mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Red Sox

shaking it up . . .

 

I love camels, don't you?. . . they stay calm and sanguine while everyone else around them goes berserk! . . .

I love camels, don’t you?. . . they stay calm and sanguine while everyone else around them goes berserk! . . .

Okay, so when the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzales, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett two years ago, people were agog. The team was playing badly, drinking beer and eating chicken wings as they kept losing with Bobby Valentine as their manager. Coming from last place to winning the World Series with a bunch of bearded guys you couldn’t even remember the names of occurred the very next year under new coaching manager, John Farrell. Yep, that was just last year, remember?

Yesterday, they did it again: this time, trading six players that included the only two pitchers that the Red Sox really have and who helped them win two World Series: Jon Lester and John Lackey. At the very last minute, the Yankees sent a fax at 3 in the morning saying that they wanted Stephen Drew. Jonny Gomes looked like he didn’t know what hit him as he headed out to Oakland along with Jon Lester. Nice place to live, Oakland, CA. Lester’s a free agent after this season so there’re some whispers that gee, he might come back to the Sox next season. John Henry was seen saying goodbye to Jon Lester, pulling him out of his caramel colored pick-up truck and having a quick word with him out of sight of the cameras before Lester climbed back into the truck and drove away.

It seems that management decided to build up their offensive hitting capacity by getting Yoenis Cespedes, a young Oakland slugger–and that it would be easier to get pitchers than sluggers. (How much longer will David Ortiz be around, you might ask.) I hope they’re right because you wouldn’t really want to count on Clay Bucholtz as our only starting pitcher. I mean, who else do we have? They traded Peavy a couple of weeks ago which wasn’t surprising. Uehara, the relief pitcher only comes in at the very end and pitches a few crucial strikeouts. But he’s not a starter.

It’s actually interesting to watch the game tonight at Fenway Park. I don’t see many empty seats. It feels different to be watching a lineup that still has Mookie Betts, a little guy who came up from the minors about a month ago in the lineup. (BTW, Betts made a spectacular catch in tonight’s game.) They’re playing the Yankees who have Stephen Drew at 2nd base and Jacoby Ellsbury firmly ensconced in the Yankee lineup. Ellsbury, who was never appreciated enough here in Boston, went to the Yankees for a five year, $150M dollar contract after the World Series win last year. Yep. And remember when Johnny Damon went to the Yankees a few years ago? Where is he playing now anyhow?

It’s a Friday night and not much is happening with the Market Basket saga that’s closing its second week. Management is threatening to hire new people if they refuse to return to work on Monday, August 4th. Push is coming to shove between management and employees while the Board continues to stall its review of buyout offers.

So, between the Red Sox pulling apart its former World Series team and Market Basket pulling itself apart piece by piece, there’s never a dull moment around here in the Boston area. At least not this week.

 

“drips” . . .

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I don’t know if you are a baseball fan who’s been following the seemingly endless series upon series upon series to get to the Mother of all series-es, the World Series. Who knew that with all these “wild card” playoffs, and second chances that baseball would go on so long into October? I’m not really complaining because the Red Sox are still winning after so losing last year. They won as many games as they lost last year and with all the beard-growth, seem to be having a lot of fun as teammates playing baseball. In fact, the Red Sox with 97 wins this year, have tied the existing record (St. Louis) for winning the most games in a season! This year’s triumph is so surprising and that much sweeter coming back-to-back from last year’s shameful letdown.

Much has been written about reconstructing a winning Red Sox team this year. Some say it’s due to a new business strategy (Ben Cherington, the GM, gets credit for it) of paying more short-term money for proven no-name baseball players who just want to play baseball and win for the Red Sox. Players like Joe Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, are newcomers to the Red Sox roster and have done well enough so that we now recognize their names, even if we can’t always recognize their features behind some of those beards. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltimacchia have all contributed to the wins (although Salty strikes out as much as he hits.) David Ortiz hits home runs just when you need him to but I’m always nervous when Clay Buchholtz is pitching, aren’t you?

In any case, the reason I’m writing this post is that the Red Sox clinched the latest playoff with the Tampa Bay Rays last night, as described by Jacoby Ellsbury, “It’s mentally draining to play Tampa Bay but they’re a great group of guys.” Shane Victorino, one of the new guys this year, was key to their winning last night’s game, both running and hitting. In fact, Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays coach was quoted as saying, “Shane Victorino, he just drips intangibles.” I laughed out loud when I read this description, both because: a) I’ve never heard anyone described as such; b) I don’t really know which ‘intangibles’ he’s referring to, baseball-wise, and c) for it to come out of a coach’s mouth was surprisingly erudite, if you know what I mean. Here’s the actual context:

Ellsbury was stealing second on the pitch and continued to third when the ball rolled toward the backstop. Victorino beat out a slow chopper to shortstop, putting the Red Sox ahead 2-1.

“Victorino really adds a different dimension to that group, and you saw that again tonight. He just drips with intangibles,” Maddon said.

This is why I watch baseball. It’s like watching a chapter of Greek mythology playing out before our very eyes. For example, in the space of a year, we witnessed the debacle of last year’s team and coach, Bobby Valentine, burning to a crisp together in a crucible of egocentric individuals eating chicken wings and drinking beer in the locker room. Now, the Red Sox have risen from the ashes into a “One for all, All for One” bearded team (who knew beards mattered?) who seem to love helping each other out. David Ortiz was quoted as coaching his team players to “hold out for the fast ball” in the second or third playoff game with the Tampa Bay Rays. Here’s a Designated Hitter, coaching his fellow teammates how to hit the pitcher, rather than being content with being the best hitter on the team.

Hey, come to think of it, if the Los Angeles Dodgers end up winning their playoffs, last year’s Gone, Baby, Gone Trio trade (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett) may be on the field playing against this year’s bearded Red Sox team for the World Series. Now that match-up would really drip with intangibles, don’t you think?

control . . .

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How about that? You can’t control much in life. That’s what I am learning this week. The most I can do is learn and understand more as time goes along. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing these days, for better or for worse. So much so that it seems like the world is in some kind of everyday anarchy: people are on TV talking about the most mundane things. Shootings and kidnappings abound. Suicides inside jail and out. Watching national news is like reading People magazine but worse. There is no real news. Each station features the exact same thing about the exact same list of features but with a slightly different tone or tongue in cheek. Who are these news readers who get younger and younger, have opinions and ask (naive) bright young questions about really serious matters? Is this what the network honchos think will draw younger viewers? What about us old viewers who really want to know what is going on in the world, as distasteful as it might be?

At least the Red Sox are hitting. The score was 20-4 the other night–we were watching “Chopped” on another channel when the score went from being tied at 4-4 to 10-4 after a grand slam home run (I hate missing those!) Then, the other ten runs occurred in a hitting fest that hasn’t been seen in awhile. They continued to hit last night against the Yankees although they lost a big lead and barely squeaked by in the 10th inning. John Farrell, the coach who replaced Bobby Valentine has transacted a kind of miracle. He actually plans ahead for a rotation of players who get to rest, know when they’re up again and why. That shows a regard and respect for the players as individuals. You can tell the team is happy just to be playing baseball again, never mind that you never heard of half of the names who come up to bat. Even Dennis Eckersley, who was a former pitcher and filling in for the poor guy whose son is up for murdering his girlfriend, is doing well. Usually, I cringe at his half-hearted attempts at humor. Now, his comments are incisive and interesting, using some jargon about hitting that I’ve never heard before now. “Grinding” the pitcher is one of them–that is, hitting lots of foul balls to make the pitcher throw a lot and wear him out.

Grinding is a good term to describe what sometimes happens in life too. I find that when I am isolated and sending emails that it could be perceived by recipients as some sort of grinding too. Or asking about things that other people don’t want to listen to or hear about could also appear to be grinding. Well, now that I know how that term is used in baseball, I can see how it might be annoying in real life too. It doesn’t even matter that your intentions are naive or innocent.

People will do their own thing and can be persuaded or influenced easily by other people’s lifestyles. I am always afraid about that but not to worry, I can’t do anything about it anyhow. No need to stick my finger into that dike hole.  Fighting the inexorable is futile. Just like trying to have some influence or control over others. They will do their own thing no matter what, especially in this free-for-all kind of culture that we are living in right now.

Values are what this is about. And the only thing I can do for myself is to adhere to my own values, and not spend time worrying about anyone else’s. That’s a lot of self-control to have, don’t you think?  And all we might need too!

lemon poppyseed . . .

. . . lemon poppyseed pound cake in the pan

. . . lemon poppyseed pound cake in the pan


I was looking for something to have after dinner while we watch the first game of the Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight. There have been times when I have reminded G. how fortunate he is that I am one of those wives who actually enjoys watching action movies and sports. Typically, we watch the Red Sox, then the Patriots, less often the Celtics (there’s something off-putting about them) and the Bruins when they put up a save like that seventh game playoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs, trailing by 3 goals in the 3rd period, tying the game and then winning in overtime. I mean, c’mon, I may be a fair-weather hockey fan but I’ve been loyal watching them beat the Rangers after the Toronto thriller, then the Penguins as the underdog team in a shutout, four games to zero! Now, we have at least four games more to watch. It’s hard to visually follow a hockey game I think–but it’s fun to watch when they win. And they have been doing that rather well, lately, barring Campbell breaking his fibula and out for the rest of the season. Since I’m usually knitting something, it’s a good combination while watching sports on TV.

So back to making the pound cake, I had the TV turned to a channel showing repeats of “Bones,” the forensic mystery cum romance which is surprisingly fun to cook by. I followed Melissa Clark’s recipe from the Times today. I wondered how many readers would know how to zest two lemons (using a microplane) but no matter. Mixing turbinado sugar and fragrant lemon zest with my hands felt really wonderful, it turns out. Adding eggs, buttermilk and then olive oil? was, well, surprising. I dutifully buttered and floured my wonderful cast iron white porcelain Le Creuset loaf pan and put the cake into the oven to bake for an hour.
lemon poundcake with flowers

As the loaf cooled, I slid a sharp knife around the edges of the pan and after a tap, the cake came out beautifully. I sliced about a third of it for G. to take next door to his mother and brother when he goes out to tune this afternoon. And of course, I couldn’t resist sharing a slice with G., just to see how it turned out. It was really delicious, a crisp edge, a moist crumb with true lemon flavor sweetened just enough.

Hope the Bruins win tonight! If not, we can still console ourselves with slices of this luscious lemon poppy seed pound cake! Thanks, Melissa Clark!