October 31, 2015

Stuff To Read

Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue: "TBS' Baseball Coverage Is Awful. Here's Why."

Anna McDonald, Just A Bit Outside: "Complete Story Of Controversial, Emotional, Downright Crazy 1985 World Series"

Rany Jazayerli, Grantland: "The 15 Biggest Plays In Baseball History"
Note: There is no way you will correctly guess the top play.
David Schoenfield, ESPN: "Are You Ready For Robot Umpires In The World Series?"
Yes. Yes, I am.
Max Rieper, Royals Review: "No, Noah Syndergaard Did Not 'Announce His Presence With Authority'"
As Rieper writes: "Together, we can end false sports narratives in our lifetime."

October 27, 2015

2015 World Series Contest Entries

Entries for the 2015 World Series contest:
           Mets or Royals     Combined Runs
Ben A      Royals in 5             40
Bernard S  Royals in 6             21
Angus2     Royals in 6             39
Dan C      Royals in 6             43
Tony S     Royals in 6             43
Bob S      Royals in 6             43
Jeffrey A  Royals in 6             45
Ralph N    Royals in 6             49
Tim R      Royals in 6             49
laura k    Royals in 6             67
Ralph N    Royals in 7             34 
allan      Royals in 7             55
Rick M     Mets in 5               13
Brett H    Mets in 5               33
Carlos C   Mets in 6               32
Benjamin B Mets in 6               33
Susan D    Mets in 6               34
Brendan R  Mets in 6               35
John Q     Mets in 6               41
John N     Mets in 6               42
Jere S     Mets in 6               42
Jude K     Mets in 6               42
Jeff M     Mets in 6               45
Microtal   Mets in 7               77

October 25, 2015

Happy 44th Birthday, Pedro Martinez!

(Photo from Boston Globe)

Everyone Loves A Contest #19: 2015 World Series

Prize: Peter Golenbock's Red Sox Nation: The Rich And Colorful History Of The Boston Red Sox.

Predict: The winner of the 2015 World Series and number of games played (e.g., Royals in 7).

Tiebreaker: Total runs scored in the series - by both teams (e.g., 55).

Deadline: Entries must be emailed to me before the first pitch of Game 1 on Tuesday.

October 23, 2015

Fox Posts World Series Match-Up In 7th Inning Of ALCS Game 6

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of ALCS Game 6, Alex Rios singled home Mike Moustakas, giving the Royals a 3-1 lead over the Blue Jays. So Fox - in its infinite wisdom - put this on the screen:

Jose Bautista took exception, and bashed a game-tying, two-run home run in the top of the eighth.

NY Times Presents Mets Sweep of Cubs In 1908-Style Prose

D. Francis Barry, New York Times:
The New York Metropolitans claimed decisive possession of the National League base-ball pennant on enemy turf here at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night, sweeping the Sisyphean Chicago Cubs in four games to earn their ducats to next week's World Series championship.

The Metropolitans — also known as the "Mets" — sent six safely across the plate before the third inning, mostly as a result of the derring-do of their Bunyanesque first-sacker, Lucas Duda. The mighty Californian smote a home run and a double to tally five of those six runs before the Cubs seemed to comprehend that a game concerning their possible erasure from the 2015 field was well underway.

The ignominious rout of the valiant but overmatched hometown squad turned the deafening cheers of the Chicago multitudes into plaintive keens, for now their agonizing wait for another championship — the last in 1908, during the presidency of the rough-riding Theodore Roosevelt — must continue. ...
The Times gets major points off for not using the then-common "World's Series".

October 22, 2015

Toronto And Kansas City Libraries Send ALCS Messages Via Book Spines

CTV News:
The Toronto Public Library posted a photo on Twitter of a message created using the spines of books celebrating the Blue Jays' victory over the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

The book spines read, "The Comeback," "Blue Jays," "Blowout," "The Rivals," and "Come Together."

The Kansas City Library commented on the post by saying "Touché," presumably bringing an end to two days of good-natured smack-talk between the two cities' libraries.

The Kansas City and Toronto libraries started sending each other book spine messages after the Blue Jays fell to the Royals in Game 4.

Other Ontario libraries, including one in Pickering, are getting into the act:

October 21, 2015

Royals and Mets Could Win Pennants Today

Both the American and National League pennants could be won today.

The Royals lead the Blue Jays 3-1 going into Game 5 this afternoon (4 PM) in Toronto. Edinson Volquez - who allowed only two hits in six scoreless innings in Game 1 - takes the ball for Kansas City, with Marco Estrada on the hill for the Jays.
G1: Royals 5, Blue Jays 0
G2: Royals 6, Blue Jays 3
G3: Blue Jays 11, Royals 8
G4: Royals 14, Blue Jays 2
The Mets have won the first three games of the NLCS and are looking to sweep the Cubs aside in Game 4 (8 PM). New York will go with Stephen Matz, while the Cubs counter with Jason Hammel.
G1: Mets 4, Cubs 2
G2: Mets 4, Cubs 1
G3: Mets 5, Cubs 2
40 Years Ago Today: Carlton Fisk's 12th-inning home run gave the Red Sox a 7-6 win in World Series Game 6 over the Cincinnati Reds. (Fisk's homer actually came on October 22 as the game was played 34 minutes beyond midnight.) As the Fenway park crowd continued to celebrate, the Globe's Peter Gammons typed out what remains my favourite opening sentence to a game story:
And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of the morning.

When it finally crashed off the mesh attached to the left field foul pole, one step after another the reaction unfurled: from Carlton Fisk's convulsive leap to John Kiley's booming of the "Hallelujah Chorus" to the wearing off of the numbness to the outcry that echoed across the cold New England morning.

At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series.
Jason Varitek has reportedly interviewed for the job of Mariners' manager.

October 18, 2015

Fun Shane Victorino Postseason Facts

October 16, 2015

Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur, On ALDS Game 5

Joe Posnanski:
Russell Martin ... it just seems so strange to me that in a game as ancient as baseball, players can still do things that stun you. I mean, shouldn't we have seen it all by now? ... [I]n freaking baseball, a 19th century game Civil War soldiers would teach to townspeople between bloody battles, Russell Martin in 2015 does something that left me feeling a word I've never once used before because it never quite fit: gobsmacked. Yeah, I was gobsmacked. Martin catches the ball, briefly checks the runner at third. Meanwhile Shin-Soo Choo is standing in the box because that's baseball custom now, and he's holding out his bat because that's what he does for some reason.

Martin then casually throws the ball back to the pitcher ... only it HITS THE BAT of Shin-Soo Choo and rolls away. Rougned Odor races home. Gobsmacked.

Because: NOBODY HAS EVER SEEN THIS BEFORE. One-hundred-fifty years of baseball, we've seen throws kill birds, we've seen relievers brought to the plate in little cars shaped like baseball caps, we've seen a pitcher throw a no-hitter on LSD, we've seen a 3-foot-7 person draw a walk, we've seen closers choke stars, but WE'VE NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE. And if someone is now emailing in to list off the times it's happened before, I would advise: I HAVE MORE CAPITAL LETTERS THAN YOU DO.
Michael Schur:
I understand there are traditionalists and purists and whatever-ists who think that flipping a bat after you hit a home run is bad form, or disrespectful, or something. I disagree. I think it's awesome, frankly, and if you can't enjoy Joey Bats, who had that crazy itinerant baseball life and then found a home in Toronto, and who is the soul and beating heart of this team — a team which hasn't been in the postseason in 22 years and which has brought sports life and sports relevance back to one of the world's great cities — and whose team went down 0-2 at home to a clearly inferior team and then stormed back on the road and gutted out two big wins and then went back to Toronto, fell behind early, scratched their way back to even, then went down by a run on one of the weirdest plays in postseason history, then loaded the bases on three errors and had a guy forced at home and then only scored one run and had a guy thrown out at second on a single to the outfield ... if you can't enjoy Joey Bats flipping his bat towards his own dugout in a badass and life-affirming and glorious and barbaric yawp of baseball excellence after hitting a home run in that situation, then I feel bad for you. ...

We're fine with outward displays in every other sport. Why do we ask baseball players to bury their emotions like students in a seminary?

Bryce Harper Turned 23 Today

1. 1871!

2. Some people believe he is not the 2015 NL MVP.

October 15, 2015

ALCS/NLCS Schedules, And Postseason Contest Update

Game 1: Fri, October 16  Blue Jays at Royals, 7:30 PM
Game 2: Sat, October 17  Blue Jays at Royals, 3:30 PM
Game 3: Mon, October 19  Royals at Blue Jays, 7:00 PM
Game 4: Tue, October 20  Royals at Blue Jays
Game 5: Wed, October 21  Royals at Blue Jays
Game 6: Fri, October 23  Blue Jays at Royals
Game 7: Sat, October 24  Blue Jays at Royals
Game 1: Sat, October 17  Cubs at Mets, 7:30 PM
Game 2: Sun, October 18  Cubs at Mets, 7:30 PM
Game 3: Tue, October 20  Mets at Cubs
Game 4: Wed, October 21  Mets at Cubs
Game 5: Thu, October 22  Mets at Cubs
Game 6: Sat, October 24  Cubs at Mets
Game 7: Sun, October 25  Cubs at Mets
And the contest is now a two-man race.
Lewis S     HOU    TOR    HOU    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    NYM    TOR
Jeff M      HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    STL    NYM    NYM    TOR
Dan C       HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    STL    NYM    STL    TOR
Jere S      HOU    TOR    KCR    KCR    CHI    CHI    LAD    CHI    KCR
Davide B    HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    PIT    PIT    LAD    LAD    TOR
Antonio D   HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    CHI    TOR
Charlie P   HOU    HOU    KCR    KCR    PIT    STL    LAD    LAD    KCR
Microtal    NYY    TOR    KCR    TOR    PIT    STL    LAD    LAD    TOR
Ben A       NYY    TOR    NYY    TOR    CHI    STL    LAD    STL    TOR
Brendan R   HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    NYM    NYM
allan       HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    LAD    CHI    CUBS!

More Bautista Bat Flip Fun

Grant Bisbee, SB Nation: "The Blue Jays and Rangers were tied before the seventh inning started. It was a taut, well-played game. Then THE WORLD EXPLODED, and we're still trying to figure out what happened. A listing ... so far: ..."

Grant Bisbee, SB Nation: "Every Reason Why Blue Jays-Rangers Game 5 Was One Of The Best, Weirdest Games Ever"

Canadian Bat Flips Throughout History.

I cannot stop watching Bautista's bat flip.

However, Rangers relief pitcher Sam Dyson is most likely not looping that vine: "Jose needs to calm that down, just kind of respect the game a little more. He's a huge role model for the younger generation that's coming up playing this game, and I mean he's doing stuff that kids do in Wiffle ball games and backyard baseball. It shouldn't be done."

My advice to Mr. Dyson? If you don't want batters admiring their bombs, don't give them up! ... Anyway, earlier in the series, Dyson's teammate Derek Holland mimed wiping his ass with a Jays rally towel, so fuck the Rangers and their misplaced sense of decorum.

Meanwhile, pitchers make all kinds of gestures when they strike out a guy for the 3rd out (who is the idiot who mimes a bow and arrow?). When will Dyson lecture us about how those guys "respect the game"? (This kid's mind doesn't seem too damaged!)

I'd rather have more gestures like that, more taunting and trash talking, from both sides. The games would be even more entertaining.

ALCS Schedule
Game 1: Friday, October 16     at Kansas City   8:07 PM
Game 2: Saturday, October 17   at Kansas City   4:07 PM
Game 3: Monday, October 19     at Toronto       8:07 PM
Game 4: Tuesday, October 20    at Toronto       TBD
Game 5: Wednesday, October 21  at Toronto       TBD
Game 6: Friday, October 23     at Kansas City   TBD
Game 7: Saturday, October 24   at Kansas City   TBD
Also: jbox, Gaslamp Ball: "Padres leadership proudly showed off their newest acquisition of ex-Red Sox Broadcaster Don Orsillo today."

October 14, 2015

If You Thought Ortiz's Bat Flips Were Extreme ...


Dombrowski Addresses Some Offseason Concerns

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski spoke yesterday about what he hopes to accomplish this winter in setting the roster for the 2016 Red Sox.

Re the starters:
I would say that in our situation, when you have [Clay] Buchholz back and feeling good and then if you go from there, our depth in starting pitching is pretty good. I don't think the back end of our rotation is going to be the difficult part. We have [Rick] Porcello, [Wade] Miley, [Joe] Kelly. We saw [Henry] Owens, he pitched well. [Eduardo] Rodriguez can take that step forward at any point. I don't think it's the depth as much as much as you're looking for that one guy that maybe can be your horse that you can get.
Re Koji Uehara:
I didn't see [Uehara] for myself, as you know. His track record has been that he can handle the closing situation very well. People have told me he can fit different roles but also feel comfortable that he can close games at this point in his career. Right now he's our closer ... [Junichi] Tazawa is much more comfortable pitching the eighth inning instead of the ninth inning -- as you know he mixed and matched -- and Robbie Ross did a good job for us. But to say we're going to put that on his back completely going into next year, I would hope we could find somebody else in that regard.
Re the bullpen:
Ideally, you want an arm out there that can be a power arm that can get a strikeout at a key time. And Koji is a different type of guy. Tazawa can get that done for you, but he's not going to get that done for you in the ninth inning on a consistent basis, so he's not going to be that guy for us. ... I would like to add a power arm at some point.
Re Hanley Ramirez at first base:
We're committed to trying, to making the effort, and I believe Hanley is committed to making the effort to play first base. I will say that one thing that's nice is we do have some protection in Travis Shaw if we're in a spot. ... Will it work? Time will tell.

October 13, 2015

The Cubs Have Never Clinched A Postseason Series At Wrigley Field

Cubs win 6-4.


The Chicago Cubs have never clinched a postseason at Wrigley Field.

That could change this afternoon, when the Cubs host the St. Louis Cardinals (and starter John Lackey) in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Chicago leads the series 2-1 after hitting a postseason-record six home runs in last night's 8-6 victory.

Marc Normandin, SB Nation:
"Wrigley Field opened its doors in 1914, with the Cubs first playing there in 1916 when it was still called Weeghman Park. ...

"The only series that existed in the MLB playoffs until 1969 was the World Series -- the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, before ground had even broken on Wrigley, and haven't even been to a World Series since 1945. They lost the NLCS in 1984 and 1989, and lost in their first League Division Series in 1998. The 2003 season actually represented the only playoff series -- not just World Series -- that the Cubs haven't lost since 1908, but that victory against [Atlanta] took five games, with the clinching contest coming at Turner Field in Atlanta."
(Normandin is not sure that last Wednesday's victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh in the wild card game counts as a "series", but it was clearly a postseason game.)

Overall, since winning the 1908 World Series, the Cubs have lost the World Series in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1938, and 1945. They have lost the NLCS in 1984, 1989, and 2003. And they have lost the NLDS in 1998, 2007, and 2008. ... As Normandin noted, the Cubs won the 2003 NLDS.

October 11, 2015

Ortiz, Dombrowski Excited For 2016

Over their last 44 games - more than one-quarter of the season - the Red Sox went 26-18, a winning percentage of .591 that translates into a 96-win season.

David Ortiz, who will be coming back in 2016 for his 14th season in a Red Sox uniform, is excited about the future of the team:
You see guys like Bogaerts, who just turned 23, having a hell of a season. You see Mookie Betts, another young talented player, having the season he has put together. You see guys like Rodriguez pitching the way he pitched. You see Jackie Bradley Jr., the way he performed once he came back up. Porcello, the way he finished the season. It's something that gives you a lot of hope. Now we have the new [executive] and a new GM, who you can already see how [consumed] they are about the following season. It's something I'm very excited about.
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski is also optimistic:
I think if we can be a in position where we make a couple of the right decisions this winter and a couple of acquisitions through trades or free agency, I think we have a chance to contend very quickly and I'm excited about that.
The Red Sox have asked Hanley Ramirez to drop 15-20 pounds before spring training. ... Gordon Edes hands out his awards for the 2015 Red Sox.

October 10, 2015

David Ortiz & The Hall Of Fame

David Ortiz Is Definitely A Hall Of Famer
Chad Finn, Boston.com, September 16, 2015
I think he gets in with relative ease, perhaps not on the first ballot, but without much suspense or drama a year or two or three after he is first eligible. He has at least a year left of playing, maybe a couple more given that he has 28 homers in his last 79 games, then the obligatory five-year waiting period before he’s on the ballot. I’d suggest Papi should have what is likely to be the second-best speech of his life ready by, oh, 2024.

Looking Beyond 500, Punch A Ticket To Cooperstown For David Ortiz
Christina Kahrl, ESPN, September 15, 2015
I would bet on his ultimately making the Hall of Fame, not merely because of a magic round number like 500 home runs -- although that helps -- but because he was a key contributor in all three of Boston’s World Series wins, capped by his MVP performance in the 2013 victory against the Cardinals. ...

If I get the opportunity ... and have the space on my ballot, I will vote for Ortiz. After all, if the history of the game is what is at stake, how do you tell the story of the game over the past 15 years without Ortiz?
Ortiz Isn't A Bad Guy - Or A Hall Of Famer
Rob Neyer, Just A Bit Outside, March 31, 2015
His career numbers aren't really Hall of Fame-worthy, considering his nonexistent value as a defender and the shutouts of (so far) Edgar Martinez and Mark McGwire (among others).

Really, a good Hall of Fame case for Ortiz must give seriously heavy weight to his postseason performance. I have recommended using postseason performance as a sort of tiebreaker . . . but oddly, Ortiz hasn't been tremendously important in postseason games, according to this metric anyway (which doesn't include 2013, and Ortiz did hit a few big homers that October).
David Ortiz Not an Easy Choice for the Hall of Fame
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, August 19, 2015
Ortiz may be inducted someday. But to get him there, many of the unwritten rules of Hall of Fame voting will have to be ignored.

As it stands, he has three major strikes against him, each of which has been enough for voters to exclude players in the past. ...

Ortiz is a special case because of how exciting his career has been and how much success his teams have had. There are numerous examples of players who overcame being short of the typical benchmarks because of their unique abilities or because their primes were so bright. Ortiz would easily fit in with players like Catfish Hunter, Sandy Koufax, Kirby Puckett and Phil Rizzuto.

But to get to the Hall of Fame, he will need voters who have seemed hesitant suddenly to accept that a full-time designated hitter with less-than-stellar career totals and a positive drug test should be elected. (my emphasis)
For the record, the drug test the supposed Paper of Record confidently describes as "positive" was actually labelled as "inconclusive" by both the Players Association and MLB. A 2009 Yahoo article noted that no one "[can] say with any certainty that he even tested positive."

The Daily News reported that "Ortiz could be one of the eight players who are believed to have tested positive for a spiked dietary supplement in 2003, rather than for hard-core injectable steroids".

Is David Ortiz A Hall of Famer?
Marc Normandin, Over The Monster, September 14, 2015
(That, by the way, is the entire article!)

October 9, 2015

Postseason Quadrupleheader Today

12:30 PM - Rangers at Blue Jays
 3:30 PM - Astros at Royals
 6:30 PM - Cubs at Cardinals
 9:30 PM - Mets at Dodgers
Note: Lester/Lackey in the Cubs/Cards game!


MLB Not Enforcing New Pace-Of-Play Rules During Playoffs
Joe Rodgers, The Sporting News
Major League Baseball's attempt to speed up the pace of play shaved, on average, six minutes off the length of regular-season games. But don't expect the time of games to drop well into the playoffs.

MLB has elected not to warn players for any pace-of-play violations for the postseason due to the importance of the games.

Even as commercial breaks in the postseason have increased, certain pitchers in the wild-card games still weren't ready to pitch within the recommended time frame. ...

"That is a critical time in a do-or-die playoff game that is very different than a routine regular-season game," said Chris Marinak, an MLB senior vice president via the New York Times. "If it takes a few extra seconds to make sure a player is ready in a critical situation, I think our fans can live with that."
MLB umpires will also not enforce the rule-book strike zone during the postseason. I wonder what other rules have they decided to suspend.

October 6, 2015

Schadenfreude 185 (A Continuing Series)

And at 11:15 PM, October 6 became YANKEE ELIMINATION DAY!

AL Wild Card Game
Astros  - 010 100 100 - 3  5  0
Yankees - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0

George A. King III, Post:
Swinging wet newspapers, the "Men Without Bats" were dominated for the third time this year by Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel on the way to 3-0 loss that ended their season in front of a sold-out and season-high Yankee Stadium crowd of 50,113 that was willing to get involved but never given a reason.

When they exercised their vocal chords it was to boo Brett Gardner after he grounded out in the eighth inning. Gardner played center field over Jacoby Ellsbury because Joe Girardi wanted Chris Young's right-handed bat in the lineup against Keuchel, and Gardner whiffed three times against Keuchel. Ellsbury was booed when he ended the eighth on a pop-up as a pinch-hitter. ...

The Yankees' late-season slide in which they appeared to be under the influence of Quaaludes – they lost six of seven to end the year – continued and sent them home after nine nondescript postseason innings.

It was the Yankees' fifth straight postseason loss. The last time the Yankees won a postseason game was Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS ...

After holding the Yankees scoreless in 16 innings during the regular season, Keuchel was just as good despite pitching on three days' rest for the first time as a pro ...

In six shutout innings, the talented lefty allowed three singles, faced two batters with runners in scoring position and walked one.
Peter Botte, Daily News:
Cy Young hopeful Dallas Keuchel continued his dominance over the Yanks in three 2015 starts, as the bearded lefty stifled them over six shutout innings on three-days' rest and the Astros sent them home early with a one-and-done 3-0 victory in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night at the Stadium.

Masahiro Tanaka coughed up solo home runs to Colby Rasmus and ex-Met Carlos Gomez in his five innings, but neither the Japanese righty nor the Yankees' meek lineup were any match for Keuchel (87 pitches) and three relievers. The All-Star lefty also had tossed 16 scoreless innings in two starts against the Bombers during the regular season. ...

In the organization's first playoff game since 2012, however, the Yanks' batters looked off-balance all night and often expressed displeasure with home-plate umpire Eric Cooper's strike zone. ...

[Alex Rodriguez] came to the plate with two runners on and two outs following singles by Gregorius and Carlos Beltran in the sixth. But he lifted Keuchel's first pitch to shallow center to extend his postseason hitless string with runners in scoring position to 19 consecutive at-bats.
Dan Martin, Post:
The Yankee Stadium crowd waited all night to get excited, but Dallas Keuchel hardly took his foot off the Yankees' offense throat.

Finally, with two outs in the sixth, the Yankees got their first — and only — rally of the night with runners on first and second and two out and Alex Rodriguez coming to the plate.

"I thought that was going to be the moment for us that was going to turn it around, but it [wasn't]," manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees went meekly in Tuesday's wild-card game 3-0 to the Astros in The Bronx.

After a leadoff single by Didi Gregorius, a strikeout by Brett Gardner, Chris Young hit into a force out to bring up Carlos Beltran, who singled to center.

But Rodriguez swung at Keuchel's first pitch and flied harmlessly to center.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
At least Joe Girardi doesn't have to change his number next year.

Not like he changed his lineup Tuesday night by benching $153 million man Jacoby Ellsbury in favor of Chris Young and putting the struggling Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot in a desperate attempt to find offense, any offense for the moribund Yankees.

Ellsbury has had his troubles, too. Nothing worked. This night was nothing to go wild about.

The Yankees are done. They were put out of their misery by the Astros at Yankee Stadium with another hitless-wonder performance, shut out 3-0 by Dallas Keuchel & Co.

After two years of finishing out of the playoffs, the Yankees could not muster a postseason victory.
Girardi could not push the right buttons to get the Yankees' offense going.

New York now belongs to the Mets the rest of the postseason.
Anthony McCarron, Daily News:
This was surely not what they all envisioned, back at the giddy press conferences or over filet mignon at the recruiting dinners, where they doubtless dreamed of long October runs and postseason glory.

Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka signed big-bucks contracts in the winter before the 2014 season, but both were not nearly the factors they hoped to be in their first Yankee taste of the postseason, Tuesday's 3-0 wild card loss to Houston.

Ellsbury did not start and only popped up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Tanaka was the Yanks' choice to start the game, but only threw five innings and 83 pitches ..

It was a rough night for two men who are supposed to be among the cornerstones of these Yankee years. And players who are making a combined $308 million should never be this kind of October afterthought ...
Joel Sherman, Post:
Pick your word: Feeble. Meek. Lifeless.

This is how the Yankees sleep-walked into the offseason, sent off by home boos over the final few innings. They lost 3-0 to the Astros, compounding a miserable finish to the season that dimmed the joy of a first playoff berth in three years.

The nine innings also accentuated most worries about a team trying to squeeze the last vestiges of skill out of older players while rebuilding on the fly. ...

Ellsbury didn't even start this wild-card game as Joe Girardi opted instead for Brett Gardner, who whiffed in all three of his at-bats against Keuchel. Ellsbury has five years at nearly $111 million left on his contract, and the Yankees probably can only expect his fragility to rise and his athleticism to diminish, leaving what exactly? ...

In 21 of their final 61 games, the Yankees scored two or fewer runs. And they scored none in 22 innings against Keuchel in 2015. ...

The aura in the Stadium was like when Josh Beckett pitched on three days' rest in World Series Game 6 in 2003 – an anticipatory crowd was lulled into slow silence with the realization the Yankees were not going to hit their nemesis.

Or anybody. The Yanks never got a runner even to third base against Keuchel, Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson.

Their season ended without much resistance ...

Daily News:
Some Yankees fans have embraced Alex Rodriguez — even after his season-long PED suspension — but this New Jersey grandmother wasn't one of them.

Helen Fowler, 85, of Cranford, N.J., died on Sept. 29, according to The Star-Ledger, and in her obituary was referred to as "... a lifelong Yankees fan, with the exception of Alex Rodriguez."

2015 Postseason Contest Entries

2015 Postseason Contest
allan       HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    LAD    CHI    CUBS!
Lewis S     HOU    TOR    HOU    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    NYM    TOR
Jeff M      HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    STL    NYM    NYM    TOR
Dan C       HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    STL    NYM    STL    TOR
Jere S      HOU    TOR    KCR    KCR    CHI    CHI    LAD    CHI    KCR
Davide B    HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    PIT    PIT    LAD    LAD    TOR
Antonio D   HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    CHI    TOR
Charlie P   HOU    HOU    KCR    KCR    PIT    STL    LAD    LAD    KCR
Microtal    NYY    TOR    KCR    TOR    PIT    STL    LAD    LAD    TOR
Ben A       NYY    TOR    NYY    TOR    CHI    STL    LAD    STL    TOR
Brendan R   HOU    TOR    KCR    TOR    CHI    CHI    NYM    NYM    NYM
World Series Picks
Blue Jays   7
Royals      2
Cubs        1
Mets        1

October 5, 2015

Terry Francona, TV Critic

Hey, Tito, what do you think about NESN?

Everyone Loves A Contest #18: 2015 Postseason

When it came to predicting the Red Sox's 2015 won-loss record, JoS readers were, once again, an extremely optimistic bunch. The guesses ranged from 82-103 wins, but the Olde Towne Team finished at 78-84.

So the contest prize - a paperback copy of Peter Golenbock's Red Sox Nation: The Rich And Colorful History Of The Boston Red Sox - will be rolled over to a Postseason Contest.

This is probably too tough, but what the hell. Correctly predict the winner of every postseason series.

An example:
ALWC: Astros over Yankees
ALDS: Blue Jays over Astros
ALDS: Royals over Rangers
ALCS: Blue Jays over Royals
NLWC: Cubs over Pirates
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals
NLDS: Dodgers over Mets
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
WS:   Cubs over Blue Jays
Contest entries must be emailed to me before the first pitch of the Astros-Yankees game (Tuesday, 8 PM).

October 4, 2015

Red Sox Players Salute Don Orsillo At End Of Game

Orsillo's statement:
My first Red Sox game at Fenway Park was June 24, 1978. I will never forget it. My friend Luis Tiant pitched in that game and he won. My friend Jerry Remy played in that game as well. I grew up up in Madison, N.H. Listening to the great Ken Coleman on Red Sox radio, and I was so fortunate to sit next to Ken for his last broadcast in 1989 as his intern, as well as sit next to my friend and teacher, Joe Castiglione. Twenty-six years later, I now broadcast my last Red Sox game, after 15 years as the voice of the Boston Red Sox and just shy of 2,000 total games.

I want to thank my friend and partner, Jerry Remy. For 15 years, we've been through so much together on the field and off the field and I thank you so much for being one of my very best friends. My director and my friend Michael Naracci, who I have worked with for 17 years dating back to the Pawtucket Red Sox, and I thank him so much for everything he has done. And our great crew at Fenway Park, who have been with me for the 15 years.

To my parents, who made my 10 years of minor league work possible. The Orsillos and Nolans, to all of you, from Chelsea to Melrose to Stoneham. My Cathy, my daughters Sidney and Madison, but mostly I want to thank the fans of Red Sox Nation.

I thank you for your incredible support and your loyalty. I heard all of you and never forget your words, as they touched me so very deeply. Thank you for letting me into your homes, into your families for the last 15 years. Last Sunday at Fenway will be my greatest memory of my life. I can tell you that right now. Your tribute to me I will never forget. Ever.

I've been asked many times over the last six weeks how I would like to be remembered. And to be remembered at all is enough for me. Thank you.

2015 Postseason Schedule

American League Wild Card
1006 - Astros at Yankees
National League Wild Card
1007 - Cubs at Pirates
American League Division Series
G1 1008 - Rangers @ Blue Jays
G2 1009 - Rangers @ Blue Jays
G3 1011 - Blue Jays @ Rangers
G4 1012 - Blue Jays @ Rangers
G5 1014 - Rangers @ Blue Jays
American League Division Series
G1 1008 - Wild Card @ Royals
G2 1009 - Wild Card @ Royals
G3 1011 - Royals @ Wild Card
G4 1012 - Royals @ Wild Card
G5 1014 - Wild Card @ Royals
National League Division Series
G1 1009 - Wild Card @ Cardinals
G2 1010 - Wild Card @ Cardinals
G3 1012 - Cardinals @ Wild Card
G4 1013 - Cardinals @ Wild Card
G5 1015 - Wild Card @ Cardinals
National League Division Series
G1 1009 - Mets at Dodgers
G2 1010 - Mets at Dodgers
G3 1012 - Dodgers at Mets
G4 1013 - Dodgers at Mets
G5 1015 - Mets at Dodgers
American League Championship Series
G1 1016 -
G2 1017 -
G3 1019 -
G4 1020 -
G5 1021 -
G6 1023 -
G7 1024 -
National League Championship Series
G1 1017 -
G2 1018 -
G3 1020 -
G4 1021 -
G5 1022 -
G6 1024 -
G7 1025 -
World Series
G1 1027 - NL @ AL
G2 1028 - NL @ AL
G3 1030 - AL @ NL
G4 1031 - AL @ NL
G5 1101 - AL @ NL
G6 1103 - NL @ AL
G7 1104 - NL @ AL

G162: Cleveland 3, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 100 000 000 - 1  7  1
Cleveland - 012 000 00x - 3 10  0
Boston finished the season with a 78-84 record (a huge disappointment, but a seven-game improvement over 2014!).

The Red Sox also ended up in fifth/last place for the third time in four seasons.

Rick Porcello / Danny Salazar
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Shaw, 1B
Castillo, LF
Swihart, C
Marrero, 3B
Bradley, RF
And then we came to the end ...

While Xander Bogaerts's chances of getting to 200 hits is remote (he has 195), Gordon Edes notes that Bogaerts "still has a chance to become the youngest player to lead the league in a non-strike season since 22-year-old George Brett led the AL with 195 hits in 1975". (Houston's José Altuve leads the AL with 197 hits.)

John Farrell Will Return As Manager In 2016

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
The Red Sox announced Sunday that not only will John Farrell remain as manager (provided a clean bill of health after his recovery from Stage 1 Lymphoma), but Torey Lovullo will be by his side as bench coach for the 2016 season.

Lovullo has signed a new two-year extension with the team that encompasses the 2017-18 seasons, agreeing to bypass the opportunity to pursue any major league managerial openings during the upcoming offseason. Lovullo was signed through the '16 season.

Farrell signed a two-year coach extension this past offseason, taking him through the '17 season with a team option for '18.
Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
According to the statement, the 53-year-old Farrell has been given a "clean bill of health." He has been on medical leave since Aug. 14, and Lovullo guided the team to a 28-19 record as the interim manager.

President of baseball operations David Dombrowski said Sunday that he has been told by doctors that Farrell's full recovery will take an estimated three to six months. Having Lovullo on board protects the club in the event his health becomes an issue, as well as takes pressure off Farrell to rush his return before he is ready.
Edes also wrote a lengthy article on the deep friendship between Farrell and Lovullo.

October 3, 2015

G161: Cleveland 2, Red Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 000 000 - 0  3  0
Cleveland - 010 100 00x - 2  8  0
Boston managed six baserunners against Corey Kluber (8-3-0-2-9, 107) and Cody Allen:
1st inning: Mookie Betts walked with 0 outs.
2nd inning: Deven Marrero walked with 2 outs.
4th inning: Travis Shaw singled with 1 out.
5th inning: Sandy Leon singled with 1 out.
7th inning: Brock Holt hit by pitch with 2 outs.
8th inning: Sandy Leon singled with 0 out.
Only Betts advanced to second (stolen base).

Craig Breslow (5.1-5-2-0-2, 66) gave up two home runs: Carlos Santana in the second and Ryan Raburn in the fourth.
Craig Breslow / Corey Kluber
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B Rutledge, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Shaw, 1B
Castillo, LF
Holt, DH
Marrero, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Pedroia scratched because of the wet field conditions.

October 2, 2015

G160: Cleveland 8, Red Sox 2

Red Sox   - 000 200 000 - 2  5  0
Cleveland - 004 030 10x - 8 12  0
David Ortiz slugged his 37th home run of the year, with Xander Bogaerts aboard, in the fourth inning.
Henry Owens / Josh Tomlin
Betts, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Shaw, 1B
Castillo, LF
Holt, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, RF

"Selfie Girls" & MLB's Ongoing Alienation Of Its Audience

Diamondbacks Announcers' Selfie Shaming Needlessly Alienates Younger Fans
Tanya Bondurant, SB Nation
Major League Baseball has been extremely tone deaf when it comes to how its audience consumes its product. The generation of younger fans are glued to their cell phones, making it silly that MLB cracks down so hard on GIFs and Vines that make their product seem more appealing to a generation viewing everything through a smartphone screen. ...

The older generation seems to think this is somehow detracting from the natural enjoyment of life and take the time to criticize the practice at seemingly every opportunity. It's a generational divide that comes across as bitter and superior. Couple that generational divide with a stereotype that young women are at games to be seen for Instagram, or because their boyfriends dragged them there against their will instead of "being a good fan" by hanging on every pitch and you have the fuel for a mean-spirited rant. Arizona Diamondbacks announcers Bob Brenly and Steve Berthiaume decided to perpetuate this stereotype when they took two minutes to mock a group of women taking selfies at the ballpark during the fourth inning of Wednesday's game.

Having a group of women taken to task by the broadcast booth during a meaningless game in late September for enjoying themselves is pretty silly. ... Ironically, this mockery took place right as the broadcast team was pitching the T-Mobile Fan Photo promotion that encouraged fans to send in their pictures from the ballpark to be used on the broadcast. ... Why would anyone want to participate in this promotion if they know they might be mocked for it?
On "Selfie Girls" And Alienating Your Fans
Nicole Haase, SB Nation
Are those ladies hurting anyone? Are they interfering with anyone else's ability to watch and enjoy the game? Are they interrupting the game of play?

The answer to all of those questions is "NO" and that's the simple answer to why I don't give a flying frog's bottom about how those ladies (or women. But not girls. They're in college, stop being pejorative) chose to spend their evening. ...

When I'm interrupted multiple times an inning for folks to go get food and beer and head to the bathroom - where's Brenly to mock how those folks aren't really actually there to watch a game? ...

Let's be real. The ASU ladies were not initially targeted and broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona because they were taking selfies. Whether it's cameramen or producers, someone behind the scenes of every sports broadcast makes a conscious effort to put young, pretty women both on TV and on the scoreboard. As Justin Bopp put it, this silent objectification of the women who attend their games is odd and uncomfortable. It's totally unnecessary, but unfortunately prevalent.

Female fans have been marginalized, sexualized, objectified and ignored for far too long.

October 1, 2015

With Ramirez Away From The Team, It's "Pile On Hanley" Time

Did a bell go off in the Red Sox press room, triggering some Pavlovian response from the writers who cover the team? Over the course of three days, five different sportswriters weighed in on what a horrible teammate Hanley Ramirez is and has been - and how important it is for the Red Sox to get rid of him this winter. All five articles appeared as soon as Ramirez left the team (with the club's permission) to continue rehabbing his right shoulder in Florida.

It is beyond question that Ramirez was a huge disappointment this season. He had a poor season at the plate (.291 OBP) and was atrocious in left field. But these five stories - which paint a clear picture of a lazy clubhouse cancer who may be faking his injuries - suggest something much more odious.

I expected to read the usual hatchet jobs, but because these stories come mostly from writers who aren't gossipy shit-flingers, I'm left wondering if all this smoke means there actually is a fire burning somewhere. In the case of Ramirez, it doesn't seem necessary for these writers - with a nod from management - to grease the wheels to run yet another player out of town, not that the player needs to be universally loved to get that treatment.

Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston, September 28, 2015: "Hanley Ramirez Goes Home; Will He Ever Come Back?"
There has been nothing about Ramirez's late-summer injury saga that can be easily explained. The injury to his left shoulder? We all witnessed his early-May collision with the side wall in Fenway and the subsequent drastic drop in power. But the right shoulder? No one, by my reckoning, has ever pinned down its cause, with cumulative wear and tear a dubious candidate. It was described as day-to-day for some time, and then the Sox put him on the disabled list, something you don't even have to do in September because rosters expand.

Ramirez continued to work out at first base and had some batting-practice sessions that were epic -- balls crushed with ferocious power in Fenway Park. He told at least one reporter he expected to play as soon as he was eligible to come off the DL. But then? Nothing, soon to be followed by word that Ramirez was being shut down for the season. The shoulder wasn't coming around. Not to mention Ramirez wasn't exactly acing his classes at first base. ...

Perhaps there are some of you who believe this is much ado about nothing, piling on a guy who isn't playing anyway. Perhaps what it really represents is a meeting of the minds: Ramirez thinks he has nothing left to give, and there's nothing the Sox want from him. Best, then, to go home.

And plan on a change of address in 2016.
Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, September 29, 2015: "Sending Hanley Ramirez Home Is Best For Red Sox"
If there was ever a player who didn't fit the chemistry, the approach, or the future of the Boston Red Sox, it's Hanley Ramirez. There is no positive that could come from Ramirez being around his teammates in the final few days of the regular season. In fact, it's a good thing that he is away.

Why would you want the highest-paid player on the team — who has exhibited no leadership, who has been out of the lineup for extended periods with injuries, who has exhibited "I don't care" body language on the field and off it, who by my count spent two days working on his left-field play during the regular season and really never got better — around the team? ...

Ramirez has carried this reputation wherever he's been. The Marlins loved his talent, but when it came down to deciding whether to center their team around him, the answer was no way.

The Dodgers were awed by the offensive ability, signed him, then couldn't wait to see him go. ...

There's $68.25 million left on his deal through 2018. That's a lot of money the Red Sox need to have go away. But really, it's money well eaten. ...

And he's only 31. Even though he plays like 41. ...

Nothing that has happened this season has changed the perception of him. In fact, everything has been right on cue.

I don't think there's a player on the Red Sox who misses him, other than Ortiz, who seems to be friends with him, but obviously has had very little influence on him.
Michael Silverman, Boston Herald, September 30, 2015: "Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez Missing And No One Cares"
It's one thing to disappoint from a production standpoint, which both Ramirez and Sandoval did, but it's stunning that the pair of high-priced imports now feel irrelevant to the present and especially the future of the Red Sox. ...

Since Red Sox doctors advised Sandoval to stay in Boston until he got past his pneumonia, there's no reason to second-guess that call. ...

Ramirez feels like a different story. ...

[T]here is still some disconnect about the urgency to have Ramirez return home rather than stick it out with the team and its trainers for just one more week.

First of all, if Ramirez wanted to be with his teammates, he could have squawked about the decision and he'd be here.

Second, if the decision was not left in Ramirez' hands, it speaks pretty loudly and clearly to the Sox seeing little value in having him around as they play out the string.

You can almost hear echoes of what one uniformed member of the team mentioned as an aside in the middle of the summer about how he worried if Ramirez' lack of hustle was going to be a negative influence on all the impressionable young players in the clubhouse. ...
Chad Finn, Boston.com, September 30, 2015: "It's Time For Hanley Ramirez To Go"
The player and club agreed Monday that it would be best for him to rehabilitate his mysterious right shoulder injury at his home in Ft. Lauderdale rather than with the Red Sox. He is not coming back this year. If he comes back next year, it must be in a visiting uniform.

The current scenario would seem odd for pretty much any player other than the enigmatic Ramirez. The Red Sox are saying all the right things about beginning his rehab process, but ... The No. 1 priority this winter – perhaps other than finding a No. 1 starter – is getting him out of here for good. ...

The concept of a coach-killer in professional sports is a familiar and timeless one. The superstar player who is so talented that the all me-first peccadilloes and team-splintering behavioral issues are tolerated is an archetype. It will remain a mainstay so long as a premium – financial and otherwise – is put on victory. ...

Ramirez was once a superstar. A slugger rather than a slug. ...

The decision to move Ramirez to left field should have worked. But Hanley didn't do the work – the commitment wasn't there, ever.
Alex Speier, Boston Globe, September 30, 2015: "How Did The Red Sox Salvage Something From A Lost Season?"
On Aug. 25, the Red Sox announced that Ramirez would start working at first base with an eye toward a possible move there by the end of the season. Ramirez played that night in left field in a 5-4 loss to the White Sox, and hasn't spent a day in left since. (Ramirez served as designated hitter on Aug. 26 and has been sidelined since by a shoulder injury.) ...

Thus ended a failed experiment whose harm extended beyond the field. Ramirez was, of course, a disaster in left, exceeding any worst-case assumptions. When it signed him, the team hoped he would be serviceable in left for perhaps a season or two, then transition to first base or DH.

But serviceable never happened. At a time when a staff expected to produce tons of ground balls instead ended up having a bunch of pitches belted in the air, the consequences of Ramirez’s deficiencies were severe.

Yet the ripples from Ramirez's defensive struggles had more far-reaching implications, straining clubhouse relations between Ramirez and the coaching staff due to his unwillingness to work to improve. That dynamic contributed to Ramirez being "ostracized" from his teammates, in the words of one source familiar with the situation. ...

The tension was palpable and counterproductive. ...

But the shift to Dombrowski accelerated the timetable. With a new voice willing to state the obvious – Ramirez wasn't an adequate left fielder – and no prior history with Ramirez, Dombrowski could commit to an immediate move, diluting a clot of tension that had restricted the Sox for much of the year.
I should note that Finn has backed away from his column a bit. In a post at the Sons of Sam Horn message board, he wrote: "I was too harsh. Not my best stuff. I actually like him more than most, though you sure as hell couldn't tell from that."

With the Red Sox's outfield set for 2016 - Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley - and David Ortiz still producing as the team's DH, there is no room for Ramirez on next year's team. The only possible place for him is first base, but his chances of success at that position are questionable, at best.

G159: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 010 000 - 1  7  0
Yankees - 020 000 11x - 4  8  0
Rich Hill / CC Sabathia
Betts, CF
Bradley, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Shaw, 1B
Castillo, RF
Craig, DH
Marrero, 3B
Leon, C
Rutledge, 2B