Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quest for the (Mayor's) Cup

The Red Sox start their Grapefruit League schedule in mere hours against the Minnesota Twins in a Mayor's Cup matchup. Curt Schilling gets the start for Boston tonight. I am fairly certain that Curtis Montague's contract automatically renews for an additional year if the Sox win the Mayor's Cup. (Well, pretty sure.)

The Twins counter with young fireballer Matt Garza, best known for his meteoric rise through the minors to the Twins rotation last season. Minnesota likely realizes that they won't be a legitimate World Series contender until a hard salary cap and cyborgs enter the MLB landscape, so they should be going all out to win the Cup. Ellsbury and Murphy will be in the Sox starting lineup, and closer candidates Pineiro and Donnelly are expected to see action. I can't wait to see the Sox get under way...

Courtesy of MLB.TV, I got my 1st taste of Spring Training action today, watching Detroit defeat the Mets, 5-4. The Mets had weak starting pitching, courtesy of Pirates castoff Oliver Perez, and 3 of their 4 runs were scored in garbage time, when the Mutts padded their fantasy stats against some AA P's. Obviously, the Mets WILL NOT BE A FACTOR in the NL East, paving the way for the Phillies to return to the World Series in a rematch of the 1915 Fall Classic against the Boston Red Sox. I look forward to spending the money I saved by not buying tickets to see The Police, on Phillies World Series games at Fenway. $1800 for an Upper Bleachers ticket? No problem. Would you prefer PayPal, or shall I hand-deliver the cash immediately?

MLB.TV, which was a bit erratic in its' performance at times last season (freezing/slow-moving pictures, Phillies losing winnable games in the late innings), started slowly today with a big white screen that said "Error!", when I tried to login. But when it started working soon thereafter, the picture was crisp and clear, the sound as pleasant as possible, considering the broadcasters were of the New York Mets variety. However, I will wait to see if MLB.TV adversely affects the performance of the Phillies bullpen this season before issuing my final evaluation.

While MLB.TV usually blacks out the commercials, today I was able to watch them. Yes, I like to watch the commercials of MLB teams from far, far away. I like to see their commercials enticing fans to watch the team on TV and/or at the ballpark. I also enjoy seeing the commercials for distant and exotic places like "Round Table Pizza" and "Jack In the Box" and their culinary delights.
But I must admit I do get a bit bored of the same Sox commercials ad infinitum. Especially that damn W. B. Mason commercial. You know the one of which I speak.
Also, to clarify things a bit: No, I have no memory of my (alleged) role in an (alleged) attack on a mustachioed W.B Mason associate, (allegedly) utilizing large binder clips and crappy pens with a shorter shelf-life than the 2006 Red Sox version of Jason Johnson. Additionally, I have no knowledge of the nature of the video surveillance system at the location of the (alleged) attack. But if you want to know how I WOULD have done it IF I had, you can buy my book available this October. Between Phillies-Sox World Series tickets and my book, you have some serious saving up to do...


Monday, February 26, 2007

There is no emotion; there is peace.

Manny Ramirez reported to Sox Spring Training Camp this morning in what was, quite frankly, a brilliant move. His post-Daisuke arrival afforded him much more media coverage than if he had reported on time.

Even better, he is being lauded in some circles for "reporting early." Well, I guess he was "early." "Early" not as in "before the date the Red Sox required position players to report", but rather "before the (arbitrary) date a random relief pitcher (Julian Tavarez) indicated Manny would show up."

I will be using this technique in the future. The next time I'm given a deadline, I will have a subordinate (preferably one with a history of disciplinary concerns) announce on which post-deadline date I will complete the task. I will then attempt to sell my 2001 Honda Accord, and an autographed photo of myself, for 200K in New Jersey, when I should be working on my task. Then I will report, with my task completed, after my boss' deadline, but prior to the deadline announced by my lackey. My agent will give an interview reminiscent of the highly-informative Rosenhaus-Owens interviews. I will not speak to the media. And the big story will be my new red dreadlocks.

Now that Manny has reported, Schilling has not been given a contract extension, and Daisuke has been in camp for awhile, I'm hoping the drama and hype will die down. A least a little. I'm ready for the next phase of Spring Training. The phase where actual games are played on actual fields involving, for the most part, actual players. I can't wait to see Daisuke mow down Liberal Arts majors from Boston College. (BC SUCKS!) I'll be excited to see Ellsbury hit .450, proving that the Sox' farm system is indeed strong. When Pineiro retires 2 AA roster-filler types and a future COSTCO associate in order to pick up a save, my concerns over the closer postion will be diminished. When Beckett gets bombed, I'll realize that he was "working on some stuff", and take solace in the knee-buckling curve ball he threw on the pitch before he gave up that grand slam. And no matter what Papelbon does, he is still a Jedi. And it's always good to have a Jedi around. Especially in a brawl. Or on a duck hunt.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A commercial interruption

The Phillies have unveiled their 2007 advertising campaign- "Goosebumps- What will they do for you?" I hope they didn't do much from a financial standpoint for the peeps who came up with the slogan and the commercials, because they are a bit lackluster. In a season in which the Phils are looking to play .600 ball, their slogan is .400 winning percentage quality. And the goosebumps you feel when watching the commercials, are likely more reminiscent of what you felt when you heard the Phils had picked up Abe Nunez, than what you felt when the Phillies won in 1980. There is voting available to pick your favorite of the 6 commercial series. In the absence of a "They all suck option", I abstained. View and vote here.

The kind of vibe that I think the Phillies were going for really comes out well in a series of NHL commercials that have recently begun airing in the U.S. My favorite of this new batch is here. (My favorite part is when the guy puts the money back in his pocket.) Maybe, before next season, the Phillies can get the group responsible for this creation to make some commercial magic for them.

Thanks to the wonder that is YouTube, I can also link to my favorite hockey commercials ever. I don't really remember seeing these in the U.S., they were probably played more in Canada? Check some out here. Also here. Also cool are the Spartacat vids for the Ottawa Senators. FAITES DU BRUITES!

No Tix for you...

On Friday morning, I had an e-mail from the Red Sox when I checked my inbox. I figured it was a response to my suggestions on how to handle The Incident of Manny and the Car Show.
But it was actually pertaining to my participation in a lottery for a ticket purchase opportunity. Unfortunately, my entry was not selected for this ticket purchase opportunity. Again. But I am still eligible for the drawing for the opportunity to purchase Right Field Roof Deck tickets, which will take place over the next few weeks. As always, my loyalty to the Red Sox is unparalleled, and John Henry would like to thank me for my loyalty by offering my 10% off any purchase at the Red Sox online store.

I think my unparalleled loyalty should be worth a little more than that. Maybe each time I am among The Unchosen for a Sox Ticket Purchasing Opportunity, that % off should increase by 10%. Or perhaps double each time. Alternatives to this include extra chances (more ping pong balls with my name on them?) in each subsequent lottery, or an autographed Kyle Snyder ball. I am not too picky.

As for Manny's latest issues, I have no innovative advice to offer. (I may not be worthy of the Snyder ball, after all.) They are not going to trade Manny and his stats, unless they get sufficient value in return. Which they won't, considering his salary and his, um, eccentric, behavior. They are pretty much stuck with him. So they'll just have to deal with his Manny ways, and try to minimize the damage his behaviors (and their non-reactions to these behaviors) can do to the team. They are fortunate to have strong leadership types in the clubhouse like J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, and Julian Tavarez- masters of team harmony who won't let any individual factors get in the way of the success of the team as a whole.

Speaking of J.D. Drew, he feels really healthy and uninjured right now. Good show, J.D. Well, except for the fact that it is fucking February. He'll be probably be missing games for undisclosed reasons by the 3rd week of the season. At least that should open up some ABs for Wily Mo.

Matsuzaka is scaring me a bit- playing long toss at 200 ft. wicked early in training, 103 pitch bullpen sessions- I hope he doesn't use up too many bullets before the real games start. Theo says this is commonplace for Daisuke, but you'd have to think throwing so much now (as well as during his seasons in Japan) could affect him later this season, and later in his career. Hopefully, if such adverse effects pop up, it will be after 6 glorious seasons with the Sox. And if the baseball doesn't work out for Daisuke, maybe he could fall back on the golf.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Return of El Guapo

Rich Garces has returned! Well, to the Nashua (N.H.) Pride at least. The once-rotund hurler, now (allegedly) tipping the scales at a feathery 235 lbs. on his lanky 6 ft. frame, is expected to serve as the Pride's closer and provide leadership in the clubhouse. I hope he does well for them. I was always a Garces fan. (Well, except for in 2002, when he was released by the Sox after sporting a 7.59 ERA, a stat that does not suitably demonstrate the damage he did to the ERAs of his teammates.)

Daisuke will be the starting pitcher for the Sox Friday, March 2 against Boston College in a game that will now be televised by NESN at 6pm. (Pre-game coverage starts Thursday, February 22 at 7am. Daisuke will be trying grits for the first time.) BC-UNH hockey is scheduled for NESN at 7:30pm that night, so I'm guessing that only the Daisuke innings will be covered? I am wicked excited to see some baseball! Though I'd prefer to see Daisuke debut against major leaguers, I understand that is the day for him to pitch to keep him on turn, as he is projected to follow Snyder and Hansack as the #3 starter. As long as Dice-K doesn't shake off Tek, I'm sure he'll do fine against the vaunted BC lineup.

The Bruins continue to edge closer to a playoff spot with a 3-0 win over Toronto. Tim Thomas had 44 saves in the shutout and thanked his defense corps for their effort afterwards. (Yep. 44 shots allowed. Way to go, D!) I am still a little concerned about Thomas' workload, as he made his 10th straight start. The schedule I e-mailed Dave Lewis 2 months ago clearly indicated that Hannu Toivonen was to be the Bruins' starter in goal Monday night in Philly, but David, apparently, feels that this schedule was merely a "suggestion." I just hope the Bruins don't mortgage too much of their future when they are forced to trade for a Belfour or a LaBarbera to replace an injured Thomas. If Hannu doesn't get the start against the Panthers, there will be repercussions, Mr. Lewis...

USC ice hockey goalie Mickey Meyer was ejected (and ticketed by a police officer) from a game against BYU when he protested the officiating by "riding his stick like a horse, mooning the crowd, and slapping his buttocks." In a post-game interview, Meyer indicated that he "had his fill of these refs." (Thanks for clearing that up for us, Mickey!) This kind of questionable behavior brings to mind an obvious question- since when do USC and BYU play ice hockey?

In Britney news, the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League have offered "an all-expenses-paid trip to northern New York" that would "provide Britney with a stress-free environment and the chance to experience a high level of hockey." While the therapeutic value of watching hockey, obviously, cannot be disputed, I wonder if watching the 2nd worst team in the AHL would bring the "high-level" part of the comment into question. I would like to commend Syracuse Crunch management, however, for looking out for Britney's best interests. While they could be concerned with attendance for the 27th ranked team in the 28 team AHL, in a city buried under 8 feet (1.19 Zdenos) of snow, their concern is for Brit. It's good to see there are still people like that left in this world.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Down with the Sickness

I don't often get sick, but when I do, I get SERIOUSLY sick. Right now, the flu is pretty much kicking the shit out of me. But I have a responsibility to my blog reader(s). So I will push ahead. (Besides, I am bored of all of the sleeping.)

I think my downward spiral began on Thursday. I was headed for work in the AM when I randomly stopped to help a neighbor with a car problem. The problem being that her vehicle was caught in ice and wouldn't actually move so much. I'm not sure why I stopped to help- probably because it's what I think Earl would have done.

About 20 minutes or so later, I was running even more late to work. But, in a triumph of Dork Over Machine, I had managed to extricate the stuck vehicle from what could have become it's icy tomb. It was as miraculous as U.S. Hockey achieving any level of success with Jim Craig and Ray LeBlanc in goal. Even more miraculous was the fact that someone else let me drive their car. Yikes. She must have been really desperate.

But my act of fairly incredible heroism did not occur without a side order of dorkish stupidity. I had been sporting my Phillies baseball cap, instead of my Phillies winter hat, which looks 18% less cool to stranded travelers. And my ears had become more than a little cold...

The next few days were a bit of a blur. I imagine David Wells has experienced blurry weekends like this. There was the 3 consecutive 12 hour shifts, some exposure to flu-ridden peeps, and a quote that would come back to haunt me. "I'm not sick, I'm just very fatigued", I said, as I agreed to work another 12 hour day. By Saturday night, I was starting to feel a little worse for wear. By Sunday AM, I was fairly useless. I had barely slept and dragging myself in to work an hour away for 7am was a monumental task. I somehow made it through 6 hrs. at work, but then I had nothing left to give. I went home and slept from about 1pm on Sunday to about 4pm on Monday. Perhaps, I was sick, as well as, fatigued. I barely became coherent in time to watch the Flyers lose to the Bruins, and Jack Bauer kick more ass on 24. But, obviously, these things could not be missed.

Tom Brady is, allegedly, going to be a father, as his ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan announced that she was pregnant. This is all over the media in the Boston area, though the situation is none of our gosh-darn business. Hopefully, this situation won't occupy the media too damn long, so we can go back to concentrating on how Daisuke spends every second of every day. (Not like the situation is any of our goddamn business to begin with...I may have mentioned that.)

In EPL news, 2 Liverpool players were involved in a dust-up stemming from a karaoke session. We all know how polarizing karaoke can be. This isn't the first time karoake gone bad has resulted in golf club violence, and it won't be the last. Not bloody likely.

A-Rod, who apparently felt the need to return to the headlines, revealed that his friendship with Derek Jeter has "cooled" a bit. The embattled 3B expressed chagrin at the fact that he doesn't sleep over Jete's house five nights/week anymore. Apparently, Derek has decided he prefers "cuddling" with Jessica Biel.

In Manny being Manny news, RP Julian Tavarez, no stranger to karaoke-inspired golf club rampages himself, announced that Manny Ramirez will be reporting to spring training on March 1st. The mandatory reporting deadline for MLB, per the CBA, is February 27. It's almost reassuring to know that, in this world of so much sickness and so much violence, Manny remains a constant. He will always be, well, "Manny."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ease on down, ease on down the road...

This exciting blog entry could have been about the Bruins and their victory after celebrating Johnny Bucyk's career. I could have drawn a correlation between the Bruins win and the Flyers win on Monday night, after celebrating Keith Primeau's career. Perhaps I would have recommended Blaine Lacher Night? (Or maybe Bruce Hoffort Night?)
There is also the Celtics actually winning a game, the Cubs selling ads on the outfield ivy to pay for Jason Marquis and his 6.02 ERA, and Tim Hardaway's comments.
In Red Sox news, J.D. Drew was finally placed on the 40 Man Roster, at the expense of Lenny DiNardo, and Daisuke Matsuzaka ate breakfast at Denny's.

But after a snowstorm more than doubled my usual one hour morning commute, I feel it is a top priority to address some driving concerns. MY concerns about OTHER PEOPLES' driving.
Now I'll be the 1st one to admit that, when it comes to driving skill, I probably rank in the lower 10th percentile in the 18-49 demographic. (However, I also rank in the top 10th percentile in the 18-49 demographic in the category of punting. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.)
But I just saw some real crazy shit out there. So Rt.128 drivers, please read and observe the following:
  • Clean off all of your windows, so that you can see in all directions. Yes, you should be able to see what's going down BEHIND your vehicle. None of that bullshit where you carve two small eyeholes out of the ice on your windshield, either. That just works in ice FISHING. (Not ice DRIVING.)
  • Clear off all of your lights and clear off the roof of your vehicle. That snow/ice could make the journey from your roof to your windshield and cover your miniscule eyeholes. (Depending on your speed, it could be a loud and ferocious windshield-damaging journey.) Even more importantly, snow/ice could come off your roof and disturb MY driving. You do not want to mess with me and my ice scraper. I will do a Denis Lemieux demo on you.
  • Even though the speed limit may be 65 MPH, you should not be driving that fast if it causes you to slip and slide all over Beverly, Massachusetts. This is not bumper cars. Accidents will cost us all a lot of travel time, if not time on the 30-Day DL. Drive at a speed at which you can control your vehicle, and leave some space for stopping without hitting the vehicle in front of you.
  • That lane all the way to the right is NOT the high-speed morning commute lane. It is not a lane you should be driving in at all, actually. Let alone at 80 MPH in the land of ice and snow. The most obvious clue to this is that the lane is, partially, IN THE FOREST! This is not a safe move. It becomes even less safe when you try to rejoin us in the legal driving lanes because you see a state trooper waiting for you. Cutting off a vehicle that is driving 70 MPH in snow/ice, and cannot see you because you are not within the range of their eyeholes, is not a good plan. (Even if they had 360 degree visibility, they wouldn't necessarily expect to be cut off from the right by a vehicle coming out of the middle of the fucking forest!) The inevitable collision would lengthen my commuting time. No one wants that. (See "ice scraper.")
Basically, just clean off your car before driving. Then drive in a careful, thoughtful manner. We don't want any accidents. Think of the young punters. For they are our future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BU (and Flyers!) WIN!

BU won their 3rd consecutive Beanpot last night with a 2-1 OT win. Goaltender John Curry was the Tournament MVP, only allowing 1 goal on 65 shots in the 2 wins. Brian McGuirk scored the winner 5:06 into OT, snapping his 1st goal of the year over the glove of the BC (sucks) goalie. It was a good game to watch, but we did the BU peeps get so profane?

The Flyers (shockingly) DOMINATED the Red Wings in a 6-1 victory. It was the 1st time the Flyers had won consecutive home games since April 2006. Michael Leighton got his 2nd consecutive start and looked good. The Flyers scored two short-handed goals and broke the game open with a 5 goal 3rd period. In the 1st period, Red Wings D Andrea Lilja kneed and elbowed Simon Gagne, prompting Flyers D Denis Gauthier to pound the hell out of Lilja. Keith Primeau's Flyers career was celebrated before the game. It was invigorating (yep. INVIGORATING.) to watch such a great performance from the Flyers. On national TV, to boot!

In Phillies news, MVP 1B Ryan Howard admitted on HBO that his mother pays him an allowance. The 27 year old hit 58 HR and made $355,000 last season. Yikes. I wonder how much $ Mama Howard gives him each week?

Daisuke Matsuzaka arrived at Tampa International Airport last night, sporting a stylish pink polo shirt, and was immediately surrounded by zillions of reporters of the Japanese and American variety. He is expected to arrive at the Sox training complex at 12 noon today.

In other 12 noon excitement, tickets to see The Police at Fenway Park go on sale, with a pre-sale for Best Buy Rewards Club peeps. It is unclear just how many tickets will be made available in this pre-sale, and getting a pre-sale passcode doesn't guarantee you a ticket. But you can still find the passcodes on eBay for around $100/pop. Some actual tickets are even up for bid at $1500+, with the seat locations not yet indicated. A 2nd Boston show could very well be added, though, which should drive ticket prices on the secondary market down a bit. Maybe? Yikes.
I think it would take a Phillies-Red Sox WS Game 7 at Fenway to get me to pay $1500+ for a ticket. I should probably start saving up $ now...


Jonathan Papelbon's best recipe for duck, as reported by

Marinate the duck in Coke (yes, you read that correctly) and Italian dressing in a Ziploc bag. (Papelbon said the soda removes the game-y flavor from the duck.) Then slice the duck breast into four pieces. Wrap each of those in bacon, jalapeno peppers, and sour cream. And then, in his words, "throw it all on a grill, and it's amazing."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Soxin' it up

There is action at Red Sox camp. The equipment truck is on the way. Daisuke's plane will be landing at 6:30pm. Jonathan was 1st spotted at 7:55am, threw off the mound today, and his best recipe for duck will be announced later. Devern, Kason, and Craig were spotted. Kyle has changed his number to 39, Jon to 31, and Manny to 17.
J.D. Drew is still not on the 40 Man Roster. (It says his name on there, but there are more than 40 peeps on that there 40 Man Roster.)
I have not yet seen a detailed manifest of the contents of the Sox equipment truck, but I am hopeful it will be available soon.

I don't know how I survived pre-internet. Having so many stats, random stories, and videos just clicks away. (Not to mention the fabulousness that is MLB.TV!)
I remember having to wait for my monthly Baseball Digest fix to come in the mail, with only limited television coverage/info available for out of town teams. This is so much better. I am ready for another season of inhaling baseball. (Yep. INHALING. That is the bon mot for my baseball ways.)

The Flyers play on national television tonight (on Versus at 7pm) against the Red Wings. The Red Wings are coming off a 7 goal, 50 shot domination of Calgary. The Flyers are coming off a 4-3 OT win at home against St. Louis. It was their 1st win at home since NOVEMBER 24TH. Apparently, the key for the Flyers' winning at home is to start their 3rd string goalie, and have him wear his Nashville Predators pads. Hey, whatever works. It's always a special treat when they win a game. But I don't think they'll be winning another one tonight.

The Bruins traded D Brad Stuart and C Wayne Primeau to Calgary for D Andrew Ference and RW Chuck Kobasew. I wonder if the B's could package Ference, Kobasew, and Marco Sturm for that Joe Thornton guy. Probably not. Fuck.
At least BU will win another Beanpot in a few hours...GOALIE! SIEVE! GOALIE! SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE!

As you go insane, go INSANE!

Well, apparently, my protest against the Grammy Awards has subsided a bit. I don't recall watching since they gave Metallica's Grammy to some fucker playing a flute, but I did watch a bit last night. I wasn't all that impressed, but I don't think I expected to be.
I must have nodded off for awhile when Slayer and Tool won their awards, because I don't remember them performing, or their acceptance speeches. I know they won via the internet, and there must have been enough time in a 3 and a half hour show to fit them in, right?

I also missed the performance by Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra. Must have been distracted at the time. I think I have seen Jimmy in all his Polka Greatness more than once, anyways. I'm pretty sure I saw him like 20 years ago at Polish-American Night at Yankee Stadium, hosted by Yankee knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Also I have vague recollections of seeing him perform at some picnic of some kind long, long, ago in a state far, far, away- I remember playing baseball (3B) there, eating really good hot dogs there, watching the orchestra set up, but the memories are very blurry. It is possible that the actual performance traumatized me. Not sure. But I do know that I am selling my copy of the 8 track tape in that YouTube clip above immediately, to take advantage of Jimmy's Grammy Status!
Profit maximization, baby!

The Police Reunion didn't do much for me. They should have chosen a peppier song, or done some kind of medley, or perhaps interacted with each other on stage (as opposed to playing a strict zone defense). But on the plus side, there was no playing of lutes (that I noticed), and Sting is fucking JACKED! Concert tickets for their Reunion Tour are, allegedly, topping out at $225, or, converted into eBay funds, $1284.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers performance I did like. I think it was the only performance I liked, though the confetti was a bit bothersome. Flea amuses me with his apparel choices and his zany shenanigans on stage, as does Mr. Kiedis.

Also irritating were the Dixie Chicks, who kept on winning fucking awards. And bastardized Nelson's laugh (from The Simpsons), which was the greatest crime of all.

That Mary J. Blige chick thanked 55 people in her speech. Don't they have that hook thing to drag people off stage when the won't shut up? (Or was that only on The Muppets?)

Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett won an award. I didn't even think they were still around. (Still not quite sure, actually.) Bennett thanked Target in his speech- he should have been hooked away before it came to that.
But it is good to see another Target fan out there. We definitely need to start up a Target cult, to try to steal some market share from TomKat and the Scientologists. I think "Targetians" sounds pretty snappy. I envision someone much more charismatic than myself as the leader/figurehead of this cult/legitimate religion- my role will be more administrative in nature: I'll help with the pamphlets/core beliefs, investment portfolio, and the vacuuming. I'm mostly just interested in the stock options, anyway. That's where the money is.

Some rappish/jazzy peeps also performed/won awards, Fergie looked like shit (but acted like she thought she was the shit), JT performed (performance was OK, but I was not into the part where he was videotaping his performance in real time), and did I mention I don't like those Dixie Bitches?
Anyways, I am now bored of writing about the Grammy Awards. So, here's some vintage Slayer for ya!
The Phillies report for Spring Training in less than 48 hours!!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shadows in the Rain

The Phillies' equipment truck has completed the 1100 mile trek to Clearwater, Florida, and we are now only days away from the reporting of pitchers and catchers. I CANNOT WAIT! The Phillies have a very winnable division- the Mets and Braves seem very flawed- and this very well could be year they finally make the playoffs again. I just hope that the 40 cases (yep. CASES.) of jelly beans that the Phils brought to Spring Training will be enough.

I received an e-mail this week from my favorite local baseball team, the Red Sox, notifying me that I had not been selected for the opportunity to purchase tickets for Opening Day, Patriot's Day, or all Yankee games. For the blissfully unaware, here is how Sox ticket sales seem to work these days. The park only has a capacity of about 36,000- a big chunk of which is season tickets. The remaining tickets (except for Opening Day, Patriot's Day, Yankee games, Monster seats, and Roof Deck seats) are put on sale to the general public in January. And by "general public", I am fairly certain I mean "Ace Tickets" and "StubHub." Anyways, you pick the game you want, and are put into a Virtual Waiting Room, where you wait until you are randomly selected to have the opportunity to purchase tickets. A timer counts down from 30, 29,...3,2,1, 30,29,...3,2,1,30. This process repeats ad infinitum. Eventually, you give up. Or go insane. Or both.
Before last season, I had 5 computers at work repeating this process for 7 HOURS, before one escaped the Waiting Room, and offered me Standing Room Only tickets, with fairly obscene fees attached. Fees for my CONVENIENCE. (Apparently, 35 HOURS of computing time was convenient.)
After you fail to get tickets for those games, you get to sign up on for a ticket lottery for the "prime" tickets. In the next few weeks, you will receive e-mails from the Sox telling you that your entry was not chosen for the ticket opportunity, but thanking your for your "unparalleled loyalty."
Then you get to watch the games on NESN HD or pay crazy prices on the secondary market. And fantasize of a day when the Sox will play in a ballpark with a capacity of 60,000 and the Virtual Waiting Room is nothing but a (very) bad memory. Not unlike Willie Harris.

In other insanely-overpriced ticket news, The Police appear to be reuniting for a tour this summer, which will possibly include Fenway Park. (No official announcement has been made yet, but many signs point to this happening.) I have never really been a fan of The Police. During their later years, I listened to such bands as Queensryche, Dokken, Cinderella, and Stryper. During their early years, I listened to other stuff. When someone mentions Sting to me, I think of the movie Dune. But I respect their material, which is more than I can say of most bands.
Mostly, though, I am very curious to see how much $$$ their tickets are going to sell for on the secondary market. I wonder if The Police fans will get to enjoy the wonders of The Virtual Waiting Room, before shelling out a week's pay (per ticket) to a scalper? (Apparently, thoughts of the Virtual Waiting Room bring out the schadenfreude in me.)

This commercial should have been the most ill-advised marketing choice of the week. But it wasn't. This was. Who's idea was this? Are they trying to promote back issues of the Verizon Yellow pages from 1995? I just don't see how Jewel is relevant today. Because she hosts "Nashville Star?" I don't really think the circumstances exist under which I would willingly watch that show- maybe it's popular. But she doesn't perform on it, so that shouldn't have been a factor here? I am a bit befuddled by this whole thing. I do know, however, know that if I saw Jewel playing live on the T, I'd fucking get off that train as soon as humanly possible. And I'd never use the Verizon Yellow Pages again. I don't think I'm in the minority here, either.

In GOOD music news, I recently picked up the self-titled release from Speaking to Stones. Just an incredible album. My only complaint is it's only about 50 minutes long. I like EVERY song on the album, which doesn't happen that often. Excellent lyrics, musicianship, vocals. This album should appeal to fans on the rock spectrum from AOR to metal, and all points in between. HIGHLY recommended. My favorite song is "Still Life." Check it out.

Friday, February 2, 2007

If you come to battle, bring a shotgun...

We clutched our CharlieTickets as we descended into the bowels of North Station. The odor was almost unbearable. Perhaps it was the fetid stench of yet another Bruins loss. Alternatively, it may have been a result of individuals choosing a less-than-sanitary method of satisfying their personal evacuation needs.
The (Musical) Artist Currently Known as Shadow was at the scene, selling his Limited Edition CD: 10 songs for only $5! He was attempting to sweeten the deal by offering a live freestyle at time of purchase, but the masses made my purchasing decision for me by propelling me towards the turnstiles. I will, apparently, need to turn to eBay (or iTunes) to get my Shadow fix.

It seemed like a simple enough plan. Depart from Ipswich, MA at 5:15pm for Alewife T station. Take the T to North Station. Watch the Bruins defeat the Sabres, starting the massacre (BY the Bruins) at 7pm. Unfortunately, any plan that involves me driving for long periods of time has a danger of failure. (Not to mention the danger of casualties.)

I make the drive from Ipswich to Somerville most nights in 45-60 minutes. So, naturally, it took about 90 minutes to make that trip on this night. But it wasn't due to poor driving on my part. Sure, there was that car I almost rear-ended in Peabody. (I'd like to take this opportunity to let the drivers around me who switched lanes immediately afterwards, probably to avoid later witnessing my insanely quick reflexes in action, that they totally didn't hurt my feelings or nuthin'.) And also that pedestrian in Somerville, who seriously needs to invest in some brighter-colored clothing. (Note: I am not counting that alleged incident with that seemingly unnecessary Yield sign in Danvers- where I almost got hit from behind, and to the glove side, by an SUV- because I had no passengers at the time.) If anything, my obscenely,um, skilled, driving helped us reach our destination quicker. Plus, the burning rubber from my tires in Peabody helped remind us of the reason we had embarked on this trepidatious journey. We were drawn to the puck!

I was directed to tune in to Public Radio to see why there was a delay, but I suspect that was a ploy by an individual with less than ideal taste in music. We did not discover why it was so trafficky. But we did join a young woman on a voyage of self-discovery as she struggled with the decision of whether to pursue a future in the Prostitutional Arts. She, eventually, decided that the lucrative nature of that particular career path was outweighed by the potential dangers (pimps, disease, and/or death). I believe she made the right choice. (We should have stuck to listening to those musical greats from the great nation of Sweden, Mind's Eye.)

Now that I have transitioned from a T-commuter to an infrequent T-traveler, I miss out on a lot of the randomness that public transportation has to offer. This night's highlight was likely the burly lacrosse player working on ballet moves on the Red Line. A bit on the disconcerting side. Fortunately, he left the train before he attempted a Pas de Chat. Which likely would have ended badly for all those concerned.

We also overheard some interesting comments on the T.
From a middle-aged hockey fan," Is hockey quarters or halves?"
Between a befuddled T rider and an MBTA official," How do you get to the end of the platform?" "You go to the platform, then you go to the end."
Between a band of rough-and-tumble individuals and a bespectacled dork, "Are you going to Fleetcenter?" "Yes." "Are you going to see the Bruins?" "No, I'm going to see Bucketman play a set in the alley." (Note: This would have been my response if I was more rough-and tumble.)

It was about 7:20pm when we walked through the alley past the large ads featuring Jason, Troy, and Ray. (No shot at Ray- one of the greatest in NHL history- but I would have preferred to have seen a current Bruin, perhaps Zdeno or Patrice, pictured.) Bucketman was pounding away with a tune from his breakout 2nd album, but there was no time to stop, as we had to race in to get two of the remaining 4000 seats.

We settled on $33 seats, which positioned us around the blue line, to the left of the goal defended ably by Tim Thomas for 2 periods, exactly 3 rows from the highest row in the arena. A bit pricey, but we could see the whole playing surface, and we realize that we have to help pay the salaries of the Chistovs and the Donovans, with our ticket dollars. We had no problem with the security check at the entrance, as I had left my Mooninite at home. (I still can't believe I got that piece of art and media history on eBay for only 5G!)

We had missed all but 1:23 of the 1st period. Even worse, we had become, at least for one night, the late-arriving fans that I have oft-criticized. On the plus side, the Bruins had a 1-0 lead.

We went to the concession stands to load up our bellies with overpriced culinary delights, contented by the realization that we were helping pay for Mark Mowers' varied contributions to Bruins hockey. I failed in my attempt to find a Lemonade, but we did overpay for some popcorn, Barq's root beer, and a Nathan's hot dog (Theo's fave), which I consumed faster than Iafrate's slapper once found the glass behind the net. In the 3rd period, there was a $7 pizza, which was certainly the worst $7 pizza I could recall helping consume. (Note: Dave Lewis had made me a healthy scratch, due to my tardiness, so I could eat at will.)

I have already sent my game report to Dave Lewis (and an anonymous Eastern Conference team), so I am prevented, for proprietary reasons, from commenting on the game itself. All I can say is that it was typical Bruins hockey, typical Sabres hockey, and a typical 3-1 Sabres win. I will note, however, that I was excited to see Brad Boyes engage in his 1st fight at the NHL level, and it was a pretty good scrap.

I was a bit disappointed that the Ice Girls' impact seemed to be limited to posing in the background for random photo ops, and helping sweep up glass shavings on the ice. I'm not really sure what, exactly, I was expecting from their contribution to be, but certainly something more. Even more disappointing was the fact that the Bruins mascot (Blades) did not appear to be wearing skates. Chickenshit. (Bearshit?) He needs to be sent to the ECHL for awhile, and return with skating skills.
I did, however, come to a realization. I once thought that the commercial breaks, were for, well, commercials. So the B's could sell advertising time and whatnot. But those breaks are actually so that the Ice Girls can shovel up ice shavings from the slot in front of each goal, thus providing more goal-scoring opportunities for the fans to enjoy.

Also worthy of note were the musical selections. There was some Guns, Motley Crue, Van Halen, Metallica- all of the music seemed to be at least a decade old. I was totally singing along (in my head), but isn't there anything more contemporary that could have revved up the crowd? No, not Fergie, who doesn't exactly make me want to rock out (or "go rock, rock", for that matter), but some more mainstream/rockish stuff? Hmm, I'm not really sure where I am going with this. They seem to play the same songs at all games. I guess I just want some new stuff worked into the rotation. Not that I would recognize and/or sing along to it, if they did.

But there is one thing I am certain of. If they are playing House of Pain, and they show you on the HD-quality big screen, it is your duty to get out of your seats and jump around, jump up, jump up, and get down, in a timely manner. That is, if you have not already begun the getting down process, which is, of course, preferable.

One fan-friendly program the B's have is to allow a family to stand right outside the Bruins' locker room, and watch/wave to the players as they return to the ice. They had a family of 4 with a lil' guy and a tiny lil' girl positioned behind a rope, right in front of the players' exit. It was awesome to watch the kiddies bop around in excitement as the players walked by, and see their joyous expressions when the players slapped their hands (and when the goalies tapped them with their blockers!). That was just the coolest.

But the most memorable part, at least for me, occurred at 18:58 of the 3rd period. Marco Sturm got blasted in the head, resulting in 1 concussion for the B's German forward, and zero minutes in penalties for the Sabres. When Sturm left the ice, he left behind a small pool of blood near the faceoff circle to the left of the Sabres' goal. The on-ice officials opted the take care of the bloody situation by scraping up ice shavings with their skate blades, and covering the blood. I'm not sure if this was one of the Best Practices for Blood-Handling, but I'll give the refs points for efficiency.

So, to sum up, the reason they PLAY the games is because either team could win. The reason we GO to the games is to see where they hide all the blood.
Go Bruins!