Category Archives: Red Sox Schlock

Coming to a Dollar Store Near You: A Lego-like Stephen Drew

http://www.oyosportstoys.com/Promotions_Facebook/2013-World-Series-Champions_2/Jarrod-Saltalamacchia_WSC_2#.Un04QY05CXo

Want to mingle Red Sox Shortstop Stephen Drew With Your Other Lego Superhero Minifigures? Double click Drew’s face for details.

I can say this as the owner of a Curt Schilling figurine, a Weeble-like Manny Ramirez, a Pedro Martinez Jack-in-the-Box and the Mike Lowell and Johnny Damon autobiographies:  This $13 Stephen Drew toy will be selling for a dollar next September.

Maybe even earlier if the Sox don’t resign him.

I’m not slamming Drew. I think his outstanding defense still saved enough runs to justify his atrocious 0-for-whatever batting average before Game 6 — and I was thrilled for him when he hit that World Series homer.

But I’m going to pass on this round of Red Sox World Series souvenirs. Being in the bleachers for Big Papi’s grand slam in Game 2 of the AL Playoffs and seeing Dustin Pedroia in a hotel lobby is enough for me this time!

As an aside, I’m still smitten by Jake Peavy’s World Series souvenir, his $75,000 Boston Duck Boat!

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David Ortiz Ate Here: Confessions of a Grown-Up Red Sox Fanboy

Read "I Am a Red Sox Fanboy," my opinion column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia's beard.

Read “I Am a Red Sox Fanboy,” my column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia’s beard.

Journalism has brought me close up with political leaders, CEOs, inventors, scientists, actors, musicians and even Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley” fame.

But only baseball players can make me feel 12 years old again.

Timed for the World Series, I wrote a fun column for CNN.com about the thrill of spotting Red Sox players out of uniform — without the help of baseball cards.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“Is baseball hothead David Price right? Are the millions of us who never pitched beyond Little League just a bunch of starstruck wannabes?

During the American League Divisional Series, the Tampa Bay Rays star lashed out at the media after giving up seven earned runs in seven innings. “Nice questions, nerds!” he hissed at reporters. Then Price got mean. On Twitter, he called Sports Illustrated scribe Tom Verducci a nerd who wasn’t even a water boy in high school.” He stopped there, passing up the temptation to mock Verducci’s prom date or how much he can bench press.

Price’s snotty attitude exists for one reason. Many of my fellow baseball nuts DO think players are cooler than the rest of us. The fact is, no matter how successful we may be in our professional lives, many of us would instantly trade in our careers for a (your team here) uniform.”

Oddly, a tongue-in-cheek column like this has attracted some angry comments directed at Boston and Bostonians. I know writers are advised to NEVER read the anonymous comments beneath their stories, but I always touch the Third Rail.

Check out my column, “I am a Red Sox Fanboy,” and please share it with fellow baseball fans. Even though it’s focused on the Sox, you really could fill in the blanks with players from your favorite team — or characters from any celebrity watching endeavor for that matter.

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Filed under Celebrity Watching, CNN Columns, Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports

Opening Day Meditation: How I Learned to Stop Hating the New York Yankees

(click to enlarge image)

New Hampshire Magazine’s Photoshop guy is phenomenal. Yes, I did go to Yankee Stadium for this story, but the yoga happened at their Manchester newsroom. That’s a Kevin Youkilis jersey in case you were curious. (Double click to read story)

It’s Opening Day: Yankees vs. Red Sox — and let the gloating begin!

Based on the injuries the Yanks are battling with A-Rod, Jeter and Texiera, there’s a fair chance that Boston and New York will be fighting each other to stay out of last place this year.

Sure, celebrating would be premature at this point, but fans in Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay have to like their chances in the AL East where the Sox and Yanks used to trade off the division title and the Wild Card every season.

Before the Sox took their depressing nose dive, I surprised my son with a Yankee Stadium trip to see the home team when Sox-Yanks tickets at Fenway were simply unaffordable. To my surprise, I liked many of the people sitting around me despite my lifetime of regarding Yankees fans as arrogant, obnoxious punks. You can read my humble attempt at a Nobel Peace Price nomination in the April issue of New Hampshire Magazine, on newsstands now.

contributors New Hampshire Magazine Darren Garnick
I love this cover, especially since New Hampshire was recently ranked as the Least Religious State in America by the Pew Research Center. The Red Sox is a more popular religion around here than Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism combined.

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State -- and their state of mind after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of NH Red Sox fans — and their fragile psychology after one of the most disappointing seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

We left no New Hampshire baseball angle unexplored, even tracking down Carlton Fisk’s 1963 high school yearbook. He’s the guy holding the trophy on the far right.

What if Carlton Fisk had decided to pursue pro basketball instead of pro baseball?

What if Carlton Fisk had decided to pursue pro basketball instead of pro baseball?

You can read the full story here.

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Is Being a Red Sox Fan a Religious Experience?

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State -- and their state of mind after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State — and their state of mind after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

I’m absolutely thrilled with how this story came out and can’t wait for it to hit the newsstands on April 1.

From the inner thoughts of former Red Sox catcher Gary Allenson, now the manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, to snapshots from Carlton Fisk’s high school yearbook, you won’t want to miss this comprehensive analysis of the Granite State’s contributions to Red Sox culture.

And if you care about doctors, medicine and that kind of stuff, there’s some additional non-baseball information, too.

Props to New Hampshire Magazine‘s new art director, J Porter, for this phenomenal cover.

(The research for this story was even more fun than my research on the Red Sox – Yankees T-Shirt Wars).

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Baseball Records of Another Kind — When the Spaceman Was the Posterboy For Stereo Speakers

Just stumbled across this advertising masterpiece in my 1975 Boston Red Sox souvenir program, the same precious archive that stores the Bob Montgomery denim leisure suit from Jordan Marsh.

Spaceman Stereos

Spaceman Stereos

Strangely, I never knew the real origins of Bill Lee’s “Spaceman” nickname. But it’s the “cool guy” hat (reminiscent of Rudy from Fat Albert) and the turntable that make me smile.

Bill Lee has long been a media darling for saying what’s on his mind, demonstrated on this autographed baseball below:

Staying (Kinda) Classy -- Red Sox legend Bill Lee sometimes autographs baseballs "Yankees Suck Pond H2O."

Former Red Sox star Bill Lee sometimes autographs baseballs “Yankees Suck Pond H2O.”

I caught up with Lee recently for an Atlantic Magazine story on the waning Red Sox-Yankees T-Shirt War.

This quote from our conversation has nothing to do with stereo speakers or 1970s fashion, but it sums up life:

“Without rivalries, there is no game,” Lee adds. “You have to respect your opponent, but when your opponent is down, you must step on them and never let them get up. You want to make sure the enemy isn’t still breathing.”

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Filed under advertising, Fashion, Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports, Sports Psychology

Fashion Flashback: Carlton Fisk Apparently Didn’t Want to Pose in This Denim Suit

Jordan Marsh, now part of Macy's, had no idea the 1975 Red Sox would become American League Champions when they signed backup catcher Bob Montgomery as a spokesmodel. (Click to enlarge).

Jordan Marsh, now part of Macy’s, had no idea the 1975 Red Sox would become American League Champions when they signed backup catcher Bob Montgomery as a spokesmodel. (Click to enlarge).

This was almost three decades before Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield went on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to makeover their wardrobes.

I love the 1970s — people took you seriously when you wore clothes like this.

Bob Montgomery is a classy guy, but I can’t imagine that the backup catcher was the first choice of Jordan Marsh or Haggar to walk the runway.

Carlton Fisk must have said “No way!”

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My Day With Squiggy — Yes, That Squiggy!

Actor David Lander as Squiggy

Actor David Lander as Squiggy

CULTURE SCHLOCK — By Darren Garnick
“Squiggy’s Secret: Even Pop Culture Icons Can Get MS”
Originally published in The Telegraph
May 18, 2001

One of the Golden Rules of Journalism is “Thou Shalt Not Ask an Interview Subject For an Autograph.” The rationale makes sense. Reporters who giddily ask for autographs are unlikely to ask tough questions.  Editors also  resent the idea of their publications being confused with fan club magazines.  Lacking self-control, I broke that sacred rule last week.  I broke it for “Squiggy.”

David L. Lander, who played the quirky character in the 1970s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” was in town to discuss his 17-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis and why he hid his condition from the public until 1999. I was working behind the scenes for a TV network doing the typical “Celebrity Disease of the Week” feature. President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) on “The West Wing” revealed he had the same illness this month, giving MS enough temporary status to merit media coverage.

Our day began at Squiggy’s hotel and wrapped up at Fenway Park, where we shot footage of him watching the Red Sox and Mariners during batting practice. Lander’s publicist shared Squiggy stories to kill some time. Earlier that morning, at the Philadelphia airport, a fan rushed up to him with a baseball and blurted, “David Lander?  I have autographs of every ‘Laverne & Shirley’ cast member except for you!”  Lander signed the ball, not bothering to ask why the fan happened to have a baseball at the airport. The publicist suspected there might be a Squiggy stalker on the loose.

At the end of our assignment, we were in the Red Sox press box with Lander as he filled out his scorecard. I pulled a baseball out of my pocket and said in an ultra-serious tone, “David, at home I have autographed baseballs of every cast member of ‘Laverne and Shirley’ except for you. Would you please sign my baseball?”

He nodded without hesitation, but neither he nor his publicist picked up on the joke. “I was kidding,” I said. “I was referring to the psycho you met today at the airport… But I still would like to get it signed.” Lander smiled, thinking it was a strange coincidence, but was too polite to compare me to his stalker.

The conversational banter continued to flow naturally until I said I wanted the autograph because I was a “big pop culture buff.”

“Oh, is that what I am?” Lander replied.

Following an awkward moment of silence, I felt instant guilt. From Squiggy’s perspective, I had just reduced him to Archie Bunker’s chair or Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I may as well have built a glass display case around him.  But it was true: I would have been far less gung-ho about meeting a non-celebrity struggling with MS.

The whole time I was with Lander, most of our small talk was about baseball. He seemed ecstatic that I not only had heard of the Portland Beavers (the AAA minor league Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate), but mentioned Luis Tiant’s comeback there. Turns out that Lander had paid some of Tiant’s salary when the team couldn’t afford it, making him a five-percent owner. It was genuine sports talk, but for me it was sports talk with Squiggy.

Squiggy loves the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Squiggy loves the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I wasn’t the only one.  At the ballgame, a few fans recognized Lander and asked him to sign their Red Sox programs, insisting that “Squiggy” be written in addition to “David.” Perhaps unaware that “Laverne & Shirley” was scripted, one guy said, “You always seemed to enter at the right time!”

Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy were the forefathers of characters like Kramer on “Seinfeld.” The socially awkward best friends would enter a room unannounced whenever Laverne and Shirley would daydream about their missing Romeos.  Squiggy had the honor of triggering the laugh track. “Hello!” he’d say in a nerdy voice, which is simply not as funny on paper.

What happened to Lenny after that show is well known. Part of the Rob Reiner-Christopher Guest-Harry Shearer collaborative team, he’s been churning out clever comedies (“This is Spinal Tap,” “Best In Show.”) ever since. What happened to Squiggy is outlined in “Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody,” his autobiography released last fall.

MS first strikes people in their 20s and 30s and gets progressively worse with age. It is a particularly scary disease because it causes muscle weakness and extreme fatigue without warning.  Some people first lose strength in an arm or leg; others later feel numb in all four extremities.  MS wreaks havoc with the central nervous system, stripping people of their balance and eventually, their freedom to walk.

For 15 years, Lander let people think he was an alcoholic every time he stumbled at an inopportune moment. That image was more preferable than being known as a victim of MS, a stigma he feared would make him unemployable in Hollywood.

Watching Lander limp around the batting cage at Fenway Park, his balance preserved for now with the help of MS drugs, made me a little less cynical about “Celebrity Disease of the Week” stories.  Squiggy was still smiling.

In Lander’s eyes, I saw him as a walking, talking 1970s relic to be auctioned on eBay. Sure, I devoted more brain time to Laverne & Shirley in a few hours than I had in my entire life. But I also spent much of the day thinking about Multiple Sclerosis. For that alone, Lander’s post-Squiggy role is a huge success.

**

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Filed under Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports, Squiggy

Who Sucks Now? An Inside Peek at the Red Sox-Yankees T-Shirt Wars

CLASSY AND CONFIDENT: Yankees Captain Derek Jeter humors Red Sox fans at Fenway Park. (Photo courtesy of Sully’s Brand)

I grew up with a homemade “Official Yankees Hater” poster in my childhood bedroom.

But I never understood Red Sox fans who hate Derek Jeter, who probably has taken the brunt of the mockery on Boston’s raunchy souvenir t-shirts over the years.

Turns out that these kind of crass souvenirs don’t sell well in Boston anymore, but they are selling like hotcakes in the Bronx.

I explore the fascinating reasons why in The Atlantic:

Bronx t-shirt vendor “Bald” Vinny Milano shows off his wares after a Yankees-A’s game. (Double click to read the story)

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Filed under Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports Psychology, Yankee Stadium

Did God knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs?

All-Star Theologian Adrian Gonzalez

Although my athletic career has recently shown vibrant signs of promise with the Warrior Dash, I honestly never had much interest from the scouts in either Little League Baseball (singles hitter, no speed) or JV High School football (second-string offensive line).

But I do remember one thing.  When we were laughing on the bus after a horrible football loss, the coach went ballistic. How dare we not treat losing the game like we had lost our family dog?

I wonder what would have happened if any of us players pulled the Calvinism/predestination card. Our football coaches had very long memories that extended into gym class.

Enter Red Sox All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who lived up to his preseason hype by hitting .338 with 27 homers and 117 RBIs.  After the Sox elevated the art of choking to a new level this month by blowing a 9 game Wild Card lead in just 30 days — going a historically horrendous 7-20 for the month — Gonzalez just shrugged his shoulders and said “Amen.”

Here’s how he was quoted by the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham:

“It’s definitely something that didn’t plan for. We were wholly confident that we would make the playoffs but it didn’t happen,” he said. “We didn’t do a better job with the lead. I’m a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn’t in his plan for us to move forward… God didn’t have it in the cards for us.”

And here’s what he said (perhaps in a different interview) according to the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy:

“God has a plan,’’ he said. “And it wasn’t God’s plan for us to be in the playoffs.’’

Either way, Gonzalez has given CCD teachers and rabbis preparing their Yom Kippur sermons plenty to talk about.

But my gym teachers would have killed him.

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The United Countries of Baseball

The United Countries of Baseball, according to Nike.

I discovered this brilliant Nike poster four years after the fact, but it still resonates with me. Heck, I’m still enamored by their Ken Griffey Jr. for President campaign.

Click on the picture above for an enlarged version. The demographics are fascinating:

  • Why do the Arlington Rangers, who were still nobodies in 2007, enjoy a wider berth of Texas than the Houston Astros?
  • The St. Louis Cardinals seem to be imperialistic, taking up far more territory beyond Missouri. Perhaps an aerial attack from Wrigley might contain their ambitions.
  • Ditto for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Have they staked a claim of all of Appalachia?
  • I’m just not buying that the Washington National have any fans, let alone encroaching on most of the Orioles’ turf.
  • Why do the White Sox and the Mets get treated like second-class citizens?
  • I know for a fact that the Mariners own much of Idaho, too.
  • It would suck living in a region without a Major League Baseball team, May as well be living overseas.

Can any baseball fans out there point out any geographical inaccuracies here?  Or explain any of my conundrums?

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