Red Sox

Watching baseball with Jim Rice

Yesterday we had the distinct honor and pleasure of watching the Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers game in the company of Jim Rice and talking baseball with a true legend of the game, who’s going to be inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

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Jim spoke frankly about the differences between baseball during his time and baseball today, including players’ salaries, team-spirit (or sometimes the lack thereof), and some of the current Red Sox players and their strengths and weaknesses. He was also cool about signing various Red Sox gear, baseballs, and posing for some photos (above with my wife and son). Thanks, Jimmy!

More photos of the game, batting practice, and Jim Rice are on my personal photo website

Red Sox Opening Day 2009

Opening Day 2009 - originally scheduled for Monday this week and postponed to Tuesday, April 7, due to the rain - was a great way to start the baseball season. The celebrations were quite spectacular with Senator Ted Kennedy throwing the opening pitch and with a fly-over by F-15s from the Air National Guard right after the National Anthem:

Click to open HD View Panorama

Dustin Pedroia, the 2008 MVP, was second at bat and got the game off to a good start with a home run. And it was great to see a home run by Jason Varitek, too. Josh Beckett came out firing and kept the Rays to two hits and one run in 7 innings.

The Red Sox won 5-3 against Tampa Bay. Only 161 more games to go this season...

They just never give up

If there is one thing to be said about the Red Sox, it is this: they never give up. Yesterday's game 5 of the ALCS vs. Tampa Bay was the most amazing baseball game I ever saw. We were fortunate enough to have seats right along the first base line - between first base and the Pesky pole - and experienced the greatest postseason comeback since 1929 first-hand.

The mood before the start of the game was great, with the crowds cheering for 松坂 大輔 (Daisuke Matsuzaka, or "Dice-K" as he is known to Boston Red Sox fans) as he came onto the field to start his warm-up exercises:

Daisuke Matsuzaka warming up

Understandably, the mood turned a bit more somber as the Sox fell behind 5-0 over the first couple of innings and finally were down 7-0 at the top of the 7th inning.

That was the point in time when about 20-25% of the people left Fenway Park, and when the Tampa Bay Rays started cracking open the champagne in their locker room.

But then the Red Sox did the impossible and turned things around. Starting with Dustin Pedroia's line-drive to shallow right field, which got Jed Lowrie home for the first run, the mood in Fenway Park changed. And then David Ortiz made a true comeback possible with his 3-run home run deep into right-field:

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From that moment on, nobody sat down in Fenway Park until the single by J.D. Drew at the bottom of the 9th that allowed Kevin Youkilis to score, giving the Sox their 8-7 win and a ticket back to Florida for game 6.

This game will be an instant classic in baseball history, no doubt!

The longest baseball game I ever sat through

It took me a few days to post this, because I'm still "recovering". This past Sunday I was lucky enough to get a few seats for the ALDS game 3 at Fenway Park. It turned out to be the longest baseball game I ever sat through - and I did, of course, stay until the very end.

Here is a picture of the fog rolling in way past midnight - at the top of the 11th inning:

Top of the 11th inning

When the game finally ended after the 12th inning, it was with the disappointment of a Red Sox loss, but that pain didn't last long, since we won the ALDS series 3-1 the next evening.

And even though the game lasted so long, we all had a great time - and the kids got to school just a ""little bit" too late the next day...

Fenway: our new puppy

Let me introduce you to Fenway, our newest family member:

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He's a male Portuguese Water Dog, presently 8 weeks old, and the cutest puppy in the world. We got him from Reel Life yesterday and he was part of this litter.

Fenway is a very curious dog and loves to explore his new surroundings:

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But he still has to get used to being on a leash and loves to bite it playfully:

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When we are inside, he loves to cuddle up in our dining/family room - because that's where lots of people are:

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More photos are here and I will continue to update that gallery. But I haven't taken out the big camera yet, so these are all iPhone (and not even 3G) pictures...

In case you are wondering about the name: my wife came up with the idea, and we all immediately loved it.

Red Sox sweep Brewers 11-7

We got to see another great game of baseball at Fenway Park today. Josh Becket pitched seven innings followed by Delcarmen and Papelbon as the closer.

It was a great pleasure to watch the four home-runs: two by David Ortiz, one by Dustin Pedroia, and one by Kevin Youkilis. This performance by the Red Sox brought the inter-league series finale to a nice close.

We also had the great pleasure of being on the field during batting practice today, and were catching some balls while the Brewers warmed up. In doing so, we were close to the Red Sox bullpen and watched Clay Buchholz as he was working with the pitching coach:

It is the same Clay Buchholz who pitched a no-hitter in September 2007 as only his second start as a rookie for the Red Sox.

Best Christmas Present Ever

The holiday season is upon us and today we did a little Christmas (and Hanukkah) celebration in the office. I got the Best Christmas Present Ever from the entire staff here at Altova, Inc.:

Fenway Park Bleacher Seats

These are authentic Fenway Park Bleacher Seats, removed in November 2007, and they come complete with certificate of authenticity, holographic authentication stickers, and - most important of all - some chewing gum still stuck on the bottom.

As part of their renovation program for Fenway Park, the Red Sox did apparently sell the old seats to fans, and the gang here at Altova managed to pull off the impossible and get me a pair.

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For the time being I am keeping them in my office - until the new house is ready in a few years - and we've rearranged the furniture to make them part of the seating area. That way they will actually be used for our weekly team meetings and are also available for visitors.

If you want to know how happy I am about these seats, just look at the grin on my face in this picture to the left.

Thank you guys! You've really made my day!!

Sox win ALCS, go to World Series 2007

After being down 1-3 against the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox did the impossible (again!) and just won game 7 of the ALCS defeating Cleveland 11:2 to go to the World Series 2007. Similar to the great come-back of 2004 (they were down 0-3 against the Yankees then), they just focused on one game after the other to take back the series.

So how do I know about this, despite being in Europe on a business trip this week. Well, this is another fun story all by itself: I woke up at 5:18 am this morning (due to a bit of Jet Lag coming in from Las Vegas yesterday). Since I couldn't fall asleep anymore, I turned on the TV to see if they would have any channel broadcasting the game - but alas, there was none. However, I did find a channel broadcasting a time-delayed version of the Patriots game against the Miami Dolphins, and so I am watching that right now, and that is great fun to see, too. Amazing work by Tom Brady and gang.

Anyway - back to the baseball story: so I ended up using my iPhone to watch the pitch-by-pitch reporting of the game on wap.mlb.com from the top of the 8th inning on. It took me only a little while to realize that it was still before midnight in the US, so after reading about the fantastic double by Pedroia with all the bases loaded, I called up my lovely wife and we "watched" the rest of the game together with her reporting to me on the phone pitch-by-pitch and we cheered for every single out counting them down during the top of the 9th. It was great fun, and we had to laugh so hard, because it reminded us very much of Kishon's classic phrase "Die beste Ehefrau von allen...".

So there you have it: I'm sitting in a hotel room in Vienna, watching the Pats on TV, cheering for the Red Sox and talking baseball with my wife, and blogging about it at the same time - all before even remotely considering the idea of breakfast. Can we get any more "americanized"... :)

Red Sox clinch post-season ticket

Last night the Red Sox became the first team in the MLB to clinch a playoff spot in 2007 thanks to a three-run ninth-inning rally: Jason Varitek tied things up with a solo homer, and then Julio Lugo launched a two-run tater to cap the comeback.

The game didn't go too well for the Sox earlier, but the 9th inning turned it into a 8-6 victory over the Rays.

This makes Terry Francona the first manager in Red Sox history to reach the postseason on three different occasions...

More info on redsox.com...

Good thing I missed that end...

Sometimes it can be a good thing to not watch the end of a game: I was on the plane yesterday (returning from a day in New York), so I watched most of the game by looking at the MLB mobile play-by-play page on my iPhone during the first 2 innings (while still in New York), then I listened to the game on the radio (WRKO 680 AM) as I drove home from Logan airport - and by the time I was home the Red Sox held a commandig lead. Feeling good about that lead, and being exhausted from the trip to New York (i.e. getting up way too early), I was so tired that I simply went to bed instead of watching the end of the game.

That turned out to be a good thing, as I missed the utter devastation that followed in the 8th and 9th inning.