March 2009

Baseball, Chemistry and my Projects!!!

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Baseball is the perfect medication– for anything really. This morning, I had this terrible chemistry mishap, and I was basically yelled at profusely. I’m in an awful predicament in which I have to make sure that my teacher doesn’t try and take points off of my test. It really wasn’t my fault! It was merely a false assumption, and miscommunication. 

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It was like I was the center fielder and my teacher was the left fielder. I assumed one thing, and she assumed another thing, we miscommunicated, and the next thing you know: the ball is disappearing into the vines at Wrigley Field! I was quite frustrated with the whole situation, and it was really stressing me out. 
Baseball saved me. I was working on my math homework at the end of class when my math teacher asked me who would be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox. Immediately, all my worries were gone and I was able to focus on the pitching staffs of the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees. It may not be able to cure the minor cough that I have now, or the major cold that Tom has, but it can make you feel better! 
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As I was studying for this evil chemistry test over the course of the past week (I swear I must have done about sixty Lewis Dot Structures), I began translating it to baseball terms. No wonder, it all became clearer. 
I totally understand ionic bonding now that I have related it to baseball. It’s basically when a metal reacts with a non-metal. The way I initially thought of it was: when the thing on the left side of the periodic table reacts with the thing on the right side of the periodic table. Ionic bonding is very different from covalent bonding. Ionic bonding is two totally different things transferring electrons.
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Ionic bonding happened at the World Baseball Classic. Mets players and Phillies players were brought together, Red Sox players and Yankee players were brought together… I wouldn’t really expect them to get along. But Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter became fast friends, and it seems like that friendship will last. I really wish ionic bonding had been a question on my test, I would have given this example. Instead, I had to talk about bond angles. 
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Then there are covalent bonds, which is when non-metals combine and share electrons unevenly. I thought of a couple of examples that are somewhat applicable. This could be like the American League East. There are five teams packed into a really strong division, and the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are going to be winning and losing games against each other right and left. The Blue Jays and the Orioles are going to give everyone trouble too– no one is walking off with the division. 
How would you guys translate this to baseball? If you don’t want to even think about it, I don’t blame you!
My Projects
I am very happy to announce that two of my projects will be making the Opening Day roster! Though they will be coming off the bench, I am very proud of the both of them for working really hard this Spring. 
I noticed the two of these guys at my very first Spring Training games this year. I could just tell that they were going to do well. I even said a couple of entries ago that I thought that these guys were capable of making the roster. 
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I think that Nick Green’s spot was much easier to foresee than Carter’s was. Although Angel Chavez performed really well this Spring, Nick was hitting all over the place! Plus, he can play virtually anywhere in the infield and the outfield, which is perfect for the utility role that we need coming off the bench. 
It’s not like this spot was open at the beginning of the Spring though. We have to remember that this spot was going to either Lugo or Lowrie at the beginning of the Spring, depending on who got the starting shortstop job. Two questions come to mind when I think about this. 
One: I wonder if the Red Sox were leaning toward either one of them before Lugo even had his injury. There are plenty of pros and cons to starting each player, and both were performing really well. The biggest factors in the decision would have probably been Lugo’s contract, and Jed’s versatility. 
Two: When Lugo comes back, where will he fit in? First of all, when Lugo comes back, that probably means that Nick Green will no longer fit into the roster. We already have a backup outfielder (Baldelli) and then Lugo or Lowrie will take the utility spot. I am very curious to see what will happen with this. 
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The reason that Carter’s spot was harder to see was because Jeff Bailey was also performing really well this Spring, and he is the veteran of the two. I could see that they both have the potential to make it in the Majors, which is why they were both my projects. Carter will be filling in for Mark Kotsay (back surgery). Carter has been working really hard on his defense this Spring, and that was his biggest problem before– his hitting is great. 
I think that we should all keep Bailey on our radars though. I would not have been disappointed if Bailey had made the team. I think that the both of them could serve the Red Sox really well. If one of our outfielders gets injured, we know who to call. 
A lot of us are familiar with Clay Buchholz, and it looks like he will be starting the season down in Triple-AAA. Even though he had a rough outing against the Rays today, he still performed really well this Spring.
He is the first in line to come up if one of our starters gets injured. Last year, we rushed him way too much, but we didn’t have much of a choice with Curt Schilling out of the rotation. The acquisition of Brad Penny makes the situation a lot easier. I expect to see Buchholz come up a lot this season. I would say a similar track to Justin Masterson. 

Two Honorable Dedications

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#4!

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for stopping by and reading. I’m glad that you all have been enjoying what I have to say, and I hope that I will continue to get better in the future. Hopefully the near future seeing that I applied for a scholarship for this summer program that offers classes in sports writing and broadcasting. That’s pretty tailored to what I want to learn right? 
So I have two people that I want to dedicate this post to. The first time that Julia was number four over here, she dedicated her post to Joe Cronin. I want to do a small segment on Cronin because after all, his number was retired but I also want to dedicate a part of this post to Lou Gehrig. Yes, I am dedicating some of this blog to a Yankee. 
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So starting off with Mr. Cronin… he had a significant impact on the Red Sox not only as a player, but as a manager and general manager. He  played on the Sox for ten years (1935-1945) and had some pretty nice career statistics (.301 batting average, and 2,285 hits). What I like about some of these guys is how consistent they are. Cronin batted over .300 and drove in 100 or more runs eight times, and he was an All-Star seven times. I also like to look beyond statistics. 
In 1938, Archie McKain, a pitcher for the Red Sox, hit Jake Powell in the stomach. Jake wasn’t very happy, so he charged the mound, which was not okay with Joe Cronin. Cronin intercepted him, but he wasn’t even a player then. He was only a part time player for the Red Sox after the 1941 season. Besides his extensive duties with the Red Sox, he also served as the American League president from 1959-1973. 
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I know, even partially dedicating a post to a Yankee is weird. But how can I not recognize someone as great as Lou Gehrig? Even though he was a Yankee, the least I can do is respect him. Gehrig played with the Yankees from 1923 (when Yankee Stadium opened) to 1939. He died only two years later. His career was cut short at age 36 when he was diagnosed with ALS, which is now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He held the record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 until Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed him. I wonder if that record would have been longer if he hadn’t been diagnosed with that fatal disease. After all, he was nicknamed “The Iron Horse”. Even as I read about the farewell ceremony that the Yankees dedicated to him on July 4, 1939, it makes me tear up. I think we all have heard Gehrig’s immortal words at some point:
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet”. 
I am honored to partially dedicate my post to Lou Gehrig. 
Disney World.
So the reason for my short blogging hiatus was because I went to Disney World this weekend with my best friend and her family. It was a spur of the moment type thing I guess. I didn’t really have time to blog because all I wanted to do was sleep when we got back to the hotel because my friend and I were both sick. 
So while I was there, my one-track mind was thinking about baseball as usual and as we were walking through the crowded streets of Fantasyland/Tomorrowland/Whatever, I was looking at baseball hats and shirts. 
As I saw the hats and t-shirts, I had a growing urge to go up to them and start a conversation as I normally do. But this would not have been a calm and cool before-the-baseball-game chatter. This would have been stressful-Disney-World-chatter. Not the ideal place to talk about baseball. 
Nonetheless, I proceeded to take mental notes of all the hats, and announcing to my friend that I approved of the Red Sox fans as I saw them. I saw Red Sox fans, White Sox fans, Tigers fans (more like one guy), Twins fans, Yankees fans, Rays fans, a Braves fan, Cubs fans, Marlins fans, a Dodgers fan, Brewers fans, and Phillies fans. 
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Although I wasn’t able to keep up with the scores as they were happening, it’s not like I was too far removed from baseball itself. The Braves play at Disney’s Wild World of Sports, which I took pictures of as we were driving by.
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And yet another baseball reference from this weekend! My friend’s father works right next door to Joe Dimaggio’s Children’s Hospital! There is even a Joe Dimaggio statue out front, and it’s on Joe Dimaggio Drive. 
Red Sox
As soon as I got to a computer, you can pretty much guess the first thing I checked. Oh yes, the box scores. I was very happy to see that my dear friend Chip Ambres hit a walk-off home run. I am proud to have his autograph. 
It looks like Beckett did pretty well, and will be starting on Opening Day! This will be his first start on Opening Day in a Red Sox uniform, and I am very glad that it is him. I think that this will be one of his healthier years, he has been looking great all Spring!
Masterson will not be in the starting rotation, even if Brad Penny can’t make his first “scheduled start”. I can understand this. I love having Masterson in the ‘pen, and even though I love his versatility, being part of that formidable bullpen will be just as good. 
So if Brad Penny isn’t ready? Clay Buchholz. I know some of you may still be getting over what happened last year with him. But now that he knows that it isn’t locked in, and that he could even be sent down to the minors after that start, I think that’s a lot more relaxing than having that pressure of knowing that you have to perform well. 
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The fact that Opening Day is coming up soon is not only exciting, to say the least for me, it’s also a bit sad. You see, I grew very close to my projects, and it’s time for some of them to be sent back down. Right now, a pretty epic bat
tle is going on between some of my favorite projects: Chris Carter and Jeff Bailey. 
I think they are both significantly talented, and I think it may even come down whether or not the Red Sox need a right handed batter, or a left handed batter. I think I’ll leave that for my next post though. 
Thank you all so much again for your support!

Buckner Filter

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Chemists have a sense of humor, although it is a bit cruel. Today in my chemistry class, we were working on a lab, the biggest lab of the year. We have to identify an unknown substance, and so far I am convinced that it is crack. Today, we were doing gravimetric analysis (I still don’t know what that is) and we had to filter out our precipitate (the thing that went to the bottom of the beaker after the reaction) and we used a ‘Buckner Filter’. 

When my teacher first described the procedure, my friend Kathleen (another Red Sox fan) and I looked at each other when we heard ‘Buckner’. A little while later, I let out a small laugh during the procedure. 
Me: ‘Ha, that’s clever. Buckner filter. Because things go right through filters. Just like that ball went right through Buckner’s legs’.
Kathleen: ‘It looks like chemists actually have a small sense of humor. Although, this one could have either been a bitter Cubs fan or a Yankee fan’. 
I don’t know if this is actually named after Bill Buckner, but when you think of the similarities, it’s almost undoubtedly named after him. 
Motivation by Failure
It is becoming more evident that blogging is becoming a significant new sphere to bring news and opinions to an audience. This is how Curt Schilling announced his retirement– on his blog, ’38 Pitches’. 
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Believe me, I am not surprised that he retired. In fact, I thought that he would retire after the 2007 season. That look on his face when he was leaving Game 2, and then when he tipped his cap– I knew (or at least, I thought) that would be his last pitch. 
We all know how incredible Schilling was, and he will mainly be remembered for his outstanding performances in the postseason. He went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts during the postseason. 
One of the most interesting things to me about Schilling is the fact that he is motivated by his intense fear of failure. I don’t know if I could be motivated by a fear of failure, I think it would make me too anxious. I mean, I fear failing chemistry but if I think about that too much than I perform poorly on the tests. So I think that it is really admirable that Schilling can be motivated by his fear of failure. 
I know that everyone is probably pretty tired of the ‘Bloody Sock Story’, but I am still pretty impressed that Schilling had surgery on his ankle only two days before one of the most important games in Red Sox history. 
I am really going to miss Curt’s presence, and I hope that he will return someday as some sort of coach for the Red Sox. 
Saturday’s Game
Although my bag was completely soaked, I was still able to pry apart the wet pages of my legal pad to take notes on the game– from behind the dugout. 
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Our seats were great to begin with anyway, but since so many people had left already, how could I deny myself the opportunity to sit right behind the dugout? I was very well behaved too, I wasn’t obnoxiously yelling at the players. 
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I was able to refresh everyone’s memory about who exactly Michael Bowden was, then I went on to describing some of my dear projects. Then, one of the guys behind me asked,
‘So you seem pretty knowledgeable, what are your opinions on how the Red Sox will matchup against the Yankees this year?’
I gave him a concise (yet still thorough) breakdown on how I thought we matched up. Pretty evenly if I do say so myself. After I finished talking he said, ‘Alright! Let’s go to Vegas!’. 
I bet a lot of people at the game were disappointed with the fact that Jason Bay was the only regular starter playing. But I wasn’t. I have come to love the minor leaguers with their work ethics, and their willingness to sign autographs. 
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Michael Bowden looked amazing, definitely his best outing of the Spring. He was exhibiting great command and has a great fastball and a beautiful changeup. I cannot wait to see more of him in the Majors. I am thinking the Justin Masterson process: Come up a few times during the year, and then stay with us during September. 
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Junichi Tazawa (this is for you Jacobyluvr!) continued to show some great form, and a fast delivery. It is incredible how quickly he is assimilating to the big change between Japan and America. He doesn’t seem to be struggling, and I think that the Red Sox are going to want to hang on to him. He is already pitching at a Major League level so can you imagine how he will be after a year of extra work in the minors? It’s very important not to move too fast, we learned that lesson with Clay Buchholz last year. 
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Overall, this game was all about the defense. George Kottaras is stepping up to the plate (or rather behind). He has a great throw down to second, and that is becoming increasingly important in what we want in catchers. I think that the Red Sox are looking more for a defensively sound catcher than an offensively sound catcher right now. 
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The
outfield, which consisted of Jason Bay, Brad Wilkerson, and Jeff Bailey all showed off some great arms. A lot of the time, I think that defense is underrated because as of late, everything has been measured on lots and lots of hitting. We have to remember that it is important. 
I have to say, Anibal Sanchez (the starting pitcher for the Marlins) looked great. He had a no hitter for five innings until my project, Nick Green, broke it with a single. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the whole game. We had to meet my grandparents for dinner, and I didn’t really want to persist seeing that my mother agreed to go to the game two and a half hours early, sat through the rain delay, and through the game. 
What a great finish to the WBC, but more on that later. I have got to go consume as many vitamins as possible to avoid being sick!

Tales from a Rain Delay Stakeout

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From what I can tell, the majority of you try to get to your baseball games as early as humanly possible. That was the story for me on Saturday as my mother and I drove to Jupiter hoping to scalp tickets to a sold out game. We got there around 10:45. 

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My mom doesn’t know what scalping tickets means (not my picture btw), and I hadn’t scalped at this stadium before, let alone by myself. A nice Red Sox fan directed us across the street where scalpers were legally allowed to sell tickets. There was a blood drive going on, and if you donated, you could get one free ticket. If only I was 16 already! I would have donated blood!
You know that nice little section right in between home plate and the batters box on the third base side? Four rows back. 50 bucks a ticket. Not terrible for my first time scalping, I mean, they were pretty good seats– until we moved to right behind the Red Sox dugout for the start of the game. 
My mother isn’t the biggest baseball fan in the world, but she was quite the trooper that day. She went back to the car to read until the start of the game while I waited in line with my new friend (they guy that had directed us across the street). I talk to anyone at baseball games, but this guy was uniquely interesting. He is quite the sports memorabilia collector. He has a 2004 World Series ball autographed by the entire Red Sox team (it cost him a pretty penny), and he has Julio Lugo’s entire uniform, signed, from the 2007 World Series. 
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They didn’t let us in until 11:30. Why do they change this at every single park? At City of Palms, it’s two and a half hours early, Fort Lauderdale Stadium (Orioles), two hours early, and here, it is an hour and a half? We need to regulate this, but Selig has other priorities to fix. 
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If any of you have been to the Roger Dean complex, it is absolutely beautiful. It has multiple fields, a shopping center, a parking garage… I could live there! I had plenty of time to go and look around, but I was too busy talking to my new friend. 
We were talking about the Cardinals, because they play there too, and we started talking about the NL Central, and I start talking about the Cubs and the Reds (Mark, I swear you are SO right) and my new friend turns to me and goes: 
‘Holy crap, you know your stuff! I’m impressed… not many girls follow baseball.” If I can get people to take me seriously at 15, I think I can get people to take me seriously over at MLB Network. 
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Once we get inside the stadium, I go straight to the dugout. I stand right behind it, so I’m looking right over the steps to go down. I’m next to a guy with a Pirates hat, so of course I start talking to him, and I have a really big urge to crawl over the roof, and… hang out in the dugout. 
In a little while, my new friend has caught up to me and is standing next to me as well as a really nice father and son duo. Chip Ambres comes up the stairs and hovers at the top. I quickly look up his number (13) to verify that it is Chip, and once I do, I call his name. 
He hesitates for a moment, then turns around. ‘Will you sign for me please?’ A small smile comes across his face and he holds out his hands. I throw him my ball and my pen and watch him sign. 
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A little while later, Paul McAnulty is walking back to the dugout (though not in the normal uniform– probably just came for the game) so I call his name: ‘PAUL!’
‘Yes ma’am,’ he replies. Well, that’s a first. ‘Will you sign this for me please?’ He goes to put his stuff down, then comes back out and signs for a lot of people! A little more time passes, and then some of the Red Sox begin to come back to the dugout. 
‘Jason! Nick! Gil!’ I call out quickly. Most of them look up quickly and then go to put their stuff away. 
‘Hey, this chick knows everyone!’ someone yells behind me ‘Let’s go stand by her!’. After I yell at everyone else coming back in (at this point, I am standing next to a mother and her son) and the mother goes, ‘Oh good, we’re next to someone with a loud voice!’. I guess I’m pretty useful. 
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Then it starts raining. This does not phase me. I stand there patiently as it starts drizzling. Patiently, I wait as they put the tarp on. I figure it is hopeless, so I start heading toward the “bullpen” (a series of benches in front of a hill). I want to see if I can wait there, in the rain. ‘What am I doing??’ I ask myself. No one is going to be out there! I start shivering, and my teeth start chattering. I am soaked, and so is all my stuff. I concede, and go downstairs, but right by the staircase so I can get back up quickly. 
I wait about a half an hour before going back upstairs, it is still drizzling a bit. Back to the dugout I go, where I am standing next to a friendly looking couple– the parents of the batboy. I sit in the seat right behind the dugout, next to two men. One has an identification tag that says ‘Media Relations’. 
‘So you work in media relations?’ I ask. ‘Yes, I do’ he replies. ‘I am looking into going into that field,’ I say. ‘Well, how old are you?’ ‘I’m a sophomore in high school’ ‘Can you write?’ he asks. ‘Yeah… I keep a pretty steady blog.’ ‘Good.’ he says. He doesn’t think it looks to hopeful (the weather) so he gets up and goes somewhere leaving his friend alone. 
 Eventually, the parents of the bat boy get their son to go get Jason Bay so the mother can take a picture. This is my prime opportunity.
‘Hey Jason?’ I ask. He looks up. ‘Will you sign for me please?’ ‘Sure,’ he replies. He signs mine, and then retreats (virtually no one else is around us). 
‘Nice,’ the guy who was with the media relations guy said to me. As more people returned for autographs, I continued to talk to them. The general baseball conversation: 
‘Where are you from? What do you do? Who is your favorite? Whose autographs have you gotten?’ etc. 
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Eventually, I see my old buddy Chris Carter. ‘Chris Carter!’ I yell. He smiles as he looks back at me, and runs over. ‘Will you sign this for me please?’ He nods, and I throw my ball to him. Second time with his autograph :)
Then came Nick Green. ‘Nick!’ I yelled. He smiled, and I threw my ball to him. It starts raining again. My mother and I get our hands stamped and go back to the car. I do not want to leave. If we leave and there is a game, we can’t get refunded or a rain check. We go back, and the game is scheduled to start at 3:40.
Back to my spot, a new nice Red Sox couple. We start talking of course. Then, I do a brief interview with a Yankee fan. I ask him his opinion of A-Rod– in general. 
‘Too much money. No one should be making that much.” He is absolutely right. I continue waiting for autographs when my project Jeff Bailey comes. At first, he said he has to go get ready, yet I was not discouraged. When he comes back I ask him if he would sign for me now, and he does! 
I’ll tell you about the game tomorrow, I’ve got to get back to the WBC now! 
-Elizabeth

The “Epic-ness” of David Wright

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Team USA vs Team Puerto Rico

Even if you aren’t a fan of the WBC, you have to admit that watching that game was pretty epic. It was a pitcher’s duel throughout (okay, maybe Jane didn’t like it) and I happen to really enjoy pitcher’s duels. Neither pitching staff was substantial as a total of seven pitchers was used by each side. It was the defensive plays and small ball that this game centered around.
For example, though many of you may have glanced over it, David Wright’s steal in the second inning was pretty important. Admittedly, I would have glanced over it myself if my friend hadn’t mentioned it when we were talking about it. Though I fell asleep in the top of the ninth (what can I say, long day + couch + no lights=sleep) I was up and ready for the bottom of the ninth. 
I had essentially called David Wright’s walk-off hit since Game 1 against Canada. In that game, I said that he was going to hit a home run. It didn’t happen. 
‘Fine,’ I said, ‘You owe me one”. When it didn’t happen in the next couple of games, I began to get frustrated. We had made a subconscious agreement! Finally, I compromised after he didn’t hit one against the Netherlands. 
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‘You owe me a very important hit, and you will get it at a crucial moment,” I said. Even at the beginning of the game against Puerto Rico, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if David Wright got the most important hit of the game tonight?”
Well, when it got to the bottom of the ninth, I knew. The bases were loaded with one out, and Kevin Youkilis had just walked to bring in a run to make it a one run deficit. David Wright was up. 
I knew. I just KNEW. I had even made it my status on Facebook. Just ask Melissa! Then it happened, a bloop single to right field that scored Brian Roberts and Jimmy Rollins! I was jumping up and down like a fool, and every trace of exhaustion had left my body. I was ecstatic. Does it feel like the playoffs to you guys? 
The Red Sox
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They call it a “ferocious swing” so it looks like Dustin Pedroia’s injury wasn’t as bad as we thought it could be, but I’m glad that there was some concern. He was back in the lineup today against Pittsburgh, and went 1-2 with an RBI single. Maybe I will see him tomorrow at Spring Training (oh yes, that means pictures). 
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The biggest news I think, is that the Red Sox released Josh Bard. At first, I was very skeptical of this. ‘Why would they do that??’ I thought. He was hitting something like .429 and was doing a pretty nice job behind the plate. Doesn’t it seem right that he would catch Wakefield? 
Well, instead of just dwelling on stats, as we all normally tend to do (just out of our crazy baseball fan nature), we have to look at why we acquired Bard in the first place. The Red Sox got Bard over a month before re-signing Jason Varitek. I think that the Red Sox picked up Josh Bard as a safety net– in case agreements with Jason could not be made. 
From Bard’s perspective though, it must be though being let go– again. He is now where Ivan Rodriguez was just last week. I think that he would still serve as a great backup catcher for another team, and I wish him luck in his endeavor to find a job. 
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So, who is the backup catcher now? Who is catching Wakefield? The candidate most likely to fill those shoes is George Kottaras, who went 2-2 today against Pittsburgh with a double. He is young, and was out of minor league options (I don’t even know what that means?). Now, he is getting the chance of a lifetime. 
He did a decent job of catching Wakefield against the Yankees. Apparently, the trick is to let the knuckleball come to you, not try to go get the knuckleball. I can’t imagine how hard that must be to catch– or hit for that matter. It has no spin, and it’s already hard enough to hit a baseball. His hitting is a bit mediocre, I think he had something like a .243 average in Pawtucket. But, as we all know, a catcher’s important comes behind the plate, not next to it. Though, I don’t think Erin minds Joe Mauer’s numbers. 
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Kevin Youkilis is having this problems with his left ankle– including Achilles tendonitis (whatever that means). I don’t think it’s something to worry about. I think it’s more of a small injury that comes with getting back into the groove. I don’t blame the Classic at all, and neither do any of the injured players. 
I know that the Classic comes at an annoying time, but to be honest with you, I LOVE it. I love the pride that these players feel in representing their country, I think that’s really important, and it provides an opportunity for some of the forgotten veterans to say, ‘Hey, I’m still here!’. This is the case of Ivan Rodriguez, who signed a deal with the Houston Astros. I am really happy for him, he really deserved this deal after his astounding performance in the Classic. 
Around the League
Well, with the entire USA team basically becoming an accident waiting to happen, a few other members have been added to the roster. This includes Evan Longoria, Derek Lee, Ryan Ludwick, and AJ Pierzynski. These are all great additions to the roster, and they will provide strong depth as the US heads into the semi-finals. The first matchup is going to be incredible: Oswalt vs Dice-K!
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It looks like Chase Utley is making a very speedy recovery, much speedier th
an most expected. He could very well be ready for Opening Day. It’s great when guys like this recover successfully from surgery. Hamels being ready for Opening Days, is uncertain, as is Joe Mauer’s situation. 
Baseball in my Life
This week was a great week for talking about baseball for me. The day after the epic WBC game, everything productive that came out of my mouth was about the World Baseball Classic. And on Wednesday, my math teacher and I had a long discussion about the Red Sox and Yankees and how their lineups and pitching staff looked. 
In my debate class, I am writing a piece on the problem with steroids, and how we can fix the problem (plus, I’m relating it to school). Basically, I just get to rant for ten minutes about steroids, it should work for me.
The most important thing though, is that I got my research paper back. No grade though (my teacher doesn’t role that way), but lots of nice comments! He thought that my thesis statement was ‘great’, and he loved the quotes, and I got lots of ‘goods’ and ‘interestings’ and checkmarks. Most importantly, he liked the way that I was able to draw the parallel ideas between baseball and America, though maybe I was ranting a little bit at the end.
For the re-write, I’m going to organize it thematically rather than chronologically. Wish me luck for the game tomorrow, I’m going to have to go there and get tickets since I can’t find any online! 
-Elizabeth

The Injury Bug Must be Exterminated

It’s one thing when you get an injury in the middle of the offseason. It’s another thing when you get injured (however minor it may be) three weeks before Opening Day. 

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The injury is making its way around baseball, and pretty fast too. It made its way through Florida, but those who were bitten have only suffered mildly. The disease is spreading quickly, especially through the Classic in Florida as Ryan Braun, Matt Lindstrom, Dustin Pedroia, and Chipper Jones have all been cautioned to take it easy, or taken out of the Classic entirely. It even gave Phillies fans a scare when it attempted to bite their ace Cole Hamels, and it has temporarily sidelined Trevor Hoffman. Julio Lugo wasn’t as lucky, the injury bug got to his knee and has forced him to have surgery. 
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It then made its way to Arizona where Manny Ramirez attempted to find the bug and purposefully get injured so he could sit out for another week to sulk about how he had to go out and play left field one day instead of serving as the designated hitter. 
Dustin Pedroia has actually returned to Fort Myers and is out for the rest of the Classic. Originally, the injury was reported to be a strained oblique muscle. Josh Beckett had a strained or irritated oblique during the playoffs last season, and his playoff performance wasn’t what it has been known to be in the past. 
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The good news is that it’s not a strained oblique, it’s a strained abdominal muscle. He could be back playing this week! I would be happy to greet him if I am able to go to the Red Sox vs Marlins game on Saturday. As long as he is healthy and ready for Opening Day, I will be very happy. 
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Other victims of the Classic (okay, that’s a bit harsh) are Braun, Jones, and Lindstrom. It’s obvious that Chipper Jones wasn’t feeling too right, he hadn’t even gotten a hit before he left. His oblique was bothering him (maybe they confused him and Pedroia?) and it could continue to bother him for an extended period of time, though he his optimistic. 
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Matt Lindstrom injured his right shoulder– in fact, he strained his right rotator cuff. He is still “with” Team USA despite being unable to play. Right now, he has to focus on the regular season, being ready for the opener. 
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Ryan Braun “aggravated his right rib cage” and is being temporarily held out of games for now. It would be really nice if they could use another word other than ‘aggravated’, it makes it sound way more dramatic than it actually is. I don’t know much about Braun’s personality, but apparently he would “bend the truth” so that he could play. I love that player mentality, but he has to think towards the future of the season–being ready to play for as many of the 162 games as possible, and hopefully more. 
What are the similarities of these cases? All of these injuries are products of the Classic. I love the World Baseball Classic, but for guys from the Major Leagues, it’s just a bit soon for them to be playing nine innings. I know that they have regulations for pitchers and stuff, but these players are still in Spring Training mode, even if they are pretending that they are in playoff mode. Granted, these injuries could have happened in Spring Training but it’s still a different atmosphere, as I described. 
I am so sorry that Julio Lugo had to have surgery, but at least it was before the season rather than during. He was working so hard to earn that starting position back– he was hitting all over the place and his fielding has much improved. This surgery will have him out for about a month, but this opens a position for utility player to come up. 
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Who will this utility player be? My project, Nick Green. Well, that’s who I would pick at least. Let me tell you guys, he has been hitting so well this spring, and his hitting potential can definitely been developed (not to mention that his fielding is solid). 
Most of you guys know that our backup first baseman (and outfielder) Mark Kotsay had back surgery, so another opening is available. My pick? My project, Chris Carter. I believe in both of these guys and I think that they could do a great job. 
So how do we terminate this injury bug? I have already begun by praying. During church on Sunday, my mind was side-tracked of course thinking about baseball, so when it came time for our private petitions you can only guess what mine were. I even phrased it nicely:
That Dustin Pedroia and Julio Lugo may make speedy recoveries and be healthy as soon as possible, we pray to the Lord. 
-Elizabeth 
PS #1: This is my 100th entry! I hope to have many many more :) 
PS #2: I don’t have the grade yet, but my history teacher said that he really liked my research paper! I’m going to revise it and organize it thematically rather than chronologically. 
**This is SUCH a stressful WBC game!!!

Baseball is Spoken Here

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Saturday was all about baseball for me, but in two very different atmospheres. The first, was at Spring Training, a very intimate environment. It doesn’t really matter, but the minor leaguers are trying to impress, and the major leaguers are working on their stuff. In fact, the only regular starter from the Red Sox that played was Jed Lowrie. Then at night, there was the World Baseball Classic, and that was an experience different from anything I’ve ever felt before. 

In the morning, I was forced to be a “filler” at a debate tournament– a complete waste of my time! I was able to get out by 11 though, so I was off to Fort Lauderdale stadium. I arrived there around 12:30 so I had a half an hour to get autographs. 
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The first came from Josh Reddick, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one there who knew his name. ‘JOSH!’ I yelled. I’ve been pretty impressed with him throughout Spring Training. The last time I was at a Spring Training game, I noted that Reddick needed more confidence. I think that has come. 
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Then it was Lars Anderson. I had his autograph from before, but how could I just let an opportunity pass? So I took off my hat, and when he pointed to me, I threw it at him. Lars and I definitely have a connection seeing that I have his autograph twice. 
The last autograph of that day came from Rocco Baldelli. Rays Renegade was right, Rocco does sign for the ladies :). One of my foul balls is all filled up– by minor league or bench players! It’s going to be pretty cool when I see them in the Majors so I can say: ‘Hey, I got his autograph before anyone knew who he was!’. That has already happened with Jed Lowrie. 
So what are my impressions for this Spring Training game? 
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Josh Reddick had a beautiful lead off double, and he had a great attempt at a bunt. It literally rolled perfectly down the third base line before rolling foul after he had reached first base. When a home run was given up by Adam Mills, (I’ll get to him later) Reddick wasn’t able to get it, but he climbed the wall pretty high!
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Jed Lowrie looked pretty good as he had a double and looked pretty solid defensively. Rocco Baldelli was the designated hitter and he has a pretty big swing, which later produced a nice double down the third base line and a hit through the gap to tie the game at one point. 
Chris Carter didn’t have his best day ever, but that was simply because he was swinging a bit too early at bad pitches. Josh Bard continues to make a good run for the backup catcher as he got a couple of nice hits and did well behind the plate. 
Jeff Bailey hit a triple, and had some great hustle to get there, and Nick Green looked pretty nice defensively. Mark Wagner, also competing for the backup catcher job had a great throw to get the runner out at second. 
Pitching
Besides giving up a two run homer, Adam Mills looked pretty good, I would love to see more of him. Devern Hansack followed him and gave up two home runs in his outing, and needs to work on his pickoff attempts, or just avoid them. 
Marcus McBeth had what was probably his best outing of the Spring. He didn’t even give up any home runs! He throws pretty hard, has nice placement, and struck out two. He was followed by Hunter Jones who gave up a home run, but also has nice placement and form. 
Watching Wes Littleton warm up is very entertaining. He throws from the side but has beautiful command, and spots the ball well. Despite this, he is unable to execute on the mound. 
The Sox tied up the game in the top of the ninth, but Dustin Richardson gave up a walk-off home run to end the game. I loved seeing the minor leaguers play, it was like a ‘Projects Game’. 
World Baseball Classic 
There was a beautiful juxtaposition between Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic. I had assumed that there would be one, but to actually be there was absolutely incredible. It evoked a sense of patriotism that I had never felt before. 
There were definitely more Puerto Rican fans than there were American, which was so cool because it made me realize that this is all about national pride! Before the game, as we stood to listen to each country’s respective national anthem, it made me feel really proud to be an American, it gave it a new meaning. It was the same version that Ken Burns opened his ‘Baseball’ series with. 
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The stadium erupted when the rosters were announced, especially for Puerto Rico– it was absolutely deafening. Then, as five people walked out carrying five different flags, it made me realize that I really had never been a part of something like this. 
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It was truly a playoff atmosphere, it felt I was out of the Olympics. And you know how cool it is to see all those flashes going off throughout the stands? Well, it was pretty cool to be one of those flashes. 
The game itself though, w
as a bit disappointing to say the least. After all, the United States did get mercy ruled. If you were watching the game (or even listening to it), you knew that Jake Peavy didn’t have his stuff. I have to say though, if it’s really different from me going from Spring Training to the WBC, I can’t imagine how it is for him. 
Velazquez looked great though, and so did Ivan Rodriguez. He is probably the most impressive player of the Classic thus far. The fact that he does not have a job yet is still “flabbergasting” to me (I felt I just had to use that word). 
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The coolest part though for me, was realizing how baseball is a universal language. Baseball is spoken here. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are from– we all know that after four balls you get walked, and after three strikes, you’re out. Everyone knows what a home run is, and everybody cheers at the same time. It is incredible what baseball does–it brings us together.
Photo Credit: me
-Elizabeth 

International Upset? Or enjoyable shock?

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Did any of you really think that the Netherlands would even win one game? I’ll be completely honest with you– I didn’t. I thought that teams would walk all over them– especially the Dominican. You know, the team with all the All-Stars? 

Here is was their lineup:
1. Reyes (SS)
2. Taveras (CF)
3. [Hanley] Ramirez (DH)
4. Ortiz (1B)
5. Tejada (3B)
6. Guillen (RF)
7. Cano (2B)
8. Cruz (LF)
9. Olivo (C)
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They have the two best short stops in Major League Baseball, Miguel Tejada (if that even is his real name), not to mention David Ortiz.
Here is the Netherlands lineup: 
1. Kingsdale (CF-RF)
2. Schoop (SS)
3. Simon (1B)
4. de Caster (3B)
5. Engelhardt (LF)
6. Adriana (DH)
7. Van’t Klooster (RF)
8. Jansen (C)
9. Duursma (2B)
I don’t know who ANY of these guys are! So the Netherlands are making the trip to Miami where they will meet Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the USA. I think that this shocked the world, and that is the beauty of baseball. I counted them out– I really did but you can’t do that in baseball. The Netherlands are kind of like the Rays of 2008. They came out of no where, and now their skills will be put to the test. 
It’s not like it wasn’t a close game though. It went scoreless into the 11th inning when the Dominican scored a run in the top half, but the Netherlands rallied in the bottom half to produce a walk-off victory. 
The Dominican Republic team is like Team USA of 2006–disappointing. So what went wrong? I think there are a few things that are significant. 
1. Overconfidence. Everyone expected a lot out of the Dominican Republic, especially with that lineup of theirs. They may have gotten a little too self-assured. 
2. Since most all of the players in their lineup play in the Major Leagues, none of their guys have had much practice. If it wasn’t for the WBC, they would be at Spring Training getting into baseball shape. Some of the guys on these other teams have been playing baseball in the winter, so that gives them some of an advantage. 
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3. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez were both unable to play. I can definitely see Albert Pujols making a big impact, but seeing that this tournament is similar to the playoffs, I don’t know how well he would have done. 
I think that I will be lucky enough to get to a few of the WBC games. In fact, my weekend looks to be absolutely filled with baseball. On Saturday, I plan on heading to Fort Lauderdale to see the Red Sox play the Orioles, then go to the Puerto Rico vs United States game at 8:00 pm. Then on Sunday, the fantasy baseball draft!! I’m nervous about that, I have NO idea what I’m doing. 
 In the Realm of the Red Sox 
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Clay Buchholz had a successful outing against the Orioles earlier this week. He fired three scoreless innings and struck out two. There is even better news though: he says that he has never felt more confident before a game.
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Where does this confidence come from? Veteran starter John Smoltz. Not only did the Red Sox pick up an established talent, but they also picked up an adviser. And for the abundance of young pitching that the Red Sox have and will rely on in the future, it’s great to have a Hall of Fame shoe in to guide them along. 
I have heard that Randy Johnson is kind of mean, and I don’t think that does anyone any good. What if Tim Lincecum needs advice? That’s a bit discouraging, or at least I would find it to be. 
Josh Beckett had a successful outing today going four scoreless innings with two strikeouts. This week, Josh Reddick has been on fire! I think he is gaining confidence at the plate, which is what I noted that he needed to work on when I saw him a few weeks ago. Something tells me that he won’t be in the Majors this year. 
I can see him tearing up Double-AA ball though. I think I’m going to make him my future project– he has a guaranteed spot next year and will be on my radar! I have been very happy with the production of my projects thus far this Spring. 
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Mike Lowell finally returned to the lineup against the Orioles, and he went 1-3. He would not have gotten that hit if he hadn’t asked Terry Francona for another at-bat. I’m glad that he did, and I’m glad that he felt good. I know that it will take him a year to fully recuperate from the surgery, but I am confident that he will be fine if he can adjust. 
We signed all of the guys without contracts yet to one-year deals. This doesn’t mean that long contracts can’t be negotiated. As far as I can tell, Jon Lester’s deal is still in the works. This includes people like Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, etc. 
I am hoping that I can get you guys some more information about Junichi Tazawa this weekend. I’ll bring lots of pictures from the WBC– I will be sitting in the upper-deck though. I know that a few of the guys from MLB Network are going to be there, and I want to meet them! 
-Elizabeth

“Baseball Bubble”

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Today, I realized something– I can tell you more about baseball than I can about global issues– way more. I honestly did not know the name of the North Korean dictator until this afternoon. Is this bad? I remember Jane mentioning a story similar to this in her book. She was reading the newspaper and some kind of headline like ‘The Tribe is Suffering’ came up, and she thought it was about the Cleveland Indians. I’m not going to lie to you, upon reading it, I thought she was referencing the Cleveland Indians as well. I live in my own little baseball bubble as well. 

For example, in math today, when my teacher asked me the scores of the World Baseball Classic from Sunday, I was perfectly able to recite that. When he asked me to find the external arc of a circle, I was clueless. 

During my Life Skills class, we began learning about drugs; so we were each assigned a drug to research and present to the class. I kindly forced asked the student next to me to switch topics with me so I could write about steroids. Don’t get me wrong, I will talk about steroids in my project, but I think I’m going to go on a long tangent about steroids in baseball, and then go on to talk about Pete Rose and how it’s ridiculous that he is not in the Hall of Fame. 
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I had heard about the rumored Jon Lester deal yesterday, but it wasn’t until I was watching Team USA beat up on Team Venezuela that I heard that the deal was finalized. It was a five year deal worth $30 million, with a $14 million option for 2014! This is what the Red Sox have been doing all offseason: locking up their proven young players! We all know that Jon Lester had a breakout year last year. I don’t need to re-emphasize his no-hitter and that great comeback story of his. The bottom line is: he is a good pitcher. He has great command of his fastball, and is even working on a changeup! At this pace, he is on the track to becoming one of the most feared left handed pitchers of the game. 
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A-Rod is officially having surgery, though, not the same surgery that Mike Lowell had on his torn labrum. I think this is “arthroscopic surgery” and they few medical terms that I know are the ones that I have heard of on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. This is not one of them. However, from what I have gathered, this surgery will allow A-Rod to return in 6-9 weeks rather than 12-16 weeks. This was the right decision.
Like I’ve said before, it was painful for me to watch Mike Lowell play last season, and it was painful for him. If it’s already painful for Alex, it was only going to get worse. This surgery will minimize the damage, and he will have the rest of the surgery after the season. Plus, this gives A-Rod some down time. With this steroid scandal, and his inability to keep a straight story, and all Torre’s blows to him– he needs some time off. 
So what are the Yankees to do in the meantime without their cleanup batter? Alright so they have Cody Ransom to fill the void at third base, but that does not fill the offensive void. The Yankees are going to have to totally re-work their lineup. Sure Mark Teixeira has a bat, but other than him, the offense is a tad on the mediocre side. Luckily they have some serious pitching to balance that. 
World Baseball Classic 
The USA is redeeming itself after the 2006 tournament as it did not falter after its first win. They beat Team Venezuela 15-6 thanks to some key hits off of the shaky Venezuelan bullpen, and some strong relief pitching. 
Roy Oswalt had a decent outing, but definitely not the best. The problem is, these games actually matter (in a sense). This is still Spring Training to some of these guys. The guys on international teams have been playing Winter Ball. These guys? This is just the start of stuff for them. 
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The US broke it open in the sixth inning by scoring eight runs. Mark DeRosa hit a triple and batted in a total of four runs. Chris Iannetta had a great bases clearing double and also had four RBIs. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with Ianetta. Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn hit their second home runs of the classic, and Ryan Braun hit his first. Dustin Pedroia had a great play at second base if you guys didn’t get to see it. It was one of those plays that NO ONE should make. 
The bullpen was backed by some great run support so Ziegler’s two earned runs and Bell’s one were not that significant. Matt Lindstrom of the Florida Marlins picked up the win. 
Red Sox Spring Training
On Sunday I had to go to school for an American History catch up day– didn’t mind too much because I love that class. Anyway, the class started at one, and there was a Red Sox vs Rays game at one. Luckily, my friend lent me his iPhone so I was periodically refreshing the play-by-play throughout the whole class. 
Julio Lugo had a great day as he went 3-3 with two RBIs and two doubles. My project, Nick Green, hit a home run, as did Zach Daeges (despite his weird batting stance) and Jonathan Van Every. 
Justin Masterson pitched three beautiful innings of one hit ball and was followed by Jonathan Papelbon, who threw a scoreless inning but allowed two runs. Did I mention that he is working on a slider? Yet another pitch to vanquish victims. Daniel Bard (potential project) struck out the side, and Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden each allowed one run. 
I have now set a goal for Michael Bowden: one outing without any earned runs! 
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The Red Sox played an exciting game today against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which the Red Sox won on an RBI double by Josh Reddick in the bottom of the tenth. I watched the first two innings during my Life Skills class while “researching” steroids. I wasn’t just going to pass up that opportunity.
One of my projects, Jeff Bailey, went 3-4 with a double and an RBI. Project Nick Green hit another home run as did Dusty Brown. I remember Dusty Brown from last year’s Spring Training and from a Pawtucket game. I like him, but I need to see a bit more of him to decide his project potential. 
Josh Bard continued to
make his presence known by hitting another home run today and collecting three RBIs. I’m thinking that this whole competition thing is making Lowrie a little nervous. I just want him to be himself, because I know he can do well either starting on off the bench. 

The World Baseball Classic produces a Classic

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I cannot tell you how happy I am that baseball is back. I woke up at 9 am today (I don’t know why) and watched four editions of ’30 Clubs in 30 Days’ (yes, I am addicted). I have to say, I really enjoy watching that show, but my favorite part of the show isn’t the analysis. 

Towards the end of the show, they do a little segment on the history of the club. It’s short, but I swear, every time it gives me goosebumps! The clubs that were analyzed were the Blue Jays, the Reds, the Braves, and the Rays. 
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I loved seeing familiar faces in the form of Kevin Millar (Blue Jays), 
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Bronson Arroyo (Reds),
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 and Derek Lowe (Braves). I had not known that Millar had signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays. That’s crazy– a minor league deal!! I can see him being similar to the Sean Casey of last year. What a great guy to have coming off the bench. 
Mark called this a long time ago, but I’m starting to agree with him– the Reds are looking great this year! I don’t think that they can win the division, but after watching that show, I can see them getting third place! I think they have one more year to go until they become like the Rays of 2008. 
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Bronson Arroyo is such a great guy to have on their staff too. He has made so many starts for the Reds– more than anyone else around the Majors! He may not be the best pitcher in the world, but he still eats up innings, and that’s important. 
Plus, he is pretty serious about his music!! 
Baseball References of this week
I’ve wondered why I feel so strongly about the past of baseball, even though I never live through it. It’s painful for me to watch highlights from the 1986 World Series, I feel so happy when I see clips of Carlton Fisk’s 1975 home run, and I feel so strongly about Pete Rose even though I haven’t seen him play. So why do I care so much?
Well, in my math class, we ended up talking about the String Theory one day. I don’t completely understand it, but from what I do understand, somehow, I could have been at those games– in a different dimension. So instead of just experiencing them vicariously, perhaps I really was there. That’s a bit of a stretch I know. 
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In my history class, we were talking about World War II, and the battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. So what do I write in my notes? The battle of Okajima. So this is what I’m thinking about 24/7. Even as I was writing this entry, I put Iwamura instead of Iwo Jima initially. 
In chemistry, we were learning about The Shield Effect. I had no idea what it was (and I barely understand it now), and when my teacher asked someone to explain it, I thought to myself:
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‘Well, I can’t explain the Shield Effect, but I would love to talk about the Schilling Effect’. Curt is pretty aware of his effect as well. He wants to help a team get to the World Series. In fact, he specifically mentioned the Cubs and the Rays. What about helping the Pirates to a winning season? 
World Baseball Classic 
Well, after the three episodes of ’30 Clubs in 30 Days’ that I watched, I turned to ESPN (for the first time in months) to watch Team USA play Team Canada. That was one hell of a game if you guys didn’t get to see it. 
The starting lineup for Team USA was loaded:
1. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
2. Derek Jeter (SS)
3. Chipper Jones (DH)
4. David Wright (3B)
5. Kevin Youkilis (1B)
6. Adam Dunn (RF)
7. Ryan Braun (LF)
8. Brian McCann (C)
9. Shane Victorino (CF-RF)
Starting pitcher: Jake Peavy
The starting lineup for Canada had some familiar faces as well:
1. Barnwell (SS)
2. Russell Martin (C)
3. Joey Votto (DH)
4. Justin Morneau (1b)
5. Jason Bay (CF)
6. Stairs (RF)
7. Teahen (3B)
8. Weglarz (LF)
9. Orr (2B)
Starting pitcher: Johnson
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Jake Peavy had a bit of a rough first inning– I’m pretty sure that he loaded the bases. He settled down the second inning and had a great 1-2-3 inning, but gave up a home run to Joey Votto in the third inning. 
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Let me tell you guys something, Joey Votto looks really good. I can see him having a really nice season for the Reds. 
It was really interesting for me though, to be rooting against Jason Bay. Kevin Youkilis scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann to Jason Bay. I bet they’ll be laughing about that later. 
Youkilis produced the second home run of the game by hitting a home run to right-center field. Not to mention the fact that his beard is coming back. I love seeing the Youk-Fu in the pictures though. 
Brian McCann and Adam Dunn also hit home runs to make the score 6-4. In the bottom of the ninth, Joey Votto struck again with a double over the head of Shane Victorino to score Russell Martin. 
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Joey Votto was on second with Jason Bay at the plate. There were two outs, and the co
unt was 3-2… talk about a conflict! Don’t worry though, I ended up rooting for my country. That’s the beauty of baseball right there. Jason Bay represented the tying run of the game. Had he hit a ball into deep right, the game would have been tied, the entire tournament could have been different! That is one of the many things that I love about baseball. 
-Elizabeth
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