Tag Archives: Dustin Pedroia

Coming to Grips.

Now We Know How Mets Fans Feel In September.

Just about three weeks ago, I left the country for an amazing vacation in Europe. We drank, we danced and we had a blast. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, it seems everything had gone to shit. The 2010 Red Sox are done like dinner. They had a shot to be really, really good, but injuries, ineffectiveness and all manner of crappy decision making led them to the point they are at now: playing out the string with a collection of old guys, cast offs and minor leaguers.

Sure, the pitching is still pretty good. Buchholz deserves some nods for Cy Young, and Jon Lester is still the man, but Beckett and Lackey are underperforming like it was super cool, and we are learning that no matter how good your pitching is, you still need to defend and score some freaking runs to win games.

Ever since I got back, I have been searching for answers as to how it got this bad. Had Theo tempted fate a little to much by calling this season a “Bridge Year” in the spring and then throwing the team’s highest payroll ever out there? Did we all need a fall free of drama, sleepless nights and heavy drinking? Did the fans (I’m looking at you, Benny Bagels) make this happen by not watching? Did the baseball gods finally decide that injuries had stayed too far away from the Sox?

No matter who it is that we blame (I’m thinking the injuries may have something to do with it though) this season was a missed opportunity in many many ways. The Sox were 36-20 through May and June, dominating everyone (it helped that they were 13-5 against the senior circuit) and seemingly getting ready to put a hurting on the Yanks and Rays. Then the bug hit; Beckett was already on the DL, Victor and Pedey went down within a few days and then, just after the break, when things were looking like they might get back to normal, Youk somehow got an injury that f#$%ing nobody ever gets, and was shut down for the season. (Don’t even mention Ellsbury. He is dead to me and will be so until he returns and steals home again) There were just too many injuries and the outfield of McDonald, Hall and Drew hasn’t exactly been what we planned on.

Don't we all need more Beard in our lives?

The nail in the coffin has really been (amazingly) the goddamn Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were mathematically eliminated about three hours after pitchers and catchers reported, but they have beaten the Sox to a tune of 7-6 this season. No, you aren’t reading that wrong, the Sox have lost seven of the thirteen games they have played against the Baltimore “33 Games Out” Orioles. They are 11-4 against the Blue Jays, who are at least good enough to be troublemakers this month, but they can’t freaking beat a team that I’m pretty sure dropped two of three to the Japanese Little Leaguers. Last night’s game just proved it to me, this season is over.

With the top four guys in the lineup all missing significant (Read: devastating) time this season, what did we really expect?

Go Sox.

Done.

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An Admission of Guilt From a Proud Red Sox Fan.

A few days ago, our friend Katfish compared us here at the Ballpark to Bill Simmons. Often, this might have been a good thing, but he didn’t mean it that way. He wasn’t calling us good writers who effectively establish and support ideas using both logic and hilarious (sometimes) pop culture references, and on the other hand, he wasn’t calling us assholes who move to L.A., abandon the concept of being the “Boston Sports Guy” and completely ignore Baseball after writing a great book about it. No, he was referencing the fact that we have been MIA for the past two weeks or so (or for the better part of a month if you want to rub salt in the wound), the same way Simmons disappears when the NBA season ends.

I am sorry.

This is what he looked like in the minors, where he'll be soon enough, Theo willing.

There are times in your life when your “real” life gets in the way of your virtual life. It sucks, but this summer has been a tough time to get any writing done, and frankly, there is another reason. I’ve been so uninspired by these replacement Red Sox that it’s been more appealing to deal with women’s shoes (for serious) than to write about them. The lineup was stagnant, wasting quality starts left and right (with the rotation having returned to its fully dominating strength), and the ‘pen was giving up what meager leads that the offense did produce. Oh, and Corey Patterson’s little brother was truly ruining my life at multiple positions around the diamond.

Last night, however, was an entirely different story, with the exception of Pedroia (who has been running) and Ellsbury (still a pussy but now rehabbing in the minors), the lineup was intact. Danny Nava, Dusty Brown and all the other spare parts are long gone. There has even been a Jed Lowrie sighting and Mike Lowell is tearing things up in the minors (both of them are probably gone to get a reliever, we hope). Things are looking up.

Seeing a lineup that is actually dangerous one through six (until those other two guys get back and it’s one through eight, sorry Mike Cameron) is lightyears better than the crap that Tito has been forced to run out there in the past six weeks. I’m still convinced that with 62 games remaining and an eight game deficit, the division is within reach.

And we’ll be here, for the most part.

Go Sox.

Done.

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God, Just Get Me To Thursday.

I don’t remember if there has ever been an All-Star Break that has been so interminably long (aided by the fact that I was away for the week leading up to it), but that I have been so O.K. with. The Sox are beat to shit, and nothing can do them better than some time off. Sure the All-Star game was fun (no it wasn’t, it was boring and poorly managed, but I’m getting more and more convinced that Bud Selig is a killer robot each day and want to keep him happy), and the NL finally won one, which means that the Sox can sweep at Fenway this year as opposed to some pissant NL town.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a midseason break without some type of list commemorating the first half or looking forward to the second. Seeing as the M*A*S*H unit Sox have limped into the break on pace to win 94 games without half of their team (and still finish third in the best division in baseball history), I’m going to just let all that be and get ready for what’s next. So with no more adieu and without further gilding the lilly, I present to you the short list of things to watch out for the rest of the 2010 Red Sox season.

Dustin Pedroia’s CT scan (Thursday): Seriously, the whole season might hinge on this. If everything goes well, The Laser Show (awesome new nickname from Peter Abraham of Extra Bases) will be off the crutches and back doing something less crutchy this week. That puts a return sometime at the beginning of next month, or knowing our MVP second baseman, the end of July. If this all goes through, our best hitter is back in the lineup with two months to go, we have a gold glover back at a premium defensive position and the sparkplug back in the clubhouse.

If it doesn’t show adequate progress I’m packing up my balls and going home, because that means surgery and see you in February. That’s how important Pedroia is to the Sox.

The Returns of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Victor Martinez (Next two weeks): Beckett is the wild card here. He could power through a rehab start or three and then come in and make the rest of the AL his own personal fire hydrant for the rest of the season. He could come back and do his best Jeff Suppan impersonation, leaving the fans to wonder what that $68 million extension did to him. Buchholz is going to come back from vacation, which is what this DL stint was, not a real injury, and be exactly the guy that he was in the first half and challenge Lester for the Cy Young. (These Two Week DL stints for every pitcher on the staff are truly a brilliant idea). Victor, well, Victor will stabilize the pitching staff because they won’t be throwing to Kevin Cash any more and provide a semblance of normalcy for a lineup that has been missing the three guys at the top. All good things.

Trading Deadline (July 31): Consider this an open letter to Theo, Lucchino, Henry and the rest: Don’t be pussies. Love, the people who pay your bills. This is when we will know if the front office has decided that this team is going all the way, or that this really has been a bridge year and our getting wrapped up in this team was pure folly. If they decide to play the “Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Jed Lowrie were our midseason pickups” card then they are pussying out and looking towards next year, but if David DeJesus (my buddy the Reverend’s favorite player) makes an appearance with a B on his cap, and a reliable relief pitcher (or two) strolls in from the ‘pen, then we have ourselves an ownership sponsored contender. Keep an eye on this one.

The expiration date on Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald (sometime in late August): This may be really pessimistic, but these guys haven’t done it in the past for a reason, and this is when Nick Green melted into a pool of jelly on the infield last season. Don’t get me wrong, these guys have been lifesavers for us and hopefully this doesn’t happen and we get a sequel to The Rookie based on this year’s Sox out of it, but the reality is that there had better be some movement on Ellsbury and DeJesus (yes, I have completely given up on Mike Cameron. He is playing through a lot of pain and not being a sissy about it, but at this point I don’t see him making a significant contribution to the club) soon, or we are heading into one wild ass pennant race with one arm tied behind our backs.

The Parade (early November): Anyone else see a touch of destiny sprinkled on this club?

Go Sox.

Done.

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Another Win, Another Nail in the Coffin for Big Papi

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rotting Corpse of David Ortiz

It’s sad, really. For five years, David Ortiz was one half of the most feared tandem in baseball, a power hitter who pitchers avoided. He hit 54 home runs in 2006, had at least 137 RBI for three years in a row, and was named the best clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox. Now he is the guy that pitchers hope come up when they are in a tight spot, the guaranteed out, the weakest link. It’s sad to see.

Last night’s game was a huge positive for the Red Sox. They got 8 solid innings from Lester, who seems to be rounding into form, a great defensive play from Pedroia, made no errors (seriously, for a team that was built to play defense, games without errors seem like no hitters this year), and got enough offense to get the win. Hermida’s clutch double (luck) continued his string of timely hits, and Lowell added yet another double, his fifth hit in a row, four of them doubles. They have now won two in a row and are just a game short of .500, and that is without two of their starting  outfielders.

But then there’s the artist formerly known as Big Papi. He is now hitting .154, with three home runs and 6 RBI. He approached the plate four times last night, walking away sadly after striking out twice and hitting into two double plays. The second of those, of course, was the real stomach punch. Bases loaded, nobody out and Ortiz gives all of Red Sox Nation a stomach punch by hitting directly into the shift for an unproductive 4-2-3 double play. I wasn’t even really hoping for a hit, just a productive out. Hell, even if he had hit into another type of double play the run could have score. If Juan Rivera wasn’t a completely inept leftfielder and had caught Hermida’s very catchable ball, we might not even have the positive of a win to temper the disappointment in our former idol. He has become Jason Varitek of September 2008, hitting into double plays, striking out and otherwise turning potential big innings into great big shitburgers like it is what he was getting paid to do.

To add insult to injury, the guy who everybody wants to replace him, and already has against left handers, continued to be red hot, doubling again to score Hermida right after. Mike Lowell, who has shown not only class in this situation, but the ability to thrive, hitting .317 with a .903 OPS. He also has five hits in his last five at bats.

Never Forget.

Right now, my inclination is to let Ortiz work it out. He may be driving me to want to punch babies, but we can never boo the guy, after all he has done for us. Last year he was just a little better at this point and then had the best final four months of the season in the AL. His teammates have his back, as evidenced by Dustin Pedroia’s comments after the game, and Tito is notoriously loyal to his players (and he knows more about his team than you do), so they’re probably going to let this one ride for a while.

If Lowell keeps tearing the cover off the ball though, the end of the month might have people singing a different tune.

Enjoy Cinco De Nomar.

Go Sox.

Done.

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So That is What Baseball Season is Supposed to Feel Like.

Yesterday I woke up with a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t the usual bad taste, from a combination of Narragansett and lack of sleep, it was worse. It may have been the water, but it was more likely the fact that my Boston Red Sox were now 11-14 and had suffered a weekend sweep at the hands of the Baltimore f#$%ing Orioles. It was too late to say that they were still finding their groove, and that there was plenty of time to dig themselves out of any early season hole, and reports from the Herald that there was unrest in Tito’s house did nothing to assuage my fears.

What happened last night at Fenway, however, did make me feel better. It may be a sign that things are turning around, but it also may just be a righteous beatdown that erased memories of the sad end to the 2009 ALDS. Either way, it was great. The Sox got on the board early and often, pitched well and generally went all Paul Revere on their asses (quote the Beasties: I did it like this, I did it like that, I did it with a wiffleball bat). J.D. “I’m awake, promise” Drew continued his quiet return to life, going 4-5 with three RBI to bring his once anemic average up to .247, Mike Lowell continued to prove that he should at least get a shot as an every day DH by going 4-4 with three doubles, four knocked in and a walk (say goodbye, Papi), and even Beltre and Bill Hall finally got into the act by hitting their first home runs in a Red Sox uniform. To top it all off, old reliable Youk and Pedey chipped in with homers of their own.

Victor Even Chipped In By Nailing a Base Stealer.

Was it a sign of things to come? We can sure hope so, because I am sick and tired of seeing sub-.500 numbers and the (Roy Halladay-less) Toronto Blue Jays ahead of us in the standings. I don’t know if this was brought on by one of those players only meetings, if the hazing of the new guys ended or if the old guard was just so pissed about what happened last fall that they put everyone else in line, but something happened. It got so bad for the Angels (17 runs, 20 hits) that when Delcarmen took the mound, and looked absolutely dominating (sorry about blaming you for everything, you have been the one truly solid reliever these past few weeks), in the seventh inning, he and Victor were practicing calling pitches the way that they do when there is a runner on second. Practicing. That’s how much they want to win.

There are still warts, and who knows if this was a step in the right direction or just a blip on the radar, but it was good. Schoenweis gave up four in the ninth, continuing his lack of effectiveness, and Buchholz actually had his worst outing of the season (5-2/3, 4ER) but a win is a win. Now they’ve pulled me back in.

Is it 7:10 yet?

Go Sox.

Done.

P.S. This is the song I got in my head every time Lowell came to bat.

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The 2010 Boston Red Sox: Pitching, Defense and the Three-Run Home Run.

I’m sitting here, unable to sleep, staring at a blank screen and I don’t know what to say. Today marks the true end of the longest, darkest winter since 2003. The Yankees won the World Series while the Red Sox limped into the playoffs and got swept by the Angels, who had previously been unable to find their own dicks against the Sox in the playoffs. We had to deal with an entire winter of seeing pictures of Douche-Rod holding up the trophy and hearing about how CC Sabathia delivered the title for which he was paid $161 million.

But now it’s Opening Day….. Night. The 2010 Boston Red Sox take the field for the first official time tonight at 8:05 pm with Josh Beckett leading them out. The winter is over. Summer is here. I have become complacent, knowing that the Sox will win somewhere in the area of 95 games, make the playoffs, and compete for a title.

They will do it in a different way than they have in the past, with “run prevention” instead of run production. Gone are the days when Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Curt Schilling pounded teams into submission. This team belongs to the homegrown kids; Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester. They play defense, keep people off the bases and, hopefully, score some runs themselves.

I really don’t know what to feel today, other than the excitement that comes with the ultimate anticipation in a game that is all about anticipation. The predictions are made (Sox over Phillies in 6), the wait is over.  Today everything is perfect. What comes from here on out is all gravy.

See you at the Baseball Tavern. 5:00.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Oh, God, No. Not Pedroia.

This place is supposed to be relaxing.

All I want out of spring training is the ability to feel the anticipation that comes with a new season while not having to completely launch myself into the day to day rollercoaster that is being a Sox fan. I restart my Extra Bases addiction, prepare my liver for the long months ahead and kiss my family and friends goodbye. What I don’t do is get hugely caught up in records, stats, or even performance in general for anyone other than the new guys. It’s completely unnecessary and saves me a lot of headaches when looking at boxscores to see that our minor league pitchers gave up another six runs to the Cardinals or Pirates. Who cares? I will go into complete and total freakout mode twelve days from now when Josh Beckett throws the first pitch of the 2010 season, but until then I try to keep an even keel. I just ask that the guys stay healthy.

This was the only O.K. part of last night's game, and it was a groundout.

When I woke up this morning to check the score of last night’s game (I didn’t focus on it through EB as usual because of the best episode of Lost in the past two seasons), I was horrified to find that not only has the Sox lost their ninth out of ten and Buck had looked like it was still 2008, but that the heart of the team had left the game with a wrist issue. No matter what has happened in the past decade, I still went straight to the old stand by: “holy hell, he’s done for the season, I might as well just hibernate for the next seven months to spare myself the pain.” Pedroia going down is a worst case scenario, a la Nomar’s wrist in 2001. I fear anything attached to the idea of a wrist injury, having dealt with Nomar’s, Lowrie’s and Ortiz’ I know that they are often not as simple as we might think.

There have been no announcements about the X-Rays yet, but this would be a good time to shut the kid down for a week. Pedroia is a slow starter anyways and pushing anything at this point makes me just about ready to crap myself. Let’s wrap him in bubble wrap, keep him away from any dangers for a while and make sure that this thing goes away right quick, and we don’t have to flush all our hopes down the tubes quite yet.

Go Sox.

Done.

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