Happy, Happy! Joy, Joy!

Jonatham Papelbon @ 2007 Red Sox World Series Championship Rolling Rally

If you’ve been living under a rock this week then you might not know that the Red Sox were able to win the World Series over the Rockies, sweeping Colorado in four games. Why it’s taken us almost a week to post this is due to the fact that we are just recovering from the hangover that followed. Just kidding…

Interestingly enough, only seven players remain from the 2004 team (eight if you count Kevin Youkilis, who was not on the World Series roster that year) so we are looking at a team much different from the “Idiots” that ended that 86-year drought three years ago. The good news is that this team looks built to contend often over the next three to five years, with several young guys in the mix with some savvy veterans and a strong core pitching staff. Of course, we won’t put the cart before the horse here but it wouldn’t surprise too many people at this point if the Sox pull this off again at least once more in the next few seasons.

For me (Jeff), I got the privilege of witnessing four playoff games at Fenway Park during this championship run; Game Two of the ALDS, Games One and Six of the ALCS, and Game One of the World Series. Boston won each game, three times by blowing out the opposition and once thanks to a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth by Manny Ramirez. Odd as this may sound, I also went to nine other games at Fenway this season… and Boston won all nine of those games, giving the Sox a record of 13-0 this season when I was in attendance. There was even one game that I had to sell my tickets due to another commitment and Boston won that day, too! Coincidence? Well, I know that the Sox have never done much better than .500 in the games I’ve attended in a single season so it was unusual, to say the least.

Hey, only fifteen more weeks until the truck leaves Fenway for spring training in Fort Myers! Hopefully, I’ll be witness to the ring ceremony and the raising of a championship banner next April, too!

It’s All About Presense!

Pumpkin patch

Life continues to move forward with the Moon family even as this blog lay dormant for three (!) months. After some summer fun, Jakob started his second year of preschool while Lea turned two last month and the two of them have become good friends. Jakob never wants to go anywhere without his little sister and Lea wants to do whatever her big brother is doing. Just the other day, the two were on the playground chasing each other up the different levels and down the slides, giggling the whole time. Of course, there is the occasion bump and bruise and crying fit when one isn’t happy with the other but that’s to be expected with siblings.

We continue to stay busy between our usual duties. This past August, Jeff and his mother repaired and re-shingled the garage roof, which had been leaking badly. We also made some other repairs around the house, including the plugging of some holes to keep the critters out when the weather turns cold. Plus, the new siding that we had installed in July turned out great – the difference is remarkable. We also made a trip to the Cape over Labor Day weekend to visit Jeff’s parents and then made another trip a couple weeks later to visit Tiffany’s family in New York. Tiffany also just returned from her cousin’s wedding in DC, which gave her the opportunity to see distant family that she had not seen in years, while Jeff and the kids stayed home for a fun weekend together.

Of course, the big news around these parts in recent weeks is that the Red Sox are returning to the World Series starting this Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies. After winning the American League East Division for the first time since 1995 and securing home field with the best record in baseball through the playoffs, Boston swept the Los Angeles Angels in the first round and then came back from a 3-1 AL Championship Series deficit to win its second pennant in four years. Although most of the pundits give Boston the edge in the series, defeating Colorado won’t be easy; the Rockies have won 21 of 22 games and have gone undefeated in seven games this post-season. Still, the Red Sox do have ALCS MVP Josh Beckett pitching for them in the first game of the series and he has been red-hot in the playoffs, going 3-0 with an ERA just over one and 26 strikeouts. Plus, the offense has been on a roll, too, having scored 30 runs in its last three games. It should be an exciting series and another world title would be sweet.

Hey, and let’s not forget about the New England Patriots, who are 7-0 and have averaged almost 40 points on offense while allowing only 17 points per game on defense. Tom Brady is already on pace to set a record for touchdowns in a season and off-season acquisition Randy Moss has already caught 10 TDs while averaging over 100 yards receiving per game. Plus, with the Boston Bruins starting the season hot, the Boston College Eagles football team ranking number two in the country, and the new-look Boston Celtics giving local basketball fans a heightened sense of anticipation, it’s a lot of fun these days as a New England sports fan.

…and They Are Wearing Sweaters In Hell

ISOTOPES WIN! ISOTOPES WIN! ISOTOPES WIN!

Bad News Bears

Finally, after 14 straight defeats over one-plus season, the day finally came when my company softball team could celebrate a victory! Last night, we managed not only to end up on the winning end of the final score but played well enough to dominate the other team, scoring 13 runs and allowing just one run on defense. Happy day! Of course, we are still 1-6 this season with little hope of making a run at the playoffs, but it feels so good to get the monkey off our backs. “Coach” (that’s me) even treated his players to a round of grog at the Lowell Brewery after all was said and done, so I suspect that there may be new incentive to win a few more before the end of the season.

Plus, the Red Sox at the All-Star break are 10 games ahead of the second-place Blue Jays and Yankees for the AL East Division lead, so all is well as we settle back into our routine after taking a week off from work with the holiday. We enjoyed a lovely wedding down on the Cape the past Saturday (07-07-07), with my best friend since grade school, Alex, getting married. Jakob had the honor of being the ring bearer for the ceremony and, besides the lovely couple, was the highlight of the proceedings, as he ran down the aisle, gave the groom the rings, and then raced back to Mommy, providing plenty of chuckles from the attendees. He even walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony with the flower girl, although it was more like he was dragging her with him.

We are also having new vinyl siding added to the house and garage to cover the asbestos shingles and to save us from the chore of painting. The crew started yesterday and hopefully will finish by the end of the week. Early last week, I took a few days to dismantle an old shed that was attached to the back of the garage that had pretty much seen better days. Luckily, it came down without too much trouble, though I had the misfortune of stepping on a fat, rusty nail as I was wrapping up the job last Wednesday. Fortunately, I had 72 hours to go and see my doctor, rather than having to sit in the ER on a holiday, and he gave me the necessary tetanus shot as well as some antibiotics to clear up any infection. The good news is that I still have a healthy looking foot almost a week later.

The only other news is that we have now gone high def at home! Verizon finally got permission to offer FiOS TV in our area so we switched last week and are now enjoying the Red Sox in high definition on NESN. Everyone has been pushing for me to go this route but I wanted to wait until someone other than the cable company offered it. The wait was worth it – it’s true what they say about the picture.

That’s about it for now – I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer!

The Living Daylights

SunflowerThe solstice officially begins now (the date and time of this post) so hello and welcome to those lazy, hazy days of summer! Again, it’s been another month since our last post but no one is knocking down the door and looking for news and, truthfully, how much is there to tell other than what goes on day-to-day? The good news is that everyone is happy and healthy here and we’re enjoying the longer days and the warm weather. Plus, the Red Sox are still maintaining a nice lead over second-place New York (ten games as of this morning) so all is right on this end of the world.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

MAY 22: Red Sox Win 7-3 at Yankee Stadium

Hey, sorry about that… once again, we’ve been delinquint in keeping up with posts to this site. Not on purpose, of course. Obviously it’s not a high priority these days between everything that goes on in our lives but once in a while we like to drop in and say hello to all you beautiful people.

Well, we can’t start into this post without mentioning that the Red Sox are off to a hot start this season. How hot is it? As of this morning, Boston is 31-14 and has a 10-1/2 game lead in the American League East over second-place New York and Toronto. So far this month, they are 15-6 and have not lost consecutive games since late April. Being seasoned fans of the Boston nine, we need to remember that we are barely past the quarter-mark in the regular season but, at the same time, we can’t say that we aren’t enjoying the ride.

The kids are doing great. Lea has become quite the little daredevil, which is not surprising since her big brother loves to test his limits, too. She loves jumping around on our bed or the sofa and her latest trick is to climb onto one of the end tables in the new family room and dive into her old Pack ‘N Play. Of course, on occasion she misjudges and fails to stick the landing, which then requires a hug from Mom or Dad, and five seconds later she’s back at it. Meanwhile, Jakob is really enjoying school and we have him signed up to continue through early August so that he can continue to catch up with his language. He’s also becoming more adept at riding his new bike, especially now that the weather is a little warmer. Another few weeks and it will be time to get out the sprinklers so they can run through them in the backyard – always a summertime favorite!

Our plans for the summer are already being set. We have one longtime friend of Jeff’s who is getting married in early July and that promises to be a memorable event. We also have tickets for several concerts, including the Boston Pops this week, Rush in late June, and the Police in late July at Fenway Park. Between that, we’re hoping to make a few trips down to the Cape and out to New York to visit family. It’s amazing to think that summer “officially” begins this weekend with Memorial Day – it should be great fun.

I guess our last comment is that, again, thanks to Netflix, we’ve seen some great movies recently. Out of all of them, Million Dollar Baby (2004) was probably the best. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this film along with Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. Beyond that, Tiffany enjoyed Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Jeff thought highly of A History of Violence (2005) and Blade Runner (1982). We have 46 more movies in our queue so expect more recommendations in the near future – or when we get around to writing another post!

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Kaibutsu!

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Yes, Opening Day at Fenway Park officially took place yesterday and what a game it was! Boston takes advantage of a rusty Seattle ball club that had not played since the previous Thursday due to snow in Cleveland and lays down the hammer, building a big lead early and eventually winning, 14-3. Josh Beckett went seven strong, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out eight and J.D. Drew hits a two-run home run to dead center to give Fenway fanatics reason to cheer from the opening ceremony until the last out lands in Wily Mo Pena‘s glove in deep right in front of the bullpen.

But now, tonight, we witness the next coming of the legendary Pedro Martinez, who by coincidence also made his Fenway Park debut in Boston’s second home game of the 1998 season. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who dazzled in his debut last Thursday in Kansas City, is expected to draw the attention of not only the American baseball community but the entire world. While we here on the Eastern seaboard will be tuning in at 7:05 PM this evening, the eyes of Japanese baseball fans will simultaneously be turning on their sets at 8:05AM local time. The Japanese media have been camped outside Fenway Park since Monday and they, along with 35,000 strong in the stands, will light the diamond with flashbulbs as Matsuzaka throws his first pitch to Ichiro Suzuki, a former Japanese star in his own right who made a splash himself with the Mariners in 2001, when he won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors with a .350 batting average.

Break out the Asahi Super Dry tonight, the show officially begins.

People Will Come

James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams

Today is Opening Day for the 2007 Major League Baseball season, if you ignore the fact that the action opened last night with the New York Mets beating the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, 6-1. Boston is in Kansas City and the first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 this afternoon on NESN and ESPN. I happened to swing by one of my favorite sites this morning, Surviving Grady, and one of the authors had posted this video sequence from Field of Dreams, perhaps the best movie for the money centered around baseball. Listening to Mr. Jones wax poetic about the beauty of this game is enough to make anyone long for the feel of a warm spring day, the smell of freshly-cut green grass, and the sound that a bat makes when it comes in perfect contact with a pitch.

Show Yourselves!

Jonathan Papelbon - bona fide closerWell, Red Sox Nation was pleasantly surprised to learn today that Jonathan Papelbon will return to his role as the team’s closer. Last season, Papelbon had saved 35 games and looked like a potential lock for Cy Young considerations and even Rookie of the Year accolades but ended up on the disabled list in early September. That was enough to concern the Red Sox at the time to consider moving him into the starting rotation, where they had intended to place him for the 2006 season. However, with none of the candidates for the role impressing the coaching staff this spring, Papelbon apparently went to manager Terry Francona looking for his old job back. In Papelbon’s own words:

For me, it’s been a thing that I’ve been thinking about all spring. I hadn’t been sleeping well since [it] started. I felt that there was always that feeling deep down in my heart that I wanted to close…. Finally I went to our captain [Jason Varitek] one day and I said, “Tek, I’m not sleeping good at night. I’ve got to do something about it.” Basically, I told him: “Man, I think I want to close — that’s what I want to do.”

Tito happened to be walking by. We came in and I told Tito, “If you want to give me the ball in the ninth inning, I want it,” and that’s basically it.

Right now, the only question mark that remains might be the strength of the rest of the bullpen but knowing that the team has a legitimate closer ready to make the walk to the mound in the ninth with the game on the line ready to close the door will make all of us sleep better at night.

Well, the original reason for this post was actually to recommend a great movie that we just finished watching the other night: The Seven Samurai. It’s a Japanese film from 1954 that ranks as one of the best foreign films, if not one of the best films, of all time. The storyline goes that a farming village has been plagued by bandits and, with knowledge that they will return once the wheat is soon harvested, the village elder sends a few select men to find a half-dozen or so samurai swordsmen to help defend the village. In seeking out such men, they witness an elder samurai save the life of a child being held captive by a bandit, and the farmers plead with him to take on the noble task of saving their village. With the offer of three square meals a day, he in turn goes and recruits six others to join his small army; together, they return with the farmers to the village to start assembling a strategy against the bandits.

When we first looked at the jacket from Netflix and saw that the movie was over 200 minutes in length, we were a little unsure whether it would hold our interest; surprisingly, those three-plus hours seem to go by in an instant as the story moves along quickly and the action sequences keep you pinned to the screen. The dialogue is somewhat crude and often times it seems like some of the extras are overacting, but the central characters are well-developed and we found it to be a great film. Next to The Usual Suspects, this has to be one of the best surprises that we’ve enjoyed since we started our Netflix subscription. Seriously, watch it over two nights (there is a force five-minute intermission) and you will be anxious to return to the story the second night.

Oh, and a belated Happy Vernal Equinox to everyone!

Welcome Home

Bare Feet In The SandActually, the title is about five days later than it should be but we returned Sunday from a trip to South Carolina last week. It was our first extended vacation in forever and it went very well, thank you! The kids were great and, overall, it was a fantastic experience. The weather was spectacular, too; sunny every day with temperatures hovering between the mid-60s and low 70s. So it wasn’t exactly ideal “spring break” weather but it was warm enough to go to the beach nearly every day and walk around in shorts. The kids especially loved going to the beach; even though the water temperature was probably nowhere near 60 degrees, they weren’t at all phased by the sharp sensation from even just dipping your toes in the surf.

From what people told us, we picked a good week to head south. Apparently, the temperatures last week around the Boston area hovered in the single digits, with winds making it feel less than zero. We had an idea that it was bitterly cold from some video we saw down there while checking the Weather Channel. It showed some Quincy (MA) firefighters battling an early-morning blaze and there was ice on their helmets from the backspray. Brrrrrrr!

Actually, the weather had been quite remarkable around here this week, too. On Tuesday, the temperature got into the sixties; Wednesday, temperatures actually got above 70. Today; however, temperatures were back down around 20 and it began snowing around midday! As I sit here typing, I can see the snow whipping around outside our window and there has to be a good half-foot of coverage on the ground. What’s that they say about New England weather?

Well, what would be one of our posts without some Red Sox news? The boys of summer are now two-plus weeks into spring training and so far it had been as expected. It’s win a few, lose of few, and then talk about the prospects of another season. Tomorrow is the annual St. Patrick’s Day game when the club will trot out its green uniforms and caps, though I have no idea if the visiting Cincinnati Reds will also don the green in kind. Believe it or not, Boston has just two weeks left and, soon enough, it will be Opening Day in Kansas City on 02 April. Spring can’t get here soon enough!