Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Fridays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
Gordon, the umpire watch continues. Plate umpire Bob Davidson helped Mariano Rivera choke off a White Sox rally in the 8th inning while the game was still close by calling a pitch on Thome neck high a strike and then calling one on Konerko ankle high. It was a joke. Pierzynski was ejected when he reacted after striking out to end the inning. The Yankees are now 6-2 since their meeting with the commissioner's office about the umpires and the Red Sox are 2-6. If these injustices are not publicized the Red Sox will most surely blow the division like in 1978.
Ken Monte, Joplin, Mo.
A: Ken, you are the unofficial winner of the "First-Conspiracy-Theory-In-Case-the-Sox Collapse" Award.
High School infielder Ryan Dent ... No relation ... Right?
Chris, You ... are ... correct. Now, take a deep breath.
Gordon, not that it really matters but I haven't seen it written anywhere. I was just wondering if I'm the only one out there thinking that Lugo's boo-boo in the 5th cost Schill the perfecto.
Doug Berlin, Jamestown, N.Y.
A: Doug, I'm sure there are legions of fans who think the same. But we just can't project how things would have played out had Lugo not booted the ball. And, of course, if Shannon Stewart hits the ball at Dustin Pedroia instead of 10 feet to his right, that would have been what history said, too.
In my opinion, when Jon Lester ultimately comes back, I believe that the organization would be better off moving Tim Wakefield to the bullpen and keeping Julian Tavarez in the rotation. The Sox could use Wake just about every day if they really wanted to eat up innings in the pen, he could occasionally spot-start if need be, and he could even close once in a blue moon to give Okajima & Papelbon a breather. He would probably eat up more innings that way than as a starter. With Julian's attitude & approach to the game, along with the way he's been pitching, how do you remove a guy like that? Call me crazy, but it even seems as if the team has an extra spark when he's out there -- he gets decent run support, and most importantly, he seems to have the Yankees' number. Way too many bases are taken on Wake & Mirabelli during the course of an entire game when he's out there. Mirabelli could simply be assigned to a different pitcher. I also believe that the Sox should try & package up both Pineiro & Romero once Timlin & Lester return, and keep Lopez in the Pen. How do you feel about all of this? - Thanks!
Chris, Wantage, N.J.
A: Chris, I guess I should start by saying that Terry Francona was pretty irked Sunday at the suggestion that Lester would be added to the big-league roster when his rehab assignment ends, which is after one more start. The next day the Sox optioned him to Pawtucket, to let him continue to build up endurance and pitch count, and then have him primed for the last couple of months of the season. I can't see where Lester would be thrilled with this plan, but he doesn't have any leverage.
Who did the Sox get when they traded Nomo?
Bobby Simone, New York
A: Bobby, the Sox did not trade Hideo Nomo, who pitched for them in 2001. He became a free agent in November that year, and the next month signed with the Dodgers for a second go-round in L.A.
Hey, Gordo. You have probably been asked this a million times, but how is it that Coco still starts regularly in center? It seems like with his immense struggles, this would be the perfect opportunity to get Wily Mo some much-needed and sought-after playing time to see whether he can ever truly develop into a true major league hitter. I know his defense is subpar, but I would like to think that practice can make perfect, or in this case made adequate. What are your thoughts? Do you think Coco will eventually come out of this funk? I know there was a lot of talk about his ability to kill fastballs when he got here and now it seems like he can't hit anything with any zip or break to it. Please endow us with your wisdom on this subject.
John T., Chelmsford
A: John, I wish I could profess to some wisdom on this subject. I can't. Coco's dropoff from his performance in Cleveland is stupefying. Last season, you could chalk it up to the finger injury. This season, no one is claiming it as a reason. Hitting coach Dave Magadan said Coco has never mentioned it to him. Look at his monthly splits this season: .235 in April, .224 in May, .200 so far in June. In Cleveland in his last season, 2005, he had a slow April, but then didn't hit under .288 in any of the last five months of the season, topping out at .340 in May. In 2004, more of the same: After April, he didn't hit under .278. He's at an age in which he is entering his prime, hitting in a lineup that should be maximizing his abilities. Instead, he's struggling. Sunday night, he drove the ball with authority his last two at-bats, perhaps as hard as he hit a ball in a while, and came up empty. I would imagine that mentally, it's grinding him down, too. He has some off-the-field personal issues that could be impacting him, tooâ¦.Johnny Damon, for example, attributed a subpar year he had in Boston to his pending divorce. He's played very well defensively, so he's contributing, but the Sox can't afford for him to be such a glaring hole in the lineup.
Hi, Gordon. Don't you think it is ridiculous that the Yankees were actually jumping for joy when the A's broke up Curt's no-hitter? I consider a no-hitter to be a rare and special event that is good for the game of baseball. I can understand the Yankees don't want to see us win, but to root against something historic -- I'm just missing the point.
Dan, Nashua, N.H.
A: The point is, Dan, the Yanks don't like Curt Schilling, and didn't want him to have that special moment. I'm sure Curt isn't losing any sleep over it, and probably wouldn't expect anything less. I'm a little surprised that the Yanks were so demonstrative in their reaction, but hey, maybe they were bored.
Now, I know you have no control over this whatsoever, but maybe you can enlighten me to why this is or maybe send a memo, but why in the world does Fox have their on-field/crowd mics on SO freaking high?! You can hardly hear what the announcers are saying half the time. Sure I like hearing the "Let's go Red Sox!" and the "Yankees suck!" chants, but when I can't hear what's happening in the game, it kind of detracts from the experience.
Shana, Brooklyn, N.Y.
A: Shana, you're absolutely right. I have no control over it. They think they're enhancing your experience by doing that. I'd like to hear from Sox fans who were in Arizona this weekend. Was it just me, or did it feel like you were at an NBA game, with constant music, PA babbling, between-innings hoo-hah? Maybe I'm just getting old, but I thought it was out of control. Great press box, though.
How do the batting averages and home runs for the "big guns" (Ortiz, Ramirez, Lowell, and Youklis) compare between 2006 and 2007 at this stage? Are they on line to better/do worse than last year?
Joel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A: Here you go, Joel, the 2006 numbers and the numbers entering Tuesday's game in Colorado:
Manny 2006 .302 16 HR 41 RBIs .436 OBP .583 SGP
Manny 2007 .291 8 33 .389 .466
Ortiz 2006 .265 18 56 .370 .552
Ortiz 2007 .330 11 42 .444 .599
Lowell 2006 .318 7 33 .367 .532
Lowell 2007 .312 11 47 .372 .549
Youks 2006 .319 7 29 .438 .505
Youks 2007 .336 8 32 .423 .524
So, as you can see from the numbers, Manny hasn't gotten hot yet, Papi is hitting fewer home runs but everything else is up, and Lowell and Youks are off to comparable starts.
I recently read an interesting theory about Tim Wakefield and his somewhat streaky performance pattern over the years. The theory is that the effectiveness of his knuckler is directly impacted by the air conditions in the ballpark -- the warmer and more humid the air, the less the knuckler dances and the easier it is to hit. So I checked out the data from Wake's starts this year, and the results were fairly amazing. Of the 12 starts, six were in gametime temperatures of 70 or warmer, three were in temperatures below 60, and three were in domes. In the six 70 degrees+ games, Wakefield pitched 34 innings and gave up 29 earned runs. In the other six games, he pitched 40.2 innings and gave up only six earned runs. The worst start was in 82 degree weather-that game also started after a rain delay. In the dome games, Wake has been untouchable, surrendering 1 earned run over 21 innings. What do think? Is this pattern something the Sox should monitor, or is it just a mildly interesting statistical oddity?
Bob McNeil, Halifax, NS
A: Bob, first of all, I applaud your curiosityâ¦people have been trying to explain Wake's knuckler forever. I think the Dome effect is well known. Wake is 7-0, 2.39 lifetime in Tropicana Field, 7-3, 3.95 in the Metrodome, the difference in the ERA maybe having a lot to do with the difference in lineups between the Twins and D-Rays. But if he pitches worse in warm weather, how do you account for the fact that his career ERA in July is 3.88, while in April, May and June, the ERA is over 4? And here are Wake's thoughts on the subject, from a past interview: "It's much harder for me to throw a knuckler in cold weather," he said. "My ball moves much better when it's hot and there's more air pressure."
Regardless of Manny's idiosyncrasies and the question of his motivation, etc., the bottom line seems to be that the Sox are not getting out of Manny what they expect, or should expect, productionwise. For anyone else, his stats, this year and last, would be commendable, but for someone making $20 million a year, he no longer appears to be the dangerous and productive hitter he once was, and, I believe, the hitter the Sox ultimately need to have a chance to win the whole thing. In the past, Manny was able to carry a team on his shoulders for a considerable amount of time, but those days seem to be gone. Is he slowing down because of age or a diminishment of talent, or are there other factors?
Chris Drummy, Barrington, R.I.
A: Chris, as the numbers above illustrate, Manny hasn't gone on a real tear yet. But I don't see anything that suggests his skills are declining. My guess is that it's a matter of time before he hits about nine home runs in two weeks. But I did run some numbers for you, on the number of players older than 35 who have hit 35 home runs or more and driven in 120 runs or more in the same season. There are six: Babe Ruth did it twice, Andres Galarraga did it twice, and Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Edgar Martinez, and Vinny Castilla once apiece. So it appears inevitable there will be some drop in Manny's numbers. I don't see him going off a cliff anytime soon, though.
Please refresh my mind on what happened with the Red Sox and Trot Nixon? Did they just decide he wasn't worth the money (whatever the amount was) or did they already have their eye on J.D. Drew and Wily Mo Pena? Whatever the reason, they made a BAD CHOICE! Neither one of the guys they got can hit his way outta a paper bag! As far as fielding, again neither one of 'em has the reflexes of Trot Nixon!!! It's bad enough that we have to watch the slo-mo of Manny playing in left field, but he does hit ... on occasion! Please enlighten me on the Nixon no-deal. Thank you,
Betty Faye Lawton, Laconia, N.H.
A: Betty Faye, the Sox allowed Trot to leave as a free agent; Wily Mo Pena already was on the roster at that time. They felt that Trot had been hurt too much -- indeed, he had back surgery after Cleveland signed him to a free-agent deal. Trot played with great passion and enthusiasm, but his production did drop off to the point where the Sox felt they needed an upgrade. J.D. Drew, of course, has gotten off to a very slow start, though his two-HR, seven-RBI game, followed by a three-hit game the next day, may signal that he's going to start producing. I think he's a better defensive outfielder than you give him credit for.
I assure you that this question has nothing to do with the Red Sox slide, but has been something that I have been thinking about for a while now. What is the ownership group's view on Theo Epstein? In my honest opinion, he is fighting it out with Brian Cashman for most overrated GM in baseball. When was the last time he made a really good move? From J.D. Drew to Julio Lugo to Doug Mirabelli to Edgar Renteria to Rudy Seanez to Matt Clement to Wily Mo Pena to Joel Pineiro, he has had so many blunders over the past few years that have either cost a ridiculous amount of money or some key young players that could really come in handy right now. It should also be noted that every one of the players listed (with the possible exception of Lugo) were players that all veteran baseball observers felt were bad fits for Boston. Dice-K was a good move, but the only reason he got him is because he issued a blank check to the Seibu Lions. That doesn't require any brains. Even the Schilling trade was a by-product of Arizona dumping salary and refusing to trade him to the NL or the Yankees. It should be noted that many of the key figures on this year's team were either Dan Duquette guys (Manny, Youkilis, Wakefield, Varitek) or acquired when Theo was on "sabbatical" (Beckett, Lowell). Theo has done a pretty good job with the minor league system, but then he signs these awful albatross contracts (Lugo, Drew, Renteria, etc.) that block the development of the young players, something he vowed that he would not do. What happened to financial flexibility? Hanley Ramirez probably would have been 30 before he became a regular if he stayed in Boston. I feel bad for David Murphy, who probably should be in the majors right now, at least as a platoon outfielder. He is already almost 26 now with no place to play. I would much rather see Manny Delcarmen, Kason Gabbard, or even Edgar Martinez in the bullpen then some of these retread relievers he insists on signing every year. When is Theo going to start being held accountable for all of these bad moves?
Nick Peto, Clinton
A: Nick, I think you make some very valid points. I think you do have to give Theo credit for the Schilling and Keith Foulke moves, and the Nomar deal that landed the Sox Orlando Cabrera in 2004. His biggest acquisition, of course, was David Ortiz, and there was a lot of luck involved in that one. Ortiz, you remember, was going to be in a platoon situation with Jeremy Giambi! The Beckett/Lowell/Hanley Ramirez deal was made when he was a shadow adviser, but he gets credit for locking up Beckett long-term for a bargain price. But the facts speak for themselves for a number of his other moves, and while fairness dictates that more time pass before a judgment is rendered on the Lugo/Drew signings, they certainly don't look very good right now.
Thanks for answering my concerns about Wily Mo, as well as another similar question in your June 1st column. However, you don't deserve to get away that easily with the brushoff on both of us. Wily Mo is outright terrible in the field. To excuse this for the occasional bomb is a ridiculous excuse from a baseball "expert." The liability far outweighs the assets especially when he will potentially blow a close game on an easy play. By the way, your comment about hitting a 450-foot home run is great for the fans, but Theo knows that it counts the same as one that wraps around Pesky's Pole. Give me one other player in baseball that is as bad in the field as this guy is!!!!!
Marc Sigel, Boca Raton, Fla.
A: Marc, sorry you felt I was giving you the brushoff, but when I said your boss would keep you around if you hit the occasional 450-foot home run -- or what would be the equivalent of a 450-foot home run in your line of work -- that wasn't a jab, it was an attempt to explain the Sox thinking on Wily Mo. And I didn't mean to give you the impression that Theo is sitting there going, 'Wow,' when Wily Mo hits one 450 feetâ¦it was intended to make the point that Theo believes Wily Mo's power gives him sufficient value that outweighs his defensive liabilities. There are plenty of people in baseball, and fans like yourself, that would thoroughly disagree. But I suspect that Theo sees Wily Mo as a hedge in case David Ortiz or Manny go down for any length of time.
I have a $100 bill with a serial number DB19182004B on a NEW YORK BILL. Do you think this is newsworthy? I have tried to contact RED SOX have gotten no response.
Scott Kelley, Malden
A: Scott, I suggest you keep it. The novelty of it may not strike the fancy of others as much as it does you. And what's a New York bill, by the way? I haven't been around too many C-notes in my time, but I'm looking at the $20 bill in my wallet, and I don't see anything on there but "United States of America."
Update from emailer David Merrill:
There is a letter at the start of each bill's serial number that corresponds to the Federal Reserve Bank that issued the bill. There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks, labeled A-L.
A = Boston
B = New York
C = Philadelphia
E = Richmond
F = Atlanta
G = Chicago
H - St. Louis
I = Minneapolis
J = Kansas City
K = Dallas
L = San Francisco
The name of the specific bank is printed on the $1 bill in a black seal to the left of George. On the higher denominations, it's only apparent looking at the starting letter of the serial number.
I've noticed your Manny jihad has calmed down in recent weeks. Is it because the Sox are winning and negativity doesn't sell right now, or because Manny hasn't "quit on the team" yet by getting injured?
A: Pat, naturally, I disagree with your characterization. When I've criticized Manny in the past, it hasn't been to sell papers. This probably would come as a surprise to you, but when I sit down in front of my laptop before writing a story, I don't say to myself, "All right, what can I write tonight that will sell the most newspapers?'' If I have an opinion, I express it. If I want to report something, I report it. If I have a story to tell, I tell it. I'm not smart enough to take your approach. If Manny decides to stop playing again, in my opinion, I'll report it as such. And do you ever ask yourself why the Sox, either in the offseason, spring training, or since the season began, have never mentioned the need to monitor Manny's patellar tendonitis?
Gordon- no question, just a hearty congrats on a great story on Pedroia. He became my favorite while with the PawSox and I am immensely proud of him. You really captured his essence. Thanks. Keep up the good work.
Steve Hyder, PawSox
A: Steve, it was a fun story to tell, a little slice of how Dustin grew up. I enjoyed talking with his parents and brotherâ¦salt-of-the-earth folks. Thanks for the good word.
When was the last time the Red Sox made a triple play?
Marilyn Sadowski, Gardner
A: Marilyn, the last time the Sox turned a triple play was on July 8, 1994, against Seattle in Fenway Park. It was an unassisted triple play, turned by shortstop John Valentin.
I was tempted to claim I was from Lunenburg, Thailand, or Tanzania to improve my chances of having my question answered, but I'll be honest: I am merely a diehard Sox fan in enemy territory. My query pertains to Wednesday night's game against Oakland. NESN obviously has the technology to estimate whether a pitch was a ball or a strike; they used it numerous times during the telecast. Why on earth would they not use that technology to track the pitch to Pedroia that a) appeared to be a horrendous call, and b), led to Tito's ejection. Last night, there was no such replay of the crucial pitch to Youkilis with the bases loaded that appeared to be ball four. This practice of not using the available technology to illustrate what appears to be an egregious error has happened during numerous telecasts I have watched, not just on NESN. Is there some sort of agreement in place whereby stations don't expose particularly bad calls by the umps? And no, I'm not bitter because I have stayed up until 1 o'clock to take in going on three straight losses!
Vince, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
A: Vince, when you live in a place as beautiful as Saratoga Springs, no need to apologize for having no ties to Lunenburg or not living in some exotic locale. Since you watch as many games as you do, I'm a little surprised to learn of your complaint. In the press box, I'm constantly looking at the replays because they so often do show borderline pitches. Stadiums often won't replay a controversial call on the scoreboard, but I can assure you there are no agreements between MLB and TV networks to protect the umps.
Random question. I was at the game on Friday and wanted to know the name of the song that the Sox played when Wakefield made the walk in from the bullpen to the dugout ... and is it the same everyday or different depending on the starter??? Keep up the good work
Drew, Charlotte, N.C.
A: "How Bad Do You Want It?" by Tim McGraw. Each player has his own song. A tip of my cap to my Herald colleague Rob Bradford who happens to keep a list of such things.
Hi, Gordon. Will RSN finally admit now that there WILL be a divisional race in the AL East? Early-season big leads are meant to be blown (just ask the '06 Tigers), and now we're seeing some evidence of that truism: poor situational hitting, station-to-station base running, inconsistent starting pitching, leaky bullpen, and no killer instinct (see NY). Most of all, we're seeing the usual ineptness on the West Coast, where Joe Kennedy and Lenny DiNardo are apparently the second coming of Warren Spahn. In short, I don't think the sky is falling; I just wish my fellow Sox fans will finally sober up now and realize there are still 100+ games to go. A big lead in May-early June guarantees the Sox nothing: They are still going to have to earn a trip to the playoffs.
Paul Garfinkel, Vancouver
A: It doesn't take very long to lop a few games off a big lead, does it, Paul? In 12 days, the Yanks knocked off five games to reduce the Sox lead from 14 Â½ to 9 Â½. Course, the last time the Yanks pulled within 9 Â½, they proceeded to lose five in a row while the Sox won five straight. The Yankees were too good to just go away, but that's still a nice cushion for the Sox to have. But I think everyone would agree: The Sox won't get a free pass into the playoffs. No one ever does.
Why hasn't Dwight Evans been inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame? He is the best rightfielder ever to play for them. Hands down.
James, Tulsa, Okla.
A:James, you'll be happy to know that Dwight Evans was inducted in the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000. You'll probably find more than a few people who agree with you.
Please Tell Me How This Is Fair: Season Ticket Holders can't sell their tickets above face value or they are running the risk of having their tickets revoked. So the Red Sox ask that Season Ticket Holders put their tickets up at the RedSox Replay site. I found a game that I wanted to go to, and bought the seats off of the RedSox Replay. They charged me 24 percent above face value. Soâ¦ let me get this straight... I can't sell my tix at a premium ... and guys selling tix outside Fenway are getting arrested... but the Red Sox can charge me $50 for the right to be able to purchase tickets off their site, and then when I do, they charge a 24% premium over the stated price on the website. I know it's probably in the fine print somewhere ... but this is a bunch of crap. By the way, even if the premium paid goes to charity or whatever (the cost of running the site, maybe??) it is still ridiculous that the fans pay this. I mean, with the exception of John Henry and his poor investment returns, all of these guys could pay that donation and not even think twice about it.
Chris Kazan, Norwalk, Conn.
A:Chris, it never ceases to amaze me what Sox fans are willing to payâ¦.and some of the inequities they're willing to tolerate without complaint.
Aloha, Gordon. There have been a few changes over the years to this great game of ours that I am unhappy about, but nothing distresses me more than umpires who lose their dignity -- and their credibility -- when they engage in screaming matches with a player or manager. In the old days, umpires would let the manager have his say and even walk away to avoid having to toss someone. No more. Umpires nowadays seem to go out of their way to confront managers and screech right back. It's deplorable. Dan Iassogna made three absolutely terrible calls during the third game of the Oakland series, as TV replays made crystal clear. Ortiz did indeed check his swing; Ellis actually leaned in to deliberately be hit by the pitch from Wake (TV showed him smirking about it while standing on first base); and -- the incident that triggered Tito's ejection -- the pitch to Pedroia was high. No ... not just high, it was WAY high. Francona had every right to be upset. And, of course, Iassogna had every right to toss him, even claiming the technicality that Tito was arguing balls and strikes. But it was sickening to see Iassogna going nose-to-nose with Tito and screaming profanities back at him. (Yes, I read his lips ... and so did thousands of others.) In fact -- look at the video -- Iassogna kept moving toward Francona in what was, to me, an obvious and deliberate attempt to cause contact. At any rate, I think the confrontational umpires are a disgrace to the profession. Can't MLB do anything to bring this kind of behaviour under control? I'd be interested in your views. Thanks!
Jim Loomis, Ha'iku, Maui
A:Jim, I've been covering long enough to remember when it was rare indeed to see an umpire fire back at a manager screaming at him. That was always part of the show, watching a manager or player go nuts while the umpire stood, unbowed, letting the anger run its course. The umpire's final word always came in his decision to eject or not. I do think umpires should be held accountable when they go overboard, just as players, coaches and managers do. And more importantly, I think it should be publicized when an umpire is disciplined, to let the public know there is some accountability there.
Hey, Gordon. Love your mail bag. Back in spring training, Francona said he was trying to quit chewing tobacco. I also seem to remember that he made a bet with someone but can't remember whom it was with and what the bet was. It looks like he fell "off the wagon" and is chewing again. Can you tell me about the bet and how long he made it?
Tanjee Mahdavi, Los Angeles
A:Tanjee, Terry made a bet with Sox CEO Larry Lucchino that he could quit chewing for the season, and the loser of the bet would make a big donation to charity. I know he's very sensitive to the issue, and what message it conveys, and is making a big effort to quitâ¦but you see what you see.
Well-traveled man that you are, could you please tell me which cities consistently feature the largest and loudest contingent of Red Sox fans? I'm a transplanted New Englander now living in Oakland. I catch the Sox as much as I can when they are out here. I really enjoyed this past four-game series; even though the Sox barely escaped the sweep, the games were close, well pitched, and fast-paced. Over these past few years I have seen some dramatic games in Oakland (everything from Damon getting knocked unconscious to Schilling's near no-no). And no matter what happens, there is always the delightful (spicy) interplay between the Oakland and Boston fans (the crowd is always at least one-third Red Sox fans, and the Oakland fans are plenty feisty). Of course, nothing beats Fenway, but I do feel there is something special about watching a Sox game in Oakland. My question to you is this: Is this pretty much how it is everywhere the Sox go, or are there certain cities where the Sox vibe is stronger than others? Which cities would you say have the strongest Sox vibe? And any sense of how Sox players feel about the relative support they receive in various cities? Of course I'm hoping you will say Oakland is truly Fenway West, but by virtue of my New England stoicism combined with my West Coast attitude of non-attachment, I will be able to accept whatever verdict you render with equanimity.
Mark Kenward, Oakland, Calif.
A:Mark, it always feels like every Sox fan within a 400-mile radius of Oakland shows up when the Sox are in town, and because the park is often half-empty, they seem to have the run of the Coliseum. But you know, we went from Oakland to Arizona, where they had the biggest crowd in their history, and the Red Sox fans were loud and numerous. Go to Baltimore, and Sox fans carry on more than the O's fans. It's very noticeable in Tampa, too, again, because the D-Rays don't have many fans. The Sox players love the kind of support they get on the road; it energizes them. It's hard to top Baltimore for the support they get on the road, but that's mostly Sox fans in New England who have figured out it's cheaper to come to Baltimore than to pay Fenway prices. Oakland has the edge in transplanted Sox fans showing up in big numbers to support their Sox.
Thanks for your 'bag,' which keeps my finger directly on the pulse of all things Red Sox from here on the West Coast. Count me as another who thoroughly enjoys the disciplined approach Kevin Youkilis takes at the plate -- which got me wondering, when was the last time he struck out on a called third strike? University of Cincinnati?!?!
Loren O'Hara, Malone, Ore.
A:Loren, you'll be surprised to hear that Youkilis this season has taken a called third strike 11 times entering Saturday night's game against Arizona. Last season, he took a called third strike 35 times. He's a very selective hitter.