I foolishly woke up at 3am this morning to listen to the first Red Sox playoff game over the WEEI Red Sox internet radio network, live from Oakland. When I get up in the middle of the night for a game like this, I want it to be very short and to end in a Sox victory — not to get a twelve-inning game that ends in defeat at around quarter to eight in the morning. So I won’t be trying that one again, at least not for the current Divisional Series. Bugger.

UPDATE: 11.40pm: Damn. Two down.

World’s Least Likely Baseball Fan

I thought that I was the world’s least likely baseball fan, but in the last few lines of David McKie’s fine obituary for Guardian columnist Hugo Young, it turns out he rooted for the New York Yankees. Somehow that doesn’t quite fit the image I had of him, after fifteen years of reading his columns.

(For fellow Red Sox fans: as of last night, the magic number is down to four…)

Akademgorodok Stakhanovites

While I’m in sports mode, I’m delighted to report that the Akademgorodok Stakhanovites have been resurrected for the 2003 Fantasy Baseball season. Afficianados will remember that they first appeared in a tournament in 2000, where they were roundly beaten by, among others, the London Underground and the Bellevue Baristas. Next year they’ll be in a completely different competition, whose rules I barely understand, up against, among others, the Dalston Ground-Rule Doubles and the Docklands Hound Dawgs. They will lose, of course: ex-Soviet Fantasy Baseball franchises are still in a very bad way. (I’m always tempted to call a Fantasy Baseball team the Boston Red Brigades, but this time around I think I’m going to stick with the Stakhanovites).


Those who know me will know that around this time each year, my thoughts turn to the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox, and they will stay so turned until the moment comes when it is all too obvious that the team will not make it to this year’s play-offs / divisional championship / World Series [delete as applicable].

Last year that moment came too early in the year, when a string of injuries to key players – shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, catcher Jason Varitek and, crucially, pitcher Pedro Martinez – and various managerial shakeups caused the team to implode around August. But perhaps things will be different this year: the players I’ve just mentioned are healthy again (though Pedro’s pitching currently leaves quite a bit to be desired); there are exciting new signings (including veteran base-stealing supremo Rickey Henderson); and new owners and managers, which possibly counts for something.

And in a burst early season optimism this year I’ve willingly shelled out $15 to be able to listen to the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network being streamed through my computer over the course of the season. (Those of you who have seen the quite-good-but-not-very-good film In The Bedroom will have been exposed to the regular WEEI commentators Joe Castiglione and Jerry Trupiano, who can be heard whenever the radio is switched on during the film). Following baseball live isn’t a terribly sensible option from the UK, since most of the games begin at midnight BST, but there are weekend afternoon games which start over here around 6pm — and I’ve just listened to a 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles (my friend Adam Shapiro’s team, though not the Adam Shapiro who is currently the subject of earnest editorialising over at the New York Times), with Nomar hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning to take the lead and, as it turned out, to win the game.

My fondness for and interest in the Red Sox continues to surprise me. Although I’ve always enjoyed ball games, I’ve never been terribly good at supporting any teams ever — and haven’t even cared much about the fortunes of the English cricket team since about 1985 (though that was a good year).

OK — there will be weblog silence for the next ten days or so. Back in mid-April. Stay tuned.