Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

It’s Always Something

Listen, if you want to panic about what lies in store for the Red Sox, have at it.  I’m not going to pretend the team is playing great ball right now.  I’m not happy about them squandering the struggles of the Yankees and I’m certainly not pleased with their losing ground in the Wild Card standings.  But I didn’t panic when the team began the season so dismally and I’m not panicking now.

Here’s what I’m wondering:  If the Sox are going to struggle through the rest of this season, do I really want them to get to the post-season where their struggling DOES affect me more deeply?  I love it when my team is in the playoffs but the pain of them losing in those games is ridiculous. This isn’t to say that I don’t want them to be playing in October, of course I do – the idea of them sitting out of the playoffs and our having to watch the Yankees and the Rays in there makes me want to kick something – but I feel like being realistic has its place here.

On September 10th I am in no way throwing in the towel.  Right now I still believe this team can bounce back and win.  Hell, I still have visions of them overtaking the Yankees and getting the division.  But if I’m watching a team on September 20th still playing like they are today, well then I’m not going to be too upset if they don’t make it to the post-season.

Today’s a new day.  We get to see what Kyle Weiland has tonight and Jon Lester wraps things up tomorrow.  Still plenty of time to kick back into gear and head into the playoffs on a tremendously high note.

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September 10, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

Come on Up!

I hope you get to use your time well, Nate! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

Labor Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the fall and have always looked forward to things like the new school year beginning, the new television season starting and things just, generally, changing from a long summer. My love of autumn doesn’t mesh that well with my love of baseball given September is the beginning of the end of the regular baseball season but even still it’s my favorite time of year.

Children going back to school and television fans getting new shows aren’t the only people who enjoy a fresh start in September.  Thanks to the call-ups, there are many players in the minor leagues who get their first taste of the bigs in September.  Just this morning, with the final regular season game in Pawtucket being played tonight, Ryan Lavarnway, Nate Spears and Kyle Weiland all got called up and will be in Toronto this afternoon.  Ryan and Kyle have been called up before, but this is the first time for Nate.  After playing in Portland in 2010 and helping Pawtucket make it to the playoffs this year, Nate will most likely see his first Major League at-bat in Toronto. (Nate isn’t currently on the 40-man roster so a move will have to be made before he gets officially activated.)

I’m always happy for the guys who get called up and given how much I’ve learned about Nate from Kelly O’Connor, who has been following his career much more closely than I (or probably ANYONE)  for a few years now, I’m especially happy that he gets his shot this week.  But the one thing that always interests me is how the fans of the Minor League teams react to losing players once the playoffs begin.  I know plenty of people who follow the SeaDogs the PawSox and even the Spinners who don’t pay that much attention to the Red Sox.  They live near the MiLB parks, they go to the MiLB games and aren’t concerned with what the “big” team is doing and they’d rather see their guys in the Minor League uniforms for the playoffs.  If your team gets into the playoffs and then suddenly players start being plucked out to join the parent team (only to be sent packing for home once the regular season ends) it has to be frustrating.  I imagine it’s frustrating for the players who don’t get called up as well given that they’re being left behind to take on the playoffs without their teammates.  The playoffs for the PawSox begin on Wednesday and by all accounts Kyle Weiland was going to start the first game.  Now he’ll most likely be sitting in the Red Sox bullpen in Toronto while Matt Fox gets the start for Pawtucket.  While getting the big league time is what they are working for, I wonder how they feel about missing out on the playoffs (especially since they won’t be in the playoffs with the Red Sox this year)?  I’d imagine for someone like Nate getting the call for the FIRST time, the excitement about actually getting called up outweighs any disappointment there might be in regard to missing the playoffs.

The PawSox play their final regular season game today at 1:05pm (all the women fans in attendance get a rose) and the Red Sox play their first of a four-game series against the Blue Jays at 1:07 this afternoon.  In Toronto, Josh Beckett will be on the mound to,  hopefully, put an end to the two-game losing streak.  The Yankees just finished beating up on the Jays…I’m hoping this doesn’t encourage them to take out their frustrations on the Red Sox.  I’d like a bit of carnage coming from the Sox this week.

September 5, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weekend High

I was trying not to be greedy. I wasn’t really even considering a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles when I wrote that I’d like the Red Sox to go into the All Star break in first place.  I won’t lie, though, sweeping the Orioles in four after the Kevin Gregg show the other night, feels pretty damn sweet.

I received many “that will only bring this team closer together and now they’ll beat you” messages after the basebrawl.  Last night most of the messages were of the “all your team is on steroids” variety.  Interesting reading anyway.

John Lackey stepped up big and while I had high hopes for Kyle Weiland, his ejection yesterday possibly helped the Red Sox.  Hitting Vlad Guererro didn’t seem intentional to anyone but Orioles fans and the home plate umpire, but since the teams had been warned Kyle got the heave-ho, paving the way for Alfredo Aceves to come in and pitch three hitless/scoreless innings.  (Serious question:  Where would this team be without Aceves?  If they still gave away the 10th player award, as of right now he’d be the guy I gave it to.)  After Weiland giving up eight hits in four innings, the Red Sox bullpen (Aceves, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon) combined for five innings, no hits, one walk and seven strike outs.  As bad as the Orioles have been playing, I really looked at the second two of the four games as being their good chances to get wins…and I’m very happy at how wrong I was.

I only have two things to say about Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. I’m always one who says if I caught a ball that was someone’s first home run or some kind of milestone, I’d most likely give it back without expecting anything. But when that player is Derek Jeter and it is something as big as his 3000th hit, I would expect a whole lot more than the Yankees shelled out to the guy who caught the home run ball. While people are lauding the guy for being unselfish (and, initially I was too), I can’t put out of my mind that Jeter will make millions off of this accomplishment and all this guy really got were tickets for half a season of baseball. Blows my mind.

The other thing is, if I never hear Michael Kay’s voice again, it’ll be too soon. An hour or so after the home run, this is what he had to say: “He needed two hits to get to 3000, he wears number 2, he’s only the second player to get 3000 hits in MLB history and when he hit that home run the clock struck two. (Long pause) I’ll wait for your goosebumps to go down.” Hitting your 3000th hit is very cool. Hitting it for a home run is freaking amazing. Phrasing what you did, Mr. Kay, did NOT bring on goosebumps, just a shrug and a “You can try to make something out of anything these days” attitude from me.  (Which isn’t a commentary on the achievement.  Sure what Jeter accomplished is impressive.  But Michael Kay’s trying to piece together the meaning of “2” really was ridiculous and not goosebump-inducing at all.)

But back to the Orioles for a moment.  After the series was over, Buck Showalter continued his pissing and moaning about the Red Sox and their payroll (Kevin Gregg got the memo about this as well when mentioning payroll in his post game comments) and it gave us a Jason Varitek uncharacteristically humorous quote:

“We have some youth, too. So people can literally kiss my rear end.”

It’s a visual I could live without, but it made me laugh out loud.

Red Sox don’t play until Friday but we get the Big Papi show at the Home Run Derby tonight and by way of players backing out, getting injured or being ineligible to play (sorry Felix Hernandez), we’re sending six guys to the All Star Game (even though Lester won’t be playing).  If you need your Red Sox fix before Friday, you still have these next two days.

July 11, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment