Monthly Archives: June 2010

A bit of a bug going around

The injury bug has bitten the Red Sox. Not once, not twice, but over and over again in a relentless attack designed to destroy any hope at a post season berth. It started in the outfield, little things here and there until it manifested in broken ribs for Jeremy Hermida and Jacoby Ellsbury. Mike Cameron was one of the first with the so called injury illness, going on the DL at the end of April. As an upside to this whole mess, his early season departure has him returning as the virus spreads to the rest of the team. His return couldn’t have come sooner as JD Drew has missed some games as well.

While the infectious, highly contagious injury bug was successfully confined to the outfield for a while, it has managed to make its way elsewhere. Josh Beckett caught it first, and may have gotten it while in training camp as his early season performance was less than stellar. Let us not forget Daisuke Matsuzaka who started the season on the DL as well. The infection spread to another starting pitcher as it tried to take out Clay Buchholz, who appears he might be resistant to this particular strain of the injury bug. With a few off days this week, Clay may be able to make his next start. We can only hope this is not too serious. The infield is the most recent sighting of the virus, as the broken bone strain has returned to hit both Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez. Mike Lowell is out with hip problems to top it all off. Please let the hemorrhaging stop…

While this week was the worst of it, with three guys going down in three days, there are several things that have not only kept the Red Sox afloat, but have gotten them surging to a 17-7 record in June after a scorching hot May.

  • Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. These guys have been spectacular. Both of them had never seen playing time in the major leagues, yet have come through time and again. McDonald has 5 HR and 20 RBI, all of which seem to have come in important games. Nava is batting close to .300 and manager Terry Francona has enough faith in him that Nava hit second in the absence of Pedroia on Sunday. These two guys will continue to be relied on in the coming months, and while nobody expects production like the guys they are replacing, they have been fantastic thus far.
  • Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. These guys have been stellar. Both times that an injury caused a starter to either miss a start or leave in the 2nd inning, the bull pen was taxed big time. These two came out the next day and pitched an 8-inning and 9-inning win respectively. Stepping up and eating the innings is one thing, doing it while you pitch well and get the win is even better.
  • The Pen. There are some ugly ERA’s in the bullpen at the moment, but it seems like they have saved some wins that should not have been wins. On Sunday the Red Sox used 8 pitchers for 9 innings. If I had only heard that stat for any team in the majors I would have told you they lost. Not this team, the Sox pulled out a 4-2 win. Despite a few blown Papelbon saves lately and some relatively high ERA’s, the bullpen has kept us in the important games and given us some wins that the Sox might have not otherwise deserved.

While that is all and good for what has happened, it may not directly translate to what the next month will look like. The injuries in the last few days drastically change the landscape. There are a few very important points that need to happen going forward for the Red Sox to stay afloat and maintain a factor in the 2010 playoff hunt.

  • No more injuries. Impossible to predict, and just as impossible to plan for. The Red Sox have proven their depth both in position players and pitching. The depth only goes so far, and at some point one of these injuries is going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and JD Drew. These guys need to perform big. Drew is going to be relied on much more to be an offensive force. The loss of Pedroia and Martinez will hurt this lineup, and Drew has the ability to singlehandedly carry the team for a while. Let us hope that he turns it on. Completely independent of Buchholz’s status, the lack of offensive production is going to mean tighter games. Matsuzaka and Lackey can hide many of the team’s current injuries if they go out and throw 2-3 consecutive games with two runs or less.
  • Josh Beckett. For the same reasons that Daisuke and Lackey need to perform, Beckett is going to be missed more than ever. I am predicting an all-star break return for Beckett, even though nothing is official. If he returns to form and pitches some great games he could help keep the Sox in the mix.

More than anything else, these guys need to come back, and healthy. For now, the Red Sox just need to stay relevant. A deep World Series run will not be possible without Pedroia, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Beckett, and Martinez, but before that a playoff berth is required. Now we wait, and hope for the best. The 2010 Red Sox have proven to be a strong and resilient team, but their biggest challenge awaits them and will test every part of the team over the next six weeks or so.

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Filed under Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Dustin Pedroia, General Baseball, Mike Lowell, MLB, Papelbon, Playoffs, Red Sox, Sox, Sports

Perfection Denied

Twenty-Five days ago, we all woke up in a world where only 18 perfect games had been thrown. Since 1876, there have been about 390,000 baseball games played. This is a rate of one perfect game every 4.5 seasons.

We almost just had three in a little over three weeks. By now, the whole world, Jim Joyce included, knows that umpire Jim Joyce blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game with a missed call at first base. Jason Donald was out by at least a step, and then what should have been an epic celebration of perfection turned into a controversy over instant replay.

Instant replay, it’s on the way. I thought after the game that instant replay would have instantly fixed the problem. Jerry Crasnick had a very good point which made me rethink my argument.

“Inevitably, the game’s sad ending is going to elicit an outcry for expanded use of instant replay. It’s a worthwhile debate, but consider this for a second: How gratifying would it have felt if Joyce’s botched call was followed by a trip to the replay booth, a five-minute conference, the umpiring crew emerging from the tunnel and Joyce throwing up his right arm with an “out” sign.

Yes, Galarraga would have had his perfect game, on paper, but that single transcendent moment of celebration is something that can never be retrieved. In baseball or any other sport, winners don’t get mulligans on euphoria.” – Crasnick

He is completely right. How can you have a celebration on the field when the moment has passed? I for one have always been a big fan of the 5th umpire idea; someone in the booth to adjust calls that really need to be adjusted. Even in that scenario, the delay in the call would have taken the steam out of the celebration. If the 5th umpire was field level watching screens in the end of a dugout, it is possible that within 5-10 seconds after the safe call, he could have been on the field giving an out sign. There are obviously all sorts of issues with having these elements of replay, and the arguments for their applications are never ending.

So how does one fix this? Bud Selig could certainly make an executive decision, reverse the call and give Galarraga his perfecto. This has a whole new can of worms associated with it. Obviously, in this instance, nobody would argue. Justice would be served, but what happens when next week, the same scenario unfolds. Perfect game, 2 out, 9th inning in a 1-0 game, and a call is missed. The next batter hits a two run HR. Selig will almost be forced to take the win away from the opposing team if he wants to credit the new pitcher with a perfect game. What if the botched call happened 1 out earlier, can Selig still override? What if it was in the eighth, or the third? By righting the wrong after the fact, Selig sets a dangerous precedent which I do not think he can, or will do.

It winds up being a lose-lose situation. Selig’s hands are tied, and instant replay would only have helped in making the perfect game official, not in determining the game’s outcome.

In my opinion, Armando Galarraga’s name belongs on the list of perfect games. Don’t change the box score, the hit or anything, just put his name on the list. Put an asterisk if you have to; make him 20b or 21a if you want. His performance was noteworthy and belongs on the list some way or another.

Galarraga is taking the right approach to this. “I got a perfect game,” Galarraga said. “Maybe it’s not in the book, but I’m going to show my son the CD.” And you know what, Galarraga actually did something that nobody else has ever done; he basically threw a perfect game of 28 outs! He will always know he got a perfect game, I will always know he got a perfect game, and history will always know. Its just another great baseball storyline that we will tell our grand children one day.

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Filed under Baseball, Indians, Perfect Game, Tigers