Nation STATion: Exclusive interview with .500 mark


Nation STATion: Exclusive interview with .500 mark

By Bill Chuck
Special to

Big day here because today I am thrilled to have an exclusive interview with the .500 mark.

Welcome to Nation STATion.

Thanks its all right to be here.

Before we begin, what do I call you? Mark?

.500 would be okay.

Ive been waiting all season to say this to you, Gotcha!

Yeah, big deal.

Well, you dont sound so enthusiastic. For the Red Sox, getting to 20-20 and reaching .500 is a big deal.

Hey, I gave you plenty of chances to catch me. I mean Opening Day was going to be my big moment. While all the other teams were bragging about being 1-0, the Red Sox could have finally said they were .500 all-time for Opening Days coming in 54-55-1 and then they lost 9-5 to Texas. Then in Game 2 of the season, they had the opportunity to reach .500 for the season, and they lost to Texas again. Then they strayed to the dark side and it wasnt until game 22 of the season that we had the opportunity to get together and the Sox lost to Baltimore. It took the Sox awhile before I became available again and they lost to the Angels to go 14-16. So, now youre finally here. Big deal.

You sound a little annoyed, I mean after all the Sox did start off 0-6.

Well, I am feeling a little rejected. And by the way, the Rays started off 0-6 as well and theyre 23-17 and they reached the .500 mark at 9-9.

Well, the Sox are here now.

You talk about catching me like it's something to brag about. Its really no biggie. Just like the Sox, Toronto and Oakland are 20-20. So is that primetime news magazine program with Elizabeth Vargas and Chris Cuomo?

That was pretty funny.

I just wanted you know that just because Im mediocre, it doesnt mean I cant have a sense of humor. You know, to reach me on May 15 is not that spectacular.

It is for Red Sox Nation. You know, this year the Sox have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

Yeah well, last year the Sox had Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, and you know what their record was after 40 games? 20-20.

Take a look at the records for first and last time the Sox reached the .500 mark in each season since 2000:

Year When first reached .500 When last reached .500 2010 1-1 20-20 2009 1-1 6-6 2008 1-1 6-6 2007 1-1 4-4 2006 1-1 1-1 2005 2-2 11-11 2004 1-1 4-4 2003 1-1 1-1 2002 1-1 1-1 2001 1-1 79-79 2000 1-1 5-5

Okay I get it, youre a little annoyed the Sox dont visit that frequently.

Hello! Now, youre catching on. Do you know the last time you spent the winter with me? 1985 when John McNamaras men finished 81-81. In fact, the Sox have only ended their seasons three times at .500. The other two times were in 1944, when they finished 77-77-2, and in 1934, when they were 76-76-1.

Look, being me is being mediocre. Im like a cold; people all the time are just trying to get over me.

You really are pretty funny.

Im a good guy. I like to see teams do well. Im like Rodney Dangerfield, respect-wise that is.

But I did have one really great day last week.

Tell me

Monday, May 9, when Kansas City was 18-16, and the Pirates, the team that avoids me like the plague, were 18-17. The last date the Royals and the Pirates were .500 or above on the same day this late in the season was May 16, 1999.

Good for you! Okay, so what happens next?

With the Orioles coming into town, I presume the Sox are done with me for the season, although

Although what?

Well, Baltimore is 19-20 and theyre motivated, and the Sox have Dice-K and Lackey pitching in the two games.

Good point. Presuming though the Sox move on, whats next for you?

You know the phrase that is used a lot to describe relationships with me? Teams are hovering around the .500 mark. And this year, I have quite a few hoverers. The Royals are now just a game over me and the Rangers and Rockies, just two over. On the other hand, the Brewers, Mets and Nationals are two under.

Look, its been nice talking with you, Im glad you and the Nation got to stop in and visit. Think of this as a rest stop on the road to the postseason, but without chocolate chip cookies. But I have to clean the place up, we may have the paparazzi here for a REALLY big guest and I dont want this place to be a mess.

OMG, whos coming?

Well, I cant be certain, but there is a certain team with a 20-18 record that is in chaos. Between age, injuries, and poor performances, the team is freaking out. The only clue I will give you is that their name rhymes with Schmankees.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

Red Sox claim RHP Doug Fister off waivers, sign INF Jhonny Peralta

BOSTON — They have the right idea, if not yet the right personnel.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has brought on a pair of former Tigers in an effort to help the Red Sox’ depth.

It’s hard to expect much from righty Doug Fister — who mostly throws in the 80s these days and is to start Sunday — or from Jhonny Peralta, who’s going to play some third base at Triple-A Pawtucket. Fister was claimed off waivers from the Angels, who coincidentally started a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park. Peralta, meanwhile, was signed as a free agent to a minor league deal.

Neither may prove much help. Fister could move to the bullpen when Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to return, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. The Sox hope E-Rod is back in time for the All-Star break.

That’s assuming Fister is pitching well enough that the Sox want to keep him.

But at least the Sox are being proactive looking for help, and it’s not like either Peralta or Fister is high-risk.

"Doug has been an established major league pitcher," Dombrowski said. "We’ve been looking for starting pitching depth. Really traced an unusual situation, because coming into spring training at that time, [Fister was] looking for a bigger contract guarantee at the major league level, and we didn’t feel we could supply at the time because we didn’t have a guaranteed position. We continued to follow him. ... we sent people to watch him workout and throw batting practice in Fresno where he lived. We continued to stay in contact with him. 

"We finally felt we were going to be able to add him to our major league roster, we made a phone call and he had agreed the day before with the Angels on the contract. They said he was in a position where he had made the agreement and signed a major-league contract, agreed to go to the minor leagues, but he had an out on June 21 if they didn’t put him on the big league roster. We scouted him two outings ago. One of our scouts, Eddie Bane, had seen him pitch before, recommended him, felt he could pitch in the starting rotation at the major-league level, that we should be interested in him."

Fister, 33, threw 180 1/3 innings last year with the Astros, posting a 4.64 ERA. He hasn’t been in the big leagues yet this season.

Said one American League talent evaluator earlier this year about Fister’s 2016: “Had a nice first half. Then struggled vs. left-handed hitters and with finishing hitters. No real putaway pitch. Has ability to pitch around the zone, reliable dude.”