Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Evening in the Amazon with Brian Regan

If I have to watch Brian Regan's Stupid in School or Little League one more time, I might throw G's iTouch out of the window (a really high window).  Not that it wasn't funny, but that it was on so many times that when the boys would start imitating the jokes, I knew the words too.  Come on.

But then, the South Shore Music Circus' line up came out for the Summer.  Sure enough, Regan was playing under the tent.  Who cares if it gets buggy and oppressively hot under the tent in the Summer?  We can watch Stupid in School live and the boys would go nuts.  And there's beer.  All is good.

Blurry because C is tapping my shoulder
So C and G escorted me to the show.  As expected, it was hot and steamy under the tent.  We had been in the middle of an oppressive heat wave, so when I say hot, I mean it.  Luckily for me, a fellow patron, obviously hot himself, apparently tried to cool me off when he elbowed my arm spilling three quarters of my beer on my shirt.  I thanked him profusely and went under the tent.  The venue was made especially amazonian by the 800 people under the tent with us.  Even this 10 dollar beer wasn't helping me keep cool on this night.  But the boys were excited. 

The show started with a warm up comedy act.  Some guy I had never heard of.  But he was very funny.  C would whisper to me that he didn't get any of the jokes.  I did not sympathise with him.  I just continued to laugh.  The warm up act finished his gig and then told us there would be 30 minute intermission.  Really 30 minutes.  The stage was bare, what did Regan need that much time for? Oh I get it, more time for us to get that cold beer.  Except now it was raining and I could see lightning in the distance.  I'm staying under this metal-infested tent!

So we waited.

And we waited some more.

C and G at this point were both looking at the digital clock facing our seats.  Counting the 30 minutes down.  33 minutes later, the opening guy comes back out to introduce Regan.  I'm fanning myself off with the program so I don't bother checking to see what this guys name is again.

Regan comes out in jeans and flannel shirt to huge applause.  I immediate start laughing at this ridiculous over dressing.  This is going to be good.  His first jokes start about his family.  While his act is clean and TV ready, I'm afraid that these jokes are going to go over the kids heads.  When C whispers to me again that he doesn't get any jokes, my fear is realized.  Now after every joke, I start glancing over at the boys to see if they are laughing.  They are not.

When his act finally ends, he doesn't do any of his "famous bits."  Although the fig newton bit was hilarious.  He does come out for an encore and takes audience suggestions.  The audience comes through with some lame bits.  Regan doesn't even recognize one of the bits that some college-aged kid screams out.  Nice job, sonny.

When we get to the car, C and G both thank me for taking them.  G then musters up the courage to say that he didn't get any of the jokes.  But he then says thank you again.  I apologize to him (as if it was my fault he talked about his job and wife the whole time).  At least we were all together.

And I haven't had to see those youtube videos since.  So at least I have that going for me.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Brendan Shanahan's Whalers Legacy

"I'll take Keith Primeau over Shanahan any day."  This was a typical Hartford Whalers' fan's reaction that day on October 9, 1996 when Shanahan's request for a trade was finally granted.

Naturally, that was said in the heat of the moment shortly after Brendan Shanahan essentially shot his way out of Hartford at the very beginning of the 1996-97 season.  I had Hartford Whaler season tickets that year (the last year they were in Hartford) and the vitriol that the fans had for Shanahan was striking. #94 jerseys were burned.  People in and around Hartford stopped naming their children "Brendan" or "Shanahan."  The friend of a friend who swore that he dated Brendan Shanahan didn't come around as much anymore (although I never believed her story that she actually dated Shanahan, she was a little cra-cra).

And this hatred was from a fan base that Peter Karmanos deemed to be too apathetic to support a NHL franchise. 

Now, after a 21 year career that netted him 656 goals, Shanahan has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.  And I'm happy for him. 

He only scored 45 of those 656 goals in a Whalers' uniform, but those 45 goals gave us Whalers fans hope.  Back in 1995, when the rumors were that the Whalers were looking to trade their defenseman stud Chris Pronger for some scoring punch, the Whalers were little moribund.  And that showed in the dwindling attendance and the nonchalant attitude that many of us had.  Chuck's Steak House was not very busy in those days and the Civic Center was a half empty shell of what it used to be.  We needed some excitement.

And when Pronger was traded for arguably the most exciting player in the NHL - certainly the most dynamic goal scorer - we went crazy.  Even though the Whalers' owner wanted to move the team, Shanahan brought excitement back to the franchise.  I got my tickets to the usual 10 games, the fans started returning and Chuck's Steak House was buzzing again.  Even LC, who was my girlfriend at the time, was interested in hockey.  Although the Whalers missed the playoffs that year, we were all excited about what Shanahan was going to do.  We were excited for the future, too.

And shortly after the season ended, Shanahan started to make some noise about leaving.  At this point, I really don't blame him any more.  The team was subject to intense speculation about moving.  There was a desperate call for getting 11,000 season ticket holders, otherwise, the team was moving.  No one was really sure where the team would move, but we thought maybe the hockey hot bed of North Carolina.  There was a lot of uncertainty.

And then, just like that, Shanahan was gone.  Traded to Detroit for Keith Primeau and Paul Coffey and a First Draft Pick in 1997 (who turned out to be Nikos Tselios - I don't know him either) Shanahan was forever gone. 

And now, Shanahan is going to the Hall.  If this were baseball, my question would be whether he was going to be wearing a Hartford Whalers cap.  Nah, probably not.  Yeah, I'd say I'm happy for him.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brandon Workman - Who on Earth is He?

What on earth is going on here?  The Red Sox are 4 games in front of the AL East.  John Lackey seems to be regaining his Cy Young form that we have never seen on a Red Sox uniform.  John Farrell has his piecemeal bullpen working some magic on the mound.  Jose Iglesias is making a case for American League Rookie of the year batting close to .400 through the end of June.  Seriously what the Hell is going on here?

Workman needed a friend in the 7th
And then we sit down to watch the Red Sox play the Oakland Athletics and the portly Bartolo Colon right before the All Star break.  The Red Sox and the A's (I still don't like saying the name "Athletics," it's too much work).  I didn't take much notice at the fact that some kid named Brandon Workman had mowed down the first nine Athletics, three by strike outs.  I like to consider myself up on the Red Sox minor leaguers - Xander Bogaerts is one of C's favorite players - but I had never heard of this kid. 

Workman has actually been quite impressive in Pawtucket and Portland in 2013.  Compiling a 8-2 record in 16 starts, Workman has been quite Workmanlike.  With Alfredo Aceves on the shelf after some hurt feelings (actually I don't know what's wrong with him), Workman is now the fifth starter until Clay Buchholz is back in the Rotation.  Who knew?  Not me.  And even G and C didn't know this guy, so he must not have a baseball card either.  Workman has actually been in the Red Sox system since 2011 after being drafted out of the University of Texas.  With a career record of 24-17, almost 9 strikeouts per 9 innings and an ERA of 3.50, Workman is actually a decent prospect.

We pick the game up in the bottom of the 7th.  Coco Crisp is up as the Red Sox nurse a 2-0 lead.  The only baserunner was a John Jaso walk who then got thrown out in a strike him out throw him out.  Wakefield and Schilling both got into the 9th inning in Oakland over the last couple of years.  Can Workman break this bad streak of almost no hitters?  Crisp stand at the plate with two strikes on him.  And then hits a weak grounder to second.  Pedroia dives to stop the ball, throws to First andddddd.  HE'S SAFE!  Everyone yells "OHHHHH!!" as Crisp beats out the grounder by a step.

"You scared me" DLG tells us after we stop.  Sorry pretty lady.  C then goes on to tell me that he knew Workman was going to give up a hit this inning, but didn't tell anyone.  Huh.  Funny he didn't say anything before the hit.

And then Donaldson hits the big fly over Jacoby Ellsbury's head.  The no hitter is gone.  The shutout is gone.  And I think we are gone too since nothing good has happened since we came to watch the game. 

Maybe we'll see Workman in Pawtucket later this year...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Red Sox and Birthdays Strike Again

It took me a little while to figure this one out.  See, the boys birthdays are next to one another and they always asked me to take them to a Red Sox game.  In trying to find tickets, I finally decided on the Rockies-Red Sox tilt on a random Wednesday afternoon.  I thought that that would be a good option; they wouldn't be home too late on a school night.  And besides, I like watching the Sox take on a National League team - even if this Rockies team won't make you think back to the 2007 World Series.  It seemed like a win-win situation, in any event.  Well for everyone but the Red Sox as John Lackey was going, still trying to find his groove after spending last season on the shelf with a Tommy John.

I get to the park first.  I find a $50 parking spot (being careful to avoid the street since I hadn't had any time to get my car inspected, I didn't want to risk a $50 ticket plus street parking).  I went to the Boston Beer Works and ate lunch.  I people watched (and watched the thunderstorms) for a while until C and G (plus one of the C's friends) came to the restaurant to get me.

Oswalt preparing for the onslaught
Because of the afternoon rain, neither team took batting practice, which took away one of the features of arriving early.  So we went to our seats in "foul ball alley" and watched the teams warm up.  A couple of random Rockies' players were signing programs and balls, so C and his buddy went down there to get autographs.  When they got back, I studied the signature to see if I could figure out who it was.  "No idea" was my final answer.  In the meantime, the teams retreat back into the dugouts to prepare for the beginning of the game.

As John Lackey takes the field, C wonders if he is actually going to pitch well.  He hasn't pitched badly this year, despite having just a 4-5 record heading into the game.  And as he pitches in the First inning, it looks like his fastball is popping.  He strikes out Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer in an impressive first inning.  Although he gives up a run on a single, stolen base and single, his fastball is clocked at 94 and 95 MPH.  It seemed like he was going to have another impressive outing.  And although the Red Sox were down early, they got that run back and then some.  After Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz doubled, the Red Sox took the lead in the first inning, 3-1.

Lackey continued to pop his fastball as he mows down the Rockies through 5 innings, including two innings where he strikes out the side.  The Red Sox, meanwhile take a 5-1 lead in the 3rd inning as Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava both drive in a run.  And the boys would be remiss without telling me that no foul balls have come our way.  Not even close.

The Red Sox end up holding onto the lead (despite two home runs from Michael Cuddyer) and winning the game 5-3.  Lackey ends up striking out 12 on his way to his fifth win of the season.  It seems that he is readying himself for a big year, after three disappointing years to start his Boston years.  The boys statistics include two hot dogs, two large fries, two drinks and about 5000 sun flower seeds.  And good times were had all around. Maybe next time all three will come with me to a Red Sox game.  I already have her collecting baseball cards.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Scituate 9U Baseball Team Travels to Sandwich

Scituate 9A Summer Travel Baseball team traveled to Cape Cod in its annual Sandwich Summer Blast Tournament.  Scituate tried to reverse the trend of challenging performances that previous 9A teams faced in the annual Cape Tourney over the past couple of years.

June 27, 2013.  Scituate 13 Cohasset 3.

In a game held under the lights at the Sandwich AL1 field, Scituate's J. Garrett and J. Kinsley combined to toss a no-hitter as Scituate easily handled its cross town rival, Cohasset 13-3 to start its run in the Sandwich Summer Blast Baseball Tournament.  Garrett struck out 8 in just 4 innings of work while Kinsley saved the game in a tense 5th inning.  Scituate's pitching was not the only story though, as the mighty Sailors smashed 9 hits including ringing doubles from G. Harris (2 hits and 2 RBIs) and C. Smith (1 hit and 1 RBI).  With the win, Scituate immediately put itself in prime contention for a high seed in the Tournament playoff. 

Game balls.   Garrett, Harris, Kinsley.

June 29, 2013.  Falmouth 9 Scituate 3

After rain dampened the Sailors' game against Martha's Vineyard in the morning session (a tie that ruined a 2-0 lead in the process), Scituate gathered itself together to face a tough team from Falmouth in the afternoon session at Sandwich AL2 Field.  Despite some rough seas through the first 3 innings that saw 6 walks and 3 errors, Scituate staved off a mercy rule ending through the final 2 innings with exceptional pitching from H. Gates.  Faced with an uphill battle in the 6th inning to get back into the game, the Sailors made the game interesting with RBI singles from J. Adams and J. Sannella to close the gap to 6 runs.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as Falmouth beat Scituate 9-3.

Game balls.  Gates, Sannella, Sullivan.

June 30, 2013.  Norwell 6 Scituate 5

After garnering the 6 seed in the tournament with a 1-1-1 record, Scituate faced a feisty team from Norwell to open the tournament playoffs.  Dodging storms throughout the weekend, the day appeared to brighten as Scituate made it way down to the Cape.  After jumping to a quick 4-1 lead through 4 innings, Norwell battled back with 5 runs in the 5th and 6th inning to win the game 6-5.  J. Garrett again sparkled as he threw 5 innings and struck out 9.  The Sailors were paced with 2 hits a piece from J. Kinsley and J. Adams and a 2 run double by C. Smith. 

Game balls.  Garrett, Kinsley, Adams, Smith.  

For box scores of the three games, check here.  Regular season play starts on Sunday in Rockland!