Friday, May 21, 2010

No one is happier than I am that David Ortiz has been red hot in May. His numbers for the month so far- .358 average, 7 HR, 1.170 OPS - are amazing.

That said, Big Papi popped off in the paper today about how upset he's been about the heat he got in the media during his slow start. He even went so far as to specifically call out ESPN's Buster Olney for saying that he can't hit an inside fastball any more. Ortiz pointed out that he rarely gets pitched inside and wanted to know what Buster was watching.

David Ortiz has done many great things for the Red Sox, but I think most people had a legitimate concern as to whether he was done from looking at his performance in April. One of the things that comes with the big money and fame enjoyed by our sports superstars is that certain people will turn on you at the first sign of weakness. It's not necessarily right, but that's how it is.

My thought is that Big Papi doesn't understand how the media works around here. The two greatest players in Red Sox history, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski were both berated by the press at various points in their careers. Teddy Ballgame's battles with the "Knights of the Keyboard" were legendary. Name a great Red Sox player of the last 50 years and he was probably vilified in the press at one time or another. Jim Rice, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Manny Ramirez; the list goes on and on. It even extends to other sports - is Tom Brady spending too much time with Gisele and the baby? - that was a hot topic last fall. Remember the story about Larry Bird's estranged daughter, or the bar fight he was involved in? If these two guys can get that kind of heat from the media, nobody is immune.

Actually, maybe there's one exception - can anyone remember a negative word being said about Bobby Orr?

I know Big Papi is never going to read this, but he should just consider himself the latest in a long line of Boston sports legends that got on the wrong side of the sports pages for a time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I said a few days ago that this 13 game stretch against the Tigers, Yankees, Twins, Phillies and Rays would tell us a lot about where the 2010 Red Sox were headed. After 5 games, I'm still not sure.

The Sox are 2-3 so far, but they could easily be 4-1. The could also easily be 1-4. They blew a 6-1 lead Saturday night in Detroit and ended up losing in extra innings. They battled back from a big deficit in Monday night's game to take a 9-7 lead into the 9th. Papelbon promptly blew that by giving up 2-run homers to A-Rod and Marcus Thames (?). Thames blast was the first walkoff homer Paps has ever given up.

Last night's game started an hour late because of rain and I went to bed before it was over. The Sox were down 5-1, so I was shocked when I woke up this morning, checked the MLB AtBat app on my iPod Touch and discovered that they had won 7-6!

So what have we learned?
  • A lot of players on this team are not happy. Lowell is unhappy because he isn't playing, and even mused to the media on asking for his release. Wakefield is unhappy that he isn't starting. Matsuzaka and Martinez apparently can't get along for some reason. Big Papi is mad at the media and fans that were questioning whether he was done when he was hitting .150 last month. The fans are mad at Theo Epstein because he was at the Pearl Jam concert Monday night instead of...wait...what exactly was he supposed to be doing instead? Would something have changed if he had been watching the game?
  • Josh Beckett is a mess. He left last night's game with a back problem. His ERA is 7.29. You really have to wonder where his head is at right now
  • Ditto on Papelbon. He reverted to his fastball-only ways on Monday and got knocked around for it.
  • Given the way the Yankees and Rays are playing, and assuming no major injuries, I think it's going to take 97-98 wins to get into the playoffs this year. Approximately one-quarter of the season is gone and the Sox are 20-20. To get to 98 wins, they are going to have to go 78-44 (.639) the rest of the year. In contrast, the Rays only need to go 70-53 (.569) and the Yankees record the rest of the way would be 73-50 (.593). I know it's only May, but the Sox have a very deep hole to dig themselves out of.
  • The Celtics are a lot more fun to watch right now.
I am, however, loving Tony Massarotti's new name for the Red Sox: The Fortune .500. Because they cost a fortune and they play .500

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm not a hockey fan. I don't really follow the Bruins other than to hear the score on the radio or see it online when I'm perusing I couldn't name 10 NHL players. I find the game almost unwatchable on TV, although I enjoy watching hockey in person. In 1,038 previous posts on my blog, I have mentioned the Bruins exactly five times.

All that said, I couldn't let the Bruins epic fail pass without mentioning it. Proving how much hockey means to me, I wasn't even home to watch the game. We had tickets to see the Framingham High School production of my favorite musical, "Guys 'n Dolls", so that's where we were tonight (the kids were great, by the way). The Hey provided me with game updates via text, so I knew just after the game ended that the Bruins had blown not only the 3-0 lead in the series, but also a 3-0 lead in game 7.

I think the Bruins have actually topped the pre-'04 Red Sox in finding creative and improbable ways to lose. I have to think this loss feels as bad, or worse, to Bruins fans as Bucky "Bleeping" Dent, the '86 Mets or Aaron Boone felt to Red Sox fans.

One thing, though. Good on the Flyers for not rolling over when it would have been easy to do so (see James, Lebron).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not convinced yet.

The Sox lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees over the weekend, and both losses were pretty ugly - 10-3 on Friday and 14-3 on Saturday - before getting a win on Sunday night to avoid a sweep. It was the Sox first win after 8 straight losses to the Rays and Yanks.

My main concern is Josh Beckett. After dominating in the first three innings on Friday night, he imploded, giving up three runs in the 4th and a whopping six in a third of the 6th inning, when his control totally deserted him. He hit two batters, walked two, and even hit his catcher, noted field goal kicker Jason Varitek, on the forearm as signs got crossed up. Beckett's ERA is up to 7.46 and he has been pushed back a day in the rotation. Tim Wakefield will make a spot start, while Beckett hopefully gets his mechanics worked out.

There have been a couple of good developments the last few days, though. David Ortiz is starting to look like, if not the Big Papi of 2003-2007, at least like a serviceable DH. Jon Lester has overcome his early season funk and has pitched much better his last few starts. Victor Martinez has actually thrown out a few would-be base stealers. It's obvious he was embarrassed by what has been going on and has been working very hard on improving.

With last night's win over the Blue Jays the Sox are back over .500, and they picked up a game on both the Rays and Yankees, who both lost. The Sox have a very tough stretch of games coming up, with trips to Detroit, Yankee Stadium, Philadelphia and Tampa coming up, and a quick 2 game series against the Twins at Fenway stuck in the middle. By the time this is over, it will be Memorial Day weekend and we should have a very good idea of what this team is by that point.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I have no idea what to make of this team.

I speak, of course, of the 15-14 Boston Red Sox. I have no idea what to make of the Bruins, either, but for completely different reasons.

The Sox just completed a four game sweep of the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County Edition. This domination of a team that went to the ALCS comes on the heels of being swept by the Baltimore Orioles, a team that is now 4-19 against the non-Boston teams of the American League.

Will the real Boston Red Sox please stand up?

I think (hope) that the real Red Sox are closer to the team we saw the last few days. Strong starting pitching (except Daisuke), some exceptional defense (led by Dustin Pedroia) and timely hitting (14 of Jeremy Hermida's 16 RBI have come with two outs) were the rule during the Angels series.

The Yankees come into town tonight. If we can take at least 2 of 3, I'll start to believe again.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What the hell was that?

So much for the brief burst of optimism after the Blue Jays series. The Red Sox were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend. That's right. Swept. By a team that is now 4-2 against the Red Sox and 3-16 against everyone else.

I had said earlier in the week that the real test for the 2010 Red Sox would come in this upcoming week, when they play the Angels and Yankees. I didn't anticipate that they would fail miserably at the pop quiz this weekend. It's just an embarrassing disaster.

Two of the losses were in extra innings. In the other, they came out on the short end of another slugfest. Daisuke Matsuzaka looked pretty good - for four innings - until he fell apart in the 5th on Saturday.

The problems are pretty obvious. Three of the supposed big hitters in the lineup, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez are hitting .159, .214 and .233 respectively, with a combined 27 RBI. Other than Clay Buchholz at 2.19, the other 5 members of the starting rotation this year have ERAs ranging from 4.50 (Lackey) to 11.57 (Daisuke). Beckett and Wake are both over 6.

Just four weeks in, the Sox are 7 behind the Rays and 5.5 games behind the Yankees for the wild card. I know it's still early, but if they don't get their act together right now, they are going to dig themselves too big a hole to get out of.

No better time to start than tomorrow night against the Angels!

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