June 30, 2004

Hitting Bottom. ... and here I thought last Saturday's game was the worst game of the year. Can the Red Sox play any worse than they did in last night's 11-3 pasting in the Bronx? I'd like to say No, but I think the correct answer is ... stay tuned.

The complaints during the game and overnight give you a good idea of the level of frustration in the Nation. A post from TheYellowDart5 says it all:
I don't think it's possible to express how frustrated I am right now with this team. Night after night after night, they throw away games with tremendously poor defense, horrible baserunning, a lack of clutch hitting, a lack of clutch pitching, and just about every other conceivable mistake you can make in a ballgame.

This is a team that is close to the top in errors, nearly last in fielding percentage, gives away outs like they were candy, can't bunt, can't run, forgets outs, can't turn routine DPs, forgets to hold runners on (I'm looking at you Derek...), seemingly doesn't read scouting reports, doesn't take advantage of opposing team miscues, and seems to fold if they're behind after the 7th. There is, simply put, absolutely no life or energy or urgency to this team. None.

Blame it all you want on Nomar and Nixon being injured, or not having Kim, or not having Mueller, or whatever. The time has come where this team has to stop hiding behind these excuses and just play ball the right way. ... [T]his team seems to simply believe that they're the victims of bad luck, and that their ship will right itself in due time. They're not trying to fix the problems; they're simply floating on, hoping for a miracle.

I know you can't blame the manager or the coaches for the absolute plague of injuries this year. But you can start casting doubts on his abilities when you see his team playing sloppy baseball and making no effort to correct it. Terry Francona is letting this team play like @#%$, and from what I've seen, has made no effort to fix it. He'd rather take all the blame than start laying down the law, and that's really starting to piss me off.

Should they fire him? Probably not. But if this goes on much longer, I don't see any other recourse.
One thing I have always seen from the Yankees: they concentrate for each and every at-bat. Sure, they pop up and they strike out and they GIDP, but the intensity is there the entire time. I don't see that with the Red Sox and I haven't seen it all season. ... I started seeing them mail it in last night in the top of the goddamn 4th, after the Yankees went ahead 4-2. After making Vazquez throw 26 pitches in the 3rd, Ortiz-Ramirez-Garciaparra went down in order on only 6 pitches (and 4 of them were to Tizzle).

And the Yankees make things happen -- four stolen bases in two innings certainly helped rattle Lowe, though his iron-glove fielders were doing a bang-up job of that on their own. But he did throw a lot of groundballs and it would have been nice to have the best possible infield behind him. Which leads me to ...

Remember the Red Sox/Yankees game in June 1978 (?) when Billy Martin yanked Reggie Jackson from right field in Fenway after Martin thought he loafed after a base hit? It was on national television and they nearly came to blows in the dugout. ... If I was Tito, I would have pulled Dead Bat/Stone Hands Millar in favor of McCarty for the bottom of the fourth. Send what should be an obvious message: "Play like shit and expect to sit on the bench."

But does Tito really need to go on a screaming rant or toss over the buffet table? To that, I'll say what I said when people ripped Nomar during his rehab for not traveling with the team and giving them support from the bench: If these guys need a cheerleader (or a post-game spread all over the carpet) to get fired up, then the season is already lost. ... But something needs to be done.

Yankee blogger Larry Mahnken notes that New York's 6½-game lead is a larger gap than any other division leader has between them and the third place team in their respective division. Greater than Chicago and Philadelphia's leads over the fourth place Indians and Braves, equal the Cardinals' lead over the fifth place Astros. ... He also writes that "the symbolic meaning of [Tuesday's] win is fleeting ... the victory cinches nothing ... The series now turns in Boston's favor, with Tim Wakefield and Pedro Martinez facing off against Jon Lieber and Brad Halsey. ... a series victory by Boston is still very much a possibility, almost even a probability."

Wow -- a Yankee fan has a more hopeful outlook about the Red Sox than I do. ... Wakefield brings it against Lieber at 7:05 pm.

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