Nine Up, Nine Down: Eagerly Awaiting Opening Day

* This from Maryann Vanderventer:

Hey Red Sox Fans, what’s your story? We’re doing a documentary about Red Sox Fans, and we want you to tell us what you personally did to help “break the curse”! Where were you physically and emotionally at key moments during the ALCS and World Series. We are a team of independent filmmakers who want to preserve the stories we’ve heard and archive them for fans everywhere. Contact us with your story at rsfansATcineking.com, including as much detail and color as you can re-live, for your chance to interviewed on camera and become part of baseball history.

My story, which isn’t exactly great, but:
In October of 2004 I was a college student in Boston. Living in Massachusetts my entire life, I was a true Boston fan, and yet when I arrived in college I not only found myself roommates with a Yankees fan, but the person next door was a Yankees fan! As we watched the games on television in my dorm room, our room would get crowded with about 5-8 people in the room, and I was usually the only Red Sox fan. There were some other Red Sox fans in the room, but they didn’t stay and watch the entire game in the room, they would pop in and out. So here I was, in Boston, Massachusetts, watching the ALDS, the ALCS, and the World Series, surrounded by Yankees fans.
The first three ALCS games were torture, especially the third, when we lost 19-8. I attended Game 4, so I was thankfully surrounded by Red Sox fans then and rejoiced in the win. I had an opportunity to attend Game Five but could not take it. One of the Yankee fans that hung out in my room (and the most vociferous) attended and hurt his foot kicking in anger when the Red Sox won yet again. In Game Six, the controversial game (Mark Bellhorn home-run and Alex Rodriguez slap) the room was shouting all night long. Game Seven the Yankee fans were done, not cheering anymore, and it was up to me to fill the room with hollers. And fill it up I did. The World Series was filled with me rooting and the Yankee fans shaking their head, warning me the Red Sox were going to blow it. They didn’t, and look what happened.
It’s not a great story, but it’s my story.
* Don’t forget! I’ve got a Q+A Session with Will Carroll going on! Last chance to submit a question as at midnight today I’m sending him the questions! Don’t delay! Submit as many questions as you want!
* Did you know Gabe Kapler is really popular among Red Sox mates?

“Right now, this whole team — no disrespect to other players on this team — but just from a friend standpoint, everybody misses Kapler. I hear it almost daily: `Hey, I wish Kapler was here.’ Everybody on this team loved Kapler. It’s hard to look forward, but I just hope when he comes back from Japan he comes back here. Everybody says that.”

* I know the quote is a bit negative, but to be honest, not only do I think there’s more he said past that quote, but he was trying to compliment the Red Sox. Cabrera, very carefree, has struggled a bit with the Angels’ regimented schedule.

“They didn’t bunt, they didn’t hit and run. We won a World Series with no signs. Then you come here, and it’s a big difference. Here, you do what you’re told.”

That sounds a little wistful.
* Have you heard of how some little kids want the Red Sox and Yankees to shake hands at the home opener? Well, Boston Fan in Michigan says no. After listening to her argument, you’d have to agree. Go click the link, check it out. It’s great. My favorite is Slide #10.
* Old news, but still. My buddy, Jon Papelbon (he gave an interview with me, remember?) pitched a Spring Training game against the Orioles. He didn’t do so well, but two (1, 2) Globe stories tell the story.

Jon Papelbon, who has never pitched above Single A Sarasota, was on the mound yesterday for what could be one of those seminal moments in a prospect’s career.
Papelbon, 24, went 0 and 1 on Sammy Sosa in the fourth inning of the righthander’s first spring training game. In the top of the inning, Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera had twice gone inside on Jay Payton, hitting him the second time. So, ahead on Sosa, Papelbon busted a mid-level fastball inside. Sosa took one step toward the mound.
“I didn’t know what he was doing,” Papelbon said. “He didn’t say anything. He just stared at me.”
That won over some people in Red Sox uniforms.
“And I’m one of them,” Francona said.
Papelbon immediately came back with a curveball that a bailing Sosa swung at and missed. But Sosa shot the 1-and-2 offering inside the third base bag. Rafael Palmeiro followed with a hit, ending Papelbon’s day. In three-plus innings, he was responsible for four runs on five hits in the Sox’ 10-inning 5-5 tie. He struck out two (Melvin Mora looking and Palmeiro swinging) and walked one.

In the bottom of the fourth inning Thursday, Sox pitching prospect Jon Papelbon won over a dugout full of teammates by backing Sammy Sosa off the plate. “I like that,” Payton said. “It was impressive.” Papelbon, a fourth-round pick in 2003, is expected to begin the season in Double A Portland. The Sox think so highly of the righthander’s makeup that he could help the big club out of the bullpen by midsummer.

* I apologize to the haters, but I have grown to really like David Wells. I always despised him the most on the Yankees, him and Andy Pettitte, because they just kept beating us. Ever since Wells and Pettitte have left, I have been fans of them. For the most part I despise the Yankees as a team, not the players. I’ve always liked Wells’ fire, his windup, and I think he can be big for us this year.
* So, one of “The Twenty-Five,” Mike Myers, is heading back to Beantown, as the Red Sox traded two A-ball (Carlos De La Cruz and Kevin Ool) prospects for Myers. I like this deal, as it gives the Red Sox another proven reliever in the major leagues and while Tom Meagher says that Lefty One Out GuYs are useless, Myers has still had a good career as a primary LOOGY.
* And last but not least … Opening Day is only four days away!