April: The Red Sox Roller Coaster

Pardon my month-long silence.  I have been busy riding the rollercoaster known as the Boston Red Sox.  The month of April felt like Disneyworld’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  Our winter dreams of fields brought us to April and our field of dreams.  Then what?  We rode the rollercoaster from the exhilaration of opening day to the bad early start against the Tigers, Blue Jays, and Yankees, intersected by the good early start against the Rays.  Well, we told ourselves, they started the year against the Tigers and Justin (Mr. Cy Young and MVP) Verlander.  (The AL MVP should have gone to Jacoby.  Period.)  Things will improve, I said.  But in the pit of my stomach came that nagging familiar feeling.  You know….that feeling like we had in April and September of 2011?

The slightly subdued home opener was still exciting, despite the bad start, because baseball was back at Fenway at last.  We hardly had settled into our seats when Jacoby was injured in a base running mishap.  That “uh-oh” moment when you think, “This can’t happen again.  Can it?”

Then there was the magical 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park celebration when even the most cynical Red Sox fan wiped tears from their eyes.  The extraordinary history of the “little bandbox” that is Fenway stood before our eyes and filled our hearts.  What happened after that beautiful celebration – before the eyes of Johnny Pesky and all the past Red Sox players who attended – was an embarrassment.  The New York Post headline read, “100 Years of Ass Kicking”.  Sadly, it was not far from the truth.  Over that weekend, the Yankees proceeded to humiliate the Red Sox.  First, there was the loss after that Friday anniversary celebration and then a total beat-down on Saturday.  Saturday’s events included losing a 9-0 lead and eventually the game 15-9.  The Red Sox once again made history but not in a way you want to remember unless you are a Yankees fan.  The Sunday rain out would clear their heads, we hoped.  Never before did a rain out feel like such a relief.

Tito Francona’s return to Fenway for the 100th anniversary bash was heartwarming.  The loud greeting that he received from the crowd literally hurt my ears and brought tears to my eyes.  But then the rollercoaster took a plunge.  Later I read that he barely got back into the tunnel, after making nice on the field, when he ripped off the Red Sox jersey he wore and threw it to a fan.  Was it a nice gesture or a statement of anger and disgust?  Did that jersey irritate the raw wounds inflicted by certain players and/or owners?  If so, it is too bad he came at all.  I learned a long time ago that there are two sides to every story.

We made excuses for the bullpen.  Well, it’s true that our new closer, Andrew Bailey, went down with an injury two days prior to opening day.  It will take a while for the bullpen to be comfortable in new roles and to fill the gaping holes left by Daniel Bard’s transition to the starting rotation and Papelbon’s departure.  But for now, there is a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when the bullpen gate opens.

On they moved to Minnesota to beat up on their little brothers, the Twins.  We began to think that maybe, just maybe, they would be okay.  They just needed some time and confidence, a few wins under their belts.  Bobby V. had to learn his way around.  He called out Youkilis publicly for not being “physically and emotionally” into the game.  The team, the press and the fans rallied around Youk, forgetting that they blamed him in part for the 2011 demise.  After all, Bobby is the outsider.  Even Pedroia publicly called out his manager saying that’s not how we do things here —maybe in Japan, but not here.  Apologies.  Things quieted down.  Meanwhile, Youk has taken a seat on the bench to nurse injuries several times already and it’s only April.  Was there truth in Bobby’s comments?

They headed to Chicago to take on the Sox of a different color.  Despite freezing temperatures and not enough warm turtles to go around, they looked pretty darn good against decent pitching.  Things are turning around, we said. The offense was stellar.  Big Papi’s stupendous spring has been a high point.  When the camera points to him in the dugout, the fire in his eyes can be seen in high-definition.  Big Papi looks mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.  That’s a good thing.

They came back home where the air was still cold and turtles were still necessary.  We added some rain and drizzle into the mix just for the hell of it.  Bring on the Oakland A’s–always a nice punching bag team when you need a boost.  We saw old friend Josh Reddick, now with the A’s.  Josh is doing well in Oakland and playing every day.  Clearly, from his interviews and his Tweets, he has been missing Boston and the old friends that he came up with from the minors.  I read that Josh expressed disappointment about his lack of reception from the Fenway Faithful on his return. At least he didn’t get booed.  Just ask Johnny Damon.  Just for the record, Josh, I cheered for you.  You probably did not hear me, but I did.  The next night when you flipped over into the bullpen chasing a Big Papi homerun, I first made sure you were okay and then I Tweeted a complimentary message to you.  You did not respond and that’s okay.  But do you now see how it works?  You came up and did an admirable job for part of 2011 then you got sold off.  Not your fault, I know.  You are wearing a green and yellow uniform now and half the crowd at Fenway does not know that you are a former Red Sox.  They are too busy staring into their cellphones and texting and drinking beer and getting up to go the bathroom and drinking more beer and singing “Sweet Caroline” even when the suddenly anemic Red Sox cannot score any runs against the Oakland bloody A’s.  But, anyway Josh, a few of us will keep our eyes on you; but we don’t have to stay in touch.  Think of us like an ex-girlfriend.  You can have fond memories but still move on with your life.  It is your time to go and have a great career and an even greater life.  Don’t worry about us.

When my sister and I were teenagers, we joked that the sound of someone vomiting was spelled, “Rat Pluh”.  (There is more to the story but the details would be lost in the translation of the years.)  When the Red Sox are blowing big leads, the pitching is faltering, or the bullpen is melting down, my sister and I email each other.  The messages simply read, “Rah Pluh!”

Even Dustin “Dustbuster” Pedroia seems out of sorts. Dustin is usually the guy that comes up with the clutch hits.  No such luck so far.  Or maybe it is just that he cannot do it alone.  And Adrian Gonzalez strikes out or grounds out in clutch situations.  He looks unhappy.  Dower.  He even slammed his bat down once.  I saw it with my own eyes.  In high-definition.  Yo, Adrian, get mad.  Get good and mad.  I think you need to show that emotion, buddy, because you are bordering on J.D. Drew territory – into the abyss of emotional nothingness.  Adrian is 0-for-17 with 5 strikeouts in his last 4 games.  Rat pluh!

What is troubling the pitching rotation?  The performances of Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Doubront and Bard have been tepid at best.  For all the good moments, there are bad moments.  Up and down goes the rollercoaster.  Already Beckett is missing his next start because of some injury.  Are they dogged by injuries or by voices in their heads?  Can Dice-K come back mid-season and have an impact?  Can you believe I said that?  Rat pluh!

Then there is the realization that Theo left the Red Sox with a stinking pile of steaming poo made up of long contracts for high-priced free-agents in decline.  Thanks for crippling your home town team for the next several years, Theo.  In your place, you sent us a pitcher that immediately needed surgery.  The stomach churns.  Do you notice how well Marlon Byrd is playing for the Red Sox and how awful he started the year with the Cubs? I love when justice prevails.  Thanks for sending him over, Theo.  Was it because you felt guilty or did you make your first mistake for the Cubs?  I know it’s childish, but nah-nah!  You had better get the gorilla suit ready.

The rollercoaster moves into May.  We find ourselves thinking about how quickly things can change.  Eventually Jacoby will return.  (Please God.)  His injury cuts this team to the quick.  (I hope John Henry notices that and gets the blank check ready now.  Let me help you, John:  “J-A-C-O-B-Y    E–L-L-S-B-U-R-Y  $XXX,XXX,XXX.00”.

It is May 3.  Twenty-four games have been played.  The Red Sox are 2 games under .500.  They are in last place in the A.L. East.  Look at the standings earlier this week:

On the other side of the country, Albert Pujols cannot hit a homerun.

The world is upside down.  Someone please fix it.  Hurry.

I am a closet Rangers fan.  Don’t tell anyone.  Oh, those Texas Rangers.  Just look at them.  They are a whole different breed.  Look at the Rangers.  Look at the Red Sox.  Look back at the Rangers.  Look at the Red Sox.  Rat Pluh!

Meanwhile, the Bruins lost in the first round of playoffs.  But that’s another story for someone else’s blog.  I have my own heartache.

I miss Bard in the 8th.  I miss Papelbon in the 9th.  Just sayin’.

In the winter before the 2010 season, Theo called the coming year a “bridge year”.  Did he mean to say “the bridge years” (plural)?  Where is the other end of the bridge?  2013?  Meanwhile, back at the rock pile, there’s the new guys with their lunch pails, Mike Aviles, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Kelly Shoppach, Marlon Byrd, Nick Punto.  They put a spark in the veteran clubhouse with their grit, great work ethic and attitude.  But they are temps, rentals, not here for the long-haul.   I especially like Aviles – his grit, his dirt dog style, the smile that breaks out over his whole face.  Note to self:  Don’t get too attached.  (See Josh Reddick.)  This year we will get a glimpse at the future – Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesius.  The bridge to 2013.  In the meantime?  Rat pluh?

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A Perfect Weekend: Quilts, Friends and Talk of Baseball (and other things)

On the brink of another baseball season, I attended my semi-annual quilters’ getaway weekend.  Me and 30 or so friends and acquaintances spent a lovely weekend sewing, chatting, shopping and dining.  Yes, and some wine was involved.  Next to sitting with 30,000+ of my “friends” at Fenway, quilting weekends are one of my favorite ways to spend time.  I am amazed at how many unenlightened people ask me if we all work on the same quilt.  What is this, 1800?  Really, people? Do you think we sit around wearing bonnets and calico dresses at a quilting bee?

Who quilts in this day and age, you ask?  Well, the quilters I know are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, nurses, teachers, technicians, computer specialists, counselors, artists, and professionals of all kinds.  They are married, single, widowed or divorced.  Discussions over the course of a weekend revolve around fabric, patterns, books, music, sports, politics, religion, personal journeys, dysfunctional families, children, pets, food and technology.  The latest steamy novel was discussed and immediately downloaded to several iPads (including mine).  There were no arguments and no “cat fights”.  (Not even about the temperature control in the room.)  Believe it or not, men, we did not spend all weekend talking about you.  My friends shared ideas about their latest projects and encouragement when I was stuck on mine.  One friend was bound and determined to use the word “cuckold” in a sentence before the weekend was over.  Surprisingly, she found an opening and used it seamlessly.  The crowd stood and cheered.

It seems to me that the world would be a better place if everyone made quilts.

Non-quilters, have I lost you or enlightened you?  Maybe these vignettes will help you understand:

My table-mate and friend, Rita, has a fondness for neatly organizing her fabric.  Fabric preparation is as much fun to her as the actual sewing itself.  I envy her ability to organize. She must have hated sharing a table with me.  (Not so neat.)

Amy quietly whipped up this colorful quilt.   She always produces so much!

More neat people.  I hope they let me come back next year.

Andrea dyes and paints her own fabric. For the first time, she even did some hand-quilting on this piece. The sewing machine wizard that she is did not totally enjoy the experience. Andrea may have spent more time checking out Pinterest than sewing!  (Just kidding, Andrea!  Sort of.)

Nedra’s work is sometimes contemporary and sometimes traditional.  No matter which way she goes, it is always perfect.

So, my quilting weekend is over.  I am refreshed and ready for baseball season.  (Yay!)

P.S.  A little advice:  When speaking to your friends who are Red Sox fans, please refrain from the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” jokes about the Red Sox pitching staff.  We are a little fragile this year.

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A Prescription for Pre-Season Jitters

Are you tired of spring training yet?

With only 8 days to go until opening day, the thrill of pre-season games is long gone. It’s time for some baseball that counts. The summer-like temperatures in Boston last week were such a tease. It was perfect baseball weather and, yet, Fenway Park was empty. Sports talk radio about the disappointing Celtics, the ho-hum Bruins, football, bounties, and Tim Tebow’s mismatched signing with the Jets will soon, thankfully, give way to angst over the pitching rotation and Bobby Valentine stories. It will be music to my ears.

I have my own worries. The questions about the pitching rotation have lingered too long. While I so want Daniel Bard to succeed as a starter, I have my fears. I know it’s “just spring training”, but that’s what was said last year. How did that work out? And by the way, has anyone noticed that there is a need for a fifth starter? Tim Wakefield retired and is no longer available to be the one-size-fits-all pitcher of years past. I’m trying not to get too anxious this year. As the big leaguers say, don’t get too high or too low. It’s not easy. A three-man pitching rotation with a couple of question marks is a bit of a worry. Andy Pettitte is not walking through that door in anything but pinstripes. At least the shortstop question has been answered. An everyday right-fielder? Not so much. Our new closer, Andrew Bailey, certainly appears to have the stuff and the makeup, but can he stay healthy this year? Will Clay’s back be okay or does he have some kind of chronic condition? Will Youkilis have another injury-prone year? Already he has tweaked his back. Will Carl Crawford…uh…whatever. Will Dice-K come back mid-year and finally be the pitcher he was supposed to be? Can the catchers get in sync with the pitching staff? Will the players love Bobby V. or hate him by July? So many questions. So much angst. To help with stress-relief, I made a quilt:

There. That helped.

When I am in a pre-season good place, it is because I am thinking of all the positives. The things I feel certain about (or as certain as anyone can feel after Chickengate 2011) are these: Jacoby will silence any of the few remaining doubters with another MVP-caliber season. Dustin Pedroia will step up as a team leader. With that nasty pin removed from his foot, he will be our awesome Dustbuster again. With his shoulder surgery well behind him, Gonzo will prove to be everything he was supposed to be in 2011. Mike Aviles, now given a chance to be our everyday shortstop, will prove to be a valuable asset. Aviles, Darnell McDonald, along with the new guys – Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach — will create the chemistry and spark (and competition) that has been missing for the last couple of years. No longer in Varitek’s shadow, Salty will come into his own. Backed by Shoppach and Lavarnway down the line, there will be nothing to fear behind the plate for some time to come. Big Papi will be Big Papi if he wants to be. An ornery Beckett will have a great year just to piss everyone off.

Admittedly, I am worried about the bullpen. Everyone except the rubber-armed Aceves, that is. There seems to be so much to worry about out there. Albers? (Bad memories.) Miller? (Awful memories, even though I am pulling for that very likable guy to succeed.) Melancon? (I’m not sure.) Padilla? (He looks like he might eat someone.) Now I’m stressed again. I think I need to make another anxiety quilt.

I have written a prescription for my pre-baseball season anxiety. I hope it helps you, too:

  • Remember the good times.
  • Focus on the consistent, trusted players, the dirt-dogs, the positive attitude guys.
  • Breathe deeply and let this reality wash over you: You. Will. Not. Be. Seeing. Lackey. This. Year.
  • Cut up last year’s t-shirts, mix with colorful fabrics, layer over batting, machine quilt. Stand back and admire your work:

Let the games begin.

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Ophicial Quilter of the Philadelphia Phillies?

Remember this?   “The Closer”, my quilted fabric portrait of Jonathan Papelbon, was the idea behind the concept of  “QuiltedBaseball”.  It was based on a photo that had such a perfect graphic quality to it  that it called out to me to be made into a quilt. 

 So, I was minding my own business on Twitter….um.  Maybe it is not possible to mind your own business on Twitter.  Okay, so, I was minding other people’s business on Twitter, following various Red Sox and baseball-related people (of course) when I suddenly got a message that shocked me to my shoes.  “Hey there”, it began.  “I recognized the guy in your profile picture.”  You see, my profile picture is “The  Closer”.

And that’s how I came to be commissioned to make two portrait quilts for the subject matter himself.

Does that make me the Ophicial Quilter of the Philadelphia Phillies?

I knew I was sad that Pap went to the Phillies.  I did not know how sad until I put the red cap on him and the “P” where the “B” should have been.  John Henry & Co., how do you do it?  How do you raise these kids through your farm system, watch their big league success, and then let them slip away so easily?  Even sending those quilts off via Federal Express felt like I was putting my own children on the truck!  I just hoped that they would be treated better than FedEx treated Ryan Braun’s pee sample.

Every time I look at my Pap quilt, I am reminded of how much I will miss all of it.  The dramatic entrance…the fist bump with the bullpen cop…the opening thump of notes to his warm up song…the crowd rises…we sing along, “I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa oh oh”…..the way it just so happens to take him 2 minutes and 34 seconds to warm up until the song ends. …that face…that classic pose…his cleanly shaven chin…the pursed lips…the steely eyes…the arm dangle…the delivery…then, strike one.  The perfect choreography of it all…the precision timing…a World Series ring…the underwear dance on the mound…the crazy kid with the cigar at the duck boat parade.  Make no mistake about it.  We are going to miss him.  Are you remembering a few blown saves?  Bah!  Nobody’s perfect!  Move on.

I feel sorry for Andrew Bailey.  No matter how good a closer he is, how does anyone follow that?

Pap was in the news today talking some trash about Red Sox fans.  I can forgive him for saying that Boston fans are “hysterical” and that Phillies fans have a better understanding of baseball.  I can even forgive him for saying that he would have not hesitated to go to the Yankees if he had been given an opportunity.  I get it.  He knows what he is doing.  He endeared himself to his new Phillies fans with a pat on the head and a compliment while throwing Boston fans under the bus.  Adrian Gonzalez did that last year when he said he was “ready to beat the Yanks” at his initial press conference.  Bobby Valentine has been chirping away about the Yankees all winter long.  Pap is no dope.  He is a man with a plan.  The plan is to provide as much as possible to his young family and for future generations of Papelbons.  His plan is also not to get shelled by flying objects after blowing a couple of saves in Philly.  (Remember, nobody’s perfect.)  Sadly, the Red Sox did not make him an offer so he did what anyone else would have done and what he does so well.  He turned the page and moved on. 

Pap told the story of a man throwing a prosthetic leg at him when he was warming up in the bullpen at Fenway.  The opening words to his entrance song are, “I’m a sailor peg; and I lost my leg; climbing up the top sail; I lost my leg…”  That fan was kind of clever when you think about it.  Hysterical?  Maybe Pap just meant that we are extremely funny.   Some of us are so hysterical that we make quilted fabric portraits of our favorite players.  Others take entrance songs literally and try to act them out.  No harm intended.

Go ahead, Pap.  Call us hysterical.  Pretend we do not know our baseball.  But you know the truth.  You grew up in the Red Sox organization and we watched.  You became the young man who hoisted Jason Varitek up in the air in 2007.  You were one of the few that made us proud by your performance in 2011.  You grew into the man who left quietly and without the fanfare that you so deserved.  Say what you will but you will never get me to be mad at you.  After all, that’s my quilt hanging on your wall.  When you look at it, remember where you came from and how much we care that you were here.

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Wrapped Up Again

I recently had the pleasure of attending the third annual Wrapped Up in Sports, Inc. quilt-a-thon held in the EMC Club at Fenway Park. As a long-time Red Sox fan and quilter, it was the perfect blend of two passions. During the course of the day, volunteer quilters made over 100 quilt tops. The quilts all began with Boston team t-shirts and were perfectly suited to our historic surroundings. The quilts, when complete, will be given to Children’s Hospital Boston, Hospitality Homes, Room to Grow and/or Home for Little Wanderers. The sight and sounds of sewing machines whirring at Fenway was surreal even though I had seen it before.

Wally made an appearance, delighting visiting children and making grown women squeal like little girls as only a furry, green mascot (and Jacoby Ellsbury) could do. When Wally came by to visit, I inquired as to why he was not in Ft. Myers with the rest of the team. Wally, usually the strong silent type, bent down and whispered in my ear, “I leave next week!” The highlight of my day was hearing Wally speak and then raise his finger to his mouth in a conspiratorial gesture. It’s our little secret, Wally!

Also in attendance was my favorite quiltmaker, Rosemary Bawn. Rosemary makes spectacular quilts and many of them are in tribute to her favorite subjects — Fenway Park and the Red Sox. Some of Rosemary’s Fenway Park quilts will be featured at an upcoming exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The exhibit is called “Fenway Park Centennial” and runs from March 29 to July 8, 2012. I highly recommend that anyone remotely interested in quilts and/or baseball go to see these quilts. They are unforgettable. Visit www.nequiltmuseum.org for more information.

Thanks to local t-shirt company, Chowdaheadz, for generously donating several t-shirts to me for use in these quilts. Shirts that my friends and I did not use were donated to Wrapped Up in Sports for future quilts. Visit Wrapped Up in Sports, Inc. at www.wrappedupinsports.org

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Spring Ahead and Fall Back

No doubt you have heard that expression before but, in this case, the meaning is not what it seems. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the official start of spring training! It has come just in the nick of time after another Patriots Super Bowl collapse, the pitiful play of the Celtics, and the Bruins in a funk. (Someone, quick, check the Boston Garden for empty boxes of Popeye’s chicken!) Pitchers and catchers have reported (early) and position players have shown up before their appointed hour. Perhaps in their haste to put the Great Collapse of 2011 behind them, the Red Sox appear ready to rock. We have heard from some of last year’s offenders, such as Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz who each get an A- for appearing contrite and apologetic, and Josh Beckett who gets a C- for being…well…Josh Beckett. They appear ready to move on. We can only talk about chicken and beer for so long. All the chicken jokes have been clucked. It’s time to move on. Red Sox veteran knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, has officially hung ’em up and Captain Jason Varitek appears to be right on his heels. The Old Towne Team is going to have a whole different look and feel this year — especially with Bobby Valentine at the helm. It is at once sad and also kind of exciting to wonder what will happen this year. So, I declare it time to look ahead to spring and put last fall behind us. Oh, don’t worry — I have not lost my edge. Like a stubborn Josh Beckett who is not ready to move on from his anger at whoever leaked to the press, I am not completely over it. I will always be loyal to My Team even if they don’t give a flying fig about my loyalty. It’s the price we pay for being fans. But I have a more realistic view about life in the big leagues — and it is not terribly attractive. I will forgive and move on but I will never forget feeling fooled, duped, and angry at the lack of effort I witnessed before my very eyes. So, my dear Red Sox, I will be watching. I will be watching for signs of life this spring. I suspect there will be many others watching as well. I would suggest that you, my dear Red Sox, do not get off to another 0 – 6 start like last year. No longer the golden boys in town, you have no place to hide. We are watching.

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Go Everyone! (In Boston)

Go Celtics!

While everyone else is suffering from Super Bowl Fever, I thought I would give a little shout out to the Celtics.  The C’s are wracked with injuries but still bumping and grinding their way through their short season.  So, here’s a little love, Boston Celtics.  From me to you.

What?  You don’t give a flying fig about basketball right now?  It’s football — all or nothing?  Okay, here’s a little something for you:

Go Pats!

Are you happy now?  Does that cozy, warm quilt help to ease the chills and symptoms of Super Bowl Fever?

What’s that you say?  You hockey fans are feeling left out?  (Don’t you always feel left out?)  The Bruins have been struggling a little bit coming off the near-calamity caused by Tim Thomas’ less-than-delft save of himself from the White House.  Well, here’s to our 2011 Stanley Cup Champions!  May they bring it home again in 2012 … or sometime soon anyway.

Go Bruins!

Let’s face it, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, what really matters is baseball.  In only a few days, we will celebrate a Holy Day in Red Sox Nation:  Truck Day.  Within a couple of weeks, pitchers and catchers will report to spring training!  Yes!  Spring training!!! It’s almost here!  Maybe the Red Sox will have a shortstop by then.  And a complete starting pitching staff.  And a bullpen that is not filled with broken down used cars.  Maybe we will be planning a retirement party for Jason Varitek.  And Tim Wakefield.  Or maybe we will be welcoming them back with open arms.  And maybe we will know which platoon will be playing right field.  And left field, temporarily.  Maybe.  The disgrace of The Great Collapse of 2011 will be (almost) forgotten.  What matters is this:

Go Red Sox! (Please)

So, Go Celtics, Go Patriots, Go Bruins.  But when it comes right down to it, we all know what is really important.  All roads lead to baseball.  Opening day.  In 63 days.  First pitch, April 5, 2012.  1:05.  [Cue the roar of the crowd.]

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Snooping Around at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner

The Rookie and the Veteran

I was lucky enough to have attended the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner on January 19.  Hey, I love baseball and I write about it; so why not me?  Anyway, the highlight of my night was capturing the moment that David Ortiz greeted Josh Reddick.  True to his nature, Big Papi greeted the recently traded Josh Reddick with a giant hug and pat on the back.  It was clearly heartfelt and, as a fan, it was a touching moment to witness.  Best wishes to Josh as he goes to work for Billy Beane in Oakland.  We, and the Red Sox, will miss his dirt-doggedness in Boston.  I hope a few fans show up in Oakland and show him some love.

Other highlights of the evening were:

  • Having a few words with Bobby Valentine and having him sign a quilt square for my in-process Red Sox quilt.  (YES!!!!)
  • Listening to Jim Lonborg (winner of the Special Achievement Award)  tell a sweet story about the 1967 Impossible Dream year in which he met the woman he married. (Every woman in the room fell in love with him — again!)
  • Seeing Jarrod Saltalamacchia win the Good Guy Award.  (A fitting tribute to a ….. well…..a good guy.)
  • Witnessing the poise of Ryan Lavarnway as he accepted his Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year award.  (Remember the splash he made in game 161?  I have a feeling we will be seeing him again soon.)
  • Seeing the AAA Cubs’ Tony Campana (ironically, another Tony C.) accept the Tony Conigliaro Award.  (He overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 7, underwent surgery to remove a tumor in his chest, eight months of chemotherapy and ten more years of treatments before being declared cancer-free.)  This 5 foot 8 inch guy with a 6 foot 10 inch heart was drafted by the Cubs in the 13th round of the 2008 draft.
  • David Ortiz received the first ever Tim Wakefield Award for his many charitable good works.  (The highlight of David’s presence for me was to witness first hand how he lights up a room.  Truly awesome!)
  • Boston has lost this year’s Red Sox Rookie of the Year Award winner in Josh Reddick.  The “Chronicles of Reddick” will have to take up production in Oakland.  Josh was kind enough to stop for a few words and to let me snap this picture.  And, yes, the flow of his hair was outstanding that night!

Josh Reddick

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Patriots Pillow (The one Wes Welker will not re-tweet)

This football stuff is certainly helping to fill the void left by the lack of baseball. Last year at this time, Red Sox Nation had so much to look forward to. Or so we thought. The Hot Stove season — or should I say the Lukewarm Stove season — does not promise to get any better here in Boston. So, I turn my attention to the Big Bad Bruins, watch the Celtics age before my eyes, and take in all the hype about the upcoming Patriots vs. Broncos matchup. Don’t get me wrong — I like all the major sports and love being a Boston native but this winter is like being on vacation. So relaxing! I guess that means I’m not a Patriots/Bruins/Celtics die-hard but just a casual fan and that’s okay. I would love to see my Boston teams do well, and I love the excitement in the city when good things are happening; but I will not lose sleep over it. It’s kind of soothing — Like yoga for the baseball fanatic. Yes, I want the Patriots to win, of course, and go on to the Super Bowl; but it will not keep me up at night one way or another. Now, the Red Sox….on the other hand….they have been known to keep me up at night. That happened a lot last September. But I will not worry about that now. This winter I will just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show while sports talk radio has apoplectic fits over Tim Tebow and the lack of Patriots defense. I can wryly smile to myself and think that Tebow can’t be all that bad since his team is hanging in there; and the Patriots defense can’t be all that bad because, here they are, in the playoffs again. It may be my football ignorance talking, but I’m okay with that. If the Patriots win on Saturday, I will be happy for all of my football-minded friends and family. If they lose, I will be happy for Tim Tebow who may finally get a little bit of respect. Whether you believe in his views or not, you have to respect a young guy that tries to live his life with grace and dignity while being surrounded by so many men in his line of work who behave badly. That’s all I have to say on that subject. I’m not here to debate the Brady vs. God and Tebow thing. I’m all zen about that. For now, I will sleep peacefully. It’s my time to hibernate and build up my stamina because spring training starts in 51 days. But who’s counting?

Go Patriots. Or not. OHMMMMMMMMMMMM….

Posted in Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Resolve to Make No More Resolutions

It is that time of year again.  The return of the post-holiday blues is upon us.  The first full week of work following those short, festive weeks just passed.

Against my own better judgment, I made some new year’s resolutions at the start of 2011.  (See post dated January 3, 2011.)  Now, with the calendar flipped to 2012, I feel compelled to take a look to see how I did.  If you wish, follow along with me so that I do not have to face the music alone:

  1. Lose weight – Does staying the same count?  Can I at least say that I did better than Josh Beckett?
  2. Go the gym more often – I stuck to that plan for about half the year, then fell (with a splat) off the wagon.  Does it count that I’m still paying a monthly fee?  It should.
  3. Turn the treadmill into a treadmill instead of a clothing rack – Take a look at the current conditions:

 ‘Nuff said.

4.   Finish some of the many quilts I started –  I did!  And yet, I managed to start a few more.  It is a never-ending battle and one I hope I never win.

5.  Quote:  “I will stop thinking of the Bruins as the ugly step-children of the Boston sports scene (but only if the Bruins stop thinking of themselves as such).”  No problem there!  What a difference a year makes as the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins have continued to be hot, hot, hot.  Black and Yellow, baby!

6.  Celtics — I think I improved on this one.  I am a step above being a fair-weather fan despite the fact that they crashed and burned last year and got off to 2011 Red Sox-type of start this year.  I will keep working on this one.  With the help of the new, young, exciting to watch Celtics that joined the team, I think I may conquer this one in 2012.

7.  Tom Brady is God — Yes, I get it now.  Long hair, short hair, fancy-pants wife, stupid hat, Uggs.  Doesn’t matter.  He’s God.  Period.

8.  Big Papi – There was no need to get all over David Ortiz last spring.  There was no slow start for him in sight.  Thanks for making this an easy one for me, David.

9.  Patience with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford – As I recall, there were no worries about Gonzo until after that blasted Home Run Derby at the All-Star break.  Did I remain patient with him?  I did until September when he couldn’t hit the darn ball past the infield and couldn’t run if he was on fire and a lake was 10 feet in front of him.  But for his performance the beginning of last year, he mostly got a pass.  As for Mr. Carl Crawford….I tried.  I really did.  I was nice about it long past the time my friends were ready to trade him for a bucket of Bazooka.  Then, when I got mad, I really got mad.  (I can’t help it — I’m half Irish and half Italian.  A combustible mixture.)  A couple of times, I had all I could do not to jump on the field and slap him silly.  Like Cher slapping Nicholas Cage in the movie, Moonlighting — “SNAP OUT OF IT!!!”  WHACK!  It would have made me feel so good.  Like I was helping, you know?  Patience ran short.  Soon after the season, I started reading things about how bad he felt, how embarrassed and ashamed.  One minute, I would see him as a sad little boy with no self-worth and then I would feel bad that I ever said such awful things about him.  Then, the next minute, I wanted to slap him silly again.  I think I have a love/hate relationship with Carl.  (Do I love to hate him or hate to love him?)  Yes, Carl showed he was only human.  It’s all very confusing.  There’s Tampa Bay Carl and  then there’s Boston Carl.  Would the real Carl Crawford please stand up?  He just needs to stop it because I really do not have time to worry about him.  There are so many other things to worry and fret about — Like the starting pitching staff.  And the chicken.  And the beer.  And Bobby Valentine.

10.  Forgiveness for Theo Epstein for trading Victor Martinez — Once I got used to Saltalamacchia, I was over V-Mart.  (Fickle, I know.)  Little did I know what it was REALLY like to be angry at Theo.  That’s right — Theo the Defector.  Theo, who made all those deals for high-priced useless free agents like Lackey, Cameron, Jenks, etc.  Theo, who would burn John Henry’s money and fill up the roster with long-term contracts for players on the decline.  Theo, who would turn and run like a chicken — yes, I said CHICKEN as in FRIED CHICKEN — as soon as things started getting ugly in Red Sox Nation.  Theo, who now uses his knowledge about players in the Red Sox system but uses it for the Cubs!  That is the Theo that cannot be forgiven.  Yes, Theo helped to give us two world championships and we appreciate that.  But what have you done for us lately, Theo?  Goodbye.

11.  Gloating over the ol’ Yanks – It was not possible to gloat about a team that was consistently on top of the Red Sox all year in spite of the Yanks patchwork pitching staff.  In the end, who was the laughing-stock of the MLB in September?  Ouch.  I thank the New Yorkers in my family who never uttered a word.  Not a word.  Some day, I hope to return the favor.

12.  I made it to Spring Training in 2011!  It was a grand trip to take with my sister.  We grew up Boston sports fans (thanks to my father) and have always shared a passion for the game.  (See my first post, “Confessions of a Red Sox Fan”.)  It was the perfect Sisters’ Excellent Adventure! Little did we know that all the losses the Red Sox would endure in spring training would actually be a hint of things to come.  Sort of like that 0 and 6 start to the season last April.  This March when they tell you that spring training games don’t matter — don’t believe them!

Well, that’s my sad-but-true report card of my 2011 resolutions.  The only resolution I have made this year is to keep creating in words and in fabric, and to keep sharing both with you, reader.  Thanks for checking in on my blog once in a while, and a special thanks to all those subscribers and people leaving comments (except the spammers…yuk).  This blog was born just over a year ago from an idea a quilter friend of mine had when we shared emails that were filled with passion about the Red Sox.  I found this place where I can indulge myself and have been surprised and humbled by the over 2,000 hits I have had since its inception.  QuiltedBaseball has become a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and that is pretty cool.

Have a wonderful 2012, folks.  Let’s stay in touch.

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