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Game 6 podcast: Red Sox put a wrap on a remarkable journey

John Farrell and David Ortiz celebrate a World Series title (AP Photo).

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The Red Sox were 69-93 last year and no one in baseball thought they were that bad. It was common knowledge what a horrible job Bobby Valentine did in his one year as manager and the plain fact was they were dealing with injuries, big ones to the likes of David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia among others.

Everyone also knew they had a poisonous clubhouse filled with questionable characters (sorry to all you fans of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez). They cleaned those guys out late last season and sent their contracts packing with them.

They brought in role players, guys who are winners on the field and characters in the clubhouse. And they became the ultimate winners with Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game Six at Fenway Park. This was Mike Napoli's second World Series appearance. Ditto for Jonny Gomes. It was Shane Victorino's third and his second title. That has to mean something.

No one knew how this team would mesh, although I found them loose and happy when I visited with new manager John Farrell and new bench coach Torey Lovullo during a spring game in Dunedin, Fla. in March. And they played that way all season.

Three titles in 10 years. Almost unthinkable to the denizens of Red Sox Nation, who lived through decades of stunning failure. Now they've won more than any MLB team this century. Weird how life can change.

Click the file below to hear my final thoughts.

Mike Harrington on Game Six

Ever since Fisk, Game Six has provided incredible memories

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- I only need to think back two years for how crazy Game Six of the World Series can be. Remember that one? Rangers-Cardinals in St. Louis.

Texas is a strike away from winning in the ninth, only to see David Freese's two-run triple to right over a braincramped Nelson Cruz tie the game. The Rangers take a 9-7 lead in the 10th on Josh Hamilton's home run but the Cardinals, again down to their last strike, tie it again on Lance Berkman's single. Then they win it in the 11th on a Freese home run on to the Busch Stadium grass berm in center.

(I think I wrote about eight stories that night, constantly changing the narrative. I collected myself enough the next day heading into Game Seven to summarize things with this story.).

Game6pageIn these parts, of course, everyone is looking back at Game Six in 1975, the last time a Series got this deep at Fenway. As I blogged this morning, '75 Game Six hero Carlton Fisk is throwing the first pitch tonight. The 7-6, 12-inning win over Cincinnati on Fisk's home run off the foul pole is the time-tested classic for a World Series game.

Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons described the moment this way in the Boston Globe the next morning:  

"And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of the morning.

"When it finally crashed off the mesh attached to the left-field foul pole, one step after another the reaction unfurled: from Carlton Fisk's convulsive leap to [my note: organist] John Kiley's booming of the "Hallelujah Chorus'' to the wearing off of numbness to the outcry that echoed across the cold New England morning.

  Carlton Fisk

"At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series."

Talk about some incredible column writing in the dead of night. That line about the Mystic River Bridge still resonates here in New England as one of the most famous ever written in a sports section. A framed copy of that page is on the wall about 10 feet to my left (above left) here in the Fenway press room.

For whatever reason, '75 seemed to spark a run of incredible stuff in Game Six of the World Series Consider:

1977--Reggie Jackson's three home runs.
1980--Tug McGraw saves the Phillies' first Series clincher ever.
1985--The Donn Denkinger call at first base saves the Cardinals and costs the Royals.
1986--Buckner. If you need an explanation, you're on the wrong blog.
1991--Kirby Puckett climbs the Metrodome plexiglass for a great catch and hits the game-winning homer in the 11th as the Twins beat the Braves.
1992--Dave Winfield's double in the 11th snaps a tie and the sends the Blue Jays past the Braves for their first title.
1993--Joe Carter Touches 'Em All. See 1986 points above if you don't know.
2002--Spurred on by the Rally Monkey, the Angels wipe out a 5-0 deficit and beat the Giants, 6-5.
2003--A 23-year-old rookie named Josh Beckett pitches a 2-0 shutout at old Yankee Stadium as the Marlins clinch their second title.

Here's's look at some great Game Six moments involving the Sox and Cardinals:

Calm before a 95-year storm at Fenway as Red Sox look to clinch

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- A relatively quiet day at the World Series today, but things will be anything but quiet tomorrow night in Fenway Park.

In the chilly October air, the Red Sox worked out Tuesday night on the eve of what could be their first Series clincher in the Fens since 1918. They lead the St. Louis Cardinals, three games to two, heading into Game Six and the No. 1 topic of conversation was clearly how crazy Sox fans will be with a chance to see something basically no one alive in these parts has ever witnessed. (Remember, the Sox won their title in 2004 at old Busch Stadium and their 2007 crown at Denver's Coors Field).

'I'm sure it's going to be an incredible atmosphere here tomorrow night," said manager John Farrell. "So if we happen to be able to share it with them, that would be great. But we've got to take care of business first"

It will be John Lackey on the mound for Boston against St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha. Lackey won Game Seven for Anaheim as a rookie in 2002 against San Francisco but this is the Red Sox. At Fenway Park. Not the same.

"The fans are going to be crazy," he said. But you've still got to focus on the task at hand and executing"

The Cardinals, meanwhile, were still stuck on the runway in St. Louis as of 5:30 Eastern time. Manager Mike Matheny and Wacha did their off-day media conferences via a cell phone held by an MLB PR official and projected into a microphone.

"We're fortunate that our club allows our families to travel with us," Matheny said. "We have some younger kids but I'm impressed with how everybody has handled it. Fortunately we have plenty of food, snacks for the kids, lots of entertainment with on-board movies, and everybody travels with all their high-tech stuff. Most of these kids are pretty happy that they're not in school right now, and it's a great way to spend a day, and no complaints so far."

Still, Matheny said at the time they had been on the plane for more than two hours and were waiting for that plane to be fixed or a new one to be brought before making the flight here.  Not the best situation the day before a huge game.

Wacha said it wouldn't really impact his preparation as he was simply staying at the hotel anyway today. Wacha survived a buzzsaw with the PNC Park crowd in Pittsburgh when the Cardinals were down, 2-1, in the division series and hopes to do likewise tomorrow.

"I imagine it's going to be crazy, but I'm not going to pay any attention to it," said Wacha. "I'll keep going about my business the way I have been in all my starts this year."

In lineup notes, Farrell said David Ross will catch and Shane Victorino should be good to go again in the outfield after sitting out Sunday's game with a bad back. The Cardinals may drop Carlos Beltran back to the cleanup slot in the order and Matheny said Allen Craig is good to go as the DH here after tweaking his injured foot Saturday on his game-ending slide home.

An even World Series heads to a pivotal swing game

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara gets mobbed by teammates after the first game-ending pickoff in World Series history closed Game Four (AP Photo).


By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS --  Big Papi spoke, his teammates listened and Jonny Gomes acted. Out here in the land of no Lindys and no Vaneks, there's your capsule summary of Game Four of the World Series on Sunday night as the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, to knot the series at two wins apiece.

I bet there's plenty of high-level police meetings going on this morning in Beantown in the wake of that one.

Why? We're assured of handing out the World Series trophy at Fenway Park for the first time since the 1975 Reds won it there in Game Seven. And as for the Red Sox, they haven't won one at home since 1918. Can't even imagine the chaos we might see, especially if they win it on Halloween in Game Seven on Thursday night.

The teams will be chatting prior to Game Five tonight at Busch starting at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

If you didn't catch up last night or this morning, here are the links to our coverage of Game Four:

----The main Web-exclusive game story: Gomes' three-run homer a few minutes after David Ortiz's dugout seance gave the Red Sox a huge win.

---Game Four podcast: Click the link to hear my audio thoughts in the wake of Game Four.

---Game Three redux: The Red Sox needed to, ahem, obstruct the part of their memory banks that brought them back to the bizarre finish from Saturday night. And they did.

---All in the Middlebrooks family: The controversial obstruction call had one very interested observer in new UB softball assistant coach Lacey Middlebrooks, the sister of Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Red Sox Farrell in wake of call that ended Game 3: 'It wasn't a normal night of sleep'

John Farrell can't believe what umpire Dana DeMuth is telling him about the decisive play Saturday night (Getty Images).

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- There were plenty of questions for Red Sox manager John Farrell at his pregame briefing with the media tonight in the wake of the bizarre finish to Game Three of the World Series. As there should have been.

(Be sure to double back and read my Web-only story on the game, complete with comments from both clubhouses).

Things went completely haywire for the Red Sox in the ninth inning, long before the interference call on Will Middlebrooks that provided an all-time ending that veteran New York Post scribe Joel Sherman dubbed "The Immaculate Obstruction" in today's editions.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the things Farrell said:

On dealing with the call: 'It wasn't a normal night of sleep, I know that. You review the whole game. You replay it in your mind. You learn from the experiences you go through. I'm sure there's a number of our guys in our uniform that our probably doing the same thing."

On the call at third base: "The call was made correctly. ... If there was the ability to have some measure in that portion of judgment on intent. Right now there is none. It doesn't matter on intent or not. When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it's hard to say he was intending to impede that runner's progress. The way the obstruction rule is set up right now, the baserunner can be the agressor and beneficiary on both sides. They can seek out an infielder, run into him and benefit by advancing." 

On pitching to John Jay in the ninth rather than having Koji Uehara walk him and face light-hitting Pete Kozma with the bases loaded: "To walk the bases loaded and back Koji in a corner where he has no room to maneuver inside a given at-bat? Didn't want to do it."

(My take: That's crazy. Uehara has issued nine walks in 84 innings this year counting the postseason. Had to walk Jay)

On today's pen: Uehara, Craig Breslow and Uehara are all available tonight. Even John Lackey can throw an inning.

Game Five starter Jon Lester also met the media and had some insight on the clubhouse mood. The clubhouses, remember, are closed before the game during the postseason so there's no real way to get any second-day reaction.

"I think today everyone was fine.  I think last night, that's not how you want to end a World Series game," Lester said. "I think some guys were probably shocked, confused, a lot of different emotions going on.  But there's nothing we can do to change it.  So we have to move forward to today and focus on today.  And if we let that affect us in the clubhouse today and during that game, then we've already been beat."

Regarding tonight's lineups, long after meeting the media, Farrell scratched Shane Victorino due to lower back tightness and put Jonny Gomes in left while moving Daniel Nava to right. No explanation as of yet. Here's the lineups:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava RF Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz 1B
Jonny Gomes LF Daniel Nava LF
Xander Bogaerts 3B
Stephen Drew SS
David Ross C
Clay Buchholz P

St. Louis
Matt Carpenter 2B
Carlos Beltran RF
Matt Holliday LF
Matt Adams 1B
Yadier Molina C
John Jay CF
David Freese 3B
David Descalso SS
Lance Lynn P

Game Three podcast: One of the most bizarre finishes in postseason history

The decisive moment: Allen Craig and Will MIddlebrooks get tangled up at third base. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo via AP)

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- In the history of baseball, no postseason game had ever ended on an obstruction call. According to, the only game in history that had ended that way was a non-descript Tampa Bay-Seattle game in 2004.

Until Saturday night.

The Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, as Allen Craig scored the winning run on an interference call on Will Middlebrooks at third.

Click here for my Web-only complete wrapup featuring comments from both clubhouses. (The game ended about five minutes before our print deadline, so the Final edition has a full report with no quotes).

Also in Sunday's editions:

The Batavia Connection -- Nine Cardinals played their Class A ball at tiny Dwyer Stadium in Genesee County.

Lovullo's next step could come soon -- The Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer gets the leadoff role in my Inside Baseball column as he is a hot managerial candidate when the series is over.

Buchholz will give it his all tonight -- The Red Sox first-half ace has one more chance to get the job done this season and Boston desperately needs him in Game Four.

And finally, click the file below for my audio thoughts on the bizarre finish. I say the umpires got it right and good for them for having the conviction to make the call.

Mike Harrington on the wild finish

Pregame ponderings: Red Sox thinking about Napoli at third?

Biggest question I get at World Series: Where's your seat? Here's The News view in St. Louis for Games 3-4-5.

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- Pretty interesting sight here during batting practice at Busch Stadium. Boston first baseman Mike Napoli, not in tonight's lineup because the Sox have no DH in the National League park and are using red-hot David Ortiz at first, took groundballs at third base. 

There's no change in tonight's lineup (rookie Xander Bogaerts is at third) but if Boston's offense continues to struggle, manager John Farrell may have no choice tomorrow in Game Four. Particularly if the Red Sox lose tonight. Still, Napoli has played just one pro game there -- in 2002 in the Class A Midwest League. That would be quite a risk.

In other pregame news, Farrell reaffirmed that Clay Buchholz will start tomorrow night even in the face of his lingering shoulder issues. Buchholz also said he's ready to go -- but also admitted he's not 100 percent. So he bears watching tomorrow.

It's Jake Peavy vs. Joe Kelly tonight at 8:07 on FOX. I'll have my live thoughts here starting at 8.

Here's the lineups:

Ellsbury, cf
Victorino, rf
Pedroia, 2b
Ortiz, 1b
Nava, lf
Bogaerts, 3b
Saltalamacchia, c
Drew, ss
Peavy, p 

St. Louis
MCarpenter, 2b
Beltran, rf
Holliday, lf
Adams, 1b
Molina, c
Freese, 3b
Jay, cf
Kozma, ss
Kelly, p 

A scene-setter for Game Three and a chance to cast your vote on the DH dilemma

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- Greetings from the neighborhood of the Arch as we get set for Game Three tonight in Busch Stadium. First, a weather update: It's bright and sunny this afternoon with temperatures near 60. They will slip into the 40s tonight but there's basically no chance of rain.

Cardinals great Willie McGee will throw a ceremonial first pitch tonight while Colbie Caillat will sing the national anthem. Former Cardinal greats Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith and Red Schoendienst will also be introduced to the crowd and there will be a pregame video tribute to Stan Musial, who died Jan. 19 at age 92. Click here to read the incredible obituary on Musial written the next day by Hall of Fame St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribe Rick Hummel

The place went wild when I was here in 2006 and 2011 when Musial was introduced. Two years ago with his health failing, it was one of the alltime great Series moments to see the crowd erupt as Musial was driven around the diamond.

The Red Sox will be playing with no DH tonight, so David Ortiz will be at first base and Mike Napoli will sit. That was the topic of my column in today's Buffalo News, which is already generating plenty of email and Twitter replies. Now you have your chance to vote here: Should they keep the DH the way it is in the World Series or go all-in?

Ortiz set to go at first base and a look at plenty of World Series coverage coming in Sunday's paper

David Ortiz in a rare spot: Fielding grounders Friday in St. Louis (AP photo)

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- It's all systems go for David Ortiz to play first base Saturday night in Game Three of the World Series. The Boston designated hitter took ground balls Friday night in Busch Stadium and, with no DH in the National League park, will put his glove on to stay in the lineup.

"Whatever they need me for," Ortiz said as he was swarmed by reporters in the dugout. "We'll see how the situation goes, see how it feels and go from there."

Manager John Farrell would not commit to Ortiz past Game Three and said hot-hitting Mike Napoli will start Saturday on the bench

"We haven't had to use it as much with the number of days off and strictly American League rules," Farrell said of his reserves. "But even if we have to defend for David late with Mike Napoli, we've got much more flexibility, obviously, with an added guy on the bench."

Be sure to read more about Ortiz and the lineup changes forced upon the Red Sox by the lack of a DH in Saturday's paper.

And be sure to pick up Sunday's editions for plenty more from the Series:

---In addition to the actual coverage of Game Three, my Inside Baseball column will feature a chat with Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo. The baseball lifer is relishing his first trip to the Fall Classic and said it really hit home when he was on the Fenway Park foul line during introductions before Game One Wednesday night.

"It's fairly surreal and you can't describe it until you're out there," Lovullo told me today as we chatted in the tunnel leading to the Red Sox clubhouse. "The [military] planes fly over and you understand exactly what's happening. It's the end of the season, the last two teams standing. This is what you dream about when you're 12 years old and you're sitting in your bedroom thinking about the World Series. It's a pretty special moment I've waited a long time for."

---I'll also have a look back with several members of the Cardinals who started their professional careers in Class A ball with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. The preferred methods of transportation to Dwyer Stadium for some of them? Bikes provided by Batavia residents who annually house the players for the summer.

Torey Lovullo. The Muckdogs of the Cardinals. And Game Three of the World Series. Only in Sunday's Buffalo News.

Game Two podcast: Cardinals pull even, get to go home

The Cardinals celebrate the win that evened the series. (AP Photo)

By Mike Harrington

Click below to hear my final thoughts on Game Two of the World Series, a 4-2 win for the St. Louis Cardinals that snapped a nine-game winning streak in Series play by the Boston Red Sox. The last Series loss for Boston? Game Seven in 1986 against the Mets in old Shea Stadium.

This one was about Boston's sloppy defense in the seventh and St. Louis' electric trio of pitchers. As we head to the Midwest, the Sox will be without David Ortiz or Mike Napoli in each game. Look for Ortiz at first base and Napoli on the bench in Game Three. A big disadvantage.

Mike Harrington on Game Two

Pregame chatter: Nothing on Lester's glove, Beltran's ribs OK

It was bright and sunny today prior to Game Two. The temperatures will be in the 40s tonight.

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The biggest pregame chatter at Fenway Park today was about what was -- or wasn't -- on the glove of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester during Game One. The Big Lead and Deadspin both ran today with a tweet from Cardinals Class A pitcher Tyler Melling that accused Lester of having vasoline on his glove and video seemed to show some sort of green goo.

(It reminds us Series regulars about the Kenny Rogers pine tar scandal in Game Two in Detroit in 2006).

"If you know Jon Lester he sweats like a pig and he needs rosin," Boston manager John Farrell said during his daily media briefing. "He keeps it in in his glove. Other guys will keep it on their arm, other guys will keep it on their pant leg. That's my response to the allegations. The one thing that's very odd is that it shows up in a lime green color. I don't know how that can happen."

"It was just rosin. All I ever used, all I will use," Lester said during batting practice. And about the green color?  "I don't know what that is. It looks like a giant booger."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was understandably uncomfortable with the topic. After all, if his team starts pulling this kind of stuff, nothing stopping the Red Sox from turning the tables.

"This was not instigated by us. And the way that we approach this is we just play the game," Matheny said. "We don't deny that some things have been acknowledged. And if that's what he claims, then that's what it is. That's all there is to it. And right now it's pretty much a dead issue.

"... If we started going down that path, we would just be trying to make excuses for a pitcher having a very good game against us and us not getting the job done. And that's not the kind of team we are."

In other news:

---The Cardinals were waiting on their lineup because they don't know the status of Carlos Beltran's injured ribs. But after he took batting practice, he was back there. Meanwhile, Pete Kozma was pulled from shortstop after his two errors in Game One and has been replaced by Daniel Descalso.

---Farrell confirmed Clay Buchholz will start in Game Four and that either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli will have to sit in St. Louis without the designated hitter. 

---During the game, look for a tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims and an on-field presentation to retiring Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. Rivera will be holding a press conference here in the 7 p.m. hour. He's the 12th player to receive the award, the first since Ken Griffey Jr., in 2011.

---There will be ceremonial first pitches thrown by members of the 2004 Series champion Red Sox, notably Pedro Martinez, and the national anthem will be sung by James Taylor. He will also be doing "America the Beautiful" in the seventh-inning stretch, a departure from the normal "God Bless America."

(Whether you like his music or not, Taylor will be awesome. I was in the park early this afternoon and heard his rehearsal. Great stuff).

I'll be having my live comments here in a separate post starting at 8 p.m. I'll even throw you a changeup: We'll also open the floor for comments during the fourth and fifth innings.

Game 1 podcast: All goes right for Sox, all goes wrong for Cards

David Ortiz (right) gives it up to Dustin Pedroia after Boston's 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of the World Series. (AP Photo).

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Click below to hear my thoughts on the 8-1 thrashing the Red Sox handed the St. Louis Cardinals in Game One of the World Series Wednesday night in Fenway Park.

The Cardinals didn't make any plays defensively, didn't get the key pitches they needed to from Adam Wainwright, had a correct umpire's decision go against them and didn't score a run until the ninth inning.

Other than that, everything was fine.

It really is fine for New England's Olde Towne Team. The Red Sox made it nine straight in the World Series and have scored 10 runs in the first inning of Game One in their last three trips to the Fall Classic. That's called getting off to a good start and it's hard to beat. They go for a 2-0 lead here Thursday night.

Mike Harrington on Game One

Game One lineups and pregame news from Fenway

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The lineups are in for Game One of the World Series and they read as follows:

St. Louis
Matt Carpenter, 2b
Carlos Beltran, rf
Matt Hollidahy, lf
Allen Craig, dh
Yadier Molina, c
David Freese, 3b
Matt Adams, 1b
Shane Robinson, cf
Pete Kozma, ss
Adam Wainwright, p

Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
Shane Victorino, rf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
David Ortiz, dh
Mike Napoli, 1b
Jonny Gomes, lf
Xander Bogaerts, 3b
Stephen Drew, ss
David Ross, c
Jon Lester, p 

With no games yet under their belts in this series, not a lot of pregame chatter. The biggest news was when Red Sox manager John Farrell said Clay Buchholz will pitch this weekend in St. Louis in either Game Three of Four. Buchholz has struggled with his velocity in the postseason and rumors have been rampant here the Sox may replace him with Felix Doubront, especially when Doubront threw an unscheduled simulated game at Fenway Tuesday night.

Buchholz missed three months with a shoulder injury and was taken out of a start last week against Detroit after just 85 pitches. He's struggled with his command and has worked at an ever-increasing slow pace on the mound.

I'll be giving my thoughts on Game One during our live blog/Twitter collection. That will get started at 8 p.m.

It's World Series gameday: Links to our coverage and a chance to make your pick

Finish line
The finish line of the Boston Marathon. Oct. 22, 2013.


By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Yes, the World Series starts tonight but it's hard for anyone here to forget how the Boston Marathon ended here in April (the shot above is the finish line taken yesterday, still painted on Boylston Street). The Red Sox have been a rallying point for the city all summer and into the fall and those feelings never go away when you see the "Boston Strong" logo on the Green Monster and mowed into the center field grass at Fenway Park.

Here's a look at today's stories:

SugarBoston Strong is a lifestyle now in the wake of the April bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and the Red Sox are a big reason why. Among interviews with players and manager John Farrell that were done yesterday, I also visited the quaint candy store (right) that was the Ground Zero-like location for the first blast. 

Things ended badly for John Farrell in Toronto but the former Bisons player and Cleveland farm director has been a new sheriff in Boston, serving as a strong leader through the tough times of April and leading the Red Sox back to October glory. 

If you missed any of our blogs yesterday (where were you?), we've got a good recap of the day's chatter in our World Series notebook. 

I made my pick and it's Cardinals in six. You can click on the link to see why. Hall of Fame writer Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun polled the press room yesterday and was kind enough to include me in his list of writers' picks on the series. They're pretty much all over the map. 

Be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter feed, where you'll probably get some links to a few Vines like we had yesterday. Here's an example of one. 

Now it's your turn. Who's winning this thing? Vote below

Buffalo-born and Lewiston-bred Cardinals reliever Siegrist is suffering with Sabres too

Kevin Siegrist delivers to the Dodgers during the NLCS. (Getty Images)


By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist has been a huge boon to his team's bullpen with an incredible season in his first year in the big leagues. He had an 0.45 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 39 innings, struck out 50 and walked 18. In the postseason, he allowed one earned run in five appearances to date.

Siegrist was born in Buffalo and grew up in Lewiston before leaving for Florida just before high school. When I introduced myself today in the State Street Pavilion of Fenway Park, we talked about his family background and lots of baseball before I turned the conversation to something Siegrist talks a lot about on his Twitter feed -- his beloved but suffering Buffalo Sabres.

When I told Siegrist I covered them too, here was his first unprompted response: "Aw, jeez. What's up with them?"

I told him no one has an answer.

"I don't know. I just don't know. I watch almost every single game," he said. "It's crazy. I get the NHL package and watch all of them. I went to the Buffalo-Pittsburgh game (Oct. 5 at Consol Energy Center while the Cardinals were in town for the NLDS). I'm at a loss for words with what's up there."

"A bunch of guys follow the Blues and they are getting on me all the time. What are we? It's 1-8-1 now? Terrible."

Told the Bills are doing better at least, Siegrist smiled and said, "It's just Buffalo sports for you."

Cardinals reliever/moustache aficionado Axford on Red Sox beards: 'They got a lot of crazy facial hair going on over there'

BeardsBy Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- You've heard plenty already about beards and facial hair as the Red Sox have made their run to the World Series. Guys like Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli have been growing hunting season beards that the fans love -- and the players love to tug at as a way of congratulations.

Who better to ask about facial hair than Cardinals reliever John Axford? The former Canisius College pitcher had a moustache that became the talk of Milwaukee when he was the closer for the Brewers from 2009-2001 -- and even won awards for its pizzazz.

"They got a lot of crazy facial hair going on over there," Axford said with a laugh today during the Cardinals' Media Day in Fenway Park. "I tried to dabble in a beard at the beginning of the season and ended up shaving it off. .,.. It looks like they're having fun with it over there, which is my thing too. That's what I do with my facial hair too. They're enjoying it."

Axford had a good laugh when asked by a Milwaukee reporter who covered him during his Brewers days about the huge beard being grown by Sox slugger Mike Napoli, a mane "big enough for a family of five" as the questioner commented.

""It looks good. Some of these guys were thinking ahead for Halloween also," Axford said. "When that day comes, we might all have pretty good costumes to go with that facial hair."

What does Axford think of all the Boston beard tugging?

"You see the best and worst of each other all the time in that locker room. You're intimate, close, family. Facial hair is no big deal when you tug on that," he said. "It's close and personal. I'm sure a lot of people would look at it and say why, but when you're teammates and you're playing together, especially on this big a stage, you get that close intimacy of a family. It's no big deal. It's cool."

(Photo outside Fenway souvenir shops of player beard designs, left to right -- Top row: Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Brandon Workman, Jonny Gomes; Middle row: David Ross, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz, John Lackey; Bottom row: Mike Carp, Shane Victorino, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster

Live from Beantown, Welcome to World Series Media Day

The Yawkey Way entrance to Fenway Park is quiet Tuesday morning.

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Greetings from Beantown! I'll be on hand this afternoon at Fenway Park to get the lowdown as the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals chat it up on the eve of their World Series opener.

WSlogoIt's MLB's fifth annual World Series Media Day, where the teams get a break from having reporters crowding into their clubhouse for a day and instead meet them en masse, Super Bowl style. We started this in 2009 at the Great Hall of Yankee Stadium, a tremendous visual that went over so well with all parties involved that baseball has opted to continue doing it each year.

This year, we're gathering in the State Street Pavilion at Fenway, an elite club seating area in the upper deck near the press box featuring plenty of old photos of Red Sox of the past. Here's today's schedule:

1:00-1:45 -- Cardinals group media session
2:00-3:00 -- Cardinals workout
3:00-3:30 -- Manager Mike Matheny/Game One starter Adam Wainwright in Series interview room
4:00-4:45 -- Red Sox group media session
4:50-5:00 -- Red Sox Game One starter Jon Lester
5:10-5:30 -- Red Sox manager John Farrell
5:00-6:00 -- Red Sox workout 

It's slated to be a sunny day with temperatures pushing 70. Too bad we're not opening the series this afternoon, or even tonight because the weather forecast for Game One on Wednesday night is, frankly, yukky.

The high Wednesday is only slated to be 51 degrees with a 50 percent chance of rain during the day. The rain probability drops at night but so does the temperature, which could slide into the 30s -- yes, the 30s. Brrr. 

Keep it here for plenty of news, quotes and quips all through the Series. I'll also be chirping on my Twitter feed with instant updates. 

Spirit of '46, '67, and '04 lives: Color World Series red as Boston earns spot next to St. Louis

By Mike Harrington

Another Boston grand slam (video above by Shane Victorino), more bad Detroit relief pitching and more bad Tigers baserunning. Pretty simple combination as the Red Sox posted a 5-2 win in Game Six of the ALCS Saturday night at Fenway Park to win another pennant and head to a World Series matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals that opens Wednesday night in Boston.

It will forever live as a huge what-if ALCS for the Tigers, as Mitch Albom wrote in today's  Detroit Free Press. 

This will be the teams' fourth meeting in the Series. The Cardinals won seven-game affairs in 1946 and 1967 while the Red Sox posted their memorable four-game sweep in 2004 to snap their 86-year championship drought. Amazing to think they might now win their third one in 10 years (to go with 2007) after generations of Boston fans never saw one.

Media Day at Fenway is Tuesday with Games 1 and 2 there Wednesday and Thursday nights. There's a workout day in St. Louis on Friday with Games 3-4-5 at Busch Stadium on Saturday-Sunday-Monday.

If we go past that point -- and only two of the last nine World Series have -- Oct. 29 would be an off day in Boston with Game Six on Oct. 30 and the teams hoping to spook each other in Game Seven on Halloween. (Talk about a potential security nightmare in a college town like Boston!)

This will be my 14th consecutive World Series and my 16th overall. The News has covered the Fall Classic at least since the 1970s and I'll be on hand for full coverage in print and online starting Tuesday. Look for plenty of Buffalo connections, daily podcasts, notes and quotes, lots of tweets (@BNHarrington) and even some Vines!

Late night at the NLCS -- At nearly 1 a.m., Beltran gives Cardinals a 13-inning victory in opener

By Mike Harrington

If you didn't stay up until almost 1 a.m. ET, you missed a classic opener to the NLCS as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers, 3-2, on Carlos Beltran's RBI single to right in the bottom of the 13th. 

The only two NLCS games that went longer were two epic Mets games -- the 16-inning clincher at Houston in 1986 and the famous Robin Ventura "grand slam single" victory of 1999 in Game Five against Atlanta. It took 4 hours, 47 minutes to play.

Said Cards shortstop Pete Kozma: "It was a good team win. A good team Carlos win today."

He's not kidding. The guy did it all.

Neither team had scored since the third, when the Dodgers went ahead on Juan Uribe's two-run single and Beltran tied the game with a two-run double. Beltran kept things tied in the 10th with a perfect one-hop throw to nail Mark Ellis at home and finally won it in the 13th off Kerwin Danley.

Beltran has nine RBIs in October and continues to affix his reputation as one of the greatest October players of our generation (apologies to Mets fans still bemoaning that called third strike in 2006).

Click below to see all of Beltran's heroics from Friday night/early this morning.

Super Saturday afternoon slate in wild card races

By Mike Harrington

Today is game 161, the second-last day of the season. Here's our playoff update:

AL divisions/homefield: The Red Sox have a magic number of one to wrap up the top seed after Friday's 12-3 win over the Orioles and would thus meet the wild card winner in the division series. The Tigers would play the A's in the other series, with Oakland having home-field advantage.

AL wild card: Everyone is in action early this afternoon, with Texas hosting Los Angeles at noon, Cleveland at Minnesota at 1 and Tampa Bay at Toronto at 1. The Rays' 6-3 loss in Toronto Friday night dropped them into a tie with the Indians at 90-70, while the Rangers' win over the Angels pushed them to 89-71. Cleveland has won eight in a row, Texas has won five straight and Tampa Bay's loss Friday snapped a seven-game winning streak. All finishing very strong.

NL divisions/wild card: The Cardinals clinched the Central with Friday's win over the Cubs and are tied with the Braves at 95-65. The Dodgers (92-68) will be the No. 3 seed. The Pirates have a two-game lead on the Reds with two to play after Friday's 4-1 win in Cinci and need just one more win to clinch homefield against the Reds in the wild-card game. 

Pettitte's farewell: Nothing involving any of the races going on tonight, with the most significant game being the Yankees' 7:05 contest at Houston on YES. It will be the final start in the career of left-hander and suburban Houston resident Andy Pettitte, as John Harper sets the stage in today's New York Daily News and Ken Davidoff offers a similiar-scene setter in the Post. 

Quick thought: Doesn't Joe Girardi have to send Mariano Rivera out to pull Pettitte tonight?

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |