Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

See Ya Bobby!

Well that was fast. (Patrick Semanski/AP)

If has happened. Not 24 hours after wrapping up the worst Red Sox season since 1965 the Boston Red Sox got rid of Bobby Valentine as manager. In all honesty this is probably the most excited I have been about anything related to the Red Sox since Will Middlebrooks got called up and started raking. I have been against Bobby V’s hiring since last season when he was just a name being tossed around. I never thought he made sense for this team and this season illustrated that in spades.

He clashed with one of the most beloved players on the team and even though Middlebrooks made the Youkilis trade more palatable you can’t tell me that Valentine’s less than healthy relationship with him had no hand in that move. It wasn’t just Youkilis that didn’t like playing for him. I honestly don’t know if there was one player who did. Alfredo Aceves imploded this season and part of it was an obvious disdain for Bobby V. Pedroia seemed to be warming to him slightly but that never seemed like the cribbage-playing marriage he had with Francona.  Didn’t hear a whole lot of talk from Big Papi about how awesome it was to play for him. He quite often down the stretch let Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester throw 783412 pitches despite the pair struggling to get outs into the fifth inning. Plus it is now being reported that this dislike from the players started in spring training when he “loudly questioned the aptitude” of shortstop Mikes Aviles.

Now as every Sox fan knows when someone leaves town or gets run out like Bobby V, the Boston media and the Red Sox front office put out smear campaigns that would put Romney attack ads on Obama look like glowing endorsements. There are going to be a number of bogus stories that come out all offseason about how Bobby V was shooting heroin in the clubhouse, was clubbing baby seals in his free time and (worst of all) purposely put out bad lineup cards. This whole pathetic season was not all on him. He can’t play the games. He also didn’t make all the terrible front office decisions and seemingly stop caring about baseball. John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington aren’t going to be fired but they deserve as much if not more of the blame here and the pressure is now squarely on them to turn things around. If another manager comes in and fails it’s suddenly going to look a lot more like there is something wrong with the organization and not the manager.

Yet Bobby never made sense in Boston. He just didn’t. And the way he handled this terrible season was certainly no indication that it was just because of the losses. It wasn’t just the players though as he called out coaches below him for “undermining” him. That’s right Bobby. Alex Ochoa and Dave Madagan want to have the team do terribly because there’s no possible way they could lose their jobs with bad seasons. As Curt Schilling said, in one of the most candid moments I have ever seen from an analyst, the move was gutless.

The 2012 Red Sox became exactly what I was afraid they would become under Bobby V; a circus. Now Valentine can take his clown car and the tents and head back to Japan or ESPN or wherever. Would it be too much to ask for one last favor though? Here’s hoping he takes Dice-K with him.

-Phil

How do you feel about Bobby V leaving? Who is really to blame for the Red Sox season? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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You Might Not Have Noticed But Carl Crawford Is Kind of Killing It

What’s that? Carl Crawford is actually playing baseball…well? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Soxpocolypse has been made this summer very, very ugly. The last few weeks there have been more stories/videos/interviews in which everything except for the play on the field has been discussed than anyone would ever want. Especially for a town like Boston that, while fanatic and a touch obsessive (OK more than a touch), still loves baseball. The whole situation has turned me and I’m sure many other fans off of baseball.

While every sports writer across the country has been writing piece after piece about the cancerous clubhouse, Bobby V’s failed management and the bratty players the baseball has really gotten ignored. When your team’s playing as poorly as the Sox have been that’s not really a bad thing. But aside from robbing Sox fans of a competitive season the fiasco has also made us all overlook some (if very few) positives. That has been especially true in the past couple of weeks.

I think it’s time to fix that. There are two guys who have jumped out for me while Alex Ochoa was getting sunflower seeds in his face. Clay Buchholz is the first but the second might come as a surprise.

Clay Buchholz is 11-3 and has been crushing it in every start since a rough start to the season. Would he mind talking to Jon Lester and Josh Beckett? (Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE)

It’s…wait for it, keep waiting., hold the suspense just a little bit longer.

Carl Crawford.

That’s right I said it. Carl Crawford has been a bright spot this season. He missed 18545 games to start the season (estimated) but since he has come back he has looked a ton better from the disaster he was last year.

For all you non-stats lovers you may want to skip down a bit because now we’re going to take a good long look at some numbers.

Crawford has played in 28 games so far this season which is a pretty solid sample size. Thus far this season is batting splits are .288/.311/.495 which compare favorably to his nine-year average with Tampa Bay which are .296/.337/.444. Favorably would be an understatement to how they look compared to his first season in Boston when he put up .255/.289/.405 which other than slugging were all career lows. His only worse season slugging was his first full one in the majors.

Something that can’t be ignored when it comes to his improvement his where he is batting in the order. Last season the Sox struggled to slot Crawford in never really finding a good spot for him. This season he has more consistently been put either in the two-hole or seventh. Seventh seems to be the spot that works best for him. He is 5-for-16 in that spot this season after batting .315 there last season.

This year he has been utilized more in his traditional spot which is second. When David Ortiz was healthy and KevinYoukilis was still on the team that spot was reserved for  Dustin Pedroia. With Ortiz injured and Youkilis gone to Chicago Pedroia has moved to the third-spot which opened up space for Crawford who has batted .277 in the spot. While that average is not going to blow anyone away he is a career .302 hitter from the two-hole.

Also good to see is Crawford’s uptick in slugging. At .495 he is on pace for a career high. Granted it won’t be for a full season and there’s still a lot of baseball left but more extra bases is a good thing. In fact if Crawford played the same number of games this season as he did a year ago, and hit at the same pace,  he would end up with 140 hits, 42 doubles, nine triples, 14 home run and 88 RBI. Compare that to 129, 29, seven, 11 and 56 from last season. The 42 doubles would be a career high, the 88 RBI would be the second best mark of his career and the nine triples and 14 home runs would be right in line with his career averages. Remember we signed him to be the player he was, not turn in to a 35 home run guy.

Some may still have some complaints. His on-base percentage isn’t particularly appealing at just .315 but Crawford has never been a guy that worked the count. Not every baseball player falls into the Moneyball mold.

Another weak spot is what was supposed to be Crawford’s greatest strength; his speed. Crawford has only three stolen bases this season putting him on pace for 14 in the projections I calculated. But delving a little deeper could explain things. First off he is coming off an injury. No, not one to his legs but to his wrist. You may have noticed that most players slide head first when stealing second base

Keep it up Carl, Boston is a lot easier to play in when you don’t suck. (David Richard / AP)

which would leave Crawfords wrists heavily exposed. Also he has only made three attempts (all successful) on a team that doesn’t steal often. The Red Sox are 26th in the league in stolen bases (58) and 28th in attempts (76) this season. Not exactly a team of Ricky Hendersons.

It might also be pointed out that Crawford’s batting average on balls in play is higher than last year (.321 compared to .299) so a little more luck has gone his way. That’s not totally fair though since his career mark is .328. So the first incredible nine years he had with Tampa Bay were all luck? Yeah I didn’t think so.

Finally, his fielding has been, well, not great as evidenced by his Web Gem caliber effort on Wednesday night that allowed a pair of runs.   But who cares I’m trying to be positive here.

So what does this all mean? Well it’s tough to say because even though 28 games is enough to make some more accurate estimations and projections it’s not enough to really wipe last year away. After all through 28 games this season the the Pittsburgh Pirates were 12-16 and now they’re right in the playoff hunt. Still it’s nice to see at least somebody is playing better than  last season, since just about everybody else is playing worse.

The wrist is still a worry and he’ll likely need Tommy John surgery in the offseason but it’s also nice to see that that contract we signed Crawford too might not end up looking so awful. At least Sox fans have got to hope. We’re stuck with him for the next five years anyway.

-Phil

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Shut Up and Play Baseball

I believe what Bobby is saying is “I hate my team. Just toss me so I don’t have to sit in the clubhouse anymore.” (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In Boston the 2012 Red Sox are what might be called a disaster. While down in Houston the Astros might see a 57-60 season as a humongous improvement, in Boston it isn’t. At least in the Boston that has been born from the past decade.

Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that the Red Sox players had a heated meeting with upper management about Booby Valentine and how he, to put it lightly, doesn’t seem like a good fit. To put it like it probably was; He effing sucks.

But hold on. This isn’t going to be a damnation of Bobby V. I’ve been against his hiring from the beginning. I didn’t like his fit and although I’m certainly not going to say he should stay, all of this season’s failures can’t be dumped on him. (Although his reported remark of “Nice inning” to Will Middlebrooks was a bit too much. What’s that? My Middlebrooks bias is showing? Thanks I’ll cover that up).

It also can’t just be blamed on injuries, granted it seems like the Sox have had just about everyone short of the guy chucking peanuts in the crowd on the 15-day DL this year.

It also can’t just be blamed on bad luck or curses or beer and chicken or pill-popping or whatever other ludicrous story has come out over the last year. Some true and others part of the (mandatory) smear campaign needed when someone leaves Boston.

No the majority of the blame, somewhere around 98 percent, belong to the players. You know those guys that actually play the game. The guys that go on the field and have the most direct impact on it’s outcome. Those guys.

I don’t remember anyone calling for a World Series MVP for Terry Francona when Josh Beckett was mowing down batters in 2007. I can’t seem to recall the millions of Epstein player shirts that got sold when Dustin Pedroia won AL MVP. Perhaps I was just oblivious to that.

When the team does well the players get the bulk of the praise. Tito and Theo got theirs as well but not nearly as much as the players and rightfully so. The players PLAY the game. A manager can only make the best lineup decisions he can and bring in guys from the bullpen. A GM can only put together the best talent he can afford.  The players have to put all that together and they haven’t.

Now they want to bitch and moan about Bobby V? Adrian Gonzalez and (no surprise) Dustin Pedroia have supposedly spearheaded this. Pedroia had an incredibly tight relationship with Francona and he clearly doesn’t get along with Valentine no matter what he says to the press.

But Adrian? What happened to God’s plan? Is this no longer part of it? Come on man you can’t shrug off last year’s loss as divine providence that humans can’t understand and then this season point the finger at someone else. Gonzo has hit better since the All-Star break but Bobby V isn’t swinging the bat for you. He’s not why you turned into the best singles hitter this side of Ichiro.

I would get it if Bobby V came in to the clubhouse and snapped guys hamstrings. Or put out lineups with Ciriaco batting in spots 1-5 while Pedroia was asked to start and throw 140 pitches. Or if he told Beckett to throw 86 MPH meatballs.  Or if he kidnapped Lester’s family and threatened their lives unless Jon went out and got lit up every start. But that’s not what’s happened. The Sox ridiculously talented roster (and they are talented) just isn’t producing.

So quit it with the excuses and take a page out of the book of the best franchise in this city (Hint: They are called the Patriots) and do your job.

-Phil

What’s the biggest problem with the Sox? Should Bobby V get fired? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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The Day The Red Sox Season Ended

I feel ya’ Felix. (AP)

Game 97. That is when I gave up on the 2012 Red Sox Yell at me, tell me I’m a fair-weather fan or whatever you want but I’m done. I’ve been trying to write with optimism and think well if this happens or that happens the season can be turned around.

That was for games 1-96. Not 97. Has the season been a loss? Not entirely. There have been some fun moments, many delivered by one Cody Ross, but this isn’t a team that’s going anywhere.

All season they have gone through huge bouts of depressing losing streaks. Then there have been little runs of success where it looks like things are coming together only to have that hope crushed a few days later.

Take the past week. The Sox went 5-2 after the All-Star break with series wins against a pair of solid teams (Tampa Bay and Chicago the AL version). Things looked good. Ellsbury and Crawford were back. Gonzalez was hitting home runs again (gasp!) and even though Ortiz got injured signs on t weren’t too bad.

Four days later and the Sox have gotten swept by the Blue Jays, seen Jon Lester find new ways to pitch poorly, and last night again fell victim to the Texas Rangers and Mike Napoli.

Quick aside: I love me some Naps. I hate how he crushes the Sox but as a player and a dude I have no complaints. Just goes out and mashes.  Plus as a Sox fan my estimation of his value is probably skewed by 118 percent since he’s hitting something like .780 with 67 home runs and 235 RBIs in his last six games against the Sox.  Those numbers may not be what you’d call accurate but you get the idea.

So last night as I watched Naps and Co. hammer the Sox 9-1 it finally hit me.

Even though he owns the Sox, I got mad love for Naps.

What am I hoping for anymore? I want this team that can’t pitch and goes through flat offensive spells to trade away more prospects to get some more talent in hope that they might be able to grab the last wild card spot? Because really that’s what the ceiling for this team is as currently constructed.

No one and I mean no one on this team can pitch consistently well. I don’t mean Pedro in 2000 levels I just mean someone that might put together consecutive solid starts. When Aaron Cook is turning into your most reliable starter you know there’s a problem.

So the rumor is the Sox are trying to trade for Josh Johnson or Matt Garza to sure up the rotation. I like both of those guys and if the price is right it’s something the Sox should pull the trigger on. But not for this year. If either of those trades are made it won’t be for this season. It will be another young player for the future like Ellsbury.

But the Sox can’t go into trade negotiations with the idea that they’re making trades to save this season. Unless the Nationals are willing to part with their entire roster there is no trade that makes this Sox team more than a middling squad that might, possibly win a trip to play for the chance to be sacrificed at the altar of the Yankees (God that hurts to type) or Rangers.

Another aside: The Yanks traded for Ichiro. They needed a corner outfielder and they got one but anyone that thinks this is some terrifying trade for the rest of the league is delusional. His numbers will go up just like every other player that goes to Wiffle Ball Stadium but his addition doesn’t make the Yankees scarier. Oh no, a .260 hitter with a .280 OBP that can’t hit for a ton of power. What can anyone possibly do to neutralize that? My prediction is his numbers will creep up (.280 BA or so) and he’ll be a nice replacement for Brett Gardner but it’s not like the Yanks are getting Ichiro of 2006 or something.

But I am not one to just give up hope without having some plans to make things better. I think there are some things the Sox can do to gear up and not make this a trend over the next few years.

No. 1- Get Jacoby Ellsbury an extension. The dude absolutely crushed it last season and even with the injury has had good numbers this year (.300/.338/.414) this season. He is the Sox most marketable and legitimate star player and without a doubt there best all around player, narrowly edging out Dustin Pedroia. He needs to be locked up and that needs to be done yesterday. (As an addition to this also give extensions to David Ortiz and Cody Ross).

No. 2- Use this season as a loss and start bringing up some of those prospects to see what sticks. Jose Iglesias is supposed to be our shortstop of the future right? Let’s take a look at the future right now. Mike Aviles has been solid but Iglesias is the what’s next. (Unless the Sox are holding out for Tulo in which case never mind). Also getting Ryan Lavarnway (who secretly was the only guy hitting during the collapse last season) back to the majors so we might have a catcher that isn’t as feast or famine as Salty.

It’s not you Bobby. You’re great. We still want to be friends. (Rick Yeatts/Getty Images).

No. 3- Make a trade for a young starting pitcher but don’t give up Matt Barnes. Barnes should be the only untouchable player (or at least the most untouchable player) in the minor league system. Barnes is the next ace for this squad, assuming it comes from the farm system. Granted he’s still young and a few years from the show but he flat made dudes look stupid while pitching for Greenville (how does a 14.13 K/9 ratio sound?) and he’s looked good in Salem so far and this is just his first season as a pro. Anyway if you can swing a deal to grab Josh Johnson or Matt Garza, both young arms that obviously have talent. Great but don’t give up the farm thinking they’ll make you a contender.

No. 4- Get rid of Bobby Valentine. It’s not his fault that the Sox have faltered this season, well partially, but not entirely and that’s not why he should go. He just doesn’t fit in with the Sox. It’s great that he didn’t take players BS and what not but he ran Youkilis out of town and it just still seems like he’s trying to win the city and team over and it’s August. He’s not the right fit. It’s not that he’s a bad manager or the reason for this failed season, he just isn’t the answer. It’s like if you hired Wes Anderson to direct a remake of Pulp Fiction. Is he a good director? Yes. Could he do Pulp Fiction? No. Well unless you wanted  Bill Murray as Jules Winnfield. Say what again you fuzzy little foreigner!

I will admit that I am at a loss as to who the Sox should get as the manager.

No. 5- Get in a time machine and don’t sign Carl Crawford or John Lackey or Dice-K or…

This won’t fix all the Sox issues. It doesn’t make Lester and Beckett figure it out. It doesn’t make the bullpen much better but it puts the team  in the right direction because right now they are going to other way.

Unless you like teams hovering around .500 that might make a wild card berth every few years. Then you can just move to Toronto.

-Phil

You still believing in the Sox? How can they fix things? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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What The Hell Happened To Jon Lester?

That’s the confidence you want to see. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

I blame myself.

For some reason I have recently had a bad string of luck with buying player shirts. Admittedly I buy so many of them that I’m bound to have players do poorly at some point. My current roster goes as follows; Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Beckett, Bard, Crawford, Gonzalez, Ross, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks and Lester.

That doesn’t count Varitek, Keith Foulke, Pedro Martinez and a bunch of others
like Carl Everett (that’s right), Mark Loretta (I know) and Trot Nixon (my
favorite one I ever got). Oddly enough I never got a Garciaparra but that’s beside the point.

Most of the players have continued or have been great since I got their shirt,
that was until last season. Last year I purchased a Crawford, Gonzalez and Lester and this season I grabbed a Ross, Middlebrooks (interestingly enough the
day before Youkilis, a shirt I also have, was traded) and Saltalamacchia.

Crawford was a huge disappointment, Gonzalez has turned into a glorified singles hitter, Middlebrooks suddenly looks like a rookie and Salty swings and misses like he’s trying to hit a fly with a toothpick. (Ross is doing alright though which is nice).

But the worst fall has come with Lester. I waited until last August to get his
player shirt. Since then the man who beat cancer and threw a no-hitter has collapsed in on himself. He went 3-3 and had his ERA go up by almost half a run
while being at the center of ChickenBeerGate. Then this season things have
gotten even worse.

Yesterday was the breaking point. After a great start to the post-All Star break with a pair of series wins and the return (a successful one at that)
of Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia the Sox dropped the
first two of a weekend series against Toronto at home and needed Jon to
pitch well in the finale.

I guess well is a relative term but in no world is a line of 4.0 innings, 11
earned runs, five walks and nine hits considered ‘pitching well’. My god how
much worse can you possibly pitch. Lester seems to be finding a new way each time out.

He has not gotten further than the fifth inning in each of his last three starts. He has seven quality starts all season. His ERA is 5.46. 5.46! C’mon
man. For a guy with a career ERA of 3.75, which includes this ghastly year, that is awful. Scratch that, that would be awful for anyone that makes a living
attempting to get major league hitters out.

His fastball velocity is down. The cutter isn’t as effective and his curve ball
just looks like a ball he throws into the dirt. He isn’t hitting his spots and
every start he just always looks like he’s laboring to throw strikes.

People have floated the idea of trading him and that a change in scenery could
help him. Maybe that’s true but who is going to want to trade for him? Hmm where is that sound of crickets chirping coming from? Plus there has to be
some explanation for this. You don’t just lose it that badly without an explanation.

Well he’s not on the DL, and he claims to be feeling fine and just frustrated so there leaves only one reasonable (another relative term) one. The navy blue
Lester player shirt that is folded up in my dresser.

I’m sorry Jon, I should have just gotten a Luis Tiant throwback.

-Phil

What’s wrong with Lester? Is he a last cause? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Season Half Over. Glass Half Full?

Not afraid to admit it. Ellsbury is the best looking Boston athlete outside of Tom Brady.

Today might just be the best day of the season for the Boston Red Sox and they haven’t even played a game yet. First of all the first half is entirely behind them. The All-Star break has a weird way of washing away the mediocrities of the first half and giving a little bit of optimism back to teams on the fringe of contention. It’s almost like a mini-opening day. (Although for teams like Colorado it’s just another Friday).

But that doesn’t even measure up to the real reason to why today is a great day to be wearing a red ‘B’ on your hat or to have Red Sox stitched across your shirt (Count me in for both at the moment). The long awaited, often debated, never hated return of Jacoby Ellsbury is today.

That’s right the Red Sox are tempting fate by letting Ellsbury return to the team on Friday the 13th, but who believes in B.S. like bad luck and curses? (Oh that’s right, a lot of stupid Sox fans who bought a Dan Shaughnessy book in 1990.) But that’s old news.

What is actual news is that Ellsbury will be back with the team tonight as the Sox take on Tampa Bay and according to Bobby Valentine he’ll be in his customary leadoff spot.

Couldn’t really have more pressure on a guy returning from an injury could you? Where as Carl Crawford just needs to play decently when he returns and Bucholz can just chip away at his bloated ERA, Ellsbury is seen as the savior of the season.

He was the Red Sox best player by a long way all last season and the team has waffled without him. It wasn’t just his shoulder that was crushed back in April it was the offense as well it seems (save for Big Papi. By the way a belated congrats to the best DH ever on his All-Star nod).

Ellsbury’s return to health should kick off a return of a number of key players from injuries as Will Middlebrooks, Clay Bucholz, Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Bailey (haven’t heard that name in a while huh?) are also on the mend and should be back soon.

Middlebrooks needs to come back and pick up where he left off because as Youk rips up the AL Central that trade is looking increasingly poor. Pedroia was still playing pretty well before going on the DL considering his thumb may or may not have been ripped entirely off his hand. Bucholz was getting into a groove before whatever it is that happened in his stomach and Bailey could make a bullpen that has been up and down more steady.

But the return of Ellsbury is the biggest in-season acquisition the team could make, trading deadline aside. He smacked 32 home runs last season and hit over .300 while stealing a ton of bases and anchoring the outfield defense. He lost the AL MVP to Justin Verlander (deservedly) but very well could have taken the award.

Suffice to say Sox fans won’t just be hoping he can contribute. They’ll want him to save this team. Is it unfair to put the hopes of the entire team on the shoulders of one player who is coming back from injury? No. Is it what I and the rest of Boston are going to do? Yes.

This team has played well for stretches, heck just a couple of weeks ago they were a 1/2 game back in the wild card standings but a lot of injuries have hurt the team and getting this one off the books will help.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The Sox 43-43 disastrous first half isn’t just because of injuries. Adrian Gonzalez turning into the greatest singles hitter ever isn’t because of injuries. Jon Lester going from staff ace to whatever you’d call him this year isn’t because of injuries. Beckett has had injury issues but when healthy he hasn’t been too great.

Really what can save this team is the return to health of players who have already contributed (Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, Pedroia), the continued success of those players who have remained healthy (Ortiz, Salty, Aviles, Doubront, Aceves, Padilla, Ross) and a return to any semblance of their former self from players like Lester, Beckett and Gonzalez.

So welcome back Jacoby. Now go out and start this team’s turn around. (No pressure though.)

-Phil

Can the Red Sox turn this season around? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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Back At It Again

Can’t tell if Johan is excited about SeeYouInOctober being back or his no-hitter? It’s a toss-up really.

Hold on is that SeeYouInOctober’s music?

Well it certainly has been a while hasn’t it. A month and a half? Really? Well no longer SeeYouInOctober is back starting today. There sure has been a lot that has happened in that time period so in the first post back we’ll try to put some insights on all that happened since The Avengers came out.

What can you say about the Boston Celtics this season. They were gritty and tough and every other adjective that NBA talking heads use to mean not fun to watch. Hoenstly that got annoying. We get it, Kevin Garnett is 36 but if he’s putting up numbers does it really have to be mentioned that he’s old. Can’t he just be really good?

Regardless KG and the Big Three gave it one last run and really it was one to remember, even if the end is something I’d like wiped from my brain like something out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Some of the best highlights of the run to the cusp of the NBA finals include the resurgence of the Big Ticket. The 44-point monster effort by Rondo that should have ended in a win if, you know, NBA refs called fouls when Dwyane Wade decapitates dudes. (Check the tape below) Paul Pierce gutting out double-doubles, throwing down dunks in Shane Battier’s grillmix and the three he nailed from the wing in LeBron’s mug to seal Game Five. Honestly top-five favorite Pierce shots for me. If they win that series it’s easily number one.  Brandon Bass heating up and knocking down everything and the tea bag dunk on Dwayne Wade.

But it wasn’t all good. In fact it got really bad. Going into  game five of the Eastern conference finals I was just happy the Celtics had showed up and made it a series. But then they won and suddenly I stopped thinking “I’m glad we played tough” and switched into “Holy S—, the Celtics could win this thing.” But it all fell apart as the torture of getting blown out at home and losing a winnable game seven happened just three days later.

I think I’ve made it pretty apparent before that I don’t like the Heat  a whole bunch. Seeing the Celtics lose to the Heat really hurt and watching those D-bags go on to win the title was one of the more disappointing sports events I’ve witnessed. But goddamnit can LeBron James play basketball. I’ve railed on him a lot before and although I’ll still root hard against him and never like him as a dude he is obviously the best basketball player out there by far and he without a doubt carried that team to a title. I have to give him credit and begrudging respect for that. Now let me move on before I start punch my computer screen with face.

The Celtics aren’t the only NBA teams that did things during the hiatus, although their’s were much less exciting. The Knicks big moves included winning one playoff game, which might warrant a banner with how bad they’ve been in the postseason in the past decade, and Amar’e Stoudemire rocking a cut off jean jacket with glasses and a fidora court-side (Seriously bro?) and sending out loving messages to his fans.

The Nets meanwhile are making desperate appeals to Deron Williams sense of loyalty, I guess, while putting out one of my favorite NBA shirts ever. Seriously, for a nanosecond I thought about throwing in 22 years of Celtics fanhood just so I could rock that shirt. I still might grab one and just wear it in the offseason.

This shirt is straight flames.

But enough about basketball, this blog was built on baseball and although you might not know it by looking at our posting schedule it is baseball season.

Who could have guessed how well the Mets season is going? A 40-36 record that puts them right in the NL East race while the hated Phillies lag behind in last place is certainly not what was predicted coming into this season. It is a mystery to me how they’re doing it. R.A. Dickey has looked like the next coming of Sandy Koufax while David Wright has hit the cover off the ball but after that what do the Mets have? They just seem like a team that plays loose and gets the big hit from anybody at the right time.  Plus I really like how Terry Collins is handling that team. Great hire by the orange and blue.

It also can’t go without being mentioned that Johan Santana finally tossed a no-no for the fans in Flushing.  Can’t say I’ve ever been that invested in a baseball team outside of the Sox more than I was then. Pretty awesome for the Mets. As far as the blown call in that game goes, there are blown calls all the time and if that was the closest thing to a hit they could get who cares.

Speaking of bad calls how about that Dewayne Wise catch that wasn’t a catch?  That is some pretty awful umpiring when you don’t even ask to see the ball and the fan who actually has it is waving it around right in your eyeball. Plus ejecting the batter after he argued just shows the power trip some umpires have. But it hasn’t all been stupid calls for the Yankees. I will now bedgrudgingly mention that Derek Jeter is playing great and they have the best record in baseball.

Still there are some not great parts like CC and Pettitte both going down. Rivera losing his ankle on a fly ball before a game and the fact that this team doesn’t score unless someone is socking it out of the park. Although with how frequent that is it clearly isn’t a problem.

Finally we get to the main event, at least to me. The Boston Red Sox said goodbye last week to one of my favorite Red Sox players in recent years. It is really hard to see Youk go. I always loved his fire. How much he gave and how much he cared. Plusit was awesome to see a guy that just didn’t fit the mold of a great baseball player turn into one of the best hitters in the bigs. Other than Ortiz he is the only remaining member of the 2004 World Series team.  Wow is that depressing. It’s sad to see him go but I hope he crushes it with Chicago (unless they’re playing Boston then he can go 0-for-4 with 4 Ks).

In terms of players still on the team the Sox are pretty head scratching. What happened to Jon Lester? I guess he’ll never be the ace we want but just a really good No. 2. I believe Clay Bucholz was checked into the hospital because he was attacked by a face-hugger from Alien and was carrying one inside his stomach. Daniel Bard as a starter? That sure lasted awhile huh? You mean when you can’t throwing anything but a fastball and don’t throw strikes you can’t start? Then there’s Adrian “Singles” Gonazalez. He is inching dangerously close to J.D. Drew territory for me. All he does is hit singles and doubles. He never seems to get the big hit (although he did last night) and he just seems to play and look the same no matter if he strikes out swinging or hits a home run. Not good.

Negatives aside, I will say that this Red Sox team is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. David Ortiz is busy just pounding into the ground the

YOOOOOOOOOUUKKKKKKKKK! Really going to miss that.

“Edgar Martinez is the best DH of all-time” argument. Then there are all the no names and dirt dogs that are just killing it. Cody Ross smacking home runs left and right. I loved that signing because he just seemed built for Boston and Fenway Park and so far I couldn’t be more right. Salty just swinging for the fences every at bat, and a bunch of times reaching them. And Scott Atchison taking time from his slow pitch softball league to fill in as a dominant reliever.

But what crowns it all is the guy who sent Youk packing. You can keep your Bryce Harper and your Mike Trout, give me Will Middlebrooks. Tim Kurkjian said Middlebrooks reminds him a lot of Ryan Zimmerman and I agree. Very similar swing with a bunch of pop. I forgot how awesome it was to watch Ellsbury come up and kill it or Pedroia coast to Rookie of the Year and that’s happening again with Middlebrooks.

Oh and the Devils made the Stanley Cup or something.

I think that about covers it. Phew! A lot sure happens in a month and a half. It’s good to be back.

-Phil

Did we miss something big that happened? How about the end of the NBA season and the Heats title? Baseball thoughts? As always let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or sound off in the comments.

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More Doom and Gloom. Welcome to the 2012 Red Sox.

Red Sox pitches are making it look like the steroid era is back in full effect. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

God I love baseball season but this year might be the first time I’ll have to satiate that love by watching other squads because the Boston Red Sox through 15 games are giving me nothing. T

hank god for the rain out on Sunday or else a weekend that should have been great (Happy 100th Fenway) could have turned into the next Boston Massacre.

After watching Clay Bucholz let the Yankees tee off on Friday the Sox looked like they might be able to bounce back with a nice blowout win of the pinstriped squad but somehow, someway gave up back to back seven run innings and blew a 9-0 lead. Thank god I was not around a television at any point during the day Saturday and was spared the atrocity of that game. The rainout was the best nine innings of baseball the Sox played all weekend really.

But the Sox were at the end of a brutal schedule to start the season anwere finally playing a team that they should handle in Minnesota last night. They went up 3-0 early but Jon Lester was horrendous on the mound after the first few innings and although the Sox pulled out the win 6-5 (Thank You Cody Ross) it didn’t feel like much of a win.

And the No. 1 issue is obvious to anyone watching. It’s not Bobby V. It’s the players, specifically the pitchers. I have been adamant about being against Bobby V since his name was first whispered after Terry Francona was run out of town but it doesn’t matter if the Sox brought in Tony La Russa. If the team can’t pitch, it can’t win.

On the season the team is allowing 6.67 runs per game as a team. That is the worst mark in the American League right now and is over a run of the team in second (the Twins with 5.35 per game There is no pitcher on the staff who has really excelled.  Lester’s outing last night comes after he was destroyed by the Texas Rangers last Wednesday afterwards he admitted “I flat stunk”.

Lester’s struggles are really alarming, despite him pitching well to begin the

If Lester can't find it then this team is flat sunk. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

season, including going toe to toe with Justin Verlander on opening day. Lester is without a win yet this season and sports a 6.00 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. In last night’s game he gave up the bulk of his runs on a pair of pitches where he was up either 0-2 or 1-2 on the batter. First he left a hanging curveball to Ryan Doumit that got turned into a two-run double, despite an 0-2 advantage. In that situation you have to keep it out of the zone. Waste the pitch. Put it nowhere near the zone. The next batter was Danny Valencia and after getting ahead 1-2 Lester then allowed a two-run home run giving the Twins the 4-3 lead.

What seems to be hurting Lester is his inability to throw strikes consistently. He just looks like he'[s always laboring and when you’ve thrown six hundred pitches in the fourth inning it’s tough to stay sharp and put the ball where you want.

It isn’t just Lester who’s struggled out of the rotation. Clay Bucholz is allowing a run per inning he pitches, that’s right a 9.00 ERA and although Josh Beckett has been better in his last to starts (1-1 15 IP, 4 ER, 8 Ks)none of the teams top three has really looked like a guy that can be relied on. Felix Doubront is still young and has shown flashes of both positive and negative so far which is nice but when the 24-year-old rookie is the best starting pitcher on the team so far it is certainly unsettling to say the least.

Meanwhile Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a pair of bombs in his first rehab start, Daniel Bard pitched pretty well but now who knows if he’s coming out of the bullpen or starting and although Aaron Cook is still in the wings clearly there is no immediate help coming.  Speaking of Bard didn’t we watch the Yankees do this same thing to Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes? So awesome we lose a good bullpen arm and a starter all in one player because the team can’t decide what to do with him.

Every national writer and media outlet is still claiming it’s too early to get too worried about the Sox but when you’re getting plowed by playoff teams and squeaking by teams with rosters that are as formidable as some minor league clubs it certainly isn’t right to be confident. Oh they’ll work it out. They’ll be fine. However fine is starting to look like third place and 80 wins.

The rest of the sporting world hates Boston for it but in the 617 third place and a record near .500 isn’t fine. The Patriots are out contending for Super Bowls, the Celtics are winning Division titles and making second round runs in the playoffs ever year and the Bruins are coming off a Stanley Cup. Are the Sox about to become Mr. Irrelevant in the Boston sports scene? (At least as far as success goes, the Sox will always be the No. 1 team in Boston.)

-Phil

Yet again I’ll ask; Am I being too harsh? Not harsh enough?  What’s up with the Sox pitching? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@seeuinoctober).

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Circus on Patriot’s Day

The Sox are playing (well by the way) and a bunch of people are running 26 point something miles in the 617. Must be Patriot's Day. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Today marks one of the best days of the year but few people outside of the Northeast really know why. Today is Patriot’s Day a holiday in Massachusetts a no where else. And what does Patriot’s Day mean? The Boston Marathon, and Red Sox baseball at 11 in the morning. Spring is clearly on the rise (temperatures are expected in the mid-80s) and that hopeful scent of summer is just on the outside of everybody’s minds.

Plus the Red Sox are actually, gulp dare I say it? Playing well. Unfortunately that all got undercut last night and into today and guess who’s to blame? Is it the big-mouthed manager who was brought in despite, from all appearances, not being the choice of the new GM or really any of the players.

Over the weekend Bobby Valentine continued to move his foot closer to his mouth by saying that he didn’t think that Kevin Youkilis was as “physically and emotionally invested” as in years past.

My loyalty is to the bald guy with the beard not the clown on the left. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Youk has been pretty mum on the subject just saying he was confused and caught off guard. Enter the real power in the clubhouse; Dustin Pedroia who said “I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do. That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here.”

Great job Bobby, piss off the team’s captain.) Okay he might not have the C on his chest like Tek yet but it’s coming). Granted Youk hasn’t lit it up so far this season with a .200/.265/.498 split through the first week and a half but does that mean he’s not emotionally invested? Albert Pujols hasn’t hit a home run this season, does that mean he’s not invested?

Bobby has since retracted his statements and made some fumbling apology to Youk but come on. You can’t throw your players under the bus like that.

Speaking of throwing guys under the bus Jacoby Ellsbury is out for two months after getting run over by the 1:15 Reid Brignac on Saturday. Ellsbury had started slow but losing him for two months is really going to take a strain on a Sox team that I’ve already been vocally uneasy about. The immortal Jason

Bernard Pollard must have had something to do with this. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Repko was brought in to replace Ells and right now the outfield is made up of Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross, Darnell McDonald and the aforementioned Repko. I like Ross and Sweeney and McDonald is nice off the bench but yikes that’s not a scary outfield, unless you’re talking about their ability to field.

But it’s not all bad Sox fans. In fact somehow this team has rebounded from it’s atrocious 1-5 start and is suddenly playing well, so well that the AL East darling Tampa Bay Rays haven’t been able to win a game during this weekend’s four-game series which ends today.

The Sox offense erupted for 31 runs in the first three games including final scores of 12-2 and 13-5 in the first two games and then won a tighter 6-4 ball game on Sunday. Not a bad weekend.

Driving the offense right now is a number of guys playing well above where imagined. First off is Big Papi who is hitting like the cryogenic body of Ted

Big Papi's mashing. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Williams come to life. Ortiz on the season has splits of .444/.475/1.169 and has driven in 10 runs already this season. Over the weekend Big Papi went 9-for-13, drove in eight runs, including five in the 13-5 win on Saturday. He’s using all parts of the field making the shift look stupid . Yeah he’s not going to bat .400 all year but it’s nice to see Ortiz start off hot rather than wondering into July whether or not he’s done or not.

Then there’s the great weekend from catcher Kelly Shoppach. In only 18 plate appearances he has three RBIs and three doubles as well as the least athletic stolen base I have ever seen. A guy that hit just .176 a year ago won’t be able to keep that pace up but when the starter (sorry Salty) is hitting .118 and hasn’t looked like he can get a hit if he get’s any pitch other than a fastball, the catching situation has certainly heated up.

How about that Cody Ross? Struggled to start the year and then steps into Fenway and just starts booming it out of the park. Ross had two home runs this weekend and brought his average up to .241 from .182 on Friday. His swing just makes sense at Fenway and although his fielding is less than stellar (fell over after backpedaling on a catchable fly ball that lost Felix Doubront a lead on Sunday) with that home run hop is clraly skyrocketing on the Sox fan’s favorite player power rankings.

I need a Cody Ross player shirt and I need it yesterday. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The nation also let go a sigh of relief after Josh Beckett’s start on Saturday in which he looked as solid as a season ago. He dropped his ERA by almost eight runs in putting together an 8.0 inning one run gem. He had only one strike out in the game but allowed only six base runners and just looked in control. Is Beckett learning that he can’t just blow his fastball by guys any more and turning a page and becoming a pitcher not a thrower? Let’s hope so.

So to put things all in persepctive, the manager is running his mouth and the team doesn’t seem to be behind him. Last year’s MVP is out for the next two months but the offense still scored runs like you read about all weekend against a Tampa Bay team that has been picked  to get a Wild Card bid or AL East title by what seems like a 19843 to 1 margin over the Sox. Is that about it? Good luck trying to figure this team out this season. All that can be said for certainty is it will certainly be an entertaining ride. Happy Patriot’s Day!

-Phil

P.S. Carl Crawford is expected to start seeing game action in extended spring training soon. I’m not sure whether to be happy about that or not but, hey it’s news.

Where are you on the confidence meter now? Was Bobby V out of line or you on his side? How badly is losing Ellsbury going to hurt? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@seeuinoctober).

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Three Games. Too Many Concerns.

Salty's face says it all. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

What an awesome first week of baseball huh? A bunch of walkoffs, some great pitching and dominant offense and all the new free agents playing really well. Well I guess it would be awesome if you were the Detroit Tigers who had all that and more in the first three games of the season.

Unfortunately the Red Sox played the Tigers. Awesome shouldn’t even be whispered in the same paragraph with the Sox after this weekend. The opener was fine. A tight pitchers duel between last year’s AL MVP Justin Verlander and Sox Ace Jon Lester, who looked really good and it didn’t even look like he needed a beer afterwards. After game one though the rest of the series was unbearable to watch.

First a 10-0 shellacking on Saturday in which the ever defiant Josh Beckett was horrible and the offense really didn’t do too much better although it’s tough to go out and try to get back in a game when on the other side the team is practicing for the home run derby. Then on Saturday Clay Bucholz looked like he hadn’t pitched since June of 1963 not 2011. The Sox fought back in that one and the offense twice gave the teams manageable leads for the bullpen which were promptly erased by some more bombs from the Tigers. In a game where you score 10 runs in nine innings you should win 100 percent of the time. If you manage to mess that up and need extra’s and you score 12 you should then win, well there isn’t anything more than 100 percent. I guess these Red Sox just want to beat the odds.

Most people will point out that it’s only three games, it came against one of the best teams in baseball not just the AL and that three games is about as reliable a sample size as assuming Watch the Throne was lame because you weren’t feeling the opening beat to “No Church in the Wild” (Although that beat is flames so if you don’t like that then I’m no sure why you’re listening to the album in the first place).

However as irrational as it may be it’s time for Sox fans to start doing what (according to every mainstream media outlet) they do best; panic. This is the same team that collapsed last September and this weekend did little to prove that they have put it behind them. Maybe the weight of needing to make up for last season is too great but they still need to do it.

Now how to fix the problems? Well there isn’t a great answer here. The Sox can’t win no matter how many times Bobby V switches up the lineup if Beckett and Bucholz pitch as poorly as they did over the weekend. Those two need to at least be able to put together strong outings the majority of the time and pitch to where we all know they are capable. Is Beckett going to bang out 20 wins and strike out 200 batters this season? No, but 15 wins and an ERA that looks more like the price of a loaf of bread than the points per game avearge of Kevin Durant would be nice. Is it reasonable to expect Bucholz to contend for the Cy Young a year removed from so many injury woes? No, but getting out of five innings without letting teams tee off on him would go a long way towards recapturing the 17-7 season he had in 2010.

Then there is the circus that has been the Red Sox bullpen through the first three games. Part of the problem is the surprise news that

No, no Alfredo you want to get outs not runs. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Andrew Bailey might not pitch until August but even with Bailey would things have been that much better?

Thank god the Sox went out and got Mark Melancon because golly is his super dead fastball and limp curve ball really the answer. I mean pitching as the second best guy in the bullpen for the Houston Astros certainly makes you a clear favorite as a clutch guy in arguably the toughest place to play in the MLB.

I’ve been pretty surprised by Alfredo Aceves’ struggles after he was fantastic all last year but there’s something to be said for needing the temperament to close games and Aceves clearly wanted to start this year and that might be stuck in his head.  Going from innings eat, like he was last yea, to a spot where each pitch is high intensity is definitely a tough transition.

If only the Sox had a guy that has a ton of experience in late innings and the stuff (aka two great pitches) to be a dominant closer. Oh wait they do and his name is Daniel Bard. I know the Sox really like his ceiling as a starter and he has yet to make a major league start, and although at times he can get rattled why does he need to be in the rotation. Bard was horrendous in the spring where he was getting his feet wet as a starter and again sample size effects this a bit, but he didn’t really look like he was going to come out and be a great starter. Plus he is the Sox No. 5 starter. They don’t need an ace in that spot just a guy that can come in and give a solid five or six innings every five days. Like say veteran Aaron Cook who pitched seven shutout innings in his first start in Pawtucket.  Hint. Hint.

The offense woke up a bit on Sunday thanks to a lineup shift by Bobby V as well as a terrible performance from the Tiger’s pitching staff. Before the 12-run explosion the offense looked pretty tight, like they knew they had to carry the team because the pitching sure as heck wasn’t. Some guys have started slow and will turn it around (Ellsbury, Pedroia) , some started hot and will probably come back to earth but will still have strong seasons (Ortiz), some played way out of what is expected and might just turn into something more than role players (Aviles, Sweeney, Punto), a few played right where they should be (Gonazalez) and a couple others didn’t look like they could hit a beach ball under handed from a six year old (Ross and Youkilis, who I expect to turn it around but not as confidently as in Ells and the Laser Show). Basically the Sox need guys to fill in to where they should be (and maybe a little better) and not have such feast or famine games on offense.

So it was a rough weekend, and it may be signs of what might end up being a really rough season, especially with the Blue Jays and Rays looking so good but let’s hope those in the know are right and it’s just too small a sample size to really get a read on. All I know is if this team is 2-11 again I will just start hoping for the Patriots to start playing again.

-Phil

Where should the Sox be on the panic meter? Is it too early? What could they do to fix things? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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