Category Archives: Dodgers

Opening Day! (Night!)

Hooray for Opening Day! What a fight on Opening Night!

There was a lot of talk about the absurdity of having the Sox and Yankees open the season, especially on a Sunday night. Some of the reasons that I heard arguing against it were as follows;

  • They ruined the “holiday” factor of opening day. People would no longer take off of work/school to spend the day in Boston and see the game. The idea of Opening Night would kill the special feel associated with an opening day game. Especially with Easter being on this particular Sunday, there was a concern that the game would lose some attention.
  • ESPN was the reason the game was moved. Originally scheduled as a Monday day game, this game was moved to Sunday night as part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Under contract, they reserved the right to move one game to Sunday to start the season, and being Sox/Yanks, it was the big ticket game. Naturally, they chose it. I’m not exactly sure of all the details, but as I understand it, due to the NCAA Women’s tournament having priority to the ESPN broadcast, Sunday Night Baseball was moved to ESPN 2, losing its broadcast rights in the Boston and NY markets. This then seemed silly as ESPN would lose the majority of their viewership.
  • Red Sox vs. Yankees? Really? These teams play about 19 times a year, why do they need to start off the season facing each other. The game means very little, and it would make more sense for the teams to meet first in May when they are both a little bit more into the flow of the season.

I was almost on board with these arguments. Then I watched last night’s game, and now I am completely okay with the move. My counter arguments;

  • Even with Easter, this was still a holiday for me. I agree, it may have detracted from the day if I was going to the game, but I wasn’t that lucky. Instead, I woke up, put on my lucky Red Sox undergarments, (what else says fandom like a nice pair of Red Sox boxers), and went to church. After church, I changed into my full Sox outfit. Red Sox t-shirt, White Home Jersey (#3), and Red baseball cap with traditional B logo. Blue brim. Appropriately faded with about 10 years of wear on it. I still had an Easter dinner, and I don’t think the game interfered with that at all. I was excited all day, and by the time the game started I was ecstatic. The buildup was great. I watched the whole game, stayed up to late, and was tired at work. It was totally worth it.
  • ESPN would have had this issue no matter what game was selected. I don’t get the argument. The fact is ESPN was taken. ESPN 2 had issues no matter what team/network they had to deal with. Why not select the game with the best chance of viewership out of market? Aside from that, I, along with much of the working world, would not be watching the game if it was this afternoon.
  • I use your point against you. These teams play 19 times a year! Who cares if three of them are right out of the gate? The two teams can still meet several times in August and September.  Last night’s game was a back and forth fantastic game. I could not be more amped up for the season.

As for the event itself, wow. It left me in a euphoric daze, at a loss for words combined with the excitement of a thrilling comeback. The opening ceremonies were very well done, and not overly drawn out. Bringing Pedro out from behind the green monster was great, though the song choice was a bit strange. They probably could have done something with a little more pump-up factor. Joshua Sacco delivering the miracle speech was quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen. It was not tasteless, only because he is a kid, and he delivered it so well. I didn’t see any clips of the Yankee dugout, but I have to believe even they were smiling. It was classic.

And now to applaud you, the fan. I could not have been prouder of Red Sox Nation than when Mike Lowell got a standing ovation that delayed the reading of the roster. Mike, I hope you felt appreciated last night, because we still love you. Give us your all and we will support you, even if it is a limited role.

Neil Diamond, what was with that jacket? You were 17 when the Dodgers moved. Still holding a grudge? Regardless, it was great. I’m very happy NESN showed that and didn’t just cut to commercial.  Stephen Tyler on the other hand, I could have done without. You really were not that good, and then you creepily almost went full bore into a lip locked kiss with your daughter. It looked like she had to pull away just to avoid that from happening.

Well that’s enough for now. This post is long enough. I will analyze play more down the road, especially after Tuesday’s game as I have tickets!

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Why I love baseball, and the Sox

Here we are, a little more than a week into spring training, and just as I expected, not a whole lot to talk about. The biggest stories have stemmed from injuries to Jose Reyes and the odd one day retirement contract of Nomar Garciaparra.

The combination of the Nomar story and Matthew Berry’s Love/Hate ’10 which had an interesting “Why I hate the Yankees” segment, made me want to write about why I love baseball, and why I love the sox. As a side note, Matt, I have had food thrown at me in Yankee stadium as well. Nachos to be exact.

Why do I love baseball? Man that is a question of a million answers. The biggest reason probably being that I played. I played and I loved it. I played, and I wasn’t good for a long time. I remember my dad promising me batting gloves as soon as I got my first hit, which took me maybe half a season to get. With time, I got better, I worked hard, and eventually got pretty decent at hitting as well. I was fast too, like really fast. Rickey Henderson fast.

I beat out more ground balls in little league than anyone. I led off a lot of games before I had the strength to get the ball over an infielder’s heads. There was value in my abilities when I was not the best athlete, and that made it fun. I have distinct memories of my first layout in center field, much like Jacoby Ellsbury. When I caught the ball, the man on second had already crossed the plate, making it an extremely easy double play.

Which by the way, I can still do…

Aside from playing the game, I loved to watch it. I loved to watch it since my dad took me to my first game at Fenway. I loved the stats, standings and analysis in every way possible. I checked the paper every morning for the new stats. (I became a math major down the road). I loved the dirt dogs, the guys who worked hard. Trot Nixon, Pedro Martinez, and Nomar.

I remember the epic debates in the late 90’s as to who the best shortstop ever was. Nomar, Jeter, or A-Rod. I argued hard for Nomar every time. Funny what 12 years can do to the perception of a players career.

I loved the vigor and love these guys showed on the field. I hated that their passion always seemed to be dominated by the Evil Empire. I loved these guys for the same reasons I love Dustin Pedroia, and John Lester.

These guys play the game the right way. The play hard, work hard, and give the effort that I gave as a kid. These players not only won my loyalty for the last 2 decades, but have won it for long after they are no longer with the team.

With less than a month left until the regular season starts, and not much happing story wise in baseball, I guess it’s time to go watch some march madness to hold me over!

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The Dog Days of August

1 year ago, I was horribly horribly wrong. I raved about Theo’s most recent trade acquisition, Eric Gagne. I told you how it made us the best bullpen in the majors (with the at the time unbeatable Okajima, and Papelbon.) I told you how it was a godsend that he didn’t wind up in pinstripes. Wow. I’ll try and be a little more careful this time around…

Here we are 1 year later and 3 games past the epic Manny Ramirez trade that brought Jason Bay to Boston. Instead of praising Bay for his awesome performances in our sweep of the A’s this weekend, I’m going to praise someone else for a moment.

Theo Epstien. Anyone remember what we sent away for what wound up being a washed up Gagne? Kason Gabbard and David Murphy. Gabbard currently sits on the DL in Texas, after walking more batters than he struck out in his 56 innings through 12 starts. (That’s 4 2/3 innings per start.)  His 4.82 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, and 2-3 record probably wouldn’t have panned out well in Boston this year. Murphy is doing okay, .268 avg. with 14 HR’s and 71 RBI are certainly respectable, but with Boston’s already crowded outfield, he certainly wouldn’t have had a place this year.

If Gagne hadn’t uncharacteristically flopped, that would have been a brilliant move! All things considered, we didn’t even really lose out.

I’m going out on a limb here to say I trust Theo. This man has built a world class organization. He’s dealt Nomar, and now Manny. He’s signed class acts like Mike Lowell, Bill Mueller, and Mark Loretta. He’s drafted and raised a farm system comparable to none to produce guys like Papelbon, Youkilis, Pedroia and Ellsbury. And most of all, the tandem of Epstien and Francona have given me two championships.

Now why would the Boston Red Sox ever want to trade away one of the greatest hitters of all time? I’m going to side with Theo on this one. I don’t live the Red Sox clubhouse, and I couldn’t tell you what the environment is like exactly, other than that Francona will stand up for anyone at any time. I can tell you though that they looked like they were in a funk last week, and now they don’t. Manny must have been a bigger distraction than even I saw, because it was clear that we HAD to get rid of him, other wise we wouldn’t have. You don’t break up Manny/Ortiz unless you have to, and it got to the point of had to.

So now we sit here, Mannyless, and on a 3 game win streak.

The Boston Red Sox are a better team than they were 3 weeks ago. Why? We have essentially replaced a Manny who didn’t care with a healty David Ortiz (coming back from the DL) and Jason Bay. Everything else is the same! We are now full of guys who are going to give 100% every day. Bay is going to go out there and love what hes doing. That is going to fuel guys like Pedroia who don’t know what 95% means. It’s going to lighten the heart of Kevin Youkilis to know there are guys to cover his back.

I loved Manny Ramirez but he was a tumor. Time to move forward. As we move into the dog days of August, go out there and appreciate what the dirt dogs are giving us. From the days of Loretta, Nixon and Mueller when we won our first (modern day) world series, it’s the guys who leave nothing behind that wind up being the favorites. So Jason Bay, all I ask is for you to play your heart out. The rest will follow.

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2008 Red Sox: What They Should/Could and Will Look Like in the Future

2007 is over. The Red Sox were the best team in baseball, best regular season record and a World Series ring. The best part about this is, 2008 is going to look largely the same. Here is a position by position analysis of what the 2008 Boston Red Sox will look like, and what they should and will likely do with any holes that may exist.

1st Base: Kevin Youkilis
Does anyone else realize that was his SECOND full major league season? Only his second season as a full time player and he was absolutely spectacular. Youkilis is going to put up another big season, and will be a spectacular on base machine again. I also expect his power numbers go up.

2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia
Look at this, another fantastic youth produced by the Red Sox organization. This guy was fantastic May through October. His sophomore year is going to be fun to watch. Still calling for ROTY ’07.

Short Stop: Julio Lugo
This guy has 3 more years on contract with the Sox, and I pretty much expect them to give Lugo another chance. He showed several signs of promise this year, and hopefully the Sox can stick to their guns and let Lugo get a second year in with a little less pressure on him. I think he can come through and be a great speed guy for us for the next three years.

3rd Base: EMPTY
There are a few options here.

Option #1: I vote Mike Lowell. Lowell is looking for a 3-4 year deal before he retires. GIVE IT TO HIM! Lowell is a great guy and offers so much to this team. With the youth movement the Sox are moving towards, Lowell could be a great veteran guy to have around for a few more years.

Option #2: Alex Rodriguez. I don’t see this happening at all. Mainly because I see the Sox agreeing with me on the resigning Lowell. There is one and only one situation in which Alex Rodriguez comes to Boston. Boston would have to TRADE Julio Lugo, and play A-Rod at short. I’m so confidant in the Sox signing Lowell that this is the only way A-Rod comes to Boston. The Red Sox are going to put a price tag on A-Rod, and they will not go above that. They will not overpay. My guess, is that they won’t pay more than 26 Mil a year for him, which is insane in the first place. Someone is going to bid higher, or Boras is gonig to demand more, and A-Rod will not wind up in Boston.

Option #3: Move Youkilis to third. I say not, an errorless season is good enough for me. Keep him over at first.

Left Field: Manny Rameriez
One more year on the contract, I see no reason why this changes.

Center Field: ?

Hard call here. Jacoby Ellsbury or Coco Crisp? I think it’s time for Ellsbury! Let Ellsbury start the season there and give him a real shot at the majors. I in no way think Crisp should be let go though. Let Crisp be a bench player for one year. Let him play every few days, do a 4 man outfield rotation to a certain degree. Coco can be a great player on the bench and can be used as a defensive replacement for Manny late in games, and can also be a great Dave Roberts type weapon. Manny has one more year on his contract, keep Coco for that year and start ’09 with an outfield of Coco, Ellsbury, and Drew.

Right Field: JD Drew
Everyone keeps referring to the JD Drew signing as a failure by the Sox. I say nay. Drew had a poor year in general, but he started fantastic, and ended fantastic. Drew could be an great bat in this lineup and I think, like Lugo, a second year in Boston would drastically help him.

Rotation:

Josh Beckett: Is there any question now that this guy is #1?
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Tagging this guy to start #2. He’s had a whole season of AL ball, I look to him to improve in year two just as Josh Beckett did.
Jon Lester: I want this guy in my 3 hole. Game 4 was great, he can perform, give him the chance to do it for a full season.
Tim Wakefield: Take this $4 million option once again! This is why I wrote about him being tremendously valueable. Let him take 30 or so starts, he will win a good number of them and take innings away from everyone else. This also means keeping Mirabelli around.
Clay Buccholz: Let the rookie regime begin.

Yes ladies and gents, Curt Schilling is not in my ’08 rotation. Curt, I want you to retire. I know you said one more year, but please, finish your career as a Sox and go down in the books with a ring. I don’t want to see you go anywhere else and I really think the Sox are going with youth here and are not going to resign you. Call it quits, I love you and I love your hall of fame career. Go out with some pride.

Closer: Papelbon
Quite possibly a few more postseasons from being considered one of the best closers of all time, right up there with Rivera. This guy is fantastic and he is going to keep being so. With the team the Sox have build, expect Papelbon to have plenty of chances to prove himself as a Rivera level closer.

Bullpen:

Okijima: Of course they keep him around. Big part of the team this year.
Delcarmen: This is your year little Manny, step up and be a fantastic 7th or 8th inning guy for us. You have the stuff to make it happen.

Bench: Alex Cora

Keep this guy around. Great utility infielder.

I’m not going to bother with the other bullpen or bench slots because there’s nearly no chance to get them right. Those are a few slots where Theo will chose what our best options are and I do not have enough information to really know what those last few players are.

2008 is going to be a fantastic year for the Red Sox in which I think they can easily put up another 95 wins, and a legitimate shot at 100 wins.

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2007 Baseball Awards

It’s over ladies and gentlemen. 2007 was a great baseball season filled with records, magic, underdogs, and juggernauts. Now it’s time to take a look back and pick my Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and MVP awards. These are my picks, not the actual winners, though I’m hoping they closely align.

 AL Cy Young: Josh Beckett
This is a lock, I’ve been saying it since August. Nobody beat Beckett when it mattered this year. 4-0 in the postseason (which isn’t supposed to count in voting) and the only 20 game winner, which he did even while missing a few starts with that “evulsion” earlier in the game.

NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy
In my mind, this is another no brain-er. I know San Diego didn’t make the playoffs, but they were right there. He had more K’s than many of the strikeout kings of Beckett, Santana, Kazmir etc. His ERA was almost .5 runs lower than the second place guy, at an amazing 2.54 runs per 9. He finished with 19 wins, most in the NL and Beckett’s 20 was the only thing keeping him from a pitching triple crown. His one weak resume point was game 163 when that super hot Colorado team was in their fantastic run to make an amazing playoff appearance. I don’t think that one loss is enough to discount what he did the rest of the season.

AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia
Do I need to explain this one? After this kid hit less than .200 to start the season, the media and fans around Boston were calling for his exit. Terry Francona stuck to his guns, backed by Theo Epstien, and this guy was amazing all year. He was able to lead off, hit second, get on base, and hit a surprise home run now and then. In 520 at bats, he only struck out 42 times.
NL Rookie of the Year: Troy Tulowitzki
.291 Average, 24 HR, 99 RBI
Those are the numbers you expect a grizzled veteran to put up. Combine that with his excellent defense and you have a guy who is destined for good things with Colorado.

Manager of the Year: Terry Francona
I say this not as a Red Sox fan, or because his team won the World Series. I say this because of what he has accomplished with this club. The environment he has created allows each and every player to continue to learn and develop, wether they be a veteran or a rookie. Sticking with Pedroia in April can be looked at as one of his best moves all year, right up there with his fantastic bullpen management. Papelbon and Okajima did very well through the postseason and were able to pitch multiple effective innings strictly because of the way Francona handled the team. These players are just a bunch of guys having fun out on the field, not worried about consequence or failure. They can go out there day in and day out and just have some fun, and it’s all to the credit of Terry Francona.

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
Doesn’t even need to be discussed. Everyone already knows it.

NL MVP: Matt Holiday
I almost picked Ryan Howard for this one, it was very close. Holiday beats Howard in RBI by one, and average .340 to .268. Their OBP are about the same, but Howard has 11 more home runs finishing in at 47 dingers. At 26 more runs scored, 74 more hits, and almost twice as many doubles, I have to go with Holiday here. He was a better all around player.

Red Sox Gold Gloves:
Kevin Youkilis – Perfect. Enough Said. No regular season errors.
Jason Varitek – Not just his glove, but the way he handles pitchers and calls the game. I think that should be counted in gold glove discussions because it’s how he plays his position.
Dustin Pedroia – He might not actually win it, but he absolutely could have. He made amazing plays and highlight reels all year. Polonco had a fantastic year at second and very well may win it over Pedroia.
Coco Crisp – “Did you see that game where Crisp went horizontal and made that game saving catch?”   …   “Which one?”

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2007’s Best Playoff Races

I love September baseball. In recent years, it’s come down to the wire. Every game matters. I expect 2007 to be no different, giving fans a reason to watch right up until playoffs start. Here is a rundown of all 8 playoff races, in order of how good I think each race will be.

#1 NL Wild Card – Fantastic Race

Current Standings
San Diego —
Philadelphia 2.5 GB
Colorado 3.5 GB
Los Angeles (Dodgers) 3.5 GB

As it has been the last 2 years, the NL Wild Card will be the last playoff spot won. Yes I know wildcards are usually last, but once again, this may be a last-game-of-the-season type race. I personally will be rooting for the Phillies, but it is going to take a lot to take a lot to get San Diego off their roost. I’m declaring the Braves, Cubs, and Cardinals out of this race as they are not only 5 or more games behind, but have too many teams to leapfrog.

#2 NL Central – Good Race

Current Standings
Milwaukee —
Chicago 1.0 GB
St. Louis 4.0 GB

The best part about this race is that it’s a win or go home race. None of these teams have a high enough winning percentage to be considered in the wild card race. These guys will be scrapping for playoff glory. I’d like to see Milwaukee win this, just because they deserve the playoffs. They have been so bad in recent years I love to see a team like this get a shot. I also wouldn’t mind the Cubs there. If my Red Sox or Phillies aren’t winning a world series, I wouldn’t mind seeing a curse be broken.

#3 NL West – It is in fact, a race.

Current Standings
Arizona —
San Diego 2.5 GB

I think its great that the Diamondbacks have surfaced here. After their championship in ’01, they died off a little and weren’t really a threatening team. They are BACK, with or without Randy Johnson. They will win this race, but San Diego will be right there the whole way.

#4 AL Wild Card – Could be a race?

Current Standings
Yankees —
Tigers 4.0 GB

It pains me to say it, but I think the Yankees will be in the 2007 playoff picture. They have been far to hot to just go and miss it. The better the Red Sox do this weekend, the closer the Tigers can get to making this a race. Come on Detroit, you know you want it. Sorry Seattle, you buried yourselves and filled in your own grave on top of yourselves. At 6.5 out, I’m declaring you done.

#5 AL East – Talk to me on Monday.

Current Standings
Boston —
New York (Yankees) 5 GB

Just because I’ve ranked this at #5 doesn’t change my prediction that the Yankees will not win this. I still stand buy that. There is one and only one reason that the AL East even finished at #5, and that is this weekend’s head to head series.

Pettitte Vs. Matsuzaka
Wang Vs. Beckett
Clemens Vs. Schilling

Wow. Can you say playoff baseball? In a series where Roger Clemens makes his first return to Fenway Park since 2003, the Yankees COULD make this a playoff race. I say the Sox take 2 of 3 over this series, and then it will no longer be a race. If the Yankees sweep by some chance, this race could jump up to #2 or #3.

#6 AL Central – Possibility of a race, not likely.

Current Standings
Cleveland —
Detroit 6.5 GB

Only in a world where the Indians collapse and Detroit plays super hot is there any chance that the Indians blow this one. This is not really a race, but is more of a race than #7 and #8 because Detroit is only 6.5 out and is a good team.

#7 NL East – Race? What’s a Race?

New York (Mets) —
Phillies 6.0 GB

I think the Mets had this division won at the all star break. They are the best team there, and no matter how the Phillies do the Mets have this one won.

#8 AL West – Hahaha you are STILL falling.

Los Angeles (Angels) —
Seattle 9.5 GB

If you were to ask me what the biggest collapse of a team was this year, I’m going to point you right here. The Mariners had it going, and completely blew it. You guys were my hope for keeping the Yanks out of October. Thanks a lot. See you in the playoffs Angels, and good luck with home field Advantage.

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