Category Archives: ESPN

Post Season Predictions

Ahh October. Nothing says baseball quite like it. In a season where my Red Sox were decimated by injury, I found it hard to work through the predictions, but the show must go on!

NLDS Reds vs. Phillies

When the Reds first made the playoffs, I was excited for them. 15 years without a playoff appearance for one of the classic baseball franchises. Despite them having five rings, and me never wanting them to have more than my sox, I was really hoping that they would do well. Well, they seem to have run into a Buzzsaw, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are probably the worst draw you can get in this playoff set. Not only are they the #1 team in the majors, but they are super hot. Their 11 game win streak in late September has these guys feeling like they can’t lose. Let’s not forget the absurd Halladay/Oswalt/Hammels rotation either. Roy Halladay is a beast. 2.44 ERA, 21 wins, and a workhorse to boot. This is someone who should have four rings by now, but his career in Toronto wasn’t exactly the fast track to the World Series. He is my favorite for October MVP.

Result: Phillies in 3

NLDS Braves vs. Giants

Unfortunately I don’t like this matchup much. Neither team offers much promise for a deep run in my eyes thus the Phillies are on the fast track to the World Series as a result. Both teams have great pitching, but in the end look for Wagner to lock it down.

Result: Braves in 4

ALDS Yankees vs. Twins

The Yankees showed the world last year that C.C. Sabathia doesn’t need rest. They showed it again this year when his wasn’t affected by the previous October. This, along with their high-powered offense, makes them a very dangerous threat if they can make it out of the first round. Unfortunately for them, Pettitte and Burnett do need rest, and Burnett has been a mess. The Yankee pitching could be their downfall. I flip-flopped 15 times on this one, trying to justify a win for the twins but in the end…

Result: Yankees in 4

ALDS Rangers vs. Rays

Tampa is young, and has seen the scene in the past few years. Cliff Lee seems to be on a post-season roster every year now. I like the Rangers better in a 7 game series to win out over a worn pitching staff. Longoria comes back for the Rays which should help. Provided Longoria isn’t a flop after his little injury break…

Result: Rays in 5

NLCS Braves vs. Phillies

The Phillies are so far gone as Phavorites in the NL. I can’t pick against them. (I promise no more PH=f jokes.)

Result: Phillies in 5

ALCS: Yankees vs. Rays

Destroy the evil empire! This is where their 3 man rotation will come in to play. CC likely pitches three times in this series. Beat him once and the Rays win.

Result: Rays in 7

World Series Rays vs Phillies

2008 Rematch! 2008 Results. Roy Halladay gets his first WS win, ring, and MVP honors. I think the deep postseason runs finally catch up with the Rays who don’t really show up for this one. The Phillies rotation is too good, and their offense is greater than or equal to that of the Rays. Mathematically sounds like winners to me.

Result: Phillies in 5… again.

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Filed under All Star game, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Braves, ESPN, General Baseball, Hall of Fame, MLB, MVP, Philadelphia, Phillies, Playoffs, Red Sox, Sox, Sports, World Series, Yankees

A slap on the wrist, ankle, ribs, forearm, back, hamstring, and both feet

I nearly died two days ago when Kevin Youkilis left the game on July 6th. I was ready to sign my organ donor form, jump off a cliff, and give what remaining working body parts I have to the Boston Red Sox, since nothing else seems to work.

The Red Sox have just been swept for the first time since the awkward sweep by the Orioles on April 30-May 2. It seems the injuries caught up to the Sox a little bit for this series, as they just could not catch a break. Now back in third place in the division, 4.5 games out, the Sox head into their final series before the all star break. Fortunately, it is a matchup with the Blue Jays and John Lester is pitching in the series. Winning 2/3 in this series would be a great way to head into the break, all things considered.

There is some light on the horizon though! A faint, candle size light, about 10 miles away but it is there. Dead Red Sox will start returning from the grave soon. Clay Buchholz appears to be on track to make a start in the Texas series immediately following the All Star Break. Josh Beckett is throwing in simulated games and looks to return the week following Buchholz. Having both of these guys back will be a huge help, and a relief on the bullpen. If they are back and pitching like they both can, we can win more games when the lineup, patched together with band-aids and duct tape, doesn’t magically score 5 runs.

Martinez is listed as a probable return after the All Star break as well, which is very exciting. This is not only a huge lineup boost but a return to normal for all the pitchers who have developed any sort of routine with him behind the plate. This is especially valuable since Jason Varitek is out into August.

Also exciting, is that both Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida are listed as possibly returning late July. Now, I am no medical expert, nor do I really know the extent of their broken ribs, but broken ribs are a pretty serious deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if these guys were back in early August instead. If they beat that I can only be excited instead of disappointed. August also brings back the broken feet boys, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek.

Now there is no denying that the most recent sweep hurt, but it in no way hurts the chances of a playoff run. We are half way through the season, and it is certainly not out of the question for this team to make an August/September push for a berth.

Other All Star Notes:

Very classy move by MLB, players, team managers, or whoever else had a hand in naming Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez to the all star team, knowing that they would not play due to injury. They very easily could have been skipped over with replacements made right off the bat (pun certainly intended.)

Buchholz will not pitch in the game either, but that was up in the air at the time of selection. I am more or less glad he will not be, as I don’t want to push an injury. As far as the rest of the Sox participating, I am a little nervous about Ortiz in the Home Run derby. The potential for a power outage afterwards is there, but as Prince Fielder showed last year (24 HR post-HR derby 2009) there is no guarantee of one.

On the flip side, I do like the idea of him being there, as it could quite possibly be the last All Star Game and HR Derby that David Ortiz ever participates in. Ortiz will probably get two at bats in the game after Vladimir Guerrero gets two at bats in. I hope he puts on a show, gets a big fat smile all over his face, and goes back to hitting well after the break. The other selection I like a lot is Adrian Beltre getting his first appearance. Beltre is less likely to get an at bat due to A-Rod being on the Roster, but could get up to the plate in the late innings if the AL has gone through the lineup a few times. DH, 3B, or pinch-hitter are all places he could fit in, but probably not for more than 1 at bat.

Lester will likely pitch 2 innings of the game; I view him as the most logical choice to replace David Price when he comes out followed by either Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia. No issues there. It’s not a full start so I find it hard to see him injuring himself.

Kevin Youkilis is the wild card here. Voting closes at 4:00 PM. I can go either way on this one. I would love to see the guy honored, but especially with his recent almost-injury I wouldn’t mind Youk getting a rest. The guy plays the game so hard day in and day out it must take a toll on his body. Go lie down, fall asleep for 48 hours and then go get a massage. Rest my friend, we need you.

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Filed under Adrian Beltre, All Star game, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, ESPN, General Baseball, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, MLB, MVP, Playoffs, Red Sox, Sox, Sports, Victor Martinez

Boston’s hot streak not to be Tampared with

On April 19th, the Red Sox were a horrid 4-9. They were just fresh off of a 4 game set with the Tampa Bay Rays where they couldn’t win a coin toss let alone a game. The Sox were banished to 4th place for more than a month, if only because the Baltimore Orioles somehow had only won two games to that point. The Rays were off to a torrid start, holding “best in the majors” honors, which they still hold today. The Yankees are the Yankees, who have kept pace with the Rays to some extent. The Toronto Blue Jays have amassed an offense that nobody saw coming, mashing 79 home runs, 14 more than their closest counterpart. They have scored the most runs in the majors, had the most RBI, and have the highest slugging percentage to go with it.

With the best division in baseball crushing the competition, including the Sox themselves, the Sox found themselves in a huge hole with massive obstacles to overcome. David Ortiz couldn’t hit and seemingly nobody could pitch, as several starter’s ERA were well over 5 for several starts. The ESPN power rankings had the Sox at 17th, behind teams like the Nationals. The team just wasn’t right, and was in a funk.

Funk out. This team is playing like they can. Since April 19th, the Sox are 23-12. They have overcome the powerhouse offense that is the Jays to take 3rd place. They have been on multiple mini hot-streaks where they win seven of nine games. The offense has been superb considering all the off season talk about how weak the hitting was. There is one team that is second behind the league leading Blue Jays in HR, RBI, Runs and SLG, and it’s not the powerhouse offense in New York. It’s the “sad pathetic offense that will struggle because they lost Jason Bay.”

After a very shaky start, John Lester has his ERA down to a nasty 3.15, and that’s not even best on the staff. Clay Buchholz has shown that he has arrived, and deserves to be in this rotation. Pitching very well into the 8th inning of several games thus far, Buchholz has a team leading 6 wins. Even Daisuke appears to be coming around, taking a no hitter into the 8th against a potent Phillies offense.

Ten days ago, we looked at the Red Sox as they headed to Yankee Stadium. As one of the toughest road stretches of the season, the Sox had to play two in NY, two in Minnesota, three in Philadelphia, and three in Tampa. All of those teams, except the second place Yankees, lead their respective divisions. (Note:  With the second best winning percentage in the majors, the Yankees would be first in any other division.) After a massive comeback, and subsequent rare blown save, the Sox could have taken both games in NY, but was only able to grab one. Since that blown save they have won eight of nine against those elite teams, including the most recent sweep of the MLB’s best Tampa Bay Rays.

The Sox may be 5.5 games back in the division, but counting them out or underestimating them as a threat would be a large mistake for any major league team. Spread the word, the Red Sox are coming.

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Filed under Adrian Beltre, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, ESPN, General Baseball, Kevin Youkilis, MLB, Papelbon, Philadelphia, Phillies, Playoffs, Red Sox, Sox, Sports, Uncategorized, World Series, Yankees

An Ortiz-less 2011

I would like to start out by defending Ortiz for a moment. I think the scrutiny his every at bat gets due to last year’s slow start is unfair. The large majority of the fan base, media, and analysts seem to be ready to throw in the towel.  After 26 at bats, I think this is absurd. You must give Ortiz at least a month, possibly until mid May, to come around because if he does he is too valuable to let go. I think people are still bitter about a bad start last year and a playoff sweep in the first round. Calm down Red Sox nation, its April, there is plenty of baseball to be played.  26 at bats (or 26 of anything) is a pathetic sample size in the statistics world.

Now, even with the bad start last year, David Ortiz finished the season with 28 HR, and 99 RBI. I would like to think that given whatever mini-slump he is in now, he will break out of and do about the same this year. Then the question is as follows. Do you resign David Ortiz for 2011?

Regardless of what I think the answer should be, I will tell you what the answer will be. No, this is David Ortiz’s last season in a Red Sox uniform. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that my opinion on this is not due to his failure to hit well in the first 8 games of the year. There are 4 main reasons that I believe Ortiz will be departing at the end of the season.

  1. Jeremy Hermida and Mike Lowell. In 2009, the Sox could wait out the Ortiz slump, as their options for replacement were very limited. Our bench players were Nick Green, Jed Lowrie, Rocco Baldelli, Chris Carter, Jon Van Every, and Mark Kotsay. These were not exactly potent offensive forces, with several of them on the DL or in AAA to start the year. Ortiz had no practical replacement options, so they left him there. Jeremy Hermida could not be off to a better start; taking advantage of seemingly every plate appearance he has been given. If this keeps up, I see Hermida being a cornerstone of the team in years to come. I believe Hermida is on a 1-year deal, and I’m not sure the status of the contract rights, but I’m sure if he performs that there will be an effort to keep the 25-year old. Mike Lowell is Mike Lowell. We all know the situation he is in. Terry Francona will be giving both of these guys’ at bats, and he will likely have to use the DH slot to do that. If they are hitting and Ortiz is not, eventually he will lose playing time. Ortiz has two be looking at these two in his rear view mirror and can’t be thrilled about it.
  2. Contract. Ortiz’s contract is up at the end of the year. The Red Sox hold a $12.5 Million option for the 2011 season, and there is no buyout clause. Boston could let him walk without paying him a dime. With concerns surrounding the slump(s), and age, $12.5M is probably not going to happen. The Sox will pass on the option, and this would leave both sides in a position where they would have to negotiate a new deal. I see Theo Epstein aiming in the 1-year, $5 million range, if offering anything at all.
  3. The Slump(s). I said the slump(s) don’t matter right now, and they don’t.  Ortiz could break out tomorrow and have a great season. The problem is the perception, and the talk, is there.  If Ortiz hits .280/32/110 this year, a stint of 4 for 26 at the start of the season will be inconsequential; however the perception of bad starts has been cemented in everyone’s mind. There is no way around it. On opening day 2011, wherever he is, David Ortiz will be asked if he is slumping if he goes 0-4. He will likely have to face these questions in spring training as well. This puts extra pressure on him to hit home runs every game. This has the potential of upsetting the big teddy bear, and can put him in a mindset of struggling, which will actually lead to him struggling.
  4. The direction of the team, pitching and defense. Youth, speed, and some of the more “natural” talents are what are being valued more these days. I realize that Ortiz is a DH, and he has no impact on the pitching or defense, but the fact remains that this team has a different feel to it than it did from 2000-2008. I don’t want to blame it on the steroid era, but I think that is part of it. The whole game is changing, and the big boppers have less of a place if they don’t meet the other aspects of the game.

Any of these reasons on their own may not be enough to get him out, but the union of all of them presents an interesting argument for letting him walk. Given all this, if Ortiz does turn it around in the next week or so, and winds up with that .280 Avg/32 HR/110 RBI  line, I would be for signing him to a 1-year deal, but probably not at his contract option price.

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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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Filed under Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Dodgers, ESPN, General Baseball, MLB, Playoffs, Red Sox, Sox, Sports, World Series, Yankees

Really RedSox.com?

I was perusing redsox.com as I do several times a day, as I typically enjoy that over espn or any 3rd party sites for my red sox official news.

Over the past few months of the offseason, I’ve been looking at the Red Sox Stat Leaders area, I saw the following.

Woahhh! Good for you Mr. David Ortiz! You managed to slump for pretty much the first half of the season, and still lead the club in RBI and HR!

But wait a minute… no you didn’t…

Somebody had more home runs than David Ortiz! Jason Bay! So naturally, I want a reason why. Is Bay being left off the list because he left as a free agent?

In addition, Jason Bay AND Victor Martinez had more than 99 RBI. Alright, I get it, Martinez might not be on the list because he only had 41 RBI as a Red Sox, the other 67 came as an Indian. But Bay? Was he snubbed here too?

So RedSox.com, I ask you this…

What’s up with the Bay stats missing?

Are you trying to avoid the fact that the most productive RBI and HR machine we had left?

Regardless of how I feel about him,  his leaving, or any aspect of it, give the man the respect he deserves for his performance in Boston!

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Modern Day Ruth

Before reading this post, read this one, as I’ll give all the credit to the On Deck Circle for this topic.

It really got me thinking about how the game has changed. Our athletes our now celebrities, and scrutiny of every move leads to a PR fiasco of epic proportions. See Tiger Woods or Alex Rodriguez. Good for you George Herman, you got your flappers and floozies in pre-TMZ times. You could drink, smoke, and fornicate to your hearts content in an era where people didn’t care what you did outside the diamond.

So how would your career had gone 80-90 years later?

My first question is really, would you even had made the majors? I know this seems silly, he is after all, BABE RUTH! But think about it, he wasn’t the most athletic build, and given his behavioral tendencies, would he have been able to compete with the lifetime driven athletes of today?

Now, if he put up numbers, of course he would make it. Anyone who hits that many dingers gets noticed. So now you have made the modern MLB, and you are “theoretically” putting up the same numbers you did then. Now what?

Now many of ODC’s points come in to play, and oh how many of them are spot on. This guy would be the most loved/hated controversy in baseball. Every fan would love him for every HR, and hate him for his poor ability to be a roll model and responsible face of the game. He would be more controversial than Manny Ramirez, Ocho Cinco, and Terrel Owens combined.  It would be that fiery balance of love and hate that would get him more sportcenter time than Brett Favre. He would be a marketing locomotive, barreling forward at an unbelievable pace, getting money anywhere he could. He would be the face of every razor, car, and deodorant commercial there is.

He would most certainly be accused of steroids, even if his figure was less than built. It’s just the nature of the beast. Then again, who knows, his personality may have been one to say, “What the hell I’ll do it.” Imagine the disgusting numbers he would have put up if he did. 100 HR season?

Most importantly, I don’t think he would play for the Red Sox OR the Yankees. NL teams only. You have a pitcher who can hit like that, some NL team would pay the big bucks. Then again, who knows, he basically didn’t pitch after going to the Yankees in 1919 so maybe he would sacrifice that aspect of his game again. I doubt any major league club these days would say, “Oh, you just had 5 seasons of sub 3 ERA? We are going to have you hit full time.”

It’s tough to see a team out bidding the Yankees, but his true value is in the NL, hitting and pitching. If he did play in the AL, can you imagine him closing for the Yankees? After a game where he hits 3 HR’s and 6 RBI, he walks in from first base to the mound for the save. That’s a scary thought. MVP forever.

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