Albert Pujols, a player pretty much considered a lock for the Hall of Fame once he retires, signed a contract with the Anaheim Angels worth $254 million over ten years (including a no-trade clause) this past week. For a few moments after I read this news, I forgot that the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series this year. I was so stunned over the contract and the fact that Pujols left St. Louis that I didn’t make the connection that the most recognizable Cardinal was leaving the nest not even two months after getting another ring with his team.
(A side note I found interesting. While researching to write this, I was reminded that Pujols didn’t win MVP in either of the NLCS or World Series in both 2006 and 2011. Which has no reflection on his overall career; it just struck me interesting that other players came up bigger in the post-season than he did.)
I’m not one who usually harps on the terms of these contracts. I try not to compare MLB salaries to those in the real world because it really doesn’t make sense as the two have nothing in common. But I have to admit that sitting here in my own kind of lousy situation it occurred to me that Pujols could give $2 million a piece to 25 different people and still have $200 million left after this contract is over and the enormity of that smacked me in the face. (And his isn’t even the largest contract in MLB’s history. That honor goes to Slappy thanks to the New York Yankees. ARod actually shows up twice in the top ten contracts in MLB, his contract with the Texas Rangers being third largest, with Pujols sitting between both of his at second. Manny Ramirez’ Red Sox contract comes in 8th and the contract the Sox gave Adrian Gonzalez comes in 10th at seven years and $154 million.)
With the way the season ended for the Red Sox and then the way the off-season began, baseball is already on thin ice with me. Albert Pujols citing his feelings of being unappreciated by the Cardinals didn’t make me feel any better. I suppose I understand that in his mind the Cardinals not focussing solely on his contract negotiations and, ultimately, not giving him everything he wanted made him feel unappreciated but it’s tough to garner sympathy for someone who accepts a 10 year $254 contract with a no-trade clause telling us a nine year $210 million contract with an option for a 10th year with the team he made his name with, won two World Series with and that has such a passionate, appreciative fan base, wasn’t good enough for him. Like many other players before him, he went to the place that threw the most money (and guaranteed years) at him.
I’ll be honest, as a woman, Mike Aviles makes my eyes happy. And since, lately, I’ve been looking for things to be happy about instead of focusing on the negative, I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, the universe seems to like it when I focus on the negative, so forgive me while I rant about the “unwritten rules” of baseball.
By now, pretty much everyone who follows baseball knows what happened in the Tigers/Angels game on Sunday. Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver were both pitching great games (Verlander brought a no-hitter into the 8th inning) and things got testy. Weaver thought Magglio Ordonez pimped a home run and barked at him, ala Kevin Gregg, to get to first base. (General consensus is that Maggs wasn’t pimping, he was watching to see if the ball went foul. Maybe he should have still taken first but I don’t think it’s the pitcher’s job to point this out. Nonetheless, Weaver got cranky.) So Carlos Guillen decides that he will definitely pimp his home run when the time comes, and if you haven’t see it you really need to check it out. Manny Ramirez could take home run pimping lessons from Guillen. Weaver, obviously, doesn’t like this and barks at him as well. The homeplate umpire senses the tension and warns both benches before poor Alex Avila steps up to the plate but that doesn’t bother Weaver, who sails a fastball over (at? I guess that’s up for debate) Alex’s head and gets himself immediately ejected. (Home run pimping doesn’t generally bother me. I like Dennis Eckersley’s belief that if you don’t want a batter to show you up you don’t throw him a pitch he can hit out of the park. But much like Verlander’s attitude after the game annoyed me, so did Guillen’s. You did nothing valiant by pimping that homer, Carlos. All you did was get Alex Avila thrown at.)
But wait, there’s more.
We’re in the top of the 8th and the score is 3-0 and JustinVerlander is throwing a no-hitter. Erick Aybar comes up to bat and bunts. Yeah, yeah, bunting is against the unwritten code and Verlander isn’t happy. He fields the bunt and throws it away, sending Aybar to second base. If Verlander’s eyes were lasers, Aybar would have been vaporized. Justin was none too happy about Aybar bunting (calling it “bush league” after the game) and this is where (since I was watching the game) I finally lose it. Verlander (and the Detroit broadcasters and at least half of the people in my Twitter timeline) was pissed because Aybar dared to bunt to get on base in a 3-0 game. I “lose” it because I’m become blind with the stupidity that in a game that is not out of reach (and a game being out of reach is debatable as well) a player shouldn’t do whatever he can to get on base and possibly generate runs.
When Verlander was eventually taken out of the game (after the Angels scored and the no-hitter was gone) he was scene in the dugout using hand gestures to tell Aybar that he was going to get one in the back the next time they met. (Unfortunately for Verlander, unless that happens in the playoffs, that won’t be until next year.) That’s how pissed Verlander was about Aybar bunting on him.
(Fake edit because as I finished writing this entry I remembered that there was a crazy play where Aybar was in a rundown and, according to Verlander, who messed that one up to, allowing Aybar to score, Erick threw an elbow into Verlander’s ribs. Now, if true, I’m sure it was in retaliation for Verlander staring him down after the bunt. Still, is there anyone on either of these teams who knows how to act like an adult?)
Of all people, Torii Hunter had the best quote to sum up the day:
“It was stupid. All stupid. Everybody was stupid.”
Well put, Torii. Everybody was stupid. Unfortunately for the Angels, the only stupid that will be reprimanded is Jered Weaver’s. Reports are he could be looking at a six-game suspension. Most likely, he’ll find out today and if it is six games that means he’ll be missing one start for purposely throwing a fast ball at/around/over a batter’s head. If he had actually hit Avila would he have gotten seven games? (I really don’t get the system for suspending pitchers. I think purposely chucking the ball at another player’s head, even if you don’t hit him, should be good for missing at least two starts, no?)
Anyway, my ire isn’t so much for all the stupidity in Sunday’s game but for the opinions being tossed around. Joe Posnanski does a great job here of covering the mind-numbing opinion that Guillen not only was right to pimp that homer but that he did in in defense of Ordonez. More ridiculous to me is how many people are so put off by Aybar bunting his way on in the 8th.
Listen, I love pitchers, obviously. It’s more fun for me to watch a strike out than a home run most of the time. And in the past I have defended many the unwritten rule because who am I to tell the guys who play the game how they should play it, right? But this one…ANY unwritten rule that prohibits a team from trying to get on base or score just because of certain other circumstances in the game…makes me crazy. The score wasn’t 17-3 in the 9th inning with two outs. It was 3-0 in the 8th inning with no outs. Who in their right mind wouldn’t try to get something started in the 8th inning if their team was losing, regardless of the circumstances? Why should Aybar have cared about breaking up a no-hitter if he thought it would get him on base?
Now, as an important aside, given what transpired before Aybar’s at-bat, there is no doubt in my mind that he was trying to tweak Verlander AS WELL AS trying to start something on the field. So if you are okay with Guillen uberpimping his home run, I would think you’d be okay with Aybar bunting to get on base, yes? (As Joe Posnanski noted, Guillen, in “defending” Ordonez, knowingly put Avila at risk. How is that okay but Aybar just trying to get on the darn base isn’t?)
My take in a nutshell: Ordonez didn’t pimp his homer and Weaver overreacted to it. Guillen overreacted to Weaver’s overreaction by being a total jackass and Avila paid the price for both Weaver and Guillen being idiots. Aybar, while probably wanting to stick it to Verlander because his team was being no-hit and embarrassed, also saw an opportunity to get on base and possibly score and by bunting he ended up doing both. Unless he did elbow Verlander, he did nothing wrong. Verlander acted like a baby on the mound, in the dugout and after the game when talking to the press. And, really, that’s all I have. The entire lot of them should just STFU.
Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians last night while the Yankees beat the White Sox. I’m not happy any time the Sox lose an entire game in the standings but I have a difficult time beating up on Daniel Bard. Kid’s been amazing for the Sox and he’s going to have a bad game now and then. It happens. Beckett on the mound tonight will, hopefully, perk us up.
I don’t believe you win any points for staying up late or sitting in the rain to watch a baseball game. So, I will say sincerely, win or lose, I am not sorry I didn’t make it for the entire game. The idea of a game ending at 2:45 in the morning, the morning of an early afternoon game, is absolutely ridiculous to me. Even more frustrating is that my team lost. So, no, missing the majority of the game doesn’t upset me in the least. (I didn’t even make it the full five innings. Watched as the game restarted after 11pm and fell asleep. I am definitely not sorry things worked out that way for me.)
And as difficult as I’m sure it was for the team to lose in extra innings almost 8 hours after the game began, it isn’t exactly something I can hold against them. By that point in a game, the team with a bit more energy gets the win. Good for the Angels for holding out. (I would also like to say that the people heavily criticizing Daisuke for last night can go jump in a lake. The guy came out of a game with a funky arm and then gets put into a game taken place much later than a game should be taking place. Not exactly perfect circumstances for his return game.) They’ve lost one of three in this series, thus far, against some of the best pitchers in the league right now. Not exactly a reason to hang their heads.
There is no time to dwell as there is a game at 1:35 this afternoon and John Lackey has a game to win.
Last night was a genuinely fun time at the baseball park both on the field and in the stands. I attended with friends I haven’t been with in a while; we got to see a really exciting game; the weather was beautiful for the entire game…it was the perfect storm of baseball games.
People keep joking that they wish the Red Sox could play the Angels every day. I get it. The Sox are pretty dominant over Anaheim (I know…but they are Anaheim to me. It just makes things easier.)…but I feel like that takes a lot away from what the team has done these past three games.
Sunday they bested reigning Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Monday they took on Jered Weaver and came out with the “w” and last night they went up against a phenomenal Dan Haren and piled on the runs and delivered him a loss. Three talented and, before hitting Boston, extremely hot pitchers who the Red Sox triumphed over. This is a little more than just having luck against one team.
Something I don’t often say: I enjoyed the heck out of watching Jon Lester pitch last night. Holy cow.
Also enjoyable: Carl Crawford with his third consecutive multiple-hit game. Adrian Gonzalez with his first home run of the season at Fenway. David Ortiz with a home run curling around Pesky’s pole. (Back to back home runs against different pitchers so quickly left me stunned into silence. Happy silence, sure, but stunned nonetheless.) I just enjoyed the heck out of being there.
Up for today: First Live Chat of 2011! Along with a post at some point today with another giveaway!
I felt like a four year-old on Christmas morning yesterday…way too much stimulation. I spent the entire day watching the news, well into the 7pm hour. Then I added to the list the Red Sox game and the Bruins game and my head was spinning happily for quite a few hours.
Yesterday’s Sox game played like we want every Red Sox game to play. Clay Buchholz with his first “quality start”of the season, giving us fits when they showed him every half inning staring at his hand (“Is it a blister? Does he have a cramp?” What’s wrong with him???”) but still pitching well. Dustin Pedroia with an epic at bat against one of the best pitchers in the American League. David Ortiz with a home run and Jacoby Ellsbury with a stolen base. A pile of of runs in the seventh inning followed by the relievers giving us a reason to pay attention to a blow out game. Carl Crawford showing us that May might be his month with his second consecutive multiple-hit game. This was a damn fun game.
I’ll be at Fenway tonight with friends enjoying the team and the company. Getting to see them in the midst of a really exciting stretch is icing.
So I watch the entire Bruins/Canadiens game last night and figure the adrenaline will have me good through the Red Sox/Angels game.
No such luck.
I did make it through the seventh inning but then found myself slipping soundly into sleep. The last thing I did before nodding off for the night was hit “record” on the dvr…and how glad am I that I did that?
It isn’t often you can record a game and watch it without knowing what happened, but this time I got to do just that. I didn’t go online or look at my cell phone or even leave my bedroom this morning. I just turned on the television which was still on NESN and started watching the game where I left off. (The fact that NESN still airs the dreadful Dennis and Callahan show live also helped since they weren’t talking about baseball they were discussing Andrew Ference flipping off the Montreal fans.) It is fair to say I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Sox have won their last five out of six games. For folks saying it’s too soon to get excited about it, I submit that what we have been waiting for since the first week of the season is a reason to get excited…a spark in the team that shows they’re as good on the field as they are on paper…and we are getting that right now. So enjoy it, people!
I’ll be back later today with another giveaway just in time for Easter weekend!
Random stat that delights the heck out of me (courtesy of Gary Marbry at WEEI.com): In the last six games the combined ERA for the Red Sox starters is 1.37. (Over the first 12 games it was 6.71.) This is exactly what we were hoping for when the season began!
Blog suggestion for the day: Ben at Over the Monster gives us good news about Kevin Youkilis!
Another successful game! Took a while and gave us some angst while it was happening but it ended well and, right now, that’s all we can ask for, right?
Great time in the live chat (and we’re now 3 for 3 so I might have to think about scheduling maybe 2 a week instead of 1 to help the Sox out of their funk!) – thanks to everyone who participated (whether by actually chatting or just visiting us to follow along).
Once again, Dustin Pedroia goes into the post-game questioning period with a message for folks…:
“David’s fine,” Pedroia said. “He’s one of our teammates. It could’ve been me that hit into a double play. It happens to everybody, man. He’s had 60 at-bats. A couple of years ago, I was hitting .170 and everyone was ready to kill me too. What happened? Laser show so relax. I’m tired of looking at the NESN poll, ‘Why is David struggling?’ David’s fine. He’s one of our teammates. We believe in him. He came out of it last year, he’s going to come out of it this year.
“It’s 25 guys, man. We met the other day. We need everybody to win. This isn’t two or three guys who are going to carry a team. We need everybody to help us win games. We have each other’s backs and we’re ready for the long haul. We started out [crappy] but we’re going to come out of it. We believe that.”
Now, regardless of whether you all think Papi is “fine” or you want him run out on a rail, you have to admit that being so forceful and forthcoming with public support is a sign of one hell of a teammate. Ever since John Tomase’s story about how the chemistry in the clubhouse is terrible (using no named sources – my favorite way to try and disparage people. Oh wait, it isn’t MY favorite way, it’s Tomase’s) there has been an active show of support from all over the team whether it’s the way the act in the dugout or the things they say to the press. Maybe Tomase’s piece had some merit to it? OR maybe they were so disgusted by it they decided (at the team meeting?) to make sure folks new it was full of holes? In any event, I’m enjoying the public shows of solidarity – even if it’s only for our benefit.
And, fools who boo Papi, really, give up your tickets. You absolutely don’t deserve to sit in those seats. I’ve gone over and over about how I feel about booing so there is no need to rehash it all but I’ll say this: If you sit at Fenway Park (or ANY park) and call yourself a Red Sox fan AND boo David Ortiz, you are an asshole. Plain and simple.
Oh, and Jeremy Hermida has something to say to those worried that Papi will be a problem in the clubhouse (talking about when he scored on Mike Lowell’s double in the 8th):
“He was one of the first guys to come up to me and said, ‘Way to pick me up,’” Hermida said. “That shows what kind of teammate he is and what kind of guy he is. He realizes there’s only so much he can do out there. He squared up a ball but unfortunately it was right at somebody. Fortunately, we were able to come through and get the knock when we needed it.”
He isn’t sitting and sulking. He’s still a part of the damn team and people need to remember that. I will absolutely not disagree that it’s painful to watch him struggle with his at-bats but that doesn’t mean he deserves the anger and disrespect that so many are throwing around right now. I don’t envy Tito his job; the decision to sit a legend doesn’t come easy. I believe Tito will do what’s right for this team and his players and I’m not going to second guess him – especially not on May 5th. Seriously, people, criticizing Papi on your blogs or on message boards, fine, I get it, it’s frustrating. Booing him at Fenway? You folks can go sit on a tack.
Tonight at Fenway the Red Sox will honor Nomar Garciaparra with a retirement ceremony of some sort. I won’t be there but I’ll be watching. Congratulations, again, Nomar!
John Lackey will, for the first time in his career, pitch against the Angels tonight with old friend Joel Pineiro on the mound. So the quest for a sweep begins at 7:10pm. Come on, John. You don’t want Clay to be the only one on the team with 3 wins, right?