Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen the 2007 AL East Champions

Wow. For the first time since 1995 the Red Sox are the American League East Champions, bridesmaids no more. Boy it feels good to say that, even if the Yankees made the playoffs the fact that they are the Wild Card and the Sox are the AL East Champs makes it that much sweeter.

Just to put this into perspective lets take a look at exactly how long ago 1995 was. One I was 11 years old and going into the second month of sixth grade alternating between my Drew Bledsoe Patriots jersey and my Natron Means Chargers jersey. Yeah Natron Means.

Here are a couple of other September/October 1995 factoids. DVD, the optical disc computer storage format was developed. Cal Ripken broke the all time consecutive games played record (September 6). O.J. Simpson was in the news. The first Million Man March was held. GoldenEye came out and Toy Story, the first feature length animated film was released. Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ and Shaggy’s ‘Boombastic’ were the top music singles. Oh and the Drew Carey show and JAG both premiered, which was clearly big news. Ok this is getting brutal we have come along way.

The 2007 Sox look a little different then the 1995 Sox did too. Can you name another player on the team besides Wake and Mo Vaughn? How about this starting nine –

C – Mike Macfarlane
1B – Mo
2B – Luis Alicea
3B – Tim Naehring
SS – John Valentin
OF – Mike Greenwell
OF – Troy O’Leary
OF – Lee Tinsley
DH – Jose Canseco

Also see – Willie McGee, Bill Haselmen and Reggie Jefferson.

The Pitchers are even more fun I can’t name one besides Clemens, Wake and Aaron Sele so I looked these guys up and let’s just say I feel a whole lot better about the 2007 Red Sox now.

p.s. – Aaron Sele was 25.

Zane Smith, Vaughn Eshelmen and Erik Hanson (to be far he went 15-5). The Bullpen – Stan Belinda, Rheal Cormier, Mike Maddox and the closer…Rick Aguilera and Jeff Suppan made eight appearances as a 20 year old.

Really if the pitchers have you a little bit nervous going into the post season this year just look at these guys. Wake had the lowest ERA on the team and went 16-8. In short Wake was the ace; I think we are in better shape. At least I hope so since they got swept out of the playoffs in ’95.

I’m watching today’s game since it’s like garbage game day in the NFL, it’s a weird Sox game. I was at the last game last year and that was weird because the Sox were out of it, it was only exciting because it was Trot’s final game. Watching this year’s game is just as weird because it’s almost meaningless.

Obviously it’s important because the Red Sox are still finding out if certain things will work for the postseason but its funny because of things like Don Orsilo handing over the reigns to Jerry Remy for the ‘homer inning’. I must say it’s pretty funny, he sounds like a Jake. He just started chanting MVP for Mike Lowell too…I guess I am a homer.

I just have a couple of final thoughts on the regular season. One Pedroia is probably going to be the Rookie of the Year. The first game I went to this year people were chanting “don’t’ suck Pedroia” pretty good turn around huh?

Youkilis just came out of the game and finished the regular season with no errors. Not a one. He has to get serious consideration for a Gold Glove. I know there are always incumbents but no errors for an entire year after switching positions that’s gotta be a Gold Glove year.

It’s sad to know that this is the last NESN game of the season. I really wish there was some way that NESN could do the post season games but it will be good to hear Don doing the DS games on TBS. I just hope that they put him on the Red Sox games but then again that might make too much sense. I need to stop thinking about this; all I can hear is Tim McCarver and Joe Buck…ahhhhhh.

One of the things about this game that’s neat is that the Sox are throwing virtually their entire bullpen to get guys work and see how guys like Lester are out of the Bullpen. I talked to Reynolds the other day about the 10/11 pitchers for the first round and this is what I’ve come up with, since they shut down Buchholz.

The Starters
Dice K
The Tweener
The Closer
The Bullpen
Mike ‘Live Free or Die’ Timlin
On the Bubble
Javy Lopez
Brian Corey
Sox Appeal
Papelbon’s alter ego Bud-Light-24-pack-head-underwear man

As for the NFL this weekend

Here are my picks:

NY Jets
Green Bay
San Fran
San Diego Super Chargers

Monday Night Football – Pats 34 – Bungles 13

Oh crap I almost forgot. Thank you Melvin Mora, enjoy you’re standing ovation at Fenway next year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vote Mike Lowell for MVP

I know A-Rod has had an unbelievable year, he’s the runaway favorite and I’m going to get laughed at for saying this but what fun is a one man race.

Mike Lowell should be the American League MVP. Seriously before you close out the window because you think I’m an idiot just hear me out for a minute. Lowell has, like A-Rod, has had an unreal year. The nine year veteran is having a career year he’s hitting .326 before tonight he had a career high 111 RBI but he drove in five in tonight’s win over the A’s giving him not only a new career high of 116 RBI but he now has the Red Sox record for runs batted in by a third basemen. Pretty good when you look at some of the Red Sox past guards of the hot corner. Notably Mr. High horse Wade Boggs.

Lowell has now set career highs in hits, RBI, batting average, OBP and total bases. His batting average is currently 33 points higher than his previous career high and 47 points higher than his career average. His OPS+ is at 128 which is the second highest of his career. He was at 132 in 2003 a year in which not only the Marlins won the World Series but he was 11th in MVP voting, a Silver Slugger and an All Star.

The MVP is not just a numbers game thought, if it was A-Rod is the clear favorite. Despite a career year A-Rod has put up better numbers. The MVP shouldn’t go to the guy that has just put up the best numbers it should go to the player that has the most impact on a team, and that team should be a playoff team.

The way Lowell has played this year has saved the Red Sox season. Manny Ramirez returned to the lineup Tuesday and that is excellent news for the Sox and Sox fans but let us not forget who helped carry the Red Sox to this point. How bad would things have gotten with out Mike Lowell stepping up into the fourth spot?

I say they’d have been pretty bad since after Manny’s injury they played around .500 ball but after tonight they are 30 games above .500. I argue that without Lowell we would have seen worse then the 9-8 record in September. That would leave the Red Sox in an interesting position. They probably still would have made the playoffs but it would have been a lot more nerve racking.

Here is a stat breakdown from baseball-reference and Sons of Sam Horn for sOPS or situational OPS (Above 100 is better than league average OPS for this situation.) between Lowell and Mr. Clutch Big Papi.

2 Outs, RISP - Late & Close - Tied - Within 1 R - 2 R - 3 R - 4 R

David Ortiz
162 - 112 - 192 - 168 - 169 - 170 - 170
Mike Lowell
150 - 94 - 92 - 104 - 107 - 124 - 127

late & close are plate appearances in the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.

Not surprisingly Ortiz has better clutch numbers but since it is the Most Valuable Player Award, value has to come in to play somewhere right? You expect players like Ortiz and A-Rod and put up big numbers in clutch situations and throughout the season. Not that Lowell is making the league minimum or something but he was a throw-in in the Josh Beckett deal, I’d say that he’s been a pretty good value.

Lowell has not only played a vital offensive role in the Red Sox run to being any combination of two Red Sox wins or Yankee losses away from their first AL East crown since 1995 but he also plays gold glove defense at third. Just to give you a touch of perspective Mo Vaughn had the highest OPS on the 1995 team (148) and was the AL MVP.

I know that Mike Lowell doesn’t have much of a chance when stacked up against A-Rod. Here is a stat break down of Lowell and Rodriquez this season from Compared to most other players Lowell is definitely worthy of serious consideration, if not the award. Unfortunately he’s up against maybe the best player ever having his best year.

Mike Lowell in 2007

149 74 184 36 20 111 3 53 69 .324 .380 .500 128 284

Alex Rodriguez in 2007

155 139 178 30 53 151 24 91 116 .311 .417 .640 180 367

The thing that hurts Mikey the most is the fact that the last Yankee to put up numbers like A-Rod has this year was a guy named Mickey Mantle. That pretty much clears up any doubt that he is one of the best players ever and he’s having one of the best years ever.

I’d love to see Mike Lowell win the MVP and in my mind he’s the MVP of the Red Sox and should absolutely be in the top five in the voting. He won’t win, it’s all but sewn up for A-Rod and I know people will look and this a instantly name five guys that they think are more deserving then Lowell but in following the Red Sox all year he’s the MVP for me.

Who knows maybe they will pull together and Mike Lowell will turn out to be the World Series MVP, although I think JD Drew is going to be the breakout guy in the playoffs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rad Sox...sort of...maybe...I hope

Yes I needed a quick time out…and maybe a little bit of a mound conference with myself. I’ve settled down thought and I’d like to apologize for my rash reaction to the current state of the Red Sox. I was upset…can you blame me?

The Red Sox are going to make the playoffs and if they don’t win the division it’s a disappointment but not the biggest choke job ever. That is still reserved for the 2004 ALCS. It’s still not a great situation, 14.5 games down to 1.5 is weak. However making the playoffs is the first step to the ultimate goal of winning a world series. I’m not sure that this team is one that will be able to win a World Series, namely because the offense has been limping along for a while and the bullpen right now is in shambles.

A few weeks ago the Red Sox pitching staff was one that could carry a team through the playoffs, especially if the bats could come around. Now with the pitching staff struggling the problems with the offense are louder then ever.

Like Bob Ryan said in his Globe column, “is this a team that inspires confidence?” Not right now that is for sure. I think they have a chance to be that team again but something needs to happen to give them that finishing kick. They don’t have to win the division to win the World Series we have seen wild cards win (see 2002 and 2004) but there is something to be said for momentum. Of course 2004 is a pretty good example of momentum not being an issue and shows that momentum can swing at any given time.

I thought the Bucholz no hitter would be a catalyst for the rest of the season, then after Papi’s walk off I was certain they’d take the division by 5-7 games. I am all for the excitement of a close race but not when it looks like my team is going to fall apart at any second.

One thing is for sure the pitching and offense has got to get better if the Red Sox have any hope of making a run in the playoffs. If they continue to play this way it’s going to be a very, very short Sox-tober.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yeah the Red Sox are awesome…Compared to Bullshit

Are you kidding me? This cannot seriously be happening. Never mind a shrinking lead that’s down to a game and a half THE RED SOX ARE IN DANGER OF MISSING THE PLAYOFFS!

You can forget all about the 2004 ALCS being the biggest choke job off all time if this goes down. If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs it will unequivocally be the worst choke in the history of sports. Not just because the Red Sox have been in first for five months but because they’ll be choking away the AL East to the Yankees. Screw the playoffs if the Red Sox are the wildcard it would still be one of the biggest choke jobs in the history of sports.

What is going on with this team, I can’t remember ever seeing play this uninspiring or having less faith in a group of athletes. I’m not talking about the woe-is-me ‘the worst is going to happen’ attitude that’s not what I am talking about. When the team cannot score runs to help out its pitching and when the teams pitching blows games night in and night out its hard to be confident about said team.

Remember earlier in the season a.k.a. ‘the Mother’s Day Miracle’ when I said that this team has a different feel and gone were the ‘worst is going to happen feelings’ well funk that I was wrong. Earlier in the year no-matter what you felt like the team was still in it, up until the last out was recorded, good till the last drop. Not anymore baby. This truly has been an unimaginable collapse.

Late August – “They just can’t get swept by the Yankees”, “As long as we win one of three, we’re money” – Red Sox get swept and Manny goes down.

Then last week it was “They just can’t get swept”, “I’d like to know they can beat the Yankees but as long as they don’t get swept its still 7.5 games”. Now the Red Sox just got swept by the Blue Jays after Eric Gagne proved he eats last night and Papelbon gave up a grand slam tonight it’s a game and a half. The lead of the Yankees is 1.5 games. The Red Sox need to win four games just to make the playoffs and right now they might not be able to do it. How is this possible!

I got a text message from Reynolds the other day that read “new article idea. Why Manny needs to go.” I love you Reynolds but how have things gone for the Sox since Manny got hurt. Not so fucking well – I know Jacoby has been awesome but I’m in a shitty mood so lets not forget that a players first 40 games rarely foreshadow what their career is like (see Dustin Pedroia). The Red Sox need Manny Ramirez, he might not be the answer to all their problems right now but he’d no doubt help the current situation.

As a fan I am furious. I don’t know how many more bad at-bats and strikeouts in clutch situations I can stand to watch before I have a meltdown. The Yankees series was not good it left you with the feeling that the Red Sox just can’t beat them this year but now, after this Blue Jays sweep I am not sure if they’ll make the playoffs.

There are always a few games that I see as a tell tale game. During the 2004 season it was a walk off win. The only time I ever saw Pedro pitch in person, the OC hit a walk of double and Johnny Damon score from first to win the game. That showed me something. This year I think it might be the last Devil Rays series. We were fooled into a false sense of security by Papi’s walk off homer but the real tell tale might have been the Schilling-Kazmir game. A 1-0 loss – Schilling pitched great but the Sox offense couldn’t get it done – offense has been their made issue lately…offense and the bullpen, which had just blown a game for Schilling against the Jays the week before. The bullpen and offensive meltdown may turn out to be the story of the 2007 Red Sox…even if they make the playoffs will the offense sputter out and/or will the bullpen implode. These things do not have me excited for the final two weeks of the season.

I am in utter disbelief. Maybe this is 1978, maybe it’s worse. One thing is for certain anyone who says Red Sox fans love to be miserable and love complaining about the heart breaking losses is an idiot…this sucks.

After Sunday I was bummed about the Sox but I was still in a good mood after the Patriots that was until last nights Gagne collapse and tonight’s loss. Maybe we are being punished. Maybe because we didn’t call out Belicheck and the Pats like everyone else or maybe because the Patriots are codes and now the Celtics are legit (although no team with three players that averaged over 20 ppg has ever won a title), I guess two teams is the karmic limit now. Or could it be that we Red Sox Nation deserve an epic collapse because we let 2004 go to our heads, because we have in essence become the new Yankees.

Baseball Gods, can you blame us for the way we acted? The Florida Marlins have won two World Series in less then 10 years and it took us 86 years to realize a dream. The Marlins had 400 fans at a game and you are going to take an AL East crown and potential World Series title away from us. All we have done is faithfully follow our team, yeah some of us have gone over board but it’s a result of elation.

Maybe nothing is ever enough but I couldn’t imagine that this scenario would have even been possible. They have to figure this out and right the ship, they will figure it out…won’t they?

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Sox but I’m worried about the Yankees, they could win the division or oust the Sox in the Playoffs, either way they make me nervous.

To think my original plan today was to right about the Codes Theory: When real players and teams take on video game like qualities – but instead of talking about the Patriots being codes and the Sox on the verge of clinching the AL East I’m thinking that they won’t make the playoffs…what bizarro world have I fallen into.