There’s baseball tonight. Awesome. Maybe the real Red Sox will come back to replace this group of castoffs and minor leaguers. We can only hope.
There’s baseball tonight. Awesome. Maybe the real Red Sox will come back to replace this group of castoffs and minor leaguers. We can only hope.
So we’ve been gone for a while. These things happen when real life interrupts blissful Baseball fandom. The time off (which isn’t particularly over, more on that in a bit) has helped to reenergize us and has also reaffirmed our love for the Red Sox, specifically these Red Sox.
C0ming into the season I was confident despite the utterances of such terms as “bridge year” and “transitional period” throughout the off season. I knew that there was no way that the team was going to actually allow a season to go by without making a push for a title, especially with the fact that this season’s payroll ($170 mil) was higher than any in the club’s history. There was a lot of grousing about how the failure to sign Leigh Tiexiera’s wife in the winter of 2008 had screwed up this team for years to come, and local pessimism was at it’s highest point since the winter of 2002, when everything had gone to shit and we still didn’t have a ring.
I could see where the doubters were looking, and I agreed with them in some way, but I still saw true promise in this club. There was some flash, some personality and some frailty, much more like the clubs that we used to love in the early part of the decade. So far, they have proved me right, and there’s much more to which we should look forward.
First and foremost there are the guys who keep showing up an doing their jobs. As long as we have Kevin Youkilis (seriously, Vote for Youk), David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and (gulp) J.D. Drew going out there every day, the Sox have a chance to win. Without Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox have been grinding along, winning the first two of pretty much every series and doing it in every way possible. It is in many ways thanks to these guys.
David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre (both All Stars) have bounced back into form after disastrous 2009s and are both making Theo Epstein look good. Who else thought Beltre was going to hit .340 this deep into the season? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so. J.D. and Youk, on the other hand are as steady as they come, both putting up the numbers and playing the kind of defense we have come to expect from both of them. Even J.D.’s monthly period pains have been just what we expected (he misses 4-5 days a month with some type of nagging malady. Therefore, he’s either a Werewolf or a chick). And we can’t discount Scutaro’s ability to make the routine play and get on base when necessary.
Then there’s the collection of Minor Leaguers, castoffs and miracles that Theo has found and thrown in to the fire. I was at the game when Darnell McDonald made his debut with a game tying homer and a walk off double, and he has been steady if not spectacular, but definitely better than expected for a guy who had been bouncing around the minors for 11 years. Danny Nava, on the other hand, came from the other end of the spectrum but had just as few expectations, and made his presence known just as fast. Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront (tonight’s starter) and all the rest have also been operating above and beyond. These kids (who are mostly older than me) are kicking ass and taking names, and it is good for everyone.
Granted, there are still issues. The bullpen is an absolute trainwreck. Getting the ball to Daily Daniel Bard and Papelmoose has gotten to be an adventure, as anyone who was begging for Daisuke to make it just one more inning last night should know. The injuries will also eventually catch up to us, because you can’t win a world series with Eric “Corey’s less talented younger brother” Patterson hitting in the second spot in the lineup.
We’ll be gone until Monday, as the Sox limp (quite literally) into the All-Star break. Damn real life and it’s getinthewayish abilitites.
They ain’t prefect, but I love ’em. You should too.
I’ve decided, after long and arduous contemplation, and watching Italy “France” themselves out of the World Cup (if they had shown the slightest bit of effort, Slovakia wouldn’t have scored the third goal and Italy might have moved on), I have decided that last night’s stomach punch of a Red Sox game needs to be let go.
Even the best closers in the world (which, by all statistical measure, Papelbon is one of) blow a save now and then. It just happened to come last night for Paps, who had been throwing the ball very well. It blows that it had to be Jason “I’m nowhere near as cool as I was in Oakland, but still suck way less than as a Yankee” Giambi to stick it to us, but it had to be someone, and better someone who is already so incredibly hateable. This does mean, however, that I have to like interleague a bit less because it no longer provides good eating for the Sox, and also because it reminded me that Jason Giambi is in fact still a baseball player, and not bouncing at the hottest night club in Bumfuck, Kentucky.
It’s actually kind of nice that I had this one down as a loss from the moment I saw the probable starters. I’m not saying that Lackey has been super bad (he’s still better than Burnett) but I have absolutely zero faith in the guy as a top tier stopper. A quality start out of him would be great, as opposed to the five spot that Colorado put up on him last night. The scary part is that he was more productive at bat, scoring what was the potential winning run after doubling off of Jimenez in the fifth.
He was up against Ubaldo Jimenez, who is really that good, and just couldn’t show it against Danny Nava (best Red Sox ever) and Darnell McDonald. I was expecting two runs and maybe seven hits from the Sox, and a ho-hum, nothing special loss. Turns out I got a game where baseball’s best pitcher (other than Strasburg) took one on the chin for the first time all year but his team came back to kick us in the nuts.
Tonight we’ve got Daisuke back on the hill after his pretend DL stint, and it looks like we may have finally said Adios to Treebeard, as Mike Lowell hits the DL to replace him. I am really starting to wonder what in the hell this team could do if it was healthy at some point this season.
I know it’s the second post in a row with a Pearl Jam video, but it’s better than the alternative.
Last night’s set list: RELEASE, ANIMAL, THE FIXER, IN MY TREE, ELDERLY WOMAN BEHIND THE COUNTER IN A SMALL TOWN, FORCE OF NATURE, GIVEN TO FLY, SAD, UNTHOUGHT KNOWN, PILATE, HAIL HAIL, PUSH ME PULL ME, EVEN FLOW, UNDONE, NOT FOR YOU (MODERN GIRL), RED MOSQUITO, GOT SOME, STATE OF LOVE & TRUST, WHY GO
BEE GIRL, JUST BREATHE, LOVE REIGN O’ER ME, RIVAL, SAVE YOU, REARVIEWMIRROR
SMILE, WASTED REPRISE, BETTER MAN / SAVE IT FOR LATER, SOLDIER OF LOVE, CROWN OF THORNS, ALIVE, ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD
All of these were awesome. Thank god I wasn’t watching this:
We live to play another day. Most of us.
I must first admit to not watching the game last night, I was at an event of equal length, more death and less balls: The Opera.
But upon my midnight return to the hotel, I was graced by baseball tonight’s highlights. Lester for 7 innings of shutemdown baseball (11 k’s) then Bard K’s the side after giving up a double just to keep the game intrigue high, and then in came the Moose to shut things down.
Lester’s ability to vary between a 95mph heater, and a 78mph curveball is just knee bucklingly awesome. My favorite toss of his, however, is his 87mph running cutter. And each of them worked last night. Lester has been generally poor in April over his career… and given this will prob be his last start this month, I’m looking forward to a very fulfilling May. Which will be nice because we forget that May is generally a shitty and rainy month… and Boston only smiles when the Sox are winning (or when we hear tourists complaining about us… it’s just the best).
Assuming Lowell and Ortiz don’t poison each other, Bucc keeps plowing away (heyo), Beckett gets his shit together and Lackey keeps it on the straight & narrow… we’re in for a 19+ win May.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. After an early season series loss to the Yanks, SMC and I decided that we needed some way to figure out what our path through this season was to be. So we went on a vision quest. While it took us away from you, our loyal and loving readers (all four of you), it helped us to figure out exactly what the hell was happening in Boston Sports.
With help from our Spirit Guides, these are some of the things we picked up:
The Sox should give Hermida a shot at being an every day DH before they give one to Lowell. The team knows that, one way or another, Lowell is gone after this season (even if he is not traded in the mean time, he has said that he is likely to retire). With Ortiz flagging, that leaves Hermida, a former first round pick who is hitting very well in limited action so far (5-14, 1.186 OPS, 3-RBI two out double yesterday) to be the guy who steps in for him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ortiz still has some gas left in the tank (as evidenced by his 29 homers and 99 RBI in only four months of usefulness last year), but having a backup plan for more than this year is a good idea and that is clearly not Mike Lowell. Hermida should get a shot.
The bullpen will be fine, as long as Manny Delcarmen is not given a larger role. He’s a local guy, and apparently a good guy, but he doesn’t get the job done. While guys like Ram-Ram (who gave up a meaningless three run bomb to some nameless Royal over the weekend) and Oki (who has already walked three) have bad outings on occasion, even bad streaks, they are the exception, not the rule. With Delcarmen it’s the other way around, to me at least, and when he comes in and pitches well, I am surprised. If Francona can use those two guys wisely, along with Schoenweis, without leaning on them too much and overworking them, he’ll be able to bridge the inning or two between the starters and Pap nicely.
Which brings me to my next point. Daniel Bard is clearly not ready. All of you people out there who have been screaming for the Sox to trade Papelbon and his 38 saves last season because this kid throws 100 and is the next big thing are wrong. Yes, he may develop into a first class closer, but he’s not there yet, and he’s definitely not ready to close the door for a championship contender. He throws 100, but without a complimentary pitch to match that, hitters will be sitting dead red and the ball will end up going home with some fan. His changeup hasn’t been fooling people and his curve is not developed to the point where he can get strikes with it consistently. Once he has something else for hitters to be looking for, that 100 mph heater will be a much more effective weapon. The same thing is why Papelbon had some struggles last year (he still only blew three saves). He stopped being able to get his splitter over for strikes and hitters were looking for the fastball.
We were also reminded that there are other sports in the region, though they have all taken a back seat to anything the Sox do. I’ve become convinced that the Celtics are going to make a first round exit this season. They are going to face D-Wade and El Heat in the first round and all season the top players in the league have torched them in big situations. By the way, Wade is the new Allen Iverson (wore a Red Sox cap while talking about practice), without the convictions and off the court stuff.
The Bruins, on the other hand, actually have some things to be excited about. In the last few weeks they have been playing better, acting like a team and even moved up to grab the sixth spot in the playoffs. There is a legit shot that a big performance by Tuukka can steal a round for the B’s, and with the way the rest of the team has been acquitting themselves lately, it will at least be an exciting first round matchup with Olympic hero Ryan Miller and the Sabres. The real excitement comes with the completion of the draft lottery the other day. The B’s are guaranteed to get either Talyor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Both of them are NHL ready and will be a big help next year to an offense that has been the second lowest scoring in the league this year. I kinda know what it would have felt like for the Celtics to have gotten one of the top two picks in 2007 and gotten either Oden or Durant (Oden has been a bust, but it was exciting to be thinking about getting him).
It’s good to be back. Wakefield takes the mound at 1, so fake sick, drink some ipecac, or moon your boss, because we have day baseball and it’s warm and sunny in Minnesota.
I hate extra innings. More so on the road, but even at home, if the Sox don’t get it locked up in nine, I always seem to know that there is little hope. Last season the Sox were 4-6 in extras, but it seemed like a freaking miracle every time they won one of those, and I honestly don’t remember any of the wins. I guess the pre-2004 me is coming back in some ways.
Last night, meanwhile, was a great kick in the nuts game to start the season. Lackey was awesome, going six strong without giving up a run on only three hits to the vaunted Yankee lineup. He showed everything that he was supposed to be, battling every hitter and throwing strikes. If he keeps this up he will be dangerous. Unfortunately he did not get any support from either the offense, which only scored one run, or the bullpen.
Papelbon, the loser (the Sox bullpen has all three decisions this season so far), took the loss last night by being so predictable that even my sister knew that he was throwing a fastball to Curtis Granderson. He needs to start throwing the splitter if he ever wants to get to the point that he can get the big payday in free agency that people say he is trying to save his arm for. Unless you are Mariano Rivera, nobody can be a one pitch closer in this league, especially if that pitch is straight. It’s not like Bard is ready to replace him yet, seeing as he was the one who served up the RBI single to Nick effing Swisher (currently leading the race with Nick Johnson for the Yankee role player who I want to die most painfully, mostly because he looks like a douche in the Buchholz commercial) on a changeup. Bard needs to learn that his changeup is not and will never be his out pitch, and if he lets the hard one fly, not many people will be catch up to his fastball.
Of course, after last night, today is an off day. A whole day to hear people continue to argue that somebody should euthanize Ortiz (who did get the sole RBI our club could muster last night) in favor of Lowell, whether or not the bullpen will right itself (completely ignoring the fact that they were nasty on Sunday) and all of the other things that people overreact to three days into the season.
The kick to the junk was actually a good thing if you think about it. This is baseball. Shit like this happens all the time and we all need to be prepared for it over the course of a long season. Just keep telling yourself, “it will be fine,” and enjoy Tiger’s reemergence from his cone of silence. I hope he sucks.