Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Thirty Years Ago Tonight

Thirty years ago tonight I cried myself to sleep. I was 11 years old and I just witnessed something horrific, game six of the 1986 World Series. It was the worst night of my childhood but maybe it was a blessing in disguise.


 1986 was a magical season and it was the first baseball season that I followed closely from start to finish. By the time the playoffs began I was fully invested. The Red Sox were my team and I tuned in to watch them win it all. I tuned in expecting them to win it all. I was a month away from turning 12 and grew up in Upstate NY away from the angst of New England. I was naive and knew fairly little about Red Sox history. I had no baggage.

My team had Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans,Wade Boggs and the guy I called "the glue", Marty Barrett. They were the best team in baseball and the best team wins it all, right? Dave Henderson homered off of Rick Aguilera in the tenth inning putting the Red Sox up 5-3. They were three outs from winning it all. I started drinking kool-aid like it was victory champagne. The bottom of the tenth inning came and the first two Met batters made outs. My team was now one out away from winning it all, with a two run lead and nobody on base. I drank more and more kool-aid. Then it all happened. I stopped drinking the kool-aid and my personal Red Sox baggage had arrived. I was devastated.

 I watched game seven in silence knowing that the Red Sox would not win, and they didn't. I was a true Red Sox fan now. I had baggage, heart break and I was bigger fan than ever. What if the Red Sox would have won that night? Would I care about them as much as I do today? I doubt it. That night was awful but it made me determined to see the finish line. I wanted to know how it would feel if the Red Sox were to win it all. As each season passed after 1986 I wanted to feel it more and more. It became a passion bordering on an obsession. Seventeen years later the Red Sox had the lead in game seven of the 2003 ALCS. It was the closest the Red Sox had been to winning it all since 1986. The Red Sox entered the 8th  inning with a three run lead. I was 28 years old now and was not celebrating. I was pacing around my apartment praying for six more outs. The confident kool-aid drinking 11 year old was killed off. The angst ridden, baggage filled 28 year old Red Sox fan was alive and not well.

 All of that pain led up to the 2004 season. There are no words to describe what happened in 2004 and the feelings that long suffering Red Sox fans had after seeing their team finally get it right. I was 29 years old and cried when they won. I had an excuse thirty years ago when I cried myself to sleep, I was just 11 years old. I was now a month away from turning thirty and I was crying tears of joy over a baseball team. I wasn't alone thirty years ago and I know I wasn't alone twelve years ago. That awful night in 1986 is what made 2004 so special. 2004 made that awful night in 1986 a less painful memory.

October 25th will be tough to forget, it truly was the worst night of my childhood but in two days it will be the anniversary of one of the great nights in my life. Those tears of joy that flowed twelve years ago were from that 11 year old inside of me. He finally got to see how it feels when his Red Sox won it all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Keith Law Thinks Tim Tebow Sucks

If you follow me on twitter you know I love Keith Law. I love his baseball knowledge but he also can be kind of a condescending dick. You may say that is a bad thing, I tend to find it entertaining. In case you haven't heard, Tim Tebow is playng baseball in the Arizona Fall League. Keith Law is there. Keith Law has opinions on Tebow and they are not good if you happen to be a fan of Tim Tebow. The best part will be reading his responses to angry Tebow fans who are sure to be blowing up Keith's twitter timeline as I write this. For now, let's take a look at Keith Law's scouting report on Mr. Tebow.

Tim Tebow is in the Arizona Fall League. He might be better suited to playing in an Arizona high school league. His presence here is a farce, and he looks like an imposter pretending to have talent he does not possess. Tebow the baseball player is not a baseball player; he's a washed-up quarterback who has size and nothing else. His swing is long, and he wields the bat like someone who hasn't played the sport in more than a decade, which he hasn't. He can't catch up to 90 mph, which is well below the major league average for a fastball, and was cutting through fastballs in the zone on Wednesday night. He rolled over twice on fastballs, which is something you generally see professional hitters do only on off-speed stuff, and he showed below-average running speed. In left field, his routes look like those of a wide receiver, although he managed to eventually make his way around to a fly ball in left. In short, there's absolutely no baseball justification for Tebow to be here.

  The Mets' decision to sign Tebow for $100,000 as, essentially, an undrafted 29-year-old free agent, where any other player would be lucky to get $1,000 and a plane ticket, was a craven, mercenary move befitting an independent-league team desperate for the added revenue from ticket sales, not something a major league team with postseason aspirations should be doing. The Mets had to use one of their AFL roster slots to send Tebow here, and he's playing 3-4 days a week -- because this is a part-time job for him -- in place of, well, players who can actually play. This is all in service of adding jersey sales, but if MLB and the Mets were being honest about this, the front of Tebow's jersey would say "Avarice" in Comic Sans. There are organizational players -- players who fill out minor league rosters but have little to no chance to play in the majors -- in the AFL every year, but they're at least credible in the role.

 Tebow is the only hitter I've seen here this year or in any recent year who couldn't even square up a below-average fastball. Chasing celebrities is no way to run a player-development department, an organization or a league. Everyone involved in the decision should be embarrassed when they're done counting their money.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Curse of Tito

Five years ago tomorrow Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe published his investigative piece on the epic Red Sox collapse of 2011. How did a writer from the John Henry owned Boston Globe get such incredible access to things like Terry Francona's personal medical issues? I think we know the answer.

 The 2011 Red Sox collapsed and there was a ton of blame to go around. Deciding to let Francona go was a reasonable decision, letting him continue as the manager also would have been reasonable. Deciding to trash the most successful manager in franchise history as he walked out the door was not reasonable. The Red Sox, or let's just say John Henry and Larry Lucchino (who the hell are we kidding?) are very concerned about public relations. They knew that some fans would disagree with the Francona decision so why not leak stories about Francona's shortcomings and then claim ignorance? Francona's marriage was attacked, the article insinuated he had a pill popping problem, that his health was bad. They even took shots at his son and son in-law who were fighting a war in Afghanistan at the time.

Francona took responsibility for the collapse when he and the Red Sox parted ways and then he had to read the article. Francona was pissed and he wanted answers. He wanted to know who leaked this information. He went straight to John Henry who played dumb and said he would ask Larry. Larry also played dumb but they both gave Tito their word that they would get to the bottom of it and let him know as soon as they did. They never called him back again. It was like O.J. Simpson promising to find the real killers as he played 36 holes of golf everyday. John and Larry weren't going to get to the bottom of anything because they knew they were the bastards who leaked the crap to Hohler. Tito knew it too which is why he has wanted very little to do with Fenway Park celebrations and anniversary celebrations of those great teams he managed. He wants nothing to do with the stench of Henry and Lucchino.

 I am a Red Sox fan and will be until I die but it has been a bit tougher pulling for the Red Sox since that article came out. Tough to pull for a franchise with those kinds of guys in charge. How is that for public relations? The Baseball Gods tend to get it right. The Cleveland Indians led by Terry Francona kicked the crap out of the Boston Red Sox for three days, and even sweeter for Tito, clinched the series in Fenway Park. I am sure Tito could smell the stench of John and Larry as he celebrated with his team. The only way it would have been better is if rain had forced Game 3 to be played on October 12th, the exact day the "investigative report" on the Red Sox collapse came out. Maybe this is the new Red Sox curse. Yeah, I know the Sox won in 2013, two years after they screwed over Tito, but maybe the baseball gods looked the other way that year because of the bombings. They aren't looking the other way anymore.

A last place finish in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and then in 2016 Tito returns to bury them. Karma is a B and this time had a block C on the hat. Maybe 80 years from now Red Sox fans will be trying to find a way to lift The Curse of The Tito...or maybe just maybe John Henry and Larry Lucchino will grow a collective spine and call Tito and admit what they did and ask for forgiveness. Would you take that phone call if you were Tito? I wouldn't either.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Myth of the One Run Game and Why Red Sox Fans Should Feel Confident

The Boston Red Sox finished the regular season with a 20-24 record in one-run games. The Texas Rangers went 36-11 in one-run games, the best in baseball. Surely this means that the Red Sox stay in the playoffs will be a short one. After all, the key to winning in the postseason is winning those tight games. Right? Not exactly.
What if teams with great one-run records were really just very fortunate if not lucky? What if those teams suddenly didn't get those same breaks come postseason time? That appears to be the trend over the last decade plus of baseball.
Just one time since 2000 has the team with the best one-run record in the league gone on to win it all that year. That honor belongs to the 2005 Chicago White Sox.
The Boston Red Sox have had a recent history of not being great in one-run games in the regular season. How has that worked out for them come playoff time? Pretty good.
In 2013 the Red Sox went just 21-21 in one-run games in the regular season only to win it all in October. In 2007 the Red Sox went just 22-28 in one-run games in the regular season and they went on to win it all in October. Then we have the 2004 team, how can we forget them? Their one-run regular season record was just 16-18. That is three World Series titles without having a winning record in one-run games in any of those seasons.
The 2003 Red Sox and the 2005 Red Sox combined to go 53-31 in one-run games in the regular season. How did that work out for them?
Good luck to the Rangers because it looks like they are going to need it. The Red Sox look like they might be due for it again this October.