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5/04/2007 11:32:00 AM

The Joy of Sox

Red Sox
AP
By Andy Gray

Twenty-seven games into the season and Red Sox fans couldn't ask for more. The team currently stands at 18-9, 5 1/2 games ahead of the second-place cluster of Toronto, Tampa Bay and the Yankees in the AL East. More important, the team finally seems to have its 2004 mojo back after two years of frustration. No, this group isn't the Dirt Dogs or the Idiots; it has carved its own identity. So if you missed the season's first month, here's why the fun is back at Fenway:

The Tobacco Bet: Terry Francona, a longtime tobacco chewer, vowed during spring training that he would finally quit his bad habit. President Larry Lucchino wanted to give the Sox skipper some extra incentive, so instead of betting, say, a lunch, like a normal person, the two put up $20,000 (with the winner donating money to charity) on it. A month into the season, it appears Francona is about to break. "I'm miserable," Francona told the Boston Globe last week. "I almost went off the boat in the second Yankee game in the fifth inning. I made it, but I'm hanging by a thread." Will Francona go back on the juice (tobacco juice, that is)? Stay tuned...

Hideki Okajima: A month ago, he was the "other Japanese pitcher" who gave up a home run on the first MLB batter he faced (the Royals' John Buck). Now, he's one of the top setup men in baseball, as well as the most modest. After learning that he won AL Rookie of the Month, Okajima responded: "Is it really OK that I received this award? Am I suitable?" Imagine Nomar saying that?

38pitches.com: Curt Schilling's blog has been nothing short of incredible -- a pitcher willing to break down his performance after each start and give his two cents on other team matters. Granted, he needs about 3,000 words to do it, but it's still a must-read. And a memo to people who don't like Curt: Don't read his blog -- it's that simple. But I can't get enough of the guy. Hell, if a Curt Schilling reality show existed, I, along with most of Red Sox Nation, would watch it religiously.

The Odd Trio: Talk about a reality show -- can we get a camera on the burgeoning friendship between Daisuke Matzusaka, Okijama and Julian Tavarez? Two weeks ago, the cameras caught the Dominican showing Dice-K how to pitch to Alex Rodriguez (which, incidentally, resulted in A-Rod getting beaned on the first pitch). Now, Dice-K is teaching Tavarez how to throw a cut fastball and Tavarez, whose locker is located next to Okijama's, has made it a goal to pick up one Japanese word per day. Now that would be must-see TV.

Papelbon 2.0: Forget Jonathan. Little brother Josh is dominating as the closer for Single-A Greenville, a Red Sox affiliate. Tell us if these stats looks familiar.

Papelbons By the Numbers
Player Games Record ERA Saves Strikeouts
Jonathan Papelbon 10 0-0 1.74 8 15
Josh Papelbon 11 1-0 2.03 5 11


The Gyroball: It may not exist, but this poor guy deserves props for this amazing video.


Alex Cora: Seriously, has anyone played this little and done so much? If the Sox had to pick an MVP right now, Cora would be fifth or sixth ... In only 29 at-bats. He was even intentionally walked earlier this week. The Red Sox brass insists Dustin Pedroia (a poor man's David Eckstein) will come around, but watching Cora is a pleasure for any true baseball fan.
posted by SI.com | View comments |  

Comments:

Posted: May 4, 2007 1:11 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe that Gyroball skit was supposed to be funny, but I just find it offensive.
Posted: May 4, 2007 1:43 PM   by Anonymous
Really, really stupid. Almost makes me ashamed to be a Red Sox fan...
Posted: May 4, 2007 1:49 PM   by Anonymous
I'm offended by you finding it offensive. Also, I'm contacting the GOP, ACLU, NRA, NAMBLA, and Al Sharpton to get you fired.
Posted: May 4, 2007 2:12 PM   by Anonymous
You forgot the Pizza incident.
Posted: May 4, 2007 3:02 PM   by Hawgie Hockey
Agree with it all, except Curt. I hear enough of him talking about himself in other places, I could do without the blog.
Posted: May 4, 2007 3:12 PM   by Anonymous
I don't see any instance when throwing food would be considered funny!
Posted: May 4, 2007 3:13 PM   by Anonymous
that skit was incredibly racist. Was that John Rocker?
Not to mention that Coco finally decided to join the team.
"I don't see any instance when throwing food would be considered funny!"

Dude, did you see the Pizza Incident? I'm sorry, but that was friggin' hilarious.
Posted: May 4, 2007 4:23 PM   by Anonymous
Enjoy the good times while they last. The Red Sox aren't as good as people think, while the Yankees aren't as bad as people think. It will even out by the end of the season.
Posted: May 4, 2007 4:45 PM   by Anonymous
Nobody thinks the MFY are "bad" as in KC or Texas bad. Differences on the MFY side is they haven't significantly improved the team other than Pettite, they still counted on Pavano, and they started the season with the kind of injuries that plagued the Sox in the second half last year.

The Sox have moved past our Pavano (Clement), improved the team and are pretty healthy now.

The MFY have to be significantly luckier with injuries the rest of the season than the Sox to even keep pace, let alone close any gap. They don't have the pitching to do it, and the difference in offense isn't going to be enough, especially once Manny gets untracked.

So go back to New York and cry in your A-Rod jersey.
Posted: May 4, 2007 4:59 PM   by Anonymous
Do you guys do anything but talk about the red sox and yankees?
What else is there?

Oh wait..Patriots Colts.
Posted: May 4, 2007 5:28 PM   by Anonymous
No, at least as far as baseball goes. ;)
Posted: May 4, 2007 6:03 PM   by Anonymous
Seems to me tht all of the "Anonymous" comments are posted by the same idiot. If you don't have a sense of humor, you must be a Yankees fan!! I'm stuck on the west coast where people think that the Mariners play baseball!! Can't even get Sox broadcasts out here unless the wind is from the east!! Go Curt!! Go Dice-K.
Posted: May 4, 2007 8:14 PM   by Anonymous
Oh, come on, get over yourselves. The gyro thing was a hoot...and "MFY"...now *that's* funny as hell. Face it, the MFY are aging and haven't done what they should to develop talent internally. Until they do, they will spend huge amounts of money getting big-name players that can't last an entire season and fizzle late in their bloated contracts. The resulting lack of team stability will mean there will always be Gary Sheffields and conflicts between the enormous NY egos (ARod/Jeter) to disrupt team chemistry. Unless Pavano and Mussina suddenly get healthy, come around and have banner years, they won't have the pitching to make the playoffs, let alone anything more. (And remember, the Sox *own* Mariano.) The Sox, meanwhile, have the second best pitching staff in the AL, and suddenly have a reliable bullpen now that Tavarez is a starter. That, combined with an above-average lineup that is capable of greatness, will carry them a long way come October.
Posted: May 4, 2007 9:28 PM   by Anonymous
I'm japanese, and I found that video hilarious. People, please grow a sense of humor!!!
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