Archive for July, 2007

31
Jul
07

Not what I was expecting

So, the non-waiver trade deadline has passed and Jack Wilson is still a Pirate. That’s a welcome surprise. What’s more, the Pirates added a veteran pitcher to their rotation. That’s an even more welcome surprise.

I was afraid that the Pirates’ absolutely terrible 2nd half so far would prompt what many in baseball refer to as a “fire sale”, which involves a team dumping all its expensive (read: experienced) players in exchange for prospects with which to rebuild the team the following year. Coming up to the trade deadline, all I heard was rumors about how teams were interested in Torres, Marte and Chacon. Writers kept saying that the Pirates had pitchers to spare. Were we watching the same team?

When my brother-in-law visited last week, he told me about a Pirates shirt he saw that said: “Pittsburgh Baseball: Rebuilding Since 1992.” That about sums up the last 15 years in Pirates history. So, when the Pirates actually traded a prospect for a veteran, I was surprised. I don’t think the season is a write-off yet and this move indicates to me that the Pirates ownership and general manager don’t either. As far as I’m concerned, the goal of this season is not to win the NL Central; rather, the goal is to break this embarrassing streak of losing seasons.

If the Pirates could put together a winning season — even something as meager as 82-80 — there would be a lot of celebrating in the ‘Burgh. In fact, a couple of months ago, I was wearing some Pirates stuff here in Boston and someone, evidently from Pittsburgh, passed me in a car and shouted something like, “This is the year we break the losing streak!” After so many years of losing, Pirates fans have learned to temper their dreams a little. Come on, Pirates, let’s turn around the second half, put an end to these losing seasons, and declare the team rebuilt. This trade seems like a step in the right direction.

30
Jul
07

New sandals

Since Adrian is showing off his new footwear, I thought I would write about my new sandals.

When I was in college, I had a pair of sandals that I wore all the time.  At some point, the sole began to separate from the upper and they were unofficially retired.  Since then, I hadn’t been able to find a pair of sandals that I liked and didn’t give me blisters.  However, during my last trip to Pittsburgh, my mom wanted to help me look for a pair of sandals as a Father’s Day present.  We looked all around Robinson Town Center and finally managed to track down a pair of sandals that I liked and seemed to fit me.  I’ve worn them all day 7 or 8 times since I got them and I’ve yet to develop any blisters, so it looks like they’re going to be a success!  Plus, they ended up costing $5 since they were on clearance for $20 and Sears had a $15 off deal if you opened a Sears charge.  Not bad.

sandals.jpg

27
Jul
07

Yikes

Today I got curious about where all the spam was going that I thought I should be getting, so I looked around on the mail server.  At MIT, the default spam screening program sends messages it flags as spam to the SPAMSCREEN folder, so I looked in there.  I had 24,692 messages!!!  That’s right, almost 25,000 messages.  Needless to say, I didn’t go through them individually.  However, I did search for certain keywords to see what type of spam I was getting.  I got more than 1,700 messages that began with “re:” or some variant thereof.  I got hundreds of messages advertising online pharmacies and their wares.  I got plenty of mortgage and bank-related messages.  I also got 31 messages from the future, some as far away as 2090.  Finally, I got probably about 50 messages from December 31st, 1969 and a few from the 1970’s.  Interesting.

27
Jul
07

Always a good decision

Yesterday, I went with my brother-in-law, Rob, and his friend, Andrew, to an open house at the Sam Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain.  Rob was in town visiting and wanted to go on a tour, but none of the tour times fit our schedule.  However, Rob found that there was an open house in the evening that worked for us.  So, we took the T to the Stony Brook stop and walked a couple of blocks to the brewery.  There each of us got our hands stamped and were given 4 tickets, each of which was good for a free beer (~7 oz.) sample.  They had 5 beers available: Boston Lager, Summer Ale, Dunkelweiss, Old Fezziwig Ale, and Mayflower Ale.  I had both the Dunkelweiss and Fezziwig once and the Mayflower twice.  Not bad for a free event.  The one caveat is that you need reservations, which can be made on their website.  These events are held about once a month, so if you live in the area or you’ll be in town, you should definitely check this out.  It’s always a good decision.

22
Jul
07

Boston: America’s Walking City Team

Yesterday, I went to the Red Sox vs. White Sox game at Fenway Park.  In many ways, the game was unremarkable.  The White Sox scored first, with 1 run in the top of the 2nd inning.  The Red Sox answered by scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning and two more runs in the bottom of the 6th.  The bottom of the 7th was when it got interesting.

A pitcher came in from the bullpen to replace the White Sox’ starter and gave up a lead-off single to Eric Hinske.  He struck out the following two batters while allowing Hinske to advance to 2nd.  This brought Manny Ramirez to the plate.  He was intentionally walked to put runners on 1st and 2nd.  Kevin Youkilis came up and managed to draw a walk to load the bases.  A new reliever was brought in and he promptly walked J.D. Drew, which scored Hinske.  A third reliever was then brought in and he walked the first 2 batters he faced, putting Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek on base while scoring Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis.  He proceeded to give up a 2-run single to Coco Crisp (scoring Drew and Lowell) followed by a 2-run triple to Eric Hinske (scoring Varitek and Crisp).  Julio Lugo’s subsequent strikeout put an end to the White Sox’ misery.

When the dust had settled, White Sox relievers had walked 5 consecutive batters (including one intentional walk), walking in 3 consecutive runs.  Eric Hinske had both a single and a triple in the inning, while Julio Lugo was responsible for making 2 out of the 3 outs in the inning, both on strikeouts.  The Red Sox ended up scoring 7 runs, all when there were already 2 outs.  It seems like there must be some kind of record in there.

While the White Sox managed to draw only one walk in the whole game, the Red Sox walked a total of 9 times during the game.  On the other hand, the White Sox struck out only twice, while the Red Sox struck out 8 times.  Also, there were no home runs hit by either team.

As a side-note, at one point I heard a group of people nearby chanting something that I couldn’t make out initially.  After listening for a few seconds, I realized that they were chanting “Joe Buck sucks!”  I was pretty amused, since the game was supposed to be the Fox Game of the Week, at least in the Northeast, and it was likely that Joe Buck would be one of the announcers.  If anyone recorded the game, let me know if you can hear the chant.  I think it was in the 7th or 8th inning.

20
Jul
07

Adrian shows us how to get enthusiastic about the wave

At the July 5th Red Sox vs. Devil Rays game:

adrian_wave.jpg

This picture could fit into Liz’s set of pictures of her and Adrian’s trip to Boston over the 4th of July.  Adrian has a summary of the game on his blog, though he doesn’t mention the wave…

20
Jul
07

This is not good news

I got an email yesterday from Pirates.com about how the Pirates had received shortstop Cesar Izturis and cash from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later.  I’m always nervous about trades involving a player to be named later, but let’s forget about that for a minute.  You might be asking why the Pirates would trade for a shortstop when they already have Jack Wilson as their starter and a number of others capable of playing shortstop, including Jose Castillo, Jose Bautista and Freddy Sanchez.  Well, it looks like Wilson’s loyalty to the Pirates is coming back to bite him in the butt.  Before last season, he approached the Pirates ownership about a contract extension, which was ultimately agreed upon and signed.  Now, evidently, the Pirates are looking to dump payroll and Jack’s contract is the place where they’re likely to start now that they have a replacement for him.

I’ll concede that, offensively,  Jack is not one of the Pirates’ most potent contributors.  However, his defense is outstanding.  Probably twice a week he is featured in highlight reels on MLB.com making plays that no human being should be able to make.  So, while he isn’t scoring lots of runs or producing lots of R’sBI (aka RBIs), he is saving the Pirates lots of runs through his tremendous defense.  Finally, even if he weren’t doing much to affect the outcomes of games, he makes the games fun to watch.  For a team that doesn’t win a lot of games, this is crucial.  If a team wants fans to come to games, they either need to a) win lots of games, or b) be fun to watch.  I’m afraid that a trade involving Jack Wilson will not help the Pirates to win any more games and it will make them a lot less fun to watch.

Finally, I’d just hate to see Jack go because of his loyalty to the Pirates.  In an age when any good player the Pirates have inevitably leaves once their contract expires for a club that can pay more, Jack took the initiative with the Pirates ownership to work out a contract extension.  He likes living in Pittsburgh and wanted to keep his family there.  I have tremendous respect for someone who could’ve got more money elsewhere but chose to stay with the Pirates because of loyalty to the fans and to the city.  It is for this reason that I bought a Jack Wilson shirt last season.  It would be a shame to see the Pirates trade away one of the few players who wanted to stay enough to put his money where his mouth is.




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