July 2012


The Walloping Wordsmiths. May they live on like the Seattle Pilots and the 1962 New York Mets.

In the top half of the seventh, the Essex Otters, a motley squad of high school kids, had mounted a furious comeback against the veteran Green Mountain Bombers. With runners on first and second, a rocket into the centerfield triangle was enough to bring across the tying and go-ahead runs, stunning the home team and sending the Otters on their way to a championship.

It was the deciding game of the Summer Classic, a 12-team Wiffle Ball tournament held at Little Fenway in Jericho, Vt., and organized by SLAMDiabetes, an organization led by Jeff Kolok, whose goal is to help the lives of kids with Type 1 diabetes, and the families that support them. Kolok himself has children with Type 1 diabetes, and started the group as a way to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease and improve the lives of the families affected. He also swings a mean bat for the Bombers.

I volunteered at the Vermont event, and later, I got to play with my own team in the New Bedford, Mass., tournament, held to fight Type 1 diabetes and benefit the Bay Sox Foundation. From my tented seat, I worked as the official scorer for some of the games, and in my downtime, helped set up chairs, hang signs and run lineups.

It is inherently silly, watching grown men and women don uniforms, swing bright yellow bats and scamper around a miniature diamond. And it was an amazing flashback to little league, in that I couldn’t get on base to save my life. But, for two weekends, I was a small part of an organization that is trying to help, trying to make a difference. And it all takes place in an amazing setting. (more…)

I don’t want to talk about it.

Ichiro has been traded to the Yankees.

The most entertaining, cerebral, stunning outfielder of the past decade has been shipped from the Seattle Mariners to that soulless corporation posing as a baseball team, twisting a unique institution into just another cog in joyless pursuit of a pennant.

If you’re of the mind to believe in some sort of higher power, today should be enough to make you question, or abandon, that forever.

Excuse me, while I crawl into a hole until 2013.

Fisk didn’t waste any time getting comfortable in his new sox in the 1980s.

Last month, Kevin Youkilis joined a special branch in Boston Red Sox lore, that of the star and fan-favorite sent off to Chicago after spending quality time in Fenway Park.

Nomar Garciaparra joined the club in 2004, sent off to the Cubs as part of a three-team trade that sent Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera to Boston, jump-starting their run to an eventual World Series crown.

There have been others, too — Dennis Eckersley was traded to the Cubs in 1984 for Bill Buckner, for example — but the bad blood that seems to exist between the hard-swinging third baseman and certain members of the team, along with his dramatic return, more closely mirror that of catcher Carlton Fisk.

★ ★ ★

The contract fiasco that Fisk lived through in the winter of 1980-81 is famous and well-documented. Haywood Sullivan, the Red Sox general manager, “forgot” to mail the All-Star catcher his contract for the 1981 season, turning Fisk into a free agent. (more…)

David Ortiz continues to rack up home runs for the Red Sox … for now.

Yesterday afternoon, David Ortiz took a swing towards the Hall of Fame in Oakland, taking A.J. Griffin deep in the fourth inning for his 400th home run.

It’s a milestone in an improbable career, a special moment for a player who was left on the scrap heap by Minnesota 10 years ago. He rounded the bases, touched home plate, pointed to the sky and celebrated with teammates Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adrian Gonzalez, who were waiting on deck to congratulate the iconic slugger.

So why is this, a historic accomplishment for a well-loved player, the secondary story the next day in the press?

Because David Ortiz is upset with the Boston Red Sox, and it’s not hard to see why. (more…)