So a fairy tale week of Baseball saw the Boston Red Sox dispose of the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS Semi Finals. The best of five series was over in four fiercely contested battles, for which a Lobaton inspired Walk Off Homer in Game 3 spared the Rays of a White Wash for Boston.
Game 1 saw Jon Lester square up
Against Matt Moore at Fenway Park. A tight opening saw the Rays take a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 4th inning. It was at this point that the game was blown away with an explosive eight run blast. Five runs in the 4th and Three in the 5th helped by hits from Pedroia, Ortiz and Gomes whose monster hit bounced off the Green Monster to bring in a double. The Rays spirit was blown away and with Four more runs coming in the 8th the rout was complete. Lester threw 7 2/3 innings with 114 pitches in one of his strongest games this season. The only runs for the Rays came off two homers with a final score of 12-2 to Boston. 1-0 Boston heading into Game 2….
Saturday night saw John Lackey take the mound in a battle against David Price. Unlike the first game, Boston found themselves ahead from the 1st inning. David Ortiz hit his first homer of the night in the 2nd inning and by the time this game reached the 5th inning, Boston were 5-1 up and looking to put the hapless Rays to the sword. James Loney hit a double to bring the Rays back to within 2 runs, before Jacoby Ellisbury who had a three hit game brought one back in for the Red Sox. Ortiz who beamed about feeling like 20 again hit his second home run of the night in the 8th, as the Red Sox won 7-4 and headed to Tropicana Fields with a 2-0 series lead. Special mention to Uehara who threw 11 strikes from 11 pitches to claim the save in the 9th inning.
Monday night saw the Red Sox travel to Tampa Bay with a series whitewash in their sights. Clay Buchholz faced up against Alex Cobb as the tension started to build around Tropicana Fields. A win would keep the Rays alive, whilst a win for Boston would see them through to their first ALCS Final since 2008. The game started positively as the Red Sox saw themselves grind out a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 5th before the Rays hit back. Clay who pitched 6 innings was unfortunate on his way to 114 pitches. Despite heading into the top of the 9th inning 4-3 down, Boston came back to drive in a tying run. Step up Lobaton who hit the walk off homer to take the series into a 4th game.
It was up to Jake Peavy on Tuesday night to bring home the Red Sox as tensions grew on from last nights walk off defeat. The Tampa Bay crowd proved a hostile bunch as a full house hoped to take this back to Boston for a decider. 5 closely fought innings saw no score before the Rays brought in the opening run in the bottom of the 6th inning through Escobar. It was in the top of the 7th that the Red Sox hit back through Ellsbury and Bogaerts and a pinch hit from Bogaerts saw the series clinching run scored in the 9th. Uehara threw a 1-2-3 9th inning including Longoria to end the series. The scenes of jubilation that followed were a fitting chapter as the season moves on into the ALCS Final.
Boston now awaits the winner of Detroit and Oakland as their series is locked at 2-2. I am not sure who I’d rather see us play, however with the first games at Fenway Park it’s really a case of who would rather take on the Red Sox. Either way there is a welcome break until Saturday when the teams square up for Game 1 at Fenway Park.
Go Boston!! The dream continues…..
The turn around from last years debacle led by the sacrificial lamb of Bobby Valentine has been completed. Saturday saw the Boston Red Sox claim the American East Division Championship ironically against John Farrell’s previous team the Toronto Blue Jays. There has been no end of articles and posts since the American East title was claimed all stating the amazing turnaround as nothing less than “a miracle”. There are even people calling this the greatest Modern day Baseball story in a long while. Either way I think this success has been down to a few factors.
Reengaging the old guard is one of the main factors. As 2012 drew to a close it was clear that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were not enjoying life at Fenway Park. Farrell who really should have been appointed once Francona left has got them believing again. At one point in the close season it looked as if Ortiz was talking up a move to our rivals the New York Yankees. It became apparent that the right appointment as Head Coach would need to get these guys buying into his vision. This season it has happened and Ortiz who has played 132 games has managed 28 home runs and over 90 RBI. These stats alone show that Big Papi is back and ready to carry this on into the World Series. Dustin has featured in 155 games and where his Home Runs have faltered, he has stepped up to the plate and has brought in a higher RBI figure in the 80’s than 2 of his last 3 seasons. These combined facts and performances are a major catalyst behind this seasons success.
John Farrell has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise. His no nonsense approach has paid big dividends. Many including myself thought seeing Adrian Gonzalez leave with Cody Ross as big reactive decisions. Who would have thought that this would actually work in our favor as the season developed. Another of the big successes has been with the Pitching. If Clay Buchholz hadn’t of injured himself in June then it’s a safe bet that his 11-1 Record would’ve been higher. My personal highlight has been Jon Lester, he certainly has had a strong second half to this season. Jon Lester could’ve left Fenway Park after 2012 and after the first couple of months this year, many thought a trade off was possible. It’s been a fantastic change around and in the recent series victories over the NYY and San Francisco Giants, Jon has shown his true world class ability. Felix Doubront and John Lackey have also provided sterling support for a strong Pitching line up.
There have been many other success stories this season. I’ve been really impressed with Mike Napoli who joined from Texas. He has always stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods when the games have seemed dead and buried. Salty has also made some big hits and it’s safe to say that this year should see him rewarded with a new contract. He has been a reliable Catcher and has had more than his fair share of critics in 2012. The final person I’d like to mention is Koji Uehara, he has had a fantastic debut season since his move from Texas. 20 saves and 98 strike outs in a season which saw him retire over 30 batters in a row highlighted his special ability.
So as we head into the final few games there is still so much to play for. Ideally we will be hoping for a Home Plate advantage. We are locked in a battle with the Oakland A’s for this reward and as things stand we are 1 1/2 games clear of them. I think 5 more wins will see us claim this morale boosting advantage and as things currently stand we look set to claim one of these against the Blue Jays tonight. World Series 2013 Baseball is going to be one amazing ride, the important thing is that the Red Sox Nation will be part of it.
Tonight I’ve been thinking about something that takes up a large proportion of my time everyday, sport. I am a sports fan, I love following different types of sport which in turn results in supporting different teams.
Everyday it starts the same. I will switch on my Bat 2013 Application just as my alarm goes to check how the Boston Red Sox are doing. It gives me a kick start or a knock back depending on the result. I won’t lie but this usually influences my mood during my car trip into work.
When I went to Australia and spent 2008 there, I watched Australian Rules Football. I didn’t just go to one game, no not me, I went to all their games and bought a Season Ticket. I went to training sessions, visited their ground and met the President and Trophy Rooms. I didn’t just want to be a bit involved, I wanted to make that team my own. For those wondering who I’m talking about, I chose the Carlton Blues. Because of this I find myself watching their games each weekend at the crack of dawn due to the time difference in Victoria, Australia.
I also love Cricket, I watch England play and saw England lift The Ashes in 2005. I follow Yorkshire and will always follow their scores be it, County Cricket, 40 Overs or Twenty Twenty Forms of the game.
I am a Rugby Fan of both forms, Union and League. I will go to Headingly and watch the Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie play. I will always watch their games on Sky Sports and follow the team news online. When I travelled to Bath this year I even went to the Bath v Leicester Game and had my photo taken on their pitch. I am a nut, I have to be involved and be part of the team.
This leads me finally to Football, my number one love. I am a massive Leeds United fan thanks to my Dad. I’ve been a fan since 1989 and have so many fond and not so fond memories of the Whites. I’ve been to so many games and will always check the games on Sky and Twitter when I can’t make the game. I do still wish I lived a stones throw from Elland Road but I don’t let that put me off.
My Grandad is a Leeds fan too but is a Hibernian fan as he grew up in Edinburgh. I will always look out for Hibernians results and this is partly because I love having the conversation with him on the phone.
In conclusion some will say I’m greedy but if there is one thing I can confirm, I love sport. In my eyes to show true commitment to my teams, it’s only fair that I give them all the time they deserve. I am still waiting for a weekend where they all win!
Oh and please don’t get me started on shirts. I have a huge collection of Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds Carnegie, Yorkshire, Carlton, Boston Red Sox and other sports tops which I will wear when necessary.
Firstly I totally understand the importance of Departments and whilst we all have hard, challenging jobs and roles at work and at home, there are certain things that I can’t just leave alone. Today I experienced first hand the flawed and mind-boggling logic behind our Marketing Team.
So without using too many colours to paint the scene, I have been running my depot these last few days. I am greeted with the message as I walked back in from the yard to contact, umm… let’s call him Alan from Marketing. Now the message was one of panic, one that seemed to hint that the sole reason of the call was to draw concern and a furied haste from me. Now what could it have been? A missed promotion, a last-minute visit planned or an embarrassing missed proof read on a document that I’d signed off?
Well it was down to a Branch Promotion set up to challenge our biggest rivals, a strategic direct marketing plan to peg them back in a fashion like the arrows on the beginning of Dads Army, poking away at them until they finally retreated. As I called I am told that the email sent to me indicated a selection of Petrol Stations close to our depot in a location that they were based and that I could simply select one to have some “free” advertising set up to inform customers of our Depot.
I understand that Marketing Departments are constructed of people who earn decent money, they are the brains of the company who can steer us into a direction that wasn’t clear to anybody Non-Marketing. That makes up roughly 98% of the people in this country* As I read across I couldn’t help but notice that the postal codes of these Garages were in Enfield, a whole 60 miles away!
So as I told…… Oh yes sorry, Alan, that this proposal wasn’t the slightest bit of use to me or my depot! I am sure I put it with a few more choice words but as I indicated to him that Luton was only 20 miles from me and in my delivery area he realised that the document and email carefully constructed had about as much credibility as Paul Gascoigne applying for a Rail Card!
It was when I suggested to him that our Canning Town Depot 10 miles away would benefit from this location that he realised it was all flawed, to make things even more concerning they weren’t even on the original list of depots to benefit from this! Simply mind-boggling and slightly concerning!
* Made up statistic by me and after this error I’m sure it’s nearer 99% which includes Alan.
Top v Bottom in the form of the MLB (That’s Major League Baseball to all my non following readers) It couldn’t have been simpler, well it shouldn’t have been. That’s why Baseball is oh so completely unpredictable and in typical fashion as soon as I am getting carried away my beloved Boston Red Sox showed how to not only lose to the worst team in MLB, but also in the process they managed to avoid scoring any runs! I am certain that tonight’s second game in this series will be different, well in saying that nothing is predictable.
Finally I see a lot of sights in Queens Park which is where I work in Bedford. Today I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. As I was walking to grab some food for Lunch, I saw one of the many Sikhs walking towards my direction. It wasn’t until we passed each other that I realised he was talking to someone, this was despite not having anyone next to him. It was as he passed I noticed he had his Nokia wedged firmly in his Turban in such a manner it replicated that of a Handsfree Kit, now that is why I love Queens Park! Diverse Culture at its absolute best.