Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Last night's game was a classic, at least until Julian Tavarez showed up.

Curt Schilling and Johan Santana matched each other for 8 innings, both pitchers leaving the game with a 1-1 tie. The only runs came in the 7th, with solo home runs by Jason Varitek for the Sox and Michael Cuddyer for the Twins. Then the bullpens came in. Papelbon and Timlin provided three innings of scoreless relief for the Sox. Joe Nathan and Juan Rincon matched that for the Twins.

Then the teams obviously ran out of good relievers. The Sox came up with a run in the top of the 12th off Jesse Crain on an Alex Gonzalez ground out, with Lowell scoring from 3rd.

Then Francona brought in Tavarez to pitch the bottom of the inning in a save situation. Tavarez has been very inconsistent this year, and the trend continued. After getting Joe Mauer for the first out, he hit Cuddyer. Justin Morneau followed with a ground rule double and Torii Hunter was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then Tavarez gave up a walk-off grand slam homer to Jason Kubel to end the game.

It was a disappoing end to a great game. It's pretty easy to second guess Francona (there was a lot of that on WEEI today). Tavarez has not pitched well this year. Would you have been better off bringing in Manny Delcarmen and giving the kid a bit of a trial by fire? Maybe. At some point these young pitchers are going to have to prove they can pitch in pressure situations.

One of the podcasts I listen to is MLB Radio Daily. Usually the shows are pretty good, but as an arm of MLB, they tend to be apologists for the game. The latest example, which really infuriated me, was former catcher Jim Leyritz talking about the Jason Grimsley situation.

Leyritz, as far as I can figure it, had three main points:

Grimsley shouldn't have named other players in his testimony.

This sounds good in the abstract. Personally, however, if a dozen or so IRS and FBI agents show up at my house, the odds are pretty good that I'm going to sing like a canary.

The HGH Grimsley was taking isn't a performance enhancer, but just helps with recovery.

OK, if you are taking a substance that allows your body to bounce back more quickly than another players who isn't cheating, doesn't that enhance your performance? You may not grow big muscles like you do with steroids, but obviously taking HGH makes you play better. Otherwise, why take it?

He also doesn't address the fact that Grimsley was using steroids prior to the MLB testing system.

Players who were using steroids shouldn't be punished if they did it before the rules came into existance.

I hear this one a lot from various baseball people. They never seem to remember that taking steroids without a doctors prescription is against the law. I don't think it's unreasonable that we should expect that ballplayers are using legal means to prepare for the season.


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