Sunday, February 7, 2016

Former Sox Batting Champ Carney Lansford Turns 59

Carney Lansford
There are certain Red Sox players who—while not superstars in the strictest sense of the word—were key contributors to the team's success. Think of guys like Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, John Valentin, and Tim Naehring. They came to play everyday and always did something to make it easier to win. Another of this breed—Carney Lansford—turns 59 today. Lansford played here for only two seasons (1981, 1982), but won a batting title in his first (.336 ). He didn't have a lot of power (15 HRs over his two years in Carmine Hose), but he had a knack for getting the big hit in key situations. He came to Boston from the Angels (along with Mark Clear and Rick Miller) for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson—a huge transaction at the time. He left town in a deal that sent him to Oakland in exchange for Tony Armas. He went on to win a World Series championship with the A's (1989). Many moons ago, when your Editor-In-Chief was still playing softball, he wore the number four in honor of Lansford's two solid years at Fenway. Lansford was the last to wear it before it was retired for the great Hall Of Famer Joe Cronin. Happy 59th, Carney!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

John Henry Facing Ticket Price Revolt Across The Pond

(Getty Images)
And you think Red Sox ticket prices are exorbitant (well, actually they are)? But, how about the cost of ducats for your Liverpudlian compatriots across the pond? They, too, are under the proverbial thumb of John Henry—owner of both the Red Sox and the Liverpool Reds soccer club. On Saturday, Liverpool fans marched out in protest of a £77 ($111.67) cost for the priciest tickets next year in the renovated Anfield stadium. Symbolically, they walked out at the 77th minute of a match against Sunderland. A fan TWEET stated, "If the club want to charge up to £77 a ticket, make your feelings known and walk out on 77 minutes." Ironically, the Reds went on to blow a 2-0 lead after the walkout, with the game ending in a 2-2 tie. Check out the classic 'Henry-Like' response by the Liverpool Club Chief Executive Ian Ayre: "We know we can't please everyone". Where have we heard that before?

Let's "Retire" The Babe's "Number" On 121st Birthday

Today is George Herman Ruth's 121st birthday. 'The Babe" spent six seasons in Carmine Hose—mostly as an elite starting pitcher (89-46, 2.19 ERA). He started 143 games for the Red Sox—and completed 105 of them! In his last season in Boston, he was starting to show his offensive skills as well. In 1919, Ruth hit .322 with 29 HRs and 113 RBIs—leading the AL in the latter two categories! He also led the league in on-base percentage (.456), slugging (.657), OPS (1.114), and runs scored (103). On this birthday, the Red Sox owners should consider "retiring" a "BABE" plaque (since he never wore a "number" with us) on the right field façade. If for no other reason, it will tweak the hell out of The Evil Ones. Just do it!

Stay Connected To FenwayNation Throughout 2016

As we rapidly approach the start of the 2016 season (Truck Day is just a little over 3 1/2 days away!), make sure you can follow The Carmine Hose via FenwayNation wherever you are. As a reminder, we have portals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and GOOGLE+—along with a presence on a great, free iPhone app (Baseball News—Red Sox Edition). We also have great original videos on our FenwayNation YouTube page. And, we even post our most interesting photos on a Pinterest page. So, no matter where you are or what platform you prefer, FenwayNation is committed to give you the fullest coverage possible of the 2016 Red Sox. And, of course, you can just visit the homepage! We hope you enjoy the ride!

Red Sox Edge Out Tigers For AL "Hot Stove" Title

It's close, but it looks as if the Red Sox have slightly outdone the Detroit Tigers in the race to be the American League team to dominate the off-season. The Motor City franchise made some serious improvements to their benighted bullpen with Francisco Rodriguez and shored up their rotation with the addition of Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey. And while Cameron Maybin is a very nice player, it was the acquisition of Justin Upton that really moved the Tigers into Central division contention. On the other hand, The Carmine Hose finally got a Number One starter in David Price—which completely transforms their rotation. Also, the pathetic 2015 bullpen has been overhauled—with Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith taking pressure off Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Robbie Ross. All in all, the Sox win the American League Hot Stove Crown.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Apocalypse Has Arrived: Plaid Uniforms In Japan

Even though the New York Giants wore plaid in 1916, there is no excuse for this style in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, the Orix Buffaloes will don plaid uniforms this year. The 'floes play in Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League. You know, you've heard of them, Yuniesky Betancourt used to play for them (or maybe he still does, we're not sure). Maybe because they merged with the 'Blue Wave' franchise in 2005, they feel the need for flamboyant uniforms. Or maybe because the Buffaloes play at The Kyocera Osaka Dome as their home park, they want to "copy" the Giants (see what we did there?). Anyway we are out of lame references, so just admire the unis!

Red Sox Owners Again Defile Fenway With Silly Drek

If the Red Sox Ownership Group thinks Fenway Park is such a cherished national treasure, why do they continually ravage it with endless music concerts, football games and soccer matches? The latest outrage is some hideous ski slope thing plunked down in the middle of the field. Apparently, there is some inane 'big air snowboarding and freeskiing' event called "Polartec Big Air at Fenway". What? We're supposed to be impressed that it's a U.S. Grand Prix event and part of the International Ski Federation's (FIS) World Cup tour? Ooooh! How Millennial! Let's face it, these non-baseball events are just another way for the NOG (New Ownership Group) to rake it even more cash. And, in the process, they besmirch something they claim to be "preserving". Shameful.

Gimmicky STATCAST Gets In The Way Of The Game

For some reason, Major League Baseball thinks it can be more relevant by capitulating to the 'statistical revolution' in the sport. The latest example of this is the silly STATCAST clutter they throw on certain television broadcasts. Does it really enhance our understanding of the game to know that Joe Panik's maximum speed toward a ground ball is 11.9 MPH? I don't think so. Don't get us wrong, the expanded universe of statistical evaluation is useful. For example, it's meaningful to know we got a -2.5 WAR out of Pablo Sandoval last year. Of course, some would argue that two eyeballs and a brain would get you to that same revelation. Anyway, we will continue to cringe whenever the television screen gets besmirched by some ridiculous STATCAST graphic. Just bring us the game—pure and simple.

Take Heart! Red Sox Truck Day Is Next Wednesday

The Truck
It may be snowing today in Boston (and it is), but the hearts of The Nation are light: Red Sox Truck Day is less than five days away! Apparently, there is some random political event happening in New England on Tuesday—but it's Wednesday that really matters. On that morning the equipment truck will load up at Fenway Park and begin its long ride to Fort Myers. No doubt, NORAD will be tracking the truck's progress through the various hinterlands along the route. We hear that to reach Florida, you have to pass through such wilderness areas as North Carolina, South Carolina and Hartford. Our loyal readers can better follow the exploits of "The Truck" via its own TWITTER account. That's right, Truck Day has its own account. You can access it HERE.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Twins GM Ryan Takes The Fall For Letting David Ortiz Go

As bad as it was for the Twins to release David Ortiz in late 2002, nobody remembers the equally dumb move six years earlier by the Mariners. Seattle traded Big Papi to Minnesota in 1996 for Dave Hollins. Anyway, Minnesota GM Terry Ryan has sucked it up and taken the hit for his bonehead move. Says Ryan, "Obviously, it was a mistake. The guy has been a great representation of the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball for a long time. And it's Boston's gain and Minnesota's loss. And I take full responsibility." Since that move, Ortiz has hit .288 with 445 HRs. Ah, the poor Twinkies!

Orsillo Envisions Heading To Hall Of Fame As A Padre

Say It Ain't So, Don!
Wow, Don Orsillo must really be upset with the NOG (New Ownership Group). After his unceremonious firing from NESN last season, the Northeastern University grad headed west to do play-by-play for the San Diego Padres. He was told by his new bosses that they wanted him to do games there for at least 20 years. Said the New Hampshire native, "That would be great. That's more than I would have been in Boston. If you could put in 30-plus years in the big leagues, you're eligible for the Hall of Fame. Maybe someday I'll go in as a Padre. Wouldn't that be great?" Yikes!

Mets To Rub It In With 1986 Throw-Back Unis This Year

Mookie "F." Wilson (Getty Images)
The New York Metropolitans will help stoke a 30-year old nightmare for Red Sox fans by donning their 1986 throw-back uniforms at various times during the 2016 season—with particular emphasis on Memorial Day Weekend. Luckily, The Carmine Hose are not scheduled to meet The Boys Of Flushing during the regular season—although they could renew their 30-year old meeting in the Fall Classic. Said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, "This 30th anniversary celebration provides our fans a way to re-connect their excitement to the historic achievements of 1986." We will not dignify that comment with a reply.

Hideki Okajima Signs Minor-League Deal With Orioles

Hideki Okajima (AP Photo)
Former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima has signed a minor-league deal with division rival Baltimore. Reportedly, the deal does not include an invitation to Orioles' major-league Spring Training Camp. The Japanese lefty has not pitched in the majors since 2013—in a brief stint with the Oakland A's. He was part of the 2007 Red Sox World Series Championship team. In parts of five seasons with The Carmine Hose, the 40-year old "Oki" was 17-8 with a 3.09 ERA over 246 1/3 innings. More than likely, Okajima will be Triple-A pitching protection for the Orioles.

Blue Jays Finally Install A Real Dirt Infield In Toronto

(AP Photo)
The Blue Jays announced that they have finally decided to install a dirt infield at SkyDome (we refuse to call it the improperly-named Rogers Centre). This is just the first step in what is truly needed—real damn grass. It's disgraceful that major league ballplayers still have to risk serious injury on whatever the hell makes up the "turf" in this otherwise decent stadium. You can't tell us the technology doesn't exist to grow grass north of the border in a semi-dome. Please, Canada, show some respect and play our game with our surfaces: grass and dirt. Sincerely, The United States of America.

Former Red Sox OF Jonny Gomes Will Play In Japan

The Game Four HR (AP Photo)
The inimitable Jonny Gomes has signed a one-year, $2 million deal to play in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Reportedly, another $1 million in incentives could be added to the contract. Back in November, the Kansas City Royals turned down their option on Gomes—despite the player bringing his voodoo-like good luck to the World Series Champions. Typically, the 35-year old Gomes says he would eventually like to return to MLB after his stint in Japan. During his two seasons wearing Carmine Hose, Gomes hit .242, with 19 HRs and 84 RBIs. Red Sox fans will never forget his three-run, sixth-inning HR in Game Four of the 2013 World Series (after the famous Davis Ortiz "dugout huddle"). No doubt, with Gomes on board, the Golden Eagles will soar to the top of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Fenway's 'Who's On First' Bar Is Now Out At Home Plate

(Boston Herald Photo)
The benighted 'Who's On First' bar—'cheek-by-jowl' with Fenway Park—is closing down for good. It's been nothing but trouble for the Red Sox owners (who control the lease)—witnessing multiple violent incidents on their doorstep for quite a while. This past November was the last straw—as an innocent bystander was murdered in the midst of a conflict between two groups of moronic bar patrons. So, this week, the always image-conscious Red Sox announced the dive was shutting down for keeps. Said Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran, "Safety is paramount in our continued effort to make Fenway Park and our neighborhood a welcoming environment for our fans, employees and neighbors. The violence that occurred outside our doors this past fall was unacceptable." Good riddance! 

Former Red Sox Prospect Suiting Up For Super Bowl 50

Thompson (Ethan Faggett/Red Sox Photo)
Thanks to Ian Browne of MLB.com, we now have an interesting storyline for Sunday's Super Bowl. Most of us, of course, have imposed a Full Media Blackout since the AFC Championship Game, so it's not surprising that we missed this story. Apparently, one of the key Carolina Panthers is none other than a former Red Sox prospect. Shaq Thompson (drafted by the Sox in the 18th round) is a 21-year-old Panther linebacker who had a very brief cup of cappuccino in the Boston organization. He had just 39 at-bats in the Gulf Coast League and he whiffed 37 times. Not the most auspicious beginning to a baseball career. Thompson wisely went back to football—where he had been a five-star high school recruit. Last year, the Panthers took him with the 25th overall pick in the NFL draft. Now, he's in Super Bowl 50. May he sack and/or intercept "Mr. Nationwide" several times on the way to a big Carolina victory!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Great Red Sox CF Fred Lynn Turns 64 Years Old Today

Those of us who see Fred Lynn make multiple appearances at Fenway Park each year find it hard to believe he's turning 64 today. He looks like he could still match Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley, Jr. stride-for-stride in center field. Red Sox fans will never forget the diving catches, the crashes into walls—and that sweet lefty swing that was made for Fenway. If Lynn had stayed in Boston, and stayed healthy, there was no limit to his stardom. Cooperstown would certainly have come calling. While with Boston, Lynn hit .308 with a .383 OBP, .502 slugging percentage and a .902 OPS. He smashed 124 home runs in Carmine Hose—finishing with 306 in his career (also playing for the Angels, Orioles, Tigers and Padres). But Number 19 will always be ours. Happy birthday, Freddy.

Sox And Empire Both Getting 'Scorched' At Hot Corner

Headley (L); Sandoval (R)
As pointed out by Ryan Hatch of NJ.com, both the Yankees and Red Sox are saddled with two of the least productive (and most expensive) third-basemen in all of baseball. Both Chase Headley and Pablo Sandoval had stinker seasons in 2015—Headley hit .259 while committing 23 errors and Sandoval batted .245 and made 15 miscues. Headley 'labors' under a four-year, $52 million deal while The Panda is getting a whopping five-year, $95 million windfall. Both could, of course, rebound—and both can be relatively easily traded. So there's that. But, still, both clubs are clearly getting hosed at the hot corner.