The next person who tells me (in person, online, in a text…) that what Chase Utley did to Ruben Tejada last night was okay by the rules of MLB so we shouldn’t blame him for what ended up happening is going to make my head explode.
Utley didn’t just come in with a hard slide and knock out the shortstop. He waited until he was practically on second base, ran out of the base path and then decided to slide and wipe out Tejada. (As Ron Darling puts it in the video clip below, “(He) Didn’t even start sliding until he was even with the bag.”)
You can watch it here because this is apparently a video no one wants us to embed.
There’s a questionable slide and Tejada ends up with a broken leg. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, the icing on this cupcake is that eventually the umpires ruled that Tejada didn’t touch the bag, the neighborhood play wasn’t in effect and even though he was originally called out, Utley was safe. After the game the umps said that Utley would have been out had any of the Mets tagged him as he left the field, leading David Wright to say:
“Once obviously the player is called out, you don’t go tag him, especially when you’re lying there with a broken leg.”
The Dodgers ended up taking the lead in this inning and the Mets didn’t come back so they head to Flushing with the NLDS tied at 1-1.
What everyone who is a Dodgers fan or who just wants to annoy Mets fans will tell you is that what Utley did is perfectly legitimate under MLB’s rules. What I (and many other people) will tell you is that is utter bullshit.
It isn’t bullshit that it’s allowed in MLB. OBVIOUSLY it is. It’s bullshit that MLB allows it and that a player like Utley (who has done this before, just not with such horrible results) feels perfectly fine going in that way with the knowledge (regardless of what he says) that someone could get seriously hurt.
“We’re going to have to reevaluate the way we go into second base.”
That was five years ago. No reevaluation. No admission from MLB last night that something needs to be done. Just a young player in the playoffs for the first time in the hospital with what could very well be a career-ending injury. Joe Torre tried to sound concerned but if you read this transcript from last night his concern sounds more for saving Chase Utley’s reputation and defending the umpires than worrying about Tejada or any other infielders getting hurt.
So I’m angry and I have no solutions except to stop allowing players to tackle other players. We hear all the time how bat flips or watching a home run disrespects the game. None of those things will end up with a player being broken. How do you not believe going at someone with no protection and usually no way to avoid you is a legitimately clean play? Maybe it IS finally time that Major League Baseball does some evaluating? I’m not holding my breath.
Fair warning. This entry will be completely void of any kind of rational perspective. I pretty much adore Pedro Martinez more than half the people I’m related to…and I’m related to a boatload of people. So you’ve been warned.
Oh yeah…there will be language…salty language ahead. So there’s that too.
I was never really a fan of Josh Beckett’s. Young and cocky is definitely not the way to my heart. But that changed on the evening of Saturday, October 25, 2003 when I got a phone call from my sister demanding that I put on Fox to watch the end of Game 6 of the World Series.
Up to that point, I hadn’t watched on second of the World Series or any coverage around it. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you know I’m not exaggerating. 2003 almost made me give up baseball altogether and I knew if I actually watched the Yankees play in another World Series, let alone win it, I might never watch another game.
It was the seventh inning when my sister called and Beckett was cruising. The Yankees starter Andy Pettitte pitched seven innings and closer Mariano Rivera pitched two…but Beckett pitched all nine. By the seventh inning my sister was convinced no one was beating Beckett and she wanted me to watch the Marlins beat the Yankees right there on the field at Yankee Stadium.
I wasn’t as confidant as my sister. While she decided to spite watch the World Series in the hope that the ALCS had worn out the Yankees, I couldn’t bear it. But she finally wore me down and in the 8th inning I put on the game and it was the most glorious patch of baseball I had seen since the final inning of the 2001 World Series. (A joy that also was shared with my sister over the phone…we have a history of enjoying memorable sports moments that way even though we don’t live that far away from each other.) And after that game, Josh Beckett was a hero to me. A flawed hero, certainly, but a hero nonetheless right up there with Luis Gonzalez.
So when the Red Sox traded for him in 2005, I was overjoyed. Hmmm…that could be a little bit of revisionist history. Let’s go look at the archives* and see how I felt:
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.
My relationship with John Lackey is an odd one. Especially given that we’ve never met.**
I wasn’t a fan when he was with the Angels. I thought he was a good pitcher but a little obnoxious. It felt like he never missed a chance to throw his teammates under the bus and that’s something that never sits well with me. So while there were plenty of non-Red Sox players I enjoyed watching, John Lackey was not one of them.
Then I sat at Fenway Park one night in 2008 while the Angels were in town and watched him almost no-hit the Red Sox…against Clay Buchholz no less. When that game was over (Dustin Pedroia broke up the no-hit bid in the 9th and the Angels won 6-2) I found myself a little sad that Lackey didn’t get his no-no…and I started to actually kind of like him.
Sunday is big family dinner day at my parents’ house. Yesterday there were fewer people there than usually are and there were still 7 people at dinner. So we’re eating our dinner, enjoying each other’s company, when my brother-in-law turns to my cousin and asks, “So…what’s wrong with your Red Sox this year? Last place, huh?”
You’ll note I didn’t write that he said this to me. He knows better. My cousin is a pretty mellow guy. He laughed my brother-in-law off, said something about winning the World Series in 2013 and it was over. But it stuck in my craw.
(This post will seem like it isn’t related to baseball…but I promise it’ll get there!)
I get bored easily. And I mean RIDICULOUSLY easily. Been this way my entire life. If I start a book and it doesn’t grab me, I’m quickly on to another. Same goes for movies and television shows. I don’t know what the magic concoction is for something to keep me connected to it, but very few things actually fit the bill.
Some might think this blog is a good representation of that but it really isn’t. My neglecting of the blog comes now more from there really just not being enough hours in the day for me to do everything I really want to. Being employed full-time (after not having been for quite a while) is a big part of that. Twitter is as well. (I get to say a lot of what I’d say here in a briefer format.) There are plenty of times I draft these amazing blog entries in my mind and when the time comes to sit down and start typing I either can’t find the time or the energy.
In 2004, literally the day after the Red Sox won the World Series, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD. This came as no surprise to anyone who knew me for any decent amount of time but having a name for the way I always had been was a great relief to me. I accept who I am and the shortcomings that often come with me being me.
Which I guess is why I try my best to be accepting of the shortcomings of others. I genuinely try to see the best in all that is around me. I tend to think that there are more good people than bad in the world and I give almost everyone the benefit of the doubt. This, of course, doesn’t always reflect in my passions…especially baseball.
I can hate with the best of them. Listen, in spite of the fact that I told anyone who would listen that I was going to give A.J. Pierzynski a chance, I really haven’t. I am genuinely annoyed whenever I see his name in the lineup and his at-bats are either completely ignored by me or met with much sighing and eye-rolling. I just can’t cheer him. (I’ve been to two games at Fenway this year and consider it a major accomplishment that I haven’t booed him.)
But the Red Sox are a different animal than AJ Pierzynski. I love them. I’ve loved them since I was old enough to realize they existed. If you love someone or something you forgive their shortcomings, right? Their faults can be annoying but you put them into perspective. The bad doesn’t create the whole because if it did you wouldn’t love them. Maybe it would be different if the bad came in great waves and you never saw good coming through the cracks. But how often does that happen?
Right now the Red Sox suck. Actually, to say they suck is an insult to things that suck. I get this. I’m watching the games. I’m shutting off the tv when the last out is finally made (or the next walk off happens) and go to sleep relatively annoyed. I GET how miserable it is to watch a game that is supposed to make you happy and have it do nothing but aggravate the hell out of you. I absolutely get this.
What I don’t get is how so many people have forgotten that seven months ago their Boston Red Sox won the damn World Series. And apparently they forgot that since 2004 their Boston Red Sox have won three damn World Series championships. Three. After an 86 year drought the team has three championships in their back pocket.
Does that change how God-awful this team is playing right now? Hell no. Of course it doesn’t. But it should help put things into some kind of perspective. When the Red Sox won it all in 2004, Bill Simmons and just about every other fan promised a five-year ban on being a miserable fan. Now no one really thought they’d have to be afforded those five years. 2004 was so freaking amazing that people thought the magic would be never-ending. But guess what? So few teams win back-to-back championships for a reason – because it’s freakishly difficult to do. (Sure that doesn’t mean the reigning World Series champs should immediately dive to last place but, still, it’s really difficult to keep up that momentum.)
So be frustrated. Be bummed. Be sad. Take a break from watching a game or two. All of this, for me, is completely understandable. But I will never understand the anger. These guys aren’t playing terribly on purpose. They don’t want to lose games. Andrew Miller doesn’t take the mound with “let’s see if I can break the record for walk offs” on his mind. If you think you aren’t having fun…imagine how much fun your Boston Red Sox are having right now. No one is having fun right now and the answer isn’t to get pissed about it.
Truthfully, I have no idea what the answer is aside from stop giving up so many runs and get some hits with runners in scoring position. But those suggestions are about as helpful as the folks who yell “Throw strikes!” at the pitcher. The Red Sox know what they are supposed to do. They want to do what they are supposed to do. What they don’t want to do is stink and, sadly, that’s what they’re doing right now.
But they can’t stink forever. Well, actually, I suppose they COULD stink for the rest of the season. But if we have learned nothing from the 2000s version of the Boston Red Sox it is that somehow this team always ends up bouncing back. Sometimes it happens within the season and sometimes we have to wait a little while. So far, waiting has brought great gifts to the Red Sox fans.
I originally was going to rant about the fans who have almost destroyed my Twitter feed with their anger toward the team but I think gearing my anger to them because of their anger really makes no kind of sense. We’re all crabby. A few wins will help ease our tempers.
I am heading to Fenway today (this morning actually…making a very long and fun day of it) and while this isn’t the first time I’ve been to Opening Day and it’s the second time I’ve been to a World Series ring ceremony, I’m still pretty damn giddy.
Holy cow. Did you read what I just wrote? I’ve been to a World Series ring ceremony and am going to another. And I know folks who will have been at all three. Every so often, like just now, it hits me how incredibly fortunate we are as fans to be witnessing this in our lifetimes. If you aren’t a sports fan you don’t get what a pleasure this is (then again, if you aren’t a sports fan the chances are very good you aren’t reading this blog so never mind!).
The Red Sox come back to Fenway today having won the first series of the season (and as an added, meaningless bonus, the Sox are in first place and the Yankees in last). I hear birds singing, the sun is starting to peek out and I know it’s going to be a good day!
I hope everyone gets to find a place to watch the ceremony today. I’d love to say “take the day off” but I know that’s tough for some people so I’ll just say “try to work around it!”…we need this ray of sunshine after this long freaking winter, don’t you think?
Happy Opening Day, folks!
Okay we can give Baltimore just this one. Heck, it’s only good manners to let the home team win their season opener, right?
Didn’t see one moment of the game today (hooray for being gainfully employed!?!) but was really happy to see Grady Sizemore jumping right in there with a home run. (I, like many people, am compelled to type “Grady Little” whenever I start typing our new Grady’s name. So if you see a slip, I apologize in advance!)
As I type this, I’m watching the Rockies play the Marlins in Florida. I’m also downing a hot cup of tea because I’m a bit chilly. Woke up to ice all over the neighborhood this morning…on Opening Day. I’m hoping Mother Nature is finished with all of that crap but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if I get snowed on at Fenway on Friday.
Last Saturday was a ridiculously fun day of baseball-related activities that both put me in a tremendously good mood and also started my motor running in regard to the new Red Sox season.
I was fortunate enough to be credentialed by the kind folks at Dana Farber for the New Stars for Young Stars event at Jillian’s on Saturday morning. Relatively unfettered access to the players attending the event as well as the other folks involved in the day had me quite appreciative! Watching the players interact with the children brought in by Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund was mesmerizing and for sure many players made a some new fans for life. (They were playing pool one on one with the kids and giving them absolutely all their focus and attention. You could see how special they felt that BASEBALL PLAYERS were paying such rapt attention to them.) The impact of looking around a room filled with kids enjoying such a rare pleasure and realizing that these kids are either ill or the siblings of children who are sick is sobering. But on Saturday it was all about the fun and from what I witnessed, between bowling and pool, the kids had loads of fun with the “New Stars” of the Boston Red Sox.
The public aspect of the day was an autograph session with the attending players (which this year included new Boston Red Soxee A.J. Pierzynski). The enthusiasm the players exhibited (not just with the children but with we older fans as well) was encouraging. Blake Swihart shared that he had flown in the day before from Albuquerque, New Mexico and was thrilled to be in Boston, undeterred by the reports of the cold weather that was to come (Swihart, along with nine other players including southpaw to keep an eye on Henry Owens, is in town for the Red Sox Rookie Development Program this week).
After a few hours of hobnobbing with minor league prospects we killed time by visiting a Boston bar or two until it was time for the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert at the Paradise. I will admit to being left cold by this show in recent years. It seems we get a lot of the same performers and while I think anything for charity that involves music is somewhere I would like to be, the show was getting a little stale for me. But this year the organizers of the event (hello Messrs. Gammons and Epstein) brought us a band many of us (especially Kelly O’Connor) had longed to see at the show: the Baseball Project. (Amazing photos taken by Kelly O’Connor of the band performing can be found here!)
Armed with this knowledge, Kelly secured tickets to the VIP event prior to the show (for which I will be forever grateful) and we were afforded casual access to the likes of legends like Steve Wynn, Mike Mills and Fenway Park’s own Josh Kantor. I am more of an observer in situations like this one but Kelly made the most of the evening, chatting up musical geniuses who were just hanging out nibbling on hors d’oeuvre and enjoying the free beer!
Sad as it was to have the day end, we have more signs of baseball up ahead. Saturday, February 8th is…say it with me people…TRUCK DAY! (A special shout out to the baseball gods for letting this day fall on a Saturday, thus making it possible for me to attend this year.)
Once again, I’d like to thank Kelly at the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber for allowing me access to the New Stars for Young Stars event and a thank you to Kelly O for hooking me up at the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert. It was a great day for charity in Boston and a wonderful reminder of what we have to look forward to!