For many people I know, including myself, 2011 has been a pretty lousy year. For a few hours a day, baseball is supposed to make you feel better when things stink. September didn’t make any Red Sox fans feel better and Terry Francona leaving was the cherry on the sucky sundae. So when KellyO tweeted to me last night “I really needed them to not win this year.” I absolutely knew what she meant. And for whatever reasons, the baseball gods decided to give Red Sox fans one thing, one, this season. And since beggars can’t be choosers, I’ll take it.
The last three innings of that game were the most stressful I’ve endured in a game that didn’t include the Red Sox in quite a long time. When Jeter hit that ball and I thought we were witnessing a two-run home run that was going to change the entire game I almost shut the television off. (That I didn’t shut it off when Joaquin Benoit loaded the bases and then walked in a run in the 7th inning still amazes me.) Jose Valverde had a 3-2 lead with Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez coming up in the ninth and used 11 pitches (only one of them on Cano) to finish the Yankees off. As soon as Slappy struck out, the Internet exploded.
It was pretty damn sweet.
No team from the American League East will be in the ALCS…this makes the process of watching the rest of the playoffs much less painful. So for that I thank the Texas Rangers and especially the Detroit Tigers. I don’t care how hokey this sounds, and I know it doesn’t change the woes of the Red Sox, but last night was the first step for me in the process of my baseball heart healing. Bring on the hotstove.
But for now…
So because sleep didn’t come easy last night, I’ve looked at the playoff teams and decided how I want things to go. Much of this won’t surprise anyone. It might seem soon for some of you but this is how I process things. I’m still upset about the Red Sox playing themselves out of a playoff spot but I can’t stop the love in my veins for baseball and I certainly don’t wish to dwell on misery. So there you go. (This is where, once again, I thank Tito, Theo, the Trio and the ’04 and ’07 teams for the team history that helps me deal much better with the team present.)
These are not predictions…just the way I’d like to see things go.
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.
ESPN deserves a tremendous amount of thanks because, honestly, they pay to have exclusivity on Sunday night and aside from good publicity, I don’t imagine they get much out of allowing NESN to cover the game (they’re also allowing Detroit to air the game locally) yet they gave the okay…not too shabby of them even if it looks like the tornado scene from “The Wizard of Oz’ in Detroit right now.
So we get another rain delay…Gordon Edes tweeted around 6:50 that there is no way this game begins on time (as I write this, there are tractors holding down the tarp in Detroit…that’s how strong they are expecting winds to be) but as soon as the game begins we’ll be here live chatting. That is, IF the game begins.
Oh well…whatever ends up happening, thanks, again to ESPN because at least now we have the HOPE that we’re going to see a game.
So because of the exclusivity deal that MLB has with ESPN, the second game of today’s double header won’t be shown on television. Gordon Edes has reported that the Red Sox are in talks to get the blackout lifted for the game but who knows if that will really happen? (Also, NESN is reporting that they are expecting bad weather again today so there is a chance that the second game doesn’t get played.)
In the event that we don’t get to actually see the game tonight, I was thinking of doing an old-fashioned live blog where I actually blog what is going on in the game (given I WILL be listening to it on WEEI and there are many people who won’t have access to the radio broadcast). I could make it a live ‘chat’ as well by using the same program we do for the chats and letting people chat during the game as well but I’d be following the broadcast and doing updates of every at bat for those who can’t see OR hear the game.
If NESN is successful and we get the game on television, I’ll be here for a live chat. Either way, I’ll be here and we can chat during the Red Sox game. How’s that sound?
So 7pm…be here. One way or another we’ll get our Red Sox fix!
With tonight’s game canceled, we get two on Sunday (Actually, we don’t…the 7pm game won’t be televised because of MLB’s lame ass rules). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to run the live chat (then again, at least we won’t get Fox!!)
It would figure that I get home in time to start the live chat and the first message I read tells me that there is a good possibility of a rain delay…Let’s see how this goes.
The “Fox Blacked Us Out” Live Chat
I keep replaying that Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit over in my mind. I wasn’t at Fenway last night, but I imagine many who were weren’t thinking he’d be the one to get them home just a little sooner.
An almost half an hour rain delay near the tail end of a game that at some points you couldn’t see the dugouts, wasn’t what people were hoping for. Especially with the score being 0-0. But the Red Sox came through and won 1-0. The weather wasn’t pretty but the pitching was. I won’t be complaining about that.
It’s interesting to me that the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers have the exact record this morning, yet the Red Sox are only two and a half games out of first place (in third place, a half game behind the Yankees) and the Tigers are five games out of first, yet in second place in their division. Ah, baseball, how you mock us sometimes.
Heidi Watney said something interesting last night that I might have already heard but had forgotten: She said the general rule of thumb is that a pitcher will need the same amount of time to rehab as he had time without throwing. So, theoretically, if Daisuke Matsuzaka doesn’t pick up a ball for two weeks, that’s four weeks we won’t be seeing him on the mound at Fenway. Except Terry Francona doesn’t think Daisuke will be able to start throwing after his two weeks on the DL…so that pushes him back even more than one would expect. Gabe Lacques of USA Today speculates that Daisuke might need Tommy John surgery. I can’t decide if he’s jumping a tremendous gun here or he knows what he’s talking about. It’s a huge jump from “elbow soreness” to “Tommy John surgery” but when it comes to the Boston Red Sox I suppose nothing is too panicky when you want to worry the fans.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for reasons to think the universe isn’t against the team, look at last night’s game. Before that rain delay, Clay Buchholz, who pitched a great game but threw a lot of pitches, was taken out and Daniel Bard was in (he threw one pitch before they called for the tarp). Phil Coke, Detroit’s starter, was still in the game, having only thrown 78 pitches through seven innings (compared to Clay’s 127). Coke and Buchholz were throwing similar games but because of pitch count we most certainly would have seen Coke again in the 8th. Then the sky opened up and began to pour rain down on Fenway. (Watching the game on NESN last night felt like watching an old black and white movie on a very old television. It was tough to determine from my cozy spot at home when the rain really began and when it was “just” foggy out there.) About a half an hour later, Jim Leyland had made the decision to not send out Coke and brought in Ryan Perry for the 8th. Perry got the first two outs and Leyland went to Daniel Schlereth who walked Carl Crawford, gave up and RBI double to Saltalamacchia and hit Jacoby Ellsbury before being relieved by Al Alburquerque who got the third out. That’s one heck of an inning courtesy of the rain and Leyland not wanting to bring his starter back out.
I want to mention Jacoby getting hit. Less than a handful of Tigers fans mentioned they thought it was “payback” for Clay hitting two batters last night. One even suggested it might be the start of a rivalry between the two teams. I don’t get any of this. There was no reason for Clay to purposely hit anyone last night, so why would a team retaliate for what were obvious mistakes? My other question is, even if you feel like you have to retaliate just so you show the opposing team you’re not down with watching your guys get plunked, would you do it in such a tight game right after you gave up (what would end up being) the game-winning RBI? I think it’s more likely Schlereth was frustrated by how his inning was going and got sloppy. But who knows? Maybe it was on purpose? If it was, that’s very stupid baseball.
I hear birds singing and can actually see without a window of fog between me and the outside world, but it still is gray and chilly out there. Those who have been to Fenway this week have earned some stripes, I have to admit, and you’ll be earning your way a little more tonight. June is not so far away (as long as Armageddon doesn’t come this weekend) and soon we’ll be complaining about how hot it was at the park!
I like Matt Garza.
I can’t help it. Yeah, he spits a lot. What baseball player doesn’t? Sure he pitches for a team that folks like to pretend is the new “enemy” of the Red Sox (They aren’t. They’re a good team and they have some interesting history with the Sox but unless someone blows up Yankee Stadium and sells off the Yankees, the Rays will never really be “the enemy” in my eyes). But I’ve never held that “hatred” so many Red Sox fans seem to have for him. I also dig how important his family is to him. I like him. There, I said it.
If the worst things you can say about Garza are that he spits too much and he beat the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS (going on to become the series MVP) – I think he’s doing all right. So when I got to see him throwing his no-hitter last night, I was genuinely happy for him. There are only two times I don’t want to see a no-hitter get thrown: If it’s happening against the Red Sox (and even then, I make exceptions. When John Lackey took one into the 9th inning at Fenway Park, I was there and wanted him to get it – mind you, from innings 1-8 I didn’t, but getting all the way to the 9th I thought he had earned it) and if it’s being thrown by a Yankees pitcher (this doesn’t apply to former Yankees…I’d love to see Carl Pavano throw one this year!). Aside from those two situations, I thoroughly enjoy a great pitching performance. So congratulations to Matt Garza for throwing the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay history against the Detroit Tigers last night. Division race aside, it was a fun way to spend a Monday evening.
Found in my Twitter feed:
The Atlanta Braves beat Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals 5-0 (with Strasburg giving up four runs on six hits in six innings, three of those runs earned, yet he also struck out seven). According to many on Twitter, the Braves fans started chanting “Over-rated”. When I read that, I must admit to laughing out loud. You have to think that they were beat to death with “expect the team to lose to the mighty Strasburg” crap ever since the day someone figured out he’d be pitching at Turner Field. Why not have fun with it? He lost to their team after being deemed the best pitcher baseball has ever seen. Let him know that, in spite of MLB’s trying to make the world Strasburg fans, not everyone wants him to win – especially when he’s pitching against their team. I don’t believe he’s over-rated but I sure do believe we’re being saturated with Strasburg publicity right now and the “over-rated” chant will hit every ballpark he visits if he doesn’t with the game and strike out at least 10 each in each appearance. This isn’t his fault, this is the fault of MLB and every writer and broadcaster who has decided that a Stephen Strasburg start is more important than any other game being played in baseball. Maybe now we’ll stop being inundated with inning by inning updates on him.
Detroit Tigers’ Joel Zumaya hurt his right elbow last night while pitching against the Minnesota Twins. According to catcher Gerald Laird, you could hear something pop as he made his pitch to Delmon Young. MLB has the video here and the look of pain on Zumaya’s face is, well, painful. Check out the look on Young’s face after he swings. Whatever happened to Zumaya, his catcher and the guy at bat heard it and there’s no way it’s anything but bad news. Thinking good thoughts for the 25 year-old who has been plagued by arm injuries in his short career. In an understandable contrast to how Braves fans treated the opposing pitcher, Twins fans gave Zumaya an ovation as he left the field.
Staying in Minnesota for a moment, Twins fans, I’ve come to find out thanks to Twitter, also do the wave. Can the “Fenway Park is the only place that still does the wave” talk finally be put to rest? It isn’t accurate at all. There are plenty of lame, wave-doing fans all across Major League Baseball and folks need to stop pretending Red Sox fans are some odd breed that still live in the 1980s.
The Red Sox are rumored to be calling up Gustavo Molina from Pawtucket and putting Victor Martinez on the disabled list. Lots of complaining on Twitter last night because Molina isn’t hitting well in Triple-A. Folks need to take into consideration that the two best catchers on the PawSox, Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown, are both on the DL right now and Molina will be the back-up catcher to Jason Varitek. Expecting the Triple-A back up to the back up catcher to come up to the bigs and blow you away is short-sighted and, well, ridiculous. Molina will do what he’s being brought up to do, be a serviceable backup to Jason Varitek. The team is in injury trouble right now; do folks expect all stars to be available to fill in? The injury situation sucks all the way around. Having starters go down doesn’t always (or usually) give a team the opportunity to fill the gap with the next big name. This is, unfortunately, something the Sox and their fans are going to have to deal with for a while.
Reports are that Clay Buchholz won’t be going on the DL, Martinez will be and Dustin Pedroia won’t be having surgery. It’s all still pretty ugly but it still feels to me like it could be worse. Six weeks without Pedie will hurt the most. Can’t even try to find a silver lining there. Hopefully Victor’s hand won’t hurt so much that he won’t be able to rub Adrian Beltre’s head after each home run.
All Star Game voting updates came in yesterday. I am not upset to see no Red Sox players in the running to be starters. Given all the injuries this season I am even more dedicated to the idea that I want the team to use the All Star break as a genuine break from the game. Give them the rest, let the Yankees and Rays do the heavy-lifting for home field advantage. I have no problem with this.
As I mentioned yesterday, there won’t be a live chat for tonight’s game. There will be a live chat tomorrow night (Daisuke Matsuzaka v Matt Garza in game two of the two game series against the Rays) and then next week we’ll start back up on Tuesdays again.
Tonight we get John Lackey going up against James Shields. If ever a game screamed out for a live chat to take the edge off, I realize this is it, so I apologize in advance. I do, however, have a good feeling about Lackey tonight. If the Sox can split this series, I’ll be happy but a sweep would make me even happier…so lets work on that, eh, John?
I was supposed to be in Pawtucket yesterday watching TJ Large make his first major league start in a spot start appearance because Randor Bierd was scratched late in the day. The PawSox ended up winning their game 6-4 against Syracuse. I missed a good game.
Of course, the game I didn’t miss? Didn’t turn out so well.
I missed the end of that game too. Sleep overtook me much more quickly than the Tigers beat the Red Sox but I saw enough of the game that I could have guessed, with the way things have gone this year, how it would end.
If there is one thing in baseball I absolutely hate it’s when my team walks in a run. When they walk in a run to lose a game it a thousand times more frustrating. So the gods were with me last night when they made me fall asleep because, had I witnessed Ramon Ramirez walk in that winning run, I probably never would have fallen asleep last night.
I’m writing this without having read anyone’s blogs or tweets or message board rants. I’m sitting on a screened in porch with the sun shining, the birds singing and the sounds a few people mowing their lawns as my soundtrack for the morning. In spite of the infuriating way the game ended, it’s a beautiful morning – and we have another day before us with the promise of a good baseball game ahead.
I fully acknowledge that it’s much easier to feel this way when I didn’t witness the crushing blow of how the game ended.
John Lackey goes out for the Sox at 1:05pm today against Armando Galarraga who was just called up from the Triple-A Toldeo Mud Hens to make the spot start for the Tigers. On paper this should be great but last night is a reminder that baseball doesn’t care about what’s on paper just about what’s on the field. Here’s hoping the Red Sox make the decision to switch the channel over to the Celtics at 3:30pm a tough one.
This is hard for some people to accept, I know, but we need to focus on whether the team wins or loses and not look at the rest of the standings – for probably quite a while. Losing last night stunk but the Sox have a good opportunity to pull it together today and win the series. Small steps, people, small steps.