April 2015

Not Too Shabby...

Lunch, Bus, Season-to-date Satisfactory
Lunch Illuminates, Entertains, Nourishes

Cosgriff opens with opening remarks

As described elsewhere in this newsletter, our season-opening lunch program combined hilarity, insight, optimism for the future and commemoration of the past. And, oh, there might have a Yankee or two mentioned.

The program kicked off with introductory remarks by BLOHARD's Assistant VP-Customer Experience Joe Cosgriff, who noted that the Sox came to town with twice as many wins as their New York-based rivals (a circumstance which persists at this writing).

Joe expressed some perplexity at Steve Kettman's recently published book Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets, noting that the team had won 77, 74, 74, and 79 games during a "revolution" that only the most discerning had even perceived, notwithstanding its being televised*. Pablo Sandoval having credited a dinner with David Ortiz for his decision to come to Boston, Joe reported that when the two sat down to eat, they didn't get a menu, they got an estimate. Another: "The Atlanta Braves' B.J. Upton now wants to be known as Melvin Upton, Jr. Talk about a player to be named later."

Cosgriff also recounted the toilet snafus at the Cubs' opener, commenting: "Who knew they had plumbing?" Apparently any number of North-siders ended up relieving themselves in empty beer cups which were then abandoned throughout Wrigley. Finding a silver lining to the story, Joe reported that only six of the specimens had tested positive for PEDs. Just speculating here, but is it possible that they all belonged to former Cub great Sammy Sosa?

*Bonus points for all who got that reference.

Margolick inaugurates new feature
Author/magazine writer David Margolick introduced a new luncheon segment where he'll seek out veteran voices from journalism, broadcasting, the Sox all-time roster, or from the ranks of the BLOHARDS to edify our membership.

For his first segment, David talked to longtime New York Times writer Gerald Eskenazi about his experience ghostwriting Yaz's book. After the first of eight agreed-upon bookstore appearances for the book, Yaz asked how many books he'd need to sell before he began to receive royalties in excess of his large advance. Told 43,000, he said, "We'll never do that," uttered a profanity and announced that he was going home. Eskenazi also told a story about almost working with Ted Williams on a book, as well as invoking the names of Harvey Haddix and Ellis Kinder. We look forward to future editions of David's interviews and invite BLOHARDS to share their stories with David by email.

Randall Kills
Ed Randall, seemingly enjoying a Bartolo Colon-like late-career renaissance, was dealing in his all-too-brief remarks. In addition to emphasizing the importance of prostate vigilance, Ed remarked that the previously described Cub-fans-urinating-in-their-beer-cups episode was "the closest the Cubs are going to get to number one this season." He also described seeing a t-shirt at Wrigley, the front of which read "What did Jesus say to the Chicago Cubs?" and the back of which replied: "Don't do anything until I get back."

Ed recounted his disappointment on opening day at Yankee Stadium when his train of choice, leading The Great Subway Race by almost a full borough, was suspiciously halted for "police activity." . The terrible winter we all endured elicited the news that 128 million flu vaccines were administered last year, which, Randall noted, nearly eclipsed the number of injections that Alex Rodriguez has received in his career.

Ed closed by quoting Woody Allen: "I don't want to achieve immortality for my work; I want to achieve it by not dying." His show Talking Baseball is on WFAN Sunday mornings from 9-11.

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Steinberg, Flavin Represent

Team officials address assemblage

Sox PA announcer and poet laureate Dick Flavin was at the top of his game as he treated us to a handful of his classic poems about Opening Day, the cost of baseball games, and Ted Williams. We hope to hope to hold an event with Dick when the Sox next come to town in August at which we could celebrate the publication of his new book Red Sox Rhymes which is expected in July.

Sox EVP Dr. Charles Steinberg began his remarks by reading an unattributed poem describing the way a child comes to love the Sox. Its author was subsequently revealed to be none other than the great New Englander and Sox fan, James Taylor. The poem has been set to music ("Angels of Fenway"), and will be released in May as part of JT's forthcoming album. We thank Dr. Charles for sharing this special song with us (his iPhone plugged into the sound system…and it worked!).

Without giving away any secrets, Dr. Charles hinted at the team's plans for Opening Day, telling the BLOHARDS the ceremonies would keep with the team's 2015 focus on winning over young fans. His Q&A portion addressed day games and earlier starts, how to best attract kids to the ballpark, considerations around the much-anticipated promotion of Blake Swihart, and the reported closing of McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Pizzarelli croons, audience swoons
"Angels of Fenway" was not the only song debuted at lunch. John Pizzarelli broke a few, as well, including:
"Panda Baby" (to the tune of "Santa Baby").
Panda Baby, we need you hitting .363. You see….
And I don't mean on the scale, Panda Baby,
So how about a salad tonight?

And, in honor of A-Rod's storybook return, a rousing, sing-along version of TV's "Welcome Back"
Welcome Back,
PED's were your ticket out.
Welcome back,
To the same ol' park where you hit 'em out.
Well, the game has sure changed since you hung around
And your fame it is stained, you can ask around.
But who'd have thought they'd need ya'?
(Who'd have thought they'd need ya'?)
On YES is where they need ya'.
(On YES is where they need ya'.)
Sure, they'll squeeze you a lot, but their lawyers don't have squat.
Welcome back…Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

Slide Show Synopsis
Ray Duffy narrated the Henry Berry Memorial Slide Show in his inimitable style. Among other observations, Ray noted that notwithstanding his 5-year $90 million contract, Pablo Sandoval was, on a per pound basis the least expensive free agent signed during the offseason. Panda, Ray reported, told the press that he came to camp "in the best shape of my life", by which, arial photos subsequently revealed, he must have meant "round".

It was also noted that Yankee fans made a classy gesture by letting Alex Rodriguez know that he was FORGIVEN. Unfortunately, Ray said, it seems like the "E" got held up in traffic on the Major Deegan, and the "N" couldn't get past the random body-cavity security check at Gate 2.

"The Great Expansion Team in the Sky" portion of the slideshow celebrated the lives of former third base coach Wendell Kim; "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks; and longtime Sox PR Director and Historian, Dick Bresicani, who tirelessly championed the BLOHARDS for almost thirty years.

Bus Trip Sublime

Sox open home season with home opener

So, let's see... Sox start? Excellent. Opening day matchup? Scintillating. Bus status at departure? Fully populated and on time. Alcohol consumed prior to arrival in Bridgeport? Only in cases of necessity. Performance of East Hartford Turnoff Ceremony? Appropriately solemn. Arrival at the Fens? Timely. Pre-game ceremony? Stirring. Weather? Sunny and warm. Mookie Betts? Locks up "Player of the Week" by the second inning of Monday game. Outcome? Sox romp. Return trip headcount? All present and accounted for. Bus toilet? Unobstructed. Beer? Frosty and ample. Arrival at Westport? Timely. Overall experience? Acceptable.

Carnac Back
At lunch, John Pizzarelli reprised his role as Carnac the Magnificent who is, amazingly, able to discern the answers to questions he does not know in advance. This particular time, Carnac appeared to have weighty matters on his mind. To wit:

A:"Thank God"
Q:What did the Cowboys' bandwagon say when Chris Christie said he wouldn't be jumping on the Cowboys' bandwagon?
Q:What do you call Pablo Sandoval and Prince Fielder taking the same elevator?
A:CC Rider
Q:What do you call the part of Sabbathia's contract that allows him to be 350 lbs. again? And... (drumroll please)
A:Private Pyle, a Notre Dame grad, and John Sterling
Q:Name a Gomer, a Domer, and a homer.

John Quinn performed his usual trivialities, doling out copies of Ben Bradlee Jr.'s The Kid and gift certificates from official Meatball Victualer to the Red Sox, Meatball Obsession, to lunchers able to answer such questions as "Who was the last Red Sox player to hit 15 triples in a season?" and "What Hall of Fame pitcher won his final five games for the Red Sox in 1974?" (Rice and Marichal, respectively).

Annie Levy spoke about the organization Baseball as Good Medicine which is predicated on the healing power of storytelling, baseball and, especially, stories about baseball. You can get a better idea of how it all works here. After attending our lunch, Anne was especially excited about organizing an event exclusively for Red Sox and Yankee fans. If you're interested, she'd be delighted to hear from you.

Our Dreams Come True, Sorta...
In our last edition, well before the events described had actually transpired, we wrote, in part: "Having swept the Phillies, the Sox will come to town 3-0, in sole possession of first place, two games ahead of the 1-2 Yankees. At Manhattan's Yale Club, vibrant bonhomie, uncannily succulent chicken and a sparkling program will all auger a great weekend for the Red Sox. Sure enough, that night Joe Kelly will spin a complete-game two-hit gem and, come Monday, it will be a happy group of BLOHARDS indeed that boards the buses to the home opener."

It was a bold prediction, and we have to admit to not having gotten it right. The Sox were only 2-1 on their arrival in Gotham; Kelly didn't pitch until Saturday when he gave up one hit over seven innings; and the chicken was a little on the dry side. We apologize for the errors and resolve to do better in the future.