Archive for the ‘Boston Red Sox’ Category

Off He Goes

There are 750 active players on Major League Baseball rosters. 30 teams, consisting of 25 players. With such a large number of players, there are bound to be a few bad apples in the mix. Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Pierzynski, & Carlos Gomez come to mind as being world class jerks. Unfortunately, it’s these guys that tend to get the attention of the media. Steroids, pimping homeruns, initiating bench clearing brawls, are just a few of the “contributions” that these guys make to the league. I cringe whenever these guys are on the news getting the headlines that have little to do with the game of baseball.

The reason for dusting of thefoulline.com keyboard on a random Sunday in February, is that one of the true good guys in sports has made the decision to step away from the game today. Ryan Dempster chose today to not play baseball in 2014, and forfeit his 13 million dollar salary, citing physical & personal issues. Dempster could have easily just gone on the disabled list, and try and figure out how to spend the millions of dollars coming to him in unearned salary.

Ryan Dempster epitomized mediocrity during his 16 year career. This is evident by his 132-133 win/loss record. But, he was always an affable, hard nosed, competitor that was genuine role model to the kids that watch the game.

All signs are pointing to him retiring from baseball. If so, I’m glad that I was able to see him play a season for the Red Sox. I appreciate the respect he showed for the game, when he drilled A-Rod last year. But, I’m most happy that he was finally able to win a World Series, in what might be his final season.

It’s about time the good guy finished first.

Don’t Come Around Here No More

The following is a guest post by long-lost and much-beloved thefoulline.com contributor, Dylan.

The 2013 fan experience for any sport is like no other that we have seen before. 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago, the act of going to a game beat out the experience of watching it on TV at home any day of the week. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why someone would want to leave their house to attend a sporting event. (Unless, of course, that game is a windy spring training game with thefoulline.com crew.)

At home, I can keep up with my fantasy roster, stream the game to my iPhone if I need to take a nature break, and pay less than $10 for a beer. Gone are the days of kids begging Dad to drive an hour into the city so that they can get a glimpse of the players they read about or heard radio announcers applaud. This is the 21st Century!!! No longer is a guys’ night out held at the game, but rather a local sports bar that has a TV the size of a wall. Ownerships need to ask themselves what would draw someone back in for the fan experience.

Two teams that equally need new stadiums are the Tampa Bay Rays (obvious) and the Boston Red Sox (gasp!).

The Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium more than any team in any sport at any point in history. This is a team that, love ‘em or hate ‘em, has performed very well the past five years and has a marketable cast of players and a unique and popular manager, along with a seemingly intelligent ownership group. So why can’t this team break out of the bottom third of MLB fan popularity and stop having attendance in the gutter year after year?

The stadium.

An absurd contract with the City of St. Pete has the Rays staying in the Trop until what I believe is the year 2095, but I’m not too good at contractual facts. The City of St. Petersburg commissioners are making every attempt to hold the Rays hostage to their contract, and by doing so are slowly eroding away at any chance the Rays have at climbing out of the attendance cellar. Last time I checked, the dukes and duchesses of St. Pete will not let the Rays ownership speak with Hillsborough County officials. If the Tampa Bay region wants to be part of the baseball world, then talks need to open up across the bay in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Rays need to be in Downtown Tampa. Tampa has seen a revitalization of sorts, with the Seminole Heights District attracting the middle-aged hipster crowd to its 1920s houses, and Cigar City Brewing helping build a Portland-esque artisan crowd. The Rays ownership could capitalize on the renaissance that Tampa is experiencing by placing the team smack in the city, along the water and near the business of downtown that so desperately needs an attraction within reach. A downtown stadium with a view of the bay would celebrate the waterfront that Florida is known for, could spark a new crop of bars and restaurants in a downtown that is a ghost town after 5pm, and could once and for all start a freshening up of inner-city Tampa that has been forgotten to the ugly urban sprawl outward.

Now, to the more controversial topic. The Red Sox need to get out of Fenway!!! In 1998, I too got caught in the hype of Saving Fenway Park when talks first began about tearing it down and building a new stadium. I hated the idea and I couldn’t stand to see Fenway go. Memories were there for me and always will be. The first time someone walks up the ramp and sees the bright green grass and dark green walls, and feels the intimacy of Fenway, it gives goose bumps. The amazing thing about that feeling is it never goes away. No matter the amount of times someone walks into that stadium, the feeling is there. But what I think tied so many to that stadium was the shared feelings of hurt and letdown that bonded all of New England together. Blame it on the blue-collar spirit of Boston, but pre-2007 (no, not 2004), Red Sox fans knew there was unfinished business and couldn’t let the stadium go away until the job was done.

The Red Sox HAD to win the World Series while playing out of Fenway. It wouldn’t have been right if done otherwise, and they had to do it twice. 2004 may have broke the curse, but 2007 cemented the Red Sox atop the heap in baseball. ’07 proved that ’04 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox were to be taken seriously. I wrote a piece about how after 2007 I felt different as a Red Sox fan. At the time I thought the piece was a little ridiculous, but looking back I think I was spot on. The Red Sox did change after 2007. No longer was this “the idiots” or the days of reverse the curse. Boston was all of the sudden a town of winners, that for decades had been lovable losers. The persona that so many Red Sox fans, and to some extent, I think, the players took on was over. Things really did change in 2007.

Now, in 2013, the team is coming off a terrible year and the image of the Sox has gone from the lovable idiots that wouldn’t give up in 2004 to spoiled grown men that eat chicken and drink beer. This is why Fenway needs to go. The era of the Curse is over. The story of 2004 will live on forever but it’s time for the Red Sox to build a new image, a cleaner image, one that celebrates what Boston is now and embraces a new era. A move out of Fenway could mean a new stadium on the waterfront by either Pier 4 or Long Wharf. A new stadium that could incorporate the North End, Fanueil Hall, the waterfront, and the growing pop-culture popularity of South Boston. Red Sox fans don’t need to look toward a past filled with curses and a broke-down stadium anymore, it’s time to celebrate the team, and to a greater extent, the City of Boston.

Under Pressure

I was planning to write a post after the Red Sox won their 2011 season opener. When that didn’t pan out, I figured I would write something after they squeezed out a victory or two against the Rangers.

Didn’t happen.

The good news was that the Sox were heading to AL Central-doormat Cleveland, and so were all but guaranteed to get this World Series season back on track. We all know how that series went.

So at this point, I figured I should just write something before Boston ends up 0-162.

Am I worried that the Red Sox are 0-6? I honestly don’t think it’s big deal. Yet. They have a great lineup. They have a quality pitching staff with a solid history. These guys know how to win, and they will win this year… a lot.

The Sox players are well aware of how the offseason went, with Gonzalez, Crawford, Jenks, and Wheeler added to an already potent lineup. Every news source from the Boston Globe to the Sheboygan Daily Reader was picking Boston to win 95+ games and cruise towards another championship. The players know they now have a responsibility to live up to their fans’ expectations as well as the owners’ commitment to putting a great team on the field. They’re putting a ton of pressure on themselves to win. Every at bat is critical, so bats are getting squeezed a little too tight. Every pitch has to be a strike, so balls are getting overthrown. All of this is having a negative impact on their performance.

The Sox return to Boston today after being away from their homes since February. I think a little home cooking is just what they need. Of course, if Boston gets swept this weekend by the damn Yankees, I’m going to jump off the Sunshine Skyway.

(On the other hand, I totally think that the Rays are going to lose 162 games this year. They kind of stink.)

Go Sox!

I’m So Excited

I have never been more excited for a baseball season to begin.

After suffering through a tumultuous 2010 season, filled with injuries and unfulfilled expectations, the offseason for the Boston Red Sox has been just what the doctor ordered. Boston made the two biggest splashes of the year by trading their top prospects for Adrian Gonzalez and his perfectly-suited-for-Fenway Park swing, and signing Red Sox-killer Carl Crawford to a ridiculous 7-year contract.

I absolutely love the additions. These are two high-character hard workers that make Boston a lot more exciting. The reality about the 2010 Sox was that they were a bit boring to watch. Players grinding out at bats is productive, but I want to see the shock and awe of Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury stealing bases, coupled with Gonzalez, Youkilis and Big Papi knocking bombs.

I couldn’t care less that Boston is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in player salaries. I just bought a Red Sox hat that cost 35 bucks, and I’m happy to see the Boston owners putting it back into the team. And I don’t buy that they’re starting to resemble the Yankees, who think they can buy a World Series. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Ellsbury are all homegrown and are still the heart of this team.

There has been a ton of speculation on what the new and improved batting order is going to be. Is Ellsbury leading off? Is the lineup too left handed? Where should Crawford hit? What a great problem to have. They could put all nine names into a hat and pull them out in any order and still win 90 games. David Ortiz is leading off? Whatever.

Of course, Terry Francona is a lot smarter than I am, and he has a ton of lineup options depending on the opposing pitcher. But, if it were up to me, here’s what I’d do.

  1. Ellsbury
  2. Pedroia
  3. Crawford
  4. Gonzalez
  5. Youkilis
  6. Ortiz
  7. Drew
  8. Saltalamacchia
  9. Scutaro

I’ll put this lineup up against anyone. Patience, speed, and power throughout. Is this a 95+ wins team positioned for a playoff run? As long as they stay healthy, I’m pretty confident that it is.

The 2011 baseball season starts in 30 days… I guess we’ll start answering some of these questions then.

A Change Is Gonna Do Me Good

Change is important. The prospect of change is what led to Barack Obama becoming our 44th president. And when it came to the off-season for the Boston Red Sox, change was very good.

I love the improvements that Theo Epstein made to his lineup. Say goodbye to Jason Bay, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, and Alex Gonzalez. Au revoir to seeing Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek as everyday players. It’s time to say hello to the new guys that are going to lead the Red Sox to the 2010 World Series.

John Lackey

The best available pitcher on the market is now locked up for five years in Boston. Lackey is a bulldog that will give the Sox another #1 pitcher that will win 15+ games and throw 200 innings. A trio of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey has to scare the crap out of the New York Yankees. Great move.

Marco Scutaro

Here’s a guy that defends his position well, hits for average, steals a few bases, and solidifies the shortstop position until Jose Iglesias is ready, hopefully in two years.

Mike Cameron

37-year-old centerfielders aren’t usually my cup of tea, but the word around MLB is that Cameron is a great clubhouse guy, plays Gold Glove defense, and has a swing tailor-made for smacking doubles off the Green Monster. He’ll be another bridge for the Sox young outfielders.

Adrian Beltre

This guy didn’t hit his weight last year, fractured one of his testicles (doesn’t wear a cup), and was rumored to be asking for a 5-year, $65 million free-agent contract. Boston landed him on a 1-year, $10 million deal. He’ll be a huge improvement defensively over the aging Mike Lowell. He plays a sick 3rd base and has a laser-rocket arm. I think he’ll hit 25 homeruns, bat .270 and win the Gold Glove.

The great thing about these moves is that it didn’t cost Boston any of its prospects. If these moves falter, Theo Epstein still has the resources to make a significant deal at the trade deadline.

Pitching and defense wins championships. Boston is poised to win another one.

Perfectly Clear

I wrote a post Monday stating that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and are poised to finally land their 27th World Series title. I didn’t get into a lot of the details on why I felt this way, because I thought I was pretty much stating the obvious.

After reading some comments that disagreed with the post, I figured the thing to do was to plug all the players, stats, and information into thefoulline.com’s supercomputer and find out for sure which team is the best. So, I’ve ranked the positions of the three teams that are the cream of the crop in the AL East: New York, Boston and Tampa Bay.

If I were a General Manager, these are the guys I would want.

First Base

  1. Mark Teixeira
  2. Kevin Youkilis
  3. Carlos Pena

This position was pretty close. All three guys are Gold Glove-caliber players with some pop in their bats. Teixeira has more power than Youkilis, Youkilis has a better batting average than both guys, and Pena grew up in the next town over from me. Each guy brings a lot to his respective team, but if I were starting a team and could pick a prototypical first baseman, it would be Teixeira.

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia
  2. Ben Zobrist
  3. Robinson Cano

Pedroia is the reigning MVP and has emerged as a team leader for the Red Sox. All-Star, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year – this guy has already had a great career and he’s only been around for three seasons. Zobrist has emerged this year as the all-purpose All-Star for the Rays who delivers big hits in the clutch. Although he doesn’t have much of a track record, he’s reliable at any position; I’m still waiting for this guy to play catcher. Cano has had an up-and-down last couple of seasons, but this enigmatic Yankee can hit for average with above-average power. What knocks Cano to third is his inconsistent defense and mental lapses on the basepaths.

Shortstop

  1. Derek Jeter
  2. Jason Bartlett
  3. (Distant 3rd) Whichever has-been SS Boston has thrown out there this year

Derek Jeter wears his pants too tight, but the Yankee captain always delivers in tight situations. Just when I thought Jeter was on the decline, he puts up a monster year and is the AL MVP. Speaking of MVPs, Jason Bartlett was the St. Petersburg Devil Rays Most Valuable Player in 2008. He provides the Rays with solid defense and is among the league leaders in batting average, and he’ll be a top 5 shortstop in 2010. As for Boston: Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Alex Gonzalex, Nick Green… enough said.

Third Base

  1. Evan Longoria
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Mike Lowell

As much as I love Mikey Lowell, this is obviously a two-horse race. Longoria is going to be a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best third baseman of all time. Meanwhile, A-Rod is a steroid-using, Madonna-dating douche bag that can also play some ball. Not to mention, A-Rod is still owed a billion dollars on his contract and is playing with one hip.

Outfield

  1. Bay/Ellsbury/Drew
  2. Crawford/Upton/Gross
  3. Damon/Cabrera/Swisher

Carl Crawford is the best all-around outfielder out of all these players, and Upton is the best defender, but BJ is still living off his amazing ’08 postseason and has done absolutely nothing all year. The fact that Gabe Gross has a Major League job blows my mind. Boston’s triumvirate is superior as a whole; all three Red Sox outfielders are all-around solid players with base stealing ability. J.D. Drew drives me nuts and is overpaid, but he has the tendency to come up big when it counts. I love to watch the Yankee outfielders play. Johnny Damon makes every routine pop-up an adventure, I’m certain that I have a better throwing arm than Nick Swisher, and who the hell names their kid Melky? New York will upgrade this position in the offseason with either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.

Catcher

  1. Victor Martinez
  2. Jorge Posada
  3. Dioner Navarro

Martinez is a great hitter but a defensive liability behind the plate. Posada can still hit, but he’s getting old and dinged up. Navarro is hitting .221 and has fallen off considerably in 2009. This is the weakest of all the positions. I’ll take V-Mart.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Josh Beckett/Jon Lester/Tim Wakefield
  2. James Shields/Matt Garza/Jeff Niemann
  3. CC Sabathia/A.J. Burnett/Andy Petitte

This was the toughest choice for me. I ranked this one on who I thought I would want to pitch in a five-game series. I’m obviously unsure who would be in each team’s rotation, but I’m guessing that this is pretty close. Boston has the best big game pitcher in baseball in Josh Beckett, the best left-hander in the the AL in Jon Lester, and an oft-injured 50-year-old knuckleballer in Wakefield. I would have felt better if Dice-K had been better this year, but I like this threesome. As for the Rays, Shields has the “big-game” moniker but has taken a step backwards this season. Garza was lights out last year in the playoffs but has become average. Jeff Niemann is a rookie, but he shows the poise of a veteran and has been Tampa’s best pitcher. If Garza takes his psychiatric medication and Shields regains his form, these guys could be tough. New York has the most money committed to their pitchers, but with the exception of Andy Petitte, no one has had post season success. Until CC and A.J. can prove themselves in the playoffs, they’ll bring up the rear.

These three teams are going to beat each other up for a long time. But with the playoffs right around the corner, I think Tampa will be odd man out. It’s close, but here’s how I rank them:

  1. Yankees
  2. Red Sox
  3. Rays

Change of Ideas

I’m the biggest Sox fan I know. The Red Sox can do no wrong in my eyes, and the Yankees are the most evil team in the universe.

Who doesn’t prefer the quaintness of Fenway Park over the sterility of the new Yankee Stadium? Who doesn’t prefer hanging Sox over pinstripes? Or Pedroia over A-Rod?

That’s what makes writing this post so difficult. The Yankees are without a doubt better than Boston, and are arguably the best baseball team I’ve seen in the past several years.

I used to argue that New York bought championships, that they couldn’t develop any of their talent and relied on throwing buckets of money at any and all high-profile free agents. Take Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, just to name the 2009 off-season. They committed over $200 million to three guys? I thought that this was a bad thing, and horrible for baseball.

But the more I think about it, I can’t help but think that they’ve got the right idea, and maybe Boston should get off their pocketbook and throw some cash around. Can you imagine if Theo Epstein had given in to Teixeira’s demands and given him an additional ten million? They would be running away with the division. Instead, they get to face him 19 times each of the next eight years, and we’ve already seen how that’s worked out.

Epstein thought it would be better to sign low-cost, potentially high-reward players in John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito, all of whom have equated to bust, bust, bust. To make matters even worse, Boston is now trying to add 38-year-old Billy Wagner. Wagner is fresh off Tommy John surgery and is due to be paid $8 million this year. That’s a lot of money to pay four aging ex-all-stars, all past their prime. What’s next, is Theo Epstein going to make a run at Sandy Koufax?

The last high-profile free agents that Boston signed have been Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I just threw up in my mouth.

If Boston’s free agent scouting was half as good as their farm development, they could avoid these money-pit signings and land some real talent. Is it time to start looking at a new General Manager in Bean town?

I hate that the Yankees are better than Boston. I hate that this may be the norm for the next several years, unless the Red Sox change their off-season approach. I hate that the Yankees are arrogant douche bags that are far too clean shaven for my liking.

But what I hate most, is that New York is primed to win their 27th World Series title this year.

Start Me Up

Baseball season is finally back, and although the offseason for the Boston Red Sox didn’t go the way I’d hope it would, I’m still optimistic for a successful 2009 campaign.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona don’t read thefoulline.com. If they had, we’d be watching Mark Texiera and Derek Lowe gearing up for the season in Fort Myers, while watching the enigmatic Julio Lugo and overrated Jason Varitek packing their bags to destination Anywhere But Boston.

But after my initial disappointment with the lack of big name signings, I’m starting to really like the additions of Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and especially future Hall of Famer John Smoltz. These guys are low cost, with potential huge rewards for Boston. Even though Smoltz won’t be ready until June, he could be the big addition to the lineup that usually takes place at the trade deadline. If Boston makes the postseason, a lineup with Josh Beckett and John Smoltz would be scary.

Before we can talk about the playoffs, there are a lot of questions about this team that could severely affect their post season chances. Will Josh Beckett, David Ortiz, and Mike Lowell rebound from their 2008 injury-plagued season? With Coco Crisp shipped off to Kansas City, is Jacoby Ellsbury ready to be the everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter? Can a full season of Jason Bay make up for the loss of Manny? Who will be the Red Sox catcher of the future?

To make matters worse, rivals Tampa Bay and New York revamped their already dangerous lineups. The Yankees decided to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on big-game choker CC Sabathia, the oft-injured A.J. Burnett, and current thefoulline.com public enemy #2 Mark Texiera. Will this high priced talent lead to a return to the postseason for the Bronx Bombers? Or will these guys wilt under the pressure of playing in the Big Apple like Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano? Let’s hope for the latter.

As for the Rays, I really like the additions of Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce to fill the right field and designated hitter spots. This is a big upgrade of the Gabe Gross/Cliff Floyd combo. I’m interested in seeing whether Evan Longoria can duplicate his rookie season, and if the Rays can repeat their success with their closer-by-committee bullpen.

The good news is baseball is back.
The competition  for the AL East crown promises to be fierce.
Let the games begin!

Changes

Well, it’s been almost a month since the Red Sox lost game 7 of the ALCS to the damn Tampa Bay Rays. I think it’s finally time to come out from the dark recesses of thefoulline.com headquarters, dust myself off, and talk about what I think Boston needs to do to improve their team.

This is a pivotal offseason for the Red Sox. There are some glaring holes in the Sox lineup that need to be filled. If this team remains unchanged, they’ll be watching the playoffs on television in 2009.

There’s going to be a lot of Hot Stove activity going on in the next couple of weeks. The damn Yankees have $90 million coming off their books and are eager spend to improve their poor pitching, and like it or not, the Rays are going to be here for a while. If Tampa acquires a legitimate closer and a quality right fielder they’re going to be dangerous. The American League East is no longer a two-horse race.

So if I were Theo Epstein, this is what I would do, in order of importance.

1. Sign Mark Texiera.

Tex would tear up Fenway Park offensively and play Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base. This MUST be done! A switch-hitting. perennial All-Star first baseman does not become available very often. As an added bonus, Tex is a free agent, so it wouldn’t cost Boston any of its young talent to acquire him.

Of course, this means Kevin Youkilis is moved to third base, and Mike Lowell is odd man out. I would try to convince a healthy Lowell to learn how to play first base and become Boston’s super-sub. With Lowell playing a mix of first, third and DH, he could prove to the rest of the league that he is healthy, and improve his stock for a trade. (Minnesota and the White Sox need a third baseman). It wouldn’t be the most popular move in Boston, since Lowell is such a class act, but we are here to win ball games. Get out your checkbook, Theo, and make it happen.

2. Derek Lowe makes his triumphant return to Boston.

Lowe is the type of sinker-ball-throwing, ground-ball-inducing pitcher that is tailor-made for Fenway Park. He’s proven to come up huge in big games, as in the 2004 playoffs, when he won the deciding game in all three playoff series. Not to mention, he wants to pitch in Boston again. He may even give Theo a discount.

I look forward to a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Dice K, Lowe, and Wakefield. This would keep Justin Masterson in the bullpen to help solidify the 7th and 8th innings before turning it over to Papelbon.

3. Deal a solid pitching prospect, namely Michael Bowden or Clay Buchholz, for either of Texas’s catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden.

They each have different strengths: Salty is still a raw talent that hits pretty well but needs to improve defensively. Teagarden is a solid defensive catcher with a laser-rocket arm, and he has the potential to put up some big power numbers. What they have in common is that they both are ready to be a starting catcher in the majors.

I’m starting to lean towards a  Buchholz for Teagarden deal, but either way it’s an upgrade of the aging Varitek. Thanks for all of your hard work, ‘Tek. We’ll see you at Jason Varitek Appreciation day.

4. Trade Julio Lugo for a bucket of used baseballs.

Jed Lowrie is ready to be the everyday shortstop. Lugo sucks. Find some sucker GM to take him off our hands.

…..
It almost seems too easy to improve this team. If Boston makes these moves, you can go and get the champagne on ice. If not, it may be a long season.

Don’t Stop Believin’

OK, now this is getting crazy. Boston looked lousy during games 2, 3, and 4 and 2/3 of game 5. Meanwhile, Tampa was playing like a team on a mission, trying to make up for ten years of futility. Suddenly during game 5, the switch was flipped, and like a modern version of Freaky Friday Boston began playing loose, youthful, carefree baseball, while Tampa turned into a  cautious, conservative baseball team that’s playing not to lose, instead of pushing the action and trying for the win.

So this brings us to game 7. Which version of these teams will show up?

thefoulline.com quick hits

  • Jon Lester vs. Matt Garza, game seven, winner goes to the World Series. This is the match-up Boston fans were wishing for and Rays fans were dreading.
  • Regarding the TBS technical difficulty that caused first-inning coverage of last night’s game to be preempted by The Steve Harvey Show: According to a theory by thefoulline contributor Dylan “Conspiracy Theorist” Hamilton, TBS, concerned that the Rays’ current losing streak has reminded much of the Tampa Bay fan base how much they prefer Steve Harvey to baseball, did it on purpose.
  • The Sox bullpen has looked fantastic. Okajima gets better every time he pitches and looks like the Oki of 2007. Masterson looked absolutely scared shitless out there, and then he proceeded to shut down the Rays 1-2-3 hitters. Then there’s Papelbon. Tired, sore, gassed from pitching two tough innings in game 5, he goes out throwing 90 MPH fastballs with good location and gets the save. In a word… awesome.
  • High definition television is not kind to Kevin Youkilis.
  • Coco Crisp is doing his best 2007 Jacoby Ellsbury impersonation. Coco did more damage to James Shields last night than any punch would ever do.
  • Dan the #1 Rays Fan: Hang in there. This is still better than watching the Rays of the past. There’s still a lot of baseball left.
  • Jason Varitek saved his job with the Sox next year with a huge home run and an even bigger throw out of Dioner Navarro. That’s why he’s the Captain.
  • Terry Francona is the best manager in Red Sox history. Although the 78 pieces of tobacco wrapped in Double Bubble that he is constantly chewing during the game is pretty disgusting.
  • Josh Beckett dug down deep last night and pitched his ass off for 5 innings. This guy is a competitor.
  • James Shields is a tough pitcher with a promising future, but his “Big Game” nickname may have been a little premature. Names like that get invented in the postseason.
  • Dustin Pedroia is going to blow up tonight. He lives for moments like this, and he’s been too quiet for too long.
  • During the 6th inning of game 5 in Fenway Park, did anyone really think we would be watching a game 7?
  • There is no moment better in sports than the MLB playoffs.