Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

What the Hell Happened?


The official Red Sox Twitter account tweeted this out this afternoon. It got a little dusty.

The official Red Sox Twitter account tweeted this out this afternoon.                                     Have to admit that it got a little dusty in my office when I saw it.

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, nine months ago tomorrow, the Red Sox and the City of Boston threw a parade. Nine freaking months ago. As of yesterday, seven players who were with that Championship team have been traded. Seven. (For the record, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, John Lackey, Andrew Miller and Stephen Drew.)

I took yesterday as a (legitimate) sick day and had planned on spending the day sleeping off the ER’s treatment of a very bad allergic reaction I had the day before. But I forgot one thing. I forgot to shut off my phone.  And my phone stays pretty close by. So while I’m in a medicinally induced deep sleep, around 10am or so my phone starts, as they say, blowing up. Forgetting what day it was, I immediately think something must be terribly wrong so I force myself up and start reading all the various text messages and emails that were coming in.

The unthinkable happened. The Red Sox traded Jon Lester.

(I only call it unthinkable because for quite a while we had been bombarded with rumors about the impending trade. Who thought they’d get one right?)

So the Red Sox traded longtime fan favorite and pretty freaking good left-handed pitcher Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s and threw in Jonny Gomes and some cash for good measure. Had they not received Yoenis Céspedes (and a competitive draft pick) in return, I’m sure there would have been a lot more hand-wringing, garment rending and teeth gnashing from the people in my Red Sox circles.  But there was very little of that going on with them yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll find it in plenty of places.  For example, in the comments section of a piece this morning someone lamented that the Red Sox haven’t been in the playoffs in four out of the last five seasons.

Writing that in July of 2013 would have been relatively legitimate. But today?  Yesterday?  You can’t pretend that your team isn’t the reigning World Champion team just because they’re lousy right now. Doesn’t work that way. Also, as a not so moot point, From 2002-2013 the Red Sox have been in the playoffs seven times. Five out of those seven times they made it to the ALCS. Three of  those American League Championship Series appearances let to World Series wins. So in 11 years the Red Sox have been in the playoffs seven times, made it all the way to the ALCS five times and the three times they made it to the World Series, they won every time.

Yeah, this is a horrible team (and ownership) to be rooting for. (Short pause whilst I shake my head to get my eyes back to their not rolling in the back of my head position.)

Still, watching this team get blown up nine months after they won it all is a shock to the system. Maybe we didn’t expect the team to go back-to-back, but we also didn’t expect them to lose so many games so quickly and so painfully. I mean what the hell with this season, right? (Seriously. I’ve watched almost every game this year and more often than not even I find myself asking myself what the hell I’m doing.)

After the Lester/Gomes news dropped, Red Sox fans thought they could breathe a little easier the rest of the day. Hell, by 10:30am ET we knew the details of the trade (I spent a good part of the morning practicing how to pronounce and spell Yoenis Céspedes) and were chuckling at the fans of other teams who would have to wait ALL DAY for their torture to be over. Fools. By the end of the day, the Red Sox traded away John Lackey (and minor league left handed pitcher Corey Littrell) to the St. Louis Cardinals, Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles and Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees.

Wait…what?  We’ll get back to Drew in a minute.*

All players (with the exception of Littrell) who had a hand in giving the Red Sox and their fans a third World Series in the 2000s.  That things could spiral out of control so quickly that they end in the Red Sox trading away four out of the team’s five starting pitchers (as of  Opening Day, anyway) is still something that boggles the mind.  But here we are, 108 games into the season and Anthony Ranaudo is your starting pitcher against the Yankees and Allen Craig is starting in left field. Below is the starting lineup for today’s game.  I’ve helpfully put the player’s ages next to their positions.

1. Brock Holt RF (26)
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B (30)
3. David Ortiz DH (38)
4. Mike Napoli 1B (32)
5. Allen Craig LF (30)
6. Xander Bogaerts SS (21)
7. Will Middlebrooks 3B (25)
8. David Ross C (37)
9. Mookie Betts CF (21)
Anthony Ranaudo RHP (24)

Looking at it written out, it actually doesn’t seem that terrible.  I mean Ranaudo and Craig are the only two who haven’t played for the Sox this year. Over the last couple of months they’ve probably put out worse lineups (just based on player performances). But, man, it’s still surreal to me. Not necessarily in a bad way, mind you, but surreal just the same.

After the initial “Wow, they really traded him!” after the Lester news came out and my surprising sadness over Jonny Gomes heading back to the west coast, I realized that for the first time in years I was genuinely excited to see what the Red Sox were going to do on deadline day. Excited beats nauseous (which I usually am on July 31st) any day of the week.

Ask the fans of other teams…let’s say the Cincinnati Reds for example…if they’d take what we as Red Sox fans have experienced since John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino took over ownership of the team compared to what they’ve gone through with their own team. Most fans would switch with us in a heartbeat.  And one of the reasons this team has had the successes it’s had is because when things go south they’re willing to make moves like they did yesterday to ensure the team won’t forever dwell in the cellar.

Without some otherworldly interference, the Red Sox won’t be seeing the playoffs this season. But Ben Cherington showed the baseball world that he isn’t willing to sit back on his World Series Championship and let the ship sink. On paper this team isn’t as good today as it was Wednesday – but I’m pretty damned excited at what could be in store for this team thanks to what went on yesterday.

*Okay, one thing about Stephen Drew…unlike, apparently, many other fans, I hold no ill will toward the guy. He was a huge part of winning 2013 and when I think of him it will always be with much fondness for that. So, regardless of how he performed in the short time he was with the team in 2014, it will pain me to see him in Yankees pinstripes. Absolutely pain me. I wish him well but I also hope he ends up with another team next year not in the Bronx.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Can Feel It

Took this photo yesterday. Even Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings have Red Sox fever!

Took this photo yesterday. Even Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings have Red Sox fever!

If the Red Sox sweep the Cardinals…and I’m not saying they will (I’m also not saying they won’t)…they will do it on the 9th anniversary of the night they won the 2004 World Series…against the Cardinals.  I can dig that. I can also dig an umpiring crew that had no problem getting together and making the right call when one of their own completely messed it up. Much like they did twice in the 2004 ALCS.  I find it fascinating that there are so many little connections to that postseason. Heck, even Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke and Kevin Millar have all said this 2013 team reminds them a lot of the 2004 “idiots”. And tonight, although Fox Sports will most likely not show it, members of that 2004 team will be throwing out the first pitch.

I’ll take the good karma anywhere I can get it.

Last night’s win was made even more special by the fact that it was pretty much stress-free. The umps reverse a bad call, the Red Sox start scoring and we get a non-nail biting, World Series win behind a masterful performance by Jon Lester*.

*Not even going to bother rehashing this morning’s whining about a possible substance on Lester’s glove. As many have said, what was or wasn’t in his glove didn’t cause the Cardinals to make 3 errors or force Cardinals pitching to give up 8 runs on 8 hits.

I will say this in support of Cardinals fans:  Throughout the ALCS, Red Sox fans complained because it seemed like not only did the Fox crew want the Tigers to win, but they talked more about and with the Tigers than the Red Sox during EVERY game, in Detroit AND Boston.  Last night, aside from a bit of focus on Carlos Beltran, it was pretty much all Red Sox all night long. If I was rooting for St. Louis I’d be more than a little annoyed this morning that Fox made it out like only one team was playing.

Okay…one more thing about Lester’s glove: Jeff Passan over at Yahoo Sports has an interesting piece up with this nugget:

Fact: Lester and his Red Sox teammates have used BullFrog sunscreen, which, when mixed with rosin, creates a tacky substance that enhances a pitcher’s grip on the ball. BullFrog was seen in the Red Sox’s dugout during the division series at Tropicana Field – a domed stadium.

Fact: Major League Baseball is well aware of this and does not consider it an issue despite rules about foreign substances because pitchers, hitters, coaches, managers and executives agree that a substance used to better a pitcher’s grip, as opposed to doctor a ball or make it dip and dive in unnatural directions, is within the confines of the rules.

So let’s move on to tonight, shall we? The Red Sox, with John Lackey on the mound, have a very good opportunity to go up 2-0 in the World Series. 2-0. Rookie right-hander Michael Wacha will try to make that difficult for them, and if anyone on the team can put the hurt on the Red Sox he can, but we were told to worry about Adam Wainwright and look how that worked out!

My hopes for this year were simple. I wanted them to win on Opening Day at Fenway and then give us an entertaining run that might include them flirting with first place for a while. When it became clear that they were a good team that was going to do more than flirt with first place, I wanted them to make the playoffs. When making the playoffs was a foregone conclusion, I wanted them to win the division. Once they ticked that off their to-do list, I wanted them to beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

From there it became really simple. The Detroit Tigers were a damn good team and if they lost to them there would be no shame in it. I was already thrilled with the way the season went and I could hunker down for the winter content in knowing the team had shed the ghosts of fried chicken, beer and Bobby Valentine.  Then they went and won the damn pennant and they were bringing us a rematch of 2004. I still don’t know what to do with this. I won’t consider this season a loss or a waste if they can’t win the World Series but after last night they got me hungry for it in a way I didn’t expect. I want to see the Red Sox win…win the whole thing. And as much as I don’t look forward to there being no MLB until February, if they won it in four games it would be so very sweet.

But I can’t get too far ahead of myself. Let’s work this one at a time. Lackey v Wacha. A pitcher rehabilitating his reputation against a pitcher just starting to form his. Lackey turned 35 yesterday and Wacha is 22…none of these things will matter once the first pitch is thrown tonight. So in the spirit of brevity, which I’ve already thrown out the window:  Just win.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | 2013 | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Who’s sorry now?

I watched NESN’s live Spring Training coverage last night. Basically it consisted of a tour of the new park, interviews with Bobby Valentine and Daniel Bard and a segment where we got to watch Bard shoot baskets. Some fun stuff, actually, and I’m looking forward to more.

But that was only on for an hour so I had to find something else to watch…where do I turn? The Celtics. So I’m watching the Celtics and they keep throwing it back to the studio every so often so we can see Tommy Heinsohn having an anxiety attack over the C’s losing. But when they aren’t letting Tommy go on they throw it to Mike Giardi with teases for that evening’s Sports Sunday show. Basically, Giardi began every update by mentioning that the Red Sox players aren’t apologizing for the 2011 collapse. “Waiting for the Red Sox to apologize?” was pretty much how he began each time. Now I ask you all this:

Were any of us really “waiting” for any of them to “apologize”? Because, I have to say, I wasn’t. Like many folks, I think I’m looking for answers to everything that went on that last month that I’m never going to get but to say I’m looking for an apology is off base.

It annoyed me for two reasons, one is because he did it every time they went to him and his spots didn’t seem pre-recorded (so they weren’t showing you the same piece every time) the other reason is because it just reinforces to me that the media doesn’t seem to care about what the reality of any situation is, they only want to create their own.

Continue reading

February 20, 2012 Posted by | 2012 | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Because we haven’t had enough…

Wasn’t it nice back when none of the players were responding to the criticisms brought about by Bob Hohler’s article?  Remember those halcyon days?

Now we have Jon Lester personally calling just about every sports writer in New England, Josh Beckett and John Lackey releasing statements, yesterday was Jason Varitek fielding softballs from Greg Hill on WAAF and today we get Clay Buchholz on WEEI at 1pm with Lou Merloni.  Hooray for mass communication!

While the players all say that drinking in the clubhouse during a game isn’t a big deal, apparently drinking in the dugout is, as that report is what got Beckett and Lackey to speak up.  Essentially the players are saying, “Sure we drank in the clubhouse but we wouldn’t dream of bringing those cups of beer into the dugout!  The horror!”.

Personally, I find there to be no difference.  If you’re drinking during a game, whether in the clubhouse or dugout, you’re drinking during a game.  It would be nice if these guys would spend more time trying to break down exactly what happened in September since they’re so certain it had nothing to do with drinking or a fractured clubhouse.  My interpretation of what is being said is “We just sucked and there is no reason for it”, which, frankly, doesn’t fly.

All through September I wrote about (and argued) how I absolutely didn’t believe that the team just “stopped caring”.  It was unbelievable to me that a team of professionals could not care about the outcome of the games or the season given how hard they worked.  I still feel like there were plenty of players who didn’t just give up but I feel like I still have to eat my words because frankly, the quotes these guys are tossing out there right now pretty much feel like they’re saying they didn’t care…and that is much more disappointing than the team losing.

I hope Tito is having a cup of green tea this morning, reflecting on what an amazing run he had with the Red Sox and thanking God that he’s away from the mess they have become.

Seven years ago today, the Red Sox won game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, beating the Yankees and confirming their spot in baseball history.  All of this ridiculousness won’t change that but it sure makes me long for those days.

October 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anonymous sources tell me you suck

I wake up this morning to an email alerting me to Mike Giardi’s piece at Comcast Sports New England about how what Jon Lester told, seemingly, every reporter in New England yesterday was only “part of the story”.

Now, in case I didn’t make this clear in my previous post about him, I think Lester is a spoiled, arrogant ass. But what is becoming more disturbing for me is the increasingly common use of the anonymous source for just about every article that gets written about the Red Sox these days.

I’ll make this brief and to the point:  If people want to keep writing these stories geared to upset the fans and shake up the Red Sox, the need to start demanding that their sources go on the record.  As much as Lester annoyed me yesterday, at least he put his name to what he said.  Not only do I have no respect for people whispering gossip in the media’s ear but insisting on anonymity, but the media reporting all this information without any credible name on record as a source is getting out of control.

I’m sure some will think I’m just a conspiracy theorist nut with this next sentence but I’ll say it anyway: I’m not entirely convinced everything we’ve heard has come solely from people who work for the Red Sox.  I would not be surprised to find out some of the “sources” feeding these articles are the Boston sports writers themselves.  They’ve been waiting four years to be able to start trash talking this team in print and now they have their chance.  I find very little comfort in a writer covering the Red Sox telling us their sources are “impeachable” yet refusing to name said sources. They haven’t done anything over the last, oh fifty years maybe, to give me any indication I should trust them and I’m getting very tired of reading “Anonymous sources said…” in every piece that’s being written right now.

Since I’m ranting, let me just add Jerry Remy to my list of people surround the Red Sox who are pissing me off.  Nothing like taking advantage of the fans any way you can, Jerry.  I received an email today from a PR representative wanting me to share the news that Remy’s Bar and Grill is having a bitchfest on Wednesday. They literally sent out a press release to let people know there is an “Open Mic Rant” from 5-7pm….and don’t forget they’re selling $5 burgers too!  Apparently they are doing everything they can to ensure I never step foot in there again.  They’re calling it “Occupy Fenway” which would be cute and maybe even clever if it wasn’t so stupid and annoying.

So they got their wish, anyway.  I mentioned it on the blog.

I’m at the point where I hate pretty much everyone but the fans right now (because, honestly, for fans who get so maligned, I think most of the Red Sox fans thus far have handled all of this the best out of anyone dealing with it).

October 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 4 Comments

Sit down, Jon

I spent most of today offline, working on a family project that will take up a lot of time and bring me much joy.  I need the distraction from the world of baseball right now.  So when I finally jumped back online this evening I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jon Lester had spoken at length about the accusations coming off of Yawkey Way right now.

That was before I actually read what he said.

There are plenty of places to read the quotes by Lester.  I suppose I should say “good for him” for speaking out but I’m just not feeling it.  Sure he came out and said the reason they lost had nothing to do with ownership, Theo Epstein or Terry Francona and placed the blame all on the team but he also blew off the talk of the pitchers not being on the bench and instead being in the clubhouse drinking and said that as much as he was fond of Tito it was probably time for him to go.

Let me get this part out first because I keep reading people making jokes about anyone getting up in arms over a few baseball players having beers on days they aren’t playing and I feel like it’s getting overlooked or, really, just ignored for the sake of keeping up the narrative.

I don’t think there is anyone who begrudges anyone else a beer.  And I’m sure that having drinks in the clubhouse after the game is common but there is no scenario I can imagine where it’s appropriate for a clique of pitchers to leave the dugout  during a game and have beers instead of acting like part of the team.  Having written that, it seems to me that the bigger issue isn’t specifically that they were drinking beer but that in doing whatever they were doing in that clubhouse (which, even by Lester’s account, was drinking beer) was disrespecting not only their teammates but their manager. I really don’t care how you defend the beer drinking, being a group of entitled asses segregating yourself from the rest of your team and ignoring your manager is unacceptable.

Here’s what Lester said about Terry Francona:

But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there. You kind of run your course. People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it. We never had rules, we never had that iron-fist mentality. If you screwed up, he called you on it. That was how it worked.

“I never saw guys purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure. Tito was the perfect guy for this team for a long time but I think he got burnt out.”

Let me break down his tripe:

*  But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there ~ The only way I will grant Lester this is if the clubhouse was full of new players who hadn’t played under Tito before.  It makes no sense that Tito’s authority would suddenly be gone with players who have worked for him previous to 2010.  Now, I don’t find Tito blameless in all of this. If the stories are true it’s very possible he let his private life get in the way of his doing his job properly.  But this is a two-way street and players, ADULTS, who have worked for him before should have the maturity to treat him with the respect he deserves.

* People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it ~ You don’t push the envelope when you’re in your late twenties and early thirties.  You are grown, professional men and you’re admitting you acted like teenagers taking advantage of your single mom working nights.

* This particular team probably needed more structure ~ This quote makes me want to kick Lester repeatedly. How many men on that team are over the age of 25?  How many are married men with children?  Again, we’re talking about adults who should not be whining that they need “more structure”.

* I think he got burnt out ~ No, Jon, you burned him out.  And all your talk of what “good guys” you all are is falling on deaf ears over here.  Good guys don’t act like idiots.  Good guys don’t force their manager, one of the best at his job and the most successful ever on your team, to quit the job they love.  Good guys don’t blame the media for a witch hunt when the things they are reporting are accurate.

Plenty of people are writing or talking tonight about how great it is that Lester came clean and took the blame for what went on. I’d love to feel that way and was hoping that was the case.  But his words about Tito really come across harsh here.  Tito treated this guy like a son and his way of repaying all of that is to disrespect him and chalk it up to Tito being burned out.  I’m disgusted.  I mean, I was already disgusted but this media blitz, which I’m sure he was hoping would make everyone remember that he’s Jon Lester and everyone gives him a long rope, only enhanced my disgust.  I’d love this all to go away but it seems obvious now that we’re going to have to deal with more of these interviews from more players before we get finished with this garbage.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 3 Comments

Eating our own

I wrote this as a comment to someone’s remark about being “embarrassed’ to root for the Red Sox because of the way the front office is (supposedly) acting and figured I’d write it here as well because all of this shame and embarrassed talk has been bandied about an awful lot lately.

I don’t get everyone talking about being embarrassed to root for the Red Sox. You either root for them or you don’t. If folks are so bothered by the team there’s always the option to not support them. But, for me, the idea of not supporting the team because you think the owners are asses makes no sense since I’ve been supporting the team longer than the current ownership has been in place, and the team has had other owners (and GMs) who were assholes too.

And I mean it. Since when do we root for the team based on who owns it?  Prior to this ownership, were things so great between the front office and the players?  Did we have baseball crushes on the General Mangers before Theo?  What happened in 2004 (and then in 2007) brought this magical atmosphere to Fenway Park and made people forget the realities of being baseball fans…especially being baseball fans in Boston.  Sometimes you aren’t going to love everyone associated with your team.  You decide to be a fan and you can decide to not be a fan.  That’s on you, no one else.

For me, the team personalities are more important than those of the folks running the team.  Today we heard from two players, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.  Pedroia spent his time defending Terry Francona and talking about how all the controversy and the terrible way the season ended will add fuel to his fire and the team will come back stronger than ever.  Here’s a quote from Papi, courtesy of ESPN Boston:

“There’s too much drama, man,” Ortiz told Dominguez in reference to the Red Sox. “There’s too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don’t know if I want to be part of this drama for next year.”

Papi also went on to not rule out playing for the Yankees.

Really?  Your team just pulled off the worst regular season collapse in baseball history, caused your manager to leave, is in the midst of losing its General Manager and has just been outed as a bunch of entitled prima donnas who purposely blew off their manager at crunch time and you decide to react to all of this by fanning the flames this way?

This bothers me more than what the front office is purportedly doing.  We’ve come to expect the front office to leak stories about whichever team member is leaving the fold.  It’s lousy (and regardless of all the media pinning this solely on Larry Lucchino, I’m not convinced there aren’t some players who contributed to this mess) but it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The fallout is what I find more interesting and, in some cases, distressing.

Pedroia was asked by Glenn Ordway why he was the only player to come out in support of Tito.  I had the same question.  Pedroia’s response was a muddled reaction of both saying he couldn’t speak for other players and saying that many of the other players don’t like to speak to the media the way he does.  I give Pedroia credit for not only protecting his manager but his teammates as well.  We’ve come to a point where someone needs to stop the bleeding so the team can heal and there should be more than just one player out there trying to do so.

One of the player’s being criticized, Jon Lester, has kept alarmingly quiet.  Much was made of the relationship between he and Tito, at least from Francona’s side.  Terry often mentioned he felt a father/son-like relationship with Lester yet here we find Lester was part of a clique that seemed to help run Tito out (whether it was intentional is up for debate) and now that he’s left the team and is having his name dragged through the mud, Lester is silent.  It’s disappointing and, in my opinion, telling of what kind of person he is.  Sadly, I think we’re finding out what kind of people many on this team are and, for me, they aren’t people I like very much.

Dustin Pedroia spoke with WEEI from Cabo today…yet no one else could find the time to speak up for their manager (or, for that matter, their team)?  And the one other player who DOES decide to speak out just whines about all the drama and throws out a thinly veiled threat to sign with the Yankees?  I feel like, come April, if there are a handful of players on this team that I’m still actively caring about, it’ll be amazing…yet I’ll still be here.

I’m a Red Sox fan.  For better or worse this is my chosen lot in life.  I can remember times when we didn’t like the owners, didn’t like the GM and didn’t like many of the players yet we still rooted for the team.  And that was before the team had two recent World Championships in their back pocket.

So come Truck Day, I will be at Fenway to show my support for the hometown team.  Ultimately, I will refuse to let this crap deny me the opportunity to enjoy the sport and team I love.

I so look forward to the time when we can all be joined in our hatred of the Boston sports media instead of focusing our anger on the team.  Someday.  Someday.

October 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Goodbye Yankees

You're up, Andrew. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

People last night were virtually fist-pumping about how great Jon Lester was as he left the game (“virtually” as in, “doing it on the Internet). I’ll just say this about Crabby: He goes a more acceptable amount of innings for an “ace” pitcher, and it’s more than possible the Red Sox win last night’s game. Five innings for him and five pitchers total for the Red Sox in a game the pitchers only ended up giving four runs…the Red Sox needed him to pitch like the ace he wants to be and he didn’t. Aces don’t have to leave the game after five innings.

Having written all that…was last night that horrible?  I mean, sure, I always want the Red Sox to hammer the Yankees and any time a game goes the way last night did (both Bard and Aceves not pitching the way we have come to expect them to pitch and the Red Sox getting to Mariano Rivera AGAIN and not being able to capitalize on it) it’s a disappointment, but the Red Sox are still in first place, still have plenty of games to go to pick up MORE games on the Yankees and entertain us in the process.

Andew Miller, Érik Bédard and John Lackey will be leading the way against the Rangers this weekend and Friday’s (MLBN) and Sunday’s (TBS) will be on the (hopefully) non-annoying national broadcasts.

Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and fun Labor Day weekend!

September 2, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pleasantly Surprised

One more to 200! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

I hate to sound like a stereotype, but it’s almost difficult for me to embrace the idea that the Red Sox are doing so well right now.  To call the team “injury-plagued” isn’t so crazy.  Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill are out for the season.  Bobby Jenks is on and off the DL.  Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Darnell McDonald, Dan Wheeler, Matt Albers, and Marco Scutaro have all spent time on the DL this year and Jon Lester, starting pitcher tonight, had his own stint there.  Now JD Drew joins Jed Lowrie and Clay Buchholz on the DL.

(Unless I’ve forgotten someone, which is possible…) We’ve had 13 players from the 25-man roster on the DL this season.  Couple that with how the season began for the Red Sox (being swept by both the Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers (thanks, Jere!) and Cleveland Indians and then winning the three game series against the New York Yankees only to lose the next three games…winning only two games out of the first twelve of the season before going on a 9-5 run to end the month of April) and who can be blamed for being a little stunned at the way this team has been performing?

Back in March, I was one of a handful of bloggers Gordon Edes asked to make predictions for the upcoming season.  I’m not a fan of making predictions for the team, especially before the season begins, but was honored to be asked so I joined in.  Let’s revisit what I wrote, shall we?

When the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez in December and Carl Crawford signed on two days later, I have to admit that my mind went wild with the possibilities. If this team can stay healthy, we’ll see many high-scoring wins, especially against the other AL East teams. The Sox offense will dominate the East’s pitching. As far as the Red Sox go, their rotation will surprise folks. Lackey and Beckett definitely have the talent but need to show they still can still pitch to win. This will be the year they take out their frustrations of past seasons on the rest of the league. Lester and Buchholz will tear up the league as well and I have faith Matsuzaka will be as effective as the team needs. I expect the Red Sox to make the playoffs easily this year by ending the regular season with 100 wins.

Eesh. Well I guess, so far, I got some of it right. I played it safe on Daisuke and STILL got it wrong. Around mid-May it was pointed out to me that there was no way the Red Sox would touch 100 wins and today it looks like there’s a good possibility they could do just that. Baseball, she’s a funny game.

Someone I didn’t mention in my predictions was Tim Wakefield.  Yesterday, Wake notched his 199th win and 2000th strike out (with the Red Sox.  His career K number is 2110) and in one of the most surreal happenings I’ve seen at the ball park, after receiving a standing ovation and taking a curtain call for strike out number 2000, he came back into the game and gave up a grand slam.  Upon leaving the game for good, Wakefield received yet another standing ovation and tipped his cap to the crowd as he headed into the dugout.

If anyone can find another instance where a pitcher gets taken out of the game after giving up a grand slam and exits to a (legitimate) standing ovation (not mock cheers) I’d love to hear about it.  The Red Sox were still winning after the GS so it was a lot easier to be happy for the Red Sox fans at Fenway giving the “old man” his respect.  It made me happy to be a Red Sox fan.

Of course, it made most of the local sports media folks on Twitter and Facebook lose their shit, leading them to all start posting how terrible Tim’s stats are this season in spite of his 6-3 record.  (Wake has four no-decision in his 13 starts this season.)  Here’s my thing with Wake:  Given where he is in his career, I just want him to be able to hit the milestones he’s looking to hit without doing much damage to the Red Sox.  What he’s done, regardless of his season numbers, is help the Red Sox fill a position in the rotation.  His starts aren’t automatically checked into the L column (hello John Smoltz) and when he does come out with a win (or a milestone, or, like yesterday, both) it’s a feel-good story for the team and the fans.  Where’s the harm?  Right now, I’m just happy to see him do well without tanking the team.  So far, so good.

As happy as I was for the sweep this weekend, there was still an itty bit of me feeling sorry for the Mariners.  A 15-game losing streak has to be miserable for them and for their fans. Here’s hoping they decide to take their frustrations out on the Yankees this week and start a winning streak.

Sox get right back into it tonight with Jon Lester coming off the DL to pitch against the Kansas City Royals.  Jon once no-hit the Royals on a Monday night in May.  I’m not expecting a no-hitter (honestly, I’m a little squirmy about his pitching at all right now because I would have much preferred a rehab game or two before jumping right in, but what do I know?) but a W will make me happy.

July 25, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Missed by this much

I have probably watched that final play at the plate twenty times now and every other time I think “he was out”. Which means on the opposite times I’m thinking “he was safe”, which was my initial reaction to seeing the first replay.

Between the position of the umpire and the fact that Jason Varitek has a great reputation when it comes to blocking the plate, I can understand why Edwin Encarnación was called out.  (Regardless of John Farrell’s complaining that it was obvious he was safe, it wasn’t.  Heck, even Farrell didn’t complain when it happened and waited until he saw the replay.  If you need to see the replay in order to determine what the correct call should have been, it wasn’t an easy call to make.)  On the other hand, I wouldn’t blame Toronto Blue Jays fans for being outraged at how the game ended even though it wasn’t clear cut in real time.  Me?  Well it’s been a long year for me and I won’t lie, give me a Darnell McDonald throw to the plate to end a game and I’m a happy gal.

The Sox needed that win last night and not just because the Yankees are pounding the Cleveland Indians this week.  Watching Matt Albers warming up in the bullpen while Jon Lester was pitching no-hit baseball into the fourth made folks sick with worry.  Tweets and blog posts from the official Red Sox accounts calling his departure due to “an apparent injury” long before they announced his strained left lat muscle didn’t help quell the fires.  (One would think the official account of any team wouldn’t rush to spread fear before the announcements get made.  You’re the OFFICIAL source for team news…you don’t have to try and “break” news because you get it first anyway!  NESN joined in with bringing the fear as well before any announcements were made while ESPN Boston stuck with saying he left for reasons unclear.  Or, I suppose they all could have gone the way of Peter Abraham who chose to complain for the thousandth time that fans at Fenway were doing the wave.)

Sox are 1.5 games out of first place (the Tampa Bay Rays?  5 games out.  I’ll take it.) and, right now, all I want is for them to win.  Gloves are off; just go out there and win the damn games.

Not getting hurt…that would be nice too.

The front page of this morning leads with the Red Sox/Blue Jays game and gives us this title:  Ol’ McDonald has an arm.  I can dig it.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 1 Comment