Wells Goes West

Wells Goes West

Waving the white flag

(XPURGATION Photo)

Red Sox Trade Wells to Padres
Team Officially Closes Book on 2006

Now It's Over

Waving the white flag

Told You So

Told You So

Bad Omen

(BDD Photo / NESN Screenshot)

BDD Called It Way Back on Aug. 2: Bird Was BAD OMEN
Sox Are 8-21 Since the Bad Luck Bird Limped Onto the Scene
Seth Mnookin: Introducing the Curse of the Gimpy Crow
Eric Wilbur (Aug. 16): Bird's 'Eerie Significance'

Unhappy Homecoming

Unhappy Homecoming

Curt Schilling

(AP Photo)

Sox Limp Home After 2-7 Road Trip
Not Even Schilling Can Stop Slide; Sox Drop Sixth Straight
Curt Gets 3,000th K, But Can't Hold Off A's
Wells Likely Gone Before Tonight
Is Fenway Sellout Streak in Jeopardy?

"Are you dealing with rational people? I don't know, they're Red Sox fans. If they want to boo, what are you going to do?" -- 08.30.06, Kevin Youkilis

Stick a Fork in 'Em

Stick a Fork in 'Em

Stick a fork in 'em

(Boston Dirt Dogs Graphic / Andy Flynn)

Team Formerly Known as Sox Drops Fifth Straight
Wave the White Flag, Already: Wells on the Block

Early Word on Today's Sox Lineup in Oakland:

1. Loyce Crisp, CF
2. Hazel Mae, 2B
3. Open tryout, 1B
(members of Red Sox Nation get first dibs!)
4. Sam Horn, DH
5. Jack Welch, 3B
6. Chris House, RF
7. Wally, LF
8. Javy Lopez, C
9. Dustin Pedroia, SS

Better Safe Than Sorry

Better Safe Than Sorry

David Ortiz

Papi Admitted to Mass General
He'll Undergo Tests for Several Days
Manny, Wily Mo, Wells Accompany Ortiz on Flight Home
No Word on Whether They Made a Pit Stop in Vegas

"This comes down to health. However [doctors] feel about him, he has to know he's fine. We'll gladly put him in the lineup but not until we know we're not going to jeopardize his life.

"We really don't feel like he's going to keel over. He was tested the other night. A lot of people have these things. [But] we can't chance this. No way." -- 08.29.06, Terry Francona

Papi sent home

Papi Sent Home for Tests

Red Sox swept in Seattle

(AP Photo)

Another Irregular Heartbeat Episode for Ortiz
Oh, and the Barely Recognizable Sox Lost Again, 9-0

"This game is nothing when it comes to somebody's health and somebody's family. You don't play games with people's lives. I knew he was in the lineup and then out of it. That's all we know. All I can do is pray for him." -- 08.29.06, Mike Timlin

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say ...

If You Don't Have
Anything Nice to Say ...

Wait til next year

(Courtesy of churchsigngenerator.com)

Shaughnessy: Dogged by problems, Sox lacking bite

"Today is Aug. 28 and the reeling Red Sox -- beaten, 6-3, at Safeco Field yesterday -- are 8-18 for the month. They still have four more games before September, three in the home of the West division-leading Oakland A's. If the Sox are swept in Oakland, as they were in Seattle, it will be the most Boston losses in one month since Ralph Houk managed the Haywood Sullivan All-Stars in 1985.

"And what is this doing to Terry Francona, the manager of the 2006 Sox? He was coughing up blood and spitting it into a towel while he answered questions after yesterday's loss.

"'I might have OD'd on my blood thinners,' explained the beleaguered manager. 'I think I took too much.'

"Not even his trainwreck years in the corner office at the Vet could have prepared Francona for what has happened to his Red Sox this month. Filling out his lineup card has become more difficult than organic chemistry. The Sox-Held-Hostage-By-Manny-Tour takes a toll on everyone.

"This is not to suggest that Manny Ramírez is faking, but his curious on-again, off-again availability -- coupled with the increasingly frequent necessity to remove him from games -- gives the manager fits and is taking the team down." -- 08.28.06, Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

Massarotti: Spiraling Sox spin toward Quits-ville

"No one can truly know what ever burns in another man’s soul. But from the outside, at least, the 2006 Red Sox certainly look like they are starting to quit. There is just no way to prove it.

"'He said he couldn’t play. What the (expletive) do you want me to do?' Red Sox manager Terry Francona snapped yesterday morning when asked about Manny Ramirez’ absence from the lineup prior to his lifeless team’s 6-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

"'If a guy says he can’t play, he can’t (expletive) play. Go ask him. He said he can’t (expletive) play.'

"And he wasn’t alone.

"So now, with precisely five weeks and a mere 32 games remaining in their season, here is the question we must ask: Do the Red Sox really want to play anymore? Do they want to win?

"Or are they content with just being the transition team that Sox officials labeled them as before the start of this rapidly unraveling season?

"What will it be?

"Red Sox ownership and management have been the target of much displeasure in recent weeks, but it is now time for Red Sox players to take their turn. What happened in Seattle was a joke. From 2003-05, part of the Red Sox’ charm was they continued to play, no matter what, and they found ways to win (last year, especially), despite numerous opportunities to fail.

"Suddenly, with this club, the bodies are dropping like flies. And while it is impossible to discern the severity of many injuries, we all know it is easier to play hurt when a team is winning. When a club starts losing -- and losing badly -- that is when we really get to examine the stuff they are made of. Based on the weekend, you should not be impressed. -- 08.28.06, Tony Massarotti, Boston Herald

Seattle Times columnist: These aren't the Sox we know

"Who were those guys?

"Losing balls in the sun. Kicking it around the infield as if they were Manchester United. Making bad decisions on the bases. Making worse decisions on defense.

"Those weren't the Boston Red Sox who came to town this weekend playing the kind of baseball only Max Patkin could have loved.

"That isn't the team that just two years ago broke the most celebrated curse in sports, winning its first world championship in 86 years.

"That year the Red Sox were the lovable self-proclaimed "idiots," who came from three games behind to win the American League Championship Series from the dreaded Yankees. That year they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

"That team had Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller. On that team Jason Varitek was healthy. Manny Ramirez and Trot Nixon were in the lineup. Orlando Cabrera was the everyday shortstop and Dave Roberts was the everyday Everyman.

"Curses, look what's happened to the Boston Red Sox." -- 08.28.06, Steve Kelley, Seattle Times

Sweepless in Seattle?

Sweepless in Seattle?

Red Sox swept in Seattle

(Getty Images Photo / Otto Greule Jr)

Nope.

Dead Sox Drop Three Straight to Cellar Dwellars (Sound Familiar?)
Injury Bug Strikes Manny, Lester, Pena, Mirabelli, Youk
What's Left of Team Manages Six Runs in Three Games
Timlin Lets Only Win of Series Get Away
Are You Ready for Some Football?

Friday: Mariners 6, Red Sox 0
Saturday: Mariners 4, Red Sox 3
Sunday: Mariners 6, Red Sox 3

Sinking ship

(BDD Photo Illustration / Jim Porter, Surprise, Arizona)

The Look

20/20 Commentary

FARM REPORT by Gary Jacobs

'The Look'

August 26 | FENWAY PARK - You could see it from the first toss of BP.

The Look.

If you're around major-leaguers for any length of time, you know the look I'm talking about. It's a combination of the swagger, the "thousand-yard stare" they give the media, and the sense of athletic superiority that oozes out of every pore.

It's a look that is shared beyond the Bigs, as well; most of the PawSox have The Look displayed proudly, broadcasting machismo and Alpha Dog status like a peacock strutting its tail feathers in front of the females. And why not? If you've made it to Triple-A, you've earned The Look. You've survived rookie ball, Short-A, Long-A, and Double-A. It's been usually three or perhaps four years and you're still playing baseball for a living. You're used to big games and bad games, of being ignored by and sought by the media, you've perhaps even done some TV. There are places you go where you're recognized. People ask you for your autograph. The Look is yours by right.

But last Saturday at Fenway Park, watching the Lowell Spinners, the Sox' short-season single-A affiliate, take BP as the front half of the Futures at Fenway promotion, The Look was on every face, the swagger on every set of hips.

What have these kids done to merit The Look?

Maybe it's the venue: there is something undeniably cool about playing before 34,000 fans at Fenway. A fellow scribe of my acquaintance who plays the annual game between members of the New York and Boston media agrees: "Come on. You're playing at Fenway," he says. "Of course you have The Look."

My friend has a point. Certainly this is not an ordinary game; the Fenway mystique has to count for something. After all, if by rough estimate 5 percent of all NY-Penn leaguers make it to the bigs, this is the career highlight for 19 out of 20 of these players. And one of the cardinal rules of playing professional sports is, act like you belong there. So maybe these guys cement The Look on their faces to prevent wide-eyed wonder from taking over.

And as one watches this game unfold, one finds it easy to believe that only five percent of all these players are going to make it: the baseball lacks a certain crispness that Fenway is used to hosting. It's good, the baseball we're watching - but it's definitely not great. Pitchers sometimes fail to cover first quickly enough; close plays in the infield are hits instead of outs. But it's single-A ball. No blame to the participants; they're kids. For some of them this is their second - or even first - professional season. They don't have the hundreds of games under their belt that it takes to do the right thing every time.

But they all have The Look.

* * *

We find the answer to the question after the conclusion of the front half of the Futures twinbill (Spinners win, 3-1, Josh Papelbon pitches a perfect ninth for the save). As the players lined up for high-fives, The Look vanished from the Spinners' faces, replaced with a rosy-cheeked enthusiasm for the experience they'd just undergone.

Spinners shortstop Ryan Khory, who went 0 for 2 with a sac fly and an RBI, was typically effusive after playing Fenway.

"Yeah, I was really excited to be out there," he said immediately after the game. "Obviously you can't really imagine it until you're here, but it was exactly what I expected."

Papelbon, brother of Big Club phenom and Rookie of the Year candidate Jonathan Papelbon, was equally as pumped.

"It was unbelievable," he said with a yard-wide grin on his face. "I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay here forever."

Even though their baseball journey has brought them closer to the Show, the Fenway atmosphere was not lost on the PawSox players, either.

"I don't think they realized it until they got here," said their skipper, Ron Johnson. "Even me. I walked through the center field door [the double-wide garage door near the triangle] and I said, 'whoa!' To play in front of all these people…the atmosphere is just electric."

Somehow it's comforting to know that The Look isn't a permanent condition; that sometimes the men playing a boy's game can, for one final time in their lives, be boys, and let sheer wonder live on their faces for just this one game.

* * *

The Futures at Fenway was as well-received by the fans as it was by the players; the paid attendance was 33,394, a sell-out of Fenway. It presented a great opportunity for families who aren't in the highest income bracket to come out to the ballpark and soak in the ambiance of America's greatest ballpark.

For some perspective: Suppose Dad wants to take his three kids to see the Red Sox play. Let's further suppose that four together could be had at the box office (I know, I know - but this is hypothetical). He picks up a decent set of ducats, say, Loge 148, right around third base. At $85 a pop, that's $340 in tickets. Add $30 to park, $60 in souvenirs (a conservative $20 per kid), a couple of beers for Dad, hot dogs and sodas all around - call it another $50 for food and drink. Now you're looking at the better part of 500 bucks to watch three hours of baseball (baseball that, it needn't be mentioned, isn't the finest that The Nation has witnessed recently).

Let's compare that with the Futures at Fenway price schedule: $10 to park. $20 for each ticket for the same seat. Most of the concessions sold at a $1 discount. Bottom line, that family of four now pays $80 for tickets, $10 to park, $40 for food and drink, and the same $60 in souvenirs. And all of a sudden $480 turns into $190. For two games, not one.

Josie Catino, who attended with her husband Dave Smith, and their son Evan, viewed the Futures at Fenway Day as a godsend.

"I think it's great," said Catino in between games of the doubleheader. "It means I get to bring my son to Fenway Park without blowing $200. We get to see the minor-league players we've been following and hearing about. It's definitely a family day."

Over and above the atmosphere of Fenway there was some decent baseball played as well. "I was thrilled to see Josh Papelbon pitch," said Catino. "They seemed pumped up as well. I think it's good equally for the players and the fans."

Mike Hazen, Director of Player Development for the Red Sox organization, couldn't agree more. "I don't think you can underestimate what this means, to the players as well as the fans. Look around [gestures to the crowd]. Look at all the children here. They're the next generation of Red Sox fans. We're really fortunate to enjoy the support of Red Sox Nation and we're fortunate to be able to put on an event like this."

So - all in all the Futures at Fenway day was a complete success. The fans certainly embraced it. For some of the players that participated it was a harbinger of their future, but for most of them it'll be the opportunity they had to tell their grandchildren the day they played at Fenway Park. They can affect The Look all they want - we know better.

Gary can be reached at gary@soxfarmreport.com.

Beckett's Better ... Or Is He?

Beckett's Better

Josh Beckett

(AP / NESN Photo inset)

Or Is He?

Josh Finally Delivers
But Cut on Finger ('It's Not a Blister') Cuts Short Outing
Saturday Hospital Visit for Papi Revealed
Sox Hang On for Second Straight Win, 2-1

"It wasn't a blister. It was a nail digging into his skin. We sent [Dave Wallace] out there to see what the deal was. Beckett said, 'I can't grip my curveball or my fastball.' I'm glad we sent [Wallace] out there. I don't think [Beckett] would have said anything." -- 08.04.06, Terry Francona

Josh Beckett poster

(Dirt Dogs image / Meir Weinberg)

You Can't Lose 'Em All

You Can't Lose 'Em All

David Ortiz, left, and Wily Mo Pena celebrated a losing-streak-snapping 5-4 win over the Angels.

(AP Photo)

Six-Game Slide Is Gone with the Win, 5-4 Sox
It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right
Big O, Wily Mo Homer in First Two Innings

Offense Scores Five in Two Then Calls It a Night
Everybody Hurts Sometimes: Resilient Lester Labors for Five
Showcasing Coco: Crisp Drives in Game Winner with Smash RBI Single
Why Can't We Keep Shortstops Like the Fantastic Orlando Cabrera?
Despite Best Effort, Julian 'Thanks Theo' Tavarez Fails to Keep Skid Alive
Iron Manny Has Some Dents: Sox Slugger Leaves Game With Balky Knee

"His right knee is really bothering him, and I guess it's not surprising. Anytime you're battling a hammy with a knee problem, it directly affects that. He didn't want to come out, but it was grabbing at him. So we're going to take him and get him checked out a little more extensively in the morning.

"We just want to get some better answers and make sure he's OK before we run him back out there. When you're on the road, you're a little bit at the mercy of the other team. But they're pretty helpful." -- 8.23.06, Terry Francona on the gritty Manny Ramirez

Seems Like Old Times

Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin celebrated in the dugout after retiring the side with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

(AP Photo)

Timlin, Foulke, Papelbon Close Out a Tight One

Edes Chat: More on Manny, Theo, and Where We Go from Here
Extra Bases: Manny Expected Back Tonight
Verducci: Less Than 50 Percent Chance Crisp Returns
Heyman: Sox Front Office Remains Fractured

From Bad to Worse

From Bad to Worse

Mark Loretta (left), and Gabe Kapler (center) recovered from their collision while Coco Crisp looked on. Both players remained in the game.

(Getty Images Photo / Harry How)

Mickey Mouse Lineup Can't Get It Done in Disneyland
Angels Show No Mercy, Sox Streak at Six, 4-3

No Manny, Big Problems
Can't Count on the Immortal Kason Gabbard to Shut the Door Anymore
Sox Get Kyle Snyder, Yanks Get Corey Lidle, 'Nuff Said
Another Lefty Shuts Down Sox, Except for Gift Runs
More Signs It's Over: Mirabelli 7, Kapler 8, Pedroia 9
Wily Mo Might Come Out of His Shoes On His Next Swing
Red Sox Nation Looks Forward to Good Golfing in September
'Your Ship Has Sunk,' Sincerely, Shea Hillenbrand

For Shame!

Boston Dirt Dogs / Andy Flynn
Fall River

(BDD Photo Illustration / Andy Flynn, Fall River)

When The Going Gets Tough ...
Manny Gets Sitting

"[Manny's personal trainer Juan Carlos] Santana’s track record for success with Ramirez began with their work on Manny’s troublesome hamstrings. And it is that work which allows the trainer to help answer another one of the seemingly annual quandaries surrounding the $20 million-a-year man.

'The first thing one has to notice was when Manny was with the Indians he had hamstring issues,' Santana said. 'We took our approach to rehabilitating the hamstrings and training the hamstrings. Since then he hasn’t had hamstring issues, ever. There have been a few times that the media has said he has had it, so I would call (former Sox trainer) Chris Correnti and say, ‘What’s up bro. I sent you a Ferrari, don’t tell me you have a Volkswagen with a flat.’ He said, ‘No, no man. Every time he needs a little time off he blames the hamstring, but he’s perfectly healthy. It’s all good.’ ” -- 2.22.06, Rob Bradford, Eagle-Tribune

Mnookin: That’s Just Manny and His Hammies
(And It’s Just Manny Being Omnisciently Sourced)

Shaughnessy: Sore Hamstring or Hurt Feelings?
(And Why On Earth is The Manager Involved In This While He's Got a
Dead Team on His Hands and the Playoffs Are Slipping Away?)

" `In my opinion, it was a horrendous call, and I think the [expletive] scorer ought to be embarrassed,' said Francona. 'It's an [expletive] major league game.'

"Reached at home in Greater Boston last night, official scorer Joe Giuliotti, a former longtime Herald scribe, said, '[Francona] ought to be embarrassed after what happened over the weekend. I would think he's got more to worry about than that.' " -- 8.23.06, Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

Is Theo Playing the Role of Snake Oil Salesman?

Boston Dirt Dogs / Thomas Patt, Woburn

(BDD Photo Illustration / Thomas Patt, Woburn)

"I'm Getting Tired of These %*@#&! Sox
Losing These %*@#&! Games!"


Extra Bases: Manny Out of the Lineup, Hello Dustin
Business Week: Investing Lessons from the Boston Massacre
Extra Bases: Pedroia Should Be in Anaheim | Waiver Deal for Wells?
Eric Wilbur: Reality Settles In | Survey Gallery: Road Ahead

Turn Out the Lights ...

The '06 Red Sox Are History

The Boston You-Know-What

(BDD Photo Illustration / Mike Fisher, Rocky Hill, Conn.)

It's Another Boston You-Know-What
But They're Gonna Be Great ... In 2008!
Columbus 2, The Also-Rans 1

Graphic Design by Carl

(BDD Photo Illustration / Graphic Design by Carl)


BDD Photo Illustration / Tim Avery
Indianapolis

(BDD Photo Illustration / Tim Avery Indianapolis)

SuperDave to the Rescue?

SuperDave to the Rescue?

Superwells

(BDD Photo Illustration / The Weekly Donut)

Fastball Like a Speeding Bullet?
More Powerful Than His Loco Motives?
Able to Save the Season in Game 5 Today?
...Wells Soon Find Out

Extra Bases: Hansen Down; Monday Recap
Mnookin: Thoughts on a Lost Weekend at Fenway

Good Morning Red Sox Nation

Good Morning Red Sox Nation

Boston Dirt Dogs

(BDD Photo Illustration / Shawn McDonald, Dartmouth)

At Least The Team Still Knows How to Make (and Save) a Buck


Five Games in Four Days

Five Games in Four Days > Scenes from Sox-Yankees

Wait Till Next Year

Frank Galasso Illustration

(Boston Dirt Dogs / Frank Galasso, cartoonist)

Dead in the Water

Boston Dirt Dogs

(BDD Photo Illustration / Jim Porter, Surprise, Arizona)

Mismatched Sox Go Down Again, 8-5 in 10

Causing a Slow and Painful Death in the AL East:
Tito Waits Too Long to Bring In Papelbon
Are You Ready for Some Football?

Battle at Fenway

Schilling vs. Mussina

(BDD Photo Illustration / Graphic Design by Carl)

Do Sox Bats Have Moose in Their Sights?

Boston Dirt Dogs / The Weekly Donut

(BDD Photo Illustration, The Weekly Donut)

It's a Must-Win on Sunday Night

Beckett Blasted

Beckett Blasted ... Again

Josh Beckett

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

Beckett Walks Nine; Sox Drop Third Straight to Yanks

The Boss and Beckett

(BDD Illustration / Meir Weinberg)

Abandon Ship

Abandon Ship

Boston Dirt Dogs

(BDD Photo Illustration / Casey Baker, Worcester)

Hench Furious

"The Red Sox pitching staff just allowed 48 baserunners in 18 innings against the New York Yankees.

"A $125M payroll and this is the detritus that the team sends out to the mound day after day. There's plenty of embarrassment to go around, but poor Terry Francona deserves a pass. He's been sent into a gun fight with a bunch of spoons.

"I don't know what the offers were, but let's clarify something about the Red Sox' 'untouchables.'

"Jon Lester is not Francisco Liriano and he never will be.

"Craig Hansen is not Joel Zumaya and he never will be.

"Manny Delcarmen is not Mark Lowe and he never will be.

"Sadly, Hanley Ramirez is Miguel Tejada, only way ahead of schedule.

"After Friday's carnage: Lefties are hitting Lester at a .397 clip; Hansen has yielded a .310 batting average against; and Delcarmen has been knocked around at a .295 clip.

"As for Mike Timlin, hope he enjoyed the World Baseball Classic because he sure must not be having fun in this playoff fade. Since he hit the wall in early July he's been getting battered to the tune of a 7.23 ERA in his last 18 appearances.

"The in-house squabbling that marked the Red Sox last offseason seemed to be a schism between the ‘win now at all costs’ mentality and the ‘build for the future’ mentality. Anyone who watched Friday's doubleheader knows the present is lost. It's gone. Over. (I wrote as much last week). And while sacrificing the present for a bountiful future might be measured and wise, forfeiting a chance to win now to pin our hopes on:

"A) a guy who throws 91 and needs 100 pitches to get through five; B) a guy who throws 97 and can't get anyone out; and C) a local kid who has had one 1-2-3 inning in his last 13 appearances, well, just doesn't fill a fan's head with visions of sugar plums and championship banners. One could even be forgiven for worrying that the next time a team comes asking about Lester, Hansen or Delcarmen, not only will the price have gone down -- as it surely has in the three weeks since the trading deadline -- but the Red Sox may not be contending as strongly as they were on July 31, 2006." -- 8.18.06, Kevin Hench

There's a New Fragrance in Town

There's a New Fragrance in Town

Boston Dirt Dogs / The Weekly Donut

(BDD Photo Illustration, The Weekly Donut)

Slumping A-Rod Gets an Earful

Hello Hinske

Hello Hinske

Toronto Blue Jays' Eric Hinske rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run on a pitch from Seattle Mariners' Joel Pineiro during the fourth inning of their baseball game in Seattle in this  July 24, 2006 photo. The Toronto Blue Jays traded outfielder Eric Hinske and cash to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for a player to be named. Hinske, who can also play first and third, is hitting .264 with 12 home runs and 29 RBI.

(AP File Photo)

Extra Bases: Sox Confirm Hinske Deal

New Blood in Boston: Hinske Trade Struck, Carlos Pena Comes Home
Survey Gallery: Matching Them Up | Nation: Fans Look to Big Series
Ask Edes: No Easy Answers | TC's Mailbag: Wells Runs Deep
Mnookin: Back to the Future, and Bill Simmons

Johnny-Come-Lately

Johnny-Come-Lately

Coco Crisp watched his two-run double as Detroit Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez looked on in the sixth inning.

(AP Photo)

Welcome to the Show Coco, Sox Go, Sweep? No
Wells Gets Another Win, 6-4

Things That Make You Go Boom: David Does It Again
Lefty's Got the Right Stuff to Go Into the Seventh
Papelbon's Back on Track After Catching a Breather
Summer of 42 and Counting for Superpapi

"... ** crickets ** ..." -- 8.16.06, David Wells not speaking to the fans via the media again after another win

Craig Gets The Monkey Off His Back

Ayla, a

(Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

The Future Closer Looks Tall, Dark, and Hansen Again

Close But No Cigar?

20/20 Commentary

Close But No Cigar?

Aug. 19, 2006 -- Red Auerbach used to celebrate another Celtics' victory by lighting his famous cigar. Although occasionally close, the opposition never caused that cigar to explode. A C's victory inevitably ensued. Always.

As the Red Sox are close, at least geographically, within the pennant race, they tempt us to remain brave, trustworthy, courteous and the whole host of Boy Scout adjectives. Especially when confronted by our antithesis of Red Sox Nation, the Evil Empire.

We must remember that the Red Sox embody 'toying with our emotions', and a calamitous collapse, especially on Jimmy Fundraising Day, hardly seems an appropriately ambivalent 'pain trade'. Jason Johnson's performance earned him a bus ticket out of here, and Jon Lester's OJT stint at Fenway never engendered more pain.

Are we in for another Boston Massacre reminiscent of 1978, the good old days of Butch Hobson and Bobby Sprowl? Sprowl's portside promise never delived a single win in parts of four years baseball service. Time does wound all heels.

Sure, Sox fans can lament dollars unspent on Abreu (over 27 million the papers say, counting luxury tax for 1 1/3 seasons), trades unmade for Roy Oswalt, and the sting of injury to stalwarts Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, and Trot Nixon. But 'there's no crying in baseball', and the Bombers have endured the loss of Matsui and Sheffield, and Carl Pavano has been largely MIA since picking up his 40 million/ four year deal.

For the most part, the crisp (not Coconut Arm in center) defense has remained, and the offense, while inconsistent, hasn't been abominable. The Sox struggle lies at the feet, or more appropriately at the arms of the pitching staff, where our "no lead is safe" mantra about venerable Fenway Park has proven true. Although fashionable to hurl Philippics at overpaid middle relievers like Seanez and Tavarez, the entire staff can take Shakespearean discomfort in "the fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves." All too frequently, the Sox play catchup, and holding a lead for the entire bullpen has become as troubling as eating soup with a fork.

Castigating Theo Epstein for a lack of deadline deals and an abundance of cash conservation begs the question. As currently constituted, "are the Sox good enough to be a championship contender?" If Epstein and his minions decided no, then accepting a pennant race transition team in lieu of throwing good money after bad pennant prospects makes abundant baseball and financial sense. Of course, they can't publicly pronounce their abdication from title dreams, but maybe they whisper it within the Fenway bunkers.

So don't tear up your Red Sox Nation cards, punish the big-screen television, or kick the dog. Embrace the Sox for what they have always been, a mercurial tease within the baseball universe.

-- Ron Sen, Boston Dirt Dogs contributor and founder of Red Sox Reality Check

A Nice Place to Live, But You Wouldn't Want to Visit

A Nice Place to Live, But
You Wouldn't Want to Visit

Fenway 2002

(Boston Globe File Photo / Stan Grossfeld)

Fenway's One of the Toughest for Opponents to Play In

SI PLAYERS MLB POLL

Which ballpark is the most difficult to play in as a visiting player?

Yankee Stadium……………….21%
Fenway Park (Red Sox)…..…. 20%
Wrigley Field (Cubs)……... .….10%
Citizens Bank Park (Phillies)….10%

Fast facts: Among AL East voters, 33.5% picked Fenway; just 16.9% chose Yankee Stadium.... The Yankees will play five games at Fenway this week.... The A’s McAfee Coliseum was fifth (4%).... Every stadium except for Oriole Park at Camden Yards received at least one vote.... The Phillies are 28–33 at home this season but 28–27 on the road. Based on a survey of 415 MLB players.
-- For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players

Wily Mo Leather

Wily Mo Leather

Sometimes defensively challenged Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena may have found a cure for what ails him, a giant glove. Actually, he was trying on an oversized mitt in the dugout before the game that belonged to Boston mascot Wally the Green Monster.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Pena May Have Found the Cure for His Curious Defense

Wilbur: Over, and Out | Survey: Are the Sox Postseason Bound?
Mnookin: Denis Leary on Mel Gibson | Watch It

Wily Nooooo!

Wily Nooooo!

Wily Nooooo

(NESN Screenshot)

A Pena Drop, Schilling Can't Stop, Sox Flop, 3-2

Bonderman, Jeremy Bonderman: He Shuts Down Sox Again
No Excuses: If the Sox Score Two, Schilling Could Only Give Up One
Early On: Coco Could Have Been a Hero
Papi Delivered, But Sox Can't Tame Tigers
Less Than Perfect: Timlin's Walk Leads to Run
Then He Takes the Offensive on the Sox Hitting
Wild Card Wannabees Have Lost 14 of the Last 23

" 'My mind was like, `Catch that ball ... Catch that ball', then think about home plate. Just go for the ball. I felt like I had to make that play.' " -- 8.15.06, Wily Mo Pena on the game over non-error

Another Rough Start for Ace Ventura

Another Rough Start for
Ace Ventura

Graphic Design by Carl

(BDD Photo Illustration / Graphic Design by Carl)

When Tigers Attack, Beckett Folds Like a Not-So-Cheap Suit, 7-4
Time for the Real Sox Ace to Rethink That Whole Retirement Plan

They're Not Playing Baltimore Anymore, and These Aren't Paper Tigers
Beckett Dusts Off the 'Poor Execution' Broken Record Again
Can The One Pitch Pony Ever Put It All Together in Boston?
That Fighting Spirit: Youk and Loretta Kept Grinding Away
Why Can't We Keep Guys Like Todd Jones for the Bullpen?
Another Rudy Awakening, But Theo's Still Asleep at the Wheel
Let's Put All Our Eggs in the Craig Breslow Basket

"You could tell right off the bat that he [Beckett] was struggling with his command. He ended up gathering himself and competing enough to give us six. But with a five-run deficit and their bullpen, it's tough duty." -- 8.14.06, Terry Francona spinning another bad start from Beckett

Wilbur: Ace in the Hole
Ask Edes: No Need for Despair Just Yet
Boston 911 Call: Phils' Myers Was 'Hitting Her Hard'
Bradford: Did Beckett Give Tigers a Tip?

" '(Today) I'll look at some video,' said [Sox catcher Javy] Lopez after Boston's 7-4 loss to the major league's best team, the Tigers (now 77-41). 'I'm going to take a look at it because they were hitting him easy. It's not right.'

"The clues Lopez will be searching for revolve around the possibility of Beckett tipping his pitches. And, judging by some subtle coincidences, the catcher's hunch might not be far off.

"The one game in Beckett's career which he was known to be tipping pitches (thanks to a bar room giveaway by Jim Leyritz to then-Florida pitching coach Brad Arnsberg) was on May 29, 2002. In that game the righty hurler allowed seven runs on eight hits in just one inning.

"Doing much of the damage against Beckett that day was Sean Casey, who just happens to play for these Tigers. Against the hurler in '02, the Cincy first baseman ripped a double and a single, the latter proving to be Beckett's final batter.

" 'I remember that. That's right,' Casey said. 'I do remember him tipping his pitches.' " -- 8.15.06, Rob Bradford, Eagle-Tribune (article by subscription only)

You Had To Run Like Hale Manny

Dale and Hale

(BDD Photo Illustration / Meir Weinberg)

'Dale and Hale Both Graduated with Honors,' Sincerely, Wendell Kim
Sure It Would Help If Manny Had a Clue, Knew the Basics, Always Hustled, Watched His Coach, and Had Some Instincts on the Basepaths
Surely He'll Start Working On That Right After He Wins His Gold Glove

Hench: Red Sox Won't Make It to Postseason
Wilbur: High-Stakes Definition | Mnookin: The Case for Wily Mo

It's All Lowell and Good

It's All Lowell and Good

Mike Lowell was greeted in the dugout after Lowell's grand slam against the Orioles during the first inning.

(AP Photo)

Mike Has a Big Day, Baltimore Swept Away, 11-9

Lowell Was Grand at the Start, and Finish
Greek God of Power? Youk Opens it Up with 3-Run Bomb in the 7th
Lester Lucky to Get Win, Same for Papelbon and the Save
Insurance Salesman: Mirabelli's Homer Gave Sloppy Sox Breathing Room
Deep Six: Snyder Still Serving Up Batting Practice
Both Mannys Love to Walk: Delcarmen Pulled After Free Passes
Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Craig Hansen: Looks Like Papelbon Closes in '07, Too
Cora Error Costly, But Orioles Can't Complete the Comeback

"He asked me, `If I ran do you think they'd give me a hit on that?' I said, `I don't know. You didn't run, so don't worry about it.' " -- 8.13.06, Mike Lowell, out in the open on Manny's lack of hustle

Streak Over

Boston Dirt Dogs

Manny's 27-Game Hit Streak Runs Out of Gas
DiMaggio? Ramirez Didn't Want to Take a Run at It

Man Alive!

Man Alive!

Red Sox players mobbed Manny Ramirez at first base after his walkoff single gave the Red Sox an 8-7 win.

(Boston Globe Photo / Barry Chin)

Comeback Kids Complete Rally
Manny's No. 27 is a Game Winner, 8-7

Sox Thrive Off Old Friend Bruce Chen in 10
Big Payback: Walkin' Papi Results in Walkoff by Manny
Welcome to the Return of Relief Ace Jonathan Papelbon
A Singular Sensation: Wily Mo Homer, Wily Mo Triple, Wily Mo Double
Gold Glove Relay Team: Gonzo Shows His Greatness
Jason Johnson Makes Kip Wells Look Like Jeff Suppan
Tavarez Comes In ... And So Do The Runners
Holding the Line OK: Hansen, Timlin Keep Hope Alive
'Belli Dancer: Doug's Dinger Brings Sox All the Way Back
Me and Johnny's Shadow: Is Coco Getting Comfortable at Leadoff?

"It wasn't like I was devastated or thought the world was coming to an end. I know what's up ... The fans, they don't really understand. It's good for them to understand everything is going to be just fine. I had all the confidence in the world in myself. The great ones -- [Mariano] Rivera, [Trevor] Hoffman -- they go through bumps in the road. What distinguishes the great player from the average player are the ones who get out of ruts quick. That's my whole goal." -- 8.12.06, Jonathan 'Even Keel' Papelbon

Zink Knuckles Down

20/20 Commentary

FARM REPORT by Gary Jacobs

Zink Knuckles Down

AUG. 16, 2006 | PAWTUCKET -- Red Sox Nation knows all about the knuckleball.

Tim Wakefield, the Red Sox stalwart hurler who for the last 11 seasons has filled every role the Sox have needed – starter, reliever, even a harrowing stint as closer – has brought the knuckleball to the forefront. Not since Eddie Cicotte – who was traded from the Red Sox in 1912 (and would go on to play a central role in the Chicago Black Sox scandal, getting banned for life from baseball in 1919) - has a member of the Red Sox thrown the knuckler with any regularity.

That might change, and soon. Enter Charlie Zink.

This year, except for a few spot appearances in Portland, he’s spent most of his time in Triple-A Pawtucket. In 12 appearances since last being called back up, Zink is 6-1, with a 2.98 ERA. More importantly to the needs of the Big Club, Zink is averaging six innings per start – the kind of durability that Boston and its beleaguered bullpen requires. Charlie Zink Zink, 25, started off as a more conventional pitcher, with a fastball that hit 92-93, and a serviceable curve. He’s a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he was coached by Luis Tiant.

Did Tiant encourage the knuckler?

“No no no,” said Zink with a laugh. “I never had it in college. It was all fastball, curveball, change.”

He developed his knuckler as a first-year pro in Sarasota. “I had always messed around with it, playing catch. I happened to throw it with Goose Gregson, our [roving] pitching coordinator. He saw me hit our trainer in the face and split his eye open. That was it. I turned into a knuckleballer from there.”

The transition was not without its rough patches. Zink had trouble maintaining a consistent delivery and his progress through the organization slowed. He spent parts of the 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons in single-A Sarasota. Only in 2006 has it all come together for Zink.

Though he himself was not particularly pleased with his most recent start this past August 14 against the Buffalo Bisons (“It was real humid – and my hand kept getting moist [interfering with his knuckler]; I couldn’t keep it dry”), it was nonetheless typical of many of his outings – low-scoring, reasonably efficient notwithstanding his difficulties (6.2ip, 3er, 99 pitches), and weighted more towards grounders than flies. The vacuum cleaner that is the Red Sox infield should be a perfect fit for the personable right-hander.

Of course, when you’re talking about the knuckleball, there are some down sides, and Zink’s is no exception. He has walked more men this year (47) than he’s struck out (41); and at times, especially when the wind is blowing, it’s tough to know exactly where his dancing, fluttering, maddening knuckleball will end up.

But with the pitching nightmares that the Red Sox have been enduring, it’s a safe bet that Zink will end up in the bullpen at Fenway before too long.

Gary can be reached at gary@soxfarmreport.com.

Oh Baby, Boomer!

Oh Baby, Boomer!

David Wells walks off the field after completing 7 innings of shutout baseball against the Orioles.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

Well, Well, Wells, the Big Guy Still Has Something Left
Sox Snap Skid with 9-2 Trouncing of Orioles

Tough as Nails: Mike Lowell Gets Drilled, Then Makes a Heads Up Play
Loretta, Lopez Give Manny a Hand with the Offense

"... ** crickets ** ..." -- 8.11.06, David Wells not speaking to the fans via the media again after his start

Extra Bases: Foulke Not Ready; Live from Fenway
Eric Wilbur: Starting the Argument

Dead Team Walking

Dead Team Walking

(BDD Photo Illustration)

Tito Passed the Test Last Night

Bad Sports College

(BDD Photo Illustration / Meir Weinberg)

But It Was Too Little, Too Late to Win

The Wheels Have Come Off
The Dead Sox Pennant Express ...

Graphic Design by Carl

(BDD Photo Illustration / Graphic Design by Carl)

... And There Are Plenty of Players to Throw Under the Bus

Eight is Enough

Schwept Away

Red Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling, left, hands the ball over to manager Terry Francona as he leaves a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to beat Schilling and the Red Sox 5-4.

(AP Photo)

Eight is Enough ...

... For Schilling to Get Cuffed in Kan'tsas City
It's a Royal Flush as KC Calls Tito's Bluff
Stumble Bums Choke at Kauffman Stadium Again
It's All Broom and Gloom, 5-4

Wash, Rinse, Repeat After Theo: They're Gonna Be Great in 2008
Et Tu, Curte?: Schilling Didn't Step Up and Be the Stopper During Go Time
A Record Performance, An Imperfect 10: Extra Base Hits Extra for Curt
Wily Mo Power: Pena's Stock on the Rise With Another Mammoth Homer
While Bronson Cornrroyo Comes Back to Earth, Can't Get Win No. 10 Again
Young, Strong Jon Papelbon Couldn't Come On to Get Five Outs?

"I think I gave up 11 hits. I didn't give up a single till the last hit of the game." -- 8.10.06, Curt 'Nuf Said Schilling at

"... And I know it's the Red Sox' fault." -- 8.10.06, Jimmy 'Nuf Said Buffett at the Tweeter Center

Ask Edes: Lamenting the Sox' Woes | TC's Mailbag: Road to Nowhere
Eric Wilbur: Broken Records | SI.com: Beckett's Trial by Fire
Mnookin: Reasons to Move Back from the Ledge

Papelblown

Papelblown

The Royals mobbed Mike Sweeney after his walkoff hit gave them a 5-4 win. For the Red Sox, it was Papelbon's second consecutive blown save.

(AP Photo)

Sox Snatch Defeat Out of the Jaws of Victory, 5-4

Rookie of the Jeer: Papelbon Blows Second Consecutive Save
Did You Know?: It Was Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night at Kaufman Stadium
Future Ace?: Wild Thing Is Able to Give the Sox Six Whole Innings vs. Royals
Out on DVD This Week: Javy Lopez's Excellent Adventures Behind Home Plate
Loaded Question: Why Couldn't Wily Mo or Lowell Get the Job Done?
Losing Streak: While Team Tanks, Manny Hits No. 32; 24 Straight
Hold Me Tight: Timlin and Delcarmen Can't Be Blamed for Last Night's Debacle
RoyAAAls Are Hotter Than a Wednesday Night in Kansas City

"In my opinion, [Grudzielanek] would have been out." -- 8.9.06, Javy Lopez, when asked what would have happened if Manny had been able to make the throw at the end of the game.

'This Is a Sinking Ship' ...

USS Red Sox 2006

(BDD Photo Illustration)

... Sincerely, Shea Hillenbrand

Extra Bases: Foulke Takes Loss in Rehab Outing
Cape Cod Times: Gammons Back at the Ballfield
Wilbur: Criticism at the Forefront
Gallery Survey: Sox Searching for Answers

Lesterrible Again

Lesterrible Again

John Lester toed the rubber for the Red Sox. Lester had struggled recently coming into this start, giving up 13 runs in his previous 17 and 1/3 innings. This start was no different for Lester as he surrendered four runs in five innings. Lester also failed once again to keep his pitch count down, throwing 105 pitches in those five innings.

(AP Photo)

An Ugly Loss From Start to Finish
Mighty Royals 6, Slumping Wild Sox 4
But Boston Will Be Great, in 2008!

Is This All Too Much, Too Soon for the Struggling Jon Lester?
Sox Make Luke Hudson Look Like Tim Hudson Circa 2000
Is He Rundown? Youk Caught in No Man's Land
Ho-Hum, David Ortiz Hits No. 41 and Counting
No Elbow Room for This: Loretta's the Latest to Join Walking Wounded
Wily Mo Pain Ya: Homer Hit So Hard, I Thought Arroyo Was Pitching
Craig Hansen Checking In With a Walk, Hit, and Error
At Least It Was the Immortal Emil Brown Doing All The Damage
Why Is Rudy Seanez Allowed to Keep Blowing Games for the Red Sox?

"It is sad to see our offense doing very well to try to help the team win, but unfortunately we couldn't stop them from scoring. I feel pretty bad about it because I feel pretty much responsible calling the game behind the plate. Not to be able to stop them from scoring, it is kind of frustrating." -- 8.8.06, Red Sox catcher Javy Bad Day Lopez on the offense that left 18 men on base last night

The New Center Fielder Is No Johnny Damon

"Mr. Crisp, I served with Johnny Damon, I knew Johnny Damon, Johnny Damon was a friend of mine. Mr. Crisp, you are no Johnny Damon." -- Sincerely, Senator Lloyd Bentsen

Goin' to Kansas City, Kansas City Here We Come

Goin' to Kansas City,
Kansas City Here We Come

The Misery Train Rolls into the Midwest

They Got Some Lousy Lil' Team Out There,
And We're Gonna Get Some Wins

WEEI Audio: Schilling Says Sox Can Weather Storm
Wilbur: A Central Argument
Bradford: Breaking the Big Papi Code
Extra Bases: Papi Named Co-Player of the Week

Where'd They Come From

Frank Galasso Illustration

(Boston Dirt Dogs / Frank Galasso, cartoonist)

'Time to Tip Our Caps to the Yankees'

Hit for the Cycle

Hit for the Cycle

Boston Red Sox wives Shonda Schilling, Dawn Timlin, Tiffany Ortiz, and Kathryn Nixon pose for pictures before the start of the 27th annual Pan-Mass Challenge, Saturday, August 5, 2006. 4,300 riders are taking part in the 2-day ride in an effort to raise $24 million for cancer research and treatment.

(L-R: Shonda Schilling, Dawn Timlin, Tiffany Ortiz, and Kathryn Nixon | Boston Globe Staff Photo / Wendy Maeda)

Congrats: Sox Wives Go the Pan-Mass Distance


Mnookin: VORP, Clutch, Manny, and David
Yankee Fan Reminder: Don't Forget to CheerARod.com
(... Still Looking for CheerKeithFoulke.com)
Wilbur: On Shaky Ground

"In the past, maybe that's not such a concern, as the Red Sox played some of their best ball when they were down. See 2004 for any and all examples. But this version doesn't seem to have that never say die attitude, the perception of a lack of respect that guys like Kevin Millar used as a rallying call for his teammates. There may be a feeling of immediacy in the clubhouse, but that doesn't necessarily translate to the stubborn determination that the previous group made their very identity." -- 8.7.06, Eric Wilbur, Boston.com

Comfortably Numbed

Comfortably Numbed

Devil Rays Shawn Camp, left, Jorge Cantu, right, and other teammates mobbed Greg Norton after Norton's walkoff home run off Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez.

(AP Photo)

Cushy Lead Turns to Shocking Defeat

After The Worst Big-Lead-to-Blown-Loss of 2006 ...
Sox Are Slip Sliding Away in the American League East
Hello Chicago White Sox, Hi There Minnesota Twins ...
It's Welcome to the Wild Card Race Time of Year in Boston
More Torture at the Trop, 'Pen Leaks Everywhere, 7-6 in 10

Why Is Julian Tavarez Allowed to Keep Losing Games for the Boston Red Sox?
Throw Back a 40: Even Ortiz Can't Carry the Team to a Win This Time
Nothing Tito Can Do: Manny's Lack of Hustle Will Always Rear Its Ugly Head
Hey Dad: KKKKoKKKKo Krisp Was 1-for-6 and Can't Stay Hot for Long
Manny Being Clutchless: Ramirez Won't Do a David Impersonation in the 10th
We Needed Grady to Keep Jason Johnson in There a Little Longer
Catching At an All Time Lopez: The Corky Miller Era Has Begun
Gasoline Alley Redux: 'Pen Pals Just Not Getting the Job Done
Delcarmen Pitching Like He's a Dan Duquette Guy ... Oh Wait
Francona Has the Flu, And His Team Is Making Us Ill
Et Tu Jon? Even Papelbon Pitched Lousy in the Loss

Can Timlin Still Get Big Outs?

"We're not machines. We're not going to hit every spot every time. It just seems right now when we do miss, they're hitting the ball." -- 8.6.06, Mike "Is this the End?" Timlin

"Dear Mike Timlin,
I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.' "
-- Sincerely, Carol Burnett

With No New Arms Picked Up at the Trading Deadline
The Nation Can Chew on These for a While ...

Frank Galasso Illustration

(Boston Dirt Dogs / Frank Galasso, cartoonist)

Edes: Frustration in the Clubhouse

Are Players Upset Because Theo Didn't Upgrade?

Will Sox regret not making a major trade? "If you're talking about inside the clubhouse, there is already frustration that the Sox did nothing to upgrade themselves and came into this weekend with a misshapen roster of 13 pitchers and a short bench. These guys have just one investment, and that's in today. The future means little to them, and they're left to wonder whether the Sox did all they could to get a Bobby Abreu or Cory Lidle or another impact player. The frustration in the front office is tempered by a longer view, that they held onto the core of players that represent the team's future. But can you count on being this close to winning down the road?" -- 8.6.06, Gordon Edes, Boston Globe, Quick Shots: Will Sox Regret Not Making a Major Trade?

Through Thick and Thin

Boomer Goes Belly-Up
Sox Flop in the Trop

David Wells made his second start for the Red Sox since coming off the DL and gave up six runs, one earned, in six innings. Casey Fossum did not allow an earned run against his old team in six innings on Saturday.

(AP Photo)

Through Thick and Thin ...
Red Sox Nation Still Standing Behind Banged-Up Gang
But Casey Koufax-Fossum Has Boston Playing Possum Again
Guys Named Norton, Paul Pummel the Big Paycheck Boys, 8-5

It Is What It Is: David Wells Has an 8.05 ERA
Game Over: Javy 0-pez Makes Bob Montgomery Look Like Rich Gedman
Craig Hansen Closes the Door ... On Any Late Red Sox Rallies
Can We Get Cash Back from Boras on that Huge Hansen Signing Bonus?
Manny Doing All He Can, But HR No. 31 Not Enough to Get It Done
Big Pap-E: David Bobbles One at First, But Lays One Down to Third
A Tale of Two Orders: Top Rapped, While 5-9 Bottomed Out

"It would have been a lot more interesting if we could have held them down in the eighth." -- 8.5.06, Terry Francona on the horrendous Hansen outing

"`In my [David Ortiz's] situation, I think when I go out there, sometimes you have to flip a coin. Sometimes, I'm OK, sometimes I [stink]. I guess tonight was a night I [stunk]. It was a ball I've got to catch. It was a ball I tried to throw before I caught the ball, and it got me in trouble. Bad decision, I guess. I was trying to do my best. I can't do too much over there. It can't be all fantasy." -- 8.5.06, David Ortiz on his Big play in the field

Schilling and Able

Schilling and Able

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, right, talks with the team's newly acquired catcher, Javy Lopez, during the sixth inning of a baseball game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Friday night, Aug. 4, 2006, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Lopez was traded from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the day. He came into the game in the second inning after Doug Mirabelli injured his ankle.

(AP Photo)

Sixth Inning Showdown: Curt Blows Away Tampa Bay
Sox Catch Some Rays in Florida, 3-2

Fired-Up Ace Guts Out Win No. 14 With Strong Seven
Two Times the Papi: Ortiz Comes Up Bigger
Javy 'Nother Catcher Up Your Sleeve Theo?
Catching a Break: XRays Negative on 'Belli's Ankle
Coco Stays Hot in The Leadoff Spot
Way to Go Gabe: Kapler Made a Big Play
Hold On a Minute: That's Just Manny Being Timlin
Papelbon's Up to His Old Tricks

"It took me by surprise [said Javy Lopez on being acquired by the Red Sox]. I was ready in case something happened, I didn't expect to be in the game so early [but] I get to know my pitchers early enough to be relaxed tomorrow... It's fun.

"[Mirabelli's injury is] something I don't wish anybody. When I saw him, it looked pretty bad, [then] I got myself ready, physically and mentally. It's tough. First game... it's tough."

"[It was] very enjoyable [catching Curt Schilling in the sixth]. This is a guy who hardly walks anybody. The games are a lot quicker, I like that. The way he donminates his pitches, on any count, it's really impressive." -- 6.4.06, Javy Lopez, Red Sox starting catcher

Javy Nice Day

Javy Nice Day

A fan dressed as a clown tries to distract Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez (R) as Lopez catches a pop foul off the bat of the Boston Red Sox Dante Bichette in the seventh inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts July 6, 2001.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Edes: Sox Land Lopez; Will Be in Uniform Tonight
Devil Rays May Be Messing Up the Move

Extra Bases: Lowell Out, Cora starts at Third Base
Edes Friday Chat Transcript | Eric Wilbur: Farm Land
Mnookin: Yo, Josh: Shut Up and Listen

Joshambles

LEFT IN JOSHAMBLES

Josh Beckett watched four Indians circle the bases after giving up a grand slam, the third home run he allowed in the game.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Three More Bombs Off Beckett
Going, Going, Gone ... 7-6

Bad to the Bone: What Was the Rush on the Big Beckett Contract Again?
Big Night for Youk is All for Naught
Is This Another Jump Start for Coco Crisp?
Manny Doesn't Do That Whole Walkoff Thing
The Long and Short of It: Gonzo's Batting .291
The Other Hansen and the Good Timlin Make Appearances
I Heart Huckaby, Just a Little

``I didn't execute pitches... It's frustrating. The loss is the most frustrating thing. We battled back there toward the end, but that loss is on me. It's not on anybody else. It's strictly mine, and I deserve it." -- 08.04.06, Josh Beckett, telling us something we already knew again


TC's Mailbag: Stretch Should Determine Their Might
Bradford: Schilling Prepared for Playoff Push
Quick Shots Survey: Will Sox Regret Passing on Deals?
Grossfeld: Hats Off to D'Angelo for Souvenir Store
The Red Sox Ryan Knows: Manny's Show Has No Closing
Bye Bye Birdie: 'Big Hopi' Won't Be Coming Down for Breakfast

New Fenway Mascot?

31 Homers

(US Inflatables Photo / BDD Illustration)

Sox Javy Catcher

Sox Javy Catcher

Baltimore Orioles' Javy Lopez gets high-fives from teammates after driving in the game-winning run during the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox during their baseball game Sunday, July 30, 2006, in Baltimore.

(AP Photo)

Edes: Sox Have Deal in Place to Acquire Javy Lopez

No Cab for Calloway

20/20 Commentary

FARM REPORT by Gary Jacobs

No Cab for Calloway

AUG. 3, 2006 | PAWTUCKET -- The trade deadline has come and gone, and outfielder Ron Calloway remains a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

That’s a shame.

Sure -- Calloway’s services aren’t exactly what the Big Club needs right now. With Manny, Coco, Trot, and Wily Mo in town, there are already more bodies than positions available. Add to the mix David Murphy and Adam Stern, and it’s unlikely that Calloway would see any big-league time this year.

Ron Calloway But here’s the problem: Calloway’s got skills. The Sox might not need him but there has to be a team that does. He leads the PawSox in batting average at .307. His OBP of .378 is second only to Dustin Pedroia. His slugging percentage of .426 is good for fifth on the team.

His fielding, never in serious question, is sterling. He has only three errors so far this year; of all everyday players only Stern, with two, has done any better.

Ask Calloway about the trade deadline, and his place in the schemes and machinations of the Red Sox front office, and you get a heartfelt answer: laughter.

“Shouldn’t you be asking Dustin Pedroia that?” he said, laughter still on his lips.

Certainly Pedroia is regarded highly as a prospect, and perhaps an integral component of the Red Sox infield of the future; it’s natural that other team’s GMs would have his name on their lips.

But surely, the deadline must have given Calloway pause to reflect on…on…something?

“It never even crossed my mind,” he insists. “Sure, it’s an interesting time for baseball, but I’m giving you an honest answer: it never crossed my mind.”

Why was there no activity with him? He’s still got plenty of upside at 29. He’s a positive presence in the PawSox clubhouse. He consistently gives thoughtful answers to reporters’ questions. And did we mention that he’s batting .307?

There are clubs that could use an outfielder like Calloway. The Pirates come immediately to mind -- they only have one high-output outfielder, Jason Bay. Other than that, Jeromy Burnitz is hitting .235, Nate McLouth is hitting .233, and Xavier Nady, just obtained from the Mets, is batting .259.

The Devil Rays, too, seem in need of an outfielder. Damon Hollins is batting .227 and Jonny Gomes, although he’s cracked 20 home runs, is batting .215.

There’s definitely a need for Calloway out there. But here he stays -- and the rest of the league’s loss is the PawSox’s gain. Calloway is an asset to the Sox, as long as they have him. Here’s hoping they do the right thing and trade him in the offseason to a team that can use him in the bigs.

ATTENTION RED SOX TRIVIA WONKS: The Farm Report is looking for information on Kevin Morton. His first and last year with the Sox was 1991. We here at FR remember him fondly, with a dancing, electric curveball that embarrassed opposing batters. He fell off the face of the earth, apparently, not returning to organized baseball after his rookie season. Does anyone know why? Please e-mail farmreport@cox.net with any information.

ReMarkable!

ReMarkable!

Mark Loretta was mobbed by teammates after his dramatic walkoff double gave Boston a 6-5 victory over the Indians.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

It's Not About Papi

Rumor Has It, Loretta Won It On a Walkoff, 6-5
Photo Gallery: Sox '06 Walkoff Wins

The Stand-Pat Sox Don't Know When to Quit
The Hit Parade: Mirabelli and Gonzalez Take Two for Team
Who Was This Bronson Arroyo They Used to Speak Of?
My Dad Said Coco Changed the Game on Defense, Gonzo Too
He Keeps Going and Going: Manny Checks in with HR No. 30
Lesterrible to Start, But Jon Gets His Game On Later
Pick Off the Old Block: Lester Has Five Career Pickoffs
Had to Be Youk: The Greek God of Keeping Innings Alive
Off the Hook: Blown Save No. 4 for Tired Mike Timlin
A Win's As Good As a Save: Papelbon's Perfect Night
Meanwhile, Carmona Blowna 'Nother One

"Well, somebody told me he tackled Youkilis, so I have to check the tape. Big Papi doesn't know what to do on the other end of those things, so he took a shot and he's afraid he's going to get suspended for taking Youkilis down, but, yeah, I don't think he was upset at all." -- 8.2.06, Mark Loretta, on the other side of the walkoff winner

Frank Galasso Illustration

(Boston Dirt Dogs / Frank Galasso, cartoonist)

Hot Stuff at Fenway

Hot Stuff at Fenway

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, on his way into the clubhouse from the outfield during batting practice came upon a thermometer that had been in the sunshine on the steps of the dugout, and it read over 100 degrees.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Can the Banged-Up Sox Take the Heat Tonight?

Extra Bases: 'Tek Has Full Confidence in Doug Mirabelli
Edes Extra: Remember Matt Clement? | Ortiz Named Player of Month
Eric Wilbur: There's a Catch | Simmons: Papi vs. Larry

Hey Cover Boy

Beckett on cover of ESPN Magazine this week

Good Thing There's No ESPN The Magazine Cover Jinx


Tragedy at Fenway: Rest in Peace Denise Quickenton

Bad Omen: Sox Eat Crow

Edes Extra: Well, Well, Wells ... A Word on the Bird
Survey: Name That Bird! Pick the Winner | Gallery: Bird Watching

BAD OMEN

Sox Eat Crow

(BDD Photo / NESN Screenshot)

Sox Eat Crow at Fenway
Yanks Move Into First Place

" 'I don't remember seeing anything like that,' said Elliott Ginsburg, a 64-year-old Sox fan who's held season tickets since 1972. 'That thing ran from base to base pretty good. I think he was faster than [Doug] Mirabelli was getting to the plate last night.' "

'He can probably hit better than Mirabelli,' snapped Anthony Taurasi, 32. 'He's probably just as good [on the basepaths] as Manny Ramírez.' " -- 8.2.06, Boston Globe

"In Greek superstition crows are seen as a bad omen, often foretelling death."
-- OldSuperstitions.com

Cleveland's in the Catbird Seat as It's All Bad News for Boston
With 'Tek Out, Indians Ruffle Sox Feathers As They Go Down Soft, 6-3
Nothing to Crow Over: Bird Gets On the Bases More Than Home Team
C. C. What Happens When You Have Great Young Starting Pitching?
He Can't Fake It: Cleveland's Casey Blake Owns Sox in the Series
Gonzo's Got It Going, But It's Too Little, Too Late to Save the Day
Be Careful What You Wished For: The Doug Mirabelli Era Has Begun
Hirschbeck and Call May Have Cost the Sox a Run or Two
No Bull: Hansen Taking Two Steps Back, Corey Gives Up Homers, Too
Mike Lowell Joins Old and Hurt Club for the Night, But He's OK
It's a Good Thing Theo Didn't Make Any Moves to Improve the Pitching
The Sox Will Be Great ... in 2008!

“He [Jason Varitek] had the MRI and it showed some cartilage damage and to the extent they won’t know until they go in and scope it. The hope is it will be a quick return. He’s been hobbling for a while, going around the second the other night. The hope will be it will be shorter rather than longer [that he’s out], but we won’t know until they go in there… Lowell’s [foot is] going to be sore tomorrow, but he’s OK.” -- 8.1.06, Terry Francona on 'Tek and Lowell

Sox Caught Between a Rock and a Bard Place

Sox Caught Between a Rock and a Bard Place

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek grimaces as he heads for the plate to score on a Wily Mo Pena hit. He would leave the game with an injury soon after.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Extra Bases: SURGERY FOR VARITEK
Mirabelli Catches Tonight, Huckaby Called Up,
And Josh Bard's Hitting .357 in San Diego

Sox Stand Papi

More Powerful Than a Locomotive

Graphic Design by Carl

(BDD Photo Illustration / Graphic Design by Carl)

Wanna Be Your Superhero, Oh Yeah, Oh Yeah
David Brings His Entourage to Home Plate Again
Papi for MVS ... Most Valuable Superhero

"This simply does not happen in baseball. Ortiz has turned major league baseball into Wiffle ball games you'd play with makeshift rules regarding rooftops, clotheslines, and summer winds. Big Papi is an action superhero come to life. He is a cartoon figure who jumps off the screen and gets it done in real life in real time. He is the mythical Joe Hardy with no apparent time limit on his powers." -- 8.1.06, Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe


SOX STAND PAPI

Red Sox DH David Ortiz is mobbed at the plate as he comes across on yet another game winning walk off home run, this one a three run blast that gave Boston a 9-8 victory.

(Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Big Dealin' at Fenway

Don't Worry, Big Papi: Sox 9, Indians 8
Ho Hum, Another Walkoff in the House of David
Snyder Remarkable: Kyle Fires Up Sox with Outstanding Performance
It's All Wells and Bad for Mr. Won't Go to Pawtucket
Kneed This Like a Hole in the Head: 'Tek Twists Knee
Wily Mo Might Be the Best Mid-Season Pickup for Sox
Is Manny Giving David a Run for AL MVP?

"I've never pitched in a game that's made me feel this way. All I was trying to do was give us an opportunity to come back and win this game at the tail end and I'll be darned if David Ortiz didn't step up to the plate and do it again." -- 7.31.06, Kyle Snyder came though in the clutch

Frank Galasso Illustration

(Boston Dirt Dogs / Frank Galasso, cartoonist)

"The guy had to make a pitch at the time or get the bases loaded and having a hitter like Manny coming up. I just go out there with the same approach that I always go. See a pitch and hit it." -- 7.31.06, Mr. Big


Wilbur: The Long and Short of It
Rosenthal: Sox Are Big Losers at Trade Deadline
Mnookin: Theo, Larry, and the Non-Trades of 2006

BDD is a feature of Boston.com. All posts are by Steve Silva unless otherwise indicated.

Boston Globe:

Red Sox end losing streak > Shaughnessy: Debunking myths about the 2014 Red Sox > Cherington: Everyone needs to get better

Boston Herald:

Ortiz, Red Sox bats break out to end losing streak > Buchholz still bewildered > Memory loss haunting Red Sox

ProJo:

Lester was once a good hitter, now heading toward dubious record > Travis Shaw brings hot bat to Pawtucket > Ranaudo shines > Betts not a candidate for Boston, yet

NY Post:

St. Louis lets Ozzie Smith bid Jeter goodbye > Yanks prevail in extras again > Nonsense leads off in MLB broadcasts > Beltran elbow on mend

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