Friday, October 31, 2014

How is it possible that Koji Uehara doesn't know English?

Yesterday the Red Sox re-signed Koji Uehara to a two-year $18 million contract.  For the purposes of this blog I don't care about whether or not it was a good idea (it's not as bad as it sounds, to sign him for just one more season they almost certainly would've had to pay him the standard one-year qualifying offer of $15.3 mil).

At the moment I'm only interested in the way Koji decided to tell his fans:


Five minutes later the Red Sox tweeted this:


No high fives for you on this one Koji.

My thought is if he was really looking forward to seeing us he would have learned how to tell us that himself.  Uehara has been here playing Major League Baseball for six years.  How the hell has he not learned English yet?  It's embarrassing for him, and I think somewhat disrespectful to his fans and teammates.

I'm legitimately upset and a little fired up about this.

When Tom Selleck went over to Japan in Mr. Baseball I'm pretty sure he was speaking Japanese before the end of the season.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Congratulations to the World Series champion San Francisco Bumgarners

The "Bumgarners" is a weird name for a Major League Baseball team.  For those who don't know its origin, it's derived from the last name of San Francisco's ace pitcher, Madison Bumgarner.

Why would a franchise name itself after one of its players?  Because he won a World Series all by himself.

San Francisco finished the 2014 regular season with a 88-74 record, tied with three other clubs for the eighth-best record in baseball.  In the postseason Bumgarner (the player) pitched nearly one third of the total innings the Bumgarners (the team) played--52.2 of 160 (32.9 percent).  His playoff earned run average was 1.03, the rest of his "teammates" combined posted an ERA of 3.77.

In the World Series the discrepancy was even more extreme: Bumgarner (the pitcher) hurled 21 of 61 total innings (34.4 percent) with a 0.43 ERA.  Other guys wearing the same uniform combined for an ERA of 5.85.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why do people think it's OK to ask bartenders to put more booze in their drinks?

Here's a story that happened to me last night:

A guy stood up from his table in the dining room and walked over to the bar to complain to me about his drink.  First off, that's a mistake right there.  When you're sitting at a table and you have a server waiting on you, that's the person you should interact with in this situation.  If there was something wrong with your food, would you ever get up and carry it back into the kitchen?

Anyway, he said to me "Can you put some more vodka in this?"  The really funny part here is that this was a 30-year-old guy in a tequila bar who'd ordered a vodka drink called a "Berry Bomb" (personally I'm somewhat embarrassed that we even offer it).

He'd drank about a third of his cocktail, which obviously doesn't taste much like alcohol (its purpose) because of the sugary berry puree it's made with.  I told him "Sorry, no, I can't just give you more alcohol.  But you're welcome to order another shot to put in it if you like."

The vast majority of the cost of drinks is the liquor.  You can't just "have more."  He dejectedly returned to his table, and to my surprise ordered another "Berry Bomb" a short time later.  If you don't like a drink, why would you have a second one?  This time he told the waitress to "wink at me and ask for more booze in it."

It blows my mind that people think this is reasonable behavior.  It's the equivalent of calling up a pizza place and saying "I'd like to order a small pizza please.  Oh, but can you just make it a large instead for the same price?"


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Does anyone else think fans waiving towels at sporting events is stupid?

I"m not exactly sure why I thought to bring this up now, it's a stadium/ballpark/arena trend that has been going on for a long time.  For whatever reason the orange towels given to Giants fans at AT&T Park during this World Series look particularly ugly to me.  But that's not even my point.  I just don't understand the appeal of swinging the towel as a fan.

I've been to countless games as a Celtics season ticket holder (including the NBA Finals) in which free towels were handed out, but I've never once had the urge to waive them above my head.  I think the reason for this is three-fold:

1. If you're swinging a towel you can't clap, which seems like a much more effective form a crowd support in my opinion (now if they were noise-making towels it'd be a different story, but don't get me started on thundersticks and things of that nature...).

2. It's really uncomfortable.  Go into your kitchen/bathroom, grab a hand towel, and twirl it over your head for two minutes.  Tell me your arm doesn't hurt (not to mention the "uncomfort" of being hit in the face with a towel by the person in front of you).

3. When everybody is holding towels over the heads, nobody can see the game as well.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Recounting the greatest sports moment of my lifetime: The 2004 Boston Red Sox

I could start this story as a nine-year-old boy staying up way past his bedtime on October 25, 1986.  I remember my much wiser mother asking "Do you think they're really going to do it?"  And me, a not yet embittered child saying "Of course they are!"

Fast forward 16 years and 356 days and the 26-year-old version of me in 2003 had a much better understanding of her skepticism.  But still, with a 5-2 lead and Pedro on the hill in the 8th inning of ALCS Game 7, my best friend and I discussed going to Miami for the World Series (the Marlins had already won the National League).

As we sat in the Newes Pub in Martha's Vineyard, we talked about how Series tickets at Fenway would be impossible to get, and wondered if it might be cheaper to go to a game in Florida, even with the plane tickets.

We'd been working as bartenders all summer long and now the tourist season was over.  Both of us had time to kill and money to burn--we absolutely would have gone.

Jump ahead exactly one year to the day later, and I was slumped down on a bench outside of the Edgartown bar I worked in.  The Yankees had just taken a 13-6 lead in the 5th inning of ALCS Game 3, and they were about to go up 3-0 in the series.  A friend of mine came outside to comfort me, and I recall saying something to her along the lines of:

"This is so unfair, how can it happen again?  You're not going to believe me, but I would have paid $10,000 to see the Red Sox win this series."  It was all the money I'd saved over the past few summers, and I meant it.

I played poker with some coworkers the rest of the night, and didn't even watch the end of the game.

I decided not to watch Game 4 either.  I wasn't working, and I had no interest in going out.  I didn't want to have to see anybody.  When things don't go well for my sports fandom I hate talking about it, and this was the epitome of that situation.  I just stayed home and watched TV.  On occasion I flipped over and checked the score, but that was all.

However, when the 9th inning came around I decided I had to see it.  This was what being a Sox fan was about, and I would be doing myself a disservice not to watch.

But then the world changed.




As soon as Millar drew that walk I thought "Roberts is coming in.  He's going to steal.  This isn't over yet."  When he slid in safely to second I jumped off the couch and screamed at the television, probably louder than I ever have before.  "YEEEAAAHHH!!!"  A half hour later it was a series again.


The next night a group of us went to Seasons Pub in Oak Bluffs at 5 pm.  Six hours and many, many Shipyard Pumpkin Ales later, this happened:


Clearly we had to go back to Seasons a day later for Game 6.  And while it goes down in history as the "Schilling bloody sock game," the A-Rod play at first base is what stands out in my memory.




My first reaction was to literally fall out of my barstool and crumple up in a ball on the floor.  Seriously.  I'm pretty sure it's the only time in my life I've ever done that.  After everything that had happened so far, how could they lose like this?  But then I saw the umpires gather together, Fox showed the slow motion replay, and I thought "It's OK.  They're going to get this right."

The umps had already reversed one call to correctly rule on a Mark Bellhorn home run earlier; which was incredible because I couldn't remember ever seeing that in baseball before, and now it was happening twice in one game.  But it took them FOREVER to come to the right conclusion (or at least it felt like it).  Those 90 seconds were agonizing.

Obviously we were back at Seasons for a third day in a row for Game 7 (a Game 3 rainout eliminated a scheduled off day earlier).


When Damon hit that second-inning grand slam to make it 6-0, I turned and said to whoever was sitting next to me "Holy $&*%.  This is really going to happen."  The rest of the evening is a blur, but amidst joyous hugs and tears after the final out one of my friends (who was from Michigan and had only adopted the Sox while living on the Vineyard that summer) asked me "How cool a moment is this for you?"  I replied. "Honestly, it's the coolest thing that's ever happened in my lifetime."

When we finally decided to leave the bar that night I remember grabbing the bill for the whole group and telling everybody "I got this" (which was pretty much unheard of amongst generally broke 20-something restaurant workers).  I'd said I was willing to pay $10,000 to see the Red Sox win the series.  By comparison a $350 bar tab was totally worth it.

After that my memories of the World Series are vague.  I can't even recall where I watched Games 1, 2 and 3.  But in retrospect it was about as anti-climactic as a championship series can get.  The Red Sox actually led in every single inning of their four-game sweep of the Cardinals.  Really, there was just one tense moment (in Game 1):



Game 2 featured the second coming of Schilling's bloody sock, while Game 3 including a stellar performance by Pedro and a memorable base running blunder by Jeff Suppan (not to mention unexpected defense from Big Papi).

I left the Vineyard to head to Boston for Game 4.  Many of my closest friends were there, and I wanted to be in the city for the pandemonium.  We watched the game at a bar in Allston, and my most vivid memory is of the manager constantly telling us to stop standing up on our chairs.  But for an occasion like that, how can you not?



Afterwards on the drive back to my friends' apartment the only thing we heard for 20 minutes straight was the constant sound of honking car horns; it's maybe my least favorite noise on the planet, but in that moment it was beautiful.

I had to work on the Vineyard the next few nights, but I was back in Boston for the championship parade, the day before Halloween.  It was a Saturday, and bars across the city were packed at ridiculously early times that morning.  We stopped by The Point in Faneuil Hall and had cans of Sparks (an alcoholic orange-flavored Red Bull type thing) before hearing the deafening roar of the crowd as the duck boats approached Government Center.



And that's my story.

Ten years ago today the Red Sox won the World Series.  Sometimes I still can't believe it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Awesome Old TV Clip of the Week: Al Michaels calls an earthquake live

World Series Game 5 between the Royals and Giants (tied 2-2) begins tonight at 8:07 pm in San Francisco, and I'll be blogging it live for Bleacher Report.

The Fall Classic was also in San Francisco 25 years ago.  Dubbed the "Battle of the Bay," the 1989 series featured the Giants and Oakland A's.  I remember owning a white long-sleeve sweatshirt with the logo pictured on the right.

That series is known less for baseball (a 4-0 Oakland sweep) and more for the massive 6.9 earthquake that struck the area shortly before the scheduled start of Game 3.  If you listen closely you can hear Al Michaels say "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth..." just as the broadcast feed cuts out:




Originally scheduled for October 17, Game 3 wasn't played until October 27.  This gave both teams the opportunity to start fresh with their rotations, and allowed the A's to capture the championship despite using just two starting pitches in the series (Dave Stewart and Mike Moore each had two wins).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

NBA takes my advice (or just follows other sports' lead), creates "replay center" in Secaucus, NJ

About 18 months ago I came up with a brilliant idea to improve instant replays in pro sports: A central office equipped with the best available technology to rule on every replay league-wide, rather than a guy on the field/court/ice running over to the sidelines to view a tiny monitor.

Shortly after my epiphany I became aware that the NHL had thought of it also, and was already using a replay center in Toronto.  MLB then implemented the plan this past season, and the NFL has done it this year as well (both in New York).  Now the NBA is on board too:


Two things about the NBA's effort are somewhat disappointing though: One, the officials on the court will still actually make the decisions, they'll just have better footage to view now.  Why not let somebody at the replay center make the call?  And two, Secaucus, New Jersey?

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