Where I'll be Watching the ALCS

fan, originally uploaded by sogrady.

Won’t be at the park, sadly. But I will be spending each and every game with friends and fans, somewhere. Herewith a schedule of my ALCS watching venues:

  • Game 1: Friday, Oct. 10, 8:37 p.m.:
    Here in Maine, at Byrnes’ Irish Pub in Bath. (2-0 at this venue this postseason)
  • Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 11, 8:07 p.m.:
    Down Boston, at the 21st Amendment.
  • Game 3: Monday, Oct. 13, 4:37 p.m.:
    In NYC, at the Rivera Cafe. (1-0 at this venue this postseason).
  • Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 14, 8:07 p.m.:
    Boston, at the 21st Amendment.
  • Game 5*: Thursday, Oct. 16, 8:07 p.m.:
    TBD, likely Bath @ Byrnes’
  • Game 6*: Saturday, Oct. 18, 4:37 p.m. if NLCS is still being played; 8:07 p.m.:
    TBD, likely Boston @ 21st Amendment
  • Game 7*: Sunday, Oct. 19, 8:07 p.m. :
    TBD, likely Boston @ 21st Amendment

To answer the obvious question: yes, I’ve carefully planned my work schedule around the postseason schedule. Which wasn’t easy, please note.

Anyway, stop by if you happen to be near any of the aforementioned venues: most of you know how to get in touch with me.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

rain delay

So, the woefully infrequent posts, and what we’re going to do about it. Most bloggers would tell you that they were “busy,” and therefore I guess I will too. Weddings, business travel, and so on. You know, because I’m so important.

But the real problem has been from a format perspective. As you might have noticed, I’d fallen into a “Sunday Notes” style column format, colllecting reams of links and data to comment on for a weekly roundup. Which is excellent if you have several hours per Sunday to write it up. Which I frequently do not. Obviously. Hence the absence.

Instead, what we’re going to try is smaller, shorter format pieces with – sorry – a little less of my less my blather. This, in theory, will permit more frequent updates and more timely responses.

In cases where the situation calls for it, of course, I’ll still take the time to pump out thousands of words that no one will ever read. But let’s see how the new format works once I start (and I’ve got a bunch of things in the queue). Suggestions are welcome, even if I pay no attention to them.

In Case You Haven't Been Keeping Up With Current Events

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a $9 seat at hadlock, originally uploaded by sogrady.

I haven’t. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been keeping up, I just haven’t been writing here to keep all of you up to date with said current events. But anyway, we’re back. And c’mon, three posts in two days? That has to count for something.

While I can’t promise that we won’t have similar outages in future, I’d be surprised if we see another one of similar duration any time in the near future. Unless I’ll be moving half way across the country the week before JavaOne again and no one’s yet informed me.

Anyhow, if all of the above has the ring of a half assed apology for the downtime, well, that’s just your imagination. I’m ready to get to the news on the heels of a much needed Sox sweep – bye, Brew Crew (especially you, Ryan Braun) – which followed a brutal four game depantsing at the hands of the Twins and O’s.

So with no further delay, this week’s ICYHBKUWCE:

April Homers Down

This will doubtless come too late to stave off claims in some quarters – I’m looking at you, self-righteous sportswriters, pundits and analysts – that power is down because of the testing program, but this piece I found via Neyer is fascinating. I’ve always taken the “bats warm up with the weather” arguments with several liberal helpings of salt, but the correlation between weather and extra base power is difficult to refute. Food for thought, or ammunition the next time some ignorant talking head pops off.

Buchholz’ Vacation

I’m with Chad: count me among those that is of the opinion that Bucky’s trip to the DL is little more than this year’s equivalent of Beckett’s downtime for the “avulsion.” Disabling him serves two purposes besides healing his wounded paw: first, it’s a mental health break for the starter followin two outings in which he didn’t make it into the fifth (both losses). Second, and more importantly, it’s an enforced period of rest during which he will not be accumulating innings. Rest worked for Beckett last year, and could and probably should work for Bucky this year.

What will be interesting will be what role he comes back to: I’m increasingly convinced that he may be – Earl Weaver style (Keith Law would undoubtedly approve) – shunted back to the bullpen until Colon proves ineffective.

One interesting bit of trivia: who’s got the second highest K/9 on the club? You guessed it: everyone’s favorite slim righthander. At 9.14, he’s behind only Pap, and ahead of Aardsma, Beckett, Delcarmen, Lester, Matsuzaka, Okakima, Hansen, Wake, and, well, you get the picture. That’s the good news. The bad? Righties are killing him to the tune of a .908 OPS.

Masterson on Tap

As the Boston Globe was kind enough to inform us, Portland’s own Justin Masterson will be getting his second big league start this Tuesday. Which is curious, because as previously noted in this space, Masterson hasn’t exactly been lighting it up. It’s not every day that you give up 7 earned in a start and earn a promotion to the big club. But desperate times and all, he’s the guy. And I suppose it’s worth noting that he did pitch very effectively in his previous outing against a talented Angels club (which featured another impossible Okajima outing: bases loaded, no one out).

If you’re looking for an explanation for why we’re comfortable starting the kid in this spot, the Providence Journal Bulletin actually saw fit to relay some of Tito’s comments on the matter:

Manager Terry Francona, acknowledging that Masterson has been cuffed around in his last few starts for Double A Portland, said the pitcher’s mistake has been leaving balls up in the zone late in games.

I’m not entirely convinced this is a good move, as I’m not sure the majors are where a pitcher learns to get the ball down, but then I don’t have to be convinced, because no one cares what I think.

More on Run Differentials

In the earlier piece on Tampa, I mentioned Run Differentials, and I’m sure that you’re dying for more information on the subject. So here’s Neyer with more:

Not only are the Rays in first place, they’re in first place on merit, as their +25 run differential is slightly better than that of the Red Sox (+23). Everybody else in the division — Orioles (-7), Blue Jays (-1) and Yankees (-6) — is bunched up around .500, exactly where they should be.

I wonder what our run differential might be if our bullpen wasn’t 27th in the league…

Youk’s Start

That Youk is tearing the cover off of the ball at the moment, you probably knew. That he leads all Sox regulars in OBP, SLG, doubles, total bases and lags Papi in home runs by 1, you might have known. What you probably didn’t was why. Fortunately, Inside Edge has you covered.

First, Youk is flat out destroying lefties (.444/.538/.889 for an absurd 1.427 OPS). Against lefties, he’s effectively Barry Bonds circa 2004. Which makes a difference.

Also important, however, and significantly less obvious, is his ability to hit off speed pitches. According to Inside Edge, his average and slugging numbers against off-speed offerings the last three years look as follows:
2006 .235 .340
2007 .263 .382
2008 .333 .563The scouting service believes the above augurs well for his ability to sustain some level of the performance we’ve seen to date going forward. I hope they’re right.

Wait on Crisp?

As for the obligatory Crisp rumors, comes the following, via MLB Trade Rumors via Ken Rosenthal: it may make more sense to hang on to Crisp. Apparently the free agent center field class for ’09 – unlike this past offseason – is weak, meaning that retaining him for the duration might be the preferred approach. While I still would entertain trade offers if it might improve the bullpen, particularly with Moss on the mend, his speed and defense do look good on the roster. Particularly the bench.

Last, But Far From Least

Courtesy of the aforementioned Chad Finn, did you know that Tito was one of Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd?” Me neither.

Crickets?

A few of you have emailed me irate. Two of you have emailed me to ask if I was dead. Some of you probably are the former and wish the latter. Which is cool.

For your benefit, a quick explanation for the ongoing radio silence: first, I’ve moved (temporarily) back to Maine, to be closer to the Sox (and it’s paying off, I saw Dustin Richardson throw last night at Portland – poor outing). Second, I was travelling most of the week, and the subsequent red eye knocked me out for a while (I’m old). Then, to add insult to injury, I’ve got a friend visiting and we’re heading up to Acadia momentarily.

Ergo, it’ll be silent for a few more days. But have patience, for once things settle, there should be more to go around here than you can handle, bro.

Maine’s all about free time. And Sox blogging.

P.S. Don’t worry about Paps. Worry instead about how we’re going to unload Lugo.

Because the World Needs Another Red Sox Blog

Or perhaps it doesn’t, but frankly I’m above such concerns.

Welcome, all of you, to the inevitable end state of a life more or less derailed by baseball. Born and raised as a Red Sox fan far behind enemy lines in New Jersey, for many years I suceeded in keeping the madness within at bay. Those days are, I’m sad to say, as you’ll discover in the months ahead if you return, are gone. In all probability, forever. What remains is nothing short of pure obsession devotion to the cause that all good, free thinking people share: yours and my Boston Red Sox.

Those of you who wandered over here from my work effort can educate the new people on my unhealthy fascination with self-conducted Q&A’s, but in the meantime I’d like to get on with the task of explaining just what you might expect here.

Q: To begin, why don’t you introduce yourself to everybody?
A: Already did.

Q: So, uh, what’s with the name?
A: You try and find an open domain name these days; this was the best I could do. Also, I’m wicked clevah.

Q: Why start a blog, I thought you already had one?
A: I got kicked out of the other one by disgruntled readers. Or at least the Sox loving part of me did. And that’s a big part.

Q: So the primary topic here is the Red Sox, I somehow picked up on that. Can we expect anything else?
A: To the extent that my rather unique mental state permits it, I may occasional comment on more general baseball matters. But generally I’ll leave that to the experts.

Q: Speaking of, what are your qualifications for commentary on the subjects at hand?
A: None whatsoever, excepting the fact that I consume a remarkable quantity of literature concerning the Red Sox and related topics, using it to form my half-baked ideas and ill considered opinions.

Q: For the serious fans in the audience, where do you fall on the Murray “Stats are Evil and Scary” Chass Rob “Stats are Even Better Than Beer” Neyer spectrum?
A: First, never compare me to Murray Chass again. Second, I’m like a fringe Neyerite. Like the Red Sox front office, I look first and primarily towards the numbers but do try to take into account – if only in passing – the quote unquote intangibles that drive so many SABR folks nuts. Sue me.

Q: Will you be the only commenter in this space, or can we expect some intelligent commentary from time to time?
A: Strangely enough, there is apparently some interest in helping out around here, so stay tuned.

Q: What’s with the crappy design?
A: Well, the Tarski theme I used as a base was actually rather attractive before I was through with it. If you’ve got design skills to burn, however, knock yourself out.

Q: What’s the format likely to be? Long posts? Short posts? Frequent posts? Occasional posts? What?
A: Frequency remains to be seen, but the format is likely to consist of shorter posts interspersed with longer items when the material calls for it. Of course, that’s what I said about my work blog way back when, and you can see for yourself how that turned out. There will also be occasional posts that involve no text, but images or videos that will – if I’m lucky – speak sufficiently well for themselves. Not to mention that I will in all likelihood regularly regurgitate those little pieces of information I’ve wandered across that I didn’t know, and bet you don’t either.

If nothing else I expect the content here to bear a strong resemblence to the overly detailed emails I pepper friends with when they make the mistake of asking a simple Sox or baseball related question. Except that through the magic of blogs, you can all share the joy, or whatever it’s called.

Q: You have the usual feed available so that I never have to return to this eye sore of a design?
A: Indeed. Autodiscovery will work, but if that’s not working you can pick up the Feedburned feed right here.

Q: Anything else to add?
A: I think it’s just you and me here at this point, so we’re probably good.