Busy Busy Busy

With only 14 games left to the 2011 baseball season, the Boston Red Sox have to hold onto their slight lead for the Wild Card spot with a death grip. I sat in my seat at Fenway Park, facing the American League East Standings for the entire game.....the Yanks have won 90 games so far, and well, we have not. David Ortiz had a back brace on Wednesday, and it was announced that he is one of the nominees for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award, given at the World Series by Chevrolet and the MLB. Ortiz also made an apprearance on the Good Morning America show (ABCtv) today. Slugger Kevin Youkilis has a sports hernia, among other health issues and Adrian Gonzalez was taken out of Wednesday's game for a health issue also. Josh Beckett is scheduled to start on Friday night's game against the Ray's "Big Game" Shields, so he needs to pitch, well.....like JOSH BECKETT. The Sox are still missing JD Drew and Clay Buchholz, in addition to some bullpen pitching (Bobby Jenks) and oh yes........Daisuke Matsuzaka. Health and injuries were the team's downfall in 2010, we can only hope that it will not be so for the tail end of the 2011. The postseason is in reach, so take out your lucky charms & cross those fingers Red Sox Nation. The 2012 regular season baseball schedule has been released, and I will highlight a few noteable games:

 

Game One:    Red Sox @ Detroit April 5th

Home Opener:     Tampa Rays @ Boston   April 13th

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION GAME:     NY Yankees @ Boston April 20th

* * Some Interleague Play:     Phillies (road) May 18-20

Nationals (home)  June 8-10

Marlins  (home)   June 19-21   (now Miami Marlins)**

Braves  (home)  June 22-24

 

- fenway fruitgirl 2011 “BEHIND THE NET”

Introducing: The 2011 Boston Red Sox Lineup Of Charity Wines

 
 
images.jpgStarting Pitchers  Jon Lester  and  Clay Buchholz  are the Boston Red Sox players featured in this year’s lineup of  CHARITY WINES.

Other than both men being the best RED SOX starting pitchers in the 2010 season, they have both had the rare opportunity to be in the spotlight for pitching No-Hitters for their team at the starts of their professional careers. Buchholz and Lester are stellar athletes and wonderful representatives of their team, as well as the new 2011 line of CHARITY WINES brought to us by Andrew Graff’s Winchendon Massachusetts-based Longball Cellars/VinLozano Imports.
To-date, 30+ professional athletes have teamed-up to raise over 1.6 million dollars in funds through Charity Wines. And  100% of the proceeds on the sale of each bottle of the 2011 Red Sox wines goes to charity. Each player has chosen a charity that is of utmost importance to them. 
Clay Buchholz has chosen the Jimmy Fund to be the recipient of all funds from the sales of the new  ChardonClay  California wine. Clay is the co-captain of the Jimmy Fund that fights against cancer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  (www.jimmyfund.org)
Jon Lester, a recent cancer survivor, has chosen the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to be the recipient of all funds from the sales of the new  CabernAce  California wine.
 
wines2.jpg 

The wines will be available in May 2011 and sell for approximately  $14 a bottle. You may contact  www.charitywines.com  for more information and a retailer near you.
The gorgeous illustration on the wine labels are done by Jonathan Banchick (www.banchickillustration.com)  and the beautiful player photography on the labels is done by Kelly O’Connor  (www.sittingstill.net).
Please go out and grab a few bottles of each, they’re delicious and they really do make a real difference. Salute’
 
charity.jpg- fenway fruitgirl 2011 

BACK ON TRACK

 

 

Opening Day 134.jpgMaybe it was a “Pep Talk” given by Francona in the privacy of the clubhouse, or Curt Young’s finally bonding with his pitching starters…or maybe the guys just finally CLICKED together, not sure which…..but glad it happened !! The bats are waking-up too, so the little voice in my brain is shouting: LOOK-OUT MLB (the Sox are armed and dangerous)

The boys are back on the east coast for the last leg of their 2nd roadtrip of the season. The Red Sox will take on a stronger-than usual Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday for a 3-games series with Clay Buchholz starting-off on Tuesday, then Josh Beckett on Wednesday, and Jon Lester on Thursday night before returning to Boston.
Both John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have had great and extremely timely shutout wins this weekend against the Los Angeles Angels. The Red Sox are now in 3rd place in the vicious American League East. After a historically rough start, and the loss of the excessive dead weight of the thousands of bandwagon fans jumping ship for other sports…baseball in Beantown will heat-up and get competitive for the season.
 
With only 7 errors for the 21-game season so far, the Boston Red Sox top the Major Leagues, for the BEST RECORD with the fewest – tied with the Milwaukee Brewers. Whilest some bats still need to wake-up (and you know who you are), the potential for a monster season seems more realistic now, than it did at the beginning series of the month. (Cudos to the guys, and very glad to see it.)
 
 
Yankees 158.jpgJonathan Papelbon is now tied for 3rd in the American League with 5 saves so far this season. And super-hitter Jed Lowrie is 2nd in the AL East (behind Nick Swisher – NYY) against lefties. Jed has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 contests. Jackrabbit Jacoby Ellsbury now has 141 STOLEN BASES tied with Heinie Wagner for  4th  on Red Sox All-Time list. Yaz is 3rd on that list at 168.*
141 games are left in the 2011 regular season, so BUCKLE-UP, it’s going to be a Wild Ride !!
- fenway fruitgirl 2011  “BEHIND THE NET”
R.I.P. Terry White (miss you)

Opening Day At Fenway Park

 

 

Opening Day 006.jpgApril 8th, 2011 It was finally the day to open the big gates of Fenway to let in the masses. The home opener was scheduled for a 2:05pm start time in the 1st game of the series against the New York Yankees. 

It was a large, but slightly subdued crowd on this particular Opening Day. The area bars were packed, the parking lots full, and the police were out in full force. But it was a reserved and cautious bunch that came to the ballpark on this sunny spring day to welcome the team back for the season.
Even Yankees fans (from both NYC and Connecticut) told me that all the fun seems to be “pooped-out” of the Sox fans today.
 
Well, we had something even more pressing than taunting Yankees fans to tears….we needed our energy to create a WIN vacuum of hope for our team. Something had to be done proactively to assist the team (if even in our hearts and minds) into a winning mode, and fast.
 
Opening Day 004.jpgThere was an newly revamped Fenway waiting for me (and all the others) on Friday afternoon, with it’s ballpark upgrades, it’s added menu, it’s festive decorations…and it’s three beautiful new big screens. But it certainly was not the Opening Day ceremony of 2010. There was no Neil Diamond to sing Sweet Caroline, no Steven Tyler singing, no fireworks (day game) and certainly no Pedro Martinez to throw the Ceremonial 1st Pitch. It was in a word….
Subdued. 
 
Opening Day 017.jpgOnce the opening ceremonies were through (Mayor Menino giving John Henry something or other, 2 Moments of silence, Playing of Taps, etc…) Joe Costiglione introduced Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski as the greatest Red Sox player before Yaz came out and threw the ceremonial 1st pitch. He was a very good choice, a legend…and no controersy. 
After the mostly booed introduction of the Yankees (except for Mariano Rivera..who got a thunderous applause) and a great Sox introduction…..the game began. John Lackey was on the mound to start vs. NYY Phil Hughes. 
 
Opening Day 014.jpgI am not here to relay everything that went on in the game, but to say that it was a good game, and I was in no way disappointed. The Boston Red Sox came to play on Friday, and trounced on their foes….ending in a nice first win to start the homestand. Final score, 9-6 Red Sox. Onward and Upward we go!

Opening Day 028.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 * I want to thank my awesome and generous friend Kim for an excellent adventure! 

Opening Day 079.jpgThe boys let off some steam after the game at the Annual Welcome Home Dinner & Celebration at the House Of Blues. 

- fenway fruitgirl 2011  “BEHIND THE NET”
 
 In Memory Of A Dear Lady, A Friend…..And Beautiful Member Of Red Sox Nation…..
    may you rest in peace  Terry White…..you will be fondly missed.
 
Opening Day 142.jpg 

Snap Out Of It !!!!!

After playing their first five games of the 2011 regular baseball season, it is crystal-clear to fans and players alike….

the Sox are in a slump. (Big Time)
The sportsworld is watching, making excuses and jokes and diagnoses on the affliction.
And in a week that should be full of joy and unbridled anticipation, we scratch our heads and toss our hands up in frustration….hoping the losing streak ends before the boys hit home soil.
You see, Fenway Park turns 99 years old this month, and that’s a really big deal in these parts. It makes her the Grand Old Lady of baseball, and she has been prettied-up for the occasion too. Ownership has invested big bucks this offseason to lay down a new smooth floor in the grand concourse, added new seating to replace some sections, new food choices for the finicky visitor and uptown crowd, and of course, added new cupholders!
Why lobster rolls and sushi had to be added to a blue-collar ballpark, is beyond me. Did they take a survey of fans from Nantucket, or Newton or Marblehead and leave the rest of us out of it? (maybe so) One truly miraculous and wonderous thing did change…..they will serve liquor at the park this season, and for that, I am truly grateful. (especially on the days they are losing)
Enough sarcasm and silliness, we must all wake up from this NIGHTMARE. It is no longer Spring Training (another horror show) and it’s time to start pitching, hitting and catching the ball like the big boys do. Plain and simple. Act like your jobs depend on it, because in many cases, it does!
“Maybe they’re homesick…”   and  “Dr.Evil stole their Mojo”  are cute, but no longer funny to this girl. I want to see the guys talk with their bats, and make their opponents cry.
Perhaps the green walls of the park is the power force needed to get them started, or maybe the fans do the trick…..I’m not sure who’s been sneaking KRYPTONITE into the visitor’s clubhouse in Arlington Texas and Cleveland Ohio, but……
SNAP  OUT  OF  IT !!!!!!!
- fenway fruitgirl  2011  “BEHIND THE NET”

“Most Feared” Status

The cowboys, the dirt dogs, the idiots…….are now “Big Brother”.

Toss Across.jpg Who would’ve thought that letting two outstanding All-Star players go would lead us not to the bottom of the AL East, but to “Most Feared” status in the MLB. Losing Beltre and Martinez sent Red Sox Nation into a screaming tailspin this offseason, and the front office brought us Crawford and soon-to-be-signed Gonzalez, making us the favorite to finish in the top spot in October baseball. The prospect of that has temporarily silenced a nation of New England sports fans.

Francona has uttered numerous times that he prefers to keep his boys “under the radar”…but that will be near-impossible this season. All eyes seem to be focused on the Boston Red Sox.
Will they, or won’t they? This time last year, there was tremendous optimism in the national sports media for the Boston Red Sox to give the reigning champs (NY) a real run for their money. One injury after another in the disasterous 2010 season nixed that plan, and the boys were left out of the postseason. This season brings increased media attention and fan expectations to the doorstep of the 99 year old clubhouse.
New Red Sox boy wonder Adrian Gonzalez (set to be signed in early April) has just begun hitting after major surgery, and our jack rabbit in centerfield has not played much yet in this preseason. It is likely that veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield will stay on in 2011 and reach his desired milestones to make his esteemed mark in Red Sox history, and that “Smiling” Mike Cameron will be the Go-To outfielder for Left and Center – even though there are numerous reports of scouts circling the BP’s like hawks. (Lots of whispering about Daisuke being shipped-off too.)
BP March 20.jpgI am unashamed to say that my thrill meter is set to high for this season to begin. I will be there from day one to the last Fenway game to bear witness to the action.
Stay Tuned.
- fenway fruitgirl 2011  “BEHIND THE NET”
 
* follow me on TWITTER   @fenwayfruitgirl  or  on   FACEBOOK  (fenway fruitgirl)

HIBERNATION NATION

 

Snowbanks outside can be measured with yardsticks, not rulers. The days are short and blustery and the nights are long and frigid……but deep-down in our hearts and memories is the bright green of springtime and the countdown to our national pastime’s most-awaited time:

                             
                                      ” OPENING  DAY “
 
 


TRUCK DAY.jpgWhile the cold Boston wind is howling through my green plywood fortress, January fades and Truck Day (2/8/11) approaches. I anxiously await my cell to start beeping, vibrating & ringing throughout the day with updates and watching the boys in their red unis stretching, jogging, throwing and hitting by the Florida palms. But the most eagerly awaited of all February milestones remains the official utterance of the most precious words ever expressed on a sporting field (or press box):

                                        ” PLAY   BALL “
 
 

Sox March 22.jpgGametimes have been added to the Red Sox game schedule as of today. And I do NOT want to see empty seats in 2011…..got that RSN !!!!!!  The guys need your support, they want to look up into the stands to hear and see the fans from all 6 New England states (& all over RSN) go nuts. The players will bring their game, and reminiscent of when the SSWW (Sox Suits With Wallets) went out and spent the Big Bucks to beef-up pitching with Matsuzaka, they again polished-off their wallets in December to bring us a killer team that should rule the 2011 postseason. And as an added bonus, it looks like a “Bridge Year” for Tampa and NY.
THIS  NATION  HAS  VERY  HIGH  HOPES.

*Most 2011 Regular Season Home Games will be on sale Saturday January 29th.*
(excluding Opening Series, Cubs games & Yankees games & certain seating areas)
- fenway fruitgirl 2011   “BEHIND THE NET”

Goodbye 2010 (Year Of The Catastrophy)

 

 

August Beltre Lowell.jpgAs we dwell in the melancholy of the past year, there is much to be pondered, and much to be proud of. The 365 days that comprised 2010 took Red Sox fans on quite a rollercoaster ride of hills and valleys that started with media-pumped optimism, and ended with a lackluster ending of the 3rd spot in our American League East.

The 2010 year began with the loss of LF Jason Bay’s prized bat, and the gain of “Bulldog” John Lackey to our pitching stable. When Spring Training was through, we witnessed the emergence of young Clay Buchholz’s “Year of Legitimacy”, and Adrian Beltre’s rise to Mega Stardom. On the flip-side were the struggling starts of Jed Lowrie and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
New additions to the families of: Lester, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Beltre & Henry should be noted, for they may be the future of Baseball.
Our team veteran Tim Wakefield began the year as a starting pitcher, and ended it as a reliever…while picking-up a 2010 Roberto Clemente Award. And Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava had mind-blowing debuts in front of hometown crowds at Fenway Park. (I hope that Manny DelCarmen returned Nava’s Grand Slam ball to him postgame.)
2010 also seemed to be the year of Mike Lowell. While he did not play nearly as many games as he would have liked, and was sadly almost lost to the Texas Rangers in the Spring, our #25 entered the season with a first plate appearance 2-run homer that sent the fan base over the moon….and ended the season with a nationally-televised farewell on October 2nd.
And now to acknowledge the elephant in the room…..the EVER GROWING DISABLED LIST of 2010. Literally a “Who’s Who” of Boston Red Sox star players, the list began with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron and Jeremy Hermida, and ended with practically every other player on the roster !! (I wish I were only joking) 
We bid a sad and fond farewell to Manny DelCarmen, Jeremy Hermida, Adrian Beltre & Victor Martinez, and we welcome newcomers Jenks, Wheeler, Crawford and Gonzalez. 
Even with such a train wreck of an injury list in 2010, the Boston Red Sox still managed to squeeze-out 89 regular season wins…..the same as the American League Champion, World Series playing Texas Rangers !!  Let’s not forget that our 2nd string players took 2 out of 3 games against the Evil Empire’s “Superstars” in the regular season finale in October. So Good, So Good, So Good.
 
 
June 2010 077 (2).jpgEach year we venture into the unknown. This upcoming year, the Sox are equipped with the shiniest and sharpest sword in the kingdom.
- fenway fruitgirl 2010  “BEHIND THE NET”
 
 

Fenway’s Festivities Of The Season

 

Christmas Fenway 042.jpgOn a beautiful brisk and sunny December day in Boston, the Boston Red Sox front office celebrated holiday season by giving back to some of the lucky fenway faithful. The annual Christmas At Fenway celebration was held on Saturday December 11th at the grand old 98 1/2 year old ballpark’s warm upper levels. 

Christmas Fenway 006.jpg
 
Attendees were allowed to bring guests, and some brought buddies, co-workers, spouses, and children. The gates opened at 10am, and admittance was distributed throughout the day according to your invitation. Player appearances and activities were spread-out from 10am-5pm, and included Tours of the Park’s Improvements, Viewings & Photos with the 2004 & 2007 World Series Trophies & American League Trophies in the Pavillion Suite, visits from Santa and Mrs. Clause, as well as Wally the Green Monster & several other Boston Sports Mascots. Candy and Popcorn were complementary and well-received by young and old. Wally’s World was set up on the lower level near Gate E for the children to play games, and the visitor’s batting cages were open for challengers. Up in the EMC Club was an outstanding view of the ballpark & it’s many ongoing renovations….as well as the most beautiful bathrooms in the ballpark. Also in the massive suite was a Wii Video Game area, and up on the stage, a Fenway-style gameshow. (Who Wants To Be A Red Sox Millionaire)
 
On the upper large State Street Pavillion Deck area were magicians, face painters, artist, and Curious Creatures to entertain the visiting families throughout the day. 
 
Christmas Fenway 029.jpg
 
Interviews with Jason Varitek, Carl Crawford, Daniel Nava, Luis Tiant, Terry Francona, Frank Malzone and coaches Ron Johnson and DeMarlo Hale were ongoing on the stage all day.
(Varitek finalized his contract for 1-year, and Crawford was officially introduced as our new Left Fielder early in the day.)
 
Christmas Fenway 004.jpgWhile all this was going on, tickets for the 2011 season were being sold on the lower level ticket windows by wristband # and timeslot. Tickets were also being sold by redsox.com website in a limited capacity beginning at 10am. Only certain games in April, May and September were available for individual game purchase, and a variety of Sox Pax were also available. There was a limit of 8 tickets per invited attendee. The remainder of the games will be released for sale in mid-January of 2011.
 
- fenway fruitgirl 2010   “BEHIND THE NET”
Have a happy, healthy & safe holiday season Red Sox Nation !!

GUEST SPEAKER : CAPTAIN JASON VARITEK

 

 

Captain.jpgThe service clubs of Greater Haverhill: Key Club, Exchange Club, Pentucket & Haverhill Kiwanis Clubs had their annual dinner of the holiday season on Thursday at DiBurro’s of Ward Hill, sponsored by northshore car czars Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion. Businesspeople and Movers and Shakers of the Merrimack Valley came out for the holiday business luncheon and were treated to a delightful speech by Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, followed by a Question and Answer session, all benefiting area children’s sports programs.

 
Sponsors Gary, Mark and Gavin Jaffarian are well-known north of Boston for their many years of philanthropy benefiting various children’s charities, and also have maintained a working relationship with many Boston sports players (Jason Varitek, Felix Dubront, Hideki Okajima of the Boston Red Sox). Also orchestrating the event was Peter Carbone of the Haverhill Kiwanis Club, Peter Shanahan of Haverhill High School/Haverhill Schools, and the DiBurro family (David, Joe & Patrick Sr.).*
 
 
Speech 001.jpgI was sandwiched between Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini and Matt Battistini Sr. who sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame to honor our Captain. Rabbi Kowniow gave the entertaining blessing and said a few words. Stating that pitchers and catchers report in 67 days, he then asked the Lord to “Strike-Out poverty, disease and Evil Empires”. He also asked: “May he (Varitek) never suffer broken bones anywhere in his body again”.  (Amen to that !!)
Jason is a “captivating” public speaker and got a bit choked-up when recanting his last game of the 2010 season. “I hadn’t thought of how much this team and place mean to me until the last game of the year. My (3) girls were there and really upset and crying, saying: Daddy, why are you going to be gone?” It really hit home and taught him about what it meant to be here. “I’ve never had to sit in the stands (Fenway) and watch a game….and I hope I don’t have to for a while.” 
Varitek’s speech focused on leadership. He spoke of the value of an education (carries his Georgia Tech diploma in his wallet) and outlined his responsibilities as a leader in the clubhouse: being prepared, being accountable, being accessible and communicating. “Do the things that you CAN do to be in control.”
 
 
Speech 002.jpg“I’ve been very blessed to be at the right place (Boston) at the right time.” 
“(Fenway) …. can be a tough place to play when things are not going right” and told us of fans shouting” “YOU JUST CRUSHED MY GRANDMOTHER !” 
The speech and questions afterward were very entertaining.
Q: You caught a record number of No-Hitters, but you almost had one with Curt Schilling, what pitch did he “Shake-Off”?
A: (Varitek) Slider…..and he still can’t let go of it. (he said with a smile)
Q: Most memorable moment as a Red Sox player?
A: (Varitek) The last 3rd out in St. Louis.
Q: What do you say to pitchers/players after a bad game or loss?
A: (Varitek) “They Stink…..Sometimes In Japanese”
Q: Will you coach after you retire?
A: (Varitek) “I focus completely on what I have to do (now)”
Q: What did you say to Alex Rodriguez? (His most-frequently asked question)
A: (Varitek) “nothing………he said enough” 
Tek spoke a bit about some of his team mates. Mentioning outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s rib injury “you cannot play when you have an injured torso”, and when asked about young catcher Saltalamacchia “I’ve got to learn about Jarrod”. A reporter from the Eagle Tribune asked about the Crawford & Gonzalez additions, Jason said: “Crawford’s quick and Adrian’s bat speaks for itself.”
The veteran player described Spring Training and “Camp Tuck” as being very tough, and takes pride that his 38 year old body always does well (Top 5) against the 22 year olds. Varitek’s favorite sports to play were baseball and football, and he had this to say:
“If I can leave the game and have the respect of my peers, I will be happy.”
- fenway fruitgirl 2010
 
 
 
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