Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Minor League Highlight: Lowell Spinners

In 2005 my dad met me in Boston and we drove a few miles north to Lowell to watch the Lowell Spinners play the Batavia Muckdogs.

Dad's former Cape Cod League Baseball host-son, Brett Harker, was going to pitch for the Muckdogs. We were ecstatic to see him play professional ball. I was even more excited because one of my BBBF's (yeah, that's Baseball Boyfriend), Gabe Kapler, was rehabbing in Lowell.

The Spinners are part of the Red Sox Minor League System. They are affiliated as a Class A Short Season Team. As the name implies, their season is short (June - September) and for many players this is their first opportunity to play with a wooden bat (Cape League Alumni have a head start on this!) Short-A ball helps transition rookies to professional baseball; They learn a lot about conditioning and have the opportunity to play on a daily basis.

We were able to meet with Brett before the game. He had always pitched as a closer, but told us the Muckdogs were going to try him out as a starter that day.

I expressed my concern.....I was conflicted because I wanted him to do well, but I had to cheer for the Spinners and for Kapler. My dad joked that when Gabe came up to bat, Brett should buzz the tower. Brett's agent didn't think that was a good idea. We had a few laughs and then headed for the ball park.

I don't remember many details of the game except for these:

  • Brett struck out Gabe Kapler. I was proud and frustrated at the same time
  • Jacoby Ellsbury was on the Spinners roster. He wasn't a household name yet, but he also played in the Cape League the same season Brett did. Our team beat Ellsbury's team to win the championship
  • I was impressed by LeLacheur Park
  • The fans loved their home team and the Spinners did a lot to get the fans involved
  • You could feel the passion in every pitch, every at-bat
It's the thing I love most about minor-league ball; The boys are playing for the love of the game. They're playing for the opportunity to perform on the big stage. They are giving it their all to make their dreams come true.

For anyone who lives in the vicinity of Lowell (or any town that hosts a minor-league team) I urge you to take in a game. For mere pennies in comparison to going to Fenway you can experience a night of fun and good, pure baseball for the whole family.

Often times you have the opportunity to meet and interact with players. This is especially beneficial for the kids as they get to pick out a "favorite player" before they become famous. They are able to follow their journey through the professional baseball system and boast to their friends they knew "so and so" way back when he played for the Spinners.

You are able to get a real good look at those boys who may one day turn into men in front of Red Sox Nation. Former Spinners players who are now on the Red Sox:
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Clay Buchholz
Oh, and the starting pitcher for the spinners the night Brett pitched? Just two short years later he threw a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox.

If you're interested in Learning more about the Lowell Spinners come to Boston Sports Blogapalooza on Sunday, May 2nd. They will have a representative on hand.

I hope to see you there!

Boston Sports Blogapalooza, This Sunday May 2nd

Ladies, Gentlemen & Sports fans, it's time to get your Blogapalooza on!

If you haven't heard about Blogapalooza yet, check it out:

Blogapalooza is an event where social media and Beantown sports collide. Bloggers, their fans, and Boston Media members will have the opportunity to meet, network, trade social media tips and of course talk sports.
The event is being held at and sponsored by The Baseball Tavern - right in Fenway's back yard. It is being co-sponsored by NESN.com, SwingJuice and Lenovo with the Lowell Spinners, Brockton Rox, SupahFans.com, Sullys and more as participating companies.

Who else is going to be there? Well..me. And lots of other Boston Sports bloggers. Check out the list on the Blogapalooza website.There is still time to RSVP for this free event! Make sure to visit the Facebook page to RSVP today!

Hope to see you all there!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jay-Z Sues David Ortiz: Kicks Him While He's Down

Let's face it, David Ortiz hasn't had the best two weeks of his life.

He's batting .143 which has caused the media and fans to jump all over him; They want him benched, they want him traded, they want to tear the big guy down. In response Ortiz hasn't been himself off the diamond either, lashing out at the media.

If things weren't bad enough...Jay-Z is suing him for $5M for allegedly stealing the name of his nightclubs.

(photo courtesy of the AP)

Nothing like kicking a man when he's down, huh?

The Iconic rap mogul has a series of clubs in the US and Tokyo called 40/40. The clubs name is supposed to be a shout-out to the exclusive club of MLB players who have hit 40 HRs and stolen 40 bases in a single season. Any true baseball fan would realize Ortiz is not one of them. While Papi went deep more than 40 times in each of the seasons from 2004-2006, according to Baseball-Reference.com in his 14 years in MLB he's only stolen a total of 10 bases.

Anyway, Ortiz has a club in Santa Domingo named Forty-Forty and Jay-Z thinks he's trying to capitalize off his success. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Papi is one of the Dominican's most recognizeable figures. He could have opened a club down there called "This Place Sucks" and I'm sure it would become a huge success. I don't honestly think he was trying to ride Jay's coat-tails.

At the same time, why would Ortiz even tread on that naming territory when he could have named his club anything? Bad advice from his management team? Who knows?

I'm really getting sick of all of this negative talk and attention surrounding Papi. We're two weeks into the season...give it a rest. I mean the Twin Cities can still stand behind the big guy, why can't we?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Daisuke Matsuzaka Starts at McCoy Stadium

This past weekend my friend and I headed to McCoy Stadium to take in the Pawtucket Red Sox Double Header against the Yankees AAA team, Rochester Red Wings.

The Sox won both games - the first game was close at a score of 1-0. The winning pitcher? Daisuke Matsuzaka. I wanted to take in my first game of the season at McCoy watching Daisuke's rehab start, and he looked great! Reliever Alan Embree...not so great.

Here are a few of the pictures I took.

Watching Daisuke warming up in the Bullpen. This guy was crazy with his warmup routine. I think he stretched every possible muscle in his body...and then some! He also spent some time watching highlight reels on the scoreboard.

Short Stop, Angel Sanchez, throwing a ball to a fan during warmups.

Can you see Josh Reddick all bundled up? It was cold out, but not that cold!

Daisuke pitched really well. Looking forward to seeing him back in Boston soon!

Paws shooting TShirts into the crowd

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2010 Red Sox At-Bat Songs

Hey Red Sox fans! It's time to build the list of the 2010 Red Sox At-Bat and player entrance songs.

I'm going to need some help, so please email me at soxylady33 {at} gmail {dot} com with any updates!!! The list is looking pretty pathetic right now.

Position Players
Adrian Beltre # 29 - Unknown, but sounds like it possibly could have been a Daddy Yankee song?
Mike Cameron # 23 - Forever by Drake
J.D. Drew # 7 - No song!
Jacoby Ellsbury # 2 - Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolph ft. Lil Wayne
Bill Hall # 22 - Unknown
Jeremy Hermida # 32 - Unknown
Mike Lowell # 25 - Unconfirmed Iron Man by Black Sabboth or Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine
Victor Martinez # 41 - Unknown Latin Song
David Ortiz # 34 - Unknown Latin Song
Dustin Pedroia # 15 - Unknown Song by Dr. Dre, wasn't Dre Day possibly The Next Episode
Marco Scutaro # 16 - No Song!
Jason Varitek # 33 - Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down
Kevin Youkilis # 20 - Just a Friend by Biz Markie

Scott Atchison # 48 - Heartland by George Strait
Daniel Bard # 51 - Strangle Hold by Ted Nugent
Josh Beckett # 19 - Unconfirmed Rock Star by Nickelback or Living Hard by Gary Alan
Clay Buchholz # 11 - Unknown
Manny Delcarmen # 17 - (I'm From) Boston - MAV Entertainment (Anyone know where to get this track?)
John Lackey # 40 - Crazy Town by Jason Aldean
Jon Lester # 31 - Unconfirmed I Use What I Got by Jason Aldean
Daisuke Matsuzaka #18 (when he returns) - Unconfirmed The Next Door by Exile
Hideki Okajima # 37 - Unconfirmed Okajima-Oki-doke by Mr. Yoshie
Jonathan Papelbon # 58 - Shipping Up to Boston by Dropkick Murphys
Ramon Ramirez # 56 - Unknown
Scott Schoeneweis # 60 - Unconfirmed It's a Fight by Three 6 Mafia (not sure this is right after hearing the song again)
Tim Wakefield # 49 - Unconfirmed How Bad Do You Want It? by Tim McGraw

Fenway Park Songs
Before the Game - Cheers Theme Song
Middle of the 8th Inning - Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
Pitcher Meeting On The Mound (by Opposing Team) - Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin
Pitcher/Catcher Meeting - Theme from the Odd Couple
Ground Rule Double (by Sox) - Brass Bonanza
Walk (Sox player on base) - Walk This Way by Aerosmith
Homerun (by Sox) -
Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation or Boom, Boom, Boom by The Outhere Brothers
Extra Innings - Time Is Tight by Booker T & The MGs
After a Sox Win - Dirty Water by the Standells
After Dirty Water - Tessie by Dropkick Murphys
After Tessie - Joy to the World by Three Dog Night
After a Sox Loss - (on the organ) Goonight Sweetheart by The Spaniels and (on the organ) Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles
Other songs:
Vertigo by U2
Gimme the Bassline by Torpedo Boyz

Here are the lists to my:
2007 Red Sox At-Bat Songs
2008 Red Sox At-Bat Songs
And not mine, but
2009 Red Sox At-Bat Songs

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Down, 161 To Go...

If last night's game was any indication of the season to come, I am very very excited.

We all know the Sox spare no expense when it comes to marketing the team. And we know John Henry and Co. love to have a few surprises up their sleeves (ala Billy Buckner in 2008). What we didn't know is just how brilliant last night's opening game was going to be - both orchestrated and not.

I tuned into the coverage in time to see Dr. Dre donning a Sox Jersey (what?!) and plugging his new headphones, "Beats." When asked about player at-bat songs, and which one player he'd like to convince to be announced to one of his songs, he quickly replied "Ortiz......Big Papi" to a new song of his Under Pressure. Oh Dre. If you only knew Pedroia used The Wash in 2007 and F*ck With Dre the past two seasons you might have had to do too much convincing. Papi historically prefers The Game, 50 cent or some Dominican jam.

Then there was seeing newly retired Nomar Garciaparra sitting at the ESPN Analyst's Desk on the field.

When it was time to announce the teams. The 2009 World Series Champions, NYY were first. *yawn* and then it was time for the 2010 Red Sox. When Mr. Red Sox, number 6, Johnny Pesky was announced I got teary. When fan fave Mike Lowell was announced, I may have cried (don't judge me). He got the biggest ovation of the night, one he clearly deserved. It was strange having both Lowell and Varitek announced before the starting players, a reality I was perhaps not yet ready to accept.

Thank you to Jere at a Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory for shooting and posting this video!

Although the secret was leaked in the hour or so before the game, it was still a great surprise to see Pedro Martinez walk from out of the Green Monster, under the American Flag and towards home plate to throw out the game's first pitch. I loved when Orsillo announced him he said it was time to "wake up the d@mn Bambino and welcome Pedro back." But why, oh why did they play Phil Collins as he headed towards the mound?!

Pedro's smile was electric. He looked truly and honestly happy to be back. And I was truly, and honestly, happy to see him back wearing #54. I miss Pedro. Every time he toed the rubber you expected the unexpected to happen. The moment of his return was momentarily ruined when A-Rod ran out from to give him a hug...all returned to right in the world when Pedro thew to long-time catcher Varitek.

Martinez even shared in a lengthy hug, and a photo-opportunistic conversation with Pesky. It was magical to watch.

(photo courtesy of Bosotn.com and the AP)
It wasn't over there, though. 5 year old Joshua Sacco came out to do a Red Sox rendition of his paradoy on Herb Brooks locker room speech from the movie "Miracle." I wonder how many people didn't get what this was all about. If you didn't, it may have seemed odd. But if you were one of the million plus viewers who know Josh from YouTube...it was awesome. It was complete with the link, "I'm sick and tired of hearing 'bout what a great baseball team the Yankees have...Screw 'em!"

Seriously this was all before the game even started.

Beckett pitched a great first inning, but it was all down-hill from there. He allowed back-to-back homers to Jorge Posada (off of Pesky Pole) and Curtis Granderson. He had no control of his off-speed pitches and he only struck out one batter and gave up 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings.

But the offense, you know the offense that wasn't supposed to be able to score any runs this year? They came alive. Youk (who was still donning a goatee, much to the chagrin of many) went 3 for 4. He had two doubles, a triple and scored three runs with two RBIs.

Then there was Pedroia. El Caballito, the F*ck Yeah Kid. He went 2 for 4. He walked, smashed a 2 run homer and drove in 3. Almost nothing in baseball gets me as excited as watching Pedroia scream "F*ck Yeah!" (sorry mom & dad). He is in it to win it. Every single game.

Youk and Pedroia, they are the new face of the Boston Red Sox. They may not have the natural talent that Manny and Papi dominated with, but they are gritty and determined. They are not going to let anyone tell their offense they can't score runs. No way. No how. These boys are ball players.

The new guys did well, Ellsbury and Papi struggled at the plate (and Ellsbury a bit in the field). Nothing too concerning, but it did have me wondering about the future of Papi in a Sox uniform when a very capable DH named Mike Lowell was sitting on the bench.

Yankee's fan LeBron James was sitting in Henry's luxury box for the game (texting every time the camera cut to him) along with Dre (no longer in his Sox jersey).

There were other surprises throughout the night. Steven Tyler and one of his daughters came out for a creepy rendition of God Bless America. I'm not sure why she was there. She wasn't announced. She only did a bit of harmonizing at the end. My guess is that he's going to be pushing her pop-rock singing career soon.

One of the best things to happen? Sweet Caroline was played during the middle of the 8th, like always. But for the first time ever it was sung live by Mr. Neil Diamond himself.

He wasn't much better than Tyler...but honestly I loved every second of it. Sox fans had been waiting a long time to see that. He was curiously wearing a jacket that said "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn" but eh...whatever....

My first game of the season will be on Wednesday night watching John Lackey's debut against the Bronx Bombers. I can't wait.