Saturday, May 01, 2004

Maybe he just needed something to talk about. The "Pedro's bolting for the Yankees" story reported here, here, and here this morning makes me wonder...would Pedro have yapped about free agency if the game wasn't postponed last night? Or was he just bored in the clubhouse again? If he doesn't want to cause a distraction will asinine comments be reserved for off days and rain delays? Or will he cry about his contract status when someone from ESPN shoves a mic in his face after he leaves the field during a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast? If Pety deosn't want to be a distraction he has to prove it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Ho-hum. Another night, another win against an A.L. East team. Don’t look now, but the Sox carry the best winning percentage in the majors at .684. Patrick over at The House that Dewey Built attributes Boston’s success to this:

"Simply put, on almost every night, the Red Sox will start the better starter, field the better lineup, replace their starting pitcher with better relievers and replace their position players if needed with better role players than their opponent. It’s a simple and simultaneously alarmingly effective means of achieving baseball success."

Well put. However, aside from the strong play against the Yanks, I’ve been angst-ridden about how the Sox have faired – anemic offence, especially with runners on scoring positions, injuries, and starting pitchers giving up big hits. Am I expecting too much? I guess what I should really ask is how much more should I expect?

I consider myself an optimistic Sox fan, but this year I’ve questioned the manager, I’ve fretted about unsigned team leaders, and I’ve worried about parity in the A.L. East subjecting the Sox to a tough Wild Card race if they can’t keep up with the Bombers. Yet the last week’s display of dominant pitch, solid defense, and timely hitting is exciting. Just take a look at the standings.

Just thinking. Did you see the Yankees-A's game last night? Too bad Theo can return Foulke to Oakland on off days.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Ballclub-by-committee! It was with a second-string infield (McCarty at first, Crespo at second, Reese at shortstop, and Bellhorn at third) and a second-string closer (for the second afternoon in a row), that the Sox, riding the performance of their ace and their slugger, sweept the Yanks.

I left the enormous March for Women’s Lives this morning where I was doing voter registration to get home in time for the game. I planned to listen to on the internet, but by the time I got home I got the itch, and called up Comcast to finally order my MLB “Extra Innings” package. Before I got off the phone with the helpful Comcast operator, the game was switched on. The first image I saw: Jorge Posada dropping a pop-up. I was settled in.

The broadcast I picked up was via the YES Network out of New York City. Michael Kay, Jim Kaat, and Paul O’Neill spent a good portion of the first time through the Yankees’ lineup discussing the possibility that the Bombers have too many sluggers, not enough guys that Joe Torre is willing to bunt. O’Neill pointed out, in addition, that while all the Sox runs on Saturday were driven in by the sacrifice fly, the feeble Bomber’s offence has just two sac flies on the season. This happens, says O’Neill, when players are pressing. Or perhaps it happens when you just have too many egos in one lineup trying to do too much.

Take, for example, Sheffield swinging for the fences with two outs in the ninth when all the Yanks needed were baserunners. Compare that with the crafty Mark Bellhorn, who once hit 27 homers in a season, but now rarely takes a big cut, preferring to patiently work the count. (Bellhorn leads the AL in walks). In addition, the Yanks look totally disinterested in playing defense, compared to the rock-solid glove work by the Red Sox’s patchwork infield.

If the Red Sox simply won – even swept – the series in the Bronx, one would be tempted to say “it’s only April.” However, this weekend they dominated. They were so workman-like in their dismemberment of the Yanks that they have set a powerful tone for the season.

It’s not just the unsung utility men who shined. Pedro was in command, going right after Jeter, for example, with runners on second and third in the fifth. Manny was locked in, making Vasquez pay for his one mistake of the game. That’s what you expect from your stars.

Red Sox sweep! Theeeeee Red Sox sweep!

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