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untitled, number 434 in the sequence

There really isn't an "offseason" for Red Sox fans, but just a period when games are played or not played. Today we begin the abrupt, though not unwelcome, transition into the "hot stove" period …

Our honeymoon with God is ovah.


The world refuses to love us enough so we quote Nietzsche: "Escape from the bad smell! Escape from the steam of these human sacrifices!"


Drive thru the T.W. Tunnel across narrow evah-dahkening roads, a bandwagon bus packed with rollicking ids, bumping ovah the countryside, seeking pitchahs, seeking hittahs


Evah hopeful fanatics freezing our shadows off round a puny fiah, we get hunched ovah numbahs crunched


Waiting, watching, hoping, Theo with more control and a pile of dough?


The sky opens its accordion pleats and it's the New Year, but we haven't escaped anything, in fact, we nevah wanted to.


Suddenly it's "Truck Day" and we barely have time to say good-bye or wish ourselves luck.


Author's Notes:

Most of today's lines are cribbed in one fashion or another from from Philip Schultz's poem "untitled, number 63 in the sequence" from Living in the Past.

The title of today's strip is a riff on the Schultz's title as well, for this is the 434th Soxaholix strip since the beginning in April 2004. Originally, I was just going to grab the title, but then a couple lines from the poem seemed to fit the notion of transitioning into the hot stove season and how quickly, despite the dreariness of late winter, the 100 days between now and Spring Training goes by. Also was trying to get at, by way of the title, the ongoing nature of our Red Sox fan passion. It doesn't end when the team wins, nor does it end when they lose. It's and endless loop, season to season, generation to generation.

I bumped into this poem from reading Robert Pinsky's always interesting weekly column "Poet's Choice." If you have even a passing interest in poetry, I highly recommend checking out Pinsky's column regularly. It's just short enough that you won't feel overwhelemed, and you'll most certainly learn something new from Pinksy.


This doesn't feel real does it? I want this season to be over so bad so we can get onto the offseason moves. This offseason should be an even bigger one than last years. Hopefully it is a little more successful as far as postseasons go.

I am going to allow myself a "told you so". After the All-Star break (I forget how far after), I made a comment along the lines of, "The World Series winner will be playing playoff games in Chicago". I was soundly excoriated for this. Now it appears that the American League World Series contestant, at any rate, will definitely be playing playoff games in Chicago. We'll see how it goes, but so far I'm on target; the only way I'm wrong is if the Yankees/Angels beat the White Sox and then lose in the Series.

I looked at some of the links. I certainly hope that we don't trade Manny. What exactly is up there, anyway? Why does he want to leave, and why would we trade him?

I am going to allow myself a "told you so". After the All-Star break (I forget how far after), I made a comment along the lines of, "The World Series winner will be playing playoff games in Chicago". I was soundly excoriated for this.

I'm still not feeling the love for Chicago and think they'll be beaten by the winner of the Angels/Yanks series, but I'm just going on pure gut feeling.

You may very well be right in the end.

The White Sox seem to have righted their ship and gotten hot at the right time. No way the Halos or Stinkees would have swept us aside so easily. I look for Chi vs. Budweiser in the World Series, and I believe Cranston, R.I.'s own Paul Konerko will be the World Series MVP.

As for hoping this ofsseason will be more successful than last year's, as long as Schilling, Foulke, Damon and Ramirez show up for our spring training camp in shape and ready to play, it will be a successful post-season no matter who else we sign or don't sign. I'm hoping Mr. Papelbon and/or DelCarmen will make me forget Mr. Pedro next year too.

P.S. HB, thanks for a wonderful strip. If it wasn't for Soxaholix, I would feel cheated, ignored and unredeemed. I might spend all my time hiding in a tiny room off the kitchen yelling at a police radio and writing letters to dead Red Sox GMs while reading Bill James books all night.

P.S. HB, thanks for a wonderful strip. If it wasn't for Soxaholix, I would feel cheated, ignored and unredeemed. I might spend all my time hiding in a tiny room off the kitchen yelling at a police radio and writing letters to dead Red Sox GMs while reading Bill James books all night.

I'm not bullish on the white sox either, but then nobody thought the more important Sox were going anywhere last year, either. If anything, the playoff runs of the Sox last year and the Patriots in the past 3-of-4 has been exposing the so-called pundits for what they are - fans just like us with little more special knowledge than anyone. As annoying as Guillen is, as obnoxious as Pierzinski is, I cannot deny the white sox are the dark horse that everyone should be fearing right now. Last week they played some fearless baseball, and seeing that in the postseason should worry all challengers. Who knows, they could be summarily drummed out in the ALCS.

Ron, if you even consider any of those rumors as passably legit, I've got a cable-stayed bridge I'd like to sell you. The CHB column was remarkably even-toned for a seasonal requiem - maybe he's finally come to grips with his cash cow being dead? I happen to agree that Manny will be here for some time to come. Unless we get a Vlad Guerrero-type two-way outfield plus some prospects or another young major-leaguer out of the deal, Manny's not going anywhere. Witness the waiver-wire deal, and now Manny's just another year older and getting paid the same money. Obviously we need some serious help in the rotation (and I'll second the CHB's assertion that 95 wins from a duct-tape-and-bailing-wire rotation is a feat in itself). A serious infield sparkplug, both with the glove and on the basepaths, is desperately needed (wherefore art thou, Orlando Cabrera).

H.B. Thanks for another great season of deftly tapping the Sox zeitgeist on a daily basis. And especially thanks for avoiding the loonEEI fever-swamp rumor-mongering and player-hating. See you all in the off-season (which began Friday, actually).

I hope you're right about Manny. But I see so much evidence that the front office want to dump his contract.

For your amusement I'm posting below an email I received from our old friend BigBri on Saturday morning.

Man, rereading his words I'm more glad than ever that I banned him, in the most cowardly fashion, from this site. (I'm not sure exactly how I could have banned him "heroically" or whatever since there's only one means to ban somebody. But that's just BigBri being BigBri I guess.)

Mr. Brachen,

You have banned me from your site, in a most cowardly fashion, so I'm sending you this email. It's a shame things have to be this way, but the mindset of the typical SAWX fan causes it to be ever thus.

You, your characters, and your faithful readers/posters were wrong. You were wrong to disparage the Yankees the way you did this season. You were wrong to disrespect them. You were wrong to treat them as if age, lack of performance and poor front office moves would make them a non-factor in the 2005 season. For all your "money ball' theories, for all your number crunching, for all your inability to see that the Yankees were contenders you were absolutely, positively and in all other ways, WRONG.

This season unfolded precisely as I predicted. The SAWX tok off early and the Yankees never gave up. The boys in the Bronx suffered through some pretty tough times. But through it all, they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and kicked the paper-tiger CHAMPS out of first place. And all you, your characters, and your faitrhful readers/posters can do is cry and whine about it. 'Giambi is juicing again', 'We're tied in the standings, I don't like the rule that breaks ties with head-to-head regular season records'. Waaaaa, waaaaa, waaaaaa. Want me to call you a WAAAAAmbulance? Is your pride bruised? Do you need a doctor?

The reason people all over this nation are so happy the SAWX got bitch-slapped out of the playoffs is because you were such poor winners last year and displayed such unbelievable hubris this year. It does my hear good to know that many of the people who stood and cried in Fenway last night were the same people who mocked Mariano Rivera earlier in trhe season. They DESEERVE to be miserable. They brought this misery on themselves. And as this team breaks apart in the off-season, they can wallow in that misery for years to come.

The next time (if there ever IS a next time in your lifetime) you find yourselves lucky enough to be on top, try to behave yourselves a little better. One rinig in 86 years is nice, but it's no reason to go discounting the abilities of the greatest sports franchise in history. And speaking of history - 2004 is now officially history. Over. Done. Gone. Never to be repeated.


Too funny.

Wow hb, that's the first-ever non-ironic Internet usage of WAAAAAmbulance I've ever seen . . .

I wonder if Bri realizes he could be in the exact same situation as the Sox Nation he so loathes, in about 12 hours?

I think Bri's idea of irony is throwing his son in front of a car so A-Rod can "save" him, and then calling the newspapers to tell them about it.

Just my opinion, but what makes this blog great is the fact it utilizes the cheezy MS clip art. I'm more a fan of those than these new images, but I still applaud and appreciate HB's willingness to keep things fresh.

There is no cure for red sox addiction, which is most uncomfortable at this time of year- but there are things that make the twitching and the pain in my bones a little more bearable.Somethings work well for me, watching the trade rumors on dirt dogs, continuing to argue with yankees fans that are otherwise sane human beings, reading this strip- other things don't work at all, even make the jones worse- watching "fever pitch" for example. Thanks HB for the perfect transitional strip- right now I need soxaholic as part of my baseball/methadone maintenance program.

You guys thought I reminded you of that guy?
Dios Mio!!

First, I have always found something honorable in the multi-generational agony of Red Sox fans...which is why this year was a bit stange for me....and I bet it was a bit strange for RSN as well.

It had been a long time since the Sox were in command of the divsion so late in the year. I believe that it was particularly difficult for this happy-go-lucky," cowboy up"/"idiots" team to assume the pressure of the pedestal sittah, defense of which proved difficult. It's obviously hard to activate the switch after a tough September. I have no idea how NYY turned it on after a tough 4.5 months, either.

That being said: Relax, soxaholix: Epstein will improve starting/bullpen, and get at least 2 more significant bats. No worries.

Appreciate the poetry tip, hb. I generally only trust the New Criterion magazine for cultural tips, because approx. 91% of neopostmodern-whatever-the-classification art sucks. I'm getting really tired of art for the sake of pure shock value and/or seeing or reading yet another work about alienation from modern society.

Damn- wish I had been on board for the first 320 or so in the sequence.... any archives out there? love the lucubrating/lubricating, et al...
thanks, HB


Interesting to hear you say you like the cheesier Word clips better. I've been trying to stretch things out a bit just to keep myself energized. Also was thinking that if I ever try to pitch the strip to a publisher, I'll probably need to use original art. Not sure, though.

Oh, and yes all the archives to the site are out there.


Wait, this is getting really confusing. I thought LilBri was outed a couple of months ago as a Cardinals fan in Missouri who was just having his idea of 'fun' with us on this site. That was strange, particularly his trying to keep up the anti-Sox blog for appearances, but at least it was palatable.
So you're telling me that was a ruse too, and he really is a pimply-faced-virgin--MFY-fan posting from Mommy's basement? Wow. He must be really frustrated that noone ever visits his crappy little blog if he's sending you e-mails like that. Guess that'll give me one more reason to really enjoy it when the Halos eliminate the MFYs tonight...

Dude, that bigbri guy is hilarious.


Man, what a cunt. Glad you banned him...coward.

Wow. After reading BigLie's email, I actually feel sorry for him. Real pity. I think we should all pitch in and try to help the guy; show him what RSN is made of. I'll start off with this informative website he can use to evaluate his life:


Too funny indeed, h.b. It's kinda sad, he obviously still comes back here and reads the site regularly, but like some wp kafka dream he screams and screams and he knows nobody can hear him.

You could just sum it all up as "kettle, pot, line 2." Last I remember it was the Yankee fans booing Rivera at the start of the season, and his getting a standing ovation in Fenway. (Not for the reasons BigBri would hope, but entertaining none the less. At least Rivera, class-act that he is, laughed and doffed his cap. BigBri could stand to learn a lesson from one of his idols.) And as for the "moneyball theories", well, with a payroll as big as ours its hard to say we're trying to make do with significantly fewer dollars.

And as for hubris, well, you only need look at what was being posted on Red Sox sites by Yankee sympathizers after game 3 last year.

But then, that's all in the past. Over. Done. Gone. Never to be repeated. Sorta like the Yankees' dominance.

thanks for the link to the archives, hb- guess I should learn to read the Masthead, eh? Have to say I was a little creeped out by Doug's comment in frame 2 of the very first offering, March 2004:

"Bottom line I agree, Bill, let Nomar play out 2004 and if he doesn't sign a reasonable extension spend the money on Renteria or someone else "

how's that crystal ball looking for '06?

Well, BigBri, I was one of those who stood and cheered Mo on Opening Day at Fenway, but I'm sorry to disappoint you: I didn't stand and cry last Friday. As far as I'm concerned, this year was a mulligan and, though I'm sad to see the season end sooner than later, the warm memories of 2004 and the Biggest Yankee Choke Evah will keep me cozy all winter long.

One more time: Biggest. Choke. Evah.

Sweet Dreams!

Wait, what? You banned BigBri? And here I thought his blissful absence from this site was as a result of his shame at being unmasked, once you traced his IP and found out he wasn't posting from Noo Yawk at all as he claimed, but from somewhere in Missouri.

I should've realized he wouldn't have had the common courtesy to retire gracefully once he was found out, but had to be pushed out the door. Too f***in' funny.

Well, somewhere in Missouri, LilBri is crying over yet another MFY Choke-Job. Likely MVP AFraud with a collar and a rally-crippling 9th inning DP to seal their demise.

In Cyberspace, when you're banned, no one can hear you cry.

Nothing about the end of the season had set in until today. The first thing that always happens is nostalgia for what could have been, and a look back at the things that kept the good guys from achieving the glory that should have been theirs. Just one less blown save and things would have been different, at least in the first round.

The bullpen cost me many braincycles this year trying to figure it out, now we are going to find out what the FA market has to offer. Johnny Damon's no longer considering a home team discount, and we could be seeing him as a MFY unless the front office does something. Schilling really should have sat out those 18 months to get himself healthy, please don't let that ankle remain an issue for next year. Foulke has clearly made the case for medical intervention, and I hope his medical staff includes electro-convulsive therapy as part of any treatment program to relieve the foot-in-mouth syndrome which ails him.

All that said, this was a pretty good year by some people's standards. The Sox played through adversity, had stretches of brilliance on the field and the end came way too soon considering all they overcame to get there. The thing that was really missing was the sense of levity that permeated the year before, and I hope the front office puts a premium on finding good teammates moreso than big numbers guys this year. The 10th man on the field is the one who can laugh at the Curse and smile at the MFYs and all the 'history' there.

Hot stove season has always been called pancake time where I come from, because everyone is hoping their stack comes out just a little taller than the other guys. Onto the pancakes and pour on the syrup, we're counting on Theo's brilliance to restore this team to its former glory. Again.


The schadenfreude does cut both ways. Last night was pretty pathetic, but my residual joy left over from Friday afternoon (witnessed, I must say, in gorgeous high-def whilst visiting my father. If you haven't seen baseball in HD, do try. Simply gorgeous) almost blunted the pain. At least we won a couple.

Thanks to Hart for a wonderful season of this strip, even if my team is the most common target of the barbs. May you enjoy the winter in good health - I'll be praying for some alien invasion at the Yankee offices that vaporize any trace of the Brown, Pavano and Wright contracts.


Dear Hart,

How did you know I was a Red Sox fan? I like what you did to (and for) my poem. I'm both flattered and suprised. My nine year old son, Eli, likes your cartoon so much he urged me to write.

Philip Schultz

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