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Rondo loses his head as Celtics lose opener

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 29, 2012 07:46 PM

Celtics Lose.jpgMarquette University honored Doc Rivers as its Alumnus of the Year on Saturday.

But it was the Atlanta Hawks who schooled Rivers and the Boston Celtics Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo decided to act like he was in kindergarten, threw a tantrum, got ejected and is looking at a serious timeout.

Rondo's inner-child returned like Chucky in the final minute of Boston's 83-74 Game 1 loss to the Hawks. But this wasn't "Child's Play," even though it was incredibly childish.

Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Josh Smith after they wrangled over a loose ball with 41 seconds to play. The Celtics had cut Atlanta's once 19-point lead down to four and would have gotten at least two more possessions with just the foul call. But Rondo wanted a jump ball instead of the foul along with the rest of Celtics Nation and about half the fans at Phillips Arena.

While we screamed at the TV, Rondo did us one better and tore into Davis while smacking his hands in front of the ref. That was good for a technical. Game over at that point. But as Davis walked away, Rondo followed, stumbled for a step, then threw a chest bump into Davis' back.

Watch it for yourself:

Arguing a call at such a key point in the game - questionable.

Yelling and pointing at the ref in the first game of playoffs - disappointing.

Chest bumping the ref from behind while he was walking away - idiotic, selfish and immature.

Rond-oh!

Attacking an official from behind, whether it's with your hands or body, gets you banned in Little League.

But this is the NBA. Acting like children and fathering children are both prized character traits.

"I deserved the first tech," Rondo said after the game. "As I was walking, I thought he stopped. My momentum carried me into me. I even think I tripped on his foot. I didn't intentionally chest-bump him, but that's what it appears to be. It's out of my control."

Later, he offered some more excuses:

Charles Barkley nailed it with his TNT post-game assessment of Rondo's claim: "He's lying."

Rondo's problem is just that - a lack of control. Bass got the foul whistled against him and shrugged his shoulders. Rondo decided to run the ref.

(As an aside, the TNT telecast of the game offered up a commercial for "That's My Boy," the upcoming Adam Sandler flick that features a cameo by Rex Ryan. Got to wondering when was the last time either one of those guys produced a winner?)

Rondo is looking at a minimum of a one-game suspension, especially given his track record and the two-game ban he got for tossing a ball at an official during another tantrum in February.

Four weeks ago, we called out Rondo for showboating on national TV at the expense of those mundane contests against New Jersey and Toronto. Sunday was no exception. Rondo led the Celtics with 20 points on 10-for-18 shooting, and had game-highs of 11 assists and four steals along with his game-high two technicals. He played well enough to put the Celtics in position to win and then cemented the loss. If the Celtics had been able to complete their comeback Sunday, the Hawks would have been finished.

The Celtics came out flat, lifeless and lazy. They had more rust than the Longfellow Bridge. The Hawks played young, big and fast while the Celtics plodded through the first 40 minutes looking old, small and slow. Rondo's lopsided scoring was by design in this game, as the Hawks smothered Paul Pierce. The Truth hurt badly as he shot a horrendous 5 for 19, missing all six of his three-point attempts. Boston's backcourt of Rondo and Avery Bradley combined for 30 shots, 30 points and one ejection. The Celtics, however, failed to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in a postseason game since a 99-98 double OT loss to the Charlotte Hornets at the old Garden on May 1, 1993.

It wasn't for lack of trying, as Boston went 0 for 11 from behind the arc.

Ray Allen, you were missed.

Smith was the superior No. 5 on the floor Sunday, scoring 22 points and looking like a younger, bigger and quicker version of Kevin Garnett most of the night. Too bad those trade rumors involving Smith and the Celtics were just that, rumors.

Rondo's outburst and volatility were not surprising. The timing was catastrophic. Whatever hope the Celtics had in forcing OT Sunday was evaporated with the first technical. Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich played Rondo and Bradley evenly, combining for 27 points and hitting six of eight 3-pointers. Without Rondo and (most likely) Allen in Game 2, the Celtics could extend that 3-pointless string another 48 minutes.

For all of the maturity, experience and veteran skill the "big, bad" Celtics bring to the postseason, they still can't keep Rondo from being Rondo. Let me guess, this is just Rondo's "competitive nature" showing itself. There's passion and fire. Hit opposing players, but not the ref. Professional athletes figure out where the line is and usually straddle it as best they can. It's the fine difference between "Cowboy Up" and "Chicken and Beer." Drink in the clubhouse all you want as long - as it doesn't affect the outcome. Play aggressively all the time and argue calls one in a while, but you can't attack the refs and potentially cost your team a a game or two at the start of the playoffs. Especially as the team's floor leader.

Marquette had several distinguished alumni - not including D-Wade - who offered Doc real competition for his honor. In the meantime, they told me they wanted their degree back when they heard about this blog.

Rondo needs few more degrees of maturity.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.


Mediocrity Day arrives for .500 Red Sox

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 29, 2012 02:15 AM

Red Sox Celebrate (AP).jpgHappy Mediocrity Day.

The Red Sox are an imperfect 10-10.

The elusive .500 plateau has been reached.

Our world has been flipped upside down in the past week. The Red Sox were undefeated, the Capitals were legit and the Patriots traded up in the draft in the first round.

After six straight wins heading into Sunday' game, last-place never seemed so good, so good, so good for Red Sox fans. The once-flammable bullpen has gone from torching leads to throwing smoke. It must be those hoodies. They worked for Belichick. The Red Sox pitching staff is the second hottest thing in Chicago this weekend - after the tempers of Bulls fans wondering why Coach Tibbs left Derrick Rose in the game when the team was up 99-87 with 1:10 to play.

RedSoxTweet.jpg

With the Red Sox stuck in the gutter after last Sunday's rainout - again the biggest Sunday rainout for in Red Soxdom since Oct. 26, 1986 - David Ortiz took to Twitter to try and fire up the masses with the above posting. Well done, Papi. While the team's marketing president is calling the AS Roma - Liverpool FC soccer game scheduled for July 25 the "premiere event" during the summer of Fenway Park's 100 anniversary, Ortiz deserves credit for recognizing the angst and disgust that the team's fan base was feeling a week ago. And to his credit, he has helped to deliver this six-game run. Don't kid yourself - Ortiz has been using the most potent performance enhancing substance available - a one-year contract. Add in those 25 pounds he shed in the offseason and his new-found willingness to go to left field and you have three answers as to why he's hitting .403 even after going 0-for-4 Saturday.

May usually brings us May Day, Memorial Day and Mother's Day. In 2011, it also brought us one the latest Mediocrity Day in recent memory. The Red Sox didn't reach .500 last season until May 15, when they corrected their vision to 20-20. Theo Epstein was responsible for two last-place teams with ties to Chicago this weekend. No tearful reunions. The Cubs are in Philadelphia, so Ben Cherington can't serve him the malpractice lawsuit this time. He'll get another chance when the Red Sox and Cubs play at Wrigley in June. At least Theo can pound a few Bud Lights with Jonathan Papelbon on Broad Street.

Reaching the .500 mark in April is proof positive that Bobby Valentine is at least two weeks better than Tito. Bet Bobby V. even knew which arm Jake Peavy was going to use to hold the torrid Red Sox to just one run. But that was one too many for these Bobby Soxers.

A week ago, the most valuable reliever on the Red Sox was Barry Burbank and every other meteorologist who brought all that rain to Boston. Now, the Red Sox deal more aces than the Mohegan Sun. Since the Red Sox limped out of town in the rain Sunday after the meltdown against the Yankees, the bullpen has allowed just one run in 15.2 innings on this road trip. Franklin Morales got two outs in the eighth Saturday and hasn't allowed a run in 22 straight road outings. He should be banned in Boston.

The 1970 Baltimore Orioles may have had Palmer, Cuellar and McNally, but they have nothing on the 2012 Red Sox with Vincete Padilla, Morales and Daniel Bard. And little Danny said it would be fine if the Red Sox have to use him out of the bullpen before his next start. Glad to know he's down with the team doing what it needs to do with its own players.

Alfredo Aceves has felt a chill in the moniker department - shifting from "Towering Inferno" to "Ice Cube." His ERA has evolved from infinity, to 81.00 all the way down to a Lackey-like 12.00. Aceves has held three one-run leads in his last three appearances. Papelwho? Let's not get too excited - we are talking about the Twins and White Sox here. But every lead in 2012 has been crucial for this team, which has already been left for dead two or three times this season.

It's not just the bullpen. Jon Lester (1-2) got his first win since Sept. 11 - having lost five straight decisions and going winless in eight starts. Lester threw seven shutout innings in the Windy City chill and lowered his ERA from 6.00 to 4.80.

It's Josh Beckett's turn Sunday. He gets a shot to raise his 2012 record over .500 along with the team's. Fourth-place beckons. The miracles may never cease.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Red Sox sell soccer as fans think football

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 26, 2012 04:49 PM

When does football season start? Not soon enough.

Once the Bruins lost, the clock was reset to count down to the Patriots' opener since the Celtics don't begin for real until Sunday. When Bill Belichick traded up twice in Thursday's NFL draft and acquired some major defensive talent, the anticipation for New England at Tennessee on Sept. 9 hit warp speed. Does this mean the Patriots will finally be able to sack Eli Manning in the final two minutes? The Patriots allowed 13 unanswered points in the final 1:39 of their past two Super Bowls. Defense, defense, defense. Well done, Hoodie.

Belichick is working to perfect time-travel so Syracuse DE Chandler Jones and Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower can be placed on the active roster retroactive to Feb. 5.

Red Sox Tickets.jpgDefending national champion Alabama had four players taken during the first round in each of past two drafts. Nick Saban flopped in Miami. He'll do just fine in Foxborough in a couple of years.

In that framework, I came across this e-mail about "Football at Fenway." The slug-line triggered visions of Babe Parilli and Gino Cappelletti prancing around second base. Perhaps we'd get a throwback Boston Patriots-New York Titans game to honor Fenway's 100th?

Nope.

The Citizens of Red Sox Nation and Sisters of Pinkhattia don't spend enough money watching the last-place Red Sox in person, quaffing $9 beers or snapping up $24.99 Adrian Gonzalez bobbleheads.

So the savvy folks at Fenway Sports Management announced last month they were bringing big-time "Futbol" to Beantown this summer. But the big news in the e-mail box was that, as a "valued Red Sox fan," I got invited to participate in the "Football at Fenway" pre-sale that starts Friday at 11 a.m. (Code: "FOOTBALL"). The great unwashed have to wait until Saturday to get their tickets. AS Roma vs. Liverpool FC. Actual athletes performing at Fenway Park - imagine. Tickets range from $20 to $120. Gametime is 6:30 p.m. on July 25. The riots start at 5. This friendly is a big deal for many, including LFC boss John Henry and Roma part-owner Kevin Garnett. A sure sellout. Have a great time. Inhale some pepper spray for me. Final score: 1-0.

Let me save some of you the trouble on this: "Soccer is the greatest sport ever, real or imagined. And those who don't think so should be corner-kicked in the crotch." At least that's what I've been told. Please thank me for passing along that pre-sale code before ripping me for daring to make snarky remarks about soccer.

Here's part of the e-mail pitch for this match on Fenway's historic pitch:

"The excellence, passion and tradition of top-flight European football returns to Fenway Park on July 25 at 6:30 p.m. ET as Liverpool Football Club, the most successful club in English football history, takes on Italian giant AS Roma. A rematch of the 1984 European Cup final, this is one of several premiere events being held during the Fenway Park's 100th anniversary celebration. During its storied history, Fenway Park has hosted some of the best in athletic competition and a match between Liverpool and Roma -- two of the world's most well-known and respected clubs -- is an appropriate way to showcase our ballpark to an international audience during the centennial."

What isn't an appropriate way to showcase the ballpark to these guys? Coming in August: The National Tractor Pull Championships. Who doesn't think of the 1984 European Cup final when the subject of Fenway Park's history is on the table? I still have the tape. Somehow, just because we're addicted to the Red Sox, we're supposed to put Liverpool FC pennants on dad's gravestone, wear Greg Biffle hats on Sundays and root for LeBron when he's not playing against the Celtics. What if you're a supporter of A.C. Milan ? Or A.J. Almendinger? Does that make you less of a Red Sox fan?

Can we get Carl Edwards and Charlie Moore as honorary captains? Check the seating chart, it's only fitting that the worst seats for soccer are also in upper-right field. Since the original "Fever Pitch" was about a soccer fan, the Roma and Liverpool partisans should feel right a home at Fenway.

For many of us, "Football at Fenway" is another reminder of what the Red Sox have become in the eyes of Fenway Sports Group - a not-so-co-equal branch of government. It's also the 19,343,445th example of ownership fan disconnect and cluelessness. Another boot in the AS Roma for frustrated baseball fans who are watching the $142 million "investment" into Carl Crawford go up in flames, the team stuck in last place despite four straight wins and the "Bobby Valentine Show" becoming a reality TV version that's part-"Springer," part-"Yo Gabba Gabba" and part-"Sopranos."

Back to the importance of soccer.

“This is our premier special event of the summer of Fenway’s 100th anniversary," Fenway Sports Management president Sam Kennedy told the Globe's Frank Dell’Apa.

You mean the special event isn't that four-game series against the Royals in August? I thought the "premier special event of the summer of Fenway's 100th anniversary" might actually have something to do with the Red Sox.

Silly me.

Not even Robert Kraft would dare say "Revolution," "special" and "Patriots" in the same sentence while trying to keep a straight face.

"Football at Fenway" offers beleaguered fans another distraction to take their eye off the only ball that matters on Yawkey Way.

Give the Red Sox another yellow card for that one. Thankfully, football season is on the way.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Back up the Duck Boats, Bruins are done

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 25, 2012 11:38 PM

Bruins Julien (Getty).jpgAll of a sudden, death.

Back up the Duck Boats.

It's Tim Thomas' worst nightmare - the dreaded Washington takeover. The Bruins hope to energize their power play by the middle of Game 8. Two for 23. Sounds like Kevin Youkilis with runners in scoring position. Boston has now won zero straight Game 7s. At least Thomas doesn't have to worry about making that White House trip next year.

The denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and recrimination triggered after Super Bowl XLVI was mercifully compressed with the Bruins 2-1 OT loss to Washington in Game 7. This was just another first-round knockout, something Bruins fans had gotten used to during the 38 years that preceded 2011. Even worse, we can't blame Gisele, fried chicken or beer.

We won't know until 2013 if '12 or '11 was the exception or the rule. This Bruins team is young and most of the players at its core - save for the starting goaltender - are either in or approaching their prime. The future is not bleak for the Bruins, it's just five long months away. The Bruins had played and/or partied non-stop since October 2010. The B's rolled through the ups and downs of 82 games last season and pulled off a historic playoff run with three Game 7 victories before closing it out with that spin around Fenway Park on Father's Day. The metaphorical debauchery of the Stanley Cup continued non-stop across several continents running until the start of training camp. The players never really had a breaks before Thursday morning. But the next time Milan Lucic tells the cops "Do you know who I am?" They can answer: "Yes, the guy who had zero shots on goal in Game 7 against Washington after being on the ice for 19:50 and even fewer goals in the series."

As a unit, the Bruins ran out of emotional gas. They lacked big, bad Bruin-ness, speed off the faceoff and the lead heading into the third period in all seven games. Repeating in the NHL is nearly impossible. As @DaleArnold noted on NESN, nine of the past 11 Stanley Cup champs haven't gotten past the first round the following season. The subdued crowd at the Garden had little to cheer about Wednesday. The Capitals put everyone to sleep. They had more grinders than D'Angelo's. The extended offseason gives the Bruins unwelcomed rest and extra motivation for next year - much like the sweep by Philly two years ago. (Depending on when Michael Felger reads this, it's been at least eight hours since the Bruins were eliminated in the playoffs.)

Watching Game 7 tied enter overtime - the only question was what was going to give first - the heart or the bladder. Dick Cheney would have gone through six ticker swaps watching this one. But Benoit Pouliot croaked first. His attempt to clear the puck was swallowed up by Mike Knuble, who beat the Bruins' defense and rushed the net before Joel Ward put away his rebound for the series-ender. Ward played the fewest minutes of anyone on the ice when it ended. How fitting.

"I don't have a picture of it in my head," Thomas said when asked about the game-winner.

We do.

It wasn't pretty.

There was splintered wood and shattered dreams all over the Garden ice Wednesday. The Bruins must have loaded up on those cheapo sticks at the Zayre Grand Re-Opening Sale:

It was another historic run for the Bruins, so to speak. The was the closest playoff series in the history of the NHL and the Bruins lost it. That one will sting for a while. Seven games decided by one goal apiece. Four games reached into overtime. Several million f-bombs. This series was tighter than Vince Wilfork's uniform. Claude needs to take the boys to power-play school sometime in the offseason. The Bruins turned the one-man advantage into too many missed opportunities. Nathan Horton's absence was critical.

Heartburn and angina meet heartache and agony.

Dennis Seidenberg momentarily saved the season with his stick-less stop ala Michael Ryder on the Capitals' power play midway through the third period. Seidenberg played better without his stick than David Krejci and Lucic played with theirs.

Patrice Bergeron had an opportunity to win it in the first minute of overtime but fanned on an open shot. That would be the last offensive opportunity of the season for the Bruins. The Garden hadn't been this quiet since it was torn down down next door. You could hear on TV the players exchange "good series" with each other after the game. "Good job, kid," Thomas told Braden F. Holtby. Then he asked Holtby for political asylum in Saskatchewan.

The Capitals never flinched - especially the 22-year-old Holtby. He killed the Bruins with steady regularity. He was neither shaken nor stirred. His play in Game 2 - won by Washington 2-1 in overtime - set the tone for the entire series. It proved to be just as decisive as any of the three victories that followed it. Holtby seemingly make all those saves Thomas made last season.

With the Bruins' exit, Thomas will be freed up to focus on Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate. Thomas, who played good but not great, will draw the ire of plenty of fans and others, who will continually make the mistake of linking his Facebook posts and political edicts to the fact that his GAA ballooned to 2.14 in the playoffs this season and his save percentage tumbled to .923. Tuukka time was likely going to arrive whether or not Thomas went to the White House and appears even more likely with Thomas' use of the dreaded "they" word while discussing his teammates last night.

The joyride of last spring - with Thomas behind the wheel - was a gift 39 years in the making. The Bruins' run as Stanley Cup champions lasted exactly 45 weeks. The Bruins denied us what could have been another month-and-a-half of thrill-a-minute playoff hockey, dammit, not to mention a legit chance at another banner given what's happened elsewhere during the postseason. NBC must be salivating over the possibility of Ottawa and Phoenix in the Stanley Cup finals. Or how about Florida vs. St. Louis? As much fun as playoff hockey can be to watch, it's going to be hard to tune into Doc, Pierre and Eddie for the rest of the spring.

For most of us, the reaction to this loss was somewhat somber, if not predictable. However, Twitter opened up a whole new world of racist filth and hate in the wake of Ward's goal. Those pigs Tweeting epithets at Ward while calling themselves Bruins' fans need to be reminded - as @BST&N did so Wednesday - that the the Bruins were the first NHL team to ever have a black player on the ice. Morons.

The only good news for most Bruins fans is that we won't have to jump off the bandwagon. Most of us never had to get back on it in the first place.

The Red Sox have won three straight. The Celtics' bench beat the Heat's bench the other night. And the Hoodie is primed to turn four of the first 64 picks in the NFL draft into two dozen ninth rounders and a can of Stickum.

Maybe those Duck Boats can stick around just in case.

Ugh.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Red Sox woes not all on Bobby Valentine

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 22, 2012 10:39 PM

Red Sox Bullpen AP.jpgThat postponement was the most important Sunday rainout in the history of the Red Sox since Oct. 26, 1986. Mother Nature and Tyler Seguin teamed up to help Boston avert the ugliest sports weekend this side of Eli Manning. The Bruins prevailed in overtime, the Red Sox got the night off, the Celtics are primed for a run at least two rounds deep into the playoffs, the Patriots await the opportunity to load up on eighth-rounders and the Vancouver Canucks got eliminated from the playoffs. It's going to be a great week.

The only person more relieved today than Bobby Valentine is Tim Thomas. Given the schizophrenic performance of Thomas and the combustible nature of the Red Sox bullpen - saves have never been more precious in Beantown. Speaking of Game 7, the three biggest non-Pink Hat bandwagons in this century have been driven by the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, all things Tim Tebow last year and the 2012 Washington Capitals.

If Red Sox Nation really wants a reason to cheer - Roush-Fenway's own Greg Biffle kept his top spot in the Sprint Cup standings with his fifth-place finish Sunday in Kansas. LeBron, Josh Beckett, some midfielder from Liverpool, Carl Edwards, @jennydellnesn - we're all on the same team.

And Terry Francona enjoyed his birthday by not watching the Red Sox in the booth for ESPN. We know he didn't get a cake from the Red Sox, although he might have wanted to deliver John Henry and Larry Lucchino one of those special chocolate pies from "The Help."

The week we remembered the Titanic, the Red Sox bullpen pulled a Hindenburg. They should move it from right field to Lakehurst. Boston's pitching stat sheet resembles the National Debt Clock. The bullpen ranks last in ERA (8.44), opponents' batting average (.304), home runs (11) and inspiring confidence (none). The starters aren't much better, given Boston's overall 6.68 ERA and the fact that opposing batters are hitting .297 against the entire team. That average is higher than every player on the Red Sox but David Ortiz - who is leading the league at .436 - Ryan Sweeney and Kelly Shoppach. Blame is not in short supply on Yawkey Way.

Boston sent down Mark "Plutonium" Melancon, but stuck with Franklin "C4" Morales, Vincente "Rocket Fuel" Padilla, Matt "Nuclear Fusion" Albers, Alfredo "Towering Inferno" Aceves and Justin "Lighter Fluid" Thomas. Saturday those five gave up 12 hits, 14 runs (13 of them earned) and walked five batters on just 73 pitches. It gives another meaning to the term "hurlers."

Those five pitchers did manage to record five whole outs. Thankfully, Junichi "Asbestos Suit" Tazawa managed to douse the conflagration or we'd still be watching the Yankees bat. Phillip Humber threw a perfect game. 27 up, 27 down. The Red Sox needed six relievers before they could record a perfect inning. 29 up, 17 reached base. Humber's scheduled to pitch next against the Red Sox in Chicago on Thursday. Sadly, the Red Sox bullpen will probably pitch next tonight at Minnesota.

The miracle of Sunday's rainout allowed Bobby V. to temporarily shift Daniel Bard to the bullpen until his next start - which may be sometime in 2018. Ben Cherington met with Bobby V. and Cherington said he's "very satistified" with the manager's performance. Well, who is going to meet with Cherington - or Lucchino? Is anyone rebooting Carmine? Can we sue Theo for malpractice? The Red Sox have plenty of bosses, but no one is in charge. Most of the players are so spoiled, pampered and entitled, even Paris Hilton would be embarrassed.

The Red Sox may have to replace the Bud Light in the clubhouse with buckets of Zoloft in the stands. When management hinted that this may be a bridge year - they meant a Tobin Bridge year. The MassDOT said all lanes were clear heading into today's rush hour following the announcement of the Red Sox-Yankees rainout on Twitter and Seguin's brilliant goal off Braden F. Holtby. All was not well heading into the Red Sox roadtrip, as @DavidOrtiz tweeted: "Stuck at the airport trying to go to Minnesota ....... It's don't matter we are the sox!!!!!! New england city of hope!!!! We will be back!!" Was that a promise or a threat?

Daily News Yankees.jpgValentine made so many trips to the mound Saturday he qualified for a 2013 Boston Marathon bib. It's bad enough Valentine can't handle the pitching staff, never mind can't pitch, but he has gotten a bit of a bad wrap, er, rap in the wake of the team's implosion. Bobby V. has not been nor will he ever be the cause of what ails the Red Sox. Nor will he be the cure.

Valentine never had a chance with this pitching staff. The last time No. 1 starter Jon Lester (0-2, 5.03 ERA) pitched before tonight, the team lost 18-3. Boston's current ace is Felix Doubront, but even he can't go past 100 pitches with a 9-1 lead against the Yankees. If El Tiante , a young Clemens or Pedro hit the seventh inning on just 99 pitches with an eight-run lead, the bullpen would have gone home for the night. Not even Don Zimmer, Butch Hobson or Grady Little could have screwed that up. The Bard-Aceves quandary remains a no-win, considering one doesn't want to close, the other does not have the speed on his pitches to be an effective closer and their best closer since Dick Radaz shipped off to the home of Kabletown. They should play "Philadelphia Freedom" the next time the bullpen blows a lead in the eighth inning in honor of Jonathan Papelbon's departure.

After they cranked up "Sweet Caroline" Saturday, Neil Diamond should have applied for a restraining order.

The 2011 Red Sox started 4-10. The 2012 Red Sox started 4-10. Tito certainly needed to go after last season. But he didn't need to get thrown under the bus and his replacement was not going to fill out the rotation, solidify the middle and back end of the bullpen or play shortstop.

Here's what we said in this spot on back on Nov. 30:

Our long national nightmare isn’t over. We've only just begun.

The Red Sox want us to believe that Larry, Ben and Carmine together picked Bobby Valentine to be their Valentine. He will be the 45th manager of the Red Sox for at least year or two until, we can hope, either Joe Maddon or John Farrell becomes the 46th manager of the Red Sox.

As short-term solutions go, this one ranks slightly above Rex Ryan’s lap-band surgery, Colts starting quarterback Dan Orlovsky and left-handed starter Erik Bedard. The Red Sox humiliated their franchise, needlessly embarrassed their new GM and managed to inflict even further punch lines on their fans throughout this managerial search. The would-be Valentines on “Sox Appeal” were chosen with more discretion, forethought and scrutiny than this Valentine. Bobby V. may have arguably been the best candidate available. And Kim is the best Kardashian.

The Red Sox bullpen was this bad on Opening Day. Until some new arms show up, it will be just as bad on Independence Day or whenever Andrew Bailey arrives. That's if we're still paying attention by then.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Fenway Park 100: Red Sox memories clash

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 19, 2012 06:10 PM

Red-Sox-1975-Playoff-Photo-ObnoxiousBostonFan.jpgHappy Anniversary Fenway Park.

100 birthdays and the pitching still sucks.

Excuse the language, but it's been a long century at times - and even a longer season for Red Sox fans.

Does "Fenway 100" mean the number of losses in 2012? Or perhaps it's over/under on home runs the bullpen gives up by Memorial Day.

Red Sox-Yankees. Fenway's centennial is cause to celebrate - cramped seats, overpriced tickets, non-existent parking and all. But Fenway's 100th has become a victim of overkill. The grandeur, historic significance and personal importance of America's Most Beloved Ballpark (copyright Boston Red Sox) is self-evident. So much of this is unnecessary.

Thumbnail image for Fenway 100 Getty Photo.jpgWhy are Red Sox fans so cynical? Maybe it has something to do with "Sweet Caroline" when the team is down 14 runs, bricks on the heels of "Chicken and Beer" and childhoods framed around witnessing baseball trauma at the ballpark.

That - at least - is the case for me.

Going to Fenway with your dad for the first time - and then someday taking your kid - is an essential life rite of passage for any Red Sox fan. But the pain in between is inevitable. When the Globe rolled out its "Fenway at 100" preview - great stuff in there by the way - the magazine offered up five of the most painful losses in Fenway history:

Four of those whoppers occurred in my lifetime - I'm the same age as the CITGO sign (as opposed to the Cities Service sign). I learned about Denny Galehouse in history class. I have no recollection of 1967 beyond the "Impossible Dream" LP that sits in my den. Of the three remaining games on that list - I attended two - 1975 and 1978 - witnessing that Red Sox horror and carnage in my youth. Both of those games began with the greatest of expectations and ended in shambles. But on a personal level - 30-plus years later - they also give me fond memories of time spent with my family and late parents.

No wonder I'm so screwed up when it comes to this team. The next day was always the hardest. I stayed home from school the day after Game 7 in 1975 - I was only 10 - and more or less cried until about noon. By 1978, there were no more tears. Just a lot of swearing out of the ears of my parents and anguish over the fact that we were going to have to wait a whole six months before the season to start again. On the flip side - my tickets for both games cost a combined $8.75.

Here's how Game 7 of the 1975 World Series was described the next day's Globe:

"What will stand for baseball historians as an epic World Series this morning belongs to the good people of Cincinnati, Ohio. What was a Series ruled by bounces, plays of dramatic genius and might-have-beens was in the end appropriately decided by a bloop - a looping fly ball in the ninth inning that brought the Reds a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox and brought Middle America’s baseball team its first championship since 1940.

But even as Reds’ reliever Will McEnaney polished off the bottom of that ninth without a threat, the 35,205 joined in chorus by the thousands that lined the Fens, stood and roared. For it was like the death of a favorite grandmother, a season whose life was beautiful and full and gave everyone from Southie to Stonington, Conn., to Groton to Charlestown, N.H., a year they will reminisce about until Olde Fenway calls them back again. But while coming down to the ninth inning of the seventh game of the Series was far beyond our March - or even September, perhaps - dreams, what will last is the frustration of defeat." - Peter Gammons, Reds erase Red Sox lead, win World Series (Boston Globe, Oct. 23, 1975)

My memories are mixed.

For Game 7 - I sat with my mom in the bleachers. My dad and brothers joined a few other relatives with standing room tickets. A major melee broke out before the game in our section and the two guys sitting next us told my mother not to worry - they would make sure she was OK - and told me to get under my seat just in case someone threw a punch or decided to go flying down a couple of rows. Chivalry was alive and well in 1975. It was a special night for me. I had my mom with me in the bleachers of Game 7 of the World Series. For a 10-year-old, you can't beat that.

After the fighting subsided, next crushing blow was delivered by Tony Perez. The Red Sox had scored three runs in the third without the benefit of an extra-base hit but left the bases loaded. The image of Perez's blast off Bill Lee sailing over the Green Monster and beginning its first of multiple earth orbits has been seared into my psyche like Kane's "Rosebud." After Juan Beniquez, Bob Montgomery and Yaz went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, hundreds of fans streamed on to the field. For some reason, I wanted to join them, but that wasn't going to happen. My mom didn't say much, she just gave me a hug before we exited the ballpark.

The five stages of grief commenced, the final one lingering until 2004.

Red-Sox-1978-Playoff-Game---OBF-Illustration.jpg

Less than three years later, after many visits in between, I was back at Fenway for the end of the 1978 season. We had tickets for Sunday's game against Toronto - forever known as the Jack Brohamer Affair. It was also the first weekend of my Herald paper route. After delivering the Sunday edition, I saw a notice in the paper that tickets for a potential playoff game were going on sale that morning at 9. My father and I scraped up all the available cash we could find (no ATMs back then) and headed to the Fenway box office with enough money to buy five reserve grandstand seats for Game E2 - which thankfully became necessary. Our round trip to Fenway from the suburbs was completed in 45 minutes and we left again for Sunday's game about 90 minute later. By the time the Sox beat Toronto - the line for tickets was all the way down Yawkey Way.

"Bucky Dent. This was a game that Rich Gossage saved by getting Jim Rice and Yastrzemski with Burleson and Remy on in the ninth. It began with Yaz hitting a stunning home run off Ron Guidry, with Guidry struggling through until the seventh with barely a hint of the fire that has made him 25-3. It was a game in which the winning run turned out to be a Reggie Jackson homer, a game that had Gossage bail out of two-on, one-out jams the last two innings, a game also saved by two memorable defensive plays by Lou Piniella, who is a winner.

But somehow this winter in a pub in East Cambridge or St. Alban’s, Vt., or Somerset, Mass., someone will say, “Bucky Dent.” Harry Brecheen, Denny Galehouse, Jim Longborg’s two days’ rest, Jim Burton and Bucky Dent. The Yankee shortstop, batting because Willie Randolph is injured and Fred Stanley thus had go in at second base, hit a three-run Fenway net job in the seventh that killed Mike Torrez’ shutout and was the game’s bottom line." - Peter Gammons, Yankees have final say again, beat Red Sox (Boston Globe, Oct. 3, 1978)

That October 2nd was a beautiful Monday - a glorious New England autumn day that would end with a classic New England fall. Even more glorious was getting to leave school early. We got to Fenway in time to for me to argue with a Yankees fan about how Jim Rice was more valuable to his team than Ron Guidry was to his. Felt like I won that one with Yaz's home run in the second inning. At the sophisticated age of 13, I thought the Red Sox had this one in the bag and Mike Torrez looked invincible heading into the seventh. We know what happened next. I remember watching Yaz instead of the ball because it was easier to focus on him. When he ran out of field and hit the wall, that hot dog I ate in the second inning began its comeback.

Reggie's homer solidified the feeling of gloom before the gloam. When I met Lou Piniella covering spring training years later, I told him how he helped to ruin my youth with his glove-stab in the sun off Jerry Remy's single in the ninth. Sweet Lou laughed and said "I had it all the way." That SOB. By the time Yaz got ready to pop up, my brothers and I had moved down to three empty seats just a few rows off the field near the Red Sox on-deck circle. We watched at eye-level as Graig Nettles inhaled the final out. All we heard were the yells and screams of the Yankees celebrating on the field. Everyone else was silent.

Ah, memories.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Flap doesn't matter when Red Sox fall 18-3

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 17, 2012 11:58 PM

Boston Red Sox Clueless 2012.jpgThe ace of Boston's staff, Jon Lester, is 0-2 and saw his ERA soar to 5.82. He threw 49 pitches in the second inning - long before the last-place Red Sox lost to the Rangers by five field goals. Lester left with the bases loaded and no one out after two-plus innings and was tagged for seven runs and eight hits while giving up four walks on 80 pitches. He "stunk." Or something like that.

The Red Sox are a team in turmoil - especially when they get beaten 18-3 at Fenway Park. This time, Bobby Valentine left in his starter too long by letting him pitch into the third.

When the No. 1 starter on the team puts up numbers like Lester's - it makes no difference whether Valentine and Kevin Youkilis are going to have lunch Thursday. The clubhouse mirrors Syria. The manager was de-nutted by the GM after the best player on the team threw him under the bus. Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox, but they'd be better off letting Bobby Jenks drive.

John Henry was last seen celebrating Patriots' Day on his yacht with the crew from Liverpool FC.

Carmine must have a virus.

The 1977 Yankees defined clubhouse dysfunction. But they won. The Red Sox have continued 2011's internal freefall with at new manager but the same old problems. Surprised Josh Beckett was able to take time out of his "Snich-Hunt" to beat the Rays on opening day. Getting rid of Tito did little to change what ails the Red Sox. Maybe Dustin Pedroia should manage the team since he's talking like he's already in charge. The Red Sox are acting like they're an NBA team. Perhaps Pedroia and Youkilis - he of the four Ks Tuesday - can demand the Celitcs fire Doc Rivers.

Good news - when the Red Sox were down by two touchdowns (16-2) Tuesday, they still managed to snap off another mass rendition of "Sweet Caroline." That might be the straw that breaks Neil Diamond's back. Have you no shame, Dr. Charles? They should have been playing "Taps."

This one went from loss to embarrassment at the hands of Mark "Plutonium" Melancon. Only Jerry Jones could build a stadium big enough to contain a Melancon fastball. I never thought anyone ever had a shot at reaching the Dunkin' Dugout until Josh Hamilton connected Tuesday. The Ted Williams "Red Seat" was under assault for the first time in decades. Eliot might have to move that "Jordan's Furniture" sign back to Cambridge with this pitching staff.

More scary numbers: Melancon threw 26 pitches, gave up about a quarter-mile of home runs, six runs, four hits, two walks and a partridge in a pear tree. But he was unable to get anyone out. Melancon's ERA is 49.50. John Lackey is jealous. Eric Gagne can rest in peace. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a plea for the Red Sox to cut Melancon in order to preserve the Mystic River ecosystem.

The Red Sox have not come close to resolving their middle-bullpen issues and rotation remains spotty. Scoring 31 runs in the first three games against Tampa was a nice mirage. Valentine and Youkilis can take a whirl on "Dancing With the Stars" or settle their issues "Mad Men" style. But this team will only go as far as its pitching will take it, which is looking like fourth place right now.

Two One more against the Rangers and then the Yankees come to town to celebrate Fenway's 100th this weekend. Move out the fences while you can.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Thanksgiving night no turkey for Patriots

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 17, 2012 06:57 PM

Brady Jets.jpg

Looking at the Patriots 2012 schedule, some weeks appear much bigger than others.

They get Peyton Manning once and Tim Tebow twice. But we already knew that before dates and times were released.

So much for the highlights of the Patriots 2012 schedule.

The Patriots get their chance at Manning's rehabilitated neck on October 7 at Gillette. That contest is stuffed after games at Baltimore (Lee Evans won't be around to drop any potential game-winning passes) and Buffalo and before a trip to Seattle.

Quick - name three players on the Seahawks.

Calling it early - thinking this version of the Broncos offense should be able to put up at least two touchdowns during this visit. It will actually be nice to have Manning vs. Brady matchup that does not end with another humiliating and excruciating loss in the Super Bowl.

Rex Ryan, Sanchize and Tim Tebow's clipboard come to Foxboro on Oct. 21 for a 4:15 p.m. kickoff. That could also be a likely date for Game 7 of the ALCS. Probably won't have to worry about leaving Foxboro in time to watch Jon Lester's first pitch.

But the big one will be on Thanksgiving Night - New England at New York, Nov 22. Kickoff set for 8:20 p.m. on NBC. The NFL has the hype machine going full blast on this one:

Watch: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots movie trailer

My favorite high school football rivalry and/or the Macy's parade. The National Dog Show. And Brady, the Hoodie, Tebow, Rexy and Sanchize over for a nightcap. Sounds like the perfect holiday to me. Leftover turkey or is that the Patriots' running game? Speaking of fat, bloated and stuffed, did I mention Rex Ryan yet?

Last year, the Wire Fox Terrier won best in show. This year, the Jets and Dolphins will contend for worst of breed in the AFC East. On Thanksgiving, Tebow can say grace for the nation before we eat during the day. And Rexy can drop f-bombs all night on national TV while the Sanchize completes pass after pass to the Patriots secondary.

In the words of Bart Scott - "Can't wait. Pass the gravy."

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Video: SNL strikes out Ozzie Guillen, Giants QB Eli Manning to host on May 5

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 15, 2012 10:55 AM

Eli Manning to Host SNL.jpgNew York Giants QB Eli Manning will be hosting NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on May 5. Set the DVRs for that one. Expecting lots of Tim Tebow jokes and multiple jabs at Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Rihanna will join him for her third appearance as musical guest. The two-time Super Bowl winner was there with his with mom and dad as big brother and now Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning hosted the show on March 24, 2007. That came after Peyton had led the Indianapolis Colts to a win in Super Bowl XLI. Tom Brady hosted on April 16, 2004 a couple of months after the Patriots won their second Super Bowl.

The gig for Eli was announced during a commercial break in this week's show. That show featured a spoof on embattled and suspended Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, the state of Florida and several of its residents - real and imagined. A skit skewered CNN’s Piers Morgan and the Sunshine State over the Trayvon Martin story. Guillen, played by host Josh Brolin, went from trying to apologize for his remarks admiring Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to offending the large Jewish population in South Florida with his support of Hezbollah and Hamas - in the clip below:

During the skit, Morgan also talked to a faux Florida tourism official (Jason Sudeikis) who said “crazy laws are what Florida is all about — it’s the No. 1 reason maniacs come to Florida after Disney World.” Among the other laws allegedly in existence - "An eye for an iPod." The faux official predicted that prosecutors could get a conviction in the Martin case because “we’ve got the same crackerjack team that got Casey Anthony a lifetime in prison.”

Here's the entire 6:17 effort if you're so inclined:

Just a personal note, we're not all that bad down here.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Bruins, Thomas meet match in Capitals

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 14, 2012 03:54 PM

4-14 Thomas Chara.jpgThe Boston Bruins needed Tim Thomas to shut down the Washington Capitals with all the consistency and drone of a Senate filibuster.

The ultimate deficit hawk, Thomas failed in his bid to help the Bruins amass a 2-0 surplus in their first-round series against the representatives from our Nation's Capital. Now we've got real gridlock, 1-1, with Game 3 in Washington Monday night. Want some good news? Both the 3-5 Red Sox and Bruins are ahead of last year's pace as of Patriots' Day.

Thomas has reverted to his 2011 playoff form in this series, giving up two goals in 144 minutes and 14 seconds of hockey. He's played a mile outside the crease at times and was pushing and shoving all game Saturday. The problem - Capitals' first-termer Braden Holtby was even better in Washington's 2-1 2OT victory. Holtby, just 22, stopped 43 shots for Washington in his second career postseason game.

Thomas made 37 saves for Boston but simply stood frozen as Nicklaus Backstrom's game-winner sailed past his right shoulder 2:56 into the fifth period. He had delivered a nice smack to Backstrom earlier in the game, but Backstrom "got the last laugh." As @MikeGiardi tweeted: "Tim Thomas said he never saw the game-winner until it was too late. Yelled "screen" and then it was light's out, party over."

And I lost my shirt when I bet "Milan Lucic scores playoff goal" before "Kelly Shoppach steals a base" and "The Red Sox score 25 runs during back-to-back victories" in my "What will happen first?" fantasy league.

"Two goals in two games is not good enough," added David Krejci , who like so many of his teammates, is pointless in the postseason.

Gaylord Focker had the "circle of trust:"

The Bruins have "The Chain." Unfortunately, its weakest links have been Krecji, Lucic and Tyler Seguin.

We are all watching you.

Remember all hell broke loose as Thomas decided not to join the Bruins at the White House (Jan. 23). At that time the president's approval rating was at 44 percent, according to Gallup. Since then, Obama's approval has enjoyed a bump up four points in the same poll. Thomas' approval rating among many fans and nearly every single member of the Boston media was in the tank in the days after he skipped out on meeting the Commander in Chief. It, we were told up and down the dial and across the internets, would lead to the end of the Bruins as we know them and cause inevitable and irrevocable damage to "team chemistry."

Thomas' approval rating spiked in the past month and is holding steady with his performance against the Capitals thus far. Thomas has prevented Bruins from being down 0-2 against the worst-possible seventh-seed draw Boston could have imagined. More importantly, his teammates and coach publicly backed him after Saturday's loss. So much for the "chemistry" problem.

Won't even try to get into why Obama's approval rating has improved. One thing is for sure - it had nothing to do anything Thomas did. We avoid political commentary here - except for cynical remarks about politicians who try to look cool by talking sports and inevitably screwing up - see Mayor Menino, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Elizabeth Warren and friends, John Kerry, Joe Biden, etc. And snarky comments about how either Romney or Thomas will have to make Michigan his home state in order for Timmy to get a spot on the GOP ticket.

Once again enjoy "Varitek splitting the uprights":

Holtby is from Marshall, Saskatchewan, and he wasn't talking politics, either. Saskatchewan does not keep a permanent "List of Electors," so there's no way to determine if Holtby supports the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, is a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of Canada, a backer of the Western Block Party, or riding high in Le Parti Rhinocéros.

Thomas' decision not to go to the White House continues to have zero effect on this team, even though the goalie had the incredible nerve to halt a Q & A session the other day when asked about his White House snub. To his critics, that is the "team chemistry" equivalent of Thomas burning his Bruins' jersey while singing "Oh, Canada" in French at center ice in Montreal while hugging Ken Dryden. The world of professional athletes does not revolve around press availability. The media's presence is a minor but necessary nuisance and/or mundane part of the job, much like time in the whirlpool or studying film. Some enjoy the cameras and chatting it up (see Rob Gronkowski circa 2012 - "Yo Soy Fiesta" is at the 1:37 mark) much more than others (see Jim Rice circa 1988).

Thomas’ postseason shutout streak, which ran all the way back to Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, died after 161 minutes, 41 seconds. Clearly, he was distracted by Rick Santorum dropping out of the presidential race.

But next time you see Thomas take a pass on that question about his assessment of the Supreme Court's Obamacare case, don't for a second think that it will affect whether or not Seguin can score on the power play against Washington.

It's apples and oranges - or White House snubs and Stanley Cup runs.

__________________________

Speaking of sports and politics. Ray Allen, D-Wade and some of the other members on Team USA want to be paid for representing their country in the Olympics. I don't have a problem with that. How much to pay them is the question. Well, there are no better representatives of our nation overseas than the members of our military (or at least 99.99 percent of them). The basic pay for an active duty Army Staff Sergeant with six-years service is $34,636 per year plus benefits. Figuring the U.S. Olympic team puts in about two months of work before the games, that would equal about $5,772.66 for the commitment asked of each Olympian. Works for me.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Red Sox 2012 Fenway Park opener almost too good to be true

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 13, 2012 11:34 AM

Beckett 4-13.jpgOpening Day at Fenway Park was nearly perfect for the Red Sox.

Josh Beckett was booed by many before he took the field but - much more importantly - he walked off the field to a universal rousing ovation.

Talk about catharsis. It was the baseball version of Ralphie's beatdown of Scott Farkus. given how the Rays were able to bully the Red Sox down the stretch last season.

With Beckett dealing and the Rays throwing batting practice, it had all the look of 2007 and was the perfect antidote for last season's implosion.

photo (9).JPGAnd we learned that four out of five Red Sox pitchers prefer Popeye's - but we already knew that. As he and the Red Sox were mocked by the Popeye's sign near Kemore Square, Beckett took the best possible path toward redemption - he pitched eight innings and gave up only one run. The Red Sox followed that up with an eight-run, eighth inning that began with 46 pitches and 11 batters reaching base before the Rays could record an out.

The cloud in this silver lining - seeing Jacoby Ellsbury grimace after injuring his shoulder in the fourth inning. It appears he'll be out 6-8 weeks. Ouch. We'll be holding our breaths.

Otherwise, the day is worth another look. Here's how it went down. Enjoy:

5:28 p.m. - Red sox win 12-2. Melancon holds on.

5:26 p.m. - May have spoken too soon on Melancon. Home run. It's now 12-2.

5:20 p.m. - 8th inning comes to a merciful close. Ryan Sweeney leaves 'em loaded. What a bum! He only had one hit and two RBI the inning.

5:15 p.m. - Rays finally record first out of the eighth after 46 pitches, 11 batters and more than 30 minutes at the plate as the Red Sox score again. The 12-1 lead has now been certified "bullpen safe" by Elias Sports.

5:11 p.m. - Nine straight batters reach base. Seven runs in. No one out. 11-1. Think this one is Melancon-proof.

5:06 p.m. - Bases-loaded double for Youkllis - everybody is getting in on this beatdown. With Beckett dealing, both teams looking like it's 2007. 10-1 Red Sox. Nobody out.

4:59 p.m. - Kelly Shoppach delivers a little payback to his old team - doubling with the bases loaded, his second double of the day along with an 83-foot steal of second base. 6-1 Red Sox. This one is in the bag - all that's left is Beckett's exit.

4:39 p.m. - Beckett records his first K - overwhelming Carlos Pena with a breaking ball. Beckett gets a rousing ovation after Evan Longoria grounds out to end the eighth. This is the perfect time to sing "Sweet Caroline" - when the Red Sox are winning and Beckett has just tossed eight innings while giving up one run.

4:35 p.m. - Darnell McDonald is no Carl Crawford in left field. Makes a nice sliding grab to start off the 8th.

4:24 p.m. - Found this on You Tube - mucho cool video of the F-16 flyover shot from the Mass. Ave. bridge over the Charles River probably about 140 Smoots from the Cambridge side. Sound is nice touch. Love the calling out spot "treeline" at the four-second mark.

4:19 p.m. - Scott picks up loose paper at Fenway. Got to keep it clean. It is a dump, you know. Beckett through 7 innings - 1R, 5H and 0K. No reason to boo this. The goat horns are fading. Winning is the ultimate cure-all.

4:10 p.m. - Kelly Shoppach swipes second base. Closing in on Rickey Henderson, just 1,405 steals behind.

4:00 p.m. - Cody Ross looking like Coco Crisp out there in center. The man can play more roles than Tom Wilkinson.

3:49 p.m. - Beckett mowing them down. Has the page turned? 1-2-3 fifth. The transformation continues.

3:42 p.m. - Ellsbury hurt on another double-play, literally adding injury to Insult. That shoulder grab did not look good. Silver lining - 4-1 Red Sox.

3:20 p.m. - Sox had Price on the ropes and let him off. Double-play. Arrgh.

3:15 p.m. - Finally something to really , really, really, cheer about. Youkilis' sac-fly brings in Ellsbury to put the Red Sox up 2-1. Followed up by Papi's half-swing roller to third driving home Pedroia. Ortiz burning it up the line. Up 3-1 without an extra-base hit. Bobby Ball.

3:06 p.m. - Finally something to really cheer about. Second and third with nobody out.

2:48 p.m. - Reminded the the Rays held the Red Sox to a .192 batting average at Fenway last season. Nowhere to go but up in 2012 on that front.

2:33 p.m. - Top 2nd. Josh Beckett's scoreless inning streak ends at 1.

2:31 p.m. - Top 2nd. Josh Beckett's still pitching. That's a good sign.

tex and wake.jpg1:59 p.m. - Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield - a "pair of Sox" - throwing out the first pitch. They get a great reception, as deserved. Wakefield may be back in the rotation by June the way things are going. Funny how Wakefield still doesn't pitch to Varitek, even in a ceremony like this. Beckett needs a new binky. Will he find it in Shoppach?

1:54 p.m. - Beckett hears plenty of boos, and some cheers. Mixed reaction at a stretch but no lovefest. Fans have demonstrated that they not forgotten. Good for them. No reason to sugarcoat last September or his first start in April. Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione cut it off the crowd pretty quickly. Lukewarm support for No. 19 - glad see fans either voiced their displeasure or kept their silence. Now we move on to 2012 and see what he's got today.

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1:53 p.m. - Bobby Valentine gets a mixed reaction, plenty of audible boos. Loudest cheers for Dustin Pedroia - no surprise there - and Big Papi.

1:52 p.m. - Warm receptions for most players, including Alfredo Aceves.

1:50 p.m. - Ryan Sweeney slips coming out of the dugout. Carl Crawford gets a nice reception, as does Jon Lester. No one bothered to react to Mark Melancon.

1:43 p.m. - Rays' Luke Scott gets booed.

1:29 p.m. - First appearance by @jennydellnesn. At least we've got that.

1:15 p.m. - Larry Lucchino calls the opening week of the season a "double-bogey" on the first hole. John Henry gave an eight-year-old kid and his family free tickets to today's game. No word on whether or not the kid's dad got a case of Bud Light. On the passion of the fans, he said: "We're gonna get a few wins and everyone will be a littler calmer...I usually don't get worried until July."

12:30 p.m. - See that Luke Scott of the Tampa Bay Rays called Fenway Park a "dump." Has that fool ever been to Tropicana Field? Pot, meet kettle.


As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Should Red Sox fans boo Beckett at Fenway opener?

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 12, 2012 03:50 PM

Beckett Looking at You.jpg

"Somebody made that stuff up, just like somebody made up that we were doing stuff ... The snitching [expletive], that's [expletive]. It's not good." - Josh Beckett - WEEI (Feb. 27, 2012)
"I'm a victim of soicumstance" - Curly -Disorder in the Court (1936)


Happy Friday the 13th.

The "Three Stooges" movie opens today. Reviews are mixed.

Meanwhile, Ben, Larry and Bobby, joined by the rest of those knuckleheads, begin the 101st season of Fenway Park.

Josh Beckett starts the Red Sox home opener. Odds are strong he won't finish it.

It's been nothing but feel-good prose, vintage photos and "tell us your favorite Fenway" story all winter. The on-field angst Fenway has provided for years will be precisely personified as Beckett takes the mound. "Chicken and Beer" is now a fixed part of Red Sox lore, just like "Dave Roberts' Steal," the "Curse of the Bambino," the "Impossible Dream" and "Manny's Bathroom Breaks." Beckett has taken fried fowl and fermented hops in human form.

As if being the front-man for the 2011 collapse was not enough, Beckett kept it up in spring training by making it clear that now since he is a dad, he no longer has to care about his job and should be left alone because he's a working parent away from home. He then went out and threw batting practice to the Tigers in his 2012 debut.

He's right. Parenthood trumps baseball - except when you're actually playing baseball and working off a $68 million contract extension. Beckett's pitching line Saturday - 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 K and 5 HR on just 83 pitches - was the biggest opening week bomb since "John Carter."

Should the fans heading to Fenway - or watching on TV - boo Beckett? In the words of legendary country crooner Kevin Fowler - "Hell, yeah."

Boo his fat Texas arse off.

Let it out when he's introduced. Then let it go and judge him and the rest of the team on what they do from here on out. There will likely be many more opportunities to boo long before the season ends. Hoping for more reasons to cheer. Not really a fan of booing the home team on Opening Day, but this is a rare, perhaps twice-in-a-lifetime exception.

This is not the first crack the faithful have had at Beckett this year. He received polite applause when I saw him pitch in person in Fort Myers and there were no reports of empties being tossed his day even though it was St. Patrick's Day. That's understandable. It's hard to boo anyone during spring training (unless they're wearing a Yankees uniform) but I managed. Everyone is so polite in Fort Myers that you're afraid to get out of your seat to answer nature's call unless you're between innings or waiting the 10 minutes for Beckett between pitches.

But this isn't spring training. It's the Fenway Home opener. What happens today actually matters. It belongs to Red Sox fans whether they're in attendance or not. It's the biggest undeclared holiday in New England, a legit version of Evacuation Day (see St. Patrick's Day) for those of us outside Suffolk County. Boston's 1-5 record doesn't really carry the sting that it should because the team hasn't played at home yet, so there's no need to join the throng lined up at the tool booths on the Tobin Bridge in their swim suits and goggles until they actually lose at home. But the Sox are right on pace to match last year's 2-10 start.

Here's a recap of the Red Sox 2012 season thus far:

Booing Beckett or any his accomplices is not personal. Far from it. I never thought anyone from the Red Sox owed anyone a personal apology (beyond the former manager and a few others who were thrown under the bus in The Aftermath). The Red Sox did no harm to me, or my family. John Lackey didn't take food off my table. Captain Varitek not prevent my son from getting into college. Carl Crawford's batting average had no effect on my wife's business. No animals were harmed in the making of this picture.

beervideo3.jpg But as fans, they shafted us all. The Red Sox fanbase got the collective doink and was slapped around more than Curly on his first plumbing job. If you paid money for a ticket or for NESN through your cable or satellite bill, or bought anything with "Red Sox" on it - you got a defective product - namely a team that did not play its best and "athletes" who let themselves get fat, out of shape and injury prone as the season regressed. Beckett was at the epicenter of this - despite his overall decent numbers. And he remains the target because we don't have Lackey to kick around this season. You gave the Red Sox your heart and it got coated in a beer batter and deep-fried. And Beckett's biggest regret from last year was that he got caught.

This baseball season at Fenway is going to be different than the 100 that came before it because of the festivities and hoopla surrounding the ballpark's 100th birthday on April 20. And like the Titanic tribute cruise that's lurching across the Atlantic this week from England, the Red Sox are being smacked around by stormy winds but cannot turn back. There are plenty of icebergs ahead in the A.L. East, not the least of which are the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, who we can't even make fun of anymore since they have finished ahead of Boston in the standings for three of the past four years. For any Red Sox fan living in Florida, this is a special source of humiliation and shame. That fact alone is reason enough to want to boo. At least we can still mock the portion of the Rays' fan base that comprised the Casey Anthony jury.

Perhaps a "Moment of Silence" would be a bit more sophisticated. Maybe Ashley Pinkhat and Frederic Smythington III feel it's disloyal or rude to boo anyone in a Red Sox uniform. But plenty of Red Sox fans will let it out today when No. 19 is introduced. One last wail to get 2011 and its aftermath out of their system.

And I'll be there right with them.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Red Sox Replay: The case for Pedroia

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 11, 2012 03:02 PM

The Red Sox mailed it in Wednesday - falling meekly 3-1 to the Blue Jays. So we also decided to take the day off while on the clock. Pulled this one out of the not-so-best-of-OBF archives. It was originally posted here on Sept. 30, before Carmine and Larry spit out Bobby V.'s name on their managerial short list.


dp.jpgAs Red Sox Nation pulled into "Stage 5 of Grief" (acceptance)Terry Francona and Theo Espstein opened up like they were guests on Dr. Phil. Francona - cast in the role of the neglectful parent - won't be coming back. He packed his boxes and has parted ways with the Red Sox.

We've now been told the Red Sox were out of shape, there was clubhouse turmoil, John Lackey’s “rehabilitation” is a “big priority” and the team “failed.” Every time I see Matt Albers pitch I realize I have the body of a major-leaguer. Turmoil? Try my family room Wednesday night about midnight. Lackey needs to be removed – not rehabilitated. "Failed" doesn't even begin to describe it. The Red Sox’ 2011 GPA was equal to John Blutarsky’s: “zero point zero.”

Looking for someone to blame – just visit www.redsox.com and hit the “roster” link. The Sox didn’t just mail it in – they called Fed Ex to make sure the end arrived on time. There were a few exceptions – Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, most of Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia. Tito's departure is only a fraction of the solution.

I'm not a “good they got rid of Tito” guy as much as I am a “Let’s shake up this whole deal and try something completely different” guy. Even if they get a new GM, nothing would shake things up more than Player-Manager Dustin Pedroia. Crazy? Maybe. Not gonna happen? Probably. No way? So what.

Player-managers are not new – Pete Rose, Joe Cronin, Lou Boudreau and Frank Robinson come to mind. And the way things were going in St. Pete the other night, Joe Girardi probably would have had to catch in the 13th. In this sophisticated era of “Moneyball,” individual massage therapists and $142 million guaranteed contracts for left fielders who can’t catch – the thought of a player-manager sounds primitive and absurd. It's about as unimaginable as Boston blowing a 9-game lead in the same month as the team that used to play in Boston blew an 8½-game lead.

sicover.jpgAs Red Sox fans across the continent vented about 2011 and offered solutions for 2012 – one positive sentiment was universal – Pedroia never quit. He was seemingly the only player not up for a contract who played the way fans wish everyone played. He's the "Charlie Hustle" of this broken-down Red Sox Machine – minus the criminal record and baseball banishment.

Pedroia's uniform is dirty when it comes out of the washing machine. He has at least three nicknames. He looks like he’s 15 with his cap on while clean-shaven and 50 when it’s off and he isn’t. Pedroia's work ethic makes Cal Ripken look lazy. He's so old school he should be in the Ivy League. He jumps before every pitch – while Carl Crawford barely moved all season. And his home run Wednesday gave the Red Sox their final lead of 2011. He's the Anti-Drew.

(Of course, the Sports Illustrated curse did not spare the Red Sox. The day I got my issue with “The Laser Show/Muddy Chicken/Dusty Two Sacks” on the cover (Aug. 12) – the Red Sox were 73-44 and led the AL East by 2 games.)

The Red Sox needed leadership down the stretch, not coaching. Youth and inexperience would be a concern with Pedroia. But in 2002, the Red Sox handed the keys to the entire organization to a 28-year-old GM who never even played the game. He did pretty good for a few years. Well guess who turned 28 last month? You got it. Muddy Chicken? How about King Rooster (with apologies to Rick Burleson.)

Just seeing Pedroia’s reaction when Lackey shoots him a goofy stare during a pitching change would be worth be worth the move. So what if Pedroia can't handle the pitching staff. Neither could Francona.

Bench coach? Now batting, No. 14 ... Jim Rice. Pitching coach? That’s even easier - look no further than Jim Ed's NESN studio counterpart and fellow Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Salad and cheese 7 days a week. (Both Doc Rivers and Pat Riley spent time in the broadcast booth before becoming coaches. They turned out OK.) At least Eck has a pulse, as opposed to Curt Young.

If fans want a “lead-by-example” boss, Pedroia's their guy. You want spark? Pedroia carries about 100,000 volts The only downside - Who will play second after Pedroia gets ejected for arguing calls every other night? The cerebral coddling of Francona gave us two World Series rings, but eight years of paper dominance. Less than three months after V-E Day, the British voted Winston Churchill out of office by defeating his Conservative party at the polls. The Red Sox haven't won a playoff game in three years. Tito's time had expired.

Theo's “silver lining” in this year’s collapse may be a chance to hire a manager who is bold, not just bald.

He's already there at second base.

Tell us your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Irrational exuberance grips Red Sox Nation

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 9, 2012 11:43 PM

duck boats.jpgRed Sox 4, Blue Jays 2.

Gas up the Duck Boats.

Cue "Kool And The Gang."

What a difference a save makes? 15 little pitches.

Alfredo Aceves has an ERA (a Lackey-esque 27.00) to go with his first save.

Bobby Valentine possesses the greatest baseball mind of our time.

The Red Sox are on now track to win 40.5 games.

Pennant fever re-grips the Hub.

Still not convinced that Aceves is the answer, one win does not make a bullpen or a closer. Nor does it make a pennant contender - thinking the Red Sox will contend for a wildcard - but 1-3 is a helluva lot better than 0-4.

Monday night I witnessed Big Baby Davis scoring 16 points and grabbing 16 boards while Von Wafer added eight points, and then got home in time to see Aceves record three outs and a save. There's nothing left on my bucket list.

The excitement when Aceves entered Monday night's game with a two-run lead was real. It was a reassuring that despite last September's collapse and this past lost weekend in Detroit, the primal feelings and forever-hope-for-the-best-but-plan-for-the-worst psyche that comes with being a Red Sox fan remains solid and in tact.

Maybe the miracles will continue tonight. Daniel Bard makes it to the 7th inning with a lead. Kevin Youkilis might even get a hit. But let's get too greedy, OK?

The Tobin Bridge was cleared for automotive traffic just moments after J.P. Arencibia grounded out to shortstop. The Mystic River's ecosystem is safe - unless the Bruins fall to the Capitals in the first round.

During Valentine's post-game interview with @jennydellnesn, he sounded like one of those Chilean miners who had been pulled out of the depths of the Earth after being holed up for 69 days. Red Sox fans had been buried in the darkness since September 28.

The biggest non-surprise of the season has been the clutch hitting of Dustin Pedroia, who once again got things going in the ninth with his lead-off double to left. Bullpen implosion or not, he'll always close the deal.

Two more games in Toronto. On Friday the 13th, we'll get the new "Three Stooges" movie, Josh Beckett and the Fenway opener.

Can't wait.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Panic button time for Bobby V., Red Sox

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 8, 2012 06:43 PM

Paging Dick Drago.

Where have you gone Wes Gardner?

Please come home, Jim Willoughby

We miss you Stan Belinda.

Is it too soon to hit the panic button, Red Sox fans? Hell, no, not when it comes to the bullpen. When 12 runs and two save opportunities in the same aren't enough - the message is simple for the Red Sox and Manager Bobby Valentine. Here's a hint, it doesn't include "closer Mark Melancon."

When the answer is "Alfredo Aceves," the question has to be: "When can Andrew Bailey come back?" Melancon, Franklin Morales, Vincete Padilla.. Get real. More is less.

The bullpen was a problem long before Sunday or even Opening Day. And while Andrew Bailey might keep the Red Sox within 20 games of first place after returning in July, the move to make Daniel Bard the interim closer during Bailey's injury was so simple, Bobby V. had to out-think himself by contorting Aceves or Melancon into that role. Bard's presence was too self-evident. Making him a closer after he had been the closer-in-waiting all last season would have been way too Tito for Valentine.

Aceves has given up four hits and three earned runs this season on just 14 pitches. Much like Daniel Simpson Day, Aceves has no ERA because he has yet to record an out. By the way, Melancon's ERA is a svelte 36.00.

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life and it didn't help the Red Sox much last season, either.

Of course, Carmine computed that one solid, reliable closer at $12 million a year is not worth nearly as much as 12 stiffs at $1 million a piece. Otherwise, we would have watched a giddy Jonathan Papelbon (two saves no doubt) stretch the limits of sexual innuendo with Jenny Dell after Sunday's game. A dozen runs should be sufficient when your payroll is $178 million. John Henry can always buy himself a time machine, set it for sometime around Nov. 10, 2011 and offer Papelbon 200,000 Fenway 100 Bricks to stick around for another four years.

Yeah, it's only three games. But there's nothing in the make-up of any of these would-be closers the Red Sox can audition in lieu of Bard that makes one think things will be any different after game No. 13, 53 or 103. Again, a year ago, Bard was the designated closer in waiting and Carmine could not wait to get rid of Papelbon. Today, you're subject to waterboarding by Wally if you call for Bard to be the closer and removed from the rotation. Actually, why stop there. The starting pitching isn't much better - save for John Lester. Deep-fry Josh Beckett while you're at it. The Red Sox may need to bring back Pedro, Clemens and the Rocket's bag of special supplements if they ever want to get one complete game a month. The entire Red Sox staff had two complete games in 2011, the same number that the infamous Brian Denman threw in 1982.

At least we have that cool "Relay - Fenway 100" commercial mixing the old and new Red Sox, but I don't still don't remember El Tiante ever pitching at Fenway with NESN and Jordan's furniture signage in center field, even when he was with the Yankees:

How bad is it? Fans are bemoaning the fact that Vincente Padilla didn't stick around to pitch the ninth after going four innings or that Franklin Morales wasn't allowed to pitch the 11th after throwing 29 pitches over two innings. @TimBritton of the Providence Journal notes that before Sunday the Red Sox had won 276 straight games when they scored at least 12 runs.

When does training camp start, anyway? The Stanley Cup banner ceremony came just eight days after the Red Sox completed their September collapse. The perfect painkiller. And the Bruins should help us shake this off as well once they begin their playoff run Thursday. But if the Red Sox don't snap out of this soon, they'll need to install a springboard on the upper deck of the Tobin Bridge to accommodate the Sox fans standing three-deep. "Now pitching, Melancon, Mark Melancon." Time for a triple-half-gainer with a twist. The ensuing violence could make "The Departed" look like "Mary Poppins." For the sake of the Mystic River ecosystem, the Red Sox need to put Bard back at the back end of the bullpen until Bailey returns.

New Stooges.jpgThe Red Sox are 7-23 since September 1 and haven't won a playoff game since Jason Varitek homered to beat the Rays in Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS. That's the baseline we're working with. These are not short-term issues. The Red Sox have not been this bad out of the gate since . . . last year. The Old Towne Team hasn't endured back-to-back 0-3 starts since 1933, which was a year before the "The Three Stooges" made their first Columbia short ("Woman Haters.") The new "Three Stooges" movie doinks us in the eyes this Friday, the 13th, the same day as the Fenway home opener. How fitting is that? Maybe those knuckleheads Ben, Larry and Bobby (We'll make "Shemp" Aceves the fourth Stooge) will have a 2012 victory by then.


As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Video: Tim Tebow, Kate Upton mix their Easter message

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 8, 2012 12:56 PM

TimTebow AP Speaks.jpgThe message of Easter can be delivered in various forms. Just ask Tim Tebow and Kate Upton.

The message of resurrection came in the form of a sermon "On the Hill" delivered by the Jets backup QB to about 15,000 worshipers and on-lookers. They all turned out for an outdoor service held by the Celebration Church near Georgetown, Texas, about 20 miles north of Austin, to hear Tebow speak during an "Easter on the Hill" service.

Not surprisingly before the service, @TimTebow tweeted "He is risen! John 3:16-17 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but....have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

The crowd in Texas included people dressed in Easter bunny costumes and dressed as Sesame Street character Elmo, who reportedly did some "Tebowing" on his own. Rex Ryan did not attend.

"In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now," Celebration Church pastor Joe Champion told The Associated Press. "We didn't have enough room to handle the Pope."

Speaking of Easter bunnies - we got this from Sports Illustrated cover model and super model Upton. It's rated PG-13, just barely, but could scar the younger kids for life. This one takes "pagan ritual" to a whole new level. No word on what Tebow thinks.

Back to Tebow, who drew about half the expected crowd as the event reportedly had the feeling of a rock concert mixed with an NFL game. Tebow spoke Champion for about 20 minutes and discussed his faith and its role as the latest Savior of Gotham.

"It's OK to be outspoken about your faith," Tebow said.

He took a swipe at athletes who insist they are not role models.

"Yes you are. You're just not a good one," Tebow said.

Champion also asked Tebow about the need to change to change the mores of American culture.

"First and foremost is what this country was based on: one nation under God. The more that we can get back to that," Tebow said to applause.

They probably missed Kate's video.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Unhappy hour begins for Red Sox, Beckett

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 5, 2012 07:08 PM

Red Sox Beckett Getty.jpg
Looking forward to Josh Beckett starting Opening Day at Fenway on Friday.

Hell yeah, I like hanging fastballs, too.

Poor Beckett, he got hammered Saturday but didn't even catch a buzz.

No need to worry about the bullpen when you have Beckett seeking redemption.

It's finger lickin' bad.

Maybe 2011 wasn't all Tito's fault after all.

BTW, Ted Williams couldn't hit that ball in the Jordan's furniture ad from the bullpen. Why not put it in Cambridge, it would be closer to the plate. Watching Bobby V and Jordan's CEO Eliot Tatelman - I wondered how they manage to squeeze their personalities on the same screen? This is why we need 46-inch HDTVs.

The good news. The Red Sox can still go 159-3 and the Yankees are still winless. Carl Crawford could return in a month. And you can still buy a pair of authentic Fenway Park seats to mark the 100th Anniversary for $795.

There is reason to panic because the bullpen was questionable long before Opening Day or Sunday.

There's big reason to worry because Josh Beckett just doesn't give an expletive.

Oh, after Saturday's beatdown, he dutifully blamed himself. "Too many pitches in the middle of the plate. They hit a changeup, a cutter, two sinkers and a fastball, and every one was down the middle of the plate," he told The Associated Press. "Everything I threw hard went down the middle, and Fielder even hit a changeup that went down the middle."

But let's go back to an interview Beckett gave last week to WEEI's "The Big Show" when he outlined his priorities for 2012 before taking a few swipes at Curt "I haven't seen him around this year. Is he one our pitchers?" Schilling.

"Obviously my daughter is the most important thing to me," Beckett told Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway on March 29. "I've never done it before. I think spring training has been really good because it's a program that lets you ease into being who I am and kind of learning the ropes. It gets very difficult I think for some people because we get home late, we're on the road. Those 10-day road trips I think are going to be the hardest times, not being able to see her nearly as much."

Translation: "I'm working off an $68 million contract extension, I got fat and bloated last season as the team fell apart, and I might even kick off 2012 by grooving a few over the plate, but I care about my kid so screw you for getting on my case."

Boo friggin' hoo.

Yes, the horror of those team charters. The discomfort of the Detroit Ritz-Carlton. The struggle of getting by on just $92.50 per diem for meals.

Beckett was stuck on the bench after being mercifully relieved on Saturday. No word on what might have been in his red Solo cup.

Beckett, in case you missed it, happens to be the first parent ever who has to work away from home. Except of course, every parent ever deployed in the military, all the past and present ballplayers who have had kids, and millions of pilots, flight attendants, truckers, railroad engineers, salesmen, construction workers, bus drivers, fishermen, etc.

Beckett reflected a similar "I have a kid now who cares if we lose" sentiment during his notable sitdown with WEEI's Rob Bradford early in spring training. That left us with the classic: "The snitching [expletive], that's [expletive]. It's not good." And: "I'm not going to apologize for being distracted. It's not going to happen."

The overwhelming number of people who work away from home do it to make a better life for their families back home. Others just want to get out of the house. It should be a given that your newborn child is your number one priority. I'll give Beckett a nod for expressing those sentiments in public and for supporting his daughter - which seems to be a stretch for the likes of Dennis Rodman, Warren Sapp and so many others.

But once you show up for work - regardless of where or what that work is - work should be your No. 1 priority. Professionals - no matter what they do - are professionals because they can put everything aside when they're on the clock. Ballplayers with $68 million guaranteed contracts have zero excuse. If Beckett can't handle being away from his child, he should stay home. Too many ballplayers who inject their personal lives into the public eye want it both ways. Last year, we weren't supposed to criticize John Lackey for his epic suckage because his wife was ill. Then he filed for divorce after the season.

Beckett put it out there early and often this year that baseball doesn't matter because he's a dad. That's true - except when he's actually playing baseball. And when your pitching line is 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 K and 5 HR on just 83 pitches, it doesn't matter to Red Sox fans if you're father of the year.

See you at Fenway on Friday.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Let it out right here, Red Sox fans ...

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 5, 2012 07:00 AM

Pedroia.jpgPlay ball!

Opening Day is here and we're all over the Red Sox. Join Obnoxious Boston Fan during the Red Sox' season opener to discuss the game and everything else that's going on in Red Sox Nation.

Opening Day 2012: These are your father's Red Sox

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 4, 2012 08:30 PM

1978-Red-sox.jpgHappy Opening Day. It's re-opening day for "My Father's Red Sox," who have returned as his grandson's Red Sox. They proved true to form with Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Tigers - painful across the board.

"My Father's Red Sox" were your father's Red Sox, too. They consistently let us down, coming excruciatingly close before inventing new and improved ways to lose. They were flawed at their monochromatic core - usually lacking a reliable closer, five-tool players, speed on the base paths, pitching depth, consistent clutch hitting - always laboring in New York's shadow. The only real "curses" that stuck were four-letters long and usually started with "f" or "s" - unless they were uttered in Greek. For those Red Sox, cigarettes, steak, some weed and the occasional managerial shot before the game went along with any beer or chicken.

sox fans 1975.jpgMy father always warned me not to love the Red Sox too much, but his actions spoke otherwise. He always seemed to come up with tickets. He stood with thousands for hours outside Gate C in 1975 so we could go to the World Series. He sadly was one of the millions in the Lost Generation of Red Sox Nation who lived and died between 1918 and 2004. My godfather also taught me the perils of being a Red Sox fan. A World War II veteran and career Navy man, he lived long enough to enjoy 2004 and 2007. He was buried in an official Red Sox casket and his full-dress Navy whites. He wanted to let those Marines know that this sailor was coming through those gates and God help them if they were Yankees fans.

"These Aren't My Father's Red Sox" were born with Dave Roberts' steal in 2004. For six years and 11 months, the perennial preseason favorite Red Sox consistently claimed the second-most-impressive lineup money could buy. The Sawx had "swaggah." The biggest fan challenge on Opening Day wasn't "Who's should be the closer?" or "Do they have shortstop?" but rather "How will they match up against the Yankees in the ALCS or Phillies in the World Series?" September, chicken and beer changed all that.

Boston's best hope for 2012 may be the second wildcard and a three-hitter from Clay Buchholz against Texas on Oct 5. Gone is the bluster among fans and media about the "best team in baseball history." The Red Sox might not even be be the second-best American League team East of Tampa Bay. The evergreen optimism spawned by those 10 days in October of 2004 had an expiration date of "09/29/2011." Each time we sing "Sweet Caroline" we might as well be whistling past the graveyard. High hope is up in smoke. (Which my dad used to do at Fenway Park before it became a first-degree felony.)

During the Golden Age of Theo, we'd marvel at the offseason acquisitions on Opening Day: Curt Schilling, Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, Dice-K, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett (OK that one was Ben's), John Lackey, Matt Clement. Each of the previous eight springs - Pink Hats and Die Hards alike would ask: How could this team lose? The Sox annually amassed a load of talent that was unbeatable - at least on Carmine's spread sheet. The Yankees and Rays were cast to fight over the scraps in the AL East. Tito had it under control.

Aprils were afterthoughts. If the Red Sox stumbled early, it really didn't matter. Only a few crazies panicked after last season's 2-10 start. Our fears were eased by August, when the Sox had an insurmountable lead in the postseason playoff standings.

Late inning leads were (almost) always safe. The bullpen was solid. Whenever you thought - "...they're going to blow this one..." Jonathan Papelbon would be Riverdancing his way off the mound, Derek Lowe would make his best argument to be back in the rotation, Mike Timlin would solemnly head toward the dugout after getting a weak fly ball or Keith Foulke would be having it his way against the Angels, Yankees or Cardinals in October.

And all the clutch moments didn't happen in the postseason. Long after 2004, potential TV commercial material was being produced on a regular basis. Among my most memorable: Jacoby Ellsbury's walk-off home run last August punctuated by Heidi Watney's epic sprint to the plate (at the 0:18 mark) (always looking for an excuse to run this clip):

The 2007 Mother's Day Miracle and the A-Gonz Wall-ball, walkoff double after the Sox had trailed Baltimore 6-0. Incidentally, that win on May 16 put the Sox over .500 for the first time last season, setting off their inevitable playoff run.

The Red Sox had been redefined as winners at their core. Rooting for them had gotten too easy, almost painless. Something wasn't right. Well, there are no more fair-weather Red Sox fans after last season. The Red Sox have scarred a new generation of fans. Anyone who buys a ticket for Fenway or decides to tune into Don and Jerry after last season's debacle has been fully baptized and earned their stripes. In 2012, you're a fan just for showing up. And you won't be a Pink Hat just for wearing a pink hat,

For some reason, the manager was always the root cause and solution to every problem with "My Father's Red Sox" - right up to the end with Grady Little. Tito was considered a non-factor until the team tanked last year. Imagine that? This year, the story is the manager. Never a good sign. Bobby V. is our ultimate panacea. Valentine might be able to solve the debt crisis, end hunger, lower the unemployment rate, defeat terrorism, perfect the quesadilla and win "Dancing With the Stars." But it's unlikely he'll be playing short, right field, pitching every fifth day or - most importantly - closing out the ninth against Albert Pujols.

That would be Alfredo Aceves.

Dad would feel right at home.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

Celtics strike April fool's gold against Heat

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan April 1, 2012 05:36 PM

Rondo Heat (AP).jpgThe Garden was rocking. The Celtics were rolling. The Heat were dazed and confused.

It was ABC late Sunday afternoon. Prime time for the NBA.

The smell of banners were in the air and the Bruins weren't even Northeast Division champions yet.

Rajon Rondo was the Good Rondo - especially during the third quarter as the Boston Celtics outscored and outraced the Heat 31-12. Rondo gave us three signature plays for his up-and-down season - an out-of-control layup that landed him facing the crowd sideways beneath the basket, a no-look underhand swing pass to Paul Pierce that set up a gimme three-pointer and a WTF half-court alley-oop lob to Sasha Pavlovic.

With Boston up by 20, "#AprilFools" was the trending hashtag across Celtic Twitterdom. LeBron James quit on this one about 10 minutes earlier than normal.

The figures that Mike Breen rattled off were breathtaking. It was the lowest point total of the year for Miami and the Heat's worst defeat of the season. The Celtics are 15-5 since the All-Star Break and have won five in a row and eight straight at home. Spring has sprung at the Garden. And it was in full bloom - at least for a few hours. This was old-school vintage (2008) April Celtics - when the world looked great at 6 p.m. on Sunday as the ABC crew signed off.

But this was just fool's gold on April Fools' Day.

Rondo landed another triple double (16, 14, 11). The only things hotter Sunday than Rondo were Carrie Underwood's opener at the Academy of Country Awards and Tim Thomas in the last five minutes against the Rangers. Speaking of the ACM's: Why do I always think of the Red Sox whenever I hear Toby Keith sing "Red Solo Cup"? Amazing how Rondo kills it against Heat and Linsanity on national TV but only finds the referee with his outlet pass when the Celtics are getting smoked by the Pistons. Not that you would compare Rondo to a Bird or D.J. in any sense, but do you ever recall those guys mailing it in against the stiffs? (Note: @GlobeChadFinn notes "D.J. was notorious for taking nights off against the stiffs.") Remember, Bird scored his 60 against the Atlanta Hawks on a March night in New Orleans. He was an equal opportunity exploiter. The only nights he took off were in July and August. Too many times, Rondo shows up for "ABC," "ESPN" and "TNT" but often doesn't bother when it's "CSNNE."

But the real April Fools' Day joke will be on those who think the Celtics have the stamina, makeup or baseline of talent to carry Sunday's thrill three rounds into the playoffs. Except the punch line to be delivered sometime in the second round against either the Heat or perennial NBA Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls. Sunday's victory over the Heat was a treat. How often do you see "Celtics 89, Heat 60" on anything but NBA2K12? But it has about as much staying power as Rick Pitino speed-dating at the Olive Garden.

The 91-72 thumping of the Heatles stands at the pinnacle of Boston's irregular season. But when framed in playoff perspective, the best thing all those March and now April victories might accomplish is to prevent the Celtics from falling to the 7th or 8th spot in the East with an Atlantic Division crown. Wasn't the Atlantic Division title a joke just a couple of years ago? Now, it's the key to a post-Mother's Day playoff run. Kendrick Perkins, we miss you. Of course, Bruins fans - myself included - are set to gas up the Duck Boats after Sunday's 2-1 victory at morbid MSG. The lighting was better on Paris Hilton's sex tape, or so I've been told. Northeast Division champions! We're No. 2 Now the Bruins can rest Thomas until Mitt Romney secures the GOP nomination or the playoffs begin, whichever comes first.

Pierce and Rondo could have had their heads elsewhere - with Kentucky and Kansas playing for the national title Monday night. Someone had to notice. Although @PaulPierce got the trash tweets going with "I need to go put Rondo in a headlock right now to let him kno what it's gonna b like tomm Rock Chalk." Sunday night.

BabyDoc.jpgSpeaking of not making the Final Four, former Duke phenom Austin Rivers - the would-be long-term cure for Rondoitis - chatted it up with Lisa Salters once the Heat were salted away. Baby Doc was styling courtside wearing an old-school, throwback Tampa Bay Bucs hat (photo from ABC) and barely looked old enough to vote in the "Teen Choice Awards."

The Tobacco Road sniper said leaving school early - just like his Dad did back in the day - was a tough decision but that he can "see the dream" and "is ready to compete at this level." Baby Doc said he was also headed back to Duke for Monday classes and will get his degree. Daddy Doc has a bachelor's degree from Marquette despite leaving a year early and sits on the Jesuit university's board of trustees. Salters went Tea Party and asked to see the 19-year-old Rivers' birth certificate. No need, Lisa. Breen said he remembered when Austin was born. (Doc was with the Knicks and Breen called their games on WFAN.) "I feel like I can be out there. (It's time to) throw yourself in the fire and see what happens," the younger Rivers said of the NBA.

And how much does Austin want to play for his Dad? Quite a bit, but not nearly as much as we want Austin to play for his Dad. "It would be more of a stress on my mom. If he didn't play me, there'd be more of a fight between them," he told Salters.

Not to be outdone, Jeff Van Gundy said he'd be flying to South Beach if he was headed to the NBA like Austin, and not back to class.

Maybe he can join the Celtics down there in a month or so, once the season ends.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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