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Sept. 28-30, 2007 - Bubbly In My Hair
   Offended MLB Pitcher Update: Pat Neshek, who called me out on his blog, did not travel with the Twins on their season-ending trip to Fenway Park. Therefore, I could neither introduce myself as an idiot or give him my autographed 'Walpole' Joe Morgan card from, I think, 1990.

'Walpole' Joe Morgan Autographed Card
-- Note the yellowed case ... the sign of years in a drawer.

   • I really don't like to have to lump days together, but we're to the point in the year where it's inevitable if I fall behind.

Buch Stops Here: Rookie Shut Down For Season
-- Like a notebook, but he's the only story.


Division Win Fuels Fans' Happiness
-- Little to do with fans, but for 30 minutes, I'll take it.


Surprise! Ortiz Still Among Baseball's Best
-- Inside Baseball, led with the story I'd written Friday night before the clinch.

   My last actual day off, by my quick count, was the "I know no one" wedding on Sept. 22, and that shouldn't really count because I was busy all day. The last day off where I had nothing going on I think Sept. 17.

   After working four of the six games on the final homestand, with the other two on the desk, I will go back to Boston for workouts on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is Game 1, possibly to be attended by Matty Cooch. Thursday's an off-day, but will involve some sort of writing, I'm sure. Friday is Game 2, possibly to be attended by both Matty and my dad, which makes me very excited. Saturday afternoon I fly to Los Anaheim. Sunday-Monday are Games 3-4, if both are needed.

   Et cetera. Not bitching in any sense, merely clarifying why I'll probably be dropping out of sight for swaths of time.

   Notes from the past few days:

   -- Friday night was one of the first times in a long while I remember thinking, "Man, this would be a lot more fun to be at if I wasn't running around like an idiot trying to work." Clinching the division via the scoreboard was one of the most surreal things I've ever seen, from a team that keeps topping itself in that regard.

   -- The whole thing was made by the Sox shutting off most of the light towers, casting this odd pall on the ballpark. It was like the thousands who stuck around weren't supposed to be there, when in all honesty, I can't believe anyone left. Then, suddenly, the scoreboard's flashing "AL EAST CHAMPIONS!" and people are dumping beer on each other.

   -- This apparently did get out on some of the TV shots, but were you not aware, Jonathan Papelbon spent most of the celebration in nothing but goggles, an Under Armour-type shirt and his jockstrap. It was in this outfit that he doused Theo Epstein with most of a bottle of champagne.

   To his credit, Epstein came right back to the reporter throng following the dousing, and continued his response to a question in the exact spot where he'd left off.

   -- Tina Cervasio didn't exactly have a stellar weekend. First, this cartoon comes out, in all its flattering and embarrassing glory (for all involved). Then, the vaunted "Red Sox Nation Presidential Debate" aired, which had all the production values of something done in a high school audio visual room. I'd pin it on them letting BU students do the work, but honestly, I'd be embarrassed for them.

   The audio wasn't synched for most of it, and everyone involved seemed to keep waffling from "this is a complete joke" to "we need to take this very seriously." We eventually had to turn it off because I was, shockingly, getting increasingly angry as I watched it.

   From the part I saw, though, Jerry Remy wants to be president of Red Sox Nation a little too much. Just a little. At least Sam Horn has an excuse ... he's Sam Horn, best known for a being a nice guy whose idea of post-game analysis was to scream "KA-POW!" over clips of home runs.


   -- Apropos of nothing, the auditorium where they held the debate was where we held the finals of CBI (too much information) in 2001-02. We lost, mainly because I sat on one answer too long that would have won the clinching game. It would haunt me if I had wanted badly to go to that year's National Championship Tournament.

   It was at Kansas State. I should've been given a Congressional medal.

   -- On Sunday, I both smashed my knee against a wall in the press box and realized I hadn't been able to breathe through my nose in three days.

   The illnesses that will linger with me through the playoff run didn't even wait until October to show up. I welcome them as the check on my fun.

   Final regular season tally, with the full list to come later, was parking costs of $300 for the season. The $600 saved will more or less cover costs for the Angels series. My boss Josh sort of cares, but no one else does, for sure.

   -- ONE GAME PLAYOFF!!! And the Mets ... sweet Jesus. There are no words, other than I wish I still had MLB.TV access so I could go listen to Harry Calas call the Phillies winning the division title.

   A couple weeks back, I wrote a column outlining four teams other than Sox-Yankees who I thought could make some playoff noise. Seattle just plain fell apart. Cleveland ran off with the Central from Detroit. San Diego is in a Wild Card playoff.

   The Mets were the other, but I remember distinctly thinking, "I really want to include the Phillies, but they're never going to get in."

   I would care more if anyone remembered this stuff other than me.

Sept. 27, 2007 - Champagne Saved
   BU Ties: After Wednesday night's game, I walked out of the park and right behind a live shot being done by this Channel 7 reporter, with whom I took at least one and possibly two classes at the alma mater. (Radio Journalism, which I took both levels of despite it being absolutely nothing like I'd expected it to be when I originally signed up.)

   As memory serves, we made pleasant small talk on at least a couple of occasions, then she ground my graduation ceremony to a bit of halt with a student commencement speech tying 9/11 and losing her watch. I really wish I'd written about it ... in the moment, it don't recall it making much more sense than that.

   Of course, I'm now a print troll, rapidly realizing through my heavy contact with TV people that they really don't inhabit the same planet we do. To prove this, I offer this. At the very least, sort of uncomfortable, and that's before the "I went to BU with ..." comment that I can not stress enough is not me.

   Speaking of print trolls, if anyone can figure out why in the hell the DFP Editorial Board felt like this was worth a staff edit, please let me know.

Architects working today will need to consider the view of every design they create from every angle, including above. This episode serves as a recap of the changing times, of advancing technology and increased social sensitivity. The addition of roof-top solar panels to the Coronado (Calif.) buildings could be a positive investment. The planning of the alterations should be practical and not only a move to please those disproportionately outraged about an accidental 1960s architectural snafu.
-- Who. The Fuck. Cares.

   No Closer: The season didn't end Thursday, it ends on Sunday. But if it ended Thursday:

W-L
GB
Games Left
Sox
94-65
--
Home: Minnesota (3)
Cleveland
94-65
--
Road: Kansas City (3)
Los Anaheim
92-67
2
Road: Oakland (3)
New York
92-67
2
Road: Baltimore (3)

No. 2 Cleveland vs. No. 4 New York / No. 1 Boston vs. No. 3 Los Anaheim

   The loss by Cleveland "helps" in the long term, but Boston losing the division is still in play. Not very much in play, but enough. Now, if I could only figure out why the cheapest flights to LAX in New England go from Manchester, N.H.

   Biggest Basic Notes Still Relevant: Sox can't play New York in Round 1, and Boston holds the tie-breaker with Cleveland (5-2 head-to-head).

Nothing To Worry About
-- Does uncreative headline equal uncreative story?

   • You need to do something for me, and for yourself.

Steroids Confidential

   Go read the greatest piece of journalism I've read in weeks. Months. Maybe all year. It's long, but read all of it. It's worth it.

   And After You're Done, Highlight This Text ------> So, when did you figure out it was fake? For me, it was the quote about the elk sperm.
Sept. 26, 2007 - Jeremy Jacobs, Now No. 1
   Disney?: The season didn't end Wednesday, it ends on Sunday. But if it ended Wednesday:

W-L
GB
Games Left
Sox
94-64
--
Home: Minnesota (4)
Cleveland
94-64
--
Road: Seattle (1), Kansas City (3)
Los Anaheim
92-67
2.5
Road: Oakland (3)
New York
91-67
3
Road: Tampa Bay (1), Baltimore (3)

No. 2 Cleveland vs. No. 4 New York / No. 1 Boston vs. No. 3 Los Anaheim

   This is getting pretty close to sealed at a rate I'm extremely relieved about. There's a good chance I'm buying a plane ticket on Thursday night.

   The Indians have largely become irrelevant in this discussion, at least regarding where I'm going. For the Sox not to play the Angels in the Division Series, L.A. would have to pass Cleveland in the final weekend. It's possible, but certainly doesn't seem likely given Texas just swept the Angels and Cleveland ib playing KANSAS FREAKIN' CITY.

   The only other potential issue is if the Sox lost the division, which is possible since they'd be the Wild Card if the end the season tied with the Yankees -- just like 2005, they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. It's in their hands ... they simply need to split the four with the Twins, and I'm flying to Disneyland on Sat., Oct. 6.

   Biggest Basic Notes Still Relevant: Sox can't play New York in Round 1, and Boston holds the tie-breaker with Cleveland (5-2 head-to-head). Definitely did not think Seattle would be splitting that doubleheader after I'd gone to bed.


   • Well, the hotel reservation in Detroit is cancelled. Nice as it would have been to be 0.2 miles from the ballpark, 0.4 miles from the GreekTown Casino and going someplace I'd never seen a game, it was definitely the iffiest of the three lodgings. After the disaster that was Spring Training '06 at the "oops, we have no high speed Internet, and you booked a smoking room" Econo Lodge, I worry about these things.

   Admittedly, I'm a little bummed that it's going to be Anaheim ... it's been more than six years since I've been there, but I've still been there. Given the chance the ALCS is going to be another damned trip to New York, I might not get to see anything new this October.

   That Aug. 17, 2001, flight to Los Angeles ... coming within about 10 seconds of missing my connection through Minneapolis, thanks to the I'd assume bankrupt Sun Country Airlines. Never mind the actual reason for the trip and everything that goes with it.

   Memories. And good ones at that.


   But whatever. At least my death isn't being celebrated by a major metropolitan fan base.

Lowell Leads Sox Attack
-- Game story. I was there anyway, and I can't stand not doing anything.

Sept. 25, 2007 - The Poor GSU

No Appeal To Sox Off The Field
-- Is it a great rant column, or simply a rant? America, decide!

   Going, Going, Back, Back, To ...: The season didn't end Tuesday, it ends on Sunday. But if it ended Tuesday:

W-L
GB
Games Left
Cleveland
93-63
--
Road: Seattle (3), Kansas City (3)
Sox
93-64
0.5
Home: Oakland (1), Minnesota (4)
Los Anaheim
92-66
2
Road: Texas (1), Oakland (3)
New York
90-67
3.5
Road: Tampa Bay (2), Baltimore (3)

No. 1 Cleveland vs. No. 4 New York / No. 2 Boston vs. No. 3 Los Anaheim

   Few basic notes which may be common knowledge: The Sox can't play New York in the first round. The Sox hold the tie-breaker with both Cleveland (5-2 head-to-head) and Los Anaheim (6-4). Cleveland and the Angels split 10 meetings, so Cleveland wins that tie-breaker based on divisional record. The higher seed hosts Games 1 (Oct. 3 or 4), 2 (Oct. 5) and 5 (Oct. 10).

   From a personal standpoint, I want to go to Cleveland. From a Sox fan standpoint, you want to go to California, because the Angels to me are the easier road.


   • I found this on my travails around the Internet today:


-- Sure enough, they're completely serious.

   More shocking revelations from the heart of the Rockies fan base.

   -- Toronto (10th) is better than both the Red Sox (13th) and Yankees (14th).

   -- The Mariners are 8th despite falling off the face of the Earth in the past month.

   -- The Nationals (25th), who are all but costing the Mets the NL East on their own, are lower than the Orioles (23rd), who haven't won consecutive games since, I believe, Eric Gagne did it for them.

   I'm not real big on Internet polls ... I believe I'm on record as saying they're "a massive waste of time only in use because it's an easy way for media to seem like they're interactive and/or give a flip about what you have to say."

   This, though, this is the worst one I've ever seen. There are average folks out there who are eager to rank 30 baseball teams critically?

   Jesus, get a MySpace and just do surveys all afternoon. At least then you can drop your friends names and type "lol" a lot.
Sept. 24, 2007 - Douchenozzle Personified
   Golf: I played on the Cape today, but there will be no card because my score was embarrassing. Embarrassing even by "have only played 45 holes this year standards," and downright stupid when you consider I reached a par-5 in two and made a birdie.

   The course was not all that difficult. But when you do things like driving your ball 50 yards from the green, then chunking three consecutive attempted approach shots with a lob wedge, every course is difficult.

   Going, Going, Back, Back, To ...: The season didn't end Monday, it ends on Sunday. But if it ended Monday:

W-L
GB
Games Left
Cleveland
92-63
--
Road: Seattle (4), Kansas City (3)
Sox
92-64
0.5
Home: Oakland (2), Minnesota (4)
Los Anaheim
92-65
1
Road: Texas (2), Oakland (3)
New York
90-66
2.5
Road: Tampa Bay (3), Baltimore (3)

No. 1 Cleveland vs. No. 4 New York / No. 2 Boston vs. No. 3 Los Anaheim

   Few basic notes which may be common knowledge: The Sox can't play New York in the first round. The Sox hold the tie-breaker with both Cleveland (5-2 head-to-head) and Los Anaheim (6-4). Cleveland and the Angels split 10 meetings, so Cleveland wins that tie-breaker based on divisional record. The higher seed hosts Games 1 (Oct. 3 or 4), 2 (Oct. 5) and 5 (Oct. 10).

   From a personal standpoint, I want to go to Cleveland. From a Sox fan standpoint, you want to go to California, because the Angels to me are the easier road.


   • I can only hope I still enjoy this this much when:

Awesome.

People are afraid of me!

   I'm lierally giddy. So many highlights. "A mother ... of children." The idea that a 21-year-old who's getting a full scholarship should be coddled like he was playing intramurals at a vocational high school. The grain of truth that's drowned in a sea of Mike Gundy smashing his metaphorical cock against the podium.

   "Or says he's fat!" The clapping from the douchebags boosters in the back of the room! It just keeps on coming!

   If I was in college, I would make like 50 Photoshops to highlight this thing. I would become a Web celebrity for a few moments. Instead, I'll do what a mature adult would do at a time like this.: Go watch it six more times.

   The best part is it doesn't even matter than the original column wasn't that good, or interesting, or well written. Captain Visor up here made that all meaningless. Thank you, Orange Warrior. You're going to make a heck of a teen girls softball coach someday.

Sept. 23, 2007 - Passing on Cheese Curds
   Once More, With Feeling: Total time I spent watching the latest dominant Patriots victory: 0:00.

   Clearly, my obliviousness and radio listening is an integral part of their success.


   • Because next week is going to be eaten up with making amends to random middle relievers and planning which tourist attraction I'll fail to cram in around baseball -- Disneyland! Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Some Detroit casino! -- today was my last chance to partake in the only true Western Mass. tradition.

   The Big E!

   Three hours really doesn't do "New England's Great State Fair" justice, but if you've been going since you were too young to know what's going on, it's sufficient. For you, though, I'll distill it down a little more.

Butter Cow 2007
-- This year's butter sculpture is a milk truck.

   Not 200 feet away from this was the Marines booth, which featured little more than a chin-up bar and some Marines there to scream that you were a fat slob.

   The Army booth down the way? A tricked-out Hummer with a pudgy solider sitting in the back of it. They clearly knew the audience a little bit better.
Sept. 22, 2007 - Wed 4: Who Are You All Again?
   Bold Pronouncements: So glad I booked all those hotel rooms that I'll have to cancel and redo.


-- Really? Not the strongest? Come off that ledge.

   Since I booked on Monday afternoon, on the presumption that the Red Sox would be playing Games 3 and 4 of a potential ALDS in Cleveland, Los Anaheim or Detroit, Boston is 1-3. Formerly 2.5 games up in the American League, they proceeded to lose three straight and fall right out of the position that largely assured they'd get home field.

   Now, I'll probably know where I'm going Sunday. Afternoon. At the earliest. This should be fun.

Best Record More About Home Field Than Format
-- This week's Inside Baseball isn't my best effort. That Stat, though, is superb.

   There's really no way there's any reader who enjoys the Stat That Time Forgot as much as I do. One of my favorite things to do every week.


   • Really, for most of the afternoon, I was a wedding crasher. Which is not to be confused with what passed for an actual wedding crasher: the two grandmothers who tripped and fell in the church, breaking the American record.

   When Julie and I attended the three weddings in July, it was all people whom Julie and I know pretty well. The first was a kid I went to high school with, but it was attended by lots of mutual friends. Julie and I were both in the wedding party of the second. The third was a guy I knew in high school, but who then went to UMass and worked with Julie at the college TV station.

   Today, I knew four people out of 100. Met the bride -- one of Julie's friends from high school -- maybe twice, know two of the other friends from high school pretty well, and Julie. And, logically, they were off being the bridal party when I showed up to a church filled with complete strangers.

   While the four people I knew were chilling out in the limo outside, I grabbed the first empty pew I could in the back of the church. Not five minutes after I got there, the pew behind me -- apparently friends of the groom -- began to discuss Julie's friend Julie and their initial impressions of her.

   The money quote:

"I kind of just kept checking for an Adam's apple."

   They sat in the back at the reception. Way in the back.


   Once at the reception, I delighted in the fact I'd both accidentally worn the exact wedding colors and that my seat at the head table with Julie was just tacked on one end -- everyone else filled up the long side facing the dance floor. Basically, I was blocking the cake from everyone's view, the figurative seat placement best for representing 11th Wheel status.

Wedding Golf Cart
-- Also delightful, the wedding golf cart.
Though mine I will drive into the reception.

   That I then did what I usually do at wedding receptions -- not dance for most of the evening -- surely didn't help matters.

   It was ... interesting. I'm pretty sure one of the groomsmen thinks my name is Josh, and the bride is apparently a member of The Red Hat Society, which meant there was a table of red-hatted women in the back who wouldn't stop whooping.

   If this reads as disjointed as I think it does, I've captured it pretty well. At least I don't have to do it again on Sunday, when two of Julie's friends from college are getting married in a non-religious ceremony. As it stands, there's the potential I'm going to miss the last three weddings of the year we're supposed to attend -- Oct. 6 is out now that the Sox have made the playoffs, and the two on Oct. 20 ... potential ALCS Game 6, above and beyond that one can't be in two places at once.

   This might literally be the worst write-up I've ever done. And I didn't even drink much of anything.
Sept. 21, 2007 - Proud Moment No. 2, At Least
   • I'd like to think that I'm becoming a more tolerant person. One that doesn't simply jump to conclusions without critical thinking -- like, say, when my city is covered by electronic you-know-whats. I still can't get all that up in arms about it, not because I'm from here but because I'd rather they overreact (when choosing between two wrongs).

   But this ... this is the dumbest, most enraging, most head-shaking story I've seen in weeks.

Troopers arrested an MIT student at gunpoint Friday after she walked into Logan International Airport wearing a computer circuit board and wiring on her sweatshirt. Authorities call it a fake bomb; she called it art.

   And the Fark thread about it ... not much better. Yes, of course you ought to be able to walk into an airport or anywhere in America and do whatever the hell you want. How dare someone speak up, or not know exactly what in the hell that lump of wires was instantly!

   From the very beginning, this had "art / political statement" written all over it. The sort of thing I'd be too stupid to fully comprehend. Though also in the running, because she is an MIT student, is a complete lack of common sense / self-awareness.

   Maybe it's just the types of people I surround myself with, but I could see someone that smart strolling into an airport with a circuit board hanging off them and not thinking twice.

Sept. 20, 2007 - A History of Gaffes
   Still Better Than The Organ Lottery: Matty Cooch, whose name just keeps coming up here for things, was a winner in the Red Sox ALDS ticket lottery. Barring a collapse of epic proportions beyond the epic proportions that are already brewing, he will see his first-ever playoff baseball game whenever the Sox open at Fenway Park.

   The key word being "he," since despite being culled into a select group of purchasers and signing in to the system even earlier than he was supposed to, he got exactly one ticket: RF Box Sec. 92, which is one of those sections beyond Pesky's Pole that face the outfield.

   Faced with seats in his section are already selling in the $500 range, he says he's still going to go ... playoff baseball does hold that appeal, even over a pretty hefty potential profit.

   Bless him. It's on backs like his that the Red Sox have become some sort of runaway money-printing machine, though the use of runaway implies that they all leg it out to first base all the time. (Now that's media bitterness!)


   • You all remember Mark Redman.

Mark Redman
-- Now in Colorado, pitching better.

   My run-in stemmed from the idea of doing a nice story about him: how he was pitching better, how he was dealing with the "you shouldn't have been an All-Star thing," etc. To say he wasn't game would be an understatement.

   Really, it's a bit outside my normal beat. If I'd just shown no effort, it never would have happened.

   Fast forward to Sept. 9th's Inside Baseball, the one in which I go over the Rookie of the Year race. After listing the five guys most worthy of consideration outside the Sox trio, I threw a couple extra names in because they struck me as guys who'll get consideration, rightly or wrongly.

Chicago's Josh Fields (leads rookies with 18 homers "and 105 strikeouts), K.C. Alex Gordon (strong second half plus preseason hype), Oakland's Travis Buck (outslugging Pedroia with a .377 on-base) and Minnesota's Pat Neshek (bit of a poor-man's Okajima).

   A few days later -- it may have been as much as a week, I can't recall -- I get a short note from a reader asking why I think Pat Neshek is a rookie. It wasn't really clear, but I figured he thought he wasn't.

Pat Neshek

   Sure enough, the reader was right -- though Neshek didn't throw the 50 innings needed to clear his rookie status in 2006, he had met the MLB service time requirement. I e-mailed back, explaining that he'd been on a stat list of "Rookie Pitchers," but that both the list and I (for using it) were wrong.

   Didn't hear back from him. Not unprecedented, but I'd also asked him where he was getting his info from ... this shows the requirements I quoted were right, but I wasn't entirely sold from the source I'd gotten the info from.

   So I started doing some reading on Neshek, building on the two things I knew about him:: he's been a pretty damn good sidearm reliever this season (though he's now been shut down) and he has his own blog.

   Well, today I ended up on that blog, and I'm pretty sure I now know where my note came from:

The other day we had our Rookie Dress up and it was a blast once again. Contrary to a couple writers out there I am NOT a rookie this year, therefore did not have to humiliate myself like I did last year!
-- Sept. 11, 2007

   I'm presuming someone on his message board pointed it out, but I suppose he could have a Google search running on himself or something.

   However it came to be, Pat Neshek -- who only wasn't an All-Star this season because there was a Red Sox player involved with him in the Final Vote -- thinks I'm an idiot. I can't say he's wrong, since I've been calling myself an idiot for years, but that's not the point.

   This must be made right, and as fate would have it, the solution is very clear.

   The Red Sox final series of the regular season is with ... the Twins ... at Fenway Park.

   Less than a week from now, I will walk over to the visitor's clubhouse, find Pat Neshek, ask him if he has a moment and introduce myself as "the guy who you blogged about three weeks ago." I am debating whether, as a peace offering, to give him the only autographed baseball card I ever received through the mail: from former Red Sox manager 'Walpole' Joe Morgan.

   I would have to find it first, but I'm pretty sure I know where it is. Its most telling characteristic is that Morgan used a ball-point pen without much ink left, so the card is more engraved than autographed. Receiving it was the highlight of whatever year I got it in.

   I have very high hopes for this encounter, since just the fact that he has a blog probably means he's cool. Of course, it never crossed my mind that the Redman thing would go poorly, and I am the common denominator between the two stories.

   Whatever happens, I take great pride in knowing Grantland Rice never had these problems.
Sept. 19, 2007 - Like The Bartman Ball ... Pasta Sauce
   From The Wires: In the pantheon of AP photography that has become my background at work,

World's Most Famous Airport Bathroom
-- this one is the most likely to convince people I have a problem.

The bathroom at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis where U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was arrested in a sex sting is shown on Sept. 7. Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport said the airport has since been giving directions to the men's room near a central food court and shopping area. "It's become a tourist attraction," said Evans. (AP Photo/Andy King)

   I'm sure it's only coincidental this revelation coincides with the release of another bin Laden video.

   Perhaps the best part is these are running at the same time as "AP news editor Josh Hoffner poses for a photo while renovating his bathroom in New York. With a little help from his parents, Hoffner was able to renovate his bathroom over one weekend for under $500." Like I had any idea it would be difficult to renovate a bathroom for under $500 ... I've just presumed toilets were cheap for years.


   • Wait, the hits just keep on coming.

No Description Possible.

Erinn Klatt holds her son Dominic Klatt, 1, over the toilet, Thursday at their home in Sutton, Mass.

Dominic is a product of a "diaper-free" movement founded on the belief that babies are born with an instinctive ability to signal when they need to go to the bathroom. Erinn Klatt, who began practicing the so-called "elimination communication" at birth with her son, said he has not wet his bed at night since he was six months old. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

   Now this ... this is in no way worth the ensuing lecture from an editor that I would clearly deserve.

   I'd be much better off spending my time trying to perfect this practice with Newton.

   In an unrelated note, Marc Ecko is a douchenozzle. Not because of what he's doing, or that he spent three-quarters of a million dollars to do it, but because "blow up the baseball with dynamite" is not an option. Nor is "donate it to some youth league for use in play."

   Besides, is he going to commissioning a rocket solely to fly this baseball somewhere? If he can swing that with his play-around income, he can definitely go to hell.

   The tagging Air Force Onehoax, though ... much funnier.

September 18, 2007 - Game Over, Now 0 for 4
   Fun, But Not In An Embedded Way: This is how you go about promoting women's soccer coverage.

   This would make it in Inside Baseball if I could somehow describe a bat standing on its end in text. You know, like I just did.


   • In the past 12 hours, I have received the following e-mails not from straight readers, but from friends of mine who are looking for answers.

Subject: Please explain to me why can't Francona manage a game?
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

   So the more Red Sox games I've been watching, the more painfully obvious it becomes to me that Terry Francona is a horrible manager when it comes to actually managing a game. I wanted a "professional" opinion on this one. It seems like he takes reactive measures and not preventative measures. Did you see tonight's game? Was there any reason someone wasn't up in the bullpen after Gagne walked the guy to have guys on first and second? Why wasn't he pulled after the bases were loaded.

   I just feel like I find myself saying time and again "why isn't he doing something here". It seems like the Sox have an amazing player base, clearly the best in the league, but just continually mismanage their usage.

   Am I alone here?

   . . . P.S. Hello, it's been a while, how are you?


Subject: hi
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2007
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

   Hey,

   Long time, no talk. I know you're busy and all being engaged and whatnot, but how have you been? When are you coming home to visit?

   Dare I ask, "How about them Sox?" Last night was ugly. We should send Gagne back to wherever he came from.

   The coming unglued Red Sox ... bringing people back together in a way AT&T's long distance plan hasn't for years.

Sizing Up Sox For Early October
-- Man, timing is everything.

September 17, 2007 - Spam
   Fancy Writin': The New York Times dissects the Emmy Awards.

Décolletage is always the least supporting part of an awards night, and even talented, older actresses like Felicity Huffman and Ms. Mirren showed more chest than decorum. Joely Fisher's yellow dress was so deeply cut that her fellow presenter, Brad Garrett, rather ungallantly pantomimed a mental note, "Buy milk."

   I had a feeling I knew what they were going for with "decolletage," but regardless, I ended up on the corresponding Wikipedia page. There are three "see also" links connected to that page.

   One of them is far more awesome than the other two, and contains a cartoon that looks like it was scanned off the flight information card for the most awesome airline you've never flown on.

   It's high class to a complete absence of class in three easy jumps.


   • This note was not sent to me by a reader, but a peer who then forwarded it along.

I'm so shocked at all the vultures (ie sports writers, columnists and reporters) and their holier-than-thou attitudes.

Coach Bellichick did not murder, rape or molest anyone. He had a camera on the opposition for five (5) minutes when super JEALOUS mangini reported it.

It is only fair that ALL the teams cough up their videotapes for inspection by Goodell. Every team spies. Why do you think the coaches hold cards over their mouths? That's been going on for years.

Murderers, rapists and perverts are not assessed anywhere near the penalties served on the patriots. I hope that all of you vicious critics check your own saintly qualities and find something else to go nuts over. Get over yourselves.

   To recap, "Murderers, rapists and perverts are not assessed anywhere near the penalties served on the Patriots." Read that. Think about that. I would love to see the draft chart where a first round draft pick is listed as being worth "JAIL TIME."

   While the whole thing just makes me furious at fans everywhere, the crafting of "super JEALOUS mangini" makes me giggle. I can see the enraged typist, arms flying in the air as she punches the keys, speaking the words as they go on the screen.

   Perspective is awesome.
September 14-16, 2007 - Yankees Weekend
   This Week's Stat That Time Forgot, Not-Baseball Edition: From everyone's favorite Trial of the Century:

(O.J.) Simpson was acquitted for the 1994 double murder, but he was found liable for the deaths in a civil case in 1997 and was ordered to pay the Goldman family $38 million and Ms. Simpson’s family $24 million. To date, he has paid about $10,000 of the judgment, said a lawyer for the Goldman family, David J. Cook.

   So that's not why he wanted his stuff back, I guess.


   • As Yankees weekends go, this one was not half bad. Twice, I had the distinct feeling that I was watching something very special, though Friday's 7-2 comeback (or blow-up, as perspective may be) took a little while.

   Five points, but first, the unnecessarily large story links.

Dice-K Remains Mystery
-- Friday, written quick to avoid the crunch of high school football.


Ramirez Still Not Ready To Return
-- Friday's Notebook


Beckett's Evolution Shines Through in Win
-- Saturday's MVP performance was from John Farrell, Sox pitching coach.


Rebuilding Begins Anew For Twins
-- Inside Baseball. Can't be bad when a player from 1904 gets referenced.


Sox Surviving Manny's Absence
-- Sunday's story, written too quick given they actually did what things up well before deadline.


Durable Youkilis Stuck in an Unlikely Position
-- Sunday's notebook, which could've used the time afterward, but couldn't.

   A pretty mixed bag, though the Sunday story's a major air ball given the pitcher's duel that developed. By the time it became clear that was the story, it was too late to start over again.

   Anyway:

   1) The longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history, meet THE SECOND-LONGEST NINE-INNING GAME IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY.

   It boggles the mind that I've been at the two longest anything in MLB history ... I mean, Jesus. That's a lot of history. And the best part was I'd written my story under the premise I wouldn't know how the game ended when I had to file, so I was one of the few people who didn't have to scramble to rewrite when the Yankees decided to score six in the eighth.

   Sportswriters bitch all the time ... it just kind of comes with the territory. But you have never seen a group go so sour so fast as when late-game activities force lots of extra work. If you didn't hate us before, you would then, especially if you were clamoring outside the gates to get standing room tickets for some obscene price.

   2) In the interests of not making this a watered-down version of what so many one-hand-typing perverts have already done before me, I will simply say that I'm a bit concerned for Erin Andrews, who both is frighteningly hot and looks as though she would snap in half in a minor windstorm.

   For whatever reason, I was fascinated by the fact that I was watching her on TV Thursday night, as she was the sideline reporter for the West Virginia-Maryland game on in the background at work, then standing in the general vicinity of her Friday night as she worked the Sox game. Let's presume that all I was fascinated with.

   In the interests of personal self-esteem building, she probably does not have a cat named after a famous physicist.


   3) The Patriots have been frighteningly dominant in their first two victories of the year, both of which were apparently extremely compelling television. (How often, as will inevitably happen when the ratings come on, do the Sox-Yankees get blown out on a Sunday night?)

   I've saw barely half of the fourth quarter of the Jets game, then none of last night's outside of watching it unfold on the kick-ass NFL Gametracker.

   In semi-related news, Matty Cooch is 25-6 picking games with no spread this season, in the very early lead for a pool whose first prize is probably big enough to warrant the attention of law enforcement officials. As usually happens with these things, he was roped into playing very soon before the start of the season.

   I probably don't get a finder's fee.


   4) In a span of 24 hours, I was told I was traveling everywhere for the Red Sox playoffs, then told people were "hesitant" about it.

   Saturday broke my streak of 15 consecutive games attended at which I parked for free. Under the formula that it costs a member of the media $25 per game to park in the Fenway media lot, I've saved my bosses $550 this season. Sadly, these two paragraphs are entirely unrelated.

   5) The most fun moment of the weekend for me -- outside of the start-to-finish excitement of Sunday's game -- was that after a ball-crushing loss to their chief rivals, Clay Buchholz dressed up like a pirate hooker, Brandon Moss and Jacoby Ellsbury wore Dorothy Gale costumes, and Daisuke Matsuzaka conducted an informal press conference dressed like the green Teletubby.

   There are so many quotes that will never see the light of print. Hopefully some unscrupulous somebody gets on the case.
September 13, 2007 - Mentoring
   Oddball Update: This press release announces that Captain Psychopath failed to make the top 10 in the voting for Red Sox Nation President, eliminating him from contention.

"Those in the Top 10 are an interesting and diverse group," said Dr. Charles A. Steinberg, Red Sox Executive Vice President/Public Affairs. "It is often said that the Red Sox inspire the writings of the poets, an adage validated by the presence of three authors of national acclaim. Red Sox fans also feel a special connection to their players, evidenced by three former players with strong personalities on the list. And for the thousands of 'regular fans,' we see interesting people with humorous and touching stories of their connections to the club."

   He later added, "Also, no one else in the Top 10 physically scares us. Except, of course, for the Red Sox T-shirt for 1,400 straight days, but that's much cuter."

   It's neck and neck between Rich Garces and the dog in my heart. It needs to be in yours as well, though the dog's mere involvement this far means I should probably next year form a campaign around a Cheeto that sort of looks like Mike Greenwell.

   Or someone should, anyway.

No Finality From The Finale Series
-- Sox-Yankees. For the gabillionth time.

   • Boston Globe, thank you for enlightening the masses that the odds are against you when gambling.

   The saddest part of all of this? They probably did enlighten lots of people. Even though they seemed bipolar about the presentation.

If $26,000,000 sounds like a good number, try contemplating the odds of winning Massachusetts's Mega Millions jackpot. The chances you'll win the jackpot are 1 in 175,711,536, but don't worry, you're odds of winning as much as $2 are a lucky 1 in 75.

Odds calculated by the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission.

-- Didn't see the your/you're until right now.

   Page one, "you can't fight the odds." Page three, play the lottery where there's "a lucky 1 in 75" shot of you winning a free couple hours parking at a Boston meter.

   I have no doubt some jackoff intern from BU produced it, which in my mind makes what I'm doing helping the next generation without me having to see how old I am vis a vis hot broadcast journalism co-eds. I consider that a win.
September 12, 2007 - The Desk Was Much More Fun
   Perfect For Rash Decisions!: At the local Shaw's supermarket in Whale City ...

Rogaine 'n Razors
-- ... they keep the hair growth products right next to the head razors.

   One guess as to which one's cheaper. Though if they actually worked in regrowing hair, I suppose to juxtaposition is a little less funny.

   Makes me wonder whatever happened to that box of Kirkland brand hair growth stuff I bought at Costco during my senior year at BU. That was a dark time.

Newton's Shame
-- I don't know what he did, but this seems to fit.

   • Bill Belichick apologized today, with a lot of sources reporting it wasn't really clear what he was apologizing for.

   All I could think of was this guy.

"I accept full responsibility for that," he went on. "I'm sorry, but I'm trying to go forward now. Most of all, to the fans, I'm sorry. I know it's going to be hard, and I understand how they feel."

"I know the fans might want more, but at this present time because of all the legal matters, I can't get into specifics," he said. "Someday, hopefully, I will be able to."

Said his agent, Arn Tellem: "The answers are there if you look for them."

   Just the sort of comparison you always figured would be getting made with the New England Patriots.

   Tonight, 67,584 people watched the Brazil-Mexico soccer match at Gillette Stadium. That smashes the old record of 61,000+ that I've cited repeatedly from the 2002 MLS Cup, which as soccer matches go, was an awful spectacle compared to this.

   I could've covered last night's affairs, but I opted not to. Mostly because the guy who wrote that story seemed very eager to go, but also because after the Celtic-Revolution friendly that sucked the life out of me, I didn't fully grasp the opportunity that was coming to town.

"It's the best national team in the world for the world's sport, with four or five of its biggest stars, and Mexico, who's our biggest soccer playing neighbor with a big immigrant population in this country with their first-team stars," (Brad) Feldman said. "I think soccer has to have 120 years of tradition like it has in those places," he added. "End of story."

   As I've said a hundred times before, I'm an idiot.

September 11, 2007 - Times Six
   • I just watched Keith Olbermann's "This Hole in the Ground" speech the same way I did last year. I attach no opinion to it other than to say he's clearly speaking from the heart.

   Six years later, I've still never seen most of it. Of course I've "seen it," but not as most people did.

   Each year, in something cool they apparently do for several events, MSNBC replays their live Sept. 11 coverage from 2001 on the anniversary. Each year, I make plans to wake up and watch it, because I was oblivious as it was all happening. By the time I finally got wind of just what the hell was going on, the towers had fallen, the planes were out of the air and the aftermath had already begun.

   As I sit here thinking about it, the only man who actually conveyed to me what was going on as it was happening -- my military history professor with whom I had a 9 a.m. class that morning -- has since lost his son to the Iraq war that was spawned by that day.

   I've slept though every year since. This time, it was until 11 a.m.

   It still seems funny to me -- with funny being taken in the proper context -- that my journalism instinct never kicked in that day. Only when I got back to my apartment in the early afternoon, to get the message from the DFP that all hands were on deck and that they needed me to come down and work, did that side ever occur to me.

   I'm still glad I didn't go, but I'm not really sure why, since I simply watched television until about 2 a.m. And to think I actually surprised someone this evening when I said I really didn't think my future in this business was as a reporter.

   As I look at the current syllabus for "The American Military Experience," it occurs to me that I retained next to nothing from that class other than the story from 9/11. I remember enjoying it too, even though Professor Bacevich is one of those people who intimidates the hell out of you for pretty much the enitre semester.

   Generally speaking, I have my shit together, but he ... that's a guy who has his shit together at all times.

September 10, 2007 - Wasting Off Days
   • Over the weekend, Julie went away for a couple of days while I stayed here working -- that's been happening a lot lately.

   When I got home on the first night she was gone, this was waiting for me on the computer.

Boardmaker Magic
-- What? Most people don't need printed communication boards?

   Only now do I realize the potential for mischief with a program designed to create symbol cards for special-needs children. I am, after all, a big supporter of the Push Button, Receive Bacon movement.

   Can it really be called a movement when involvement in it is seeing similar picto-instructions and failing to match something so pitch perfect?
September 9, 2007 - Who Needs Football?
   An Actual Improvement: Last year, I didn't play a real 18 holes until the middle of November. That's almost as depressing as early September being an improvement.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
424
415
543
183
380
438
353
168
511
3415
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
4
3
5
36
Cooch
4
9
6
3
5
6
5
5
8
51
• LeBaron Hills CC - Lakeville, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
491
184
339
210
413
552
412
389
398
3388
PAR
5
3
4
3
4
5
4
4
4
36
Cooch
6
4
5
4
5
7
4
5
4
44
PAR 72
96, 24 OVER PAR
6803 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 9 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 6 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 3 of 18 - Putts: 35

   It took 27 holes for me to get back to my barely-better-than-hacker play. After the front nine, I wasn't actually as depressed as history would have you believe, because playing a course like LeBaron Hills, I wasn't exactly hoping to shoot any better than 90. Even at my best, it's a very tough course to get into the 80s on.

   Course, we were playing with my buddy Ed's nephew, who's a stud high school golfer and "struggled" his way to a 79. Surprisingly, I don't hate him.

   There were at least two holes where I played the length almost entirely from fescue grass. The par on No. 1 was one of them: duffed drive that went about 30 yards, hacked out to the left side, 5-iron to a greenside bunker ... and a chip-in for four.

   I suppose it's not a coincidence No. 2 was my worst hole of the day ... that was karma.


   • Patriots? Dominant.

   Giants? Better than I expected, but that was before they lost their quarterback AND starting running back, probably for a month each at least.

   John Madden, of course, then spent an inordinate amount of time directly and indirectly pleading for the return of Tiki Barber. Barber, who's pissed off the entire organization in the course of a year, rapidly accelerating the conversion so everyone would remember he was relevant as a TV analyst.

   I can't think of one athlete who went from zero to asshole that fast. Even Barry Bonds let it build over time.


   Britney? Oh, Sweet Christmas.

   I'm not going to post any pictures. I'm not going to say anything specific. (Let Google News be your guide.) All I know is once we figured out that MTV would be replaying the ceremony immediately after it ended, we flipped the channel. We watched it.

   And everyone in the office wished they just replayed her over and over and over again. Especially since we ended up on the local NBC 11 o'clock news, which appeared to be a broadcast airing of every anchor's best Britney wordplay interspersed with the evening's actual important events.

   There was a period in my life where the VMAs was something I looked forward to most of the late summer. It was a sign that it was time for school again, but it was also a hell of a show. The highlight which leaps to mind is the 1996 show, where Oasis half-assed a performance of "Champagne Supernova" and Dennis Miller mocked them.

   This year? The chunk I saw was total 'WTF?' It wasn't even that I didn't know most of the acts nominated, because I did ... the whole production looked draped in Ritalin. Jamie Foxx is presenting an award by plugging his new movie while drunk, Jennifer Garner is confused and mangling an award winner, who's then shown being mobbed at some party ... oh, and here's Miss Teen South Carolina looking as flummoxed as ever!

   That's Vegas, I guess. Fun while you're there, bewildering when you're trying to figure out what the hell happened.

September 8, 2007 - Why Loving Companies is Dumb
   • Now, I laughed a little at the fervor around the iPhone when it came out ... I think we all did. It's like that with every new product -- PSP, video game systems, some sort of fashion phenomenon I wouldn't understand -- but when it comes to stuff from Apple, there's always that different edge to it.

   Apple products, of course, are a religion. The people who love them, by and large, feel like they're somehow owed something by them.

   So when they get pissed off, it's usually much funnier.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has made few missteps over the last decade, but it angered many of its most loyal customers by dropping the price of its iPhone to $400 from $600 only two months after it first went on sale. They let the company know on blogs, through e-mail messages and with phone calls.

On Thursday, in a remarkable concession, Steven P. Jobs acknowledged that the company had abused its core customers’ trust and extended a $100 store credit to the early iPhone buyers.

. . .

The rebate, at least, was enough to mollify some early iPhone customers like Kevin Tofel, a blogger in Telford, Pa., who writes about mobile phones at a blog called jkOnTheRun. Mr. Tofel was so annoyed with the surprising iPhone price drop that he was planning to make T-shirts that read, 'I was a $200 iPhone beta tester for Apple.'

"I just felt so used as a consumer," he said. "They hyped up the iPhone for six months and built up our expectations, and then they grabbed our extra $200 and ran."

-- Please stop talking, and go make those shirts.

   So what you're telling me is companies drum up interest in their products, then use that interest to make increased profits off them? Wow. I can't wait to rush over and read your blog, where you perhaps offer insights into today's news like "Anatomy of an Outrage."

   As I'm sure has been said by people better than me, APPLE DOESN'T LOVE YOU. IT LOVES YOUR MONEY, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

iPhone!
-- YEAH! I am the king of expendable income!

Ken Dulaney, a vice president at Gartner Research, said that in general starting high and dropping the price slowly was a smart strategy. By starting the price high, manufacturers can gauge early demand and reap greater profit from early adopters who are willing to pay any amount to be the first with a particular device. "It's probably a formula taught in business school," Mr. Dulaney said.

That must have been what Apple was counting on. But the size and speed of the price cut alienated some of Apple's most loyal supporters.

"My love affair with Apple is officially over," wrote one iPhone owner on the Unofficial Apple Weblog site.

   Maybe now you can move on to loving people, you anonymous fucking twit.

   Seconds of web sleuthing found the thread cited in the article. Topped by ways to show your indignance, there are a couple people who point out this is not actually the first time in recorded history technology has gotten cheaper drastically fast.

   But they, thankfully, didn't slow down the runaway comedy train.

   If I didn't know any better, I'd say that people who have $600 to throw away on a cellular phone really just want people around them to know they have $600 to throw away on a cellular phone.


Sizing Up The AL Rookie Race
-- This week's Inside Baseball secretly replaces normal stat analysis with VORP and Folgers crystals!

September 7, 2007 - Could It Have Been Worse?
   • This morning, I golfed for the first time in 2007.

   In nine holes, I made three eights. On a par three, I hit the green with my tee shot, then four-putted for a double bogey.

   I'm reasonably sure I don't feel like saying any more. Other than I'll be playing 18 holes Sunday.

   Also, apropos of nothing, a woman made the following comment as she walked by my window this afternoon:

"You know you're a die-hard smoker when you
have your hands full and you can still get a cigarette."

   Also, when your hands are full, all anyone can smell off you is cigarettes.

September 6, 2007 - Paper on Paper (But Not Here)
   You Think Hers is Grim: Actual CNN headline list from some point today:

Grim Calculus
-- So, Uncle Jesse didn't teach her advanced math?

   The story, sadly, has nothing to do with math. It has to do with her not smiling.

"I don't want my picture taken," the 21-year-old actress tells Entertainment Weekly magazine. "The only time I think it's OK is at a red-carpet event or a photo shoot.

"So every time I see paparazzi, I cover my face so they don't get a picture, and I'm just 'the mean person who doesn't smile.'"

Olsen, whose waiflike figure has made her a target of media scrutiny, avoids public displays of attention.

"I would love to be able to swim in the ocean in Malibu," she says. "But that is asking for a bikini shot. That's inviting something that I don't want to happen. I don't need to be on a 'Who's Skinny, Who's Fat, Who's Looking Healthy, Who's Not Eating?' list."

   She has an obvious point.

   But she also looks like some sort of demon.


   • It took an extra five hours to finish the Patriots preview, which involved scanning a piece of paper to reroduce it on another piece of paper. Of course, I left all the PDFs at work, so I won't be posting it here until the weekend.

   Until then, savor all the photos being put out of the now-dead Luciano Pavarotti. Depending on the facial expression, he is the scariest looking MFer on the planet. Or formerly on the planet, as the case may be.

   It's the eyebrows. If he were a regular guy who ended up on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," they would have all spontaneously combusted with homosexual indignity. Even the chef guy.
September 5, 2007 - So, I'm Tired For Nothing
   • I was called in for an overtime shift today, to put together our Patriots preview section of later in the week.

   In 11 hours, I completed exactly one page.

   Now, there's reasons for this that don't involve me being an inefficient boob. I was reading stories. I was working on other things. I was doing the most labor-intensive part of the preview first, and making it far more detailed than anyone other than me will appreciate.

   But inefficiency is inefficiency. And that is the most glorious display I can think of for quite some time.
September 4, 2007 - There's A Line. You Crossed It.
   • I had really hoped not to beat this Red Sox Nation thing into the ground, honest. But Tuesday's final note barely scratched the surface of what we're dealing with here. This man could legitimately be someone's nightmare.

   Here's his official candidate platform. Here's his blog, where it's been noted he was directly nominated for this thing by Larry Lucchino, who gets most of his letters directly. And what, pray tell, do these letters say?

   To his one-on-one interview!

I sent this to Larry {Lucchino] today:

Larry,

Time to cut the cord with Wily Mo. His last at bat was brutal. Even Orsillo said, all the pitcher needs to do is throw a curve ball with 2 strikes, because Wily Mo will swing and miss. He did, and Pena looked lost again. We don't need Sanders, we need Jacoby Beep Beep Ellsbury, the Navajo Roadrunner, back in Boston now. Just release Pena.

Don't let Tavarez start tonight. He looks like a deer in headlights. Switch roles with him and Delcarmen. Manny could give you 85 pitches tonight, and next time more. Gabbard Schilling and Delcarmen give us the six man rotation, without Tavarez. When Schilling returns you could start that. Until then put in the hometown kid in the rotation.

   I could attempt to figure out which Tavarez start he's talking about -- as fate would have it, he appears to have been right -- but this speaks to something else entirely.

   Never mind these e-mails completely being out of the span of Larry Lucchino's control ... they're encouraging Lucchino to stick his nose where it doesn't belong, which is the reason Theo stormed off and the whole front office became a bad episode of "As The World Turns."

   Unwittingly, Superfan is trying to sow the seeds of dischord. And the Red Sox, seeking to build a connection with a fan base who was out and out neglected for 70 years, are now encouraging him with the promise of a figurehead title.

I feel my writing helped them win before as this is what I wrote after game 2 against NY in 2004:

"I'm going to say something now that probably no other Red Sox fan would even say, or even think. I hope they lose game three and fall behind 3 games to zero. Then I want to see the greatest comeback ever in the history of baseball. The 2004 Boston Red Sox will be the first team in baseball history to come back from the grave, and win a 7 game series after losing the first 3 games. Then on top of that they will then go on to win the World Series in four straight, over the Cardinals."

Then I wrote this the morning of game 4. I called it The Sermon on the Mound:

"The Sox are my (Bob) shepherd; I shall not want (more after ending this 1918 chant). He maketh me to lie down in the shadow of the green (monster) pastures: he leadeth me beside the still (muddy) waters. He restoreth my soul, (with confidence to hit and catch the ball): he leadeth me in the paths (of the baselines in spite of the third base coach's poor decisions) for Smoky Joe's name's sake. Yea, though I walk (on four straight pitches) through the valley of the shadow of (a sweeping Yankee) death, I will fear no evil (empire): for thou art with me; thy bat and thy glove they comfort me. Thou preparest a seventh game before me in the presence of mine (NY) enemies: thou anointest my head with (glove) oil; my cap runneth over. Surely goodness and victory shall follow me all the days of these playoffs: and I will dwell in the house of Ted for the World Series."

   Deep breath ...

YOUR WRITINGS HAD NOTHING TO DO
WITH ANYTHING, YOU WELL-MEANING PSYCHOPATH!

   And for the record, I said the same thing (in a blind rage) at some point during the 2004 postseason. Apparently, I'm a prophet as well, just one who's bad at touting his own merits.

   Look. I have no doubt this man is a lovely human being. He's probably a great friend. He's clearly dedicated to the things he loves, and for what this is, I find it hard to believe that even Rich Garces would be a better fit for the job.

   But there's something innately frightening here. I feel bad saying this without knowing him, but this man is out of his mind. His writings have a tinge of lunacy that's hard to place, but is somewhat unsettling at the same time.

   This is not some jaded writer shitting on the common man, because I grew up a fan too. I've loved the Red Sox since I was eight years old, and just because I don't have stacks of correspondence or a plastic card in my wallet, it doesn't mean I'm faking it. The greatest thing my job has given me in the past five years, honestly, is perspective. I enjoy baseball more now because once you see inside of it, you have a better feel for it.

   You drop whatever all of this above is. Not entirely, but just enough that you don't miss it. This, this is absolute lunacy. Counting the number of people you've corresponded with. Sort of taking credit for everything that's ever happened. Writing the leaders of the team "every day."

   I don't know. Maybe he has been the inspiration behind even half the things he talks about ... ideas come from odd places all the time.

   All I know is if this guy moved in across the hall from me, I'd keep the door locked forever and only travel under the cover of night.

BDD: How do you feel about Larry Lucchino putting celebrities on the ballot? Don't they already have enough notoriety and outlets? Should the president title be reserved for an average-Joe fan?

Swanson: I feel it will be a regular fan that wins; the others are just using it for fun. For me it is real.

   No shit. I couldn't tell.
September 3, 2007 - And Yet I Labor
   • Though I've made fewer Fenway Park games this season than in past years, I've invariably made it on most of the nights when the new Red Sox Magazine (program) comes out. Because we're the media, we get free copies of it. Copies which will sit on my end table until I grow tired of their being there, and I give them to someone who I imagine wants them.

   YOU could be that someone, if you act now! Operators are sitting by, playing Japanese baseball games on a Super Nintendo emulator!

   Mostly, they're harmless propaganda -- stories by my peers that look to have involved a little work for a little pay, 1967 reduxes, stuff you knew weeks ago, etc. But the sixth edition, which we received tonight, contained something special, and it's not a cover photo of rookies Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka that I saw the shoot for weeks ago.

Announcing the Top 25 Candidates
for PRESIDENT of RED SOX NATION

   The entire President concept is something that's fascinated some, baffled most and ashamed others. I've largely been quiet about it, both because I can't believe it's real and, knowing it's real, I'm trying to pretend it's not happening.

   This thing is serious. They're giving the elected a trip to spring training, use of a private suite and other actual real prizes basically because ... I don't even know.

   This team has sold out 374 games in a row. They don't have giveaway days at the ballpark because they don't need to have giveaway days at the ballpark.

   Instead of bobbleheads, we get this. And I get to read the 25 manifestos of the finalist candidates as I flip through this magazine.

   I have to share. I can't not share. I'm not going to post all their names and take them apart piece-by-piece, because there's no point. There's people out there who're undoubtedly more dedicated to that task.

   But I will post, without further comment (mostly), some of what they have to say. I just feel like I need to.

"Mornings aren't the same since the journalist and storyteller extraordinaire (Mike Barnicle) declined the offer to keep his radio talk show."
-- Barnicle, best known as the man fired for his storytelling.

"I fell in love with the Red Sox at the age of eight. I was very confused the following summer when I was nine, and Yaz was still 8."

"It the heart of Red Sox Nation, Saugus, Mass., lives (person), who has worn a Red Sox T-shirt for more than 1,400 consecutive days."

"Also, add an old-fashioned soda fountain booth, including Cherry Soda, Vanilla Soda, Root Beer floats, and Orange Soda. Kids would love this."

"To hear him at 'Game On!,' you would have thought
this 18-year-old was a veteran stand-up comic."
-- This sentence has never been written about anyone who is funny. Anyone.

"I will get Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, Smoky Joe Wood
and Janet Marie Smith into the Hall of Fame."
-- No, Peter, you won't. I don't think it works that way, but I could be wrong.

"As one of the most popular relief pitchers in Red Sox history, my first act as
President would be to give each member of Red Sox Nation an El Guapo 'Bobble Belly.'"
-- OK. I found one candidacy I can support. Rich Garces needs this.

"I would encourage NESN to bury every clip of Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner in an underground vault. I would sponsor a special line of T-shirts emblazoned only with positive images ..."

"The season will be cut down by 10 games, pushing back Opening Day 10 days to make sure no team is playing while it is snowing."
--Something the Red Sox clearly have a lot of control over.

"The Red Sox and Yankees will only be allowed to play one series before May 31st, and it should be the weekend series at Fenway ending with Patriots Day."
--Again ... thank God this guy's not supposed to be an expert.

"Consider the use of instant replay when it involves
plays at home plate, foul balls AND homeruns."
-- That's three!

"Perhaps no fan is more prolific in his writings to the Red Sox than Rick. From such ideas as changing starters (who only go six innings) to terminators (have them pitch the last six innings rather than the first) to portable seats that convert standing room to seating room, Rick has been a fountain of suggestions."

   Know what? That's the perfect ending to this. That's who this whole thing is for ... the sort of crazy people who you would normally ignore, or at best tolerate.

   We have an older guy who calls the sports desk from time to time with these sorts of crackpot suggestions. He's asked me to tell the Red Sox they should make the Green Monster out of transparent material, so they can put seats behind it. He's wanted me to tell David Ortiz to start using bats made out of a whippier wood, since that's why he hasn't been hitting any home runs. He'll occasionally make a salient point, but most of the time, he goes off on some tangent which one of us can barely keep a grasp on.

   He's a nice enough guy ... I dare say most of the time, I enjoy talking to him. But clearly, just talking to him isn't what we should be doing.

   We should give him a desk in the office. Every day, we should ask him what stories we should run. How we should lay out the section. What we should staff, and what we should take over the phone.

   Patton Oswalt has a comedy routine where anyone who reaches the age of 120 gets to be President of the United States. Once they're there, anything they say becomes the law.

   Come to Red Sox Nation, Patton. Just be sure to raise your kids as fucking Rockies fans.

Dice-K Shows All His Ups and Downs

Wakefield Should Be Ready To Go Thursday

September 2, 2007 - Call-Ups
   • They're back at Boston University, and I can safely say I don't know who a single one of them are anymore.

   That won't stop the Daily Free Press e-mail newsletter that I started from flooding my inbox, which means I get to wonder if I wrote things like this all those years ago.

The Mugar Library, open from 8 a.m. to midnight, is a haven for BU students looking for peace and quiet.

"The reason Mugar Library is the best place to study is because of the diverse offerings we have here," said library employee Ari Wartanian.

   Also, it's a library.

   Later in that story, it's announced that the D'Angelos in the Student Union is closing due to "a steady decline of customers over the past few years." It's going to be replaced by the Charles River Bread Co., which appears to not actually be a real company so much as a school-run "upscale deli."

   So basically, there's been a steady decline in the business at the Union's sandwich shop, so the response is to open ... another sandwich shop.

   It's that sort of solid leadership that made the George Sherman Union my fifth favorite place to eat on campus for several years. And no, I can't name the other four in order.

September 1, 2007 - Call-Ups
   • No, I wasn't there.

Clay Buchholz
-- Is that you, Bronson Arroyo?

Boston's Clay Buchholz pitches with two outs in the ninth inning to the last batter of his no-hitter, Baltimore's Nick Markakis, at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday. The Red Sox won 10-0. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

   I was watching on television, but I was intoxicated at a party. Not stupidly intoxicated, but reasonably intoxicated and wearing a Devil Rays jersey.

   None of which, of course, were enough to stop this from happening.

Buchholz An Important Part of Boston's Future
-- Live, from Chicopee Falls ... and we weren't even done with our game of Uno.

   Afterward, I received some of the nicer praise I think any writer can ask for: "Considering you were drunk, I think it came out pretty good."

   I wasn't actually anywhere near as drunk as I portrayed myself to be. I did soon after, though, go outside and attempt to do the Can Can on a kitchen stool.

   I take some solace in knowing that if I wasn't at this party, I would have been working in the office. There's really no scenario where I would have ended up at this game ... I'll remember that and attempt to treat it as comfort when this part of my career is done, and I've still never seen a no-hitter.

Roster Expansions Give Some Final Shot at Glory
-- Please note the correction within Inside Baseball, which has actually spawned a pretty nice exchange.

2007: [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2006: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2005: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]