this year, and while Freese has been disappointing thus far coming off injuries the team has to feel good about the production they’ve been getting from that position. On the other hands, the Red Sox and manager John Farrell have been a bit discouraged by the lack of development from Will Middlebrooks and have recently started to give Bogaerts more time at third. Whichever team plays better at the hot corner, and gets more production offensively from the position could be a key in the series.

Outfield: Advantage Boston
I would break this down position by position, but both teams have used so many guys interchangeably that my predictions could be wrong before first pitch. So instead I will mention that while the Cardinals do have the arguably the most clutch performer in these playoffs in Carlos Beltran (with Ortiz and Shane Victorino both firmly in that discussion) and an absolute stud in Matt Holiday there is a major dropoff between them and the rest of the Cardinals outfield. Former Nole Shane Robinson has been seeing a lot of playing time, platooning with Jon Jay and Adron Chambers, but this Cardinals outfield just doesn’t have the same quality depth as the 2013 Red Sox. For Boston, Daniel Nava, Johnny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, newly acquired Quinton Berry, and even “The Microwave” Mike Carp have been vital the team’s success at one point or another this season. All six guys fully deserve to be on this World Series roster, even if the casual baseball fan has only heard of about half of them.

The return of John Farrell may be one of the best moves in Red Sox club history.

The return of John Farrell may be one of the best moves in Red Sox club history.

Management/Coaching : Advantage Boston
No disrespect to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, but the job that John Farrell has done this season with this turnaround is the stuff of legends. From 69 wins and the manager who will not be named, to 97 regular season wins and a ball club four wins away from their third World Series in 9 years is remarkable. Perhaps just as importantly, John Farrell changed the culture in the Red Sox clubhouse to where even the snarkiest fan only can refer to “chicken and beer” in a joking manner. The Red Sox are a likeable bunch again, whether they win or lose, and recovering from the damage of the recent past is something that I honestly thought would take much, much longer. All a credit to Manager Farrell.

Series Prediction: Boston in 6.

And before you go, please enjoy this classic musical selection courtesy of Shane Victorino:

Jameis Winston, ‘Nuff Said

There’s a new hail mary to add to the Boston College folklore. This time courtesy of the one and only Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles. Take a quick 30 seconds out of your busy Saturday and listen to FSU play-by-play/color man/legend Gene Deckerhoff’s radio call here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/99506636/FSU%20Winston%20Hail%20Mary%20TD%2024-17%20FSU.mp3

 

The play was to #81 Kenny Shaw but we can’t fault Gene who got caught up in the moment and is sitting a mile away in the visiting press box at Alumni Stadium.

 

Remind anyone of this?

 

Box-of-Flutie-Flakes

 

 

 

 

 

Exit Sandman

I don’t care if you love, hate, or are indifferent towards the game of baseball or the New York Yankees. Tonight the coolest pitching change in baseball history occurred in the 9th inning of the Rays 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium. After making his customary entrance to “Enter Sandman” in the top of the 8th inning, the greatest closer of all-time retired all four batters he faced before being lifted for his final time wearing pinstripes. No, Joe Girardi wasn’t the one to make the walk to the mound, it was the Captain (Derek Jeter) and the Yankees all-time strikeout leader (Andy Pettitte) who had that honor. See the emotional video below, but trust me, it got a little dusty even for this die-hard Red Sox fan.

I’m not going to say I’m going to miss watching him work (it was usually pretty painful watching that magic cutter turn bats into firewood) but tonight truly is the end to an historic era for all baseball fans. It will be fun to see Rivera play an inning or two in the outfield in the meaningless final series of the season in Houston, but the ninth inning of Yankees baseball will never be the same again.

There’s no crying in baseball but I think we can all let this one slide.

FSU Athletics To Welcome Eight New Members To Hall Of Fame

fsu athletics hall of fame

Tonight the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame will welcome eight new members to its prestigious club. I’d like to quickly touch on three of these members for their contributions to the FSU community and the inspiration they’ve made on my life.

Matt Diaz 

Matt Diaz shares an on-field moment with his two sons.

Matt Diaz shares an on-field moment with his two sons.

At FSU, Matt Diaz hit .384 with 43 home runs and 178 RBIs. He went on to play 11 years in Major League Baseball with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Miami Marlins. I’ve never met Matt, but I have had the pleasure of meeting his brother, Christian singer Jonny, who some say was the better ballplayer of the two. If that’s true, that’s a hell of a baseball family coming out of Lakeland, Florida. Tonight, Matty gets his due for his contributions not only at FSU but also for expanding the FSU brand in professional baseball.

Dr. Joanne Graf

If there is a fair comparison to what #11 (Mike Martin) has contributed to FSU Baseball, the closest you will find is Dr. Graf’s work not only with FSU Softball but with the FSU student body as a whole. Dr. Graf had a 30 year career building FSU Softball from the ground up, winning two AIAW (now NCAA) National Championships along with 10 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. She was named ACC Coach of the Year six times and posted a career winning percentage of .750 during her time at FSU, but I can assure you that her teachings reached out to way more than 3 out of 4 of her students. I had the privilege of taking several coaching classes taught by Dr. Graf during my education at FSU and many of the lessons she learned during her 30 years at the school were effectively passed down to the next generation of potential coaches through her unique communication style.

Seminole Softball would not be where it is today without Dr. Graf's contributions, pictured here (top left) in 1980.

Seminole Softball would not be where it is today without Dr. Graf’s contributions, pictured here (top left) in 1980.

Sebastian Janikowski

I had to include Seabass on this list as he is a symbol of what FSU was known for in the 1990s, hard work and even harder partying. Nobody can outdrink “the keg”. Nobody. The native of Poland arrived in Tallahassee via Seabreeze High School where he was a soccer player with an outstanding leg, and during his three years at FSU he won back-to-back Lou Groza Awards, handed out to the nation’s top placekicker. He was also a two-time All-American who proved pivotal during FSU’s wire-to-wire 1999 National Championship. And oh yeah, he parlayed that into a pretty decent career in the National Football League with the Oakland Raiders where he currently holds the record for longest field goal (63 yards), most 60-yard-plus field goals in a career (2), most 50-yard field goals in a game (3) and most 40-yard field goals in a game (4). He is also the leading all-time scorer for the Oakland Raiders and continues to crush beers as often as he crushes kicks.

 

Also going into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame tonight are former football players Jamal Reynolds and Sammie Smith, women’s golfer Karen Stupples, women’s soccer athlete Cindy Schofield, and former Seminole Booster and volunteer Douglas Mannheimer.

Congratulations to all and GO NOLES!