Valet Confidential

Find out what I've been keeping under my hat

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The Church of Baseball is Open

BaseballAh …. baseball!

When I was 7 years old, I listened to the 1969 NY Mets’ pennant run on my school bus ride home. Our bus driver had the game broadcasts tuned in on a transistor radio at the front of the bus (oh, how I miss DAY baseball games!), and I would run from the bus into my house to watch the ends of games on the family TV (B&W, of course). The Miracle Mets, of course, went on to win the World Series that year, and this boy was hooked.

When I got to Boston, my friends & I tried to go to the first & last games of the season at Fenway (plus many more in between). I probably did that for close to 10 years. For a while (10 years or so) I had a weekend/day game season ticket package at Fenway and went to many, many games, including opening day games every year.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Opening Day is a pretty big holiday for me. And this year, I got to do a radio show that day. Of course, I played baseball songs, how could I resist?  Some listeners expressed surprise that I had 2 hours of baseball songs in my collection. I have to admit that I have much, much more, so keep an ear out for next season!

Download the show

Check out the playlist

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LISTS

It’s a new year and everyone and their cousin is making a list. Or two. Or more. Do we really need another from me?

Well, my friend Todd Remley tagged me on his “Top 15” list on Facebook, and my friend Belinda, at Bubbles in the Think Tank has her list and talked to me about mine, so I guess there are two people in this world who care.
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Nyjer Morgan

Not that anyone is asking me, but I sure don’t blame Nyjer Morgan for charging the mound after being thrown at twice in one game tonight against the Marlins. I understand why he got hit the first time (retaliation for his cheap shot hit on the Marlins catcher the previous night), and he didn’t start a fight after that one, but then they threw at him again later in the game. What up wit that?

Apparently he broke some unwritten rule by stealing 2nd & 3rd with his team down by 11 runs after he got hit by a pitch earlier in the game. So what? Like a team has never come back from that far down? Every run counts, and the name of the game is to get yourself in a position to score runs. When a batter hits a home run after getting hit by a pitch his previous, we laud his determination. But Morgan isn’t known as a home run hitter, he’s a base stealer and run scorer, so he did what comes naturally … he stole bases and got to 3rd base, where all sorts of things could have resulted in his scoring.


Don’t get me wrong, I think Morgan is a bit of a punk, and he’s definitely got some issues (he recently threw a ball at someone in the stands), but when the ball gets thrown behind you when you’ve already been hit by a pitch in the game, well … he’s sure not the first guy to charge the mound after something like that.


Would I rather have seen him get on base and steal 3 bases, including home, this time? Hell yeah. That would’ve shown ’em!

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’bout stinkin’ time!

Just heard that Jim Rice was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his last year of eligibility. I’m so glad he finally got in.


There are a few baseball games I remember fairly clearly, here’s an example of one that sticks in my memory purely because of Jim Rice.

My first game at Fenway Park was in the fall of 1980. I went with some MIT fraternity and a group of freshman during MIT’s “rush week”. We sat way in the back of the bleachers section, on honest-to-goodness real bleachers, if I remember correctly (I think that was the last year of real bleachers in the bleachers section at Fenway). I think we were just underneath the front of the centerfield video scoreboard (back then it was still black & white, and if you were looking straight up at it, it was basically unwatchable). The Red Sox were playing the Billy Martin-managed Oakland A’s (this was the height of “Billyball”). The Sox were down in the 9th inning and Jim Rice hit a home run to start a game-tying rally, then another home run in the 10th to win the game.

Here’s a box score of the game.

That second home run was one of the longest I’ve ever seen hit at Fenway. The back of the centerfield bleachers is FAR away from home plate, and I swear it landed just a few rows in front of where I was sitting.

Congrats, Jim-Ed! You deserve it.

Oh, and congrats to Rickey “Hot Dog” Henderson, too – no doubt he deserves it, too. Hell, I half expect him to come out of retirement and play in the majors again after being elected to the Hall of Fame.

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that’ll do, pig

Earlier today, I emailed the following to a couple of baseball buddies of mine:

I think the Sox bats are awake now, and tonight they’ll get more than the two runs they got off of Shields in game 1. If Beckett can pitch well (admittedly, that’s a big if in this post season), I think the Sox take tonight’s game. I bet Beckett is on a short leash tonight – maybe they go to Wake if things get tough? His knuckleball can be pretty magical inside a dome.

I like their chances with Lester on the mound for game 7.

Final score tonight, Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay 2. I thought the Sox would score a few more runs than that, but they did just fine, and it was great to see Veritek contribute to the cause, since he’s been in a mostly year-long slump. Beckett allowed 2 runs on 4 hits (2 solo homers), a walk, and 3 strikeouts over 5 innings – not dominating, but damn good enough to get the job done tonight.

Oh, and check out this blog post about Game 5 by one of the all-time masters in writing, Roger Angell. As my buddy Joe commented, “Damn– who else actively writing these days can mention something that happened in 1929 and then say, in all seriousness, that he remembers it well? I guess we should treasure Angell while we have him.” Really, folks – read all the Roger Angell you can – there’s an amazing collection of his baseball writing that came out maybe 7 or 8 years ago, called “Once More Around the Park: A Baseball Reader” … Joe-Bob says check it out.

And yes, I still like the Sox’ chances with Lester going on the mound for game 7.

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Great Googly-Moogly!

The Boston Red Sox, down 7-0 to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 7th inning, score 4 in the 7th, 3 in the 8th and 1 in the 9th to win the game 8-7 and keep their chances alive in the American League Championship Series – that’s just plumb crazy!

After the first run by the Sox, my buddy the Hollywood property master texted me “at least they scored” – he’s kinda bummed about the Dodgers not getting into the World Series, too. Soon thereafter, David “Big Papi” Ortiz hit a 3-run home run, and I texted back “right where we want them”. Semi-joking, but boy, when it got to the 8th inning and they had Wheeler (Tampa’s relief pitcher) rattled … geez, it really felt like they were going to get the job done tonight.

Thanks, Red Sox – that was fun tonight!

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All-Star Game opening ceremony

“The greatest collection of baseball All-Stars ever assembled on one field.”

Really?

I’m sorry, but the best they could do for catchers was to get Yogi and Gary “where’s the camera?” Carter? I certainly understand Yogi being there, but if Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk aren’t there, too, what’s the point?

And is Willie Mays really the only great living center fielder left? I was thinking maybe he was, but according to baseball-reference.com, Duke Snider is still alive.

Also should’ve been there: Yaz, Sandy Koufax, and, of course, Stan Musial

I thought that introducing HoF managers and executives was a great idea, but it suggested a big improvement to me … they should have used a Hall of Fame announcer (my choice would be Ernie Harwell) instead of Joe Buck, or at least along side Joe. Heck, they have possibly the greatest living stadium announcer right there in Bob Sheppard – let him introduce everyone!

Oh, and I thought it was great that Sheryl Crow played the National Anthem live, but that it was too bad she had such trouble with it (looking at the fingerboard when making chords, trying to hit that silly high note at the end) … still, it could have been a whole lot worse!

Just my 2 cents …