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Boston Red Sox

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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It has been a nonplussing and extremely long week, for Boston sports fans. During this part of September, we all start to experience the perennial football jitters. Over the summer we’ve become accustomed to watching the Sox play practically every single day. So when the Patriots start up again, the 7+ days wait between games can feel torturous. Especially after a depressing loss, like the one that we saw last Thursday night.

But rejoice New England! It’s Friday. Week 2 in the NFL is officially underway. The Pats can start their redemption campaign with a win against the Saints on Sunday. It’s time for another highly anticipated edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Let’s kick it off!

The Good

A player very dear to Boston has returned from a lengthy stint on the “10-day DL”. Somehow what was supposed to be a quick rest, for general soreness, has been protracted into what feels like months. That’s right folks, David Price, the pride of the Red Sox, is back. But he’s not going to be pitching, in his normal capacity, as a starter. Nope, this time around our Cy Young winning southpaw will head to the bullpen.

Putting Price in the pen was being talked about, as we approached the threshold of his return. It was cemented just a couple of days ago, when manager John Farrell announced that David Price would be coming back to the Red Sox in a “multi-inning role” as a reliever.

Following the announcement, Price publically embraced his new responsibilities. In a recent press conference, he essentially said that he is willing to help this team in any way possible.

Price has pitched out of the bullpen before, even in the playoffs, and he has had success doing so. In the 2008 postseason, Price had a 1.58 ERA in 5.2 innings. Given his apparent compliance and willingness to serve, this seems like a win-win move.

Since the day that the Red Sox acquired him, David Price has had a tough go of it, both politically and statistically. Although he is one of the more loquacious pitchers in the game, and also a thinker, Price hasn’t exactly ingratiated himself to the Boston fan-base. So, of course, Sox fans are a little jaded to the pandering we hear in press conferences.

Hopefully Price can let go of the October troubles of his past, and start a new. For $30 million a year, I’m positive that the Sox would be more than happy with the lefty mutating into the next Andrew Miller. As we’ve been saying for the past couple years: It’s time to put up or shut, for David Price.

The Bad

At some point or another, almost all have us have been “the new kid in school”. An uncomfortable situation like that will certainly stimulate the fight or flight instincts in an individual. It can get ugly. Just ask, New Orleans Saints running back, Adrian Peterson.

This past Monday was the season premiere of Monday Night Football on ESPN. The first game, of the special double-header, featured the Minnesota Vikings versus the New Orleans Saints. Adrian Peterson was returning to the twin cities, for the first time in his new black and gold uniform. Not only was his performance underwhelming on the field, but he was visibly disgruntled and downtrodden on the sidelines. This was not the AP that America is used to seeing.

Now, I lived in Minnesota for quite some time; I watched Peterson play for years. I was in attendance for the game against the Chargers, when he broke the single-game rushing record. This dude’s an indefatigable worker and an absolute beast.

Peterson’s behavior during Monday night’s game was uncharacteristic, to say the least. The circumstances of his Saints debut, against the Vikings, represented the perfect storm for this veteran RB.

Think about it: He’s returning to the NFL, after a year that was saturated with domestic abuse controversy. Not to rekindle the past, but many people don’t even believe that he should be allowed to play football. Peterson is also on a new team, working with a new coach and a new playbook. Oh yeah, and his Vikings replacement, Dalvin Cook, set a rookie record for rushing yards, in that MNF game.

Adrian Peterson was involved in just 9 snaps, on Monday night. He had 6 carries, while only racking up 18 yards. This is a guy who has had a 2,000-yard season, and he has over 11,000 career rushing yards. Quite the dichotomy between his past and his present; hence the veteran’s frustration.

A video of Peterson dogging Saints head coach Sean Payton, on the sidelines, has gone viral. Payton is seen walking away, with his back turned, as his new RB chews him out roundly. Watching the game, you would presume that Peterson was complaining of a lack of involvement in the offense.

Since the incident, Adrian Peterson has come out and addressed the media. He clarified that he is fine with coach Payton. But he also mentioned that he “didn’t sign up for 9 snaps”. Let’s hope his troubles continue, just for week 2, as the Patriots are facing the Saints this Sunday.

Only time will tell, but if I was a betting man I would say that Peterson will eventuality prosper in New Orleans. This is a guy who has won the comeback player of the year award, after recovering from a torn ACL. For now it’s sad to watch a veteran, who was once regarded as one of the greatest ever, spiral out of control like this. It’s bad for fans and it’s bad for the sport.

The Ugly

Give Sergio Dipp another chance! We all know it was cringeworthy, inappropriately bombastic and downright awkward. But come on ESPN, cut the newbie some slack!

If you managed to stay awake Monday night, after the scintillating Vikings-Saints game, you saw a piece of pop culture history. Holy cow! Stretched thin, ESPN threw together a motley crew of neophytes for the broadcast of the second MNF game. One of these rookies was bright-eyed sideline reporter Sergio Dipp.

This dude was coming over from the ESPN Deportes section of the sports media company. On Monday, Dipp made his first report from the sidelines of a nationally telecasted NFL game. He seized the opportunity. Go and watch the video, because his performance was unspeakably bad.

Dipp’s commentary focused mainly on the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, Vance Joseph. It’s clear that Sergio Dipp felt a deep psychological connection with this kindred spirit, who was also making an important debut. “Here he is, having the time of his life.” Dipp exclaimed as the camera panned over to, a cool and calm, Vance Joseph inspecting his playbook. In actuality, it was Sergio Dipp, not Joseph, who was having the time of his life.

That was Dipp’s first, and only appearance as a sideline reporter. He bombed. The video propagated Twitter like meme wildfire. Sergio tried to salvage some honor by releasing an apology video. It was even more cringeworthy.

I implore you to stop Mr. Dipp. Embrace your quirks and pretend like nothing happened. Sometimes the more you speak, after an embarrassing moment, the worse you make it. Any publicity is good publicity. Get back to the sidelines and report like you’re having the time of your life. I don’t think you could even pretend to do anything else.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

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Boston Red Sox Popularity Decline Overblown

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Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are officially a playoff-bound team. After a 9-0 win over the Orioles on Wednesday paired with an Indians 6-5 win over the Angels, the Red Sox have officially clinched a postseason spot.

That spot for the moment is an AL Wild Card spot with the game to be played on October 3rd. Just getting to the postseason isn’t the goal for this year’s Red Sox team though.

I think any win  this time of the year given where we are in the standings and what is at stake, any win is important,” Farrell said. “Just getting into the playoffs is not our goal. Certainly it’s a stepping  stone toward other things that we have our sights set on, as many teams do. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

As it currently sits the Red Sox hold a 3 game lead over the never dying New York Yankees. Despite a pennant battle in full swing, the vibe in Boston isn’t focusing in on the Red Sox. Part of it may be the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees have not faced each other head to head in awhile and will not do so unless they meet up in the playoffs.

Even with that, there doesn’t seem to be that much interest in this years team. Ratings have been all over the place. The other night the second game of the series with Baltimore did an 8 in Boston. That is a good number for a weeknight game. But as of last count, ratings on NESN were down big.

But the last reported figure had them pegged at a 20% decline from the David Ortiz retirement season of 2016. That report came out in early July, so it isn’t a true representation of what has occurred over the last four months.That number has likely rised quite a bit. For some reason though, for a division race, this all feels a tad underwhelming.

Part of it could be some of the black eye storylines from the season, or the likeability of the team, or even the gross underachievement by multiple players throughout their lineup. But even with all of that, this years team has grit, and have shown the 2013 Red Sox ability to battle and win in extra-inning games.

Ratings might be down, but that isn’t shocking. A year removed from David Ortiz will do that. Ortiz was a larger than life player who put on a show. Sure Chris Sale is exciting to watch, but striking out 300+ batters isn’t as exciting as Big Papi smashing balls out of the yard 30+ times.

The ratings decline is overblown and the lack of popular interest is understandable. Sports are becoming more and more of a hardcore fan experience. That is especially the case in a 162 game baseball season. Getting the casual viewer or “pink hat” fan to tune into the game is hard to do. In 2017 many of those types of fans seem to have disappeared from the landscape.

With this year’s Red Sox team knocking on a division title, people will watch.

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Battle of the Eras: Chris Sale V. Pedro Martinez

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Boston Red Sox

This season, MLB batters have hit more home runs than they have hit in any other season. Ever. Yes, that’s including the steroid-era.

On Wednesday night, Red Sox ace, Chris Sale became the first AL pitcher to record 300 K’s in a season, since Pedro Martinez in 1999 (the climax of juicing in the MLB). To call what Sale has done in 2017 “impressive” would be an egregious understatement. It’s downright spectacular.

Both of these hall of fame caliber arms dominated their respective “eras”. But who had the rougher go of it? And can we definitively say that one pitcher is better than the other?

Before we continue, I have to admit that Pedro Martinez is 100% my favorite pitcher of all time. Without a doubt. When I was 8 years old, my favorite shirt to wear was a men’s XL “t-shirt jersey” of his. I was a big-boned kid. Anyways…

For Pedro, it was the varicose-veined behemoths like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, that he had to overpower. Where Chris Sale is now facing the equivocal adversity of the “juiced-ball era”: Power-hitting is ubiquitous; exit velocity is invariably up. And I’m sorry, but until the MLB comes out and coherently denounces this slang-like colloquialism, that’s what we’re rolling with: The baseball is juiced. Chris Sale has pitched and is currently pitching, in an “era” that favors hitters. One that is not at all dissimilar to the steroid-era that Pedro triumphed in, over a decade ago.

Tearing the Cover Off of the Ball

So let’s chronologically define these eras in question, to make comparisons fair, even though we’re dealing with the incomparable.

Concerning Pedro Martinez’s performance, we’ll say that the 1999 and 2000 seasons combined were the pinnacles of his era. And for Chris Sale, we’ll look at 2016 through 2017, as the superlative years so far, of the juiced-ball era.

From 1999-2000, the average for home runs hit per game (HRPG) was 1.16. This was when batters were going through anabolic steroids and HGH faster than they were going through Gatorade. From 2016-2017 thus far, the HRPG is currently at 1.21. This disparity is a symptom of the juiced-ball era. Or maybe all of the hitters in the MLB were invited to a symposium, where they were taught how to hit more homers… Probably not.

So how do these two greats of the game compare?

Bringing It

Let’s start with the elder of the two: Pedro Martinez. From 1999-2000, he was an indomitable force on the mound. For starters, he went 41-10 in the win-loss column. If that’s not godly enough for you, he had a professionally manicured ERA of 1.90. How Pedro, how? In 430.1 innings pitched, he racked up 597 K’s with a clean WHIP of .830. Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty solid.

But bear in mind, the steroid-era HRPG hardly compares to the unparalleled HRPG of Chris Sale’s contemporary juiced-ball era. Sale is pitching against the objectively more difficult phenomena, of the two.

With presumably 1 start left in the 2017 season, Chris Sale, through 2016-2017, has a record of 34-17 (.667 W-L%). That’s a helluva winning-percentage, considering that he pitched for the terrible Chicago White Sox for the majority of that span. Over the past 2 years in question, his ERA is presently at 3.06 and his WHIP is at 1.001. Sale has 533 K’s in that stretch, which is comprised of 436 total innings pitched.

Again, like Pedro, these numbers illustrate a transcendent talent.

The Eye Test

When it comes to Red Sox baseball, it’s almost sacrilegious to compare any pitcher to Pedro Martinez. He is kind of like our Paul Pierce: He gave us a piggyback-ride during the worst of times. But as the media and the statisticians have so tenaciously pointed out, Chris Sale is having a Pedro-like season for the Sox. So who’s better?

The fact of the matter is, one could make a reasonable argument for both sides.

Pedro Martinez faced chemically amplified power-hitters, in the steroid-era. Chris Sale is throwing a baseball that is ambiguously “loaded” in the favor of any hitter, during the juiced-ball era. One’s a lefty; one’s a righty. Yeah, yeah the list goes on.

Memory is the ultimate discerner. Sale has impressed us, but his impression will be crystallized by his performance in the playoffs. Also note that this iteration of the Boston Red Sox, that he is pitching for in 2017, is relatively more formidable than the one that Pedro pitched for.

Yet again, stats are stats; achievements are achievements. Both of these pitchers have achieved greatness, despite facing historically challenging odds. When it comes to concrete veneration: Writers and Cooperstown brass will be the ultimate deciders.

For now, Boston should relish the performance of their current, and for the foreseeable future, ace Chris Sale. He’s had himself a year. But as all greats will tell you, the “next” victory is always their favorite victory. We should all rest easy, knowing that Chris Sale will be toeing the rubber in game 1 of the 2017 postseason for the Sox. As his numbers show, this guy has what it takes to win. 

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Boston Sports Teams Will Play Anti-Racism PSA

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Boston. Home of the American Revolution and a city of people that have always stood up and fought for the rights of the American Citizen. Boston has always been a forerunner and if you recall an article I wrote a few months back, Boston’s major sports teams have always shown the true American Spirit.

This month, all five major Boston sports teams are making a true American stand against Racism.

After two reported racial incidents occurred at Fenway Park in May, All five major sports franchises in Boston are coming together with a public service announcement entitled “Take the Lead” against racism, reports the Boston Globe.

The Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Revolution have made a PSA video that features both white and black athletes asking fans to oppose racial behavior at sports venues. The video will first air at Fenway Park Sept 28. All five clubs will then play the PSA at their respective stadiums.

The two incidents that sparked this decision? Adam Jones, an Orioles centerfielder, stated that a fan spat out the n-word towards him and then the very next night a fan got banned for life for using a racial slur to another fan when a Kenyan woman sang the national anthem.

And just last week, a banner was hung on Fenway’s Green Monster that read: “Racism is as American as baseball.” The protesters were ejected but they were not banned.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy told the Boston Globe,

“When the incidents in May occurred, one of the first things we recognized was sports teams are high-profile, and we have the opportunity to help lead a high-level discussion around this “We wanted to take the lead in taking a stand against racism.”

People’s behavior’s may or may not change, however, there can never be enough messages that condemn this type of behavior. It’s a message we all need to hear and be mindful of.

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