August 31, 2020

G35: Atlanta 6, Red Sox 3

Atlanta - 100 131 000 - 6 12  0
Red Sox - 101 000 010 - 3  8  0
In a 2-2 game, Colten Brewer's fifth inning began: walk, double, walk. Austin Riley's triple off reliever Phillips Valdez's 1-0 pitch cleared the bases. Valdez struck out the next three batters, but the damage was already done. (Brewer: 4-8-5-2-4, 76)

Alex Verdugo went 3-for-4 (all doubles) (upping his average to .306) and scored two of Boston's three runs. Rafael Devers went 2-for-4.

The two teams traded runs in the first, with Devers's single to center driving in Verdugo for Boston's tally.

The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the third. Verdugo doubled, went to third on a groundout, and scored on a balk.

Atlanta tied it as soon as possible, as Adam Duvall led off the fourth with a dong.

Trailing 5-2 in the fifth, the Red Sox put runners on first and second with one out, but Devers GIDP. Boston went in order in the sixth and seventh.

Three consecutive one-out singles by Christian Vázquez, Devers, and Xander Bogaerts resulted in a run, but that was it, as Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec both struck out.

Mark Melancon did his former team no favours in the ninth, retiring the bottom third of the lineup in order. Atlanta improved to 20-14 and leads the NL East by three games.

Max Fried (5-5-2-2-5, 93) allowed two runs, something he had not done since Opening Day. RA in eight starts: 2, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2. His ERA ballooned to 1.60.
Max Fried / Colten Brewer
Verdugo, RF
Vázquez, C
Devers, 3B
Bogaerts, SS
Chavis, 1B
Dalbec, DH
Bradley, CF
Araúz, 2B
Peraza, LF
The Red Sox have won six of their last 10 games, but still lost 1.5 games in the standings during that time. ... Their home and road records are identical: 6-11.

Max Fried is a 26-year-old lefty with a 1.35 ERA in seven starts (40 innings). In his last four starts, his ERA is 0.81. None of the 153 batters he has faced this season has hit a home run.

Red Sox Trade Pillar And Osich; Luxury Tax Penalties To Be Re-Set

The Red Sox made two small trades before this afternoon's deadline.

Kevin Pillar was dealt to the Rockies for a PTBNL and international slot money (with "cash considerations" on both sides). Josh Osich was traded to the Cubs for a PTBNL.

In the last 10 days, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom also traded relief pitchers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies for pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold and dealt Mitch Moreland to the Padres for minor league prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario.

As far as the re-setting of possible luxury tax penalties on team payroll, Alex Speier explains:
MLB's luxury tax rates will reset for 2021 based on what teams spend in 2020. So: technically the luxury tax rates *don't* reset today, but the *possibility* of rates resetting based on 2020 luxury tax payroll will exist. ...
The Sox have plenty of space at this point - an uncertain amount based on how Price opting out of the season is calculated, but they're probably in the $190M-ish range right now.

August 30, 2020

G34: Red Sox 9, Nationals 5

Nationals - 002 120 000 - 5 11  1
Red Sox   - 323 000 01x - 9 15  0
Rafael Devers went 4-for-4, with two home runs and three RBI, and Bobby Dalbec had two hits in his major league debut, including his first home run, a two-run shot in the third inning.

Boston took an early lead. Devers walked in the first and Xander Bogaerts hit his eighth home run of the year. Kevin Pillar doubled and Kevin Plawecki singled him in.

Dalbec led off the second by striking out in his first career plate appearance. But with two outs, Alex Verdugo doubled and Devers homered to right-center.

In the third, Washington scored twice, but the Red Sox scored thrice. Pillar singled and scored on Plawecki's double. Then Dalbec carved an 0-2 pitch inside the right field pole for a two-run dong. Boston led 8-2.

Dalbec is the ninth Red Sox player to homer in his debut and the first in more than a decade. Back on June 12, 2010, Daniel Nava hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his first at-bat. I can vividly remember that the bases were loaded for Nava's second career plate appearance, in the very next inning. Lightning did not strike twice, though. He struck out.

The Nats tried chipping away. Josh Harrison led off the fourth with a homer. Eric Thames went deep with two outs in the fifth and Adam Eaton tripled in Yan Gomes, who had walked. All five opposing runs were scored against Zach Godley (4.2-8-5-1-3, 85) and after he departed, the bullpen stopped the Nats' bats (and they had almost no RATS) (4.1-3-0-2-5).

Josh Osich gave up a couple of two-out singles in the sixth, but got an inning-ending force play. Leadoff walks in the seventh and eighth, as well as a two-out double in the ninth, were not costly.

Devers saw a total of 30 pitches in his five trips to the plate, including the two longest PAs of his career. He walked on 10 pitches (bcsbfbfffb) in the first inning and his eighth-inning home run came on the 10th pitch (sbfbbffff-HR). Previously, the most pitches Devers had seen in a plate appearance in his four seasons had been eight.
Austin Voth / Zach Godley
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Pillar, RF
Plawecki, C
Bradley, CF
Dalbec, 1B
Peraza, 2B
Mitch Moreland was traded to the Padres this morning. Bobby Dalbec, 25 and one of the Red Sox's top prospects, will make his major league debut this afternoon.

The Red Sox received two prospects from San Diego, infielder Hudson Potts and outfielder Jeisson Rosario. MLB Pipeline ranks Potts at #16 in the Padres' farm system and Rosario at #19.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom:
Both these guys have a chance to be really exciting players. Very high upside, both of them. Pretty accomplished Minor League players at levels where they've been very young.
Ian Browne writes that Dalbec and Michael Chavis will share duties at first base, with Dalbec also spelling Rafael Devers at third.

August 29, 2020

G33: Red Sox 5, Nationals 3

Nationals - 003 000 000 - 3 11  0
Red Sox   - 310 100 00x - 5  9  2
Xander Bogaerts clubbed a long three-run homer in the first inning and Alex Verdugo collected his MLB-leading seventh outfield assist of the season, throwing a runner out at the plate in the fifth that would have cut Boston's lead to 5-4.

The Red Sox wasted no time in jumping on Aníbal Sánchez 5-8-5-0-4, 85). After the Nationals left men at first and third in the top of the first, Alex Verdugo (2-for-4, stolen base, run) led off the home half with a single to left. J.D. Martinez doubled with one out.

Bogaerts (3-for-4, single, double, home run, stolen base, run, 3 RBI) crushed the first pitch over everything to left-center, scoring three. The projected distance was 440 feet, Bogaerts's third-longest homer since 2015.

Boston upped its lead to 4-0 in the second. Kevin Pillar (2-for-3, triple, home run, 2 runs, RBI) led off with a triple and scored on Jackie Bradley's grounder to first.

Chris Mazza (2.1-6-3-2-3, 75) nearly gave it all away in the third. Trea Turner (5-for-5*) doubled and scored when Mazza made a throwing error on Juan Soto's infield single. Then Soto touched the plate on Howie Kendrick's single to right. Asdrubal Cabrera walked and Adam Eaton singled to center. Kendrick scored, making it 4-3. Mazza struck out Kurt Suzuki (the first out!), but that was the end of his night. Darwinzon Hernandez struck out Luis Garcia, walked Eric Thames (loading the bases), and struck out Victor Robles.

*: Turner's third career game with five hits. He also extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Turner is the first visiting player with five hits in a game at Fenway since Carlos Pérez and C.J. Cron of the Angels did it on July 2, 2016.

The Nats threatened in the fourth against Phillips Valdez. Turner singled and, after Soto and Kendrick went down swinging, Cabrera walked. But Valdez caught Adam Eaton looking at strike three.

Pillar's homer in the fourth gave the Red Sox a little more breathing room.

In the fifth, Suzuki singled and Thames walked. Austin Brice came in with two outs. Turner lined a single to left-center. Verdugo raced over (covering about 50 feet), gloved it and quickly threw home, and the slow-moving Suzuki was out at the plate, ending the inning, depriving Soto of an at-bat with runners on, and preserving Boston's 5-3 lead.

It does help that I'm a lefty ... It was my glove side, so all I had to do was kind of backhand it, and I just had to make sure I worked one shuffle, kind of forward, towards the plate. I had a good understanding of where I was on the field, and from there, it's just stop my momentum and try to make a shuffle and get rid of it as quick as I can. ... The main thing for me is just try to keep my throws low and try to blow up the cutoff man and throw it right through his chest. Sometimes they cut it, sometimes it goes through and you get them.
Washington manager Dave Martinez:
I think [third-base coach] Chip [Hale] had the right intent. The left fielder -- when you go laterally away from home plate, you typically send the guy. I watched Suzuki, too. Suzuki had a great jump. So when he went left, I was with Chip. I thought he should send him right there. [Verdugo] made a good throw. He put it right on the base. If the throw's up the line or something like that, he scores. But he put it right on home plate.
Turner was impressed.
I thought it was unbelievable. I thought Kurt was going to be safe by a mile, but he made an unbelievable throw and really got behind it and put a lot on it and put it right on the money. So you've got to tip your cap when somebody makes kind of a SportsCenter play.
Washington put two runners on in the sixth, thanks to Rafael Devers's eighth error of the year and a walk, before Adam Eaton grounded into a double play.

Josh Osich allowed a leadoff single in the seventh that ended up being harmless. Ryan Brasier got the last out of that inning and also pitched the eighth. Turner singled, but Soto fanned, Kendrick flied to center, and Cabrera flied to right. Matt Barnes walked Suzuki with one out in the ninth and struck out pinch-hitter Brock Holt and got Thames on a grounder to second.

Manager Ron Roenicke used six relievers to get the final 20 outs. They allowed five hits and five walks, but no runs.
It felt like a playoff game when you're doing everything you can to try to win a game, so taking trips out there with two outs and it seemed like a lot of innings, but hey, the guys did a good job. They kept throwing up zeros, and some guys came in and got some big outs for us, so that was good, but boy, it was a hard-fought win, that's for sure.
Aníbal Sánchez / Chris Mazza
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Pillar, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
Nathan Eovaldi will not pitch this weekend, as his right calf injury is still an issue. Zack Godley will start tomorrow.

With Monday's trade deadline only a few days away, Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic writes:
The best thing that can happen to this team is to tear it down and start over. ...

Sometimes trades can re-energize teams. And though there’s not much hope for turning around this season, perhaps some fresh faces could add a little life to a team that's been wallowing in its own misery for the better part of the past year.

Ryan Brasier Posted Video Mocking Former Celtics Coach Tearfully Talking About Racism After Red Sox Refused To Play On Thursday (Then Cowardly Deleted It When Asked About It)

It's good to know which players on your favourite baseball team support a man who is infamous for his racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments and behaviour, who has been accused of sexual assault and rape by at least 25 women and underage girls, who expresses a desire to maim, gas, and pierce the flesh of immigrant families, who separated nearly 70,000 infants and young children from their parents and imprisons them in concentration camps (thousands of whom were sexually assaulted), whose deliberate and premeditated actions have led to deaths of over 200,000 Americans in only six months, and who still refuses to do anything to stop the spread of a deadly virus, who has spoken more than 20,000 lies in his 3.5 years in office, who has committed hundreds of other vile, obscene, deranged, and criminal acts (such as disseminating Soviet propaganda, doing canned bean commercials from the Oval Office, and rigging an election in broad daylight), and who takes such unabashed pride in his staggering ignorance of everything.

I like knowing how Ryan Brasier sees the world and the names of the people he respects. ... And I can be glad when he's off my team.

John Tomase (NBC Sports Boston) reported that Brasier retweeted a video mocking former Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussing racial inequality.
After [I] asked [on Friday morning] why he had posted the video, Brasier deleted it from his timeline. He did not respond to requests for comment through the team. ...

The Red Sox had decided not to play [on Thursday night] out of respect to Jackie Bradley ...

Around 9 p.m. ... three hours after the Red Sox and Blue Jays issued a joint statement decrying America's "continued police brutality and social inequity," Brasier retweeted a video from conservative commentators The Hodgetwins entitled, "Doc Rivers crying over Jacob Blake."

An emotional Rivers had choked up on Tuesday while discussing the latest case of police brutality after a white Wisconsin officer shot Blake seven times in the back in front of his children. ...

The Hodgetwins video mocked Rivers as a puppet. "I feel like I'm watching a puppet show," one of the brothers said. "It looks like somebody's got you on some strings. Somebody's got to be pulling your strings. You can't be that naïve." ...

That video was one in a flurry of retweets from Brasier, who also linked to a Donald Trump campaign video claiming the president had delivered on a promise to bring real change to our nation's cities, retweeted the president claiming that, "The Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. are ALL run by Democrats, and this has gone on for DECADES!" and linked to multiple videos of UFC founder Dana White supporting Trump and decrying efforts to defund the police. Brasier left those tweets up, which he had posted during the Republican National Convention. ...

Until Thursday night, Brasier hadn't made any overtly political tweets or retweets since May, when he retweeted praise of Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott. ...

While Brasier is entitled to his beliefs, the timing certainly raised eyebrows ... just a day after no teammates except backup catcher Kevin Plawecki had inquired about how [Bradley] felt in the wake of growing player unrest across other sports.
Also good to know Plawecki has empathy. I'm not sure what the hell is wrong with Bradley's other 26 teammates.

August 28, 2020

Pillar Sounds Some Wrong Notes In Discussing Team's Support Of Bradley

It doesn't sound like Kevin Pillar truly understands what is going on.

Pillar, who was suspended by the Blue Jays in 2017 for yelling an anti-gay slur at Jason Motte, is quoted extensively by the Herald's Jason Mastrodonato and Eric Rueb of the Providence Journal, who noted that Pillar "said a lot of good things during Thursday's press conference ... [but] if you keep a person talking, the truth eventually finds the surface".

Pillar admitted the decision to not play their scheduled game last night (in solidarity with Jackie Bradley, who had told his teammates he would not play) was "not an easy [one] for a lot of us". Mastrodonato wondered why the decision should be difficult
when the entire NBA schedule is wiped clean for a couple days, when most MLB games are being protested across the league, when Black folks continue to be treated with unequal force by the police, when your own teammate and first base coach, Tom Goodwin, and other members of the club explain why it's important to sit one game out.
Mastrodonato also mentioned two recent incidents. The Red Sox's visit to the White House in 2019 as World Series champions was split mostly along racial lines (no white players refused to make the trip). On Opening Day of this season, the Red Sox and Orioles teams "held a long rope that was supposed to signify unity in the fight against racial injustice". The entire Orioles team took a knee before the anthem while on the other side of the field, only Bradley and three others did.

During yesterday's press conference, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and Pillar were asked: Given what you know now, given what you've learned from Bradley, do you feel differently about your decision to leave Bradley mostly alone taking a knee before Opening Day?

Pillar was the only one to answer.
I feel like that's a tough question to answer collectively as a group. We, all three of us, come from different backgrounds, different states, different countries. We all have different beliefs. We don't agree on everything. We agree on a lot of things. It's a difficult question to answer collectively. We did talk as a group before Opening Day about what was going on and what was expected of us. The biggest thing the organization preached to us was, "Do what you believe is right." You saw how a lot of us stood up for what we believed in and what we thought was right. We all individually had an opportunity to do what we felt like we needed to do. A lot has changed since Opening Day, but at the same time, a whole lot hasn't changed. ...

Is it more important that we uplift Jackie because he's the only one? My answer would be no. I think it's important that we uplift everyone in this room. Jackie is our only African-American baseball player on this team, but like they mentioned, we do have a coach, we have a trainer, there are teams that have quite a bit more African Americans on their team. But what we did today was 1,000% in support of Jackie Bradley Jr. (of the others), because this is how they felt. We wanted to show them support, that they weren't in this alone. ...

It's a touchy subject, but I don't think right now, as a country, we should be necessarily identifying individual groups of people that need to be uplifted. I think the vast majority of us would like to encourage to uplift everyone and support everyone.
I appreciate Pillar being willing to answer that question, and hope his comments spring from ignorance rather than malice, but still . . .

Pillar did everything short of screaming "all lives matter" in the wake of another shooting of a Black man at the hands of the police. He chose not to speak about Bradley's pain in a way that shows he understands the importance of helping him get through it. He doesn't believe in lifting up Black players in MLB.

He used the platform the Red Sox gave him to say he supports Bradley, while simultaneously presenting the argument on the other side.

Next time you see Bradley taking a knee before the game, if you ever do see it again, now you'll know what he's up against.
Rueb quoted Pillar's positive comments:
You hope it's a starting point and it's a conversation to be had as opposed to people watching a Red Sox game, maybe they're talking to their family or maybe they're talking to their neighbors about what's going on in the world, coming up with ideas on how to make this a better place ... I wish I knew the answer to how we can make this better but I still think it's a long road ahead. The fact that we're talking about it more openly and honestly is a good starting point.
But then said some of Pillar's other statements "exposed the disunity among the Red Sox when it comes matters of social justice":
To be honest with you it was not an easy decision for a lot of us. We do stand with Jackie and we want to be in support of him, but a lot of us understand that us playing today is an escape for a lot of people and the reality of things that are going on in the world. It is an opportunity to get away from the news and the evil and bad that's going on and be a distraction.
Rueb was dumbfounded:

Sports is a distraction — from things like when your boss makes you stay an hour later at work ... Sports aren't supposed to distract you from things like "police shooting Black citizens in the back" or "basic human rights." ...

[Pillar]got as close to saying "all lives matter" as the Sox are of clinching the No. 1 pick in next year's MLB Draft. ...
It's going to be very easy to point to the good things Pillar said and say "well, he made some other really good points, he didn't mean those other things."

That's sort of the problem here. Part of social injustice has been brushing off the bad and trying to highlight the good ...
What's Wrong With "All Lives Matter"?

Katie O'Malley, Elle:
The phrase contradicts itself. Well-intentioned or not, it can be received as "all lives already matter," which actually serves only to further defend the current state of inequality.
Professor Olivette Otele, Professor in History of Slavery at the University of Bristol and independent chair of Bristol City Council’s Commission on Race Equality:
It's such bad faith to say that "all lives matter". Surely this [worldwide anti-racist protests] all started because they didn't all matter? It's so obvious. It's dangerous [to use the phrase]. It's laziness ... People who tell me that they don't see colour worry me. If you don't see colour you don't see equality either. Equality is based on colour. "All Lives Matter" is a future where [Black people] can fight over ideas, verbally, without being shot.
Alicia Garza (who, with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, founded the BLM political movement in 2013):
Black Lives Matter doesn't mean your life isn't important – it means that Black lives, which are seen as without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation. Given the disproportionate impact state violence has on Black lives, we understand that when Black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide-reaching and transformative for society as a whole. When we are able to end the hyper-criminalisation and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free. When Black people get free, everybody gets free.
Arianne Shahvisi, Prospect Magazine (UK):
"Black Lives Matter" points to two things:
1. As far as various major social institutions are concerned—the police, the criminal justice system, medicine—Black lives don't matter as much as other lives.

2. Black lives should matter as much as other lives.
Taken together, these statements form the basis for challenging anti-Black racism.

The first point is a descriptive statement. It describes the world, and its truth can be verified through data based on observations. In the UK, Black people are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white people, and Black infant mortality is twice as high. Black people are twice as likely as white people to be unemployed, and almost half of Black households live in poverty. Black people are ten times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and four times more likely to be arrested. They constitute 3 per cent of the population, but 8 per cent of deaths in police custody. Black lives are deplorably under-valued.

Black is not a scientific term, it's a social one: there is no genetic basis for "Black" as a category, and two Black people chosen at random are likely to have less in common genetically than either has with any given white person. What Black people do have in common is the racism they face, which produces the discrepancies just described.

Turning to the second claim, "Black lives should matter" is what we call a normative statement. It's a moral proclamation, stating it's wrong that Black lives are under-valued. Moral statements cannot be verified by observations; they're based on particular values that must be argued for. (I won't argue that Black lives should matter. If that's not a value you already hold and find obvious, this article is not for you.)

Soon after the inception of the BLM movement, it was itself thwarted by baffling accusations of racism, often accompanied with the rejoinder: "All Lives Matter."

Clearly, as a descriptive statement, this isn't true. Not all lives matter. (Consider the way Black people, other people of colour, refugees, Gypsies and Travellers, and homeless people are treated.) We could instead interpret it as normative statement: all lives should matter. Agreed. Yet context is very important. Note that nobody was saying "All Lives Matter" before 2013. Rather, it's a direct response to BLM, and has no life outside that. And that's a problem, because if BLM is understood as a commitment to urgently tackling the violence and brutality of anti-Black racism, then blurting that "All Lives Matter" is at best, tangential, and at worst, a malevolent distraction.

Its effect is to stall conversations about anti-Black racism and instead either pretend that all lives do matter, or talk about everybody's lives all at once, whether or not particular groups are subject to particular, potentially fatal injustices right now. This leaves no bandwidth to address the particularly brutal injustices that Black people face. Saying "All Lives Matter" violates the concept of triage in medical ethics, which demands that we address the most troubling or life-endangering issues first.

"All Lives Matter" is therefore an obstacle to tackling anti-Black racism. Sometimes, it's a result of ignorance, a misinterpretation of BLM. More often, it's intentional; a filibuster, bent on derailing anti-racist work.
Doug Williford, an American author:
If my wife comes to me in obvious pain and asks "Do you love me?", an answer of "I love everyone" would be truthful, but also hurtful and cruel in the moment. If a co-worker comes to me upset and says "My father just died," a response of "Everyone's parents die" would be truthful, but hurtful and cruel in the moment. So when a friend speaks up in a time of obvious pain and hurt and says "Black lives matter," a response of "All lives matter" is truthful. But it's hurtful and cruel in the moment.

G32: Nationals 10, Red Sox 2

Nationals - 005 101 030 - 10 16  0
Red Sox   - 001 000 001 -  2 10  0
Perhaps the Red Sox should have refused to take the field on Friday, also.

However, playing the game helped us determine that, yes, as was widely rumoured, Max Scherzer (6-6-1-0-11, 92) is a better pitcher than Martín Pérez (4-8-6-0-1, 82).

This game was done in the top of the third. Josh Harrison singled and was forced at second by Michael Taylor. Victor Robles doubled to left. Trea Turner doubled to left (2-0). Juan Soto homered to right-center (4-0). Howie Kendrick homered to left-center (5-0). Kurt Suzuki added a two-out double, but was left on base.

Rafael Devers doubled in Alex Verdugo in the bottom half, but that was as close as the Red Sox got. Kevin Pillar knocked in a run in the ninth.

Eight of the nine batters in Boston's starting lineup got at least one hit (sorry, JDM). José Peraza had two.

The "Under .400 League" standings are getting tight:
          W   L   AVG    GB
Pirates   9  20  .310   ---
Red Sox  10  22  .313   1.5
Angels   10  22  .313   1.5   (Friday not included)
Royals   12  20  .375   1.5
Texas    12  19  .387   2.0
Woot: The Mets swept a doubleheader from the Yankees today. The MFY tossed away a 4-0 lead in the first game and lost 6-4. In the nightcap, Aroldis Chapman blew a 3-2 lead and lost the game when he gave up a walkoff two-run homer to Amed Rosario.
Max Scherzer / Martín Pérez
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Pillar, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
This feels like a grotesque mismatch. Which means the Red Sox will win 15-0, right?

Seven games were not played last night: Red Sox-Blue Jays, Rays-Orioles, Athletics-Texas, Twins-Tigers, Rockies-Diamondbacks, Phillies-Nationals, and Mets-Marlins.

Craig Calcaterra made today's edition of his Cup of Coffee newsletter free. It is well worth reading.
Last night was an extraordinary night in Major League Baseball. I can't think of any other way to put it. It was an evening in which Major League Baseball's lack of leadership and baseball's inability to understand or accept the feelings and the will of its athletes and the prospect of them exercising their own power was on full display. ...

Like I said: quite a night. A night which revealed just how difficult it is for the powers that be in Major League Baseball to let the players lead and speak their minds. How strongly they desire to police the time, manner, and place of protest and to prioritize the playing of games, on time, because "there's so much at stake."
Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson:
It needs to be an ongoing thing. We can't just have one day out of the baseball year that we bring light to everything. It needs to be Jackie Robinson Day. It needs to be the day after, the day before. I need to do a better job of trying to get into the community, and into the inner cities, and young Black kids around Miami and around the United States to know that you have my support, and I'm someone you can look up to.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli:
I never thought I'd be discussing this with any of you or with our players or our staff members on such a grand scale and in such a meaningful way. The amount of emotion we've seen from different players and staff members over the last six months is more than I've ever seen in my entire life.
The Players Alliance is a group of more than 100 active and retired professional baseball players. Its mission is to "create an inclusive culture within baseball and the community, where differences are leveraged to elevate racial equality and provide greater opportunities for the Black community, both in our game and the places we live in, play in, and care about most".

The members of The Players Alliance announced that they would donate their salaries from Thursday and Friday to support efforts to combat racial inequality.

Jim Rice: "It's Still Hard For Me [At Age 67]. If I Get Pulled Over, It's 'Is This Your Car?' You Get Pulled Over, It's 'License And Registration'."

Jim Rice talked with NESN's Tom Caron talks about his experiences with racism:
You got to realize that all lives matter, but what you see right now, you're seeing a lot of Black lives are being taken, for no reason at all, just because you're Black. They say Blue Lives this and Blue Lives that, but the blue lives are the ones that are killing the Blacks. ... I regret, as far as not being able to make a change [long pause] but all sports figures [now] are making a change.

What I saw [growing up] in South Carolina ... downtown, where the Blacks had to go in one way and the whites had to go in another way, and then you go get water and you see "colored" over here and you see "whites" over here, on the fountains, those are the things I grew up with [Rice was born in 1953*]. ...

It's still hard for me. I'm lucky to be able to have played the game of baseball, to have a nice car, nice house, and everything else, but still, when you think about being pulled over, you don't know. They don't know you, they don't know if you played baseball, anything can happen.

Like I was telling one of our co-workers, you don't see this. It's like if I get pulled over, it's "Is this your car?" You get pulled over, it's "License and registration". So I better make sure I have all my documents. I better make sure that I say "I'm going into my glove compartment to get my registration". ... And "Do you have a gun?" I have a permit, but I don't carry a gun. ... Those are some of the things you, as a Black man, have to be very careful of.
*: Anderson, South Carolina, had a population of about 19,000 in both the 1940 and 1950 Census. It jumped to approximately 41,000 in 1960, before dropping back to around 27,000 in 1970 and remaining at that level for the next five decades.

Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in "42" and the Black Panther in the movie of the same name, also grew up in Anderson. Boseman (born in 1977) is about 25 years younger than Rice.
It's not hard to find [racism] in South Carolina. Going to high school, I'd see Confederate flags on trucks. I know what it's like to be a kid at an ice-cream shop when some little white kid calls you "n-----," but your parents tell you to calm down because they know it could blow up. We even had trucks try to run us off the road. ... When I was shooting "Captain America: Civil War" in Atlanta [in 2015], I used to drive back on off-days to go see my family in Anderson. It's about two hours. And I would see the Klan holding rallies in a Walmart car park. ... People don't want to experience change, they just want to wake up and it's different.
James Yeh, a journalist, is also from Anderson (born 1982). He wrote this for Vice in 2015:
Just about every time I'm in the Carolinas, something racist happens to me. ...

Last summer, when I was walking in downtown Anderson, South Carolina—my hometown—I overheard the distinct sound of ching-chonging being directed my way, the same kind of "Chinese" sound I'd get from the other team whenever I played organized sports. ... [M]y parents still live in Anderson, where they've lived for over 40 years. ...

Although the days of the antebellum South are long gone, there is still a strong undercurrent of white supremacy in the air. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my mother last year for treatment at the cancer wing of a hospital and an elderly white man with a breathing tube staring unrelentingly at me with hostile, blood-rimmed eyes until my mother was finally called in to see the doctor.

Along the backroads, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are certain shops I know better than to walk into, shops with the words Dixie or heritage on their signs, rebel flags in the yard—places that sell T-shirts and hats with M-16s over a Stars and Bars background with the message/threat: "Come and take it." ...

When people of color or from other backgrounds turn up in places they aren't welcome, white supremacy is often maintained through violent action.

Wildcat Strikes By Multiple Sports Teams Against Systemic Police Violence Is Without Historical Precedent In American Labour Or American Sports

What we are seeing from scores of athletes in professional basketball, baseball, football, hockey, tennis, and soccer is unprecedented in American labour history and American sports history.

Athletes taking public stands for various causes has been going on for more than half a century, but this collective action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against unchecked systemic police brutality is, in the words of Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, "without historical precedent, in terms of its breadth, its reach, and its power. We are in uncharted territory."
It's more than a boycott. It's them withdrawing their labor. It's not just an example for racial justice protesters around the country. I think it's a challenge to the labor movement as a whole to say, if this country is in fact nonfunctioning at the moment — and many believe this is not a functioning country — then labor has to assert itself in this battle and stand up. And that's exactly what the athletes are doing with this sports strike wave.
Salon's Matthew Rozsa provides the background:
On Wednesday, the National Basketball Association team boycotted a playoff game against the Orlando Magic, scheduled for that day, as a form of protest on behalf of Jacob Blake, an African American man who was shot multiple times in the back by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin as he leaned into his car. Three of Blake's children were in the backseat of his vehicle when the officers shot at him.

The Bucks players' decision was not made in a vacuum. According to ESPN, many NBA players had expressed reservations about playing before the Blake shooting because of other cases of allegedly racially-motivated police violence, most notably the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Breona Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Yet when the Bucks decided to sit out their game against the Magic, they set off a chain reaction: The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder also decided to sit out their games, and then the NBA postponed both those games and an upcoming game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. The NBA players agreed later on Thursday to resume the playoffs on Saturday.

Then, in solidarity, a number of NFL teams decided to either not practice on Thursday or postpone their practices in order to discuss social change. These included the Arizona Cardinals, Washington Football Team, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. Many teams that cancelled their practices also used that time to talk about how to fight for meaningful social change — at which point the Bucks-Magic boycott evolved into a full-blown strike.

Meanwhile, Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams decided not have any games on Thursday and three Major League Baseball games were postponed, including one with the Milwaukee Brewers who have expressed solidarity with the Bucks.
Each of the Washington Mystics (WNBA) players wore a T-shirt with seven holes in the back. The fronts of the shirts spelled out "Jacob Blake", with each woman wearing one of the letters of his name.

Sports commentator and former basketball star Kenny Smith walked off the set of TNT's Inside the NBA in solidarity with the protesters: "As a Black man, as a former player, I think it's best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight, and figure out what happens after that. I just don't feel equipped to do that."

The Houston Rockets announced that their NBA arena would be used as an early in-person voting center.

The NBA has a long history of Black activism:
Elgin Baylor, a star rookie for the Lakers in 1959, boycotted a game in his rookie season after a hotel in West Virginia told the team’s Black players could not stay in the same accommodations as white players. It was something that had happened before, earlier that season. Bill Russell, the leader of legendary 1960s Boston Celtics teams, and some of his black teammates also sat out a game in 1961 after they were also turned away from a hotel while on a road trip.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:
The NBA, owners and front offices didn't see this wave of player boycotts coming today. Hours ago, they all expected to be playing these games tonight. This is a pivot point for the NBA and professional sports in North America.
These strikes are properly seen as part of the larger US labour movement.

David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati who specializes in the intersection of sports and politics, emphasized the Bucks' important precedent:
Political athletes have taken a knee, raised a fist, draped themselves in words and symbols, but those things happen in brief moments before the game. The Milwaukee Bucks didn't trade away a moment of quiet reflection to advance a cause, they traded away the game itself. The Bucks' decision is a great example of how important the first spark is in a resistance movement. Without the Bucks, the NBA rolls on. Without the NBA's example, no baseball team would have sat out. ... Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf [a former NBA player] conducted a one-man anthem protest in the NBA in 1996. He was suspended by the league, and that was largely the end of it. Today, entire teams can literally refuse to play moments before a game and the league does not even consider suspending anyone.
Maria Svart, National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America:
There is enormous precedent with workers in a position to disrupt profits withholding their labor and thus forcing the hand of the owners. From Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Colin Kaepernick, athletes have made symbolic protest, but collective action like a strike has a direct material impact on profits. Workers in such a high profile position as this can ... influence popular culture and prompt much broader swaths of workers to see the power we hold if we exercise it. ... We do the work to make the economy run, and we can shut it down. These players striking for black lives are part of a long tradition of people who work for a boss saying enough is enough. The question is whether we realize that not only can we shut it down for one night or season — we could run society ourselves, without the owning class insisting on doing it for us. ... No strike is successful without a broad majority among the workers to do it, whether wildcat or not. It's clear here that the players felt that what they had negotiated so far was insufficient so they collectively pushed farther. Wildcats can have a huge impact, such as in 1964 [when players for the first NBA All-Star Game threatened a strike in order to get their union recognized], because it's a demonstration of tremendous unity and resolve.
Zirin, the author of several books concerning politics and sports, including A People's History of Sports in the United States):
While there were incidents in the 1960s when teams — led by Black athletes — refused to play games in protest of racist treatment, what we are seeing right now is without historical precedent, in terms of its breadth, its reach, and its power. We are in uncharted territory. ... There is no historical precedent so it is impossible to say if the athletes are going to make a tangible difference in terms of policy. But they have already accomplished two important things: (1) they have raised awareness and recentered the discussion around Jacob Blake, where it should be. Not on 'anarchists' or whatever right wing talking points are being spewed about the demonstrations. (2) They are providing hope for people during a time when hope is in short supply.
Dr. Richard D. Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst:
It is a recognition outside of the official labor movement that the labor movement isn't doing what needs to be done and these workers — whether they would put it that way or not — are recognizing that they don't have a mode of expression through the labor movement and they don't have a mode of expression through the political parties. ... There will be no business as usual, even though this is a sports business, unless people sit down and work out with some sort of compromise, some sort of arrangement that addresses our concerns. The Democratic Party isn't doing that. The Republican Party isn't doing that. ... [The current strike] is a prod to those two establishments — the labor movement on the one hand and the political parties on the other, they had better read the tea leaves here and understand that if they don't once again become a means or an agency for the working class to express its concerns and grievances, then they will be left behind as new and different political forms emerge — new parties, new movements, new labor unions.
Robert "Scoop" Jackson, sports journalist, ESPN contributor, and author of The Game is Not a Game: The Power, Protest and Politics of American Sports:
[I]t's still — to a degree — workers versus structures of power using their sweat equity as leverage to be heard/felt/taken seriously. [Can they make a difference?] [T]hat all depends on how far they are willing to take it, how determined and committed they are, how fed up they are and how willing ownership is willing to work with them and not in the future hold their actions against them when CBAs and contracts are on the table. Keep in mind that the athletes, specifically the NBA players during this moment, are reaching out to government officials directly and trying to find out both locally and nationally how they can implement change. They are rushing into this and being led strictly by emotions. They're thinking this through as much as possible and trying to strategize as much as they can. They are trying to dive deeper than the surface. ... [T]rust me on this: If another unarmed black man/woman is killed or shot by someone sworn to "protect and serve" and NOTHING immediately happens in its aftermath before the finals or leading into the season opening, this will no longer be "wildcat." It will be "Part 2" and permanent.
Zirin was also a guest on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now":
For years, the world of sports has been a site of resistance to the racism of this administration, starting when Colin Kaepernick took that knee almost exactly four years ago to the date that the players made this decision. And this is just another chapter in that story about how the world of sports has been a site of resistance, an invaluable site of resistance, against the depravities of this administration. ... Sterling Brown [of the Milwaukee Bucks] has his own lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department from when he was tased in 2018. So the players are not bystanders to this process. The players are looking at this world and saying what John Carlos said in 1968 before the Olympics, which is, "Why should we run in Mexico City only to crawl home?"
Craig Calcaterra, Cup of Coffee, August 27, 2020:
The most important thing that happened last night was what did not happen. ...

Stories from around the league reveal that discussions about playing or not happened in every clubhouse, with most teams opting to play due to there not being enough time to fully consider sitting out, but many suggesting that they'd revisit that decision today. This is not over. ...

What happened yesterday ... was activism in a time when there are some pretty strong forces trying to tell athletes to shut up and dribble, pitch, or hit. This is especially true in baseball whose fan and player base skew overwhelmingly white and, at least if demographics can be trusted, conservative. It was brave of those players who walked off the job to do so. There will be politicians, commentators and entire TV networks railing against them today. It was no small gesture. ...

For its part, Major League Baseball issued the following statement just before 10 PM last night:

"Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight. Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice."

That's fine, I guess. I'll note, however, that when MLB forges a partnership with, like, a fertilizer company, the press release is eight paragraphs long. Last night we got this. You can tell the league is not at all comfortable with this. It's out of their control, though. And any attempts they make to control it are not going to go well.

In a culture where sports are so prominent, athletes have power. If they choose to truly use it, there will be nothing authority can do to stop them.

August 27, 2020

Eight MLB Teams On Strike Tonight In Protest Of Yet Another Murder By Police

The New York Post's back page says "ENOUGH!", but the newspaper's reporting has often been racist,
nearly always supporting police who are quick to kill and vilifying the victims.

Four major league games are not being played today as players on eight teams have gone on strike in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday night. Blake, 29, was shot seven times, all of them in the back, and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

As people protested the police shooting of Blake, a 17-year-old white supremacist and ardent Trump supporter shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Wednesday night. Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

About 15 minutes before he began shooting, police officers drove past Rittenhouse (and other armed civilians); the police offered them bottles of water. Video footage shows Rittenhouse carrying his rifle as he walks up to and chats with the officers. As at least 25 shots were fired by several people (including Rittenhouse), police vehicles one block away do not move. Shortly after, Rittenhouse walks with his hands up toward the police, with bystanders telling the officers that Rittenhouse has just shot people. The police do nothing, and drive away.

The most popular cable news network in the US last night defended and celebrated these murders, describing the shooter (who obtained his weapon illegally and drove from his home state of Illinois to commit his crimes) a "law-abiding citizen" who was simply "maintaining order", effectively announcing "open season" on anyone who disagrees with the fascist death cult currently running the country. On the night before the killings, the Republican National Convention featured two speakers who two months earlier had been arrested and charged with pointing guns at, and threatening to kill, a group of people protesting the murder of numerous black men by the police.

Tonight's Red Sox-Blue Jays, Phillies-Nationals, Tigers-Twins and Texas-Athletics games were postponed. In the last two days, 14 of the 30 teams have decided to not play.

Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Eventually, all three scheduled playoff games were postponed. Three MLB games were also not played last night: Brewers-Reds, Mariners-Padres, and Dodgers-Giants.

Five individual players (all of them Black) did not play last night: Jason Heyward (Cubs), Matt Kemp (Rockies), Dominic Smith (Mets), Dexter Fowler (Cardinals), and Jack Flaherty (Cardinals). The WNBA postponed all of its games and MLS postponed five of six games.

Flaherty expressed frustration at the silence of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the league officals.
Why is it so hard to do something unified for 1 day ... putting our players in the position to force cancellation of our games isnt right ... WE ARE THE ONLY SPORT PLAYING TODAY LET THAT SINK IN
Brewer pitcher Josh Hader: "[T]his is a time where we need to really not stay quiet and show our power and our voices."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett: "We stand in solidarity today and I am very proud. We need change, and we need it now."

Giants manager Gabe Kapler:
I don't think it should require athletes needing to boycott playoff games to remind us Black Lives Matter and that police brutality is unacceptable and that systemic racism needs to be eliminated. ... I have the utmost respect for the players who are refusing to be silent about issues that are bigger than sports. Racism and police brutality are issues that we're not going to be silent about, either.
Rockies outfielder Matt Kemp posted a strong statement on Instagram:
Tonight I stand with my fellow professional athletes in protest of the injustices my people continue to suffer. I could not play this game I love so much tonight knowing the hurt and anguish my people continue to feel. In a world where we are the ones who need to remain calm while a trained professional points a gun in our face; a world where the people in uniforms who took an oath to protect us are the same ones killing us; a world where we become hashtags before we even reach our potential; we must stand together, speak out, protest, and be the change we demand, require, and need so bad. To the families who have experienced these tragedies first hand my heart breaks for you, my prayers are with you and I use my platform to speak on your behalf. I will be protesting tonight's game in honor of all of my fallen brothers and sisters at the hands of police brutality. #BLM #JacobBlake #BreonnaTaylor #GeorgeFloyd #Saytheirnames
Mets first baseman Dominic Smith knelt during the national anthem and after the game, he was in tears:
For this to continuously happen, it shows the hate in people's hearts. That just sucks. Being a Black man in America is not easy. I wasn't there mentally today.
Dee Gordon of the Mariners (who have 11 Black players on their 40-man roster, the most of any MLB team):
There are serious issues in this country. For me, and for many of my teammates, the injustices, violence, death and systemic racism is deeply personal. This is impacting not only my community, but very directly my family and friends. ... Instead of watching us, we hope people will focus on the things more important than sports that are happening.

G32: Red Sox at Blue Jays, PPD., Players' Strike

The Red Sox and Blue Jays will not play tonight.

Julian McWilliams, Boston Globe:
The decision to opt out of playing follows outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.'s choice to sit out of the game in protest.

Bradley decided to sit out to bring awareness to police brutality against Black people in the wake of the recent shooting of Jacob Blake by a Wisconsin police officer. ...

Manager Ron Roenicke indicated earlier Thursday that the team's leadership would support whatever the players decide to do.

"Whatever Jackie, whatever the players feel like is right to do, I know [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom] is certainly behind all of this, and our organization, too," Roenicke told MLB Network Radio. "It's not going away until we do something about it."

Here are more of Roenicke's comments:
"We talk about equality yet there isn't equality ... You read the Constitution and how it was written and, you know, it's not equal for everybody. ...

"As a white American, it really bothers you that we have these freedoms in our country and yet the same freedoms don't apply to everybody, and that's a shame.

"This has gone on too long, and I remember reading [Dodgers manager] Dave Roberts and his last comments and he said, 'Something good needs to come out of all of this,' and that really hit me because he's right.

"If we go through all of this and nothing changes ... it shouldn't happen in our country, so hopefully with whatever goes on, and the protest, and whatever we decide to do in baseball, [we] can make a change.

"I know I listen a lot more, certainly. I know there were issues before, but I'm really listening now."
Red Sox -
Blue Jays - 
Chris Mazza / Hyun Jin Ryu
Lefty Ryu has a 1.23 ERA in August, with 24 strikeouts in 22 innings. Mazza has pitched in two games for the Red Sox this season (5.2 innings).

Rowdy Tellez, who hit two dongs and drove in four runs last night, has a 1.245 career OPS (71 PA) against the Red Sox. It's easily his highest OPS against any team he has more than 20 PA against. The next two are the Angels (27 PA, 1.079) and Orioles (62 PA, .980).

Tellez is slugging .836 against Boston, as 13 of his 20 hits are for extra bases (four doubles, nine home runs). Those nine home runs in 71 career plate appearances works out to 76 homers over 600 PA (3.7 PA/G for 162 games). ... Rowdy needs to settle down.

August 26, 2020

Cardinals Have A Strange Understanding Of "Solidarity"

G31: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 100 000 - 1  3  0
Blue Jays - 110 200 50x - 9 11  0
Six Toronto pitchers held the Red Sox to three hits (one of them Mitch Moreland's eighth home run of the year) and the Blue Jays opened up the game with a five-run sixth.

Rowdy "Roddy" Tellez hit two home runs and knocked in four runs and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a pair of doubles and three RBI.

Moreland's home run in the fourth was also Boston's last hit in the game. Christian Vázquez doubled with two outs in the second and Jackie Bradley led off the third with a single. The Red Sox also had three walks.
Colten Brewer / Julian Merryweather
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Pillar, RF
Bradley, CF
Chavis, 2B
You think MLB can't fuck things up in 2020 any more than it already has? Well . . . Ken Rosenthal tweets:
Not close to final, but postseason plan at "controlled sites" being discussed, per sources: AL in southern California, NL in Texas. World Series possibly at Rangers' new ballpark. League talking with union about possibilities. Final plan would be subject to ownership approval.
Peter Abraham:
Red Sox [last two games] in Buffalo.
They beat the Bison in an exhibition game, 9-7, on July 6, 1917.
They beat the Blue Jays 9-7 tonight.
103 years later, nothing changes.
Brewer will get the ball for his third start of the year because Nathan Eovaldi has a non-serious right calf injury. The calf started barking last Saturday, two days after his excellent start against the Orioles. Eovaldi hopes to pitch this Saturday.

Martín Pérez will get an extra day of rest after his seven-inning effort on Saturday, so he will not start on Thursday. The Red Sox have not said who will open the final game of the series against the Blue Jays.

Andrew Benintendi, on the IL with a rib injury, sustained while running the bases on August 12, has not yet begun so-called "baseball activities".

The Blue Jays' new mascot looks happy:

August 25, 2020

G30: Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 7

Red Sox   - 010 206 000 - 9 13  0
Blue Jays - 400 200 001 - 7 13  0
Kyle Hart (3.1-8-6-3-3, 70) fell behind by four runs, but the Red Sox rallied for a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays in Buffalo, New York (an "All America City").

Down 3-6 in the sixth, Boston scored six runs, with Rafael Devers's three-run triple as the big blow.

Devers, Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley, and Alex Verdugo each had two hits. Xander Bogaerts had three hits and scored twice. Moreland also scored two runs, drew two walks, and drove in two runs. JBJ had two RBI. The Red Sox went 5-for-8 with RATS.

In the first inning, Toronto loaded the bases with one out against Hart on two singles and a walk. Lourdes Gurriel doubled home two runs. With two outs, Danny Jensen singled in two additional runs before he was thrown out at second 7-2-4 to end the inning.

Hart loaded the bases again in the second (double, walk, infield single), but escaped further humiliation when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a double play.

The Red Sox scored a quick run in the second on Bogaerts's double and Moreland's single. Boston's second run came in the fourth when Bogaerts singled and Moreland doubled. The gap was cut to 4-3 when an out call was overturned, giving Bradley an infield hit on which Moreland scored.

In the sixth, Moreland drew a walk to begin the inning and chase Chase Anderson (5-7-4-1-3, 83). Christian Vázquez got a second life when plate umpire Dan Iassonga blew a called third strike pitch from Wilmer "Courier" Font. Vázquez didn't waste the gift, crushing a double to dead center. Moreland, unsure if the ball would be caught, went to third. Kevin Pillar popped to first. Bradley singled to center for one run and Jose Peraza was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Verdugo's single to right scored Váz, and brought the Red Sox to within one run. Devers battled A.J. Cole, Toronto's new moundsman, to a full count, the key being a check-swing on a low 1-2 pitch. Devers whacked a hard grounder into the right-field corner, clearing the bases, and giving the Red Sox an 8-6 lead. He scored on J.D. Martinez's sac fly to right. Bogaerts singled, but Moreland popped out to first.

Darwinzon Hernandez pitched two innings, keeping the Jays off the board despite having guys on base (a leadoff single in the sixth and a single and a walk (both with two outs) in the seventh). Ryan Brasier tossed a clean eighth.

Matt Barnes's first pitch in the ninth resulted in the first out, but he was then tagged for a home run by Teoscar Hernandez. Barnes struck out Gurriel and Joe Panik singled to center. Pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez, the potential tying run, fanned on a first-pitch high fastball. Panik took second on indifference and, a few seconds later, trotted over to third as Barnes watched from the mound; the Red Sox in a shift the other way and could do nothing about it. Telez took a ball, whiffed on a curve in the dirt, saw a second ball, and went down swinging on a high fastball. (Barnes lowered his ERA to 6.00.)

On the night Boston won its 10th game of the season, the AL-East-leading Rays won their 20th.

Elsewhere: Lucas Giolito (9-0-0-1-13, 101) of the White Sox tossed a no-hitter against the Pirates. Chicago won 4-0 in 2:23. (Giolito walked the leadoff man (on four pitches) in the fourth.)

Jon Berti became the first Marlin to steal second, third, and home in the same inning. Berti took off for the plate as Mets catcher Ali Sánchez lazily tossed the ball back to pitcher Jeurys Familia. Berti tripped on his way to the plate and was on all fours before getting up and plowing into Sánchez.

Nationals center fielder Victor Robles made a stupendous catch of a deep line drive. That was amazing enough. But then he set himself on the warning track and uncorked a throw that traveled 288 feet in the air to double up Jean Segura, the Phillies baserunner, at first.

The Dodgers are 22-8, with a run differential of +79 (171 RS, 92 RA). The next best differential is +39 (by both the Twins and Athletics).
Kyle Hart / Chase Anderson
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Pillar, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
From Sahlen Field, Buffalo, New York:
The Red Sox have no one in the AL Top 10 in average, on-base, slugging, OPS, runs scored, hits, total bases, singles, home runs, RBI, walks, stolen bases, ERA, WHIP, innings pitched, strikeouts, K/9, or saves.

However . . . there are now two teams with a worse winning percentage (9-20, .310). Not only the Pirates (7-17, .292), but also the Angels (9-21, .300). Plus, LAA is 11 GB in the AL West, which is worse than Boston's 9.5 GB the Rays in the East.

August 23, 2020

G29: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4

Red Sox - 100 001 002 - 4  6  0
Orioles - 003 000 20x - 5 10  0
Jackie Bradley homered with two outs in the ninth inning, but there was only one man on base, so the Red Sox were left a run short. The Orioles managed a split of the four-game series as Rio Ruiz drove in four runs.

The Red Sox (9-20) are off tomorrow before playing three games in Buffalo against the Blue Jays.

Kevin Pillar (two hits, two runs scored) homered on Wade LeBlanc's second pitch of the day. But after two outs and a walk, LeBlanc left the game with a left left elbow discomfort. Thomas Eshelman came on and walked Vazquez before getting the third out.

Zach Godley (2.2-2-3-5-3, 70) loaded the bases in the first inning, throwing 32 pitches, but wriggled out of trouble. After Cedric Mullins doubled, Godley got two outs, but walked Pedro Severino and hit Chance Sisco. With three on, he struck out Pat Valaika looking on an 0-2 curve. Godley also gave up a leadoff double in the second and issued a one-out walk, but again evaded any damage.

He was not so lucky in the third. With one out, Godley walked Severino and Sisco and, with two outs, threw a wild pitch and walked Ryan Mountcastle. Godley left, having recorded eight outs while walking five. Jeffrey Springs came in with the bases full and Rio Ruiz singled to right, giving Baltimore a 2-1 lead. A bunt single by Andrew Velazquez made it 3-1.

Eschelman (4.1-0-0-1-2, 54) walked his first batter, but he retired the next 13 Red Sox hitters, as Boston went in order in the second, third, fourth, and fifth. As soon as he left, the Red Sox rallied. Pillar led off the sixth with a single off Miguel Castro. J.D. Martinez walked with one out. Pillar stole third and scored on Xander Bogaerts's double. Vázquez grounded to second and Martinez was thrown out at the plate. Vázquez swiped second, but Michael Chavis struck out.

Boston wasted a two-out single in the top of the eighth and the Orioles extended their lead in the bottom half. Two singles and a bunt off Robert Stock put Orioles at second and third with one out. Stock fanned Mountcastle, but Ruiz doubled to left for two runs.

The Red Sox did nothing in the eighth and had Alex Verdugo at first base with two outs in the ninth. Tanner Scott relieved Mychal Givens and Bradley lined a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for his second home run of the season, cutting Baltimore's lead to 5-4. Jonathan Araúz singled, but Pillar grounded the first pitch to shortstop and Araúz was forced to end the game.
Zach Godley / Wade LeBlanc
Pillar, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, RF
Bogaerts, SS
Vázquez, DH
Chavis, 1B
Plawecki, C
Bradley, CF
Araúz, 2B

August 22, 2020

G28: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4 (10)

Red Sox - 000 021 000 1 - 4  8  0
Orioles - 010 000 020 2 - 5 10  0
The Extra-Inning Man on Second rule was in effect for the first time in the Red Sox's 2020 season. Boston scored a run on three consecutive walks (a feat which, under the proper rules of baseball, would be impossible), but lost in the bottom half of the tenth when Matt Barnes and a questionable infield decision loaded the bases and Pedro Severino lined a one-out single to center.

The Red Sox (9-19) are 9 GB the Rays in the AL East.

The top of the tenth began with Alex Verdugo on second. Cole Sulser struck out Rafael Devers, then lost control of the strike zone. He walked J.D. Martinez on a full count*. He walked Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland on four pitches each. That gave Boston a 4-3 lead. They squandered the opportunity for more runs when Miguel Castro fanned Christian Vázquez, tying him up with a fastball on his hands and got Kevin Pillar to pop to second.

*: Martinez actually walked on four pitches, but plate umpire Andy Fletcher called Sulser's outside 3-0 pitch a strike. After walking Bogaerts, Sulser's first pitch to Moreland was a strike, but Fletcher called a ball. (In the bottom of the inning, Fletcher would call another pitch in the exact same spot a strike.)

Cedric Mullins led off the home tenth with a bunt towards first. Moreland raced in and fired to third, but his throw was belt high and too late to get Designated Runner Rio Ruiz. Moreland had planned to throw to third all along; he never hesitated. Hanser Alberto was batting when Barnes threw a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed Ruiz to trot home with the tying run.

With the potential winning run at second, Alberto grounded a 2-2 pitch to the left of second baseman José Peraza, who slid to his left to keep the ball in the infield, but his throw to first was late. Anthony Santander was walked intentionally to load the bases. Both the Red Sox infield and outfield came in. Andrew Velazquez swung through a 2-1 fastball before Barnes dotted the low, inside corner for called strike three (exposing Fletcher's inability to call similar pitches consistently).

With two outs, Jackie Bradley came in from center to play at the second baseman's traditional spot, with Peraza on the other side of the bag with Bogaerts and Devers. Pedro Severino took a 1-1 pitch on the outside black before Barnes bounced a curveball that Vazquez blocked. Severino lined Barnes's next pitch, a fastball down the middle at 96, into center field.

Back in the fifth, Bradley tied the game 1-1 with his first home run of the year. Back-to-back doubles by Peraza and Verdugo (who extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a third-inning double) gave Boston a 2-1 lead. They increased it to 3-1 in the next inning as Moreland walked, went to third on Vázquez's single, and scored on an infield hit by Kevin Pillar.

Josh Taylor relieved Martín Pérez (7-5-1-1-6, 94) and retired the first two Orioles in the eighth. But he walked Alberto and Santander homered (#10) to left.

In the ninth, Ryan Brasier got two outs on only five pitches. Ryan Mountcastle singled to third and Chance Sisco walked before Brasier regrouped and struck out Ruiz.

NESN Note: I watched only the ninth and tenth innings, but I still heard at least one mystifying comment from Dave O'Brien. In the bottom of the tenth, O'Brien described Alberto as "a pesky hitter", saying he demonstrated this in his previous time at the plate, when he walked.
Martín Pérez / Alex Cobb
Verdugo, LF
Devers, 3B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Moreland, 1B
Vázquez, C
Pillar, RF
Bradley, CF
Peraza, 2B
The Red Sox called up lefty Jeffrey Springs and righty Robert Stock to replace the departed Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman.

Last Night: Cabin Pirror!

Re-Live The 1986 ALCS (Sort Of) Through My Seven Game Recaps

Back in 2016, I rewatched the 1986 American League Championship Series and wrote game recaps of the seven games for The 1986 Boston Red Sox: There Was More Than Game Six, published by the Society for American Baseball Research.

While I know about SABR's Games Project, an ever-growing library of accounts of games both notable and ordinary throughout baseball history, I must have forgotten that the recaps would be added to the Games Project. So I took a look. . . . And there they are.
Game 1: October  7, 1986: Angels roar to win in ALCS opener
Game 2: October  8, 1986: Sun shines on Red Sox in ALCS Game Two
Game 3: October 10, 1986: Late rally lifts Angels to Game Three win over Red Sox
Game 4: October 11, 1986: Angels move one win closer to World Series
Game 5: October 12, 1986: Dave Henderson's homer keeps Red Sox hopes alive in Game Five
Game 6: October 14, 1986: Barrett continues hot streak as Red Sox roll in Game Six
Game 7: October 15, 1986: Red Sox complete epic ALCS comeback over Angels
From Game 1:
TV Note: Although ABC showed a pregame segment — "The Frustrations of the Red Sox in the '70s" — detailing the franchise's "agonies of the not-so-distant past," announcers Al Michaels and Jim Palmer made only one mention of Boston not having won a World Series title since 1918. That bit of information came from Michaels with two outs in the top of the ninth inning! In 1986, it had not yet become a media mantra.
From Game 3:
It was announced before the game that Boston's Roger Clemens — who allowed a career-high eight runs in Game One — would start Game Four on three days of rest, something he had not yet done in his major-league career. Red Sox manager John McNamara's reasoning was simple: "You go with your best. If you're in a seven-game series, you go with your best pitcher three times." McNamara was not concerned that Clemens had thrown 143 pitches in Game One. "I don't think that's high at all. He's a young kid."

TV Note: When ABC showed replays of Pettis being thrown out trying to steal second in the first inning, it appeared as though Boston shortstop Spike Owen failed to tag the runner. This prompted a bizarre exchange in which analyst Jim Palmer maintained that if the catcher's throw beat the runner to the bag, it was not important whether the fielder tagged the runner; the mere "appearance" of a tag was enough. Al Michaels, ABC's play-by-play man, agreed, saying that as long as the fundamentals of the team in the field were sound, the out call was justified even if the runner was not tagged.
From Game 5:
Before there was David Ortiz, there was Dave Henderson. Before Big Papi thrilled Red Sox fans with his October heroics, the man they called Hendu brought Boston back from the dead in Game Five of the 1986 ALCS.

With the Angels one strike away from winning the pennant, Henderson — a backup outfielder obtained from the Seattle Mariners in mid-August — crushed a home run that gave Boston a 6-5 lead. Then, after the Angels tied the game in their half of the ninth, Henderson knocked in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th. The Red Sox' 7-6 victory sent the ALCS back to Fenway Park for Game Six (and, possibly, Game Seven.) Henderson also homered in the 10th inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series; it would have been the Red Sox' World Series-winning run if not for the Mets' comeback. ...

One out away [from winning the pennant] — and Gene Mauch came out of the dugout to make a pitching change. He wanted left-hander Gary Lucas to face Gedman ...

Lucas threw only one pitch — and it sailed up and in and hit Gedman on the right hand. As the Boston catcher trotted to first base, Mauch made another change, bringing in closer Donnie Moore to face Dave Henderson. Henderson took a ball low, then a strike that was a little higher. When he swung and missed on a pitch low and away, Moore and the Angels were one strike away.

Dave Stapleton: "I looked across the field and I could see everyone in the Angels dugout getting ready to celebrate. … They had those nice little smiles that you get before you start hugging everyone."

Moore threw ball two in the dirt, and Henderson fouled off two pitches. Moore's 2-and-2 pitch — the seventh pitch of the at-bat — came in a little low. Henderson swung and as soon as he hit it, he knew. The ball sailed far over the fence in left for a two-run home run — a shot that gave the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. Henderson took three steps out of the batter’s box, watching the flight of the ball. As it cleared the fence, he jumped and spun around. And then he began a fast trot around the bases.
From Game 7:
The Boston Red Sox clinched their 10th American League pennant by winning their third straight elimination game — overcoming a one-game-to-three deficit and advancing to the World Series for the first time in 11 years. ...

Tim Horgan of the Herald called Game Seven "a mere formality" and said the Red Sox have "become so coldly proficient that the pennant-clinching game was curiously devoid of suspense and emotion. … Even the Red Sox' victory celebration was as orderly and decorous as the game itself. There's a professionalism bordering on ruthlessness in this ballclub that's tough to describe, but heartening."

Boston DH Don Baylor believed that the Red Sox' remarkable comeback in the ninth inning of Game Five, when the Angels were one strike away from winning the pennant, "broke their morale. I really don't think they ever recovered from it. … I think they were pressing, really trying to convince themselves that 1982 wasn't on their minds." In the ALCS that season (a best-of-five), the Angels lost the pennant when they dropped three straight games to Milwaukee after winning the first two. (Baylor was a member of the Angels that season.)

[ALCS MVP Marty] Barrett called the Red Sox' performance in the series "the greatest comeback ever. We were dead in Anaheim, absolutely dead." ... [JoS: Well, it was the greatest for 18 years.]

[The Red Sox] put the game away in the fourth. ... Jim Rice blasted a three-run home run off the left-field light tower, giving the Red Sox a 7-0 lead ... Rice scored eight runs in the series, an ALCS record. ...

Schiraldi struck out the side in the ninth ... putting an exclamation point on the Red Sox' victory. "The adrenaline was flowing like it never has before. ... [I had] to stop every now and then to catch [my] breath."

The Fenway Park crowd of 33,001 had been celebrating since the sixth inning. When Evans hit a solo home run in the seventh, giving Boston an 8-0 lead, loud chants of "We want the Mets!" broke out. (The Mets had clinched the National League pennant with a 16-inning victory over the Astros earlier in the day.)

After seeing the Angels' fans signs in Game Four (e.g., "Another Boston Choke"), Red Sox fans countered with their own, using the initials of the station broadcasting the series: "Angels Bats Choke," "Atta Boy Clemens," "Anaheim Bus — Catch It." ...

"We've had so much magic this year," Wade Boggs said. "Look at the ways we've won. Something weird's always happened when we needed it. Always."