Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas ephemera

Happy holidays from all of us here at Nate Graziano's Big Baseball Blog, meaning me. In no specific order, this is what I currently have to contribute to the blogosphere:

  • My new chapbook of prose---I'm not really sure how else to categorize it, if categorization is even necessary---Hangover Breakfasts was published by Bottle of Smoke Press last week. Here is the information for ordering a copy. It will make a great Christmas gift for any heavy drinker and/or chronically depressed person on your list.
  • We bought the kids an Elf on the Shelf, and despite the lameness of all those mommy blog posts with crafty and cutesy tips for hiding the damn thing, the elf is Stalin-esque in getting your kids to adhere to your every parental whim.
  • I have been writing for The Good Men Project lately. Here is my latest offering.
  • Thank you, Santa, for bringing us Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes and the inimitable Ryan Dempster. Hopefully, you put plenty of Ben-Gay and Geritol in the training staffs' stockings this year.
  • We really need an emoticon for sarcasm.
  • I'll go ahead and say it: The Patriots are the best team in the AFC, maybe the NFL.
  • I continue to keep it classy at Drunk Monkeys, too. This story is nothing short of Faulkner-esque.
  • My friend Becky Schumejda's new collection of poems Cadillac Men is one of the best collections of poetry I've read in a long, long time. Even if you're not a fan of poetry---which includes about 99.9% of readers---you will enjoy this one. It reads like a novel. Order here.
  • I'll admit it: I love Christmas music. Here is my favorite holly-infused tune.
  • Do you want to read an interview with me? Tough. Here it is.
  • Did you notice authoritative I'm becoming in my old age? Look at how many times I linked the word "here." Now click here. You'll love it!
  • Merry Christmas, everyone. Please remember to hug your kids.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I have been away for awhile, and I certainly have some ideas about the Sox' teenage boy-like lust for Farrell, who was a losing manager for the newly-competitive-since-the-Miami-fire-sale Blue Jays. And I have some ideas about their ridiculous, sad and subservient need to sign for a 56 year-old Papi to a two-year contract to appease Pink Hats who might not recognize another name in the starting line-up on Opening Day, other than Pedroia or Lester or Ellsbury (who has a ticket stamped out of town after next season).

Instead, I've chosen to enjoy the holidays, put my cynicism on hold, and offer up these mirthful words from a man who would never sell out to corporate America, or Pink Hats (we need a sarcasm font, no?).

Happy Holidays!  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hangover Breakfasts available for pre-order

I'm happy to announce that my new book, Hangover Breakfasts, is available for pre-order from Bottle of Smoke Press. If you're not familiar with Bill Roberts' work, everything is hand-printed and exquisitely produced. His books are pieces of art in their own rights. But they're also limited-edition. There will only be 26 signed hardcover versions that will go quickly, and a limited number of paperback copies. If you're family, a close friend or--- for some strange reason---a big fan of my work, order soon before they sell out. Here's the link:

Hangover Breakfasts is a collection of interconnected prose pieces that follows four 20-somethings living on a remote lake in New Hampshire after college. Harrowed by drugs, alcohol and a relentless winter, they struggle to find their footing and identities among the elements bearing down on them. End of liner notes.

This is my first book since After the Honeymoon in 2009 and, honestly, it is one the closest to my heart for myriad of reasons.

I will also be reading from the book on November 10 in Kingston, New York, with Rebecca Schumejda, John Dorsey and Cheryl Rice. My good friend Becky is having a book release party for her awesome new collection of poetry Cadillac Men, which is being published by New York Quarterly Press. Here's the link for ordering it. Even if you're not a big fan of poetry, you'll love this book. It shucks all of the pretension, self-possession and surrealistic abstruseness of so much contemporary poetry. It's a gritty, blue-collar story of real people in the futile pursuit of the American Dream, a Gatsby for the working-class.

Okay, enough. Football is about to start, and I'm starting to make myself sick with all of this talk about books and literature and The American Dream. It's time to buckle up, be a man, drink beer and watch dudes beat the shit out of each other.

And one more thing: Let's go Orioles!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mittens and Red Sox

It's been a sad run for Sox fans this year. But if there's a silver lining, it's watching Josh Beckett get thrown out from right field by Carlos Beltran. Good ole' Josh. Charlie Hustle. Thanks, LA. How does Boston's nut-sack taste?

With the Sox out of the playoffs and the Yankees so old and lame it's almost futile to root against them, I'm turning my attention to other avenues, such as indoctrinating my children with my liberal ideals. Actually, as a middle class public school teacher, I don't consider it indoctrination, rather education. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone who is female, a minority, gay, human, or making under $250,000 a year would vote for Mitt Romney. While McCain was a certified nut-job and the idea of Sarah Palin as president was sobering to the core---Matt Taibbi pegged her as "a combustive mix of clueless novelty and suburban sexual tension"---at least I didn't have the chilling, puke-in-my-mouth repulsion that a rich man running on a straight-up platform for other rich men invokes. Mittens, in every sense of the word, is certified douche.

So my daughter and I recorded a version of Neil Young's "The Campaigner" and put it on Youtube. Please, forgive the shoddy out-of-tune guitar playing. At least I used a capo. But my daughter's voice is gorgeous; and, more importantly, here's a 9 year-old exercising her civic rights and railing against Mittens and an antiquated party of rich white men preying on the stupid and paranoid.

I love this girl.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Season in Hell

It's been a hell of a season.
There's been a shit storm in New England for the past year, a shit storm extending itself from the northernmost tip of Maine to the coast of Connecticut, and like many calamities, this shit storm has a name: The Boston Red Sox.

I know, I know, you hear this all the time from Red Sox fans, a group predisposed to hyperbole and melodrama, but this year seriously was the worst year I can remember being a Red Sox fan. It's as if the collective apathy from the clubhouse spread like a virus and infected the fan base as well. From the top down in the organization, it truly feels like no one really gives a flying fuck about this team. Most fans gave up by the All-Star break, and can you blame them? The crowds the Patriot training camp drew in August was testament to how little people cared about the 2012 Red Sox. In other words, people preferred watching blocking drills to regular season baseball.

So how did things get so very, very bad?

Let me start by saying that if I have to hear one more announcer reference the Red Sox as "one of the most prestigious franchises in professional sports," I am going to puke on my chest. If by "prestigious" they mean "a franchise that dumps a ton of money into the team with the expectation that said players will bitch, whine, moan, send text-messages little middle school girls and prodigiously under-perform" then I stand corrected. According to that definition, the Red Sox are, indeed, prestigious. But that's not what my dictionary is telling me. My dictionary tells, it  means "having a high reputation, honored, esteemed." Interesting.

A recent survey conducted by Channel Media and Marketing showed results that seemingly point to the current Red Sox team and ownership as being perceived by fans as the antithesis of prestigious. In fact, the current team, manager and ownership are only a few paltry percentage points above the New England Revolution in popularity polls.

And how is that the "esteemed" Red Sox have all but surrendered the season---shutting down Crawford and firing coaches and everything else that points to a team in total disarray---yet they're still claiming a fraudulent sell-out streak and charging some of the highest ticket prices in the game?

Listen, this has all been very bad and very disheartening, a veritable season in Hell for Sox fans. And while I've never been one to see the forest through the trees, there are a few things that I hope can be taken away from this debacle.

First of all, can we agree that when a team--particularly a team of selfish, entitled, detestable little brats---under-performs and fails to win, it cannot be fully blamed on the coach. I hear a lot of people overzealously throwing Bobby V. under the bus, but newsflash: It's not his fault. This is a team that hasn't been in the post-season since 2009 and hasn't won a post-season game since 2008, and it's same core group of douche-tards. Last year, the beer and chicken gang let Francona take the fall after their historic September collapse, and their train just kept a' rollin' into the 2012 season. Has Bobby V. been brilliant? Far from it. But he was also never given a chance. If we can learn anything from this season, maybe we can learn something about allocating blame.

Then there's a large lesson in humility. If we---any New England sports fan---had happened to be born in Kansas City and grew up following the Royals, this season would be far from an anomaly. Sure, I understand that the Red Sox dump all of this money in order to field a competitive team every year, thus justifying the borderline thievery of their fans in ticket prices. But sometimes, for whatever reason, either the team you follow or your life in general simply sucks. Get used to it. Things, usually, turn back around, but you might have to deal with some discomfort until you get there. The 2012 Red Sox suck. That's life. And I'll end with this pearl of advice from Dr. Denis Leary. A season in Hell? Shut the...


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Some lit news and links

I know, this is a baseball blog, so I should stop being such a self-promotional bastard, but this isn't only about me. It's just mostly about me. In all seriousness, I've had a lot of work appear on-line this summer, so here are some links if you're bored and bouncing around the internet.

I had a couple of pieces from a circle of stories I've been working for, oh, ten years now. The first is flash fiction piece titled "Family Matters" on Fiction365, and the second is a short story titled "Ninety Days" on a cool new website called Drunk Monkeys.

This also this little feelgood piece titled "Opening Day" on Rusty Barnes' blog Fried Chicken and Coffee.

I also have a number of poems available to read on-line:

"Waiting for the Cable Man" on The Orange Room Review.

"NPR and the Death of Electric Guitars" on The Boston Literary Magazine.

"A Married Man Living in a Cheap Motel" on Red Fez.

"Confessions of Recovering Crier" on Underground Voices.

Finally, my chapbook of short prose pieces titled Hangover Breakfasts is slated to be released next month for Bottle of Smoke Press. Also, the contract is being drawn up for a novella-length collection of sex and humor stories titled Some Sort of Ugly to tentatively be released on Valentine's Day as an e-book and print from a new press called On Impression Books. Of course, I'll have more information about that book soon as well.  I'm sorry to report that a contract for this book was not able to be negotiated.

Thanks for enduring my self-indulgence. Back to baseball soon, especially with the trading deadline around the corner.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

All-Star Break report card: Part II (Position players)

The story of the year so far.
So I've already established that I believe the onus for the Red Sox sub-par season so far belongs solely to the starting pitchers, particularly the three donkeys. And it's already been acknowledged that the position players have been stung by injuries this season. Even so, the guys who have replaced the divas have put together the second best offense in the American League, scoring more runs than any AL team other than Texas (Sox are sixth in the MLB). And Texas, by the way, seems poised to go to their third World Series in a row, and I'd expect them to make a move on a big-time starter---Hamels, Dempster, possibly Beckett or Lester if the Sox are willing to go that route---before the deadline.

It's also worth noting that The Sox are fourth in the American League in fielding (sixth, again, in the MLB), so it's not sloppy defense that's led to the ignominious space at the cellar of the AL East.

Therefore, the position are not only off my Shit List, but I've enjoyed watching their gritty performances so far. While the big-money players have either gotten hurt (that's you, Pedey, Ellsbury, and Crawford), under-performed and been traded (that's you, Youk), or simply haven't earned their paychecks (that's you, Gonzalez), the kids have been a good, if not better, alternative to watching the so-called superstars.

The Outfield: B+

Menstrual cramps are a killer.
I really wish people would stop whining about Ellsbury and Crawford being hurt. First of all, Ellsbury seems to be made out of glass. In the past three years, he's played the equivalent of one season, and it'll be interesting to see how Scott Boris, aka Satan, tries to market him in the off-season. Or there's a good chance, seeing that the Sox are not likely to resign him, he could be moved on the market or packaged in the trading deadline deal. Who wants to buy a broken toy? I don't know. But Ellsbury is great...when he actually plays, that is.

And Carl Crawford. Remember the game in elementary school where you'd call someone's name, and when they asked "What?" you'd respond with: "You're with it." And they'd ask: "What?" And you'd laugh and repeat, "You're stuck with it." Carl Crawford is the Red Sox equivalent of being "stuck with it." No one in their right mind is going to touch that bloated contract, so, yeah, they're "stuck with it."

That said. The young guys who have come up and over-performed in the outfield and kept these guys in games deserve kudos. In fact, I'd like to see some of these guys play through the year, although it will be impossible to fit them all on the roster once Glass Boy and Stuck with It come back next week. But I've loved watching Nava and Kalish plays their sacks off. Sure, they've struggled some defensively, particularly Kalish, but still it's been fun. Thinking he'd be watching baseball this season, The Sox call Scott Posednik and he comes in and makes a difference. Although he's been hurt a lot, Ryan Sweeney swings a decent bat and plays hard. The other night against the Yankees he threw himself against the wall trying to make a catch in centerfield. If that were Ellsbury, he would have incinerated and turned to dust. And Cody Ross has brought some pop with him from San Francisco.

The Infield: B

Ciriaco was a much-needed jolt.
I think I can sort out the infield in two succinct statements.

The first one: The kids and Aviles have been great, given their respective roles and expectations. Will Middlebrooks, up to his recent injury, has been the story of the first half of the season, and now it seems that Pedro Ciriaco is out to the steal the narrative. Saltalamacchia finally starting to play to his potential, and Mike Aviles, so far, gets my vote for the 10th Player Award. Sure, if the Sox decide to throw in their cards on July 31, you might be looking at a Gonzo, Ciriaco, Iglesias, Middlebrooks in-field in a few weeks (I have a hunch Pedey is more hurt that he's letting on), but Aviles has been a nice surprise.

The second statement: The veterans have been a disappointment. It's really hard to get on Dustin Pedroia for anything. I mean, the guy could take a shit on my dinner table, and I'd probably clap and say, "Nice dump, Dustin." But, let's face it, he's been playing hurt and the stats aren't there. Before he was traded, Youk looked atrocious at the plate, and Adrian Gonzalez, for $22 million a year, should have more than six home runs at the All-Star break. They're not paying him the big bucks to hit singles.

The Designated Hitter: A

If the Red Sox brass give David Ortiz anything but a one-year contract next year, they will officially make the donkey-list with Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and Lackey. Obviously, Papi plays better when he feels slighted and he's pissed off about it. Let him pop off to the press and whine and moan about his contract, as long as he puts up the numbers he put up this first half, he's all aces with me.

Overall assessment: D

The Red Sox, with their payroll and the talent on their roster, should NOT be a last place team. I realize that other than Kansas City, Seattle, and Minnesota, every other team in the AL is contention for the second Wild Card spot going into the second half, so I'm not willing to completely write off The Red Sox. Yet. If they go into The Trop this weekend and get swept by the Rays then it's time to start dealing. In fact, I hope Cherington is already looking for potential homes for some of the big name donkeys. I would have no problem with watching this line-up for the second half of the season and seeing these kids grow: 1B Gonzalez; 2B Cirieco/Pedey; SS Iglesias; 3B Middlebrooks; LF Crawford; CF Kalish; RF Ross/Sweeney; C Salty/Lavarney.

For the Red Sox, in the next two weeks, we'll see if they're going to shit or finally get off the pot. Sorry, Pink Hats, the good times may no longer seem "so good, so good, so good." You might have to actually love and understand baseball to follow a team that's no longer contending.

Monday, July 9, 2012

All-Star Break report card: Part I (Pitching)

Honestly, this has been one of the most frustrating seasons in recent memory for Red Sox fans. Yes, I realize that the team has been decimated by injuries. Going into last night's game against the Yankees, the Sox had Pedroia, Crawford, Ellsbury, Bailey, Rich Hill, Buchholz, Dice-K (shocking) and Middlebrooks, either injured, recovering from an injury, or on a rehab assignment. No doubt, they've had some tough breaks, but that does not---let me repeat this---it does NOT excuse or explain away the Red Sox dismally average 43-43 record and spot at the bottom of the division.

Nope. And Sox fans who believe that the return of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury is going to turn around the season is either a Pink Hat or an Ass Hat. To put it simply, the problem is the starting pitching, mainly Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz, a.k.a. The Beer and Fried Chicken Gang (sans that pecker-head Lackey). In fact, the guys who have come off the bench, or come up from Pawtucket, this year have played their asses off and contributed largely to the second most potent offense in the AL behind a ridiculously good Texas line-up.

So let's start there

Starting pitching: F  

The three donkeys.
That's right. F, as in "failure;" as in, "Mr. Blutarsky, 0.0;" as you do not pass because your work has been unacceptable. And, really, this is the reason the Red Sox are holed up in the cellar of the AL East, ten games behind the Yankees in the loss column. And you can't really put the blame on the rookie Felix Doubront or Franklin Morales, both of whom have been decent.

We could put some blame on the front office for giving us the Daniel Bard Debacle, and, of course, Dice-K has stunk for the majority of his overpaid stay in Boston. But the brunt of the blame sits squarely on the shoulders of Beckett and Lester---and to a lesser degree Buchholz---who have to pitch like aces in order for The Red Sox to be competitive.

What is most infuriating is the fact that it seems like these guys have learned nothing since last September. One would think that after last season, they would be pitching with flames shooting from their bungholes, trying to atone for their bad behavior and ineffable apathy that led to the historic collapse. Nope, again. Hell yeah, they like beer. It seems like they like it more than baseball, in fact. Beckett and Lester have been average at best, perhaps below average, with both posting robust ERA's well over 4.00, and the team is 12-20 in games they've started. Do the math.

So, go ahead, Pink Hats, keep talking about the good times to come when the Sox get their starters back. Belt out some "Sweet Caroline" while you're waiting. But it's not the problem.

The Bullpen: A-

To me, this is further evidence that the problem lies in the starting pitching. While Bobby Valentine has surely not been perfect at the helm, he has done a masterful job managing the bullpen this year. When you think the hand he was dealt coming into the season, losing Bard and Andrew Bailey in the pen (by the way, I wish the Sox had a Josh Reddick on their ball club), then to have Melancon blown up like a pipe bomb in a pinata in his first few outings, Valentine has done a nice job stringing this pen together. And this bullpen, like many of the gritty starters, has really stepped up. Aceves has been good, not masterful, but certainly serviceable, and guys like Albers, Atchinson and Padilla have been surprisingly consistent.

While I thought this was going to be The Red Sox Achilles' Heel going into the season, it's not. Not even close. And while the bullpen may be the fattest and ugliest pen in baseball---who wins in a beauty contest, Padilla or Aceves?---they've pitched well, and they've been managed well.

In short, it's the two donkeys at the front of the rotation, and already, the trade rumors have begun to stir. The problem being that Beckett is 10-5, so there might not be a lot the Sox can do, except make him very uncomfortable in Boston.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Decisions, decisions, decsions

It goes without saying that the Red Sox have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks. For example, what are they going to do with Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish and Ryan Sweeney---a.k.a. the guys who have played their asses off and played well---once the big-money guys with the big contracts and the big agents, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury come back from their sabbaticals on the disabled list? Do you go with the dirt dogs who have scraped the Sox out of the gutter with their hustle and grit, forsaking the glory? Probably not. Realistically, when the money boys come back, the guys who salvaged the season are either going back to AAA, or they'll be traded for prospects, or possibly a journeyman five starter? 

Oh decisions, decisions. These things will be solemnly discussed and dissected in thousands of bars throughout New England for the next month until the trading deadline. At times, it will become heated; perhaps, a few fists will fly in defense of Daniel Nava. This is important business, and we're all bar stool general managers.

But here's the thing: This seems to me to be both the beauty and folly of sports' fans.

Everyday we all struggle with decisions, most of them trivial: Should I wear this loud shirt to work? Should I cut my hair? Should I spend a dollar more for the organic product? Some are more dire: Should I marry this person? Should I take spend the money on grad school for an MFA? Should I spend the children's college funds on a lap dance?

Sports, however, allows us the luxary of entertaining decisions in which we have no bearing on the results. And, ultimately, what is decided has no bearing on our lives whatsoever. It's refreshing.

Then we go to polls---or sadly decide not to go---and we make decisions that will affect our lives. Should I vote for the person who endorses a socialized system of health care, amnesty for immigrants living in this country, equal rights for gay couples? Or the person toting gun-rights according the Second Amendment, lower taxation, the preservation of conservative ideals?

It's so much easier to think about Daniel Nava.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The boy and his baseball

My son was draped over the fence on the first-base line, his arms hanging down and his baseball mitt secured to his left hand. Not even twenty yards from him, the pitchers in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats' bullpen sat on an aluminum bench next to a bucket chock full of the things my son wanted most in this world: baseballs.

For a 7 year-old boy, still half a decade away from discovering curves, the desire to procure a baseball in a half-filled AA ballpark was more than a whim; it was a desire, a passion, a visceral yearning. However, by the seventh inning, he had resigned himself to nihilism (something he gets from his mother).

"I'm not getting a ball," he said, which might as well been translated to: Life just doesn't work out.

"Keep trying, Owen," his mother encouraged. "I have a good feeling about this."

Still draped over the fence on the first base line, Owen waited.

Then, as life's vicissitudes took charge, Owen was tossed a ball between innings from a player warming up the right fielder. That player was Koby Clemens, the son of the newly-acquitted and regionally reviled Roger Clemens.

Growing up, I had a poster of Koby's dad in my bedroom. In 1986, when Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners (still a dubious distinction given that it was Seattle) in a game, won a Cy Young and an MVP and took the Sox to the World Series, he might as well been curing lepers, turning water into wine, resurrecting from the dead. Like millions of New England boys at the time, I worshiped Roger Clemens with the dogged naivete of an 11 year-old boy, who was still a couple of years away from discovering curves.

Of course, Clemens' legacy in Boston---and as an athlete in general---would be poisoned by his arrogance, hubris and general douche-baggedness. Would I possess the same level of rancor toward the man had he never donned a pinstripe? Probably not. But when I was a boy, The Rocket was beyond reproach, a hero. And here, over twenty years later, his son, with a simple flip of a three dollar baseball, did the same for mine.

For the past two nights, Owen has slept with the baseball that Koby Clemens gave him. Of course, someday the baseball will be lost or discarded, like my Roger Clemens poster, but for right now, my son is exhilarated. And sometimes, Owen, life does work out.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dirt Dogs vs. Princesses

At the start of this season, I hated this Red Sox team like a penis hates sharp objects. They were a bunch of overpaid, entitled princesses playing the game with the enthusiasm one usually reserves for a colonoscopy. It appeared that no lesson was learned after their epic collapse last September, and we were going to have another season of lukewarm millionaires yawning in left field.

Early, something happened that turned the season around: The princesses started dropping like flies.

For starters, John Lackey was sidelined in the off-season to recover from a speciously-scheduled Tommy John surgery, and there was much rejoicing. Ditto Dice-K, but he recovered quicker---probably free-basing radioactive rock or something---and is currently shitting the bed in Pawtucket, poised to shit the bed in Boston. During spring training, the $20 million uber-dud Carl Crawford broke his finger picking his nose, and no one knows if or when he'll be back. Then Andrew Bailey, their purported closer, got a boo-boo on his baby toe and was placed on the DL before he even threw his first regular season meatball. In the shocker of the new millennium, Jacoby Ellsbury pulled an abdominal muscle ripping a fart and he's gone, again, until after the All-Star break. And, finally, in what proved to be the Sox most fortuitous injury, Youk went down and paved the path for his imminent successor Will Middlebrooks to come up and rake in the majors.

Now, the Red Sox are over .500 for the first time this season, and they're winning with a patchwork crew of dirt dogs, who not only play the game hard but are utterly affable to boot. I'd almost rather see the current line-up lose the rest of the season than watch The Red Sox with the princesses from the infirmary win a pennant.

So let's take a look at the dirt dogs.

So far, Daniel Nava is winning over fans with both hustle and a hot bat. Carl Crawford can kiss my ass. Let Nava man the Monster for the next five years. I'm down. Then there is Ryan Sweeney, a wild card from Oakland who was packaged with Bailey. Sweeney, who has earned a role as an every day starter, has made some incredible plays in the field---i.e. the diving catch in center where he concussed himself---and he's been putting up the stats on top of it. The aforementioned Middlebrooks looks like the real deal, infusing the team with youth, while even journeyman like Marlon Byrd and Scott Posednik play hard, which is the antithesis of the Beer and Chicken Bitches. Even Salty has come into his own and is putting up All-Star numbers with a hearty dose of toughness to boot. If Ellsbury got a cut on his ear, it would've been a potential career-ending injury. And Mike Aviles, hell, he's made a nice case for himself as an everyday starter at shortstop. On top of it, although part of the millionaire crowd, Papi has his mojo back, and Gonzalez has shown some real character by volunteering to play right field. And Pedroia is Pedroia: the muddy chicken and a consummate gamer.

Given the Pink Hats and the way the team presented itself to fans last season and the first month of the current one, I'd forgotten what it's like to really root for the Red Sox. However, with the team they're putting out now, I'm hoarse from cheering in front of the television. But, alas, while they take their sweet-ass time to heal, the princesses will return, and the Sox will go back to being the team that Theo built, a watered-down version of the Yankees. When the princesses are healthy, the front office will demand their babies get to play, and Valentine will either comply or get fired, and we're back to the same flat baseball that resulted in last September's disaster.

But for now, I'm liking these guys. A lot. Like a penis likes soft and wet...forget it. You get picture.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Red Sharts

A shart: here's a quick explanation for those of you with too much elegance, class and maturity to know what I'm referencing. A shart, a word that combines the words "shit" and "fart," is often a gamble, a stare-down with the gods. When one sharts, the individual feels the need to pass gas; however, they also know if they go ahead and fart, there's a real chance they might shit their pants. Sure, sometimes it slips, completely beyond one's control, and the person is left feeling as helpless as a baby with a soiled diaper. And, in essence, the analogy is holds true. This, however, is not the type of shart I'll be using as the metaphor in this post.

There is a second type of shart. Here, the individual, in a bold act of hubris, believes they are above shitting their pants. They believe they are better than a person who shits their pants. They believe they are impervious to such shame. So the arrogant son of a bitch goes ahead, gambles, and lets loose. And what happens? They have a total and complete mess on their hands. They're utterly humiliated, and they stink of ass.

The 2012 Red Sox are a shart.
Let's begin with the hubris factor. If you remember back in spring training for 2011 season, Mr. Josh Beckett predicted his team---who would go 5-16 in September and top off the worst collapse in baseball history---would win 110 games. I will say nothing about the fried chicken and beer, nothing about the way the players took no accountability for their own bad behavior. It's a new season, and they have a chance to atone.

Nope. These arrogant bastards have come out this year and have played like a bunch of entitled teenage princesses. Them, shit their pants? No. Never. They're too good. They're too popular. They can fart wherever they damn well please with total impunity. They can fart at the theater, they can fart at clubs, and they can certainly fart on the golf courses. Hell, it'll never happen to them. And, if it does, so what? There's no humility on Yawkey Way these days.

Instead, it's the Red Sox fans enduring the humiliation. Due to the fact that there is zero accountability in the clubhouse, we're the ones standing in the center of room, dung dripping down our legs, running for the exits. We're the ones wearing bags over our heads, disgraced. We're the ones who hear the collective laughter of the entire baseball world as they hold their stomachs and point their fingers at us and our hometown team. Sure, being a Red Sox fan my whole life, there have been some miserable times---i.e. 1986 and 2003---but, honestly, this feels like rock-bottom. I have never felt embarrassed to wear my Red Sox hat in public, but these days, there's something slightly shameful, something that smells real bad.
So what is the solution? The solution is simple. Clean up the mess, throw away the old shorts and replace them with a new pair, and then move on with your life. In other words, start by dumping Josh Beckett, the ring leader, which will be difficult seeing he's a 10-5 guy. However, this will, at the very least, break up the player entitlement and bread with the fans. Hell, dump Buccholz, dump Papi, and dump Youkilis, too. Clean up the whole mess. This season, I'm sad to say, might actually be the Red Sox bridge year, the start of new beginning. Bring up Iglesius, keep Middlebrooks at the corner, get Lavarney some AB's, and start thinking toward the future. In a year or two, this will all be a bad memory. In a year or two, we'll start to forget about the 2012 Red Sharts. In a year or two, this all will seem like a bad, bad dream.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Douche-tard [doosh-tard] noun. Slang: vulgar. A contemptible person who behaves as if he/she were retarded.

The word has been ringing in my head, repeating like a mantra as I've watched this despicable and disgusting entity that the Red Sox ownership has presented to Boston fans for the first fourteen games.


But wait! Fenway Park is a century old! There's plenty of "Sweet Caroline" singing to be done! Let's overlook the fact that the hucksters who own this team are selling the most expensive tickets this side of Yankee-land and pushing a sub-par product. Let's forget the fact that this is the same team who coughed up chicken bones, puked Bud Light, and died on us last September. Let's forget the fact that these guys should feel the need to atone for such a shameful display last fall by playing like there were rockets shooting out of their asses. Instead, let's have Tim Wakefield and Jason Veritek roll out Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky, wipe the mist from our eyes, and forget the fact that Bobby V.'s team is a hot fucking mess!


Here's the essential problem, and it's a problem that has reached epidemic proportions in our society: accountability. Why would ownership---the Crypt-Keeper, the Wimp, and the Uber-Douche---dump more money than necessary into a product the Pink Hats will buy anyway? After all, they have a soccer team in Liverpool to fund. Why should these players, with their fat avaricious guaranteed contracts, care if they win or lose? They should feel free to call out their manager, piss and moan, when someone criticizes them. Who gives a flying fuck if this team wins? There's the Fenway Park museum to take in, $8 beers to swill, songs to sing in the eighth inning, regardless of whether or not you've choked up a nine-run lead to a team that regularly summons bile. No one is accountable here. Winning is negligible. Bullpens, who needs them? Bend over and open your wallets, Sox fans, there's a centennial party going on.


Perhaps the most disheartening part of this debacle that continues to unfold like a Shakespearean tragedy is the fact that this is a team that is, at its core, utterly loathsome. While watching Kevin "Dr. Ass-Hat" Millar and Pedro muck up a toast (Did you know it was a world record? Hurrah!), prancing back and forth like drunken sailors on the top of the Sox dugout, the magnitude of what was happening hit me; it really sunk in: The Red Sox organization is in the business of peddling nostalgia. Win or lose, it's immaterial. Instead, we're going to shovel nostalgia down your throats and beg you to remember when "the good times never seemed so good." It's sad, really. Really sad.


Don't blame Bobby Valentine. Instead, let's turn the mirror on our selves. Blame the "fans" who continue to pay the exorbitant prices at the park. Blame the "fans" who tacitly condone losing, who could care less if Ryan Sweeney is batting in the two-hole, who want to sing their song and get on the T to beat the traffic after the game. The problem, folks, with the 2012 Red Sox is systematic, and we're all guilty.



Friday, March 30, 2012

Hangover Breakfasts and other news

I've been sitting on this information for a few weeks and now I'm happy to announce that my quasi-memoir, a chapbook of short prose pieces---flashes, short-shorts, burps, whatever you'd like to call them---titled Hangover Breakfasts is going to be published by Bottle of Smoke Press this summer. Hangover Breakfasts tells a loose narrative about the year after college when I lived on Lake Winona in Ashland, New Hampshire, and all the ensuing chaos and sadness.

Check out a sample from the book, "Headless in a Hole," published here on Blue Fifth Review.

Also, my new and selected poems, appropriately titled My Next Bad Decision, has also been accepted for publication by Artistically Declined Press. This tome, my best scribbles from the last decade or so, will be released at a date yet-to-be-determined. I'd guess it will be some time in late-2013 or 2014, assuming we're not all dead in December, like the Mayans supposedly predicted. If we all end up dying via some apocalyptic eruption on Dec. 21, then the book won't be released until 2015.

More news and plenty of Sox blogging to come.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Straight scorn

I still don't forgive them, and I'm not sure I ever will.

While the Superbowl is too painful to talk about---hence, my conspicuous silence following said event---I've decided to report earlier than the pitchers and catchers this season and start by saying this straight out: I hate these goddamn Red Sox.

I hate this team. Even watching Tim Wakefield's retirement speech, an event that would have/should have had me weeping like a widow yesterday, I couldn't fight through my utter disgust when The Keystone Cops (Beckett, Lackey, Lester) showed up in their shades and respective nightclub outfits, feigning to care about a fellow teammate---or someone other than themselves. I was surprised they didn't crack Bud Lights and split a bucket of Popeye's during the speech because, you know, they weren't required to do anything else. I would've thought that they would be winded six minutes into it and running to the clubhouse for cover.

Assholes, straight up assholes, that's what these guys are.

What you're reading right now, folks---and may I be presumptuous enough to say I'm speaking on behalf of all true Red Sox fans---is pure, unfettered venom. Yet, here's the thing: despite the fact that they've behaved so badly, used and abused me as a fan, I'm running back to them as always. Unlike these phony prima donnas on the pitching staff, I still care about the outcome of this season.

However, for the first time in my life, I'm questioning whether or not I'll be able to fully forgive this team for their lay-down-and-die routine last September. And there is nothing I can say about the lack of professional accountability that Mazz hasn't already said far more eloquently and articulately in his Globe column.

Here's what I would like to see happen, and this would serve as proper vindication:

I want to see the ownership---mainly The Crypt-Keeper, The Wimp, and The Dick---give out 35,000 free tickets on Opening Day to fans who can prove, via an extensive exam on the team and its history, that they ARE NOT Pink Hats. I want us all to tank up at the bars surrounding Fenway, where all tabs will be picked up courtesy of the ownership that has been ass-raping fans in ticket prices for the past decade. Then, tanked and belligerent, we will pack that shit-hole on Yawkey Way so that the players from last year's team will have to look us fans in goddamn eyes when they're announced on Friday the 13th of April with the team who took their playoff spot last September watching from the opposing dugout. As they're announced, we will boo their sorry asses like it is our job to jeer, just so The Beer and Chicken Shit Crew can see what it means to actually DO YOUR JOB! Finally, en masse, we will file out of the ballpark and leave them to play their home opener in an empty stadium.

Somehow, I doubt this will happen. But that's what it will take for me to forgive this team.

Either that, or they go out and win a World Series this year. That'll do, too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I hate New York City

I hate New York City.

There, I said it. I hate the Yankees. I hate the Giants. I hate the Jets and the Rangers and the Knicks (although I don't follow basketball), and if I didn't pity them so much for having to live in their obnoxious older brothers' shadows, I'd hate the Mets, too. I even hate the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants for having their roots in New York City.

I hate the Empire State Building, mostly because I'm afraid of heights. I hate Broadway and musicals, mostly because I can never get past the plausibility problems of people singing and dancing through their entire days. I hate traffic and crowds and things that are overpriced and pretentious. Admittedly, using that line of logic, I should I hate Boston, too. But this isn't about Boston. This is about New York City. And I hate it.

And holy truck-load of shit, I hate it when my wife watches reruns of Sex in the City.

I especially hate the athletes who represent the New York franchises. I hate A-Rod and Eli. I'm pretty sure even New Yorkers hate Rex Ryan, but as a non sequitur, I hate The New Yorker, too. I hate Jeter and Fatty McGee (a.k.a Sabathia) and Jacobs and Nicks. Truth be known, I grew up a Giants fan, and I hate myself for that.

I hate the stupid way the crowd chants the Yankees' players' names in the first inning of each home game, and I especially hate the goddamn "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz" call whenever Victor Cruz makes a catch. I try to convince myself they're yelling, "Yooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuk" and sometimes it works. But mostly it doesn't.

However, let me make this much clear: I do not hate the people who root for New York. In fact, I love them for hating our teams. It's what makes this coming Super Bowl so rich. It's what makes each of the 18 regular season Sox/Yankees games breathless. It's the reason a relatively meaningless Bruins/Rangers game on Saturday afternoon in January will still pack the sports bars. While it only takes ten minutes of listening to sports talk radio to realize some people use their allegiance to their teams as a platform for blanketed hate, make no mistake, those people---to put it bluntly---are complete fucking morons.

Listen, I have a lot of friends and family who are New York fans. One of my good buddies, who I lived with for a year, is a New York fan. My cousins and uncle are New York fans. I have colleagues who are New York fans. Hell, my agent is a Yankee fan. And the list goes on. So while I can understand the primordial need to want to see the opposing team not only stomped, but humiliated, it's nothing that should ever become personal. If you find yourself physically assaulting someone in the stands at Fenway or The Meadowlands (MetLife, whatever), or harassing someone on the subway in NYC or the T in Boston for wearing the enemy's hat or jersey, you're not a fan, you're a thug.

Yes, I hate New York City, but without it, I'd have a lot less to love.

Go Pats!