Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Quickly Things Changed

It's hard to believe that for all intents our season at Ole Miss is over. It's also difficult to comprehend the complete collapse of the Rebel football program at the hands of Houston Nutt. After Nutt achieved significant success at Arkansas, most Ole Miss fans, including Yours truly, were thrilled when he signed with the University of Mississippi. When the Rebs went 9-3 in his first two seasons, including wins over LSU, Florida and Tennessee and 2 wins in the Cotton Bowl, Oxford elation was unbounded. But these results, many suggested, came with Orgeron recruited players. Although we agree Orgeron is not a head coach, he is a recruiter par excellence . But Nutt was unable to maintain that level of intensity, and the performance on the field reflected the lack of talented young players.
Part of the problem is the old saw of having to compete with 2 other major colleges in a small state, something Nutt had to contend with at Arkansas. Both Southern Miss and MSU had young and enthusiastic new coaches who were consistently able to out recruit Ole MIss, thus making the past two seasons the most dismal in our history.
The football was woeful, but the partying on the Grove was also disappointing. With the Rebels playing poorly, many of our friends just did no show up. But they were there in force this weekend for the LSU game, a contest that Ole Miss fans still consider a bitter rivalry although to LSU the rivalry has lost much of its luster. The stands were filled with lusty Rebel fans, too. The team seemd poissed of a noble effort at upset. However, when the Ole Miss QB threw an intercepetion which was returned for a TD, the crowd could sense the wind going out of the Rebel sails. After a long losing season, the red and blue no longer had their hearts in it. The final score 59-3 was no indication of the difference between these two teams and How far the Ole Miss program needs go to just be competetive again.
Although I hate to see it, it is time for Nutt to go. But a clean house also needs to take place. The coaching staff that was not able to recruit should be let go. Ole Miss needs coaches who can attract talent, locally and nationally.
Many cry for the firing of Pete Boone, putting him in the middle of the team's woeful performance. That may be true, but I can't see how an athletic director can be responsible for the performance of a football team. He hired Nutt, but at the time we were all thrilled. Were we all wrong? I don't think so.
I have my own favorties for the job, but I'll discuss that in my next bleg.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ole Miss LSU Game

Here is a video of our tailgating experience at the LSU Ole MIss Game:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Red Sox Star Dominick Dimaggio Dies at 92

Former Boston Red Sox great Dom DiMaggio died Friday morning. He was 92 years old.

The Red Sox said DiMaggio, known as the "Little Professor" because of his eye glasses and 5-foot-9 frame, died at his Massachusetts home due to complications from a recent bout with pneumonia.

"Dom DiMaggio was a beloved member of the Red Sox organization for almost 70 years," said Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry in a statement. "Even after his playing days, Dom's presence at Fenway Park together with his teammates Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky on numerous occasions reminded us all of a glorious Red Sox era of years past. He was a great teammate and an even better human being. His loss saddens us all but his contributions to the glory and tradition of our ballclub will forever be etched in the annals of Red Sox history."

DiMaggio was a seven-time All-Star center fielder in an 11-year career with the Red Sox from 1940 through 1953 -- with three years lost to military service. He still owns the club record for the longest hitting streak -- 34 consecutive games in 1949.

His streak was broken when brother Joe caught a sinking liner in the eighth inning of a 6-3 Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees on August 9.

"Dom and I played together for 10 years and he certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame," said Red Sox legend and former teammate Johnny Pesky. "He was a great player and, most of all, a great friend. I will miss him terribly."

Dom DiMaggio was the youngest of three brothers that played Major League Baseball. Joe had a Hall of Fame career with the Yankees from 1936-51, while Vince played for five National League teams from 1937-46.

In 1,399 games, Dom DiMaggio batted .298 with 87 homers and 618 runs batted in. He helped the Red Sox to the 1946 World Series, which they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

DiMaggio is survived by his wife of 61 years, Emily, three children and six grandchildren.

Pair of doubles help Red Sox complete the triple

With David Ortiz on second base, his Wall double just having landed, the scoreboard in center field played highlights from the other Boston teams' games. There was Glen Davis's shot. There were the Bruins winning. And there was Ortiz standing on second, clapping - whether for his frustration-breaking double or the Celtics, it was unclear.

There was - again - Jason Bay at home plate, mashing his own double to the Wall to score Ortiz with the winning run and complete the Boston sports trifecta as the hour grew late at Fenway Park last night.

"I think it was already pre-scripted," said Bay after the heart-stopping ninth inning had ended with the Red Sox still on top of the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3. "Someone said, upstairs, the way Boston sports had gone the first two games, it was a foregone conclusion."

But earlier, Ortiz had looked defeated, his helmet in hand, as he walked back to the dugout after popping up to end the fifth inning. He sat down, looking depressed and frustrated. Those feelings were gone by the eighth.

Against Tampa lefthander Brian Shouse, against whom he was hitting .400 (6 for 15), Ortiz smashed a pitch that hit off the scoreboard in left. It wasn't that first home run that he's been seeking. But it put him on second base, representing the run that would break a 3-3 tie. Ortiz took third on a wild pitch by replacement pitcher Dan Wheeler, and Bay then did what he has so often done these past weeks.

"They all still feel pretty good," Bay said. "There's hitting and then there's hitting when it counts. Like I keep saying, I don't expect to do it every time. But in those situations, you want to come through. Wanting and doing are two different things."

The Sox were up by a run and had their closer coming in for the ninth. But the euphoria over Ortiz and Bay nearly ended with Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon started the ninth with a called strike. Things went downhill from there. Four straight balls to Akinori Iwamura ensued, the walk putting the Rays second baseman on first. Papelbon then put Iwamura on second, his throw over to first skipping away from Jeff Bailey. Jason Bartlett lined a single into center, putting men on first and third with no outs.

But he struck out Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, and Carl Crawford, all swinging, to end the game.

"That's just Papelbon's thing, his deception in his pitches," Upton said. "They look good, but they aren't strikes. We'll put it in the back of our heads, and then next time we see him, it will definitely be something we think about."

Pat Burrell put it succinctly: "Frustrating loss."

For Papelbon, though, it was vintage. He found an extra gear in a situation that left no room for error.

"I basically put myself in a situation where I had to go into punchout mode," Papelbon said. "That's not always the situation I want to be putting myself in, but it is what it is."

"Pap really turned into Pap," manager Terry Francona said. "He kept his composure, he didn't get frustrated, he attacked with what he wanted to do, he elevated with really, really good finish on his fastball."

The Sox had taken a two-run lead in the fourth, but the Rays tied it with runs in the fifth and sixth. In that sixth, though, they had the bases loaded with one out and could score only once.

And a blow had already been struck to the Sox, with Dustin Pedroia joining the ranks of the injured when he aggravated his right groin on a swing in the third inning. It had been bothering him since he hurt himself getting out of the way of a pitch last week.

But the Sox looked all right in the fourth. After two strikeouts to start the inning, Bailey rifled a pitch off the wall in center for a double. Jason Varitek then doubled to left, scoring Bailey, and a ball off the bat of Nick Green dropped behind Iwamura and in front of Ben Zobrist. It was initially ruled an error on Iwamura, then reversed, giving Green an RBI single.

The first Sox run came on a second-inning double by Bay and a fielder's choice by J.D. Drew. The Rays had started the scoring in the first with an infield single by Crawford that turned into a run after a Wall single by Burrell, as Crawford covered the full 270 feet from first.

Though the Sox were able to get something going against Matt Garza - who had one-hit them over 7 2/3 innings the last time - it still came down to the bullpens. Ortiz came through in a late-inning spot, a bit of the old Ortiz coming out.

But then, a bit of the old Papelbon came out as well. With a flight to California looming, there were appreciative teammates in the clubhouse once the game finally ended.

"I'm sure there's a lot of guys in here that will give him a little pat on the back," said Bay. "I'll definitely be one of them."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jason Bay homer sends Boston Red Sox past Cleveland Indians

Jason Bay watched Kerry Wood's first fastball, a stitched, spinning blur, whiz past without taking a swing.

He watched the next one, too.

All the way into the bleachers.

Detroit's Curtis Granderson beats the throw from New York pitcher CC Sabathia to first baseman Mark Teixeira during the sixth inning Monday. The Central Division-leading Tigers won, 4-2, for their third straight victory.
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Bay took another star closer deep, hitting a three-run homer in the ninth inning off Wood as the Red Sox won their 11th straight, 3-1 over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

Down one strike, Bay pulled a 99-mph heater from Wood (0-1) into the left-field seats as Boston extended its longest winning streak since a 12-gamer in 2006.

"The guy throws like 100 miles an hour," Bay said. "You have to put it your mind to try and hit a mistake. I got a fastball up over the plate, and I didn't miss it."

Bay's third hit sent the Red Sox to another drama-filled win. They were coming off an emotional three-game sweep at Fenway Park over the rival New York Yankees, a series that began with Bay connecting for a two-run, two-out homer in the ninth off Mariano Rivera.

First Rivera. Now Wood. Bay's afraid he's going to end up on someone's hit list.

"There's going to be a bounty out on me," he said with a laugh.

In his last four games, Bay has nine hits with two homers and nine RBIs.

Wood replaced starter Cliff Lee, who shut out the Red Sox for eight innings, to start the ninth.

He walked Dustin Pedroia to open the ninth and gave up David Ortiz's bloop single to center before Bay pounced on a pitch Wood wishes he could have back.

"It was a matter of missing my spot," Wood said.

"Good hitters hit those pitches, bad hitters hit those pitches. Cliff shuts them down for 106 pitches, then I throw 12, and we're down 3-0. It's not good to waste a great performance by your ace pitcher.

"I didn't do my job."

Lee and Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield matched strikes and zeros for seven innings.

Lee went 22-3 last season with the last loss in Boston on Sept. 23. The left-hander, though, was in award-winning form, allowing five hits in eight innings. He walked none and struck out five.

"That was the Cy Young guy from last year," Bay said. "He was around the plate and getting outs with that fastball. The radar gun says 92-93, but he's got some life on it, and it plays a little bit harder than that."

The Indians have dropped six of eight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What a great weekend to be a New Orleanean! What with the Jazz Fest, Zurich classic and the Hornets playoff game as well as all of the other choice events that regularly populate the Crescent City calendar. Thursday night was the regular meeting of the Round Table Club where my friend Sam Cashio expounded on the history of Thoroughbred breeding. And of course in addition to the Hornets victory over Denver, the Ole Miss Rebels took two out of three from #1 ranked Georgia, LSU beat Auburn 3 straight, and the Red Sox swept the hated Yankees in three thrilling ball games. How could it get any better?

Sox win 10th straight, sweeping Yanks

It was a rivalry weekend in which the Red Sox provided countless forms of excitement for their fans.

There was a walk-off win on Friday night despite a two-run deficit with two outs in the ninth, a slugfest victory on Saturday to overcome a six-run deficit and finally a 4-1 triumph on Sunday that included an electrifying straight steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Just like that, the red-hot Red Sox swept the Yankees in this three-game set to run their winning streak to 10 games.

"It was not the most direct route to win those games, but ultimately it came against a huge rival in the division," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "We came in with the same record [as the Yankees]. There's a lot of positives, not just because it's the Yankees -- which is a big plus -- but we want to keep playing well."

The Red Sox's first double-digit winning streak since they went on a 12-game run from June 16-29, 2006, has come on the heels of a 2-6 start.

Having completed a 9-0 homestand, the Red Sox will open a nine-game road trip in Cleveland on Monday night.

"We've played great," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We've hit, we've pitched -- we've won a lot of different ways. When you're doing a lot of good things, you're going to win."

Sometimes it's not just good things, but extraordinary things.

Ellsbury's steal of home with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning came against Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. It was the first steal of home by a Red Sox player since Jose Offerman on Aug. 30, 1999. Ellsbury became the first Boston player to register a straight steal of home since Billy Hatcher on April 22, 1994.

"What we have is a really fast player with some guts," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

With left-handed-hitting outfielder J.D. Drew at the plate and the count at 1-1, Ellsbury got a big lead and bolted just as Pettitte went into his windup. The center fielder went in headfirst to beat Jorge Posada's tag. The pitch was a called strike.

"On the previous pitch, I saw Andy go into his windup," Ellsbury said. "I was joking around with [third-base coach] DeMarlo [Hale] that I could steal home, and it was just one of those situations where it was bases loaded and J.D. up. If I go, I have to make it. But I took the chance, and fortunately I made it."

There were no signs relayed from the dugout to Hale. Ellsbury went on his own.

When Ellsbury crossed home, the Red Sox had a 3-1 lead. Drew promptly drilled a ground-rule double into the corner in right to make it a three-run lead.

"Like I said, it was a huge pick-me-up," said Bay. "It's better than a base hit or a home run. It's something that -- baseball is a game that's hard to play on emotion. But that right there was kind of like a huge infusion of energy. It was one of those times in the game where momentum shifts, and that was a pretty obvious one."

Swing man Justin Masterson, making his second start in place of injured right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, turned in another strong performance. Masterson went 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and one run, walking one and striking out four while throwing 99 pitches.

"He was terrific," said Francona. "He attacked the strike zone, he changed speeds -- I thought he had good depth to his slider. He threw a couple of changeups and got his fastball by a couple of guys."

Their bullpen spent after the chaos of the previous two games, the Red Sox went to some new faces but got good results. Left-hander Hunter Jones recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning in his second Major League appearance.

Michael Bowden, also pitching his second Major League game after being activated just for Sunday's game, gave the Red Sox a big lift with two shutout innings.

"Tonight was particularly satisfying," Francona said. "We went to Hunter Jones, and he got big outs. Michael Bowden comes in and gets outs. We didn't have a whole lot of different guys to go to, but it was very satisfying. We did enough to win tonight, and that's what we wanted to do."

With closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable because of his recent workload, Takashi Saito came on for his second save, completing the sweep.

"It's nice to sweep anybody," said Pedroia. "But we know they're going to be there in the end. We've just got to keep playing good baseball."