September 3, 2003

Boston 2, White Sox 1. The Red Sox managed only 2 hits -- solo home runs by Nixon and Kapler -- but won the game, thanks to Burkett, Williamson and Kim. It was only Boston's 3rd win (against 22 losses) in games in which they score 1 or 2 runs. ... Having Brandon Lyon pitch the 7th inning of a one-run game in a pennant race was a risk -- even if he was facing the White Sox's 8-9-1 hitters -- and Grady got burned. With runners at first and third and 1 out, Grady pulled him and brought in Williamson. It may not sound like much, but it was nice to see Grady having a quick hook. Not that long ago, Grady would have allowed Lyon to try to work out of trouble.

Despite the win, Mannygate dominates the Nation. Ramirez has been unhappy in Boston since Day 1; after being told of his benching, Manny "was his normal goofball self"; the players fully supported Little's decision; and Red Sox fans should have seen this coming. ... But, hey, Joe Torre's not having any fun either.

I've written and deleted a lot of stuff about Manny today, and I'm still not sure how much I want to say or even how I want to say it. I'll almost always side with the players (in labor issues, while facing media criticism, for example) and for the most part, I think Ramirez's behavior has been blown out of proportion. Players do get sick, saying hello to a former teammate is no big deal in my book, and perhaps after the morning flight to Philadelphia and taking batting practice, Manny was wiped out and felt pinch-hitting would hurt the team more than help. Plus, I wish Pedro had decided to rest instead of pitching against Seattle fresh out of the hospital, so why shouldn't I want Manny at near full strength before he returns?

However, knowing that many of his teammates are angry at him is not something than can be brushed aside. And his comments about wanting to play for the Yankees were ill-timed and mindbogglingly stupid. I understand the team's need to put its foot down, but benching one of the best hitters in baseball for an extended time during a pennant race will not help the team's overall success. I hope Grady (after reminding himself how lucky he was to win last night) pencils Manny into tonight's lineup; he needs some playing time before facing the Yankees this weekend. ... Finally, if the Red Sox miss the playoffs this year, more than a few mediots (and fans) will claim the fallout from Throatgate I & II was the final nail in the coffin. However, a chronically ineffective bullpen and a manager whose in-game decisions range from non-existant to idiotic have cost the Red Sox more games than Pedro and Manny ever could.

Thanks to the Sheriff at Obey Pedro for the mention today. ... Tonight, it's DLowe's turn to cowboy up against Buehrle.

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