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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

  The Ortiz Question

Rumor has it that the Red Sox are working on a deal trading David Ortiz. In return, the Sox will get Aunt Jemima because she's a better batter. ("Batter" — get it?)

In all seriousness, though, I am worried about Big Papi. Don't count me among those people who think he's washed up, finished, cooked, stick a fork in him. But I'm with Jerry Remy, who said on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show this morning that he thinks Ortiz is pressing to get that first home run.

It isn't that he isn't hitting. His season average of .238 is misleading, reflecting a very slow start in the first five games, during which he hit only .125. In the next seven games, he hit .194 and had his first extra-base hit, a double. But since then, Ortiz has an eight-game hitting streak with an average of .333, eight RBI, and six doubles — good by anyone's standards. The homers, though, remain elusive.

Papi has never been a high-average guy, excepting the 2007 season when he finished the season at a career-high .332. Last year, his average fell significantly (.264) and his home run total (23) was the lowest since he left the Minnesota Twins. For the last eight games, he has been a high-average guy with no power.

The question is what kind of hitter is David Ortiz now? And perhaps more appropriately, what kind of hitter do the Red Sox need him to be? With Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek (!) on a pace to top 140 total home runs this season, there is an argument to be made that Ortiz doesn't have to be a slugger. His most useful role may be to move Ellsbury and Pedroia ahead of him and then be batted in by Youk and Bay. As a fan, I'd take that and be happy with it.

Still, there are many who would see that as a failure, as the end of Big Papi. That isn't fair.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

  The Natural Order of the Universe

Ellsbury Steals the Show

It was epic. It was prodigious. It was a beatdown for the ages. The Archangel banished Beelzebub to the fiery netherworld. And among MFY fans, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For three games this past weekend, the Yankees really DID suck. Spectacularly.

Game 1, Friday. It was a fairly typical game, with not much of anything special. The Red Sox were on the short end of a 4-2 score and threatening to tie it or take the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Enter MFY manager "Clueless Joe" Girardi to bring in closer Mariano Rivera to get a four-out save. The only problem was that Girardi forgot that the "O" at the end of "Mariano" stands for "owned" — by Red Sox hitting. Check it out: from 2004 to the present, Rivera has a 1.93 ERA and a 92.27% save percentage overall, but just 3.29/73.33% against the Sox. So naturally, with a runner on base and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Rivera gave up a home run to our pasty-white Canadian outfielder, Jason Bay. Tie game, and it was off to extra innings, where Kevin Youkilis put an end to the madness with an 11th inning walk-off homer. Just like that, THEEEEEEEEEEEE YANKEES LOSE!!!

Game 2, Saturday. But wait, there were more taters where those came from. The long balls continued into Saturday, on both sides. Let's ignore the starting pitchers, who reportedly are undergoing ECT to wipe out all memories of their sordid performances. Not that the relievers did much better. By the end of the game, the evil ones had scored 11 MFR (mother f***ing runs). Now I'm a big believer in the principle that any team that gives up 11 runs in a game doesn't deserve to win, but fortunately the Red Sox disagreed with me and scored 16 runs of their own by the time all was said and done. Jacoby Ellsbury, solo homer. Mike Lowell, three-run homer. Jason "Captain Thighs" Varitek, grand salami. Sox win again! They also managed tear the MFY bullpen to shreds, which would come in handy for...

Game 3, Sunday. The unwelcome guests needed their starter, Andy Pettitte, to go deep into the game and hold the Sox offense at bay, since their bullpen continues to suck like a Hoover. Oddly enough, their bullpen did a great job...of shutting the barn door after Juice Boy let the horses out in the form of 4 Red Sox runs. Pettitte ought to take a lesson from Justin Masterson, who gave up just one itty-bitty run. But that wasn't the best of it. Ellsbury, whom a friend and reader has nicknamed "The Little Thief," decided to embarrass MFY veteran catcher Jorge "Rodent Face" Posada by stealing home. Having been in attendance in Grandstand 26, your humble correspondent can now cross "Watch a steal of home plate, live and in person" from the list of things to do before she dies.

The entire weekend was something we in New England like to call a "sweep," or as they say in the Bronx, "WHAT THE $&%#@ HAPPENED?" As I fell, exhausted, into bed last night, I swear I heard a pathetic whimper from southwestward, and it sounded strangely like Hank Steinbrenner.

(Edited to correct a typo.)

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Friday, April 24, 2009

  The Rivalry, 2009 Version

Just Say NoShowdown part 1 — Good vs. Evil — God vs. Satan — the Olde Towne Team vs. the Mother F***ing Yankees. The Sox have hot bats and a 7-game winning streak. The Evil Empire have a 3-game winning streak that is about to end.

Game 1, tonight at 7:10. Tune in to NESN to see Jon Lester get the start for the good guys against Joba "the Hut" Chamberlain. Young Mr. Lester always looks cranky, but maybe that adds a little extra something to his fastball. I'm putting the over-under on how many times Chamberlain hits Kevin Youkilis at 2. Expect a bench-clearing brawl and ejections, which we can hope will include the MFY's Captain Fist Pump and the hideously ugly Hideki Matsui. Advantage: Red Sox.

Game 2, tomorrow at 4:10. It's a Fox broadcast, which means we'll end up listening to The Velvety Smooth Voice of Major League Baseball and his sidekick, he of the shoe-polished hair, Tim McAsswipe. God, I hate the fact that that man ever wore a Red Sox uniform. To avoid the need to save your sanity by puncturing your eardrums with an ice pick, I recommend turning the TV volume down and getting your audio from AM 830 instead. Oh, and the game itself? A.J. "If It's Almost May, I Must Be Due for a Stint on the DL" Burnett against Josh "&#$%@" Beckett, who never met a 4-letter word he was unwilling to use in a postgame interview. Advantage: MFY, unless someone really pisses Beckett off and he decides the MFY are in need of an epic smackdown.

Game 3, Sunday 8:05pm. ESPN game of the week, and your humble correspondent will be there. Look for me on TV. I'll be the one cheering with lots of people around me. ESPN games are always longer than normal because the TV breaks are ridiculous. Besides, the Sox-Yanks have a way of turning a 2 1/2 hour evening at the park into 4 1/2 hours of Where-the-hell-is-the-Maalox. Pitching matchup: Justin Masterson (whom I'd do in a heartbeat if he weren't younger than my kid) against confessed juicer Andy Pettitte. On paper, this matchup seems to favor the MFY, especially if Boston has to use up their bullpen in the first two games. But I wouldn't count Masterson out because he has nerves of steel, and did I mention he's adorable?

Boston hitters to watch: Youk is 2nd in the AL in batting average. Mike Lowell is 4th in RBI, having knocked in runs in his last seven games. Nick Green is doing more than his share subbing for the injured Jed Lowrie and rehabbing Julio Lugo, whose name itself makes me throw up in my mouth. Big Papi may be coming around at the plate, though I must withhold judgment until he raises his average and home run total above Jason Varitek's.

New York hitters to watch: Robinson Cano was on fire but has slipped in the last week. Ditto Nick Swisher, the only Yankee I'll root for at the plate (except in a close game) because he's on my fantasy baseball team. Melky Cabrera has been hitting well, but I just can't take seriously someone named Melky. Judas Demon still looks like a moron. Mark "I'm Making HOW MUCH MONEY???" Teixeira continues to thrill me by batting .222.

And that's your series preview in a nutshell. Have fun, party hearty, and don't forget to designate a sober driver.

(Edited to insert omitted word.)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

  Counting Our Blessings

Yes, things are bad right now for the Red Sox. But they could be much worse. Rocco Baldelli could be pitching out of the bullpen.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

The kicker is that Swisher had a better pitching line than Wang!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

  Play Ball!

Post-game celebrationIt took an extra day to get rid of the rain, but the Red Sox opened the 2009 season at home on Tuesday afternoon, and it was worth the wait. After being rained out on Monday, the Sox and defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays (they're no longer Devil Rays, but evidently a kinder and gentler Ray, sort of like a ray of sunshine - gag) played to a full house. The good guys won, 5-3.

#1 starter Josh "If-There's-a-Swear-Word-I-Haven't-Used-in-a-Post-Game-Press-Conference-I'm-Not-Trying-Hard-Enough" Beckett was everything we'd want him to be: 7 innings on only 93 pitches, allowing only 2 hits and striking out ten. Rumor had it that the Yankees' C.C. Sabathia was in attendance, disguised as a fat cotton candy vender, just to get a glimpse of what a real ace looks like.

Every Sox batter had at least one hit, except the adorable Jacoby Ellsbury, whom I'll forgive if he lets me take him home. Dustin Pedroia, the shortest MVP in the history of American professional team sports, had a first-inning homer. Kevin Youkilis and his enormous chin had two hits. Even Captain Thighs had a moment of clarity in which he remembered how to hit. Good times all around.

New England wakes up this morning to find the Olde Towne Team tied for second place with the Baltimore Orioles, a half game behind the Toronto Blue Jays, and one game into an undefeated 162-0 season. The M*ther F***ing Yankees are in last place. All is right with the universe.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Monday, April 06, 2009

  Opening Day Washed Out

The Red Sox announced earlier today that today's opening game against the Tampa Bay Rays has been postponed until tomorrow at 4:05pm due to forecasts of heavy rain and thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Tickets for today's game will be honored tomorrow.

This is why the practice of scheduling a day off between the first and second games of the season is a good idea. No one wants to wait two months to use their opening day tickets.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

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