Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I am all for good aggressive pitching. With control. Pedro Martinez had a reputation as a headhunter, but in reality, in his 18 seasons, he only hit 122 batters, or fewer than 7 per season. He was a master at throwing the ball an inch-and-a-half away from the batter, brushing them back and instilling fear, but without putting them on base.

Fast forward to 2011. Going into tonight's game, Red Sox pitchers had already hit 28 opposing batters, more than any other team in the league (The MLB average is 17). In tonight's game, Aceves just hit another, so now we're up to 29.

Who is responsible for all this beanballing? Lester leads all MLB pitchers, having hit 7 batters already this season. Aceves has hit 6 batters, including tonight. Lackey has hit 4.

I'm not saying it should never happen. If a guy is hanging out over the plate, and you brush his shoulder, that's his problem.

But when the team is leading the league in this category, something is wrong. Last year, with John Farrell as the pitching coach, the Red Sox only hit 53 batters. And this year we're at 29 already? I'm not saying the new pitching coach Curt Young is to blame. But I'd like to see us focus less on aggressiveness, and more on the fundamentals.

May miles

One of my goals for 2011 is to run 365 miles. Seven miles per week doesn't sound like a lot. But there will be weeks when it is too hot to run, weeks when it is too cold, weeks when I am on vacation, weeks when work is busy, weeks when I'm injured, and weeks when I am just too damn lazy. So, if I can log 365 miles, I'll be pretty happy with myself.

Here's where I am at so far:

January: 15.3 miles
February: 41.6 miles
March: 33.5 miles
April: 46.8 miles
May: 48.8 miles

I am expecting the miles to drop as the temperature climbs, so I'd love your help in keeping me motivated!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Salter and Class

Like Joel, i've been reading some James Salter recently, specifically his short story collection Dusk and Other Stoires. While I like the authority of his voice (who was it that said that people will believe anything you say as long as you say it with confidence), I find it hard to identify with his stories because of it's tone and subject. First of all, he mainly writes about affluent upper-class people, people that ride horses and go beaching, which is fine in and of itself but he combines it with an arrogance that is offputting. The ending of "American Express" is a particularly good example of this attitude: "His life was simple. The air was pure and cool. He was part of that great, unchanging order of those who live by wages, whose world is unlit and who do not realize what is above." (p. 46) It's an attitude that’s a bit shocking to hear spelled out so bluntly, since I don’t believe Salter is being ironic. No, I don’t see him paying any attention to "wage earners" in these stories; sure, there are glimpses of them – servants in the other room, waiters across the restaurant – but these characters are typically constructed with no empathy or authority. Pronouncements like this feel like they should be ironic, but instead they come off as making me feel dirty. Another example comes in "Via Negativea" story, which depicts a failed writer whose girl leaves him for a more successful one and thus the details of her life became "...part of an immersion into the flow of a great life."

It’s the smaller details that Salter feels necessary to include that really bug me. It's not enough that the characters fail - no, the horribly bad teeth of the failed writer or the lonely woman in "Dusk" standing next to a "Prime Meats" sign feel like Salter is being needlessly cruel by piling on. The one exception to this trend is Fenn, the main character in "Akhnilo" who is stifled by his life and the hallucinogenic way in which this is revealed to him and his family. The story powerfully depicts not only how Fenn’s situation could have come about but also how he could arrive in such a state that the bizarre things that happen to him in this story make sense. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this story is the only one (as far as I can tell) where the main character is a blue-collar person.

I am going to try reading him again - I have a copy of A Sport and a Pastime which I'm hoping to see why his sexual writing is so acclaimed - but so far i'm just not that impressed.

the sad state of red sox short stop

i don't even know what the title means, but it was fun to write.

but, really, i'm kind of baffled by this...  i think joel brought it up (can't remember whether it was an email or a post here)....  but who is the red sox shortstop?  (i think joel was talking more about "since nomar", whereas, i'm kind of thinking of, well, these days...)

drew sutton is playing there today...  opening day, it was marco scutaro.  the regular of late is jed lowrie.

jed lowrie already has 6 errors (just at SS, 7 total).  i don't think anyone sees jed at ss position for his fielding skills...  he's just had a scorching hot beginning of this season at the plate, and a decent run since then...  but what if his bat cools more than it has...  is drew sutton the next in line for this seemingly revolving door of a position for the red sox?

is scutaro done?  strange that he didn't get the nod tonight... is he hurt?

it would be nice to see some consistency at this position...

Lester's No Longer an Ace?

John Lester is not consistently pitching like the ace that we all think that he is. I no longer pencil in a win when I hear that he's pitching. I don't have the stats in front of me, but it seems to me like he's throwing less strikes, walking more batters, and giving up more HRs than he did last year. I keep hoping that he'll get better with the warm weather but it doesn't get any warmer than it is at Fenway tonight and he got rocked for seven runs. What do you think?

Friday, May 27, 2011

CarlCrawford in May

I might have mentioned it earlier this month...

That's right, CarlCrawford (all one word) is making me look like a seer for calling out his May performances. Of course, there was no way I could know what kind of stretch he was going to have in the closing days of the month.

CarlCrawford is a .295 hitter for his career, pretty good, but not mind blowing. His speed has allowed him to rack up the most triples amongst active players, however... And having him on base simply represents the most frightening scoring threat in the majors, in my opinion.

I wasn't sure what to expect when CarlCrawford came to town. I must say I really felt badly for the guy during his LONG slump. He certainly can't keep up the display he has put on the last 3 games, but let's hope we can officially call him OUT of his slump.

Judging from the sox success in this latest hitting display, the benefits of him getting on base go far beyond points added to his batting average.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


As a kid growing up in the hot dry west, I never had the experience of seeing a firefly. But I often read about them in books. It seemed to me that they must be nearly magical, the singular ingredient that could turn a fine summer evening into something ineffable.

Tonight on my evening run, the fireflies were out.

Stockholm Syndrome

Over the past week, a lot of bloggers (and others) have been linking to and discussing a very clever essay by Mark OConnell on The Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels.

The basic theory is that, much like a hostage taker, a long book can get away with "long, cruel sessions of torture" by committing occasional acts of kindness. If the book does this, the reader will become disproproportionately and perversely devoted to it.

As an illustration of this theory, the author notes: "I can't say that I enjoyed every minute of [Gravity's Rainbow], or even that I enjoyed all that much of it at all, but I can say that by the time I got to the end of it I was glad to have read it . . . . I felt as though I had been through something major, as though I had not merely experienced something but done something."

This is hardly true of my experience. Some books I like more than others, but when I find I am not enjoying "all that much of a book at all" -- whatever its length -- I will put it down and leave it unfinished. Life is too short.

What can you buy for $103 million?

In an unusually harsh piece, Jeff Passan calls Daisuke "a bust," a "disappointment" and "undeserving" of his "staggeringly large deal." The Red Sox, he claims, would "love for him never to return" from Japan.

There's no doubt that Daisuke has failed to live up to the hype and the expectations that we had for him. But is he a bust? Given that Passan failed to note any statistics, perhaps we should check a few out. Since starting with the Red Sox in 2007, Daisuke has posted a 4.25 ERA. He has started 105 games and has a win-loss record of 49-30. This for $10,333,333 per year (6 years, $52 million).

Now, let's look at other pitchers, who signed contracts for similar amounts around the same time:

  • Kyle Lohse has the most comparable deal that I could find -- in 2008, he signed a 4-year, $41 million deal with St. Louis (a team that seems to know what pitching is worth.) Over the same period as Daisuke, he has posted a 4.33 ERA, has started 94 games, and is 34-26.

  • Ryan Dempster is in the third year of a 4-year, $44 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Over the same period as Daisuke, he has posted a 3.84 ERA, has started 109 games, and has a 48-38 record.

  • Aaron Cook is in the final year of his 3-year, $30 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. Over the same period as Daisuke, he has a 4.26 ERA, has started 107 games, and has a record of 41-30.

  • Scott Kazmir is finishing off a 3-year, $28.5 million deal with the Angels. Over the same period as Daisuke, he has delivered a 4.42 ERA, 116 games, and a 44-41 record.
Given these stats, Daisuke's performance seems just about in line.

Now, some will arue that there was no need for the Red Sox to spend $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke (money that went to Japanese baseball, and not to Daisuke). Instead, they could have found a similar pitcher, with similar demands, on this side of the Pacific.* But the Red Sox didn't spend the $51 million posting fee just to open up the door to negotiations with Daisuke. They did it to open up the door to the entire Japanese fan base. Without access to the Red Sox's books, it's impossible to say how much the Red Sox have made from broadcast rights, advertising and marketing in Japan. But Scott Boras (who, admittedly, may not be exactly trustworthy on this) has said that the Yankees made an additional $21 million per year from the Japanese market due to Matsui's contract. And in Ichiro's rookie year, the Mariners' team revenue jumped from $138 million to $162 million. I somehow doubt the Red Sox team brass are losing sleep over the $51 million posting fee.

So, that just leaves them with Daisuke's $10.333 million/year salary. Are they regretting it? Since coming over, Daisuke has delivered just about what any other $10 million/year pitcher delivers. Yes, he can be frustrating to watch. Perhaps, as Jeff Suppan said, he can even be frustrating to deal with. Did he live up to our wild expectations? No. But was he a costly mistake? Hardly.

*Of course, all the pitchers noted above got their contracts in 2008. 2007 was a very thin free-agent year, so even if $10 million/year is the right price for a #3 starter, there weren't many available. If the Red Sox hadn't decided to spend in Japan, their other option would have been Barry Zito, who, gone 40-58 in the first four seasons of his 7-year, $126 million deal.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Light Years (James Salter)

James Salter’s Light Years came to my attention several years ago, when I was trying to write a book by the same name. It sat on my reading list until last month when I finally picked it up, unaware that the Paris Review had declared it to be James Salter month. I would have reviewed it sooner, but my own reactions have taken a long time to crystallize.

As the book opens, Viri and Nedra are a young couple, living in an old farmhouse on the edge of the Hudson River. It is 1958. He works as an architect. She spends money. “I am going to describe her life from the inside outward,” the narrator declares.

I am not sure what he means, but it strikes me that he proceeds to do exactly the opposite. He spends the first half of the book, perhaps more, describing the outer details of these lives: the dinner parties, the shopping trips, the easter egg hunts for their two daughters, “the summer of their lives in which, far from danger, they rested."

In an oblique way, the world of Viri and Nedra is DeLillo-esque. It is our world, but certain features are distorted, distorted ever so slightly that it is hard to put your finger on what is out of place. Part, but only part, is due to Salter’s metaphors. When Nedra lights a fire, the flames beneath it, “soar into life, blooming like those beneath martyrs.” Later that evening, as she pours brandy, she is “like a silver Christmas helix, a foil decoration turning slowly, the dazzle descending only to reappear time after time.”

But where, for DeLillo, distortions are political, a tool to amplify and criticize, Salter uses them to celebrate. It is isn’t that Viri and Nedra are fabulously wealthy, but their pleasures are greater, more poignant. They go to better parties, have better conversations. When Nedra laughs, her laugh is “gorgeous, like applause."

All well and good. Except that for many, many pages, the celebration simply continues. Nothing changes, except that the children get older, Viri loses a little hair. True, Viri has an affair with Kaya, a woman in his office, exhilarating in the fact that suddenly, he finds himself “primitive, firm as a bough”. Nedra has an affair of her own, with Jivan, a thin neighbor boy, “like the boys one sees loitering in plazas of Mexico,” “but with manners, with newly bought clothes.” He makes love to her “in the same, steady rhythm, like a monologue, like a creaking of oars;” in response, she “flings out the sounds of a mare, a dog, a woman fleeing for her life.” But neither of them seems changed by their affairs, or by the obviousness of their partner’s.

Thus, when Nedra finally decides to move out, it is not because of her affair, or his. It is for a host of very small reasons, and so, it feels inevitable. Viri accepts her departure, and they remain friends. Their last days together – a trip to London when they know it is over, a final night together sitting up, listening to Mendelssohn together – are heartbreaking.

Viri misses her, or at least, the idea of being with her. Occasionally he begs her to come back, though he knows it is futile. Eventually, he must find ways of moving on Meanwhile, Nedra tries to find new ways of pursuing pleasure, only some of them successful. There are surprises here, which I shouldn’t spoil for the reader who makes it this far. Suffice it to say, they are beautiful and ring deeply true.

Reviewing Light Years for the New York Times, Robert Towers calls the book “pure Rubaiyat.” This feels right. Salter simultaneously celebrates the profundities of life’s pleasures, and recognizes that we cannot hold on to them except in memories. But this is a sentiment that is perhaps best expressed in poetry, and Salter could have been a poet. Instead, he has left us with this strange book, a beautiful collage more than a novel.

running sore and muscle rolling

i spent most of today laboring with each step i took, more sore than i can remember in recent memory.  yesterday was the new england region volleyball championships, in which i played.  (trust me when i tell you, if you haven't seen competitive volleyball first hand, it's not what you imagine:  this is NOT the game you play in your back yard at family reunions).  9 hours of jumping as high as i can to smash a volleyball to the floor took it's toll on my legs.  but, after work today, i was itching for some exercise, and, despite the fact that i was barely able to lift my legs, i felt a short jog might stretch them out a bit, make the soreness a bit easier to handle.

i set off to do a slow, 2 mile run.  i picked a new route i haven't run, along the charles river (nice and flat).  3 miles later i had put in my best 5K time of the year (somehow).

before i ran, i was sincerely wondering whether or not it was a good idea to run on sore legs.  one thing i know for certain is that when your muscles are sore, you are prone to running irregularly, and therefore more prone to injury.  my hope in running was to stretch my legs out, but i hoped i wouldn't impede their healing, or damage them in some way.  i figured that i'd let my body tell me as soon as i started running, and on such a short distance, if i needed to stop, i would.

but when i hit my stride, i literally couldn't slow myself down.  i was aware my pace was faster than normal (still well off where i wish i was, but oh well, it's a work in progress), but i felt completely natural.  i was certainly feeling the lactic acid building and my cardio was being pushed, but i never felt like stopping until i was near done with the loop.

pretty surprising given how i felt before the run.

another thing i have been doing lately (on the advice of todd's slower brother chad) is "rolling" my muscles.  this entails using a hard foam roller resting on the floor and using gravity and my body weight to apply pressure to the muscle while rolling back and forth.  i've been getting knots in my calves and overall they've felt very tight and sore (probably a by-product of trying to find a more natural footstrike, using less rigid shoes, more on that another time).  the rolling has quickly (i've only been doing it for 5 days now) shown results.  firstly, i hate stretching.  i know how important it is, and i certainly do it, but my muscles are very tight and i am not very flexible.  stretching just plain hurts.  muscle rolling intensifies that pain...  it's definitely not a comfortable thing to do.  but after a minute of two of rolling each calf and each hamstring, i'm better able to stretch, which is very important for me.  additionally, my calf pain/knots have not exactly gone away (yet) but have significantly diminished.  that very tight, "pumped" feeling in my calves has been relieved and overall muscle soreness is slightly relieved.

i have very limited experience with muscle rolling, but its definitely something i'm going to stick with for now.

i'll write more about it as i continue to learn.

Ortiz Goes to Left

WEEI has a great article about how much Gonzo is helping out Ortiz at the plate, and gives this great stat:
...more than half of his hits (51.9 percent) at Fenway have been to the opposite field represents a clear departure from the rest of his Red Sox career, in which Ortiz has never had more than 37.7 percent of his hits to the opposite field.
Here's hoping Papi can keep it up against Masterson tonight!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


A real pleasure watching Wakefield work tonight -- after starting the season so well in relief, he's made the case that his previous, disastrous start was just an anomaly.

I was surprised to see Francona pull him out of the game just now, after 7-2/3 innings with only 75 pitches. It looked like he was capable of a complete game. But with one run in for the Cubs, and one man on, I suspect that Francona wanted to optimize Wakefield's chances of chalking up another win.

And despite Bard's recent off-night, it is a great move to follow up Wakefield with Bard. After seeing 65 mph knuckleballs all night, imagine what it is like to suddenly be confronted with a 97 mph fastball.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Going to be sore tomorrow...

Due to moving to a new condo and other matters, I have not been able to go out for a long run weeks. Instead, I've been doing some short weeknight runs. Finally, though, I got a clear Saturday morning.

With the temperatures scheduled to climb above 80, I made it my plan to get up at 6:30, have a bowl of oatmeal, drink a lot Gatorade (with chia seeds) and get out the door. And once I was on the street, I resisted the urge to cruise, instead holding myself to a slow 11:00/mile pace.

I was a bit worried how I would hold up because my legs were still sore from a fast run on Thursday night, plus I tweaked my back a few days ago and the muscle was still painful and cramping. But other than a stop to clean some gravel out of my shoe and another stop to refill my handheld bottle with Gatorade from a concession stand near the Lincoln Memorial, I was able to keep it going nonstop for 17.1 miles, even picking up some speed at the end to finish at a 10:54 pace. And, as a bonus, my back issue completely disappeared as a result of the run.

I'll have to get used to these slower runs (and even earlier start times) as summer heats up.

I would love to hear about what others due to beat the heat while running. For my part, I'll blog some more about my favorite technical apparel later, but for now, a shout-out goes to my Nike dri-fit socks, which, unlike some other brands I've tried, kept my feet blister-free over a long hot run.

It's So Easy to Lose It

A week and a half of no serious runs and too many catered lunches took its toll: I've gained weight and my run today (6.5 miles) was a painful slog. Hard to believe that I ran 8 miles at the same pace I did today with no ill effects! Just goes to show you: you use it or you lose it. Here's hoping I can stick to my training routine next week in Orlando (I'm there for ASTD) and avoid the worst of the buffets. I'm counting on y'all to keep me honest!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts from Last Night's Game

So AT&T had an epic Fenway Fail last night in that there was NO service to be had anywhere in the park. So in lieu of a live blog, here are a few scattered observations from the game:

- The new HD scoreboards absolutely rock. They’re mesmerizing, and include a larger number of stats than they displayed before, which I appreciated (I’m really starting to get into .OBS)

- The biggest debate of the night was if we could classify what we were experiencing as rain or not. I settled as describing it as sitting in a cloud. The entire game was played in fog and a light mist. Uncomfortable!

- The game felt like two different games: While Beckett was in (he’s been downright filthy this year and, despite his bases loaded situation in the 2nd, continued that trend last night), and when Beckett was out. He left the game after six innings with a “tight neck,” setting the stage for Bard to surrender two solo HRs in the span of four pitches. After those two HRs – which tied the game - the mood turned evil with many people around me calling for Francona's head for putting in Bard. Now, I don’t think that Bard should play every day (he’s WAY too overworked) but I don’t get people that criticize Francona because he does a hell of a job 99% of the time.

- The 9th was ugly as both Papelbon and Al Albuquerque loaded the bases for their teams: the difference was that Paps got out of it and Al didn’t. Al was also responsible for a really strange sequence where Lowrie got a hit (after a 10-pitch at bat!), but the bases were loaded and the runner on 3rd was gunned down at the plate, so the play was scored a "fielders choice 7-2." Weird!

- The "first game" felt like a Bizarro Sox game in that not only did J.D. Drew knock in both of the Sox runs but also was responsible for what felt like 2/3s of the put-outs. He was everywhere, which surprised me because I honestly sometimes forget that he’s even on the team.

- CarlCrawford just looks uncomfortable at the plate. He was swinging at some rediculious breaking balls last night that he just couldn’t lay off of. He did send us home happy, but I don’t think that his troubles are over by a long shot.

- Got to see a Big Papi moon shot. Never gets old!

Protein, Part II

Our earlier discussion about supplements got me thinking about nutrition and diet more generally. One of my favorite journalists, the self-proclaimed "less-meatarian" Mark Bittman also happens to be a runner. In the New York Times, he describes three changes he made to increase his energy level and decrease his recovery time:

"One, I started drinking Gatorade (we're going to tackle a homemade recipe for that very soon; stay tuned) during long runs. Two, I started eating an hour before every run of six miles or more; usually that was a bowl of oatmeal or bulgur, or some peanut butter and crackers. And three, I started eating a "concentrated protein," usually tofu, a can of sardines, an egg thrown onto whatever else I'm eating, or something equally simple, right after six-miles-or-longer runs."

I've already been practicing the first two suggestions, but I think it's time that I start paying attention to post-run protein. I appreciate the idea that this can come from something as simple as a bowl of fresh tofu -- throw on some scallions and and soy sauce, and that's a pretty tasty snack!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Live Sox!

Don't get too jealous, but i'll be at Fenway tonight! Scheduled to pitch are Beckett vs. Verlander. If the rain holds off, it should be a great matchup. Here's hoping that Beckett can continue this streak:
the Red Sox have now had an MLB-leading 11 games this year in which the starting pitcher has not allowed a run.
They had 19 such games last year and 21 in 2009. However, in 41 of the 93 seasons for which searchable data exists (since 1919), the Red Sox did not have even 10 such games. The 1964 Angels set the record with 34 "shutout starts". At their current pace, the 2011 Red Sox would finish with 42.
Live blogging will be contingent upon rain and my sobriety levels.

Dune in the Adirondacks

I'm addicted to reading. I typically need to read at least a few pages of something before I can fall asleep. So it was with great dismay when I went to go asleep last Friday at a cabin in the Adirondacks and realized I neglected to bring along any fiction. Yikes! Luckily, someone had left behind an old paperback copy of Frank Hebert's Dune.

This may be the SciFi nerd in me talking, but this novel is quite simply excellent. I picked it up and started reading at random and was again transported to the desert planet that's the centerpiece of the immense struggles depicted in the book. The book immerses you in a complete world world, consisting of a riveting political situation, fascinating backstory, an uncommonly large number of complete characters, and SciFi and Fantasy elements that stand the test of time.

I highly recommend Dune for those of you looking for a diverting entertaining read (I hesitate to say "beach book") - just avoid the David Lynch movie (and I can't speak to the subsequent Dune saga). It sure saved me last weekend, and now i'm going to have to read the entire book again!

Cross Posted at Thought Ambience.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Supplement or Not to Supplement

Recently, i've been pondering the role of nutrition supplements in my quest to get lighter and run faster. My wife turned me onto drinking Muscle Milk Light after workouts, but as tasty as it is, there are a few too many mysterious ingredients in it, making me nervous because it violates Michael Pollian’s second Food Rule ("Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.")

So i'm wondering: what, if anything, do you supplement before or after workouts? Do you go the protein route, or do something else? Do you go liquid or powder or both (mixing shakes with the powder)? Is there a good source of information on the subject that you know about?

we may NOT hit your starting pitching, but...

my favorite stat of the moment is pitches per plate appearance (p-pa).

no, it's not pretty to watch a batter have an 8 pitch (or so) at bat....  but the more i see the red sox being patient in their at bats, the more i think this patience is a virtue we might be able to ride into the post season.

as it stands now, the sox are averaging nearly 4 (3.97) pitches per plate appearance.  if we say, on average, a pitcher throws about 100 pitches per page, that's around 25.2 batters per game, meaning, the average starting pitcher will struggle to make it through the rotation 3 times.

you want to put your bullpen up against our offense that early in the game?

the yankees are averaging 3.95, while the rays are down to 3.88.

in terms of the sox lineup, we have 4 batters in the top 40 for p-pa.    we have 4 hitters below 4 p-pa (ortiz is actually 3.97, but that's close enough for me):

- jed lowrie: 3.81, hitting .320
- jacoby ellsbury: 3.73, hitting .302
- adrian gonzalez: 3.68, hitting .327
- carl crawford: 3.66, hitting .208

so, 3 of those 4 are hitting over .300; those same 3 are 1, 2 and 3 in terms of highest batting average for the sox, so we'll take it.

carl crawford...  well, what can i say.

i would love to know what our batting average is against starting pitching vs. bullpen (minus closers and plus closers).  anyone know where i can get that stat?

i'd be willing to bet p-pa is a stat worth watching this year, and a key part of the red sox plan for making it to the post season.

And this is why you keep Wakefield

Because now both Lackey and Matsuzaka are on the DL. While it sounds like Lackey might be due back relatively soon (this DL stint is probably just a head-clearer), the Globe sez that Daisuke "...has a sprained elbow, which likely means there is some degree of ligament tearing."

There are other reasons for Keeping Wake, of course, but the main one is that he's a known commodity: if his knuckle ball is dancing, he'll give you a shot at a win every time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Question

Are the Red Sox allergic to being over .500? Why are they wasting my evening with this poor showing?


Congratulations to the entire Red Sox team for a sterling performance at Yankee Stadium this weekend. It was an awesome effort with everyone contributing, but in particular:

Congratulations to Josh Beckett, for fanning 9 Yankees and going a third game in a row without giving up a run. You now have an AL-leading ERA of 1.75.

Congratulations to the entire Boston bullpen, for giving up only two runs over eight innings.

Congratulations to Adrian Gonzalez for two more home runs. The New York Post has dubbed you "the newest Yankee killer."

Congratulations to Jarrod Saltalamacchia for your first home run of the season.

Congratulations to Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury for hitting safely in all three games.

An amazing weekend.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the ones that got away

I've been thinking this week about how many great players have passed through the Red Sox organization and how, while I love our current roster, there are at least a few guys I wouldn't mind having back.

All of which got me to wondering: if you were to put together an ex-Red Sox all-star team, who would be on it? Not based on how they performed back when they wore our uniform, but rather, based on how they are performing now.

Here's who I'd choose:

C: Victor Martinez (Detroit Tigers, .333 AVG, 22 RBI)
1B: Casey Kotchman (Tampa Bay Rays, .352 AVG, 1 HR)
2B: Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco Giants, .265 ERA, 13 R)
SS: Alex Gonzalez (Atlanta Braves, 5 HR, 21 R)
3B: Eric Hinske (Atlanta Braves .326, 4 HR)
LF: David Murphy (Texas Rangers, .274 ERA, 4 SB)
CF: Johnny Damon (Tampa Bay Rays, 24 RBI, 5 SB)
RF: Coco Crisp (Oakland A’s, .256 ERA, 19R)
DH: Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers, 8 HR, 28 RBI)

SP: Justin Masterson (Cleveland Indians, 2.11 ERA, 5-0)
SP: Joel Pineiro (Los Angeles Angels, 1.33 ERA, 2-0)
SP: Bruce Chen (Kansas City Royals, 3.59 ERA, 4-1)
SP: Derek Lowe (Atlanta Braves, 3.73 ERA, 47 K)
SP: Bronson Arroyo (Cincinnati Reds, 3.68 ERA, 33 K)

RP: Javier Lopez (San Francisco Giants, 0.59 ERA, 1-0)
RP: Ramon Ramirez (San Francisco Giants, 1.06 ERA, 12 K)
RP: Taylor Bucholz (New York Mets, 1.41 ERA, 21K)

Who would be on your team?

Friday, May 13, 2011

New York Radio Sux

Eric's driving me up to the Adirondacks for a big hiking weekend, and we couldn't get the WEEI feed from so we had to listen to the NYC call for tonight's Sox/Yanks game for a while. Holy crap. Maybe I'm biased, but they sound ignorant. They said Jacoby is a dangerous stealer because he's 11 for 15 but Carl Crawford isn't because he's something like 7 for 11. Statistically equivalent, and also discounting CC's base stealing history. Then they talked about how if the Yanks swept the Sox it wouldn't matter if they lost the next three games. Riveting stuff. Thank god 'eei started coming in by Troy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On the Bright Side

"On the bright side, Crawford is one of the really dangerous eight-hole hitters in the game."


In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani reviews Julian Barnes's new collection of short stories, Pulse, describing some stories as "beautiful, elegiac tales about how marriages endure or change over time" and others as "brittle exercises in craft . . . substituting verbal facility for genuine humor or real feeling." Ah, what to do . . . .

Pop Quiz

OK readers, pop quiz time: among major league pitchers who have made at least six starts this season, how many have an ERA over 8.00? The answer will be in the comments section.

Defending the Short Story

Yesterday, Joel wrote about his dislike for stand-alone short stories, and as the two of us have discussed before, we’ll have to agree to disagree about this. To me, the best short stories are like Tapas to the full-meal of the novel. When done well, they present one of several things:
- A completely focused mood piece. Think of some of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, capturing what it feels like to have your first girlfriend break up with you, or to be stuck with insomnia thinking about death. Other examples: Stephen King’s most excellent stories in Skeleton Crew and Night Shift.
- Pondering an idea. Perhaps done best in SciFi, these short stories present an interesting idea and the consequences of that idea. Philip K Dick was the best at this; he’d present an interesting idea that might not hold up over the course of a novel and explore it in a short story. (Note that both Total Recall and Minority Report were adapted from PKD short stories, not novels.)
- Experimenting with form, voice, etc. Authors just fucking around to see what works.
In short, I see a short story as a more informal, concentrated taste of story telling. Potentially containing the possibility of something that could be explored further, but not necessairly. (Of course, i've always been attracted to flaws more that perfection - I wrote a bit about this over here.)

I also think that there are authors that are better at novels and those that are better at short stories (and the rare few, like Stephen King, that are good at both). For instance, I love Haruki Murakami, but (after the quake excepted) his short stories are awful - he needs the space of the novel to present his themes and wandering narrators. I wonder if Ondaatje is one of this authors whose writing favors the novelistic form?

(Cross Posted at Thought Ambience)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Angels' Aces

There seems to be something of a duel brewing in Anaheim over the question of who is going to be the Angels' ace. Dan Haren and Jered Weaver have each started eight games this season. Over the course of their starts, each has pitched 57.2 innings. Each has given up 12 earned runs. Meaning (do you see where I am going?) each has a 1.87 ERA. Haren has 56 Ks; Weaver has 55. Each has been tagged with two losses already. Both of Haren's losses have come against Boston; Weaver has lost to Boston once and to Oakland once. Otherwise, the only difference between these guys is that Haren has given up a few more hits (41 vs. 39) while Weaver has given up a few more walks (13 vs. 8).

If Beckett is going to be recognized as the best in the league this year, somebody other than the Red Sox will need to be able to get at Haren and Weaver. Until then, if I run into an Angels fan, I'll have to be content noting that opposing batters are batting even lower against Beckett (.174) than against either Haren (.192) or Weaver (.188).

Took the Words Right Outta My Mouth

Quoth the Joy of Sox:
Dear Mr. Lackey: I don't like you, and the thought of watching you pitch for the Red Sox for the next 3.5 years is not a pleasant one. Nevertheless, I (and many others) would greatly appreciate it if you performed at even a minimal level of competence tonight, so as to give your teammates a chance to win. Thanking you in advance...
Update: He's worse then I ever imagined. More on Lackey's suckatude:
In four of Lackey's seven starts this year, he has allowed 6, 8, 9, and 9 runs. His ERA is now 8.01. In 39.1 innings, he has allowed 53 hits and 18 walks (1.8 base runners per inning). He's robbing the Sox blind on paydays. One SoSH wag said Lackey is fulfilling his promise as our #2 pitcher - he's pitching like shit.

Running with Kids

The problem: a 4.5 year old who has way too much energy. Solution? Take him running!

Two things I've learned when running with a child:
1. They will not run consistently. No consistent speed, no consistent direction, no consistent motivation. Given this, it’s best to run iteratively. My personal favorite is doing laps around the house, although any short, repeatable distance will do.
2. Do not expect to get any sort of real run in yourself. Yes, you’ll get exercise, but you will not be running at any sort of steady pace (see item one above!)
Next up: His first race: he’ll be doing a 200 meter “mini-marathon” as part of my next 5K: the Sharon Timlin Memorial Day race. This is great because not only makes him feel included in what he calls “Daddy’s Exercise” but it also gives us something to work on as we look forward to the race. Just last Saturday, we went to a local park for practice, and we ran about 6 iterations of 150 meters. It was a fantastic way to not only get him to burn off his energy, but do so in a focused manner. For instance, he continually looks behind him to see where I am (because, god forbid, I actually beat him in one of these foot races) and this meant that we occasionally got tangled up together, so we worked on running in a straight line. It was a great time and I’m looking forward to the day when he can run his first 5K with me!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment in this series: Running with the jogging stroller...

The Cat's Table

I tend not to get terribly excited about short stories. Indeed, I've bought only two collections of short stories in the past two years, the outstanding Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro and, almost equally good, The Lemon Table, by Julian Barnes. Neither of these is simply a collection of unrelated short stories. The stories in The Lemon Table are each about old age and death, and the suffering that accompany them. The stories in Nocturnes relate to each other in a manner similar to that of individual pieces of a musical cycle. Though moods and tempos shift from story to story, motifs and themes are woven throughout, connecting them into a greater whole.

So, when it comes to one-off short stories, you see where I am coming from.

Nevertheless, I will sometimes be flipping through my New Yorker and see a new (or previously unread) piece by a favorite novelist. In this week's issue, it was "The Cat's Table," by Michael Ondaatje. So, last night I took a detour from my current novel to read this.

My overall reaction? Meh. A young boy boards a cruise ship to travel alone from Ceylon to England. While not a particularly original setup, it has potential. But an initial shift from the third person to the first person serves no discernible purpose. The ship's stopover in the port of Aden is too-quickly glossed over, and the narrator lingers overlong on the (often unbelievable) activities of his 17-year-old cousin, Emily. Throughout, the language is missing the luminosity of, say, The English Patient.

The New Yorker doesn't say so, but those who follow such things will note that "The Cat's Table" is an excerpt from a full length novel by Ondaatje (titled The Cat's Table), to be published this fall. Fine. But if you are going to publish a short piece, it needs to work as a short piece. I am hopeful that Ondaatje (or his editors, or his agent) simply chose the wrong section to excerpt. At the moment, I am not excited enough to put it on my list of upcoming books to watch for. Maybe when it comes out in paperback...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Evening Run

After coming home and turning on the game to watch Lester issue a bases loaded walk and Adrian Gonzalez drop a routine pop-up, I knew it was time to change my clothes and go for a run.

I came late to running -- in fact, it was Todd and Eric who inspired me to start. From the way they talked, it was clear that they had each found in their regular runs something more than just exercise. I wanted to see what it held for me.

Perhaps because I'm so far behind and unlikely to catch up, I've never been interested in competing against others. In a year and a half, I haven't entered a single race, not even the very tempting Friends of Hudson River Park 5-miler, which traced my regular New York running path and was for a good cause. (I do plan on entering my first race later this fall, but more on that later.) Instead, when I began running, I focused just on improving myself, trying to improve my time over the same 3-4 mile route. After slowing down to deal with a few injuries, though, I fell in love with the pace of longer, slower runs. These days, my average weekend run is somewhere around 15 miles.

The curious thing is the effect that this has had on my shorter runs (such as this evening's). I no longer can run three miles as fast as I used to. It used to be I could go out and keep up an 8:20 pace. Now, I find myself sucking wind just to keep it under 9:00. Of course, that may also be due to the time of day (I'm typically a morning runner), the temperature (76 degrees), the shoes I was wearing, or any other of a number of factors. Like baseball fans, runners have a surfeit of data at their fingertips. The challenge (and the fun) is figuring out which data is important.

Quote from "Out Stealing Horses"

The first R has been neglected here so far, so I thought I'd share a quote that I enjoyed from page 155 of Per Patterson's Out Stealing Horses:
But I was not quite with him in my thoughts, and I wonder whether that is how we get to be after living alone for a long time, that in the middle of a train of thought we start talking out loud, that the difference between talking and not talking is slowly wiped out, that the unending, inner conversation we carry on with ourselves merges with the one we have with the one we have with the few people we still see, and when you live alone for too long the line which divides the one from the other becomes vague, and you do not notice when you cross that line. Is this how my future looks?
This book was a slow starter for me, but my co-bloggers insisted that i keep at it, and after a while I settled into it and now am really enjoying the story. It helps that some of the static scenes of the beginning grow more depth as more of the background of the characters is revealed. I'm also enjoying Patterson's laid back and yet insistent style - possibly due to his long sentences about everyday things. Hoping to have something more substantial to share about this book when I've completed it!

Runmeter - Initial Impressions

Downloaded runmeter last night, and tried it out during today's slow lunch run. I haven't played around with the configuration settings too much yet, but so far i'm impressed: much faster and easier to use than the free imapmyrun app I was using. Plus, once i completed the run, I got an email containing the following data:
Finished Run: May 10, 2011 12:20:45 PM
Route: Flat Ashland Route
Google Maps URL: X
Shortened Google Maps URL: X
Import URL: X
Run Time: 24:32
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 2.84 miles
Average: 8:39 /mile
Fastest Pace: 5:44 /mile
Ascent: 335 feet
Descent: 0 feet
Calories: 0
Not perfect yet - I did descend about 250 feet, and I hope I burned a few calories - but so far i'm impressed.

What a Relief!

It almost turned out to be a very disappointing night indeed for Boston sports fans. But then, Carl Crawford remembered he had a hitting streak on the line, and Jose Iglesias decided to show that he can RUN. On top of his speed, he's being called baseball's best defensive prospect, which sounds awfully nice given our string of errors at shortstop. But, there's question's about his offensive potential....

Crawford's game winning hit came against right-handed relief pitcher Jim Hoey, who entered the game with a 5.40 ERA and left with a 6.75 ERA. Meanwhile, Minnesota had a much better righty warmed up and sitting on the bench. Why didn't they use him? Because Matt Capps is the closer. And the role of closers is to save games.

Having suffered through multiple stretches of watching Boston put together a "closer by committee," I understand the comfort in knowing who is going to be pitching your team's last three outs, should they get ahead. But the 11th inning that is happening right now is a whole lot important than some future inning that may or may not occur. Their closer should have been in the game, giving their hitters a chance to get to the 12th inning.

Of course, I still think Crawford would have come through!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Carl Crawford so far in May

Enough said.


gotta learn to keep my mouth shut.  sick to my stomach.

Run Tracking

I've always used imapmyrun to my runs, but I'm intrigued about using some of the other iPhone apps out there. Eric uses nike+ gps, but I don't wear Nike shoes so I wouldn't get that benefit. What do you use and why?

17 games

Ellsbury extends his streak, Sox are up by 1, C's up by 5.

7.76 mile run (1:10) tonight for the longest run of the year so far.

AND the whiskey still tastes good.

All is right, at least for the moment.

Watching the Sox from Washington

Good evening all,

Sorry to be late to the blog. My wife and I just finalized the purchase of a condominium today, so things have been more than a little busy lately.

It feels like we’re really starting to put down roots here in Washington, DC, which I am glad to report is an amazing town for running. There are miles and miles of running paths, threading through riverbanks, historic neighborhoods, national monuments, open vistas, cherry blossoms. On Sundays, the traffic is almost non-existent, so you can wander wherever you feet may take you. The city hosts two marathons a year, and there are tons of great looking races in the countryside of Virginia and Maryland.

Now, we’ll just have to see if I can survive a summer . . .

Whenever I go out running, I never fail to cross paths with three or four other runners wearing Red Sox caps. I don’t know what kind of person wears a baseball cap while running when it’s already in the mid-60s, but bless them for their Sox pride. Perhaps I’ll run into them again when I go up to Baltimore to catch a game.

But more on all of that later! The game is due to start in five minutes. Looking at the tonight’s starting up, I realize we have finally reached the point where it is possible for Francona to put together a group of men who are each hitting above .200 for the season! Carl Crawford’s riding an eight-game hitting streak (four of them multi-hit games). Saltalamacchia’s been bouncing around the 0.200 line for a while, but he’s above it, too.

That being said, Varitek’s behind the plate tonight. While I hate to see him struggle with the bat, and while I haven’t seen him throw out a runner for a while, the leadership he brings to the team and the guidance he gives to pitchers are more than worth the sacrifice. Too bad you can’t capture those things on a stat line.

Speaking of catchers I see rumors that the Red Sox have shown at least mild signs of interest in both Bengie Molina and Ivan Rodriguez. Now this could get very interesting. (Oh and, what do Saltalamacchia, Molina and Rodriguez have in common? They’ve all played for Texas, of course.)

on running: what counts as running mileage?

as you know, i can (at times) get a bit obsessive about things.

when i start stringing together running workouts, so it happens with running.  and, probably similar to some of the reasons i like baseball, i am a stats junkie when it comes to running, adding to the obsession.

i use two different apps to track my runs, both running on my iphone.  the first is called runmeter, probably my favorite tracking app in existence.  it has very cool features like auto-stop, which will detect when you stop running (using GPS signals) and pause your workout to auto-resume when you start running again (this is great for those of us who commonly have to stop at intersections or for heart palpitations).  the reason i use it in additional to another tool is to keep my tools in sync, as i use cyclemeter (same company) for cycling (which i also do a lot of), and because these both sync to my outlook calendar with tons of relevant data; i like to use them both in tandem.

but my primary tool for running has become the nike+ gps app for the iphone.  i started using the default nike+ app on my iphone after i realized my running shoe (currently the nike lunarglide) has a chip that helps track running data on my phone.  i also liked the app because it integrated well with the ipod controls on the iphone and primarily because it has a very cool online site.  the site allows you to track and view mileage, calories burned, pace, and then run reports over time  spans to view your run data.  there is the added dimension that you can "challenge" yourself or other runners in various ways like number of runs during a timeframe, or amount of miles in a timeframe.  this was initially a good motivator in getting me back into running... but has since become the obsession.

as you ALSO know, i'm ridiculously competitive. the nike+ gps app tracks and automatically uploads your workout and gps data to, which is very convenient, but you cannot upload, add or edit run data otherwise (apart from minimal calibration, if your GPS is wrong).  it is also a good way to ensure your competition isn't "cheating".  since it's gps based, it's kind of hard to flub.  you actually have to travel the course to get the post...  and given that pace is also recorded, you couldn't really walk it (3-4mph), ride your bike (13+ mph) or drive (20+ mpg and a lot of honking at that!!).  

but then again, what counts as a run?  i've got this dilemma because i'm currently in the middle of a very competitive "challenge" on the website of the "first to 50 miles in 30 days" variety.  right now i sit around 37.5 miles, and my guess is, by wednesday i will be just shy of 50.  i am currently in 1st place against 2 other competitors and i would think, pending some heavy changes in patterns, that, were this to be a normal week, i would win (it would be close, but i'm sure i would win).

problem is, i'm going on a backpacking trip this weekend...  thursday i cannot exercise due to time constraints, and friday i'm heading out after work for the adirondacks with todd and his brother chad (todd is the faster brother*...  but unfortunately, they're probably both faster than me).   during the weekend, we'll be grinding our way through the high mountains region of the adirondacks, meaning, i won't be recording any mileage... and surely, given my competition at, i will be overtaken and lose.  

the thing that hurts is...  i'll be on my feet and getting a HUGE workout when i'm out there hiking.  i could record this mileage and not feel terrible about it....  from the standpoint of fitness....

but, the problems are:

1. it's a flat out lie...  we're tracking our RUNNING on a RUNNING website and it's not running it's hiking.
2. the avg. pace of the hiking would be abysmal...  lowering my overall avg. pace and not giving me an accurate assessment of whether i'm getting faster or not

simple fact is, i wouldn't earnestly consider tracking, nor will i track this mileage.  

really though, when it comes down to it, how would i feel if one of my competitors were to log a 10 mile "run" with a 3-4 mph pace?  to be honest, exercise is exercise...  i don't care how fast you go, if you're on your feet and you're self propelled, have at it.  the more people who exercise, the better, IMO.  i think a lot of people shy away from group exercise because of the snobbery that is rampant among runners and cyclists.  i'm a big proponent of the "walk before you run" school of thinking, and even walked a lot leading into my more recent foray back into running.

what do you think?  is mileage mileage or are you a running purist?  what are the limits to what YOU consider "running mileage"...  or do you not care at all?

* just in case chad ever reads this


I've missed most of his timely hits, but Gonzo (don't like the nickname? Come up with a better one!) has been raking lately:
Gonzalez is hitting .359 (32 of 92) in the last 22 games with 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. He has hit home runs in three of the last six games at Fenway, two of them going over the wall. His batting average is up to .314 and he has a healthy .873 OPS.
So this is what the hype was all about. Now only if Carl Crawford would start doing the same...

on reading, running, red sox

firstly, i'd like to thank our generous readership for voting me best blogger on the reading, running, red sox team. much appreciated and a honor i will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.

secondly, it's not a long stretch for us to have this blog...  my email has gotten so intertwined with our threads on the subjects, it just plain makes it easier to sort it all out to have it in blog form.

i think the following things, initially, about this blog, which could alternatively be titled "my healthy escapes":

about reading:  i've been a lifelong addict of books (including a degree along those lines and many somewhat wilted thoughts of becoming one of the lot who write those dang things)...  generally tending to read those you could consider "literature", or "literary fiction".  more recently, i've including a healthy dose of non-fiction, covering a wide range of topics, not least of which is....

about running:  a team-sport athlete through high school and college, what was i supposed to do when i was launched into the absurd condition commonly referred to as "Adulthood", with no clear athletic endeavors to speak of?  until that point, i never understood why someone would just go out there and run...  but being of a somewhat restless nature, and after my bike was stolen, that's what i started doing.  not fast and not far, at first...  but it didn't take long to get hooked.  before long, i started running races, and if you aren't hooked on running before you do that, surely you will be afterward.  after expanding to triathlon, getting injured multiple times and giving it up for a year, i am slowly working my way back up the fitness ranks and once again embracing the thing i have surprising many things to say about.... running.

about the red sox:  much akin to the torture i've endured over many long runs...  NOOOOOO.  i'm not going to be another one of THOSE fans, am i?  sometimes, maybe... but the best reason i write about the red sox with my friends is because they are thinkers and athletes at the same time (readers and runners).  it's not JUST the jock mentality (yes, i believe we all do hate the yankees), BUT the analysis...  isn't that what baseball is about?  much more data than your average texas hold'em poker hand is a single at bat, with the "plate personalities" (read todd's mention of pedroia below) you've grown to know and either love or love to hate.  the mental game of pitching...  the overall cerebral approach to baseball.  love it.  (oh and i like it when the red sox WIN, and especially when they WIN the world series).

about reading, running, red sox:  the fact that i've got such intelligent, good friends who share my interests is really the point of it all.*  it makes the enjoyment of it that much better, that much more important.  our agreement on subjects varies (not always on reading, neutrally on running, and usually on red sox), but each of us have a unique point of view...  certainly bringing to light a lot of things i wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

and that's that!!

* it's also interesting to note that, if i ever had a drinking problem, these two guys cured me of it by introducing me to alcohol.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Two friends of mine spend a lot of time thinking about and writing each other regarding reading, running, and the Red Sox. Free free to share along with us!

A brief introduction from me about the three topics:

- Reading. I have an eclectic taste in books, preferring fiction leaning towards the fantastical and thought provoking. Favorite author: Thomas Pynchon. Books i'm reading right now: Out Stealing Horses by Per Patterson, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, and Finder by Carla Speed McNeil.

- Running. After a long hiatus as an occasional runner sporting 20 extra pounds, I'm now really getting back into pounding the pavement. I typically run around Framingham and Ashland MA, focusing on competing in 5Ks, although am practicing to run in more 10Ks. Dreaming of a marathon someday, but i'm not there yet.

- Red Sox. Not sure what to say about the Sox this season, so i'll share a few random observations I hope to expand upon in the near future. 1) Jacoby Ellsbury is suprisingly good this season. It's looking like Theo will regret not showing him the money. 2) When the Sox signed Carl Crawford, all I heard about was his speed, but all I see from him in the outfield is him jogging towards fly balls landing softly in front of him. 3) I love them as much as you do, but Wake and Tek are done. The lack of a better catching plan was the biggest flaw in this offseason, even more so given that Victor Martinez was in the house. 4) Dustin Pedroia batting is assignment television. I'm still recovering from his 10 minute at bat against Weaver last Monday night. 5) I'm still not sure how such a talented group of players isn't above 500 yet.

So there you go. Much more to come, hopefully. As for the others, I hope they'll be joining me soon. If you're anything like me, you'll be interested in what they have to say.