December 13, 2018

Red Sox Radio Broadcasts Might Be A Complete Train Wreck This Year

Chad Finn, Boston Globe, posting at Twitter and SoSH early this morning:
Story will be up later, but WEEI is going ahead with plans to do the talk-show format during its Red Sox broadcast. Saw the job posting sent to staatalentDOTcom subscribers last night.
Unbelievable. ... While I could see someone rubbernecking her way past this accident for maybe five minutes (actually, that's probably being generous by about four minutes, forty seconds), I have to think fans would abandon Red Sox radio broadcasts in droves if this truly happens. It would make Dave O'Brien and Steve Lyons sound like Vin Scully in his prime, by comparison. What possible market research could WEEI have done to even half-seriously consider such an shitty idea?

That Finn tweet was at 8:15 AM. Then the discussion began.

Joe Zarbano, WEEI's program director, 8:24 AM:
This is not true. If you checked with me I could've told you that. The only thing I sent to StaaTalent was a reply confirming that the job was open and people can apply.
Finn, 8:29 AM:
It says in the email: "STAA knows these plans to be true. WEEI wants to drop the concept of a conventional radio broadcast to make the game sound more like a talk show. WEEI PD Joe Zarbano is eager to receive applications ..."
Zarbano, 8:36 AM:
Ok well STAA is wrong too. Again, you could have checked with WEEI and we would've told you that. We do not want the Red Sox broadcast to sound like a talk show and anyone reporting that is spreading misinformation.
Finn, 8:42 AM:
Reply to my email. Glad to add your comments. What would you like it to sound like?
Zarbano, 8:48 AM:
We will post the job later today on our website. @AlexReimer1 will have a story up shortly on http://WEEI.com.
Alex Reimer, WEEI writer, 9:04 AM:
FWIW, @RedSox spokeswoman Zineb Curran tells me the team "does not plan any format changes to our (radio) broadcast." Will have more on this later.
Finn, 9:09 AM:
Two weeks ago, they told me Tim [Neverett] was staying.
And:

Lou Merloni:
The @GlobeChadFinn story was misleading. It will not be a sports talk radio broadcast. He probably should have talked to someone at the station before he wrote it
Finn:
The story isn't up yet.
UPDATE: Now it is. Reporting by both Finn and Reimer.

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports:
A few well-done exceptions aside, there is nothing more annoying than sports talk radio. It tends to be constant, empty chatter about controversies real or imagined and overheated either way. ... It's almost always boorish narcissism masquerading as "analysis." ... My thoughts and prayers go out to Red Sox fans who listen to the games on the radio.

December 12, 2018

With Tim Neverett Out Of A Job, Maybe Dave O'Brien Will Return To Radio (... He Posted With His Heart Full Of Hope)

Red Sox broadcaster Tim Neverett will not be back in the radio booth in 2019. Last June, WEEI executives told him he might want to start polishing up his resume. Neverett hoped the situation would improve, but it did not.
I chose to let my contract expire rather than go back and work for them. The Red Sox were very supportive of me during a very difficult year. They wanted me to return. It had nothing to with the Red Sox.
Neverett shared the booth with Joe Castiglione for three seasons.

The Globe stated there were "industry rumors about possible changes all season long. One, which multiple sources have said was a genuine consideration, had WEEI dropping the concept of a conventional radio baseball broadcast to make the call of the game sound more like a talk show." Good lord, that sounds dreadful.

Could Neverett's departure pave the way for Dave "Swifty" O'Brien to (get off my TV and) return to the radio realm?

Cora Announces Change To Batting Order For 2019

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said yesterday that in 2019 Andrew Benintendi will be at the top of the lineup and Mookie Betts will bat second.
[W]e're going to maximize Mookie in a different spot. ... Talked to him, it makes sense. ... I put it this way to Mookie. And I know Beni's OK with it. But if you play 162 games, you're going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on. And last year, what I wanted from him in the leadoff spot we accomplished. It's a different season and we have to make adjustments ... It's not that we did it wrong last year. It worked for us.
While Betts had the highest OPS (1.083) and batting average (.346) of any leadoff hitter last year, 23 of his 32 home runs came with the bases empty.

Benintendi had a .366 on-base percentage, third-best on the team behind Betts and J.D. Martinez. He was second on the team in walks.

In 2018, Betts actually hit a bit better with the bases empty (.358/.435/.653/1.088) than with men on (.319/.444/.613/1.056). As the first batter of the game, Betts hit .286/.351/.504/.855.

In his career, Betts has batted in every lineup spot except #5.

December 11, 2018

Harold Baines Never Received More Than 6.1% Support For The Hall Of Fame, But He Is Now On His Way Into Cooperstown

Harold Baines received 5.3% of the BBWAA's Hall of Fame votes in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Baines never topped more than 6.1% and was dropped from the ballot after failing to get the minimum 5% of support in 2011.

Baines was elected to the Hall of Fame last weekend, however, by the Today's Game Era Committee, which gave him the minimum 12 (of 16) votes required for induction. (Baines received only five votes from the committee two years ago.)

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated called the balloting "the most stunning Hall of Fame selection I have seen":
Baines gained election largely on the basis of 2,866 hits, and no doubt was helped by influential committee members Tony LaRussa, his manager in Chicago and Oakland, and Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox owner who erected a statue of Baines in Chicago. If you stretch really, really, really hard you can make a case that being "a professional hitter" for so long is worthy of Cooperstown. When he retired in 2001, Baines held the "records" for most games, hits, homers and RBI for a DH – which just means he was the best compiler among only American League players in a 28-year window. (Edgar Martinez, now a lock for induction on the writers' ballot this year, and David Ortiz since eclipsed him.) Baines won just one Silver Slugger Award. ...

How do you now not put Rusty Staub in the Hall? (He had 2,716 hits and more than 600 more games in the outfield than Baines.) Omar Vizquel? (More hits than Baines, 2,877, and a far superior defensive component.) Al Oliver? (He had 2,743 hits and a greater WAR, more MVP votes and more Silver Sluggers than Baines.) ...

Baines had two seasons with a WAR of at least 3.0. Two. That's it. There are 791 players not in the Hall of Fame with more than two 3-WAR seasons, including Brendan Ryan, Brad Ausmus, Corey Koskie, Larry Bowa and Oscar Gamble.

Baines never had 200 hits, never scored 90 runs, never hit 30 homers, never hit 40 doubles, never finished in the top five in OPS, never finished in the top eight in MVP voting, rarely played defense for his final 15 seasons, and had a .313 OBP against lefthanded pitching.
The decision surprised a lot of people, including Baines himself.
I was only on [the Hall of Fame ballot] one year, so I wasn't expecting this day to come. ... [People questioning the decision] can't take it away from me now, even if they don't think I should be there.
(As noted above, Baines was actually on the ballot for five years.)

Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer:
He was a slightly below-average base runner, a slightly below-average right fielder for most of the first half of his career, and a DH the rest of the way (almost 60 percent of his career plate appearances). During his career, he was never regarded as one of the best players in baseball, finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting only twice (in 1983 and 1985) and never placing higher than ninth. ...

JAWS — a system devised by writer Jay Jaffe that presents a player's career value as the average of his career WAR and his "peak" WAR (defined as the sum of his best seven seasons) — ranks Baines 74th among players whose primary position was right field. To offer some sense of the company Baines keeps on the right-fielder JAWS list, that's three spots ahead of Nick Markakis and two and three spots, respectively, behind Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz. Baines's JAWS score is 30.1, compared to an average of 57.8 for all other Hall of Famer right fielders. ...

Relative to the historical statistical standards of his position, Baines is now the seventh-least-deserving Hall of Famer, after fellow right fielder Tommy McCarthy, Lloyd Waner, Jesse Haines, High Pockets Kelly, Freddie Lindstrom, and Rube Marquard. ... Statistically speaking, Baines is probably the worst player to qualify for the hall in 42 years, and his election is shocking in an era of relatively enlightened evaluation. ...

Baines bypassed the BBWAA's approval and slipped in the side door because of the same combination of cronyism and sentimentality [the Eras Committee, formerly known as the Veterans Committee] that minted many of the least-deserving Hall of Famers. ...

[T]he committees are mostly made up of players and executives, [and] many of their members are professionally and personally linked to the players whose candidacies they're considering. In some cases, committee members have actively lobbied for former teammates who didn't come close to Cooperstown's established standards; Bill James wrote a book about it [Whatever Happened To The Hall of Fame?]. Frankie Frisch, a Veterans Committee member from 1967 to 1973 ... gerrymandered a museum on behalf of his friends. ...

Although there are no definitive criteria of Hall of Fame worthiness, it delegitimizes the museum when its honors are conferred by voters who are doing favors for friends, exhibiting bias (even if it's subconscious), or suffering from statistical illiteracy.
Jay Jaffe, Fangraphs:
Not only is there no precedent for a candidate with so little BBWAA support [6.1%] gaining election by a small committee in the era of the "Five Percent Rule" (from 1980 onward), but there's really no precedent for a player from the post-1960 expansion era doing so. ...

[T]here's no modern precedent for the election of a candidate such as Baines ... [With] Baines, 94 to 95 percent of [BBWAA] voters consistently judged him to be unworthy.

Every bit as unsettling is the fact that Baines accumulated just 38.7 WAR (using the Baseball-Reference version) and 30.1 JAWS. Considered as a right fielder — I consider every DH candidate at the position where he accrued the most value — he ranks just 74th in JAWS, below 24 of the 25 Hall of Famers (19th century outfielder Tommy McCarthy is the exception). From under-supported BBWAA candidate Larry Walker (10th in JAWS among right fielders), to players such as Dwight Evans (15th) and Reggie Smith (16th) who have never sniffed a small committee ballot, that's a troubling inequity. ... Tony Oliva, Rusty Staub, Dave Parker? All rank in the 30s in JAWS among right fielders, and appear to have stronger traditional credentials as well. ...

Baines' election is simply not a great day for the institution, or for anyone bringing an analytical, merit-based approach to it while reckoning with its objective standards. The precedent it sets is nearly unmanageable, if future committees are to take seriously candidates of his level.
Neil Greenberg, Washington Post:
While this is a time to celebrate for Baines, it's also a time to mourn for the standards of the Hall of Fame.

Think that's harsh? ... Players ahead of Baines [in JAWS ranking] include Carl Furillo, Brian Jordan, Tim Salmon, Jesse Barfield and Brian Giles. Do any of those sound like Hall of Famers player to you? ...

Per FanGraphs version of wins above replacement, Baines ranks 70th in fWAR (38.5) among all hitters playing from 1980 to 2001. ...

[T]raditional metrics don't bolster his case much, either. He ranks 46th all time for hits (2,866), 65th for home runs (384) and 34th for RBI (1,628). His career .820 OPS was 21 percent higher than the league average after taking into account league and park effects but still pedestrian enough to place him 15th among the aforementioned DH peer group. Players ahead of him on that list also include Kevin Buckley, Travis Hafner, Ken Phelps, Tom Dodd, Troy Neel, Cliff Johnson and Jeremy Brown. ...

The selection of Baines makes it harder to argue against [players who performed far better than Baines, but still well below the established threshold for reaching Cooperstown], and that's why the news has so many baseball fans up in arms.
Kyle Koster, The Big Lead:
It's a joke. It may be an intentional troll as well, the last dying breath of those who hold pitcher's wins and batting average sacrosanct. A "screw you" to the analytical community, or any other sane person who looks at Baines' stats and critically concludes he has no business in the Hall of Fame.
Rob Neyer, Twitter:
Let's be frank: The elections of Jack Morris, Lee Smith, and (especially) Harold Baines are fully intended by voters to troll everyone who believes in objective analysis. They've lost power everywhere but here, but by God they're gonna use it. Embarrassing to Hall (or should be).
Aaron Gleeman, Twitter:
Harold Baines was on the ballot as recently as 2011 and received 4.8% of the vote. It was his fifth straight year with a vote total below 10%. Why, just seven years later, do 16 people get to decide that he's now a Hall of Famer when 95.2% of the voters didn't think he was one?
Jeff Blair, Sportsnet:
There has been no Hall of Fame selection – by whatever committee or voting pool at any time – greeted with as much shock as Baines'. Ever. Baines was a lovely man and great teammate, but some of the serious national voices in the game have used words such as "embarrassment" to describe his selection. ...

Baines? My god ... I've covered baseball since 1989 and I didn't realize I was watching so many Hall of Famers. ...

[H]as Harold Baines' selection cheapened the Hall? Not as much as the sorry exclusion of Marvin Miller, who made millionaires of a lot of these players. You want to get exercise about something? Look there.

A History Of Schadenfreude

Excerpt from Tiffany Watt Smith's Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's Misfortune (Little, Brown and Company, 2018):
The Japanese have a saying: "The misfortunes of others taste like honey." The French speak of joie maligne, a diabolical delight in other people's suffering. The Danish talk of skadefryd, and the Dutch of leedvermaak. In Hebrew enjoying other people's catastrophes is simcha la‑ed, in Mandarin xìng‑zāi‑lè‑huò, in Serbo-Croat it is zlùradōst and in Russian zloradstvo. More than 2,000 years ago, Romans spoke of malevolentia. Earlier still, the Greeks described epichairekakia (literally epi, over, chairo, rejoice, kakia, disgrace). "To see others suffer does one good," wrote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. "To make others suffer even more so. This is a hard saying, but a mighty, human, all-too-human principle." ...

In historical portraits, people beaming with joy look very different to those slyly gloating over another's bad luck. However, in a laboratory in Würzburg in Germany in 2015, thirty-two football fans agreed to have electromyography pads attached to their faces, which would measure their smiles and frowns while watching TV clips of successful and unsuccessful football penalties by the German team, and by their arch-rivals, the Dutch. The psychologists found that when the Dutch missed a goal, the German fans' smiles appeared more quickly and were broader than when the German team scored a goal themselves. The smiles of Schadenfreude and joy are indistinguishable except in one crucial respect: we smile more with the failures of our enemies than at our own success. ...

There has never really been a word for these grubby delights in English. In the 1500s, someone attempted to introduce "epicaricacy" from the ancient Greek, but it didn't catch on. In 1640, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote a list of human passions, and concluded it with a handful of obscure feelings which "want names." "From what passion proceedeth it," he asked, "that men take pleasure to behold from the shore the danger of them that are at sea in a tempest?" What strange combination of joy and pity, he wrote, makes people "content to be spectators of the misery of their friends"? Hobbes's mysterious and terrible passion remained without a name, in the English language at least. ...

And so we adopted the German word Schadenfreude. From Schaden, meaning damage or harm, and freude, meaning joy or pleasure: damage-joy. ...

Moralists have long despised Schadenfreude. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called it "an infallible sign of a thoroughly bad heart and profound moral worthlessness," the very worst trait in human nature. ...

I have come to believe that Schopenhauer was wrong. We might worry that a taste for other people's misery will corrupt our souls, yet this emotion is far from simply "bad." It touches on things that have mattered most to human societies for millennia: our instincts for fairness and hatred of hypocrisy; our love of seeing our rival suffer in the hope that we might win ourselves; our itch to measure ourselves against others and make sense of our choices when we fall short; how we bond with each other; what makes us laugh.

If we peer more closely at this hidden and much-maligned emotion, liberate ourselves from its shame and secrecy, we will discover a great deal about who we really are.

December 9, 2018

How About Enjoying 2019 Before We Start Worrying About 2020?

It's December 9. About six weeks ago, the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series. It was the team's fourth championship in the last 15 seasons. The Red Sox won a record 108 games - and the entire team (almost) is returning next spring. Mookie Betts was nearly the unanimous choice for AL MVP. Nathan Eovaldi re-signed at an extremely reasonable price.

But many members of the Boston sports media believe Red Sox fans should be in a perpetual state of worry and agitation, no matter how or what the team is doing. Read or listen to certain people and you'll be told that the team is relying too heavily on hitting, relying too heavily on pitching, hitting too many home runs, not hitting enough hone runs, scoring runs "the wrong way", beating up on only shitty teams, having just a few hot hitters, etc. Even having everyone on fire is a cause for concern, because that means a big slump is coming very soon.

So what should we be concerned about right now? ... The 2019-2020 off-season!

That's Rob Bradford's take. He also appears to believe the Red Sox are now trailing the Yankees in doing what needs to be done for the future:
See what the Yankees did ...

The challenge for the Red Sox will be to execute what Brian Cashman was able to for the Yankees ...
If you want to worry about the 2020 roster, I won't try to stop you. But keep in mind that pitchers and catchers are still two months away from reporting for 2019!

I'm not claiming that what Bradford is writing about is not real. Obviously, the front office is thinking about these things; they have been thinking about the 2020 team for many years. But I have no say in running the Red Sox and I see no benefit (or point) to worrying about something that may not even be an issue in eight months.

The Gift of 2004 caused me to take a much shorter view of the Red Sox. I'm far less concerned about the team's future than I was back in the dark times. In fact, I don't think "worry" has been a part of my Red Sox vocabulary for quite a while. I'm still enjoying the memories of 2018 and I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2019. I can't see too much further ahead than that.

Except Mookie. Seriously. Do NOT let Mookie go!

December 6, 2018

Red Sox & Nathan Eovaldi Agree On Four-Year Contract

Nathan Eovaldi has agreed on a four-year contract with the Red Sox, worth $67.5 million. Boston was aggressive in bringing Eovaldi - who will turn 29 next February - back for 2019 and beyond. The deal will not be official until the right-hander passes a physical.

Eovaldi did not attend the premier of the Red Sox 2018 World Series highlight video, but he received the loudest cheers. His six innings of relief in Game 3 of the World Series - at 18 innings and seven hours, the longest postseason game of all-time - is one of the most enduring memories from last year's championship. Manager Alex Cora: "Nobody's going to remember who won that game. Everybody's going to remember Nate Eovaldi. That was the moment. When I went home I was like, 'This is it. Now we go.'"

David Price likes this news. ... A healthy Eovaldi at just under $17 per? What's not to like? It's good to also know he can fill in as closer, in necessary.

Chad Jennings (The Athletic) explains why Dave Dombrowski jumped into Free-Agent-Assassin mode: "While the most glaring hole is in the bullpen ... there are plenty of relief options to sort through. Relievers should be easy to find down the road. The rotation market could run dry quickly."

Jon Heyman, FanCred: "Happ is Yankees' next pitching target. They didn't want to go past 3 years on Eovaldi, who is a hero in Boston anyway." ... HA!
Most WAR Since 2013 (Position Players)
Mike Trout        -  53.3
Josh Donaldson    -  37.3
Paul Goldschmidt  -  36.3
Mookie Betts      -  35.2
Trout is on another planet, but please note that Mookie played 0 games in the majors in 2013 and only 54 in 2014. And he missed 26 games last season.

WAR Per 162 Games, Since 2013
Trout        -  9.75
Betts        -  8.85
Donaldson    -  7.61
Goldschmidt  -  6.60

Yankees Stiff Support Staff, Assistant Hitting Coach, Analytics Liaison To The Coaching Staff, Trainers, Clubhouse Attendants, BP Pitchers, Etc. On Postseason Shares

Daily News:
It was widely speculated that David Robertson led an effort to stiff a bunch of Yankee employees.

Now we have the receipts.

The Bronx Bombers turned greedy with their postseason shares, a percentage of playoff ticket sales that are pooled and dispersed to all 10 teams, issuing the least amount of full shares out of any playoff team, according to an MLB press release.

Robertson, now a free agent, served as the club's player rep and was responsible for chairing ... what one source described as a contentious meeting.

The Yankees players' pool came out to $2.866 million, with the value of full shares equaling just over $43,000. The team issued 45 full shares, along with 21.47 partial shares and two cash awards.

Traditionally, full shares are given to all 25 players on the Opening Day roster, the manager and regular coaching staff. Players on the 60-day DL, such as Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not play a single game in 2018, also received a full share. ...

Trainers aren't guaranteed postseason shares, though it's customary for players to give them a healthy piece of the pot as opposed to what these Yankees pulled this time around.

In years past, folks like the team trainer and traveling secretary, for example, received full shares.
Bill Madden, Daily News:
[David] Robertson, who chaired the shares meeting as the Yankee player rep, was the front man for what appears to be a shameful greed on behalf of the other players. It was reported that assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere was voted only a half share and the analytics liaison with the coaching staff [Zac Fieroh], who traveled with the team all season, got nothing. According to sources, Robertson and his co-conspirators cut a wide swath through the entire Yankee support staff, stiffing trainers, clubhouse attendants, BP pitchers and the like. In addition, they also attempted to have the media's pre-game clubhouse access in Boston cut off in a September game because of the cramped conditions in Fenway Park.


Side Point: Why couldn't the creator of this chart line up the monetary amounts on the decimal points? The only reasons I can think of are incompetence or laziness. (I do this kind of thing in my job. It's not difficult.)

Speaking of lazy, MFY manager Aaron Boone said this recently about Manny "Last-Out-Of-The-Red-Sox-World-Series-Clinching-Game-Maker" Machado:
You hope all players all the time run things out, play hard or give it their all. But [it's] not necessarily the No. 1 thing I look at when I am defining whether a player is giving his all or is a gamer. ... There is an expectation that we have ... a certain way you go about things, and running balls out can certainly play into that. Frankly, it is a little bit down the list as far as what I define what makes a player.

December 5, 2018

Michael Wilbon: Dumber Than Dirt (And Unashamed)

Here is some dirt.


I'm willing to bet that dirt knows more about baseball than ESPN's Michael Wilbon.

This story is a few weeks old, but is worth mentioning. After Mets pitcher Jacob de Grom won the NL Cy Young Award (with 29 of 30 first-place votes), Wilbon vented about the baseball establishment on "Pardon the Interruption":
I'm not with these people. I don't respect their judgment, actually, because I don't value what they value. I value winning the damn game more than the ERA. And therefore, it is analytical hijacking. They want to hijack baseball, they want to impose their will and tell you what's important. I don't share most of and maybe none of their values, and it's absurd.
Wilbon was not satirizing older, fuddy-duddy sportswriters who cannot be bothered to learn anything new and pine for the days when Wins and RBI and Batting Average were the cat's pajamas. No, he meant what he said. (Attention-seeking "hot takes" are so important that having everyone ridicule you as a clueless moron is better than being ignored.)

One commenter at that link noted: "Wilbon has been ranting for many, many months about this. Unfortunately for him, de Grom kept pitching so extraordinarily well ... Wilbon boxed himself in so much that could not admit the obvious, so now he's doubling down on his criticism of 'those people.' ... [H]e's so stubborn that he comes across as an ignorant blowhard."

According to SNY: "Back in September when it became apparent de Grom was the frontrunner for the award, Wilbon called it 'garbage' that he was even considered due to his then-losing record."

Wilbon was yelling at clouds in August, as well. This exchange is amazing: "I'm big on wins. ... I don't care what the ERA is. ... Win - The - Damn - Game. [He doesn't get any run support] Okay, you gotta hang tough then. [Hang though?] Yeah, don't allow any. [His ERA is 1.81] I don't care about his ERA. ... There are some nights when you gotta do a better job, when you gotta give up nothing or one because your guys aren't hitting."

Of course, giving up "nothing or one" was pretty much what de Grom did all summer long. He allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of 32 starts. In games in which he allowed NO runs, the Mets went 4-4. I guess de Grom should have been even "tougher" and allowed -1 runs.

Sarah Langs, Twitter (I reorganized her info):
Jacob de Grom: 1.70 ERA, best in MLB. He went 10-9 & Mets were 14-18 in his starts
Lucas Giolito: 6.13 ERA, worst in MLB. He went 10-13 & White Sox were 14-18 in his starts
That's the same number of pitcher wins and same team record... for the best and worst pitchers in MLB.
I was wondering what baseball will do when every single fan watching a game is more enlightened than the announcers, but then I read some of the other comments below that Awful Announcing story and realized that ignorance will never come close to going out of style.

Something I Learned Today: Wilbon believes that ERA - which the National League began officially compiling 107 years ago - is part of the tyrannical analytic movement that is ruining baseball.

December 4, 2018

White House Visit Will Show An Acceptance (Or Tolerance) Of Trump's Callous Inhumanity

Members of the 2018 World Champion Boston Red Sox will travel to the White House next spring, the latest professional sports team to participate in this truly idiotic ceremony, which has always struck me as similar to those moments (in past centuries) when a returning explorer or heroes of a great battle were granted an audience before the king.

One guesstimate of the date of the Red Sox's visit is Thursday, May 9, which is an off-day after a three-game series in Baltimore.

Sam Kennedy, Red Sox President: "We've accepted and we're going to go ... Like in the past, it's an invitation. It's not a mandatory command performance. It's a great opportunity for the players ... to go to the White House and get a behind-the-scenes tour and get the recognition they deserve for a world championship."

Perhaps I'm old and in the way, but I fail to grasp how a visit to the White House will grant the Red Sox players "the recognition they deserve" for winning the World Series. Didn't winning the trophy in front of a world-wide television audience and being written up in newspapers and magazines and websites and having a huge parade through the streets of Boston, and receiving generous World Series shares and World Series rings give them the proper "recognition"? Do they really need to be thanked or congratulated or blessed or knighted by a racist blowhard moron to feel they are truly the champions of baseball?

Manager Alex Cora has criticized Donald Trump in the past:
I'm going to use my platform that right way. I'm not going to embarrass anybody. Actually, I'm going to represent probably four million people from back home the right way when we go there.
Right after Boston beat the Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series, Peter Dreier and Kelly Candaele of The Nation wrote that the Red Sox should stay far away from the White House:
Do the Red Sox want to allow Trump—whose presidency is rooted in appeals to racism, sexism, and immigrant bashing—to bask in the glow of their victory?

Does it really make sense for the Red Sox—who this year had nine players from five different countries (Hector Velázquez from Mexico, Eduardo Rodríguez, William Cuevas, and Sandy León from Venezuela, Xander Bogaerts from Aruba, Eduardo Núñez and Rafael Devers from the Dominican Republic, and Tzu Wei-Lin from Taiwan) as well as four African Americans (David Price, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brandon Phillips), two American-born Latinos (J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez), and one Jew (Ian Kinsler) on their 40-man roster—to ask those players to ignore Trump's divisive comments and policies that degrade immigrants, people of color, and Jews?
Red Sox management may try to distance itself from Trump's inhumane policies, but accepting this invitation and then meeting and posing for pictures with him constitutes a measure of acceptance or tolerance of (or agreement with) what he has done during his time in the White House. Despite the team's possible denials, the Red Sox's participation in the ceremony will represent a stamp of validity for what Trump has done.

November 30, 2018

Truck Day Is Only Two Months Away

Actually, it's 65 days.


February 4: Truck Day
February 13: First workout for pitchers and catchers
February 18: First full-squad workout
February 23: Red Sox play MFY
March 28: Opening Day! Red Sox at Mariners

J.D. Martinez was voted the 2018 Player of the Year, as announced by the MLB Players Association. JDM: "I'm very honored and blessed to receive this award, as it comes from the players. To be regarded the best by the men I most respect is a significant achievement in my career."

Tyler Thornburg - who had a 5.63 ERA in 25 games for the Red Sox in 2018 - has resigned for $1.75 million.

Could Matt Barnes close next year? ... Alex Speier, Twitter: "The chief criticism of Barnes is his walk rate - which was high. He walked and struck out exactly as many guys last year as Kimbrel while giving up fewer HRs and allowing less flyballs that were in danger of creating damage, despite facing more hitters."
           IP     H    R   BB    K   HR    WHIP
Kimbrel   62.1   31   19   31   96    7   0.995
Barnes    61.2   47   25   31   96    5   1.265
Jen McCaffrey, The Athletic, November 15, 2018:
Here's a look at five reasons why [Mookie] Betts won the MVP honors ...

While WAR gets a bad rap for being cast as the sole statistic by which some voters judge MVP candidates, Betts led the majors with 10.9 WAR this season, the highest for any position player since 2002, when Barry Bonds posted 11.8 WAR. ... [Betts] had more hits, runs and a better slugging percentage in fewer games than fellow AL MVP finalists José Ramírez of [Cleveland] and Mike Trout of the Angels. ...

Betts finished tied for the major-league lead in runs scored (129) with Cleveland's Francisco Lindor despite playing in 22 fewer games. ...

With two outs and runners in scoring position, Betts hit .433 (13-for-30) with a 1.571 OPS, including four home runs.

Of his 32 home runs, 13 came with the score tied. ...

He recorded two separate three-homer games this season on April 17 and May 2 and has now hit three homers in a game four separate times in his career — more than any other Red Sox player in history.

November 29, 2018

... Calgary, Sciamous, Delta, Port Hardy.

We are home.

After nine days of driving, we arrived in Port Hardy, British Columbia, on Tuesday evening (in the rain, naturally). Four local guys unloaded the U-Haul yesterday morning and we have begun unpacking. ... And are now connected to the rest of the world![Travelogue here.]

November 24, 2018

Sudbury, Wawa, Ignace, Brandon, Swift Current ...

Over five days, we have driven 2,980 kilometers. We spent Friday night in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, the third night in a stretch of sleeping in a different province for five consecutive nights. Tonight will be spent outside Calgary, and then we drive into the Rockies on Sunday.

If you have been following Laura's daily posts at wmtc, you will know we saw an actual, live wolf the other morning. And, on a pull-over to change drivers and let Diego pee, I found a small clearing where a bunch of animals had devoured most of a deer carcass. It seemed too close to the road to have been tracked and killed, so maybe the deer was hit by a car first and dragged off the road by wolves or coyotes (?).

Looking at the map of Saskatchewan, I found two towns very close together: Pennant and Success. Which reminded me I have some cool World Series-related prizes for a yet-to-be-announced contest: one copy of the 8-DVD box set and three copies of the official WS DVD. ... All I have to do is come up with a decent contest idea (or two).

(We drive through Medicine Hat, Alberta, today.)

November 19, 2018

'The Joy Of Sox' Moves West


This afternoon, we begin a nine-day drive across Canada -- nearly 5,000 kilometers (roughly 3,100 miles) -- that will bring us to our new home in Port Hardy, a small town at the northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

We have been considering a western move for at least a year. We were on the island for 10 days last April, driving around with Laura's brother and his wife*, getting a feel for various towns. We spent our time in the southern, far more populated, half of the island, going only as far north as Nanaimo.

*: M&M retired and moved from New Jersey to southern Oregon to be closer to their three adult children, who have all settled on the west coast. And Laura's mother, in anticipation of becoming a great-grandmother, also moved to Oregon. With high rents in Vancouver and a strong desire to escape suburban life altogether, we thought Vancouver Island would be a possibility.

In September, Laura saw an opening for a librarian in Port Hardy. When we looked at a map to see where that was, we were extremely surprised.


The town is approximately four hours north of Nanaimo! Because BC allows landlords to refuse to rent to pet owners (a fact we did not know in April), we had almost no housing options in Port Hardy. And so ... we signed a lease before Laura had even interviewed for the job! It was a gamble, but she got the job!

Having worked for law firms in New York and Toronto for nearly thirty years, I was more than a little concerned about what I would do for work in a town of only 4,132 people (as of the 2016 census). I'll spare you the play-by-play and simply say that I will continue working for my current employer remotely, full-time, from home.

We had roughly three weeks to get completely ready. The two moving quotes we received were far higher than we expected, so we are transporting our stuff ourselves, with Laura's brother behind the wheel of a 26-foot U-Haul. When he and his wife moved to Oregon, he drove across the US three times - and he's very excited to drive across Canada. We are hiring moving crews at both ends because, as they say in the movies, "I'm getting too old for this shit".

It has been a hectic three weeks, especially since I spent one of them in Vermont seeing family and friends. And I learned last Monday that for six months out of the year, snow tires are legally required on many roads in BC and VI, so buying snow tires to our lengthy to-do list.

I mapped out a reasonable driving schedule and Laura reserved rooms at dog-friendly motels along the way, as we will be Driving Mr. Diego. We expect - weather (and all other things) permitting - to be in Port Hardy on the evening of Tuesday, November 27. We will get slightly settled before Laura heads off on Monday, December 3 for some training. My first day of working remotely is Tuesday, December 4.

After renting houses in Mississauga for 10 years, going back to an apartment three years ago was tough. I missed having a backyard much more than I expected. I'm thrilled to once again have that outdoor space - and to enjoy it in much cooler weather. To say we hate the heat of summer would be a massive understatement.

I looked at the summer of 2018 in both Mississauga and Port Hardy. As early as May 1, it was already 4 degrees warmer in Mississauga (28 C/82 F) than it ever got all summer long in Port Hardy.

Days over 20/68 by June 15: Mississauga 34, Port Hardy 0.
Total days over 24/75: Mississauga 100, Port Hardy 1.

In fact, Mississauga had more days over 30/86 than Port Hardy had days over 20/68: 21 to 20.

All that ... AND a more mild winter. Just a bit more rain is the small price I will happily pay.

I tried to see how far north Port Hardy is in relation to somewhere in the East. It is roughly where the smiley face is located.


Laura will be blogging at wmtc.ca as we drive west. You will likely find me in comments.

November 18, 2018

What He Said (He Being Grant Brisbee, On Mookie Betts)

Grant Brisbee, SB Nation:
It's Hard To Watch Mookie Betts And Think Baseball Is In Trouble

Start by making a back-of-the-envelope list of everything you love about baseball. ... There's the immediate thrill of an obvious home run, and there's the moment where you realize that the single might be a double, or when a double might be a triple. There's the ball in the gap, hanging, hanging, hanging, with someone gliding underneath it, and there's the cat-and-mouse game of a runner on first with two outs. ...

In 2018, Betts did the things that make baseball exciting more often than anyone in baseball. Heck, more often than almost anyone who has ever played baseball. And we haven't even brought up the defense yet.

I still think about this play often:



That's not Justin Bour trying to stretch a single into a double. That's a fast runner trying to stretch a should-be double into a stand-up double. There's a school of thought that says that Kemp should get fined in kangaroo court for trying to take an extra base with a three-run deficit, but there's another, smarter school of thought that says human beings shouldn't make that play. ...

There are three players 5'10" or shorter who have been worth more than 10 wins in a season in the last 50 years, according to Baseball-Reference's WAR: Willie Mays, Joe Morgan, and Mookie Betts. That is, two of the greatest baseball players ever and a wait-and-see marvel who certainly isn't on the wrong path. ...

Betts is proof that baseball is a sport of reaction time and form, and it will forever value rapidly firing neurons and pitch detection as much as it values raw athleticism. When you get a near-perfect combination of neurons and muscles, like Betts, you have a super-player to celebrate. ...

He runs better than your favorite baseball player. He hits better. He catches better. He throws better. He bowls 300 games. ... He's a remarkable talent and a living brochure of what it really takes to thrive at this sport. Here's a player who does everything — everything — well ...

Just look at the dude play. This is how much fun it is to watch a player who can do everything well...