Friday, August 18, 2006

2 hours til game time

The historic weekend kicks off in a mere two hours when Jason Johnson takes the hill and Benedict Demon digs in at the plate for the first pitch of today's doubleheader. Although I am thrilled to have the ability to be home to watch the coverage thanks to my "flexible schedule", I would give my right...arm to be down in Kenmore Square milling around with the Nation, reveling in the booze-induced buzz surrounding Fenway; a sunny Friday afternoon and a re-scheduled game at 1:00 vs the Empire? It doesn't get any better than that.

Here are some news and notes as the first Fenway 5-game series since 1957 kicks off:

* Boston acquired 2002 A.L. Rookie of the Year winner Eric Hinske yesterday. Hinske, a 3B/OF, fell out of favor with the Jays (a common theme of late) after his numbers & playing time declined since his rookie campaign. That season he hit .279 with 24 HRs and 84 RBIs. In the 3+ years since he's averaged .253, 13, 57. But I've always like the kid. I've seen him play many times in the spring at LaBatt's Stadium, er Grant Field in Dunedin, and he's a gritty, hard- nosed player who seemd to give his all every time out. Plus he was good to the fans, always a plus in my book. They aren't on the hook for too much with him(about $4 mil for this year & next), and I think he'll fit in perfectly with the Boston clubhouse, especially with the other grinders like Trot, Tek and Lowell. He gets the start in right today, batting 7th.

* Boston also picked up former Tiger slugging 1B Carlos Pena for basically nothing, as he was playing in the low minors. Pena hit 27 HRs with 82RBIs in 2004, but fell of the planet after that, demoted to Triple A Toledo. But after a September 2005 callup he ripped off 15 HRs in 38 games, including a 461-ft shot, the longest in Comerica's brief history. He will be up to the big club Sept.1.

* It will be interseting to see the reaction new Stankee signee Bobby Abreu gets from the Fenway Faithful today. Today's Globe has two stories about Boston chasing Abreu before the deadline, but they backed off due to the financial commitment the Sox would have had to make over the next couple of seasons (roughly $20 mil). Of couse he's hitting .361 for the Stanks, with a .451 OBP, and although he didn't snub the Sox, there's still plenty of reason to jeer him.

*I don't know about the fans, but I personally find myself loathing JD more & more as the teams come down the stretch. Every time he homers (18 to date) or makes a big play, I just want to see his arm snap in half even more (then again, his arm is made of spaghetti, so the chance of that happening is nil). Compounding matters is the slide of Coco, at least in the average fan's mind. He has been criticized heavily the past few months, but I say cut the guy some slack. He can't help it that he got hurt and has had to work his way back into form since returning. Does he have a great arm? No, but neither does Demon, and Coco is a lot faster. He has seemed rejuvenated since returning to the leadoff spot (a place he belongs, regardless of Youk's OBP), and I would love to see him do something special this series, while Demon snaps a leg.


GM1: Wang (13-5, 3.85) vs. J.Johnson (3-11, 6.26-yikes!)

GM2: Ponson (4-5, 5.82) vs. Lester (6-2, 4.09)

GM3: Unit (13-9, 4.92) vs. Beckett (13-7, 5.02)

GM4: Mussina (13-5, 3.54) vs. Schill (145, 3.83)

GM5: Lidle (9-9, 4.64) vs. Wells (2-2, 6.06)

* And finally, let's all pray that E-Rod makes 4 errors, hits .167, Jetes goes hitless, and Papi hits at least 3 HRs, including a game-winner, and puts an exclamation point on who sould win the MVP this year.


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