Category Archives: Baseball

Red Sox Pull Off the Impossible

I’m going to state this clearly right at the outset: the Red Sox lost me last September with their heartless, uninspired play.  This season I’ve watched more Orioles baseball than Red Sox, and the little Red Sox I did watch sickened me.

Since last year all we heard was that it would be impossible for the team to unload Beckett, Crawford, etc. due to their tainted image (in Crawford’s case, total lack of performance as well) and bloated salaries.  Not without the Sox essentially paying for them to play somewhere else.

So like so many other baseball truths, we find that the real case is you can’t unload them until you actually try to unload them. Apparently we hit that point with the recent clubhouse turmoil, and the utterly disgusting on field performance.  It was obvious, this was a group of millionaires whose only commonality was they had paychecks written by the same management group. This was certainly not a team.

Shipping out Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez was a good start.  Dispatching their payroll, in almost its entirety to Magic Johnson and the Dodgers is a giant step.  Notable after the deal, Alfredo Aceves was suspended for 3 games for complaining in the clubhouse.  Perhaps a new day is dawning.

I’m not ready to jump back on the Red Sox bandwagon.  They’ve got a lot of things to do before that happens.  But the move is one in the right direction and I’m guardedly optimistic.  If it were given to me as an option, I’d rather see a raft of Pawtucket prospects playing their hearts out than a return to the soulless superstar zombies we’ve seen over the past two years.

So where to from here?

  • It is painfully obvious that a clubhouse leader is needed.  
  • It is similarly obvious that anyone added to the team better have the work ethic.
  • Clubhouse cancer must be and will be exorcised, no matter the amount of pain.
  • Bobby V., we hardly knew ye…yes, I think he’s going to have to go. As will virtually every other coach.  We need to build from scratch.
  • Some degree of management restructuring is called for.  John Henry and Larry Luccino must bear a good part of the blame.
In someways, it is fittingly ironic that even in death Johnny Pesky has been a force for good with the club.  I truly believe that the players shameful turnout on Monday for his funeral was the absolute last straw for management, and who could blame them?
I expect we’ll see big moves over the remainder of the season, perhaps a good chance for us to see what we’ve got in the minors, and over the winter, I think the fabric of the team will change substantially.
As for me, I’m intrigued, but they definitely will need to show me more.

 

*Update:
I may be wrong about the reasons - in this post WickedClevah posits that the deal had more to do with an impending 2013 50% luxury tax on the overly large Red Sox payroll.

 

If John Henry did not like the previous luxury tax system – and he did not, to the tune of $500,000 – it seemed safe to assume that the new CBA with its more onerous luxury tax provisions would have a substantial impact on the Red Sox payroll and operational structure moving forward. And while the head of the players union downplayed the notion that the new CBA would constrain Red Sox (or Yankee) payrolls as recently as March of this year, the Marco Scutaro trade two months before was proof enough that the times were changing. When the Red Sox trade their starting shortstop for a long relief candidate simply because the trading partner will pay a one year $6M commitment, it’s difficult to argue that it’s business as usual. As Keith Law said at the time, “You don’t dump a 3 win player making $6MM for no return.”

 

So I guess there are a lot of reasons to go ahead.  It might also be that while the Pesky Funeral embarrassment makes a good justification, the true goal is, as Mikey Corleone might tell us, “just business”.

Reflections of a Train Wreck

Perhaps Mike Lupica summed up the last 30 days of Red Sox baseball best:

“It was like Mookie’s hit took 30 days to roll between Buckner’s legs.”

Any Red Sox fan with half a brain could not have been shocked by Wednesday’s epic failure.  With the exception of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Aceves and Scoutaro, this was a team that either gave up in early September, or flat out never really cared to begin with.

I could get into the numbers, such as the 6-18 from Sept. 3, $160,257,476 team salary, the anemic OBP of some of the players, etc.  In my mind, the real problem doesn’t come through in the numbers.  We had guys who were seemingly incapable of making anything happen when it mattered.  Adrian Gonzalez, for one, seemed to pile on the personal numbers at the times when we really didn’t need them.  When we needed that hit, with the game on the line, his bat went silent.  He was not the only one who was AWOL in the clutch.

There is no tomorrow for this team, and rightfully so.  They wrote their own story, with multi-millionaires whining about their travel accomodations, unable to play when they were needed due to “discomfort”, and with plain old fashion piss poor performance.  This team requires radical surgery if for no other reason than to redeem some shred of dignity in the eyes of the fans.  We need to put a few of these curs down!  Throw some heads on pikes! Geld those horses!

The mantra for the season, starting in April, was always “This was just one game. We’ll do better tomorrow.” It excused every loss.  In the end, they got what they deserved: any one of those losses would have sent them to Tampa for a tie breaker.  Two would have had them playing in October.

Perhaps the Red Sox should consider adding a special patch to the uniform of every single player who was on this club, to be worn until they retire, or until the expunge their shame with a World Series.  Brand the bastards so that we might recognize them more clearly in the future.

Heads will roll, and rightfully so.  I don’t for a second believe this was the fault of Terry Francona.  The issue starts with management, and is reflected in the bloated payroll of the club.  We’ve now got a massive payroll, aging players of suspect  durability, and no clear vision going forward.

Find the problems and fix them now. We, the fans have a limited tolerance of multi-millionaires who fail.  We made you guys, and you damn well owe us better than you gave this year.

Here’s a hint: stop with the excuses and own your shame guys.

 

 

It’s Truck Day!

In honor of the Red Sox Truck Day, here is Truckin’, performed by the Grateful Dead, April 17, 1972 Koncertsal – Copenhagen, Denmark.

Truck Day, for you non-baseball fans, is the day when they send the truck off to Florida from Fenway Park in Boston, loaded with all their gear, in preparation for the start of Spring Training.  It started out as an unofficial start to the baseball pre-season for fans, and has blossomed to the point that this year, the truck is emblazoned with an ad for Jet Blue.  I guess we ought to have expected it.

YouTube Preview Image

Red Sox Ticket Prices, StubHub and Ace Tickets

Back in the day, I used to go to Red Sox games…lots of Red Sox games, as many as 30 or so a year.

In the past couple years, not a game.  In fact, I’ve never taken my two daughters.  Prices obviously enter into this – read this on the pricing thisyear from ESPN

Following an across the board freeze of all ticket prices in 2009, approximately two-thirds of the tickets at Fenway Park will stay at 2009 levels or increase by $2 for the 2010 season and no single price category will increase by more than $5. In 2010, 63% of the tickets at Fenway Park will be $52 or less, with the lowest ticket price remaining at $12.

For many of you, you’re saying, that’s not so bad, go for the $12 tickets.  That’d peg you immediately as someone that has never been in the bleachers at Fenway.  It’s traditionally not a place for your kids…at least not for my kids.

The real rub in my mind is that I can’t get tickets to the games I want, such as the May 7 game against the Yankees without going through a scalper like StubHub or Ace Tickets.  Both have hundreds if not thousands of tickets to that game.  Meanwhile, Redsox.com, the official box office has none…not a single ticket for the game.  This, just ONE DAY after tickets went on sale.

So how’d that happen?

You see in 2007, Stubhub.com signed a 5 year deal with MLB to resell tickets.  On the face of it, the deal was to allow fans to resell their tickets.  Are we honestly to believe that thousands of Red Sox fans waited online Saturday and then changed their mind on Sunday and are now selling their tickets.

No, obviously not.

The big question here has to be asked of the Red Sox: are you providing tickets directly to StubHub?  If so, then that ought to be figured into the average cost of ticket prices.

If this is the case, then the Red Sox and MLB have found an excellent way to increase revenues, without having to face the bad PR of drastically increasing ticket prices.  Also, if this is the case, then both the Red Sox and MLB need a trip to the woodshed.

I fired off an email to the Red Sox box office:

Why is it one day after tickets went on sale, games such as the May 7 Yankees game are unavailable from your site, but StubHub has hundreds if not thousands of tickets.  Do you sell or in any way provide tickets to StubHub?
As a fan, this situation is not acceptable.

What do you think? Should fans be forced to buy their tickets from secondary sources?

Kind of funny to think that StubHub’s motto, “Sold out? Not us…”  when for MLB for this is definitely a Sell Out.

(Note: I contacted the Red Sox via email on Sunday and as of the publish time of this post, have not received any sort of reply).

Oh Foul Fate…

My name is Mark and I’m a Red Sox fan…

Not much can be said about yesterday, a truly epic failure that will leave Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon firmly in the goat seat for the next year, for the most part undeservedly.  Let’s face it, without him, the Sox would have been playing golf last week, not tasting the joy and sorrow of post season ball.

In early August I posted a simple message to the #redsox Twitter hashtag: “I don’t feel it this year…”  I stand by that.  After a dismal July, and a complete failure of our big bat to show up in April or May, or our seeming inability to stop a steal, we had no right to expect post season play, much less that it would really lead anywhere.  This team was streaky, with prolonged  batting droughts and then massive spurts of production that made the stats meaningless.  When you’re prone to throwing up Ofer games throughout your lineup, bad things happen.

Much will be said about this collapse, but the truth is this: the way this team played, they had no right to be in the playoffs.  For next year, expect more of the same, if they don’t open the purse strings and find some offense to add to the lineup.  I am thankful to Varitek, Ortiz and a the rest of the team, but it’s time for us to look forward, instead of honoring our past.  We have a potential pitching lineup next year that only comes around once, a staff so utterly packed with studs that we need to take advantage now, and not allow it to slip through our fingers while we suffer a “rebuilding year” or two.

Theo: your best bet is to keep your pitching staff as is, then build around the young guys.   Ellsbury, Pedroia, Martinez and Youkilis are the future.

The good news is that in baseball today you don’t necessarily have to settle for a rebuilding year.  The rules haven’t been fixed, so we can still do a Steinbrenner and buy our way out of purgatory.  The even better news is that the Red Sox can potentially afford to do this.

Yesterday, I predicted there was no way our boys rolled over and coughed up the ALDS game the Angels.  My exact words:

#redsox will win today. Their bats will come alive and wreak havoc on Kazmir. Mark my words.

They let me down. They let us down.  They let themselves down.  Truly, who didn’t see it coming when they opted to walk Tori Hunter to get to Vlad Guerrero?  I know Vlad was 1-7 lifetime against Paps, but really?

The Red Sox management has as much or more blame here on the field.  From slow managerial reactions, to the over dependence on keeping the faith in non-performing stars, to the failure either during the off season or in season trading to find some serious offense.  All problems they failed to deal with or dealt with too late to matter.  Now, almost everyone of those issues will be on the plate again for the off season.  We will learn more about this organization this off season than we have learned in either of our World Series wins…as it is in adversity that we see the true character of a team.

As far as the post season, I find little to cheer for.  There’s really no one left I can find it in my heart, with the possible exception of the Phillies.  We’ll see if I can even drag myself in front of the set again.

For now, the only comfort is in the words we older Red Sox fans cut our teeth on…maybe next year.