Red Sox Playoffs

The Red Sox playoff run kicks off today. It remains to be seen whether this will be a quick exit again.

There’s reason to be excited for the series against Houston. The Astros got off to a phenomenal start in the first half of the year, then sort of coasted to the postseason (losing the top spot to Cleveland after their record streak). They have a way more consistent offense, scoring 111 more runs than the Red Sox. Their starting pitching is also more consistent. Verlander vs Sale will be a great matchup, and hopefully Sale can keep the Sox in the game for at least 6 innings. Keuchel is inconsistent, but has the ability to be a dominant pitcher, while Pomeranz has had an excellent season and should continue to do well in game 2. Beyond that, the Red Sox starters have been downright unpredictable, between Porcello and Rodrigez struggling and Fister’s bipolar swings. As far as a third starter goes, Fister has the best postseason track record. The Red Sox have a better bullpen, especially if David Price can keep it together the way he has in the last few weeks.

To win, the Red Sox will need their two best starters to step up and pitch as well as they have all season. The offense will need to hit much more consistently than their regular season effort, and they will have to manage not to get thrown out on the bases as they have all season. Defense is fortunately something that the Red Sox do very well, and I am very confident that they’re going to continue that.

If the Astros win this series, it will be because the Red Sox can’t hit consistently, and their aggression on the basepaths gets them thrown out (Benintendi). Leaving runners on base has been a struggling point all year, given the style of offense the Sox use (somewhat of a small-ball approach, few consistent power hitters), so that may rear its ugly head if they can’t build offensive momentum. Either way, I look forward to an exciting series against a solid all-around team.

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Postseason Again

The Sox clinched a spot in the postseason last night with a win and an Angels loss. At the very least, they’ll be a wild card team. They’re in the driver’s seat for the division though, so barring a pretty big collapse they’ll have (likely) Houston, or more likely they’ll be heading to Houston. 

I’m not as confident as I’d like to be in the Sox. Their offense is inconsistent. Just look at their last 3 games: two overtime Wins, one going 15 innings, and one blowout win on the back of Chris Sale’s absolutely dominating performance. If they had a consistent showing on offense even for the past month or so they could be contending for home field advantage. I’m still no 100% sold that they’ll be ready to compete in the playoffs with playoff pitching, whether it be Verlander, Keuchel, or even Kluber if things go south for Cleveland.

Pitching is another concern. Sale is Sale, but other than yesterday he kind of struggled (relatively, of course, for the Cu Young award hopeful). Big congratulations are in order on his 300 strikeouts this year, the first time since 1999 that it’s happened in the AL. Drew Pomeranz has actually been consistently very good this year, which is something I wouldn’t have expected to say last year. He has done a tremendous job and has been one of the few cconsistent pieces on this team. Beyond that, what do we have? Rick Porcello, who isn’t even close to what h was last year; Eduardo Rodriguez, who is what you’d expect him to be; Doug Fister, a solid fifth starter with an unfortunate last name who would be exposed as a third starter; and the billion-dollar man David Price, who will probably be a bullpen pitcher (which is good considering that’s the only way he’s ever won a playoff game).

The Sox will most likely play the Astros in the ALDS. I think they can win, but it’ll probably go to at least 4 games if not 5. Houston has been coasting a bit since starting the season like a rocket and burning out after the all star break. After Houston would be Cleveland, a juggernaut who won 22 games in a row and is poised to have home field to defend their pennant from last year. Cleveland looks to have Boston’s number this year, whatever the reason. If I were a gambler, I wouldn’t bet on the Sox in Cleveland. But stranger things have happened, so the Sox shouldn’t be counted out yet.

Random Drug Tests

I see this every damn time someone hits multiple home runs in a game (congrats, JD Martinez). Everyone complains about how they’ll get “random” drug tests, and it’s clearly not “random”. It happens every 4/20 too.

Here’s the answer: it isn’t meant to be random. “Random” only applies to the player. The MLB (and NFL, and NBA, etc.) Have the authority to do it *randomly (I.e. at their discretion, without warning the player in advance) as a way of potentially catching a player in the act of cheating. It’s to deter people from cheating. It isn’t random for both sides because there would be no practical benefit for that.

Confederate Soldiers

In the spirit of Robert Lee, I made a discovery the other day.

Well, well, well… Looks like we’ll have to take Joe Buck out of the booth. Wouldn’t want anyone getting offended, since he fought in the Alabama militia of the Confederacy. 

Your call, Fox.

Don’t Change Yawkey Way

John Henry wants to change Yawkey Way to a different name, because Yawkey was a racist. Of course his suggestion is to rename it after David Ortiz, because Ortiz doesn’t have enough shit named after or given to him these days. The best part is that he called it a “haunting reminder” of the city’s “history of racial intoleramce”, as though he just bought the fucking team yesterday and hasn’t owned it since 2002.

Tom Yawkey was racist. That much is true. He gave Jackie Robinson a workout back before he was signed to the Dodgers, but he had no real intention of signing him and passed on other legends like Willie Mays, who probably would have gotten the Sox to a world series playing with other legends like Yaz. 

But Yawkey was tremendously important to the Sox. The team was following the tailspin of losing every hall of famer, great player, even decent player from previous mismanagement (particularly Harry Frazee), and watching the Yankees buy up all of their talent to win championship after championship. They didn’t win a World Series, but they contended for several, and played in three, during his ownership. He prevented the Sox from the potential of moving out of Boston or perpetually feeding the New York roster with developing stars, which would probably be worse. 

Yawkey was also a beloved member of the community of Boston, according to people who knew him at the time. His charitable contributions were enormous. The Jimmy Fund, truly one of the greatest organizations in our country, wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are today without his constant support. 

We can’t pretend that Yawkey’s only characteristic was that he was racist. We don’t have to and shouldn’t justify it. but at the same time we can’t say that it prevented him from doing anything good for Boston and for the Sox. We can find fault with literally any historical figure in any circumstance, and there can be an argument against momuments or public recognition of any of them. In this case, John Henry is clearly caving to social pressure from a very small minority of vocal protestors, many of whom couldn’t care less about the Sox or their history. 

If You Think Celebration In Baseball Is Bad, Then Shut Up

We get it. You hate fun.

It’s very natural and human to celebrate doing something well, especially in sports. Celebration dances in the NFL were great until Roger “Adolf” Goodell decided to get involved. Soccer allows a full several minutes worth of dancing after a goal. The NBA hasn’t cracked down on celebrating after a nice run or a game winning shot. 

For some reason, baseball fans like to pretend they’re better than everyone else because their players don’t express emotion when they succeed. If they do, they’re told to “act like you’ve been there before”, or “act like an adult” as though adults never express joy. 

There are plenty of fans who love watching guys show emotion during the game which they’ve devoted a significant portion of their life to perfecting. Particularly younger fans would love to see more outbursts, fights, attitude, and swagger. It’s dull to watch a hunch of guys going through the motions of playing without any heart or passion. Playing baseball isn’t meant to look like a Bill Belichick press conference; it’s a game. 

So if you think people shouldn’t show emotion or express anything during games, shut up. Don’t start getting on the Sox outfielders’ case for the “win, dance, repeat” gatherings after wins. Don’t get on your high horse every time the benches clear after an argument or a HBP. Especially dont complain when players fight- those are some of the most memorable things about some of the best rivalries (like the great Sox-Yankees fights of 2003-04). Let them play ball and react to what happens with all the passion that they have for the game.

What’s Going On- Part 2

Here we go again!

In my second round of unexpected events, we return to the Pablo Sandoval saga. He is of course back with the Giants, called up to replace a guy named Belt (because God loves irony). He has 2 hits in 7 at bats now, which is better than his stats in Boston already. But Pablo isn’t the focus here.

The story is Barstool’s Boston super fan Jared Carrabis’s fans throwing down the gauntlet with the most expected of opponents: Smash Mouth. The band. The Shrektacular band apparently loves the guy, probably because he actually gave a shit when he was in San Francisco back in 2014, while Carrabis followers took up the banner of Boston and attacked his lethargy. The band seems to think that it’s cool that he openly gave up after getting a big payday. Carrabis, for his part, didn’t want to get into it with Smash a mouth, despite the potential for a throwdown of the ages. 

Personally, I like Smash Mouth. They have some fun songs, and I liked All Star a lot even before seeing Shrek and before it became a meme. Carrabis, on the other hand, is one of the best baseball writers in the business, and his Sox coverage is far more entertaining than anything ESPN or even NESN ever produces. In a battle of baseball wit, Carrabis would certainly have the edge, especially given that the subject is Sandoval’s performance.

However he performs in San Francisco, Boston fans will never forgive him for taking so much money and mailing it in. Such unprofessional behavior is indicative of an issue with accountability in baseball: once they get paid, it doesn’t matter how they play. Is it time to change the CBA? Should teams be protected from players who openly and blatantly take huge deals and then decide not to even try to earn it? Should MLB contracts be structured more like NFL contracts, with only some guaranteed money so the player actually has to play well?