Recent Reading

Power Play by Joseph Finder – I came across Power Play while cruising through some thrillers at a book store.  Having read Finder’s Paranoia a few years ago and remembering how much I enjoyed it, I picked it up and consumed it quickly.  A very fun and fast read.  I guess it would be called a corporate thriller, sorta like how Grisham’s books are legal thrillers.  I really like how Finder uses an otherwise unassuming and humble (yet cool) hero to figure things out and save the day.  The ending is a little anticlimactic, but overall, very enjoyable.

The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci – If you’re a fan of baseball, you’ll love this book.  It’s more like an expose than anything else.  If you were involved with the Yankees and you’re name doesn’t rhyme with Jereck Deter (or isn’t Jorge Pasada, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera or Bernie Williams), Joe’s got something . . . interesting . . . to say about you.  Very thoughtful stuff about steroids and even more interesting material on changing attitudes in the game.  His commentary on how the rest of the league caught up with the Yankees’ ability to outspend other teams by being smarter is also illuminating (in a Money Ball-ish kinda way).

If, as Bill Parcels says, “you’re only as good as your record,” Torre is among the best ever.  1249 wins over 12 seasons, including 4 World Series Championships.  His teams went to the playoffs every year he was in New York.  Impressive.

The only problem with the book was the amount of time Torre spend describing the 7th game, 12th inning Yankee defeat of the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.  Very, very painful.

Why Shi*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day by Peter J. Bentley – Bentley uses the story of someone’s amazingly bad day to walk the reader through a basic how things work of anatomy, physics, medicine, electronics and so forth.  I almost punted on the book because of how basic it initially seemed, but I realized that I was learning at least one thing with each little story the author presented.  In fact, a few were completely enlightening.  You certainly have to be in the right mood to read this and some insatiable curiosity about the world around you is required.  It’s a fun way pf presenting the material, though.

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Red Sox Leave 600 Men on Base, Lose ALCS Game 7

Sorry fellow Red Sox fans, it needs to be said . . . the better team won the ALCS last night.  The Tampa Bay Rays are younger, stronger, healthier and probably better managed than the Sox.  The experience and broad skills of the Red Sox almost overcame those factors, but just fell short this year.

The series was excellent.  Great games, great pitching and clutch hitting.  Last night’s top of the eighth inning was indicative of it.  The Sox loaded the bases and Joe Maddon, manager of the Rays, masterfully used five different pitchers to get his team out of the inning unscathed.  The Red Sox certainly had their chances in the deciding game of the series, with men on base and even in scoring position several times – only to be left stranded by a combination of good pitching by the Rays and less than optimal hitting by the Sox.

Lest I seem cavalier or uncaring about the loss, as a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation, I’m distraught.  To see Big Papi flailing at low pitches and Jason Veritek basically useless with a bat in his hands makes want to cry.  After losing three games straight in the series, I tried to dismiss my team to avoid an emotional breakdown.  As usual, the Sox roared back and gave me hope only to make me have a bigger breakdown after the eighth inning last night – when it was clearly over.

In any event, thanks to the Boston Red Sox for a fun season.  The team is always a blast to watch and Red Sox games are a centerpiece for my summer activities.  I look forward to another successful season in 2009.

Was that the last time we’ll see Jason Veritek in a Red Sox uniform?

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Red Sox Win World Series. Now Maybe I Can Get Some Sleep

It’s great that the Sox have won another World Series.  It’s great because I’m a die hard Red Sox fan and because the Series is finally over and I might be able to start getting some sleep.  I might even drink less.  I’m ecstatic and exhausted.  It’s not just the emotional exhaustion that is part and parcel of being a member of Red Sox Nation where even a five run lead doesn’t feel comfortable and Manny Ramirez’ random fielding efforts make any right-handed hitter a threat for extra bases.  It’s the fact that Fox and MLB don’t start games until 8:30 EDT and for some reason, a baseball game can’t be completed in less than four hours – and that’s a relatively quick game in the playoffs.  What’s up with that?  Do you really need to fix your gloves after every swing or take a walk around the pitcher’s mound between pitches?  And no, David Ortiz is not a threat to steal second base.  Stop throwing over there to hold him on the bag.  Geesh!

I guess that I have to admit that the sheer number of hits and runs in this year’s World Series has something to do with the longer games.  In the four game series between the Red Sox and the Rockies, there were 76 hits (47 of them by the Sox) and 39 runs scored (29 of them by the Sox).  That kind of hitting takes some time, as does all the time it takes to change pitchers.  Between the two clubs, there were 30 pitching changes made (13 by the Sox).  How many warm-up throws is that?

The Red Sox looked good and were clearly the better team.  As it was with the World Series victory in 2004, this championship series was a bit anticlimactic after the Sox went 3-1 in the ALCS and came back to win.  Nonetheless, there were a couple of close games and some excellent play by both teams.  The Rockies are young and talented and will have many good years ahead of them.  Now that Denver fans know they have a ball club in town, maybe more people in Colorado will start getting ulcers like Red Sox fans.

Although there were tense moments, the Red Sox held the best record in baseball for almost the entire season.  They played well in all facets of the game and did it with a combination of young talent and seasoned veterans.  In the off-season, there are certainly some decisions to be made, but it looks like the Sox will have the talent to be a contender for several years to come.  I’m looking forward to all of them, but right now, I need to go focus on the Patriots.  Thankfully, there haven’t been as many tense moments in their season yet.

Thanks, Red Sox, for a great season!  

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Hey Rockies . . . Welcome to Sea Level

World Series Game 2 from the Green Monster World Series Game 2 - Prudential Center

Ok, I know I dismissed the Red Sox when they were down 3-1 to Cleveland.  But everyone in Red Sox Nation knows that the Sox won that series precisely because I rationalized their defeat.  If I had guaranteed a victory an even let thoughts about a potential victory enter my mind, they would have lost.  If you think this is sick or contorted logic, you obviously are not now nor have you ever been a New England Sports fan.

Last night, my son and I sat on Fenway’s Green Monster at game 2 of the World Series (the picture above is from where we sat and the other picture is of the lights of the Prudential tower behind the scoreboard at Fenway).  The game (Sox won 2-1) was much better than game 1 (Sox won 13-1), but not as much fun.  When you sit on the Green Monster, everything is about home runs.  There were none last night.

Last night’s game was close.  The Rockies could have won it if it weren’t for the 7 walks given up by Colorado pitchers and the lights-out performances from the Sox bullpen.  Over the next few games, the showdown is not likely to be about starting pitching, but instead, the bullpens of both clubs.  At this point, it’s hard not seeing the Sox winning the battle in that department.  I think the Rockies will be strong at home, though, and there should be some more exciting and close games in the series.

Now I’ve gone and done it.  I said something positive about the Sox’ chances.  Hope I didn’t ruin it . . .

You Know You’re in New England When . . .

Fall is great in New England.  The trees are alive with blinding color, there are great events everywhere like this weekend’s Head of the Charles Regatta, and thanks to global warming, people are out and about everywhere, basking in the sun and warmth.

But nothing in New England is bigger in the fall than sports.  The Red Sox are in the playoffs and playing at Fenway Park, and the Patriots are rolling over all comers.  If you’ve never witnessed New England’s obsession with sports, I’m here to tell ya’ that it’s not something isolated to a few sports fans.  It’s part of the culture.

Yesterday, I attended my niece’s wedding.  A beautiful fall ceremony presided over by a justice of the peace.  After the bride kissed the groom, and the two were declared husband and wife, the JP concluded the ceremony by yelling, “Go Sox!”  No one in attendance thought it was out of place.  Welcome to New England.

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