Friday, April 29, 2005

Quick Thoughts - NFL Draft

OK, first, an explanation of my absence. My intention was to write about the NFL Draft; give a little analysis, maybe even enlighten some of you on topics that perhaps you don’t know about yet (hold for laughter…). Unfortunately, I had a little problem with the whole “I’m going to do nothing but watch 48 hours of NFL Draft coverage while only moving my ass off the couch to go to the can or flip channels between the Draft, the Red Sox, and the NBA Playoffs because my remote broke when I threw it against the wall a couple of weeks ago so now I’m forced to get up just to flip channels or raise the volume (and maybe if I keep typing everyone will have to hold their breath especially if they’re reading this out loud or reading to someone else because this is one hell of a run-on sentence)” scenario.

The problem? I had to work. One of life’s little annoyances. I need more money, and since no one is going to pay to read these little blogs I post, I must work. And work, and then work some more. My 9-5 weekday job (which is actually more like 7:30 to 5) is at a hospital. On weekends, I either work as a “freelance contractor” (read: odd-jobs guy) or as a semi-pro poker player. Stunningly, I make more at the poker job than at either of the others.

I know what you’re thinking – is this going to turn into another poker article? Probably not. Although I am trying to land a weekend job as a poker/gambling writer, I will try to stay away from that today. (You and I both know that this will eventually end up right back there, but for now, maybe a little false hope will keep you all reading for a couple more paragraphs)

Anyway, back to the Draft. Sometime around 2PM last Saturday, I realized that I was missing the Draft telecast because I was working, so I quickly asked to flip on ESPN. Luckily, the draft was so ridiculously slow this year that I had only missed about 4 picks. I was only able to watch the telecast until around pick #12 or #13, and then I left.

I tried to catch some of the Sox game on the radio, as I was staying in Boston that night. No go. Then I thought about watching the Celtics play game 1 of their series, but I ended up going with friends to a couple of college bars that decided to show MLS soccer on the Plasma screens rather than the NBA playoffs. No, I’m not joking.

That left me with only one option… go to bed and wake up for a big poker tournament on Sunday! (See, I knew this would devolve to poker eventually.)

I won’t bore you with the gory details. Let’s just say that I had never finished dead last in a legit tourney before Sunday. I only played two hands to the flop; one took about 35% of my stack (bad read), the second took everything left (personal stupidity/bad read). I played a couple cash games and got chased down in each of them, sending me home tired and poor. Such is life.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I would be playing much more poker then I normally would (or probably should) in preparation for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas for the WSOP in July.

Now I’m beginning to wonder if I should just keep the $1200 that was to be used for flight/hotel and pay off bills with it rather than fly out to Vegas and probably get outdrawn yet again, missing work for 10 days and probably blowing an additional grand in the casinos.

After cashing in a freeroll a couple days ago and eeking that cash up to a level where I could actually play normal stakes matches, I watched in horror as I was outdrawn on 18 consecutive all-in hands. 18 straight times I entered an all-in hand (either myself or my opponent) ahead, and 18 consecutive times I was outdrawn. There’s something wrong here.

For now, let me just pass along the following thoughts about the NFL Draft:

Quick Thoughts while wondering which receiver the Lions will draft next year…

n Watching Mike Williams fall to #10 overall was brutal. Although, I gotta say: great pick by the Lions; I really think they needed one more high-profile, unproven wide receiver. Why not just trade away next year’s #1 to move to Miami’s slot and grab Braylen Edwards? We all know that if they have a First-Round pick it’s going to be spent on a receiver. Maybe Paul Tagliabue should strip Matt Millen of all first round selections until he learns his lesson, like giving a little kid a “timeout” in the corner until he apologizes for throwing his toys all over the room… sorry, I’m babbling again, as usual.

n Actually, if the Lions have a high first round pick next year, it’s probably going to be spent on a QB, because if they have another losing season, Joey Harrington’s done.

n Baltimore grabbed Mark Clayton at #22 overall – if Kyle Boller turns it around this season, that’s a scary, scary team right now.

n Troy Williamson better be worth it, Mike Tice. Because if you have to watch Mike Williams, in your own division, light up the NFL for the next 10 years, you’ll never live it down.

n I heard a “Draft Guru” on the radio last week make a very good point against Cedric Benson. Most guys coming out of college are young, fresh, and relatively injury-free. While Benson isn’t coming off a major injury, he has been the featured back in a run-oriented offense since High School. Runningbacks only have so many miles in their bodies, and Benson’s already pushing the boundaries of his own personal odometer.

n Of course, that didn’t stop me from saying he should be the first RB taken…

n Aaron Rogers to Green Bay at #25. Now THAT’S a freefall…

n Not only a freefall, but he went from presumptive #1 overall to the #3 overall quarterback in the draft. Ouch.

n Dallas had a nice draft, essentially rebuilding their entire defensive line with two top-20 draft picks. Now if only they had an offense…

n Pittsburgh didn’t get their marquee first-round wide receiver, as I thought they would, but they did get the best available Tight End, a guy who will probably be revered in The Steel City.

n San Diego – another franchise building a winner with good drafting. Merriman and Castillo are both solid players, and Castillo’s admittance to using Androstendione (and subsequent pledge to return his entire signing bonus if he ever tests positive again) shows me that he’s a stand-up kind of guy. I’d like to see him succeed.

n You think Oakland is trying to dump Charles Woodson? Too bad he actually signed the offer sheet…

n Roddy White to Atlanta at #27 overall. Well, I’ve never heard of Roddy White, and considering he’s a Wide Receiver in Atlanta, there’s a good shot I’ll never hear from him again.

n I was actually quite angry when I heard that Cincy grabbed David Pollack at #17 overall. I was really hoping he’d slide to the Pats at #32. He reminds me of Tedy Bruschi – high-energy guy who’s undersized at his D-Line position, but would be a good speed rusher from the Middle-Linebacker slot.

n Speaking of the Patriots… let’s give them an incomplete grade on this draft, since I’ve never heard of any of the guys they drafted, but I’ve learned to trust Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli over the past few years.

That’s it. I’d comment on the NBA playoffs, but, well, the NBA sucks. And the Celtics, well let’s not even mention them.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pre-Draft Thoughts

Before I get into a quick breakdown of the NFL draft, I need to vent. Brace yourselves.

I understand that many of you see the word “poker” in these posts and simply close the window, or else skim the contents of the post looking for something more interesting to you. I’m going to recommend that you actually read this one, and then you’ll know why I tried to give up online poker months ago…

So you all know by now that I won my entry into the WSOP from a week and a half ago. I like Paradise - the competition is usually a lot better than the fish on PartyPoker, and they offer a variety of styles of play.

Anyway, in addition to the $10,000 WSOP entry fee and a $600 entry to the Paradise Masters II event in a month, I was given $1400 to use to get to Las Vegas for the WSOP. When I tried to cash out the $1400 in my account, I was forced to leave $50 behind until my original deposit cleared. In a day, I had turned that $50 into another $500, but as usual, I did not cash out. Oops.

Last night, I began with the last $125 in my account. I usually play at $50 or $100 1-on-1 “Heads Up Tournaments”, but after getting continually outdrawn by people who obviously subscribed to the “Any 2 cards” theory, I decided to move to a $1-$2 No Limit 5-person table. Great move.

Ten minutes into the table, I already had a read on the other four players. The player to my left was unbelievably loose, and the player to my right was ridiculously tight. I liked my position. I quickly picked up almost $100 after flopping 2 pairs and slowplaying the hyper-aggressive guy to my left. Five minutes later, I got crushed.

There are certain hands that make me think that Online Poker, in general, has been hacked. I would like to believe that the “random number generator” is hack-proof, but since the name “Random Number Generator” is an oxymoron, then I can see how it could be hacked by some crazy Scandinavian kids with nothing better to do than sit online and figure out the patterns. Anyway, this was one of those hands…

I had Ac-Ad in the Big Blind ($2). Hyper-Aggressive Guy (HAG from now on) raised the bet to $6. Two people called, and I re-raised to $20. HAG called, so did one other guy.

The flop hit 5d-As-8d. I checked my trips. HAG bet out $15, and the other guy folded. I put him on either an Ace with a moderate kicker, or a flush draw. I even gave some thought to A-5 or A-8, but I was still ahead in the hand. I called.

The turn came down Ah. Quad Aces for D... Now I knew he was on a draw, or at best 5’s or 8’s full. Little bells and whistles were going off in my head, but since I’m practicing for the WSOP, I had to practice keeping a stone face. I checked. He bet $30. I raised to $75, he called. The river was the six of diamonds. I bet him all-in for about $100, and he immediately called. The computer turned over my Quad Aces, and I had a mile-wide grin on my face, as I was certain that I had just picked up $200 on one hand…

Until the computer turned over his 4-7 of diamonds. His Straight Flush beat my Quad Aces. This moron had called down major raises, out of position with 4-7 of diamonds A) Before the flop, B) After the flop hit him with nothing more than a couple of draws, and C) After the turn put 2 Aces on the board. My pre-flop and post-turn raise had to signal that I had at least trips Aces. Until that six hit the board, he had nothing. NOTHING.

Normally, I would say that getting outdrawn is part of the game, but this is a bit much. Worse still - it wasn’t a bad beat jackpot table (Paradise doesn't offer them), so I got nothing. On a Bad Beat table, I probably would have gotten about $10,000 for this debacle. But on this table, all I got was a swift kick in the nuts and two new cards towards the next hand.

The worst part of the hand was that, after his miracle card (the only card in the deck that would win the hand for him), he had the audacity to taunt me, saying things like “Knew I had you all the way”, and “Play the player, not the cards”. Are you kidding? Give me Quad Aces and I’ll play any player for any stakes, anytime.

I left the hand with about $30, which I managed to nurse back up over $90 about twenty minutes later after getting tripled-up with three of a kind off the flop that played out to a full house on the turn. I finally left the table and tried to cool down.

I coughed up that $90 at a different $1-$2NL table about two hours later, again with AA, after a guy with 9s-10s (who raised, re-raised, and finally called me all-in before the flop for $90) won with the board playing out 9-10-A-9-9. Ridiculous.

Before playing last night, I had planned to play a $200+$40 freeze-out in Boston this weekend. After the two horrendous hands last night, I stared at the $0.00 in my Paradise Account, and decided it would be wiser to save the money and actually pay for the WSOP trip to Vegas.

I logged off, and began researching today’s post…

Random Thoughts Regarding the NFL Draft…

n Aaron Rodgers might be falling, fast. And I mean FALLING. It’s like he just jumped off a skyscraper with cement shoes on. There’s talk that the man who was the #1 pick (by default) just a week ago might not go before the top 20 now. What; did the kid’s arm fall off and no one’s reporting it?

n I guess this ends the debate I posed Monday – “Bigger First-Round bust: Ryan Leaf or Aaron Rodgers”…

n I just don’t think Carnell Williams will be that good of a running back. That doesn’t mean that the Bears or Bucs won’t blow their first round selection on him, but I believe that Ronnie Brown is the better of the two Auburn backs, and that Cedric Benson is better than either of them. I can see Dallas trading up from the #11 slot to grab Benson (Maybe with Cleveland at #4 or Tennessee at #6).

n All the talk yesterday was about Washington’s decision to swap picks with Denver in order to have two first-rounders. Personally, the move makes no sense. If the ‘Skins are than intent on grabbing Jason Campbell (QB from Auburn) in the First Round, then they should have waited until Saturday. There’s no guarantee that Campbell will still be available at #25. Wait until about five minutes before Green Bay makes their pick at #24, then go for it. Don’t forget - the Packers need a young QB too, because Brett Favre can’t play forever…

n Minnesota has 2 picks in the top twenty. Something tells me they move the #7 and a second or third round choice to Miami for the #2. In fact, Minnesota could address two needs by sending Miami both first rounders and a third rounder for the #2 overall and Patrick Surtain. Then use the pick on Braylen Edwards or Mike Williams. That would give them their big #1 receiver, and probably the best defensive backfield in football.

n I think there’s a good shot that Terrell Owens is acting as a mouthpiece for the player’s union as a pre-emptive strike towards the upcoming CBA. I don’t think this generation of players is happy about the “no guaranteed contracts” thing with the Owners. The Salary Cap they can probably live with. But the no guaranteed contracts, well… You wonder why Mike Vick didn’t look ecstatic when he had a press conference about his record-setting new deal? Because the last three years or so will probably never happen. Either that, or his little “rash” was flaring up again…

n The New York Giants better hope Eli Manning pans out, and fast. They are short a few picks because of him…

n Here’s the beauty of that Manning/Rivers trade last year. San Diego made a solid run last season, and if not for Marty Schottenheimer’s brain freeze, they probably would have beat the Steelers and made it to New England for the AFC Title Game. Now they have two first-round picks, including a top 15, and still two franchise QB's. On the flipside of the argument, the Giants gave up last year’s #1 and #3, and this year’s #1 and #5. Tough to build a young team when you’re giving up four picks for one player. Reminds me of Mike Ditka and the Saints and their infatuation with Ricky Williams – how’d that work out?

n The Jets traded out of the first round with Oakland, in return getting a mediocre tight end, a second round pick (#47 overall, via Houston for Philip Buchanon) and two 6th-rounders. This deal, above anything else I’ve read, proves to me how lackluster this draft is at the top, and how deep it is in the later rounds. This might turn out to be a very good deal for the Jets, and you can’t imagine how hard it is to type those words…

n I’m stunned that no one has signed Ty Law yet.

n I wonder if Pittsburgh, a team that has been very, very quiet so far during all of the pre-draft melee, will make a move to get atop the board and get the replacement for Plaxico Burress at WR. Maybe not into the top five from #30, but top 15 for Oklahoma’s Mark Clayton (who will be a steal if he goes after #15)?

n What are the odds Baltimore ignores offense, yet again, and grabs yet another defensive star? 3-2? Even money?

n The Pats have the last pick in the first round. Again. Ahhh, the price of success… Actually, this is a pretty funny mock draft on… “With the 32nd pick in the draft, the New England Patriots select some guy no one has ever heard of, who will become an instant star…”

Well, I’m over my self-imposed 1500 word limit, so I’m stopping this here. I’ll try to work on a post-draft analysis for Monday, but no promises. My weekend will be spent hanging new walls for my mother and listening to the draft on a TV three rooms away, so there’s a decent chance I only get to see one or two of the picks live and then watch the recap later in the day on SportsCenter.

Fun times these will not be…


Monday, April 18, 2005

Random Thoughts - April 18th

Random Thoughts while trying to decide who will end up as a bigger

First-round bust: Aaron Rodgers or Ryan Leaf…

n BIG STEIN’S ANGRY! Big Stein doesn’t like what’s happening with his team! Seriously – who didn’t see this one coming? The Yankees are in dead last place in the division (just like last season), so George feels the need to fire up his team. It’s almost to the point of being a scripted tirade. Steinbrenner calls someone out (in this case, the entire $200M roster), and “miraculously” the team goes on a run. Not surprisingly, the Yankees next 5 games are against mediocre teams – 2 home games against the D-Rays, 3 on the road in Toronto. A 5-game winning streak isn’t out of the question – I think it’s almost to be expected.

n One positive that Yankees fans can take out of the 3-game sweep – at least Rivera didn’t cost you any of the games…

n Speaking of Yankees’ fans… Got the chance to hang out with some of the college buddies on Saturday – most had made a surprise pilgrimage from New Jersey to hang out for the weekend. A good time was had by all, including a random visit to Fenway Park for the Sox/D-Rays game (Manny – 2-3, 2HR, 6RBI – not a bad day at the office). Unfortunately, I was forced to leave the game early for the first time in my life. Unforgivable, I know…

n Random Fenway moment: the seat I was put wedged into was broken, as was the seat next to mine (Adjacent seats at Fenway share a common bolt to hold them together through the armrest. Ours broke off.) Three innings into the game, after the seat fell apart every time I stood up, the guy behind me made a suggestion that I wish I’d listened to. “Hey, kid (I hate being called kid at this point in my life)… Why not just rip the seat off and sell it on eBay as ‘Fenway memorabilia’”. Not such a bad idea.

n Bud Light’s “Mr. Overzealous foul-ball catcher” – very nice. “Why pay for a souvenir, when you can fight for one?”

n Um, who is the Marlins’ closer? Seriously – has he even pitched yet this year?

n There’s talk that the 2007 NBA All-Star game could be held in Vegas…who else thinks that this could lead to a record number of illegitimate births between September and December of ’07?

n Last night’s Braves/Phillies game was a fantasy dream scenario for me. I had both starting pitchers (Mike Hampton and Brett Myers) in one league. This league doesn’t penalize for losses, so the only thing better than both pitchers going 8 shutout innings would have been a 1-0 finish in 9 innings, with complete games from both guys. As it stands, the dual shutout effort lowered my team ERA almost ¾ of a point.

NFL Draft update: I’m not posting a Mock Draft this year like I did in ’04, simply because there are absolutely NO clear-cut decisions to be made this weekend. Any player could go at any time. There’s no obvious #1, meaning that every pick is up in the air. I will probably throw up a quick post on Friday just before the draft when things become clearer. I’m not even watching the draft on Saturday – I’ll be hanging sheetrock and listening to the TV three rooms away.

Personally, I think the Niners will cave in and take Aaron Rodgers #1 because he put up big numbers and he’s local, meaning they can probably sign him quickly.

To me, Alex Smith looks like the better QB. I still say San Francisco’s best option would be to take Mike Williams or Braylen Edwards #1 overall and then get a QB with the #1 pick in the 2nd round (Jason Campbell, Adrian MacPherson, or Charlie Frye). A young nucleus of Kevan Barlow, Mike Williams and Jason Campbell could be very good for years to come. Having a solid player at each of those positions can lead to good things.

Indy has the same thing, with Manning, Harrison and James. Manning is a stud QB, no doubt. Harrison has the best hands in the league, but might not be such a top receiver with a different QB. And James probably wouldn’t be ¾ as good as he is on Indy unless he had the stud QB and top-tier receiver to take the pressure off the ground game. Maybe in Philly – but that’s why no one has made an offer for him.

Anyway, that’s it for today. More to come later in the week.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Practice Makes Perfect

I really hope my poker playing ability isn't peaking at the wrong time...

Back in 2003, when poker was first becoming mainstream (I’m talking about the WPT on the Travel Channel, about six months before Chris Moneymaker made his run to the WSOP Main Event title) I set a goal for myself. I decided that before the age of 25, I wanted to play in a WSOP Main Event.

This past Monday, I earned that goal. Now I have set a new goal:

Before 2009 (my 10-year High School reunion), I will win at least one WSOP bracelet. Period. I don’t think it’s out of the question that I could win it this year – I’m on an unbelievable roll of great play and great luck (more on that later), and as I’ve told many people in the past – no one wins a tournament without getting lucky at least once. In fact, playing flawless poker will only win for so long – eventually you’re going to have to outdraw someone.

Beginning last Friday, I started on a week-long (to-date) roll that has seen me put just over $400 into various games, and leave with over $14,000 cash & prizes. I’ve won a trip to Vegas to play in the biggest poker tournament ever set for this coming July – 6600 players are expected to descend on the Rio hotel/casino in Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event.

On the way, I played some of the smartest (and luckiest) poker I’ve ever played. I steamrolled two different people in a cash game last Friday with ridiculously good hands and even better plays. I would have won another $400 in the tournament that night if not for getting outdrawn. Last Sunday I won my weekly home game with a lucky hand that ended the night. Then on Monday I played perfect poker for six hours and won my seat into the WSOP.

Last night, I played online some more (I left my original $50 deposit from Monday online to keep playing with). I won two 1-table, 10-person tournaments with the help of some luck, but more with some good plays. Then I got bored and played a high stakes heads up match ($200 – winner take all) and won that strictly on good plays and no outdraws.

I’ll be returning to Boston to try and bust up the home game that I played last week. More important than winning though, I’m trying to figure out the holes in my game so that I can patch them up before July. Minimal leaks = minimal losses.

So that’s that. I’m in full practice mode to take home my first world title. And if I do, then just think – the last three World Series winners will be from New England! Greg Raymer, Boston Red Sox, Big D – it has a nice ring to it, no?

Before I leave, I have two quotes this week. One from Monday’s World Series celebration in Fenway, and then the return of “Mom’s quote of the week”.

From Monday:

It’s pretty big, and shiny. I think that would brighten up just about anyone’s day.

-- Dave Roberts, on his shiny new ring

And From Mom:

I just don’t like him. He just seems way too damned cocky, and he’s not even that good. What has he ever won?

-- Mom on Alex Rodriguez. More accurate words were never spoken.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

QUick Thoughts - WSOP Entry & MLB

Quick Thoughts while looking for a hotel in Vegas for

the WSOP for under $200 a night...

- Thank you all for the congratulations and kind words about my WSOP entry. The event is still two and a half months away, and I find myself unable to concentrate on anything else. This may not be a good thing. It makes driving particularly difficult... I will probably be playing more poker than normal (or than healthy) in the coming weeks to keep my game up, and certainly watching as much of it as possible on the television, in the slim hopes that I actually get the chance to play against the pros I watch.

- I think the Cubs are in a lot of trouble if the Kerry Wood that showed up today is the Kerry Wood they get for the whole season.

- I also think the Cubs are in good shape if the Mark Prior that showed up today is the Mark Prior that they get for the rest of the season.

- I’m pretty certain that every starting pitcher on the Marlins will have to undergo Tommy John surgery if Jack McKeon doesn’t wake up and realize he has a bullpen. These innings are nice in the early season, but they’re not necessary. In September, when their starting rotation consists of AAA call-ups and waiver wire wonders, they’ll be looking back at all these complete game shutouts and wishing they had happened on September 13th rather than April 13th...

- If the Sox want to have any shot of even reaching the playoffs again this year, they’re going to need Curt Schilling to step up, BIG, for the rest of the year. Otherwise, they’ll either have to pack it in for 2005 or else mortgage the next five years and get Ben Sheets...

- If the Mets are going to rely on Pedro to throw complete game, 2-hit shutouts to get all of their wins this year, they might be in trouble. Sure, it could happen. And a pink elephant could fly out of my ass, carjack a Yugo and drive to the Mexican border for tequila shooters, too. There’s probably a better shot of that than of Pedro throwing even three more complete games this year.

- I have no idea where that came from. My mind is still stuck on the first thought in this list...

- I’m stunned that the Nationals and Braves have identical records, even this early in the season. 5-4 ain’t much, but I expected the Nats to start at about 2-7.

- Milwaukee is atop the NL Central at 5-3. Somewhere, Bud Selig is smiling (and shredding steroid documentation)...

- I think Toronto might just end up like the ’03 Royals – disrespected all season long, then in late August their bandwagon will get too heavy and the wheels will come off.

That’s it. I need to go back to scouring internet travel sites for a reasonable hotel that isn’t either on airport property or six miles from the Rio.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

2005 Red Sox Home Opener - Pre-Game

Being injured has its plusses and minuses.

Minus: I can’t feel anything in my left leg other than a shooting pain from my ankle to my hip. I’m not 100% sure my right leg is still attached to my body.

Plus: I have the day off of work to lay on my couch, since walking is pretty much out of the question.

Minus: I might have to go have another surgery.

Plus: I have the opportunity to watch the Red Sox home opener from said couch.

Minus: Actually, that last plus outweighs any other minuses...

After a plethora of technical delays, I am now able to actually watch the game. Thank God. If cable goes out or my TV dies, there’s about a 60-40 shot that I go on some sort of spree...

My apologies to anyone who doesn’t have the opportunity to watch this game live. Personally, I was supposed to record this for friends who are working before I learned that both my VCR and the computer that I built specifically for capturing cable TV are both dead. Hence, the biggest of the “technical delays”.

Anyway, this will be a running journal to take the place of the travel journal that I never got around to typing.

1:55 – NESN is showing us a recap of the 2004 Red Sox season. As much as I’m in favor of reliving that season as much as possible, this is the fourth “’04 recap” in the last hour. Actually, that’s not too much.

1:57 – Ah, the July 24th game revisited, set to the Evil Empire techno remix and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Nice.

1:59 – NESN’s Tom Caron really needs to learn how to use inflection in his speech.

2:01 – Renteria grounds back to Foulke... hang on a second, I think my allergies are acting up again...

2:03 – Great sign on Yawkey Way – “Wait Till Last Year”... perfect.

Commercials. Good time to bring up a caller on WEEI earlier today. The question was being asked – “Who should throw out today’s first pitch?” One guy called in and said it should be the player most instrumental in the Red Sox playoff run... Mariano Rivera. Well, he is in the building today...

There is no question about it – I am buying myself a 2004 World Series Ring. It will probably end up costing more than my car, but I will have one at some point in my life.

2:09 – If ever there was a day I wish I had TiVo, or had already placed my order to Comcast for their PVR...

2:13 – Ya know, considering that everyone said that the Red Sox winning a World Series would herald the coming apocalypse, it’s a pretty nice day...

2:14 – “Let’s go live to the PA Announcer”.... 45 seconds later, we have volume... nice work NESN...

2:15 – Verizon Wireless bought the rights to today’s opening ceremonies. Shameless.

2:15 – Oh my God – Don Orsillo & Joe Castiglione are reading off scripts for the introduction... this is surreal. They’ve had 6 months to prepare – they couldn’t memorize a script in 6 months? Plus, both men look like they’re petrified to be on the field right now. Priceless.

2:17 – That was the best banner unfurling ever. Hands down, the Red Sox front office knows how to throw a party. Also glad to see that the Yankees are in their dugout to witness this. Classy move not to hide in the clubhouse. I can respect that.

2:20 – Alright, I’ll admit it. The injured soldiers carrying the World Series trophy & rings, James Taylor playing “America the Beautiful” and 35,000 fans chanting “USA! USA!” just got to me. I’m probably going to be a blubbering mess for the next four hours. Judging by the crowd & dugout shots, I doubt I’m alone.

2:25 – Tom Werner is apparently a big fan of the “Awkward Carlos Baerga Man-Hug”...

2:27 – The Boston Pops are in Center Field playing “Sweet Caroline” as Derek Lowe comes out of the dugout to possibly the loudest ovation so far. This isn’t happening. I’m not seeing this. I don’t even know how to explain what I’m watching.

2:30 – We’re 10 rings into the ceremony, and the music has stopped. I think the Pops have used up their entire repertoire...

2:31 – Oops. Spoke too soon. “Star Wars” theme for David Ortiz. Yeah, I think that works well. I never realized how much the “Star Wars” theme & “Superman” theme sound alike.

2:33 – And “Indiana Jones” for Kevin Millar, “Jurassic Park” for Mike Timlin/Ramiro Mendoza, and now “Superman” for Dave McCarty/Bronson Arroyo/Mark Bellhorn. I’m sure this made sense to somebody. I think they’re just playing every movie theme that John Williams ever composed.

2:35 – Lenny DiNardo, Abe Alvarez, Mark Malaska, and Ramon Martinez walk on to the field largely unnoticed. Too bad. Of course, the Pops break into the Olympic Theme. That certainly makes perfect sense.

2:40 – Supposedly, the Red Sox are giving out 500+ rings for this World Series. I hope it’s like the Oscars, where they just have a “pre-event” ceremony for the lesser known people...

2:42 – HAHAHAHA – Curt Schilling & Dave Roberts enter to “Hallelujah Chorus”. Now THAT’S perfect! Dave Roberts is getting a hug from every guy on the line. See, this is why he should’ve stayed in Boston – he would get a standing ovation every time he stepped out of the dugout.

2:45 – Nice shot of the Yankees standing on the top step of their dugout. Rivera looked particularly displeased...

2:47 – Even the trainers are getting hugs from Tom Werner. I think he’s way past drunk. At least Dr. Bill Morgan showed up – maybe he can stitch Tom’s mouth shut before he makes an ass out of himself again...

2:50 – I keep waiting for Jimmy Fallon & Drew Barrymore to come out and collect their rings... and then be picked off by snipers. Maybe in a perfect world.

2:51 – Johnny Pesky, in full uniform, gets his ring to a deafening ovation and the 1812 overture (presumably the year he was born). Damn my hayfever...

2:54 – Pesky & Yaz raise the Championship Flag in center field while past Sox players stand around and cheer. Like I said, these guys know how to plan a party, and Boston’s had 86 years to get ready...

2:56 – Dear God, they’re going to introduce the New York Yankees individually. Bat boy, equipment manager, massage therapist, athletic trainers... they ALL got booed. And the players haven’t even come out yet! We very well could have a fight in pre-game introductions...

2:58 – Mariano Rivera got a standing ovation with a WIDE grin on his face. He even tipped his cap to the crowd. Now everyone is smiling. OK, maybe no fights today. Joe Torre also being showed the respect he deserves with half boos, half cheers. Something tells me no more cheers for Yankees today. Maybe Giambi...

2:59 – Nope. Definitely NOT Giambi... That was brutal.

3:00 – “Ladies & Gentlemen, the 2005 New York Yankees”. Shouldn’t Castiglione have said “The current New York Yankees, until George gets bored or angry and buys six new guys”?

3:02 – My ass is numb. I think I should try to walk around. This might get ugly. Give me a minute...

3:05 – This must seem so surreal for the guys that were just added to the Red Sox this season. Wells, Payton, Renteria, Miller, etc... I don’t think they could have expected anything like this scene here today. In other news, I won’t be leaving my couch for another week or so. That was a bad idea.

3:08 – Leave it to Red Sox fans to interrupt a moment of silence in honor of the Pope & former player Dick Radatz who both recently died, by yelling out “A-Rod – You SUCK!” Probably not the best timing in the world.

3:10 – National Anthem, F-16 flyover and then the first pitch. I can’t wait to see how they handle this. Supposedly they’re looking for 2 representatives from all of the major Boston teams. My guess is Bill Russell & Larry Bird, Tom Brady & Tedy Bruschi, and Ray Borque & Bobby Orr. Unfortunately, no one from the New England Revolution knew what “baseball” was.

3:11 – Bill Russell. One-for-one.

3:11 – Bobby Orr. Two-for-two. Guess it’s only one from each team.

3:12 – Richard Seymour & Tedy Bruschi – Three for four. Well, 3-4 got me through college…

3:13 – Strikes from Bruschi & Orr, two-hoppers from Seymour & Russell.

And with that, another commercial break. First one in an hour.

I gotta say, I’m really looking forward to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The book was great, and the movie looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. Of course, I haven’t been to the movies since “Shrek2”, and “The Matrix2” before that, so I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of the movie world.

Once the game starts, I think I’ll just write short recaps of each inning, rather than minute-by-minute thoughts. It’ll make my life easier, and certainly yours too. In fact, this just eclipsed 1500 words already, so let’s make the game a separate post...

2005 Red Sox Home Opener

Rather than write 3,000+ words in one long post about the Red Sox’ 2005 Home Opener and World Series ceremony, I decided to break it into two different posts. This post is dedicated to the game itself and whatever is on my mind as the game goes along. This Post is a 1,500-word running journal of the Pre-Game ceremonies. Enjoy...

First Inning:


Derek Jeter: 1 pitch, 1 out. Nice start.

A-Rod strikes out. This is a perfect start to the day.

Sheffield Walks. Well, there goes the perfect game...

Matsui with the K. Wow, Wake just made him look baaaaad...

More Commercials. Time to look at the fantasy teams...


Damon leads-off with a single. There goes Mussina’s no-hitter...

Damnit – thought Nixon got all of that one. Gotta pull that ball in Fenway Trot...

Good to see that the Governor, James Taylor, Ben Affleck and others were able to get tickets to this game. Wouldn’t want them to be left out in the cold or anything...

Manny just doesn’t look like he’s seeing the ball well right now...

More Commercials. Guess it’s a good time to mention this – I’m on eBay right now. Keep in mind that, in real time, it is just between the first and second innings. There are currently 41 items listed that include the words “Red Sox 2005 Opening Day Tickets” in the listing. Subtract 20% of those as people selling pins, hats, shirts, etc. and that still means that more than 30 people were too stupid to time their auctions so that they would end before the game to which they were selling tickets. And that includes this listing with two ridiculously nice seats for the low, low price of $3,800. What does this all mean? I have no idea. Just thought it was interesting.

Second Inning:


I had no idea that today was both Trot Nixon & Jason Varitek’s birthday. Glad we cleared that up. These are the things I really need to know for barroom conversations in the future.

Wake’s knuckler is really moving today...

Jason Giambi is batting. This should be interesting...

Strike Three. Good thing too, because Mark Bellhorn was essentially playing right field for Giambi’s at-bat.


Kevin Millar’s up. Hey, that reminds me – anybody know when that “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” episode with the Red Sox is airing, so I can be sure to hang myself a few hours earlier?

A-Rod boots Millar’s grounder, recovers, and still throws him out. If he doesn’t make that play, he probably gets a standing ovation every time he bats for the rest of the day.

Wow. Mueller gets drilled, then Mirabelli drills Mussina’s first pitch over the Monster. Guess that counts as excitement.

Sorry. I should mention that I’m on about 327 Motrin muscle relaxers to try and make my legs feel better. And since the intro to the game was so emotionally draining, the game has a lot to live up to. A Red Sox win isn’t going to be enough – they need to win in spectacular fashion – either a 25-0 blowout or a 9th inning comeback off Rivera. Otherwise, I’m just going to bed.

Bellhorn struck out. Stunned silence from the crowd. I don’t think anyone expected that to happen...

Third Inning:


Doug Mirabelli always holds his mask when he fields a pop-up. Isn’t that like the first fundamental rule of fielding as a catcher – toss the mask? Sorry, I’m nit-picking again...

Jerry Remy is repeating what I just typed. I swear I could be a great color announcer for a Major League team.

Again, fundamental baseball. There’s a reason that pitchers not named Greg Maddux don’t often field their positions, and Tim Wakefield just illustrated it for us... Not a big deal, since the ball landed foul and Womack lined out to right.

Anytime Derek Jeter takes a called strike, he gets a pained expression on his face, like he can’t believe that an umpire would question his batting eye. Again, I’m not going anywhere with this. Just thought I’d bring it up. That, plus he has the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen. Almost reflective. Scary even. In any event, he struck out, so he does still, in fact, suck.

OK, let me add one possible outcome of the game that I would find acceptable – no-hitter. Wake’s going good through three...

Also, while I have a second, I’m going to link to my friend Dan’s blog. He’s got a pretty funny post up there from a couple days ago regarding hot chicks and rainstorms. Worth a look...


They just showed an interview with Dave Roberts from the pre-game ceremony in which he gave what is inevitably going to be my “Quote of the Week

Trot still hasn’t learned to pull the ball, but at least he got this shot to center to fall in...

Hmm... David Ortiz is up with 2 on and 1 out. I know what I expect to happen here... let’s see if it does.

Nope. Manny & Ortiz just walked back-to-back on 9 pitches total. Maybe Moose isn’t on his A-game today...

Bases loaded for Millar. This is either going to be great or horrible. Not sure which...

GREAT! Liner back up the middle (that must’ve been scary for Mussina) to plate two runs. 4-0, and I’m feeling a little better.

Damnit. This is why I hate Derek Jeter. He’s just too good. Renteria just hit a rocket line-drive. Jeter simply stepped to his left, leapt up and snagged it, then flipped to second to double up David Ortiz as if it was no big deal. Helluva play. And I hate him for it.

Fourth Inning:


Oh good – Bud Selig is joining Don & Jerry in the booth for a half-inning. Maybe they’ll let him do some play-by-play too...

Aw hell. There goes the no-hitter with a bloop to right off the bat of A-Rod. That’s it – I’m going to bed.

Wow, Bud Selig voluntarily brought up the steroid hearings. That’s pretty surprising. Surprisingly, Gary Sheffield is batting while they discuss this...

I’m not going to mention the blunder that just allowed A-Rod to score from second on an infield single...

Hmm... Selig hurriedly leaves just before Jason Giambi’s at-bat. Coincidence?


Wow. Doug Mirabelli just struck out looking on a NASTY curveball. He started walking back to the dugout before the ball even hit Posada’s glove.

Hey, Mark Bellhorn DIDN’T strike out! Now that’s surprising...

“A-Rod BOOTS IT!” Well that sounds familiar... and a nice ovation for Rodriguez as well...

See, this is what happens when you can’t play defense (and when the umpire won’t give you a pretty obvious strike three call). 2 more runs on a Sheffield error and a 6-1 error. And the requisite “AAAAAA-Rod!” chants.

Manny just drove home Trot Nixon, as Don Orsillo & Jerry Remy receive their World Series rings. Nice touch.

We’re well on our way to that 25-run blowout I described earlier...