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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Can you believe that game last night? Boy oh boy, what a doozy! Now we understand why the NFL insists on, not only scheduling but broadcasting Thursday Night Football games. I mean, the San Francisco 49ers doing battle with the Los Angeles Rams: That’s practically playoff football people. What a treat!

If you haven’t detected the sarcasm that my words are saturated with, you’re probably one of those fanboys who actually appreciate the “TNF” games. To you I say: How? Yes I understand that last night’s game was high-scoring and that it came down to the wire. But that betrays the incompetence of both the 49ers and the Rams defenses. It was playground football!

Even NBC’s Chris Collinsworth has to scrape the barrel to find the enthusiasm to provide commentary for these abominations. They’re so unwatchable; the NFL had to create it’s own television network to find a place that would televise Thursday night games. That’s pushing it man.

But have no fear: Sunday will soon be here. (Pretend that some catchy jingle is playing) which means it’s now time for, everybody’s favorite: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

The Red Sox are rolling right now, with some serious momentum.

Earlier this week, we saw our boys trounced the Baltimore Orioles, taking every game of a 3-game series. This was just part of an inordinate 12-game road trip that the Sox have been on since September 15th – the type of challenge that can make or break any team’s postseason bid.

On this excursion, every element of the Sox has performed indomitably. With October nearing on the horizon, the barometer is certainly reading in Boston’s favor.

The Sox outscored the Bird’s 20-8, over the course of this series in Baltimore. Our offense was firing on all cylinders. Mookie Betts went 4-14 with 6 RBI’s, including a homer and a triple. Crystallizing his role in October, the young Rafael Devers went 4-9 in the 2 games that he played.

Collectively Sox pitching produced a 3.63 ERA with 35 K’s in 29 innings pitched. These stats were greatly padded by the clinics that Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale put on. Big Smooth tossed an impeccable 6.1 innings of shutout ball on Tuesday; while Sale picked up his 300th K of the season, shutting out Baltimore on Wednesday night. Entertaining baseball, to say the least.

Now the bummer is: The Yankees have been able to parallel our recent success. Yes, Boston has maintained it’s 3-game lead over New York, in the AL East, going 7-3 in their last 10 games. But the Yankees are 8-2 in that same span. We cannot take our foot off of the pedal. New York is pressing aggressively on our heels, not allowing any room for error.

The Red Sox head to Cincinnati to face the Reds this weekend, not exactly a late-season crucible. For the Sox, as they wrap up this 12-game road trip, the top priority will be to stay focused and confident. This young team controls its own destiny right now. Boston can’t afford to vouchsafe the Yankees any half-games as the pennant-race comes to a conclusion. For the time being, it’s looking pretty good Sox Nation.

The Bad

After a recent foul-ball tragedy, 4 MLB teams have announced that they will be extending the protective netting in their respective stadiums. What’s bad about this: It’s only 4 of the 30 teams that comprise the MLB.

Wednesday afternoon, at Yankee Stadium, Todd Frazier turned on a pitch and pulled it over the third-base dugout. This ball was a gelid frozen-rope; he dead pulled it. Traveling at a speed well over 100 MPH, this foul-ball violently struck the face of an unexpecting child in the stands. The little girl was severely injured. She was escorted out of Yankee Stadium on a stretcher and is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

There wasn’t any netting or shield to mitigate the force of this projectile. Given the estimated distance from home-plate to where this girl was seated, she had about .68 seconds to react. MLB players are paid millions to anticipate and to field such line-drives. Pedestrian fans do not have the reflexes to defend against professional hitting.

In a day and age where many fans are abstracted by smartphones and jumbotrons, it’s now more important than ever to revamp fan safety. Will the netting slightly detract from your view of the game? Yes. But we’ll eventually become desensitized to this not-so obstructing obstruction. Bear in mind that the seats directly behind home-plate are already protected by this type of netting, and they’re still the most coveted seats in the ballpark.

As with any sport, safety measures always seem fun-crushing, when they are first implemented. Hockey players didn’t want to wear helmets; baseball players used to catch the ball with mittens. Players adjust and so do fans.

Netting that surrounds the entire perimeter of the field is not what’s being suggested here. After all, baseball is the only sport where it is common for fans in attendance to bring the equipment to catch balls outside of the field-of-play. So catch your accessible fly-balls, that’s great. But the MLB needs to calculate the standard for average “fan reaction time” and set up netting accordingly. There’s a reason why seats directly behind home-plate are protected by such a thing. Fans are not professional baseball players, therefore they cannot be expected to react like one.

The Ugly

On a lighter-note: TNF is an ugly product. I’m sorry, but I still have some rage chambered up from last night’s game between the 49ers and the Rams. We saw garbage against garbage, illustrated by the underwhelming finish to this “shootout”.

The 49ers are on the 50 yard-line, after having recovered an onside kick. They’re down 39-41 with a little over 2 minutes left to go in the 4th. How do they seize the moment? By going three-and-out, punctuated by Brian Hoyer being sacked on a 4th and 20.

It never used to be like this; Thursday Night Football used to be a rarity and something to look forward to. Now it’s an example of the NFL inundating it’s fan-base with content. If we’re going to play these gratuitous games, at least make the matchups appealing. Save for the season-opener, TNF this year has featured discarded small-market underdogs nipping at each other’s throats.

Roger Goodell and his subordinates who create the schedule need to decide what type of contest they want TNF to be. Is it simply a midweek throw-away game, or a hearty appetizer that stimulates the interest of fans going into the weekend? So far, it’s been the former.

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

Red Sox Managerial Decision Seemingly Made Up

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Did anyone think that the Boston Red Sox would take their time when hiring their new field manager? According to one report the team is moving rather quickly

According to one report, the team is moving rather quickly to the point where their minds are already made up.

“There is a 99.9 percent chance of [Cora] being named Red Sox leader,” a source told Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia. “They want him for the job. That post is for him. Alex is very beloved there. And he would love to run Boston. They want to make the fast decision.”

Cora is currently serving as the bench coach for the Houston Astros, a team that is battling it out with the New York Yankees for the chance to go to the World Series. Boston isn’t the only suitor for the former player however. Cora is set to meet with the New York Mets on Tuesday and is also expected to be of interest to other teams like the Philadelphia Phillies.

But the interest between Boston and Cora is mutual and a report from Puerto Rico confirms that. Cora played for the Red Sox during his career and was part of the 2007 Wolrd Series team. At the time he was considered an excellent leader on the team that had all the intangible qualities of one daying being an excellent coach. Since his playing days, he has served as an ESPN Analyst, GM of Puerto Rico national team, coach in Puerto Rico’s baseball league, and now a bench coach for Houston.

If the Red Sox are able to bring in Cora it would be seen as if they had been grooming him for years and that he is their guy. With other suitors in tow, it looks like an offer from the Boston Red Sox to Cora is going to come rather quickly. And quite frankly, this is the best decision for the team.

Acquiring Cora is far superior to a long time mediocre manager like Ron Gardenhire or a failed first coach stinter like Brad Ausmus. Cora is both young and has some prior experience to bring to the table. The one real question with him is if he will be too buddy-buddy with the players, a very real possibility.

Red Sox fans seem to be rather torn on this topic, many seem to like the idea of an old manager like Gardenhire, while others favor Cora who was a fan favorite as a player. In reality the true intentions or favorite of the Red Sox is unknown, but for the moment, Cora looks like the lock.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Manager Contestants Stepping Right Up

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Red Sox

On Wednesday the Boston Red Sox fired field manager John Farrell. With the departure of Farrell, the Red Sox must now conduct a full and wide search for their next manager. There are dozens of potential candidates for the job. The one choice that will have to be made is to either to go young or go old.

Fortunately for us, Dave Dombrowski gave a general outline of what he will be looking for in the next manager. In his post-firing presser, he mentioned that the candidate is unlikely to come from within.

That comment seemingly rules out a candidate like Chili Davis or Gary Ddisarcina.

In terms of experience, Dombrowski said “I think managerial experience helps. I don’t think it’s a 100% necessity.”. He also mentioned the importance of being in the dugout as experience. The last time Dombrowski hired a field manager he was in charge of the Detroit Tigers. The coach he hired at the time was Brad Asmus. So maybe that means he will go on the younger side.

If he goes young in terms of experience here is the list of potential candidates:

  • Brad Asmus: Asmus was let go by Detriot after having a rather shaky first tenure as a manager. He was hired by Dombrowski and has plenty of connections to New England. He will land somewhere this offseason.
  • Alex Cora: Direct connections to Boston and knows how the media is here. Well respected by players and has coached in Puerto Rico and is the bench coach for AJ Hinch’s Houston Astros.
  • Jason Varitek: Obvious connections here. But he has no actual experience as a coach in the dugout. He has helped with player development and scouting as a special assistant to the gm in Boston. But chances are he isn’t in the conversation.
  • Hensley Meulens: Speaks Spanish, English (and other languages), has extensive coaching experience and serves as the hitting coach for the Giants. Has coached the Netherlands in the WBC. There has been a rumor that Major League Baseball is encouraging the Red Sox to hire a coach of minority status. Meulens fits that bill.

In terms of an older/experiences option, there are a few. There is an opportunity here for Dombrowksi. That opportunity is to convince the well respected Jim Leyland to come out of retirement. Leyland though doesn’t seem interested in coaching again and decline to come to Boston a long time ago.

Below are few options for an experienced field manager:

  • Leyland
  • Torey Luvullo: Had a 93 win first season at the helm of Arizona. Could be convinced to leave to come back to Boston.
  • Joe Girardi: Could be on his way out of New York. Is a noted good in-game manager.
  • Ron Gardenhire: Former Twins manager and currently a bench coach for the Diamondbacks. This kind of smells to me though.

What way will Dombrowski go with is anyone’s guess. This process can take awhile with the team needing to lock down a list and start the interview process. According to Dombrowski he always has a list of people for every position he might have to hire for. So, in theory, this could happen fairly quickly.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Fire John Farrell

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John Farrell

On Wednesday morning the Boston Red Sox have announced that they have parted ways with field manager John Farrell.

Farrell has been the manager since 2013 and during his tenure, he led the team to 3 AL East division titles and a World Series Victory. The other two seasons happened to be two straight last-place finishes.

Farrell has been constantly criticized for his below average in game management, but being able to win 93 games when your team had turmoil and underperformances all season was impressive. While personally, I am not a supporter of him. I feel as if he often fails to get the credit he deserves.

But when it comes down to it, he is not the future at the helm for the Boston Red Sox.

According to the team, the process to find the next field manager will start immediately with Dave Dombrowski addressing the situation shortly.

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