July 21, 2019

Exposing Mariano Rivera's Far-Right Politics

During his baseball career, Mariano Rivera was presented as a man of deep Christian faith. His presence on the mound was almost always dignified and calm. It was said he even walked in from the bullpen with an elegant gait. But away from the spotlight of professional baseball, there was (and is) another Mariano Rivera. The private Mariano Rivera. The real Mariano Rivera.

Robert Silverman's lengthy, well-sourced examination of Rivera's far-right political beliefs was published at The Daily Beast on the eve of the former pitcher's induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Rivera is closely linked with, and has expressed his support and admiration for, Pastor John Hagee, a hard-core Islamophobic religious extremist, who believes the Holocaust was a result of divine intervention (i.e., Hitler was an agent of God, fulfilling His will) and that New Orleans was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina because the southern city "had a level of sin that was offensive to God".

Earlier this month, Rivera attended a conference in Washington, DC, organized by Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which was founded by Hagee. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton were also in attendance. Rivera says Hagee convinced him to increase his support for Israel. "Now I understand the even bigger picture of what Israel means," Rivera told the Washington Examiner.

Last summer, Rivera toured an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military base as part of a spiritual interfaith mission. Rivera stated he was "privileged and honored" to visit the base, to "learn about the young men and women who are ... being trained to be a better person, a better citizen, and a better human being." On May 13, 2018, less than three months before Rivera's visit, those "better human beings" killed more than 50 innocent Palestinians and injured 1,200 more. (Randy Levine, the current Yankees president, has also participated in FIDF fundraisers and promotional events.)

Rivera is a big supporter of Donald Trump (though he has made no public announcement of that fact). In August 2018, Rivera co-hosted a fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr. for the America First PAC, at a cost of $50,000 per couple.

Howard Bryant, the author of The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, knew Rivera when he worked as a reporter with the Bergen Record and a columnist at the Boston Herald. Rivera may not have been shy about his Christian faith during his playing days, but Bryant notes he "was very cagey, and very, very savvy about what connections those religious beliefs linked to. Now we're seeing who Mariano Rivera really is, or who he's currently influenced by."

G100: Orioles 5, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  1  0
Orioles - 112 000 01x - 5  7  0
One hit.

The Red Sox lead the major leagues in hits (967, 39 more than Houston) and runs scored (566, 12 more than the Yankees). The Orioles are the only team in the majors to allow an average of six runs per game (6.21).

One hit. No runs.

Asher Wojciechowski, despite a 6.49 career ERA and -1.3 WAR, looked like Walter Johnson on Sunday afternoon (7-1-0-2-10, 105), striking out six of the first seven Boston batters, and nine through the first four innings.

Brock Holt was hit by a pitch in the third. He also walked in the sixth, and was immediately erased on a double play. Rafael Devers led off the seventh with a DOUBLE. He stayed there and watched two groundouts to third and a fly to center. Jackie Bradley walked with one out in the eighth before Paul Fry struck out the next two batters. Mookie Betts walked in the ninth and stole second base, and was on third when the game ended.

Andrew Cashner (6-6-4-2-7, 105) could not stop the worst team in baseball from scoring in each of the first three innings. Trey Mancini homered in the first and third innings, driving in three runs. Chris Davis's chronically comatose bat doubled in a run in the second. Jonathan Villar homered off Heath Hembree in the eighth.

The Red Sox lost two of three games to the Orioles, and in their sole victory, they blew a five-run lead. ... It was reported that several players felt that Friday's 11-2 loss was the team's worst game of the season. They might be rethinking that opinion tonight, on their flight to Tampa Bay.

AL East: Rockies 8, MFY 4. ... Rays 4, White Sox 2. ... MFY –, TBR 9.0, BOS 11.0.
Andrew Cashner / Asher Wojciechowski
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Holt, 1B
Hernández, 2B
AL East: Rockies/MFY & White Sox/Rays, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 10.0, BOS 11.0.

July 20, 2019

G99: Red Sox 17, Orioles 6

Red Sox - 041 830 001 - 17 17  0
Orioles - 005 010 000 -  6 14  1
Jackie Bradley drove in six runs through the first four innings on Saturday afternoon, thanks to two three-run homers, and the Red Sox scored a season-high 17 runs. The score (from Boston's perspective) at the end of three consecutive half-innings provided a brief rollercoaster of emotions: 5-0, 5-5, 13-5.

Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, and Sandy León also homered. It was the third game of the season in which the Red Sox hit at least five home runs. (They hit five against the Rangers on June 13 and six against the Orioles on June 14.)

Devers also tripled and scored three runs. Betts added a single and double, scored twice, and drove in three runs. Brock Holt played three infield positions: second, first, and shortstop. Christian Vázquez started the game behind the plate and ended it at third base.

Six players scored at least two runs: Devers (3), Betts (2), J.D. Martinez (2), Andrew Benintendi (2), Vázquez (2), Bradley (2).

Six players had at least two hits: Betts (3), Martinez (3), Devers (2), Xander Bogaerts (2), Vázquez (2), Bradley (2).

Five players knocked in at least two runs: Bradley (6), Betts (3), Devers (2), Martinez (2), Vázquez (2).

Rick Porcello (5-11-6-1-4, 99) gave back a five-run lead in the third inning and was rewarded with a "win". It was Porcello's fifth consecutive start in which he allowed at least four runs.

The Red Sox scored four runs in the second inning before making an out. Martinez singled, Benintendi walked, Vázquez singled (1-0), and Bradley homered (4-0).

In the fourth, it was the opposite, as Boston scored all eight runs with two outs. Bradley flied out to center. Michael Chavis was safe on an E6. Holt flied out to center. Betts homered (7-5). Devers walked. Bogaerts singled. Jimmy Yacabonis relieved Tom Eshelman. Martinez doubled (9-5). Yacabonis threw a wild pitch. Benintendi walked. Vázquez singled (10-5). Bradley homered (13-5). Chavis flied out to center.

Yacabonis's trouble continued in the fifth as Holt doubled, Yacabonis threw another wild pitch, Betts singled (14-5), Devers tripled (15-5), Bogaerts singled (16-5), and Martinez singled. Yacabonis faced 10 batters and recorded only one out, allowing eight hits and seven runs. (He became the first Orioles reliever to allow at least seven runs and record only one out since Rick Bauer on May 11, 2004.)

Infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson took the mound for the second time in eight days and pitched the final two innings. (After throwing one inning against the Rays on July 12, he gave himself the nickname "Dr. Poo-Poo". He is also the fourth position player to pitch for Baltimore this season.)

None of his pitches on Saturday topped 60 mph, which likely confused the hell out of Gameday. The play-by-play recorded all 11 of his pitches in the eighth inning as curveballs (51-60 mph) and all nine of his ninth-inning pitches as sliders (51-55 mph). Or maybe that's really what he threw ...

AL East: MFY 11, Rockies 5. White Sox 2, Rays 1 (11). ... MFY –, TBR 10.0, BOS 11.0.
Rick Porcello / Tom Eshelman
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, last night:
[E]very team that comes to play against us, they are playing extra. They really want to beat us and humiliate us. This definitely is one of the worst. ... They're not one of the leading teams in any category ... they're last in our division. For them to beat us like they did ...
Nathan Eovaldi is back on the 25-man roster. Ryan Weber was optioned to Pawtucket.

AL East: Rockies/MFY, 1 PM. White Sox/Rays, 6 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 9.0, BOS 11.0.

July 19, 2019

G98: Orioles 11, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 020 000 000 -  2  7  2
Orioles - 310 220 30x - 11 14  0
The Orioles began Friday with a 29-66 record. That's the worst record in the majors, but it's actually three games better than what the team had done last season after 95 games. (So things are looking up in Baltimore.) The Red Sox are nowhere near the best team in the American League (at 53-44, they are 9th among 15 teams), but they managed to win their 29th game way back on May 27!

The Orioles are bad at everything. They cannot score runs (27th out of 30 teams) and they cannot prevent runs (29th in runs allowed). And yet the Birds had a grand old time on a sweltering evening at Camden Yards, battering David Price (4-8-6-1-4, 88), who backed up his recent idiotic comments about Dennis Eckersley with his second-worst outing of the season.

Price lasted only four innings and allowed at least two baserunners in every one of them. He gave up home runs to known-mashers Anthony Santander (whose last extra-base hit had come on July 1) and Keon Broxton (owner of a .264 slugging percentage).

Not than anyone else wearing a Boston uniform looked all that good tonight. The first five spots in the Red Sox lineup went 1-for-18. Sam Travis (hitting #6) did yank his first dong of the year, but Baltimore gained one of those runs back in a hurry when Richie Martin tripled to right and scored on J.D. Martinez's fielding error.

Martin, who would have to get hot with the bat for a fortnight to hit his weight (and he's not chubby), lined a pitch to deep right. Martinez drifted back, but he stopped at the warning track and watched the baseball hit off the wall about three feet up from the ground. (Martinez is 6-3, so he probably could have made a basket catch.) The carom eluded Martinez to his glove side and he proceeded to chase after the ball, heading back towards the infield. The ball had stopped and he tried to pick it up, but missed it. At this point, Jackie Bradley finally materialized maybe 10 feet away. JBJ arrived on the scene so late, I assume he had been in a shift, playing Martin on the left field foul line (literally). Martinez finally got rid of the ball, but Travis's relay to the plate was only for show.

After Broxton's homer made it 6-2 and Martin followed with a single, Price proceeded to strike out the next three batters (the top third of the Orioles' order). I guess it took 18 batters and 72 pitches for Price to get properly warmed up.

Colton Brewer began the fifth - and he did not believe in wasting any time digging himself a hole. After a called strike, Brewer's next three pitches were: single, single, HBP. Loading the bases in four pitches, that's some trick. After a sac fly and a walk to re-fill the sacks, Brewer left and Ryan Weber came in. He pitched the rest of the way (3.2-4-3-1-3, 59).

Bradley and Sandy León, down at the bottom of the Red Sox's lineup, each had two hits. In the seventh, they were on first and third with one out, but Mookie Betts flied to right and Rafael Devers struck out. (Of course, the game was out of reach at that point, anyway.) Two innings earlier, with Michael Chavis and León on base, the same hitters had failed, Betts fouling to the catcher and Devers popping to third.

AL East: MFY 8, Rockies 2. White Sox 9, Rays 2. ... MFY –, TBR 9.0, BOS 11.0.
David Price / John Means
Betts, DH
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, RF
Vázquez, 1B
Travis, LF
Chavis, 2B
Bradley, CF
León, C
If Mookie Betts scores a run tonight, he will set a Red Sox franchise record by scoring in 14 consecutive games. He is currently tied with Ted Williams at 13 consecutive games in a single season.

Betts leads MLB with 86 runs scored (nine more than Cody Bellinger and 11 more than Mike Trout). He's on pace to score 144 runs. Only Ted Williams has scored 140+ runs in a season for the Red Sox (see below). The last player for any team to do it was Alex Rodriguez, who scored 143 runs for the 2007 Yankees.

Most Runs Scored, Season, Red Sox
150 - 1949 - Ted Williams 142 - 1946 - Ted Williams 141 - 1942 - Ted Williams 139 - 1938 - Jimmie Foxx 136 - 1912 - Tris Speaker 135 - 1941 - Ted Williams 134 - 1940 - Ted Williams 131 - 1939 - Ted Williams 131 - 1950 - Dom DiMaggio 130 - 1936 - Jimmie Foxx 130 - 1939 - Jimmie Foxx
10 of these 11 seasons came within a 15-year period (1936-1950). ... Betts scored 129 runs last year. ... Amazingly, Ted Williams's first five seasons are among the top eight spots on this list (1939-42, 1946 (he missed 1943-45 because of military service)).

Baseball Reference has the probabilities of each team reaching the postseason. "To compute these odds, we simulate the rest of the season and the postseason 1,000 times each day. The methodology relies on Baseball-Reference's Simple Rating System (SRS), which provides a strength-of-schedule-adjusted rating of each team, expressed in runs per game better or worse than an average team."

The page also includes each team's best and worst season from those 1,000 simulations. Best Red Sox season: 93-69. Worst Yankees season: 94-68. ... We have to hope this year ends up like simulated season #1,001.

AL East: Rockies/MFY and White Sox/Rays, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 8.0, BOS 10.0.

To Read: An Oral History Of The Varitek-A-Rod Fight & A Feature On Dennis Eckersley

Two great things to read today.

Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic presents an oral history of the Jason Varitek-Alex Rodriguez fight, a few days before its 15th anniversary.
It was July 24, 2004, and the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 11-10, in one of the best regular-season games ever played at Fenway Park. The drama unfolded in a Shakespearean manner beginning with a bizarre rain delay laced with gamesmanship and unraveling with a wild third-inning brawl before a comeback capped by an inexplicable walk-off home run against a Hall of Fame closer. ...

Mueller: I don't think he'd ever charge Roger Clemens or somebody significant on the mound. But I feel like he took advantage of Bronson. It was a breaking ball, an off-speed pitch, and I was like, "Oh, please."

Rodriguez: You look at some of those moments and you cringe like, "What the hell was I doing?"

Mueller: I was like, "Man, I want to see this because I want 'Tek to take down A-Rod." ...

Millar: The best part of that fight was over there on the first-base side on that on-deck circle. I think you forget there were some big boys over there. Trot Nixon, Tanyon Sturtze and Gabe Kapler. They can move some luggage. Out of nowhere, we look over like, "What's going on?!" And then Tanyon was bleeding around his eye and Trot is trying to choke him out because he saw him grab Kapler around the neck and it gets weird for a second. ... There's always a good little fight that goes on, on the side. ...

Schilling: To me, that was the day the 2004 team found its identity.

Millar: We were at a point where we needed to figure out how to win. I always joked around and said we went 2-0. We won the baseball game and won the fight.
Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has a fantastic feature on Dennis Eckersley.
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, has enshrined 232 players, and if there is one among them who is distinctive in as many different ways as Eckersley, that player needs a better publicist.

Eckersley was born in Oakland, California, and raised in nearby Fremont. He fell in love with baseball when "the Giants played the Yankees in the '62 World Series,” he says. "I was eight years old. Isn't that when everyone falls in love with baseball, at eight years old?"

He demonstrates his pitching motion, which featured a high leg kick reminiscent of '60s Giants ace Juan Marichal, a fellow Hall of Famer. "Marichal was my hero," he says. "I was hooked." ...

[Eckersley debuted with Cleveland.] Then on March 30, 1978, near the end of spring training, Eckersley was traded to the Red Sox along with catcher Fred Kendall ...

The same day, his wife Denise, whom he'd married when they were both 18 and with whom he had an infant daughter, Mandee, told him she wanted a divorce. A few months later she told him she wanted to marry his best friend, Indians center fielder Rick Manning. ...

The Red Sox had acquired a 23-year-old pitcher with a golden arm, a broken heart, and a devastated soul. "I was in agony my first year here, and no one really knew that. I was [expletive] angry, man. I was late all the time. I would be rolling in when batting practice was going on. I lived downtown, how the hell are you going to be late? I was angry, and someone was going to pay." ...

The Red Sox traded Eckersley to the Chicago Cubs in May 1984 for another player of some renown. ... Eckersley found some on-field success in Chicago, winning 27 games in three seasons, but there were no night games at Wrigley Field then, which meant he could start drinking earlier.

At Christmas 1986 while visiting family in Connecticut, Eckersley wound up drunk at the gathering. His sister-in-law recorded it on video and made him watch it the next day. "I saw the look in my eyes; I didn't know that guy and I didn't like that guy," Eckersley said years later. "I had to turn off the video. I saw too much. ...It was an ugly feeling in my stomach."

In January 1987, he checked himself into an alcohol treatment facility in Newport, Rhode Island, and got sober. ...

In Oakland, Eckersley was reinvented as a closer. ...

Eckersley wound up saving 390 games, along with winning 197 — he's still the only player in Major League history to have 100 saves and 100 complete games. He made six All-Star teams, won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, and won a World Series. When he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, he was asked what his plaque should look like. "As long as the mustache looks right, everything will be OK," he said. ...

Eckersley, incurably candid as he is, does not pretend his life is perfect. He brings up the tragedies and dark times willingly, talking of ghosts old and new that haunt him. His sister, Cindy Cowgill, died last August at age 58. "She just drank herself to death," he says. "I still can't believe it." His older brother, Wally, has been in and out of prison, and was sentenced to 48 years in 1989 for the kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and attempted murder of a 58-year-old woman. In May, a New Hampshire newspaper revealed that the daughter Eckersley and Nancy adopted, who has battled mental illness and is now 22, is homeless in the state. It's one subject he would prefer not to talk about on the record, but it's clear the circumstances leave him aching. ...

For all his glory on the field, Eckersley's most impressive save was of himself. "I used to play the role of Johnny Diva, this baseball god," he says, "but inside, I was full of doubts. I was always like that, like, 'Uh-oh, it's about to go wrong.' I fight that, but man, I'm figuring it out. I'm happy now. It's a good life. ... Ultimately, it's just about being understood. Don't we all want that?"
Why Eck has not seen fit to work with a writer on a book about his "life and times" is a mystery to me. His honesty, common sense, candidness, humour, and crisp memory guarantee the result would be a hit.

July 18, 2019

G97: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0

Blue Jays - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Red Sox   - 000 040 10x - 5  7  0
Chris Sale (6-2-0-2-12, 101) struck out nine batters in the first four innings and Rafael Devers clubbed a three-run homer as the Red Sox cruised to victory on Thursday afternoon. Marcus Walden and Darwinzon Hernandez combined for three stress-free innings of relief.

The Red Sox took three out of four against Toronto and are headed to Baltimore for three games. After that series, beginning next Monday, the Red Sox – 9.0 games out as I type this – will have their best opportunity at getting back into the AL East race. This is the schedule from July 22 to August 4: 3 games at Rays, 4 games vs Yankees, 3 games versus Rays, 4 games at Yankees. That's 14 straight games against the two teams ahead of them in the standings.

Sale and Thomas Pannone (4.1-5-4-2-3, 65) matched zeroes for four innings, with the Red Sox presenting the only threat, when they had men on first and second with one out in the first. In the fifth, Sam Travis doubled to left and scored on Sandy León's single to center. Mookie Betts walked (though ball 4 was likely strike 3). Devers hit his 19th home run of the year on Pannone's first pitch, an 88-mph fastball more or less down the middle that was pounded 417 feet to right-center into a 12-mph wind.

Betts's solo homer in the seventh gave him a run scored in 13 consecutive games, which ties the Red Sox franchise record set in 1946 by Ted Williams. (Two other Red Sox batters had 13-game streaks, but those were split over two seasons: Joe Cronin (1940-41) and Tony Armas.) Billy Hamilton of the Phillies scored in 24 straight games back in 1894, but the "modern" record is 18 games, shared by Red Rolfe (1939 Yankees) and Kenny Lofton (2000 Clevelands). ... Betts finished the seven-game homestand with a .429 average (12-for-28) and nine runs scored.

[In looking up the Yankees' record, I found that Babe Ruth has the second-longest streak in Yankees history, 16 games in 1928. Ruth also has two streaks of 15 games (1921 and 1930-31) and two streaks of 14 games (both in 1926: April 20-May 5, May 13-26).]

The Blue Jays had six baserunners:
T2: Justin Smoak leadoff single, Danny Jansen fielder's choice
T3: Cavan Biggio leadoff walk
T5: Vladimir Guerrero leadoff walk, Brandon Drury two-out single
T7: Jansen HBP
Sale threw 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes. He had 20 swings-and-misses, including eight on his slider, even though his velocity was down. In the first inning, Sale struck out the side in the first inning with a fastball that stayed around 90-92.

Pawtucket: Nathan Eovaldi pitched the second inning against Louisville today and struck out the side (and issued one walk). He threw 19 pitches, 11 strikes. Eovaldi is expected to be with the team tomorrow night in Baltimore.

AL East: G1: MFY 6, Rays 2. G2: MFY 5, Rays 1. ... MFY –, TBR 8.0, BOS 10.0.
Thomas Pannone / Chris Sale
Betts, CF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, RF
Vázquez, DH
Chavis, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Travis, 1B
León, C
Rafael Devers is hitting .455 against the Blue Jays this year. In 14 games, he has hit seven home runs, collected 25 RBI, and posted an OPS of 1.409. (The 25 RBIs are the most any Boston player has ever had against Toronto in one season (since 1977) - and the teams still have four games against each other.)

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo:
He's probably going to become one of the best hitters in baseball. He's 22 years old and he's hitting .320-something. I know he hits good against us, but he hits good against everybody else, too, because that's why he's hitting over .320. I wish I could say it's fun to watch, but he really is, because he's a good hitter and he's just a kid. He might be the batting champion one of these years, for sure. I'm making that call.
Over the last five weeks (since June 11), Devers is hitting .393/.437/.735 with 11 doubles, eight homers, and 30 RBIs.

Manager Alex Cora:
Yesterday I was talking to J.D. [Martinez] and said, "J.D., where were you when you were 22?" And he said, "I was raking in A-ball."
AL East: Rays/MFY, DH: 3 & 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.5.

July 17, 2019

Pumpsie Green Died Today, At Age 85

Elijah Jerry "Pumpsie" Green, the first black player to wear a Red Sox uniform, died today at age 85. The team had a moment of silence before Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays.

Before Green made his debut as a pinch-runner against the White Sox on July 21, 1959, the Red Sox were the last major league team holding out against integration. It had been almost three years since Jackie Robinson had played his last game.

Green tripled off the left field wall in his first at-bat at Fenway Park, kicking off an August 4 doubleheader against the Kansas City Athletics. "I was almost on a cloud or in a trance or something," he said years later. "I couldn't breathe. I was so hyped up." (Back in June, I reviewed a book about Green for young readers.)

Green played four seasons for the Red Sox as a second baseman and shortstop before ending his brief career with the Mets in 1963, as a third baseman.

From Green's bio at SABR's Bio Project (written by Bill Nowlin, who also edited Pumpsie & Progress: The Red Sox, Race, and Redemption, a 2010 collection of essays):
Pumpsie Green signed his 1959 contract in Scottsdale on February 25, suited up in a Red Sox uniform, and immediately took part in his first workout. Roger Birtwell's Boston Globe story began, "The Boston Red Sox – in spring training, at least – today broke the color line." After the workout, however, Green had to travel alone to the Frontier Motel, in Phoenix, some 17 miles out of town. He'd been turned away at the team hotel, the Safari. "Negroes are not permitted to live in Scottsdale," Birtwell explained.

The Red Sox began to dissemble. Publicity director Jack Malaney denied that the reason was racism, trying to convince disbelieving writers that the Safari had simply run out of rooms what with all the tourists in town.

Green lived an isolated existence, separated from his teammates. It was a pathetic situation. Boston Globe writer Milton Gross depicted the imposed isolation: "From night to morning, the first Negro player to be brought to spring training by the Boston Red Sox ceases to be a member of the team he hopes to make as a shortstop." Segregation, wrote Gross, "comes in a man's heart, residing there like a burrowing worm. It comes when a man wakes alone, eats alone, goes to the movies every night alone because there's nothing more for him to do and then, in Pumpsie Green's own words, 'I get a sandwich and a glass of milk and a book and I read myself to sleep.'"

The Giants, integrated since 1949, had their entire team housed in the Adams Hotel in Phoenix, and Pumpsie eventually took a room at the Giants' hotel. ...

Green was finally recalled by the Red Sox and debuted in Chicago on July 21. He came in as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game at shortstop. ... It was an uneventful debut but press coverage was extremely positive. Several Boston newspapers ran an AP photograph showing Ted Williams giving Pumpsie some pointers on hitting. The Herald ran it on the front page, under a banner eight-column headline: "Green Joins Red Sox in Chicago." The Globe ran four stories on Green, and one on the game. The paper radiated excitement. One story was headlined "Everyone Pleased Pumpsie Returning." ...

After the game, Green was able to stay in the same Chicago hotel as the rest of the team. ... [The Red Sox] made arrangements to fly [his wife] Marie Green to Boston to join her husband when the team returned home 10 days later. ...

Pumpsie's first hit came off Jim Perry in the second game of a July 28 doubleheader in Cleveland. ... The day's first game had seen the debut of Boston's second black ballplayer, pitcher Earl Wilson, who threw one inning in relief ...

After the 13-game road trip, it was time for the Red Sox to return home. "Pumpsie Here Tuesday" blared the full-page headline in the Boston Record. ...

Boston Celtics basketball star Bill Russell was there to greet Pumpsie when he arrived. They'd known each other since high school. Green also took a call in the Red Sox clubhouse from Jackie Robinson. ...

Leading off in the bottom of the first, he was "given a nice hand when he first came to bat." He later told Scott Ostler, "On my way up to home plate, the whole stands, blacks and whites, they stand up and gave me a standing ovation. A standing ovation, my first time up! And the umpire said, 'Good luck, Pumpsie,' something like that." Pumpsie promptly tripled off the left-field wall, pouring on speed rather than pulling up at second base. ... The Sox lost the second game, 8-6, but Green reached base four times – a single, two walks, and on an error. ...

Pumpsie said he felt welcomed by the Sox players. ... "Ted Williams – he would talk to you and give you advice on any matter, even things not about baseball. The whole team was ... supportive of me whenever we played a game." In the background, though, pitcher Frank Sullivan said, "There were a lot of teammates that had to give up calling Larry Doby rotten names. That also included some coaches." ...

[Williams] set the tone from the beginning, not speaking out but clearly signaling his acceptance of Pumpsie, who became his throwing partner before games. "He asked me to warm up with him the first day I came here, and I've been warming up with him ever since." He told Herb Crehan, "He didn't say anything beyond the invitation to play catch, and it surprised me a little bit. But I understood and appreciated the gesture." ...

Looking back, Pumpsie was frank about Boston and his time in the major leagues. ... "Sometimes it would get on my nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I would have even made it to the major leagues if it had not been for this Boston thing. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off it was not for the Boston thing. Things like that you can never answer."

Green told Danny Peary, "When I was playing, being the first black on the Red Sox wasn't nearly as big a source of pride as it would be once I was out of the game. At the time I never put much stock in it, or thought about it. Later I understood my place in history. I don't know if I would have been better in another organization with more black players. But as it turned out, I became increasingly proud to have been with the Red Sox as their first black."
(Green throws out the first pitch at a Red Sox game in 2009.)

G96: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4

Blue Jays - 001 010 011 - 4  5  0
Red Sox   - 011 200 01x - 5 14  1
Rafael Devers drove in four runs with a home run, double, and single. His final RBI, in the bottom of the eighth, was extremely welcome when the Blue Jays assembled a rally in the ninth against Brandon Workman, who threw a season-high 45 pitches in 1.2 innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6.1-3-2-3-4, 99) solved every Toronto hitter except Teoscar Hernández, who hit two solo home runs. Matt Barnes wriggled out of trouble in the top of the seventh, after walking his first batter and loading the bases. He fanned both Danny Jansen and Eric Sogard. The third strike to Sogard, a curve in the dirt, got away from Christian Vázquez, but he was able to retrieve the ball and step on the plate to force the runner coming in from third.

Brock Holt (3-for-5) singled in Andrew Benintendi in the second, but Hernández went yard with Rodriguez's first pitch in the third. Devers hit his 18th homer in the third and doubled home two more runs in the fourth (after a passed ball put them on second and third).

Hernández's second dong closed the gap to 4-2. The Blue Jays drew one run closer when Lourdes Gurriel hit a home run off Josh Taylor with one out in the eighth. Taylor then hit Randal Grichuk with an 0-2 pitch and walked Cavan Biggio. Workman, who perhaps should have begun the inning instead of Taylor, was immediately robbed of a clear strike call against Justin Smoak by plate umpire Lance Barrett. See pitch #2:
Workman battled back and got Smoak looking at strike three, which was slightly outside (was it a make-up call or yet another missed call? My money is on the latter.). Freddy Galvis put up a good fight, fouling off four pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat, before swinging and missing a pitch in the dirt.

The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the seventh when Nick Kingham struck out Jackie Bradley, but they were able to put something together against Ken Giles in the eighth. Holt singled with one out and Mookie Betts walked. Devers lined a single to center, scoring Holt. But that was the extent of the action, as Xander Bogaerts popped to first and J.D. Martinez popped to right.

Workman went right out on the high-wire in the ninth by walking his first two batters (the #8 and #9 hitters in the Blue Jays lineup). Workman struck out Sogard and got Vlad Guerrero Jr. to lined out to right. Betts drifted back and leapt a tiny bit for the ball, as Hernández tagged at second and went to third.

After a meeting on the mound with the pitching coach, the infielders, and the battery, Gurriel chopped Workman's first pitch up the middle and into center, scoring Hernández and sending Jansen to second. Workman got ahead of Grichuk 0-2, with a called strike and a foul ball. Grichuk took a ball, fouled off two more pitches, and took another ball. He swung and missed a pitch in the dirt and Vázquez threw him out at first for the win. (Workman threw 46 pitches in a relief stint in May 2017.)

The start of the game was delayed 33 minutes by rain.

AL East: Rays/MFY, postponed by rain. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.5.
Aaron Sanchez / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Holt, 2B
April 18: The Red Sox are 6-13, 8.5 GB. A dreadful start, sure, but the fans predicting doom are obviously ignorant (of both math and several other things). Boston is only 8.5 games out with 143 to play.

July 17: The Red Sox are 51-44, 10 games out with 67 to play. Although they have played at a 96-win pace since mid-April (45-31, .592), the Red Sox are now further away from first place with less time to get there.

Manager Alex Cora says his team has been "consistent at being inconsistent". Xander Bogaerts adds: "You can't go on a roll if you win one, lose one, win one, lose one."

Nathan Eovaldi will have a rehab game with Pawtucket on Thursday and, if all goes well, rejoin the Red Sox bullpen this weekend.

Oh, good. It's Price v. Eck 2, Electric Boogaloo. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). ... Message to Price (who insists he has moved on and in the next breath shows everyone that he has not moved on):

AL East: Rays/MFY, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.

July 16, 2019

G95: Blue Jays 10, Red Sox 4

Blue Jays - 031 002 004 - 10 14  0
Red Sox   - 100 030 000 -  4  9  1
Andrew Cashner did not fare that well in his Red Sox debut (5-8-6-2-2, 92). His teammates had just rallied with two outs to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth and his first pitch of the sixth was hit out of the park by Justin Smoak.

After Freddy Galvis singled, it was time for Cashner to cash out. (He had pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts. So much for that 'streak' ...)

Josh Taylor came in and committed a throwing error and threw a wild pitch, allowing Galvis to eventually score. Heath Hembree and Ryan Weber were abused for four more runs in the ninth.

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts each had three hits and two RBI. ... Darwinzon Hernandez pitched the eighth inning, walking one batter and striking out two. ... The Red Sox turned four double plays and Andrew Benintendi had two outfield assists.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Yankees scored six runs in the eighth inning, beating the Rays 8-3 and pushing the Red Sox back to 10 GB.

AL East: MFY 8, Rays 3. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.
Jacob Waguespack / Andrew Cashner
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Holt, 2B
Roster: Ryan Brasier to Pawtucket, Darwinzon Hernandez to Boston.

AL East: Rays/MFY, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 5.0, BOS 9.0.

July 15, 2019

G94: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 8

Blue Jays - 022 000 040 -  8 13  0
Red Sox   - 505 000 00x - 10 13  2
Michael Chavis hit a first-inning grand slam to spark the Red Sox. Mookie Betts doubled. After Rafael Devers popped up, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez both walked. Andrew Benintendi's single scored one run and Chavis's four-bagger (on his at-bat's seventh pitch) made it 5-0.

Boston's five runs in the third came after the first two batters were retired. Sandy León walked. Brock Holt was safe on an infield single and Betts walked. Devers singled to right for two runs. Bogaerts singled to center, giving the Red Sox an 8-4 lead. Martinez walked, re-loading the bases, and Joe Biagini relieved Sam Gaviglio. Benintendi doubled to left for two runs.

Eight of the nine Boston batters scored a run. .. Rick Porcello: 6-8-4-0-2, 112.

AL East: Rays 5, MFY 4. (Travis d'Arnaud hit a two-out, full-count, three-run homer in the top of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman. It was his third home run of the game) ... MFY –, TBR 5.0, BOS 9.0.
Trent Thornton / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
León, C
Holt, 2B
Eduardo Núñez has been designated for assignment. He batted .255/.277/.366 and had a -2.4 WAR over the last two seasons.

Hector Velázquez has been optioned to Pawtucket, while pitcher Ryan Weber and first baseman Sam Travis have been called up from the PawSox.

Steven Wright was put on the 10-day injured list with a right big toe contusion before last night's game. He was hit by a ground ball on Saturday.

AL East: Rays/MFY, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.

July 14, 2019

Two Different Teams Have Scored 7 Runs In An Inning For Three Consecutive Days

This is undoubtedly rare (perhaps even unprecedented), but I don't know how rare.

On each of the last three days, two different teams have scored seven runs in an inning. On both Friday and Saturday, two teams scored seven runs in the first inning.

Friday, July 12, 2019
Rays      - 720 101 500 - 16 20  1
Orioles   - 001 100 002 -  4  5  2
Mariners  - 000 000 000 -  0  0  3
Angels    - 720 011 20x - 13 13  0
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Pirates   - 000 011 110 -  4 11  2
Cubs      - 701 200 00x - 10 13  1
White Sox - 000 000 200 -  2  7  1
Athletics - 700 401 01x - 13 13  0
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Tigers    - 107 110 200 - 12 19  0
Royals    - 300 131 000 -  8 10  0
Astros    - 320 000 700 - 12 12  0
Rangers   - 200 000 200 -  4  5  2

G93: Dodgers 7, Red Sox 4 (12)

Dodgers - 300 010 000 003 - 7  9  2
Red Sox - 200 000 020 000 - 4 12  2
After Xander Bogaerts (#20) and J.D. Martinez (#19) tied the game with back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning, Hector Velázquez imploded and gave up three runs in the twelfth.

Velázaquez walked Joc Pederson, committed an interference error on the first base line that allowed Cody Bellinger to reach safely, gave up a single to A.J. Pollack, loading the bases, and then walked Max Muncy, forcing in the Dodgers' go-ahead run. Another run scored on a one-out single by Alex Verdugo and Los Angeles upped the score to 7-4 when a third run scored on a force out.

The Red Sox had squandered a chance to win the game in the eleventh against Dylan Floro thanks to some dumb baserunning. (What a surprise, I know.) Jackie Bradley doubled to lead off, but boneheadedly tried to go to third on Marco Hernandez's grounder to short and was thrown out. After Mookie Betts flied to right (and Hernandez tagged and went to second). Rafael Devers was walked intentionally. Bogaerts's infield single loaded the bases, but X was forced out at second on Martinez's grounder.

Starters: Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-8-2-1-6, 94) / David Price (5-4-4-3-7, 113). Price actually allowed fewer earned runs (1) than Ryu (2), but he also needed 19 more pitches to get six fewer outs.

AL East: MFY 4, Blue Jays 2. Rays 4, Orioles 1. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 10.0.
Hyun-Jin Ryu / David Price
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Vázquez, C
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Núñez, 2B
Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu leads the majors in ERA (1.73), BB/9 (0.83), and K/BB ratio (9.90). He leads the National League with a 0.908 WHIP. In 15 starts last season, Ryu had a 1.97 ERA.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.0.

July 13, 2019

Red Sox Acquire Andrew Cashner From Orioles; He Will Start On Tuesday

The Red Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner from the Orioles, sending two 17-year-old minor leaguers (infielder Noelberth Romero and outfielder Elio Prado) to Baltimore.

Cashner will make his first Red Sox start on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski:
Definitely gives us the improvement in that fifth spot, which we've scuffled for such a long time this year. He's a guy that's taken the ball and given six, seven innings on a consistent basis, so we like a lot of the things about him. We think he makes us better.
Cashner, 32, is in his 10th major league season; the Red Sox will be his sixth team. He has a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts this season. Since the beginning of June, Cashner has a 1.41 ERA in five starts, allowing opponents a .202 on-base average and a .221 slugging percentage (zero home runs in 32 innings).

G92: Dodgers 11, Red Sox 2

Dodgers - 101 030 411 - 11 14  1
Red Sox - 000 101 000 -  2  6  1
Chris Sale (4.2-7-5-1-7, 92) began the fifth inning by allowing a single and hitting a batter. With one out, Justin Turner and David Freese hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Dodgers a 5-1 lead.

Turner finished the night with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored, and two RBI.

Steven Wright gave up solo home runs to Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollock in the seventh.

Xander Bogaerts knocked in both of Boston's runs, hitting his 19th home run of the year in the fourth and singling in Mookie Betts (who singled and stole second) in the sixth.

AL East: Blue Jays 2, MFY 1. Orioles 2, Rays 1 (makeup of May 5 game). Rays 12, Orioles 4. ... MFY –, TBR 6.0, BOS 9.0.
Ross Stripling / Chris Sale
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, 1B
Holt, 2B
León, C
Bradley, CF
The fact that Chris Sale has not won a regular season game at Fenway Park in more than a year will certainly be mentioned (at least once) by NESN's Dave O'Brien this evening. And while the statement is true, it's also some serious bullshit.

In Sale's very next home start after getting that last W on July 11, he threw six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and two walks and striking out 10. But because the Red Sox bullpen blew the lead three innings after Sale left the game, his excellent outing was 'meaningless'.

In fact, in Sale's three home starts after July 11, he threw 10 scoreless innings. But since he did not get a magical W, that 0.00 ERA is garbage. Those starts came during an insane streak of nine starts in which Sale allowed only one run in 48 innings. But, again, who cares about a 0.19 ERA when there are no home wins included?

This year, Sale has made eight starts at home and is 0-2. Note to OB and all Boston sports media: It's never wise to ignore 75% of relevant data in making a determination.

Here is what Sale did in four of those six no-decisions:
April 23 vs Tigers: 5 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts April 28 vs Rays: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts May 14 vs Rockies: 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 17 strikeouts June 10 vs Rangers: 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Sale allowed six earned runs in those 26 innings (and struck out 45 batters), but his 2.08 ERA is ignored, because events well beyond his control left him with an 0-0 record.

Overall, Sale has made 12 starts at Fenway since his last home win. He is 0-2 (his 10 no-decisions represent 83% of those starts); and has a 3.69 ERA and an excellent 1.066 WHIP (that would be 6th in the AL this year). His totals: 61 innings, 48 hits, 29 runs, 25 earned runs, 17 walks, 97 strikeouts (his 14.3 K/9 would lead the majors this year).

The Red Sox are 16-7 in their last 23 games and they have scored in the first inning in nine of their last 11 games.

Rafael Devers is hitting .411 with a 1.230 OPS in 23 games since June 11. ... Mookie Betts has scored a run in each of his last seven games. ... Brock Holt is batting .364 since returning from the IL on May 27 (28 games). In those games, he's hitting .522 (12-for-23) with RATS.

Last Night:
The Los Angeles Angels played their first home game since the sudden death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs. After Debbie Skaggs (Tyler's mother) threw out the first pitch, the Angels (all wearing #45) scored seven runs in the first inning - Mike Trout, who was drafted with Skaggs in 2009, drove in four with a first-pitch home run and a double - and Taylor Cole and Felix Peña combined for a no-hitter as the Angels won 13-0 on the eve of what would have been Skaggs's 28th birthday. The Angels ended the evening by laying all of their jerseys on the mound.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.

Atlantic League All-Star Game Uses Electronic Strike Zone

If our robot umpire overlords have not arrived, they are at least getting closer to taking their proper place in the (inter)national game.

The TrackMan system, which uses Doppler radar to determine whether a pitch has passed through the strike zone, made its professional debut last Wednesday in the Atlantic League's all-star game. MLB signed an agreement this spring with the independent league to have it road-test new technology and rules before they are implemented in the American and National leagues.

After plate umpire Brian deBrauwere received Trackman's determination in his earpiece (which was connected to an iPhone in his pocket), he would either "confirm or correct the program's decision", according to Deadspin's Gabe Fernandez.
The players didn't seem to mind the change - pitcher Mitch Atkins noticed pitches higher in the strike zone were called strikes ("Technically, they're strikes, but umpires never called them") - but former major leaguer Kirk Nieuwenhuis pointed out that giving the plate umpire the discretion to overrule TrackMan "defeats the purpose" of having an electronic strike zone.

CloseCallSports' YouTube channel compiled a highlight reel of the robot ump's calls. The system needs some fine-tuning, but this was only one game. If you remain ambivalent or are against robot umps, please remember that numerous blown calls by "the human element" alter the outcome of every single game, every single day.

Mark T. Williams, a professor of finance at Boston University, and a team of grad students analyzed nearly four million pitches over the course of the last 11 seasons.
Umpires make lots of errors. And what's interesting about this is not only that umpires make errors, but that they were consistently made. ... When it comes to the two strike bias – when a batter would have two strikes on them – umps were almost 30 percent likely to call a ball a strike. That was astounding to me, that umps would have such bias against the batter. [The highest error rates came from older, veteran umpires.]

The Atlantic League plans to install TrackMan in all eight of its ballparks in the coming weeks.

July 12, 2019

G91: Red Sox 8, Dodgers 1

Dodgers - 010 000 000 - 1  5  0
Red Sox - 110 001 50x - 8  8  0
Eduardo Rodriguez (7-5-1-2-10, 105) turned in one of his strongest starts of the season. Rafael Devers and Christian Vázquez hit early solo home runs and, after a one-hour rain delay, Xander Bogaerts put the game on ice with a three-run dong. The Red Sox kept pace with the Yankees and Rays, who also both won easily on Friday night.

Rodriguez retired 15 of 17 batters from the first to the sixth innings. Excluding a solo homer by Alex Verdugo in the second, only two Dodgers got as far as second base all night. EdRo's two walks both came in the first inning; he went to a 3-ball count only four times over the next 6.1 innings (24 batters).

With one out in the top of the seventh, and the Red Sox up 3-1, Rodriguez was dealing with runners on first and second. After a mound visit, the lefty struck out Austin Barnes with a 1-2 fastball at the top of the zone and got Corey Seager to ground weakly to second.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Jackie Bradley reached on an infield single that rolled past pitcher Pedro Baez and Michael Chavis was safe on a fielder's choice when catcher Barnes grabbed his nubber in front of the plate and threw quickly and off-target to second base. By this time, the rain that had been falling most of the night began coming down in sheets. Brock Holt drove Baez's first pitch off the Wall to score Bradley. Mookie Betts took a strike and a ball before the umps finally called for the tarp.

Exactly one hour later, Betts stepped back in against new reliever JT Chargois and flied to center, scoring Chavis to give Boston a 5-1 lead. Devers (who, in addition to his first inning homer, had doubled in a run in the sixth) was walked intentionally. Bogaerts made the Dodgers sorry for that decision, lining a 1-1 pitch off the shelf at the top of the Wall for a three-run homer. Bogaerts did not initially think the ball had gotten out and slid into second base, before hearing the good news, getting up, and finishing his trot.

Josh Taylor and Hector Velázquez each pitched a clean inning of relief, with Velázquez needing only eight pitches to close out the game.

In 2017, Vázquez collected 131 total bases in 345 plate appearances. This year, in only 276 PAs, he has a career-high 138 total bases. His season home runs totals: 1-1-5-3-15.

AL East: MFY 4, Blue Jays 0. Rays 16, Orioles 4 (played in a crisp 2:49!). ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.
Kenta Maeda / Eduardo Rodriguez
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Holt, 2B
Records After 92/90 Games
            2018     2019    Diff
Dodgers    50-42    60-32    + 10 
Red Sox    61-29    49-41    - 12
As the "second half" of the season gets underway, the Red Sox are concentrating on improving their rotation. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Boston is "pushing to add a starting pitcher ... sooner rather than later".

The Red Sox have talked with the Mets about right-hander Zach Wheeler, who turned 29 about three weeks ago. Wheeler has a 4.69 ERA in 19 starts this year. In 2018, Wheeler finished 11th in the NL in ERA (3.31).

The Red Sox have released Tyler Thornburg after Thornburg declined a minor league assignment.

David Ortiz had a third surgery earlier this week at Massachusetts General Hospital "for complications resulting from his gunshot wound", according to Tiffany Ortiz.

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
The 2019 Yankees: Championship or Bust. ...

That isn't simply click-bait ... If they aren't the best in the world, they're right there in the team picture. ... The Red Sox are a little short this year ...

Even during last year's 100-win breeze, there were always the Red Sox looming, lurking, loitering. ...

Not this time. Not this season. Aaron Boone thinks the Yanks are the best team in the world? You should believe that, too. ... It's time.
We shall see.

AL East: Blue Jays/MFY and Rays/Orioles, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 9.0.

July 11, 2019

Jim Bouton (1939-2019) And The Lasting Impact Of "Ball Four"

Jim Bouton, a former major league pitcher and a proudly liberal thinker in a sport dominated by ignorant conservatives, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.

In 1970, Bouton published Ball Four, an iconoclastic diary of his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros that Bruce Weber of the New York Times praised as "raunchy, shrewd, [and] irreverent". Alex Johnson of NBC News wrote that Bouton had "destroyed the myth of baseball as a wholesome pursuit of God-fearing, milk-drinking young men".

Ball Four was called "detrimental to baseball" by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (who tried to get Bouton to sign a statement saying the book was completely fictional), New York sports columnist Dick Young infamously trashed Bouton and Shecter as "social lepers", and Pete Rose of the Reds made his opinion known by shouting from the opposing dugout: "Fuck you, Shakespeare".

In the subsequent fifty years, the players who have written inside-the-clubhouse books could fill several big league rosters — I can easily remember enjoying The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle as a fifteen-year-old back in 1979 — but none of them touched off the firestorm of controversy that Bouton did. The baseball world changed forever after Ball Four — and it would never go back.

Mark Armour, in a biography of Bouton for SABR's BioProject, wrote:
There was a growing divide in the New York press at this time [the early-to-mid-1960s], between the old-school writers who believed their job was to present the players as heroes, and the new wave of journalists who were looking for a story, or some deeper understanding of what the players were thinking on and off the field. The Yankees players and management were used to being treated as royalty by the likes of Jimmy Cannon, and resented the young writers, whom Cannon derisively referred to as "chipmunks." When Bouton joined the team [in 1962] he was warned to stay away from the press, but he soon found that he had a lot in common with the newer writers ... For their part, the writers discovered that Bouton liked to paint, and to make jewelry, and to talk about more than just the day's game. When asked his opinions about the Vietnam War, or about civil rights, Bouton would answer directly and honestly. Bouton was good copy, though becoming less popular with his teammates and management.
Even as a young player, he had a pugnacious wit and a willingness to speak his liberal mind, most notably to reporters, whom other Yankees made a habit of disdaining, and on subjects like the war in Vietnam, student protests on campus and civil rights, that raised hackles of teammates and Yankees executives.
During his time with the Yankees, Bouton battled with management over his contract every spring. He began telling the press what he was asking for and what the Yankees were offering. Yankees GM Ralph Houk wanted to know why. "If I don't tell them, Ralph, maybe they'll think I'm asking for ridiculous figures. I just want to let them know I'm being reasonable." When the writers learned that Bouton had been forced to accept only $18,500 for the 1964 season, most of them sided with the pitcher, which (obviously) infuriated the Yankees' front office.

By 1969, Bouton was trying to revive his career, at age 30, by throwing a knuckleball for the expansion Seattle Pilots. Armour notes:
Making Bouton's job a bit tougher was his continued willingness to speak up when he felt there was a worthy cause at stake. In early 1968 he signed a statement supporting an American boycott of the coming Mexico City Olympic Games if South Africa's whites-only teams were allowed to participate in international competitions. The country had been barred by the Olympics beginning in 1964, but still took part in other events around the world. Bouton went to Mexico City to try to meet with representatives of the US Olympic Committee about the issue, but was rebuffed. He wrote about the cause and his ordeal in an article for Sport the next winter ["A Mission in Mexico City", Sport, August 1969].
During the 1969 season, Bouton took notes (sometimes during games) and spoke into a tape recorder almost every day. He and writer Leonard Shecter worked in the off-season turning the notes and transcripts into a book. Excerpts were published in Look magazine.

In Bouton's telling, players routinely cheated on their wives on road trips, devised intricate plans to peek under women's skirts or spy on them through hotel windows, spoke in casual vulgarities, drank to excess and swallowed amphetamines as if they were M&Ms. [Bouton later observed: "Amphetamines improved my performance about five percent. Unfortunately, in my case that wasn't enough."]

Mickey Mantle played hung over and was cruel to children seeking his autograph, he wrote. Carl Yastrzemski was a loafer. Whitey Ford illicitly scuffed or muddied the baseball and his catcher, Elston Howard, helped him do it. Most coaches were knotheads who dispensed the obvious as wisdom when they weren't contradicting themselves, and general managers were astonishingly penurious and dishonest in dealing with players over their contracts. ...

Over all, Bouton portrayed the game — its players, coaches, executives and most of the writers who covered them — as a world of amusing, foible-ridden, puerile conformity. ...

The commissioner at the time, Bowie Kuhn, called Bouton in for a reprimand; some players shunned him for spilling the beans to players' wives about what players did on road trips. ... A few players, including Elston Howard, claimed Bouton was a liar. And many of an older sportswriting generation felt Bouton had done irreparable damage to the game out of his own self-importance and desperation.
In addition to calling Bouton a "social leper", Dick Young, the reactionary writer for the New York Daily News, added: "People like this, embittered people, sit down in their time of deepest rejection and write. They write, oh hell, everybody stinks, everybody but me, and it makes them feel much better."

Others writers, particularly those who possessed a measure of intelligence, held a different view. Roger Angell (The New Yorker) called Ball Four "a rare view of a highly complex public profession seen from the innermost inside, along with an even more rewarding inside view of an ironic and courageous mind. And, very likely, the funniest book of the year."

Robert Lipsyte (New York Times) noted that reading the entire book provides the necessary context for the more revelatory passages, which appear as "a natural outgrowth of a game in which 25 young, insecure, undereducated men of narrow skills keep circling the country to play before fans who do not understand their problems or their work, and who use them as symbols for their own fantasies."

When the New York Public Library celebrated its centennial in 1995, Ball Four was the only sports book among the 159 titles in the "Books of the Century" exhibit. In 2002, Sports Illustrated named it #3 on its list of the top 100 sports books of all time.

Filmmaker Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham") was a minor league infielder when Ball Four was published. In 2010, he said:
It shines light on sports from a different angle. Baseball is about the guys that play it and it's about all the things that happen in between the big plays. It's a working-class game. It's approached with great romance and poetry and lyricism by outsiders and writers. And if you play the game, there's no myth or poetry. You're just trying to improve your statistics. You're trying to meet a woman in a bar. Those are the things that drive you. And I think Ball Four got at that somehow.
In 2000, ESPN published a series of articles marking the 30th anniversary of Ball Four. Rob Neyer spoke to Jeff Neuman, who worked as an editor for Macmillan Publishing and Simon and Schuster:
Ball Four is, if not the most famous baseball book, certainly the most important, and in good ways and bad. It changed the expectations of what not only sports books, but sports journalism could be. It created a very different appetite among the fans for inside stories, and especially for inside dirt. It was the first book to pierce the veil of the locker room -- and once Bouton started telling these stories, how could the press ignore them any longer? This, in turn, radically changed the atmosphere in locker rooms. ... Before the book, there was an understanding between players and writers about what you could write and what you couldn't. Those old rules are gone, and players today, to a much greater extent, feel surrounded by hostile forces.
Jim Caple wrote:
Back when he lived in a different house, Pirates assistant general manager Roy Smith kept his copy of Ball Four in a prominent place where he could always turn to its pages when he needed to look up a bit of wisdom from Joe Schultz or Fred Talbot.

"I kept it in the bathroom," Smith said. "That and 'The Godfather.' That pretty much covered it all. What else do you need? Well, I guess I could have had The Bible."

Perhaps. But does the Old Testament tell you how to play for a manager whose advice for most any situation was generally limited to "go pound some Budweiser"?

Smith estimates he's read Ball Four in its entirety five times, which is about average. I know several people (myself included) who read all or part of it every February as a spring training ritual. Just as pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona, fans report to the pages of Ball Four, the best book ever written about baseball.
The diverse reaction to the book was part of the social and political divide the country was going through. Bouton, a "communist" to some of his critics, unabashedly supported the war protesters, and held decidedly liberal views on civil rights, religion, the rights of women, the new player's union, poverty, and the other divisive issues of the time. ... George Frazier, a Boston Globe columnist who later showed up on Richard Nixon's enemies list, called Ball Four "a revolutionary manifesto. ... What is happening among baseball players, their doubting the divinity of demagogues ... is what is happening among housewives and their husbands who have had their fill of the shoddy wares and planned obsolescence foisted on them by American industry." ...

The most considered of Ball Four's negative reviews was written for Esquire by Roger Kahn [who] admired Shecter and Bouton, but is particularly critical of their depiction of life on the road, especially when Bouton and Shecter name names. ...

Bouton defended himself against this type of criticism, responding that he portrays himself as a part of the off-field stories, the drinking, the beaver shooting, and all the missed curfews. This is true, but Kahn correctly counters that Bouton did not show himself cheating on his wife, an act which carried, and still carries, an additional level of opprobrium from friends and family. ... (Kahn's view on issues of decorum evolved over the years. In his 1987 book Joe and Marilyn, for one example, he claims to reveal details of their private body parts, and discusses the quality of their love-making.)
In a separate article on Ball Four, Armour wrote:
When Bouton joined the Yankees in 1962, he was warned by his teammates about associating with reporters, especially Shecter, or "that f**king Shecter." Bouton rarely did what he was told, so he not only talked with the reporters, he became friends with many of them, including Shecter. ...

[Excerpts of Ball Four, in the June 2, 1970 issue of Look,] included details of Bouton's contract negotiations with the Yankees, a depiction of many players as ingenious peeping toms, salacious dialog that included sexual humor about players' wives, the widespread use of amphetamines in the game, and playful kissing between inebriated Seattle Pilots on the team plane. Most of the passages were benignly funny, and included Bouton's poignant insecurities about his place on his teams (on and off the field).

Although Bouton spent the majority of the book dealing with his day-to-day 1969 life with the Pilots and Astros, his comments on his years with the Yankees predictably generated the most controversy. ...

Bouton's first appearance in New York was on May 31 against the Mets, when he allowed three hits and three runs in one-third of an inning. He was booed from the time he began walking in from the bullpen until he retreated into the dugout after his appearance. He later wrote that it was his lowest moment ever on a baseball field. [1970 was also Bouton's final season in the majors, save for five starts in September 1978.] ...

The book struck a chord with so many people, perhaps, because while readers could not relate to throwing a 90-mile-per-hour fastball or hitting a slider, they understood too well the frustrations of daily life, spending time in close quarters with people with whom you had nothing in common, and dealing with arbitrary and petty regulations set down by unimaginative bosses. ...

His fellow players still did not like it. Joe Morgan, his teammate on the Astros, said, "I always thought he was a teammate, not an author. I told him some things I would never tell a sportswriter." By the time the book came out, the Seattle Pilots were extinct, having relocated to Milwaukee as the Brewers. Many of his ex-Pilot teammates, including Fred Talbot, Wayne Comer, and Don Mincher deeply resented the book and Bouton. ...

Jimmy Cannon, predictably, was not amused. Cannon blamed Shecter, though he never mentioned the collaborator by name in his scathing July 28 column. "The book is ugly with the small atrocities of the chipmunk's cruelty. In a way, Bouton is a chipmunk, a man who obviously cherishes himself as a social philosopher. The influence of the ghost is obvious … The literary critics take him seriously. It is as though he were assaulted with a sudden inspiration and rushed to a typewriter and put it all down in a flurry of creation. But he went to the spook, and one has to speculate where Bouton stops, and the ghost begins. Whose hatreds are these, whose theories? Which ones ethics governed the partnership?" ...

Ball Four sold 200,000 copies in hardcover, and countless more in paperback. ... In 1971 Bouton and Shecter collaborated on a sequel, I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, discussing the circus surrounding the publication of Ball Four. Bouton dedicated the new book to Dick Young and Bowie Kuhn.
In addition to Ball Four and I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally, Bouton also wrote Strike Zone (a novel, with Eliot Asinof) and Foul Ball (about trying to save Wahconah Park, an old ballpark in Pittsfield, Massachusetts), and I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad (compiled with the help of Neil Offen, his research assistant).

The definitive edition of Ball Four was published in 2011 as Ball Four: The Final Pitch, which included epilogues from 1981 (Ball Five), 1990 (Ball Six), and 2000 (Ball Seven).

July 8, 2019

In Other News . . .

We bought a house . . . the purchase was finalized last Friday . . . and we are now living in it!

We are, quite honestly, stunned at our good fortune. The dogs have been enjoying the back yard for most of the last two days, as we moved our stuff in. It's been exhausting, but seeing Cookie and Kai wrestling on the grass for hours and, later in the evening, completely zonked out, sleeping so peacefully on their beds, is wonderful.

(Taken on May 18)

July 7, 2019

G90: Red Sox 6, Tigers 3

Red Sox - 020 030 010 - 6  9  0
Tigers  - 100 000 020 - 3  6  1

David Price / Gregory Soto
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Hernández, 2B
After today's game, the Red Sox have four days off - for some dumb reason.

AL East: MFY/Rays, 1 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 7.5, BOS 10.0.

July 6, 2019

G89: Red Sox 10, Tigers 6

Red Sox - 230 200 111 - 10 17  1
Tigers  - 000 204 000 -  6 14  2
Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi both tripled and scored in the first inning, the first time the Red Sox hit two triples in first inning since July 5, 1963, when Gary Geiger and Earl Wilson (Boston's starting pitcher!) did it against the White Sox. The start of Saturday's game was delayed by rain for four hours, five minutes.

Benintendi celebrated his 25th birthday by going 4-for-6, with two singles, a double, a triple, a stolen base, two runs scored, and an RBI. Marco Hernández and Mookie Betts both went 3-for-5, with Betts collecting a single, double, triple, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI.

Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (3.1-13-7-0-2, 78) became only the fifth starting pitcher since 2000 (and the 10th since 1987) to allow as many as 13 hits while recording 10 or fewer outs.

Rick Porcello had a nice line through five innings (5-5-2-1-4, 85), but fell apart in the sixth and ended up with: 5.2-9-6-1-5, 106.

AL East: Rays walked off 4-3 against New York. ... MFY –, TBR 7.5, BOS 10.0.

Start of game has been delayed for a while. .. Tigers now say it will start around 8:15.

Rick Porcello / Jordan Zimmermann
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Vázquez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Holt, SS
Hernández, 2B
León, C
Christian Vázquez gets his second career start in the #3 spot. The first was September 16, 2017. Also:
2018: 269 plate appearances
2019: 262 plate appearances
2018-19, change in batting average:     .207 to .298
2018-19, change in slugging percentage: .283 to .510
Rafael Devers leads the AL with 188 total bases.
2018: .240/.298/.433 - .731 OPS (49th in AL)
2019: .331/.385/.561 - .946 OPS ( 4th in AL)
AL East: MFY/Rays, 4 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 8.5, BOS 11.0.

July 5, 2019

G88: Red Sox 9, Tigers 6

Red Sox - 102 003 030 - 9 14  2
Tigers  - 000 104 001 - 6  9  1
Xander Bogaerts drove in four runs, three of them coming on a three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Mookie Betts went 3-for-4 and scored three times. ... Rafael Devers hit another home run, because that's what he does (and he's not an All-Star). ... Eduardo Rodriguez: 5-4-1-1-4, 76.

AL East: MFY 8, Rays 4 (11). ... MFY –, TBR 8.5, BOS 11.0.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Ryan Carpenter
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Vázquez, DH
Chavis, 1B
Bradley, CF
Núñez, 2B
León, C
The 2019 Red Sox - Not A Positive Trend
End of March:   1- 3   2.0 GB
End of April:  13-17   7.0 GB
End of May:    29-28   8.5 GB
End of June:   44-40  11.0 GB
This Date In Baseball History

1921 - The Red Sox establish an American League record losing four consecutive doubleheaders with no other games between the eight losses.
June 29 at NYY: 5-8, 3-5 (10)
July  2 at NYY: 3-5, 1-5
July  4 vs WAS: 1-4, 3-7
July  5 vs WAS: 5-7, 1-4
In a 29-game stretch between June 17 and July 12 , the Red Sox played 11 doubleheaders: June 17, 21, 22, 25, 29, July 2, 4, 5, 6, 11, and 12.

The Dodgers (60-29, 14.5 GA in the NL West) have won their last nine home games, including five consecutive walkoff wins:
June 18 vs SFG: Dodgers 9, Giants 0
June 19 vs SFG: Dodgers 9, Giants 2
June 20 vs SFG: Dodgers 9, Giants 8
June 21 vs COL: Dodgers 4, Rockies 2           (walkoff win, 2 runs in B9)
June 22 vs COL: Dodgers 5, Rockies 4 (11)      (walkoff win, 1 run in B11)
June 23 vs COL: Dodgers 6, Rockies 3           (walkoff win, 3 runs in B9)
July  2 vs ARI: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4      (walkoff win, 2 runs in B9)
July  3 vs ARI: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4 (10) (walkoff win, 1 run in B10, after 1 run in B9 to tie)
July  4 vs ARI: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 1
AL East: MFY/Rays, 7 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 7.5, BOS 11.0.

July 1869: A "Very Tedious" Game And A "Dreadful, Stupid" Umpire

The more things change ...
[T]he game lasted 4 hours and 30 minutes - just two hours and a-half too long. ... If the contest had lasted another minute everybody would have gone to sleep.
While the writer of this July 5, 1869 game recap does not call for robots, after ranting about "the stupidity of the Umpire", he suggests a dog be hired for the next game.

And a score of 38-27, but neither team could manage to score in every inning? Boo. ... No zeroes in the box score, though.

(Thanks to historian Richard Hershberger.)

July 4, 2019

G87: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 7

Red Sox   - 100 006 001 - 8  8  0
Blue Jays - 210 300 010 - 7 11  0
Marco Hernández hit a pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning, after the Red Sox had fought back from a five-run deficit with six runs in the sixth, capped by Michael Chavis's three-run dong.

Brandon Workman, who had blown a save opportunity by allowing the Blue Jays to tie the game at 7-7 in the eighth, made things a little tense in the ninth. With one out, he walked Cavan Biggio and Justin Smoak. Workman got the second out before contending with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He fell behind 3-1 in the count, but Vlad II grounded out to third.

Rafael Devers hit his 15th homer of the year in the first inning, but the Red Sox then proceeded to fall behind 6-1, with Hector Velázquez (2.1-5-3-2-1, 50) and Colten Brewer each giving up three runs.

The first four Boston batters reached base in the sixth. Mookie Betts walked and Devers (2-for-3 and 2 walks), Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez (3-for-4) each singled. At that point, the Jays led 6-3. Eduardo Núñez (hitting for Brock Holt) fouled out to the catcher and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. Christian Vázquez walked. A run scored on Jackie Bradley's force out before Chavis belted his 15th homer of the year, giving Boston a 7-6 lead.

AL East: MFY 8, Rays 4 (10). The Rays scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth against Aroldis Chapman to tie the game at 3-3. New York scored five times in the top of the tenth, but the Rays did not go down without a fight. They had one run in and the bases loaded with two outs, but David Hale got a force out off the bat of potential-tying-run Yandy Díaz. ... MFY –, TBR 7.5, BOS 11.0.
Hector Velázquez / Marcus Stroman Derek Law
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, LF
Holt, 2B
Vázquez, DH
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
León, C
Hector Velázquez will make his first start since May 18 (when he allowed five runs and recorded only one out against the Astros). He has made seven relief appearances since then, with a 4.85 ERA in 13 innings (13-10-7-3-16).

AL East: MFY/Rays, 5 PM. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 11.0.

July 3, 2019

G86: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 3

Red Sox   - 002 100 000 - 3  8  0
Blue Jays - 001 202 01x - 6 11  0
After a double play in the bottom of the sixth, Chris Sale (5.2-9-5-2-5, 104) gave up a single to Rowdy Tellez and a two-run homer to Brandon Drury. That dong was the third allowed by Sale in the game and it snapped a 3-3 tie. The Red Sox lost for the fourth time in the last five games, and the sixth time in nine games.

Sale allowed nine hits, the most in a start since June 10, 2017. In 14.2 innings (three starts) against the Blue Jays this year, Sale has allowed 23 hits and 13 earned runs (7.98 ERA).

Rafael Devers drove in two runs in the third inning and Christian Vázquez hit his 13th home run of the year in the fourth.

Right after Toronto took a 5-3 lead, the Red Sox squandered a prime scoring opportunity. Vázquez led off the seventh with a single and Michael Chavis doubled with one out. Eduardo Núñez batted for Brock Holt with runners at second and third and one out. Blue Jays reliever Daniel Hudson got Núñez on a fly to short left and then struck out Mookie Betts.

J.D. Martinez singled with two outs in the eighth, but Andrew Benintendi flied to right. Down by three runs in the ninth, Boston went in order against Ken Giles. Vázquez struck out swinging, Jackie Bradley grounded out first-to-pitcher, and Chavis flied to right.

AL East: MFY 5, Mets 1. Orioles 9, Rays 6. ... MFY –, TBR 6.5, BOS 11.0.
Chris Sale / Jacob Waguespack David Phelps
Betts, RF
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Martinez, DH
Benintendi, LF
Vázquez, C
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 1B
Holt, 2B
The Red Sox have tied a major league record, by scoring at least four runs in the first inning in each of their last three games. It is the third time the Red Sox have accomplished this feat.

September 2 vs BAL: 4 runs in first inning, lost 11-10
September 3 at WAS (G1): 4 runs in first inning, won 7-5
September 3 vs WAS (G2): 4 runs in first inning, won 16-0
September 4 vs BAL: 0 runs in first inning, won 7-6 (12)
April 12 vs DET: 4 runs in first inning, won 6-3
April 13 vs DET: 6 runs in first inning, won 8-1
April 14 vs DET: 4 runs in first inning, won 7-5
April 15 vs DET: 0 runs in first inning, lost 1-0
June 29 vs NYY (London): 6 runs in first inning, lost 17-13
June 30 vs NYY (London): 4 runs in first inning, lost 12-8
July 2 at TOR: 4 runs in first inning, won 10-6
Waguespack has only four innings of big league experience, from his May 27 debut against the Rays. That seems like the kind of pitcher the Red Sox could set a new record against.

The Red Sox have banged out 15 or more hits in each of their last four games, tying the franchise record set on September 3-5, 1938. The major league record is five games, which has been done four times since 1900, with the 1970 Dodgers being the most recent: August 9-14, 1970. ... In the last 80 years, the Red Sox are only the third team to have 15+ hits, 5+ extra-base hits, and 7+ runs in as many as four consecutive games, joining the 2000 Tigers and 2011 Cardinals.

Rafael Devers, who won't turn 23 years old until October 24, and Hall of Famer (and crossword puzzle favourite) Mel Ott are the only players in history to have multiple games with 4+ hits and 6+ RBI before their 23rd birthday (since 1920, when RBI became an official stat).

Devers has four career multi-homer games, one of only three Red Sox to do so before turning 23, joining Ted Williams (6) and Tony Conigliaro (4). In his last six games, Devers is hitting .556 (15-for-27), with seven doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, 10 runs scored, a 1.608 OPS, and only two strikeouts. He's hitting .609 (14-for-23) in his last five games.

Boston pitchers have struck out 10 or more batters in each of the last six games. It's the second-longest streak in team history, behind an eight-game streak on September 3-12, 2017.

If making Nathan Eovaldi the team's closer is a guaranteed disastrous decision, then why are the Red Sox doing it? ... I guess they cannot predict the future and don't know as much about their players as the radio station does.

AL East: MFY –, TBR 5.5, BOS 10.0. ... MFY/Mets & Orioles/Rays, 7 PM.