March 31, 2012

Some Yahoo! Picks Red Sox For 4th

David Brown and Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo! Sports offer their predictions for the American League East:
'Duk: Death, taxes and the Yankees getting the annual chance to roll the pitching dice in playoffs! While I've admittedly waffled all offseason about who would get my top spot in the AL East, I keep coming back to the Yankees after trying to assemble season-long cases for the Red Sox and Rays.

Brown: Oh, the Red Sox have no chance. Not "no chance" in the actual or even Coolstandings sense. But if I were betting my own money, I'd say the Rays would be a 60-40 probability, conservatively, to finish ahead of them in the standings. ... They're either too beat up or too fragile. They have too many mediocre players in prominent roles. Who is catching, who is playing shortstop? ... I like Bobby Valentine for entertainment value, but this is going to be a challenge for him to manage — fried chicken and beer bans notwithstanding. ... [Y]ou need 25 guys, or 30 guys, to make it out of the AL East wilderness. The Red Sox have about 15, maybe 20.

'Duk: Wait a minute. You're not OK with their plan to shore up their rotation which — last I checked — included rolling the dice on Daniel Bard's conversion from the bullpen and waiting around to see if Dice-K will be able to contribute anything (he won't)? While I think you're short-changing that lineup, I agree that the sources of consistent pitching are few and far between. It'll be their downfall again.
Predicted Order of Finish
'Duk:  Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles
Brown: Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles
AL East MVP
'Duk:  Robinson Cano, Yankees
Brown: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
AL East Cy Young
'Duk:  David Price, Rays
Brown: Matt Moore, Rays

Big Food

The StrasBurger
[T]he StrasBurger is a monstrous all-beef burger (combination of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs). The burger is served on a large burger bun with our secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips and served with a cone basket of fresh cut fries and a pitcher of your choice of soft drink.
According to Colleen Gerg, a registered dietitian from Chevy Chase, Maryland, the StrasBurger is has 8,000-10,000 calories, 600-700 grams of fat, 200-300 grams of saturated fat and 2,500-3,000 milligrams of sodium.
It is the equivalent of 32 Quarter Pounders from McDonald's.
Example
Moby Dick

The Lake County Captains (Eastlake, Ohio; Cleveland's Class A affiliate) are offering the "Moby Dick" sandwich. It is 15 inches long and weighs at least three pounds. For $20, you get:
5 quarter-pound fish filets
8 slices of cheese
6 ounces of clam strips
A third-pound of french fries
A cup of cole slaw
"Gobs" of lettuce, tomato, pickles and tartar sauce
Eat one of these in an hour and you'll win a t-shirt!
Example
Jetbow

New York's Carnegie Deli has named a sandwich after new Jets quarterback Tim Tebow: corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato on white bread. It weighs 3.5 pounds and costs $22.22.
It is the first time the restaurant will be using white bread and mayonnaise in a sandwich created for a celebrity.
Example
In conclusion ...

March 30, 2012

Toronto's Gose Steals Second, Third, Home To Beat Red Sox

Toronto's Anthony Gose broke a 2-2 tie with the Red Sox yesterday by stealing second, third and home in the eighth inning. The Blue Jays (now 22-4-1 this spring) won the game 3-2.

Dan Duggan, Herald:
With reliever Justin Thomas on the mound, Gose reached on a walk to lead off the eighth and stole second and third base on consecutive pitches. With two outs, Gose took a huge secondary lead after Yan Gomes swung and missed at a Thomas offering.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t look Gose back to third, and the speedster took off for home as soon as the catcher threw to Thomas, who was standing a few feet in front of the mound. Thomas couldn’t get the ball out of his glove quickly and Gose dived safely into home before Saltalamacchia could apply the tag.
Baseball Almanac has a list of players who have accomplished this feat in a regular season game.

March 29, 2012

Reminders

This off-season has been interminable at times, but Opening Day is only One. Week. Away!

1. If you have not entered the W-L contest, do it now! One quick email = the chance at a pretty friggin cool book. (And if you have entered already and want to edit your entry, you have a week to do so.)

2. This season's game threads will be at the board I started last August. Join the fun.

3. If you have a spare 10-20 seconds, please take Laura's two short surveys: here and here. She needs participants, so go. Thanks!

4. The 2012 Joy of Sox Theme Song (And Message To All American League Foes (And You NL Teams, Too; Bastards), Especially The Yankees And The Rays) (not safe for work, at all), from the Sons of Butcher (Canadians!):

We Fuckin' Rule

We fuckin' rule all your asses

I've been raped by pigs and I'm fine
Blow up the shop all the time
Basically you're all shit when you're compared to me
Obviously when I rock you should be on your knees

Rock so hard I sink ships
Washed the world's biggest tits
Basically you're all shit when you're compared to me




Bonus: the band's hit single "Fuck The Shit" (or, if you suffer from the vapours, "Beep The Beep".)

March 27, 2012

Valentine Calls Globe Report "Lazy Journalism"

UPDATE, 10:00 AM:
Jose Iglesias has been optioned to Pawtucket.
Example
Christopher L. Gasper, Globe:
A wedge appears to be forming between new manager Bobby Valentine and new general manager Ben Cherington on the best way to employ Daniel Bard, starter or reliever, and the best place to employ shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias, Fenway Park or Pawtucket.

Valentine reportedly told scouts from outside the Sox organization he wants Iglesias, not utilityman Mike Aviles, as his starting shortstop. ...

Valentine has been lukewarm, bordering on openly cynical about Bard’s conversion from setup man to starter, a centerpiece of Cherington’s team-building blueprint, and a report, citing an anonymous Sox staffer, said Bard would be returning to the bullpen when the games begin for real.

Don’t forget that Cherington didn’t choose Valentine. He was foisted upon him by Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino ...

Disagreements between a manager and a general manager happen all the time. ... But what makes this one different is that it could define the influence that each man has in the Sox decision-making hierarchy and who has the ear of Lucchino.
Gasper's report is not the only one suggesting a difference of opinion on a variety of key issues.

Sean McAdam of CSNNE reported five days ago that Valentine favours Iglesias at shortstop over Aviles or Nick Punto.

CBS's Danny Knobler wrote this past weekend that Valentine would rather have Ryan Lavarnway as his back-up catcher, and not Kelly Shoppach. Cherington reportedly wants Lavarnway to begin the season in Pawtucket.

Valentine:
I think it's lazy journalism. That's what I think. I think it's an easy story to write. It has no validity. Absolutely none. I could have written it in on December 3d. Are you kidding me?

March 26, 2012

Everyone Pleased With Bard's Outing

Daniel Bard allowed five runs in six innings to the Blue Jays yesterday (6-6-5-3-5, 85) and no one seemed to care. Yet his line was, in many ways, worse than the one from his last start (5-3-3-3-2, 83), which caused so much panic and consternation.

Bobby Valentine:
I liked everything. He had some tough breaks, I thought. He worked his way out of jams. He had some pitches that could have been called strikes, didn't let it affect him. He threw all of his pitches today. His changeup at times was devastating. His slider was sharp at times. ... I liked how he was responding to things. I thought it was a really good look today. He worked runners when they were on base. He got ground balls when he needed to. He got some swings and misses when he needed to, too. I just like what I see.
Bard:
Today was the first game I can actually say I felt like a starting pitcher out there and not like a reliever starting. I used all four pitches -- a steady mix of all four, and then would favor one and felt confident about it. ... I was throwing the changeup pretty consistently [about 10 of them]. ... [F]or the most part, I got some big outs on it. I was able to work on a lot of things and take the five runs out of it, I feel pretty good. ...

I felt comfortable in my routine before the game. I kind of finally have the times down, when I need to start getting ready, how many pitches to throw in the pregame bullpen, things like that are really getting comfortable for me. And then just the sitting between innings.
Valentine:
No matter who's pitching, I like our pitching. We'll see how it works. I think it's going to be an easy decision. Yeah. It's not like we're going to be searching for pitchers to start games.
Bard:
For a little while it kind of gets where you wonder and wonder [what's going to happen]. But I've just kind of gotten to a point where it's out of my hands. I'm going to put the work in and do the best I can every fifth day out there right now, and if that shifts to a bullpen role, I'll do the same thing. ... [L]ike everything in life, if you can't control it, it ain't worth worrying about.
It looks like the rotation will be Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and Bard. ... Opening Day is one week from Thursday!

Tonight on PBS: Inside Fenway Park

PBS is airing an hour-long documentary on Fenway Park tonight.
Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 celebrates the centennial of the oldest and most intimate big league ballpark in America. Fenway’s Grand Opening was on April 20, 1912, when the Red Sox played the New York Highlanders, a team that would be renamed the Yankees the next year. The film uses a current Red Sox-Yankees game as a thread to the history of the ballpark and as a way to go inside and get behind the scenes to see what it takes to put on a major league game.

March 24, 2012

Schadenfreude 126 (A Continuing Series)


Anthony McCarron and Bill Madden, Daily News:
[Joba] Chamberlain suffered a gruesome open dislocation of his right ankle while playing with his son Thursday and, according to a Yankee source, lost a potentially life-threatening amount of blood. He has already had surgery and will remain in the hospital for several more days ...

"When the skin is intact, it's much easier to heal," [Dr. Steven Weinfeld, the chief of Foot and Ankle Service and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine] said.

"This makes it not only a career-threatening injury, but a limb-threatening injury. There is a small percentage of people who end up with an amputation. There are a small percentage of people, if the skin envelope doesn't heal, they are susceptible to infection and that can lead to amputation. These days, that's less likely to happen because we have good antibiotics. ... I would be very surprised if he played this year."
Adam Berry, MLB.com:
Chamberlain was jumping on a trampoline with his son, Karter, somewhere in the Tampa area when the accident occurred. ...
Joe Girardi:
My guess is he landed funny.
funny gifs
John Harper, Daily News:
You can understand if the Yankees are just as exasperated as they are sad about all this. Here was a guy who was already on the disabled list, recovering from Tommy John ligament transplant surgery on his elbow.

He'd been explicitly told by the Yankee trainers not to engage in any sort of physical activity that would potentially put his arm in harm's way. You would think they wouldn't have had to tell him that, but then there had already been too many things in Chamberlain’s past to indicate he wasn't gifted with a whole lot of common sense. ...

It was as if he had a death wish for his career and now he's succeeded.

March 23, 2012

Yankees Blow 4-0 Lead to Red Sox, Refuse To Finish Game

The Yankees had blown a 4-0 lead as the Red Sox scored three times in the eighth and then tied the game on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the ninth. Bobby Valentine had Clayton Mortensen warmed up for the top of the 10th when Joe Girardi suddenly asked the umpires to call the game.
Yankees - 000 220 000 - 4  9  0
Red Sox - 000 000 031 - 4  8  0
Bobby Valentine was annoyed:
The umpire came over and said we couldn't play. ... [W]hy do I have to warm up my pitcher who's trying to make a team come in in a tie game against the Yankees and maybe help him make a team and instead he has to walk off the mound and take a shower? That's just not very courteous.
Joe Girardi:
I used all our pitching, so I just said, "That's it. ... We don't have any more."
Valentine:
They had plenty of pitching. Probably too long of a [bus] ride [back to Tampa].
Girardi listed 12 pitchers on his travel roster and had used only five in the game (a sixth had thrown a side session). The Daily News pointed out that "lefty Mike O'Connor and five additional minor-leaguers were with the team — including Pat Venditte, who throws from both sides."

March 22, 2012

Are Red Sox Panicking With Daniel Bard?

Could the Red Sox be pulling the plug on the Bard-as-starter experiment after the fireballing righty had one mediocre start in an exhibition game against the winningest team in spring training?

That type of knee-jerk Steinbrennerian panic is the polar opposite of the calm, rational approach of the front office we know and love (and trust), but CSNNE's Sean McAdam reports:
One Red Sox staff member has told others outside the organization that, when all is said and done, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront will have spots in the rotation, with Daniel Bard returning to the bullpen.

It had been assumed that Bard would be given every opportunity to nail down the No. 4 spot. But after two sharp, shorter outings earlier in the Grapefruit League schedule, Bard has struggled over his last two outings, walking seven hitters and allowing 10 hits in 7.2 innings.
Jon Heyman may not know this, but I'm sure McAdam does. One of those two rough outings was in relief (and interrupted by a rain delay). Hardly a representative sample on which to base such an important decision.

And whereas Bard went 5-3-3-3-2 in his start on Tuesday - bad enough to supposedly send him back to the bullpen, Jon Lester put up a 3-8-4-2-1 line yesterday against the mighty Pirates and that showing was deemed a "good outing" (despite the results) by the Globe.

McAdam mentioned Bard's other two starts:
March 6: vs Bal - 2-0-0-1-2
March 10: vs TB - 3-2-0-2-1
which, if this recent report is true, apparently count for nothing. In his three starts this month, Bard has a 2.70 ERA and a 1.1 WHIP (10-5-3-6-5). The walks are high, for sure, but the hits are very low. (By the way, Lester, who will get the ball on Opening Day, has walked five men in 11 innings this spring).

McAdam:
On Tuesday night, about an hour after Bard had expressed satisfaction that he had taken a step forward, [Bobby] Valentine, in his post-game remarks, did seemingly everything he could to question Bard's suitability for the rotation.
If this story is true, Bard will not be pleased - and who can blame him? He has not thrown one pitch against an actual major league lineup as a starter and Valentine may have already decided he can't handle it.

Valentine questioned Bard throwing only one changeup among his 83 pitches on Tuesday, but Bard quickly explained what was going on and that he had discussed it with pitching coach Bob McClure.
I have a changeup I'm comfortable with. ... I've sat down and talked with [McClure] about it. I had thrown 12-13 the outing before, but at some point I have to start getting some outs and stop experimenting because that would have been 20-25 percent changeups. I'm not going to throw that many in the game, it's just not how it's going to be. I'm going to be about 10 percent changeups. I want that surprise factor, where if it's one of 10 pitches it makes it that much more effective. ... If I'm not throwing my fastball or my slider in big spots, even in spring training, how am I going to go into the season with confidence in those pitches. That's the way I see it.
(I read a fair amount of annoyance between the lines in Bard's explanation.) Bard threw his changeup 7.6% of the time last year, and 6.4% in 2010.

If Valentine has a question about what one of his pitchers is doing, maybe he should simply ask his pitching coach about it - using his "inside (the clubhouse) voice" - rather than idly speculating to the media.

John Tomase, Herald:
If the Sox pull the plug on Bard's nascent starting career, the team would open itself up to some fair criticism over the evaluation window, especially considering that one of his two poor outings came after a rain delay, while the other consisted mainly of a bad inning.
In addition, Valentine seems willing to hand the starting shortstop job to Jose Iglesias, although the front office (wisely, in my opinion) wants Iggy to start the season in AAA. Valentine says Iglesias can play in the majors now, but would not come out and say he wants him as his Opening Day shortstop.
I think his ability is good enough. Whether it's his time is the question, with all the other contributing factors. ... His ability is all I'm saying. ... I think he can hit and field at the major league level. I don't know that he can make this major league team and perform right now in this setting, in the group that we have.
Iglesias is batting .235 this spring (4-for-17) with a meager .278 OBP.

How these two situations are resolved will go a long way in telling us how much influence Valentine has with the front office. (And considering how spot-on Nick Cafardo was with the managerial search, and how much he has been pushing in the past week or two for Iglesias to begin the year in Boston, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on what he writes. He seems to have a direct pipeline to Valentine.)

Opening Day is two weeks away.

March 19, 2012

Book Review: Fenway Fever by John H. Ritter

Alfredo Carl "Stats" Pagano is a 12-year-old Red Sox fan whose father has operated a hot dog stand outside Fenway Park for years. When the 2012 Red Sox start losing games left and right, putting their season in jeopardy, Stats wonders if his favourite team may once again be cursed.

Lefty pitcher Billee Orbitt, slumping in his sophomore season after a spectacular debut, has been having similar thoughts. Orbitt, nicknamed the "Spacebird", is a regular customer at Pops's Red Sox Red Hots and he enlists Stats to crunch some numbers and ask around Fenway to see if anything odd is going on.

What Stats discovers takes in (and ties together) electromagnetic fields, ley lines, the summer solstice, the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Chinese concept of chi, and the hawks that call 100-year-old Fenway Park home.

Fenway Fever (Philomel/Penguin) is by John H. Ritter, who has written five other baseball-themed books for the 10-14 age group, including Choosing Up Sides, Under the Baseball Moon, and The Desperado Who Stole Baseball. Although tagged as a "baseball novelist", Ritter's books have also taken a progressive look at segregation and racism in American society (and for much of baseball's history), the Vietnam war and the US's various invasions of Iraq, and religious bigotry.

The curse plotline in the new book is a weak premise (and I'm sure some Cubs fans would take exception to the description of the Red Sox's pre-2004 title drought as "baseball's longest running bad luck streak"). Who would think that a frustrating losing streak in late May/early June of one season would equal a new curse? A 10-game skid ain't nothin' compared to what Red Sox fans went through before 2004 (or in September 2011, for that matter); Terry Francona's debut season as manager may be well before Stats's time as a fan, but ol' Pops Pagano could set his son straight. The idea that something is amiss in the Fens because the Red Sox have not come close to winning a World Series since 2007 is a bit much for this grizzled veteran.

But, anyway, two-thirds of the way through the book, the curse talk takes a back seat as Ritter's narrative soars and becomes a heartfelt love poem to Fenway Park. At midnight before the summer solstice, Stats and Billee sneak into the old yard (and onto its roof) with a plan to restore balance (and winning).
Stats took a moment to gaze out across the Boston skyline, eerily unhindered by the ballpark lights.

But nothing he saw in any direction - the new Hancock Tower, the Prudential Tower, and the R2-D2 building on Huntington Avenue - compared, in beauty or grace, with the architecture of the building he stood upon.

Which was as it should be, as far as Stats was concerned, for no occupation practiced within any of those landmark structures could compare in skill or complexity or worth to the high artwork of those men who had declared somewhere in their olympian boyhoods the intention to dedicate their lives to mastering a child's game. . . .

Stats felt nothing beyond an elevated calm. And then he realized why. Fenway Park had always been a part of his heart. ...

Unless a kid had grown up right outside these brick walls, unless he had been guided through the high holy gates at an early age, down the green serpentine walkways to the narrow weathered-gray wood-slat seats Stats could still recall from his first-ever baseball game, he could not hold in his heart the pulsings of this hundred-year-old park the way Stats could.

Obviously, a kid might come close. Why? Because every clumpy crabgrass ballfield in every small town across the land, with its foot-carved riverine base paths, its dented-metal Coca-Cola scoreboard, its rock-clay pitcher's mound, had a bit of Fenway in it. Every dusty city dugout made of concrete blocks with splintered wood benches was made from particles of Fenway. Every empty city sandlot, every playground ballfield Stats had walked past in all of his long short years held a bit of Fenway, in the same way every teardrop holds a part of the sea.

That's because Fenway was more than an exact place. It was the love of baseball itself. . . .
While David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, and Kevin Youkilis are mentioned in relation to the heroics of 2004 and 2007, the players on Ritter's 2012 roster are fictional. They do, however, have some oddly familiar names: pitchers Cedro Marichal and True Denton, catcher Burlin Fiske, first baseman Sandiego Gunsalvo, second baseman Dusty Doretta, outfielder Drew Evans, and pinch-runner Robertos David.

(In the book, Ritter alludes to a 2008 incident at Fenway when a hawk dive-bombed a young girl touring the park as part of a school field trip. Ritter does not mention the girl's name, but it would fit right alongside this bunch of Boston players: Alexa Rodriguez!)

Fenway Fever is enjoyable, but light-hearted. I'd recommend Under The Baseball Moon or Over The Wall if you want to sample Ritter's more mature work.

March 18, 2012

More Nonsense

Jon Heyman, CBS Sports, March 17, 2012:
In the wake of Daniel Bard's atrocious start recently, one American League scout said the Red Sox are making a mistake by making him a starter. ...
That is the way Heyman began his article. But there is only one problem.

Bard did not start that game. He came out of the bullpen. (And had his outing interrupted by a rain delay.)

I guess Heyman doesn't have access to box scores. Or any other baseball articles.

Nonsense

Does anyone actually believe this?

Scott Lauber, Herald:
Andino's season-ending, two-out single ... reverberated every bit as much as Dent's homer for the Yankees in Game 163 in 1978 and Boone's decisive blast in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

March 17, 2012

No Expanded Replay For 2012

AP:
Major League Baseball says expanded replay is out for this year, with the goal now to put the extra looks in play for 2013.

Baseball had sought to increase video reviews this season to include trapped balls, fair-or-foul rulings down the lines and fan interference all over the ballpark.

The additional replay required the approval of MLB and the unions representing the umpires and the players.

"We weren't able to come up with an acceptable set of agreements between the three parties," MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "We hope we'll be able to do it in time for the 2013 season." ...

According to several people familiar with the situation, all of them speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the sides had not reached agreement, there were several sticking points.

Umpires were concerned the television feeds they received to review calls were not equal at every ballpark. The umps get fewer looks in Oakland, for example, than at Yankee Stadium.

Also at issue is how calls would be made under expanded replay and who would ask for a challenge. Would umpires still make the final decision, as they do now? Or would there be an NHL-style conference room with an MLB executive making the ruling?
Great. Baseball continues to not give a damn whether or not the correct calls are made. Games - and possibly playoff spots - could be decided by obviously wrong decisions by the on-field umpires. It's clearly not that important to the parties involved. ... Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I still anxiously await the day that baseball games are decided by what actually happens on the field.

March 15, 2012

Doubront Emerging As Favourite For Fifth Starter Spot

The Herald, Journal, and Globe believe Felix Doubront has the inside track for the fifth spot in the rotation, after Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Daniel Bard.

Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen said yesterday the competition is
definitely far from over. ... At some point, yeah, you want to start defining roles on the club. We're still early for that.
A YES graphic during Tuesday's game against the Yankees slotted Alfredo Aceves into that final spot. And Vicente Padilla's agent said last month that he expects his client will be starting when April rolls around.

But Doubront, 24, does seem to be the leading contender, though, especially after his four shutout innings against the Yankees earlier this week. Plus, the lefty is out of options, and would surely be claimed if the Red Sox tried to push him through waivers. Doubront will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, re Doubront:
He's been working hard on trying to go after hitters and throwing in the strike zone early and kind of expanding later, so I think [Tuesday] was a confidence-booster for him.
Example
The Hardball Times asks Five Questions about the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays.
Example
8,000-10,000 calories, 600-700 grams of fat, 200-300 grams of saturated fat, and 2,500-3,000 milligrams of sodium. Ladies and gentlemen, it's the eight-pound StrasBurger.

March 13, 2012

Opening Salvo: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0

Red Sox - 000 000 001 - 1  4  0
Yankees - 000 000 000 - 0  3  3
Pedro Ciriaco, who won Monday's game with an extra-inning home run, scored the game's only run Tuesday night.

Leading off the top of the ninth, he dropped a single into right field that skipped away from Zolio Almonte. The relay throw from second baseman David Adams to the plate was extremely wild and Ciriaco, who had been held at third, trotted home.

Doubront (4-2-0-1-3, 75) laboured a bit, but allowed only one of his 12 outs to be hit out of the infield (his last batter). ... Padilla (3-0-0-0-4, 27) retired all nine batters he faced in the 6th-7th-8th innings. ... After the first inning, no Yankee baserunner got past first base. ... Boston pitchers struck out 13 Yankees.
Example
Red Sox
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ellsbury, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Anderson, 1B
Linares, CF
Kroeger, RF
Hassan, LF
  
Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden, Vicente Padilla,
Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Duckworth, Will Inman
Yankees
Gardner, CF
Martin, C
Rodriguez, 3B
Teixeira, 1B
Ibanez, DH
Jones, RF
Nunez, SS
Hall, 2B
Nix, LF
  
Ivan Nova, Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan
The game will be shown on MLBTV, YES and the MLB Network, but not NESN. Game thread here.

Joe Girardi:
I am sure there will be a different excitement level in the stands. I am not sure our players will get too caught up in it because I tell them not to get too caught up in it during the season. ... I don't want guys going out and doing something crazy tomorrow so they miss six weeks of the season.
Bobby Valentine, in jest:
We want to set the tone ... We really want to let them know who we are and send a message.
After another exhibition match-up next Thursday, the teams clash at Fenway on April 20-21-22, in Boston's 13th, 14th, and 15th games of the regular season.

Bailey Allows A Run, Herald Columnist Stokes Fear And Worry

I know I shouldn't be surprised but Ron Borges of the Herald is working hard to stoke fear and worry into the minds of Red Sox fans. Why? Because Andrew Bailey allowed three hits and one run in his first inning of spring training work.


Yes, it's (already) March 13 and in the wake of a completely meaningless exhibition game, things are not looking good for Jonathan Papelbon's replacement.
Repeat after me: "It's only spring training. It's only spring training. It's only spring training." ...

Andrew Bailey is (repeat after me) the Sox' only closer. Think about that for a minute, and the sore lat and three scalded hits take on a little added significance.
Now, because Borges is not clinically insane (presumably; I admit I'm not a doctor), he also includes some soothing passages, like:
One inning, good or bad, proves nothing this time of year. ... So three hits — even as loud as the ones yesterday — don’t really mean all that much.
But then he cannot help himself, immediately following that with:
But if that's the case, isn't the same true for the three outs that followed?
Borges follows it all up with a comment about Bailey's "seemingly fragile health". Again, this is all par for the mediot course in Boston, where, as our level-headed columnist puts it, "baseball and agita, even in the spring, often go hand in glove".

What is also strange is his comment that Bailey is the only closer, as if Boston will have to (OMG!) forfeit the ninth inning if Bailey is out of action for whatever reason. Just a few days ago, Bobby Valentine mentioned the possibility of Alfredo Aceves being used as the closer on some days, and Mark Melancon finished 47 games for the Astros last year - 10 more games than Closer Bailey finished for the A's. Yes, Bailey missed time last season, so his number of appearances were down, but as we have seen time and time and time again, just about any pitcher can be a closer.

But as we have also seen time and time and time again, with Camp Valentine being run like a well-oiled machine, everyone gripe-free and having fun, the team winning nearly every game in sight, agita must be invented if it does not actually exist.

March 12, 2012

Pictures From Florida

Kristen, aka Red Sox Diehard, has posted a bunch of pictures she took down in Florida. Here is one of Jacoby Ellsbury:


Thanks to Jere for the tip!

March 10, 2012

Buchholz's Back Behaving; Crawford Commences Casual Casting

Clay Buchholz worked on his changeup last night against the Pirates, and was happy with the results. He threw 51 pitches over three innings.
It felt good. ... I wanted to go out and throw changeups behind in the count to get a feel for it. It's a pitch I feel I have to throw to complement the fastball and the other pitches that I have. ... [My back has] been good. I haven't had any lapses or any pain or days that I needed to take a light day or a day off.
Carl Crawford has begun a throwing program and made 35 tosses from 60 feet yesterday. According to Bobby Valentine,
He was under the watchful eye of a couple of trainers and a couple of pitching coaches. Everyone liked what they saw and, better yet, he felt as good afterward as he felt before. ... Next is going to be some light swinging - in the cage, off the tee, in a controlled environment.
Lars Anderson, blocked at first base by Adrian Gonzalez, will get some time in left field. ... Valentine hinted that Alfredo Aceves may serve as the backup closer, which would likely mean he is not being considered for the fifth starter spot.

Boston's new closer has no desire to discuss whether one team's fan base is smarter than another, unlike the team's old closer. Andrew Bailey: "There's no reason to cause drama from my perspective."

Michael Bowden has thrown 4.2 perfect innings this spring. Valentine: "His fastball was down in the zone ... and he had a good split working off it. ... I liked what I saw. He'll get more quality innings."

Game Note Of The Day, from Alex Speier: "Darnell McDonald threatened to end modern telecommunications as we know it with his satellite-menacing blast into geosynchronous orbit of a fastball by Pirates lefty Doug Slaten."

Everybody Loves A Contest #10

Opening Day is less than four weeks away, so it's time for this year's Red Sox W-L Contest!

Correctly guess the team's 2012 regular season record and win a copy of Fenway Park: A Salute to the Coolest, Cruelest, Longest-Running Major League Baseball Stadium in America, a stunningly beautiful coffee-table-sized book by John Powers and Ron Driscoll.* (Thanks to Running Press for providing a copy.)

Entries must be emailed to me and include the following three items:

1. Predicted W-L record
2. Tiebreaker A: Daisuke Matsuzaka's Innings Pitched
3. Tiebreaker B: Carl Crawford's On-Base Percentage

Tiebreakers will be the closest guess, either over or under. If there is a tie after (A), we'll go to (B).

Deadline: Thursday, April 5, 12:01 AM.

*And (for what it's worth, since I'm assuming that some year a contestant will actually take me up on this) I'm repeating the grand [sic] prize! The 2012 winner is invited to watch a 2013 Red Sox game+ at JoS Headquarters. Game night will include - free! - dinner and drinks, copious canine attention, and overnight accommodations. If you are within shouting distance of Toronto, let me know. [+: Monday-Thursday only]

March 9, 2012

McClure Upping Spring Innings Pitched By Starters

Last spring, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka led the pitchers with 25.1 innings pitched. Clay Buchholz and John Lackey threw 21 and Jon Lester totaled only 16. That is not nearly enough, according to pitching coach Bob McClure.

McClure believes the starters need 30-35 innings to be ready for April and so Beckett started against St. Louis yesterday on three days rest and pitched three innings. He threw 30 pitches (24 for strikes), working mainly on his breaking stuff. Beckett will pitch four innings on Monday, which is, again, on three days rest.

McClure:
With the way spring training is now, a lot of guys are getting only 20, 22 innings, and they come out the first part of the season and they're horrible.
Beckett is open to the new approach.
It's about the same, I think I'm just building up arm strength right now. A lot of the feel and stuff comes whenever your arm strength gets strong and you can plus and minus where you want to throw something a little harder or maybe take some off.
Andrew Bailey is scheduled to throw live batting practice today and may pitch an inning on Monday.

Jonathan Papelbon has yet to actually pitch in Philadelphia, but he already knows that Phillies fans are smarter than Red Sox fans.
The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played.
Whatever, Jon. This ass-kissing, preventative strike will likely have no effect when you blow two saves in one homestand. ... Watch out for the D-cells.

March 7, 2012

Cherington Chats at SoSH

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington answered a handful of question during a chat at Sons of Sam Horn this afternoon. His answers begin here.

Some encouraging words re Daisuke Matsuzaka:
Daisuke is doing very well and progressing in his rehab. He's been throwing off a mound for some time now. We expect he'll be facing hitters by the end of the spring and we'll then build his pitch count up in April and May. We're not going to put a timeline on it but we are optimistic he will be able to help us by mid-season. We'll see where we are when Daisuke is closer to returning to the Majors but inevitably there will be a need for a pitcher at some point and Daisuke is working very hard to put himself in a position to help us.

Bard Will Not Be Pants-Free, Eating PB&J, Before His Starts

... in case you are curious.

Daniel Bard is trying to find a proper pre-game routine as a starter.
I pretty much went up to everyone and asked them, "What am I supposed to be doing?" It was kind of a running joke throughout the day. I found myself in the training room, all done with what I needed to do stretching-wise with about 20 minutes to spare ...

It's a totally different feeling I haven't had in years ... It's not a bad thing, it's just something you got to get used to. Every guy has their own thing. Lackey walks around with no pants on, bounces a baseball, eats peanut butter and jelly. Jon Lester's got his headphones on, but he's still walking around, talking to guys. Everyone has their own thing. Curt Schilling was a guy that nobody could talk to until the last pitch was thrown. [Beckett has a] very, very long routine, very detailed.
Alfredo Aceves pitched well in relief of Bard yesterday, throwing 26 pitches and retiring all six Orioles he faced. Valentine: "It just looked like it was a day at the beach for him." ... Andrew Bailey "is ready" to pitch in a game, according to Bobby Valentine. "He's pain-free and feels like he's throwing the ball fine."

Valentine says that Justin Germano, who starts this afternoon against the Blue Jays, was in the running for the fifth starter job. Carlos Silva is not, as right shoulder inflammation has removed him from the picture.

Andrew Miller has "a little stiffness" in the back of his left elbow and will not pitch on Thursday. ... Stories on Will Middlebrooks here and here.

March 5, 2012

Crawford Told To Rest Wrist For 5-7 Days

Carl Crawford has his surgically repaired left wrist examined today and will curtail his swinging and throwing for five to seven days. Manager Bobby Valentine said having Crawford back by Opening Day
is probably not realistic. ... He'll be ready when he's ready. ... Carl loves to do a lot of stuff and it's probably not in his best interest at this time to overdo it. It's more work than his wrist needs at this time.
Valentine also raved about the fielding ability of shortstop Jose Iglesias:
[H]e has a special tracking device on fly balls unique to very few from what I’ve seen so far. He has a special ability to transfer the ball from glove to hand. He has a specialness moving and range and game awareness, I can tell he can transfer the ball from a longer distance more than anyone I’ve ever seen and he's got that GPS in his mind.
Dustin Pedroia will hit leadoff if that's what the lineup card says:
I hit leadoff in high school, college, and '07 when we won the World Series. ... If [Jacoby Ellsbury] needs to drop down to hit some homers with more guys on base ... It doesn't matter. I've grown up a lot. I'm a lot smarter offensive player than I was a few years ago. I hit. 214 [as a leadoff hitter in 2009]? It's good because if they would have kept me in another 20 games I would have hit .414. Ride the wave. It's a wave, dude. How's a heart beat go? It goes up and down, just like baseball. ... Ride the wave, dude. Surf is up.
I have found the recent storyline of how in the world will Josh Beckett adjust to not having Jason Varitek catch his pitches utterly bizarre. Usually, Beckett is known as Commander Kickass and a glaring, snarling, nails-chewing, man of few words, but without the Cactus, he's cry, forget about to pitch, and post a 10.00 ERA? Isn't every starter going to have to learn how to live Life After Tek?

Clay Buchholz faces the Twins at 7 PM.

March 4, 2012

Beckett Faces Twins; Crawford Examined Tomorrow

Update:
Twins   - 000 010 101 - 3  7  1
Red Sox - 000 200 51x - 8  9  0
Four walks from Twins pitcher Jason Bulger in the seventh inning broke a 2-2 tie and Lars Anderson belted a grand slam to seal the win. Beckett allowed one hit and two walks in his two innings. Mike Aviles knocked in Boston's first two runs with his second single of the afternoon. Andrew Miller also went two innings, striking out the side in the third.
Example
Josh Beckett makes his spring debut when the Red Sox faces the Twins this afternoon. Bobby Valentine's lineup has Dustin Pedroia leading off and Jacoby Ellsbury batting second.

Carl Crawford will have his left wrist examined tomorrow. Rob Bradford writes that this bout of inflammation should be a wake-up call to both Crawford and the Red Sox to go slow on his recovery and return to the lineup.

Andrew Bailey (mild lat strain) threw a pain-free bullpen session on Sunday morning, but there is no word on when he might pitch in a game. ... Daniel Bard has a slightly stiff back, but is still penciled in for two innings on Tuesday. ... Adrian Gonzalez says is shoulder is feeling awesome and he thinks Cody Ross is a very good baseball player.

Alex Speier has a great look back at the 1997 trade that brought Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to Boston.

Have you heard J.P. Arencibia's dead-on impersonation of Tim Kurkjian? ... Kurkjian retaliated by getting Jonathan Papelbon to mimic Terry Francona. Not nearly as good, but still amusing.

March 3, 2012

Red Sox Rout Northeastern 25-0, Top BC 6-3

Northeastern - 000 000 0 -  0  3  1
Red Sox      - 271 726 x - 25 23  0
Jon Lester faced six batters and threw 22 pitches in two innings, allowing one single and striking out two. And his teammates scored in every inning of the shortened game.

Cody Ross hit two home runs (one of them a grand slam). Adrian Gonzalez, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Ryan Sweeney also went deep. Sweeney ended the day with four hits and five RBI; Will Middlebrooks had three doubles.
Example
Boston College - 002 010 0 - 3  6  0
Red Sox        - 041 100 x - 6  7  1
Mike Aviles doubled twice, Ryan Lavarnway singled and doubled, and Felix Doubront allowed one hit in his two innings of work.
Example
Past Results:

Every Time Crawford Talks, He Digs A Deeper Hole

Carl Crawford signed a massive contract to play for the Red Sox and then had the worst season of his career.

He had a dismal April (.155/.204/.227) and even a relatively decent few months (May, August) could not rescue his lost season. His on-base percentage never rose higher than .295 all season and his inability to catch Robert Andino's sinking line drive in Baltimore on September 28 was the rotten cherry atop the shit sundae that was his summer.

The 7/142 contract was excessive for a man of Crawford's talents, so he has to perform at peak ability to even begin to justify Theo Epstein's outlandish outlay. And he's got a long way to go.

Since he arrived in camp, Crawford has expressed his honest feelings about John Henry's off-season comments that the Red Sox owner was against signing Crawford. Since then, most of what Crawford has been saying will not help him get on the good side of Red Sox fans. Every time he talks, he seems to dig himself a deeper hole. It's probably time for Crawford simply to keep his mouth shut.

Last week we read this, from Yahoo!'s Steve Silverman:
[A]t the start of spring training in 2011, Crawford had a new batting approach. His stance had opened up significantly and his right foot was pointing almost directly at first base as he took his left-handed stance. [Boston Red Sox batting coach Dave] Magadan had advised Crawford that he had opened up too much and he was pulling off the ball too quickly when he took his stride.

Crawford listened politely but never really paid attention. He felt more comfortable in the batter's box even if the results left him and the team unsatisfied. ... During the offseason, Crawford studied films of himself and he saw that Magadan had been correct and his stance was too wide open.
Magadan said he periodically mentioned the poor stance to Crawford throughout the season (and now-manager Bobby Valentine had mentioned it publicly on ESPN broadcasts), but even a months-long slump was not enough to get the left fielder to listen. Magadan:
[W]e would bring it up to him during the season when he was scuffling, but he always felt like he was in a good spot.
After a fiasco like 2011, you'd think Crawford would simply come to camp and work his ass off to get himself back to even being an average hitter. But then he explained how embarrassing it was for him to bat 6th or (gasp!) 7th in the lineup because opposing players would rag on him and all he figured he could to was swing for the fences.
There's nothing else you can do [but try to hit home runs]. A lot of the other teams, they would come and tell me, you know, they were like "we hope they leave you in the seventh hole because we're not afraid of you at all there. You don't intimidate us at all. You can't hit a triple, you're not probably going to hit a double. And you don't hit that many home runs. You can't do nothing, really." And to hear that from your peers gives you a feeling on the inside that you just, you know, you just can't hit there. And I mean, it's true.
As WEEI's Kirk Minihane points out, Crawford's biggest problem with hitting down in the order is that it embarrasses him in front of opposing players. I'd say Crawford and his .289 OBP were lucky to even be in the lineup. Could someone please explain to Crawford that it is not against MLB rules to get an extra-base hit that far down in the order? Hopefully, it won't take another entire season and some 2013 video time before Crawford absorbs that bit of wisdom.

And now Crawford has inflammation in his left wrist because he was "over-working it", pushing his recovery from wrist surgery too hard. Some recent bunting drills has caused him pain and set his timetable back. But don't worry, NOW he knows not to push it.
It was pretty much myself trying to push it a little bit. Probably shouldn't have done as much as I was doing. But it was feeling so good at first I thought I could just keep going and keep going. Now I know what kind of pace I have to do things at. Once the inflammation goes down I know not to try and push it.
Finally, a week or so ago, CSNNE showed video of Crawford taking two-handed swings in the cage while playing audio of Bobby Valentine saying Crawford wouldn't be swinging with two hands yet.

This is maddening. I know an athlete has to test himself as he recovers to see how much progress is being made. But Crawford's quotes make him seem a bit stupid about the entire process. In light of the CSNNE clip, a few SoSHers wonder if Crawford is on his own private schedule, separate from the team's plans, striving to be in the Opening Day lineup.

Someone needs to sit him down and say that's not going to happen. Shoot for April 15 or May 1. And then someone should keep an eye on him, so he follows the plan. Or we will have yet another season for which Crawford can say he was "sorry" for some possible DL time and his poor performance.

March 2, 2012

Taylor Buchholz And Depression

Wayne Coffey, Daily News, February 25, 2012:
Taylor Buchholz hasn't thrown a baseball for nine months, since Phillies pinch-hitter Domonic Brown lined a single off him in the eighth inning of a Mets victory at Citi Field last May 29. ... It finished his season, and maybe his career - not because of one bad day at the office, but because of an accrued pain brought on by an illness as real as the hollowness Buchholz felt inside - one that sent him on a downward spiral that robbed him of joy, motivation, energy, life.

The diagnosis was anxiety disorder and depression, and it first came in 2010. Buchholz just knew it as a living hell, and wondered what on earth was wrong with him. Why would he sleep for 12 hours, then want to go back to bed? Go get a bite to eat, and then want to sleep some more? His muscles were always clenched, his mind ever churning, and what was going on with his work ethic, long one of his hallmarks? ...

Food didn't taste good. Music didn't sound good. Nothing was pleasurable. If friends called, he would duck them. He withdrew, he hid, avoided eye contact. Buchholz knew he was sick, but scolded himself to toughen up, get over it. "You should be stronger than this," the voice in his head kept saying. ...

The descent continued, Buchholz feeling as if his whole world were a pit of quicksand.

"If I got guys out, I thought I was lucky," he says. "I'd look at the stat sheet and say, 'I'm a fake. They're going to figure me out at some point.'"

Lineups For Saturday's College Doubleheader

Boston plays its traditional college doubleheader on Saturday, facing the Northeastern University Huskies at 2:30 and then the Boston College Eagles at 7:00.

NESN and MLBTV will broadcast the BC game. (If you need some spring training for game threading, click here.)
vs Northeastern             vs Boston College
Jose Iglesias, SS           Mike Aviles, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF         Che-Hsuan Lin, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B          Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B         David Ortiz, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C    Nick Punto, 2B
Darnell McDonald, DH        Ryan Lavarnway, C
Ryan Sweeney, RF            Josh Kroeger, RF
Cody Ross, LF               Alex Hassan, DH
Will Middlebrooks, 3B       Jason Repko, LF
  
Pitchers                    Pitchers
Jon Lester                  Felix Doubront
Justin Germano              Junichi Tazawa
Michael Bowden              Doug Mathis
Matt Albers                 Chorye Spoone
Example
Bobby Valentine's Go-Go-Go spring training program may have led to inflammation in Carl Crawford's left wrist. Crawford, who may have been pushing himself too hard in order to be ready by Opening Day, will not swing a bat for a few days:
I think it was from all that bunting. I did a lot of extra bunting. I was doing a lot this week. ... I'm always concerned when there's a setback. I don't know how bad it is. But according to the doctor it doesn't look that bad. I was feeling real good, too. I wasn't expecting this.

Red Sox, Rays, Yankees Divided On One-Game WC Playoff Format

What do players on the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees think about having the two wild card teams in each league play a one-game playoff to see which team moves on to the Division Series?

David Ortiz:
One game? That's kind of crazy. ... It'd make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.
Dustin Pedroia:
Can I actually know what it is before I comment on it? Let me get back to you, because I don't even know. I want to get the facts.
Bobby Valentine:
The more the merrier. For fans, players, the energy at the end of the season, I don' mind. What will it be, a third of the teams (10 of 30)? I think it'll be good.
Cody Ross:
Say you win a wild card and you have a five-game lead over the other wild card, and the other team ends up winning the game. That's going to be controversial. That is a problem. I'm not a fan so far. It could obviously change my opinion after a few years. ... It'll benefit the team that is the outright division winner, because chances are, you're going to be lining up your ace to win that wild-card playoff game. If you look at the standings at the end of the year, you're going to go, "OK, we really have a good chance to win one of the two wild-card spots. Let's mix up the rotation and get so-and-so to pitch the wild-card game." Then you go into the playoffs and you don't even have your ace for the Division Series.
Kelly Shoppach:
It really takes the 162-game schedule out.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia:
I guess what we need to concentrate on then is not making the wild card and just winning our division, so we don't have anything to worry about. I'm not a big fan of it. I don't think there's anything wrong with the way it was before. ... It's revenue. It's another game. It'll be on TV. It's going to make more money. That's probably what it boils down to.
Ross:
It could be less money. What if a team like Boston or New York is one of the wild cards and loses to a lower-market team? That's not going to be good.
Evan Longoria:
I think it's exciting. I think it's exciting for all of us. I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end -- hold on to those playoff hopes longer. ... We didn't take a vote in here, but I think it was pretty unanimous around the league. ... The more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's revenue for the ballclub and it's more excitement for the players. So I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.
J.P. Howell:
I love it. In our situation -- with our division -- it's the best thing ever. I don't see how it can work against anyone. ... I'm sure in the past there were some teams who were right there, but didn't advance. To me, there's never enough teams in the playoffs. There's so many in basketball. Football is like us. Just any way to get in is amazing.
James Shields:
Bottom line is it's going to be really important to win the division, which I like because now you don't get anybody [coasting], because there are no guarantees. ... I think that's the way the game is supposed to be played -- win the division. I don't think being satisfied with the Wild Card is enough. Every year we want to win our division, that's our goal.
Ben Zobrist
:[Last season] It would have been us and the Red Sox ... [W]hat would have happened? We're as good as anybody in a one-game playoff. I guess it's all conjecture. I just like our chances any time in a one-game playoff. Regardless of who pitched the day before for us, we're still really strong. ... We have five strong starters. ... I think it would be hard to take if you worked really hard to win the division then fell short and then the next Wild Card team was five or six games behind you. I think that would be difficult to accept.
Derek Jeter:
It puts even more importance on winning the division, but that's always been the plan anyway. I think it's good. It will make things more interesting. ... I've always said the five-game series is the most difficult because it's shorter, so a one-game series will be even tougher. It's getting harder and harder, I guess.
Mark Teixeira:
I said last year I wasn't in favor of it, but now that it's here, there's no reason to debate it any more. You just have to deal with it and we have to win the division. ... The wild card is no longer a safety net. You can win 10 games more than the team behind you, but you're going to have to play them in a one-game playoff — and anything can happen in one game. Nobody wants to be that wild card.
Joba Chamberlain:
You try to take that same mentality in a five- or seven-game series, but unless it's Game 5 or Game 7, that's not necessarily the case. It will be a different feeling — but hopefully we won't put ourselves in that situation.
Joe Girardi:
I'm not sure if there's any cons. It adds more teams to the mix, keeps more teams in it for a longer period of time. The one-game playoff, if you're in a division race, you don't want to be in that one-game playoff. Your motivation is to win the division because that becomes much, much tougher. That will provide a lot of excitement. I like it. The other thing it does is it gives more of an advantage to the division winners, which I think they deserve. ... I think the only way you could have a perfect system is if the schedules were completely balanced and you had four divisions or two divisions, and you had one team from each division to play. ... I don't think they're looking for [a perfect system]. I think they're looking to create excitement.
Russell Martin:
It's like a Game 7 on the first day of the playoffs. That's pretty awesome. If you win your division, you'll have an advantage. That's the way it should be. If you finish second — or even third — you'll have to battle your way into it. To me, it makes sense.
From where I sit, this actually removes a bit more common sense away from the playoffs. Zobrist hit on one of my problems with the new format. Say the Red Sox win the East with 101 wins and the Yankees finish second with 100 wins. They have the two best records in MLB, but the Yankees then lose the WC game to a 90-win team. I'd rejoice in the copious schadenfreude, naturally, but it would be clear that baseball's second-best team was not in the playoffs. (Of course, without any wild cards, that 100-win team would be out in the cold, but at least a lesser team would not be there instead.)

There is also the possibility that the tight schedule this October could be made even tighter by two teams tying for a division title. They would have to play a one-game playoff to see who won the division and who gets to play the WC one-game playoff!

Anyway, if the AL East crown is on the line, those three weekday games in the Bronx between the Red Sox and Yankees to close out the regular season (October 1-3) are going to be very intense.

March 1, 2012

Varitek: Catch With Pride

Update: If you missed his six-minute announcement, click here.

Note: NESN, the Globe, and redsox.com will broadcast the press conference.

WEEI's Arielle Aronson counts down Jason Varitek’s 10 most memorable moments as a Red Sox:
10. The Trade – July 31, 1997
9. The broken elbow – June 7, 2001
8. The Triple – Oct. 24, 2004
7. The suicide squeeze – Oct. 6, 2008
6. The plate block – Oct. 4, 2003
5. The home run – Oct. 18, 2008
4. The Captain – Dec. 24, 2004
3. The World Series – 2004 and 2007
2. The no-hitters – 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2008
1. The fight – July 24, 2004
Over The Monster's lone1c also has 10 moments:
(10) Catching 16 innings of a six-hour game against the Rays—at age 39
(9) His grand slam against the Yankees in April 2009 in the ridiculous Beckett-Burnett slugfest
(8) The botched suicide squeeze in the 2008 ALDS
(7) Taking part in the four-homers-in-a-row fest against the Yankees
(6-3) No-hitters for Nomo, Lowe, Buchholz, and Lester
(2) 2004 ALCS heroics
(1) Varitek slugs A-Rod
OTM's other Cactusalia:
Toting 'Tek for Wreck - Jason Varitek and Two of the Greatest Boston Red Sox Teams of All Time (Mattsullivan)
A Jason Varitek Memory (Cee Angi)
Jason Varitek, Advanced Catcher Defense, And Real Defensive Value (Marc Normandin)
Michael Silverman (Herald) has some quotes from Bronson Arroyo and David Ortiz about the Fight.

Red, Surviving Grady: Today, We Are All Hulking Catchers With Squeaky-Ass Voices.

Chip Buck, Firebrand of the AL: Saying Good Bye To Tek.

Chad Finn (Globe) notes that in addition to catching four no-hitters, Varitek was behind the plate for seven one-hitters.

Orioles GM Dan Duquette, who robbed Seattle of both Derek Lowe and Varitek way back in 1997, offers his thoughts. ... Several of Varitek's teammates say nice things. ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia says Varitek inscribed a jersey for him: "Catch with pride".

Red Sox Spring Training, 1912

The players - in full uniforms, with caps - would often walk or hike for a few miles in the morning. The Red Sox trained in Hot Springs, Arkansas through most of the 1910s.
Thanks to Jere for pointing me towards the Boston Public Library's Flickr photo stream.

Luke Scott Thinks Red Sox Fans Are Arrogant And Vulgar; Wait Until He Hears Them This Year

Well, they ain't gonna act more friendly to you now.
Just their arrogance. The fans come in and they take over the city [Baltimore]. They're ruthless. They're vulgar. They cause trouble. They talk about your family. Swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them. Then when things like [the last game of last season] happen, you celebrate even more. You go to St. Louis - classiest fans in the game. You do well, there's no vulgarity. You know what? You don't wish them bad. ...

The clubhouse afterward was like we'd just won the World Series - a lot of celebrating, a lot of high emotions. ... Everybody's giving high-fives, then all of a sudden [Longoria] homers. Everybody's in the clubhouse and it's like, Bam! And we're like, "Go home Boston! Pack your bags. See you next year." ...

I got to see a priceless thing driving back to my apartment. I see all the Boston fans walking around, and I mean they were crying crocodile tears. People were like this, walking side by side. It was like someone shot their dog. I rolled down the window and I'm like, "Ah, hah, sucks doesn't it, when someone laughs or makes fun of you when things aren't going your way."
I'm glad Scott and the Orioles enjoyed winning their 69th game of the season so much. Baltimore had a better record than three teams; woo-hoo! Scott plays for the Rays now and will be at Fenway for the Red Sox home opener on April 13. (He's also a Teabagger and a huge Nugent fan, so you know he's just about the dimmest knife in the shed.)

Red Sox at Twins, 1 PM

Red Sox - 100 012 100 - 5
Twins   - 110 220 000 - 6
Lineup
Jose Iglesias, SS
Che-Hsuan Lin, RF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Josh Kroeger, DH
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Lars Anderson, 1B
Jason Repko, CF
Oscar Tejada, 2B
Alex Hassan, LF

Bench
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Nate Spears, INF/OF
Juan Carlos Linares, RF
Dan Butler, C
Luis Exposito, C

Pitchers
Alfredo Aceves
Daniel Bard
Clayton Mortensen
Jesse Carlson
Tony Pena, Jr.
Alex Wilson
Drake Britton
Will Inman
Justin Thomas
There is no radio or TV coverage, but the Globe will live-blog the game at Extra Bases.

Each pitcher will go one inning. What is Bobby Valentine looking for from Aceves and Bard?
Getting through healthy, throw strikes, work on the plan that they've been planning -- that they work it in a game. [I'm] probably going to see them do some of the stuff that they've seen here, probably going to have them do a pitchout once in a while and a pickoff that wouldn't normally be done. But you'll see them try to take what we've been doing here into a semi-competitive situation. This is like minor surgery. It's only a "B" game for those guys who aren't playing in it, for the most part.
The Twins will also use nine pitchers: Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks, Jeff Manship, Jason Bulger, Carlos Gutierrez, Tyler Robertson, Brendan Wise, and Deolis Guerra.

Also: Jason Varitek's press conference is scheduled for 5:30.