Tuesday  April 24, 2007

Quadrangular! Quadrangular! Quadrangular! Quadrangular!

On Sunday night, the Red Sox hit back-to-back-to-back-to back home runs against Yankee starter Chase Wright--only the second time a team has ever accomplished this against one pitcher. Here's the play-by-play in Spanish, from ESPN Deportes. Clearly this announcer means to do for the home run what Andres Cantor has done for the soccer goal:

Friday  April 20, 2007

It Gets Old. No, It Doesn't.

The greatest rivalry in professional sports resumes this evening as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox play their first series of 2007. Due to a viral outbreak of injury among their starters, the Yankees during the three-game series will feature just one established pitcher, Andy Pettitte, along with two rookies. The Red Sox will feature their top three guys: Schilling, Beckett, and, for the first time against New York, the Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The fans go bananas for these Yankees-Red Sox series, each of which has the quality of a postseason meeting, even in April, but not so the players--as former Yankee Gary Sheffield told me in an interview that's the basis of a profile appearing in the June GQ.

[With the unbalanced schedule,] you faced the Red Sox 19 times. The feeling I got when I was with the Yankees is that sometimes playing that many times and that big of a game against Boston, sometimes it gets old. People get so excited and emotions run so high, but it's a 162-game season. You want those big games spread out, because it's so emotional. You know, you don't want to be feeling like it's the World Series every single day-- all the requests for tickets, all the people flying in for those games--and then all of a sudden you go play a team, you know, a less-caliber team, and then it's kind of a letdown. Sometimes it gets to be a headache...

Sheffield took pains to be clear here: "It's about the requests, not the game itself; it's about all the other activities. Once the games begin," he says, "it's on again."

My safe prediction: Boston takes two of three. Though if the Red Sox were hitting--they're batting in the .240s, their worst start to a season in more than a decade--I'd go all out and predict a sweep.

Wednesday  April 11, 2007

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjack (for About Twelve Bucks)

TMR has released its fourteenth annual Fan Cost Index, which surveys the price of a night at the ballpark/stadium/court/rink for a family of four. Included in the FCI is the following: "two adult average price tickets; two child average price tickets; four small soft drinks; two small beers; four hot dogs; two programs; parking; and two adult-size caps."

The survey results, which can only be called dispiriting--they're an argument for shunning both sunlight and the company of your fellow man--can be found here. To cite one example: the FCI for the New England Patriots, whose ticket prices are by far the NFL's highest, is nearly $500.

You can navigate to surveys from other years and other sports (not just football but also hockey, basketball, and major- and minor-league baseball) by clicking the appropriate links.

Friday  April 06, 2007

Truth in Advertising

After a long off-season of hype, the Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, a frequent subject of this blog, yesterday made his major-league debut for the Boston Red Sox. The results--10 strikeouts in 7 innings; one earned run--have sportswriters nationwide saying the "baby-faced ace" is exactly as good as advertised. Across the blogosphere ecstatic Red Sox fans are recalling the 1998 inaugural Boston start of Pedro Martinez, whose statline then is eerily similar to Matsuzaka's yesterday. Of course Matsuzaka's not the pitcher Pedro was, his fastball doesn't move nearly as much, but no one's yet found another pitcher to whom he compares. He's sui generis.

Here, from the Boston Globe, are some numbers that will convey the beauty of Matsuzaka's pitching, before an international audience (the game began after 3 AM in Japan), in his first game as a major leaguer.  Click to enlarge: