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Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox
April 14, 2016 – My Dad was taken home by his Lord and Saviour. There are bunches of my words that you can read if you so wish, regarding my Dad’s death found in the following links. Dad. The Man is Gone. A Dad and This Boy. I miss him.
May 14, 2016 – We took the twins and their older brothers to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. It is the 6-year-old twins’ first trip to the old ballpark in Boston.
I don’t always place much blame on baseball managers, but when I do, it’s usually for a really good reason.
2013 – World Champions
2012 – Last place in the division
Unlike the at bats of a Red Sox hitter, I will keep this short and sweet. But then, I may just foul off a few pitches, lay off a tough pitch just outside the zone, and work the faithful into a frenzy with a timely hit.
It occurred to me recently, as I sang along with the words that I think I know from “Tessie”, that Boston loves to sing.
From McGreevey and the Royal Rooters from more than 100 years ago all the way up to the Fenway Faithful belting out “…every little thing is gonna be alright…“. Quite often I will sing the National Anthem with the twins to start our day on the way to school. Boston loves to sing the anthem too. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston sang. The Garden sang. These still bring tears to my eyes. Okay, actually they make me cry, completely.
Then for fun, I sing, “Take me out to the ballgame” with the kids all the time. And, for fun, Boston sings some more. Then there’s “Sweet Caroline”. A lot of people don’t like that Boston fans sing these songs. But, then I remember, it’s a game, it’s fun, and letting moments wash over me in my favorite ballpark ever, are better for me than had I not experienced them. Boston, all summer long, nightly, sings. Then there’s “Dirty Water” and “Shipping up to Boston”, and even “God Bless America”. Then there are fans who sing on the field. This video has been seen around the world. There are so many more.
Last night Boston was treated to something that had not been seen in 95 years, the home team winning the World Series on their home field. The Red Sox won their 3rd Championship in ten seasons and there was singing in every corner of Red Sox Nation through the night.
Last night I sang from my family room with the Dropkick Murphy’s as they sang the National Anthem. I shouted along with my TV when Victorino came to the plate. I participated in singing “Sweet Caroline” during the 8th inning. I celebrated and strained to hear The Standells above the roar of Fenway after Carpenter went down swinging. I watched the celebration and listened to player after player talk about, team, work, approach, belief, trust, and the will to win. Then I dozed off, smiling, and respectfully thinking of the players, fans, and generations that never saw any such thing in an 86 year span.
This morning started like most others do. Everyone scurrying to get to where they need to be, on time. On the ride to school the twins asked me to sing my special song, which is the National Anthem. I sang it, they filled in words where they knew to, or copied me. I smiled a little brighter and a little longer between words this morning, because I am a Boston Red Sox fan, and my favorite team won the World Series. Later today, if the mood strikes me, and I think it will, I may just bust out a few lines of “We are the Champions”. #bostonstrong
Let me start by saying that I am a life-long Red Sox fan. Watching post season baseball this year makes me wonder how the Red Sox even won as many games as they did this season. The teams still playing, and I stress the word T-E-A-M, look like they’re head and shoulders above and beyond the Red Sox especially when it relates to competing for World Championships.
Anyways, this isn’t about the Red Sox, I wanted to comment on the 2012 Yankees. The Yankees won more games than any other American League team. They slugged their way to 95 victories while belting 245 home runs. They lost their soon to be Hall-Of-Famer closer, Mariano Rivera, just a month into the season, they struggled some in the second half, and lost more 1-run games than they won. I’m not a Joe Girardi fan by any means, but I think he deserves a lot of credit. He managed his team, arranged his personnel, utilized his pitching staff, he worked through the ebb and flow of 2012 Yankee baseball, and won the AL East with 95 wins. After watching the debacle that was the 2012 season for the Red Sox, it was apparent to me that Joe Girardi was an integral part of Yankee success this season. Going a step further, I would dare say that the three strongest managers in the AL East are, by far, Girardi, Showalter, and Maddon. They all won 90 or more games this season, more wins than the Tigers or Cardinals, who are still playing ball. I wonder if John Farrell will join this group of top-notch managers by signing on with the island of misfit attitudes in Boston.
Honestly, listening to the press conferences after games, I was often impressed with the way Girardi handled questions. His cut-and-dry answers were honest, accurate, and rarely snide. He reminded me of Terry Francona when, at his best, he didn’t talk it up, but answered questions within the personal comfort of his baseball brilliance. Girardi managed. He made in-game decisions, as he should, and wasn’t afraid to make the move he thought was best for his club, regardless of popularity. And, until another Hall-Of-Famer to be, Derek Jeter, went down with a broken ankle bone in Game One of the ALCS, it seemed like Girardi and the Yanks would make every right move, wiggling out of trouble time after time. The Jeter injury, from here, appeared to be the official unplugging of the life support that the Yankees were clinging to. I know it was only Game One, but the Yanks were fortunate to have beaten the feisty Orioles.
Unproven, super closer of 2012, Jim Johnson, of the Orioles, assisted the Yankees to the ALCS almost as much as any of the Yankees own pitchers did. Johnson did convert two of three save opportunities in the series, but even that’s deceiving. In the other appearance that was not a save opportunity, he blew up, lasting one-third of an inning, allowing FIVE runs, and earning the loss. In the series, the Yankees battered the AL Saves leader (51) by hitting .316 against him and drove his series ERA to 10.38. What really stuck out to me was the gross lack of execution of pitches in so many of those at bats. I know guys get hits on high quality pitches from pitchers at times, then there are times when hitters would be at fault for not hammering pitches that were blatantly served up mistakes. In the last 20 seasons only two MLB Saves leaders have gone on to win the World Series in the same season that they led the MLB in saves, Brian Wilson with the Giants in 2010, and the great Mariano Rivera with the Yankees in 1999.
When we think of baseball, we think of numbers. When we remember baseball, we remember numbers. When we argue baseball, we argue numbers. So, here are some numbers. These numbers, in my opinion, show (contrary to Yankees GM, Brian Cashman) that the 2012 Yankees were closer to the second half Yankees, and the post season Yankees that we saw. During the season, the Yankees averaged an AL leading 3.32 extra base hits per game. In the post season that number dropped to 2.33 per game. Okay, maybe not earth shattering, but the teams’ post season leaders in XBH (extra base hits) were Raúl Ibañez, part-timer, with four; Ichiro Suzuki, signed as a part-timer, with three; Eduardo Núñez, part-timer who wasn’t even on the original ALCS Roster, with three. More numbers. The Yankees struck out 7.2 times per game in the regular season. In the post season that number jumped to 9.2 times per game. That’s two-thirds of an inning more per game that they didn’t even put the ball in play, and when they did it was with one less XBH than they were getting most of the year. In regular season play, the Bronx Bombers averaged 9.02 hits per game, or one an inning. In the post season they averaged just 6.67 hits per game. Ichiro had as many XBH in the post season as Robinson Canó and Mark Teixeira combined. Curtis Granderson followed up a stellar season of batting .232 while obliterating his own Yankee Team Record with 195 strikeouts by batting .100 with 16 strikeouts in the playoffs. Twenty, yes, twenty times a Yankee has hit more than 43 homers in a season, but with regard to whiffing, not even Danny Tartabull, Alfonso Soriano, or Jesse Barfield ever came close to the degree of swinging and missing that Granderson has each of the last two seasons. I wonder how Austin Jackson and Phil Coke are doing. Anyhow, the Yankees were playing post season baseball when most others were not, and numbers, or not, Joe Girardi should get an awful lot of credit for their run. I mean, he didn’t even come to bat in the post season, and still had as many XBH as A-Rod and Eric Chávez combined.
The Yankees won 95 games, which in the old days, would have been good enough to win the AL Pennant and an automatic trip to the World Series. In one seven game series, maybe the Yankees would have been good enough to win title number 28. Over the last 43 years, the Yankees are 7-4 in the Fall Classic, which is still impressive. Compared to the previous 48 years though, when the Yanks went 20-9 in the World Series, the last 43 years look pretty thin. Even so, this year they played in the ALCS, to me, it was through the ‘dog days’ and into the post season, that these Yankees looked a little closer to the truth.
This afternoon the baseball season continues, the post season. This season marks the first time in Major League Baseball history that 10 teams, yes one-third of the teams, made the playoffs. Now, for two of those teams, the post season will be done today. Today, the first ever Wild Card Play-In games kick off the post season. The two winners will advance to play the #1 seed in their respective leagues, the Yankees and the Nationals. Now, if this were set up like it was through 1969, then we would proceed directly to the World Series with the Yankees and Nationals being the pennant winners. In 2012 though, we start with the winner-take-all play-in round. The defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals play at Atlanta versus the Braves. Did you know that Atlanta is home to Major League Baseball’s third highest elevated ballpark? Only Colorado and Arizona play at higher elevations. The second of these games showcases the amazing Baltimore Orioles at the downward spiraling Texas Rangers. The Rangers led their division for 178 of the 192 days that made up the regular season, but find themselves in a sudden death game right away.
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) became the first player since “Captain” Carl Yastrzemski to win the Triple Crown, leading the American League in Batting Average, Home Runs, and Runs batted In. He’s also the first to win it since the evolution of the five-man rotation, closer’s, and divisional play. It’s a pretty impressive feat really. He’s only the tenth player to win the Triple Crown since 1909. Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams both did it twice, Babe Ruth never did it. Now the question has become who will win the AL MVP award, Cabrera or sensational rookie Mike Trout (Angels). Trout just completed one of the best baseball seasons ever played by a Major League Rookie. Personally, I would take Cabrera in my line up over any other player in the Major Leagues. Trout was amazing this year, but I don’t think his season, when looking past the rookie part of the matter, was any better than the season Jacoby Ellsbury had last year for the Red Sox. Ellsbury finished 2nd in MVP voting to Justin Verlander last season despite effecting the outcome in 124 more games than Verlander. If Cabrera does not win the MVP, even as a Triple Crown winner, it wouldn’t be unusual. Four of the last nine Triple Crown winners, WERE NOT named MVP of their league. We will have to wait and see.
In the National League, the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw became just the fourth pitcher since World War II to lead the Majors in Earned Run Average for two straight seasons. You may have heard of the other three pitchers on this list, Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez. Despite his efforts, and the blockbuster addition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers missed the playoffs.
Then there’s my beloved Red Sox. I don’t know how deep I can go into this subject without subjecting myself to the necessity of counselling. For me, emotionally anyways, this Red Sox season started last September, when it would be hard to argue to the contrary that a collection of players showed up everyday, physically at least, doing barely enough to collect a pay check. They mailed it in. They quit, on each other, on the coaching staff, on a pennant race, and got the manager they all wanted, fired. They missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. The organization removed the best manager they ever had. Their GM left, obviously learning from the events of 1912 in the North Atlantic. They named a new GM which was received as an outrageous joke by the Fenway Faithful (pre-pink hats). Then, the humour continued as Thanksgiving passed, after every other living managerial candidate was turned away, unavailable, or otherwise not chosen, the Sox named Bobby Valentine as their new manager. Personally, I thought his name was being mentioned as a joke. I thought he made the list because he fit the lofty criteria of the job search. One, he was currently alive. Two, he had managed a baseball team before. Three, he was not already under contract managing another team in the same division. And so it was, the Red Sox had a new manager.
To sum this last portion up, the Sox spent the last 13 months showing the world a few interesting, if not maddening or hilarious things, depending on what team you cheer for. First, it became increasingly clear that the ownership group not only took their eye off the ball regarding the make up and character of a championship caliber team, but they clearly meddled in to baseball operations and failed miserably. Second, although the team was hampered with injuries and displayed a toxic make up in the clubhouse, Valentine showed his true colors early and often as adversity followed him and the team like beat reporters around the ballpark. Often times even, he created his own adversity out of virtually nothing. Honestly, I think I could have managed the Sox to a better record this season, even if only by a game or two. But with the power that the ownership holds in baseball matters when they feel like being involved, it’s hard to say if any of the personnel hired into their titles actually make decisions in their roles. Third, and this may be the most maddening point of all, the players played terrible! As a competitor and an athlete who has put in thousands of hours of practice, training, and preparation, how can you come out and not play with the intensity and urgency that shows how bad you want to return to the top of your profession?!?! The Sox broke camp this spring and played like everything that had happened last year was just okay. Are you kidding me? Players quit. They stopped working. They stopped caring. They looked at themselves instead of up and down that bench. They took the reigns that Francona gave them and used them to construct a noose, expediting his demise. Oh man this subject gets me fired up.
So, without a hockey season to bring a smile to my face beginning next week, I will follow the MLB playoffs a little more closely. I look forward to the games later today. I will try to regroup after witnessing one of the ugliest Red Sox seasons I have ever seen. Next February when pitchers and catchers report, the glimmer will again begin, I hope. Enjoy the post season.
As if we needed any further proof of the character (lack there of) among this current Red Sox club, this week’s embarrassment takes the cake. This clubs collapse last season was tough to handle but not a shock as information became available. This club got Francona fired, as if he were the one losing the games. Oh, I know, he wasn’t fired. Face the facts, he was fired. No thanks to this collection of elevated, entitled nobody’s. The list of things contributing to the growing dislike of this team during 2012 is too long to list here. Ownership would rather entertain, sell bricks, delve into futbol, and sleepily address the public from behind their smoke and mirrors show, than win baseball games.
Today, I write about the players though. This week, this team essentially blew off one the most likeable, true gentleman, and talented members of the Red Sox organization, ever. Yes, ever. Johnny Pesky broke in to the Majors in 1942 at the age of 22. All he did was set a rookie record, leading the American League in hits with 205. Over the next three seasons he went off to war, serving his country in the Navy during World War II. He returned to the field for Boston and led the American League in hits and at bats in 1946 and 1947. In each of his first six seasons, Pesky finished among the top 8 players in the Major Leagues in runs scored. This during an era where the only guys scoring more runs than him were the likes of Williams, Musial, Ott, Kiner, and DiMaggio. He even finished in the top five in MVP voting twice. He had a lifetime .307 batting average (ranked 138th all-time of players with 3000 or more plate appearances) and an on base percentage of .394 (ranked 79th all-time). Among the storied history of Red Sox baseball, Pesky ranks in the club’s top ten of all-time for at bats, batting average, and on base percentage.
Those are measurable stats that anyone can look up. Pesky, though, may have been better measured by the number of smiles he gave and received. Or maybe it was in the number of years he represented his beloved Red Sox. Maybe it was the number of players he shared his experience with over the years. No matter how you slice it up, Pesky measured up. This roster of Red Sox players don’t come close.
Pesky came up when Major League players walked to the ball park. They actually mingled with the common man. They were common men. They worked jobs to earn a living when the baseball season was done, even the best players did. They weren’t entitled to anything. They were guaranteed nothing. They even went to war defending our freedoms. Freedoms that included playing the greatest sport on earth, our national pastime, baseball. He played when, God forbid, players were paid year by year, based on performance. They signed one year contract after one year contract. They didn’t save their best work for a free agent year because every year could have been their last.
I guess you can’t blame this current roster of Red Sox players for not relating to the descriptions above. You can certainly blame them for not knowing better though. All but four current players blew off Pesky’s funeral this week. They couldn’t give back a couple of hours of their precious time to honor a man who was a better player than most of them, a better man than maybe all of them, and who was more or less a part of Red Sox baseball since he was drafted 72 years ago. Pesky played his rookie year with Williams, Doerr, DiMaggio (Dom), Cronin, and Foxx, among others. I apologize for even mentioning this current Red Sox roster with Mr. Johnny Pesky in this piece. It’s not fair to him.
Embarrassing. Ridiculous. Selfish. Disconnected. Spoiled. Soft. Clueless. Entitled. Disrespectful. These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of these Sox blowing off Pesky’s funeral this week. Fitting as fitting can be, the Sox blew a 6-0 lead, en route to another loss tonight as I wrote this.
I’m happy that I had a chance to meet Johnny Pesky long enough to shake his hand years ago. I still have his autograph upstairs in my closet. I always paid special attention when I heard him talk about today’s ball players, especially when assessing their potential. After all, this man played along side Williams and Foxx. He faced Feller, Sain, Spahn, Lopat, Trucks, Newhouser, and Roberts, among others. He knew the game and he knew talent. Hearing him talk the game was worth listening to. Paying last respects to him at his funeral would seem obvious, especially for those playing for the organization that Pesky proudly represented for nearly 70 years. I mentioned earlier that Pesky and the players of his era were common men. If I’m right, then I’ll take a league full of common men over this group any day of the week. It’s clear to me, these Sox don’t deserve the likes of Pesky. Rest in peace Mr. Pesky.