Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Oh! Henry.

In a move I didn’t think possible, the Boston Red Sox saga became even more surreal yesterday when Principal Owner John Henry showed up at the 98.5 The Sports Hub (or as WEEI called it “CBS Radio”) and responded to being asked why he was there with:

Well, when you’re misleading the public, you should be challenged on some of the things you’re saying so I’m here to challenge some of the things you’ve been saying.”

And they were off.

I’ve listened to the interview twice now and read just about every local writer’s interpretation of it and yet I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it all.

Some thoughts in a not particularly well-formed presentation:

Continue reading

October 15, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Briefly…

Seeing a triple play in person is on many the baseball fan’s bucket list…and it’s still on mine.  Not only didn’t I see it in person, but I didn’t see it live on NESN either.  That’s okay. I’ve seen the replay a hundred times and it’s still great.  Would have been nice if they could have gotten the “w” as well so we could see this game repeated on NESN for years to come but at his point I suppose that is picking nits.

Thanks to that loss and a Yankees win last night the Red Sox are a half a game out of first place and the Yankees currently have a game in hand.  It’s August 17th.  There is a lot more baseball to be played and, as it stands, if the playoffs started today the Red Sox are 9 games up in the Wild Card race.  The only team in MLB to have more wins than the Red Sox right now is the Philadelphia Phillies. The team is good.  The team is playing well and, for the majority of their games, the team is winning.  Still, last night, people were booing Carl Crawford.  Those people can go stick their heads in a pile of manure.

But there is no time to dwell on the negative.  Sox split the double header, which is good enough for me.  Now today, at 1:35pm, I’d like to see them win the series with John Lackey on the mound against David Price.  What? It could happen!

August 17, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

How You Like Me Now?

Although few fans seemed to give up on the Red Sox as a whole when they started as poorly as they did this year (at least in my neck of the woods), many were eager, even happy, to determine that the Carl Crawford signing was a complete bust because of his struggles.  I remarked to a friend that it was as if Crawford was a rookie and no one had ever seen him play before.  The fact that the majority of the offense struggled in April didn’t seem to matter.  Crawford had a poor beginning to his Red Sox career and, for many, that meant the Red Sox made a tremendous mistake in signing him.

In the past two games, where the Red Sox have scored 14 runs in each, Crawford has gone 4-4 in both games and has been an extra base machine.  Having played the same amount of games in April as he has in May, his batting average for April was .155, his OBP was .204 and his slugging percentage was .227.  In May, so far, his average is .333, his OBP .354 and he’s slugging at .510.

If there are folks who thought that his poor start was indicative of how he would play with Boston, and there are, what do those same folks think about his stats for May?

I don’t think I deserve a prize for being excited about the Crawford signing (and not giving up on him after 20 plus games) because, heck, I still hold out hope that John Lackey will turn out to be a great signing, but I do think it’s valid to point out that the naysayers the ones who seem to always want to find something to complain about and jumped right on Crawford’s back to do it, were terribly wrong.

This has been a fun week in Red Sox Nation.  I look forward to three more fun-filled games this weekend!

May 27, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , | 2 Comments

Walk-off into the Weekend

Meet Drew Sutton. The latest infielder to be called up from Pawtucket. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

Some time in April I was at a game with Kelly O’Connor where we were talking about the people right there at the game as well as people ranting on Twitter who were complaining about what a terrible signing Carl Crawford was for the Red Sox.

While having to admit that he (along with about 80% of the team at the time) was struggling, we both wondered the same things:  Why were fans acting like Crawford was a rookie the team through a crazy contract at OR why were they acting as if they had never seen Crawford play before he got to Boston?

That it wasn’t obvious to people that he was having a bad month still boggles my mind.  May has been a bit of a different month for Crawford.  He has three game-winning hits.  It’s still slow-going for Crawford but all signs, including his knack for getting hits when the team really needs them, are pointing his his returning to form.  He might not have Adrian Gonzalez numbers but it’s far too early to decide signing him was a bad idea. Here’s to many more walk-off hits for Carl Crawford.

On the one hand, their ability to win these close games is impressive.  On the other, I’m getting tired of every game being a nail-biter.  During this six-game winning streak, the only “blow out” game played was the 6-0 win against the Yankees.  The other two Yankees games were won by one and two runs and the last three games the Red Sox played were won by one run.  I’d like a piling on of Red Sox runs this weekend.  My fingernails need some time to grow back.

It occurs to me that I don’t know all that much about this year’s Chicago Cubs.  Unfortunate given they’ll be in town all weekend.  So let’s catch up a little bit.

The Cubs are currently at 19-23, putting them 5th in the NL Central and 5.5 games out of first.  The pitchers we’ll see this weekend?  Doug Davis, Carlos Zambrano and old friend Matt Garza (going up against Jon Lester, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield…again I ask for many Red Sox runs).

Davis had elbow tendon surgery last year and has only one start this season since he went on the DL last July.  In that one start, he pitched five innings, struck out six and gave up one run on four hits (he also got the loss).

Zambrano had a ten-game winning streak on the road until the Cubs lost his last outing.  He has pitched against the Red Sox only one time, when the Sox visited Chicago in 2005, and the Sox took him for four runs on five hits in five innings.  Repeating history would be nice here, fellas.

We all know Matt Garza.  Feels like he was the bane of the team’s existence for way too long.  If the Red Sox can get to him early and shake him up, could be a fun night for baseball.  The Garza/Wakefield game is the game we’ll be live chatting this week…Sunday at 8pm once again.  If memory serves, we have good luck with Garza starts that take place during live chats.  More of that, please.

Old friend Carlos Pena is with the Chicago Cubs this season and Alfonso Soriano, once a hated rival (wow, that was so long ago) will be back too.  Honestly, I have not much about the Cubs.  Pay they very little mind until about September usually.  But they aren’t a team I dislike, so at the very least having them back for this historic series will be fun (especially on Saturday when both teams wear their throwback uniforms).

Jose Iglesias and Michael Bowden will get sent back to Pawtucket for this series.  In even sadder news, Hideki Okajima has been designated for assignment.  Among many other more serious things, what that means is the only original “pirate” in the bullpen now is Jonathan Papelbon – and he was never one of the bullpen band…one of my favorite eras in Red Sox bullpen history is truly over.

Whither Kyle Snyder???  (Seriously…dude seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.)

If you’re looking for information on the Cubs, I’d like to suggest checking out Julie DiCaro’s blog “A League of Her Own“.  She can get you caught up to speed on the enemy.  (I can’t even type that without chuckling.  I have a difficult time considering the Cubs the enemy.)

A nine-game winning streak sounds nice, doesn’t it?

May 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whither .500?

I turned off the game when it was over, not even staying up for the post-game breakdowns, and I fell asleep. I dreamed of people I haven’t seen in years and woke up feeling a bit melancholy and not even thinking about the Red Sox. So it’s tough to get into the blogging groove today.

I will say this, I’m an increasingly happy for Carl Crawford every time he gets a hit and/or an RBI (both of which he did last night) and seeing Adrian Gonzalez hit not one but two home runs was quite enjoyable. Heck, even Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried doing his part. All for naught, sure, but there still were some enjoyable parts to last night’s game. Alas, Crabby’s pitching wasn’t one of them.

Oh well…we get another game tonight.  Splitting the series is better than nothing!

Last call for the Baseball Miscellany quiz!  The winner will be announced tomorrow.  (At last check only two people had 100% on the quiz!)  Good luck!

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/widget/v3/?id=231359&bgcolor=c2e2a3&fcolor=234900&tcolor=234900&w=420&h=295&ff=1&fs=medium&pplink=0&socialmedia=0&embedlink=1&showpage=1&btncolor=234900

May 11, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrate

Howsabout we don't break Carl Crawford just as he's heating up, eh fellas? (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

While I prefer an old-fashioned win within nine innings, there’s no denying that walkoffs are fun. Especially so when the hit is by someone getting beaten up about his lack of production thus far and the run is scored by a rookie. Sometimes the game ends like a storybook and I can’t complain about that.

The Red Sox now sit 3.5 games out of first place with Baltimore and Toronto both behind them at 5.5 games out.  Their next seven games are against American League East teams (two in Toronto, three in New York and then Baltimore comes to Boston for a two game series) and if they could get hot and, you know, win a bunch in a row…it’s a whole new season in May.

I haven’t been highlighting other blogs lately so I’ll make up for it today with a handful:

The Platoon Advantage has some interesting numbers if you’re wondering about Joe West and his crew being a bit quick on the draw when it comes to tossing folks out of a game.

Not a blog, but on Twitter NESN’s Jeff Howe claims that Joe West got his Friday night at Abe & Louie’s.

Tim Britton over at the Providence Journal’s Sox Blog has pictorial evidence of Alfredo Aceves’ second balk of the series last night.  Tito has promised to get Aceves “…to quit doing that”.

Alex Speier has the story of Jose Iglesias, his decision at 18 to leave Cuba and how he feels about it. Really amazing stuff.

(Speaking of Iglesias) Also not a blog but most likely the coolest thing you’ll look at all day:  Kelly O’Connor was at last night’s game and got some fantastic photos of the walk-off and the celebrating.

And a reminder: Take the Baseball Miscellany quiz for a chance to win the book it’s named after!

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May 10, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s take one

I didn't take many photos on Patriots' Day but I had to at least get some of Crawford on second

It’s funny how when it felt like the team would lose 1-0 I didn’t mind so much but when they ended up losing 5-0 it annoyed me.

Lackey pitched well last night.  That’s all I’m going to focus on.

Today is a 3:35pm game.  I was hoping to live blog/chat it but I won’t be able to.  Live chats will start up in earnest next week on either Tuesday or Wednesday depending on my schedule.  I’ll make a more definite decision at some point before/by the weekend.

Red at Surviving Grady had a post yesterday about the standing ovation Carl Crawford got on Patriots’ Day when he hit his double.  It was amazing how you could genuinely feel that it wasn’t a mock cheer or ovation, people were so very happy for him (and for us, I suppose).  I’m pleased that the feeling made its way to Crawford:

“It felt good,’’ Crawford said. “Fans were really supportive. Teammates have been supportive. Everybody around me has been supportive. It felt real good to feel the support like that.’’

So quit the bitching and stop booing this man, people who are doing so.  Positive reinforcement will always get better results than negative.

It’s slow going right now, folks, but the Red Sox are heading in the right direction.  4.5 games out of first place on April 20th isn’t insurmountable.

(Also here’s a reminder that the Postcard Shower is still on! They Sox are on a road trip and it’ll be great for them to all come back to the showering of support!)

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Random stat that doesn’t mean anything but probably scares some folks:  The only team in MLB right now with a worse record than the Red Sox is the New York Mets (the Sox are 5-11 and the Mets are 5-12)

Blog suggestion for the day:  Jen at Baseball Heavy is always entertaining and if you’re interested in finding out what’s going on with the PawSox she’s a great source of information!

April 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 2 Comments

Congrats Carl!

Screen grab from a video over at MLB.com

I’m sure, no I’m POSITIVE there have been times whether on this blog or in person I have said something negative about Carl Crawford.  Probably starting with “Son of a bitch!” which is to say that usually he was getting the best of the Red Sox when I said it (also there is that whole “almost beheading Matt Clement” that I’ve yet to get over).  But he’s always been a player I secretly coveted.  Guy works  his butt off and it shows in the way he plays. Plus, if he’s on the Red Sox he isn’t stealing bases on our pitchers and catchers, right?

But I’m finding that there is a bit of animosity from some in Red Sox Nation against Crawford.  It seems it comes mostly from his part in the basebrawl most famous for Coco Crisp losing his shit on James Shields.  Meh.  The guy wears red stockings now and I can forgive and forget…well, except for Clement but that’s totally irrational on my part since it isn’t like Crawford planned to hit him in the ear now is it?* See, I know when I’m being irrational!  Bottom line is that I like Crawford and it seems I’m not the only one:

Prior to the Grapefruit League finale at City of Palms Park between the Rays and Red Sox on Tuesday, the Tampa media presented Crawford with the BBWAA Rays MVP and the Paul C. Smith Champion Awards. The Champion Award, named for the MLB.com writer who died in February 2005, goes to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

It’s a nice honor for Crawford and a nice little legacy to leave in Tampa Bay as he begins his career in Boston.  I’d love him to bookend his first season with the Red Sox with these awards to begin it and maybe a couple of MVP awards (LCS and World Series would work for me!) to end it!

Congratulations, Carl.

* I’m mostly joking.  I will admit this, though:  I never see Carl Crawford that my first thought doesn’t go to Matt Clement.  My memory, for certain things, can be very long.

March 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 2 Comments

This and That

Carl Crawford telling the world that his 6 year-old son might be “a closet Red Sox fan” because he was so excited about Crawford joining Boston kept me smiling all day yesterday.

I know he’s going to be rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and that’s the real reason he’s happy to be in Boston, but yesterday Crawford said all the right things and gave Red Sox fans yet another reason to be excited about this upcoming season.  I’m as happy about this season as I have been any other…and a little bit more so at the idea of seeing both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford playing in home whites at Fenway.  Jason Varitek hanging around Fenway for another season pleases me too.  Tek has his detractors but I’m not one of them.  There’s a happy feeling that I get knowing Tek is around.  As I wrote a few entries ago, same goes for Tim Wakefield.  I’m going to enjoy having the old guard in the park along with the new blood.  I feel like those being miserable about what has happened so far this off-season just don’t want to try and enjoy what we have.  That’s not to say I don’t understand why some folks would question the length or amount of Crawford’s contract (it’s a bit mind-boggling) but I feel like it’s a no-brainer to say he’ll be a great addition to the team.  If I have to pay a few extra dollars for a seat, or a beer, or a dog, and the upside is I’ll be using that seat, drinking that beer or eating that dog at a playoff game, I’m all right with that.

I’ve been meaning to bring up Bronson Arroyo signing an extension with the Reds.  It’s so amusing to me how things change with time and, relative, success.  Longtime readers of the blog know how devastated I was when Theo traded Bronson.  (Oh, Wily Mo).  I was counting the days until he was out of his contract.  After a career first season with the Reds, Bronson was given an extension, adding four years and around $25 million in salary.  I had to be happy for him but his contract ending in 2010 seemed so far away.  Now he’s been given another extension, three years and $35 million and instead of lamenting how long he’ll be with the Reds, I’m happy that he’s become such a valuable fixture in the rotation.  I must be getting soft in my old age. 🙂

If you haven’t heard of Dirk Hayhurst, The Garfoose or The Bullpen Gospels, you’re missing out on some entertaining musings.  Dirk is a talented writer (and current free-agent pitcher) who uses his time to entertain and encourage those who read him.  Last night, he jumped on Ustream and read chapters from the book he is currently working on for roughly 25 fans who caught his mention of it on Twitter.  Along with having a pleasant voice to listen to, he has a knack for story telling and it was a unique and fun way to spend an evening.  Dirk has really mastered using social media outlets to connect with fans.  It would please me if more players could do this.  I know not all of them have books to promote,  but there are still ways to interact with the fans without it being intrusive for the players while giving the fans a taste of the athletes they support.  Maybe they should give social media classes to the players?  I’m looking for work and would be happy to assist!

There is an awful lot to appreciate about baseball.  I’m appreciating how Theo and the trio seem to be going out of their way to make sure we appreciate them this year!

December 12, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , | 7 Comments

Happiness is…

You SHOULD be smiling, Carl! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

I’m giddy.  Gid freaking dy.

Before signing off the Internet last night, I hit refresh on my Twitter feed and in an instant it was announced that the Red Sox had signed Carl Crawford.  This announcement came a few hours after a reporter or two had tweeted that Theo left the meetings last night saying nothing big was in the works.  Oh Theo, how I love it when you mess with the media.

For the second time this off-season, Theo and the trio totally blindsided the sports writers (and the fans) with a deal they never saw coming.  I love that.  Do I love the contract?  I don’t.  I’m not a big fan of long-term contracts.  I worry about anyone over a lot of years.  But with a Carl Crawford, I worry less about the bulk of the contract.  If the Sox get five solid years out of his seven, I’m good with that.  I will always have a hard time believing anyone is worth $142 million, but we don’t live in the real world with baseball we live in baseball’s world.  The numbers are crazy but if the Red Sox can afford it and they’re giving it to the guy they want, I’m not going to fret about the cash that gets thrown at him.  I dig Carl Crawford and I’m THRILLED he’s now (or soon to be) with the Red Sox.  I genuinely believe we’re going to see really great things from him and now even MORE so I can’t wait until the 2011 season!

I already have an email in my inbox this  morning from a Yankees fan telling me I can’t complain about the money that the Yankees spend anymore.  In fairness to me, the money the Yankees spend isn’t high on my list of why I don’t like the Yankees.  What I do say often is that I think you’re an idiot if you compete in the same division as the Yankees and have money to compete with them but don’t spend it.  I don’t think every free agent on the market should get $20 million a year, but if you have the money to acquire a player who is good and will be a big help to your team, why not do it?  Throwing this contract at Crawford isn’t equal to buying up every free agent available just because you can.  This contract was a move to make the lineup more solid, strengthening your team, especially in your very tough division, while forcing the hand of your rival.  Now, the Yankees have to make some blockbuster deal if they want to compete.  This, in my mind, was a no-brainer.

I fear I’m being greedy by still hoping Cliff Lee doesn’t sign with the Yankees, but I can’t help it.  I have to hold out hope that Cliff Lee has a soul and stays with Texas.  Although I will admit to laughing out loud at the rumors that the Red Sox were the secret team who had offered Lee seven years…Theo is not messing around this off-season…well, he’s messing around but only with the Yankees and the sports writers.  He’s stunned them all.  No one, NO ONE thought the Red Sox would give anyone else a big contract after trading for Adrian Gonzalez.  With AGon’s contract extension on the horizon, no one expected the Sox to back up the Brinks truck to another player.  You think Theo Epstein is walking around his hotel room right now telling himself how amazing he is?  He should be.

Now I’m reading fans and writers saying the Sox won’t pay for bullpen help now or they won’t look into picking up Russell Martin.  If this teaches us anything, it should teach us that Theo Epstein has thrown away his playbook from years past.  This hotstove season is far from over.

So many people, writers and fans both, questioned John Henry’s dedication to the Red Sox this coming season.  People thought he’d be too occupied with his shiny new toy – the soccer team – to give any attention or money to the Red Sox.  When the Adrian Gonzalez rumors were swirling, he was called cheap, the team was criticized for not giving long-term contracts, many people, including Taylor Twellman, formerly of the New England Revolution, were saying the Red Sox should be embarrassed by how they were acting.

All those people can go jump into an incredibly deep lake.

Welcome to Boston, Carl Crawford.  It will be nice to not have to worry about you stealing on every single one of our pitchers for the next seven years.

December 9, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 2 Comments