December 31, 2012

2013


Best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year!

December 28, 2012

Atlanta Brings Back Racist "Screaming Savage" Logo

The Atlanta Braves have changed their batting practice caps for next season, getting rid of the "A" and bringing back the "screaming savage" logo that the organization debuted nearly 60 years ago.


The "screaming savage" logo first appeared in 1954 (when the team was based in Milwaukee). Various strories report that Atlanta has not used the logo since 1989.

Last year, when the team wore 1966 replica jerseys, they seemed to understand the logo belonged to an ignorant past. The Screaming Savage was replaced on the sleeve by two crossed tomahawks.

Paul Lucas (Uni Watch) offers a preview of all 30 teams' batting practice caps.
The re-emergence of the questionable logo is surprising given that the Cleveland Indians have been distancing themselves from Chief Wahoo in recent years. (This year's Indians BP cap features the increasingly familiar block 'C'.)
Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report:
What in the world are the Atlanta Braves thinking? ...

Maybe somebody in the team's marketing department incorrectly surmised that the city of Atlanta loves stereotypical depictions of entire races of people.

Perhaps ownership was sick and tired of the Washington Redskins and their culturally insensitive name remaining the most offensive rendition of Native American culture in this country.
Tom Ley, Deadspin:
That's the old Chief Noc-A-Homa—get it?—mascot. He is captured here in mid-shriek as he watches either a Braves home run or the forcible uprooting and assimilation of his culture.
I'm dismayed that this idea was actually okayed at even the lowest levels of the Atlanta organization, and shocked that it was green-lighted all the way to the top. With any luck - and after enough people register their disgust (404-522-7630) - the team will come to its senses and toss this shit into the trash bin where it belongs.

December 22, 2012

Red Sox Trade For Pirates Closer Joel Hanrahan

UPDATE, December 26: Finalized deal:
Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt from the Pirates for Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan De Jesus, and Jerry Sands.
Example
It looks like the Red Sox have acquired Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. The right-hander is 31, has spent the last four seasons in the City of Bridges, and is a free agent after 2013.

Sources say that at least two players are going to Pittsburgh - outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel - but that the deal may be slightly expanded. (One report has the Red Sox sending four players and getting two back.)

Francona's Book - "The Red Sox Years" - Coming in Late January

Due January 22, 2013!

***

Also: Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox are "moving toward acquiring closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates". ... Free agent Cody Ross signed a three-year deal with Arizona today (3/28).


Happy Howlidays!

And best wishes for the new year from Tala and Diego!

December 21, 2012

Looking At Some Links re 2013

We all assume the Red Sox will finish 2013 with a better record than they managed last season (69-93). They almost have to. But how much better? If they improve by 12 wins, that will get them only to .500. For the optimists among us:
Worst to First - Since 1991
Worst First Team        Win Diff
1990  1991  Atlanta       +29
1990  1991  Twins         +21
1992  1993  Phillies      +27
1996  1997  Giants        +22
1997  1998  Padres        +22
1998  1999  Diamondbacks  +35
2006  2007  Diamondbacks  +14
2006  2007  Cubs          +19
2007  2008  Rays          +31
2010  2011  Diamondbacks  +26
An improvement of 20 wins would give Boston a 89-73 record and an outside shot at a wild card spot.

ESPNBoston: "Execs rank Sox 2nd-most improved team"

Marc Normandin, Over The Monster: "Just what is Boston's plan this off-season?"

Matt Clement of Alexandria, Sox Therapy: "A Hundred Fifty Million Dollars for This"

Tony Massarotti, Globe: "Do Red Sox have something big in works?"

***

James Gentile, Beyond The Box Score: "Do hitters 'step it up' when their ace is on the mound?"

Matthew Carruth, Fangraphs: "The Size of the Strike Zone by Count"

In what he happily terms a "useless" exercise, SG (Replacement Level Yankees Weblog) projects AL East wins, with R.A. Dickey in Toronto, Stephen Drew in Boston, and a few other small changes (Boston's projected wins were unchanged from the simulations SG ran on December 10):
Blue Jays (90), Yankee (88), Rays (87), Red Sox (84), Orioles (77)
Here's a sobering thought: The Red Sox could rebound in 2013, have a very good season, and still finish fourth.

December 20, 2012

A Reminder

The world will end tomorrow.

December 18, 2012

FJM: The Inside Story

UPDATE!: Part 2.

***

A must-read, obviously.

Rob Trump, The Classical:
Fire Joe Morgan (2005-2008) has a cult reputation that can seem intimidating to those not already in the cult. Like Mystery Science Theater 3000 in more ways than one, the short-lived, much-beloved baseball blog took aim at subpar sports journalism, heckling bad math and and lazy received wisdom with a call-and-response format that many others still imitate. The writers of FJM were never looking for their site to be influential, successful, or even read by anyone outside their close circle of friends. But they were way too good at what they did — and way, way too funny — for the site to stay undiscovered. Though the site is now dormant, the three statistically inclined baseball fans who wrote the majority of the posts are all now writers for NBC's Parks and Recreation. I took a trip to the offices of that show, where Dave King ("dak"), Alan Yang ("Junior"), and Mike Schur ("Ken Tremendous") filled me in on how FJM became an unexpected hit.
Here is Part 1. Parts 2 and 3 will be posted later this week.

December 17, 2012

Stephen Drew Joins The Red Sox

The Red Sox have signed shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal, worth $9.5 million.

This is a nice move for 2013, since Jose Iglesias, currently training in Arizona with Dustin Pedroia, has not proven he can major league pitching (a paltry .624 OPS in AAA last year). Actually, Iglesias's status in Boston could be in doubt, if top prospect Xander Bogaerts continues to develop quickly.

GM Ben Cherington: "We feel Jose is ready to compete for the job. We're not ready to give it to him."

Drew will be 30 years old next season.

December 15, 2012

Mr. Green Feet

An amusing picture, for the weekend. Last summer, after I had mowed the back yard, Diego went running around - and stained his paws. (A few days ago, L posted a video of Diego and Tala playing.)

December 13, 2012

Red Sox Sign Ryan Dempster For Two Years

The Red Sox solidified their starting rotation for 2013-14 this afternoon by signing free agent Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal (2/26.5).

Dempster, a right-hander who will turn 36 next May, takes his place alongside Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey. (Dempster is also seen as a good clubhouse dude.)

Dempster posted a 3.38 ERA in 173 innings last year with the Cubs and Rangers; his post-deadline, Texas-only ERA was 5.09 (though two gruesome starts in which he allowed eight runs each caused some inflation). It was the first time in five seasons that the durable Dempster did not pitch 200+ innings.

This deal is similar to the other contracts the Red Sox have offered this winter: short-term deals for reasonable money to above-average players. GM Ben Cherington continues to build a team that should be reasonably competitive, while not hampering the development of (or trading away) the team's top prospects.

December 12, 2012

Youkilis Joins Yankees For 2013

Kevin Youkilis has signed a one-year contract with the Yankees, worth $12 million. Yook, who hit only .235/.336/.409 last season with Boston and the White Sox, will fill in at third base for Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to miss at least the first half of the season after having hip surgery.

Bill Madden, Daily News:
Little by little, the Yankees' old-age home is filling to capacity, so much so that the word now is they are already in the process of filling the clubhouse with rocking chairs.

Until Tuesday, the Yankees' only off-season business, other than passively watching the free agent defections of Russell Martin, Eric Chavez and likely Nick Swisher, was the re-signing of 37-year-old Hiroki Kuroda, 40-year-old Andy Pettitte and 43-year-old Mariano Rivera. Now they have begun to address the gaping holes in their lineup, first by replacing one broken-down, formerly iconic third baseman — 37-year-old Alex Rodriguez — with another in 33-year-old Kevin Youkilis. Next up: Right field, where 39-year-old Ichiro Suzuki is expected to return on a one-year deal.

The Youkilis signing is, of course, the most intriguing of all these Yankee comings and goings in that, for the better part of the last seven seasons, the bald, goateed, glowering "Youk" has been about the most loathed opposing player to venture into Yankee Stadium as the gritty personification of the cowboy-upped arch-rival Red Sox. ...

He's still a grinder, but the skills have greatly eroded, as evidenced by the way the Red Sox so easily sent him packing last year ...

More importantly, this Youkilis signing by the Yankees, like the Ichiro one expected to come, is emblematic of the real problem they have — and refuse to acknowledge. They are by far the oldest team in baseball, made so because their player development system has failed to produce any players to replace the aging core from their championship teams. And so, they are left with no choice but to patch the tire with more geezers.

December 11, 2012

Edes: Sox Looking at Swisher If They Can't Lure Hamilton

Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox are interested in signing Nick Swisher if they cannot lure Josh Hamilton to Boston.
Privately, the Red Sox have said they won't go beyond a three-year deal for Hamilton, and Monday a baseball source it was "doubtful" that Hamilton will get fewer than four years in a new deal. ...

The switch-hitting Swisher would appear to be a more plausible alternative for the Sox, although to date he reportedly is seeking a five- or six-year deal. ...

The Red Sox, of course, would only sign him for a shorter term, as is the case with their interest in Hamilton.
Swisher is a consistently good hitter, with an OPS+ in the 120s in each of his four seasons with the Yankees (and a .367 OBP). But I'd rather not have to root for him.

December 8, 2012

Report: Phillies Reject Boston's Ellsbury-For-Cliff Lee Proposal

Jim Salisbury, CSNPhilly:
According to multiple sources, the Red Sox approached the Phillies about a Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee deal and were told that Lee was not available. The Phils won't break up their Lee-Cole Hamels-Roy Halladay trio.
WEEI's Alex Speier adds:
The Phillies needed a center fielder, but instead of trading for Ellsbury or pursuing any of the prominent free agent center fielders, the team traded for Twins center fielder Ben Revere. Red Sox team sources have said that the team would consider a trade of Ellsbury (in the aftermath of signing Shane Victorino) only if it meant a considerable upgrade to the team's rotation.
Pedro Martinez expects to be working in some capacity for the Red Sox in the future.

December 6, 2012

Newest Member Of The Bullpen: Koji Uehara

The Red Sox and right-handed reliever Koji Uehara have agreed on a one-year contract ($4.25 million), pending a physical.

Uehara, who will turn 38 years old on April 3, has pitched for four seasons since coming over from Japan. In 2012, he had a 0.639 WHIP in 37 games for the Rangers. In 36 innings (injuries cut his season short), he walked only three batters, while striking out 43.

Peter Abraham says that the Red Sox "have coveted Uehara for years".

Marc Normandin, Over the Monster:
Despite spending his entire career in the AL East and AL West, in parks that favored hitters while in Camden and Arlington, he owns a 2.89 ERA, 153 ERA+, has struck out just under 10 batters per nine innings, and, most eye-poppingly, has punched out eight times as many hitters as he has walked.

December 4, 2012

Red Sox Sign Shane Victorino

The Red Sox have signed outfielder Shane Victorino to a 3/37.5 contract.

Victorino, who turned 32 on November 30, will most likely play right field.

December 3, 2012

Napoli Agrees To 3/39 Deal With Boston

Mike Napoli has agreed to a three-year contract with the Red Sox, worth $39 million. Napoli wanted a fourth year, but Boston held firm on its offer of only three.

Globe:
Napoli has a .931 OPS the last two seasons. Among righthanded hitters, only Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp are higher.
That impressive two-year OPS is helped out by the career year Napoli had in 2011.
       AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
2011  .320  .414  .631  1.045
2012  .227  .343  .469   .812
Even so, that .343 OBP would have tied Napoli with Adrian Gonzalez for third-best on the 2012 Red Sox, after David Ortiz (.415) and Dustin Pedroia (.347).

December 1, 2012

Post: "Jeter Packing On The Pounds"

The hot stove isn't throwing off very much heat at the moment, so let's make fun of Derek Jeter for apparently putting on some weight while he recovers from left ankle surgery.
There are some amusing comments at Baseball Think Factory's thread.
Your shortstop is so fat, he eats ground balls like it was ground beef - or he doesn't because he is too fat to get to them.. or something. Damn-it.

Overheard at a Manhattan cocktail party-
"What are your hopes, what are your dr... ooh, is that pudding?"

You guys are all haters. Count the rollzzzzzz....I mean ringzzzz...

November 28, 2012

Fairly Insignificant Goings On

The Red Sox have
named Greg Colbrunn as hitting coach;

traded third baseman Danny Valencia to the Orioles;

traded right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart to the Pirates;

traded right-handed pitcher Sandy Rosario to the Athletics; and

not had any discussions with Jon Lester about a potential contract extension (2013 is the last season on current deal, and the team holds an option for 2014).
Speaking of Lester, there have been rumours (via the Kansas City Star) that the Red Sox and Royals have discussed (at least a little bit) a Lester-for-Wil-Myers trade. Check out Alex Speier's detailed take on the idea (here (and here)); SoSH's thread is also informative.

November 27, 2012

RIP: Marvin Miller (1917-2012)

Marvin Miller, one of the most important figures in baseball history, has died. He was 95.

That Miller was not elected to the Hall of Fame during his lifetime is a stain upon the national game that cannot be removed.

Richard Goldstein, New York Times:
When Mr. Miller was named executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, club owners ruled much as they had since the 19th century. The reserve clause bound players to their teams for as long as the owners wanted them, leaving them with little bargaining power. Come contract time, a player could expect an ultimatum but not much more. The minimum salary was $6,000 and had barely budged for two decades. The average salary was $19,000. The pension plan was feeble, and player grievances could be heard only by the commissioner, who worked for the owners.

By the time Mr. Miller retired at the end of 1982, he had secured his place on baseball’s Mount Rushmore by forging one of the strongest unions in America, creating a model for those in basketball, football and hockey. ...

"There's been a concerted attempt to downplay the union," Mr. Miller told The New York Times, referring to the Hall, when he narrowly missed out on election in December 2010, the fifth time he had been on the ballot. "It's been about trying to rewrite history rather than record it. They decided a long time ago that they would downgrade any impact the union has had. And part of that plan was to keep me out of it."
Bill Madden, New York Daily News:
A native of Brooklyn who grew up a staunch Dodger fan, Miller had had a decorated record as a trade unionist – as a labor negotiator for the International Association of Machinists, the United Auto Workers and as staff economist for the United Steelworkers - when a group of major league players, Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts and Harvey Kuenn, approached him in early 1966 about becoming executive director of their newly-formed players union. At the time, they told him, as an appeasement to the vast majority of conservative players, they were prepared to offer the job of general counsel of the union to former vice president Richard Nixon – a dealbreaker for Miller, an avowed liberal Democrat, who informed them he could not work with Nixon.

In his 1991 memoir, "A Whole Different Ball Game" Miller recalled going home to his wife, Terry, and saying: "I blew the job." But a few days later, Roberts called him back and urged him to re-consider taking the executive director's job - with the agreement that he could name his own general counsel. Miller accepted, named Dick Moss (who later became a prominent agent) as his general counsel and then quickly set about changing the entire structure of baseball.
As Miller put it in A Whole Different Ball Game:
I loved baseball, and I loved a good fight, and, in my mind, ballplayers were among the most exploited workers in America.
Other obits: USAToday (Jim Bouton has some excellent comments), MLB.com, AP.

November 22, 2012

Red Sox Sign Jonny Gomes For Two Years

The Red Sox have signed outfielder Jonny Gomes, who turns 32 today, to a two-year contract worth $10 million. It is a substantial raise for Gomes, who earned $1 million with Oakland last season.

Gomes had a career year last year, his best since his rookie season in 2005. He hit .262/.377/.491 (140 OPS+) in 333 plate appearances. An increase in his walk rate gave him the highest OBP of his career. Gomes had a severe platoon split in 2012, hitting much better against lefties (.299 average, .974 OPS) than righties (.209 average, .715 OPS).

Gomes also played a brutal left field. According to Dave Cameron (Fangraphs), Gomes "is basically as bad as an outfielder can possibly be while still being considered a passable part-time player at the position".

The price tag for this cog in the 2013 machine won't break the bank (though it seems high) and we do need more than Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, but this is a pretty uninspiring move.

November 16, 2012

"There Is Great Power In The Objectivity Of Math"

And so the Most Valuable Player in the American League did not win the American League's Most Valuable Player award.
Miguel Cabrera had an astoundingly good season, but Mike Trout was a more valuable player. As Jeff Passan says in this must-read column, it's not a travesty that Cabrera won the hardware last night. It's just wrong. (I have been slowly teaching myself to not give a damn about the BBWAA awards and I think that I have done a pretty good job in recent years.)

There have been dozens of articles out there over the past few weeks weighing the stats of Cabrera and Trout, positing this vote as a crucial battle in some supposed "stats vs. scouts" war. I've read a few, but haven't written about or linked to any of them (... except Passan's, I guess!).

And I won't be linking to any of the braying articles attempting to convince you that Cabrera's easy victory - 22 of 28 first-place votes - is a stunning and well-deserved rebuke to basement-dwelling dweebs like myself. However, you may certainly post any particularly exquisite cases of stupidity in comments.

November 15, 2012

Red Sox Finalize Deal For Catcher David Ross

The Red Sox have finalized their acquisition of catcher David Ross, signing him to two-year deal for $6.2 million. With Boston unlikely to carry three catchers in 2013, it seems as though either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway will be traded before Opening Day.

Some Ross stats from Alex Speier:
Atlanta went 54-35 (.607) in his 89 starts behind the plate over the last two seasons, the best winning percentage for any National League catcher with at least 65 starts in that time. The only catcher in the Majors with a better record from 2011-12 was Mike Napoli (.618).

Over the last four seasons, Ross has led the majors with a 3.33 catcher's ERA (min. 200 games), the best four-year stretch in the Major Leagues dating back to 1998.

He has thrown out 37.5 percent of attempted base stealers (99 of 264) over the last eight years, the second-best rate in the Majors after Yadier Molina's 40.0 mark (min. 400 games). In those eight seasons since 2005, he placed among the best National Leaguers in caught stealing percentage six times: 2005 (2nd, 53.8), 2006 (2nd, 41.4), 2007 (2nd, 39.0), 2009 (1st, 43.2), 2011 (4th, 31.2) and 2012 (3rd, 42.4).
Ross, 35, appeared in eight games for the Red Sox in September 2008, and went 1-for-8 at the plate.

As Atlanta's back-up, Ross has posted OPS+ of 133, 136, 107, and 105 over the last four seasons, since leaving Boston. He had a .353 OBP with Atlanta from 2009-12.

November 7, 2012

Juan Nieves Named As Pitching Coach

Ian Browne, MLB.com:
The Red Sox have selected Juan Nieves as their new pitching coach, a source has confirmed.

Nieves beat out three other finalists -- Rick Peterson, Randy St. Claire and Steve Foster -- for the spot. ...

The 47-year-old Nieves has been the White Sox's bullpen coach for the past five seasons. Though he has never been a pitching coach at the Major League level, Nieves worked in that role in Chicago's farm system for nine years.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports - who was the first to report the news - said Nieves's interview with the Red Sox lasted seven hours.

Nieves pitched for three seasons with Milwaukee (1986-88), throwing a no-hitter on April 15, 1987 against the Orioles.

November 5, 2012

Ortiz: Valentine "Must Have Some Mental Issues Or Needs Medicine"

After officially signing a two-year contract with the Red Sox, David Ortiz responded in detail to former manager Bobby Valentine's asinine statement that Ortiz quit on the team after the Punto trade.

Valentine, "Costas Tonight", October 23:
He realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.
Ortiz, November 5:
No. 1, never bite the hand that feeds you, because in the end that will come back to bite you," Ortiz said. "I was one of those players that always showed support for him. In fact, I held a couple of player meetings.

No. 2, the day that I returned from the DL, I told him that I was not sure what percentage health-wise I was in, but that I could not be out there without trying to help. When I told him that, I put my career on the side to help him and the team. Being in an incredible amount of pain, I went out there to support them.

No. 3, after he went on national TV to say what he said, he sent me a text message trying to tell me that it was the media trying to change things. I did not respond to the message and I said to myself, this guy must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something? I said, I am dealing with someone crazy and I am not going to drive myself crazy, so it is better if I leave it alone.
True to form, Valentine knows he is on film saying XYZ but claims the media is twisting things to make it look like he said XYZ when (I guess) he really said ABC. (Who even knows if he believes it?) Ortiz is not buying any of it, of course, because Ortiz is not a moron.

I'm just grateful that Valentine is looooong gone and Ortiz is staying where he belongs.

The details of the deal: $1M signing bonus; $14M in 2013; $11M in 2014.

November 2, 2012

Red Sox, Ortiz Agree To 2/26 Deal

Several sources are reporting that the Red Sox and David Ortiz - who bashed .318/.415/.611 last season - are putting the finishing touches on a 2/26 deal. Various incentives could push the deal to $30 million.

There is no downside to this contract, as it keeps a happy Ortiz in Boston through 2014. Keeping Ortiz in Boston was essential from a public relations standpoint and if the deal is a little high, well, the Punto trade gave the team the necessary payroll flexibility and if they're going to potentially waste a few million, it might as well go to someone like the Large Father.

Gordon Edes posted the following:
• In the past three seasons (2010-2012), he trailed only Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Cabrera, Votto, Bautista, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun in OPS+, which measures OPS adjusted to a player's home park.

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Cabrera, Bautista, Hamilton, Votto and Braun in slugging percentage.

• In the past three seasons, he trailed only Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Cabrera and Hamilton in isolated power (ISO), which measures the percentage of extra-base hits a player has.

October 31, 2012

WSWS: The World Series And Militarism

James Brewer, World Socialist Web Site:
Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins the presidential race, plans for advancing war on a global front will proceed apace after November 6. So it is hardly surprising that the powers that be have taken every opportunity to infuse the events around the culminating contest of "America's pastime" with patriotism and glorification of wars, past present and future. ...

The promotion of US nationalism and super-patriotism at an event called the "World Series" must resonate as contradictory at best with a large portion of the population. The big-business organizers of the games are no doubt aware that the US policy of expanding wars is increasingly unpopular. The constant reminder that war is with us is aimed at breaking down popular resistance to US military actions. Just as corporations and banks dictate policy to the politicians and decide what is acceptable in the country's "democratic" debate, they use their wealth to attempt to dragoon the population into a warrior mentality.
Example
Why This Red Sox Offseason Will Be Different: Uncertain Contender Status Will Impact Roster Building
Alex Speier, WEEI

Why John Farrell Picked Brian Butterfield To Become The Red Sox Third Base Coach
Rob Bradford, WEEI

Lovullo A Natural Fit As Bench Coach For Farrell
Ian Browne, MLB.com

Season Review: Clay Buchholz
Ben Buchanan, Over The Monster

Decision 2013: Starting Rotation, Corner Outfield Spots, Behind the Plate, Shortstop,
Gordon Edes/Joe McDonald, ESPN Boston

Baseball America: Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects

Please, Tim McCarver. Just Retire.
Al Yellon, Baseball Nation

October 27, 2012

Happy Anniversary!


Schadenfreude 150 (A Continuing Series)

Ken Davidoff, Post:
If A-Rod isn't going to set the all-time record for home runs, then he might just establish the unofficial mark for required maintenance. The Yankees are constantly working overtime to manage the mistake — and yes, while not a complete bust, it's an obvious mistake — they made five years ago.

The Post confirmed a report by CBSSports.com in which general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that manager Joe Girardi, in the middle of a playoff game earlier this month, called up to request that Yankee Stadium public-address announcer Paul Olden introduce a pinch-hitter, but not the player being pinch-hit for: A-Rod. When Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for Rodriguez in Game 3 of the American League Division Series — before hitting a game-tying home run in the ninth inning — Rodriguez's name was not mentioned, as is traditionally done when a pinch-hitter comes to the plate. ...

This maneuver says as much about Girardi as it does about A-Rod. ...

Five years and $161 million in, five years and $114 million to go on this albatross, with $6 million bonus payments coming if A-Rod hits enough homers to surpass the big names on the all-time chart. His durability is no longer an asset, his range on defense has faded and we will see whether he can climb back to respectability against right-handers. And just when you think he has grown up some, he produces tabloid gold like his in-game romancing.

Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
It might not have seemed like it, but Joe Girardi was concerned about Alex Rodriguez's fragile ego during the Yankee slugger’s latest playoff flop.

After deciding for the first time to pinch-hit for A-Rod in Game 3 against the Orioles, Joe Girardi called the press box to ask the PA announcer to only announce that Raul Ibanez was pinch-hitting, not that he was subbing for Rodriguez, the proud, but struggling former superstar.

The move was perhaps designed to save Rodriguez at least one round of embarrassment. It's custom that the player who is pinch-hitting is announced, as well as the player he is replacing. ...


Rodriguez had a dreadful postseason, going 3-for-25 (.120). Against right-handed pitching, he was 0-for-18 with all 12 of his postseason strikeouts. He did not start the deciding Game 5 of the division series or Games 3 and 4 of the ALCS, though he got two at-bats in Game 4. He was pinch-hit for three times in the playoffs.

October 24, 2012

How Can You Tell Bobby Valentine Is Lying? His Lips Are Moving.

On August 1, Bobby Valentine told this story:
It happened 2½ months ago [June 17]. ... [Will Middlebrooks] came into the dugout, he made a couple of errors, and I said, "Nice inning, kid." I had thought I had established a relationship with him where I could say something like that to him, kind of smile, relax him a little. Maybe he grimaced, I don’t know. Somebody overheard it and decided that it was a very dreadful thing for a manager to ever say to a young player ... That person didn't go to the locker room when I went to Will after the game and explained to him that I made three errors in a game when I was 21 years old and fans booed me off the field. And how I got through it and other people got through it and it's a great learning experience. I don't think Will has been mortally wounded by that 2½-month-old comment.
At the time, Middlebrooks said he had no recollection of the incident.

With good reason (maybe). Valentine told Bob Costas in an interview that aired last night that the incident never happened. There was no comment to Middlebrooks. There were no players overhearing. And no player went to the front office to complain. Costas failed to ask the blindingly obvious follow-up question: So why did you invent the story in the first place?

While Valentine was telling that lie back in August, he added that his error-filled game has happened on Seat Cushion Night at Dodger Stadium, and that angry fans threw seat cushions at him. Gordon Edes reports: "A newspaper account in the Los Angeles Times of the game in question made no mention of Seat Cushion Night or anything being thrown at Valentine."

Valentine also told Costas that he believed that David Ortiz quit on the Red Sox, refusing to come back from his Achilles' tendon injury during the final weeks of the season:
Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week. He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.
Rob Bradford offers an excellent point-by-point rebuttal to Valentine's stream of bullshit. As far as the BV-WMB incident, Bradford believes it did happen.

October 23, 2012

Q&A: Bluebird Banter Talks About John Farrell

Tom Dakers, one of the main writers at Bluebird Banter, was kind enough to answer some questions about John Farrell's two seasons at the helm of the Blue Jays.

How was Farrell presented to Jays fans when he was named manager (either his perceived strengths or how he compared to the other candidates)?
John's intelligence was talked about a lot. His experience in baseball, time spent as Indians' "Director of Player Development" was talked up. He was said to be thoughtful, intense and a hard worker.
Could you tell me a little bit about his styles/tendencies as a manager? How was he as an in-game tactician, bunting, running, lineups, etc.?
He is a strange combination of things I like and things I hate. He doesn't bunt much, a good thing. He rarely calls for intentional walks, a very good thing. He made good use of his coaching staff, he seemed to get along well with all of them and made sure they knew they were valued.

He loves the running game. Loves it. He especially loves the steal of third. I'm sure we lead the league in players caught stealing 3rd with 2 out in each of his two seasons here*. He never seemed to catch on to the idea that there was a cost to having runners caught. Farrell used the hit and run a lot. Perhaps too often.

Lineups? To be fair, John wasn't helped out by the roughly 74 injuries the Jays, but that wasn't a strong point. He doesn't seem to understand left/right splits. Adam Lind, with his .202/.250/.303 slash line against lefties, would often bat clean up against them.

[*: In all attempted steals of third, the Jays were 33-of-41 (80%) in 2011 and 32-of-38 (84%) in 2012. The team's overall SB% was 72% in 2011 and 75% in 2012]
Did he have a quick/slow hook with his starters? How was his bullpen management?
Farrell was a slow hook this year. Surprisingly to me, he didn't seem to be able to tell when a starter was tiring; maybe his hope was to build endurance, but starters always seemed to be left in a batter or two too long. It seemed like in 2011 he was a quicker hook.

Bullpen management was likely the one area that fans got on him the most about. He had troubles picking a closer in each of his two seasons with the Jays. He also would bring in the right-handed reliever with poor numbers against lefties to face a left-handed batter. Or bring in the lefty reliever to face right-handed batters. At times he would used his better arms in low leverage moments, then use the lesser arms in the important moments. Surprisingly, even as a former pitching coach, handling the pitching staff didn't seem to be a strong point.
Did his style change at all over the two years he was in Toronto?
His style didn't change much but he did seem to learn and improve some in small ways. He went in with the idea that the team should be aggressive on the base paths, but didn't seem to get that there are moments you shouldn't be so aggressive.
Did he work well with GM Alex Anthopoulos?
I thought so. Farrell himself said that reports of "friction" between the two were disrespectful, irresponsible and unfounded. I have no reason to think he was lying. I'd imagine any manager and GM that went through a season like they did would have moments of disagreement but I thought they worked well together.
What did you think of Omar Vizquez's comments late in the season that seemed to take a shot or two at Farrell's style of running the team, claiming that players who made stupid mistakes in games were not properly spoken to?
He may have had a point, though I'm not sure why he didn't go directly to Farrell with his concerns. Some of it seemed self-serving for Omar. Omar talked about the need for veteran presence in the clubhouse, but seemed to overlook that veteran presence was why he was on the roster.

You'd often see Farrell speaking to a player on the bench, after that player had made a mistake. So it did seem like he would address issues, but then some mistakes were made over and over again. I don't remember Farrell ever sitting a player to drive home the message about mistakes, which might have been a good idea.
Dakers also pointed me to this longer examination of Farrell from about a week ago.
Example
More stuff re Farrell:

Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star, October 22, 2012:
Farrell, according to several players who were interviewed at the close of the 2012 season, probably waited too long to put an authoritative stamp on the clubhouse. While there were meetings throughout the season, Farrell, according to several players, staged a closed-door session in the clubhouse last month at which he challenged every player to question his authority.

That meeting came months after a host of incidents — from Brett Lawrie's helmet-slamming antics to the Yunel Escobar eye-black scandal — combined to undermine Farrell’s role and the level of respect he had in the room.

Zaun was the first to note the lack of discipline in the clubhouse, and now-retired infielder Omar Vizquel remarked on the same subject near the end of the season. ...

When Farrell's departure was first rumoured last week, reports surfaced of rifts he may have had with his front office.

Anthopoulos said he was disturbed by those reports, since, he said, they were not based in fact.

While the subject can be debated, Farrell didn't appear to send a necessary message to some players. Lawrie kept playing despite repeated baserunning blunders, emotional outbreaks and even good-natured attempts by Farrell to educate him and prevent such instances from happening again. ...

"You can't let the inmates run the asylum," Zaun said. "The manager has to be clear on who the boss is, and what the manager says, goes. And if he wants to send a guy down or bench him to get his attention, then he has to be able to go the front office and say this is what he wants to do, and he has to have the backing of the front office. None of these kids have earned their stripes, but they're running around in a consequence-free environment. ... Someone needs to say this is not acceptable ..."
Example
From Drunk Jays Fan:
Keith Law, October 9, Baseball Today podcast:

Farrell's an interesting one. I've had some people in the Red Sox organization who worked with him say he's actually really bright, he's very personable, he's very good with the pitchers, the players do like him, but he's a little stubborn on some of the old school in-game stuff.

Maybe he goes into that bucket with the Dusty Bakers or Ron Washington, where the players love him. What they say about Farrell is that he's actually a bright guy, and open-minded ...

Anyway, so Farrell's managing of the baserunning? He's been horrible. Absolutely awful. That's something I'd like to think you can work with if he's somebody who buys into your overall philosophy ... [T]here's value in what Farrell might bring to the table, especially if you think, at heart, you've got an intelligent guy who's open-minded.

That's really the biggest thing I would ask for a manager. If we sit down with you after a game and we say, "You know what? That bunt in that situation, we'd rather that you didn't do that, and here's the explanation of why" – you know, not a "I'm the GM and I'm telling you to never bunt again." That's really not how you want to run that relationship. If you get to that point with your manager, you probably need another manager. But to actually be able to have a regular conversation, where the manager might come back to you and say, "Look, here's why I did what I did – here's why I batted Joey Bagadonuts second tonight" – at least then it's a dialogue and you feel like over time you'll be able to get the manager to adapt a little bit more to the philosophy you and the front office are trying to put forth throughout the entire organization.

That's the sense that I've gotten from people who've worked with Farrell in Boston and Toronto – the sense that I've gotten, is that he's very intelligent, he's very personable, he is open-minded, he just gets a little stubborn, especially with the base stealing stuff. That seems to be a real blind spot for him ... [I]f I was in Boston, saying, alright, we want to bring you over, but you really have to stop trying to steal third base, because it doesn't work.

Andrew Stoeten, Drunk Jays Fan:

It all sounds about right, doesn't it? Granted, I wrote earlier in the week that the baserunning stuff is, in a lot of ways, overblown – the Jays' baserunning numbers weren't crazily out of line with the rest of the league, though they made the second most outs on the bases in MLB – but the third base stuff is tough to argue: they were tied with Baltimore for the most number of times caught stealing third base at eight, double the league average.

Still, what Law suggests about Farrell's intelligence and open-mindedness is pretty much exactly what we were sold when the Jays selected him as their manager, following an exhaustive search. And it's exactly why I don't mind giving him another kick at the cat, even if the folks who are dead set against it aren't exactly wrong that he truly hasn't shown much, either.
Example
I also asked Craig, a Jays fan who works at the same law firm I do, what he thought of Farrell. He sent two emails:
Farrell is a player's manager. Players that like a manager who can be one of the guys will probably like him.

I found he wasn't very good at managing relievers who needed to be used in specific types of situations. Octavio Dotel was possibly the most obvious example. Farrell treated him like just another reliever ignoring very obvious splits, so Dotel ended up being used in situations where he was basically set up to fail.

Also, he was prone to bunting too often and attempting base stealing with power hitters at the plate. Example being he once had Rajai Davis attempt to steal 2B with Jose Bautista batting. This led to losing a run after Davis was caught stealing before Bautista hit one into the gap. Also, any bunt attempt in the first three innings is beyond stupid.

And of course there was the stupidity surrounding a lack of discipline within the team. It came from having too many young guys with all of the older players being injured, but Farrell didn't manage it well which led to very sloppy play on the field and the whole Yunel Escobar eye black thing.

Nobody here is upset that Farrell is leaving. Jays fans just hope he doesn't bring Brian Butterfield with him as he is a fantastic coach.
&
On Twitter we had a hash tag going for a while of #FarrellBall.

There was an overall philosophy of aggressive base running and small ball he was trying to push. Certainly part of it came from the roster. It's hard to not just let Rajai Davis steal bases since it's what he does. But Farrell would have the players do these things just for the sake of doing them rather than because it was the best decision at the time. The end result was that he often took the bat out of the hitter's hand.

Another example of him infuriating everyone was when there was a runner on third with no outs. JP Arencibia was due up, but instead Farrell had Omar Vizquel pinch-hit to try and lay down a sac bunt to score the run. This not only failed miserably when Omar couldn't execute, but Arencibia, who does hit well with RISP, was pretty pissed off about it.

Red Sox Have Played In Last Five ALCS Game 7s

Here is an odd tidbit.

Only five of the last 26 American League Championship Series have gone to seven games -- and the Red Sox have played in all five.
2008 - Rays beat Red Sox
2007 - Red Sox beat Cleveland
2004 - Red Sox beat Yankees
2003 - Yankees beat Red Sox
1986 - Red Sox beat Angels
The last seven-game ALCS without Boston? 1985, when the Royals beat the Blue Jays. That was also the first year the ALCS was increased from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven series.

October 22, 2012

World Series: Tigers/Giants

Marco Scutaro, Javier Lopez, and the rest of San Francisco Giants rallied from a 1-3 deficit to win the National League pennant Monday night, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7. (The Giants also came back from 0-2 to win the best-of-5 NLDS against the Reds.)

The Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1 over the final three games, winning by scores of 5-0, 6-1, and 9-0.

NLCS MVP Scutaro batted .500 in the series, tying an LCS record with 14 hits and setting a record with six multi-hit games.

Game 1: Tigers at Giants, Wednesday, 8 PM.

The Giants won the 2010 World Series, beating the Rangers in five games. This is the first Series appearance for the Tigers since 2006, when they lost to St. Louis in five games. The Tigers' last championship came in 1984.

Farrell Says Managing Red Sox Was Always "Dream Job"

UPDATE: Gordon Edes has posted a sampling of press and blog reactions: here and here.

Example

John Farrell asked Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos over Canada's Thanksgiving weekend (two weeks ago) about leaving his position as Toronto's manager because managing the Red Sox had always been his "dream job".

Anthopoulos:
As John explained it to me, this was a dream job for him. It was an opportunity he really wanted to pursue, so if there was a deal that could make sense for our club as well, we were going to try ... knowing that this, for him, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ...
Farrell:
I'm extremely excited to be returning to the Red Sox and to Boston. I love this organization. It's a great franchise in a special city and region, with great fans, and we want nothing more than to reward their faith in us.
Ortiz:
There is something about John that they can see because they've been chasing John for the last couple of years. I love John. John is my main man, even when he was the pitching coach.

But I don't know if it's fair for him to walk into this situation that we are in right now. Hopefully everything goes well and he can change things around. He's up for the challenge and what he's going to bring to the table and hopefully everything goes great. I know things didn't go the way he expected in Toronto; hopefully it works out for him here.

When he was dealing with the pitchers, he kept them lined up. What was it? I don't know, but we're about to find out if we can go back to that because we need that. We needed something different. I think you're going to notice a difference. We need somebody to increase the way things are around here and John’s the guy. I'm excited.
Ortiz also said he hopes to work out a contract before the end of the World Series.

Lester:
He helped mold me into the pitcher I am, the player I am. My work ethic, the work I do between starts, he really helped mold all of that. It will be good to have a familiar face and know what to expect coming into spring training. Last year we didn't know what to expect. I know John, and I'm excited to get back working with him.
Not everyone on the Red Sox is excited about Farrell's return, however. One unnamed position player told Mike Giardi of CSNNE that Farrell was "a hell of a pitching coach, but did you see Toronto play this year? They were as lost as we were."

CBS's Scott Miller is already second-guessing the move from the Red Sox's perspective: " If he's so good, why are the Toronto Blue Jays simply allowing him to walk?"

Jon Heyman quoted someone "with ties to Toronto" as saying, "The people there would charter a plane to get him out."

Sources say that bench coach Torey Lovullo will come with Farrell to Boston.

October 21, 2012

Red Sox Hire John Farrell, Send Aviles To Toronto


Sean McAdam, CSNNE:
Breaking: Red Sox have hired John Farrell as manager, signing him to multi-year deal. Official announcement coming soon.
ESPN Boston's Joe McDonald says he has received confirmation that the deal is complete. Will Carroll reports that it is a four-year contract.

Multiple reports have Mike Aviles going to the Blue Jays as compensation.

Check the SoSH thread for updates.

October 20, 2012

Red Sox Interview Four Managerial Candidates And Request To Speak To Farrell

The Red Sox have interviewed four managerial candidates - Dodgers coach Tim Wallach, Yankees coach Tony Pena, Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, and Orioles third-base coach DeMarlo Hale - and are requesting permission from Toronto to speak directly to John Farrell, the current Blue Jays manager (and former Red Sox pitching coach).

WEEI's Full Count blog has posted short bios of all of the interviewed candidates: Wallach, Pena, Ausmus, Hale.

Alex Speier examines the Red Sox's approach to wooing Farrell. ... For what it's worth, Peter Gammons said on Friday that the team will decide between Farrell and Ausmus. ... Peter Abraham wonders what the possible compensation for Farrell might be.

Also: Dave Magadan, the Red Sox's hitting coach since 2006, has taken a job as the Rangers' hitting coach. A recent SoSH thread had some good charts showing the team's decreasing on-base percentage since 2007.. ... Current bench coach Tim Bogar recently turned down a bench coach position with the Houston Astros. Bogar is under contract with the Red Sox until the end of October.
Example

October 18, 2012

Schadenfreude 149 (A Continuing Series)

UPDATED! - One Yankee player blames booing NY fans for causing ALCS sweep!!

Andrew Marchand, ESPN New York:
The Yankees' season is over. It ends in utter embarrassment. Forget about winning a game in this series, they never held a lead in the ALCS.
George A. King III, Post:
Ninety-five wins, an AL East title and an ALDS victory never looked this empty.

Not when all of that is followed by getting swept by the Tigers in four games of the ALCS.

Despite talk of how they would bravely fight their way out of a very deep ditch Thursday, the Yankees went quietly into the off-season with an 8-1 beating ...

The last time the Yankees were swept in a four-game series was by the Reds in the 1976 World Series. ...

Sabathia, who the Yankees firmly believed would get them to a Game 5 today, gave up six runs (five earned) and 11 hits (two homers) in 3.2 innings. ... The 3.2 innings were his shortest stint of the season. ...

[Alex] Rodriguez went 0-for-2 and finished the post-season 3-for-25 (.120).

Robinson Cano went 0-for-4 and ended on a dreadful 1-for-34 slide. For the postseason Cano batted a hard-to-believe .075 (3-for-40). ...

Eric Chavez ... finished the post-season hitless in 16 at-bats and struck out in half of them. ...

Nick Swisher went 1-for-4 and completed a fourth straight awful postseason hitting .167 (5-for-30).

And the Yankees scored six runs in four games. ...

Runs Scored:
000 000 004 000
000 000 000
000 000 001
000 001 000






John Harper, Daily News:
[One Yankee] player privately made a far more indicting observation: that the ballclub was affected by the hostility from the fans at Yankee Stadium last weekend.

“I really think the booing spooked a lot of guys," the player said. “A lot of guys hadn’t been booed before, and they couldn’t believe how nasty it got in the stands."

Obviously Nick Swisher admitted to being sensitive to such treatment after Game 2, but the player said Swisher was far from alone in his reaction.

“A lot of guys were talking about it in the clubhouse," he said. “I was surprised by how much it bothered them. I really don’t think they ever recovered."

If that's true, well, so much for the big, bad Yankees.

Joel Sherman, Post:
There is only wreckage now, the detritus of having every weakness exposed, of falling apart so completely as to make it difficult to see the outline of a major league team, much less the New York Yankees.

Over the coming days and weeks, Yankees management must assess the meaning of that wreckage, of a humiliating ALCS sweep by the Tigers. ...

The season ends, the huge questions are just beginning.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Different October, same result.

The Yankees were ousted from the postseason by the Tigers for the second straight fall and the third time since 2006, falling 8-1 in Game 4 Thursday to complete an embarrassing four-game American League Championship Series sweep.

CC Sabathia was torched for six runs in 3.2 innings, recording the same number of outs - 11 - as hits allowed. His counterpart, Max Scherzer, no-hit the Yankees through five innings, then handed it off to Detroit's bullpen with two out in the sixth as the Tigers wrapped up their 11th AL pennant.

The offense completed one of the most anemic postseasons in history ...

The Yankees finished the series hitting .157, a new franchise record for futility that had stood since 1963, when the Bombers hit .171 in their World Series loss to the Dodgers. The Yankees hit .187 for the entire postseason, wasting a bevy of solid pitching performances.

The Yankees never held a lead during the four-game sweep, scoring five runs overall. They only scored in three of 39 innings during the ALCS ...

Curtis Granderson went 3-for-30 (.100) with 16 strikeouts ...
Bryan Hoch, MLB.com:
The Yankees' ice cold autumn will now give way to an uncertain winter, as their season concluded on Thursday with an 8-1 loss to the Tigers in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park. ...

The positions of manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman appear to be secure, but hitting coach Kevin Long will be asked to answer for an anemic offense that hung zeros on the scoreboard in 36 of 39 innings during the ALCS.

New York never held a lead in the series and pushed runs across in just two ALCS frames -- the ninth innings of Games 1 and 3 -- before Nick Swisher doubled home Eduardo Nunez in the sixth inning on Thursday, breaking up Scherzer's shutout bid.


Daily News: "Yankees deny talking to Marlins about A-Rod"
Post: "Signs point to a costly divorce between A-Rod and Yankees"
Daily News: "Lupica: A-Rod continues to be damned Yankee"
Daily News: "The Donald takes more rips at A-Rod"

Today Is "David Ortiz Day"

It's been eight years - plenty of time for reality to sink in - but do you ever have moments when you think about what David Ortiz did in October 2004 and ask yourself: "Did that really happen?" Did he really do all that?"

I still do.

Eight years ago today, over a period of less than 24 hours, Ortiz and the Red Sox came back from the dead. When the clock struck midnight and Monday, October 18, 2004, began, the greatest comeback in baseball history was about to start.

In the first few minutes of that day, Dave Roberts stole second base and scored on a hard single to center by Bill Mueller. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Ortiz - who had failed to deliver a game-winning hit in the ninth inning - crushed a two-run home run to give the Red Sox a 6-4 win, keeping their slim ALCS hopes alive.

At the time, I was too overwhelmed (or tense or at a complete loss for words or something) and did not write very much. Two short posts - with a trip to the dentist in the middle!




In March 2005, I rewatched all (but one) of the post-season games and posted about what I saw. Here are some of those notes:

Game 4:

Bottom of the 9th: Boston is three outs from being swept and Fox is wrapping up the series. Rivera is on for his second inning. Millar:
93 inside, 1-0
93 over plate, fouled off 3b side, 1-1
93 inside, 2-1
93 inside, 3-1
up and in, ball four
Rivera's cutter usually goes down and away from a right-handed hitter, but almost all of the pitches to Millar are inside.

The crowd roars as Dave Roberts pops out of the dugout, fitting a helmet on his head, bumps fists with Millar coming off the field and stands on first base. It's about 40 degrees. Everyone in the universe knows Roberts will try to steal second base. Roberts immediately takes, as Fox correctly points out, "a huge lead."

Rivera throws over three times. On a replay of the last throw, you can see Roberts saying "Ooooooh" after he slid back in, knowing how close he came to being picked off. In subsequent interviews, Roberts said that after that third throw, he felt totally focused, as though he had been playing the entire game. (Actually, he had not been in a game in ten days – since ALDS 2).

More inside info: Since the sixth inning, Roberts had been in the clubhouse studying videotape of Rivera and Gordon, trying to memorize their moves to first in case he would be needed to pinch-run.

When Rivera finally pitched to Mueller, he was taking all the way. Roberts was off. Posada's throw was right on the money, but a hair late. Jeter was out in front of the bag, but Roberts slid in just before the tag. SAFE! Rivera's next pitch was right down the middle – was he thinking Mueller might bunt Roberts to third? – and Mueller lined it right through the box, knocking Rivera to the ground, and into center field. Roberts scored without a throw and the game was tied at 4-4.

Boston still had a chance to win it. Mientkiewicz moved Mueller to second and Damon reached on an error by Tony Clark, who bobbled his grounder to first. After Cabrera struck out, Damon took second uncontested. Boston had runners on second and third with Manny and Ortiz up. Rivera fell behind Ramirez 3-0, got the count full, then walked him. With the bases loaded, Ortiz popped out to second.

Top of the 11th: Embree in for his second inning. Cairo singled to right, Jeter bunted him over. Rodriguez then lined a ball to the shortstop hole. Cabrera, who had been cheating towards the bag to keep Jeter close, dove to his right, snagging the line drive just as it was about to hit the dirt. Two outs. After falling behind to Sheffield, Embree put him on. Myers came in for Matsui and walked him on four pitches. Damn.

Curtis Leskanic came in to face Williams with the bases loaded. He got a called strike -– and we got a shot of Wakefield warming up in the bullpen, the same Wakefield who had gone 3.1 innings and thrown 64 pitches the night before.

Boston went quietly in the 11th (Wakefield still throwing) and Leskanic came out for the 12th. He allowed a bloop single to Posada, but retired Sierra, Clark and Cairo. If the game went into the 13th, it looked like Wakefield would be in.

Bottom of the 12th: Quantrill took over after two solid innings from Gordon. Manny took a strike, then two balls, then lined a single to left. Ortiz got ahead 2-1 before launching a pitch into the visitors' bullpen in right, winning the game 6-4. In an interview about two minutes after he crossed the plate he said the pitch he hit was one Quantrill had gotten him out with before, so he was looking for it.

There would be no sweep. Lost in the exhilaration was the fact that the top arms in the pen had thrown a lot of pitches: Embree 30, Timlin 37, Foulke 50. And Game 5 would begin in 19 hours.

Yankees - 002 002 000 000 - 4 12  1
Red Sox - 000 030 001 002 - 6  8  0





Game 5:

Tim McCarver started off the broadcast with a pretty good quip: "Boy, these split doubleheaders are great, aren't they?"

Mussina was eight outs away from a perfect game in Game 1, but the Red Sox got to him early this time. With one out, Cabrera singled to left, Ramirez singled to right center, Ortiz singled to right (1-0), Millar walked, Nixon reached on a force at home, and Varitek walked to force in a run (2-0). ... After that inning – 34 pitches – Mussina pitched very well. Over the next five innings, he allowed only two hits (no walks) and no runs.

Pedro struck out Jeter and Sheffield in the first inning, both on three pitches, but he was intermittently sharp. Bernie Williams nailed his first pitch of the second into the right field seats for a home run. (If Joe Buck refers to Bernie Williams as the New York lineup's "forgotten man" every time he comes to the plate, how overlooked can he be?) Martinez allowed a walk and a hit with two outs in the third, a single and a walk to start the fourth, and a leadoff walk in the fifth – yet still kept the score at 2-1.

In the sixth, his luck ran out. With one out, Posada and Sierra singled. After Clark struck out, Pedro hit Cairo to load the bases. As Buck and McCarver pointed out how Pedro loses effectiveness after 100 pitches (he started the inning at 82), Jeter sliced a bases-clearing double down the right field line – on Pedro's 100th pitch. The Yankees took a 4-2 lead.

After a visit from Dave Wallace, Martinez hit Rodriguez (Myers and Timlin were up in the pen) and walked Sheffield. He got the third out thanks to Nixon's tumbling catch of Matsui's sinking liner to right.

Boston had four innings to score two runs. They went in order in the sixth. Bellhorn doubled to start the seventh (and chase Mussina) but Sturtze retired Damon and, after he walked Cabrera, Gordon came in and got Manny to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

At the start of the eighth inning, Rivera was up in the New York pen. Ortiz hit an 0-1 Gordon offering into the Monster seats and Boston now trailed 4-3. Millar swung wildly at the first two pitches, then took the next four for another crucial walk. And there was Dave Roberts running at first base again. Nixon stepped in and there was an exceptional game of cat-and-mouse between Roberts and Gordon (who had now appeared in all five games of the series):
Gordon looks over, throws pitch (88), called strike, 0-1
Rivera ready, watching from bullpen
Roberts twitching off first Gordon looks over, steps off
Gordon throws over, an easy throw, Roberts dusts off
Gordon holds the ball, and holds it, and holds it, finally Roberts walks back to the bag
Crowd chanting "Gor-don! Gor-don!"
Gordon fakes a throw, Roberts gets back
Gordon throws over to first
Pitch (85) low/inside at knees, called 1-1
Pitch (91) low in dirt in front of plate, 2-1
Pitch (91) in dirt, 3-1
A-Rod to mound to talk
Roberts off with pitch, lined into right field, Roberts to third
After that, Rivera came in and Varitek lofted a fly ball to center. Roberts scored easily, the game was tied at 4-4, and Rivera had blown another save. It was the first time in Yankee history that the team had blown saves in consecutive post-season games.

In the Yankees 9th, the camera caught Schilling rushing to the dugout phone. The next time they showed him, he was sitting on the bench, holding his glove. ... McCarver: "What's he doing with his glove?" Buck: "Interesting question." ... There was a lot of activity in the dugout, Schilling then disappeared down the runway.

During the mid-inning break, Schilling, Lowe and Wakefield had walked from the dugout to the bullpen. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I don't think anything could have said "We will pitch anyone tonight" more than that defiant display.

Boston 9th against Rivera: Damon beat out a single to Cairo's right, but he was then thrown out trying to steal second, although a replay showed him being tagged by Jeter's left wrist instead of his glove. Cabrera grounded out to short and Ramirez flew to center.

The Red Sox had chances to win it in the tenth (Millar doubled over Sheffield's head with one out, but Quantrill got Nixon and Varitek) and eleventh (Mueller and Bellhorn singled with no out, but Damon popped out and (facing Loazia) Cabrera hit into a 6-4-3 DP. In the twelfth, Ortiz walked with one out and tried to steal second base. He may have been safe – some replays seem to show his hand in there – but he was called out.

The Yankees' best chance to score came in the thirteenth. Sheffield struck out against Wakefield, but reached on a passed ball. Matsui forced him at second and Williams flew out to Nixon for the second out. Wakefield's first pitch to Posada rolled away from Varitek (who had caught Wakefield for only two innings during the regular season). After a called strike, another passed ball put Matsui at second. Posada was walked intentionally. Facing Sierra, Varitek was charged with his third passed ball and the runners advanced to second and third. The next pitch was a knuckleball – Wakefield refused to not throw it - that squirted out of Varitek's glove, but it did not go far. Sierra struck out on the next pitch.

In the bottom of the fourteenth, Bellhorn struck out, Damon walked, Cabrera struck out and Ramirez walked. Ortiz then faced Loazia:
Fastball (91 mph), cutting away and down, 0-1
Way outside (90), 1-1
Big rip (88), fouled 3b side, 1-2
Fouled off (90), 3b side, 1-2
Clubbed deep to right, hooked foul, 1-2
Outside (90), 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (92), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
Pitch up (89), fouled back 3b side, 2-2
10th pitch (87) lined to center, single, Damon scores, Sox win 5-4
Buck on Damon: "…and he can keep on running to New York."
Yankees - 010 003 000 000 00 - 4 12  1
Red Sox - 200 000 020 000 01 - 5 13  1

At this point, I was pretty confident the Red Sox would win the pennant.






And so it came to pass ...