Dear John, I am Sorry

The 2013 ALCS has been nothing less than an instant classic through the first three games.  The Red Sox will go into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead, something that seemed improbable at best going into the 8th inning of Game 2 at Fenway Park.  In Game  1, the Red Sox were only able to produce 1 hit…1 god damn hit… to quote the great Harry Doyle en route to a 1-0 loss.  In Game 2, Detroit looked to take a commanding 2-0 lead with the Sox facing the unenviable task of facing Justin Verlander down two games to none.  Then Big Papi struck.

David Ortiz.  Big Papi.  Senor Octubre.  Red Sox fans have witnessed Ortiz’s heroics for a decade now.  It came to the point 963805-tigers-red-sox-baseballwhere many fans were almost expecting Ortiz to deposit a first pitch Joaquain Benoit change-up into the Boston bullpen for a grand slam to tie the game. A grand slam that sent Torri Hunter sprawling head over heels into the Boston bullpen.  A grand slam that made a Boston Cop a local hero and coined a term, Horganing. A grand slam that will be talked about for generations. A grand slam that gave the Red Sox life. The Red Sox offense had been anorexic through the first 17 innings of the ALCS.   The Big Dog ate, and completely changed the complexion of the series with one swing of the bat.  Red Sox fans take what Papi does for granted.  But let me be the first to say, the man is clutch.  Time and time again he has come up big, in the times the Sox have needed him most.  I mean a grand slam! In the eighth inning! With 2 outs!  Are you kidding me?  Isn’t that what small children dream of every day?

One inning later Jarrod Saltalamacchia plated Jonny Gomes to walk off with Game 2.  The Red Sox were going to board a plane to Detroit with the series tied at 1.  A series, which arguably, would’ve been 2-0 in Detroit’s favor.  Think about it for a second.  The Red Sox were no hit through the first 5 innings of each game.  Detroit fired their absolute best shot at the Red Sox.  What have we said about the Sox all year?  Man, these guys are resilient!  Every time we were ready to discount the Sox, they came right back with a massive win.  Game 2 was no different.  Why are we surprised?

Going into Game 3, all the talk was about Justin Bie- sorry Verlander.  Verlander has been incredible in October, nearly lackey-big-10340.runtouchable.  No one was talking about John Lackey.  No one has been more critical of The Underbite then yours truly over the lifetime of the Lackey contract.  What Lackey did in Game 3 against a potent Tiger lineup will rank right up there in Red Sox lore with the names Pedro and Schilling.  Lackey matched zeroes with Verlander, through 6 innings.  I can’t think of another Boston athlete in my lifetime that has drawn as much ire from the Fenway Faithful, then made amends, and now has drawn the same amount of praise from Sox fans.  From chicken and beer, to Tommy John, to pitching like an ace in the biggest game of the season, John Lackey has earned this year’s salary and then some.

Mike Napoli came to the plate in the top of the 7th inning boasting a feeble .111 batting average in the playoffs.  Napoli changed Game 3 with one swing, mashing a Verlander offering to give the Sox a 1-0 lead.  Coincidently, Napoli’s first major league at bat came against Justin Verlander.  Napoli turned the clock back to 2006, and hit a home run to the same exact spot at Comerica Field in 2013.  This proved to be enough.

I wasn’t overly excited about the quick hook John Farrell gave Lackey after 6.2 innings and 97 pitches.  During the regular imagesseason the Red Sox bullpen was much maligned.  In October? They have been lights out.  Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa preserved the 1-0 lead giving way to Koji Uehara who slammed the door on Game 3 giving the Sox a 2-1 series lead.  Tazawa struck out Miggy Cabrera with straight gas with ducks on the pond.  Each pitch, New England held its collective breath as the young righty struck out the reigning AL MVP in the biggest spot of the season.  Uehara came in and made rather quick work of Prince Fielder with runners on.  Fair to say Uehara and Tazawa both have Marbles!

Now the Red Sox go into Wednesday night with 2-1 series lead.  Doug Fister will be the opposition.  While he is nothing to sneeze at, he is not Verlander, Scherzer, or Sanchez.  Red Sox fans had been dying to get the Detroit bullpen after the aforementioned triumvirate had pitched 21 innings struck out 35 and given up just two runs.  Now Boston is in the driver’s seat in this series.  Jake Peavy will take the mound tomorrow night.  Peavy, who will be motivated to show Boston they were the big winners in the deadline trade that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit.

Speaking of Iglesias, he is who no one is talking about.   In Game 2, he made a horrible decision trying to throw Jonny Gomes out on a sure infield hit.  His throw went into the Boston dugout and Gomes was able to take second base with no outs.  Gomes’s run won the game.  In Game 3, he pinch hit, yes Boston fans you read that correctly, and struck out on three pitches.  Meanwhile, Peavy was awesome in the ALDS against Tampa going 5.2 innings giving up just 1 run and throwing just 74 pitches.

There is no doubt this series has been an instant classic.  It will continue tomorrow night at 8 o’clock.  I wish life had a fast forward button.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

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First Half Red Sox Recap

When the Boston Red Sox left Fort Myers in March to embark on their 2013 campaign, few (if any) believed they would be in the position they are at the All Star break.  I thought I was wearing my usual hometown shades when I said they would be a .500 team.  What the Red Sox have done is amaze everyone.  On this date, the Red Sox are in first place in the American League East.  They also have the most wins in all of baseball.  There are many different people and various factors Red Sox fans can attribute this success to.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington was finally given the keys to the car from Larry Lucchino late last season.  Cherington quickly unloaded a ton of ben-cherington4salary and even more ego in one foul swoop by sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles.  Cherington then went to work in the offseason by bringing in solid baseball players that had an even better attitude.  Goodbye headaches. Hello Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, and Mike Carp.  More importantly, Cherington was able to give Bobby Valentine the pink slip.  Keep in mind Bobby V was never Cherington’s guy in the first place.  With Bobby V gone, Cherington traded Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays to grab the man he wanted all along, John Farrell. What was once labeled as a season where the Red Sox needed to win their fan base back, they now find themselves in playoff contention.

John Farrell

Farrell has been exactly what the Red Sox needed coming into the 2013 season.  He has been the anti-Bobby V.  Have you heard any incidents within the Red Sox clubhouse this season? Remember last season when we knew everything that was going on between manager and players? Remember when Will Middlebrooks made 3 errors in one inning and he came in to the dugout to be greeted by Bobby V saying “nice inning kid.” Farrell has handled any issues going on in-house expertly.  He has even handled the unpredictable Alfredo Aceves admirably.  Farrell also helped Jon Lester get back to his old self early in the season. Granted Lester has struggled recently.  Be that as it may, the pitching staff as a whole, has benefitted from having Farrell in the dugout.  Clay Buchholz is 9-0 with an ERA below 2.  If not for a nagging shoulder injury, he would have started the All Star Game and would undoubtedly be the front-runner for the Cy Young award.  Thank you, John Farrell.

The players

Remember the criticism Red Sox management received when they gave David Ortiz his long-awaited multi-year deal in the off-dustinseason?  Big Papi has rewarded that decision to the tune of a .317 batting average with 19 home runs and 65 runs batted in.  Many baseball writers (Heyman, Morosi) have Dustin Pedroia as their first half American League MVP.  Yes, they have Pedroia over Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera.  Pedroia has missed one game this season.  He has made one error.  He is hitting .316 with 6 home runs and 56 runs batted in.  He is doing all this with a torn ligament in his thumb.  The man is a beast.

Daniel Nava has turned in Trot Nixon.  Nava should have been named an All Star after the stellar first half he put up for the Red Sox.  In the preseason Nava was an after thought.  Many people figured he would be playing elsewhere by now.  When Jackie Bradley, Jr. struggled in April, Nava was red-hot.  He is yet to really cool off.  He has been a steadying presence whether hitting leadoff, second, or sixth in the lineup.  The man the Red Sox once acquired for one dollar is hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 52 runs batted in.  Tell me he doesn’t remind you of Trot Nixon with a clean uniform.

At this point in the season, Jose Iglesias has to be the Rookie of the Year in the American League.  Iglesias started out the season with the big club while Stephen Drew recovered from a concussion.  Iglesias was hitting over .500 when Drew came back. Iglesias was in Pawtucket for about a month.  He was pressed back into duty and has continued to hit the ball well for the Red Sox.  Many were concerned about his offense.  Often times it may not be pretty.  It may be an infield hit, it may be a blooper down the line, but either way it looks like a line drive in the box score.  Keep in mind Iglesias is just 23 years old. I do not expect him to hit over .350 the rest of the year.  As a matter of fact, I fully expect him to finish the season slightly below .300.  But I do know this.  I want him to play shortstop everyday for the Boston Red Sox.  The kid plays spectacular defense.  The kid belongs in the big leagues.

The last man I need to mention in this post is John Lackey.  Who would have thought he would be the Red Sox horse going intobos_a_lackey_b1_600 the All Star break.  Lackey is throwing the ball extremely well after an awful first 3 years with the franchise.  He is hitting 96 on the gun.  He is getting numerous swings and misses.  His ERA is below 3.  Now, anyone that has read my writings over the past few years now my hatred for John Lackey.  I would be remiss if I failed to give credit when credit is due.  With Jon Lester struggling and Clay Buchholz “hurt”, John Lackey has been the man in the Boston rotation.  To think his season looked over before it got started in Toronto in his first game this year.  Lackey has been awesome for the Red Sox and I do hope it continues.

The Red Sox are 58-39 and 2.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays.  The second half of the season begins Friday.  Saddle up Sox fans the road to the playoffs is upon us.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Thank You Red Sox!

The Boston sports scene has not been pretty over the past week.  I detailed the heartbreak in a post I wrote yesterday.  Therefore, I will not speak about it again.  Instead, I write about the first place Boston Red Sox, who have made life a little bit easier in Boston despite what has gone on recently.  Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have more wins than the Red Sox this season.  Most of the so-called experts penciled the Red Sox in for 84 wins this season.  Amazing enough, they are just 19 wins away from equaling last season’s total of 69.

Everyone, including myself, have been waiting for the Red Sox to taper off a bit.  The same can be said for Jose Iglesias who is Jose Iglesiassporting an amazing .409 batting average.  Iglesias will have to go 0 for his next 40 to be at .300.  With Will Middlebrooks struggling to hit the Mendoza Line (.200), Iglesias has shifted over to third base while Will figures things out in Pawtucket.  I fully expect Middlebrooks back with the big league squad by the end of July.  This is a guy who hit 15 home runs with 54 runs batted in, playing in just 75 games last season.  I believe the third base- shortstop situation will figure itself out over the course of time.  Stephen Drew has the month of July to get it together or else we may be looking at Middlebrooks and Iglesias on the left side of the infield.  Heck, we might even see Xander Bogaerts playing a prominent role in August.

Jon Morosi tweeted he believes Dustin Pedroia is the first half MVP in the American League.  Anyone who knows me knows I am the biggest Pedroia blowhard dead or alive.  Obviously, Miguel Cabrera is the MVP in the first half of this season.  But I did become curious.  In Pedroia’s 2008 MVP season, he played in 157 games hitting .326 with 17 home runs and 83 runs batted in.  He led the league in runs (118), hits (218), and doubles (54).  He also won the Gold Glove award.  This season, Pedroia is on pace to play in 160 games. He is projected to hit .322 with 10 home runs and 91 runs batted in.  He is projected to score 102 runs, 201 hits, and 42 doubles.  He will obviously win the Gold Glove this year.  I will never argue with anyone that says Pedroia is a top 5 player in all of baseball.

Jonny Gomes stats may not look all that great.  He is hitting .218 with 5 home runs and 2o runs batted in playing in a limited dustin-pedroia-2fashion.  But I feel whenever Gomes comes up in a big spot, he produces.  When he is pinch-hitting, he is 4-12 with 2 home runs and 3 runs batted in.  He is hitting .321 with runners in scoring position.  Sure, he may be overpaid.  But it’s not my money. And I love the energy he brings to the dugout.  Don’t think for a second he is not a big part of the resurgent Boston Red Sox.

Lastly, how awesome has John Lackey been?  Never did I think I would say that.  I have easily been his harshest critic during his time in Boston. But Lackey has been a bulldog for the Red Sox going deep into games when the team needs him to.  I know I am stunned too. But I won’t complain.  I am not ready to take back all the horrid things I said about him over the last three years but I will acknowledge his recent success. The 34-year-old has an ERA under 3 and has been a stopper while Clay Buchholz has been hurt and Jon Lester has been struggling.  Lackey has been a pleasant surprise and I hope he can keep it up!

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

How Sweep It Is!

Believe it or not I actually do have a social life to attend to once in a great while.  Because of the social life, I was unable to post about the games over the weekend.  In case you missed it (and I doubt you did) here is a mini recap of the weekend.  And what a great weekend it was for Boston sports.

Celtics Bust Out Brooms in NY

In Game Three of the first round series between the Celtics and Knicks, the only competition on the court was between Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in who could hit the most three pointers and have the most points.  Pierce had 38 points hitting 6 of his 8 threes and Ray-Ray had 32 points hitting 8 of his eleven threes.  Rajon Rondo was able to run around the court at will and posted a triple double with 15 points 11 rebounds and 20 assists.

Game Four saw the Celtics lead throughout the game before putting on the finishing touches on a 101-89 victory being the only team in the NBA to sweep the first round this year.  Garnett led the way in Game 4 with 26 points and 10 rebounds.  If you missed either of these two games, you didn’t miss much as the Celtics dominated right from the opening tap to the final buzzer.

In hindsight this series ended when Chauncey Billups went down with a knee injury at the end of Game 1.  Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudimire never looked to be on the same page.  Toney Douglas was no match for Rajon Rondo.  Landry Fields laid perhaps the biggest egg in the history of postseason sports.  This was a guy that was a first team all rookie and he stunk the place up in all 4 games.  The Celtics will wait for the Heat to polish off the 76ers before starting round two.  The extra time off will provide the aging roster with some rest and also buy time for Shaq to get healthy.

Horton Hears a Who: Bruins Lead Series 3-2

Nathan Horton scored 11 minutes into the second overtime of Game 5 to put the Bruins one win away from advancing to the second round.  At this time last week, the idea of the Bruins making it out of the opening round was a joke.  But over the last three games they have played with heart and that is all you need to win in playoff hockey.  Michael Ryder continued his great play with the save of his career bailing out an out of position Tim Thomas in the first period of the game.

Speaking of Thomas, the man stood on his head in Game 5 with 44 saves.  Chief among those saves was a vintage Thomas move of sliding across the crease saving a one timer on a 2 on 1 break in overtime.  How he saved that puck, I have no idea.  All I know is the my heart was in my throat.  Radio personality Michael Felger has been asking when Tim Thomas was going to steal a game in the playoffs.  He got his answer with Thomas’ legendary effort in Game 5.

Lastly, how stupid is Max Pacioretty?  The man loves his Twitter account like no other.  This time he took to tweeting a derogatory remark about Brad Marchand’s nose.  Marchand responded by being the third star of the game and playing with as much energy and hustle as anyone could ask for.  Pacioretty has already promoted enough bulletin board material for the Bruins, and he just doesn’t seem to get the message.  There will be nothing better than the Bruins winning the series Tuesday night in Montreal in front of 28,000 screaming Canadien fans.

Sox Shut Down Angels

Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey both shut out the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend combing on 16 innings without giving up a run. The Sox now have a five game winning streak going and are showing everyone they are in fact who everyone thought they were going into the season.  In the last nine games, the starting rotation has an ERA of 0.88.

Carl Crawford also hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox and has shown signs of coming out of his season opening funk.  Once Crawford gets going, and he will, watch out.  The Red Sox will be unbeatable.  Mark my words. The Red Sox can keep their winning ways going as they will travel to Baltimore and open up a three game set on Tuesday.

All in all it was a great weekend in Boston sports.  Let’s hope the run extends into late June!

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Dear John

Dear John,

You may be wondering why the delay in writing you this letter, or you may be wondering why I am writing it in the first place.  See, I wanted to sleep on what I am about to say.  I wanted to try to let a cooler head prevail and not have an emotional reaction to your performance yesterday.  You may be asking yourself “what was wrong with my performance yesterday? I got the W.”  That is my problem with you, John.  In Spring Training, your first comments were, “You know I wasn’t that bad last year.”  You are right.  You were mediocre at best with a 14-11 record and a 4.40 ERA.

I wouldn’t mind that out of a number 4 starter, which is what you are.  But you are the only number 4 starter in the league making $82 million.  Ask anyone around these parts and they will tell you that I always stick up for the athletes around here no matter how bad they may be doing.  Ask Drew Bledsoe.  Go down to JD Drew’s locker and ask him who is always in his corner.  You blew the luxury of having me support you through thick and thin when you come out and say that you aren’t that bad.

John, you are awfully atrocious to put it mildly.  In your eyes you are off to an ok start with a few rough patches.  Hey, you had that ONE inning where you didn’t let anyone score.  Thats right in 8 out of the 9 innings you’ve pitched you’ve allowed at least one run.  15.48? Thats not how many points per game Ray Allen is averaging, John.  That is your earned run average!  Teams are Sha-Lackeying you!  I was at the Rangers game last week.  There were zero ground ball hits.  All their hits left the yard, were scorched to the gaps, or scorched right at people.  You are fooling anyone and you certainly aren’t being victimized by cheap hits.

Then after somehow getting a win yesterday (which the MLB should revisit) you say the game was closer than it appeared?  What does that even mean? See John, this is Boston where fans know their baseball.  They don’t need a monkey jumping up and down on a Jumbotron to tell us to get loud.  We don’t need inflatable sticks to make noise.  We know what is going on and we know when our players aren’t performing at the level they should.

Through 2 games the offense has actually scored 15 runs in games you’ve started.  Have you been able to hold the lead for just one inning? Nope.  Pitching badly is one thing,  (see Beckett, Josh or Matsuzaka, Daisuke) but making lame excuses time and time again and maintaining that you aren’t pitching that badly boggles my mind.

The worst of all this is I have to deal with you for four more years.  The least you can do is get your head out of your ass and start pitching like a man who signed his name to a dotted line one year ago with the understanding that he would EARN his $82 million.

Sincerely Yours,

Scott Patterson

Why?

This post is inspired by JadaKiss.

For the past week, when it came to sports, I found myself asking one question numerous times.  Why? Some of these questions I think I have answers to.  Others I am as baffled by them as I once was with Math.  (Once they started putting letters in it, it really screwed me up).  So here are a few things that have been driving me insane.  If you can answer any of these, please, I beg of you answer them!

But first, out of respect:

Why is Glen Davis getting the ball at the end of games?

Why is Glen Davis getting 10-15 shots a game, mostly jumpers at that?

Why did the Celtics trade for Jeff Green if they aren’t going to play him?

Why did the Red Sox sign The Underbite to a 5 year contract?

Why does Tom Brady have his hair in a pony tail?

Why does Louis Murphy need Viagra?

Why can’t the Celtics stay healthy?

Why did I underestimate Butler two years in a row?

Why is Krista married to The Underbite?

Why is Jared Sullinger staying in school?

Why am I confident the Spurs won’t get to the Western Conference Finals?

Why does ESPN think Blake Griffin is better than Kevin Durant?

Why are the Orioles undefeated?

Why are people paying $250 to see a Charlie Sheen stand up?

Why does Evan Longoria own an AK 47?

Why isn’t Tyler Seguin getting more ice time?

Why is Jarrod Saltalamachhia being blamed for the Red Sox pitching staff giving up 11 home runs to Texas in three games?

Why is Glen Davis playing 30 minutes a game?

Why did I like Glen Davis so much in the first half of the season?

 

Fever Pitch…ing

Amazing! Shocking! Flabbergast-ing?(if thats a word)

All three words could be used when describing the Red Sox off-season moves. 

The Red Sox have no doubt put themselves in position to climb back atop the AL East and they did it in aggressive fashion. Theo and Co. wasted no time targeting the people they wanted, and did whatever it took in getting them.  There was a definite need in this lineup for some pop once Martinez and Beltre left or were assumed gone.  In come Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  I don’t have to get into what these two bring to the lineup, that is not my focus.

I really want to look at the pitching of this team, because believe it or not, that is what they needed the most!

In case you don’t believe me, here are some offensive stats for the Red Sox last season. In the true spirit of “the rivalry” I will include the Yankees stats as well.

Rankings reflect both AL and NL:

Batting avg.- Boston 7th  NY- 8th

Slugging% – Boston- 2nd  NY- 4th

On Base%- Boston- 4th  NY- 1st

Stolen Bases- Boston- 25th  NY- 12th

HR-  Boston- 2nd  NY-3rd

Runs- Boston- 2nd  NY- 1st

To recap, Boston’s offensive numbers were just as good and in a lot of cases better than the Yankees. Stolen bases will improve with a healthy Jacoby and even though Crawford can’t run against Varitek anymore he can still face Jorge’s squirt gun for an arm. When you think of the players that contributed to these statistics it is even more impressive, Darnell McDonald and  Ryan Kalish are the first two that come to mind. With the injuries throughout the lineup this team will no doubt be able to repeat and exceed last seasons numbers.

Pitching last season was not as great. Here are the rankings for how the Red Sox staff, yes the Yankees too.

ERA- Boston- 22nd  NY- 15th

Complete Games- Boston- 22nd  NY- 24th

WHIP- Boston- 16th  NY- 11th

Wins- Boston 10th  NY- 3rd

Opposing Batting Avg- Boston 17th  NY-12th

K/BB Ratio- Boston 22nd  NY- 16th

As you can see, and I realize you didn’t need these stats to know that, the Red Sox pitching staff was the problem last year. I love what the front office did with the bullpen. Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler have been closers and have pitched in big situations before. To help with the middle innings Boston acquired Matt Albers who was 1st among relievers that pitched more than one inning in a game. Albers will eat up middle innings and believe it or not he pitched some quality innings for the Orioles last season, yes I know that sounds like an oxymoron. I am praying that another lefty arm comes into the fold, one not named Lenny Dinardo. Sorry Lenny but the only thing cool about you is that we are kind of eskimo brothers, TRUE STORY.

With Beckett and Lackey into their 30’s a strong bullpen will no doubt help to keep them healthy, especially in the early part of the season. I full anticipate a strong comeback from both veterans.  The further development or Lester and Buchholz will be the key to this whole team. Big statement but no truer words have been spoken.  If Beckett and Lackey return to form and these two young pitchers improve on last season, this rotation will return to a top-tier unit. The fifth spot of the rotation will likely go to Dice-K by default by I would personally like to see FDub, yes that is his new name, start the season in the rotation this year.

Red Sox Nation seems to be back to full force and the expectations could not be higher in Boston. I am asking Santa for a lefty reliever for Christmas, what are you asking for?