Monday, March 29, 2010

Runner's High... or Low?

There is less than one week until Red Sox opening day at Fenway, but unlike most pinkhats and bluehats I am not dusting off my cap. The pinkhat inside me wants to guess what song each player has chosen for his saunter up to bat. The slowly emerging bluehat in me is excited that I'll recognize many of the players by sight and know what position they play.*

This year I am immune to the elation mounting in Red Sox Nation, whether it be for peanuts, beer, fantasy team expectations, a particular player, or just a general love of the sport. Instead I'm dreading this commitment I've made to watch or listen to every game this season.

Sure the first few games will be fun. It will be great not to flinch when someone requests the count; this year I'll know that balls come before strikes (3 and 2 is a full count). I'll know the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game (no hits vs. nobody gets on base, so no hits, walks, etc.) and why the catcher scrambles for the ball if he fails to catch a strike (the batter becomes a runner if there is no one on first or if there are two outs).

Most of all I'll know that it is possible to learn baseball. I used to give up on following a game the first time players tagged up on a caught ball. Now I understand the rule (tag up if there is no force play)... sort of.

But what about after the start-of-the-race feel of watching and learning the sport wears off? Like after game three or four? Sometime after the gun goes off this season I'm sure the fatigue will set in. I'll be ready to tune back into my reality television and empty my purse of the baseball reference materials I carry everywhere now. Game five or six?

In honor of the pain I anticipate this project will cause me, I was going to blog about the Infield Fly Rule and other scary topics suggested in the comments section (and pass the pain on to the reader). Instead, I am going to save those topics until I witness them in a game.

That will give me something to look forward to and maybe maintain the "runners high" a little longer. Game seven or eight?

*Thus avoiding the somewhat faulty method I have for impressing Dave who often doesn't notice when this information is flashed on the TV screen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


A friend and baseball fiend* keeps trying to stump me. And not with trivia like "how many innings are in a normal game?" Nope, he asks questions that involve ERAs, RBIs, and other acronyms, statistics, and scenarios I just don't understand yet.

The other day he grilled me on the number of ways a player could reach first base without getting a hit. Talk about a collegiate question for someone who would go home empty-handed from the baseball edition of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

Maybe he is just confident in my internet research abilities, but even with google and wikipedia this one is a doozy.

I am starting to realize that there are two realities in baseball - what you actually see and the way it is scored - so I warmed up my search engine with "hit". To a pinkhat simply observing a game, a hit occurs anytime a player makes contact with the ball. To a pinkhat that knows her stuff, a hit occurs when a player makes contact with the ball and gets on base. But to a bluehat, there are the obvious caveats. For example, if a player tries for a double or triple and is tagged out, it's a hit.

So, Jon, here are your eight ways a player can reach first base without getting a hit. Pinkhats, note that some of the ways include a ball physically being hit by a bat, but scored as something else.

1. Walk- The pitcher throws four balls, and the batter automatically goes to first base.

2. Hit by a pitch- The pitcher hits the batter with a pitch, and the batter automatically goes to first.

3. Error- A fielder mishandles the ball, resulting in the batter reaching first base. The at-bat is credited as an out for the player's batting average, but it is not actually an out for the game. See what I mean about dual realities?

4. Strike out/ crappy catcher (or pitcher)- If there are less than two outs and no one on first or if there are two outs regardless of first base status, and if the ball hits the ground before being touched by the catcher, the batter automatically goes to first.

5. Fielder's choice- I have heard Dave use the words fielder's choice in many a heated baseball debate, and I was hoping not to go there this early in the season. Turns out it's not as scary a concept as he makes it seem. If a fielder chooses to throw out another runner, allowing the batter to reach first, it is not scored as a hit.

6. Interference- If a catcher interferes with the batter, usually the catcher's glove touching the bat, a player may automatically progress to first base. If a play follows the interference, such as the batter hitting a double, the offensive team's manager can choose to decline the interference. (Did I spoil your next trivia question, Jon?)

7. Fielder's Obstruction- If a fielder gets in the way of the batter on his way to first base, the batter is automatically safe at first.

8. Sacrifice- When a batter hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly but then makes it to first base due to a fielding error it is not a hit. This is different than Number 3 because it is scored as a sacrifice not an error. It's that parallel universe thing again.

Did I miss any? What about when a runner or umpire is hit by a ball? The batter would get on first base (unless there were alredy two outs and the runner was hit), and I don't think it would be considered a hit, but is it scored differently then the list of eight mentioned above? This isn't mentioned on any of the sites I read, so if I'm right, I might officially be a bluehat before the season even starts.

Is there other trivia you need me to feed into wikianswers, look up in Jerry Remy's "Watching Baseball," or pester Dave about?** Do your best to stump this pinkhat in the comment section.

And for the record, there are typically nine innings in a baseball game, and I didn't need the internet to answer that one.

*This friend happens to be a Yankee fan. Do I need to drop him before I can become a Red Sox bluehat?

**Dave is playing sports on the XBox, so his answers, although peppered with "are you kidding me?"s, are refreshingly concise.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sports Analogy

To this Red Sox pinkhat, baseball has never exactly screamed team sport. Half the game is spent with all eyes on home plate as a single player swings the bat in a motion reminiscent of golf, the epitome of non-team sports. And then there is the pitcher. Can you imagine the solitude he must feel? I am half convinced the catcher does those silly hand motions to prevent the pitcher from taking to a ledge after the game.

I mentioned golf, but so far this season baseball most resembles the game of marbles, and marbles would probably not be considered a team sport if anyone still living knew the rules. Spring training is all about swapping players, trying out newly acquired players, putting old players in new positions, and saving your big guns (your shooter) for the real game (which in the case of marbles was never actually played).

To the more trained eye of Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, baseball, at least the way it is being played by Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia, resembles basketball. New shortstop Scutaro and second baseman Pedroia have quickly formed the infield bond needed to deliver the ball and execute double plays. "Tentative at first, they now exchange the ball like two basketball players on a fast break," wrote Abraham. I would say it's odd to compare the playing of one sport to another if I hadn't just alluded to golf and marbles (???).

Plus, I kind of get it. A green chalk board with Xs, Os, and arrows is iconic football, not baseball, but the Sox must plan similarly in order to become the syncopated unit that appears on game day. Dave keeps telling me how amazing it will be to watch a game and see plays develop and then unfold before me.

But before that I've got a lot of learning to do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Hat

I may not be a true-blue member of Red Sox Nation, but I am a resident of Beantown, and I happen to know that when Boston thinks Saint Patrick's Day three things come to mind - beer, parade, Red Sox.

Now that I have begun this foray into fandom, I know that the Sox season doesn't even start until a few weeks after March 17th. Let's take a closer look at each of these symbols of the season.

Beer. Saint Patrick's Day was originally a Catholic holiday celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland, circa AD 38-461. Because Saint Paddy's Day fell during Lent, it served as a one-day break during the Lenten period of fasting (and abstaining from alcohol). Soon after Saint Patrick's Day was named an official public holiday in Ireland in 1903, and no doubt the day-off was largely spent at the pub, a law was passed requiring bars to be closed on March 17th and was in effect until the 1970s.

Parade. The Irish Society of Boston organized what is believed to be the first Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world on March 18, 1737. The parade was actually a demonstration by workers of Irish descent protesting their low wages and treatment in the workplace. This preceded the first Saint Patrick's Day parade in Ireland by almost 200 years.

Red Sox. Don't tell Youkilis, but the Cincinatti Reds were the first team to wear green for Saint Patrick's Day in 1978. The Red Sox followed with green hats in 1990 and green jerseys in 2004. Today even the bases were green at City of Palms Park. Dustin Pedroia had his socks jacked up to honor leprechauns the world over.

Now this will blow your mind and provide even more validation to bluehats who have no shame knocking pinkhats while wearing green hats themselves. According to Wikipedia, the original color associated with Saint Patrick and Ireland was BLUE!

Now isn't that the luck of the Irish?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Triple Play

Three Red Sox items caught my eye today. First there was yesterday's article by Amalie Benjamin discussing the surmised tension between Mike Lowell and his replacement at third base Adrian Beltre. According to Beltre, Lowell is too classy to make him feel uncomfortable, and according to Lowell, "no comment". Then you had Lowell scheduled to play first base today,* in essence a mating dance to show teams on the prowl he can still perform. Third, there was the oh-sugar-not-again slump of Ortiz who was 1 for 19 going into today's exhibition game against the Orioles.

Three seemingly unrelated events, until this pinkhat did a little investigating. Maybe it's because Sox fans are excited to see just how awesome Beltre is, but still feel loyalty to Lowell, a standup guy and a really talented player whose body has let him down in the past year. Maybe it's because Sox fans can still feel the heat of the trigger from last year when Big Papi went 40 games and 149 at bats without a home run (not you Dave, everyone knows your faith never wavered). Whatever the reason, bluehats had a triple maneuver worked out in their heads. Beltre would play third, Mike Lowell would become DH, and Ortiz would go bye-bye.

Lowell hit a single at his first at-bat today (and this season). Ortiz hit a two-run homer. Plan over?

In case you didn't watch the game, or catch the rundown of the week's ten hottest sports plays on ESPN, there was quite the actual triple play this weekend in the exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Sox were ahead 3-2 in the ninth, but the Pirates had men on first and second. Gorkys Hernandez lined out, in other words hit a line drive that was caught, or in other words hit a ball without any arc directly at a player who then took his life in his hands and caught the ball for an out. In this case it was shortstop Jose Iglesias that made the catch, tossing the ball to second basemen Tug Hulett for out number two. Then Hulett tried to throw to first basemen Aaron Bates and missed... luckily catcher Dusty Brown backed up the play and tossed the ball to Bates who tagged the plate for out number three to end the game.

Follow the ball in your head for a moment (and if this is obvious to you, pretend your head has a pink hat on it). The runner headed to first base is out with the catch, but the other two outs occur at second and first base. Um, why? I know that runners have to tag up in certain situations, but it never seemed worth it to ask what those situations were and have Dave's long-winded explanation ruin my peanuts. Time to end my ignorance- here goes nothing!

According to my handy-dandy guide Watching Baseball Smarter, players might advance bases because they are forced to, for example a player gets onto first, forcing the player that was on first to move to second. When there are less than two outs and a batted ball is caught on a fly, before it bounces, runners are no longer forced to advance so they must return to their bases- tag up- and can only advance after the ball is touched by the fielder.

Triple plays are pretty rare during the regular season. Since 1876, the Society for American Baseball Research reports 678 triple plays in the major leagues. There were four last season and only two in 2008. Normally I would make fun of the Society for American Baseball Research. I might call them the Society for American Nerds or wonder who stole their baseball cards when they were a kid, but I've already stubbed my toe and banged my funny bone tonight.

And things are happening in triplicate.

*Lowell has not played first base since a 4 game trial in 1998 when he played Class AAA ball in Columbus.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rumor Mill

I might be a busybody myself, but you bluehats sure like to gossip. From hopeful speculation of a Josh Beckett contract extention killing the John Lackey replacement rumor to Nomar Garciaparra's retirement bringing back the numbers 60,000,000 and 4 to haunt him like an episode of Lost, this has been a dirty week in baseball.

Seriously, if Perez Hilton or Chelsea Handler ever tuned into ESPN, Hollywood would be renamed Crickettown. Forget Governor Spitzer and his callgirl, the good stuff's in the Clubhouse. And baseball has gossip bigger than which club Madonna and A-Rod have been canoodling in. There is a whole world of backstabbing maneuvers involved in reaching contracts and jockeying for players.

Take for instance Jose Julio Ruiz. If you believe the rumors, he's a bigger disaster than Brittany Spears and is just hurting for a trip to Dr. Drew. His former agent Jorge Luiz Toca is dishing the dirt because the two had a nasty breakup, which led Toca to the conclusion that Ruiz was using his agency for information and money (lawsuit to follow- Judge Judy, you interested?). So according to Toca, Ruiz showed up for tryouts fat and without a baseball glove, causing the Sox to withdraw a $2.5MM offer.

It's not only the players, and their agents, causing the scene. Maybe the Sox enjoy drumming up a little drama. Tony Massorotti points out in today's Globe that the Sox don't often re-sign players nearing the end of their contracts until they have filed for free agency. He cites Pedro Marinez, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Bay as examples. Beckett has been threatening that he won't negotiate past opening day and seems to be pointing to Lackey's $82.5M contract as the starting point for negotiating up. Perfect fodder for E! News.

And finally there are the sweet segments, the ones to close the show with and make sure you bluehatted gossipmongers tune in tomorrow. Bob Ryan of the Globe highlights pitcher Manny Delcarmen who played hurt last year but is ready to shine in 2010. Delcarmen is the only player from Boston to play for the team in the past 45 years. Delcarmen is now living his lifelong dream after he was chosen by the Sox in the second round of the draft. E! True Hollywood Stories would definitely have taken a commercial break after some D-list stars talked about Delcarmen's dissapointment of not being swooped up by the Sox in the first.

Sorry, but I've got to do this.

Pinkhat out!*

* For those of you who don't suffer the pain of reality TV addiction, "Seacrest Out" is the asinine way Ryan Seacrest** signs off his television shows.

**Come on, you don't know who Ryan Seacrest is?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Red Sox #5

Big news in Red Sox Nation today, especially for pinkhats who enjoy public interest stories, particularly ones involving pretty men. Nomar Garciaparra, aka No-mah, aka the guy your boyfriend said it was okay to cheat on him with, signed a one day contract with the Red Sox so that he could retire wearing his old uniform.

Is anyone else hoping we might get to hear that parody of Lou Bega's Mambo #5 on the radio again? You remember, a little bit of Nomar every night, a little bit of Nixon out in right... I loved that.

More importantly, does anyone else feel a little lighter today? Like a weight has been lifted? Could it be because Garciaparra has forgiven Boston for trading him in August 2004, just months before the Sox went on to win their first world series in nearly a century? Or is it because the Sox have welcomed him back with such open arms?

Garciaparra talks about his love for Boston fans in interviews given both today and six years ago. And fans love him back. Not only because he had a .323 batting average (1,281 for 3,968) with 178 homeruns and 690 runs batted in. And not only because he won Rookie of the Year in 1997 and won two American League Batting Titles. Although he was pretty quiet around the press, fans appreciate that he was not only passionate about playing baseball, but passionate about playing baseball for the Sox.

Garciaparra was said to have been offered a $60 million, four-year contract, so some serious stuff must have hit the fan to push him away. According to the Huffington Post, multiple factors made the once popular Garciaparra cranky leading up to the trade, including Garciaparra's Achilles tendon injury and the Sox going after Alex Rodriguez in 2003. If they had acquired him, they probably would have traded Garciaparra then.

On 98.5 the Sports Hub Garciaparra denied turning down the four-year contract mentioned above, claiming instead that contract talks broke down over other matters. I went back and looked at articles from 2004, and Red Sox owner John Henry said Garciaparra was offered $60 million on two different occasions, although the second time there was a deferrment stipulation.

Does it matter? Can it be chalked up to one of those silly little disagreements where no one can remember who started it?* Today, with Garciaparra throwing out the first ceremonial pitch to Jason Varitek, it seems like everything has been forgotten.

And now Boston fans can tune into ESPN, where Garciaparra will take on a new role as a baseball analyst, and have "a little bit of Nomah every night" again.

*sidenote to my husband... I always remember. And it was you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Will It Take a Miracle?

I actually tried to watch another preseason matchup this weekend- I'm sure not too many bluehats can say the same. Maybe it was for the better that no games were being shown on NESN and the other networks this weekend. Dave gave me a "you're so uncool" look when I asked about the outcome of Friday's game against the Twins... apparently everyone knows preseason games are just practice. Or maybe he was just cranky because the Sox lost to the Twins 5-0, although in the split-team double-header on Saturday it was Red Sox 9, Twins 3 even if it was Rays 6, Red Sox 4.

So instead of a preseason "practice" I was "treated" (another Davism) to an important aspect of my Sox-driven baseball schooling (Dave again, but I think you get it now) - the Mother's Day Miracle on Red Sox Classics.

A little recap for the pinkhats who weren't at the game on May 13, 2007, and there were quite a sea of them in attendance- I guess hundreds of men convincing their wives to forego breakfast-in-bed and celebrate Mother's Day at Fenway was the first miracle. The Sox are down by five going into the ninth, they manage to bring the score up to 5-4 with only one out remaining. Oriole's closer Chris Ray bobbles a ball hit by Julio Lugo allowing Jason varitek and Eric Hinske to score the winning runs. Miracle.

Now here is the sad part, the part I am trying to reconcile, the part mentioned by an anonymous commenter on the thread following my last post. I haven't lived through the highs and the lows, especially the lows, with the Red Sox to really appreciate the Miracle. Sure I remember going to the games with my dad and feeling sad when the Sox lost. But it was just kind of an aw shucks sadness similar to the sadness I felt when my dad brought ice cream back to our seats and it wasn't in the fun little batting helmet. A sadness that was fleeting, and made better by the fact that the game, like the ice cream, was still enjoyable.

So what's it going to take? Will reading about the players and the team, learning the rules, watching the games, sitting in Fenway Park make me a fan? Or will I be telling my grandchildren about the game of 2010 where we were down by 6 in the ninth... rocking in my chair and still wearing my pink hat?

Friday, March 5, 2010

You Gotta Be Kidding Me.

One of the reasons I’ve hesitated to get into baseball is my husband is pretty annoying to watch sports with. Actually it’s pretty annoying to even be in the house with him when sports are on the television. Yes, he is a wealth of information, and I truly do appreciate that about him, but there are only so many times you can hear “you gotta be kidding me” before you swear off sports entirely.*

Hopefully Dave won’t read this post because there is one more thing I don’t understand about him and his relationship with the Red Sox. Now you bluehats get on pinkhats for becoming fans, say, sometime around Fall 2004. But what about you? You read all about a potential trade, get to know the player and his stats, and balk at the fact that the Sox don’t want to spend what he’s worth. Then when the Sox meet his contract requests, put him in a uniform, and let him take the field or step up to the plate, you start swearing at the Franchise (through the televisionphone) about what a sucky maneuver acquiring the player really was. That's a little fair-weather too, don't you think?

Example from my household: David Ortiz. Perhaps Dave forgets that he is not only vocalizing his opinions but actually scoffing at anyone who dares to disagree with him. Is selective memory one of the defense mechanisms BoSox fans developed during the bleak years from 1918 until 2004?

Sporstwriter Dan Shaughnessy touches on this in today's Globe. Fans were not feeling Jonathan Papelbon after a little mishap in the playoffs. Okay so the Sox were set to win when he got hit off of with 2 outs, 0 balls, and 2 strikes in the ninth. I guess it would have been more forgivable if he hadn't thrown the same fastball the entire inning.

But should fans really be rolling a red carpet out to the plate for Daniel Bard, the super fast (100mph) fastball pitcher? Papelbon knows how to switch things up with a split-fingered fastball because he did so with some frequency in 2006. And he has apparently shown up to camp with an expanded pitch selection. Not to mention he is the all-time save leader in Sox history.

At this point I'd like to present a list Dave created to explain how a pitcher records a save... it's a little above this newbie's head, but I cater to the masses. And to my loving, sweet, hunk of a husband who is going to be mad I started this post dissing him.

To get a save the pitcher's team has to win (duh... I think), the pitcher must have pitched for at least 1/3 of an inning, the pitcher cannot have started the game or be the "winning" pitcher. That leaves three scenarios where a pitcher can record a save. (1)The pitcher can enter the game with his team leading by three runs or less and pitch for at least one inning. (2) The pitcher can come into the game with his team leading and the tying run on base, at bat, or on deck. (3) The pitcher can pitch at least the last three innings of the game effectively. Yeah, I gotta come back to this in a month or two when I'm a little more baseball savvy.

Papelbon pitched two innings yesterday. And he did great. He threw 13 pitches, ten of which were strikes, and four of which were split-fingered (splitters), retiring the Twins in order, which I am guessing means he got out the batters 1,2,3.

But watch out Pap! There's soon to be a new fan in this house. Think we're gonna be quiet when you mess up? You gotta be kidding me.

*I've actually tried to count the number of times he says this in one game. I lost count around fifty in the first quarter of a UCONN game.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reality TV and Baseball

Now I know for some of you baseball is the ultimate reality TV, but here is a story that marries an old passion and the new ball & chain for this pink-hat (aka reality tv and baseball). While other sportswriters commented on Casey Kelly living up to the hype, in today's Boston Globe Christopher Gasper wrote about lefty pitcher Dustin Richardson coming in under the radar. There were two important points to his story.

One, Richardson is nasty against lefties. This seems to have put him in the running for a spot in the Sox bullpen again. Yes, I said again. Richardson actually pitched relief in three games for the Sox last season and didn't allow a run in 3 1/3 innings. Bluehats might say, what about lefty Hideki Okajima? Well, Gasper and your plagiarizing, paraphrasing pinkhat have an answer. Okajima, along with fellow set-up man Daniel Bard, is needed as a bridge to Papelbon and can't be sacrificed as a mere lefty specialist. This means that Okajima is needed to pitch in between the starter and the closer (Papelbon) because the Red Sox feel he can pitch decently to right and left-handed hitters*. The Red Sox aren't going to waste Okajima by using him against just one batter in order to "match up" a lefty pitcher with a lefty hitter.

Except for his initial short-season, Richardson was a starter in the Sox minor league system. Richardson seems to be looking at relief pitching as his ticket in "the bigs" as he called it, and has "no complaints right now" about not being a starting pitcher.

Sidenote, and then I'll get back to my list: Richardson played between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. I've got to get my head around this... there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball split into two leagues with three divisions each of teams from the East, Central, and West. That's 30 teams, two leagues and 6 divisions. Teams from the National League and the American League didn't play each other during the regular season until 1997 when interleague play was introduced. One big difference between the two leagues is that pitchers in the National League are required to bat while the American League has designated hitters. BoSox fans love when the Sox play National League teams on the road** and their favorite pitcher steps up to the plate (when the pitcher gets a hit and when the team wins of course).

Most players start in the Minor Leagues. Each team has up to six levels (Rookie, Class A Short-Season, Class A, Class A Advanced, Double A, and Triple A) each divided into several leagues. The Red Sox have the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Lowell Spinners, Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, and Pawtucket Red Sox. Each plays in a different league, for example the Portland Sea Dogs play in the Eastern League and the Pawtucket Sox play in the International League.

Whew. Now that you've forgotten I was making a list...

Two, in 2006 Richardson made it to the finals of an ESPN TV show where contestants dealt with the cranky, tell-it-like-is Coach Bobby Knight for a spot on the Texas Tech BASKETBALL team. He chose to not pursue Texas Tech, however, because he was gearing up for the baseball draft in 2007. Now that's reality TV.

*I asked Dave if this was true and he made me go to ESPN and look up Okajima's splits against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. Last year his batting average against (BAA) was .167 against lefties and .309 against righties. I am not going to even start to research what those numbers mean- this is just an FYI for my true, blue bluehat readers.

**Interleague play follows the home field rules.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baby's First Game

The title of this post "Baby's First Game" may have you questioning me. Yes, my understanding of baseball is in its infancy, but no, I have not started referring to myself as "baby".

Tonight my four-month-old and I (sans daddy) are hunkered down on the couch watching the Sox play Boston College. For me, this is the first pre-season Red Sox game I have ever watched. For her, this is the first baseball game ever, although had circumstances been as Dave imagined, the Sox would have played ball a little later and our daughter would have arrived a little earlier last October. And he would have watched both from the delivery room. (He made sure NESN and Fox were available during the hospital tour.)

Anyway, she fell asleep innings ago, but I am intrigued. This is not the blow-out that had Sox staffer Ino Guerrero at bat twice in this afternoon's game against Northeastern. The Sox beat Northeastern 15-0, but the score against B.C. is only 2-0 in the fourth.

Whatever the score, preseason ball is a blue-hat hopeful's dream. It's basically a pitcher expo with each pitcher taking an inning. With such a huge bullpen this year, seeing half the pitching roster in one game is really helpful. Boof Bonser was the standout (and not because of that fun nickname turned legal name). He didn't pitch in the majors last year because of a shoulder injury and was a bullpen pitcher in Minnesota in 2008.

This year, Bonser is dealing with a blister on his index finger. The run-down on other injured players: Matsuzaka's sore back seems to be doing better and he will throw a side session, which can also be referred to as throwing a bullpen, which should be referred to as a pitcher having a full practice; Mike Cameron, who has had a sore groin, will likely play in Friday's game against the Twins; J.D. Drew, who has eased into training following shoulder surgery, will also likely play on Friday.

Speaking of weird baseball terms that contain the word "side", Casey Kelly retired the side (got three outs thus allowing the other side to take the field) on ten pitches and 7 strikes in the opening inning of Sox game play for the 2010 season. However, the arguable star of the game was Dan Zehr, the pitcher from Northeastern. He threw a scoreless inning against the Sox.

It will be interesting to read tomorrow what the pro's are thinking about likely trades and draft picks and hear their forecasts for the season. For now, Baby's hungry. And my daughter could use a bottle too. (Ha!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Schoolgirl, Speculation, Slang, and Smack

Knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield helped out "the Japanese Schoolgirl" today by watching her pitch and giving her some advice. With a horrible moniker but an impressive knuckleball (and that's according to Wakefield), Eri Yoshida is the first woman to play professional baseball in Japan.* She's 17, 5 foot 1 inches, and 114 pounds by the way- almost a complete opposite of her middle-aged hulk of a hero Wakefield.

This is what I'm starting to love about baseball, and in particular preseason baseball. Mixed in with the greats there are the little guys (and gals) who are just starting out. They don't know how many starts they'll get this year, or even if they'll ever be called up from the minors, but they're out on the field with their idols. For Yoshida, Wakefield threw the first knuckleball she ever saw... when she was only 7 years old.

This brings me to my first installment of "what is the draft?" The June draft supplies the majority of new talent to professional baseball. Teams are assigned picks based on last season's win-loss records, and picks occur in rounds. When teams trade players already under contract, they might gain or lose draft picks. It is a lot more technical than that, and includes terms like clearing waivers, options, and arbitration, but for now I'm happy to have this basic level of understanding.

Articles about baseball assume the reader knows quite a bit about the sport. It's a huge task for a pink-hat like me to get through them and requires a book on baseball with a glossary, plus internet windows open to google and wikipedia. Speculative articles about trades are often full of baseball slang and what I can only describe as smack. I have to look up every other word or phrase, and I have to discern what is real and what is sarcasm.

This isn't speculation, slang, or smack, but don't you think Yoshida would look great in a Sox hat? She definitely deserves a blue one.

*Yoshida is one of a few women to play professional men's baseball. In the United States, Ila Borders was the only woman to pitch, or play, on an integrated team. Three women also played in the Negro Leagues (including one pitcher named Mamie Johnson from South Carolina, important only because my husband has a great aunt named Mamie Johnson from SC).