Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Goodbye Captain, Hello Baseball!

Until the last game of the World Series...the Red Sox are still the World Series Champions! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

Until the last game of the World Series…the Red Sox are still the World Series Champions! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

So I feel compelled to write something about Derek Jeter.  Had I written this last week it would have been a rant about how Major League Baseball, all of the networks that air Major League Baseball and almost every Yankees fan I’ve ever encountered both in real life and online wanted me to be devastated that Jeter retired from baseball.

But this past week of playoff baseball has taken the aggravation out of almost this entire season of Jeter love.

The Kansas City Royals have played and won THREE extra-inning games to put themselves one win away from going to the American League Championship Series. The Kansas City Royals have played some of the most exciting baseball I’ve seen not related to the Boston Red Sox in just three games (and 34 innings).  And there was nary a mention of Derek Jeter at any of these games save for the occasional viewing of that Gatorade commercial (that Deadspin made even better). Major League Baseball might not want to admit it but so far baseball is not only still living without Captain Intangibles but it’s thriving.

Okay, thriving only to baseball fans who enjoy the hell out of watching exciting baseball regardless of the size of the team’s fanbase – but tell the fans it’s all for them and eventually we’ll start to believe it.

And this was the issue most people had with the narrative that the baseball world was going to end when Jeter tipped his cap for the last time: We knew it wasn’t true.

I will not argue that Derek Jeter wasn’t a better than average player. (I will argue that had he played anywhere other than the New York Yankees he’d be remembered pretty much the exact way Craig Biggio is remembered – which isn’t so terrible, is it?) But he wasn’t bigger than the game just because he played with the same team for his entire career, never got accused of or caught cheating and played well on a consistent level for the majority of his career.  Those things make him fortunate, possibly a good guy and a very talented player.  They don’t make him the best player to ever take the field.  They don’t even make him the last great player MLB will ever see.  He was a good/sometimes great player who will most definitely make it into the Hall of Fame.  The thing is, if you go to the Hall of Fame you will see an awful lot of good/sometimes great/really freaking amazing players already there.

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website:

The Hall of Fame is comprised of 306 elected members. Included are 211 former major league players, 28 executives, 35 Negro leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires.

So it isn’t as if when Jeter gets the call his plaque will be hanging in there alone. There won’t be some angelic lights shining upon it to single it out from all the others (although I’m sure some folks, probably Jeter himself, would dig that).  It’ll be there with all the other players in baseball who have made an impact on the game impressive enough to get elected to its Hall of Fame.  Which is wonderful. Jeter’s parents should be very proud. And I’ll be happy for him and not begrudge him his place in baseball’s history one iota.

But he didn’t historically change the game and the the game isn’t worse off for his deciding to leave it.  It moves on, like everything does, and so far it’s still wonderful.

So goodbye, Derek Jeter. You weren’t my least favorite Yankees player but I’m still not sorry to see you go.

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October 4, 2014 Posted by | 2014 | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Midday Beckett

I love watching baseball on a sunny afternoon.  The only thing better would be if I sat in the park instead of in my living room to watch it.  But I’ll take NESN’s coverage of today’s game over nothing.  Sun shining, a little breeze and the Red Sox on the field at Fenway = a perfect day.

I had last night’s game on but was only paying attention to bits and pieces while doing other things.  So when Lackey left the game, I thought “Well, that could have gone worse”…little did I realize how right I was when I saw he had given up hits in the double digits.  How frustrating must it be for the Royals and their fans to know that they got 11 hits against Lackey and 16 in all and still lost the game 12-5?  Hell, the Sox even spotted them two errors and they still came out the losers.  I do not miss the days when many of our own games ended in such frustration.

1:35pm today we get to see Beckett take the mound in the sunny, summer afternoon.  That’s my idea of time well spent!

July 28, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 5 Comments

Droppings

A bunch of randomness…

~ The Jerry Meals call that ended the Pirates/Braves game last night was just really God-awful.  Meals admitting he blew the call does nothing to help the Pirates and I’m getting to the point where I don’t give the umpires “credit” any more for admitting they were wrong.  It was so obvious he was wrong that I don’t understand why the rest of his umpiring crew didn’t get together and point out to him that he was wrong.  I don’t think MLB needs robot umpires or expanded instant replay…I think umpires should be held more responsible for their bad calls publicly.  We know when players and managers and coaches get reprimanded and we should know when umpires do as well.  They should know that publicly they will be taken to task for messing up.  Games should not be decided because an umpire screws up (or just wants to end a 19-inning game).  The only amusement I got from this was here…well played  Grant Brisbee.

~  I have put a block on the name “Carlos Beltran” in my Twitter feed.  I don’t care if he goes, I don’t care where he goes, I don’t care if he leaves New York and starts his own baseball team.  No one knows anything right now and the incessant tweeting about it does nothing but clutter up my feed with ridiculousness.  I save that spot in the feed for people who still joke about Dustin Pedroia’s height. (see below)

~  I’m sure I have probably been guilty of this and I apologize for it without looking back for specific examples (and knowing it’s possible I haven’t done it) because reading it now makes me apoplectic.  Dustin Pedroia is an American League MVP and Rookie of the Year and has a World Series ring to boot.  He is, to put it simply, a damn fine player and, seemingly, a leader on the team.  There is no reason to mention his height every time you write about him.  It’s hackneyed and old and a terrible way to establish yourself as a writer.

~  I don’t care  how ugly it was, last night’s game was a thing of beauty.  Sox won (without extra innings) and Dustin Pedroia was a home run away from the cycle and he and David Ortiz were both 4-5.  Jacoby Ellsbury came in as a pinch hitter and went 2-3…these are the things I want to see in my Red Sox games.  Ultimately, though, if I’m giving my heart to a player this season that player is Alfredo Aceves.  I want an Aceves shirt to wear around so I can tell people how much I adore watching this man pitch.  He gets bonus points for being part of the brought back to life bullpen band as well.

~ John Lackey is on the mound tonight.  Monday’s extra-inning loss aside, this is the Royals, fellas, and the least you can do is help Lackey get a win.  Bruce Chen will be on the mound for the Royals which could mean a third very long night ahead for both the teams and their fans with more scoring than we had last night.  Get the Red Bulls ready!

July 27, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Ready for the Weekend

Players petting puppies. Because sometimes we just need to not be so serious. (Nate Spears and Jason Place photo from Portland last year courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

The Seattle Mariners, the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins are the only teams in the American League with less wins and more losses than the Boston Red Sox.  These are not the halcyon days we dreamed of back in December when this team felt like it was going to be unstoppable.

Luckily for us, our team plays in the American League East.  Arguably the most competitive league in Major League Baseball, yes?  So even though the Red Sox are tied for last in the division and five games out of first, the lead the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have over them is not close to being insurmountable.  As we all are painfully aware, the team needs to get their act together and start playing consistently the way we know they can.  And I believe they will…I just hope it starts sooner rather than later.  More specifically, I hope it starts this damn weekend.

Because I can not lie…I’ve been all right with the way things have gone thus far.  Sure they aren’t where I want them to be but we’ve had some fun games and some exciting games to go along with the pain and I’m just enjoying watching baseball.  But if I have to watch this team struggle against the Yankees in the Bronx I might just end up tossing my television out the window.

This revelation doesn’t make me proud.  I know it’s stupid to put this series above any of the others we’ve watched this year.  I know this.  But, honestly, I couldn’t care less.  Listen, 2004 really did get all of the Yankees ghosts out of my life.  I don’t look at the Yankees with any kind of fear and I don’t ever think they’re unbeatable or that Mariano Rivera is indestructible…all that is gone.  BUT what isn’t gone is my extreme dislike for them and many in their fan base.  (Truth be told, I actually know some fine people who also happen to be Yankees fans so I don’t subscribe to the “all Yankees fans are <insert your own expletives here>” theory, but there are certainly large chunks of the fan base that make me want to see them cry.)  So I make no predictions for this weekend but I enter it full of hope.  Hope that the Sox can take the series (see Baseball Gods?  I’m not even asking for a sweep!), not be humiliated on national television and hope that this team can, once again, make 55,000 Yankees fans shut up.

Maybe of interest only to me:  The Kansas City Royals, who just took the series from the Yankees in New York, are currently 3.5 games out of first place in the AL Central, holding on to second place with a record of 20-17.  The Red Sox are 17-20 this morning.  The Yankees are 20-15 and in second place.

We live in strange days, my friends.

May 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I'm so ready for the weekend

Casey Kelly is now on Twitter @cpk3.  Following him an Luis Exposito @Expo2323 is highly entertaining!  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Casey Kelly is now on Twitter @cpk3. Following him and Luis Exposito @Expo2323 is highly entertaining! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Wrote this to a friend yesterday morning:

I’m not of the “well, it’s the Royals so the Sox will roll over them” mind, never have been, but these games could be a lot of fun!

Last night was not a lot of fun.

Okay it was a little fun.  Seeing Bill Hall go yard is always fun.  Having Kevin Millar on the pre and post game shows and reminiscing about 2004 was fun.  Watching Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch like the game in Philadelphia didn’t happen?  Not so much fun.

But there is no time to dwell.  There are still three games against the Royals to be played and won.  The Sox just need to get back up on it.  Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester will be pitching those games.  We have every reason to be hopeful!  Special attention should be paid to Saturday night’s game…Zack Greinke v Buchholz.  I know that Greinke has been snakebitten by the rest of his team and that he’s this fabulous pitcher who MLB is already getting the HoF plaque ready for, but I kind of like our guy too.

First, though, there’s Wake tonight.  The next streak has to start with a win and I think Wake’s just the guy to lead them.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You've got to hang loose to keep from the noose

He's back tonight!  (Photo taken by me in 2005)

He's back tonight! (Photo taken by me in 2005)

Ah, Timmy, you deserved better.  Hell, we all did.

Long time readers of this blog probably know what I’m about to write next: Good that we get the suck out early.

Most days, before I write my entry, I check out a handful of other Red Sox blogs to make sure I’m not writing anything similar to what they are.  On days like today, I usually don’t need to do that.  Which is fine.  I totally understand people getting frustrated with the Sox beginning the year 1-3.  No one wants to see them tied with the Orioles for last place (which, in case you haven’t looked, they are right now).  No one can be happy about the bullpen struggling or our starters (save for Lackey and Wake) struggling as well.

But as corny as it sounds, I have a really difficult time getting tied up in knots over a bad first week of baseball.  In 2006, a year in which the Sox didn’t even make it to the playoffs, they started the season in their first two series at 5-1.  That first week of baseball the Sox only lost one game.  Ended up meaning nothing, right?  So, no, I’m not all that ready to give too much credence to the Sox beginning the year with a losing record.

Today the PawSox play a single-admission doubleheader against the Rochester Red Wings (Triple A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins).  I won’t be there but I know a couple of folks who plan on making the games!  If you’re interested, Daisuke Matsuzaka is the starting pitcher for the PawSox at 1:05pm and you can listen to the game here.  Follow their pitching, folks, we might be needing their help soon!

Sox take on the Royals again at 7:10 ET tonight.  Beckett v Greinke and according to the Sox, Varitek will be behind the plate for the first time this season (given I’m having a hard time thinking Victor needs a “rest” this soon, I wonder if this is any indication Beckett really does want to pitch to Tek?).  Hopefully this one will definitely be worth staying up for!

April 10, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots of baseball

During a commercial break on the Sox game, I turn the channel to the Twins/Royals game. Bottom of the ninth in Kansas City, Royals losing 3-0 with wo on and 1 out and Joe Nathan on the mound. Mark Teahen hits an in the park home run to tie the score and the fans go absolutely wild!

That is totally why people love to watch baseball. (Two outs now…a walk-off would be sweet – but isn’t happening. Extra innings in KC!)

Sox are losing and PawSox lost after mounting a great comeback. Kyle had a bad night and gets the loss, the poor guy. Sounded like he wasn’t too comfortable up there. He hit two batters, he walked three and he gave up three hits. He threw 54 pitches against 13 batters…and ended his night after not quite two innings – giving up five earned runs. An outing I hope he can just put out of his head, shake it off and go at them hard the next time. I only got to hear the first few innings at work (but I heard all of Kyle’s outing) so I missed most of the comeback stuff, but good for them for coming back from an 8-0 deficit and bringing the score up to 9-8. A great effort by the PawSox tonight to try and pick up their pitcher. Better luck next time Kyle (and the rest of the team!). I really hope this isn’t an indication that Kyle might still be hurt. With all the pitchers currently sitting on that roster, I now get to worry that Kyle’s fighting for a spot. (Baseball is supposed to be fun, right? I’m not supposed to worry like…well, like I do!)

It still hasn’t really sunk in that I’ll be in Baltimore this weekend. (Beckett, Lester and Colon, I believe, will be the pitchers I get to see. I guess it’s fitting that I’d see Crabcakes in Charm City.) I am excited about it; I’m just not prepared yet. 🙂 Normally I’d spend Thursday night packing for the Friday trip, but Thursday night I’ll be out with my office crew saying goodbye to a good friend whose leaving us. It’ll most likely be a long night, which means I need to prepare myself for the reality that will be packing tomorrow night instead. Ah well, the payoff will be worth it!

First night since the Sox started their road trip that I’m wide awake at 11pm and their annoying me already. (Sean Casey just botched a ball at first and then made and absolutely horrendous over-throw to Daisuke which ended in men on first and third with one out and the score already 2-0 Mariners…yeesh fellas.) I might just shut everything off and call it a night. (Who am I kidding? That won’t happen.)

Even though the Mariners just scored another run, Coco just made a catch to end the inning that made me say out loud “Wonder if Jacoby would have had that?”. 🙂

With two outs and a man on second, Alex Gordon makes the third out of the 10th inning.

There’s plenty of baseball to be played all around, folks. Hope you’re enjoying some of it.

May 27, 2008 Posted by | Games, Players | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three and Three

Nothing breaks a losing streak like interleague play (At least for the Red Sox. Sorry Yankees.) So after a three-game sweep, we have the Kansas City Royals in town for three and our starting rotation:

Crabcakes

Justin Masterson

Bartolo Colon

I might have to watch each of these games with my hands covering my eyes.

I kid, I kid. In spite of how poorly he’s doing in Portland right now, I’m excited about Masterson’s return to Fenway. Lester has been pitching well and Colon was pitching well in Pawtucket (Colon’s, though, is a small SMALL sample size and he makes me worry).

Kyle Snyder’s old team is in town and I’m reminded, yet again, that Kyle isn’t on the team any more. I still have hopes that he’ll make his way back up for good, eventually, this season. First he has to get that groin healed up. PVs Kyle!

sadjavy.jpg

More photos I took on Saturday. Sad Javier Lopez above. The bullpen band below.

bullpenbandmay2008dh.jpg

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Players | , , , , , , | 1 Comment